HC Deb 08 May 1893 vol 12 cc1617-39

"That a further sum. not exceeding £4,810,250, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the Charges for the following Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 18!)4."—(see pp. 1427–9.)

Resolution read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

*SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)

said, he wished to call the attention of the Vice President of the Council to a Circular which had been issued by his Department in January, lost as to the accommodation and system of education in elementary schools, which Circular had been sent to all the schools throughout the country, whether Board schools or voluntary schools. It had been alluded to in the House of Lords by one of the very best living authorities on elementary education, Lord Sandford and from the purport, of the noble Lord's remarks it seemed clear that he considered the implied requirements of the Circular were such as to make it practically impossible for the voluntary schools to comply with it; and if anything like exact conformity with the Circular was to be insisted on the voluntary system would be seriously endangered. Lord Kimberley, in replying, said— It seemed to be thought, in some quarters, that there was a desire suddenly to come down on voluntary schools throughout the country and make a peremptory demand upon them to bring their accommodation, sanitary provision, and school apparatus up to the higher standard; and so, by a side wind, to convert a large number of voluntary schools into Board schools. That, in his opinion, would be a perfectly unjustifiable proceeding. It would be well if the Vice President would kindly confirm before them the assurances given by the President of the Council in the other House. Lord Kimberley said the Circular was merely one of inquiry; but he ventured to say that it meant something more than that. Why, the Inspectors were told to see to the rectification of any defects which the inquiries under this Circular might bring to light. But the Inspectors had been doing this all along. Why, then, was a fresh inquiry started this year? It looked as if some new departure were contemplated. The voluntary schools were entitled to know what to expect. There had been spent on them in the last generation no less a sum than £13,000,000, and they had conformed to all the requirements of the Education Department from time to time. Now, all sorts of requirements were put upon them—as to warming, lighting, the providing of certain areas for playgrounds, even in places where no ground could be got. Surely the voluntary schools were entitled to know under what new rules they were to act. Why had the Department waited until this year of grace, 1893, for all these new requirements? It really did look as if there was an intention to impose fresh liabilities on voluntary schools. Lord Kimberley stated— The Royal Commission which reported in June, 1888, stated that the time had come when the State might well be more exact in requiring for school children a proper amount of air and space, suitable premises, and a reasonable extent of playground. That Report was the foundation of the whole matter. Lord Norton stated that the Code of 1890 demanded generally that all schools receiving grants should satisfy the Department as to their healthiness; but it restricted the application of any new requirements as to space to new buildings. He trusted that now no immediate pressure would be put upon the older schools beyond a general warning to all voluntary managers to set their houses in order so far as their means would allow. He hoped some consolatory assurance would now be afforded to that effect. There was no more praiseworthy, deserving, and meritorious class than those for whom he was pleading. They were the pioneers of Elementary Education; before the creation of School Boards they were prophets crying in the wilderness. They had been the means of saving the State £40,000,000, which had been raised by private subscriptions and resources. It was the buildings erected by this money it was now desired to improve by this Circular. Notwithstanding the great number of Board schools, there were 5,000 more voluntary schools than there were in 1870. He hoped that, in the circumstances, the voluntary managers would receive the kindly, gracious, and sympathetic consideration of Her Majesty's Government.


