HC Deb 30 July 1897 vol 51 cc1689-700

Considered in Committee.



1. Session and Chapter. 2. Short Title. 3. How far continued. 4. Amending Acts.
(1.) 5 & 6 Will. 4. c. 27. The Linen Manufactures (Ireland) Act, 1835. The whole Act. 3 & 4 Vict. c. 91. 5 & 6 Vict. c. 68. 7 & 8 Vict. c. 47. 30 & 31 Vict c. 60.
(2.) 3&4 Vict. c. 89. The Poor Rate Exemption Act, 1810. The whole Act.
(3.) 4&5 Vict. c. 30. The Ordnance Survey Act, 1841. The whole Act. 33 Vict. c. 13. 47&48 Vict. c. 43. 52&53 Vict. c. 30.
(4.) 10&11 Vict. c. 98. The Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Act, 1847. As to the provisions continued by 21 & 22 Vict. c. 50.
(5.) 11 & 12 Vict. c. 32. The County Cess (Ireland) Act, 1848. The whole Act. 20&21 Vict. c. 7.
(6.) 14&15 Vict. c. 104. The Episcopal and Capitular Estates Act, 1851. The whole Act. 17&18 Vict. c. 116. 21&22 Vict. c. 94. 22&23 Vict. c 46. 23&24 Vict. c. 124. 31&32 Vict. c. 114. s. 10.
(7.) 17&18 Vict. c. 102. The Corrupt Practices Prevention Act, 1854. So much as is continued by the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act, 1883. 26 & 27 Vict. c. 29. s. 6. 31&32 Vict.c.125. 46&47 Vict. c. 51.
(8.) 23&21 Vict. c. 19. The Labourers (Ireland) Act, 1860. The whole Act.
(9.) 24&25 Vict. c. 109. The Salmon Fishery Act, 1861. As to the appointment of inspectors, s. 31. 49&50 Vict. c. 39. s. 3. 55&56 Vict. c. 50.
(10.) 26&27 Vict. c. 105. The Promissory Notes Act, 1863 The whole Act. 45&46 Vict. c. 61.
(11.) 27&28 Vict. c. 20. The Promissory Notes (Ireland) Act, 1864. The whole Act.
(12.) 28&29 Vict. c. 46. The Militia (Ballot Suspension) Act, 1865. The whole Act. 45&46 Vict. c. 49.
(13.) 28&29 Vict. c. 83. The Locomotives Act, 1865. The whole Act. 41&42 Vict. c. 58. 41&42 Vict. c. 77. (Part II.) 59&60 Vict. c. 36.
(14.) 29&30 Vict. c. 52. The Prosecutions Expenses Act, 1866. The whole Act.
1. Session and Chapter. 2. Short Title. 3. How far continued. 4. Amending Acts.
(15.) 31&32 Vict. c. 125. The Parliamentary Elections Act, 1868. So much as is continued by the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act, 1883. 42&43 Vict. c. 75. 46&47 Vict. c. 51.
(16.) 32&33 Vict. c. 21. The Corrupt Practices Commission Expenses Act, 1869. The whole Act. 34&35 Vict. c. 61.
(17.) 33&34 Vict. c. 112. The Globe Loan (Ireland) Act, 1870. The whole Act. 34&35 Vict. c. 100. 41 Vict. c. 6.
(18.) 34&35 Vict. c. 87. The Sunday Observation Prosecution Act, 1871. The whole Act.
(19.) 35&36 Vic. c. 33. The Ballot Act, 1872. The whole Act. 45&46 Vict. c. 50.(Municipal Elections.)
(20.) 38&39 Vict. c. 84. The Parliamentary Elections (Returning Officers) Act, 1875 The whole Act. 46&47 Vict. c. 51. s. 32. 48&49 Vict. c. 62. 49&50 Vict. c. 57.
(21.) 39&40 Vict. c. 21. The Jurors Qualification (Ireland) Act, 1876. The whole Act. 57&58 Vict. c. 49.
(22.) 41&42 Vict. c. 41. The Parliamentary Elections, Returning Officers Expenses (Scotland) Act, 1876. The whole Act. 48&49 Vict. c. 62. 49&50 Vict. c. 58. 54&55 Vict. c. 49.
(23.) 41&42 Vict. c. 72. The Sale of Liquors on Sunday (Ireland) Act, 1878. The whole Act.
(24.) 43 Vict. c. 18. The Parliamentary Elections and Corrupt Practices Act, 1880. The whole Act. 46&47 Vict. c. 51.
(25.) 43&44 Vict. c. 42. The Employers' Liability Act, 1880. The whole Act.
(26.) 44&45 Vict. c. 5. The Peace Preservation (Ireland) Act, 1881. The whole Act. 49&50 Vict. c. 21. 50&51 Vict. c. 20.
(27.) 45&46 Vict. c. 59. The Educational Endowments (Scotland) Act, 1882. As to the powers of Her Majesty in Council and of the Scotch Education Department, s. 47.
(28.) 46&47 Vict. c. 51. The Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act, 1883. The whole Act. 58&59 Vict. c. 40.
(29.) 47&48 Vict. c. 70. The Municipal Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Practices) Act, 1884. The whole Act. 56&57 Vict. c. 73.
1. Session and Chapter. 2 Short Title. 3 How far continued. 4 Amending Acts.
(30.) 49&50 Vict. c. 29. The Crofters Holdings (Scotland) Act, 1886. As to the powers of the Commissioners for the enlargement of holdings, s. 22. & 50 Vict. c. 24. 51&52 Vict. c. 63. 54&55 Vict. c. 41.
(31 ) 51&52 Vict. c. 55. The Sand Grouse Protection Act, 1888. The whole Act.
(32.) 52&53 Vict. e. 40. The Welsh Intermediate Education Act, 1889. As to the powers of the joint education committee and the suspension of the powers of the Charity Commissioners. 53&54 Vict. e. 60.
(33.) 58&59 Vict. c. 21. The Seal Fisheries (North Pacific) Act, 1895. The whole Act.
(34.) 59 Vict. c. 1. The Local Government (Elections) Act, 189 The whole Act.


(32.) 32 & 33 Vict. c. 56. The Endowed School Act 1869. As to the powers the making schemed and as to the payment of the salaries of additional Charity Commissioners. 36&37 Vict. c. 87 37&38 Vict. c. 87. 52&53 Vict. c. 40.

On the Schedules,


moved to omit that part which re-enacted the Irish Arms Act. What were the provisions of that Act? Members of the House were in the habit of renewing the Act every year, but the vast majority of them had no idea what its provisions were. The Act was passed in 1881 under the name of the Peace Preservation Act, and under it the following provisions had effect:— In a proclaimed district a person shall not c carry any arms or ammunition, and any person carrying arms or ammunition, or who is reasonably suspected of carrying them may be arrested without warrant by any constable or peace officer, and as soon as reasonably can be, conveyed before sonic Justice of the Peace in order to be dealt with according to law. Therefore, under this Act a man might be arrested without warrant in a proclaimed district because he was reasonably suspected of having arms or ammunition in his possession. When they turned to what was meant by "arms" they got an illustration of the hardship and injustice of this Act. Any cannon, gun, revolver, pistol, and any description of fire-arms, sword, cutlass, pike or bayonet. Men had been fined or imprisoned for being in possession of portions of pistols and other weapons which were perfectly useless as arms by themselves. The provisions of this Act were of a barbarous and atrocious character and many men had been imprisoned, garbed in the degrading prison attire, and treated as common criminals for no other offence than having arms in their possession. He remembered when complaints of such treatment were laughed and jeered at in that House, but when Dr. Jameson and the Transvaal raiders were subjected to the same treatment as many respectable people were accustomed to in Ireland, Members of that House came hawking round petitions, asking the Irish Members to sign them, praying that Dr. Jameson and the others might be treated as first-class misdemeanants. He contended that unreasonable punishment was inflicted under the Act. There were many cases where a man might be found in possession of arms without any suspicious circumstances whatever being connected with it. Take the case of a poor man in the west of Ireland. If he went out to shoot game under ordinary circumstances he was liable to three months' imprisonment or a fine of £20, without a shadow of justification. In spite, however, of the Act, crimes had been committed, so that he argued the Act did not achieve any useful purpose, while it inflicted great hardship. This Unionist Government professed to govern Ireland on the same lines as this country, but this was a sample of their professions.


said the hon. Member had stated that a man found in the possession of arms was liable to three months' imprisonment, but he had entirely forgotten to say that the man was not liable unless he had the firearms without a licence. Over and above that the hon. Member had omitted from his view that it was only in a proclaimed district that the Act was in force at all. He would not go minutely into the merits of the Act, it would be wasting time to do so, and this was an annual Motion made year after year. Originally passed under Lord Spencer, the Act had been maintained by different Governments as a measure of police precaution, and it was so defended by his predecessors. If the Bill were of such an atrocious character as the hon. Member declared it to be, why did he not bring pressure to bear upon the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose for the repeal of the Act, when the Leader of his Party was said to hold the Government in the hollow of his hand?


For the simple reason that the right hon. Gentleman was endeavouring to give us the power to enable us to deal with such matters ourselves. ["Hear, hear!"]


said No, that would not pass muster. [Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman defended the keeping the Act in the Expiring Laws Continuance Act as a measure of police precaution, and not merely in those parts of Ireland where Nationalist sentiments obtained, but in those parts of Ireland where the Orange faction was predominant. His defence of the Bill was that it was required not the least in Belfast and other districts in the North of Ireland, and that it was not a political measure but necessary to preserve peace between the two factions in Ireland. ["Hear!"] On the same ground he defended the Act and was not prepared to omit it from the Bill.

Mr. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)

said this was a curious illustration of the policy of "killing Home Rule with kindness, Rightly his hon. Friend had described this as an atrocious Act. And yet he did not altogether object to its continuance. It remained as a disgrace to English Government, and while it had a place on the Statute-book it was evidence of how the professors of equal laws and goodwill to Ireland held the country down at the point of the bayonet. It was an utter disregard of constitutional liberty, a riding rough-shod over the rights of the people, the Bill of Rights was abrogated in Ireland. He did not swear by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose, nor did he when the right hon. Gentleman was Chief Secretary for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman often used to say that he could not govern Ireland according to Irish ideas, and he had ventured to suggest to him that though he might fail he might make the attempt. The position of the right hon. Gentleman in regard to this Act was that while doing his best to put the administration of the country into Irish hands, it was not worth while to nibble at existing regulations; but even then, under the right hon. Gentleman, the great Coercion Act was repealed. The right hon. Gentleman was quite correct in saying that the Act only applied to a district which was proclaimed. They thanked him for nothing in that. The Lord Lieutenant, by one caprice, could proclaim at this moment any district in Ireland. They held their liberties at the nod of Lord Cadogan. Then, the right hon. Gentleman said, these arms must be obtained by licence. But who was to give the licence? The Government did not trust their own magistrates, but must have one of their own removable judicial utensils to give the licence. Their whole government, so far as freedom was concerned, was an insulting and impudent pretence.


said it was quite time that the late Chief Secretary did renew this Act, and gave as the ground for his renewal the condition of things prevailing in Belfast.. But he did not agree wit h him, more especially in view of what

(32.) 52&53 Vict. c. 40. The Welsh Intermediate Education Act 1889. As to the powers of the joint Education Committee and the suspension of the powers of the Charity Commissioners. 53&54 Vict. c. 60.
He said that the object of the Amendment was to omit from the Bill the Welsh Intermediate Education Act. That Act was passed to make good serious defects in Welsh secondary education. It was passed, as regards the powers of the joint Education Committees, for three years only, and would have expired in 1892, but it had been renewed from year to year till the work could be completed. During the operation of the Act the powers of the Charity Commissioners in regard to educational endowments in Wales had been suspended. Now the time had come for the Act to lapse, as all the joint schemes which were to be devised under the Bill have been carried through, and become law. The legitimate work of the joint committees of counties and boroughs had now been completed.


thought it was not going beyond the truth to say that the temporary Act for Intermediate Education in Wales had now done its work, and might now without disadvantage be allowed to expire. But actually took place in Belfast. No real attempt was made to apply the Arms Act in Belfast. It was used to persecute and harry the Nationalists throughout the country districts.


reminded the Chief Secretary that in 1847 the then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland gave arms to the Orangemen to arm themselves against the Catholics and the Nationalists. That was the way in which this Arms Act was carried out.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule."

The Committee divided: —Ayes, 107; Noes, 31.—(Division List, No. 352.)

*MR. W. T. HOWELL (Denbigh Boroughs)

moved to omit: though that was the view he had formed, he thought the Government ought not to introduce a change of tins sort without giving some notice to the House of their intention so to do. By a long and beneficial practice, the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill had been regarded as a non-contentious Measure brought in at the end of the Session, and a great deal of Parliamentary time had been saved by allowing that practice to remain untouched. He could not recommend the House at this hour, and without notice, to accept the Amendment, but he could assure his hon. Friend, and those who acted with him, that their views had the sympathy of the Government, and that they should do their best in due season to carry them into effect.


said he, of course, felt the weight of the observations of his right hon. Friend, but perhaps hardly realised the constitutional disadvantages of leaving this Act on the Statute Book. This was avowedly a temporary Act, and the Commissioners appointed under it had carried it into effect. They had practically indicated to the Government that, in their opinion, the work of this Act had been achieved, and that it ought to be dropped. Were the Government, therefore, not discrediting the whole system of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, by including within its provisions such a Measure as this? Where they had avowedly a temporary Act which had come to an end, then he said to continue it year after year was really to discredit the system and to make the House of Commons extremely chary of allowing other Acts to be placed in the same position on future occasions. Would the Leader of the House say that the Government would within a short period undertake to drop this Act out and bring to an end the operation of this temporary Welsh Act?

MR. THOMAS ELLIS (Merionethshire)

hoped that the First Lord of the Treasury would not make a promise on this subject without making further inquiry, and without further evidence. The noble Lord seemed to have an idea that this Welsh Act was a temporary one. It was not so. Under this Act 16 counties and county boroughs of Wales levied a special rate for the purposes of secondary education. To drop out the Act would therefore make it impossible to levy this special rate in Wales. In the Welsh Act also there was a provision by which the Treasury made a grant equivalent to the grant raised in the locality, and power was also given to make regulations under which the grant was given. Thus there were powers in the Act which rendered it as permanent as any other Measure on the Statute-book. Some very good work still remained to be done under the Act, and he questioned very much that the Charity Commissioners had expressed the opinion that the Act produced more harm than good.

MR. GRANT LAWSON (York, N.R., Thirsk)

said that in answer to the appeal of his noble Friend, he should say that it was the opinion of the Charity Commissioners that the Act did not do any good, and that if there was any effect at all from the continuance of the Act it was an evil effect.


said the Joint Education Committees had done good work; they had still the power to do good work; and certainly it was with surprise he heard that in the opinion of the Charity Commissioners those Committees did more harm than good.

GENERAL LAURIE (Pembroke and Haverfordwest),

after quoting from the Reports of the Charity Commissioners, said what he claimed was that the work of the Joint Education Committees as laid down by Clause 11 of the Act of 1889 had been performed; and, therefore, they asked under these circumstances that such power should not be continued when they believed that according to the Report of the Charity Commissioners there was no necessity for it.


said his noble Friend had made an appeal to him to strengthen the pledge he gave in response to his hon. Friend behind him. He thought that pledge could hardly be strengthened. It was quite true that he said nothing about next Session, and gave no suggestion that a particular day was to be fixed for dealing with this question. What he did say was that as by common consent the clauses dealt with in this Bill were intended by Parliament to serve a temporary purpose, and as by universal consent that purpose was nearly accomplished, and in the opinion of hon. Gentlemen on that (the Government) side of the House was completely accomplished —["hear, hear!"]—the time could not be far off when it would be the duty of the Government to deal in some way or other with this temporary portion of the Education Act, and to carry out the original intention of the framers of that Act who deliberately desired that this portion of their work should be temporary.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule agreed to; Bill reported without Amendment; read the Third time, and passed.