§ £26,991, to complete the sum for Chief Secretary for Ireland,—Offices.
§ MR. JOHN DILLON, (Mayo, E.)
in rising to move a reduction of £2,000 in respect of the salary of the Chief Secretary, said that, if the Chief Secretary did all the work that he was expected to do, he would deserve a very much larger salary than he received. The Chief Secretary was expected to do the work 41 of at least four or five men. But the complaint against the present occupant of the office was in reference, not so much to what he had done, as to what he had not done. The right hon. Gentleman ought to be in the Cabinet. The custom of including the Chief Secretary in the Cabinet had become almost a fixed tradition; and in departing from that custom the present Government had made a great mistake. There was in the House of Commons only one Minister who was in any way responsible for the Government of Ireland, and it might be expected that he would be in the Cabinet; because the task of governing Ireland was neither easy nor simple, and it was very little understood by the other Members of the Government. It was preposterous to suppose that the Chief Secretary could adequately convey his views and desires to the Cabinet unless he was present at the meeting. The result of the present arrangement was manifest in the conduct of Irish business. A system had been introduced into Irish affairs, against which he must protest, and that was the "take it or leave it" system. There had been two important Irish Measures introduced this Session, as well as several minor measures, and these had been introduced after 12 o'clock, with the warning that they must not be discussed, or, as in the case of the Land Bill, with the warning that even reasonable discussion would cause the Bill to be withdrawn. This plan was not fair to the Irish people nor to the House; and the protests against the policy were not confined to Nationalists. The supporters of the Government in Ireland had used even stronger language.
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
I do not think the conduct of business can be discussed on this occasion. It is the Acts of the Minister which are under consideration.
§ MR. DILLON
said that for a long time Irishmen had had cause to complain of the policy of the Government in proposing no remedial measures to meet Irish grievances, until those grievances had become burning. The Dublin Daily Express, one of the chief supporters of the Government, condemned this policy. Then as to the relations of the Irish Government towards primary education. It was now four years ago since the Irish 42 Government, when the right hon. Member for North Leeds was Chief Secretary, addressed a communication to the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, directing their attention to the fact that there were certain schools which were efficiently discharging the duties of primary education, and which were excluded from all participation in Government aids and grants. It was a remarkable fact that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds laid it down in the Debate in the House of Commons that one essential condition of extending Government assistance to Voluntary religious schools in Ireland was that they should accept a conscience clause. The Commissioners of National Education agreed to accept a conscience clause, and they framed or altered rules to meet the views of the Irish Government. Then a long correspondence took place between the Chief Secretary of the succeeding Liberal Government, who adhered to the policy of his predecessor—namely, that a conscience clause was a necessary condition precedent to assistance being given. Then after three or four years another Irish Secretary appeared on the scene, and he repudiated the policy of his two predecessors and said that, in the event of a grant being given, it was to be given without a conscience clause. That was an instance of vacillation which was calculated to destroy all confidence of the people in the machinery of Irish Government. The Government had succeeded in bringing in a Bill relating to education which every human being condemned, and then they withdrew it. This was the result of the efforts of a strong Unionist Government which was to hold the balance even between all parties in Ireland. Having successfully drafted a Bill which satisfied nobody, they proceeded to throw it over. The action of the Government was an infringement of all the principles they had laid down when they were wooing English and Scotch constituencies of giving to Ireland a strong and impartial Government. Government such as theirs was no Government at all; it was chaos. Their policy was a policy of doing nothing until a question became so burning that they were forced to act. A more mischievous policy could not be conceived than that which was announced by the 43 Chief Secretary when he said that he would not have touched the education question if it had not been for resistance to the law as it stood on the part of certain towns in Ireland. That was to say, he would not have introduced a Bill because of the merits or justice of the question, but because he found insuperable obstacles in the ordinary administration of the existing law. A policy such as that, where great principles were concerned, deserved and would earn for itself the condemnation and contempt of the country.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
said the individuality of the present Chief Secretary was such that it disarmed anything like hostile personal criticism, and, accordingly, he thought this was the proper time to lay before the House of Commons the anomalous position of the right hon. Gentleman. It was a matter of serious observation that, although the present Cabinet consisted of 19 Members, the Chief Secretary was not one of them, yet that exclusion was as nothing when contrasted with the anomalous character of the office itself. He would draw attention to one thing which the right hon. Gentleman did not know in reference to his own salary. The salary of the Chief Secretary was formerly £4,000 and now it was £4,425. The advance came about thus. There was a sum which used to appear in the Votes of £425 for coals for the Chief Secretary's Lodge, although the Chief Secretary used to reside at the Lodge only about 10 days in the year. Some curious questioner did not see how £425 could be expended on coals in passing 10 days in summer at Dublin unless the Chief Secretary was entertaining the whole of Dublin, and the Government, being generous, thought it would not be well to give rise to these inquiries, and accordingly the Chief Secretary was allowed an additional £425. When he tried, however, to get a hundred or two for the starving peasants in Donegal he was opposed by all the officials in Dublin Castle. Nothing was more remarkable in the office of Chief Secretary than its power and position when contrasted with its lowly state of administrative efficiency. The Irish Members had to address their questions to the "Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant," which was its 44 proper designation, because the right hon. Gentleman was in reality a private Secretary to the Viceroy. That arrangement prevailed before the Union, but gradually the post increased in power and responsibility. The Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary in Ireland managed in the English interest the Irish administration. The Chief Secretary was a subordinate official in the English Parliament, but he went over to Ireland with the Lord Lieutenant and immediately obtained a seat in the Irish Parliament for one of the rotten boroughs, and his province was simply to direct a mere system of corruption. Then the Chief Secretary and the Lord Lieutenant "communicated" with the Home Secretary, and much of the correspondence was preserved. He did not know in any memoirs more ghastly confessions of corruption, falsehood, and fraud. After the Union it was still a subordinate post, and the Duke of Wellington at one time commanded in the Peninsular War while drawing the salary as Chief Secretary.
* THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
I fail to see exactly the appropriateness of the historical resumé of the hon. Member.
§ MR. MACNEILL
I want to show the historical position of the Chief Secretary and to complain of his not being a Member of the Cabinet.
* THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
It does not rest with the Chief Secretary whether he is a Member of the Cabinet or not. I do not see how the question is germane.
§ MR. MACNEILL
It is germane, because he is not worth £4,425 a year unless he is a Member of the Cabinet. The Irish people wanted a Minister who was not more or less in a subordinate position, but a Cabinet Minister representing the Irish Administration, whom they could meet face to face in the House and interrogate.
* THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
There is nothing to prevent the Chief Secretary from being a Member of the Cabinet. It does not rest with the Chief Secretary, and I do not think that any discussion of the kind can arise on this Vote; certainly Committee of Supply is not the time to raise the question.
§ MR. MACNEILL
said that the Chief Secretary laboured under the great disadvantage that he came to the discharge of his duties without any official experience. Formerly Mr. O'Connell, when a Chief Secretary was appointed, compared him to an apprentice to a barber who was allowed to shave provided that the customers did not raise any question if they were gashed. [Laughter.] He accordingly would describe the right hon. Gentleman as a prentice hand. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to have delivered himself up wholly to the judgment of the gentlemen in Dublin Castle; he had been more or less their mouthpiece. In the first speech which he delivered in August last the right hon. Gentleman, new to his office, said that he actually approached the Judges of the Land Commission with reference to the administration of judicial business. His chief objection to the administration of the right hon. Gentleman was that he did not exercise sufficiently his own judgment—that he allowed the officials of Dublin Castle to dictate to him. What the right hon. Gentleman did was to give himself up wholly to the officials and to one class of the community. The officials of Dublin Castle were the enemies of the people, and the moment the Chief Secretary attempted to do anything independently he was coldshoulderod by the people of Dublin Castle. The late Chief Secretary, no doubt, set a good example in this matter, but he confidently said that until they had a Chief Secretary wholly unamenable to Dublin Castle, and who had the courage to make himself proof against its corrupt influence, there would not be much hope that the administration would be materially changed.