said, if his hon. Friend had given notice of his intention to deal with the Circular, he would have been in a better position to answer him than he now was. The hon. Gentleman asked why the Circular, which dealt with the sanitary and healthy condition of schools, was issued in this particular year? He (Mr. Acland) only said that a large number of Inspectors, reporting upon all parts of the country, had been desiring some inquiry of this kind for a long period. They had reported again and again that the condition of many schools was such that the children suffered in health; and he drew no distiction between Board schools and voluntary schools, considering it the duty of the Department to deal equally with both classes of schools. Again and again School Inspectors had called attention to this matter, and had asked for some kind of Statistical Returns to show how the schools stood. The Commission of Lord Cross said the time had come when, in the very words of the Circular, it would be reasonable to limit the time for requiring compliance with certain conditions as to the healthiness of the buildings. The Circular asked questions of the Inspectors in order that the state of things might be ascertained. He submitted that the Circular did not ask for anything which was unreasonable. It asked, for instance, whether the site was open and airy and provided reasonable space, and whether the playground was of sufficient size and provided with gymnastic apparatus. He quite agreed there were various crowded parts where it was impossible to insist on the playgrounds being of a certain size for an old school as in the case of a new. But he considered it was a good thing they should have the information as to whether and where such schools existed. The Circular further asked whether the building was dry and in good repair, whether it was properly lighted, whether the class-rooms were of reasonable size, and the staircases properly arranged, and as to the cloak-rooms and offices. There ought to be good cloak-rooms in all our schools, whether in town or country. To have damp clothes steaming in the same room where the children were taught was most undesirable for health, as every medical man would testify. As to the offices, they ought to be disconnected from one another. The hon. Baronet said that great efforts had been made by voluntary managers as well as by Boards to bring their schools up to modern requirements. In bringing schools up to modern requirements—and he was glad to say that many clergy, landlords, and others had made admirable efforts in this direction —this Circular would not injure them in any way whatever. If the hon. Baronet inquired what action had been taken since the Department had received the answers to the Circular he would find there was no cause for great alarm; but he did not hesitate to say that in all matters relating to the warmth, light, sanitation, ventilation, equipment, and generally healthy accommodation, he, with the Department, thoroughly intended to do all he could to bring up our schools of all kinds, whether voluntary or Board schools, to a state of complete efficiency.

MR. E. STANHOPE (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)

did not think the statement of the right hon. Gentleman was by any means satisfactory, and he was afraid, when the proper time came, in Committee, there would be some further observations to make upon the matter. In the meantime, he desired to point out one important subject as to which the right hon. Gentleman had said nothing. Many schools within the last few years had made great structural alterations in order to comply with the requirements of the Education Department. The managers had done this at great cost, and in the face of great difficulty, at the request of the Education Department, although they themselves did not entirely up prove of the alterations. Notwithstanding the fact that those structural alterations had been made in the case of many of these schools, the right hon. Gentleman or his Inspectors were actually calling upon the managers to reverse what they had done three or four years ago, and make further changes and incur additional expense.


That has nothing to do with this Circular.


I am quite wella ware of that; but I want to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the matter, and when we go into Committee I should like to ask him a special question about it.

*DR. MACGREGOR (Inverness-shire)

desired to ask the Secretary for Scotland if he could definitely state whether the Government would give its support to the Bill for amending the Crofters' Act?


intimated that it was out of Order to refer to the Bill on the Report of the Vote on Account.


desired to ask a question or two relating to the Royal Commission in the Islands and Highlands. The excuse was made that this Commission could not begin its operations until the weather had improved. In the middle of April, the weather having improved, they had commenced, and now, after a month's work, they had suspended operations for three weeks, when the days were at the longest and the weather was at its best. Why had they suspended operations at this juncture, when there was so much urgency with regard to the question of land in the Highlands? He would like to ask what remuneration was being made to the Royal Commission? He was aware that the expenses of its members were allowed; but he would like to know what that meant! The Mail Service in the Highlands and Islands was in a very unsatisfactory state, especially in the Islands, where there was great irregularity. The people complained that they could not get their letters, in some instances, more than once a week. He would ask the Secretary for Scotland whether he could not, by conference with the Postmaster General and the Treasury, make such arrangements as would effect a much-needed improvement in the Mail Service? With regard to Secondary Education in the Highlands, he would like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman would not act upon a hint which he had given him, and provide small annual bursaries for boys who would have to come a long way to the central school?


