§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL,
Member for South Tyrone, rose in his place, and asked leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance—namely, "The lawless condition of the county of Clare and the total absence of security for life and property in that part of the Queen's dominions;" but the pleasure of the House not having, been signified,
§ MR. SPEAKER
called on those Members who supported the Motion to rise in their places, and not less than 40 Members having accordingly risen,
§ MR. SEXTON
On a point of order, I wish to ask whether, having regard to the statement of the learned Judge cited in the House to-day, that the amount of crime in County Clare during the last year was less than in the preceding year, and having regard also to the statement that has been made by the responsible Minister of the Crown, that he is engaged in concerting measures for the security of life and property in concert with the Authorities of County Clare, this is such a "definite matter of urgent public importance" as can be properly discussed on a Motion for the Adjournment of the House.
§ MR. SPEAKER
That is a matter which is entirely within the discretion of hon. Members who may choose to support the hon. Member's proposals.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
I rise to a point of Order. I should like to ask whether it is in accordance with the Rules of this House that a Debate should be introduced upon a matter with regard to which hon. Gentlemen have not bad an opportunity—
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said that, after what had taken place that afternoon, he did not think it necessary to offer any apology for interrupting the Business of the House with his present Motion. It was the first duty of any Government to protect the life and property of its subjects. When the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary informed them that things were as 841 bad in County Clare 12 months ago as they were now, he (Mr. Russell) maintained that that fact simply increased the right hon. Gentleman's responsibility, while it did not lessen his (Mr. Russell's), or that of any other independent Member. His contention was that, in view of the state of the County of Clare, a great and solemn duty was cast upon the Government; and not only that, but, in his opinion, a great and solemn duty was also cast upon Her Majesty's Opposition, and upon the independent Members of that House. If the law could not be asserted in Clare by ordinary means then let extraordinary measures be adopted. It was the primary business of the House to see that life and property in that part of the Queen's dominions were secure. Now, what were the facts in regard to this question? They had heard some observations that day in regard to Mr. Justice O'Brien, who had made two statements to the Grand Jury in regard to crime in the County Clare. Who was Mr. Justice O'Brien? [A VOICE: A promoted Crown prosecutor.] He spoke of Mr. Justice. O'Brien as one of the most distinguished of Irish Judges. He was one of the most learned and able of those Judges. Beyond all doubt this could be asserted with perfect propriety of Mr. Justice O'Brien, that if he were not competent to discharge his duty the fault rested with the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister who appointed him. This was not an appointment of the Tory Party. It was ah appointment of the present Prime Minister, and it was one of the best appointments that the right hon. Gentleman had ever made. What, did Mr. Justice O'Brien say on this subject? Because it was worth while to get at the actual facts of this case. He (Mr. T. W. Russell) was not going to quote from the report of Mr. Justice O'Brien's remarks which appeared in The Times, but he should quote from the fullest report that he had been able to find in all the newspapers. In addressing the Grand Jury of County Clare, on Monday last, Mr. Justice O'Brien said—I must say that the picture that the returns made by the Constabulary of the state of crime in the county present to my mind shows a state of lawlessness exceeding in amount—far exceeding in amount—that which has come under your notice or mine in past time, and destined, I fear, unless checked by some vigorous hand, 842 to increase. I have come to know that the state of this county of late has engaged the attention of a body corresponding, I suppose, exactly to your own class—the Magistrates of the County of Clare, all having a deep interest in the prosperity, industry, and happiness of this county, all well acquainted with its condition, and having the means of judging which local information can alone supply of the cause of this state of things. Therefore it becomes unnecessary for me, and, perhaps because of the the duty I have to perform at this Assizes, it is not desirable for me, to enter into any great detail by way of explanation of this state of things. The facts are all known to yourselves. You know there is no security for life in this county. You know that property is not secure any more than life; you know that a system of intimidation exists that is carried into all the relations of private and domestic life, carried into all the relations that arise out of trade and every kind of occupation, and unless some power intervenes of greater efficiency than mere judicial statement or exposition, I cannot but foresee that the evil will go on increasing.He asserted that no more solemn utterance could be considered by the House of Commons. It was not only what Mr. Justice O'Brien said on Monday; but let the House listen to what he said yesterday in closing the Assizes and dismissing, the Grand Jury. ["No, no!"] At all events, here were Mr. Justice O'Brien's words, and they were delivered in closing the Assizes. What did he say? At the conclusion of the criminal business at the Clare Assizes, held at Ennis, Mr. Justice O'Brien said—He had refrained from making any allusion to certain matters dealing with the administration of the law in County Clare, in charging the Grand Jury at the commencement of the Assizes, because he did not wish to influence the result of the legal proceedings then pending; but he now considered it right to draw the attention of those who were charged with the maintenance of law and order and the preservation of life and property to the result of those legal proceedings, which showed that no kind of security any longer existed for property or for life, so far as the same depended upon the law, as it now existed, in County Clare. Seven cases had been tried before him, representing an infinitesimal part of the actual crime, but with the uniform result that the law had entirely failed to bring the offenders to justice, in spite of every means that vigilance, care, and zeal in trying to attain this object. Every kind of argument had been made use of to the jurors—to their sense of self-respect, to the common interests of the whole community, and to their sense of moral obligations, if such a thing remained—but without the least result.He said the jurors, in spite of every appeal to their consciences, had failed to do their duty, and this was to be attributed to 843A system of intimidation which existed in all the relations of life, which affected the whole framework of society, and which affected the administration of the law.A statement such as that, coming from Mr. Justice O'Brien, was one of the most solemn that Parliament could consider. This House was now seised of information—and seised of the best information it could be possessed of—coming, as it did, from one of Her Majesty's Judges of Assize, showing that there was no security for life, and as little security for property, in County Clare. In face of a statement like that from the Representative of Her Majesty in County Clare, he (Mr. T. W. Russell) at all events, as an Irish Member, should not have been doing his duty if he had not directed the attention of the House to the subject. Something had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary about things having been as bad some time ago in Clare.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
Yes; or, perhaps, rather worse. But he would call the attention of the House to the facts of the case. Mr. Justice O'Brien had referred to a meeting of Magistrates held on the 22nd January last, under the chairmanship of the Lord Lieutenant of the county, Lord Iuchiquin, to consider these matters. Lord Iuchiquin in his opening statement that day took, for purposes of comparison, the first and second half of 1892, and pointed out that there were 40 serious crimes, and 60 crimes of a less serious nature during the first six mouths of last year; while from July to December there were 43 serious offences, as against 40, and the less serious offences had diminished in number from 60 to 44. These figures showed, therefore, an increase—slight, if they would—in the graver crimes, and a decrease in the less serious offences. That was exactly the position brought out at the Magistrates' meeting on 22nd January last. He would now give the House, roughly, a dozen or so of cases to show what kind of place County Clare must be for civilised people to live in. September 12 — James Hickey, Lower Tulla; turf burned and house fired into. September 17—Peter Maloney; hay burned at Nutfield. September 19—James Green, Tulla; assaulted seriously in the execution of his duty.