§ MR. W. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
hoped the Chief Secretary would not be deterred from his duty by any remarks of the hon. Member. Speaking for the people of the North of Ireland, he could say that they were extremely thankful to him for what he had done. They had witnessed with great interest his efforts to carry through a great Land Bill, and they were most anxious that he should not be hindered in bringing; his labours to a successful issue. He wished to dissociate himself from those who, while professing to be friendly, 46 tried to prevent the business being done. He thanked the Chief Secretary for what he had done for the labourers of Ireland. He again hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would not be discouraged by the obstacles thrown in his way, but continue to do all he could impartially for the welfare and the well-being of the people of all sorts in Ireland.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
said he joined in the complaint that had been made that the Chief Secretary was not in the Cabinet. He raised the question last year, and it had been raised, he recollected, many years before. Recent revelations, however, as to what was going on in the Cabinet, made him rather doubt whether there was much dignity and importance attaching to a seat in the Cabinet. It was, however, satisfactory to be assured by the Home Secretary that the Members of the Cabinet were all on speaking terms with each other. That was a great advantage, but so far as he could see the Cabinet did not seem to interfere with anything whatever. They had a splendid record during the present year, and perhaps it was just as well that the Chief Secretary was left out and was in a position of greater freedom and less responsibility in his conduct and management of Irish affairs. But there was one Department—the British Treasury—over which he wished the Chief Secretary had more control. He rose, however, chiefly to two matters connected with education. Two months ago the House had ordered the publication of the correspondence of the Bishop of Limerick with regard to the Erasmus Smith School. He went into the Library expecting to find this correspondence, but it had not been thought worth while apparently to carry out the order of the House with regard to a correspondence, which contained the gravest impeachment probably ever made against an Irish Secretary. To print it would probably cost the Treasury 7s. 6d., but the order of the House had been simply ignored. Last year he carried a Resolution on this subject, but apparently the "continuous" policy of the English Government did not apply here. If the Liberals had remained in office there was not the smallest doubt that the correspondence would have been published. What was the position? Canon Gregg, the proselytiser and souper as they regarded him, 47 had grabbed the schools to which he had not title. When the matter came before the Education Endowments Commission they gave Canon Gregg a small amount of compensation in order to get him with decency out of the premises he had held ever since he grabbed them. As the Privy Council in Ireland was always Tory, Canon Gregg made a whip of the Orange gang of the Privy Council, and it being summer and the people mostly on their holidays, he was enabled to improve upon the compensation he got from the Education Endowment Commission, and a further Amendment was made by the Privy Council in the scheme in favour of Canon Gregg. When he (Mr. Healy) saw this, he put down a Motion excising the alteration of the Privy Council and leaving the scheme in such a shape that the sign-manual of the Viceroy could have been put to it almost at once. At the end of June or the beginning of July the late Government scurried out of office and left the scheme hanging up. He believed it was the clerks in. the Irish Office who, knowing that their friends were coming into power, kept back the amended and excised scheme from Lord Houghton, who was about to quit the position of Lord Lieutenant. The present Government came in, and they allowed the scheme to lie from June or July until the Bishop of Limerick—who had never expressed any views in favour of the National Party, but who was one of the most zealous men connected with his own Church, and especially zealous against soul-grabbing and the stealing of little children out of the religion to which they belonged—on the 3rd December, 1895, wrote a letter on the subject, the House of Commons having negatived the particular portion of the scheme in the previous May. Before he quoted from the Bishop's letter, he desired to say he, personally, entirely and absolutely acquitted the Chief Secretary of anything more than mechanical action in the business. He was quite sure the right hon. Gentleman did not understand the matter, and had never heard of the Resolution of the House, which was passed at a late hour of the night. On the 3rd December, 1895, the Bishop wrote to the Chief Secretary pointing out that on the 5th July previously Her Majesty's assent was given to a Resolu- 48 tion of the House of Commons dealing with the scheme of education endowments for the Roxborough Road School, and as the matter had, he said, been spun out for years, he inquired what effect was being given to the excision Resolution of Parliament and when the Lord Lieutenant would signify his approval of it. In reply to that letter the Chief Secretary wrote stating that, as a result of the scheme as originally drawn having been objected to in one part by the House of Commons, it had been referred in its amended form to the Judicial Commissioners under the Educational Endowments Act for their observations, which was the course adopted in the only other similar case. On the 6th December the Bishop wrote, asking whether it was referred to the Judicial Commissioners as to the one particular point, or whether it was intended to re-open the whole case on its merits. That was a very plain question. In reply to that the right hon. Gentleman stated that only that part of the scheme relating to the Limerick Diocesan Endowment had been referred to the Commissioners to obtain their observations upon it for the information of His Excellency. He added—No unnecessary delay will take place and no alteration will be made in the scheme without your Lordship and every person interested having an opportunity of making objections in writing and appearing in support of them.The matter then rested from the 9th December until February the 8th. There was not a keener man in Ireland than Bishop O'Dwyer, and he took this reply of the right hon. Gentleman to mean that this scheme had only been referred to the Lord Lieutenant for his information. However, on the 8th February the Bishop wrote, saying—To-day I have received an official communication which rather surprises me. I am informed His Excellency has decided not to approve of the scheme. That is to say, he has set it aside in toto, and a new draft scheme has been substituted for it.It was to be remembered that the Chief Secretary had informed the Bishop that no alteration would be made in the scheme without his Lordship and every person interested having an opportunity of making objections in writing and 49 appearing in support of them. What was the language of the Bishop in reference to that transaction? They were not dealing in this business with an ignorant peasant, and if this were the impression gathered of the methods of Dublin Castle and its administration by a person occupying the dignified position of a Bishop of the Catholic Church, what would be the impression created in the mind of every peasant throughout the country suffering and smarting under keen grievances? Here was the language of the Bishop to the Chief Secretary:—Your letter of the 11th (February) expresses regret for a misunderstanding. I beg to assure you there has been no misunderstanding. The case is quite clear. I thought so when writing to you on the 7th, but I considered if only fail-to allow for the possibility of your being able to offer some explanation of your proceeding's. Your letter of the 11th disposes of that possibility, and puts it beyond all doubt and question that you have distinctly and deliberately broken your pledged word and deceived mo in reference to a matter of at least local importance. I am fully alive to the gravity of the personal as well as official grounds of such a charge. I make it with great pain against one occupying a position of great responsibility in the government of the country, but it will be for you and the country to judge whether or not it is justified.The Government were so anxious to have the correspondence with their replies published, that they were stuck away in the coalholes of the House of Commons, although the House had ordered the letters to be published two months ago.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The Government never raised any objection to the correspondence being published. They did not order the publication. They left it to the Gentleman who moved for the Return to be presented, which is the universal custom.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said that was a sort of excuse which impressed him, and he believed would impress the country, unfavourably. Here was a man in the position of the Bishop of Limerick, who, in regard to this matter, made this charge, and the Government had agreed, a long time after, to the correspondence being presented; but, because the Gentleman who had asked for the correspondence did not take the trouble to run after the officials of that House and find out the Queen's printers, or whoever had charge of the printing, the course 50 was not followed which would have been if the matter dealt with had been English and concerned even the spoiled rations of a single soldier, in which case the whole correspondence would have been printed long ago. The Government had allowed their reply, which they considered convincing, to remain unprinted. The right hon. Gentleman's reply to the Bishop extended to many pages.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
And a great deal less pungent, if I may say so. He had acquitted the right hon. Gentleman of anything personally dishonourable, for he was sure he acted on the advice of his officials. The Government had referred the matter back to the Educational Endowment Committee, who for three years had been considering it. But let the House take cognisance of the expense involved in this matter. The Catholics of Ireland were necessarily a poor people, and those interested in this matter were obliged, at great expense, to come up to Dublin time after time and appear before the Privy Council. He confessed he did not thoroughly understand this matter, and he believed it was beyond the power of human comprehension to understand it. The fresh scheme had now been sent back to the Endowment Commissioners, and in the meantime the money of the people, public time, and public temper were being wasted. When the Chief Secretary came into office he said he would hold the scales evenly, but the way in which he had done that, metaphorically speaking, was by hitting the Bishop of Limerick on the head with a loaded stick, and giving £600 or £700 a year compensation to the local Protestant Canon, of which he had been previously deprived by the House. Her Majesty's present Government were in opposition, and were represented in the House when the scheme was approved, and why did they not then claim to have it mitigated. No such claim was made. He (Mr. Healy) had brought this matter forward with keen regret; he would have preferred to have let it sleep, but the action of the Irish education authority compelled him to bring it forward. He had next to draw the attention of the Chief Secretary to the case of the Erasmus Smith Endowment, 51 the present position of which, after it had come before Lord Justice Fitz-Gibbon and Mr. Justice O'Brien, was to leave the Protestants in possession of the entire scheme, amounting to something like £20,000 or £30,000 a year, the Catholics being deprived of all aid for education. The present Chief Secretary, following a pledge given by Mr. John Morley, promised, in reply to a deputation, that he would turn the matter over in his head, and endeavour to give effect to the pledge of his predecessor. But what happened. When he (Mr. Healy) questioned the right hon. Gentleman on the matter, he said he thought a Bill would settle the matter, adding that he did not think there was any prospect of bringing it in because he had ascertained there would be opposition in certain quarters of the House. [Laughter.] But why could not the right hon. Gentleman, at all events, bring in his Bill and let them see what it was like. The Government were now at the end of their first Session, and they had not even put a cup of cold water to the lips of Ireland. [Nationalist cheers.] If Bills were required to redress the grievances to which he had called attention, something might be said for the Government by way of excuse, owing to the multiplicity of their legislative projects. But those were matters of administration, and no Bills were required for a reasonable fulfilment of the promises of the Government. Of course, he could see that the Chief Secretary was in a position of difficulty owing to the gang of advisers with which he had to deal in Ireland. One of the most remarkable things ever said by an ex-Minister to a Minister was the words of warning which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose addressed to the Chief Secretary on entering into office last year. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose said:—" The Chief Secretary must remember the class of people he has to deal with as advisers in Ireland," which showed that the late Chief Secretary must not have been well served by those gentlemen himself. The truth was that the whole system of government in Ireland was clogged with Toryism, clogged with religious prejudice, clogged with hatred of the people. 52 Hatred of the Papist was the predominant feeling in the governors of Ireland. That was the system of which the Chief Secretary was the British mouthpiece. The accents of the right hon. Gentleman were those of civilisation, but the officials whose accents he translated represented mediæval barbarism. [Nationalist cheers.]
