HC Deb 19 April 1899 vol 69 cc1541-607

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That the Bill be now read a second time.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

This is a very short and a very simple Bill, and I do not think the House of Commons could address itself to better work on this Wednesday afternoon than that of removing this disgraceful Act from the Statute Book. This Act was passed, as everyone will remember, in the year 1887, and I can well recall, during the prolonged Debates which took place on the various stages of this Act, when the Government called for exceptional powers, they gave us assurances over and over again that this Act was intended, more than any other Coercion Act which had gone before, to be used only against actual criminals, and that it was drafted in the light of the experience of the working of previous Acts, and specially constructed for the purpose of directing its penal effect only against those who are accurately described as criminals. In the coarse of that discussion I recollect Ministers and supporters of the Government contrasting this Criminal Law Amendment Act, as they called it, with the Act introduced by the Liberal Government of 1881, which they said was practically a suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, giving the Government of that day power, without trial, to lock up its political opponents, and they asked for those powers on the understanding that they would confine their attempts to making the law more effective against criminals. These are always the declarations made by Governments on similar occasions. We stated in the course of those Debates our conviction that, as soon as the Government were armed with those exceptional powers, the first use they would make of them would be to use them against their political opponents and against those who could not be truly described as criminals. Now, every single prediction which was made from these Benches in the course of that Debate was verified to the very letter, because the first use which the Govern- ment made of this Act was to enforce it against their political opponents in Ireland. There is hardly a, prominent Member upon these Benches now who did not suffer under that Act. The honourable Member for Waterford was convicted and put on a plank bed. I was convicted twice, and the Member for the Central Division of Dublin—and, in fact, a majority of the whole of the Irish Nationalist representatives—were convicted under the provisions of this Act, which we had been promised would be strictly confined to men who could be accurately described as criminals. That was a cowardly position for the Government to take up, in view of this promise. Now, if we were properly described as criminals, we ought not to be in this House, and there is not a single Member sitting on the Benches opposite who would describe any single individual Member of the Irish Party who sits upon these Benches, and who has suffered under this Act, as a criminal. I say that the pledge upon which the House of Commons gave its sanction to this Act were broken, for this Act was passed solely for the purpose of punishing criminals, and not for muzzling political opponents in Ireland. But I do not confine myself to the Irish representatives alone, for recently we have heard, both inside and outside of this House, wails and lamentations in the country over the result of the county council elections in Ireland.

THE CHIEF SECRETARY TO THE LORD LIEUTENANT OF IRELAND (Mr. GERALD BALFOUR,) Leeds, Central

No, no!

MR. DILLON

At any rate, we have heard regrets expressed at the result of these elections. I venture to say that it will be a most interesting thing to go through, the list of councillors and district councillors returned at the recent elections in Ireland to find out how many of them have been in prison under this Act. There are hundreds of the men recently elected as the representatives of the people in Ireland who, in consequence of the pledges of the Government having been broken, have been branded as criminals under this Act, and they are now the chosen representatives of the people throughout the length and breadth of Ireland. This Act was passed under false pretences, for the pledges upon which Parliament was asked to place this perpetual Coercion Act upon the Statute Book were promptly broken, and broken wholesale. That is one of the first grounds upon which I claim that this Act should be repealed. I turn now to a consideration which I imagine will weigh more heavily in this House, and that is, to examine for a few moments what has been the effect of this Act, as compared with the other innumerable Coercion Acts which have preceded it in the government of Ireland. The grounds on which this Act was asked for in 1887 were unquestionably insufficient. There was no strong case made out for the necessity for any exceptional legislation, even looking at the case from the point of view of a Unionist Minister endeavouring to govern Ireland without the support of public opinion in that country. Now, why do I say this? Because even in those Debates the amount of agrarian crime and disturbances alleged by the Government was absolutely trifling when compared with the amount of agrarian crime alleged by any previous Governments when asking for exceptional powers. That is beyond contradiction, and I shall allude to it again in a moment. I take the number of agrarian outrages in the year 1886, on which figures the Government demanded this legislation. Now, the total number of agrarian outrages in 1886 was a little over 1,000 for the whole of Ireland. The number of agrarian outrages in 1881, when the Liberal Government asked for their first Coercion Act, was between 4,000 and 5,000. If we pursue this question further, and analyse the character and nature of the crimes committed in Ireland in 1886, as compared with the character and nature of the 4,000 and odd crimes committed in 1881, we find the case is infinitely stronger, because the number of serious crimes in 1886 was far less and of a much more trifling character than those in 1881. Therefore I say that, beyond all question, the Government, even admitting that they should adhere to the evil traditions of previous Irish Governments, which always seek in coercion a remedy for the troubles and disturbances of Ireland, and looking at the question from their own point of view, I say that the case for the Coercion Act of 1887 was entirely insufficient, judged by the cases put forward by previous Governments when asking for similar powers. Let us now turn to the history of these Coercion Acts. First of all, I wish to give briefly a few facts from the summary of agrarian crimes set forth in the criminal statistics of the constabulary returns for Ireland. I wish to give the number of agrarian outrages during the years when this Coercion Act was enforced, and during the years it has ceased to operate. I commence from the year 1886. In that year the number was 1,056, and that was the year before the Coercion Act was introduced. In 1887, which was the first year of the operation of the Act, the number was 883; in 1888 it was 660; in 1889, 534;. in 1890 the total was 519; and in 1891, which was the last year of the operation of the Coercion Act, the number was 472. In 1892 it was 405, and in that year the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Montrose suspended entirely the operation of the Coercion Act, which has not been enforced since that date. Now, the present Government, in spite of the denunciations of the honourable Member for Montrose, have not followed, so far, his good example by not having recourse to the Coercion Act which he suspended, although they denounced him for that action. In 1893 the Coercion Act was suspended, and the number of outrages was 308, in 1894 it was 277, in 1895 the total was 271, and during those years the Coercion Act was not enforced. Now, let me direct the attention of the House to the present condition of Ireland. After the operation of this Act has been suspended for a period of seven years, and the ordinary law is in operation, here is the result. I have got here the returns for the last quarter of the year 1898, when the total number of offences for Ireland was only 43, and about three times that figure would give the total for the whole year. That only affords a very small picture of the case, and does not give it its full weight, because in the last return, to which I have alluded, there are some eight or ten chief headings of outrages set apart for serious crimes against the person, such as murder, manslaughter, breaking into houses, aggravated assaults, firing at persons, and other serious offences, and under each of these headings there is an absolute blank, with the exception of one murder alleged to have been committed in the county of Kilkenny, which I have some doubt as to its being agrarian.

DR. RENTOUL

Are those the figures for last year?

MR. DILLON

Yes. There are ten headings put down as serious offences against the person, and they are absolutely blank, with the exception of the one murder in the county of Kilkenny. Now, what is the condition of the province of Connaught? I take the last quarter. In that province the number of agrarian offences was 11, which included no serious offences. In Galway, in the East Riding, there was one; in the West Riding none; in Leitrim none; in Mayo 8, and of these eight four were extremely slight offences of threatening letters, two were incendiary fires, one of which was the famous Murrisk fire, in which the police believe-that the owner was the perpetrator. In Roscommon there is only one offence. Therefore it is absolutely true—and I shall be very curious to hear how the Chief Secretary deals with this matter— that after seven years, without the use of any coercion in Ireland outside the powers of the ordinary law, so far as I know, the state of the country as regards the absence of outrage is entirely without parallel, as far as my reading carries me back, in this century, and that in spite of the fact that this proposal was made by the Executive Government in 1892 to govern Ireland without a Coercion Act, when the adjournment of the House was moved no less than seven times by the honourable Member for South Tyrone, who protested against handing over the lives and property of the people to incendiaries by attempting to govern them without coercion. That was a most extraordinary condition of things, and when we look back through the history of Ireland, and remember through the whole of this century which is now drawing to a close that there have been only two considerable periods during the whole of that century when an attempt has been made to govern the people by the ordinary law as understood in this country. One was in the time of Lord Melbourne's administration, from 1835 to 1839, and the other is the present period, from 1892, when the Liberal Government suspended the operation of the Crimes Act, and fell back to the ordinary law, a period which has lasted down to the present time. Again and again those who have tried this experiment in Ireland have been satisfied with the result, when we remember that throughout nearly the whole of this century, when coercion was enforced in Ireland, we had a constant and steady stream of crime and agrarian outrage. I say it is astonishing that gentlemen so conversant with Irish human nature should not learn some lesson from this experience. Now let me turn for a moment to the Debate of 1894, because that was a very instructive Debate. First of all I wish to refer to the language which was used in this House by the supporters of the present Government when the Coercion Act was suspended. In the year 1893 the adjournment of the House was moved over and over again to call attention to the condition of Ireland, and more especially to the condition of Clare. It was moved on the 2nd of March, 1893, by the honourable Member for South Tyrone, and he denounced the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Montrose with his usual vigour. He drew an appalling picture of the condition of Clare, and he gave a long list of outrages, and indicted crimes, and when this language was used this Criminal Procedure Act had been enforced and vigorously used in the county of Clare from the year 1887 down to the date of this Debate in 1893. Now, nobody could accuse the First Lord of the Treasury of being lax in the working of that Act. The honourable Member for South Tyrone quoted the lurid language of Mr. Justice O'Brien in 1893 describing the condition of Clare, in which it was stated that there was security neither for life nor for property in that: county. That charge was delivered by Justice O'Brien, and the House was shocked. It was delivered after six years of the active operation of this Coercion Act.

AN HONOURABLE MEMBER

Hear, hear!

MR. DILLON

The honourable Member for South Belfast says "Hear, hear."

MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast)

I didn't say "Hear, hear" at all.