desired, for a few moments, to allude to a matter on which he had ventured to trouble the House on several occasions, by way of questions to the Home Secretary. He had the honour to represent a constituency in which there was a large convict prison, the warders of which had a great many grievances with respect to hours and other matters, to which the attention of the Home Office had frequently been called. He had assisted the warders to the best of his ability, and the Home Secretary had been courteous enough to give directions that he should be furnished with an elaborate Memorandum dealing with those grievances. The tone of that Memorandum, however, was very disappointing. It was the tone of an advocate defending his cause, rather than of an impartial Department deciding upon a case which had been laid before it. This Memorandum differed very seriously from the allegations made to him by his constituents; but upon many matters in the Memorandum he did not think the facts were disputed. He would venture to call the attention of the House and the Home Secretary to one or two of the facts in regard to the hours of these prison warders. They often heard in that House of the necessity for shortening the hours of labour, and he thought the House would admit that the hours of labour among the employés of the Government itself were very long. These warders were sometimes on day and sometimes on night duty. The hours of labour of those on day duty were as much as 65 per week, exclusive of meal-times. That was a very large figure. The Department, in reply to his statement on this subject, declared that he had taken the months in which the hours of labour were longest, and had not taken into account the days of leave. But the months on which the duty was longest happened to be about 10 in the year, and the days of leave were only 14 at the outside, and in speaking of the length of hours in that House they did not take into account the days of leave granted to employés. If they were to take account of the leave, they ought also to take account of the patrols necessary during meal-times. As to night duty, it would be admitted, considering the character and strain of the work, that the hours should not be long, yet the warders had to do 60 hours' night duty a week; and when the change was made from night to day duty, or the opposite, the warder had to be on service for 17 hours out of the 24. Then there was the question of a half-holiday. The warders on day duty had an occasional half-holiday on a Saturday. But those on night duty had no half-holiday, and nothing corresponding to it; and that was the principal grievance of which they complained. Night duty was far more laborious than day duty, and he urged the Home Secretary to make some mitigation in this respect. It might be asked, if these men had grievances, why did they not lay them before the Visiting Director? They had done so themselves, and also through their Governor, but apparently without success. He appealed to the Home Secretary to re-consider the whole matter, especially the point of the half-holiday. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman might be willing to grant a Departmental Committee of a small character to inquire into the grievances of the warders. If the right hon. Gentleman could not see his way to do that he would ask him to receive a deputation of the warders, who might themselves lay their case before him. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to mitigate the grievances of a very deserving body of men to whom the country owed a great deal, and who were worked harder than would be allowed in most private employments.


said, he regretted that, not having had notice of the intention of the noble Lord to bring forward the subject, he had not with him the materials which would enable him to go in detail into the various points to which to which the noble Lord had referred. But he would remind him and the House that the whole question of the treatment of warders of convict prisons—their status, pay, hours of labour, and holidays—was most carefully and laboriously investigated in 1891 by a Departmental Committee presided over by Lord de Ramsay, and in consequence of the Report of that Committee very large changes and improvements were made in the positions and conditions of labour of the warders less than two years ago. He had satisfied himself, after careful inquiry, that the position of the warders in Rochester Prison did not differ in any respect from the position of the warders in other convict prisons. The rules and the system which prevailed there were those recommended by the Committee with full knowledge of the circumstances and after full inquiry. He had no responsibility in the matter, except that he had inherited the system. He could not accede to the noble Lord's suggestion to start a fresh Departmental Inquiry within so short a time of the last one; but if any well-founded case was brought before him and were proved to his satisfaction to be a real grievance he should gladly attend to it and do everything in his power to meet it. He would suggest to the noble Lord that between now and the Committee of Supply—which he admitted was a contingent and indefinite time— the noble Lord should bring before him officially any complaints he had to make, and he would promise to give them his personal attention and most careful consideration.

MR. H. R. FARQUHARSON (Dorset, W.)

commented on the way in which the Votes had been closured in the attempt to rush through the Vote on Account on the previous night. He desired to know from the Minister of Agriculture what his intention was with regard to the great distress in agriculture? Nothing surprised him more than the apathy and indifference in the House generally as regarded the condition of agriculture. The agricultural industry in England was positively on its last. legs. Day after day and night after night they had interminable discussion about Ireland, whilst the most important industry of the country—that of agriculture— was positively going to the dogs. He considered that before they finally disposed of the Vote for the Hoard of Agriculture they ought to hear from the Minister of Agriculture what his views were as to some remedy for the present state of agriculture. There was the matter of swine fever, for dealing with which the President of the Board of Agriculture promised to bring forward a measure; but no such measure had as yet been laid before the House. He should like some information as to this. He desired also to put one or two questions to the President of the Local Government Board. He had very great, fault to find with the way the Annual Report of the Local Government Board was brought out, and with the tables and figures given. With reference to the lunatic and insane children, who were described as indoor paupers in the workhouses, he asked how many such cases there were, and whether the lunatic children were kept apart from the sane children? Nothing could be more harmful than to allow the two classes to be mixed up. He expressed the opinion that the agricultural localities had to support more workhouses in proportion to population than other localities, and proceeded to ask for information respecting what were described as able-bodied inmates in workhouses. As regarded children, he did not understand what an able-bodied child meant, but he supposed children under 16 were not able-bodied. One more point to which he would draw attention was that of the maintenance of paupers, and the expense of that maintenance as applied, distinctively, to indoor and outdoor patients. It. was impossible to arrive at a conclusion as to the distinction on the face of this Report. There was a number of other items, dealing with matters of expense, which might have the careful consideration of the right hon. Gentleman and his subordinates at the Local Government Office. He would only express a hope that the right hon. Gentleman would in future instruct his subordinates to draw up the Report of the Department so that the items, as affecting indoor and outdoor pauperism, would be made clearer to the public, for whose information the Report was intended.