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR,
who was received with cheers, said the hon. Gentleman had reminded him that his predecessor in office had warned him against the officials he would have to deal with in Ireland. This constant denunciation of the officials of Dublin Castle was one of those commonplaces which people went on repeating until they believed them. [Cheers, and Nationalist cries of "Oh!"] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose should have been the last person to utter such words. The right hon. Gentleman himself should have remembered that it was he himself who had appointed the Under Secretary and the Assistant Under Secretary in Dublin Castle, and that, in attacking Dublin Castle, he was attacking the two chiefs whom he himself had appointed. [Cheers.] The hon. Member for South Donegal also attacked him for having delivered himself over to the Castle officials, and as an instance of that the hon. Member stated that he had approached a Judge of the High Court under the inspiration of the officials of Dublin Castle. What authority had the hon. Member for saying that? Absolutely none; it was entirely the hon. Gentleman's own invention. [Cheers.] All he had done was to ask Mr. Justice Bewley what, under certain conditions, would be the course the Land Commissioners would think themselves justified in adopting. He did it in the interest of the tenants; he had no reason to be ashamed of it; and he did not see how in doing it he had tampered with the foundations of justice in Ireland. [Cheers.] He did not think that the hon. Member for Louth would have raised the question of the Roxborough schools, for the simple reason that the correspondence in reference to those schools was not of a kind of which the Bishop of Limerick ought to be particularly proud. [Nationalist cries of "Oh!"] The hon. Member was a 53 master of pungent language; but he was proud to say that on this occasion the hon. Member had exhibited a courtesy towards him which the Bishop of Limerick had not. The Bishop had accused him, on what was an exceedingly slender foundation, of a breach of faith; and the hon. Member had said he was not guilty of a breach of faith. But the hon. Member went on to say that he had, metaphorically speaking, struck the Bishop of Limerick on the head with a loaded stick. [Laughter.] The exact contrary was the fact. The head that was struck was not the Bishop of Limerick's, but his; and the person who wielded the loaded stick was the Bishop of Limerick. [Laughter.] He had reason to think highly of the Bishop of Limerick, and therefore he had read the language of the Bishop's letter with astonishment and regret. One of the recommendations in the scheme of the Judicial Commissioners, in connection with the Roxborough schools, which was submitted to the Castle, was that compensation should be given to Canon Gregg. The Privy Council disapproved of compensation, but instead inserted a provision giving Canon Gregg the right of pre-emption to the school. When the scheme came before the House of Commons, the House declared against the principle of pre-emption, on the ground that the Commissioners were better judges than the Privy Council of the merits of the case. The Government then remitted the scheme to the Judicial Commissioners for their observations, and the Commissioners wrote to the Government that the effect of striking out the pre-emption clause without reinstating the compensation clause would be to deprive Canon Gregg both of the pre-emption directed by the Privy Council and the compensation to which the Commissioners thought him to be justly entitled. The Commissioners drew up another scheme in which compensation was again substituted for preemption. He then wrote a letter in which he told the Bishop of Limerick that no scheme would be adopted without giving him and others interested a full opportunity of appearing in opposition to it. But he did not mean that that was to preclude the Lord Lieutenant from disapproving of the existing scheme. In fact, he thought the Lord 54 Lieutenant had already disapproved of that scheme. But the full opportunity promised was given to the Bishop of Limerick, and the Bishop availed himself of it to such excellent purpose that he persuaded the Privy Council that the new scheme ought not to be adopted, and to restore the scheme which the Resolution of the House of Commons had approved. In due course of time that scheme would be submitted to the Lord Lieutenant, and would, he thought, be sanctioned by the Lord Lieutenant; but as the approval of Parliament must be obtained the scheme would have to be laid on the Table of the House. Under the circumstances, he did not see how it was possible for the Irish Government to act differently, having regard to the expression of opinion by the Judicial Commissioners. The one thing he regretted was that he should have had a correspondence of this painful nature with one whom he should have wished to respect as he had done before that correspondence took place. As to the Erasmus Smith Schools, last autumn he stated to a deputation that, as the learned Judges had unfortunately differed on the matter, it was desirable that a conclusion should be arrived at, but that if legislation were necessary he could not undertake that it would be proceeded with. When Parliament met he was given to understand that any Bill which he might introduce on the subject would be bitterly opposed.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said that it was unnecessary to say by whom. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that at least a sight of the Bill might have been given to the House. But when another small Bill dealing with park regulations was introduced and opposed, the hon. and learned gentleman was very sarcastic at the expense of the Government, asking why, as the Bill had no chance of passing, it had been thought worth while to introduce it.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Has the right hon. Gentleman any scheme in his mind, or are the Catholics to be entirely deprived of these endowments?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said that he had already expressed the opinion that the question ought to be settled, and if there were ample time he should be quite prepared to introduce a Bill. The hon. 55 Member who moved the reduction of the Vote complained that he, as Chief Secretary, had adopted an attitude of "masterly inactivity." If the way in which he had spent his days since he assumed Office could be described, as "masterly inactivity," he should like to know what activity meant. [Laughter.]