MR. DILLON

That was the language in which. Mr. Justice O'Brien described the condition of Clare in 1893. The right honourable Gentleman the Member for Montrose, however, stood firm, and notwithstanding the denunciations of the Secretary to the Local Government Board, the right honourable Gentleman refused to revive the Coercion Act, and what is the condition of things in the county of Clare to-day? During the last quarter the total number of outrages is only four. That is to say, that whereas, according to the opinion of Mr. Justice O'Brien, neither life nor property was safe in Clare under the operation of this, Coercion Act, then the Member for Montrose suspends that Act and refuses to supply it, six years after Clare is as free from crime as any English county. In these circumstances how is it that the Government, blind to the lessons of history and of their own experience, can never learn how to govern Ireland? Now, I come to the Debate of 1894, when the Bill was introduced by the Member for North Galway. In that Debate a spectacle was presented to the House of Commons absolutely without parallel in the history of this country. That is a strong statement to make, but I assert that it is true. A Motion was made and a Bill was introduced to take away from the executive government of Ireland the exceptional powers which had been granted to them by this House, which were powers outside the ordinary law of the land. Upon that occasion the Minister responsible for the government of Ireland got up in this House and declared that they did not require those exceptional powers, and an Opposition seeking to force those exceptional powers upon Ireland. You may search the whole history of England, and you will never find a parallel case of an Executive Government saying they are prepared to do away with these exceptional powers, and an Opposition to force those powers upon them. Of course, we know why the Government of that day did not introduce a Bill to repeal the Crimes Act themselves. Their reason was that they had had a fair warning from those who controlled the legislation in another place that by so doing their time would be wasted, because such a Measure would not be al- lowed to pass. The position of the Government in those days was at least an arguable position. They said— We have many important Measures to pass, and we decline to face a long drawn out opposition in the House of Commons when we have other English Bills to bring forward, for it would be absolutely useless, for we have had full warning from the House of Lords that they would throw out any such Bill. I lay down this proposition that it is a principle which runs through the whole practice of executive governments ever since liberty was established in England, that whenever the Executive Government feel called upon to demand from this House exceptional powers interfering beyond the ordinary common law of the country with the liberty of the subject, they are called upon by this House to prove a case for these exceptional powers at the moment when they are asked for. Even before the passing of the great Reform Act no Minister, not even in the days of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel, ever dared to come down to this House and say, "We ask you to give to the Government of Ireland the power of suspending the constitutional law," whenever they in their judgment thought it a wise thing to do. This Bill was practically giving them that power for ever to enable the Lord Lieutenant to proclaim coercion and break up the constitution in that country without showing any cause or necessity for such a proceeding at that moment. I say, therefore, that the passing of this Act was an extraordinary departure from those traditions of liberty which have always been observed by English Ministers in dealing with Ireland, even in those days when it was supposed that liberty was on a very much lower plane than obtains to-day. This is the effect of this departure from those principles upon which the liberty of this and every other free country is based. See how these departures and lapses enable men to go from one extreme to the other. When I turn to the speeches delivered in the Debate of 1894 I find that the First Lord of the Treasury, who was then leading the Opposition, took up this extraordinary and unheard of stand. He said that the Secretary for Ireland had stated on his authority, as the responsible Minister, that they did not require the Criminal Procedure Act, and that they could govern Ireland without it. He said that they did not want to quarrel with the statement, and he went on to say that it might be true that so long as a Home Rule Government were in power there were forces and great national influences at work to support the Government and preserve peace, and therefore the Act was not required; but that as soon as a Unionist Government came into office the alliance with those moral forces in Ireland must vanish. That is a most extraordinary position to be taken up by a Minister. The present Unionist Government is able to govern Ireland by the ordinary law, but because at some future time we may come into office this Act must be kept hanging over the heads of the Irish people when we come into power to break up the moral forces of the country. Is there in he whole history of the connection of Ireland with England a parallel for such a declaration as that. Now, this Unionist Government did come into office, and we have been told on a hundred platforms and in this House that we, who are described as Irish patriots, have seen Home Rule vanish into thin air, and yet this Unionist Government have not had recourse to the Crimes Act. That being so, it is immoral and monstrous to keep this Act upon the Statute Book, and I assert that so long as it remains there it is a confession of failure in the Government of Ireland to keep up a law which by their own admission is unnecessary, and by their own experience and own Acts they have declared to be unnecessary to govern the country. So much for the action of the Opposition in opposing the repeal of the Act in 1894. I cannot recollect the figures exactly, but as far as I can remember the Second Reading of the Bill repealing this Criminal Procedure Act was carried upon that occasion by a majority of something like 50. I do not think there is another case in the history of England of an Act giving exceptional powers to an Executive Government being kept upon the Statute Book after the House of Commons had agreed to repeal it by a majority of 50. I shall await with great curiosity to hear to-day what arguments are adduced against the repeal of this Bill. The present First Lord of the Treasury in 1894 made a very impassioned speech against this Bill, in which he said that when a Unionist Government came into power it would part company with the moral forces in Ireland, and both the right honourable Gentleman and other Irish Members prophesied terrible things in the event of the return of a Unionist Government to power. I think I have disposed of that argument, for a Unionist Government has come into power, and has been in power for two or three years, and we have heard no clamouring from those Benches opposite for the renewal of the Crimes Act in that country, which has progressed in peacefulness without the application of that Act, and therefore that argument has totally fallen to the ground. No doubt the right honourable Gentleman can get up and say that I prophesied things which have not happened. Even before you can make a fairly sound forecast of what is going to happen in politics you have to know what the various elements are going to do; and I confess that when I spoke in 1895, judging from my past experience and from the language used from these benches, I fully expected, as I know the Irish landlords expected, that steps would be instantly taken to put a stop to the reduction of rents, and that the Coercion Act would be reinstated, and that the country would be brought back into a state of tilings which would produce disorder and discontent. Now, I do not admire the enthusiasm displayed by the right honourable Gentleman, as perhaps he knows, nor do I agree with the eulogium passed upon him by some Irishmen, but I confess that the policy pursued by the present Government is very different from that which was pursued by the previous Conservative Governments. I should very much like to hear the opinion of the Irish landlords who have discussed the right honourable Gentleman. He has pursued a course very much different from the course taken by other Governments, and I quite admit that he has falsified sarnie of the predictions and prophecies which I made in 1895. I have, however, known a great many men who are greater statesmen than I ever hope to be whose predictions have been falsified. The policy of the right honourable Gentleman has been up to the present different from that which the Irish landlords expected, and considerably different from that which I expected, and, consequently, the results have been different. But supposing that all these speeches were read to the House, and supposing my prophecies had turned out truer than they have. Is it or is it not worthy of a responsible Minister to base his claim for the maintenance of this Act on the Statute Book—of an Act taking away some of the most important safeguards of the liberty of the subject in Ireland—upon certain cuttings from the speeches of political leaders in Ireland? I say that such a line of argument is an absurdity, and unworthy of any practical statesman. You have to make your claim for legislation on totally different grounds, and not on the speeches of politicians; and I say that the excuse or argument put forward in the year 1894 by the First Lord of the Treasury as a reason for objecting to the removal of this Act from the Statute Book is a flimsy and utterly absurd reason. This Act has, in my judgment, been obtained from the beginning under totally false pretences, and it has been freely used for purposes for which we were assured on the faith of Ministers it would never be applied. It has failed, like all the Coercion Acts that have gone before it, to achieve the objects for which it was passed, and it has been proved abundantly since the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Montrose suspended the operation of this Act that in Ireland, as in every other country, the true remedy to apply is the principle of liberty and the redressing of grievances. If I were to search the pages of Hansard as to the result of the suspension of the Crimes Act in 1893 and 1894 I certainly should be able to convict honourable Members opposite of many prophecies that have not been fulfilled. It will be argued, no doubt, that this Act is now doing no harm, a though it is lying on the Statute Book, because it is not enforced. What would be said in the country to this House if when the representatives of the country asked that an Act should be removed from the Statute Book they were met by the reply, that the Executive will not use it, that the necessity had passed away, but it may as well remain where it is? What would be said by the country to that? The time has come to test the policy of the Chief Secretary for Ireland with regard to that country. He came into office with the intention of departing from the traditions of the past. He did depart from the traditions of the past, inasmuch as he gave the people local government. If he really desires to bring out that policy to its ultimate conclusion, and if he desires to give local government a fair trial, he should remove from the Statute Bock this Coercion Act, which is an outrage and an insult to every man in Ireland. It is also a confession of failure. There are only two ways of governing Ireland. The Government must either govern it on the principle that they cannot trust the people, or they must trust them. The true policy for a responsible Minister to adopt is to frankly meet the wishes of the people. Disappointment is felt by some people in the House, and complaint has been made because the Irish Local Government elections were run on political lines. Honourable Gentlemen opposite sneer at the councils for proposing Home Rule resolutions, but these are the safety valves of the people. They are the substitutes, the happy substitutes, for the secret societies of the past. It is a great mistake, from the Chief Secretary's point of view, not to care-fully observe the expression of public opinion that comes from those bodies, and not to do everything in his power consistent with his duty to the British Empire to bring the Irish Executive into accord with the ascertained wishes of the of the people of Ireland. Ultimately the Government will have to do one of the two things—they will either have to govern Ireland in accordance with the ascertained wishes of the majority of the people of Ireland, or they will have to let Irishmen govern themselves; and as the very first step indicated in the granting of local government to Ireland, I invite the Chief Secretary to wipe out from the Statute Book this Coercion Act, this insult to the people of Ireland, this evil remnant of oppression and wrong.

MR. POWER (Waterford, E.)

I rise to second the Motion which has been made by my honourable Friend. I think that the attitude which the Government should adopt is the attitude which was adopted on a previous occasion. What their contention has been, and what I suppose it will be, is that nobody but the evil doers need fear coercion, and law-abiding citizens in Ireland, so far from being hindered, are protected in their ordinary avocations: but our view is quite the contrary, and everything goes to prove that we are right. Our contention is that all the Coercion Acts in the past have been aimed not at crime and criminals, as ordinarily understood, but political opponents and political organisations. All those Coercion Acts have been used to put down all the organisations which have been found to be absolutely necessary to preserve the lives of the Irish people in the past. My honourable Friend, in alluding to present state of Ireland and the manner in which this Bill was brought forward, has alluded to facts that have taken place in various parts; but with regard to the statistics that have been referred to, I must take exception to one column of them, and that is the one which deals with threatening letters. I do not think any claim could be made with regard to the threatening letters which have been received, because we also have received a great many threatening letters which we have taken no notice of, because as these threatening letters are written by cowardly men, they are the last with whom we shall come in personal contact. If we were to bring forward all the threatening letters which we received during the Parliament of 1880–85 we should put up the statistics very largely. I do not think there ought to be counted in the criminals' statistics a column dealing with threatening letters. Our contention is that these Coercion Acts are aimed, not at crime and criminals, but at political organisations; and in proof of that I would refer the House to the Parnell Commission, when you relied upon Pigott's forgeries, and wholesale attacks were made in the endeavour to connect the Irish Members with the crime, and you signally failed. The very day that the Second Reading of the last Coercion Act was passed was the very day on which the forged letters appeared in "The Times," and there is no doubt the introduction of those forged letters, which raised such a feeling in this country, did much to change and harden the feeling and minds of honourable Members in regard to that matter. Now, why do I say these agitations in Ireland are necessary to the lives of the people, because they have been made necessary by this House not doing its duty. They have been made necessary by this House refusing to come to the rescue of the Irish people. I well remember in 1879 famine existed in Ireland, which was pooh-poohed by the the officials of the day, and we were told that there was no such thing in the country but it was proved, and the Duke of Marlborough organised a fund for relief, and money came in tens of thousands of pounds from all parts of the country. The Irish people having made an appeal to the executive, and the executive having refused to listen to their appeal, what are they to do? Were they to be turned out of their houses as they were in 1848, to starve and perish in the ditches as they did in 1848, when this House refused to protect the people and famine stalked naked through the laud. The first duty of Irish politicians it to protect the people, and the Land League was established. Efforts were immediately made to put down the Land League, and I believe under Forster's Coercion Act about 15,000 of the most respectable men of Ireland were put into prison for long terms. It is a commentary on your laws, but it is a certain fact that the men mostly respected in Ireland, the men who have done most for Ireland, men whose public character was above impeachment, were the men who were put in your gaols. Forster's Coercion Act was introduced to grapple with the Land League, and it failed. And directly after it failed the Land Act of 1881 was introduced, which was clearly the result of the agitation of 1879. If you had had no agitation in 1879 you would have had no Laud Act in 1881. But in considering the Coercion Act which we are to-day desirous of removing from the Statute Book—and this is defended by the argument that it is only passed for crimes and criminals—Heaven knows that we have had enough of these Acts during the present century. But they have always been passed for a definite period, and after the expiry of the term for which they have been passed we have reverted to the original state of things. Such is not the case now. You passed this Act not for a limited period, but in perpetuity, and in 1887, when you celebrated Her Majesty's Jubilee, the present which you sent over to Ireland was not a congratulation, but a Jubilee Coercion Act, and it is known in Ireland by that name. Mr. Speaker, these Coercion Acts were made, as I have said before, for the purpose of combating political opponents and political organisations. We may be told that this Coercion Act is at present in abeyance, and its provisions are not at present used in Ireland. Well, that may be so. Admit that it is so. But is that a satisfactory state of things? Should the liberty of the people be at the whim of one man or any number of men, no matter how able they may be? The right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary no doubt is a man of very great ability, but he will excuse my saying that he is a gentleman of some irritability, and to use an Irish saying, if he gets out of bed the wrong way one morning and he feels that the people are agitated it is quite competent for him to hand this order to the officials and the Coercion Act in its very worst form is brought into action. I do not intend to detain the House any longer. I speak without notes. I might, if a little more time had been allowed me to hunt up the statistics, have been able to put some more facts before the House. We are often twitted with not taking interests in the affairs of this country and the growth of your Empire, and so forth, and with being disloyal. I do not know what Ireland has to be loyal for. I cannot see any reason why it should be, I think the Irish people have been too loyal in the past, and that there is no particular reason for any particular loyalty in the present. The present reign has been, perhaps, the most disastrous in the history of that unhappy country. The Irish people are no different to any other people. You cannot get up insurrection and agitation and have complaints unless there are grave grounds existing for them. If you have a grievance, and it is not remedied, you will have popular organisation. We maintain that we have little to be loyal for, that the treatment of our country has been reversed to the treatment of this, that the liberty of our people has been in suspension again and again, and I ask this House to hesitate before they give their votes for the operation of this Coercion Act, before they give their approval to it, to consider how they would like to see the suspension of those liberties in England for which they have fought and bled in the past, and I ask them to say that equal law should be extended to Ireland with this country. Many honourable Gentlemen in this House have never recorded a vote in favour of coercion that was done by that predecessor who may have had authority for it. I appeal to those Gentlemen, as the state of Ireland justifies it, to vote in this case against the perpetuation of this Act and for equality of the laws between the two countries.

Amendment proposed — To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words' upon this day six months.''—(Dr. Rentoul.)

DR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)

I rise to move the rejection of this Motion, and that means nothing less than the definite rejection of the Bill. I take this course on three grounds. The first reason I have is, that if the passing of this Bill means anything at all, it means a distinct invitation to lawlessness again; if it does not mean that, it does not mean anything at all. The second reason is, that it is quite possible that a Bill that has been necessary for one occasion may be required again, and so long as it remains on the Statute Book, it is there if required. The third reason is that I have not heard any argument given for taking it off the Statute Book. Honourable Gentlemen have talked round the subject, but there has been no reason shown why the Act should be removed. At the time it was passed, as the honourable Gentleman the Member for East Mayo well knows, it was only to be applied to criminals. No one would describe the honourable Gentleman or his colleague as criminals, but with regard to the speeches made by the honourable Member and his colleagues, it is a different thing. I do not think more criminal acts were ever done by any man than by the honourable Member and his colleagues in the speeches that they made on that occasion. They were very popular men, and the speeches they made had their effect—the effects which were intended, undoubtedly, did follow those speeches.

MR. DILLON

What effects.

DR. RENTOUL

The crimes that dogged persistently the speeches which were -made as they were made. You could identify the speeches and the men who made the speeches almost without reference to the speeches themselves by the crimes that follow them. It has been said by a high authority that those speeches were the worst sort of crime. Such a celebrated writer as Mr. Rudyard Kipling, speaking of these speeches and of these men, says they did not do any of the murders themselves, and then he says — They merely came and talked, and went a way. By God, the men who did the deed were braver men than they.

MR. DAVITT (Mayo, S.)

How much did he get per line?

DR. RENTOUL

He got, I suppose, the same rate as any literary man receives for work which he writes. The men who did the deed were the bravest, the greatest criminals were those who made the speeches and went away. The honourable Member for Mayo went on to speak of the county councils, and told us that the elections had created a greater amount of surprise on this side of the House. They created no surprise at all so far as I was concerned, Well, the honourable Member for East Mayo then went to another part of his speech, in which I expected to find something interesting. He said, "I will now give the effect of the Act." Well, as far as I can see, he did not give any "effect" at all. He mentioned a number of reasons why this Bill should be passed, but he gave no fact, except that since the Crimes Act was passed crime has gone down about as rapidly as it possibly could in Ireland.

MR. DILLON

I gave a long list of figures showing that since the Act was dropped the decrease in crime has been very rapid.