§ An hon. MEMBER: Was he a bailiff?
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said that if the man had been a bailiff he would have been as much entitled to the protection of the law as the hon. Member himself. It would be an infamous thing for this country to ask men to perform their service and then say they could be assaulted because they were only bailiffs. He supposed that was what bailiffs would get in Ireland by-and-bye. September 22—John Ryan, Lisduff; attacked by two men and severely beaten near Rath-downey. September 27 — Thomas Walsh, Bodyke; fired at. October 2—P. A. O'Dwyer, New Park House, Ennis; house broken into and gun stolen. October 13—Michael Glynn, Ashline, Ennis; straw burned for employing a certain man, also served with threatening letters. October 16 — Thomas O'Driscoll, Drumbiggle, Ennis; house fired into, owner had a narrow escape; three or four weeks ago an attempt to burn his cowhouse; received threatening letters. October 17 — Michael Hogan, Ballycashin, near Ennis; moonlighters attacked his house; also fired at on September 17; three heifers belonging to him brutally mutilated at Coolbawn, November 12—John Sexton, Lisheen, aged 70; brutally assaulted for taking boycotted grazing. November 28 — Michael M'Mahon, Drumcarnamore; hay burned. November 24—Mrs. Carrick, Tormacleane; house entered by moonlighters, who demanded firearms; they carried off a gun. He could go on quoting the list. There were a large number of cases, but he had mentioned sufficient to show what a pleasant place the County of Clare must be, and, particularly, how delightful a town Ennis must be to live in. Mr. Justice O'Brien undoubtedly said that crime was fairly distributed over the whole year, but he (Mr. T. W. Russell) declined to take any notice whatever of any argument which went to show that crime was as bad in Clare 12 months ago as it was now. The Government of the day were responsible for the security of life and property, and he maintained that the House, before setting to any other business, was bound to see that this was done. What had been the action of the present Chief Secretary? He came into Office on 20th August. He knew the state of things in County Clare—it 845 was patent to everybody, What was his first action? Why, to suspend what was left of the Crimes Act. It was quite true that the Leader of the Opposition, while Chief Secretary, owing to the condition of the country had released Ireland from part of the Act; it was also true that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds took off from County Clare some part of what the right hon. Gentleman had left. But let them see what the present Chief Secretary had cleared off, because it was a mistake to say that the right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary released Clare from the operation of the Crimes Act. When the present Government came into Office the condition of things was this: They had a right in the face of serious crimes to order a secret inquiry to take place. The right hon. Gentleman had parted with that. There was power to change the venue on the Motion of the Attorney General. The right hon. Gentleman had parted with that. There was a clause in the Crimes Act enabling offences to be tried by special juries. The right hon. Gentleman had parted with that. There was another clause enabling cases of riot to be tried under summary jurisdiction, and the right hon. Gentleman had parted with that.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
Yes; but the right hon. Gentleman parted with safeguards under the Crimes Act, and there is more difficulty in acting under the general law than under the Crimes Act. In the face of the serious condition of County Clare, the right hon. Gentleman deliberately parted with those safeguards which his Predecessor had thought necessary. The right hon. Gentleman would probably tell him that these provisions were no use; but he could not get off on that plea. Figures made an end of that contention. Take the state of things before the Crimes Act was passed. In 1877, before the land agitation commenced, there were only five agrarian offences in the whole County of Clare. That was an important point to start from. In 1878 there were eight; in 1879, 21; in 1880, 91; in 1881, when the Land League agitation was at its height, 213; in 1882, 207. The Crimes Act was passed in that year—not the Crimes Act of the right hon. Gentleman 846 the Leader of the Opposition, but that of the First Lord of the Treasury. Hon. Gentlemen told them that a Crimes Act was no use in Clare! In 1882 there were 207 agrarian offences; in 1883, with a Crimes Act in operation, they had fallen to 55; in 1884 they had fallen to 38; in 1885, they had gone up to 88; in 1886, when the Crimes Act was repealed or had expired, they went up to 141 again. Take off the Crimes Act, and agrarian crime went up. In 1887, the offences had gone up to 153; in 1888, with a Crimes Act, they came down to 104; in 1889 to 63; in 1890 to 58; and in 1891 to 94. Anyone who stated that Crimes Acts were of no use in dealing with a condition of affairs such as existed in County Clare could not possibly have studied the history of previous Crimes Acts under which Clare had been put. What was the real condition of affairs in County Clare? It was not an ordinary criminal state. He wanted to impress that upon the House. Anybody who knew anything about that county knew that for long years it had been in the hands of a secret society. Everybody in authority knew perfectly well that under the Crimes Act that secret society was broken up, and they knew well that its component parts—although there was no cohesion—were scattered throughout the whole country. There were branches in Ennis, Crusheen, and other villages. He had been through the whole county, and he had obtained his information on the spot.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
Never mind from whom. He said the leaders of these secret societies were as well known as hon. Members were known in that House. The question he had to ask, and to ask most solemnly, was this—whether these secret societies, these lawless organisations, were to be supreme, or whether the law of the Queen was to be supreme? The House would please to observe that it was not landlords who suffered in this matter. They were not subjected to violence because they could protect themselves, but if Members cared to go over this list of outrages in County Clare for the past year they would find it, was the poor men and women who desired to lead honest lives, and who had no sympathy with this ruffianism, who were subjected to violence and outrage. 847 For the sake of these poor people the right hon. Gentleman ought to be compelled to assert the supremacy of the law at all costs, and if he could not secure that safety to the subject in Clare to which every man was entitled by the ordinary law then it was his duty to come to that House and ask for extraordinary powers, and the Members of the Opposition were bound to compel the Government to do this if they would not do it of themselves. The whole case had been put in a nutshell by the Chairman of the meeting of magistrates, held on the 22nd January, who closed his speech by these words—Their contention was that everybody in County Clare was entitled to say to the Government 'we call upon you to allow us to go about our business without let or hindrance.' Would anyone who knows the county say it was the case that they could go about their avocations without interference? They knew it was not the case.He (Mr. Russell) held he had conclusively proved the case that he rose to establish. He said that it was a definite matter of urgent public importance; he said now that nobody could challenge that assertion, and he maintained this: that before they disestablished churches; before they wrecked an Empire; before they made a laughing-stock of the English Constitution, aye, even before they closed public-houses, or attempted to close them—which they were not going to do—he said even before that they were bound to see that every poor man and woman in County Clare had the protection of the law to which he or she was entitled. He begged to move the Motion.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
