§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £19,095,000, be granted to His Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the charges for the following Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1903, viz.:—
|Chief Secretary for Ireland||16,000|
|Royal Palaces and Marlborough House||35,000|
|Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens||50,000|
|Houses of Parliament Buildings||16,000|
|Miscellaneous Legal Buildings, Great Britain||22,000|
|Art and Science Buildings, Great Britain||16,000|
|Diplomatic and Consular Buildings||12,000|
|Public Buildings, Great Britain||190,000|
|Surveys of the United Kingdom||90,000|
|Harbours under the Board of Trade||7,000|
|Rates on Government Property||250,000|
|Public Works and Buildings, Ireland||110,000|
|United Kingdom and England:—|
|House of Lords, Offices||3,000|
|House of Commons, Offices||12,000|
|Treasury and Subordinate Departments||39,000|
|Privy Council Office, &c.||5,000|
|Privy Seal Office||1,000|
|Board of Trade||70,000|
|Mercantile Marine Services||30,000|
|Bankruptcy Department of the Board of Trade||3|
|Board of Agriculture||70,000|
§ *(4.10.) SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said that he should be moderate in what he was about to say on the recent breakdown of the arbitration on the Home Office special rules with regard to the use of lead in the potting trade, for the reason 29 that he was anxious that the Irish Members should have the opportunity of discussing Irish affairs which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had promised them. When his friends, for example the hon. Members for Berwickshire and Battersea, had joined with him in raising the question of the most dangerous trades, the use of phosphorus in the match trade and of lead in china and earthenware, they had attained speedy success as regards dusty processes in the lead trade; and the use of fans and other precautions for which they had asked had produced most beneficial results. In the match trade necrosis had been stamped out by Home Office rules, made under pressure by the House of Commons. They had hoped for the same success in the pottery trade, but it had not been attained, though there was improvement. He would not trouble the House with technical details, as regarded which all that he had done throughout was to support the scientific authority at the back of the Home Office.
The pottery trade had been so dangerous that after the issue in 1898 of the rules which had then come into force, a second set of rules had been at once got out which were to be brought into operation as soon as manufacturers had become used to them, which at that time they had promised they would do. These rules, which were in principle accepted, established a low percentage of lead in the frit, or what was called a standard. They were intended to come into force in two years. The Home Office was finally forced by the manufacturers into arbitration. Had the law been what it now was, the Home Office would have had the power of establishing its rules. As it was, although the Factory Acts were all repealed, and a new Act last year had abolished the system of arbitration on special rules, the old law had been kept in force for the one purpose, which was called strictly temporary, of allowing the lead arbitration to be held under it. The manufacturers had accepted in principle the idea of a standard, but they differed from the Home Office with regard to the percentage, and when the parties came to arbitration the manufacturers refused the standard altogether.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
said it was stated by the umpire again and again that they had indicated that they were willing to accept one. They were, at any rate, willing to accept the principle of a low percentage of lead in frit. The absurdity of the situation was that instead of the old books being done with, they would now have the old law in force for an indefinite period of years in order that this arbitration might be indefinitely prolonged. The manufacturers seemed to think that the system of suspensions of workers introduced in 1898 was satisfactory. He had explained to the House of Commons last year how unsatisfactory it was; a mere temporary and objectionable arrangement which ought only to be enforced until the undue use of lead was put an end to. There had been since last session fresh facts to show that his argument was sound. At an inquest held last autumn at Longton on the death of Martha Lymer, aged thirty-four, a married woman, a majolica paintress, from lead poisoning, Dr. Arlidge—who admitted that Dr. Parkes was right in the opinion that death was due to lead—told the Court that he had frequently informed the woman that she was showing signs of lead poisoning, and added that she denied it. "She ought to have owned up and then she would have been suspended." Nothing could be more unsatisfactory. In a case in the present year, also in Longton, when the Crown Porcelain Company was summoned by the Inspector of Factories for employing a woman in ware cleaning for eight months without examination by the certifying surgeon, with the effect that she had finally admittedly suffered from lead poisoning, it was shown that here again concealment had been caused by the suspension rule.
The Home Office rules, repeatedly justified to the House of Commons by Lord Ridley and by the present Secretary of State, as based on the highest chemical and scientific evidence, had been referred to arbitration, oddly enough before another member of the Cabinet. Lord James was a perfect 31 arbitrator, but his situation was most awkward when he was called upon to sit in judgment on the rules of a brother member of the Cabinet, and invited, as it were, to force upon them a trade. The case could hardly be said to have been well managed. The excellent counsel was only briefed at a late moment, he knew not why, and some of the witnesses who ought to have been called were not called. The Home Office did not call British manufacturers who were wholly avoiding the use of lead or who were fritting their lead to a very low standard, from whom many Members of the House, and the Government itself, were purchasing such ware, who could have spoken to perfect commercial practicability.
He wished to draw the attention of the House to the evidence of Dr. Legge, the principal Medical Inspector of the Home Office. Dr. Legge agreed with the scientific witnesses of the Government that either prevention of the use of lead or close regulation to a low standard was absolutely necessary, in addition to all other precautions. Dr. Legge and other witnesses proved that, although statistics looked better, many cases went unreported; and Dr. Legge showed that in many reported cases the medical officer alluded to previous attacks of lead in the case of the same person, and that on examination it was discovered that these former attacks had gone unreported. Dr. Legge pointed out that there was little or no improvement in the figures of the dipping houses, and said—As regards the people in the dipping house, the dippers, the dippers' assistants, and ware cleaners, if their condition is to be improved, it must be by dealing with the materials in the glaze;and he added that there was no improvement as regards glost-placers—because glost-placers are dealing with dipped material.Asked as regards the severity of lead attacks, Dr Legge said—There have already been this year as many severe cases reported amongst men as there were in 1900, though only ten months have passed.Miss Anderson, the principal lady inspector, confirmed Dr Legge's statement as to many cases not being notified, and 32 said that there were cases of lead poisoning which had been discovered by the staffwhich were not reported.The arbitration suddenly collapsed in an extraordinary fashion. The rules as to standard and frit were postponed again for eighteen months.with power at the end of that term, if necessary, to further adjourn the arbitration.Lord James said that he wasnot going for one moment to give a decision relieving the employers from, it may be, positive obligation to reduce the quantity of pure lead. …. I appeal to them …. whether they cannot proceed at once to find a better means of reducing the quantity of lead used, so as to have a low standard of solubility … I would ask them to look to their foreign brethren and see whether from their systems they cannot get rid of the use of the quantity of lead which is now employed.He added—I will recommend the Home Office to consider whether a rule cannot be framed and added to these rules that upon application showing that the lead used has been reduced to such a small quantity that the standard of solubility is very low, say below 2 per cent… the prohibitive rules can be taken away if the Home Office think it right to relieve such factories from their effect.… It would be a prize factory.… It would be a mark that they carried into effect the purposes for which all these rules have been framed.The House would hardly believe that nothing of the kind was done, and at the adjourned arbitration on the last day no such rule had been proposed.
The net result of the whole arbitration was that no frit at all, no standard of solubility, had been agreed upon. The matter could hardly rest in this position. The manufacturers themselves admitted that they must put their house in order. The President of the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Heath, had said after the arbitration, at the Burslem dinner—He believed that there was some levelling up to be done among manufacturers. Those who had not facilities for resisting the evil should be brought up to the standard of the better manufacturers.There were, however, some unfortunate exceptions. Dr. Folker, a certifying surgeon appointed by the Home Office, at one dinner had attacked the Home Office for the very proposals which for years it had been officially urging on the manufacturers.
33 With regard to foreign competition, which was alleged by the Member for Stoke, the arbitrator had shown that Staffordshire was sending goods into Protectionist countries against 60 per cent. tariffs, and it must be remembered that the French law on dangerous trades was stronger than our own. The whole conduct of such trades in France was absolutely under the Government as regards every condition under which they might be pursued; including men in the same degree as women and young persons. The French Government was now engaged on attempting to substitute absolutely safe ingredients in all cases for lead, and the number of potteries in France already using leadless glaze was very large. The anomaly of the old Acts continuing, perhaps for ever—for there was no security that the present arbitration would ever come to an end —placed Parliament in a ridiculous position; and as regarded the substance of their case, they were deeply disappointed, and must call upon the Home Office to state the views which the Department entertained as regarded the future.
The hon. Member for Stoke had stated that it was foreign competition which prevented a standard being fixed, but Lord James of Hereford, at the conclusion of this inquiry, actually declared that we had to learn from the foreigner the best methods to be employed. His Lordship also said—I will offer to them, if I can, a little inducement to do so. I will recommend the Home Office to consider whether a rule cannot be framed and added to these rules that upon application made showing that the lead used in their factory has been reduced to such a small quantity that the standard of solubility is very low, say below 2 per cent., the Home Office will exempt such factories from the operation of any rule that may be thought to press hardly upon them….. If the employers.…. can reduce the lead used to a low test of solubility, then the object of the rules can be taken away if the Home Office think it right to relieve such factories from their effect. It would be a prize factory under such circumstances, and it would be a mark that they had carried into effect the purposes for which all these rules had been framed.Personally he regretted that Lord James of Hereford, holding the views he had expressed, failed to sanction the Home Office rules, but he, at all events, made the very definite proposal that such 34 factories should be put in a favoured position, and thus advertised as doing that which all factories ought to do. A final sitting was held in London, but no such rule was proposed, and when interrogated on that point, the Home Secretary stated that a difficulty had arisen and that matter could only be done by agreement.
The question he now desired to put to the right hon. Gentleman opposite was whether it was still possible for him to frame and press upon the manufacturers such a rule as that of which Lord James of Hereford so strongly approved. The Home Office evidently desired an agreement on the basis suggested by his Lordship, and he was not without hope that such a rule was possible by which an inducement would be offered to manufacturers to use glazes of low solubility. Many manufacturers did at present use such glazes, and if a universal standard was impossible at present, at all events this prize system might be introduced. The net result of the arbitration was that they had no standard. For years the Home Office had declared that a standard was to be laid down, but that end had not been achieved. The manufacturers themselves admitted that things could not remain where they were. At a number of manufacturers' dinners the manufacturers had been told by their leading men that they must put their house in order. At the Burslem dinner Mr. Heath, the President of the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce, said that—There was some levelling up to be done among manufacturers. Those who had not the facilities for resisting the evil should be brought up to the standard of the better manufacturers.That was an opinion which those who raised this matter in the House— although they were looked upon as the enemies of the trade—desired to endorse and enforce. There had been unfortunate exceptions at these dinners, one of which was actually a certifying surgeon appointed by the Home Office—Dr. Folker—who went out of his way to make a ferocious attack on the proposals of the Office under which he served. He desired to know whether there was any chance of obtaining this rule, and, 35 generally, what further steps the overnment were going to take. The French Government were actively pursuing investigations on the question of the actual prohibition of the use of lead and the adoption of a low standard. A large number of manufacturers in France used no lead at all, and the Labour Department there were preparing an official list of such French potters. That was a step in the same direction as the proposal of Lord James of Hereford. It had to be remembered that in France they had very stringent powers in regard to dangerous trades—as strong for adult men as for women and young people—and the head of the Labour Department had declared that, in his opinion, substitutes must be found for all dangerous ingredients. In view of the resumption of the arbitration eighteen months hence, were the Government preparing commercial evidence from all parts of the world? Whether or not he divided the Committee would depend on the course of the debate and the answers he received from the Home Secretary, but for the purpose of keeping the discussion to the matter under consideration, he moved to reduce the Vote by £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Item, Class II., Vote 4, for the Home Office, be reduced by £100." —(Sir Charles Dilke.)
§ (4.44.) MR. COGHILL
said this matter was a very serious one as far as the china and earthenware trades of the country were concerned. In an article in The Times of 24th September last, it was pointed out that a crisis had arisen in the trade. The arbitration to which reference had been made resulted in the practical defeat of the Home Office, and the breakdown of the case they presented. Twenty-two rules were put forward by the Home Office, in regard to nineteen of which there was no difficulty whatever. One rule, with regard to suspension, was objected to by the workmen; of the other two which applied to the manufacturers, one referred to "fritting," but the great struggle took place over the rule in which the Home Office tried to fix the limit of solubility at two per cent. The real 36 battle at the arbitration was fought over this Rule 2 and Rule 1, and in the result, Lord James of Hereford was obliged to give his decision practically against the Home Office. It was true the arbitration had been suspended for eighteen months, but the right hon. Baronet was very sanguine if he imagined it would be resumed at the end of that period. In the article to which he had already referred, The Times stated—The rule lays down the maximum amount of soluble lead which a glaze may contain. In other words, it prescribes the materials which a manufacturer is to use, and ties him down to a chemical formula. This is an innovation of the most sweeping and drastic character, which has no parallel. The selection of the pottery industry for such an experiment in Government control is quite inexplicable by the light of overt facts, whether we look to the nature of the trade, or the extent of the evil to be remedied. It could be justified only on the ground of great and practical difficulties and objections. It has been shown that there is no such urgency, and the practical difficulties are so great that the whole of the manufacturers have united in resisting the regulations to the uttermost. Their case is not that it will cause them trouble and expense, or even that it will injure the prosperity of the trade, but that it is totally impracticable; they cannot conform to it and carry on business at all. This is not the attitude of a section, or of the owners of small and ill-equipped works. It represents the deliberate conviction of the whole of the trade, including the largest, the most scientific, and the most famous firms, the owners of model works, and those who have been foremost in attempts to render lead innocuous, or do away with its use altogether.That was the view taken by The Times before the arbitration came on.
Under the rule of 1898 there had been a most gratifying reduction in the number of cases of lead poisoning. In 1897 there were 469 cases in the potters, and 745 in other trades in the country. In 1898 the numbers were 463 for the potters, and twice as many—954—for the other trades; but the Home Office did not propose to bring forward any legislation with regard to the latter. In 1899 the cases in the potters fell to 249, while the other trades had 1,009—four times as many; in 1900, the numbers were 200 as against 1,057, and last year the numbers for the potters were still lower, being 106, while the numbers for other trades were nine times as many, or 926. The change had been brought about by the rules and by the power of suspension 37 which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean objected to, and everybody was agreed that it had been the greatest possible benefit. Not only had the number of cases decreased, but their serious character had also decreased and they had not been nearly so severe. In the year 1899 there were sixteen fatal cases; in 1900, eight; and last year they dropped to five. There were 46,000 people engaged in this trade, and 4,700 were employed in lead processes. The Committee would see at once that five deaths amongst that number was not a very large amount. He should only be too glad if that number could be further reduced.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean Division had called attention to the fact that the Home Office did not call some very important witnesses before Lord James. He knew that the Home Secretary spared no trouble to get witnesses for that inquiry, and he ransacked Europe to get a case against British manufacturers, and even then he did not succeed. The only material witnesses were Dr. Wilkins, of the firm of Villeroy & Boch, of Dresden, and Mr. Älmström, of the Rorstrand Works, Stockholm, and even these witnesses would not come up to the point which the Home Secretary wanted, for neither of them would say that two per cent, was the amount which the manufacturers could use. Mr. Älmström said that so far from two per cent, being the limit, he thought that they could not work under four per cent.; that was double the amount which the Home Secretary proposed. It seemed to him a most singular thing that, after all the efforts of the Home Office, they were unable to get a single British manufacturer to go into the box before Lord James and say that two per cent, was a proper limit of solubility. There was not one single British manufacturer brought for or against, and of the only two foreign manufacturers who came forward—one a German and the other a Swede—both said that two per cent, was practically impossible. He was present at the arbitration before Lord James, and he heard all that was said, and he believed that he was the only Member of the House who was present during the whole proceedings. At the end of the 38 case for the Home Office, he thought there was no case made out against the manufacturers, and he was sorry that more witnesses were not called on the part of the manufacturers, because their case would have been made stronger had this course been adopted. There was one important witness, Dr. McAldowie, whose position upon this question was unique, for he bad been 25 years in Staffordshire, and he was the senior physician in the North Staffordshire Infirmary. If anybody knew anything about lead poisoning, it was he. He asked the Home Secretary some time ago to publish Dr. McAldowie's evidence, but he replied that as this witness was not cross-examined, he should not do so. He felt perfectly certain that if Dr. McAldowie had been cross-examined, his evidence would not have been materially altered. During 1891 Dr. McAldowie stated that in the ten years from 1891 to 1900, in North Staffordshire Infirmary, there were 19,505 cases, and out of that total there were only 213 lead cases, and six deaths. From those figures it would be seen that lead poisoning in the potteries was not quite so bad as had been made out. There were 91,748 out-patients in the same period, and only 353 lead cases, and no deaths. Between 1890 and 1894, in his club practice, there were 13,187 cases, and only sixty-six were suffering from lead poisoning. Dr. McAldowie said that lead poisoning was an exceedingly curable malady, and very rarely fatal, and that it was essentially a curable malady. He further said that he looked upon every death in his district, among males at any rate, as being a case of wilful self-sacrifice. If the symptoms of lead poisoning were neglected, and if a person went on working after the symptoms had appeared, it was really a case of almost suicide on the part of the workers. He further stated that lead taken in small quantities was much more difficult to trace, and generally gave worse results than lead taken in large quantities. Dr. McAldowie said—From a medical point of view the proposed extreme reduction in solubility may be fraught with grave danger to the operatives.Where there is prolonged and continuous exposure to the action of lead, its toxic effects are aggravated rather than minimised by minute doses.39 Therefore, as far as the medical evidence went, it showed that the right hon. Gentleman was entirely wrong in this 2 per cent. maximum which he sought to establish.
With regard to the result of the arbitration, the Standard said—The arbitration has just taken place, with Lord James as umpire, and has resulted in the complete breakdown of the Home Office case. It is for the Home Office to consider very seriously the humiliating position in which it has been placed by the fiasco at Stoke-on Trent.The Times correspondent said—The rules are suspended indefinitely. The grounds on which this discussion was based are lack of urgency and risk of injuring the industry. In other words, lead poisoning has diminished so rapidly and progressively, that there is no present need for further interference; and the proposed restrictions could not be carried out without endangering the prosperity of the trade. In short, they are unnecessary and impracticable.This is a striking conclusion, but the most remarkable thing is that it was reached without calling on the manufacturers for the greater part of their evidence. In effect, the case for the proposed rules broke down, and it is clear that the Home Office has been badly advised in bringing them forward.It is difficult to understand how a responsible Government Department came to put forward a case which has crumbled to pieces so pitifully on being confronted with a few facts. There was ground for introducing reforms in 1898. At present, there is no case for further restrictions, and there never was any for the measures just set aside. There was no demand for them, save from a small knot of philanthropic persons. But even they were not responsible for the actual measures which it was sought to impose upon the industry with what appears to be inexplicable levity.Those were the words of The Times newspaper in commenting upon this arbitration.