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
reminded the hon. Member that it was "not in mortals to command success;" they could only deserve it. As to the complaint that he was not a Member of the Cabinet, if it was particular to himself, his modesty would shrink from entering upon the question. [Laughter.] But if it was contended that the Chief Secretary should invariably be a Member of the Cabinet, he could only say that that had not been the established practice. During the last 15 years, while Ireland was most disturbed, there had been two Liberal Chief Secretaries who were not Members of the Cabinet—the right hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division and the right hon. Member for Stirling. Previous to that time it was more frequent than not for the Chief Secretary to be outside the Cabinet. But, at any rate, the fact that he was not in the Cabinet was hardly a reason for reducing his salary—[laughter]—unless, indeed, Irish Administration had suffered, and that had not been proved. The hon. and learned Member for Louth would remember that at the end of the Debate on the Address it was arranged that a Bill dealing with the Christian Brothers' Schools should be brought in on the understanding that it should be introduced after 12 o'clock, and should not be proceeded with if it were opposed. Therefore, on that score he could not see any ground for complaint against him, for he was not responsible for what was done four years ago. Then his action in proposing to give grants-in-aid to schools which were not under the Conscience Clause had been criticised as inconsistent with the policy pursued by his two immediate predecessors. Neither the hon. Member nor the Bishops who condemned his policy had taken the trouble to understand it. If these schools were to have been dealt with as a part of the national system, he should have required a Conscience Clause. But, having abandoned 56 the hope of dealing with the question by means of the National Board, he adopted a policy which ran on quite different lines. It was argued that the grants were too small and that the Conscience Clause ought to have been insisted on. But those two things went strictly together. He decided that if these schools were to receive a grant from the State at all they must be left free to carry on the internal arrangements as they pleased; but then it became necessary that the grant should be so small that it would not be a temptation to other schools within the national system to leave it. The hon. Member had reminded the House that when he took Office he expressed the desire to hold the scales evenly between the two factions in Ireland, and in the same breath the hon. Member complained that he had pleased nobody. He thought that was perfectly possible. He hardly expected to please anybody in Ireland, because what was fair to one party was always condemned by the other. That was, and would continue to be, the lot of any Chief Secretary who tried to direct his course, not to plase one party or the other, but to do what was right. [Cheers.] That he had tried to do. He might have failed, for the task was very difficult. But he did not think that the House of Commons would support the hon. Member in the declaration that he had so entirely failed as to deserve having his salary cut down by £2,000. [Laughter and cheers.]
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said that there had been fewer complaints made against the right hon. Gentleman than was usual when the Chief Secretary's salary came up for discussion. But it would be a great mistake to suppose that the Irish people were less discontented with the existing state of things; very little had occurred during the right hon. Gentleman's tenure of Office in the direction most likely to arouse complaint. For the last 12 months there had undoubtedly been a lull in Ireland, and the people had been in a state of expectation. There had been a disposition to give the right hon. Gentleman a chance. The Chief Secretary had taken comfort from the fact that no one had imputed bad faith to him. He had no more complaint to make against the present Chief Secretary than of any 57 other Chief Secretary; his objection was to the Office itself. He was not acquainted with the right hon. Gentleman sufficiently to decide upon the question of his charms and his amiability; but, however great his charms as an individual, or his amiability as an official, he predicted that the right hon. Gentleman would find himself bitterly opposed and surrounded with all sorts of difficulties unless he was prepared to urge on his Government the desirability of carrying forward large reforms in Ireland. The Office of Chief Secretary was a standing source of humiliation, disgrace, and disaster to the Irish people. He believed, honestly, that it was absolutely impossible for any Chief Secretary of any Party to give satisfaction in Ireland under the present circumstances of the country. The office ought to be held, or at least the work ought DO be done by half-a-dozen Ministers, and if Irishmen were allowed to govern themselves that would be the case. The very name was the embodiment of a system which had ruined Ireland. As an Irishman, the very name Chief Secretary was distasteful to him. Every time he looked across the floor of the House and saw the right hon. Gentleman, and behind him some other gentlemen helping him, he felt humiliated, as an Irishman, that, with so many of his countrymen here, 80 or 85 representatives of the race to which he belonged, they were not allowed to manage the most trivial affairs in the Government of their country, but were compelled to come over here and submit to the control of Gentlemen, who, however amiable, were English and not Irish, and had no possible qualification to govern the Irish people better than they could govern themselves. There was no person in the House freer from bigotry than he was. He did not care what a man's colour or country was, provided he was a good man, and intended to do his duty, but to a people like the Irish, with their storong sense of national feeling and sentiment, it was a continual source of irritation, to put it mildly, to see their country governed and controlled by Englishmen instead of by people of their own race and blood. He was not suggesting that the Office should be filled by an Irishman, because the Irishman who 58 would take the Office would be a political character, and calculated to give satisfaction to the people of the country. Again, without entering into any religious question, he maintained that it was a wrong thing that in a country like Ireland, where the vast majority of the people belonged to a particular religion, the officials connected with the administration should hardly ever be men of the same religion as the majority. It was not because they had the slightest objection to Protestants—the Irish were the least bigoted nation in Europe—but he contended that the practice—for it was more than a coincidence—of every official in Ireland, from the Lord Lieutenant downwards, being a Protestant, was a slur and a reflection upon the great mass of the people. Experience had taught the Irish people what they were likely to expect, and throughout the century their experience had been such as to show that nothing was to be gained for their country by the continuance of these offices. The Irish people had been accused without reason of being rebels, and it was said that they had no genuine grievance to complain of owing to the representation they had in Parliament. But, against the unanimous opinion of the Irish Members, the word of the Chief Secretary and the Lord Lieutenant was enough to carry with them the House of Commons, and thus the whole system of an amiable and charming despotism, under which Ireland was ruled, was wrong. When Parliament was not sitting, the right hon. Gentleman was as absolute master of Ireland and the liberties of the people as the Czar of Russia. He had no personal feeling against the right hon. Gentleman in the matter. He did not think that the former Chief Secretary was better than the present Chief Secretary; in fact, the balance was rather to the credit of the present Chief Secretary, because the last Chief Secretary sent 200 policemen to forcibly prevent him from addressing his constituents. The present Chief Secretary had not yet done so, but he had no doubt that unless the Government did something to justify itself, the right hon. Gentleman would probably send 300 instead of 200. He hoped that before this time next year, the right hon. Gentleman would endeavour to do 59 something really to make the people believe that it was his desire to do something for their benefit. The right hon. Gentleman said that he was going to rule the country with an even hand. Other Chief Secretaries had said the same, but under the present system such a course was impossible, even to the best intentioned Minister. Unless something was done, therefore, to meet the wants of the people coercion would be again in force in opposition to the Irish people, and the Chief Secretary would have to go through a distressing period like that with which some of his predecessors had to deal.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY (Cork)
acknowledged that the Chief Secretary deserved credit for not having put in force the provisions of the Coercion Act, capable of being brought into play by Proclamation. The right hon. Gentleman had also shown good sense in resisting the representations of the Judges who had been endeavouring to dictate to the Executive Government of Ireland the methods by which the country should be governed. There was no foundation for the allegation that juries had failed to do their duty, or that criminals had not been punished. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would continue to maintain his present attitude, and that his administration would not be stained by the enforcement of the obnoxious provisions of the Coercion Act. The right hon. Gentleman had vindicated his own consistency on the education question, but the important point was not what had happened in the past, but what was going to happen in the future, and he observed that the right hon. Gentleman had given the Committee no information as to what he meant to do. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman considered that this question was closed. He at least gave no hint of any attempt to reopen it, though he could not consider that it was settled. By the introduction of the Bill the right hon. Gentleman acknowledged that there was a question which required settlement. It was usually treated as if it was a religious question. It was a financial question, in the first place, and in the second place compulsory education in Ireland was another branch of the subject. Up to the present they had not got the education in Cork which they wanted, while 60 in England parents could obtain, free of cost, that education for their children which they wanted.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
said he did not propose to discuss the general question; he wished to invite from the right hon. Gentleman some declaration of policy on this question of education. That was a question raised by previous speakers, and he did not think it could be disposed of by the apologia which he had made. If the right hon. Gentleman thought it more convenient to raise the point on the Education Vote, he should be quite willing to take that course. He wished to raise that part of the question which dealt with the personal responsibility of the Chief Secretary. He thought they were entitled to invite from the right hon. Gentleman some declaration as to what he meant to do on this question in the future. If not strictly in order, he should not go into minute details. The religious aspect was the most serious aspect. In Cork the policy of compulsory education was never enforced, in consequence of the attitude of the Chief Secretary. Four years had passed since the compulsory Act was passed. He thought it was a most excellent Act.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