seconded the Motion. He quite agreed with the Mover that under ordinary circumstances moving the adjournment of the House ought to be avoided. Some hon. Members might imagine that they had taken this step with a view to obstruction. ["Hear, hear!"] He was glad to hear that cheer, because if they remembered the Motions for Adjournment that were made in past years, it would appear from those cheers that there were hon. Members in the House who differentiated between the value of the life of a loyal Irishman and the life of one who was disloyal to the Crown. Men who lost their lives in assaulting the police were causes of moving the Adjournment of the House; 848 cases when the police were supposed to have used undue violence in maintaining the law of the land constituted a foundation for moving the Adjournment of the House; and here when a Judge had declared that the law no longer obtains in Clare, and that crime and outrage had been perpetrated unpunished, when they got up to move the Adjournment of the House hon. Members called it obstruction. Well, what had they succeeded in extorting from the Chief Secretary? He had told them he was going to think about moving a certain number of police into the County Clare. What good would that do? He did not believe, and he could not conceive how the right hon. Gentleman could believe, that whether he moved the police in Clare or did not move them would affect the cause of crime in Clare. The cause of crime in Clare was this—that crime in Clare could be committed with impunity, not because there were not sufficient police, but because when a criminal was brought before a Clare Jury he was instantly acquitted. The Chief Secretary in speaking of Clare had used these words—"In Clare a hateful demoralisation had existed for years past." That was a fearful description of a county, and he should like to know if that were an apt and accurate description of an English county would it not be felt to be the first duty of the Government to alter such a state of things. But when it happened in Ireland many people looked upon it as the natural condition in which an Irishman liked to live. He could, however, assure hon. Members that the people of Clare valued protection of lives and property just as much as they did in England, Scotland and Wales, and all that Clare asked—all that the law-abiding people of Clare asked—of the Government, was that the law might be re-established in that county when it no longer existed. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Morley), when he assumed office, found certain clauses of the Crimes Act still in force. He swept those clauses away. He (Colonel Saunderson) thought the clause in the Act which was of real value in crushing out crime in Clare was that relating to change of venue, and which enabled offences occurring in that county to be tried elsewhere. Some hon. Members that afternoon asked whether convictions could not be obtained in Clare. 849 The history of the past 10 years had proved that a conviction for an agrarian crime in Clare was an absolute impossibility. In the last 10 years Clare had been stained with blood over and over again, but not one single conviction for murder had been obtained in Clare for the last 10 or 12 years. Elsewhere conviction had been obtained, but as Judge O'Brien told them, at the present moment to bring any prisoner before a jury in Clare for an agrarian offence was an absolute waste of time. He said that was a condition of affairs which ought not to be allowed to continue for one moment, and for the Chief Secretary simply to tell them he was thinking about drafting a certain number of constables over the borders of County Clare was trifling with the House of Commons, and trifling with the preservation of life and property in Ireland, which it ought to be his very first duty to maintain. The right hon. Gentleman might say that Clare was a demoralised county and had been so for many years past, but the figures which his hon. Friend (Mr. T. W. Russell) had quoted showed that, up to a certain period of its history, Clare was as peaceful as any other county in Ireland. Clare had not that triple dose of original sin which the right hon. Gentleman might think. The demoralisation of County Clare could be traced to one cause, and one cause alone. How did Clare get into this state? Crime in Clare had been of an agrarian character, otherwise he did did not believe it was more criminal than any other county in Ireland. How did this species of crime originate? Clare unfortunately was ground which appeared to be favourable for the development of a certain class of crime, and those who sowed that crime were the present supporters of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The Land League was started in Clare. Fifty-seven branches of that organisation which now supported the Chief Secretary were started in that county, and they had in that county an executive police who carried out their unwritten law, without which the Land League would never have succeeded in holding its ground for a moment in any part of Ireland. Gentlemen then came up to Clare and made speeches, and this was why Clare had become what it was—a disgrace to any civilised country. He would just give a specimen of the 850 speeches made in Clare to keep the people up to the mark. The object of the hatred of the National League had naturally been land grabbing. The National League and its leaders devoted all their efforts to stamp out land grabbing. Land hunger in Ireland was so great, the temptation to Irishmen to possess farms was so strong, that even with the fear of death before their eyes, in many cases land grabbing took place. If land grabbing went on the whole of the agitation would fall into ruin, and this is the way land grabbing was treated in Clare. This was the speech—We have and we shall continue to put down land grabbing, in spite of all the appeals of the Government. We shall continue to put it down in spite of the Coercion Act, and so long as the lands of Bodyke are unlet and unfilled and un-prolific, so long will you find the rest of the landlords of Clare much easier to deal with. I do not wish to detain you at any great length. You know the lesson.That speech was made on a Sunday. Sunday was a great day in Ireland for stimulating the Irish people to Christian obedience to the law. One week after the Sunday on which that speech was made by the Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon) a deliberate attempt was made to murder a man called Sexton.
§ MR. DILLON
(interposing): It is only just I should be allowed to point out when that charge is made that that attempt to murder was organised by the police in Clare.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
was not in the least surprised at that interruption, because hon. Members below the Gangway always imputed the breaking of the law that had occurred during the last 10 years to the Government of the day, and to the police and the Judges. But, at any rate, it could not be denied that an attempt was made to murder that man, which was only defeated by the fact that the police got information, and intervened, saving Sexton at the expense of one of their own lives. That was the way that the Moonlighters—who were, and always had been, the Executive of the Land League—were kept up to the mark; that was the way that this condition of affairs—which the Chief Secretary had described as the "hateful demoralisation of Clare for years past"—had been secured. Who were the demoralisers? The Member for Mayo and his friends. 851 Some of the people objected to coercion. Was there coercion in Clare at the present moment? The Coercion Act which was passed by that House had been denounced and decried before all the constituencies in Great Britain. Was the Coercion Act passed by the House of Commons ever so abhorrent, so detestable, so abominable as the coercion in Clare to-day? As far as he was concerned, he deplored the crime in Clare, but he said that at the present moment it was a fortunate thing that the British people should get some definitive idea of what Home Rule meant. They had Home Rule in Clare. They had the law-breakers, the criminal law-defiers, masters of the situation. It was the duty of the Executive Government to put that down and stamp this thing under foot. But instead they proposed to make these men masters of Ireland. He said that this discussion on the condition of Clare and the Charge of Judge O'Brien in dismissing the Jury should ring round the land, and would prove to every right-minded man that in attempting to make this abhorrent rule supreme in Ireland the Government had made a mistake, and that they who intended to resist it and crush it under foot were more than justified in doing so.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."— (Mr. T. W. Russell.)