With regard to leadless glazes, the test was the oven. The manufacturers could not get a standard composition upon which they could rely, for the same material might one day give 1 per cent. and another day 5 per cent, of lead.
The figures he had put before the House, he contended, proved that there was no case for these rules. He pointed out that the rules were forced on the trade. Every person who knew anything of the matter said there was no ground whatever for the rules. He wished to remind the Committee that when the rules were brought before the arbitrators they were bolstered up by foreign witnesses, while there was an utter absence of British 40 witnesses. He submitted that in view of the complete breakdown of the Home Office in this matter, it was the opinion of the most impartial observers that the least thing the Home Secretary could do was to relieve the manufacturers of the payment of their costs in connection with the inquiry. He held most strongly also that he ought, in fairness to the manufacturers, to publish the evidence of Dr. McAldowie. The statements of Dr. Thorpe and Dr. Oliver had been published broadcast to the world. All the reckless and exaggerated statements were in possession of everybody, and the Home Secretary ought to allow the manufacturers' case to go forth to the world as stated by Dr. McAldowie, who had had such a long experience in this district.
The hon. Member urged that the right to demand arbitration should be given back to the manufacturers, who otherwise would have practically no defence at all against the Home Office. Up to last Session they had the right to arbitration if they chose to call for it, but now the Home Office would be able to grant an inquiry or not, as they saw fit. The Home Office would never grant an inquiry; in this case they had pressed the rules on the manufacturers as strongly as they possibly could. After what had happened he did not think the manufacturers would feel the slightest confidence in the administration by the permanent staff of the Home Office. He ventured to say that the Permanent Under Secretary, Sir Kenelm Digby, should be transferred to another Department. He did not seem to have the necessary knowledge of the world, and especially the commercial world, to entitle him to occupy that position. If he was left there, the manufacturers would feel that they were placed in a position of very great difficulty. He was aware that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary was not responsible for this appointment. It was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife, who would, no doubt, take part in the debate later on. He was astonished that the right hon. Gentleman, when he addressed a meeting at Hanley some time ago, did not, from the beginning to the end of his speech, at least so far as the report went, refer to the question of lead poisoning. Why not? Hanley was in the centre of the pottery district. If the position he himself had taken up on 41 this question was false, the right hon. Gentleman had then an opportunity of showing how much greater and truer a friend he was not only of the manufacturers but also of the workpeople. These special rules subjected the trade to the greatest danger, and it was for the Home Office to very seriously consider, as stated by the Standard, the humiliating position in which they had been placed by the fiasco at Stoke-upon-Trent.
§ (5.8.) MR. TENNANT (Berwickshire)
said the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent had told the Committee that in his judgment, and that of his pet doctor, it was better for the unfortunate people engaged in the potteries, whose case they had been accustomed to plead, that they should imbibe not small doses of lead, but larger quantities. He also stated that the Home Secretary had scoured Europe for witnesses. The right hon. Gentleman did bring two witnesses from the Continent, but it was to improve the manufactures and also to improve the condition of the people employed. The hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent expressed his surprise that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife, in speaking at Hanley, should have found any more interesting or enthralling matter to deal with than the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent. The hon. Member had, in the strongest and most forcible manner, brought charges against the Permanent Under Secretary of the Home Department. It was not his business to defend Sir Kenelm Digby, but he knew of no more high-minded or thorough civil servant, and no one more capable of discharging his duties to the satisfaction both of the Home Office and of this House. There had existed in the potteries in the past, as he thought everybody would admit, a condition of things which amounted to a scandal, but now, according to the Papers issued to Parliament, there was an extraordinary diminution in the number of cases of poisoning. All were agreed that the rules of 1898 were good so far as they went, but they did not go so far as he and some of his hon. friends desired. These rules did produce a substantial improvement. Then came the arbitration of 1901. Why did 42 the case break down? He thought it broke down almost entirely on account of the figures which had been presented to Parliament. These figures, as the hon. Member said were very remarkable. He did not want to suggest that the figures were not true in point of fact, but he did say that, supposing they were absolutely correct, at each successive step taken in trying to safeguard the lives of the people in the potteries exactly the same objections had been urged.
It was said that trade would be interfered with in such a gross manner as to drive it out of the country. He would read a few words from a journal which he understood was a manufacturers' organ. The Brick and Pottery Trades Journal for December 1901, said—Right here we would call attention to and I emphasise the fact, which has been entirely overlooked by all who have recently discussed and commented on these proposed rules and arbitration, that these 1898 rules. 'which have enormously reduced the evil,' were entirely the outcome of the pressure of public opinion on the dangers from which the pottery workers suffered, which opinion so influenced the Home Office that fresh rules were drafted. These rules, too, were the subject of arbitration, the outcome of which was the 1898 Code, which has admittedly been of such enormous service. Yet the gist of these very rules was, and is, merely the compulsory introduction of fans for exhausting the dust and vapours, if any, arising in the course of the work; the introduction of greater and better lavatory accommodation, the wearing of overalls, and similar simple and obvious necessaries for the compulsory 'greater care and cleanliness all round.'The Journal went on to say that—The inference to be drawn from all this would appear to be that, until driven by the force of public opinion, acting through the Home Office, our pottery manufacturers have been contented to continue on the old jog-trot, rule of thumb, hap-hazard lines of the past, which have unquestionably brought much misery and many deaths to pottery workers, who have themselves been largely to blame, and in many cases are so still, for their negligence of their own health, the outcome of indifference to danger, that 'familiarity which breeds contempt' for the risk they have run in their pursuit for their daily bread. It is perfectly certain that the old, deplorable state of affairs will not, and could not, continue, and if the arbitrations of 1898 and 1901 have done, and in the future do, no more than reduce the number of the reported cases by 77 per cent., the 'unnecessary interference' by the Home Office will surely have been abundantly justified.If all that was correct, surely there was a very strong case indeed.
43 He should like to quote a few sentences from Lord James of Hereford in the recent arbitration. On p. 65 of the shorthand notes he asked why—If this mortality happened before 1898, did not the employers make these wasting conveniences and provide these simple remedies before waiting for a Home Office rule? No doubt some of them did, but why did the others not take these very simple steps themselves?And Lord James went on to say—
If all these sanitary arrangements made all this difference in the number of cases of plumbism, it seems strange that so many people should stand by and not take the simple remedy into their hands, instead of waiting for a rule.He would leave that part of the question and come to another. He did wish to blame the Home Office for the case having broken down. It was greatly owing to the production of those figures, and partly owing to the foreign experts who did not understand English. Some of the questions were ambiguously answered because they did not understand them. He had said that the case had mainly broken down owing to the figures showing a great diminution of the cases. But were these figures accurate? He hoped they might be; but his right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean had brought before the Committee two very doubtful cases as to whether or not a patient who succumbed had died from lead poisoning. He held in his hand another case—that of a girl named Nipon, aged sixteen, who died. After her death there was an inquest, and the verdict was that she died a natural death. It was not for him to say that that verdict was wrong; but he did say that there was sufficient doubt about it to make it really quite worth while to investigate more closely than in the past such cases. He suggested that at all these inquests on the death of workers a shorthand reporter should be present to take notes, so that the coroner should be absolutely satisfied in his own mind as to the facts. He was afraid that there was very grave doubt in this case. It had been stated definitely that the process in which the girl was engaged was not dangerous; but he could say that she was employed in a room next to the painters, where there was a considerable amount of dust, that the pans were not 44 always running, and that the girl sometimes gave assistance to the painters, and helped to clean up their room. He thought that might be made out to be a fair case where the girl had been poisoned with lead.
He would just like to be allowed to wind up with one other quotation from Lord James of Hereford. In a remarkable speech which he made at the close of the inquiry, his Lordship said—I appeal to the employers first in their own interest, because they must look forward to the dealing with this rule in some eighteen months time, to do their very best to lessen this evil, but I would also make the appeal from a higher motive, and I would ask them to do their best, each to the best of his power, to make the world around them a better world, and to make the condition of the operatives a better one than it has been.He was sure that that was the wish of all of them, and he asked the Committee to accept the remarks he had made in that spirit and in that regard.
§ (5.22.) MR. ASQUITH (Fife, E.)
I have such complete confidence in the impartiality, as well as in the ability and humanity, of my noble friend Lord James, that I should not dream for a moment of impeaching, or even of adversely criticising, his decision in this case. I am perfectly certain that he heard the whole of the evidence with a fair and open mind, without any predisposition whatever, and there is no man in England whose judgment on a question of this kind ought to be accepted more implicitly by the House of Commons. I am not in the least degree suggesting that the arbitration ought to have terminated in any different way; but when it is claimed, as I understand it is claimed by the hon. Gentleman opposite, that the result of the arbitration was practically a condemnation of the proceedings of the Home Office, I must point out that it does not in the least bear out that interpretation. Lord James held, it is true, that a case had not, for the moment, been made out for the Home Office rules, and he adjourned the consideration of the matter for a further eighteen months. But he did so in language which showed clearly that, in his own mind, the state of affairs was very far from satisfactory, and that there was considerable room for improvement in the protection of the health 45 and lives of the workers. Lord James made a most weighty appeal, one which I do not doubt will receive the consideration it deserves from the manufacturers to—I will not use such a strong expression as to say they should set their house in order—but to take such steps as would render it unnecessary for any further legal restrictions to be imposed on the industry. I have known the hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Stoke, as a consistent opponent of any attempt, by special rules or otherwise, to mitigate these evils. He has always told us that these evils were grossly exaggerated, or, at any rate, that we should trust to the operation of public opinion for their cure.
There is only one other point on which I wish to make a comment. The hon. Member for Stoke thought it seemly and right to make an atttack on one of the permanent officials of the Crown. There is no rule better established for the conduct of Parliamentary debate, and none which is more essential to the due conduct of administration, than that the permanent officials of Government Departments should not be brought into Parliamentary debate. The persons who are responsible for the action of Departments are the Parliamentary heads of those Departments. They rely, and they rely with confidence, upon the devoted and self-sacrificing assistance which they can always command from those who are in the permanent service of the State; and I am perfectly certain I am only anticipating what the Home Secretary is prepared to say when I say that the right hon. Gentleman takes upon himself the sole responsibility, so far as this House and the public are concerned, for anything that is done in the Office over which he presides. But since the hon. Gentleman thought it right to transgress that well-established rule of Parliamentary debate, I must say, as I was responsible for the appointment of Sir Kenelm Digby, who has been for eight or nine years at the Home Office, that, in my judgment, not only was the appointment completely justified by subsequent experience, but the public service has rarely had a more competent, impartial, open-minded, and assiduous official than Sir Kenelm Digby has proved himself to be. To suggest that the rules or any Department of the Home Office were 46 adversely influenced, or influenced prejudicially, by the prepossessions of Sir Kenelm Digby or anybody else, is, to my mind, a wholly unfounded imputation. I speak somewhat warmly on the point, not merely on personal grounds, but because I think that the example of the hon. Gentleman opposite, if it were generally followed, would be really destructive of the Parliamentary responsibility of Ministers of the Crown. I do not think that, on the whole, the Home Secretary can complain that this discussion has been brought on. This continues, and must continue, to be a most serious and urgent problem; and I trust that, notwithstanding the failure of the arbitration, the House will not relax the vigilance with which it has watched the progress of affairs in the pottery industry.
§ *(5.27.) THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. RITCHIE,) Croydon
I am the last person to complain that this matter has come under discussion, having regard to its great importance. I am sure that the Home Office, and those who represent the Home Office, would not be doing their duty if they did not take advantage of every opportunity of endeavouring to reduce, as far as possible, to a minimum the casualties that occur, not only in this particular trade, but in all other dangerous trades throughout the country. But I entirely agree that, while that is a paramount duty of the Home Office, it is also their paramount duty to see that they do not unnecessarily interfere with any particular trade or undertaking.
The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, who commenced the debate, referred to what at the first glance appeared to me to be a triviality. He objected to our keeping alive the provisions of a law which had been superseded, but the Government had no option, and they would have been severely blamed by the right hon. Gentleman and those associated with him if they had waited for some fresh legislation, which it had been impossible to say whether they could pass or not last session. It is some what remarkable that we were able to pass so large a measure as that last session, and I should not have been content to take no action at all until there had been fresh legislation. That 47 being so, it is clear that we cannot now be asked fairly, as the right hon. Gentleman rather hinted we might be, to put in force the new law when the proceedings were commenced under the old law. This particular case, therefore, must be dealt with under the old law. According to my hon. friend the Member for Stoke, there was really no necessity at all for us to take any action in the matter, and we took steps which were wholly unnecessary. His reason for saying this was that the results which followed the special rules of 1898 were so good, and showed such a continuous decrease in mortality, that they might have been left to operate without any further steps. I must remind my hon. friend—and I am sure all acquainted with the particulars of the 1898 rules will agree with me—that these rules only dealt with one block, so to speak, of the subject, and that it was quite understood, and was, indeed, part of the arrangement, that, so far as the chemical question was concerned, that remained to be considered and inquired into. That was understood when the rules of 1898 were framed. The question was put into the hands of a very eminent man, Dr. Thorpe, for investigation, with whom was associated another eminent man. Dr. Thorpe and his colleague, after a full inquiry, made a report to the effect that the percentage of solubility in lead glazes might be reduced to two. After that there was a considerable amount of negotiation between the Home Office and the manufacturers with a view to arriving at some understanding. With regard to a great number of the rules an understanding had been arrived at, and it was thought possible, even probable, that an understanding might be arrived at in connection with this question also. That expectation was not realised. What was then to be done? By the existing law a means was provided for settling any differences between the Home Office and the manufacturers. Was the Home Secretary to take on himself the responsibility of disregarding the chemists to whom this matter had been referred, and accept the proposal of the manufacturers when a tribunal had been set up by Parliament for deciding the question? When I came to the Home Office, 48 negotiations had been going on for some time, and I thought it desirable, and indeed necessary, that they should be brought to a point, and the only way in which it seemed to me that could be done was to put the law in force, and refer the difference to arbitration. My hon. friend the Member for Stoke says that the Home Office case broke down.
§ MR. COGHILL
What I blamed the right hon. Gentleman for was not for relying on the chemists, but for relying on them without securing the support of commercial opinion.
§ * MR. RITCHIE
I took the best advice I could. I went myself very carefully into the matter, and came to the conclusion that I would not be justified in accepting the proposal of the manufacturers. Indeed, as my hon. friend rightly says, they did not make any proposal at all, although I understand that they were inclined to accept 5 per cent. But I could not take on myself the responsibility of deciding in favour of this suggestion on behalf of the manufacturers, when means provided by Act of Parliament were open to decide the question. I decided that the matter should be referred to arbitration.
My hon. friend says the case of the Home Office broke down. It did not break down as a whole, because a considerable number of the special rules proposed were practically agreed to, and the only thing which did in any sense break down was the degree of solubility proposed. I am bound to say that the opinion of Dr. Thorpe did not stand the test applied to it, and I am perfectly willing to admit that a practical case for Dr. Thorpe's percentage of solubility was not made out. But the whole case did not break down. Even as far as the degree of solubility was concerned, Lord James uttered some very weighty words to this effect—that the manufacturers could undoubtedly, if they chose, greatly reduce the perils now existing in connection with these glazes, and he adjourned a decision on the question for eighteen months, with the expressed idea that during that period the manufacturers would exert their powers to the utmost 49 with a view to seeing what could be done in that way, and that the matter at the end of eighteen months would be reconsidered. Therefore, I do not think my hon. friend is right in saying that our case broke down. The point in our case which was not established was adjourned, and will be reconsidered at the end of eighteen months.
My hon. friend also says that the fact that the case was not made out by the Home Office shows that the law as it existed before last session, enabling arbitration, was very much better than the new law abolishing arbitration, and he went on to say that it was really very much against the wish of the Home Office that there was any arbitration at all. I can assure my hon. friend he is mistaken in thinking that the manufacturers will not be given as good facilities under the new law as they had under the old law, and I am even convinced that in some ways the new system will be more favourable to them than the old. My hon. friend says that under the new system the manufacturers will have no protection against the Home Office. If the new system had existed, I should have considered it my imperative duty to hold a full public enquiry into the proposal made to us by the chemists, and I would not myself have consented to settling any rule imposing any obligation on the manufacturers until a full public opportunity had been given to them to state their case. Therefore I say that under the new law the manufacturers will have even greater protection than they had under the old law, and I cannot agree with my hon. friend that the case we are now discussing in any way justifies any proposal to revert to that of the old law. My hon. friend says that we ransacked Europe in order to find witnesses to bolster up our case, but the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean says we strangely neglected our duty by not bringing more witnesses to support our case, and I think that one assertion is probably an answer to the other.
§ * MR. RITCHIE
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of 50 Dean says that we ought to have called more witnesses.
§ * MR. RITCHIE
My hon. friend asked why we did not call more British manufacturers who we alleged were using glaze of low solubility. It is undoubtedly a fact that there are manufacturers who use leadless glaze altogether and some who use glaze with a low percentage of solubility; but when we approached these gentlemen with a desire that they should give evidence we found ourselves in some difficulty. They were all associated together in defence of the case set up by the manufacturers; they had all, I should imagine, subscribed to the fund, and the Committee will readily see that it was indeed very difficult to get these gentlemen to come forward and give evidence against their own case.
§ * MR. RITCHIE
I daresay my hon. friend does not. I do not suppose he tried to find out. Then the right hon. Gentleman opposite alleges that our counsel were not briefed in time. That is hardly fair. Mr. Sutton, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, is the counsel who really held the labouring oar in the matter. He was very successful alone on former occasions, amd was in communication with the Home Office constantly for two years. He was thoroughly saturated with the whole case, and as far as he was concerned the right hon. Gentleman cannot complain that he was not sufficiently charged with all the details. We did not contemplate the necessity for further counsel until lateron in the proceedings, and it was not because we thought that Mr. Sutton would not have been able to put the Home Office case thoroughly before the arbitrators, that it was thought necessary to bring in further counsel. But when such formidable counsel as the hon. Member for Launceston was brought into the field by the manufacturers, we thought it desirable that we too should bring in counsel of similar standing who would be able to meet the 51 hon. Gentleman and therefore, we asked the hon. Member for the Stretford Division to take a brief in the case.