*MR. WEIR (ROSS and Cromarty)

said, it was, no doubt, very inconvenient to raise important questions at that late hour of the night (after midnight), but he would undertake not to make a speech, and not to detain the House long, in calling attention to one or two matters affecting that part of the country in which he was specially interested. He had, first of all, to call attention to the neglect of the Scotch fisheries. Much might be done to develop this important industry. Then, with regard to the Board of Supervision, its re-construction was absolutely necessary. At present this Hoard did its work very badly, and he did trust that the Secretary for Scotland (Sir G. Trevelyan) would inquire into its method of conducting public business, and apply adequate remedies? The hon. Gentleman then referred to the negligence of the Board of Supervision in the matter of the proposed fever hospital at Auchtermuchty, which town he visited during the Recess, and when there, was asked by the Provost and Burgh Authorities to help them in their efforts to get the Board of Supervision to act. With such inattention to the state of matters in the Lowlands, and this, too, in the constituency of his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, what would the Board of Supervision not do in the Highlands? He wished the right hon. Gentleman, in his management of the affairs of Scotland, not to confine his purview to the mainland, and to the principal place in each of the Islands, but to extend his inquiry—or, better still, his visit—to the various districts of the Islands and the mainland, and so be better able to learn something of the requirements of the people, and of the indifference of the Board of Supervision to the wants of the population in the remote districts. The Board of Supervision had too many lawyers among its members; and it was for the Secretary for Scotland to prevail upon his Colleagues to bring about such reforms as were demanded. The number of lawyers should be reduced, and these sanitary theorists replaced by practical men. The policy evidently was at present to find work for a number——


The hon. Member is wandering from the question before the House.


said, he would bow to the ruling of the Chair, but he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland would do something in the direction he had indicated. he trusted that the Fiscals would be better looked after than they were by the Lord Advocate (Mr. J. B. Balfour). Another matter upon which he had a word to say was the manner in which the business of the Board of Trade Offices was conducted. There were officials who used the offices for their own private purposes. In his opinion, all Government Departments should be above suspicion. If private firms allowed their employés to do such things as had been permitted by the Board of Trade, the result would be the Bankruptcy Court for the firms and commercial immorality amongst the employés. These officials were paid sufficiently high salaries for attending to the business of the Department, and he thought they should give their services to the Department wholly and exclusively. He hoped the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Mundella) was in a position to assure the House that the business of his Department would be conducted on the lines of probity, honour, and honesty henceforward.

COLONEL R. GUNTER (York, W. R., Barkstone Ash)

said, he was anxious that some guidance should be given to Boards of Guardians who might find it necessary or desirable to take buildings for use as cottage hospitals. The Guardians frequently had actions brought against them which were expensive to the ratepayers, and they would like their duties and liabilities to be more clearly defined. The question was, Were they entitled to take buildings, and, if they were, what arrangements had been made to safeguard them against litigation?