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. J. MORLEY,) Newcastle-upon-Tyne
The hon. Member who moved the adjournment wore his broadest phylactery and used his most pharasaic language—[Ministerial cheers and Opposition cries of "Withdraw"]— used his most pharasaic language, [Opposition cries of "Withdraw!"] When I have used an unparliamentary word the Speaker will call me to order. The hon. Member talked about the great and solemn duty that had been cast upon him, but we all know what the real reason is. We all know what the secret of it is. It has nothing to do with Clare. This Motion is made because gentlemen opposite have been castigated in leading articles in their own Press. This Motion is their way of showing that they are not maladroit, that they are not lethargic, that they are not nerveless, that they are none of the things that 852 their own friends during the last few days have been saying they were. A great deal has been said as to the responsibility of the Government of the day. I accept that responsibility, for my part, in its fullest sense. I quite agree with the hon. Member and with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Armagh that the first duty of the Government is to see that the law is obeyed. The first duty of the Government is to see that security of life and property is restored in Clare as speedily as may be. But I wonder why the hon. Member who makes this Motion and who feels such a tremendous weight of moral responsibility, why he did not feel it before? Why did he not feel it in March last, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds withdrew the extra force from Clare?
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Forty-seven men. [A laugh.] Gentlemen opposite laugh. I wonder if they know what proportion of the whole force in Clare that is. They withdrew them, mark, at the request of the Grand Jury, the very gentlemen to whom the Judge was speaking. Why did he not feel this weight of responsibility? Why did he not call the Government of that day to account, and beg them to recognise that the first duty of the Government was the security of life and property, when the Government of that day revoked the Proclamation of the Crimes Act, so far as certain clauses are concerned, in Clare? Why did he not make his speech in July?
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
The reason why I did not do it was that my attention had not been directed to it by a Judge.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The hon. Gentleman talked about Mr. Justice O'Brien's Charge. I do not want to use a single disrespectful word of Mr. Justice O'Brien.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I said if a certain utterance, apparently abbreviated, was authentic that it was not in my opinion a judicial utterance. Now, I am not going into any recriminatory charges as to the conduct of the late Government compared with my own. All this goes to show, if the case be true, that the state of Clare was as bad for the last six 853 years, during which hon. Gentlemen opposite were responsible for it, as it has been in the six months during which I have been responsible. What does it show? If the House were serious, if the hon. Member were serious in his contention, it shows that the task is one which has been too much for either one Government or another. Does it not show that? If the right hon. Gentleman and his friends had control of the Government and had their Coercion Act in force for six years, and still left Clare as we know it was left last July, and if we are able to make no better report to-day than we are able to do, I say what does it show? You will give your own Leader credit for force, judgment, and firmness, whether you give it to me or not. What does the fact show? That he, with all the force and with all the special legislation that he had at his command, was unable to do any more than I have been able to do, but rather less. The hon. Member quoted from the Judge's Charge the reference to the meeting of magistrates. I make no complaint of the magistrates in any respect. I do not impugn their motives in holding that meeting, but this I do say—that they, at all events at that meeting, brought no charges against Her Majesty's Government. What were the points that they dwelt upon? The first was the withdrawal of the military. It is clear enough that a troop of hussars or a troop of dragoons is not of much use in catching moonlighters red-handed. But they said, and it has been held by many responsible for the Government of Ireland, that the presence of a military force has an overawing effect. But the military forces were not withdrawn by me, but were withdrawn in 1890 by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The withdrawal of the extra police I have already dealt with.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
March, 1892. The Magistrates, no doubt, said we ought to give them a larger share of what is known as the "free force"—that is to say, the force for which the county does not pay. I pointed out in February that that is what we cannot do. The free force, as the right hon. Gentleman opposite well knows, is a quota fixed by 854 statute, and only revisable at triennial intervals. The time for revising the free force for the County of Clare will not be till 1894. In a matter of that kind I am bound to consult advisers with police experience, and I am assured—and I do not suppose the right hon. Gentleman will differ—that for the purpose of discovering crime in Clare, with which we have to deal, an importation of outside detectives would be one of the most foolish things any Executive Government could propose. I will not weary the House with many figures; but I should like the House to be kind enough to mark a few of the figures. No doubt, as the hon. Member says, about 1884 and 1885 the average of crime in Clare was very low; but he forgot to say that that was probably due to the Land Act and the Arrears Act, and it was not at all due to the Coercion Act, I thank my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). Now what are the figures? I will not weary the House with them, but they are really all you have to go upon. The figures for the quarter ending December 31st, 1891, when the late Government were in Office, were 17 agrarian, 25 non-agrarian, or a total of 42; for the quarter ending December 31, 1892, when we were in Office, exactly the same total, 12 agrarian and 30 non-agrarian; for the half-year ending June 30, 1891, 40 agrarian and 48 non-agrarian, or a total of 88.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I have not the proper answer to that question to hand, but I may say that the classification of moonlighting offences as agrarian or non-agrarian would depend upon the circumstances attending it. I do not deny for a moment that there are some of the most troublesome and worst cases now perpetrated in the County of Clare which would not figure in the Agrarian Returns, because they are not connected, so far as the police could ascertain, with agrarian circumstances. But the question of my right hon. Friend is a perfectly apt question, and I will deal with it fully at another time. For the half-year ending December 31, 1891, the figures were 54 agrarian and 55 non-agrarian, a total of 109; for the half-year ending Decem- 855 ber 31, 1892, 35 agrarian and 63 non-agrarian, giving a total of 98, or a reduction of 11. Then taking the whole year ending December 31, 1891, the agrarian outrages in Clare were 94, non-agrarian 103, or a total of 197. In our year—that is the year ending December 31, 1892—they were 79 and 122, or a total of 231, and an increase of four only, and these, as the learned Judge remarked in his Charge, are distributed pretty equally over the year. I could amplify those figures if it were worth while, but I do not think it is. Perhaps the House would, however, care to know the total number of specially reported agrarian cases in Clare for the last six years. They were in 1887, 269; in 1888, 224; in 1889, 162; in 1890, 156; in 1891, 197; and in 1892, 201. Now, Sir, though it is quite true that the Judge remarked that there is an absence of security for life in Clare, it is worthy of note that there has been no case of murder in Clare since 1892.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