The right hon. Baronet, speaking about the arbitration, said that Lord James, although he was unable to agree with the Home Office expert in the matter of solubility, suggested that there should be some inducement offered to manufacturers to place themselves on a golden list. May I say that, whatever may be thought by one party or the other of the decision of Lord James, all of us recognise that he has, in this case, as in many others, performed a very important public service; that he has the complete confidence of all parties, and that he has dealt with the matter with the utmost impartiality. Lord James in the decision he gave, made certain suggestions towards offering inducements to manufacturers to do certain things that were desirable, and I am glad to be able to say those suggestions have been acted upon. I have a copy of the proposed rules, and I shall be glad to furnish the right hon. Gentleman with a copy of them. They have been agreed to, and submitted to Lord James, and have received his assent, and we propose to circulate them among the manufacturers, with an expression of our opinion, and we hope advantage will be taken of them. I hope they will be productive of much good, and that a great many manufacturers may apply to be entered on the golden list.
There is only one other matter to which I need refer, and that is the position of Sir Kenelm Digby. In my opinion, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife, in the many public services he performed, never made an appointment which has been more thoroughly justified. I have been associated with many eminent public servants in different Departments, and it is the great glory of this country and of this House that whatever Department we may go to, we find high-minded, efficient, and able public servants. I have been associated with eminent men at the Local Government Board and the Board of Trade, but I can say that in no Department have I ever been associated with a man more highly qualified to occupy his position than Sir Kenelm Digby; his broad-minded and perfect impartiality and his businesslike 52 capacity cannot be exceeded, and I can only say I look forward with regret to the time when it will be necessary for that gentleman to dissociate himself from the public service. But apart from that personal matter, I regret that my hon. friend the Member for Stoke should have thought it necessary to take the responsibility off the right shoulders, and attempt to put it on the shoulders of a permanent public official. Sir Kenelm Digby is not responsible in this matter. I am responsible, and I should be very sorry indeed if any Member of the House of Commons should follow the example set by my hon. friend and endeavour to cast responsibility on permanent officials which ought to rest on a Minister in Parliament. There is one other matter, and that is the question of assurance. I am glad to say that negotiations have been going on for some time with a view to making some arrangement by which the employees shall receive the benefit of assurance, and I hope they will soon be brought to a satisfactory conclusion. I have no doubt that a scheme will be drawn up by which employees will benefit in case they suffer. With regard to inquests, I am afraid I cannot undertake to send a shorthand writer to inquests. Coroners are always ready to supply the Home Office with all the Papers. If shorthand writers were sent down to inquests on supposed cases of lead poisoning, there would be no end to the demand that similar action should be taken with regard to other cases also. I hope, after the explanation I have given, the right hon. Gentleman will not think it necessary to divide the House.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
said that the answer of the right hon. Gentleman had been very sympathetic in tone, and he had made very definite promises with regard to the new rules, to which Lord James attached so much importance in the arbitration. Under those circumstances, he need not trouble the House to divide, and he therefore begged leave to withdraw his Motion.
§ * ME. COGHILL
said with regard to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that he should not have put the blame upon the Permanent Under Secretary, he could only say that when an attack 53 was made on a trade which would have the effect of driving that trade out of the country, he would not allow himself to be frightened by any rules of the House out of referring to a permanent official when he thought it necessary. By all means let the responsibility remain on the shoulders of the right hon. Gentleman. All he wished to say was, that if the Home Office continued to pursue the course it did, the manufacturers would not have the slightest confidence in it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (5.55.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said that yesterday he asked a Question as to the position assigned to the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church at Viceregal functions in Ireland.† In consequence of the unsatisfactory answer, he had given notice that he would raise the question on this Vote. He had, however, been informed that the question could not be raised in the House, as it affected the Royal Prerogative alone, and that being so, he did not propose to proceed with his Motion.
§ * MR. RITCHIE
I cannot allow that remark to pass without saying a few words. If the hon. Gentleman had raised this question, I should not have taken the responsibility of saying that it was a question of the Royal Prerogative, though I am bound to say I do not think it is a question which ought properly to be raised in Parliament. I do not wish to bring into this matter any question of Royal Prerogative at all. I wish it to be clearly understood that I do not intend to rest my objection on the point that the question is connected with the Royal Prerogative, and if the hon. Gentleman chooses to proceed with his Motion he can do so. But I do not think that it is a proper matter for discussion in this Committee, nor that it would be advanced by such discussion. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the matter is under consideration.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said he only desired the question to be dealt with, and† See preceding Volume, p. 1301.54 if the right hon. Gentleman said it was under consideration he would not occupy the time of the House.
§ (6.0.) MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.) moved to reduce the Vote by £100 in respect of the salary of the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He said he was only giving expression to the feeling of all the Members on the Irish Benches and the rest of the House when he said they all deeply regretted the cause of the absence of the right. hon. Gentleman from the House, and he was glad to understand from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that an opportunity would be given to him, as soon as he was able to return, of replying to the criticisms on his action which would be made that evening. By the well-established custom of Parliament, the Vote for the salary of the Chief Secretary of Ireland was the Vote upon which could be raised the whole question of the administration of Ireland and the action of the Executive Government. At the outset he desired to call attention to a point which had been frequently referred to in the course of the last few years, a question of vital importance, and a question which constantly arose in connection with the government of Ireland. He thought it was nothing short of a public scandal that now, for a period of nearly eight years, no Cabinet Minister who was responsible for the government of Ireland had sat in this House during these debates.
§ The policy being pursued by the Government was a question so large that it would be idle for him to attempt to deal with it in detail on the present occasion, and the complaints he proposed to make ranged themselves roughly under two heads. Under the first head came complaints with regard to that long-standing grievance of the Irish people, viz., the spirit and temper of officials, police, magistrates, and all concerned in the administration of the law in Ireland. That spirit and temper were the inevitable result of the continued attempt to govern the country in defiance and contempt of the opinion of the vast majority of the people. In the long run, that was an impossible task, and it had the inevitable consequence that, running through the official hierarchy, there was a spirit of hostility to the people, which generated an amount of irritation, sometimes greater and sometimes less, but 55 always considerable, by which the difficulty of governing the country was enormously increased. Under the second head came the complaint with regard to the recent new departure of the Executive in reviving the Coercion Act of 1887. On the first head he would be very brief, as the administration of the Executive was dealt with very fully in the debate on the Address. But anyone who had followed the course of events since then could not be surprised at Irish Nationalists desiring to bring the matter forward once more. On the general question of the spirit and temper of the police and magistrates they always had cause to complain, but recently, owing to the greater tension existing between the Executive Government and the people in consequence of the new coercion policy, that cause of complaint had greatly increased.
§ He would give one or two recent instances of the general temper in which the police and the magistrates acted while administering the law. He held in his hand a letter from the hon. Member for East Galway describing what took place two days ago at Loughglynn, in Co. Roscommon, after the trial of two County Councillors under the Coercion Act. At the conclusion of the trial the defendants were followed up the street by the audience who had been listening to the proceedings, and by a small number of people from outside the Court House. They had not gone far before the police rushed after them, and, at the command of District Inspector Tyacke, drew a cordon across the street, and ordered the people to retire. The people were perfectly peaceable, and there was no demonstration beyond a few cheers. The hon. Member for East Galway remonstrated with the inspector, but was told to mind his own business, and, in obedience to orders, and without the slightest shadow of excuse, the police then drew their batons and rushed upon the people. There was a constant danger in Irish public life that the people would be exasperated into retaliation, with consequent scenes of bloodshed and violence.
§ He had given that instance because it had arisen so recently, but one of infinitely more importance was referred to in the debate on the Address, which the Attorney General on that occasion neither justified nor explained. It also was an instance of the practice of the 56 Executive Government of interfering with and suppressing public meetings, and putting down liberty of speech in Ireland. Such a practice was there fraught with peculiar danger. In a country where the Executive Government was entirely out of sympathy with the masses of the people, the right of public meeting was the only possible safety valve, and to take away that right was a crime of the deepest dye. The matter to which he referred was the well-known Kilmaine case. On October 28th last a meeting of the electors of South Mayo was held at Kilmaine, to be addressed by their own Member, who was at present in Castlebar Gaol. It was not suggested that the meeting was illegal; it was not proclaimed; the people were permitted to assemble. Several speeches were made, but immediately the Member for the Division attempted to speak, the police jumped on to the platform and told him he would not be allowed to open his mouth. He refused to be silent, and was thereupon dragged off the platform, through the streets, to the lock-up. That was an extraordinary proceeding, even in the annals of police violence in Ireland. The question he desired to put to the Attorney General was, under what law were those proceedings carried out? [The hon. Member then read the description of the occurrence as given in a letter written by the hon. Member for East Clare and quoted during the debate on the Address.†] That case was referred to in full detail in the debate he had mentioned, but the Attorney General, who replied on that occasion, said not a single word of justification or explanation.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. ATKINSON,) Londonderry, N.
reminded the hon. Member that on the occasion referred to he stated that on the Estimates there would be another opportunity of raising the question, and that he would refrain from replying until then.
§ ME. DILLON
said there was a case at Loughglynn, on the De Freyne estate, quite recently, in which the same interference with a peaceable and legal meeting took place. In that instance one of† See (4) Debates, ci., 706.57 the local leaders had been speaking for some time when the Police Inspector stopped him, and said he must not say anything further on a Party point, as his words might be interpreted as applying to a Mr. O'Connell. After some controversy, the speaker agreed to pass away from the subject, and the policeman withdrew, having exercised a censorship unparalleled in the history of the country. Under what law was that done, and how was the Attorney General prepared to defend such conduct? They were accustomed to be called to order in the House if they strayed from the subject, but really it was somewhat novel that every district inspector of police was to set up as a kind of Chairman of Committees, to call Members of Parliament to order, and to decide whether or not the language used was proper or allowable. It would be impossible for him to exaggerate the responsibility of the Irish Government in this connection. Lord Cowper spoke of driving Irish discontent under the surface. It ought to be the business of every man who had any sense of responsibility to see that discontent should not be driven under the surface. It would be utterly impossible to exaggerate the danger and unwisdom and wickedness of unnecessarily and violently interfering with the right of public meeting in Ireland, and above all, without due notice by proclamation, because who could tell at what moment a violent collision might take place between the police and the people?—and surely any man who had given attention to the subject would know upon whose head to lay responsibility for any such thing that might take place. When he went to address his constituency during the General Election at Foxford, in Co. Mayo, 350 police were marched in, and, though he got twelve hours notice, the motives and the provocative character of the police and the absurd display were such as were never witnessed before. When he approached the town he found police holding the bridge across the river Moy, as if they were holding some position in South Africa, and. he was obliged, in order to reach this polling town of his own constituency, to take a circuitous course of about seven miles, and come in at the back of this great army, and then when he got in and attempted to address 58 his constituents, although there was not the slightest pretence of disorder nor any case of trouble in the district, the police marched in heavy columns through the masses of the people, pushing them about, punching them, and finally they seized him (the hon. Member) and dragged him off the platform with violence, in the presence of about 5,000 of his own constituents, thereby offering every provocation of violence. [Cries of "Shame" and AN HON. MEMBER: "They would not hesitate to shoot."] He entreated the Government, in the interests of everyone in Ireland, to stop this police violence and provocation.
What he chiefly desired to do was to bring under the attention of the Committee the new chapter opened in Irish history, and the new departure of the Government, in having recourse once more to the Coercion Act of 1887. He wished to emphasise the fact that in going back to the policy of coercion in Ireland, the Government had made a totally new departure. For a period of nine years Ireland was governed under the ordinary law, and the Government ought not to take down from the shelf, where it was placed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose, the Act of 1887, without being able to make out a case similar to what they should have made if they were trying to pass a new Coercion Act now. When the First Lord of the Treasury was introducing the Coercion Act on the 28th of March, 1887, he said the Government did not base the main portion of their case for coercion upon statistics of crime. Nevertheless, he felt bound to bring before the House, as justification for the demand for exceptional powers, some facts as to the increase of crime, and he said—Since 1845, the year in which the statistics of agrarian crime were first collected, there have been only seven years in which the present agrarian list of crime has exceeded,and he went on to say—The statistics of agrarian crime show, not only a formidable list of such crimes, but show a steady increase during the last three years.He then went on to read a series of extracts from the charges of Judges, giving a most grossly exaggerated and lurid picture of the condition of Ireland; and on these facts he said that the Government were obliged to come to the House 59 of Commons and ask for exceptional powers.
What were the facts today? Now they had an attempt by the Chief Secretary at a time when Ireland never was more free from agrarian crime, to put into force this Crimes Act. Not only was it true that Ireland was freer from agrarian crimes, but there had been a steady and progressive decrease in crime for the last three years. Many of them would remember repeated Motions challenging the decision of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose to lay aside the Crimes Act, and how they were told that if they gave up the weapon of the Crimes Act no man's life and property would be safe in Ireland, and the country would be given over to violence and crime. What had been the result? For the last nine years, for the first time since the Union, Ireland had been governed without exceptional law. Agrarian crime had steadily decreased, until for all practical purposes Ireland was free from agrarian crime altogether. He had the figures. He held the Return in his hands, dated 31st December, 1900, and he found no form of serious agrarian crime in the country. In Connaught there were no murders, no manslaughters, no attempt at murder, no assault on bailiffs or police or process-servers, and the total number of crimes in the whole province amounted only to one hundred and eleven, of which thirty-three were for threatening letters, which were really not serious, and the remainder were for incendiary fires. But even since that date the decrease in agrarian crime had been progressive and rapid. For the quarter ending 31st December, 1901, the total figure of agrarian crime in all Ireland amounted to forty-seven, of which twenty-six were threatening letters, leaving twenty-one cases of agrarian crime over the whole country, and all of them of the most trifling character. There were in this Return nine columns for statistics devoted to serious agrarian crime, such as murder, manslaughter, firing at the person, conspiracy to murder, assault on the police, etc.; and those nine columns were an absolute blank in the Return. And now he directed the attention of the House to this fact, that in these crimes there was not one case of serious agrarian 60 crime, and that in face of the most crue provocation Ireland had practically a clear bill of crime, although the condition of things now was absolutely unparalleled in the history of Ireland in the last hundred years. Now, there were three counties in Ireland supposed to be very much disturbed, and about which they were always hearing in the course of debates like this—namely, the counties of Mayo, Roscommon, and Sligo. What were the facts? In Sligo for the quarter there was one agrarian crime—a threatening letter; in Roscommon, two—threatening letters; in Mayo, two; and in Leitrim, one threatening letter. In the whole province of Connaught, where this trouble was going on, they found it during this the last quarter absolutely free from agrarian crime.
These were facts which ought to impress the House and give the Government some pause before going further on the road on which they had entered. There was one further fact he would like to place before the House in connection with this matter. They had heard clamours for the suppression of the United Irish League, and it had been condemned as a most objectionable body. The League was started in County Mayo three and a half years ago; it had spread over Ireland during the last year with great rapidity, and was now practically firmly established over the whole country, and progressively and coincidently with its spread there had been this decrease of agrarian crime. Yet when he took up a few days ago some of the leading journals of this metropolis —The Times and other newspapers— which commented on the debate on the Address with reference to the condition of Ireland, he found complaints of the absence of agrarian crime, and the assertion that its very absence was one of the most serious symptoms with which the Government had to deal. So that they were compelled to the conviction that there were considerable bodies of people in this country who regretted the absence of such crime, and who would prefer a state of things which would justify the application of the Coercion Act. He asked hon. Members to watch these things in Ireland, and say what they thought the result of the policy of the Government would be, and he said that 61 if, unhappily, this blessed truce of peace and absence of crime should cease, and if there should be a period of misery and crime in Ireland, it would be the result of the policy of the Government. They had never had the least excuse for applying coercion in Ireland, but in the present instance the application of coercion was more criminal, indefensible, and outrageous than ever in the past. They had now had nine years experience of Ireland having been governed without exceptional law; they saw that crime had diminished, and that the result of the spread of the National organisation had been to decrease crime more and more. He recollected, in the debate on the Address, the Chief Secretary, in reply to something he had said, pointed out that these prosecutions were only a small matter, and that there were only eleven men summoned. He could show that the eleven men then were only in one county in Ireland. Now there were prosecutions in Clare, Tipperary, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo, and Kerry, and every day they heard of fresh cases. They had spread rapidly, and he ventured to predict that they would continue to do so if the Government pursued the policy they were embarked on.
He would now deal with the character of the prosecutions. When the matter was last before the House they had not all the information in their hands to enable them to deal fully with the character of the prosecutions and the peculiar policy carried out by the Government in this matter. The prosecutions which had taken place up to the present were brought under one particular section of the Crimes Act which applied to all Ireland, and they were of such a character as regards his colleague, the Member for South Mayo, and the men prosecuted with him, that it was the opinion of ninetenths of the people of Ireland that they were sent to goal illegally. This was a difficult and subtle question, and in order to make the House thoroughly understand the policy which was now being pursued by the Government, he must explain the clause under which the prosecutions were instituted. First of all, the Government had abstained from issuing any proclamation applying the Crimes Act. They were told when it was being introduced that the peculiarity 62 of that Act was that it would not be put in operation except when specially applied by the Lord Lieutenant, and that when a district was peaceable the law would remain as it was before the Act was passed. Section 2 stated that any person who shall commit any of the offences mentioned in the sub-section, or shall commit any of the offences in a proclaimed district, may be prosecuted by a court of summary jurisdiction under the Act; and it went on to state a number of offences, some of them new, for which a person may be prosecuted in a proclaimed district. But in sub-section 3 it is enacted that any person who shall take part in any riot or illegal assembly shall be prosecuted, no matter whether the district was proclaimed or not. These recent prosecutions had been under Section 3, Sub-section A, and persons were tried for taking part in an unlawful assembly. There could not be a more unfair thing than to commit all over the country to the decision of two resident magistrates the question of unlawful assembly, because it raised a number of subtle considerations, and struck at the root of popular liberty. Why, some of the greatest judges of this country had been engaged in deciding what an unlawful assembly was, and some of the great trials in this country which were landmarks in the struggle for popular liberty had turned on this very point of what was unlawful assembly.