said, the hon. Member for' Inverness-shire spoke of the Royal Commission having made a break in its sittings. But they must remember what this Commission was, and what its labours were. It was a Commission composed of gentlemen with important avocations of their own, who could not be taken from those avocations continuously, and their labours involved great physical inconvenience and physical hardship in the very roughest and wildest parts of the United Kingdom. They never asked from the unpaid members of the Royal Commission the same sort of work that they had a right to ask from public servants with a continuous salary. The Commission had arranged its work most admirably. They had gone, first, to the important district of the Isle of Skye, where they stayed a mouth or more thoroughly examining the country. They would re-commence their labours at Beauly, in the very centre of what might be called the sensational deer forest district of the Highlands. The Chairman of the Commission, Sheriff Brand, would find during the three weeks' recess public duties which it was necessary for him to perform. This was not a paid Commission. The members received £1 1s. per day for maintenance for each day they were on service, and their travelling expenses—that was to say, nothing but a bare maintenance, so that they should not be absolutely out of pocket except for the time they were taken from those avocations by which they earned their livelihood. There was only one exception, Mr. Gordon, a surveyor, who was paid £5 5s. for each day that he was commissioned by his brother Commissioners to perform professional work. As to the bursaries, there were no bursaries given out of the funds voted by Parliament. This was a question for the localities, and if the District Committees proposed to spend the money that was given for secondary education upon providing bursaries for Highland children, he was quite sure that the Department over which lie had the honour to preside would help them in every way to carry out that intention. The hon. Member sitting below the Gangway (Mr. Weir) asked when the Board of Supervision, which he said did its work very badly, would be re-constructed. He (Sir G. Trevelyan) did not admit that it did its work badly, and more especially would he not admit that the individual members of the Board failed to apply to their work very great industry, great diligence, and great public spirit; but, as he had said, both in the House and elsewhere, he thought it was a Board faultily constructed. He was prepared to re-construct it in a manner which, when the time came, he should be glad to explain to the House; but he could only do it by legislation, and when he brought in the Local Government Bill for Scot-laud the construction of the Board of Supervision would be an interesting part of the measure. In regard to the other points brought forward by the hon. Member, he must say he thought the hon. Member was too ready to appeal to the Central Authority on matters that ought to be left to the Local Bodies who represented the public opinion of the localities; but. in all matters where the Board of Supervision ought to interfere, he could promise the hon. Gentleman that that interference should take effect.


asked if the right hon. Gentleman could inform them when the Royal Commission would finish its work?


said, he had to congratulate the Government upon the fact that they had doubled the grant to the Association which found employment for Reserve and discharged soldiers. They had a very interesting Debate on the subject of such employment last night, and he could only say that the matter was one of extreme importance. Other countries provided employment for their soldiers when discharged after long and honourable service, and it was found an excellent system, helping largely to popularise the Army and to strengthen it. France, Russia, and America provided State-aided employment. The English Government, among the Governments of the civilised nations, did not do so. They had voluntary enlistment, and voluntary enlistment would be more popular if the Government followed the examples of other Governments. It was, of course, gratifying that this grant had been made, but he would prefer that the Government should seriously consider the whole question of employing men discharged from the Army or finding employment for them.


said, he could assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down that the Government were sensible of the importance of the subject, and that they were doing their best in reference to it.

SIR T. LEA (Londonderry, S.)

said, he rose to appeal to the Government, through the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir W. Harcourt), to postpone the Vote on Account, in order that an opportunity might be given for discussing the lawless condition of the Counties of Clare, Kerry, and Limerick. It was obvious that at 25 minutes to 1 o'clock in the morning it was impossible to raise that question. Many hon. Members were anxious that the discussion should take place, and he believed the Chief Secretary was desirous of giving his answer. [Mr. J. MORLEY dissented.] If that were so, he presumed it was because the case was as bad as some hon. Members believed it to be. He asked that the Vote should be taken as the first Order on Thursday, and he did so in the interests of order in Ireland.


said, he would explain that it was necessary that the Vote should be taken before the House rose, as payments had to be made on June 1. He regretted that the matter which the hon. Member desired to raise had not been brought forward; it would probably have better occupied the attention of the Committee than some of the topics which were discussed. He thought it a pity that some arrangement was not made for seeing that matters of real importance and not trifling subjects should be discussed on the Vote on Account. That was a matter affecting both sides of the House. In his early Parliamentary days no one ever pretended to raise the trivial questions that now occupied so much of their time. Nothing, indeed, was ever raised to matters of urgent importance. He hoped the House would not delay the Vote any longer.