DR. RENTOUL

That is exactly what I am coming to, and I can inform the honourable Member that as far as I read the figures, that is not the case. In 1887, the first year the Act was in operation, there were 883 crimes. In 1892, the last year it was in operation, there were 405. In five years, therefore, crime went down, roughly speaking, one-half. The number of crimes last year was 240, so that they have decreased less than half since 1892. My point is this: Since the Act was passed, crime has gone down steadily year by year, and since the suspension of the Act, crime has still continued to go down, but not more rapidly, or to any more appreciable extent than it went down before. In point of fact, the figures rather prove that during the five years before the suspension, crime went down a little more rapidly than in the seven or eight years since its suspension. Therefore it seems to me that since the Act of 1887 crime has gone down steadily and regularly every year, and that there has been no appreciable difference whatever since 1892, when the suspension of that Act took place.

MR. DILLON

I do not admit that. Crime has gone down more rapidly since the suspension of the Act.

DR. RENTOUL

Well, the honourable Member also said that 88 coercion Acts had been passed in the present century by the Imperial Parliament. But Grattan's Parliament, which sat for only 18 years, passed exactly 54 coercion Acts. But there is one very important comparison which the honourable Member has run away from, namely, the law in Scotland as compared with the law in Ireland. The honourable Member for East Mayo said as long as the Crimes Act remained on the Statute Book it would be an insult to Ireland. If that were so it would be an argument of some weight, but, as I shall show later, it is not regarded in that light at all. Now, let me refer to the law in Scotland. When Sir George Trevelyan, who was a Member of this House, and for some time a Liberal-Unionist—it will be remembered that he had been both Chief Secretary for Ireland and Secretary for Scotland, and was, therefore, in a particularly favourable position to compare the laws of the two countries —what did he say? He said there was no difference between the law as applied under the Coercion Act to Ireland and the general law in Scotland. Then he went into details, and I will refer to some of them. The so-called Star Chamber inquiries are in constant use in Scotland. Witnesses are constantly examined by the Procurator-Fiscal, who takes down in writing their depositions; if they decline to give information, they are examined on oath before the Sheriff; and if they still de- cline, they are committed to prison for contempt of court. The criminal law is exactly the same as regards preliminary investigations in the two countries. Then, as regards summary jurisdiction: the criminals who are tried by summary courts in Ireland are also tried by summary courts in Scotland. In fact, in the event of any difficulty in Scotland the Lord Advocate has the power on his own motion of directing whether an offence shall be tried with or without a jury. With regard to Ireland, the same law can be applied by the Chief Secretary, without reference to or consultation with anyone. I think there can be no doubt whatever that the average tribunal in Ireland is quite as good as the average tribunal in Scotland. Then there is the matter of moving the venue of jurisdiction from one place to another, and that has been denounced with immense fierceness in all parts of Ireland. But what do we find? We find that in Scotland the Lord Advocate, in his capacity as public prosecutor, has almost unlimited power of dealing with crime. That is to say, on his own motion, without reference to anyone, he has the power to change the venue of jurisdiction as much as he likes. I am informed that it is done exceedingly frequently. Between 1880 and 1887 batches of crofters were taken a distance of 300 miles to be tried by jury. This, however, was not done under a coercion Act, but under an ordinary law of Scotland, which has existed for hundreds of years. In Ireland the powers under the Crimes Act can only be put into operation in particular districts at particular times. In Scotland those powers apply to all parts of the country at all times. I therefore fail to see why honourable Members, after having allowed the present state of the law to remain in existence in Scotland for hundreds of years without a word of protest on their part, should come down to this House when the Act has not been enforced and spend the afternoon in discussing the matter. What is the use of talking of Irishmen being insulted in reference to this Act? Those of us who are Unionists in Ireland live under the same law as Nationalists, just as in London Members of Parliament live under the same law as pickpockets in Whitechapel. But the law does not apply to them, as they do not need it. If necessary, the Crimes Act would be put into operation in Down, or in. any other Ulster county.

MR. DILLON

But it never is applied. What about Belfast?

DR. RENTOUL

Well, it was very strictly applied in Belfast by the honourable Member's Friend, the late Chief Secretary for Ireland. Everything done in Ireland while the present Government has been in power is laid at the door of the present Chief Secretary, and, therefore it is not unfair to say that the burden in this case lay at the door of the Gentleman who was Chief Secretary at that time.

AN HONOURABLE MEMBER: Shame!

* MR. SPEAKER

Order, order! That is an improper expression to use in this House.

DR. RENTOUL

The honourable Member for East Mayo quoted a large number of figures in order to show that outrages are decreasing largely. I am glad to hear that Ireland is peaceable at the present time, in spite of the fact that Home Rule seems to have been put on a back shelf and is as far away as it can possibly be.

MR. DAVITT

There was a, case last week.

DR. RENTOUL

The figures quoted by the honourable Member for East Mayo are in themselves as startling a justification for the existence of the Coercion Act as any figures given to this House. The honourable Member has said that this Act has failed to secure the object for which it was passed. Well, it seems to me it has secured the object—namely, the suppression of crime—in a very startling manner indeed. The Act, however, has not been applied for a number of years, and therefore it cannot interfere with the County Councils Act being tested in the fullest manner.

MR. DAVITT

Then why retain it?

DR. RENTOUL

For the same reason that I think I gave in my opening remarks—that the repeal of this Act would be a distinct invitation to crime in the country. There are a number of ignorant and excitable people who would consider that they were placed in a position in which they could commit crime more easily than formerly, and it would be a sort of invitation to them to do so. I also submit that Nationalists in the country would say, "We have got the Coercion Act repealed; now you are free men." That would have a very significant meaning; it would be an invitation to them to commit crime, and the law would possibly have to be re-enacted. Now there is nothing the people of England pride themselves so much upon as their loyalty to the Crown, but there exist exceedingly severe laws in regard to treason. No loyal Englishman, however, says that that law is an insult. Yet it seems to me to east the same suspicion on the people of this country as that of which honourable Members opposite complain. The more loyal an Englishman is to the Crown the more anxious he is to keep such laws in force. If honourable Members, therefore, are anxious, as I have no doubt they are, that crime should cease in Ireland, I see no reason whatever why they should be anxious that this Act should be removed from the Statute Book. I believe if honourable Members opposite were ruling Ireland in an Irish Parliament, and if such an Act were on the Statute Book, the honourable Member for East Mayo, if he were a responsible Minister of the Crown, would be very sorry to do anything to get away from his hands any power which he might use at any moment. If this Act had been in existence at an earlier date, I feel certain that there are numbers of men who lost their lives in Ireland would be living to-day. Therefore I hope and trust that the Government will reject this Bill. We differ from the honourable Gentlemen opposite on one very essential question, but I think we all equally desire to see Ireland peaceful and prosperous. If honourable Gentleman can convince me that the repeal of this Act would in any way increase the material prosperity of Ireland, or would do any good whatever, I should be very sorry indeed to vote against such a proposal. I do not, however, believe that that would be the case, and I therefore beg to move that this Bill be read a second time this day six months.

MR. H. ROBERTSON (Hackney, S.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise to second the Motion made by the honourable Member for East Down, and I do so because I wish to retain in Ireland that state of blissful peace of which the honourable Member for East Mayo has spoken. I would be the last to suggest that anyone sitting on the opposite Benches desiring to repeal this Act is not strongly opposed to the return of Ireland to the troubled state in which it was some years ago. I nevertheless feel with the honourable Member for East Down that the repeal of this Act would have a most injurious effect upon the welfare of Ireland. That I am positively convinced, of. We have been asked whether the conditions of Ireland justify us in objecting to the repeal of this Act. Well, Sir, it is not only the present condition of Ireland that we have to look to. We have to see what the condition of Ireland was when the Act was passed. We have to see what has been its condition in the meantime, and also consider what would be the effect of the repeal of the statute. Well, Sir, looking at it in that way, I entirely dispute the contention of the honourable Member for East Mayo that this Act has been a failure. It has not been a failure. The figures he quoted and the arguments he used show that this Act, which is the only Act of the kind existing in Ireland, has been the means of bringing Ireland, in the course of some 12 years, or in an even shorter period, from the disgraceful condition—and this, I think, honourable Members on the opposite side will admit —in which it was at the time the Act was passed. It has now become —and I speak as one who has lived there a great deal —one of the most peaceful portions of Her Majesty's dominions. That is the result of the Act. I certainly am fully prepared to vote for the continuance of the Act, because, as the honourable Member for East Down has pointed out, if it were repealed it would be looked upon in Ireland as a material alteration of the law. It would be thought that those actions which can be prohibited under its provisions had become lawful and proper. If we repeal this Act it will undoubtedly be looked upon in Ireland that those actions which were prohibited under its provisions have now become lawful and proper, and that a man may coerce his neighbour in a manner which was done some years ago, and of which I am sure no Member on this side of the House or on the other side can possibly approve. I therefore feel myself perfectly justified in voting against the repeal of this Act. We have also been asked by the honourable Member for East Waterford whether England would stand an Act similar to this, and what we should say to our constituents if such an Act existed.

MR. DAVITT

Suppose the Act was passed in Ireland and administered in England by Irishmen. How would it appear then?

MR. H. ROBERTSON

That is rather a conundrum. Besides, this Act was not passed by Englishmen.

MR. DAVITT

By whom?

MR. H. ROBERTSON

It was passed by Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotchmen, and Welshmen.

MR. DILLON

Which is the predominant partner?

MR. H. ROBERTSON

England is the predominant partner, and it is but natural that the predominant partner should have more votes. But the honourable Member for East Waterford asked us what would be our position if this Act were in force in England. He did not qualify it by saying, "If it were passed by Irishmen for Englishmen and administered by Irishmen." He simply asked, What would be our position if this Act were in force in England? Well, I should have no hesitation in appearing before any assembly of Englishmen to maintain it if it were the law in England. The honourable Member for East Down has gone very carefully through the legislation of my ancestral country—Scotland—and he has shown the House that in that country the law is practically the same, but with this very great difference, that there the special provisions of this Act are in daily use, and are applied to the whole country at all times. This is a very material difference, but I will not go into it now. All I want to consider is whether, if the same state of affairs had arisen in England which undoubtedly existed in Ireland, and if such an Act as this had been passed in. England, there would be the slightest demand on the part of the English people for its repeal. I venture to suggest there would be absolutely no demand whatever. It has been said by the honourable Member for East Mayo—I have written his words down—that the Act was an insult and an outrage on the feelings of the Irish people. Well, I absolutely fail to sec how that can possibly be. It can only be on the ground that the legislation of England in this respect is not exactly on the same footing as the legislation of Ireland, but honourable Members on the other side of the House have never made the slightest objection to that. They have never said that the laws of England and the laws of Ireland should be exactly the same. If that was their contention what would they say about that long series of Acts commencing in 1860—the Irish Land Acts? Do they consider that these Acts are an insult to Ireland merely because they do not extend to England? Of course they do not. Do they propose to ask for their repeal simply because the Acts do not exist in England? No, they are perfectly satisfied that in this respect, at all events, and in many other respects —one could cite numberless instances in which there are differences of legislation in the two countries—there should be this difference, and they thoroughly assent and approve of it, and, in fact, have suggested it themselves. Therefore, the Crimes Act cannot really be an insult and an outrage on the mere ground that it differs from the law of England, and it cannot be so because it differs from the law of Scotland, because, as I have said, it does not differ from the Scotch law except in being more leniently enforced. Therefore, one has to find out why this Act is an insult and an outrage to Ireland, and to see whether there is anything in the Act which would make it so. Another expression used was that this Act took away some of the most important safeguards of the liberty of the subject. I venture to think there is not a single safeguard of the security of the subject which is taken away by this Act. There is absolutely nothing in the Act which takes away any safeguard.

CAPTAIN DONELAN (Cork, E.)

Is not trial by jury a safeguard?

MR. H. ROBERTSON

Trial by jury was taken away in certain cases by the former Coercion Act, which was known as Mr. Forster's Act, and I agree that the liberty of the subject was infringed in that Act. I have never defended that Act, and I will not go into the question whether or not it was expedient at that time; but what does this Act do. It slightly alters the law as to the tribunal before whom cases shall be tried. In other words it increases the matters which can be tried by summary jurisdiction, and it should be remembered that in no case tried by summary jurisdiction is there trial by jury, and that nobody has ever suggested that the liberty of the subject is abrogated or interfered with because a considerable number of offences could be tried by summary jurisdiction without a jury. No one would propose to abolish sum-may jurisdiction merely on the ground that there is no jury. I have never heard it suggested by anyone that the trial of all offences should be by jury. If that were the proposal laid down by the honourable Member, if he were to say that no cases under any circumstances should be tried without a jury, and if the allegation was that in every one of such cases the liberty of the subject was infringed, then his attitude would be perfectly logical; but it is absurd to say that the safeguard of the liberty of the subject is taken away merely because the cases are tried by summary jurisdiction. Therefore, I am justified in saying that there is nothing in this Act which interferes with the safeguard of the liberty of the subject. Then, again, can there be any objection to an inquiry before the Attorney-General, though no one is charged? As regards that one clause, I personally should not have the slightest objection to see it made the law in England, and if the Government, whether Conservative or Liberal, were to propose such a law I should be perfectly willing to sup port it. The only reason it does not exist in England is because it has not been found necessary here, and because there has never been any difficulty in England in tracing crime to its origin. We have never been under circumstances such as Ireland was in former years, at which time it was impossible to get at the perpetrators of crime without some sort of secret inquiry, and without having the prisoner actually before the court. I think the House must admit that Acts of this kind, at the time they were passed, did good, and that this Act since it has been in force has been of great benefit. The opponents of this Act desire, I have no doubt, to unearth criminals who are hidden away, but in Ire-Sand it is much more difficult to get people to come forward to help the police than it is in England. I think it will be admitted that the Irish people do not come forward to help the police in the same way, and that it is not so easy to get them to give information. This provision appears to me to be an admirable one to meet that state of affairs. It is not being enforced at the present time because it is not required, and I am sure we all rejoice, and no one more so than the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretray, that at the present time it is not necessary for the right honourable Gentleman to put his powers into force and to make these inquiries. But at any time in Ireland things may change. There is one remarkable difference which we must always bear in mind, and that is that any agitation that arises in England must arise from the English people—from people living in England—but agitations in Ireland do not necessarily take their origin from the Irish people. They may take their origin from American citizens, with Irish blood in them if you like, but from persons who have become American citizens, and are not permanent residents in Ireland. They have undoubtedly in past years come over and disturbed the country. That cannot happen, happily, in England, and it makes an essential difference between Ireland and England that you may have your agitations started by persons who are not subject to this Realm, or would not be subjects of Ireland if it were a separate kingdom. Then, too, we know that troubles may arise in Ireland from much smaller matters than in England. Honourable Membess opposite always like to hear of troubles in Belfast. A trouble arose there a short time ago which led to disturbances which could scarcely have occurred in England. Serious troubles often arise from small causes in Ireland, both in the north and in the south—the mere passing of a Salvation Army band through the street causing considerable trouble in some parts.