said he should not speak further on that question beyond saying that the right hon. Gentleman must be sure that he would never succeed in putting the provisions of the Act into satisfactory operation unless there was some practical settlement of the religious difficulty. The local bodies were not going to be forced to send their children to schools which they did not want, and unless the right hon. Gentleman hit on some plan he might bid good-bye to any hope of seeing the Act put into operation. He would impress upon the right hon. Gentleman that this was a very large question, and that it was quite impossible for him to leave it where he left it the other night. He hoped they would obtain some further statement from him as to his future policy on this important question. There was one other matter to which he wished 61 to direct attention—the case of Professor England, and the way in which he had been treated by the Irish Government. He did not think that the right hon. Gentleman was himself satisfied with the answer he had recently given on this matter, or that he was satisfied with the way in which the learned Professor had been treated. If he were to speculate as to what went on behind the scenes, he would say that it was the Treasury in this country which prevented the Irish Government doing what was just ant right. The treatment to which the Professor had been subjected was absolutely illegal, for the President of the Galway College, Dr. Moffat, who had more sense and influential friends, was able to retain his office and its emoluments. He obtained a declaration from the highest legal authorities that the action taker with regard to Professor England was absolutely illegal and unjustifiable. The decision in Dr. Moffat's case ought to govern Professor England's case. There never was a stronger case than this for compensation. It was an extraordinary position for a Government to take up and say, "we have acted illegally, we have inflicted a wrong and damage, but Professor England submitted to it, and therefore we shall not give him any compensation whatever." He thought that he had gathered from the reply of the Chief Secretary that the matter would be favourably considered, but the blame, no doubt, rested with the Treasury. He asked the Chief Secretary not to sit down under proceedings of this kind. So far as Ireland was concerned, the policy of the Treasury seemed to be summed up in the words, "Let us put our heads together and see what we car steal from Ireland," This principle was developed even in the Procedure Clause; of the Land Bill. The Treasury officials lifted their hands in horror at the idea of having to pay for 50 or 60 Sub-Commissioners. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be careful in dealing with the Treasury. He admitted that the duties of the Chief Secretary were very onerous, and that anyone entering upon the Office for the first time would find the work at the outset certainly most difficult and laborious. At the same he would urge the right hon. Gentleman to give attention to the points to which he had referred. For 62 the administration of affairs in Ireland was still very unsatisfactory to the people at large, and he ventured to say that the Executive Government would yet be obliged to choose between two courses—either to hand over the control of such affairs to the people of Ireland themselves, or to place the Office of the Chief Secretary on a totally different basis from that on which it now stood—to make the Chief Secretary the Minister of Ireland in reality. Until one course or the other was taken, Irish Members would have still to come to that House, as they had done year after year in the past, to complain of the position in which the country was placed, and of the injustices from which it suffered. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. GEORGE MURNAGHAN (Tyrone, Mid)
said he supported the Motion on the ground that the Chief Secretary had not fulfilled the promises he made when he entered upon the Office, that he would deal out equal treatment alike to all sections of the Irish people. His ideas of the duties of a Chief Secretary were that he should give his first thoughts and efforts to the interests of Ireland—that in all his duties his main consideration should be the benefit and welfare of the people and the country which he represented, and for which he acted. But this had not been the grounds on which Chief Secretaries generally had acted, and he thought the right hon. Gentleman also had failed to do so in several matters. In regard to the Rating Bill, for example, he did not think the right hon. Gentleman had stood up for Ireland as he ought to have done, and he certainly had not followed the just and admirable example of his predecessor with respect to the appointment of Catholic magistrates in fair proportion in places where the population was almost evenly divided between the two sections of Protestants and Catholics. Certainly, the right hon. Gentleman had not observed his promise of evenhanded treatment in this respect in the part of Ireland which he represented.
* THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
called the hon. Member to order, on the ground that the particular matter to which he was referring did not come within the province of the Chief Secretary.
§ MR. MURNAGHAN
said he would obey the ruling of the Chairman, but he desired to point out that in a matter which closely affected the majority of the people of Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman had not fulfilled his promise of equal treatment to all sections of the population. He contended that it was the peculiar function of the Chief Secretary to watch over the interests of Ireland—to see that she had fair play in the general Government of the United Kingdom, and that she suffered no loss or disadvantage in any respect. For the Chief Secretary was really the only Minister for Ireland responsible to the people, and through him only, under the present system, could the people hope to obtain just treatment and redress of their grievances. ["Hear, hear!"] There were several matters in regard to which the right hon. Gentleman might succeed in obtaining fairer treatment for Ireland if he devoted his attention and energy to them. For instance, in regard to the Land Bill, there was nothing which the people in the part of Ulster he represented desired more than a reduction of the statutory term, but the Chief Secretary had permitted that point to be excluded from the Measure.
* THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
said it was out of order for the hon. Member to discuss the Land Bill on the question of the Vote before the Committee.
§ MR. MURNAGHAN
said that with regard to the great question of education, again, the right hon. Gentleman had not sought to carry out his purpose of even-handed treatment in Ireland. In many places where the population was equally divided between Protestants and Catholics, and even in places where the Catholics predominated in numbers, the Catholic schools received no grant or assistance whatever from the State and had to support their own schools, while the Protestant schools were in receipt of State aid. This was a question to which, almost above all others, the right hon. Gentleman might devote his attention with advantage to the country, for at present Catholics in Ireland laboured under great disadvantages in the matter of national education. ["Hear, hear!"] But the prospect of redress in Ireland in this and other matters under the present system was not, he feared, very favour- 64 able. From the way in which business was conducted in that House, he contended that the Irish people had no really effective representation there at all; for the great body of the Irish Members—those who represented the people as a whole—were never consulted as to the wants of the country. In those circumstances, he thought he was justified in supporting the Motion.
§ MR. MACNEILL
was sorry there should have been any matter savouring of personal controversy between him and the Chief Secretary. He charged the right hon. Gentleman with having appointed Mr. Justice Bewley a Judge of the High Court, with having taken that step upon the instigation of Castle officials. He based this charge on a speech of the right hon. Gentleman's in that House on the 15th August 1895, on a speech of the Irish Attorney General's defending the Chief Secretary's action as the action of the Government, and on a speech of Mr. Serjeant Hemphill's commenting strongly on the impropriety of the step. He thought, as the matter was one of a technical character, he was justified in considering that the Chief Secretary acted on the advice of others, and he was surprised at hearing his statements characterised as "an invention."
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said as the hon. and learned Gentleman had always been polite to himself, he had pleasure in withdrawing the word "invention" and substituting the word "inference."
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
wished to press the right hon. Gentleman in respect to the Erasmus Smith Schools. There was an admitted grievance upon which two great Judges—one a Catholic and the other a Protestant—differed. The Protestant said: "We won't give the Catholics what is ours." He did not object to their position, but it was a position in regard to which he was entitled to say that the Government which claimed to administer even - handed justice, should say: "We will make a fair and equal distribution of the money," or, if they would not do that, should say: "We will refer the question to some tribunal of the nature of an appellant tribunal." That was all he asked. It was most unsatisfactory that the Government had allowed the Act of 1875 to lapse, and that there should be 65 no means now known to the law by which a rehearing of this case could be had. The question could not be allowed to remain where it was. The right hon. Gentleman would not bring in a Bill because he had on hand the Uganda Railway, a Conciliation Bill, an Army Manœuvres Bill, and all the rest of the rag-tag and bob-tail of English legislation. To use the phrase of an English Judge, he did not care one dump for either one or the other of those Measures, but he did care for a settlement of the question concerning these schools. The Chief Secretary had said the Bishop of Limerick would have his own way in the end. Yes; but no thanks would be due to Dublin Castle. If the Bishop had won his case, he had done so because the merits were on his side.
§ MR. DILLON
thought the Chief Secretary should explain what the future policy of the Government on the educational question in Ireland was to be. The right hon. Gentleman had said he despaired of settling the question in connection with the National Board. Why did he despair? He had a majority on that Board, and he had both the Catholic and Protestant Archbishop of Dublin with him. The right hon. Gentleman also said he had arrived at the conclusion that he could not please anybody in Ire-laud. The Chief Secretary went a little further than he would be inclined to go, but as the right hon. Gentleman was not concerned about the opinion of the people, why did he not try to settle the education question?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
submitted that on the Estimates, and at this period of the Session, he could not be expected to make a statement as to the views of the Government on the education question. The time to raise such a question was surely during the consideration of the Address. [A laugh.] "When next Session came the Government would have time to consider the position, whether any legislation on the education question was compatible with their other legislative proposals. It was quite evident that if Parliament sat for 365 days in the year, and hon. Members opposite had their way, Ireland would require 300 of those days. [Mr. T. M. HEALY: "Yes; every day if we want them. We do not want to come here. Give us 66 our own Parliament."] With regard to the Erasmus Smith Schools, he had already explained that he concurred in the view that, as two eminent Judges had differed upon this question, it was desirable that a settlement should be arrived at in another way. The only question was, whether he ought to have introduced a Bill this Session to settle the matter, and it had seemed to him inexpedient to adopt that course in view of the relative importance of other legislative projects. If he had enough time at his disposal, he would be willing to deal with the matter. With regard to the Roxborough Schools case it had been said that it was with deep regret that he had recognised that the Bishop was likely to have his way in the end. He could assure hon. Members below the Gangway opposite that he had felt no such regret. It was a matter of indifference to him whether the Bishop of Limerick or the other side gained the victory. What he desired was that justice should be done. On the receipt of information that there was some danger that justice was not going to be done, he took steps to have the case reheard. If the result of that had been to put the case back into the position in which it was when the Resolution was passed by the House of Commons, he could not do otherwise than regret the expense that had been incurred and the time that had been lost. But such circumstances did not alter his opinion that he was right in taking the action he did. With reference to the case of Professor England, he had to say, as he had pressed for information, that the Principal of Queen's College had declared that it would not be to the interest of the College that Professor England should continue in the performance of his duties. In these circumstances, apart from the Order in Council, it would have been quite proper to decide that his tenure of office should come to an end. The case was fully and fairly considered.