MR. W. REDMOND (Clare E.)

said, he only wanted to say a few words in reference to what had fallen from the Member for South Londonderry. For his part, he was anxious that a Debate should take place, because he believed it would result in showing that the condition of the three counties named had steadily improved. He would point out that the condition of his county (Clare) had been discussed three or four times within as many months. He did not object to that discussion, provided something new was brought forward. They had it debated on the Address, on a special Motion for Adjournment, and again during the ordinary Business of the House. Personally, he would be glad to enter into the matter again, as, with regard to the condition of County Clare, the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Arnold-Forster) had declared him to be able to place his hands on the persons who had committed some recent shooting outrages. That was a statement which ought not to have been made by one hon. Member of the House of another. The hon. Member had widely circulated in the columns of The Times the statement that, if the hon. Member for Clare did not know who were the men who committed the outrages, which everyone deplored, he could find out for the trouble of asking; and the hon. Member declared the parish priest to be in the same position. He did not think that any hon. Gentleman would require him to place on record his denial of such a charge. He had been in the House, attending to his duties, since the beginning of the Session. The County Clare was well supplied with police, and it was a monstrous thing to maintain that it was his duty to leave the House and go to his constituency to perform police work. If the men were so well-known, how was it that the police did not know them? And how was it that, if he could find them for the trouble of asking, the hon. Member for West Belfast and his informants had not taken that trouble? It was a monstrous practice for one hon. Member to write to the newspapers because a murder had taken place in another hon. Member's constituency, and urge that it was that hon. Member's duty to track down the murderer. Everyone in the House would believe that he had not, and could not have, any knowledge, direct or indirect, of the men who fired the shots. He had repeatedly set his face against outrage of every kind, the only difference between him and the hon. Member for West Belfast being that he had impartially denounced every crime, whether on the part of the moonlighter or the landlord; whereas the hon. Member had nothing to say of the primary cause of most of the crime in Ireland—the evictions by landlords. If they were to have this Debate, his (Mr. Redmond's) conduct would be shown to be what it ought to be; but, having been allowed to make this statement, he did not care much whether the Debate on the condition of Clare was continued or not. If, however, the Debate should take place, it would be established that the condition of the county had improved, and that it was not for the general good of Ireland, or of Clare, that this matter should he talked about in that House over and over again.


said, that he could well understand that the hon. Member did not desire further debate on the condition of County Clare. But this matter was much too serious for personalities. He wished, first, to deal with the public aspect of the question. The reason that this matter of grave public importance was not pressed the previous day was that there was a ruling of the Chairman declaring it to be impossible to take any question out of the order in which it was placed on the Paper. He and his hon. Friends were then and now anxious to raise the question, because it affected the lives and liberties of subjects and was on that account most urgent. The hon. Member said that nothing had changed in Clare. A great deal had changed, and many miserable outrages had been committed since the last Debate on the subject took place. With reference to the personal matter, the hon. Member had misrepresented him in one respect. Instead of attributing to the hon. Member a knowledge of the perpetrators of these acts he deliberately disavowed such a thing in his letter; and he was willing to believe that the hon. Member had no knowledge of the perpetrators of the crime.


said, that he would quote exactly the words used by the hon. Member in his letter to The TimesThe men who persecute Mr. Blood are well-known. I assume for the present purposes that the Member for the division and the parish priest do not know them. If that be the case, they are the only human beings within a score of miles who do not know them, and for the trouble of asking they could find out who they are to morrow. If that statement meant anything at all it meant that he was in a position to find out who the culprits were, and that he refrained from doing so. That statement he called monstrous.


said, that he was obliged to the hon. Member for so correctly stating his views, and he was willing to believe that the hon. Member did not know the names of the men [cries of"Oh!"], but he asserted that the hon. Member could ascertain the names in five minutes. Let him ask the Chief Secretary for them. [Cries of "Ask him yourself!"] The right hon. Gentleman, in answer to a question, said that the names of the men were notorious and known to the police. If the Chief Secretary would not give the names to the hon. Member he would himself. [Cries of "The names!" and "Order!"] If the hon. Member visited his constituency he would find scores of people who could give him the names at once. When a case of this gravity occurred in an hon. Member's constituency it was his duty to make an inquiry which would put him in a position to abate what was a great public scandal. He challenged the hon. Member to ask the right hon. Gentleman, who was responsible for the peace and government of Ireland, on what information he based his answer to the question put to him the other night that these men were known to the police and himself.