AN HONOURABLE MEMBER

The same thing has happened in England.

MR. H. ROBERTSON

It is true that at Eastbourne a disturbance occurred over the Salvation Army, but that was not a political or a theological dispute at all. The people of Eastbourne objected to the noise and the big drum, but that is not the case in Ireland. Irishmen do not mind a row—they rather like it, and are fond of music. Moreover, they do not very much mind whether it is good music or bad, and they would not be likely to object merely on the ground which caused the disturbance in Eastbourne. These disturbances frequently arise in Ireland, but this Act does not apply to small disturbances, but the fact that these small rows arise shows that at any time you may have the more serious trouble which these particular clauses of the Act are intended to meet. The next clause in the Act is an extension of the Summary Jurisdiction Act. The House must remember that it is not a permanent extension. The Act is only extended in certain districts where there are great troubles, but the troubles must arise first. The magistrates in Ireland have no more power in the ordinary way than they have in England. The district must be in a dangerous state first. And what are the matters they may try under this Act which they would not be able to try ordinarily? Certainly they are not matters which we should object to magistrates being able to try in England. By the proclamation of a district as being in a disturbed state, magistrates have extended powers of summary jurisdiction; and as the offences contemplated are criminal conspiracy, or intimidation to prevent a lawful act, there should be no objection.

MR. DILLON

The whole point of objection is the transfer of the administration of the law of conspiracy—one of the most difficult and disputed of all laws—to a low class summary jurisdiction tribunal.

MR. H. ROBERTSON

An appeal has not been taken away.

MR. DILLON

There is no appeal to a jury, and, therefore, I say no man's liberty is safe under such circumstances.

MR. H. ROBERTSON

When there is an appeal in law the subject is safe.

MR. DILLON

To a county court judge!

MR. H. ROBERTSON

The county courts have excellent judges. The extension includes the taking part in an unlawful assembly, and this is a valuable provision. The honourable Member for East Mayo said that the Act under which the Land League was proclaimed had no effect. I was in Ireland during the whole of the troublous times, and I well remember the effect of the proclamation of the Land League. I well remember how the poor people, while the Land League was in full force, went about in terror of their lives—a terror honourable Members will not suggest was not a real terror. The moment the Land League was proclaimed the whole country became quiet.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

It became far worse.

MR. H. ROBERTSON

Well, I speak from my own personal experience, having been in Ireland the whole of the time, and I say that it made a most important difference in the Carlow district at any rate. The proclamation of the Land League, therefore, made at once a tremendous difference to the peace of the district, and people ceased to be in terror of their lives. I think I have given the House several reasons why I second the rejection of this Measure. It appears to me that at the present time the Irish people suffer under no real grievance. It is admitted that there is no grievance except the sentimental one of having this Act in such a position that it can be enforced if troubles hereafter arise. No suggestion has been made that any person in Ireland is interfered with by the existence of this Act. There is no suggestion that any person living in Ireland cannot do any act which he is lawfully entitled to do by reason of the existence of this Act. It is not suggested that if this Act were repealed the liberty of the subject would be in the least enlarged, or that a man could do anything which he cannot do now; and the only thing said is that the mere existence of this Act on the Statute Book is a grievance of some kind. If it were a temporary Act I could understand it. The Act is now permanent. It has become part of the law of the land, and is not a grievance to any Irish citizen. It does him no harm whatever, but, on the other hand, what it does do—and the most important thing it does—is to provide against possible dangers, and I am sure honourable Members sitting on the other side of the House wish, just as much as I do myself, to avoid those dangers. The honourable Member for East Down has been blamed for acting on the prophecy of the honourable Member for East Mayo. I venture to think he did not act upon that prophecy at all. What he did was to act upon his own judgment, but he cited, as he was justified in doing, I think, statements made by the honourable Member for East Mayo, which drew a terrible picture of the state of Ireland as it was likely to be. He cited them, I consider, merely for the purpose of showing the opinion, the truthful opinion, of the honourable Member for East Mayo, who had a great knowledge of Ireland at the time, and I do not think he can possibly be blamed for merely having cited that opinion. What he acted upon was his own feeling when he announced that the continuance of the Act was necessary, and I have exactly the same feeling. I feel that the continuance of this Act is absolutely necessary if Ireland is to be maintained in the state of tranquillity which I rejoice it is in now, and that to repeal the Act would be to give an incentive to ill-disposed persons if you like, but to some persons, in Ireland to see if they could not get up fresh agitations and disturb the peace and prosperity of that country.

MR. S. YOUNG (Cavan, E.)

I rise to make a few remarks. This question has come upon us suddenly on a Wednesday, and probably all the better, for there has not been time for the preparation of long speeches, which I always consider enervates the ideas which honourable Members want to express. The remarks which have been made from the other side of the House by the honourable Member for East Down and the Gentleman who seconded the honourable Member's Amendment, have been so mixed and involved that I positively could not follow them. I do not rise, therefore, for the purpose of answering them, but of making a few very simple remarks. According to the experience which I have had in Ireland, I think that this Coercion Act is not now required in Ireland. It may have been required at one time, but not now, certainly. Coercion is very offensive; it is a low-style of dealing with grievances. The theory of severity to criminals has now almost disappeared. It used to be thought that severity was necessary on the part of parents to children. That has likewise disappeared. The severity of Parliament to the inhabitants of a country should also disappear. If you cannot govern by love, if you cannot govern by other considerations than severity, you will never govern rightly. It appears to me, Mr. Speaker, that the present Government have taken a new departure with regard to Ireland, and this Coercion Act ought to be taken off the Statute Book. It possibly was required at the time when an Irishman in this House was scarcely listened to. Whether he spoke sense or nonsense, it was all the same. There was no consideration paid to Irishmen at one time; but lately, I am glad to say, there is a new departure on the part of the Government. They have actually given to Ireland a Measure which imparts to the people there a power which until now they never possessed, and which they have long sought for. At one time it was said, but especially during the three years in which Mr. Gladstone was attempting to give to the Irish people their wishes and desires—a Parliament in Dublin—that they could not be trusted, that they were in bondage, that they required experience and training. They were really looked upon as inferior beings. When the present Government came into power, they cast all that a side, and its members and supporters said, "We will trust the Irish people," and they gave to the Irish people a method of expressing their views constitutionally. They have now avenues for the expression of their views that are perfectly free. But while the power is conferred upon them by the Government of managing, not only the civic affairs of the country, but almost all political affairs under the canopy of Heaven, they still keep on the Statute Book this cruel coercive measure. Is there any necessity for it, and will it ever be required? There is positively no necessity whatever for keeping these people under the slur of a Measure that you would only pass for persons incapable of managing the most ordinary affairs, or who are rebellious. The Irish people are not that. If the Government would only pursue the course which they have pursued lately, and I hope are likely to pursue, of giving to the country Measures which they so ardently desire—a Catholic University and various things of that kind—the Irish people will be the most loyal, the most law-abiding, and the most contented people that could possibly be found in, any country in the world. They would be a strength to the British Empire by the men we can give to your Army and your Navy, and we should be a loyal and constitutional people. The things which we want are not derogatory things, and are not against the interest of England. On the contrary, they would promote the well-being of the United Kingdom. Now, I do not want to raise difficulties. I simply want to express my views, and to say, even from a sentimental point of view, this Act is offensive. It is said that it is obsolete at present; but you keep it there on the Statute Book as a whip. You need not be afraid of the people of Ireland. It will never be required again; and I ask the Leader of the House and the Chief Secretary for Ireland to give favourable consideration to this matter, and not keep up that which is offensive to the people of the country. They are now walking in the right direction and looking upon the Government favourably, and the Government, in their turn, should really repeal this Act, not as a matter of generosity, but as an act of justice. I do hope that the Chief Secretary for Ireland will consider there is no absolute necessity for continuing the Coercion Act, which is so offensive to the people of Ireland, on the Statute Book. The fact is, that the more you conciliate the people of Ireland, the more, in return, they would be loyal.

THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. JOHN ATKINSON,) Londonderry, N.

I rise on behalf of the Government to support the Motion of my honourable Friend the Member for East Down. We are grateful on behalf of the Irish Government for the almost general acknowledgment that Ireland was never in a more peaceful condition than at the present moment. There can be no doubt of that. If the honourable Member for East Mayo is correct, that the very existence of this Act on the Statute Book, even although it might not be enforced, is undoubtedly an injury and an insult to the Irish people, it has happily not prevented almost universal peace from reigning throughout the country. I will deal with the honourable Member's objections to the Act in detail presently, but there is one point on which I wish to tender him my most grateful acknowledgments. The honourable Member has said that the maintenance of the Act on the Statute Book was not only an insult to the Irish people, but that it was a confession of failure on the part of the Unionist Government in Ireland, and therefore he exhorted us to repeal it, I do not know when the honourable Member became so sensitive of the success or the honour of the Unionist Government in Ireland. Sir, we do not consider it any confession of failure at all. On the contrary, I think I shall be able to show presently that by its existence, by the very fact that it is there, by the very fact that you have beside you a weapon which can be used when the emergency arises calling for its use, you have brought about the peace in which we all rejoice and which we all acknowledge. Now, what are the reasons which the honourable Member gave for his objection to maintaining the Act on the Statute Book? There were four reasons, as I understand the honourable Member, why he says this Act should be repealed. The honourable Member cannot for an instant suppose that the Unionist Government, any more than any other Government, delights in or desires to continue coercion. I must remind the House that before there was a change of Government in 1892 my right honourable Friend the First Lord of the Treasury had relieved almost the whole of Ireland from the application of this Act, and continued it merely to a narrow portion of the West, where it was absolutely necessary that it should be continued. And after the present Government came into office they continued to govern without the application of the provisions of the statute, If I were to pause for a moment to deal with this point, I might say that it was a strange commentary on all I have heard advanced by the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, that it was the hope of obtaining Home Rule that paralysed the assassin's arm and had brought peace to Ireland. Now, the honourable Member for East Mayo gave four reasons why this Act should be repealed. First of all, he said that it was obtained by false pretences, that it was obtained on the assurance of the Government that it should be put in force against criminals, whereas, as soon as it was passed, it was put in force against political opponents. I say that depends upon the conduct of the political opponents, because political opponents may become criminals, and if political opponents advocate the meanest and most contemptible crime of boycotting, there is no reason why it should not be applied to them, or why they should enjoy immunity from the operation of the law. The question is, Have they violated the law? and any Government that spared their political opponents who did violate the law would be a Government which had earned the contempt of all right thinking people. I should hardly think it was necessary at this time of the day to rake up the speeches of the honourable Member for East Mayo and others, who, in the strongest and most exciting language, advocated boycotting—merciless boycotting.

MR. DILLON

Legal boycotting.

MR. ATKINSON

There can be no such thing as legal boycotting. This boycotting, this cruel intimidation, has been defined both in England and Ireland as a crime. And if you were to ascend above the positive law of the land to the moral law, it has been equally condemned. Next, the honourable Member for East Mayo said that the Act of Parliament was passed without sufficient cause to justify it. He said that, whereas when the Act of 1881 was passed there were 4,000 crimes reported, when the Act of 1886–7 was passed there were only 1,000 crimes. I do not know how far immunity from crime is to go to entitle the Executive Government to hold its hand. But the honourable Member, in the crimes he refers to, has left altogether out of consideration the crime of boycotting. The truth is that in 1886–7 when this Crimes Act was passed, there were over 4,800 persons either fully or partially boycotted. Does the honourable Member contend that that is a state of things not calling for the interference of the Legislature, if the existing law does not supply the Executive with an adequate instrument for dealing with this reign of terror, which affects every relation of life, and which tramples under foot all civil rights and makes existence scarcely tolerable?

MR. DILLON

It is not required now.