There have been far too many cases, as the hon. Member knows. The hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Arnold-Forster) suggested that I have altered the classification of outrages. There has been no change in the classification whatever. There is all the difference between firing into dwellings and attempted murder. Firing into dwelling-houses is now the favourite crime in County Clare. The serious crimes are murder, firing at persons, killing or maiming cattle, and firing into dwellings. For the last six years the numbers under these heads were—in 1887, 22; in 1888, 18; in 1889, with the Coercion Act in full swing, 27; in 1890, 24; in 1891, 25; and in 1892, 12. Now, the whole weight of the hon. Member's charge against me was that I had released Clare from certain clauses of the Crimes Act, and he mentioned especially the secret inquiry clause. I can tell the hon. Gentleman this—the late Irish Executive held four of those courts of secret inquiry, and in no single one of those four cases did they get such evidence as would justify them in returning a single person for trial. So much for the secret inquiry. I repeat, that in dropping that weapon I was only drop- 856 ping a weapon which had proved, so far as Clare is concerned, wholly useless in the hands of the late Government. With regard to change of venue, I have no doubt that by suspending that portion of the Crimes Act in Clare or elsewhere we deprived ourselves of the power of changing the venue at will. But we are not quite powerless in the matter of change of venue. If we think it necessary and can establish a proper case, we can go to one of the Superior Courts, and that Court will make an order for a change of venue. Therefore we have not allowed this weapon to fall out of our hands, but it is a very curious thing that even this power of changing the venue was not a very effective weapon, so far as Clare was concerned, in the hands of the late Government. For example, at the last Spring Assizes in Cork in two cases only was a change of venue from the County of Clare thought proper. In one of those cases an emergency man was convicted of firing at one John Moloney, and sentenced to nine months. In this case you had a change of venue and got a conviction; but whether or not you would get a conviction against an emergency man in Clare, I do not know. In the other case a man was tried on a charge of a rape and was acquitted. So that if this year we had used the power of change of venue, which you used last year, and if the same figures held good, we might possibly get a conviction in one case but not in another. The difficulty in Clare is that at this moment, at all events, it is not agrarian agitation which is the root of the mischief. Does anyone suppose that I have got up here to traverse the Judge's statement that the condition of Clare is profoundly unsatisfactory? I do not for a moment advance any such proposition, and I have no desire to conceal anything from hon. Gentlemen opposite, or from the House. There are some forms of outrage and intimidation of the most objectionable kind which undoubtedly show some tendency to increase, but our difficulty arises, as the difficulty of the right hon. Gentleman opposite arose, from the fact that these outrages do not spring from general combination. They are not the result, as the hon. Member seems to suppose, if my information is good, and I believe it is good they are not the result, of any widespread organisation or great general 857 conspiracy. If such an organisation or conspiracy existed you could break it up. If there were a great criminal organisation you could destroy it. But there is no general conspiracy, there is no general policy in this outrage-mongering in Clare. These outrages are committed by small local gangs of moonlighters for private reasons of their own—for foul reasons, but in private individual cases, but you cannot deal with such outrages in the way that you can deal with a general organisation. The character of this mischief is well understood by those on the spot who are responsible for putting a stop to it, and it is well understood by myself. But you blame me because I have not solved in six months a riddle which the right hon. Gentleman opposite could not solve in six years. You do not make a single suggestion. You indulge in general platitudes, but you have no suggestion to make.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
The Crimes Act.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The Crimes Act! Why, I have been endeavouring to show that it was when the Crimes Act was in force that these outrages were greater. What is the use of my right hon. Friend's asking me to restore the Crimes Act?
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
I did not myself ask the right hon. Gentleman to restore the Crimes Act. The right hon. Gentleman said no suggestion had been made. I said one had been made —namely, the restoration of the Crimes Act.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Then the right hon. Gentleman does not wish me to restore the Crimes Act? He has been Chief Secretary himself, and he knows what the difficulties of the Irish Government are as well as anybody else. Well, Sir, that is the situation. You have got a very deep - rooted and intractable disease to deal with in some parts of County Clare. We think we know the root of the mischief. Probably the right hon. Gentleman and I would agree in our diagnosis. He could find no remedy. I do not profess to have found a remedy. All I know is this—and I do not say more, because, after all, this is but a spurious Motion. When I assumed a share of the Government of Ireland I never thought that I could in six months make Clare into a new heaven or a new 858 earth. All I can assure the House is that the Government are fully alive to their responsibilities, that all the officers concerned are in frequent communication with me and with one another, and that no effort is being spared. New steps are now under consideration; but I do not think that the consideration of these measures, and the effect of these measures in the County of Clare is at all likely to be furthered by such a demonstration as we have had to-night.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)
With regard to the tone of the bulk of the speech to which we have just listened I have no complaint to make, though I will have something to say with regard to the arguments advanced by the right hon. Gentleman—arguments which were delivered in a moderate and quiet tone. But the beginning and the end of the right hon. Gentleman's speech contained an attack upon the hon. Member who moved the Motion, and upon those who have supported it, which surely is undeserved. Here we have a Judge in Ireland, with all the solemnity attaching to his office, making an utterance of the deepest gravity with regard to the condition of one of the counties in which he has been exercising his functions, and the Representative of an Irish constituency desires to call the attention of the House to the matter, which is undoubtedly a matter of urgent public importance. The right hon. Gentleman thinks it consistent with truth, and consistent with the dignity of his own position, to describe this Motion as a bogus Motion, and to say that the Party which, rightly or wrongly, mistakedly or unmistakedly, has been endeavouring during the last six years to enforce the law in Ireland is acting pharasaically when it endeavours to call the attention of the House, and, through the House, the attention of the country, to a condition of things which, whether it be remediable or unremediable, is surely worthy of our most serious consideration. The right hon. Gentleman has given us a great many statistics on the subject of crime in Clare. I do not mean to traverse the statements which he has made. I am aware that he possesses means of information which are not necessarily shared by the House, and I am the last person either to question the 859 accuracy of the facts of the right hon. Gentleman or his bona fides in laying the facts fully and completely before the House. But there is one thing to which I should like to call his attention. The right hon. Gentleman congratulates himself and the country on the fact that there had been no murder in Clare during the six mouths of his tenure of Office. Sir, it is not the question whether there was a murder or not; the question is, whether there were attempts at murder or not? Whether the object and victim of a dastardly crime was killed or was not killed is very important to him, but it is not a matter of importance for this House when they are considering the condition of the county, for, after all, the escape of the victim of an outrage cannot be due to the condition of the county, but may be the result of bad shooting of the would-be assassin. It would have been much more important for us to know whether there were or were not attempts at murder during the six months with which the right hon. Gentleman has dealt. I must put one question on the subject of moonlighting. The right hon. Gentleman very wisely, in my opinion, has maintained the system of recording crimes which he found in operation when he took Office, in order that there might be some certainty in the records. In my judgment, the system is not a good one, because it often happens that an offence like moonlighting cannot be classed as an agrarian offence— although it clearly arises out of the agrarian agitation, and is undoubtedly connected with the desperate state of the country—unless you can particularly connect it with some agrarian question or dispute. The result is, therefore, that in estimating the condition of the country from those Returns a great deal of the value of the Returns is removed by the system under which they are compiled.