I do not know the names.


said, the right hon. Gentleman, in his answer, said that these men were known; and he challenged the right hon. Gentleman to say that he could not, within two minutes after arriving at Dublin Castle, that he could not at the Irish Office— that he could not now, after two minutes' conversation with him (Mr. Arnold-Forster)—discover who the men were. Mr. Bindon Blood was living under the most damnable persecution. [Cries of "Order!"] The Chief Secretary told the House the other night that the men were known to the police. If the right hon. Gentleman had no ground for making that statement he ought not to have made it. He was certain that if the hon. Member opposite were to ask the Chief Secretary to find out who the men were he would get the names without difficulty. But if the hon. Member were to say that the Chief Secretary could not inform him, he would be very glad himself to try to put the hon. Member on the track. Hon. Members seemed to be unaware of a notorious fact —namely, that scores and scores of these men, who were perpetrators and abettors of crime, were perfectly well known to the police; but that it was difficult to get evidence on which to convict them, because witnesses and jurors had been openly threatened by hon. Members opposite. [Cries of "Oh!"] He repeated his challenge, and he asked every hon. Member in that House whether he did not feel in his heart—[Cries of "Oh!"]—that it was the duty of a Member of Parliament, as a public servant, to do all that he could, when the facts of a case like this were brought before him, to relieve a fellow-countryman from such persecution as Mr. Blood was now suffering under?

MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)

said, the hon. Member for West Belfast had delivered a most perplexing speech. It contained a great deal of challenging, a vast deal of declamation, but not a grain or atom of sense. What did the hon. Member say in his letter to The Times? He said that if his hon. Friend above the Gangway (Mr. W. Redmond) or the parish priest were ignorant of the names of the persons who attempted to commit a certain murder, they were the only persons who were so ignorant. What was the necessary inference? That the population of the district knew the names of the guilty parties, and that the hon. Member who represented the district also knew the names. The hon. Member (Mr. Arnold-Forster) conveyed himself more than once that he knew the names, and at one point, before his speech was concluded, he seemed to give a promise that he would state the names. The Chief Secretary said he was unable to state the names, and everybody believed that in the next sentence the hon. Member for West Belfast would himself declare the names to the House. He (Mr. Sexton) now challenged him to state the names to the House. If he did not know the names, then his letter to The Times was a mere delusion. If he did know the names and would not state them, then he (Mr. Sexton) denounced him as an abettor of crime. Let the men be convicted, and let the men be punished. If hon. Members used language in public letters and public speeches implying that others and themselves were acquainted with these names, and if they would not give the names, then the House ought to be spared the annoyance of such mere drivel. He must say that the view the hon. Member took as to the duties of hon. Members of that House was one of the strangest of which he had ever heard. They were sent there to discuss public questions, to make laws for the public good; but the hon. Member appeared to put upon hon. Members of the House the duties which were placed upon the police. If a crime occurred in any constituency it was the view of this hon. Member that the hon. Gentleman representing that constituency should leave the discharge of his duties in that House, proceed to his constituency, and supplement the apathy or ineffectiveness of the local police. Surely that was a reading of their duties which hon. Members of that House would not accept. These crimes in Clare were secret, and they were perpetrated under circumstances which rendered it very unlikely that the perpetrators would be known to the public at large; but there were crimes committed recently in Ireland which were notoriously public. They were committed in the constituency of the hon. Member. They were committed in the open streets, to the knowledge, not of scores, but of thousands of the political sympathisers of the hon. Member. Let him betake himself to his own constituency. Let him find out and state to the House who were the miscreants who wrecked and looted houses in Belfast, and who were the wretched cowards who, in the name of politics, dragged poor girls by the hair of the head. Let the hon. Member who laid down such a rigorous view of the duties of others first discharge the duty of a Member of Parliament according to his own idea, and, when he had identified and exposed these criminals, then let him venture to lecture other hon. Members—but not until then.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)

said, that no hon. Member opposite had been led to take this view of the duties of Members of Parliament. Let them see what had recently been done by the hon. Member for East Belfast (Mr. Wolff). After the visit of the right hon. Gentleman the Loader of the Opposition (Mr. A. J. Balfour), the hon. Member for East Belfast was despatched by the Conservative Party to Belfast on an occasion when certain persons there were described as "damned fools." The hon. Member for East Belfast knew who it was who threw the bolts and nuts. They (the Nationalists) did not know who committed the outrages and murders in Clare.


asked whether the hon. Member was in Order in making this statement about the hon. Member for East Belfast during his absence?