MR. ATKINSON

I shall come to that presently. The honourable Member for East Mayo says that this is a condition of things which is tolerable. Sir, in 1881 the boycotting which we had had not attained to the science and the fine art which it reached in 1887. I myself had professional experience of what it was, and I do not believe that to a brave and courageous man any fate could be much worse than severe and continuous boycotting. Now, the third reason given by the honourable Member for the repeal of the Act was that it was not a success. Sir, I entirely dispute that statement. I say it was an eminent success. I shall endeavour to impress on the House that its existence on the Statute Book and the very possibility that it can be put in force—that it is there in posse though not in esse—is a most potent factor in bringing about the present condition of things in Ireland. Let me repeat one or two facts. I do not dispute substantially the figures which the honourable Member for East Mayo gave as to the amount of crime in the returns. I do not entirely agree with him about one or two minor points, but they are hardly worth speaking about. I will deal with the number of persons charged, which is a much more pregnant and useful statistic than the number of crimes committed. The number of persons convicted under the Crimes Act after it was passed in 1888 was 1,082: in 1889, only 597; in 1890, only 391; and in 1891, only 186; and in 1892 there were only four prisoners in the whole of Ireland charged under the Crimes Act.

MR. DILLON

That was the year it was dropped.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR

It was dropped against your protest.

MR. ATKINSON

I think the honourable Member is entirely mistaken in that, and I shall show that he is mistaken later on. When the Act was dropped is not to the purpose. The question is what the Act did do when in operation. I say that the figures I have quoted establish conclusively that the Act was most successful, because I cannot assume that the Government which introduced the Bill was more lenient as the years went on. I know that my right honourable Friend the then Chief Secretary was never accused of or complimented on being more lenient. On the contrary, he was abused for his administration of the Act again and again.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR

Give us the figures again?

MR. ATKINSON

The number of persons convicted in 1888 was 1,082; in 1889, 957; in 1890, 391; in 1891, 186; and in 1892, four. I submit, therefore, that, regarded as an effective instrument for stopping crime, the Act was most successful, because when the Act was passed there were in Ireland 870 persons wholly boycotted and 3,965 partially boycotted; but before the end of 1891 there was not a single person boycotted wholly or partially throughout the whole of Ireland. Therefore, how it can be said that during the long period of four years an Act which dealt with great bodies of crime was unsuccessful, I am at a loss to imagine. What is the last objection of the honourable Member for East Mayo to the Act? It is that it is an insult and an outrage to the Irish people. Well, Sir, of what does the outrage and the insult consist? He can hardly conceive of the fact that the venue should be changed from one place to another for the trial of a crime. Why, Sir, it is a right which has always obtained in civil cases, and, under certain circumstances, in criminal cases. It is a right which exists in England and in Scotland, and surely it can hardly be possible that a change of venue to a place where a more impartial jury can be obtained is an in- sult to the Irish people. Now the next point is that a special jury can be called. Well, really, to suggest that the trial of a criminal by a jury of higher position and greater intelligence is an outrage and an insult to the Irish people —is a trifling with language, and I pass it by. Well, then there was the preliminary inquiry in cases where no criminal had been apprehended. But that preliminary inquiry exists in Scotland —and it existed in England and Ireland under the Explosives Act. It was put in force in Ireland even by the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Montrose.

MR. J. MORLEY (Montrose Burghs)

It was in the district where the explosion took place, and it was under the general law.

MR. ATKINSON

Assuming that it was so, it is no insult or outrage to Ireland to establish a power of preliminary inquiry for the three kingdoms where the crimes against which the inquiry is directed may be committed. It is no insult to have this inquiry in England or in Ireland under that Act, or under any other Act; but if the inquiry is in Ireland, and only applies to crimes committed in Ireland, it all at once becomes an insult and an outrage! I submit that it can injure no person to have a secret inquiry in reference to crime committed in that country, and the procedure under the Explosives Act is absolute proof of that. What is the last objection of the honourable Member for East Mayo to the Act? He says that the Crimes Act enables the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to proclaim a district or an association. That is so, but it further provides also that any such proclamation shall be laid before Parliament, and that if an Address disapproving it is carried it shall immediately fall to the ground.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR

The Address must be moved and carried in both Houses.

MR. ATKINSON

The proclamation, under section 7, has to be laid before both Houses of Parliament, but, as far as I have been able to make out, there never has been one attempt since 1887 to question in this House the propriety of these proclamations —never a question of the propriety of bringing the matter at all before Parliament. It is no answer for the honourable Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool to say that the Address must be carried in both Houses. There are a great many things that are brought before Parliament that cannot possibly be passed by both Houses; but that does not prevent their being brought forward to have the grievance discussed. It is one of the privileges of Parliament to have grievances discussed. Even if it were true that a case could be made out to show that these proclamations were not justified by the occasion or the event, then it is inconceivable to suggest why they had never been questioned. What were the circumstances that justified a proclamation? The Lord Lieutenant by and with the advice of the Privy Council may from time to time, when it appears necessary for the prevention or the detection of outrages, proclaim any district or association. Now, it would be competent for any honourable Member to put the Government on its defence, and to show that the condition of that particular part of Ireland so proclaimed was not such as to call for the proclamation. I submit that the question is not whether the Address might have been carried or not carried, but the question is that it was not brought forward. So far as I can ascertain, there never was a Motion made since the Act came into force.

MR. DILLON

How could we get time to make a Motion?

MR. ATKINSON

You could have moved an Address to Her Majesty.

MR. DILLON

When would the Government give us the time?

MR. ATKINSON

I should have thought an occasion would arise on the Queen's Speech in any one year.

MR. DILLON

We could not move an Address on that subject in the Debate on the Address in Reply to the Queen's Speech.

MR. ATKINSON

I say that in the whole period from 1887 to 1892 no opportunity was ever seized when such an Address could have been moved. It might have been moved after 12 o'clock.

MR. DILLON

These questions were raised constantly by Motions when we could be reported. I should like to know what man would be fool enough to move an Address after 12 o'clock at night, and a vote taken, when it could not be reported in the newspapers?

MR. ATKINSON

I think that this attitude of the honourable Gentleman shows an amount of forbearance, and also a passion for being reported, which I have not hitherto credited him with.

MR. DILLON

We wanted to expose the Government.

Mr. ATKINSON

At any rate I am astonished that while the honourable Member believed that his country was bleeding from the wounds inflicted by the Government he should have sat silent and should not have made the attempt to stop proclamations because he could not be reported in the newspapers. But that is not all. I come now to deal with a question which I understand is also made matter of complaint —namely, that the Lord Lieutenant under section 7 has power to proclaim certain associations if in his opinion their purposes are illegal. Now, it was competent for any honourable Member to move an Address on that question. It may be that during all these seven years the same passion for being reported prevented them doing so. All I can say is, that if I were as fully reported as they are at present, as well as formerly, I would be satisfied. Whatever that argument is worth, the fact remains that no attempt has ever been made to set aside these proclamations. Then the honourable Gentleman says that it is an outrage and an insult to the people of Ireland to insist on the denial of trial by jury in that country. Well, undoubtedly, trial by jury was, as regards crime committed under that section, taken away. But what is trial by jury? It is a means to an end; it is not an end in itself. The end is the administration of the law, and I say that, with regard to all these crimes, the provisions of the Common Law and the Statue Law of the land, so far as the precepts and enactments are concerned, are quite adequate to deal with them. It is the machinery of the ordinary law that has failed. And why? Because the machinery of the ordinary law is based on the co-operation of free and courageous citizens; and as soon as you draw into the administration of that law those who are neither free nor courageous, as soon as they become corrupt or timid, as soon as they are terrorized or are in sympathy with crime, it is absolutely ridiculous to employ them as an agency in the prevention of crime, or as an instrument in aid of the administration of the law. It was found that jurors would not act in Ireland. Whether that was from sympathy with crime or from fear of action I do not know. Possibly it was both, I myself have had experience which causes me not to wonder that jurors became timid. I have known a man for his action in the jurybox to be assassinated within a week; and I recall a case of a juror who was attempted to be murdered within ten yards of the jury-box. And we all know of the outrage on Mr. Field in Dublin. I say that in that condition of things, to use a jury in the administration of the criminal law when from terror they are unable to perform their duty is ridiculous. To complain that trial by jury has been dispensed with in these circumstances really amounts to a kind of fetish worship of the institution. The honourable Member said that a jury should be used and employed in the administration of the law; then surely he would contend that it should only be used when free and independent, and not either corrupt or terrorized. Was it free or independent in 1881 or 1887? Mr. Gladstone himself on one occasion said— With certain exceptions in the case of winter juries it is impossible to depend on the finding of the jury in the case of agrarian crime, according to the facts as viewed by the Government, by the judges, and by me public, I think, at large. That is a most serious mischief passing down deep into the very ground-work of civil society in ireland. So this Act was passed. Inasmuch as disorder prevailed, inasmuch as its provisions were proved to be adequate for dealing with disorder; inasmuch as it successfully dealt with disorder; inasmuch as, while it invaded no civil right except the taking away of trial by an instrument which had ceased to be effective or free, I submit that we have not invaded any right or attacked the rights of law-abiding people. On the contrary, the rights of citizens have been protected. Looking over the Debates, so far as I have been able to follow them, I find that there is an immense fear on the part of some honourable Members for the life of the criminal, but no sympathy for the invasion of the civil rights of the sufferer. It has been found by every Government responsible for the administration of Ireland for centuries that emergencies do arise when the ordinary law and the machinery of the ordinary law is entirely ineffective to preserve the peace, and to administer the law. I think it is admitted by the honourable Member for Montrose that when such emergencies do arise exceptional measures are necessary and just. The question really between, us is this: whether we will retain this instrument ready to be used should the emergency arise, or whether we will throw aside this instrument, leaving us the necessity of reforging it should the necessity arise again. Sir, I submit that wisdom and justice counsel the former course and not the latter. I have endeavoured to deal with the objection that this Act is an insult, even though it may be in abeyance, and I have endeavoured to deal with the objection that it is an injury to the Irish people. The proof that it is neither an insult nor an injury is to be found in the fact that for the last four or five years matters have gone on progressing peacefully in Ireland until at never any period of its history was the country more peaceful and orderly than at the present moment, I have a word to say on a matter which has hitherto been left out of consideration, although I think that many honourable Members who have spoken have incidentally referred to it—I mean the deterrent force which the very existence of this Statute supplies. The fact that it is there, the fact that it can be used, may of itself be the very means of checking disorder. When honourable Members say there is no crime now, and therefore we may repeal the Act, they apparently lose sight of the fact how much of that peacefulness may be due to the existence of the Act. The history of this kind of legislation is the best proof of that, because when the Crimes Act of 1867 was allowed to expire in 1880 there was a recrudescence of crime, and accordingly the Act of 1881 had to be passed. That was so in 1882 and down to 1885, and then the moment the Statute ceased to exist we find crime bursting forth again.

HONOURABLE MEMBERS: No!

MR. ATKINSON

Honourable Members say "No!" but then what was the object and reason of the Act of 1887 being passed?

MR. DILLON

There was no outbreak of crime immediately the Act expired in 1885: it was when bad times came and the Government refused to give any relief to the tenants.

MR. ATKINSON

At all events, crime followed upon the repeal of that Act; there was a recrudescence of crime between 1885 and 1887, or else it would have been absolutely unnecessary to pass the Act of 1887. If one went through the statistics it would be easy to establish that there was a recrudescence of crime, and, therefore, I think that the history of the years 1880, 1881, 1885, and 1887 shows it would be unwise, even although the condition of the country is such that it may be unnecessary to put the Act into force, to deprive ourselves of that power should the emergency arise. No person can be more gratified than my right honourable Friend and the other Members of the Irish Government at the peace and comparative absence of crime in Ireland. I sincerely hope that the time may never arise when it may be necessary to put into force again the powers of this Act. But who can say that that will be so? I do not intend at all to refer to the remarks of the honourable Member for East Mayo upon the question of the county councils. The honourable Member himself professes to be astounded at the result he has produced.

MR. DILLON

I never said I produced it. The Chief Secretary said I produced it, to my own great astonishment.

MR. GERALD BALFOUR

dissented.

MR. ATKINSON

As far as my right honourable Friend and myself are concerned, nothing has occurred that we did not anticipate, because we knew perfectly well if the Nationalist Members determined to run these elections on Party lines what the result would be. Honourable Members told us that there would be Home Rule resolutions passed. Home Rule Resolutions are always being passed. Where two or three are gathered together they are passed. The only other resolutions passed on such occasions are resolutions in connection with unity. The resolutions in favour of Home Rule are passed by different bodies, but they make as far towards the attainment of Home Rule as the other resolutions make towards unity. The proper persons to express the views of the Irish people are the Irish representatives in this House. The honourable Member for East Mayo always speaks of the Irish race at home and abroad, and is backed up by a resolution passed, for instance, by the district council of Ballyhooley, but I do not think much attention need be given to his remarks. I pass by altogether the honourable Member's views upon the possible result of the action of the county councils. It may be that the action of the county councils may lead to turbulence, violence, and crime——

MR. DILLON

I never said so.