This section of the Act left the decision of that question to two subservient police magistrates, dependent for their bread and butter on the Castle, subject to dismissal at a moment's notice, and always looking for promotion. That was a very vital point. No part of Ireland was proclaimed at present. These magistrates were not allowed to deal in a Crimes Act Court with charges of conspiracy, or inciting not to pay rent, and other offences in districts where a proclamation had been made. What did the Government do? They prosecuted these men for unlawful assembly. The meetings at which they attended were peaceable. They were not unlawful upon the ground that they were interfering with the Government. Therefore the difficulty arose of proving unlawful assemblies. So the Government allowed the 63 Crown to allege in the summonses a whole series of acts which the defendants were alleged to have been guilty of, as showing the intent with which they had gone to these assemblies, and thereby proving the assemblies unlawful. These acts were not within the jurisdiction of the Court. But, while these acts were outside the jurisdiction of the Court, it was contended that they were entitled to go into the evidence with regard to them in order to prove that the persons went to the assembly with unlawful intent, and therefore made it unlawful. That was sailing very near to the wind. It was a matter raising a number of considerations which would require a very skilful lawyer to deal with, and these gentlemen to whose judgment it was now submitted were, as was said by the late Baron Dowse, no more fit to state a case than to write a Greek ode. What had been the result? In the cases tried at Gurteen and Ballurlough they failed naturally to realise the subtle distinction. Indeed, even the Crown Prosecutors failed to do so also. They thought that, inasmuch as they were allowed to bring in evidence to prove certain acts by the defendants, they ought to be allowed to take cognisance of those acts. And what happened? The Crown Prosecutor, failng to understand the section, drafted the summons in such a way that he not only alleged the defendants had taken part in an unlawful assembly, but alleged these acts as committed by them at the unlawful assembly. The magistrates, not seeing the distinction, took evidence of the unlawful assembly and entered upon a whole series of investigations which they had no authority to go into. The case as to whether the magistrates had jurisdiction came before the High Court, and, while he quite admitted that the majority of the Court decided against the appellant, still, in the opinion of the highest lawyer in Ireland, the entire proceedings from beginning to end were pronounced to be absolutely illegal.
The Committee would permit him to read this extract from the judgment of the Chief Baron—I hold that the magistrates had no power to administer an oath to a witness to answer such questions as he should be asked touching a crime which the magistrates had no power to investigate.64 He recommended that to the study of lawyers in this House, and he put it to the common sense of this House whether, where an exceptional law was put into operation, and where the greatest lawyer in the country gave such an opinion as this, and more especially where the liberty of Members of this House was concerned, the proper course for the Crown should not have been to allow these men to go free. Was it not a monstrous outrage that a man should imprison his political opponents upon such a case as that and under circumstances like that? How, he asked with confidence, could the Government expect for a single moment that anyone in Ireland would respect the administration of the law? He ventured to say that nine out of every ten people had no doubt about the illegality of these proceedings. But apart from that, this was a procedure which had not been resorted to in Ireland for nine or ten years, and was unknown in this country.
So much for the case of these prosecutions which were the subject of appeal. But yesterday two men were sentenced in Loughglynn, in County Roscommon, under a fresh Crimes Act prosecution in connection with the struggle on the De Freyne Estate, and the Government—and this was a remarkable fact—while they refused to act on the authority of the Chief Baron in relation to Mr. O'Donnell and others already sentenced, had amended the forms of summons in the case of Mr. Fitzgibbon and Mr. Webb in accordance with the Chief Baron's judgment, thereby admitting that the Chief Baron was right, and yet they held Mr. O'Donnell and these other men in gaol. In the case of Mr. Fitzgibbon they had amended the summons. They had alleged against these men a number of overt acts with respect to which the magistrates at Loughglynn had no jurisdiction. They had charged them with taking part in an unlawful assembly, and the only means of proving the assembly unlawful was to prove acts prior to the assembly with reference to which the Court had no jurisdiction, and, although by that device they had brought the summons into agreement with the law laid down by the Chief Baron, he maintained that that was an 65 act utterly unworthy of an Executive Government. He wished it to be distinctly understood that in making this attack on recent prosecutions in the West of Ireland he was mainly directing his observations not against these wretched magistrates, who must do what they were told, but against the policy of the Government in having recourse to the Coercion Act, and then, in this mean and tricky manner, trying to obtain convictions against perfectly respectable men.
He would ask the Government to give some statement to the House tonight as to what their policy was going to be in this matter. This question was of very wide scope, and went further than the mere injustice to the men already convicted. This was only the overture to the campaign which the Government had started in the West of Ireland. What was the charge against these men in the West? The only charge alleged against them was that they—who were all representative men, members of County Councils and District Councils and Members of this House had attended meetings and made speeches in support of a struggle by the tenants on the De Freyne estate to obtain certain benefits which had been given to the tenants on the Dillon estate. He wanted to know, were the Government intending seriously to go on treating such acts as crimes? It had been alleged by the Government and others that this movement in the West of Ireland was a repetition of the Plan of Campaign. That was one of the false statements made for the purpose of damaging these poor people, and to justify the action of the Government. The Plan of Campaign was a movement, perfectly well defined, in connection with which he himself was imprisoned more than once—a movement which, in its day, did a good work for the people of Ireland; and on a suitable occasion, when it was not irrelevant, he would be prepared to defend it. But this had no relation to the Plan of Campaign. It was a spontaneous movement by the tenants themselves to put an end to a condition of things which had been admitted by all observers to be absolutely intolerable. Did the Government intend to carry on this war against the De Freyne tenants to extremities, or did they intend to offer 66 any prospect to these people, who had been for years and years sunk in a condition of poverty which was a disgrace and a scandal to the Government, and which had been made the subject of denunciation by men of all parties—did they intend to offer these people any hope?
At the beginning of this movement he had spoken to the tenants and said that he wanted to assist them—not to get a reduction, but to help them to, emancipate themselves from the state of poverty, destitution, and misery in which they were plunged. Ten years ago the Congested Districts Board was first started as the result of the Plan of Campaign, which first drew the attention of the present First Lord of the Treasury to the condition of these people. It was started with the express purpose of putting an end to the scandal of the condition of the West of Ireland. What had happened? For seven years that Board did nothing to relieve the congestion of these Western districts. Then the United Irish League was founded, and the West became dissatisfied with the long waiting; and then the Board, two years ago, did one of the best things that ever was done in Ireland by a Government Department. They purchased the Dillon estate, and proceeded to apply a large remedy. There were 4,000 tenants on the Dillon estate, whose rents averaged £3 a year. This had been the nucleus and centre of famine and destitution, and the people only managed to exist by coming over here and competing with labour here, and so reducing the rate of wages. The Government bought the estate for sixteen years purchase. They reduced the rents by 6s. 8d., and they were going, he believed, to reduce them further. They wiped off £20,000 arrears, and they bought 2,000 acres of grazing lands which were to be used in enlarging the holdings of tenants. Was it in human nature that, on the De Freyne estate, where the tenants were worse off, they could calmly see that done and not be excited? What happened? After two years the tenantry on the neighbouring estates, who were in exactly the same position, only worse, offered to their landlords to buy the estates on the same terms, and the landlords absolutely refused. And the Congested Districts 67 Board, after ten years, had done nothing to better the condition of the De Freyne tenants or the tenants on the Murphy and other estates. Were the Government prepared to see these people remain in their present state of misery and destitution? The Government had dealt with the Dillon estate already, and on the neighbouring estate, which was just across the ditch, the tenants must remain as they were so long as Lord De Freyne refused to sell. It was folly of the Government to expect the country to remain quiet under these circumstances.
He quite admitted that if the Government had said to the people when this agitation commenced, "Have patience, wait till next year, or even for eighteen months—we cannot do all in a moment— and we promise we will do something for the De Freyne tenants," he, for his part, would have tried to get the people to have patience. But no such promise was made. It was idle for the Government to have recourse to Coercion Acts or to oppression as a remedy for these evils, or to imagine that they could put down this national movement as long as the injustice prevailed. He would now refer to the judgment recently delivered by Judge O'Connor Morris on that point. When giving decrees on the 18th January last against 300 tenants on the De Freyne estate, the judge pointed out that those tenants lived close to the Dillon estate, and that while the tenants on the Dillon estate had received an enormous benefit, the De Freyne and Murphy tenants had not received anything. One was the favoured and the other the disfavoured class. The tenants on the De Freyne and Murphy estates, the judge went on to say, were discontented, and in his opinion they were naturally discontented. "This combination," concluded the judge, "is the necessary and inevitable result of this system called land purchase, which is not land purchase at all." That was the opinion of a County Court judge who was a great enemy of the national movement. From his place on the Bench, Judge O'Connor Morris felt bound to give expression to the opinion that the combination which was denounced by the Government was the inevitable result of the action of the Government them- 68 We were on the eve of very serious events in Ireland, and he asked the Government to pause in their career. He knew they had enormous forces at their command, and that they had let those forces loose, without stint or measure, in County Roscommon, which was now more like the district round Harrismith or Vrede than an Irish county, for the whole place was garrisoned by forces of extra police, and was patrolled by them night and day. In those circumstances they might be able to crush the tenants' combination—he hoped sincerely they would not—but supposing they did crush it, what would the inevitable result be? When they had the representative local leaders in prison, whose only crime was that they had come to the assistance of their constituents, who were threatened with ruin and extermination, what would the result be? They would spread secret societies through the country—societies that had been the curse of Ireland in the past. If they broke up that combination and carried out a war of persecution and extermination, he was certain that the record of crime in Ireland would not be as clean as it was at present. But, as far as the National Organisation was concerned, all their operations were only advertising it, and extending and increasing its power. They had delegates in the United States at present, and they could not ask better assistance for them than that the Government were affording them. The cable was sending proofs of that fact every day, and in Ireland the operations of the Government had only one result, and that was the strengthening of the National movement. The only result of action which he did seriously dread was the letting loose of the dark and evil forces from which their political organisation had hitherto succeeded in rescuing the people. He would like to know how far the Government were going to carry those operations. Yesterday, at Loughglynn, Mr. John Fitzgibbon, the respected Chairman of the Roscommon County Council, and Mr. P. Webb, the Vice-Chairman, were sentenced to four months imprisonment, and on the previous day, at the quarterly meeting, the Roscommon County Council passed the following resolution:—That we, the members of the County Council of Roscommon, view with delight the 69 brave stand made by the tenants of the associated estates in this and the adjoining county of Sligo, in defence of what we consider the just right of the tenant farmers in this county—viz., compulsory purchase—and in order to mark our approval of what is being done on those estates, we now start a County Council fund to assist these tenants in their struggle. We also wish to offer our colleagues, Messrs Fitzgibbon and Webb, our sincere congratulations on having so far assisted the tenant farmers of those estates as to earn for themselves the only reward under an English Government—coercion, prosecution, and imprisonment.That marked the next stage in the proceedings. The County Council of Roscommon had started a defence fund for the tenants. What were the Government going to do with the County Council? Were they going to send the whole lot of them to join Mr. Fitzgibbon and Mr. Webb in Castlebar gaol? Were they to have in this House the spectacle of one of the Members for Roscommon County asking whether the County Council would be allowed to meet and transact their business in gaol? If they did not go so far, what would be said? It would be said that they had funked, and that they had failed to accept the challenge which the County Council of Roscommon had thrown down. It was a mockery and a humbug to talk about the forms of constitutional law in Ireland. Some hon. Members on the other side held that it was a mistake to give local government to Ireland.
§ MR. DILLON
said supposing all the County Councils in Ireland sympathised with the action of the Roscommon County Council, were the Government prepared to abolish and repeal the statute of 1898 and to reintroduce the grand jury system? Otherwise where was the struggle to end? He alluded to that to show how far-reaching was the action of the Government in inaugurating their coercion campaign. He had seen recently discussions about Home Rule, but these discussions did not in the slightest concern him. His opinion as regarded Irish affairs was that they could not govern Ireland permanently against the will of the majority of the people. That was impossible. There were 70 only two alternatives, and sooner or later they would be face to face with those alternatives, and the Irish question would arise in all its gravity. They would have either to repeal the Act of 1898, abolish the Irish representation, govern the country as a Crown Colony; or else would ultimately have to bring the government of the country into harmony with the sentiments and feelings of the majority of the people.
As a final illustration of the way coercion was being carried on in Ireland, he would draw the attention of the Committee to a performance that took place in Ennis the other day—a performance never yet equalled in Ireland, and never equalled anywhere, he ventured to say, outside one of Gilbert and Sullivan's operas. In the town of Ennis a Coercion Court was held, and eleven inhabitants were put on trial because a poor woman named Mrs. Normoyle was, as alleged by the police, persecuted and prevented from selling her milk. To give the Committee an idea of what was now going on in Ireland, he would read the preparations that were made for trying that tremendous case—The excitement in Castleclare was intensified when the band was stopped. A force of extra police, under the chief command of Mr W. H. Fausset, County Inspector, was in attendance, and two resident magistrates constituted the Crimes Act Court. John Normoyle, sen., husband of the woman, was examined as a Crown witness, and he deposed that his wife sold the milk freely, and that no one gave her any trouble, and that he himself was on good terms with his neighbours. He did not know was he present when his wife got a letter.Mr. Morphy (Crown Prosecutor): I will have it out of you if you were to remain here for a month.The Crown Prosecutor then tackled Mrs. Normoyle, who proved a much more difficult witness. When sworn, she deposed that she had been tormented for weeks by the local sergeant begging her to get up this prosecution. Ultimately Mr. Morphy asked the Court to commit these two Crown witnesses for contempt, which was accordingly done, and one of the witnesses declared that the sergeant wanted her son to set five or six rowdies to break the windows of prominent United Irish Leaguers. At this stage the Court adjourned. The ultimate result of this trial was typical of the trials in the Courts of Ireland. Here was the final verdict of 71 the Court:—The defendants are acquitted of the charges against them, which are dismissed without prejudice against each defendant, and they were accordingly held to bail and sent for three months to Limerick Gaol, where they were at the present moment. Mr. and Mrs. Normoyle, the Crown witnesses, having been committed for contempt because they refused to swear what the police desired them to swear, the prisoners were acquitted and sent to gaol. To complete the picture of this truly Gilbertian trial, the whole population of the place had assembled outside the Court to cheer the prisoners on their way to gaol, when sixty policemen drew their batons and dispersed the crowd. There could not be a better epitome of justice in Ireland, and yet, to use the words the Prime Minister used recently at a club in Piccadilly, "these wretched Irishmen do not love us." No lauguage could express the absurdity of the position.
That was the ridiculous side of it, but there was also the serious side—the danger which hung like a brooding cloud of disaster over his country. No policeman had a right to draw his baton and break the head of a peaceable citizen walking in the streets, and he viewed with horror what might be the result of a collision between the people and the police. As the First Lord of the Treasury once said, human patience had its limits. If large bodies of people, while exercising their undoubted rights, were batoned and bludgeoned and thrown to the ground and kicked, who could blame them if they lost their temper, and one man only losing his temper under such circumstances might be the signal of a bitter and bloody fray. It was intolerable for hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench to call that sort of thing government. The House by no means realised the seriousness of the situation. He did not believe that this policy was the free and unfettered policy of the present Chief Secretary. He believed the right hon. Gentleman was the unwilling instrument of a gang in Ireland which had been the curse of the country; which had resisted every Land Act; which opposed the County Councils in Ireland until they were bribed with £300,000 a year to allow the Bill to pass; and who were now thirsting for the day 72 when Ireland would once more be deluged with crime in order that they might put again in force, with all its attendant horrors, the Coercion Act. It was pitiable to see men like Lord Londonderry, an evil name in Irish history, dragging the Chief Secretary along a path which he was unwillingly treading, a path which would lead him to sorrow and failure as an Irish administrator, and lead inevitably, also, to confusion, trouble, and disorder, and, he feared, crime in Ireland. He moved the reduction of the Vote.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Item, Class II., Vote 33 (Chief Secretary for Ireland), be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Dillm.)
*(7.22.) MR. MCVEIGH (Down, S.)
seconded the Motion. He said that, as a new Member, he would have preferred to remain silent for some little time, but it had been represented to him that it might not be inappropriate for him, as the latest elected Member for Ulster, to intervene in this debate. He thought the fact of his having been returned unopposed as the Nationalist Member for South Down was most significant, following as it did the election for East Down and that for North Down, and showed at all events that so far as Co. Down was concerned, there was considerable dissatisfaction with the policy of the Government with regard to Ireland. The explanation of the defeat of the Government nominee at East Down and the flight of the Government candidate at South Down was that the agricultural population of Ireland had come to the conclusion that Irish government nowadays was one by the landlords, and for the landlords, and so far as they were concerned, they were determined to do everything in their power to put an end to the system.
In common with other Irish Members, he regretted the absence of the Chief Secretary; it placed Irish Members in a difficult position, because it was very awkward for any Member to criticise the policy of a Minister in that Minister's absence. The present Chief Secretary had entered office with a considerable supply of political blarney and many promises for the amelioration of 73 the conditions under which the people of Ireland lived, but directly Lord Ardilaun and his fellow landlords waved their tomahawks the right hon. Gentleman had taken to his heels. That behaviour was hardly consistent with the Geraldine blood which was supposed to flow in his veins. The Geraldines always had the courage of their convictions, and were never afraid to fight for the weak against the strong and had never allowed any man of set of men to bully them into a course of oppression. The right hon. Gentleman probably thought he had gone a long way towards satisfying the demands of the Irish landlords, but the Government would, before long, find that the landlord party in Ireland were by no means satisfied. Hon. Gentlemen from Ulster who supported the Government found great difficulty in retaining their seats in the House, and, like the hon. Member for South Antrim, they strongly denounced the Chief Secretary and the Government for not having suppressed the United Irish League. He hoped that the advice of the hon. Member for South Antrim would be taken by the Chief Secretary, as it would greatly strengthen the United Irish League. The right hon. Gentleman had up to the present proved to be the best organiser that any Irish national movement ever had.