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I did not change it for a reason which may come home even to the mind of the hon. and learned Gentleman. I did not change it, because if you change the method of presenting statistics the possibility of comparison between one period and another ceases. For that reason I maintained a system which I did not approve, as I believe the right hon. Gentleman is 860 maintaining a system of which he does not approve. The fact that under this system offences really agrarian may not appear as such should be borne in mind when an attempt is being made to draw comparisons between one period and another. The right hon. Gentleman, let me observe, is in the habit of dating his responsibility for occurrences in Ireland from August 22nd, when he assumed the reins of Office; but, in my opinion, the new system for which, not the right hon. Gentleman himself, but his Party, are responsible, came into force when it became clear that the General Election had gone against the Unionist Party. From that date Irishmen had to make up their minds whether it was likely to pay best to continue the system of trying to make the Government of Ireland impossible, as far as they could, which they pursued under the late Government, or whether it would not be more conducive to the realisation of their ulterior aims to do their best to aid the new Chief Secretary to govern Ireland under the new dispensation. At all events, let it be recollected that the date on which the new half-year began was the date when the Irish people became cognizant of the fact that a Separatist Government was coming into Office and a Unionist Government going out of Office. Now, I pass to the substance of the right hon. Gentleman's defence. It is this—that though during the late Government certain clauses of the Crimes Act were in operation in Clare, crime in that county was maintained at a certain level, and that he has no reason to believe that any evil results have followed from the repeal of those clauses, because crime remains at the same level. I say that that is a most crude and ineffective method of argument I have ever heard, and I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman has used it. What were the clauses of the Crimes Act which were in operation in Clare when we left Office? They were, in the main, two—the clause respecting secret inquiry and the clause respecting change of venue. With regard to the secret inquiry clause, the right hon. Gentleman says that it has been tried three or four times in Clare and never produced any result. Sir, there is no doubt that secret inquiry in Ireland is carried on under great difficulty, and is often rendered abortive; but it is also 861 certain that under special circumstances it has been proved to be of the utmost value, and I want to know on what ground the right hon. Gentleman, knowing that this clause involved no interference with individual liberty, no violation of the principles of his own Party or of any Party, unless there be a Party in the State anxious to shield criminals— I want to know on what ground the right hon. Gentleman repealed this section, which, however difficult to apply, can sometimes be applied with great success. Though the case against the right hon. Gentleman is strong with regard to the clause for secret inquiries, it is incomparably stronger with regard to the clause for change of venue. This brings me to the Charge of Mr. Justice O'Brien, on which the right hon. Gentleman made a speech at Question time, and allowed himself to use expressions which, I think, now he regrets, by which he drew the vassal cheers of his supporters below the Gangway, cheers which are always at the command of any hon. Gentleman in this House who will attack a member of the Irish Bench [Nationalist cries of "Mathew."] Some hon. Members make an allusion to Mr. Justice Mathew, an allusion which I would not notice had it not been repeated by the right hon. Gentleman opposite.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I have heard more attacks on Mr. Justice Mathew in the last few weeks than I have heard on the whole Irish Bench in the last 10 years.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that he has not heard the last of the attacks that are likely to be made not on Mr. Justice Mathew, but on Sir James Mathew, President of the Irish Evicted Tenants Commission, who himself declared with absolute accuracy that he was not acting in a judicial capacity. When I attack a Judge of the English Bench acting in his judicial capacity there may be some relevancy in the interruptions of hon. Members below the Gangway and the remarks of the Prime Minister. Sir, what was the sum and substance of the Charge of Judge O'Brien which very naturally irritated the Chief Secretary, and which elicited rather unbecoming remarks from the right hon. Gentleman? The sum and substance of the Charge was this: that very few persons were 862 made amenable, and that where persons were made amenable—though the case against them was absolutely certain—they could not be brought to justice. Here are the words of the Judge in concluding the business of the Assizes—Seven cases have been tried before me, representing an infinitesimal part of the crime that has been committed, and with the uniform result that the law has entirely failed to bring the offenders to justice, in spite of every means vigilance and care and zeal could use to attain that result. Every kind of argument and appeal has been made to the jurors, made with zeal and earnestness by the Court itself, to their reason, to their consciences, to their sense of self-respect, and of the common interests of the whole community, to their sense of moral obligations—if such a thing remains—without the least result. I do not know myself what is really the cause of, or what has led to, that state of things. I could hardly suppose the population of this county, or the class from which jurors are taken, are devoid altogether of moral sense, of integrity, or propriety—and they are certainly not devoid of intelligence—as an explanation of what happened; and I am constrained to arrive at the conclusion that it is owing to a certain system of intimidation influencing every single relation in the whole framework of society in this country, and directed to defeat the administration of the law.Are we to suppose that the juries in Clare have a double dose of original sin, to use the phrase once employed by the Prime Minister—that they are more neglectful of their oaths than the rest of Irishmen; more indifferent to such matters coming near their own interests as security to life and property? No; some less far-fetched explanation has to be found, and the explanation is that in Clare the juror does not do his duty because he dare not, and that the system of intimidation set forth by Mr. Judge O'Brien reaches not only the land-grabber, but the jurymen who are sworn to do justice as between the law and the criminal. As far as I know, there is but one remedy which has been suggested for this state of things, which strikes at the very root of law, order, and civilisation; and that remedy is to remove cases from where intimidation exists and try them where intimidation does not exist. No man knows better than the Chief Secretary that there is no hope of getting a verdict from any common, or even from any special, jury if the trial takes place where the crime has been committed and the crime arises out of agrarian causes. In these cases there are some that I understand arise out of 863 the Bodyke evictions. Does the right hon. Gentleman suppose that crime committed in connection with the circumstances of Bodyke and tried by jurors from the district would be followed by the conviction of the criminal? He knows that such a trial would be a judicial farce, and the man responsible for that judicial farce is the man who, without any adequate motive, repeals the law which removes this safeguard. The consequences of the policy of the Government are to be seen in other parts of the country than Clare. I have been told of a case where a moonlighter named Dooley was tried under the late Government before a special jury. He was acquitted, or, at all events, the jury disagreed. Further evidence was forthcoming, and it was decided to have a change of venue. The late Government went out of Office. The Crimes Act was repealed, and there could no longer be a change of venue, and, therefore, in spite of the undoubted fact that there was a case against this man, there was a nolle prosequi entered. They did not care to send him before a common jury, knowing the inevitable consequences of such action on their part.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I was giving an illustration of the general methods of the Party opposite. If my facts are wrong, the right hon. Gentleman will inquire into them. What is the reason which has induced hon. Gentlemen opposite to adopt this fatal policy of removing the whole of the Crimes Act from Ireland? Observe, that the attack made upon my right hon. Friend for having abolished that clause which gives the power of dealing with offences by summary jurisdiction has no relation to the present state of affairs. These moonlighting offences, and the offences to which Judge O'Brien alluded, are not offences that could be tried before a Resident Magistrate. Moolighting and attempted murder, and that class of offences mentioned by my hon. Friend, never came under the Summary Jurisdiction Clause. Therefore, the tu quoque argument against my right hon. Friend 864 the late Chief Secretary falls absolutely flat. What is the reason which the Government have to give for repealing this section? I listened to the speech of the Chief Secretary on the Debate on the Address, and I listened to him to-night. He has not denied, and cannot deny, that never since Lord O'Hagan's Jury Act, or practically never, have you ever been able to get a conviction in an agrarian case without a change of venue. He must be aware that unless there be some chance of obtaining a verdict crime will stalk absolutely unchecked through the land, and that the only possible control you can have is through any political machinery by which crime may be augmented or diminished at the will of politicians. He knows all this, and yet he abolished that clause. The only ground for doing this that I can imagine is that he thinks Ireland and England should be governed under precisely similar laws. He thinks, I suppose, with the Prime Minister, that because a Bishop in 1799, and an Under Secretary and Mr. Pitt, talked about equal laws—not at all having in their mind the case of a Crimes Act—that, therefore, the Government—this Government—which is to do justice to Ireland, is bound to see that no exceptional legislation exists in Ireland. Is that their reason? Is it some general theory of this kind? It cannot be pretended that justice is better administered without change of venue; but what hypocrisy is this? He knows perfectly well at this moment that he himself is maintaining not only unequal laws in Ireland—he knows perfectly well that, though he has abrogated the more showy and sensational and useful measures of the Crimes Act, he has maintained and is using exceptional legislation for the government of Ireland. I observe from the newspapers that he has in some way modified the action of the late Government with respect to the special legislation for the importation of arms.