§ MR. J. DALY (Monaghan, S.)
said that the right hon. Gentleman suggested that the Irish education question should be raised in the Debate on the Address next January or February. But his hon. Friends would insist on bringing the question forward before this Session closed if they did not receive satisfactory 67 assurances now. He had the greatest possible respect for the right hon. Gentleman, and he believed that he would be inclined to do justice to Ireland if things were left in his hands; but Dublin Castle had exercised its usual influence over the right hon. Gentleman with the result that his administration had up to the present been as great a failure as the administrations of many of his predecessors. The only hon. Member who had congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on his government of Ireland was an hon. Member whose followers in Ulster not long ago threatened to kick the Queen's crown into the Boyne.
§ * MR. JOHNSTON
said that this charge was evidently directed against him. He had repudiated the charge already more than once. The language referred to by the hon. Member was not used by him. The only ground for the charge was that at a certain meeting which he attended a clergyman spoke of King James's crown being kicked into the Boyne.
§ MR. J. DALY
said that it was unfortunate that the Chief Secretary was not a Member of the Cabinet. As it was the right hon. Gentleman was the representative in that House of the landlords' cabinet. He was disappointed at the inaction of the right hon. Gentleman with respect to the evicted tenants' question, and he considered that the right hon. Gentleman had made a bitter and partisan speech on that subject. If the right hon. Gentleman only understood the circumstances that led to the eviction of these unfortunate men he would, he felt sure, make a great effort to reinstate them. The right hon. Member had said that a vast number of evicted tenants were going back to their holdings in the district from which he came. That certainly was not the case. No tenants had been reinstated there. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would make an effort, even at the eleventh hour, to put these men back into their homes. They did not ask that English money should be used for that purpose; the Irish Church Fund was available. An Education Bill had been introduced this Session and abandoned.
§ MR. W. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)
reminded the Chief Secretary that at an early period of the Session he promised to introduce a Bill providing £15,000 for the establishment of a veterinary college in Ireland. There was a veterinary college in Scotland, and in England, but in Ireland, a country whose chief product was live stock, they were without one. He thought this was a matter deserving the serious attention of the Government. He hoped, also, that the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to grant an increased amount of money to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; in the transit of live stock there was half a million of money lost yearly to Ireland, and any steps which might be taken to mitigate that loss were of great value. He found that there was a miserable sum of £50 granted to the Vice President of the Society. It was the duty of the Irish Chief Secretary, who was charged with the responsibility of looking after the material interests of the country which he practically governed, to enable them to make the most of their resources. He had formerly asked the late Chief Secretary to bring in a Bill to make the shipowners as carriers responsible in this matter, but he was told that there was so much opposition to the proposal that it would be impossible, as it would take up so much time. But a Bill which would enrich Ireland to the extent of half-a-million per annum would be looked upon as a national matter. When the right hon. Gentleman came to office they were told that all the material interests of Ireland would be looked after, and it was predicted that Home Rule would fail by reason of the kindness which they would receive from the Conservative Government. But he would ask the right hon. gentleman what material interests of Ireland had been looked after? How much money had been spent in their country? They, who produced meat in Ireland, were supplied now from across the Atlantic with foreign meat.
§ MR. FIELD
said he thought it was relevant to the subject to point out that they had to pay taxes to subsidise foreign Governments, who made a war 69 of Protection against their goods, while they were themselves a meat-producing country. Their constituents did not expect them to come there Session after Session without getting some useful legislation.
§ MR. JAMES O'CONNOR (Wicklow, W.)
regretted the reply which the right hon. Gentleman had made to the hon. Member for East Mayo. One of the fundamental duties of any Government was to provide for the education of the rising generation. They did not think the right hon. Gentleman would do very much for Ireland, but a large section of the Irish people did think that when the Unionist Government came into power they would certainly do something for the education of the people in Ireland. But the right hon. Gentleman, with his large majority at his back, had refused to do anything for education. But he was in a position to defy any narrow section which might oppose him, and could dispense with the vote of the hon. Member for South Belfast, whose opinions on this education question were well known.
§ MR. J. C. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
said they recognised the courtesy and urbanity of the right hon. Gentleman, but at the same time their sense of duty impelled them to attack his administration, which up to the present had been conducted on very different principles from those which he had laid down at an earlier period of his official life. His whole administration in Ireland might be summed up as a policy of good intentions but most fruitful in failure. He protested against the manner in which Irish legislation was introduced at the fag end of a Session, or at late hours of the night. Turning to the subject of Irish education, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland was connected with the administration of the law, and having come into office with a large majority at his back—a majority that was strongly in favour of denominational education—ho had been placed in a peculiarly fortunate position for dealing with the subject. In June 1895, just before he went out of office, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Montrose Burghs had brought his negotiations with the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland to so 70 close a point that very little more was required to bridge over the difference between them. Nothing could have been more simple than for the right hon. Gentleman the present Chief Secretary for Ireland to have taken up the negotiations at the point where the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Montrose Burghs had left them. The right hon. Gentleman, however, had not taken that course. It must be remembered that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Montrose Burghs had laboured under the disadvantage that the majority at his back were not in favour of denominational education. Who had the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland consulted in reference to this subject? Had he consulted the Irish Roman Catholic bishops? Why, it was clear that the right hon. Gentleman had only consulted some narrow sectarian body in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman ought to have consulted public opinion in Ireland on this important question, and he complained that the right hon. Gentleman had not taken that course. The matter went to the very root of the popular conscience and feeling in Ireland, where education was the burning question of the hour. The right hon. Gentleman should take some pains to inform himself of the feelings and opinions of the Irish people with regard to this question. He desired to protest against legislation on this subject at the fag end of the Session, as being most unfair to Irish Members. Legislation with regard to Irish education ought to be treated with some sense of decorum and of fair play. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
said that Irish Members had absolutely to hold up the looking-glass before the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland to show him his own political physiognomy reflected therein. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] Everyone on those Benches was perfectly aware that the right hon. Gentleman had no power to do anything. He might have some family influence, but, after all, that would not always be available. Whether or not the right hon. Gentleman was a man of genius, talent and geniality he would leave to posterity to say; but the Nationalist Members had found him an extremely amiable and 71 nicely-spoken young gentleman. [Laughter.] Anybody asking him a question always met with courtesy, but whenever an Irish Member put a question on any matter he was sent to the House of Commons to carry out, he was met with a very emphatic "No." In answer to at least 99 out of every 100 questions, though most urgent matters affecting the benefit of the constituencies of the hon. Gentlemen putting them, the answer was "No"—a universal, unyielding "No." It had been his duty during the current Session to put many questions to the right hon. Gentleman, and he had never received a single satisfactory reply, though those questions had mainly affected the constituency he represented, whether in regard to light railways, labourers' cottages, or like matters. He was always courteously put off, and nothing was done. Let the right hon. Gentleman not be led away by the occasional praise with which his actions were met. Let him look to the praise he might obtain, if his Government were a good one, from the Irish people. Let him look to their judgment. The whole system was a bad one. It was not by establishing a Veterinary College in Dublin, or by bolstering up the Munster Dairy School that the gangrene that existed in Ireland could be cured. The right hon. Gentleman should try during his tenure of office, which they all hoped might be as short as possible, to shake himself free from the trammels set up by his predecessors. The right hon. Gentleman had, practically speaking, no control over any one of the Departments of which he was the chief. The gentlemen on the Local Government Board held the ribbons in their hands, and the right hon. Gentleman lacked the power to do anything. He might occasionally spur or whip the horses of administration, but he could not take the reins into his own hands. His distinguished predecessor failed in Ireland, and the right hon. Gentleman would fail. He hoped, as he had said, that the right hon. Gentleman would shake himself free from the trammels that surrounded his office, and try, in the interests of the poor people under his rule, to do something more for them than had yet been done to promote a certain amount of welfare in Ireland. If he did so he would at any rate put down for the time that growing discontent which, from all 72 accounts, was now existent in Ireland. Ireland required a steady, tolerant, and benevolent system to relieve her from the distress in which she lived. The right hon. Gentleman was a new comer to office, and being a new boy the Irish Members Jet him off with a caution. [Laughter.]