MR, ATKINSON

I have not suggested that the honourable Member said so. If the action of the county councils in passing those resolutions does not interrupt peace, order, and progress in Ireland, I do not think anyone will be the worse or anyone very much the better from the fact that they have been passed. But if, on the contrary, those resolutions tend to promote turbulence, violence, and crime, that would be about the very best justification for keeping this Statute on the Statute Book. The practical question really is whether it is wise to deprive ourselves of this weapon, or keep it for use should, unfortunately, necessity require it. Is there a prospect of such a necessity arising? I am disinclined to go into' that matter for many reasons, among them the doctrine that the honourable Member for East Mayo has laid down that the Legislature ought not to take account of the language and harangues used by popular leaders, but only of the acts that follow. It is a question whether the Government should deprive itself of a practical weapon to maintain law and order, having regard to the course of action which the people in the western part of Ireland are advised to follow by these leaders in whom they trust and to whose exhortations they are likely to attach importance. I would just refer to two exhortations which have been delivered in the west of Ireland by an honourable Gentleman who once occupied a seat in this House, and whom I am sure the honourable Member for East Mayo will say is greatly trusted and admired by a certain portion of the Irish people. On 12th September 1898 Mr. William O'Brien, as reported in the"Freeman's Journal, speaking at Labasheeda, said— Every branch of the League will be, and is deliberately intended to be, a centre of disturbance, and of war against landlordism and English rule in all its shapes. We do not expect to play at bowls without getting rubbers. Our position is a perfectly frank and plain one. Then he proceeds to make some uncomplimentary remarks. In another speech Mr. O'Brien said— The first step towards the abolition of landlordism is to abolish the grabber. You ought not to be content with crying it; you ought to do it. You ought to pull down the grabber by the good old methods which were practised in the County May. I tell you whether the farmers of Ireland like it or not, if they are to keep their heads at all above water the time is come when you will have to reduce this land question to such a condition of resistance, and of turbulence if you like, that the landlords will jump at any great measure of compulsory purchase that will make every farmer of Ireland the master within the bound's ditch of his own holding. What is the meaning of this? What were the grand old methods of the Land League in Mayo? It was boycotting, which sanctioned that murder was not to be denounced, that obtained in that district in 1881. The words I have quoted are the words of Mr. Gladstone, and those who have practical acquaintance with the working of affairs in Ireland know very well that the system pursued in Mayo was a system of terrorism and crime which made existence scarcely endurable to those persons who were the objects of it. Now, the honourable Member for East Mayo gave some exhortations in the same direction. Speaking at Westport, and advocating the formation of an organisation, presumably the United Irish League, he said— I trust, therefore, the result of this meeting will be that in every parish and every town land, there will be a captain—I do not care very much what you call the organisation —who, when the necessity arises, will have under him a certain number of young men whom he will undertake personally to produce on a certain day and at a certain hour, day or night—men for whom he is responsible—and if that is once brought about, and I trust it will be brought about as a result of this meeting, you will find that the landgrabbers will vanish absolutely from the district. I daresay that, if the young captains assembled in the guaranteed number by night to carry out the old methods of the Land League in Mayo, it would be, as it has been before, a cruel and merciless tyranny and a great and shameful crime. The honourable Member, in a speech at Galway in November 1898, told his hearers it was far easier for them to carry out the programme of the League, as they had by them the example, methods, and practices adopted in the old League days. I do not wonder that the honourable Member for East Mayo says that Legislatures and statesmen should take no cognisance whatever of the language of popular leaders. But the Irish Government think that, having regard to the position the honourable Member occupies, to the authority with which his pronouncements are regarded by the peasants whom he addresses, to the hopes that his exhortations excite, and to the methods and action which they counsel, it would be most unwise to deprive themselves of a weapon which, if that advice were taken, would prove to be in the future, as in the past, entirely adequate to deal with the circumstances of the case. I do not wish to occupy the time of the House any further. I have stated the reasons which induce the Government to oppose this Measure. It is not from any love of coercion that they oppose this Bill; it is not from any desire that Ireland should not be peaceful; it is, on the contrary, merely as a measure of precaution that they desire to retain this effective instrument to meet any emergency that may arise, conscious as the Government are that no law-abiding citizen in Ireland regards the existence of the Act as any wrong or injury, that no person who is likely to become the victim of a conspiracy of the character of the Land League does not look forward to its continuance except with a feeling of comfort and security, and that no civil right is invaded by its presence on the Statute Book.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR

The Amendment which has been moved is that the Bill introduced by my honourable Friend be read a second time this day six months; but the speeches which have been delivered in support of it incline me to the opinion that it does not go on the right lines—or, at least, that it is out of accord with the speakers. How I think it ought to read, judging from the speeches, is: "That the Act should, and hereby is, applied to England as well as to Ireland." Its blessings and beneficence have been so greatly extolled and so plainly demonstrated, that I am induced to think Englishmen have a great right to complain that their country is deprived of a Measure of such justice and mercy. What did the right honourable Gentleman say? We have come to a pretty pass when a Member of this House talks of the fetish of "trial by jury." "What," asked the right honourable Gentleman, "is trial by jury?" That was the position which the right honourable Gentleman was driven to.

MR. ATKINSON

I did not say that. What I suggested was, that where a jury, through sympathy or terror, had ceased to act effectively, then to advocate trial by jury was to make a fetish of it.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR

That was what I said, although I did not perhaps put it in the same scholarly language as the right honourable Gentleman. I am now dealing with his phrases and epigrams, and I say he was driven to submit that trial by jury could be made a fetish. Let me contrast that statement with the statements of other Gentlemen who have spoken in this Debate. They denied altogether that there was any such thing as abrogation of trial by jury. The honourable Member for East Down particularly said so, and compared the case of Ireland with that of Scotland. The seconder of the Amendment took precisely the same course.

DR. RENTOUL

I never said any thing of the kind. I said this power was exercised both in Ireland and in Scotland.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR

That is exactly what I have just suggested. The honourable Gentleman said there was no more abrogation of trial by jury in Ireland than in Scotland.

DR. RENTOUL

No more power of abrogation.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR

The Member for South Hackney also referred to Scotland, and said that there was a similar jurisdiction to that which obtained in Ireland under this Act. He also spoke of similar jurisdiction in England. Thus we have the Attorney-General for Ireland speaking of trial by jury as being abrogated, and honourable Members on his own side denying that it is abrogated at all. As a matter of fact, the Attorney-General for Ireland is right, and the honourable and learned Gentlemen are wrong. Then the Attorney-General went on to say— You really cannot have been seriously displeased and discontented with the Act, because you never moved on Address for the suspension of the Lord Lieutenant's Proclamation. He complains that between 1887 and 1892 we never moved an. Address in this House: that in that respect we had a magnificent weapon in our hands, and never used it in order to prevent the enforcement of the Act. Did the right honourable Gentleman use that argument seriously, or was it a bit of comic relief to the serious part of his speech? What is it that he complains of? That in a Parliament in which there was a majority of 100 against us, a, majority which had passed this Act, and the ranks of which had never been broken when any step taken under it was challenged, we did not seize the opportunity of proposing the abolition of the Act, and thus give our opponents the additional advantage of scoring another division, with a majority of 100 against us. We did not adopt these tactics, and the right honourable and learned Gentleman knows very well that it would have been childish to adopt them. But what did we do? Week after week we brought the administration of this Act under the attention of the House of Commons, and, in that strategic and at the same time most emphatic manner, we demonstrated our discontent with the Act. Then the right honourable Gentleman says that, after all there is but little difference between the two sides of the House with regard to this Act. The whole question is, he says, simply this— Shall this Act be retained, or shall it be given up with the power of renewing it at some future time. He calls that a small, trifling, and insignificant difference between the two sides of the House. Let us see what it means. The Act now is perpetual. I should describe a coercion Act which is perpetual as differing in an enormous and vast degree from one which is temporary. As it stands, the Act may lie idle or it may be brought into operation by the authority of the Lord Lieutenant. The right honourable and learned Gentleman, however, says that it is a miserable and trifling difference which divides the House, and that it is scarcely worth consideration at a Wednesday afternoon's sitting. What is the difference? It is whether the liberties of the country shall be at the discretion of an executive officer, or under the control of a Vote of the Houses of Parliament. Just realise the doctrine which the right honourable Gentleman lays down. Up till 1887, whatever administration was in power, the doctrine laid down by Sir Robert Peel, by Lord John Russell, by Mr. Gladstone, and by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, when Chief Secretary for Ireland, was the only sound and constitutional one, i.e., that to justify the suspension of the constitution in any part of the Empire the onus probandi lies upon the Executive Government to show the necessity for such action. But, according to the right honourable Gentleman, the onus probandi rests upon Ireland to prove that she is worthy of being readmitted to the constitution. I defy anybody to draw any inference other than that from the language used by the right honourable and learned Gentleman. But that does not carry us to the whole extent of the right honourable Gentleman's doctrine. The Government, in former coercion periods, have come down here—whether Tory or Liberal—and, by producing statistics and official reports, have shown, or tried to show, that there was a state of crime, turbulence, and disorder in Ireland which necessitated the suspension of the constitution. And when they had thus endeavoured to make out a case, they demanded, not a perpetual suspension of the liberties of Ireland, but a suspension to operate so long as the emergency lasted. How is Ireland to get back to the constitution? First, she is to be called upon to show her right to do that. But the right honourable Gentleman takes care she shall not be able to do that. How, then, can she get back? I see no means by which she can. At the present moment Ireland is more peace- able than almost any part of the British Empire; she is more crimeless and more tranquil. But it seems to me the quieter she is the greater the obstacle to her reentering the constitution. Therefore, whichever way you take it, Ireland is permanently ex eluded from the constitution; she is excluded for disorder and turbulence, and she is also excluded because she is quiet and tranquil. The right honourable Gentleman has brought things to this position: Ireland is to remain permanently outside the constitution of this country, whether she be quiet or otherwise. He has quoted certain speeches: I do not know why. What was his object? Was it to suggest that the speeches were intended to create crime? If that is the charge that the right honourable Gentleman ventured to make—and I think he went as far as he could to suggest it—and if that were really the intention of the speeches, then I have to point out that they singularly failed in their object. But the right honourable Gentleman had not the courage to make that accusation openly, and several honourable Members who have spoken in this Debate have frankly slated their belief that no Member sitting on these benches has been actuated by any such desire. These speeches were delivered in Mayo and Galway. I have looked at the last lie-turns presented by the Government for the county of Galway, and I find that in the three months covered by those Returns, there was in the East Riding only one ease of agrarian crime, while in the West Riding there was no crime at all. In Leitrim there was no crime; in Mayo there were eight cases, of which four were threatening letters—about as many as most Irish Members receive every day in their lives; in Roscommon one, in Sligo one, and, in fact, in the whole of the province of Connaught in which these speeches were delivered, and in which the United Irish League is most powerful, there were eleven crimes, of which five were threatening letters, during the quarter covered by these Returns. That is the state of Ireland which it is suggested justifies a Coercion Act from which she is not to have the least chance of escaping. The Attorney-General gave us a number of lurid details with regard to 1880–1881. He was interrupted by what I deemed to be a relevant question from this side of the House. He was asked, "Are these crimes being committed now? Is there any sign of them being committed now?" There has been in this quarter in the whole of Ireland one murder. There are six, I should say, in every week in the City in which we are now. And yet Ireland is to remain outside the constitution! Why did the right honourable Gentleman rake up these sad and bitter memories of the past? I have listened to the whole Debate; I cannot understand why he did so. He says that the Government should not be under the necessity of re-forging this weapon—this Act of Parliament. That is the doctrine which is laid down by a Conservative Administration. I say it is a first necessity of proper and equal government for Ireland that, whenever her liberties are suspended, it should only be on proof shown by the Executive Government, and by the Vote of both Houses of Parliament. I think that this Debate is a very eloquent proof of the manner in which Englishmen manage always to enlarge their own reputations at the expense of other people, and to turn a very blind eye to their own faults and deficencies. We see our daily papers containing columns of the Dreyfus case, and wherever Englishmen meet, politically or socially, conversation turns on this subject, and they declare what an awful state of affairs must prevail when a country is reduced to such a condition that such a case as that of Dreyfus could occur. I am not going to pronounce an opinion one way or the other on that case; it is not my business. But what I do say is this—putting aside the question whether he was tried legally or illegally, justly or unjustly—that he got an infinitely fairer trial than any man ever gets in Ireland under this Act.