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I was aware it was formal in this sense: that no substantial change had been made in policy. My point is that he has maintained the policy of the late Government, and those are the men who on every platform have clamoured about unequal 865 legislation, who declare that we have violated every pledge said to have been given at the Union, and who are now violating every pledge and every statement which they have ever laid down. That I call hypocrisy. I confess that, as they can reconcile it with their political consciences to maintain that inequality in the law between England and Ireland, it surely might have been well that they should have retained that single section of the Crimes Act by which, and by which alone, there is some chance of bringing to justice the most dastardly form of crime with which even the annals of agrarian crime in Ireland have ever been soiled.
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said, he would not have felt called upon to speak in that Debate after the speech of the Chief Secretary had it not been for the fact that be represented the County of Clare, which had been attacked by the Member for South Tyrone. When that hon. Member rose to move the adjournment he (Mr. Redmond) rose to put a question to the Chair, as to whether it was quite consistent with the Rules of that House and the ordinary rules of courtesy for an hon. Member to attack the constituency of another hon. Member without giving the slightest notice of his intention. That question, however, was not in Order, and he therefore regretted having put it at the stage he did. The hon. Member for South Tyrone had not given him notice of this matter, otherwise he would have been prepared to meet it by having consulted all the available records relating to crime in the county. But although they had received no notice that this subject was to be brought forward, the fact that it had been raised in such a manner would surprise no one who knew the attitude the Member for South Tyrone had determined to take with regard to Irish affairs. He declared that this Motion was part and parcel of a plot concocted when it became clear that the General Election would go against the Unionist Party, and the Members of the Opposition had every bit of information which had been brought forward by the Member for South Tyrone before them when almost as the last act they performed before leaving Office they withdrew from County Clare nearly every provision of 866 the Coercion Act, and it was a notorious fact that this was done by the late Government, in Clare and elsewhere, for the purpose of bringing on a Debate such as that which had been initiated by the Member for South Tyrone in order to cause embarrassment to the present Government. The late Chief Secretary (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had used the word "hypocrisy" as regarded the action of the Government in this matter, but he (Mr. Redmond) declared that no greater act of hypocrisy was ever perpetrated than the action of the Member for South Tyrone and the late Chief Secretary in professing to be shocked and horrified at the state of Clare to-day, when they knew that upon the whole that county was in a better condition than it was when the late Chief Secretary withdrew the operation of the Coercion Act from Clare. It was difficult for Irishmen to know what to do. If outrage and crime existed in Ireland the whole of the Irish people were denounced for it; but if, happily, peace and tranquillity prevailed, they got no credit for it. The condition of Clare had improved latterly, as had the condition of the whole of Ireland, but it was significant that the indignation of the late Chief Secretary had been directed solely against County Clare. And why? Because County Clare was the only county in the whole of Ireland where the Judges of Assize had not had reason to congratulate the Grand Jury on the peaceful condition of the county. It ought to be a matter of pleasure to hon. Members to find that, when the Members and supporters of the late Government came down to the House to attack the administration of the right hon. Member for Newcastle, that out of the whole of Ireland since the Liberal Government came into Office they were not able to place their finger on a single place in Ireland where crime of an extravagant or violent nature existed except in the one County of Clare. The Member for South Tyrone had said there was a great deal of crime in Ireland in the Land League days. Undoubtedly there was, and the reason was plain. The people were suffering from grievances which bore heavily upon them, but when the Land Act of 1881 was passed which removed some of these grievances, crime decreased by leaps and bounds. 867 In 1883, when crime decreased, the hon. Member would have them believe that this decrease was in consequence of the Coercion Act, whereas in reality it was because the benefits of the Land Act of 1881 were being felt by the people, and exactly in proportion as these benefits were felt crime decreased. Again, the hon. Member said that in 1886 crime increased. That was true; but in that year there was great depression not only in Clare, but in the whole of Ireland, and as a result crime increased; and its diminution in the following year was not because of the Coercion Act which had been passed, but because in 1887 there was also passed a Land Act which removed the grievances which existed in 1886, and which were the consequence of the increase in crime. Anybody acquainted with the history of agrarian crime in Ireland knew that exactly in proportion to the depression of the times that crime had increased; and exactly in proportion as remedial legislation was passed that crime decreased in every part of the country. The hon. Member had drawn a terrible picture of the existence of Secret Societies in Clare, his knowledge of which had been derived from a casual visit to certain parts of the county. Now he (Mr. Redmond) was the Representative of the county; he had knowledge of every part of it, and he could assure the House there was no such deeply-rooted Secret Societies as the hon. Member would have them believe; there was no conspiracy against life and property, and nine out of every 10 of the crimes committed in Clare were attributable to the harsh exactions of the landlords and land agents; and to the fact that the judicial rents fixed 10 years ago had become impossible of payment owing to the depression in agriculture and trade. He himself had always denounced crime; and if he had any knowledge of the existence of any conspiracy against life and property in Clare he should denounce it at once, but he asserted that there was no such conspiracy. He and his colleagues in the representation of Ireland were just as anxious as the Member for South Tyrone and the Member for North Armagh that life and property in Ireland should be protected. As a matter of fact, the men who did most to protect life and property in Ireland and the just rights of the citizens were 868 men like the Nationalist Members, who came to that House to give vent to the grievances of the Irish people; and the gentlemen who showed, and threatened to show, the least regard for life and property were hon. Gentlemen from Ulster, who not long ago deluged the streets of Belfast with blood, and who were making speeches at the present time which were calculated to prejudicially affect both life and property in Ireland. Anyone who had listened to the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the Motion must have been reminded of the days when those two hon. Members went throughout the length and breadth of the country drawing dreadful pictures to the British people of the state of demoralisation in which the Irish people were, and the Member for Armagh accused the Irish Members of inciting and encouraging murder and crime.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
I challenge the hon. Member to state does he mean by his cheers that we Irish Members encourage or sympathise with murder in Ireland?