§ MR. MICHAEL FLAVIN (Kerry, N.)
said they were told to expect that if the Conservative Party came into office, Home Rule would be killed by kindness. Instead of that he found that the Irish people were being-strangled by taxation. The county of Kerry was asked to pay £1,628 7s. 1d for six months for extra police. He had lived in that county for years and was intimately acquainted with the duties the extra police had to perform, and he had no hesitation in challenging the Chief Secretary to say that these police were necessary? He could not give more conclusive evidence of the peaceful condition of the county than by pointing out that the County Court judge—Judge Shaw—at the three principal towns in the county, was lately presented with white gloves, and had to declare that there was no criminal business on the local calendars. In view of that fact and the fact that at the last Assizes only four bills came before the Judge, it was a monstrous thing to impose on that impoverished county a tax of over £3,000 annually when the county was in such a peaceful condition. He would mention also that under the Grand Jury system the people of Kerry were asked to pay annually £20,122 11s. 10d. for railways for the promotion of which he believed the right hon. Gentleman or his predecessors had been to some extent responsible. To some extent these railways might be beneficial to the people of Kerry, but for them to be asked to contribute the enormous sum of £20,000 a year for guarantees given by a body which was not elected by or representative of the people of the county, was a thing they could not and would not bear much longer.
* THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
I would remind the hon. Gentleman that the matters to which he is referring are not in the discretion of the Chief Secretary.
§ MR. FLAVIN
would direct his observations to the duties of the extra police, which were in the discretion of the Chief Secretary. Their duties were, and had been for years, to protect evicted farms. He instanced cases in which the tenants had been evicted 14 years ago for £60, one year's rent, the farms being still idle, though the tenants had offered half the rent, but the offer had been declined. Special police had been employed to protect the farms, which were on the estate of a landlord who was an absentee, and who, through the mismanagement and tyranny of his local agent, had become bankrupt. It was not fair that a people who were anxious to live as law-abiding citizens, should be compelled to pay an extra tax because of the tyranny of a local agent or landlord who was an absentee. He pressed the Chief Secretary to take immediate steps to relieve the people of the county from the burden of excessive taxation under which they were suffering, and against which they had frequently protested. There was no necessity for extra police, the county being quite peaceful.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR,
in reply to the points raised, observed that it was perfectly true that Kerry was in a comparatively peaceful position. If it was necessary to have there a certain number of extra police, the reason was that so many protection posts were required, and unless they were employed in this duty, he was afraid that Kerry would not be quite so free from crime as it was now. It was his earnest desire to reduce the number of extra police, not only in Kerry, but in every county, as far as it was possible to do so, this matter being one that constantly came before him. He did not know whether the Member for North Cork expected him to go at length into the questions he had touched upon. He did not think the hon. Member was present when the matter of the Christian Brothers was raised, to which he had already replied. The hon. Member made one fresh point as to the possibility of dealing with the subject administratively, and he seemed to think that when the late Chief Secretary went out of Office matters were on the point of reaching a satisfactory conclusion. This was really not at all the case. The right hon. Member for Montrose during the whole 74 of his three years' tenure of the Chief Secretaryship, was engaged in negotiating with the Commissioners of National Education in this matter, but when his tenure of office came to an end he was no nearer a settlement than he was at the beginning. A careful study of the mass of correspondence which took place in his predecessor's time convinced him that it would be practically useless to pursue the correspondence any further. There was one other assertion of the hon. Member to which he must beg to take exception, and that was that at the time the late Government went out of Office the Christian Brothers were prepared to accept the terms suggested by the Commissioners of National Education. That was not so. He had taken the trouble to ascertain what the true state of the case was, and the conclusion he had arrived at—which had never seriously been impugned—was that the Christian Brothers would not have been content to accept what had been drawn up by the Commissioners. One other Question had been asked by the hon. Member for the St. Patrick's Division of Dublin. He said that the late Government promised to bring in a Bill establishing a veterinary college for Ireland, and, on the principle that one Government should act in continuity with another Government, the present Chief Secretary was bound by the promise given by his predecessor. He could not admit that the promise given by one Government in such circumstances, was necessarily binding on a succeeding Government. However, on more than one occasion, he had stated to the hon. Gentleman it was his desire to carry out his predecessor's pledge, and that he hoped to be able, during the course of the present Session, to bring in a Bill dealing with the question. He had not been able to do so so far, but without saying anything more he thought he might be allowed to remind hon. Gentlemen that the Session had not absolutely come to a close. ["Hear, hear!"] It was impossible for him not to appreciate what hon. Members had said of himself personally, and so far he should carry away with him pleasant recollections of that Debate. ["Hear, hear!"] He hoped that the Committee would now allow a decision to be taken on the Vote. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. J. J. CLANCY (Dublin County, N.)
observed that the Chief Secretary had stated that the extra police were required for duties in connection with protection posts. But extra police were imposed on counties where there was no necessity for protection posts, and whilst the quota of the free force to which they were entitled by law was not given them, the extra police were absolutely forced upon them at a great cost. This he regarded as a great hardship, calling for immediate redress.
§ MR. FLYNN
remarked that, in reference to the question as to the negotiations between the Chief Secretary's predecessor and the Commissioners of National Education, he regretted that he and the right hon. Gentleman must agree to differ. He could not accept the right hon. Gentleman's conclusions. He had very carefully read the correspondence, and he failed to see how anyone could say, upon it, that the right hon. Member for Montrose was further away from agreement with the Commissioners at the end of his term of office than at the beginning. He held that the letters showed that there was every prospect of arriving at a settlement when the right hon. Member for Montrose quitted office. He was strongly of opinion that, inasmuch as the present Chief Secretary was placed in a far different position to his predecessor in regard to a question of this kind, any little remaining difficulty could easily be got over by a little patience and prolongation of the correspondence between the right hon. Gentleman and the Commissioners of National Education. With relation to the subject of extra police, he could corroborate all that had been said by the hon. Member for Kerry. He knew a case where the original rental of a farm was £40 a year, the tenant had been evicted, and for 14 years £4,200 annually had been spent in keeping three policemen to protect the holding, the people of the county being mulcted for this extra sum. He suggested that the landlords in such cases should be made to pay their share of the cost of extra police. One of the first things a rack renting landlord applied to Dublin Castle for were extra police. The two great objections were, first, that the free force to which each county was entitled was 76 sufficiently large for each county, and, secondly, it was a monstrous thing that the overtaxed cesspayers in different parts of Ireland should pay 7s., 8s. or 14s. in the pound for these extra police. It should not be levied upon them without the closest scrutiny and inquiry. He hoped the Chief Secretary would give this matter his earnest consideration and not permit a continuance of extra police unless necessary in the interests of public peace and order.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL (Cavan, W.)