AN HONOURABLE MEMBER

Withdraw.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR

Some honourable gentleman says "Withdraw." Not at all. I will prove it. Dreyfus had a jury. ("No.") Well, he had a court-martial. He was tried by seven of his peers. But in Ireland, under this Act, a man is tried by two resident magistrates—creatures, servants, and hirelings of the executive. The honourable Member who moved the Amendment said, in ignorance, that the same thing could take place in Scotland, and he referred to the fact that a man might be tried by the sheriff or sheriff substitute. I do not know much about the law in any country, and still less do I know of that of Scotland, but this I do know, that the sheriff or sheriff's substitute must be a lawyer. But what is the tribunal in Ireland with which he makes his comparison? Who and what are the resident magistrates? One of them is a lawyer, says the honourable Gentleman, but may I say without offence, that there are lawyers and lawyers. The resident magistrate who is a lawyer is not necessarily one having a large practice or a high legal reputation. He is a gentleman "of whose legal competence the Lord Lieutenant is satisfied," and, judging from some of the specimens, I should say that the Lord Lieutenant is very easily satisfied indeed. Who are the other resident magistrates? The flotsam and jetsam, the tagrag and bobtail of every profession in the world—the militia officer—sometimes the cashiered officer—the estate agent—and the briefless barrister. Every member of that poor and unhappy race of office seekers who has failed at every other occupation in the world is thought worthy of these positions, and that is the tribunal which the honourable and learned Gentleman contrasts favourably with the highly-trained sheriff and sheriff substitute in Scotland. It has been asked what is the character of this Act? It has been pointed out that it merely creates a summary jurisdiction, suck as already exists in London. Is that so? Could any man be brought up in London, or in Scotland, for making a political speech, or for publishing a report of the speech in a newspaper, or for writing an editorial article? This is the first time many Members of this House will have an opportunity of voting upon a Coercion Act. They will have their baptism of lire to-day upon that question, and I should like to bring back to their minds what this Act which we are trying to repeal does. It gives the Lord Lieutenant power, by a stroke of his pen, to proclaim and declare that any association in any district is illegal, and the moment that proclamation is made membership of that association becomes a crime, attendance at its meetings is a crime, writing an article becomes a crime, and reporting its proceedings is criminal. Fancy anybody applying an Act such as that to the trades unions of this country! That is not all. My honourable Friend reminds me that the mere selling of a paper containing a report of such meeting is a crime, and that even setting up of the type of such a report is punishable. Honourable Members may laugh, but I can quote cases in which that interpretation was actually put upon the Act, for one of the Members for Donegal was put into gaol because he published in his paper reports of the National League, and Mr. William O'Brien was also imprisoned because he published similar reports in "United Ireland." In the first place I believe the subeditor was put into gaol because the unfortunate man used his blue pencil on the report of the Land League; the printer was sent to gaol, not because he set up with his own hand the type, but because he handed to the other compositors a copy of the report of the meeting of the Land League; and a couple of little boys of 10 or 12 years of age were brought before the police courts—I do not know whether they were sent to gaol—because they went through the streets of Cork calling out the placards and contents of the evening newspaper which contained a report of the meeting of the National Land League. This is one of the things which distinguishes the law of England from the law of Ireland. These are the crimes which this Coercion Act was brought in to put down. If this Act was only brought in for the purpose of putting down crime I would not say a word against it, but when the right honourable and learned Gentleman speaks of crime in Ireland he suggests one thing, and when the word crime is used by the people of this country it means quite another. When the right honourable Gentleman talks of crime and says that this Act was brought in for the purposes of suppressing it be conveys to the people of this country a very false impression. They imagine that he means that murder, fire, and mutilation is rampant in Ireland; what he really does mean is that men make speeches, write articles, set up type, and sell newspapers in the street. What is the necessity for this Act? I think I have shown what the character of this very innocent Bill is. And now I deal with another kind of offence under this Act. The least expression of approval of the action of anybody else—I was going through Victoria Street yesterday and I saw a procession of cabdrivers in white hats and taxameter cabs, and I am bound to confess that they were not getting a very favourable reception from the other cabmen on the ranks, and I said to myself, It is lucky for you, my fine fellows, that you are not in Ireland, because, as the right honourable Gentleman knows perfectly well, that there a boo, or a hiss will send a man to gaol. A wink sent a man in Ireland to gaol for a week on one occasion, but I am bound to confess that in that case the policeman justified the conviction by saying that it was something between a laugh and a contortion When the Corbetts were brought 300 miles and tried before the High Court of Justice, they were tried before a judge and jury. They were not tried by a briefless barrister and a half-pay military officer. What is the necessity for this Act? It is common knowledge that crime has practically ceased in Ireland, and therefore the only reason that can be given is that though crime does not exist it may exist in the future. So that you have this extraordinary state of things. On the one side you have the situation of Ireland under which you are giving the people all the rights of citizenship, electing county councils and managing their own affairs, and on the other hand you have the Irish people placed outside the pale of civilisation with this Act, for which there is no necessity, hanging over their heads. I am not surprised at the action of the Chief Secretary. Some friends of mine took a very strong view of the right honourable Gentleman and what he would do when he came into office. So far as he personally is concerned I have no word to say against him, but when it comes to his political capacity and success, I did not hope that he would do anything to solve the question; and the way in which he treats this appeal to- day is an eloquent proof of the way in which he treats the question. The honourable Gentleman opposite, in his comprehensive ignorance, spoke of Home Rule as being on the shelf. Home Rule is as alive to-day as ever it was, and is advancing step by step, day by day, and the discussion and division here today will be one of the sign posts on its road.

* SIR J. HASLETT (Belfast, N.)

I do not wish to intervene in this very important discussion further than to give my opinion on what has been termed here a Coercion Act. Although it may coerce so far as the language of the Act is concerned, there is not a single expression in it to justify that name. It would be well for honourable Members opposite who take such strong views on this subject to look into the Act and see what it really does. It would be better for them to call it a protective Act. That would come nearer the truth, for it protects those who wish to observe the common law and usages of civilised society against those who seek to nullify and thwart them. The honourable Member who has just sat down has spoken most eloquently and sought to pick out every little thing in the Act by which it might be shown that the Act was unworthy of the Statute Book. Let me say at once that the Act seeks to protect free members of society in the exercise of their lawful obligations to society. It applies not to one class, but every member of society who seeks to place himself between that man and his legitimate rights. The history of the Act shows the necessity for having such a law on the Statute Book. At the time that Act was passed a man who had his money in his pocket, and was prepared to pay his rent, was intimidated and not allowed to do so. Men who were anxious to pay their rent paid it in the dark at night, when they could not be seen, and urged their landlord not to give them receipts or to enter the payments of the rents in their books lest a traitor of some sort should make an accusation against them and their life would pay the forfeit. Parliament passed this Act not blindly, but under necessity, and the necessity still exists for the continuance of the Act. I very well remember the period when the Act was passed, and whatever honourable Members may say a state of terrorism prevails in Ireland in almost every county. There were towns in Ireland where when a man went for purposes of business the first question that was asked was, What hotel do you stop at? Nationalist or Unionist? And if the answer was Unionist not a single order would be booked. That is commercial tyranny.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR

We have it in Belfast now on the Protestant side.

MR. DILLON

Where is the proof of it?

* SIR J. HASLETT

Now, I come to what the honourable Gentleman who has just spoken referred to. He referred to the question of trial by jury, and said it would be a good thing if people were tried by jury. At the present moment there is not an inch of Ireland where crime can be tried otherwise than by jury. There is not one solitary inch of land where a man can commit a crime that he cannot claim to be tried this moment by jury. I know it may be said that the Statute remains there, but the Statute is not applicable except by proclamation. The individual Lord Lieutenant cannot proclaim it; he must be surrounded by a Privy Council; he must, before he makes the proclamation, have evidence placed before him, and this House can call for that evidence. Surely it cannot be complained that the Lord Lieutenant has capriciously exercised that right! It is said that the Act will not apply to England, and that in trade union disputes such an Act would not be enforced, if one trade unionist interferes with another.

MR. DAVITT

Not at all.

* SIR J. HASLETT

Oh, but yes at all. Where one trade unionist interferes with the right of citizenship of another, and attempts to prevent him exercising his right to sell his labour in a free and open market, the law steps in and affords him protection. Now, Sir, we are told that the Irish people are differently treated from the Scotch. Well, I do not know much of Scotch law. I know that in phraseology it differs from the English, but as far as I am aware Scotland has exactly the same principles of protection against lawlessness. Now, Ireland, it has been said, is free from crime, and therefore the Act should be repealed. I remember the story of a man who was travelling along a road in Ireland who was asked when passing an estate if he had seen a signpost to the effect that trespassers would be prosecuted? "That is very harsh," said the one. "No," replied the other, "because so far as I am concerned, I am not going to trespass, and the notice will not affect me very seriously." I am not aware that a solitary Irishman is affected by the Act unless he intends to trespass "off the road." If he intends to enter another man's field, then I think the Act becomes operative, but so long as he intends to be a loyal and industrious citizen this law is inoperative against him. We have had a distinction drawn between the administrators of the law in Scotland and Ireland. I do not know whether the sheriffs in Scotland are superior lawyers to other people. I do not know on what grounds they are appointed. I believe they are paid officials, and I daresay, when a Liberal Government is in office, the appointments are given to those who support Liberal principles. ("No.") Well, I always understood that there was a good deal of human nature in Scotland; and if I understand human nature it is very largely impregnated with the principle expressed in the words, "You scratch mo, and I'll scratch you." I am far from saying that any Scotchman enters into political life, especially a Scotch lawyer, with the slightest idea that he may advance his position. But suppose you get even such an excrescence—some Scotchman, for instance, who has a drop of English or Irish blood in his veins, and is impregnated with the idea that he might better his position by attaching himself to a particular Government—in what different position would that man stand in Scotland from a similar man in Ireland or a similar man in England? Is his impartiality impugned when he becomes a judge because in former times he had a political bias or a political leaning in the House of Commons? I do not know many judges who have not graduated in the House of Commons. I do not see why a lawyer should be foolish enough to spend his time in the House of Commons if he had not some ulterior motive; he would do better with his briefs in other places. There is no reason to suppose that Irish judges are inferior to English or Scotch judges. It has been stated by one honourable Member that crime is least where Socialism is strongest, and that in Mayo the last return shows that there were only eight prisoners. I am very glad of that, and I, for one, should be very glad to see white gloves presented on every visitation of the judges at the assize courts. No greater compliment could be paid to the Act than to say that crime has diminished. It has been argued that a Coercion Act should be transitory. Is the Act made to put down garrotting in England made temporarily? And who knows that it is still in existence except those who would go behind a man's back and throttle him? I regret to say that we are not free from crime in Belfast. There have been murders, drunken brawls, and disturbances, and the authorities do not defend them; but such crimes are probably due to the prosperous condition of the city. We do not defend those who commit crimes, but rely upon the law to protect society. When the law it is now sought to repeal was passed, society in Ireland was shaken to its foundations. There are Members who say that certain men should be "removed," and that means that certain men should be murdered. We know what the meaning of the word "removed" was. It meant that the victim was to be murdered, and they sheltered themselves behind the word "removed." They kept their cats-paws for executioners, and these, when caught, were punished, while they themselves were left scot-free. Inquiry, long and ably conducted, into these things, revealed to the British mind, and to the mind of every fair-thinking and impartial man, that human life itself was of very little moment compared with the carrying out of the designs and desires of the agitators in Ireland. I deprecate the withdrawal of this Act from the Statute Book. It has not been ex- ercised capriciously. It is no menace to any man who is a law-abiding citizen. It has made for what is the permanent hope for Ireland, namely, peace and prosperity. It has shielded men in the path of industry, on which path alone Ireland can rise to be a power in the nations, and in which alone the Irish people can be comfortable and happy. It has protected to a large extent against those who live on plunder, and who corruptly trade on the affection and trust, which is one of the most beautiful traits of the Irish character. It has protected Ireland against these men. It has shown that while the rule of the British law is faithful, the punishment of transgressors is equally faithful. And it has protected those who by industry, thrift, perseverance, and honest endeavour have raised themselves in the scale of society.

MR. DAVITT

The honourable Member who has just sat down has employed language with respect to the Irish representatives sitting on these Benches which I cannot fittingly characterise without employing words that would not be Parliamentary, but which would accurately answer the allegations of the honourable Member. Now, Sir, he will pardon me if I say that the honourable Member has not advanced a single argument in his untempered speech which does not support indirectly the main contention we put forward for the repeal of this offensive Act, which is, that there is nothing in the present condition of Ireland, and there has been nothing during the last 10 years, with which the ordinary law is not capable of dealing. Now, I am glad, as an enemy of the existing system in Ireland, that the Irish Government thought fit to refuse on this occasion to do a sensible thing in a gracious way. I venture to say that if the Attorney-General, on behalf of the Irish Government, had consented to our appeal to the common-sense of the House to-day, he would have performed an act which would have redounded to the credit of the Government and the Administration in Ireland. I rejoice at every blunder committed in this House and outside it, in behalf of the present system of rule in Ireland, because I know that these mistakes and blunders must tell in favour of the solution which must come ultimately of the Anglo-Irish dispute. The Attorney-General began his speech by asserting, what everyone has admitted in this Debate, that the country is peaceful. Why is it peaceful? Would it be in this condition of peace and tranquillity at this moment if the policy which obtained in 1887 continued to obtain at the present time? If there is peace in Ireland now it is not in consequence of the policy of coercion, but it is the result of the concessions that have been made. May I ask this House to what influence are these concessions due? The beneficial legislative intentions of the Tory Party are due to the incessant and determined efforts of the Irish Members, and to the national movement in Ireland. I contend that it is really those on this side of the House who represent Ireland, who deserve credit for the peaceful state of that country. The Attorney-General, with his ordinary courtesy, and as a fair opponent, when dealing with his Irish political assailants fell back, I am sorry to say, upon an argument which was scarcely worthy of him. He went back to the regrettable killing of a juror in Dublin 20 years ago, and tried to adduce some arguments from that to sustain his case this afternoon. Well, is it a proof of lawlessness in Ireland today that that deplorable deed was perpetrated 18 or 20 years ago? One may just as well contend that because certain citizens of London once banquetted an assassin because he had only killed three or four Frenchmen, these citizens are in favour of blood and assassination at this moment. Then the Attorney-General, in a mood of generous political disquisition, referring to the speech of the honourable Member for East Mayo, said he was not surprised at the result of the county council elections in Ireland. What! Not in Ulster? In loyal and Unionist Ulster, where virtually all the old grand jurors and supporters of Her Majesty's Government have been disposed of! Is that no surprise? Does it not in any way disturb the political equanimity of the Attorney-General that Unionist Ulster has returned a large majority of Nationalist councillors in favour of Home Rule? I leave that part of the Attorney-General's speech, which, I am sure, will be read with some sur- prise at any rate in the North of Ireland, and come to the end of his speech, in which he referred to the West of Ireland, and dealt with the speeches delivered by Mr. W. O'Brien, of course with the object of showing that the necessary consequence of such speeches must be disturbance or crime. But the honourable Gentleman the Attorney-General failed to point out where or when a single act of illegality followed any of those so-called violent speeches of Mr. William O'Brien. He quoted the means resorted to 15 or 20 years ago in a virtual state of agrarian warfare with coercion in full force at the time, as being those advocated now at a period of agrarian peace in Ireland. That may suit the purpose of the Attorney-General, but it is not fair. I come to the most ingenious speech of the honourable and learned Member for Down. The honourable and learned Member quoted Rudyard Kipling as a supporter of his theory. It is the first time I have heard poetry quoted in the House as an authority on matters where statistics apply. But others before Rudyard Kipling, tried to prove that speeches produce crimes. One of them was Richard Pigott, who did not resort to poetry, but resorted to prose and forgery, though probably he received more money from "The Times" for his prose and forgery than Rudyard Kipling received for his poetry.