§ MR. W. REDMOND
said, the hon. and gallant Gentleman stated that he considered the Irish Members had encouraged and sympathised with murder in Ireland. All he had got to say was that that was an untruth of a most infamous character, which he did not believe the hon. and gallant Gentleman would have the courage to repeat before him outside that House.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
And it was one of those remarks which he believed tended more than anything else to show that House the real character of the man who came down to that House, and who did not hesitate for a Party purpose to charge his colleagues and countrymen in the representation of Ireland in being in sympathy with murder and crime. Bitterly as he was opposed to the hon. and gallant Gentleman and his friends from Ulster he would not think of charging them with being in active sympathy with murder, though he did think the speeches made by that hon. 869 Member and his friends were calculated in the highest degree to lead to breaches of the peace in Ireland. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had made an infamous charge against the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), his insinuation being that the murder of Head Constable Whelan in what was known as the Sexton affair followed immediately after, and was the result of a speech of the Member for Mayo. But what were the facts? At the trial an informer named Cullinane admitted that he was in the pay of the police, that he himself had concocted the whole of the attack on Sexton's house, which resulted in the unfortunate death of the head constable, and duped the other men to take part in it. This informer admitted that he had been over and over again convicted of the most infamous crimes. And this was the case which the hon. and gallant Gentleman cited when he endeavoured to prove that murder had been committed in Clare at the instigation of the Member for Mayo and other Irish Representatives. He thought it was a sorry sight—a miserable spectacle—that any Irishman, much less an Irish Representative, could be found who, for the sake of Party purposes, would come down to that House, denounce his own country, run down his countrymen, and endeavour to make English and Scotch Members believe that the Irish people were lost to a sense of civilisation, and were given over to crime and outrage of every kind. The object of the Member for South Tyrone in bringing forward that Motion was patent. It was for the interest of the Unionist Party to try and make out that crime and outrage existed in Ireland; and after going through every one of the 32 counties in Ireland, they had not been able to find anything to complain of except in this one County of Clare, which they now dangled before the House with the view to showing that there was no security for life and property in Ireland. As he had said, he disapproved of crime as much as any man, and he had never scrupled to say so, but he totally denied the existence of such serious crime in Clare as the hon. Member had alleged existed. It was all very well for the hon. Member to quote Returns; but it had long been the practice of the authorities in Ireland to report under the heading of agrarian crime matters of the most 870 trivial character, and an analysis of the present Returns would show that there was very little real crime. It was not, fair to place so much weight on the representations of the Magistrates and Grand Jurors of County Clare, who were almost entirely composed of landlords and Unionists, and whose motive in meeting and condemning the state of Clare was caused not by anything extraordinary in the state of Clare, but by the fact that the Prime Minister had introduced his Home Rule Bill. The state of things was not worse, but better, than it had been some time before, yet the coincidence could not be overlooked that these Magistrates took no action until the introduction of the Home Rule Bill. The object at the bottom of that discussion was not to bring about an improvement in County Care, but to hamper the Government in passing their measure of Home Rule, and nothing would more delight the Members for South Tyrone, North Armagh, and other ardent supporters of so-called law and order than to see the same disturbances which were alleged to exist in Clare taking place in every other part of Ireland so as to obstruct the Prime Minister in his policy. Coercive and repressive legislation did not put a stop to crime, but ameliorative measures did; and he was convinced that before long the Chief Secretary would be able to show that not only had crime greatly decreased in Clare, but that there was general contentment amongst the people as the result of the policy introduced by the Government with reference to Ireland. Taking ordinary crime, and leaving agrarian crime out of the question, they would find that Clare was freer from crime than any county in England and Scotland in proportion to its population, and the same remark applied to the whole of Ireland. What crime there did exist in Ireland arose out of the agrarian difficulty, or out of a state of affairs which did not exist in England or Scotland. Outrage and crime existed in Clare because for long years the people had been treated unjustly, had been dragooned by officials, and taught to believe that no justice or fair-play could be expected from the governing authorities. Place the law in a position to be respected, let it be administered by a Government in which 871 the Irish people could have confidence, and the law would be obeyed and verdicts found as readily in Clare, and in Ireland generally, as either in England or Scotland. In the meantime, until they definitely settled the Land Question, and relieved the people from the judicial rents fixed 10 years ago, and which they could not now pay, they would not strike at the root of the evil. The people of Clare had been attacked, but he ventured to think that if a similar state of affairs had existed in the North of Ireland as existed in Clare the Members who now supported this Motion would have said little or nothing about it. As the Representative of people who had been attacked in a most hypocritical manner in that House, he declared that the people of Clare were as anxious to maintain law and order as any other people, provided they were given a fair opportunity of doing so.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 215; Noes 260.—(Division List, No. 17.)