said, if the hon. Member was absent he hoped it was on a mission to prevent outrage in Belfast. He rose, however, not for the purpose of continuing the discussion, but for the purpose of asking the Chief Secretary a question. The right hon. Gentleman, in replying to a question, had given his view of the Statute 6&7 William IV., referring to the question of the displaying of flags from licensed premises. He would call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that there were cases in which Nationalist publicans had been prosecuted and had their licences taken from them because they had hung out banners on certain occasions. The right hon. Gentleman said his view of the section was that, when a person hung out the Union Jack, he was not breaking the law, so that it seemed that if the guilt depended on the colour of the flag, and not on the question whether a flag was hung out. The words of the section prohibited the exhibition of any flag except the known, usual, and accustomed sign of the house. He would be inclined to agree with the view of the law expressed by the Chief Secretary, only the words of the section were absolute as to all emblems except the known and usual sign of the house. He wished to ask whether the wording of this section did not make illegal all emblems except known and accustomed signs? As Nationalist publicans had been prosecuted for 50 years under the section he desired also to know whether a test case could not be taken to the High Court of Justice, so that the exact scope of the provision might be defined? It was hard if a Unionist was, under colour of his loyalty, to be allowed to hang out a Party emblem, whilst a Nationalist was to be prevented from doing so. Why should a red flag with particular bars upon it be allowed to be used, when a green flag, having no bars at all, was not so allowed? Was the interpretation of the section to be reduced to a question of pigment? he respectfully contended that "any emblem except the known and accustomed sign of the house" did not mean an absolute prohibition of any emblem whatever. He thought that sufficient notice had been attracted to the subject to entitle those who were interested to obtain some valid decision upon it.


I do not know whether it is possible to take the course my hon. and learned Friend suggests; but I will consider the question with the Law Officers. In the meantime I may say that the clause as he read it, taken by itself, undoubtedly seems to point to the illegality of the exhibition of bunting of any sort—Union Jack or anything else. But when, along with the Law Officers, I read the whole of the Statute, it appeared to me that its intention was to prohibit the meeting in licensed houses of secret or other obnoxious Associations. It seems to mo that it would be impossible that the Statute could have meant the prohibition of such an emblem as the Union Jack, because one section empowers constables to take down a flag and to destroy it. I do not believe that Parliament ever meant to give constables power to haul down the Union Jack and destroy it. My impression, which is not contradicted by the Law Officers whom I have had the opportunity of consulting, is that the intention, as disclosed by the context, was to limit the prohibition to pieces of bunting which might be taken as symbols or ensign of one of those Associations whoso meetings within a licensed house was prohibited. What my hon. and learned Friend has said as to the apparent inequality of the views taken by different Administrations is quite true. Certainly there is a great difference between the view we take of what occurred last week and the view that has been taken of events that have occurred in the South and West of Ireland. In 1889 two publicans were brought up for having banners hanging out of their windows during Father M'Fadden's march. In the first of these cases the Magistrates made no order, and in the second they inflicted a small fine. When the Prince of Wales visited Dublin in 1885, during the Viceroyalty of Lord Spencer, publicans wished to hang out flags of various kinds; and the authorities of the day felt most sensibly that it would be absurd to punish publicans for welcoming the Heir to the Throne by putting out decorations and flags. They, therefore, took no notice. Though the constables who were concerned in the affair at Derry the other day did nothing but that for which perfectly good reason and excuse may be found, I think it was one of those cases in which the apparent breach of the ordinary reading of the section might well have been winked at. As it is, I think the time has come when we might have an opinion and perhaps a decision taken on the question, and to that point I will give my best consideration.

MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)

said, he did not think the speech made a little earlier by the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be allowed to pass without protest. The right hon. Gentleman said there was no time to discuss these matters, whether they were important or not, because the Vote must be passed at that Sitting in order that payments might be made on the 1st of June. The discussion and the redress of grievances were among the oldest and certainly the most valuable privileges of the House; but the Government were practically, by a side wind, destroying these privileges. They had put forward the Vote on Account on the last available day, so as to leave no time for discussion; and, as the Vote was for two months, it would carry them on to the ordinary end of the Session. They had, consequently, practically destroyed the privilege of discussing and obtaining redress of grievances before Supply was granted.

Question put, and agreed to.