DR. RENTOUL

He was a Nationalist.

MR. DAVITT

He was nothing of the kind. The honourable Member must retain the credit to his own side for the services of Richard Pigott. The honourable and learned Member was very strong in the analogy which he found to this Act in the law of Scotland. His contention was that we ought not to complain of preliminary secret inquiries in Ireland, when these were conducted in Scotland. I do not know so much about the law of Scotland as about the law of Ireland, but I understand that the laws of Scotland are sanctioned by the people of Scotland, and administered by Scotchmen. What would be the opinion of Scotland if, under other circumstances, these laws were imposed on their country by Englishmen and administered by Englishmen against four- fifths of the people of Scotland? I venture to think that the discontent over the Border would have been greater than it is in Ireland. The fact is, that this argument really reduces itself to an absurdity. These laws are not offensive to the national sentiment of Scotchmen, but they are offensive to the national sentiment of Ireland; and that makes all the difference. The honourable and learned Member might wish to whip his own child, but if I went into his house and attempted to perform that act, the honourable and learned Member would promptly kick me out. And that is what we want to do with Castle Rule in Ireland. My position is this: I would rather have Ireland governed under a despotism, though I have my convictions as a Republican, than see the country ruled on the principles which underlie the present system of Government. But we have one unanswerable argument in favour of the repeal of the Coercion Act. It is that Ireland at the present time, as has been said from these Benches again and again, and as has been admitted from the Ministerial Benches, is in as peaceful a condition, as far as crime is concerned, as any country in the world, except perhaps Norway. There has been almost a boom in white kid gloves during the last few years. The judges, north, south, east and west have been presented with these articles by the sheriffs, with the exception of Belfast, where, I believe, this delightful courtesy has not been extended to the judges. There is one crime in Ireland, I admit, which honourable Members opposite dislike and denounce. But it is a crime I glory in. Ireland is Nationalist. That is "the head and front of her offending." That is the crime which disturbs the Tory mind infinitely more than the statistics and records from time to time of unhappy offences and agrarian disturbances against the law. The Attorney-General quoted from one or two speeches delivered by Mr. William O'Brien, and tried to convey the impression that his object in these cases was to encourage crime. Well, I repudiate on behalf of my friend Mr. William O'Brien the unworthy insinuation. Mr. O'Brien has again and again in all his utterances in connection with the United Irish League declared that the man in connection with that organisation who would be guilty of a crime or an outrage would be the worst enemy of the United Irish League; and I thoroughly endorse that. So much does Mr. O'Brien reprobate acts of violence, even against his political opponents, that he, as one of the members of the United Irish League in West Mayo, offered a reward of £50 a few months ago for the discovery of the alleged perpetrators of the outrage on Mr. Vesey Stoney; and I think, after what has been said against my friend, I am entitled to read to the House a short extract from the resolution in which that reward was offered. The resolution was as follows— That as crime in every shape is abhorrent to the United Irish League, and as the success of the movement hitherto has been due to the crimelessness of the people in the teeth of the most cruel and criminal provocation, we have heard with amazement and indignation the report that Mr. Vesey Stoney was fired at on the evening before the judge's charge at the Castlebar Assizes; that we request the Irish Members to demand an independent public inquiry of the most searching character into all the extraordinary and unexplained circumstances connected with this case; and We hereby offer a reward for any information that will bring the guilty parties, whoever they may be, to justice; and we point to Mr. Justice Johnson's charge to the grand jury, and to the police evidence in the Murrisk burning case, as conclusive proofs of the general absence of crime on the part of the people in this great community. Well, Sir, to-morrow it will be my business and my duty as Member for South Mayo to offer a friendly challenge to the Chief Secretary to grant an open sworn inquiry in Mayo into those charges which we make against the officials in Ireland—that they and their supporters of law and order have endeavoured by bogus outrages to implicate the United Irish League in outrages. I say that wherever and whenever agrarian crime has taken place in Ireland in the past it was not the result of incitation, not as a consequence of speeches, but directly because of the injustice and the wrong inflicted on an agricultural country by an infamous system of land laws. The right honourable the Chief Secretary the other night in a speech on another Irish issue declared that during the last 10 or 12 years evictions in Ireland had gradually gone down, and were now re- duced to a number something like four or five in the year. But is that a trivial matter to a people like the Celtic population of Ireland? It that a small matter in an agricultural country, and will you tell me of any other nation claiming to be civilised where so many of the homesteads of the agricultural peasantry are broken up? Some day, and I hope before long, this question will be settled on lines which we advocate through constitutional means, on lines of Home Rule. Impartial historians in the future will be amazed at the shamelessness of the doings of the Irish landlords under the old Irish system. I shall not longer trespass on the attention of the House. I think if ever a case was made out by facts, figures, and unanswerable argu-

ments, it is the case which we have presented for the repeal of the Coercion Act. This Coercion Act must go, in my opinion before long, and Castle Government will go with it in the same way in which government by grand jurors in Ireland has gone. In conclusion, I repeat my opening remark, that this Coercion Act is an outrage on the Irish Nationalists, and that the Government have made a blunder in opposing its repeal.

Question put— That the word 'now' stand part of the Question.

The House divided:—Ayes 141; Noes 220.—(Division List No. 86.)

AYES.
Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.) Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J. O'Kelly, James
Allan, William (Gateshead) Goddard, Daniel Ford Oldroyd, Mark
Allison, Robert Andrew Gold, Charles Palmer, George Wm. (Reading)
Ambrose, Robert Gourley, Sir Edw. Temperley Paulton, James Mellor
Asher, Alexander Haldane, Richard Burdon Pease, Alfred E. (Cleveland)
Ashton, Thomas Gair Harwood, George Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)
Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale- Pease, Sir Jos. W. (Durham)
Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Hedderwick, Thos. Charles H. Philipps, John Wynford
Austin, M. (Limerick, W.) Hogan, James Francis Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Baker, Sir John Holland, W. H. (York, W.R.) Pirie, Duncan V.
Balfour, Rt Hn. J. Blair (Clackm Horniman, Frederick John Price, Robert John
Barlow, John Emmott Jacoby, James Alfred Reckitt, Harold James
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Joicey, Sir James Reid, Sir Robert Threshie
Billson, Alfred Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea Richardson, J. (Durham)
Birrell, Augustine Jones, William'Carnarvonshire Rickett, J. Compton
Blake, Edward Kay-Shuttleworth, RtHnSir U. Roberts, John Byrn (Eifion)
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Kearley, Hudson E. Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Kitson, Sir James Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfarshir
Burns, John Lambert, George Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Burt, Thomas Langley, Batty Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.
Buxton, Sydney Charles Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'land Steadman, William Charles
Caldwell, James Leese, Sir Joseph F.(Accrington Stevenson, Francis S.
Cameron, Sir Charles (Glasgow Leng, Sir John Strachey, Edward
Cameron, Robert (Durham) Leuty, Thomas Richmond Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Lewis, John Herbert Tennant, Harold John
Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton Lough, Thomas Thomas, Alf'd (Glamorgan, E)
Causton, Richard Knight MacAleese, Daniel Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)
Channing, Francis Allston MacDonnell Dr. M. A. (Queen's) Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh. M'Dermott, Patrick Ure Alexander
Clough, Walter Owen M'Ghee, Richard Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)
Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal) M'Laren, Charles Benjamin Wallace, Robert (Perth)
Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.) Maddison, Fred. Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Davis, M. Vaughan-((Cardigan Maden, John Henry Wedderburn, Sir William
Davitt, Michael Mellor, Rt, Hn. J. W. (Yorks.) Weir, James Galloway
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)
Donelan, Captain A. Molloy, Bernard Charles Wills, Sir William Henry
Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) Montague, Sir S.(Whitechapel Wilson, Henry J. (Yorks, W.R.)
Duckworth, James Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)
Dunn, Sir William Morley, Charles (Breconshire) Wilson, John (Govan)
Ellis, John Edward (Notts.) Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose Wilson, Jos. H. (Middlesbro')
Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport Woodhouse, Sir J.T. (Huddersf'
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Moulton, John Fletcher Woods, Samuel
Farrell, Thomas J. (Kerry, S.) Norton, Capt. Cecil William Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)
Fenwick, Charles O'Brien, James F. X (Cork)
Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith) O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Dillon and Mr. Power.
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)
Fox, Dr. Joseph Francis O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
NOES.
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Fison, Frederick William Maple, Sir John Blundell
Allsopp, Hon. George Fitzgerald, Sir Robert Penrose Martin, Richard Biddulph
Arnold, Alfred Flannery, Sir Fortescue Massey-Alainwaring, Hn. W. F
Arrol, Sir William Flower, Ernest Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)
Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis Folkestone, Viscount Middlemore, John Throgmorton
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Forster, Henry William Milward, Colonel Victor
Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy Galloway, William Johnson Monk, Charles James
Bailey, James (Walworth) Garfit, William Morrison, Walter
Baillie, James E. B. (Inverness) Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H (City of Lon. Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford
Baird, John George Alexander Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans) Muntz, Philip A.
Balcarres, Lord Giles, Charles Tyrrell Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham(Bute
Baldwin, Alfred Gilliat, John Saunders Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r) Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)
Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W. (Leeds Goldsworthy, Major-General Myers, William Henry
Banbury, Frederick George Gordon, Hon. John Edward Newdigate Francis Alexander
Barnes, F. Gorell Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon Nicol, Donald Ninian
Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor) Goschen, Rt Hn G. J. (St George) Northcote, Hn. Sir H. Stafford
Bartley, George C. T. Goschen, George J. (Sussex) O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens
Barton, Dungar Blanket Goulding, Edward Alfred Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay
Beach, Rt Hn Sir M. H. (Bristol) Graham, Henry Robert Parkes, Ebenezer
Beckett, Ernest William Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington
Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury) Penn, John
Bethell, Commander Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs. Pierpoint, Robert
Biddulph, Michael Gull, Sir Cameron Pilkington, Richard
Bill, Charles Gunter, Colonel Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Blakiston-Houston, John Hall, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Pretyman, Ernest George
Blundell, Colonel Henry Halsey, Thomas Frederick Priestly, Sir W. Overend (Edin.
Bolitho, Thomas Bedford Hamilton, Rt Hon. LordGeorge Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Bousfield, William Robert Hare, Thomas Leigh Purvis, Robert
Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex) Haslett, Sir James Horner Pym, C. Guy
Brassey, Albert Heaton, John Henniker Quilter, Sir Cuthbert
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Helder, Augustus Rankin, Sir James
Burdett-Coutts, W. Hickman, Sir Alfred Rasch, Major Frederic Carne
Carson, Rt. Hon. Edward Hill, Sir Edw. Stock (Bristol) Renshaw, Charles Bine
Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbyshire Hoare, Edw. Brodie (Hampstead Rentoul, James Alexander
Cayzer, Sir Charles William Hoare, Samuel (Norwich) Richards, Henry Charles
Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East) Howell, William Tudor Richardson, Sir Thos. (Hartlep'l
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil Richie, Rt. Hn. C. Thompson
Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W. Hudson, George Bickersteth Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm. Hutchinson, Capt. G. W. Grice- Robinson, Brooke
Chamberlain, J. Austen(Worc'r Hutton, John (Yorks, N.R.) Rothschild, Hn. Lionel Walter
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E Jebb, Richard Claverhouse Royds, Clement Molyneux
Coddington, Sir William Johnston, William (Belfast) Russell, Gen. F. S. (Cheltenham)
Coghill, Douglas Harry Jolliffe, Hon. H. George Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Kenyon, James Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse,
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Keswick, William Savory, Sir Joseph
Compton, Lord Alwyne King, Sir Henry Seymour Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard
Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd) Lafone, Alfred Seely, Charles Hilton
Corbett, A Cameron (Glasgow) Laurie, Lieut.-General Sharpe, William Edward T.
Courtney, Rt. Hn. Leonard H. Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Cor Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire
Cox, Irwin Edw. B. (Harrow) Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool) Sidebottom, William (Derbysh.
Cranborne, Viscount Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.) Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)
Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton) Lecky, Rt. Hn. William Edw. H. Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.)
Cruddas, William Donaldson Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Spencer, Ernest
Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh Leighton, Stanley Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset
Davenport, W. Bromley- Llewellyn, Evan H. (Somerset) Stanley, H. M. (Lambeth)
Denny, Colonel Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Stanley, Lord (Lanes)
Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. Long, Col. Charles W (Evesham Stephens, Henry Charles
Dorington, Sir John Edward Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Liverp'l) Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart
Doughty, George Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Loyd, Archie Kirkman Stone, Sir Benjamin
Doxford, William Theodore Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir John Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Duncombe, Hon. Hurbert V. Lucas-Shadwell, William Thorburn, Walter
Fardell, Sir T. George Macartney, W. G. Ellison Thornton, Percy M.
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edwar Macdona, John Gumming Tollemache, Henry James
Fergusson, Rt. Hn.Sir J. (Manc' Maclure, Sir John William Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray
Finch, George H. M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Tritton, Charles Ernest.
Finlay, Sir Robert, Bannatyne M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinb'gh, W Valentia, Viscount
Fisher, William Hayes M'Killop, James Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard
Warr, Augustus Frederick Willox, Sir John Archibald Young, Commander (Berks, E.)
Webster, ft. G. (St. Pancras) Wilson, John (Falkirk) Younger, William
Webster, Sir R. E. (Isle of Wight Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm TELLERS FOR THE NOES▀×Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E. Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon- Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Whitmore, Charles Algernon

Main Question put, as amended, and agreed to.

Words added.

Second Reading put off for six months.