said that on several occasions already he had drawn attention to the non-appointment of the Bishop of Ardagh to the visiting board of Mullingar Lunatic Asylum. From this year's list of the governors it still appeared that the Bishop had not been appointed. Both of his predecessors were governors of the Asylum, and there was no earthly reason why he should be excluded from the Board. It consisted of 22 members, of whom 14 were landlords, Conservatives or Unionists, and 7 might be said to represent Nationalist or popular feeling, of the district served by the Asylum. But a vacancy existed through the death of a gentleman who represented Westmeath. He had, himself, intended moving a reduction of the Chief Secretary's salary to call attention to this case. It accentuated the fact that Local Government in Ireland as far as it could be made directly from a central authority was the government of Protestant over Catholic. He hoped this matter would have the attention of the Chief Secretary. He joined with his colleagues in saying that as long as the right hon. Gentleman placed himself in the hands of the official ring in Dublin Castle so long would the people, and especially the Catholic portion of them, expect to find nothing but the same system of official tyranny that had characterised previous Governments. He next wished to call attention to the system of inspection in connection with the Veterinary Department in Dublin. It seemed that local inspectors were appointed by the Boards of Guardians who were paid a salary which could be controlled by a central authority. The local official was not alone in charge; the central authority sent down assistants. But some of these assistants went down with the fixed view that it was their duty to oppose the view of 77 particular cases taken by the local inspectors. Now he contended that there should be a fixed system in the work. It should be left entirely in the hands of the local authority or be taken in hand by the central authority. The present system led to confusion, and loss to the people whose animals were treated. Great hardship was inflicted on the poor, in cases where compensation was given for animals slaughtered. Some of the inspectors took the view in certain cases that the owners of animals were not entitled to compensation, and they had to overcome a lot of red-tapeism before they could obtain it. Then there was not sufficient precaution exercised as regarded the number of animals slaughtered. They were slaughtered in a haphazard rough-and-ready fashion, and it depended on red-tape whether compensation was given to the owner or not. Reference had been made to the general condition of the country over which the Chief Secretary was supposed to exercise almost unlimited power. Twelve months ago the right hon. Gentleman promised that he would see the condition of the country for himself, form his own opinion, and act accordingly. He went to Ireland, and, from what he himself knew of the right hon. Gentleman's vist to the West, it was not made in a way that would give him a fair idea of the country. He was surrounded by the very official rings whose business it was to keep up the system of ascendency and poison the minds of those who wished to do real justice to the country. If the right hon. Gentlemen wished to see the true condition of the people let him mix amongst the people. He was sure that the right hon. Gentleman had recognised by this time that he need not have any fear of going alone amongst the people, and if he would do that—dispensing with the official escort which accompanied him on his last visit—he would return to the House determined to do justice to the people.
§ DR. TANNER
wished to call attention to the work of the Fishery Department, which he did not think was at all well done. There were three fishery inspectors. One was good, one was doubtful, and one was bad. The work of the Rev. Mr. Greene in connection with the deep sea fisheries was thoughtfully entertained and practically 78 carried out. In fact, it might be said that Mr. Greene did all the work, and Mr. Cecil Roche did all the loafing. A great deal of good might he done by the Department if it were more liberal in granting loans to fishermen to assist them in procuring boats and fishing appliances. He would like know why it was that only a sum of £1,884 16s. 6d. was issued in loans last year, and out of that sum £1,285 went to County Dublin alone. Was it because the fishery inspectors, having County Dublin within easy distance, confined themselves to County Dublin? If the right hon. Gentleman could get the fishery inspectors to carry on their work on the excellent plan pursued by the fishery inspectors in Scotland, vast improvements would be effected in the Irish fisheries.
§ MR. DANIEL MACALEESE (Monaghan, N.)
said he would avail himself of the deserted condition of the House to make his maiden speech. [Laughter.] The County Court Judge of Monaghan had quite a store of white gloves which had been presented to him sessions after sessions, owing to the happy absence of criminal cases; and it was understood that he intended to ask the permission of the Incorporated Law Society to set up a shop for their sale. [Laughter.] It was said that brevity was the soul of wit, and he intended to win the reputation of being one of the wittiest Members in the House by making the shortest maiden speech on record. [Laughter.] He would, therefore, simply ask the Chief Secretary what justification he had got for keeping up the extra police force in Monaghan in the circumstances mentioned? [Laughter and cheers.]
§ MR. J.P. FARRELL
desired to support the appeal of the hon. Member for Mid Cork in favour of a more liberal distribution of loans to fishermen. The quantity of fish that was lost to the inhabitants of the west coast of Ireland owing to the want of proper fishing appliances was enormous. The people there were practically living on patches of sand amongst aid hills, striving to eke out a most miserable existence, large numbers of them, men and women, having to migrate annually to Scotland for the purpose of finding employment. Yet here, at their very doors, were great shoals of herring and other fish, which, if captured, might be 79 the means of preventing this migration to Scotland to get the wherewithal to live. The district was in very truth the very poorest in all Ireland, and the Congested Districts Board could not do better than devote some of the money at their disposal to the advancement of the fishing industry in the locality, than which nothing that had yet been done for Mayo would be a greater blessing to the inhabitants.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
assured the hon. Member that it was the earnest desire of the Government to do all that could be done to develop the sea fisheries. It was not, however, the want of new piers which prevented fishing enterprise, but the want of boats. In this connection he must protest against the strictures which the hon. Member for Mid Cork had thought fit to pass upon one of the fishery inspectors. He was quite certain that the inspector whom the hon. Gentleman had praised would be the last to join in the condemnation passed upon his colleague. There was not the slightest disinclination on the part of the Government to place the Bishop of Ardagh upon the particular fishery board referred to whenever a vacancy occurred. As to the suggestion that the inspectors should be under the control of the locality, he thought there were advantages in the present system, and it would be almost impossible to carry out the work if the inspectors were subject exclusively to the local authority, because there must be certain unity of action in the matter. He should be glad to give careful consideration to any suggestions that might be made to him with regard to the work of the veterinary department.
§ DR. TANNER
suggested that if, as in Scotland, each inspector reported upon a certain given district, they would then see who did the work. He was bound to attack Mr. Roche, because he never had any knowledge of the business or of the position into which he was pitchforked. He was half military man, half policeman, half magistrate, and because he was a bully he was made a fishery inspector.
After the usual interval, Mr. E. R. WODEHOUSE (Bath) took the Chair.
§ MR. DALY
called attention to the erection of a police but on property 80 in South Monaghan, the value of the property being only £18. He would respectfully ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider this matter, and he hoped he would be able to give him a satisfactory reply that in a short time this but would be removed. He considered it a great grievance to a large number of his constituents. The but was put there to please the landlord during the time when the right hon. Gentleman's brother was Chief Secretary. During that time there might have been occasion for the but, but what occasion was there for it now, when Ireland was never in a more peaceful condition than it was now.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said that he had already pointed out that the existence of these protection posts was with the view of preventing crime which might otherwise take place, and he presumed from the statement of the hon. Member that there had been no crime in the district, that the police protection post had been successful in achieving the object. The hon. Member must recollect that freedom from ordinary crime by no means guaranteed freedom from agrarian crime, if the opportunity for agrarian crime presented itself. That was one of the most elementary facts connected with the administration of justice in Ireland. That was the reason why these protection buts or posts were retained, and he must protest against the idea that the necessity of maintaining these posts was to be measured by the value of the property which was under protection. The protection of the person in his legal rights was the first and most elementary duty of a Government, and they could not measure the urgency of that duty by the mere totting up, the calculating, of the amount of the material interests which were involved. Of course, he would look into the matter, and if he found that the but was unnecessary he would undoubtedly remove it. If he found it necessary, notwithstanding the statement of the County Court Judge that from the point of view of ordinary crime the district was singularly peaceful, he was afraid he could not hold out any hopes to the hon. Member that it would be possible to remove this protection.
§ MR. MICHAEL AUSTIN (Limerick, N.)
drew attention to the extra police 81 in the county of Limerick, and said that the condition of affairs in that county in no way justified the extra police retained there. They had a most satisfactory return from the city of Limerick for the past twelve months. The Judge had been presented with white gloves on three successive occasions; the Judge of Assizes had referred to the peaceful condition of the county; and the Grand Jury of the county had also dissented from the continuation of the large number of police in the county of Limerick. Although earlier in the Session, when he put a Question to the right hon. Gentleman, he got no satisfactory answer upon the subject, he thought that, in view of the fact that the peace of the county had been maintained in such a satisfactory manner, it was high time to consider the question of the maintenance of this extra police force in the county.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said this question had been raised several times before, and his answer to the hon. Member must be the same as he had given on previous occasions—namely, that where he could reduce the extra force he should only be too glad to do so.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported.