§ MR. MICHAEL DAVITT (Mayo, S.)
desired to call attention on this Vote to the alleged dynamite plots in September last, and also to the conduct of the Home Office with reference to the trial of Ivory or Bell, which came to such a sensational ending in January last. The atrocious character of those plots, or, rather the statements in the public Press with reference to them, were calculated to do a 1487 great injury to Ireland and to the character of the Irish national movement. He alleged that those plots had no real existence, but were, in fact, the creation of disreputable agents of the secret service; that that was the reason why the prosecution of Ivory, or Bell, came to its sensational termination; and, further, he alleged that the Home Office did not make any sincere effort to extradite from Antwerp the alleged prime movers in the plots. The trial came to its fruitless termination because the prosecution were afraid to put into the witness-box the man Jones, the agent of the secret service of the Home Office. If the trial had gone on witnesses would have been produced from Dublin of respectable standing and character, who would have proved to the hilt that between the period of the first examination of the prisoner before the magistrate at Bow Street and the trial, Jones approached two young men of the name of Holland, compositors in the office of the Evening Telegraph in Dublin, and actually proposed to them a plan for the commission of outrage. He offered to one of these young men similar detonators to those alleged to have been discovered in the house in Antwerp. In addition, there were three men of respectable standing in the city of New York to prove that Jones had attended meetings of Irishmen in that city and proposed to carry out a series of outrages. One of his plots was to blow up the British Embassy in Washington with dynamite, and another of his suggestions to men whom he met in this society in New York was to assassinate the late Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for East Fife. The witnesses from New York who attended at the Old Bailey were prepared to swear that Jones made those proposals, and for the making of them had been expelled from this particular society in New York. [Nationalist cheers.] The Solicitor General said:—I find that the prosecution yesterday" (January 19, 1897) "ascertained that the delivery of these explosives at the house in Antwerp took place after Bell had left Antwerp.That was not the real explanation of the withdrawal of the charges against Bell. There were other grounds. When the prisoner was before Mr. Vaughan at Bow 1488 Street, Mr. Gill, who represented the Crown, said,In consequence of information he (Bell) received on September 3rd he went to Brussels, where he met Tynan, and they went to Antwerp, where Kearney had taken a house, and Haines had procured the necessary chemicals,showing that in September the prosecution were prepared to prove that Bell was actually in this house in Antwerp at a time when the chemicals for the manufacture of these bombs had been procured by those persons. More than that, there was produced at Bow Street a man named Goll, a brother-in-law of Kearney, resident in Antwerp, and an agent of the secret service of the Home Office, who stated that on September 5 two men came to the house and that Bell was one of them. The men went upstairs with Kearney, who said, "Come in, I will show you something." This he contended proved the allegation of the Solicitor General at the Old Bailey that they were at that time wanting evidence to show that Bell was in this house in Antwerp at the time these explosives were on the premises. But fancy the Crown with the omnipresent and all but omnipotent Scotland Yard, with all the resources at its disposal, waiting from September until January for proof that these chemicals were not in this particular house at the time Bell was there? He asserted that no really honest effort was made by the Home Office to extradite these alleged dynamite plotters from Antwerp. He did not for a single moment cast the slightest reflection upon the Home Secretary. He felt certain that the right hon. Gentleman would not, directly or indirectly, do anything that would interfere with the course of justice, but he did say that in the evidence that was procurable in Antwerp of a design of some kind upon life, and the finding of these detonators and chemicals and bombs in this particular house, there was every ground upon which the Home Office could have demanded the extradition of these men—[Nationalist cheers]—if the officials of the secret service really believed that this was a genuine and not a bogus dynamite plot. The Home Secretary, in reply to a statement of his shortly after the opening of Parliament said, speaking about the allegation that no serious effort was 1489 made to bring these men out of Antwerp to justice:—There was no means of getting these men extradited under the law. They made the attempt, but finding, on closer examination, that the offence was not within the Treaty they (the Government) admitted that they had no right to press the demand.The Home Office was dealing with men under arrest by a friendly Government. If these were genuine plotters of outrage, would the Government of Holland have refused the demand of the English Government to hand these men over to justice? The idea was absurd. They knew what the feeling on the Continent had been as to Anarchists, and to imagine that the Dutch Government would refuse to hand over men caught red-handed in plotting against life and property in this country, was not to be accepted for a moment. He asserted that these alleged plotters were not brought to this country, that the demand was not made on a friendly Government to hand them over because the Secret Service of the Home Office did not want these characters to be brought here, and to be put on trial in London. He would support these allegations by a quotation from the official organ of the Dutch Government on this very point. On the 26th November, Reuter's Agency supplied the following piece of news to the press of these three countries. The item of intelligence was headed, "Release of Kearney and Haynes," and it went on to say—According to the Amsterdam Handelsblad the Minister of Justice states that the liberation of the alleged dynamitards Haynes and Kearney, who were arrested at Rotterdam, took place after the British Minister had declared that his Government renounced the idea of demanding extradition, and that therefore the fact of their not being extradited was not due to any defect in the Extradition Treaty between England and Holland, nor in the Netherlands Penal Code.Now it would be for whoever replies to this allegation to say whether there was foundation or not for this very serious statement by the organ of the Dutch Government. What was in reality the offence that these men were alleged to be contemplating? What was the plot in which it was stated they were engaged? He had here an extract from the Evening News, of London, an official organ which supported Her Majesty's Government, 1490 which described these men and their alleged offence as follows; and also the house in which they were arrested; the information being supplied by Reuter's Agency:—In the room which they occupied several infernal machines were found, together with a quantity of correspondence, partially torn up. The prisoners at once admitted that they were the individuals wanted by the police, and, although not without considerable difficulty, the Superintendent of Police at length succeeded in obtaining the cypher key to the letters found in the prisoners' possession. It was in consequence of the contents of these letters that Tynan was arrested at Boulogne. They were described as two Anarchists having relations with Anarchists in Glasgow, and it is said that their plans included an attempt upon the life of Queen Victoria.Paragraphs appeared in the English papers that a plot was contemplated to assassinate the Czar of Russia, who was at that particular time the guest of Her Majesty. Some of them might hold what the majority of Members considered to be peculiar opinions upon the forms of Monarchical Government, but he did not think any of them, no matter what his Republican sentiments might be, could contemplate such a crime as that which was alleged to be maturing at the time without feeling that the men who plotted it should not find shelter in any civilised country. He asked this question of the Committee: Was there any foundation for these alleged plots? Did they really exist? If they did, why was no serious nor determined, no persevering effort made by the Government of this country to hunt down and to bring to justice the authors of these contemplated crimes? His contention was again that it was no real, no bonâ fide dynamite plot. He asserted that it began with the agents of the Secret Service and it ended in the Old Bailey, with the ludicrous prosecution against the man Bell. [Cheers.] But where did Irishmen come in in this connection? They all knew what a sensation was created last September, when these statements were sent on the wings of the Press throughout the world. He happened to be in Rome at the time, and he found in a newspaper in the stalls of that city, pictures representing the Irishman in Antwerp and Rotterdam manufacturing bombs for the contemplated assassination of the Czar of Russia and the Queen of this country, and the family of the 1491 Prince and Princess of Wales. These statements had gone through the world for months, and he wanted to know what was to be done in atonement for the injury done to the character of the Irish race and the Irish cause. [Cheers.] Let him give an instance of how widespread these calumnies had been circulated. He had here the headings from a Coolgardie paper in Western Australia—"The Dynamiters," "Attempt to blow up the Queen," "Dismay of the Nationalists," "A widespread plot," "Tynan expects he will be hanged"—and then followed details of a scheme to destroy the residence of the Prince and Princess of Wales. He said again, that some atonement was due to the race which he humbly spoke for. That race and that people had been to a certain extent morally assassinated through these plots, and he alleged again that these plots began and ended with the agents of the Secret Service of the Home Office. Now, although the trial of Bell came to nothing in January, was no one to be brought to justice in connection with these alleged plots, for the carrying out of these diabolical deeds? Had efforts been made by the Home Office or the Crown since January to get at the real culprits, if they existed, in connection with these infamous plots. They had a right to demand that if there was any information in the possession of the Home Office that would lead to the bringing to justice of any man who contemplated deeds of this kind, they should make every effort to extradite them from any country in which they found asylum. He knew a great deal of America, and he asserted that there was no country in the world where deeds of this character were held in greater abhorrence than in the United States, and if these plots were hatched by anyone who was at present in the United States, he was certain that if a demand was made for the extradition of these men, it would need no new treaty between England and the United States to have them handed over to justice. [Cheers.] Men, if they existed, who carried on in cold blood plots and conspiracies of this diabolical character were not entitled to an asylum in any country in the world. If there was any reality in this dynamite plot he held the Home Office was culpable in not having succeeded in bringing someone to justice for it. This was a plot of 1492 spies, and the object was one which was not new in the history of the relations between Ireland and this country. It was part of the old infamous practice of carrying on the work of morally assassinating the character of the Irish people. He would suggest to the Home Secretary how he could get all the information in connection with the plot. He would give him the names of no less than seven or eight men who, he ventured to say, knew all about it—Major Jocelin, the head of the Secret Service Department; Captain Stewart Stephens, at one time an employee of the Secret Service; the man Houston, who was identified with the Parnell Commission; James McDermott, the author of the Cork and Liverpool and London so-called dynamite conspiracies; Matthew E. O'Brien, once a distinguished student of Trinity College, and afterwards an employee of the Secret Service; Goll, of Antwerp; J. P. Hines, who also took service under The Times on the Parnell Commission, and had been in the pay of the Secret Service for most of his life; and, finally, spy Jones, whom the prosecution did not think it wise to put in the witness-box at the Old Bailey. He submitted he had made out a pretty strong case against the Secret Service Department of the Home Office. These so-called plots and conspiracies in Antwerp and Glasgow were the work entirely of disreputable men in the employment of the Secret Service, and discredit would attach to the Home Office and to the Government until some atonement was made to Ireland and the Irish, people in connection with this system of moral assassination. He said candidly that he was not an unprejudiced witness with reference to the Secret Service. He admitted that a Government like that of England, which had to rule so many subject nationalities in different parts of the world, must find it difficult, if not impossible to do without some kind of a secret service. But there ought to be no difficulty on the part of the Government in getting in their employ for this work reputable men—men sufficiently paid for their labour to be above the suspicion of getting up diabolical plots of this kind in order to get grants from the Secret Service. Let something like that be done; let the Home Office take care and precautions that such men as those whose names had been mentioned in connection 1493 with this case were not employed in this work; and then, if some such change as that were brought about he thought some good would follow from this discussion. [Irish cheers.]
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir ROBERT FINLAY, Inverness Burghs)
said that, before the Home Secretary and the Attorney General dealt with the charges which the hon. Gentleman had thought fit to bring against the conduct of the Secret Service Fund and other matters connected therewith, he would ask permission to say a few words with reference to the observations made by way of preface to those charges, inasmuch as those observations related to the conduct of a case which, as one of the Law Officers of the Crown, he was engaged in at the Old Bailey. The hon. Gentleman had thought fit to assert that the real cause why that prosecution was not prosecuted to the end was that the Crown were afraid to put the witness Jones into the box. That statement was absolutely unfounded. [Cheers.] The hon. Gentleman went on to say that Jones had been engaged, between the proceedings in the police court and the proceedings at the Old Bailey, in endeavouring to obtain evidence in Dublin, and that there were persons in court prepared to make statements to that effect.
§ MR. DAVITT
said he did not say he was sent to Dublin to obtain evidence. What he said was that he was sent to Dublin to try and induce respectable young men to go into plots of a similar description.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said he was not in the House at the moment the hon. Gentleman made that statement, and he had misunderstood what he said. All that he could say was that he had never heard before the statement now made by the hon. Gentleman. It was absolutely new to him, and the idea that anything of the kind had any effect on his mind in regard to the withdrawal of the prosecution was absolutely preposterous, and he gave it the most unqualified contradiction. [Cheers.] He was not aware that the suggestion had ever been made, and he had not the slightest ground to suppose that anything of the kind was ever said. The hon. Gentleman went on to say that the reason given for the prosecution not being proceeded with could not be the true one. He ventured to think that the suggestions made by the 1494 hon. Gentleman were about the weakest that were ever put forward in support of such a charge. The reason why the prosecution was not proceeded with was that, in his judgment, as responsible for the conduct of the prosecution, they were bound to bring home to the knowledge of Bell the existence of these explosives in the house at Antwerp. The hon. Gentleman said that that could not be the reason, and the ground he put forward for that assertion was that Mr. Gill, at the police court, said that there would be evidence available to show that Bell was at Antwerp when the explosives were there. He had not got before him in any report the exact language used by Mr. Gill, but all he could say was that, if that statement was made, they found they had no such evidence, and that it was the want of such evidence, bringing to the knowledge of Bell that these explosives were in that house at Antwerp, that led to the prosecution being dropped.
§ MR. DAVITT
said the witness Goll who appeared before the magistrates in September swore on that occasion that the chemicals were in the house when Bell was there.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said the hon. Gentleman was really mistaken. His memory had entirely played him false as regarded that matter. The witness Goll gave evidence at the police court. He did not appear at the trial, and his recollection was that it was proved by a medical man of excellent standing and capacity that it was perfectly impossible for him to do so, owing to the state of his health. [Nationalist laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen laughed, but it was proved at the trial that owing to his state of health it would have been dangerous for him to come over. Hon. Gentlemen were quite entitled to disbelieve the evidence of a professional man if they thought fit, but he should recommend them, before they derided the evidence given by a medical man of high standing in his profession, to have some other grounds than mere wild suspicion. ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. Gentleman was, he thought, entirely mistaken as to the nature of the evidence which Goll gave in the deposition which, in his absence, was read at the trial. Goll's evidence did not relate to the explosives in the house at Antwerp. He was perfectly certain that Goll said nothing whatever 1495 about the explosives in the house at Antwerp. What the hon. Gentleman was referring to, he thought, was the passage in which Goll said that, when these men were at his hotel, one of them said to the other, "Come upstairs and I will show you something." [An IRISH MEMBER: "What was the something?"] That did not relate to the house where the dynamite was at all. It related to his being invited to come upstairs at the hotel. What the something was there was no further evidence to show, but he was perfectly certain that that passage had no possible bearing upon the dynamite in the other house at Antwerp, which was in a different part of the town altogether. He had thought it right to intervene at once, and to say that the course taken at the trial was taken by him upon his own responsibility, acting to the best of his judgment, and doing what he thought was fair and right as a Law Officer of the Crown. [Cheers.]
§ On the return of the CHAIRMAN Of WAYS and MEANS, after the usual interval,
§ MR. FLYNN
contended that the reduction he moved had been amply justified by the speech of the hon. Member for Mayo. He need not say that there was no charge whatever of complicity direct or indirect on the part of the Home Secretary or the Attorney or Solicitor General, but the fact remained that there was a process of incubation of conspiracy carried on in connection with the Secret Service Fund which was a discredit to the Home Office. The country never knew what value was given for this secret service money or how the money was expended; and it was intolerable that in a country like this where free institutions were supposed to exist, underground conspiracies of this sort could be conducted. He had been connected in a public capacity with an organisation in the county of Cork which was in conflict with the Government of the day, though they feared no reproach from honest men who believed in open and honourable warfare. The very man whose name had been before the Committee came to the city of Cork supplied with money from the Secret Service Fund and with letters of introduction from America. Who was the first man he went to? The chief of the detective department in Dublin Castle. 1496 His letters were opened, and the whole thing it was perfectly well known, was inspired from the Home Office. Was it not intolerable that year after year and decade after decade this abominable practice should be carried on? ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. W. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
Will the hon. Gentleman say whether five members of the Board of Guardians of Cork were sent to gaol last week for taking money corruptly? [Laughter.]
§ MR. FLYNN
, continuing, said, let these funds be employed honestly in the detection of crime, but surely the Home Secretary ought to shrink from the idea that a single penny should be used in the manner which had been exposed by his hon. Friend. He begged to move the reduction of the Vote. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY,) Lancashire, Blackpool
I am, of course, responsible, in connection with my office, for the use of a certain amount of secret service money, and I have to make a declaration to the Public Accounts Committee that, to the best of my belief, the money used has been administered in a proper way. That, of course, is the pith of my answer to the hon. Gentleman. I entirely dispute his allegations that there was any real existence in this conspiracy. ["Hear, hear!"] I have information which neither the hon. Gentleman nor any of his Friends can have. I do not for a moment suppose that any hon. Gentlemen opposite are identified with this kind of plot, which was hatched in America. The hon. Gentleman quotes a great number of names of men who, he thinks, have been at the disposal of the Home Office and Secret Service of their country, and whose evidence he said he could produce. I know nothing of them. Of course the hon. Gentleman is quite right. If I did know anything of them, I should not admit it. [Laughter.] What is the use of the Secret Service if I did? I am responsible for the administration of this Vote. It is a very disagreeable duty as hon. Members know. ["Hear, hear!"] You have to deal with men who are not those you would desire to meet every day in private life; but what I do say is this, that what anybody in my position has to do, in using this 1497 money for the purpose of detecting crime of this sort, is to employ a confidential agent whom you can trust and then to hope and believe and do the best you can, according to the means you have at your disposal, to see that the money is not used in an improper way. Of course, I can only meet with an absolute and emphatic denial the assertion of the hon. Gentleman that there was any reality in this conspiracy. It is my belief, according to information which I have, and which I had at the time, that the police by means of information supplied to them by the agency of the Secret Service, were able to prevent a great crime being committed in the United Kingdom—["hear, hear!"]—and I say that I do not believe that the action of the police, as police, has been challenged. They could have done nothing else, having information of the presence of one of these men in Glasgow, but arrest him, in order to prevent a crime being committed. ["Hear, hear!"] It is as important to prevent the committal of a crime of this sort, which we believed was ripe for execution, as it is to arrest the criminals after its commission—and I believed on my responsibility as a Minister of the Crown, that from information we had, which was, of course, derived from agencies placed at my command through the Secret Service, there was a conspiracy to commit a crime which would have caused the greatest consternation in the United Kingdom, although I gave no credit to the allusions in the newspapers to any particular attempt on the Czar of Russia or Her Majesty. I cannot be too emphatic in asserting, in reply to the hon. Member who says that there was no reality in this conspiracy, that we had evidence of the most decisive character that the men who were arrested were—as we believed, and as I believe—engaged, one or more of them, in a conspiracy of a real and very substantial character which, if carried into effect, would have aroused the indignation of the hon. Member himself and of every hon. Member in this House. [Mr. DAVITT: "Why did you not extradite him?"] I am inclined to believe that in answer to a question put by the hon. Member across the floor of the House I may have made a mistake in saying that from the beginning we demanded the extradition of these men. Possibly I was wrong there. What I should have said 1498 is that I had to consult the Law Officers—I had to do everything I could to try to get these men over to England in order to have them tried—and that in examination we found that we had no power under the extradition treaties to proceed. I think if I had tried to obtain the extradition of criminals who were not extraditable, the hon. Member and his Friends would have been the first to charge me with attempting to secure from a friendly nation the delivery to justice—false justice as they would have said—of a person who was not really amenable to the laws of this country.
§ MR. DAVITT
Did the Government make a direct demand upon the Dutch Government for the extradition of these men?
§ SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY
We informed the Dutch Government that we intended to make that demand. [Laughter.] Ought a Government to make a formal demand of that kind without having made a thorough examination into the circumstances? When, as we believed, a crime of this sort is about to be committed, and when you can arrest the men who are going to commit it, you have no time to go into technicalities such as the question whether a man is a citizen of America or not. I went into the whole question with my hon. and learned Friend in order to ascertain what possible power we had under the extradition treaties to secure the delivery of these men who we believed were guilty, and upon being advised emphatically that the extradition treaties did not cover the surrender of these men, of course we did what we ought to do in such cases, and what my hon. and learned Friend did at the Central Criminal Court when he found he could not substantiate the charge against the prisoner—of course, we withdrew. [Mr. DAVITT: "Was the demand made?"] If I said across the floor of the House that the demand was made, I dare say that notice was given that we intended to make it; but in order to establish a case for extradition you must prove that you have a right to it.
§ MR. DAVITT
Is it not a fact that chemicals were found in the house with these men, and was no demand made for their extradition?
§ SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY
If the hon. Member will consult his legal adviser he will find that under the extradition treaties we have there was no means of demanding the surrender of these men.
§ MR. DAVITT
Is it true, as suggested in the extract read by me from an official organ, that the Dutch Government were prepared to hand these men over, but that no demand was made to them?
§ SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY
This is the first time I have heard any such suggestion made, and I should be extremely surprised if there were any truth in it. I assert most emphatically that we were prepared to do our best to get the surrender of these men for trial in this country if we could have got it, because we believed one and all whose extradition we were prepared to demand to be guilty of conspiracy to commit this crime in the United Kingdom. [Mr. DAVITT: "And yet you did not ask for their extradition."] I think the hon. Member ought to accept my explanation. I have said that we had every intention to demand extradition. The Foreign Minister, who would have had to demand the extradition, would have acted, if justified, within the limits of the Treaty. I do not like dealing with Secret Service agents—[Nationalist cheers]—but if in this case the Secret Service agents were successful—as I believe they were—in preventing a crime, there is some gain to civilisation, as the hon. Member will admit. If I have been wrong there is an end of the matter, and I am in fault. At all events, my belief is that in this particular instance we had convincing proof—proof that would have satisfied any person of fair mind—that a plot was being hatched, which, if not prevented, would have done serious damage to life and property in the United Kingdom. ["Hear, hear!"] I do not know, and it is no business of mine, whether the men who have been charged with participation in this crime—one of whom only was brought to trial—were Irishmen or not. That is not my affair. For any idle gossip in a Coolgardie paper the Government cannot be responsible. The hon. Member tells us that he has seen certain caricatures in an Italian newspaper in Rome casting aspersions on the Irish race. I think the hon. Member ought to bring his charge against the editor of 1500 that newspaper, and not against the Government, who have never expressed the belief that Irishmen had anything to do with these men, and who have shown the utmost fairness to every one implicated in this business. I repeat that the Solicitor General, having ascertained that there was not adequate evidence to connect Bell with a particular house on a particular date, did right in not pressing the case unfairly against the prisoner. Surely it is not a matter of complaint against the Government that they showed fairness in dealing with a charge of this character. The hon. Member says that he has a right to demand that the Government shall exercise all the powers they possess to detect criminals who have been engaged in crimes of this description. I hope we shall do so. By all the means in our power we shall try to track to their sources all crimes of this character and to bring to punishment all those whose guilt we can legitimately prove. If it happens from time to time, as in this case, that at the moment of trial we fail through want of a connecting link to bring home guilt to the prisoner, or if we fail because offenders are not extraditable, that is not the fault of the Government or of the police. We believed from the beginning that this was a case which it behoved us to watch most seriously. We did out best to get hold of the men and to bring them to justice, and if we failed at the last moment in connection with the trial of one of them, it was because an English Law Officer in an English Court was scrupulously fair in not pressing the case against the prisoner in the circumstances that arose. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. JAMES O'CONNOR (Wicklow, W.)
said that the Home Secretary need not have taken so much trouble to assure the Committee that he had no acquaintance whatever with the persons Connected with this dynamite conspiracy. No one on the Opposition side of the House supposed for a moment that any Home Secretary ever had a personal acquaintance with the agents who had, as his hon. Friends and himself maintained, been employed by certain permanent officials in the Home Office or Scotland Yard. The right hon. Gentleman had asserted most emphatically that there was a reality in the conspiracy of September last. He admitted that there was a 1501 reality in that conspiracy, but with whom did that reality originate? With whom did it begin? The Nationalist Members maintained that it originated with the employees of the Home Office and Scotland Yard. How was it that Mrs. Tyler had never been arrested for the conspiracy which she went to Dublin to found in 1884. The Nationalist Members had in their possession telegrams sent from the Home Office to this woman at the Gresham Hotel in Dublin, and there were in the possession of Members of the House letters written and signed "Robert Anderson, Home Office," in reference to payments for informer's service.
§ MR. JAMES O'CONNOR
I was speaking of the policy of the Home Office in regard to these conspiracies, and I say that the conspiracy of last September was only one of a series of conspiracies which have been set on foot in Ireland during the last 15 years. The first was started in 1882 by Mr. James Macdermott, who came over from New York to Dublin, and was in direct communication with Mr. Jenkins of the Castle, and Mr. Dunsterville, his private secretary. Macdermott got up the conspiracy which resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of Dr. Gallagher and others, who had been in prison, and of Flanagan, who was in prison now.
THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. GRANT LAWSON)
The hon. Member must confine himself to something to do with the administration of the Home Office as constituted in the present year.
§ MR. JAMES O'CONNOR
But the conspiracy we are discussing did not occur in the present year, it happened last year. Mrs. Tyler offered £500 to any man who would throw a dynamite bomb into that House from the Thames. Sir G. Trevelyan, then Irish Secretary denied all knowledge of Mrs. Tyler. The Nationalist Members did not suggest that the Home Secretary had any knowledge whatever of the agents employed by officials at Scotland Yard or the Home Office. But the conspiracy of last September was got up by agents of the Government, and beyond all doubt with the knowledge of men 1502 employed is Government spies in New York. The Government could not deny that Mrs. Tyler was in the pay of the Home Office. Could the Home Secretary deny that Jones was not in the same pay? With the knowledge of Major Gosselin Jones was sent to Dublin last year to get up dynamite conspiracies there. The officials of the Government, without the knowledge of the Home Secretary, had been getting up dynamite conspiracies since, 1882, and the last of the series was that of September 1896. It was intended to frighten the Emperor of Russia, probably—a magnificent piece of Imperial policy. But after the exposure in this case they would hardly hear of many more dynamite conspiracies. This little game was exploded at last, and it was time.[Nationalist cheers.]
§ MR. JOHN DILLON (Mayo, E.)
said there was one omission in the statement of the Home Secretary which made a sinister impression upon hon. Members sitting on that side of the House. The gravamen of the charge made by the hon. Member for South Mayo was, that it had been for years the established policy of the Home Office to keep in their employment, and in their pay, men who did not scruple, for the detection of crime, to employ methods well-known and recognised in some Continental countries, but which were repugnant to the public opinion of this country. That was, to plan and promote and stimulate and assist in the organisation of crimes for the pretended purpose of preventing them. ["Hear, hear!"] That was the substance of their charge, and the reason why they made so strong a protest against this system was because they believed that if they had recourse to these men, and if they once placed themselves under the influence of men who, under the pretext of preventing or detecting crime, took part in promoting conspiracies for this purpose they could not check the action of these agents, who, for the purpose of showing their usefulness and maintaining the usefulness of their profession, would have to continue to keep up crime in the country where, but for their operations, crime would come to an end. ["Hear, hear!"] What he desired to direct the attention of the Committee to was, that the Home Secretary 1503 did display a dislike for the association which was forced upon him by his officers with these people, but he did not deny that it was, and had been, the policy of the Home Office to wink, at least, at these proceedings. [Cheers.]
§ SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY
I did deny it. I said that I tried to convince myself that the agents whom I trusted are responsible and honest persons. I do not know anything about the subordinates.
§ MR. DILLON
said that was their point. The officials of the Home Office were supposed by the right hon. Gentleman to be honest and responsible men, but they believed them to be the very reverse. [Nationalist cheers.] Some of them they believed to be thorough scoundrels, and they considered that the hon. Member for South Mayo had made out a very strong primâ facie case that it was the practice of men in Major Gosselin's employment, entirely without the knowledge of any other Department of Police in this country, particularly where political crime was concerned, to adopt methods which used to be condemned and reprobated as the methods of Napoleon the Third in France—the method of prompting conspiracies for the commission of crime to detect those who committed them. This had gone on from the days of Talbot the informer downwards. It was the established policy of the Government, and there were agents in the employ of the British Government advocating the assassination of the late Home Secretary and other prominent men in this country. The excuse that Major Gosselin would probably give would be, that it was the best way to defeat the intentions of evilly-disposed men. He himself considered it infamous, and although it might sometimes effect its purposes, the price paid for its success was too great. A Government which resorted to such methods put itself on a level with the criminals. The Government had a right to spend Secret Service money to defeat crime, but not to entrap innocent men into the commission of crime or for the promotion of crime. He did not accuse the Home Secretary personally of casting a slur and a stain upon the Irish nation last September. But for the last 15 years every outrage and crime in Ireland had been used as a means of defaming the good 1504 name of the Irish people before the civilised world. The men engaged in the Parnell Commission used all the influence of the agents and of the bottomless purse of this country to destroy and blast the character of every man who held Nationalist views in Ireland. It was a mockery to pretend that these conspiracies were not used to turn the public opinion of the world against the Nationalists and their cause in Ireland. They were got up to placard the Irish people as a gang of cowardly murderers and dynamitards before the world. It came well from the secret police of a city like London, where every dynamite outrage or assassination plotted against the Crowned Heads of Europe had been arranged. Despite the cowardly campaign against the good name of Ireland, however, that country could hold its head higher as regarded crime and assassination than any other country in Europe. Year after year they would continue to demand that the Home Secretary of this country should repudiate the abominable policy of using agents provocateurs, which they believed was still the policy of Major Gosselin and the secret police.
§ MR. P. J. POWER (Waterford, E.)
said he came from that part of Ireland to which Talbot was sent down by the Secret Service Fund. This man attended the chapel where his father and his sisters attended, and although the man was a Protestant, he passed himself off as a Catholic, and swore in the young Catholics of his part of the country and made them sign their oaths with their blood. He suddenly left the neighbourhood, and the next they saw of him was when he was in the witness chair, and a large body of the young men of the neighbourhood were in the dock. He contended that any administration which descended to fraud of that description was unworthy of confidence.
§ Question put. The Committee divided:—Ayes, 50; Noes, 107.—(Division List, No. 148.)