Lord Brougham once warned this House that by coercion you might crush Ireland, but you would never break her spirit. This Government could not claim that they had suppressed crime in Ireland, because there was no crime to suppress. The United Irish League put an end to all agrarian crime in Ireland. They could not claim that they had intimidated the men they had convicted and imprisoned, because those men, when they came out of gaol, were received with acclamations; they could not claim that they had crushed freedom of speech, because for the one meeting that was proclaimed in any district there were half-a-dozen meetings held to take its place. The Government might go on with their policy of coercion; they might again bring out the baton men and battering ram, and, with that spite and viciousness which had characterised previous administrations, seek to degrade their politcal 74 opponents within prison cells; they might condone the illegalities of the paid magistrates who administered so-called justice in Ireland; they might endeavour to suppress the national movement and drive discontent under the surface; but after even twenty years of such resolute government they would find themselves no nearer the end of the struggle. The Nationalist policy was to seek out first the cause of the trouble, and then, having removed the cause, to secure law and order, but the policy of the Government was to assert first the supremacy of the law. John Bright once said that after asserting the law in Ireland, grievances were always forgotten, and that that had been the case in Ireland for 200 years, but in these days of white sheets and clean slates, probably little attention would be paid to the principles of that statesman. The Chief Secretary and his colleagues seemed determined to follow the coercion path marked out for them by the Irish landlord party. They might pursue whatever course they pleased, but he warned the House that if the Government wanted a "fight" in Ireland, the Nationalist Party, from its rawest recruit to its most seasoned ve eran, would give them plenty of it. Greater men than the present Chief Secretary had tried their hands in such a contest, but had gone down in the struggle, and if the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues wished to commit premature political suicide, it was not for the Nationalist Members to prevent them.
The Chief Secretary had recently quoted Lord Salisbury—the head of an illustrious and somewhat numerous family—as saying that the first duty of a Government was to protect minorities against majorities. But Lord Salisbury did not say that it was the duty of a Government to take sides with the minority against the majority, as the present Government were doing, but to hold the scales evenly between contending parties. The Government made a pretence of administering even-handed justice, but it was a mere sham. Tenants were prosecuted for combining in their own defence against landlords, but when landlords combined to persecute tenants, no prosecution whatever was set on foot. So- 75 called trial by jury existed, and when a Catholic peasant was placed on his trial for some political offence an exclusively Protestant jury was empannelled to try him, but who ever heard of an exclusively Catholic jury being empannelled to try a Protestant prisoner? According to the Chief Secretary, the remedy for all existing trouble was to bring to justice those who broke the law. But the Government did not stop there. They were not above prosecuting and convicting men whom the magistrates declared to be innocent of the charge brought against them. Could English Members and speakers be surprised that Irishmen were disposed to spit upon English law and to treat the Government's professions of justice as rank hypocrisy? As to the Chief Secretary's homily on intolerance in regard to local patronage, that should rather have been delivered to the representatives of Belfast and their friends. He would not go in detail into the cases to which reference had been made. He recognised that a certain amount of modesty was not unbecoming in a new Member, and also that the Members for the constituencies concerned could best deal with those matters. Moreover, he felt that any words of his would be largely wasted. The same old round would be gone through, but the day would come when the Attorney General and his colleagues in the Government would have to stop. The Irish people were not to be won by either force or bribes, and when the time came for the present administration to pass into the limbo of perished Governments they would perhaps realise that a nation could not be killed, nor the national spirit of Ireland suppressed; and they would not find even the poorest Irish peasant one whit more reconciled to British rule than they found him at the beginning of their administration, or than their predecessors found him before them.
§ *(7.40.) MR. CULLINAN (Tipperary, S.)
said that he was one of the victims who were acquitted by a pair of removable magistrates, and at the same time sent to gaol for two months. At the time in question there was a tough fight in Tipperary, and he was charged with sitting on an outside car and driving at 76 the head of a procession. According to the sworn evidence of the police the procession was an orderly one, and nothing occurred to necessitate the interference of the authorities. So extraordinary was the evidence for the Crown that the magistrates dismissed the case, but at the same time ordered him to give bail for good behaviour or, in default, to go to prison for two months. Like other Irish representatives he went to prison rather than give bail for good behaviour when fighting the battle of the people. The secret of the matter was that the evictions were to come off the day after his trial, and the authorities wanted him out of the way, and a pair of removable magistrates, who were supposed to be unprejudiced, were made the tools of Dublin Castle to get rid of him at any price. In 1887 the then Chief Secretary made a remarkable speech at Manchester, in which he said that Nationalists ought not to have the opportunity of appealing to a County Court Judge. Immediately the removable magistrates took the hint, and gave a month's imprisonment to every Nationalist brought before them. Soon afterwards a leading member of the Cabinet at another meeting declared that it was a farce to give such men a month's imprisonment, they ought to have the severest sentence possible, and immediately the removables began giving six months imprisonment to every Nationalist brought before them. It was a curious fact that, whenever the Government of the day required the existence of crime for their purposes, the statistics increased by hundreds of cases. The Judges would refer to the matter at the Assizes, and the police at once said, "We have been charged by the Judges with not doing our duty; whatever the consequences may be, we must have some cases, and if there is no real crime we must manufacture some, so as to have a catalogue to place before the Judges the next time they come round." In the recent movement throughout the country it was most remarkable that the sentences given by the removable magistrates seemed to have become contagious, and it was a remarkable fact that an attempt was now being made to show that the ordinary law in Ireland was insufficient to cope with the agitation which had arisen. They had heard frequently of the Coercion Act of 1882, which was enforced by the late Mr. Foster, who, it had been stated, acted more harshly than any of his successors, 77 because he sent men to prison without a trial, but no trial was decenter than the present farce, and at any rate he treated them as first class misdemeanants. Many Nationalists had been sent to prison under the first Tory Coercion Act, and in this House and out of it hon. Members below the gangway opposite did not hesitate to speak with contempt of certain Members of the Irish Party. At first the Party opposite desired to make Irish Nationalists wear the prison garb, and they put them on the prison dietary, but afterwards they had to turn round and give Nationalists different treatment to that which was accorded to ordinary criminals. The Government hoped that by sending a few of the leading Nationalists to prison the fight would be over, but in that respect they were as stupid and ignorant of Irish habits and Irish pluck as they had been in the past, and they would find that for every man they put in gaol a new determination would arise, and man after man would be found quite prepared to make similar sacrifices.
They heard a great deal about the Plan of Campaign in the old days, and an attempt was now being made to show that the Plan of Campaign was again being adopted in Ireland. Why was it being adopted? Because a late Member of this House, Mr. Smith Barry, and the landlord combination had asserted that they would make victims of the men who were fighting that campaign. Those landlords were allowed to combine, but the moment the tenants combined to save themselves then, and as they were doing in Roscommon and Sligo, the Government turned round and put the full engine of the law against them. And for what purpose? Simply to support the landlord party and the landlord garrison. They saw in the fight which was going on in Ireland at the present time the most wonderful spirit shown by those tenants to try and get for themselves what had been granted to other tenants on the Dillon Estate. At the present moment they were sending those tenants to gaol simply for asking for that which the Government had given to other tenants, and that was a gross injustice. In his own county within the past week some leading Nationalists had been prosecuted because they had tried to put down what was known as the eleven months grazing system. This system 78 was extensively carried on in the West of Ireland, and in some parts of the South of Ireland. In the Templemore district large grazing tracts were held by the landlords, and because the people in that district wanted those tracts smashed up to give the people there a chance of living on the land the Government turned upon them and prosecuted them. The Chief Secretary, speaking in Dover a couple of nights ago, in dealing with small holdings, said—A remedy for these evils was sought by a certain number of landlords after the famine years, but the Land Act of 1881 paralysed the landlords' chance of improving the conditions of land tenure in Ireland; by giving fixity of teuure it stereotyped small holdings (with their attendant evils); by imposing judicial rents it placed an artificial premium from the landlords' point of view on retaining land unlet to yearly tenants.Imagine an Act passed 33 years after the famine to have this effect ! No, it was after the Crimean War, when prices went up to a fabulous height—the land-lords of Ireland chose that moment to enter into a vile conspiracy to exterminate the Irish peasantry in order to gratify their own greed. Having exterminated the people from the land while prices were high and profitable, as soon as foreign competition came in, then they established this grazing system. Now the Nationalists were making an effort to get back the land for the people of Ireland who were then driven off it. And, whether they put the Coercion Act in force or not, those lands would have to be divided amongst the Irish peasants for their benefit and for their sustenance. Upon this point the Chief Secretary for Ireland had evidently got his information from some official connected with the Board of Agriculture who possibly did not know a bullock from a sheep. It was an extraordinary thing to find the Chief Secretary defending the present grazing system in Ireland. He said the graziers knew how to improve their condition and place their stock on the British market. That was the topic which the Chief Secretary went to Dover to dilate upon, but he never even considered that those lands could be used for the benefit of the people in Ireland instead of producing food for the British stomach. In the South, the Midlands, and in all parts of Ireland the 79 tenants holding thirty, forty, sixty, and 100 acres of land were able to turn out as good cattle for the British market as the grazier who had 1,000 acres. That showed distinctly that the Chief Secretary got his information from the Land Commissioners and the Board of Agriculture, who were hostile to the people. When the Chief Secretary showed his hand in that way, it might be taken as an indication that the Government were not going to give any assistance to the poor people in securing those lands for them, and that as a matter of necessity it would be the duty of the Irish Members to join issue with him.
He wished to call attention to an extraordinary fact. During last session of Parliament the Chairman of the Irish arty, and also the hon. Member for East Galway and himself, asked questions in regard to the estate of Kilclooney in Co. Galway. The Land Commission had sold part of the estate, and the Chief Secretary was asked whether he could secure some of the good grazing land by purchase in order that it might be divided among the poor people. The Chief Secretary met them in the most friendly manner and enlisted the sympathy of the Congested Districts Board. He was sorry the Chief Secretary was not now present to listen to the statement he had to make, because it was a most remarkable one and a clear indication of the conspiracy at work in every Department of the Government in Ireland against the people. The Chief Secretary through the Congested Districts Board endeavoured, honestly he believed, to get this good land for division among the tenants. What was the consequence? The Land Commission were communicated with by the Chief Secretary on the 18th of July last, the Questions put in this House having been asked on the 16th. The Land Commission attempted to sell to the grazing tenants who were not yearly tenants. They signed an agreement for purchase on the 18th, but, as grazing tenants, could not buy. Would the Committee believe that the Land Commission sent down an official on the 20th to get these very graziers to sign yearly tenancy agreements in order to qualify them for purchase? Those who were taking an interest in this matter met the Chief 80 Secretary subsequently and got this smashed up. The right hon. Gentleman promised to bring it before the Congested Districts Board in September. When the hon. Member was in the district a short time ago he found that the Land Commission behind the Chief Secretary's back did everything they could to get the grazier to buy the land, and to deprive the right hon. Gentleman of the power of buying it for the benefit of the tenants. Under the Land Act not more than £5,000 could be advanced to any one individual for the purchase of land. Yet one gentleman, who was a grazier, and, he was sorry to say, a grazier on a great many other properties, had already got the full £5,000, and when the Land Commission asked him to purchase the holding he said he could not because he had obtained the full sum he was allowed to borrow. The Land Commission then actually suggested that he should put in the name of his son, to whom they would sell the land, and thus defeat the objects of the Congested Districts Board. That charge which he now made was far and away more serious than any the Government could make, against the Irish Nationalists and Reformers, because it was their own officials who were defeating the Act, while they were sworn to administer it justly.
When the Government were prosecuting Irish Members and trying to prevent them from getting justice for their people, it was a duty to prevent in every way they possibly could the course which was being practised. In carrying out the defence of the people of Ireland, as had been shown by the hon. Member for East Mayo, Irishmen were subjected to the most vile treatment by the police. It was rather an unpleasant fact that when Irish questions were being considered in this House the Benches generally were empty of English and Scotch Members. He thought that was very deplorable, because the big majority of them knew very little about Ireland. The only thing they wanted to hear was the statement in regard to Ireland of somebody who got up on the Treasury Bench. In Ireland the paid magistrates, an overwhelming majority of the ordinary magistrates and the county inspectors were all of the landlord class; and the 81 district inspectors were mostly of the landlord class. There was a minority who were known as "rankers." They had risen from the ranks of the force and they were as bad as the rest. They wanted to get a little social position by associating with the landlord class, and they knew very well that the more they were reported by the Nationalists, the surer would be their promotion. The only one in the district whom they feared was the local landlord magnate who had influence with Dublin Castle. He did not speak of any one Party in this House, because he had got his dose of coercion from Liberals as well as Tories. He remembered that in 1882 a magistrate in his own county administered the law fairly and popularly. On one occasion that magistrate was actually cheered when leaving the Court House. He put down crime in the district. What was his return? Within a month he was sent to the most miserable spot in the West of Ireland. Had he been a firebrand, had he been an autocrat who ordered the police to shoot, he would have been promoted to the finest position. He knew of several cases like that. His hon. friends also knew of cases where resident magistrates sympathised with their fellow men and would not allow them to be bludgeoned and shot down in cold blood: They were immediately removed from the positions they occupied and sent to the most miserable places that could be found for them.
It was an extraordinary fact, which English Members did not realise, that of the 14,000 policeman in Ireland, three-fourths were simply rent collectors, gamekeepers to the Irish landlords. He knew where night after night in the game season Irish policemen had marched round the demesnes of the landlords to protect the game for them. If they did not do that—a job which they disliked—they would suffer in the same way as the county inspector or resident magistrate who became popular with the people. Looking to the policy of the Government in Ireland at the present time, and to the crimeless state of the country, he thought that the terms offered by the hon. Member for East Mayo were such that no Government having any spark of courage should fail to accept. He believed, and he was certain that he was speaking 82 for his colleagues and for the people of his own constituency, that the further the Government went with coercion the further they were prepared to go, and they would undertake that as they smashed it before, so they would smash it again. [8.15.]
§ *(8.45.) MR. WILLIAM JOHNSTON
said he joined in the expressions of regret which had arisen from all parts of the House with regard to the unavoidable absence of the Chief Secretary. It was unfortunate that this debate should be conducted in the right hon. Gentleman's absence, not that his defence would lose anything at the hands of the Attorney-General for Ireland, but it was always unpleasant to say things behind a man's back, to which he could not reply. As he had had occasion to remark some time previously the position of Chief Secretary was not an enviable one. If the right hon. Gentleman held the scales impartially, he was sure to give offence to extreme men on both sides. It was a thankless and difficult task at all times, to try and hold the scales impartially in administering justice in Ireland.
He congratulated the Party to which the hon. Member for South Down belonged on having obtained in his person an able accession to their ranks. As Britons recognised the ability of Boers in the field, he did not hesitate to recognise the ability of any pro-Boer in this House. The hon. Member had alluded to his unopposed return and the victory gained by the Nationalist Party in East Down. The hon. Gentleman had not entered the House on false pretences. He came in as an open and avowed supporter of the Nationalist Party. He had not come in professing to be a friend of the Union, while returned by the votes of Nationalists, nor did he brag, as a supporter of the hon. Member for East Down did after the election, that they had succeeded in defeating the Government, and then take his place on the Government side of the House.
Some reference had been made by the hon. Gentleman to the position held by Roman Catholics in the city of Belfast; it was not from the Protestants 83 of that city that such bitter hostility proceeded, as was shown by the recent contest for the Falls Ward, where the contest was between two Roman Catholics. A great deal had been said as to the action of the Chief Secretary in dealing with the members of the United Irish League, and Nationalist Members told the House that if the United Irish League had had its way, Ireland would be Paradise Regained, whereas under the dominion it was unfortunately Paradise Lost. But there was another side to the question. The House had not heard a word of the Protestants of Sligo and Leitrim, who had been compelled to join its ranks; they had not heard a word of how life had been made like hell for some of these people, by the tyranny that was exercised by the United Irish League. He had been pained to hear the words of disparagement that had been used towards that noble body of men, the Irish Constabulary, who, with their fellows the Dublin Fusiliers, had gained the approval of all loyal men in Ireland.
Hon. Members opposite laughed when he spoke of the tyranny of the United Irish League. The hon. Member for East Mayo referred to a case of a lady who had been persecuted by the Government; he on his side could give instances of persecution by the League. One lady was so persecuted that she had to have police protection. [Cries of "Name" from the Irish Benches.] Why should he give her name? In order that she might be still further persecuted? She had police protection; she was not able to buy bread for her family, nobody would sell it. Another lady was unable to purchase paraffin oil to light her house, or anything else, except at a shop whose owner had been boycotted. He hoped the English Members would take note of the jeers and laughter of hon. Members opposite, when the bitter stories of these poor people were told of the tyranny of the United Irish League. [Cries of "Where, where?"] Hon. Members knew very well where. They knew all about it; perhaps hon. Members had assisted in some of these cases. He had many more cases which he could bring to the notice of the House, but it was needless to submit these poor people's misery to the insults and jeers of the 84 Nationalist Party opposite. He hoped the Chief Secretary would deal firmly with the United Irish League. The right hon. Gentleman was afraid that if he dealt strictly with it, he would be accused of striking a political blow at his political opponents. But the lives and liberties of poor people in the West and South of Ireland were in danger, and the blows given in their protection could not be too hard or too severe. He urged, also, the necessity of making boycotting a misdemeanour. [Nationalist cries of "Oh !" and "Belfast."] Hon. Members had Belfast on the brain. Did they not wish to God that the rest of Ireland were like Belfast? It was a city that any man might be proud of, a prosperous, progressive, aye, and mainly a Protestant city; a city in sympathy with the loyal Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Welshmen who were fighting for their King and country. Its inhabitants were not like those pro-Boers in Dublin who suggested that Irishmen should turn their rifles against the King's soldiers instead of the King's enemies in the field.
He would not have intervened at all in the present debate, except that he felt that judgment could not be allowed to go by default against the Chief Secretary. He beliveed the right hon. Gentleman was doing his best to promote peace and prosperity in Ireland, and if hon. Gentlemen were really in earnest in their desire to see that country prosperous, they would endeavour to put down this League, which had for its ultimate object the separation of Ireland from England, and the establishment of an independent Parliament. There was some talk about compulsory land purchase, but its objects went far beyond that. That was only a means to an end, and the end was separation from England. He hoped the Chief Secretary might long be spared to hold the scales evenly and impartially, and that loyal men of all classes, creeds, and political parties would assist the right hon. Gentleman in making Ireland peaceful and prosperous.
§ (9.5.) MR. P. A. M'HUGH (Leitrim, N.)
said the hon. Member for South Belfast appeared to think that Sligo and Leitrim were centres of criminality, and that 85 the United Irish League was responsible for it. As a matter of fact, the League today was the only guarantee of peace and of absence of criminality in Ireland. The hon. Member boasted of Belfast and its crimelessness. According to the statistics in the library, agrarian crimes had diminished from 4,439 in 1881 to 472 in 1891, and to 282 in 1900, the last year for which figures were available. In those same statistics, there were set out the crimes against morals, and in that table Leitrim came next to the bottom, Sligo was the lowest, while Antrim and Belfast stood at the top. In regard to crimes against property, Leitrim was again second from the bottom, while Antrim and Belfast were nearly at the top. The reason for the crimelessness of Leitrim and Sligo was that the people had joined an organisation whose highest ideal was to conduct its battle with the hands of the people unstained by crime, but the efforts of the hon. Gentleman from the North of Ireland and the officials of Dublin Castle were directed to the suppression of this peaceful, legitimate and stainless organisation, in order that the people might be driven to crime, and the Irish National movement crushed. The United Irish League was first established in Leitrim for the purpose of aiding in the redress of a grievance which still continued. When were the Tottenham and Montgomery estates to be settled? Although evictions had gone on for many years, and although an order was made by the Courts so long ago as July, 1899, for an inspection of the Tottenham estate, the Chief Secretary had recently declared that he could not say what progress had been made with the inspection. What was the Irish Government for?
§ MR. P. A. M'HUGH
(continuing) said the Chief Secretary agreed with Lord Salisbury that it was the duty of the Government to protect minorities against majorities. Their demand tonight was for the protection of the majority of Ireland against the minority. Ireland at present was governed not for the public weal or the good of the majority, but for the good of the minority, or what was supposed to be the good of the minority. 86 He desired to direct the attention of the Attorney General to the Montgomery estate. A branch of the United Irish League was started. The receiver upon that estate believed that the League would interfere with his management of the estate, because, at a time when there was no organisation in that part of the country, he had succeeded in evicting large numbers of tenants, and in getting men to take the farms from which the poor people had been unjustly evicted. This man swore that the United Irish League had exercised such scandalous intimidation in one district that a midwife was prevented from attending the wife of a land grabber during her confinement. He was present at the Court in Dublin when the affidavit was read, and the Judge was satisfied that what had been sworn to was true, and he condemned the United Irish League for what he called its villainous proceedings. He should have held the same opinion if he had believed that the charge was true, but he thought it was his duty to make inquiries into the case on the spot. He did so, and he found that there was not a shadow of foundation for the charge. He found out that the woman who did attend the land grabber's wife did so of her own free will, and according to her own statement she knew nothing whatever about the United Irish League. For that very charge, which he knew to be false, several people were convicted. The falsity of that accusation he charged publicly to the face of Mr. Hewson at a meeting of the County Council of Leitrim. That statement was false, and he did not go behind the back of Mr. Hewson to say so. He told Mr. Hewson before that public meeting that he was a perjurer and a coward. Seeing that this official had refused to answer this charge of making a false statement, and seeing that he had refused to take action against him in a court of law, he asked the Attorney General, for the credit of the Government which paid this man his salary, to insist upon him either giving up his position, or else clearing his character in a court of justice. No less than four of his constituents were sent to gaol upon the strength of that affidavit which he had referred to. He called a public meeting to discuss this question, but it was proclaimed lest he should intimidate Mr. Hewson ! He announced publicly that 87 he would hold the meeting in defiance of that proclamation, and he did so. The resident magistrate of that district said that anybody who took part in that meeting would be prosecuted, but why did they not prosecute him? If such an outrage had been committed in any other part of the United Kingdom a great deal more would have been heard of it, for it was a scandalous outrage upon the rights of the individual that people should be put into prison upon the affidavit of a man like that, practically without a chance of answering the charge, because they could not expect such men to go to Dublin to pay large fees to lawyers. It was an abomination that some of his constituents should be put into gaol because they were members of the United Irish League, and for no other reason, upon a perjured charge. One woman in his constituency was kept in prison for 213 days because she went into the house where she had always lived, for shelter, and from which she had been evicted. Dan O'Donnell was sent to gaol for having entered upon his farm from which he had been evicted. It was degrading that a judge should be called upon to act as bailiff over certain estates in Ireland. While the Government were ready to hand over the Tottenham and Montgomery estates to the Jews who had mortgaged them, they would not allow the management of those estates to be even discussed in the newspapers. They would not allow a resolution, passed by a branch of the United Irish League in regard to these estates, to be published in the newspapers. What was worse still, they would not allow any discussion in this House upon the action of the judge who supported the Government, and who got his present position for doing it.
He asked the Attorney General to listen to the words uttered by a judge last week in Dublin, when it was brought to his notice that a resolution had been passed at a branch meeting in the county of Sligo, in reference to the management of a certain estate in that county. This resolution was published in the Sligo Champion, and Mr. Justice Ross said from the Bench—These newspapers, in publishing these resolutions, were the principal agency in the conspiracy, and they will be punished. If 88 the editors are brought before me I'll teach them that to publish such resolutions is a gross contempt of court, and will be punished severely.Now, as a matter of fair play, he would ask whether it was fair to him that he should be put in a position that if he went over to Ireland now, as he intended to, and if the receiver on this estate brought him before Mr. Justice Ross, and if he refused to apologise, as he certainly would refuse, he should be sent to gaol for an article of which he knew nothing beyond reading it in The Times of last Saturday. As the Member for East Mayo had said, the worm would turn, and there was a limit beyond which patience should not be strained. They talked of protection for minorities. He asked protection for the majority of the people in his constituency, who demanded a settlement of these estates in order to put an end to the evictions. He asked the Chief Secretary the other day in this House when the estates were going to be settled, and the right hon. Gentleman replied that ho did not know. He said it was not the business of the Government. Whose business was it? What were the Nationalist Members there for, if it was not to demand the redress of the grievances of the people? He asked, in the name of peace, order, progress, and industry, an answer to the question, when were these estates to be settled? He did not know whether proceedings would be taken against him, but he was rather inclined to think they would. But if so, he would ask those who were so anxious, and rightly anxious, to protect minorities, to give him protection against arbitrary imprisonment at the hands of a promoted landlord partisan.
§ * MR. WILLIAM MOORE (Antrim, N.)
I rise to a point of order. I beg to ask whether it is in order to describe one of His Majesty's Judges as a promoted landlord partisan.
* THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
I do not think the hon. Member was out of order in the expression which reached my ears.
§ MR. P. A. M'HUGH
said he wished to ask another question with respect to a matter on which he had already received an answer, but not a true answer. Last 89 year there were evictions on the Tottenham estate to which he had referred. During the evictions, members of the United Irish League attended to show their sympathy with the victims of the evictions. A body of sixty or seventy men were returning to their homes after the evictions, and passing along a road where there was police barracks, and the police came out from the barracks and ostentatiously proceeded to beat them upon the road. A policeman insisted on pushing his way through, and a row was created, with the result that six or seven men were prosecuted for having been engaged in an unlawful assembly. Three of the men were convicted by two removable magistrates at Manor Hamilton. He had been for a long time acquainted with one of these magistrates; he sat on the Bench with him for six years, and he must say that this was the most incompetent man who ever sat on the Bench in Ireland. He asked the Chief Secretary the other day to give him an answer in regard to this matter, and the right hon. Gentleman gave him an answer that was entirely misleading and inaccurate. He did not think that in the absence of the Chief Secretary he should say more about it. But he would ask the attention of the Attorney General to what happened. The three men who were found guilty by this Coercion Court of taking part in an unlawful assembly appealed, and the judge of Quarter Sessions dismissed the three cases. The judge, prior to delivering judgment, said he had held Leitrim as the model spot of Ireland for the absence of crime; he never heard of any case before in which there was any row between the police and the people of Leitrim, and he had been going there for over forty years. That was a high character and it was well deserved. The hon. Member was afraid the county would not long deserve it, because it would not be possible if the present action of the Chief Secretary or the English Government was pursued. Leitrim was one of the most peaceful and crimeless districts in Ireland, as statistics proved. In Leitrim there were twenty-four policemen for every 10,000 inhabitants; Antrim had only thirteen, where the crimes were ten-fold more. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had actually sent into Leitrim an extra force of police, for the purpose of satisfying the 90 howling dervishes who were trying to urge him on to further coercion. What would be the result of that? Undoubtedly the presence of these men must be a standing menace to the public peace. The Chief Secretary said he had sent these extra police in order to teach the people the seriousness of being engaged in agitation. Why should they not be engaged in agitation? They did not pretend that they were not engaged in agitation. They would continue that agitation if the Government were to send down every policeman and every Orangeman in County Antrim. That would not make them think differently from what they did at present. That would not settle the land question. He asked the Government to apply a remedy, but the Chief Secretary in obedience to the tap of the Orange drum sent down extra police. The judge in the appeal case to which he had referred also said that the constables when they heard the band playing, if they had been sensible and discreet, and did not want a row, ought to have turned back. The hon. Member asked whether the police authorities in Ireland had taken note of that statement by a judge in regard to a matter that had been carefully investigated. He was down in the district a short time ago, and he found to his amazement that the two constables, Moffat and Murphy, who were condemned by the judge for having made this assembly an unlawful assembly, were still kept in the same barracks for the purpose of irritating the people. Very probably these men would be promoted.
They heard a great deal about fair play and protection. He had started out by saying that in Ireland they wanted protection of the majority against the minority. The Government of Ireland today represented the minority, and were using their position and every power in their hands for the purpose of deterring the majority from seeking the redress of their grievances to which they were entitled, and which it had been the very object of the Government from the foundation of the United Irish League to determine that they should not have. The Government had failed to drive the people to crime, and every act of theirs had shown that the object of these persecutions had been to drive the people 91 to underhand methods. The very same thing had been done in regard to Muffeney and Macguire, who were sentenced after conviction by a packed jury. He was not going into that case now, further than to state that the Government of Ireland were responsible for bringing these two Mayo peasants, because they were members of the United Irish League, down to Sligo for the purpose of getting them convicted by an exclusively Protestant jury, and obtaining a false verdict. He made that charge deliberately, and left it there. So far as Nationalist Members were concerned, they had nothing to charge themselves with. There was no truth in the assertion that they insisted on Protestants joining the United Irish League. They did not insist on any one joining it. If a man was decent, respectable, and honourable, whether he was Protestant or Catholic, he was welcome to join the League. They were not a press-gang, and no man was allowed to join their ranks unless he was willing, and believed that it was right to do so. They had been free from crime up till now, and if they were driven to crime it would be owing to the Irish Government listening to the appeals of fanatics, and Orange big-drum leaders; and on the Irish Government would rest the responsibility and the blame.
§ (9.50.) MR. O'MARA (Kilkenny, S.)
said that after listening to the speech of the hon. Member for South Leitrim they could understand that it did not suit the Government to have political opponents of his ability at large in Ireland, and it would therefore surprise no one if that hon. Member received again some attentions from the Director of Prosecutions in Ireland. They bad listened to four speeches from these Benches, and one from the other side of the House. The speeches from these Benches contained allegations of injustice in the courts of Ireland, in support of which names and dates had been given; but the single speech from the other side only contained allegations, supported by no names or dates, against the United Irish League; and if they on that side of the House laughed at the sad tale of woe told by the hon. Member for South Belfast, it was because no one for a moment gave the slightest credence to it. The hon. Gentleman must remember 92 that a right hon. Gentleman who sat on the Treasury Bench—who, like his uncle, was "a master of gibes and sneers"— and bad recommended Irish Members to go to the South of France, and drink champagne, had been known in Ireland ever since as "Champagne Balfour." The hon. Member opposite had defended the freedom of the Press in Ireland, but he contended that, under the present régime, the Press was not free, as had been shown by case after case which had been brought before the House by the hon. Member for East Mayo.
Cases had been cited in which the Land Commissioners had conspired to defeat the ends of justice; and he would bring before the House a few cases in which the police had conspired not only to defeat the ends of justice, but to promote crime. One occurred in his own constituency, where he might say no agrarian outrages and no murders had been committed within living memory. The only offence charged had been that of sending intimidatory letters. A case had been brought before the court recently of a letter addressed to a woman named Mrs. Ryan, which letter was alleged by the police to be of an intimidatory character. The letter simply asked Mrs. Ryan not to put into execution a summons against a tenant of hers, and the name appended to the letter was J. P. Walsh. Now, Mr. Walsh was the son of very respectable parents, and there was nothing to be alleged against him except that he was a strong Nationalist, and hon. secretary of the Callan branch of the United Irish League. Mrs. Ryan did not put the summons into execution, for the reason that the wife of Mr. Tobin, against whom the summons had been issued, was unwell for a portion of the time during which the warrant was running. Sergeant Sheridan took charge of the case against Mr. Walsh, and his first step was to obtain a requisition form under the Weights and Measures Act, signed by Mr. Walsh. The only case against Mr. Walsh was that the signature on that requisition form corresponded with the signature in the letter sent to Mrs. Ryan. The method adopted by Sergeant Sheridan was very striking. Fifteen days after the receipt of the letter, Sheridan went 93 to Mr. Walsh and told him that under the provisions of the Weights and Measures Act it would be necessary for him to make a return of his weights and weighing machines, declaring that he had no unstamped weights or weighing machines. He (the hon. Member) might point out that there was no provision to make it necessary to sign any such declaration. Mr. Walsh, believing Sergeant Sheridan, signed the document which the latter produced, and the sergeant took the document away with him. Now, that signature of Mr. Walsh's was obtained by the fraudulent misrepresentation of Sergeant Sheridan, and it was on that signature alone that Mr. Walsh was committed for trial. He had a newspaper report of what took place at the trial—Sheridan was asked: How long have you been Inspector of Weights and Measures?—I am not Inspector of Weights and Measures at all.Q.—Was it for the sole purpose of getting Mr. Walsh's signature that you went to him?—Certainly.Q.—And everything you told him that day was a lie?—There was no doubt that some of the things I said to him were not true.Q.—Was not everything you said a lie?— Well, you may characterise it.Q.—I am not going to characterise it. Was not everything you said about the form a lie?—Well, it was.Q.—You took advantage of your position as a policeman to induce him to sign a paper, and now I ask you on your oath whether the statements you made were a lie?—I wanted to get his signature.Now, would such a thing have been done in England?Then the next question asked was: Was the statement you made to the defendant Walsh, about its being necessary to have a form filled up whether he had any weights or measures unstamped, a lie?—It is not true in the sense that it was required under the Weights and Measures Acts.Q.—Having got the form, you brought it to the barracks?—I did.Q.—Did you find it accomplished all you required?—No, I was not satisfied with it. It was in pencil, and I would rather have it in ink.Q.—Was that in consequence of a conversation with somebody else, or of your own option?—Well, it was both; I had a conversation about it with others.Q.—Who were the others?—The Head Constable and District Inspector Foy.Q.—They knew what you were at?—They did.
He was entitled to ask whether such proceedings as these were connived at by the Dublin Executive. He was 94 strongly of opinion that such measures taken by the police to obtain convictions were only intended to goad the people into crime, and to lead to agitation which would, in some degree, convince the Government that it was necessary to declare certain portions of the country under the Coercion Act. He hoped the Attorney General would not defend the action of Sergeant Sheridan. He hoped the Chief Secretary would not shelter himself behind the statement that this case was sub judice. There was no evidence given except by Sergeant Sheridan, and consequently if the Attorney General brought these men to trial he would have to countenance the methods adopted by the police in obtaining the evidence they gave. And if he brought these men to trial he could not hope to obtain a conviction under such circumstances. A similar case had recently occurred in Ireland, in which the police wanted a specimen of handwriting, so they went to the man whose writing they wanted to compare, and requested him to make a certain agricultural return; he made the return, and, upon evidence of handwriting obtained in that manner, he was committed for trial, but the Executive in that case did not bring the man to trial. He suggested that in this case the same method should be adopted. He did not know what the defence of the police was for their action in this case, but it was the action of the police in Ireland that drove the people into discontent and crime.
§ *(10.7.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said he was unhappily absent when this question was raised in the debate on the Address, and he was glad to use the opportunity afforded by this debate for expressing the views he held in respect to the government of Ireland, and the action of the Executive which was now impugned. He noticed, particularly in the case of the Chief Secretary, a disposition to minimise the gravity of the situation; and in other directions—in the organs of the landlord party—he detected a strong tendency to hysteria and a call for such action as would inevitably intensify the mischief. His own position was that of a man who had seen, during forty years residence in 95 Ireland, four serious upheavals of Irish society. He had seen the Fenian rising; the Land League revolution; he had himself been through the Plan of Campaign. He had seen hanging, transportation, imprisonment and penal servitude all at work in the name of Government, and he feared they were heading straight for one of those great crises which ever and anon shook things to their very foundations in Ireland. It was absolutely certain that in what he was going to say he should please no Party. That he should give offence to Members opposite was quite certain; and that every word he said would be distorted in Ulster tomorrow was equally true, and if he spoke as he intended to speak it was because he dared not remain silent. He found the same state of things four times in the last forty years, "the horse going round and round in the bark mill and never getting a step nearer home." The trouble sprang from the land. A League was formed, men addressed public meetings, they were sent to gaol, feeling was embittered day by day and hour by hour, rents were unpaid, men's minds were soured, and all this was followed by the tyranny of the League on the one hand, and the tyranny of the police on the other. No one who knew Ireland would say that was not a correct genesis of the trouble. Was the present method of governing Ireland to go on for ever? Was there no way out of it? Was this the best that English government could do for that unhappy land?
In his opinion there was a way out of it, a perfectly straight and safe way, and it was because he believed that, that he ventured to occupy the time of the House. This trouble came from that district in the West of Ireland where revolutions were hatched and Land Acts were born. It was not in that House that Land Acts were created they were created; in the main in the bogs of Connaught. Why was Connaught now in a state of absolute disorder? Had the Executive Government in Ireland to deal with crime? The figures read out that night as to agrarian crime showed that there had not been such a clean calendar for fifty years. As to ordinary crime, there was more crime in an English county in a week than there was in the whole of Ireland 96 in a year. Every bit of the trouble and disorder by which the Government were confronted sprang literally from the ground, from the bogs out of which these hundreds of thousands of people were vainly endeavouring to extract what was called a living. That was the source of all the trouble; there was no other cause for it. And, while he would support the Government in maintaining the supremacy of the law, because he had no hope for any country where the law was not supreme, he would ask the Attorney General for Ireland, who was also the Member for North Derry, was there not a more excellent way of dealing with Ireland than the method the Government were pursuing at the present time? Would it not be truer statesmanship for the Government of a country rich and strong to face the terrible and horrible facts of life in the West of Ireland and make it a little more tolerable for the people who had to live there? They were sending men to gaol every day for speeches in this region advocating intimidation and inciting to boycotting, and, while it was to be deeply deplored, the Government could do nothing else. The King's authority must be maintained.
He did not complain so much of the action of the Government, though he thought there was room for complaint in that, as he did of their inaction. Look at the De Freyne estate. How many Members of the House had gone to gaol for language used in connection with that property? Some were in gaol now. It had been maintained that they had said in the West what he himself had said in the North; he did not think so, but if it was the fact he should continue to say it all the same. Connaught did not count for much at the best. Cromwell, whose name was not much respected in Ireland, bracketed it with another region and reserved it for the native Irish. But after the famine of 1847 the landlords of the day took the fertile half of Connaught from the people to whom Cromwell had given it, and drove the people on to the stony wilderness and desolate bogs, and of that bog land the De Freyne estate was composed. There was one thing alone that had caused the disorder in regard to the De Freyne estate; not a penny of 97 economic rent could be paid out of the land. The rent was paid by the devotion of children in the slums of New York and the labour of Irishmen in England. The thing that caused the disorder on this estate was the action of a State Department, for which the Chief Secretary was responsible. He had chosen to spend £300,000 of public money in the purchase of the Dillon estate. In ordinary circumstances he would have thought that a beneficent act, but the Government ought to have asked themselves what in this case was likely to be the result. The result was that 4,000 tenants on the Dillon estate paid 13s. 4d. to the Government instead of £1 to the landlords, and for those persons it made a new heaven and earth in Ireland. Had Lord Dillon given his estate for nothing, they would not have had a right to say a word, but this was the act of the Government, and men were now going to gaol in Ireland, in his opinion, because of this, in the circumstances, impolitic action. This was the great issue in the West. The De Freyne tenants had struck and demanded the same terms as were given to the tenants of the Dillon estate. They did not know the difference between paying rent and discharging a terminable annuity, but they did know that the Dillon tenants were paying 13s. 4d. while they were paying £1. The sale of the Dillon estate, under the circumstances, had produced the whole of this trouble and disorder, and filled the place with police until it might be taken for Johannesburg or Pretoria. Why should the Government stand shivering on the brink? The predecessor of the Chief Secretary, who was sitting on the Front Bench, fought against the pressure in his time. [A NATIONALIST MEMBER: He was hunted.] He was not going to say anything about that, he had been hunted himself; they were companions in misfortune; he got his freedom and the right hon. Gentleman got something else. His point was that the Government were being pushed from behind; there were three or four great Irish landlords in the Cabinet, and men in this House who ought to represent the tenants and not the land lords were busy on public platforms in Ulster hounding on the Government to this stupid catastrophe. Why did not 98 the Government face the facts? One great, generous, statesmanlike act for the benefit of these poor people, and their police might be disbanded and their magistrates dismissed. Why did they not do that act, and rely on the gratitude of a race not incapable of gratitude by nature?
As to boycotting, there was nothing more horrible than the boycott, rigidly enforced as it had been in Ireland. He had seen much of it, and had felt it from both sides but not at the same time. The hon. Member for South Antrim was one of those who was hounding the Government on to this work, but what could the Government do in regard to boycotting? It was an offence on a platform or in a newspaper to incite to boycotting. That could be punished, and the man who was guilty of it deserved to be punished. It was an offence to conspire with others to boycott; that could and ought to be punished. But when the Government had done that, that was all they could do. There were scores of men now in these disturbed districts who had been boycotted without a word of incitement or a particle of conspiracy, without any overt act which the Government could take hold of and punish. To boycott was not an offence, and those who were loudest in their condemnation of it were often the very first to put it into operation. He would tell them what boycotting meant in Ireland years ago. He once went on a mission of mercy to a man who had been ruthlessly boycotted in the south of Ireland. He reached Limerick, but if he had cadged the city from end to end he could not have got a carman to drive him six miles to that man's house.
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said he would describe to them this beleagured outpost of the Union. A cottage absolutely isolated, a police guard, no other human being near it from week's end to week's end, a cottage as lonely as if it had been on the South African veldt. There 99 was no intercourse for that man and his family on the roadside; he was shunned wherever he went, at fair or market; he was as isolated as a leper when he went to the House of God. That was the picture, a picture of despair such as he had never witnessed before; his days were miserable and his nights hideous. That was an offence if they could get at the people who incited to it, but nowadays the lesson had been so well learnt that there was no incitement or conspiracy; that was not needed in a locality where the people in a body walked out of the Roman Catholic chapel when the Bishop's pastoral against boycottting was read. Such boycotting no Government, however active, even if the hon. Member for South Antrim were in the Chief Secretary's Chair at the Irish Office, couldtouch. Here came in what he conceived to be the real danger, which could never be absent from the minds of the Chief Secretary and the Executive of Ireland. A man persisted in holding a field against what was called the opinion of his neighbours, and against, maybe, the imprudent fiat of a branch of the United Irish League which dared to take the place of the law of the land. The right of the man to hold the field was unquestioned and unquestionable. What was the history of such a case? The man was first rigidly boycotted, but it was not effective. He was tough and would not give way. Other forms of intimidation were then resorted to—threatening notices were posted, missives of a similar character went through the post, and suddenly, some fine morning, in spite of police protection, that man was shot. How often had that taken place?
Ignorant people who knew nothing about Ireland—and they were the majority — blamed the League. The conclusion was perfectly natural, but the Executive Government knew well enough that wherever these agrarian disturbances occurred, and when they got to a certain point, the secret societies came into play sooner or later. Those were the organisations that accomplished these acts. He was stating the common history of Ireland. If English Members were not prepared to listen to the plain history of the country he could not help their ignorance, and they must remain 100 in it; but it was a sad thing that the Irish cause had to be judged by that sort of intelligence. These secret societies were the organisations that accomplished these desperate deeds. He would put this question to the Government: Were not the Executive aware that at the present moment there was a most dangerous recrudescence of secret societies in the West of Ireland? Was it not a fact that in the very centre of this disturbed area these societies were increasing and extending? Let them proclaim the League if they liked. Its would give trouble aud cripple the efforts of men who wished reform, and all the ignorant and lying Press organisations in London, Dublin, and Belfast would, rejoice and acclaim the resolve as the very essence of political wisdom. But such a proclamation would simply be the signal for the secret societies that their time had come, and then, instead of unlawful assemblies and illegal speeches, there would be murder and outrage; instead of public discussion and a discontent amenable to legislative remedy, there would be the wild doctrine of revenge; there would becourts more effective than the Crimes Courts, and there would be inaugurated a reign of terror such as he had lived through more than once, but which, in the interests of both England and Ireland, he never desired to live; through again.
He might possibly be asked, what ought the Government to do? It was quite clear that they could not stand idly by and see the law broken and the decrees of the Courts defied, and made of no effect. There could be no hope for any country in which the law was not supreme. If one man told another not to pay rent, he committed an offence and must take the consequences. By all means enforce the law, but do it in decency and in order, and when they had done it, let them try to give serious attention to the facts of the case. A brilliant Irish writer, in a book recently published, made one of his characters say—
England and Englishmen will begin to understand Ireland and Irishmen somewhere about the Day of general Judgment.then naïvely adding—
But as we shall have to part company then, the discovery will be of no use.101 What were the facts? They were perfectly understandable by those who cared to look them in the face. In regard to the government of Ireland, England had got into one of those tight places which came as regularly as the seasons. Up to 1869, the policy of England towards Ireland was plain and in a sense defensible. It was the policy of conquest. Everything in the country belonged to the representatives of the conqueror—Church, land, county government, Parliamentary representation—everything was in their hands. That was a policy which, with the aid of the army and the police, might be enforced. But the moment when, in 1869, they ended the Church as an Establishment, revolutionised the land system, handed the county government over to the majority of the people, and placed on the Benches opposite three-fourths of the representation of Ireland, the policy of conquest became impossible. They could not work the two systems, and they must try to find the via media if it was possible to do so. Today they had the remnants of conquest allied to the beginnings of democracy and reconciliation. Up to a point their policy was thorough; there was no trouble arising from the Church, local government, or the representation of the people; it was only on the land that they failed. It was there that they stuck fast, and it was because the land trouble was there, that they were discussing this matter on that occasion. Remedy this, and they would buy out, not, perhaps, the entire fee-simple of Irish discontent, but a great portion of it. The area of acute trouble was not so large, after all, and the land question in the western region was a wholly different one from that in the province of Ulster. A wise statesman would act, as regarded that area, at once. He would revert—if he might be forgiven for saying it—to the policy of Oliver Cromwell. He would see to it that the province, none too fruitful at the best, was, at all events, reserved for the people, and that the best half of it should not be turned into a sheep-walk or cattle-run. He would see to it that the fertile land with all the old evidences of cultivation and of ruined homes, was given back to the people, not as a gift, but under a second settlement. How long were men who really loved their country, who desired to see Ireland loyal to the Throne and to Parliament, law supreme, and men living at peace with 102 each other, agreeing to differ both in politics and in religion—how long were they to wait? Arthur Young, more than a century ago, declaimed against this horrible, festering, crowded area. Gordon went and saw it, and he did not talk about treason. He stormed about it, and wept bitter tears over it. The First Lord of the Treasury went to it not so very long ago, and was appalled at the sights he saw, and to his immortal honour he promptly did what he could by way of remedy at that time. How long was it to be more stick, more police, more passionate speeches, more imprisonment, more trouble to England, and more trouble to the House? If these people were a Continental people, Connaught would breed anarchists. They were devout Roman Catholics and virtuous citizens, and they deserved a better fate than the English Government had meted out to them throughout the century. His position—this was not under the Home Office, and his right hon. friend need not laugh—
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said he was glad to be mistaken. There never had been a time when there were not men in that House as callous and as heartless as the men who had been laughing that night. But their folly had found them out, and they had paid a bitter price for it. Land Act after Land Act had been passed, notwithstanding their contempt and their laughter, and he ventured to say that what had been was the thing that would be. The only question was how long the mischief was to continue. How long was England to be disgraced by the existing state of things? How long were tens of thousands of human beings to try to scratch life out of a bit of bog, living in houses not so good as Kaffir kraals, clad as no pauper was clad in Eng and, and fed as no pauper was fed in England? This state of things was the result of the Irish land system. It was the result of the neglect of Parliament. God knew how strongly he felt, and perhaps he had spoken too strongly ["No, no !"] but he wanted to 103 warn the Government that the mere enforcement of the law was not enough. If they meant to conquer the affection of the Irish people they must get at the root of the trouble and erase that trouble from their brain.
§ *(10.45.) MR. ATKINSON
I am sure the Committee will share with me the regret which I feel that my right hon. friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland is not here tonight to defend his policy, and answer, as I know he could answer, the criticisms which have been passed upon him. I hope the Committee will grant me its indulgence while I trespass for a short time upon its patience in order to touch upon the main topics in the debate. It is perfectly impossible that I should follow all the different speakers upon the various details upon which they have addressed the Committee. I have listened with great interest and with some curiosity to the eloquent and impassioned speech which my hon. friend the Member for South Tyrone has delivered, and I ask myself what is to be the sequel to it, and what is the practical step that he suggests? He has described in most moving language the horrible, the cruel, and the merciless tyranny of boycotting. He describes the result and the tremendous difficulty in bringing the perpetrators of boycotting to justice. I wish that those of our critics who censure the Government so severely had only some practical knowledge of the difficulties. But is boycotting to be tolerated?
§ * MR. ATKINSON
Is boycotting by any society or association which attempts to raise itself above the law, and which lends itself to the commission of crime to be permitted? I have heard it said tonight that there is no crime in Ireland. In one sense that is absolutely true, and I do not think there is any other country of the same size and with the same population where there is so little crime, of violence, or fraud, as in Ireland. But boycotting is a crime, and intimidation is a crime, and I regret to say that in some parts of Ireland there is much of both of this description of 104 crime. What is the practical step that my hon. friend suggests? He says, indeed, that this disturbance has arisen in the West of Ireland because the Government have purchased the Dillon Estate and that tenants on that estate have thereby got a reduction of rent; and that therefore it is but natural that the tenants on the adjoining estates should desire to get the same reduction. I do not, however, think it is legal to combine either by terrorism or fraud to effect this purpose, and the Government would be beneath contempt which permitted it. However unsatisfactory the law may be, and however desirable to charge it and bring about another state of things, while it is the law it must be obeyed. If my hon. friend's principle were adopted, then the moment an estate is purchased by the Congested Districts Board, the tenants upon all the adjoining estates would be immediately justified in demanding the same conditions.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
How, then, does my hon. friend propose that the Board should act? Are the Board never to purchase an estate, because, if it does, it must know that neighbouring tenants would think themselves justified in refusing to pay more than was paid on that estate? That would paralyse the Congested Districts Board, unless there is that universal purchase which the hon. Member advocates. Even universal purchase would not deal with more than a fraction of the cases of boycotting in this district, for they mainly arise not between landlord and tenant, but between the present owners of farms and men who held them years ago. I regret that I cannot follow my hon. friend into many points in his eloquent speech, and the Committee does not expect me, I am sure, to foreshadow what is the agrarian policy of the country. When some statesmanlike attempt is made to solve that most complex of all problems which ever confronted any statesman, it should be remembered that it was a Unionist Government which first approached the problem of distress in 105 Ireland; and if hope and joy has been brought into the homes of the tenantry of the West of Ireland, they have the, present First Lord of the Treasury to thank for it more than any other human being. When the Bill creating the Congested Districts Board was before the House I do not remember that it received any enthusiastic support from hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
The Irish Government have, I believe, since the passing of that Act, shown themselves most anxious to aid in putting in force the policy of the Congested Districts Board. The Board have purchased several estates, and are desirous of purchasing more if they are suitable for the relief of those districts, and will carry out the policy of the Act, but we cannot ally ourselves with crime in order to effect it. We cannot and will not pass a measure to enforce the sale of these estates. The hon. Member for East Mayo asks me what is the policy of the Government? I have to thank the hon. Member on behalf of the Government for his great generosity in warning us against the course we are pursuing, for he has told us that it will lead to our suicide. The hon. Member has also said that there is no course that could be suggested which would so much promote the interests of the National League as the course we are adopting. I therefore congratulate the hon. Member upon his self-sacrifice. He has told us that we never shall govern Ireland successfully, save in one way, and that is by granting Home Rule. I think, however, he has addressed that warning in the wrong direction, for our opinions upon that question are fixed. I believe that some of the opinions on the other side of the House on this subject are also fixed, although with some hon. Gentlemen they seem to be in a fluid state. But these warnings are as uselessly addressed to convinced Unionists as to convinced Home Rulers; though they may be with advantage addressed to some of the occasional Home Rulers. The policy of the Government is the same as it has been from the first—to maintain the Union, to uphold the law, 106 and to promote by every just and rational means the prosperity of Ireland. It is said that agitation is always necessary to secure reform. But in the five years 1895 to 1900, when there was no Land League and no United Irish League in active operation, and no boycotting or intimidation worth mentioning, yet there were passed the Land Act of 1896, the Local Government Act of 1898, and the Agricultural Rating Act. I regret that the peaceful state of things then prevailing has changed. But our duty is not to change; our duty is to carry out the same policy, although the maintenance of the law may be more difficult and trying. We have enforced it wherever we have had evidence to enable us to enforce it.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
I regret deeply that there is not more evidence. I regret that the peaceful state of things then prevailing has changed, and that a system of terrorism is now practised. I do not know whether any person who professes, to be a well-wisher of Ireland will rejoice at that. I wish what I say could reach the ears of those who suffer under this base and cruel tyranny, so that they might learn that the law is their best friend and that they have only to stand up against those petty tyrants whose courses are as cowardly as they are criminal, and soon their hated sway would terminate.
I have heard it said that there is nothing new in Ireland. Well, I do not think there ever is. The hon. Member for Cork is certainly the author of this most acute phase of the agrarian struggle on the present occasion. He has brought about coercion now, but that is not wonderful, for he brought it about before. I should be sorry to quote from any authority on the Unionist side, but I may quote from one of his own Party who, I suppose, knew him and his designs. I find that Dr. French, Mullen, on the 6th March, 1895, is reported in the Freeman's Journal to have said that if the Tory Party was 107 returned to power he had no expectation that they would go back to the policy of coercion for two reasons—Mr. Balfour would probably be Premier and would have the sense to see that coercion was played out, and secondly, he did not believe that Mr. William O'Brien, who was responsible for the establishment of coercion before, would find a new Tipperary to force the Tories to inflict coercion on the country again. That is exactly the work he is engaged in. He is trying to found a new Tipperary. [An HON. MEMBER: Where?] Because I find that on the 27th September, 1901, before any reduction whatever was made on the Dillon estates, before the tempting spectacle was offered to the neighbouring De Freyne tenants of getting a reduction of rent, the hon. Member for Cork started this campaign which is now represented to be the spontaneous out-growth of the discontent of the people. On 27th September he wrote—
I have already taken the liberty to suggest that the only means of bringing this question of compulsory sale and the terms of the purchase to an issue in the south is that the tenants on each estate should make a combined demand next November for an abatement of rent equivalent to that obtained by the tenant purchasers under the Acts of 1885 and 1890, in their neighbourhood, and that every landlord who refuses should be taught the urgency, the practicability, and the justice of the demand, by being placed on the same level as the grabber, and subjected to all the inconvenience the people in the lawful right of combination are able to inflict.That is the cruel and merciless plan my right hon. friend the Chief Secretary so much condemns. Now, I say that is a direct suggestion to any man to enter into this combination. The first case that offered was the De Freyne estate. It so happened that in carrying out the purchase of the Dillon estate the tenants got a reduction of 6s. 8d. per £1, and not by the spontaneous action of the tenants at all, but in pursuance of a policy determined beforehand. This campaign was started to induce the tenants to enter into a conspiracy to withhold as much rent from Lord De Freyne as would equal the advantages which the Dillon tenants derived under the land purchases that had been effected. I say that is a crime. It is deliberate and organised crime.
108 I do not suppose that hon. Gentlemen opposite will deny that from the very start they have advocated boycotting. I could quote numbers of cases where that was done. I do not suppose that they will really be disposed to contradict me, but in order to show that I am not unfairly representing the action they took, I will take the liberty of citing to the House two or three cases. Here is the story of Mr. O'Brien, the hon. Member for Cork. As reported in the Freeman's Journal of the 30th April, 1899, speaking at Westport, he said—
If men are found selfish enough to break through such rules and send their cattle to graze on those lands, then, here and now the people should make up their minds to treat these men as public enemies with whom no man will hold any more friendship or fellowship than if he were a man that you caught setting fire to your house, for that is what they are doing— they are literally burning the people out of the country ….. But I do say openly, that the first business of every branch of this League ought to be to blackball every eleven months man, and every grabber, to ostracise him, to exclude him from the society of his fellow men, just as thoroughly as if he lived amidst the sands of the Sahara Desert. (Cheers.) You cannot make a revolution with rose-water, and you cannot leave the grazing ranches of Connaught idle on the landlords lands unless every branch draws a ring of social excommunication round every man who is aiding the landlords in their depopulation of Connaught.… You should let him bask in the society of his extra police guards. (Laughter.) Don't look at a beast of his in the fair. (Cheers.) If he is a shopkeeper in the town making a few shillings on the people, don't enter his shop. (Cheers)I might multiply these cases ad infinitum. I think that is a crime which should not be passed by.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
I intend at once to deal with the hon. Gentleman's point. He admits that it is a crime.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
I have shown that boycotting and intimidation is a crime, and the hon. Gentleman opposite, I suppose, will admit that if it is a crime, it ought to be punished by the law. From 109 observations which fell from him on a previous occasion, we may take it for granted that he thinks the Government of the day ought to try to punish such crimes by means of trial by jury, and only adopt other methods when they have found that juries are ineffective. I submit that you are not obliged, before you have recourse to other methods ready to your hand, to prove by a series of abortive trials causing infinite harm that juries will not act. I say that you must have regard to all the surrounding circumstances, the class from which they are drawn, the influences which are brought to bear; upon them, and the offences the men brought before them are accused of having committed; and then, if you come to the conclusion that you cannot get them to act, you will do an injury to the public peace by having abortive trial after abortive trial before you bring the offenders to justice. [A NATIONALIST MEMBER: What about England?] I would do the same for England if there was the same kind of teaching. I could show that three-fourths of the persons on the jury lists in the counties of Roscommon, Mayo, and Sligo are farmers. I find that the hon. Member for Waterford, in a speech reported in the Freeman's Journal of 21st October, 1900, said at Maryborough—Why, crime and outrage do not make you dangerous to England. On the contrary, crime and outrage play directly into the hands of your enemies. They constitute a justification before the whole world for any repressive measures that may be adopted; but as long as you keep your hands unstained by anything in the nature of crime against the laws of God— I speak not of the law of the land, because most of it is bad and ought to be broken (cheers)—but so long as you keep your hands unstained by any crime against the laws of God, and so long as you make your movement a power in Ireland, and a danger every day and every night in the year to English Government, so long will you have some chance of obtaining some remedy of some sort, at any rate of your grievances (cheers).The same advice was repeated by the hon. Member for cork, who is reported by the Freeman's Journal of 3rd Septemer, 1900, to have said—What you and I want above all other things is to bundle English rule out of the country (cheers). As to the means by which it is to be done that is altogether a question of 110 what means happen for the moment to be the most practical. If those means and methods do not transgress the laws of God, I for one care very little what other laws they may transgress (cheers).On 20th October the hon. Member for East Mayo is reported by the same paper of 20th October, 1901, to have said—If you mean when you go from this plat form today, in all the parishes which have sent delegation to this meeting, to apply yourselves as men to the great task of enrolling every man and boy in your parishes in the ranks of the United Irish League—(cheers)— and of making the rules of the League the law of your parish, then I say that the day is at hand when landlordism and foreign rule will tumble in ruins in Ireland (cheers).I might cite other speeches to the same effect. By the law of the land boycotting is a crime; by the law of the League it is not. If it is wrong by the law of the land, would it not be a farce to put into the jury-box men who are influenced by the teaching that they are to obey the law of God, not the law of the land? Who is to be the arbiter, who is to decide whether boycotting is in accordance with the law of God or not? It is certainly not the law of their religion, and it is not the law of their Church. I could read pastoral after pastoral in which distinguished prelates have told their flocks that the Church has condemned the system of boycotting and the Plan of Campaign. I think the Government would be false to its duty if, convinced not only by the many cases in which the jury have failed to act on the evidence, but convinced that these men, by the teaching they received, their surroundings, and their keen sympathy with the accused, would not act on the evidence, they had not taken the course they had taken, and changed the tribunal. The jurors drawn from the district unquestionably believed the agitation that these men were carrying on would redound to their advantage, and they were told by those they most trusted that what these men were accused of was a holy, a right, and a good thing. It was preposterous, therefore, to make such men jurors and ask them to bear their part in the administration of the law. I think it has been suggested that the Chief Baron, in the judgment so often referred to, was of opinion that the Court below acted entirely illegally.
§ MR. DILLON
The Attorney General is grossly misrepresenting what I said. What I said was that the Chief Baron held that the whole proceedings in the Court below were illegal ab initio.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
The reason the Chief Baron gave for that decision, was not that the men were not guilty of a crime which could not be punished by the Crimes Act, but that the summons was defective, because it contained two charges, over one of which, in his opinion, the magistrates had jurisdiction, and over the second of which they had no jurisdiction. Therefore, the only difference between him and his brethren, as he himself said, was merely upon the construction of the summons. His brethren construed it as containing one charge of unlawful assembly, and he considered there were two charges, one of unlawful assembly, and a substantive charge over which the magistrates had no jurisdiction.
MR.J.MORLEY (Montrose Burghs)
Did not the Chief Baron say that in his opinion when the defendants were charged before the magistrates they had a right to say, as they did say, through their counsel, "You have no power to try us?"
And did not the Chief Baron say further that he held the proceedings illegal in their inception and illegal throughout, and that the conviction could not be lawfully made? That is the conviction under which Members of this House are at this moment suffering imprisonment.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
I admit that the Chief Baron said that there was no jurisdiction, and that the proceedings were void from their inception, but the reason he gave was that the summons comprised two charges instead of one, and that over the second the magistrates had no jurisdiction. The three judges decided contrary to that view, and that 112 was the decision of the court. The Chief Baron is the last man to claim infallibility. I wish to join in everything that has been said in his praise. He is a great judge and a great lawyer, but he is not infallible; he has been wrong before and I dare say he will be wrong again. But whether the Chief Baron was right or wrong in this case is a matter I have no right to discuss. In reply to the charges brought against the police, I say that, if the police have been guilty of any of the things which have been laid to their charge, the sufferers have a ready remedy; and the best proof that they are innocent is that they have not been brought to book. The policy of the Government is, as it has been, to promote the social well-being of Ireland, to separate and distinguish political action from criminal action, to give the widest field to the advocacy of political theories, but not to hold back from the primary duty of throwing the protection of the law around even the meanest citizen. That duty they will pursue calmly, resolutely, and determinedly to the end.
I only want to make one or two short remarks on what has fallen from the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and to complete the point which arose out of the reference to the judgment of Chief Baron Palles. What I wish to say is this. Of course I entirely agree that it would be the height of presumption, not in him, but in me, to say that the Chief Baron was right and the other three Judges who sat with him were wrong. I should not attempt for a moment to say anything of the kind, though I have a pretty strong prepossession as regards the reputation of the Chief Baron and that of the three other learned Judges. But that is not the point. Let us grant, if you please, that it may be possible that the Chief Baron's view in this case was not a sound one, though that could not be proved unless it were so decided by the House of Lords. The point is this. The charge here is that the people of Ireland are not loyal, and it s said even that they cannot have Home Rule till they show that they are loyal. What I want to know is, how can you expert a community to be loyal when this can 113 happen, that the most learned Judge in Ireland—and I have heard great English Judges say that he is one of the most learned and competent common law Judges in the Kingdom—says distinctly that these proceedings are, from their inception and in every stage of them, illegal, void, and ought to be quashed—when he says that, and, nevertheless, under this exceptional law—the Crimes Act—you find some of the Irish representatives in this House are taken and locked up, and others are, as I hear, in a fair way of being taken—how can you expect the population, when they see a spectacle of that kind, to feel any loyalty towards the system? I know very well the difficulties of Irish government. A Coercion Act has its advantages; it facilitates a rough and ready administration, which we are now seeing examples of; but the great point I always felt in Irish administration was, not to go one inch ahead of the absolute necessity imposed upon me by the difficulties of the situation. We had difficulties, but somehow or another, without the Coercion Act, and without these exceptional Courts—
§ MR. J. MORLEY
We may have had to abandon a prosecution. I have forgotten the circumstance, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman is rather rash in challenging me upon that point. The condition of Ireland from 1892 to 1895, when we somehow or other kept order, was certainly better than today, when you are obliged, by your own account, to resort again to this exceptional legislation. Therefore it is an extremely irrelevant argument to say that we had to abandon this or that. Take the broad fact. Nobody knows it better than the hon. Member for South Tyrone, who has made one of the most interesting and eloquent speeches I have ever heard in this House. My hon. friend in those days was rather less regenerate than I am glad to find he is now. He brought a vote of censure upon me every week. The principal result was that by patience, perseverance, and steadiness, and by discreet police 114 administration, with all respect to any body who differs from me—we stood no nonsense—but somehow or other we got the country into a much better position when we left it than when I took the reins of office. A journal not favourable to my opinions—The Times—said—
We cannot deny that the condition of Ireland today is much worse than it was when Mr. Morley dropped the reins.Therefore, whatever else you may say of the views I hold, I think I am right in saying that the Government was, administratively speaking, not unsuccessful when I held the reins.
The Attorney General has passed over the cases that were mentioned by the hon. Member for East Mayo with reference to the excess of the police force. I am the last man, and have always been, to bring any charges against the Irish, police. I was present on one occasion, when there was a gross excess of force, and I ventured to say so. But in the case of Belfast and the West of Ireland during the whole of our administration, there were temptations to excess of force, but on none of those occasions, somehow-or other, was it such an excess of force as to call for any interference or protest from any body of Gentlemen in this House; and the reason was, I think, that in our day in Dublin Castle the watchword was, "Do not interfere with a meeting or gathering." There were plenty of meetings attempted in our time—meetings undoubtedly illegal were attempted. The promoters were told that they should not be held under conditions which involved any danger to any individual. I do not believe in our three years there was a single case where any one had reason to complain of want of protection or an excess of force. Why? The Irish police are a most admirable body, against whom I have never said anything; on the contrary, I have stood up for them in this House against my hon. friends below the gangway. But they take their cue undoubtedly from Dublin Castle. Do not let it be understood that I wish to say more than I do. I see two right hon. Gentlemen opposite who have been Chief Secretaries, and I do not allege that they have ever said to the police: "Do what you like; be as rough and brutal as you 115 please." Certainly not; but there is a disposition, almost inevitable among inspectors, if they know that there is in Dublin Castle a Chief Secretary or some one who is determined that if there is an excess of force or a readiness to baton a crowd they will be remonstrated with and, if cause arises, punished for it. I remember well my last tenure of that office. There was a certain kind of meeting —I forget what it was — a memorial meeting which Irish Nationalists chose to hold. It had been the practice of my predecessor, the present First Lord of the Treasury, to put down these meetings, I said that I should detest what was said at those meetings, but let them have their meetings so long as there was no provocation to disorder or active disloyalty or persecution of individuals. They had their meetings, and I think they never wanted to have any more. As I listened to the story told by the hon. Member for East Mayo, I felt that if the Chief Secretary or the Lord Lieutenant were to say "Let them have their meetings; let them say pretty much what they like, provided it does not lead to wrong done to an individual or to a large breach of the public peace"—if that cue were given to the Irish police, we should not have heard those stories, which I am bound to say I regard as thoroughly scandalous.
The Normoyle case is a story to which the right hon. Gentleman did not refer, and I do not wonder at it. I do not want to use unmeasured language. The House was not very full when it was told, but if hon. Members had heard that story, which was not disputed by the right hon. Gentlemen, they would have said that such a proceeding is a disgrace to any Government under whom it takes place. I am not going to argue with the right hon. Gentleman as to the significance of his admission about Ireland being, as he said, crimeless. [Mr. ATKINSON: Crimes of violence.] The Chief Secretary said that Ireland was practically crimeless, and there is no doubt about it. I share all the apprehensions of the hon. Member for South Tyrone, and I think his predictions are likely to come true as the result of a restless feeling. There always is restlessness in Ireland after a certain amount of peace and quietness. Yes, but why? If hon. Gentlemen opposite think that I have 116 what is called "given myself away," my answer is that this restlessness grows up because of your bad system and bad traditions of government in Ireland—because of your system of governing the country with all the apparent apparatus of consent, and yet really by exceptional criminal law, and by a police force which is practically a military body. That is the reason why the country becomes restless. The people do not lead a true national life, and, therefore, there is no room for them, as there is for us in this country, to have a true normal development of national life. Therefore they fall into those excesses which no one dislikes more than I do, and which no one recognises more than I do that the Government must deal with. But I return to the old quarrel of which the Committee is probably as tired as I am—that the restlessness will continue so long as you continue in your attempt to govern the country by force, while, at the same time, giving it in appearance all the apparatus of self-government, sending their Members here and giving them local government, for which you will smart before you are many years older. Lord Salisbury was perfectly right when he said in October, 1885, that a large central governing body in Ireland would be calculated to correct all the errors and excesses into which local bodies might fall. That was one of the most statesmanlike things that Lord Salisbury ever said. It was an argument used on the eve of a General Election, and the point of it was—and we all thought it a good point—that you had better give a large scheme of self-government than give a number of centres, each one of which might be rather a curse to the Irish themselves, and certainly a great torment and plague to the British Government.
I do not think, Sir, that anything has been said tonight which will relieve the Government of the immense responsibility which they are now taking upon their shoulders. They have taken this responsibility in a more aggravated degree even since the debate on the Address. Nothing has been said tonight which does not show that the Government are on the inclined plane which is going to lead them in two or three years into the very position described by the 117 hon. Member for South Tyrone. But who is the hon. Member? He is not a born Home Ruler. He is not one of those who became Home Rulers in 1886. He was one of those who fought our Government in 1892 with more strenuousness than anyone then sitting on this side of the House. And yet the hon. Gentleman who fought that battle with such pertinacity, even he has come round to see that the system which yon are entering upon is a system which is ruinous for any chance of happiness in Ireland, and which is ruinous to the stability of any Government in England.
§ (11.45.) MR. T P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said he did not in the least intend to stand in the way of the division, which he understood was to be taken, especially as another opportunity of discussing the Vote on Report would arise, when they would have the advantage of the presence of the Chief Secretary, whose absence they all regretted. He wished to allude to one or two of the points which had been raised in the course of the debate. He desired to call the attention of the Committee to a most remarkable omission from the speech of the Attorney General. He had been an unwilling observer of the manœuvres, if he might say so without offence, of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was at present leading the House with his usual ability. He was afraid that the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for the curtailment of the speech of the Attorney General. But all he could say was, that it was unfortunate that the Attorney General should have omitted to answer precisely the cases upon which his hon. friends desired information. One of these was the Kilmaine case, and the other the Normoyle case; but in neither case could they get a single word of explanation, of answer, or of defence. He had observed with some surprise, and perhaps with a little sense of scandal, that when the Normoyle case was referred to by his hon. friend, several hon. Members below the gangway, by interruptions and exclamations, expressed entire agreement with the action of the Government in regard to it. It was quite easy for hon. Gentlemen to express agreement with the action of the Government, 118 because more of them were in the happy condition of not having heard anything about the case at all, as the House was empty while his hon. friend was describing it, and they had not the advantage of the intelligent appreciation of the hon. Gentlemen who now applauded the action of the Government. That being so, he was under the painful necessity of recapitulating in a few sentences the facts of the case. Mrs. Normoyle, it was said, was boycotted, and was denied the opportunity of plying her business, which was that of selling milk. Several men were prosecuted on that charge, and were brought before two resident magistrates. Mrs. Normoyle was examined, and refused to give any evidence of either having been intimidated or of feeling intimidated. Her husband was brought up, and he also refused to give any evidence of having been intimidated, and one or two other members of the family were also brought up with a similar result. [An HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear !] He observed that the hon. Member opposite who had interrupted him, and whom he recognised as a member of the legal profession, gave what was cal ed an ironical cheer, by which he understood the hon. and learned Member to mean that those people did not give evidence because they were intimidated against giving it. He would answer that presently. The prosecuting counsel thereupon treated his own witnesses as hostile and cross-examined them, and the magistrates also treated them as hostile, and committed them to prison for contempt of court, and when the case was ended the Magistrates declared simultaneously that there was no case made against the defendants, but at the same time they would have to go to gaol for three months. That was a proceeding which had not only the high authority of the Magistrates, but also the approval of the hon. and learned Member opposite. The hon. and learned Member was evidently of opinion that those people did not declare that they were intimidated because they were afraid to do so. He supposed it would not be denied that evidence and proof were required in a criminal case, but in that case, when the witnesses declared they were not intimidated, it was taken as showing that they were. Was there ever a more absurd 119 contradiction of the laws of evidence, that, when a man said he was not intimidated, the Magistrates were entitled to immediately conclude he was, and to send people to prison for the offence? One man was sent to prison because he declared he was not intimidated; other men were sent to prison because they were innocent of having intimidated him. Those resident magistrates were quite capable of committing a judicial bull, but there was a remarkable addition to it in the shape of three months imprisonment.
In the case of Kilmaine, a meeting was held and Members of Parliament were present, one his hon. friend the Member for East Clare; the other his hon. friend the Member for South Mayo, at present in prison. The police came to the meeting with their power of literary criticism and judicial discrimination between different types of oratory. They allowed his hon. friend the Member for East Clare to speak, but when his hon. friend the Member for South Mayo, whose style of oratory was not quite the same, and who was Member for the district, got up to speak, the police declared they would not allow him to speak, and when he persisted, having perhaps a little literary jealousy, his constabulary critics not only prevented him from speaking but treated him with violence and dragged him to the police barracks because, forsooth, in the opinion of those distinguished and eminent critics, the speech, not that he made, but was about to make, did not meet with their approval and was not up to the same literary excellence of the speech of his hon. friend the Member for East Clare. The proceedings did not end there. He did no know whether there might not have been a certain partisanship in the crowd a between the two speakers, but the police made a raid on the crowd, struck and batoned the people, and even kicked them on the ground. That was the kind of proceeding which was to pre duce that law-abiding condition in Ireland which his right hon. friend ha reminded the Committee was the prelude which Gentlemen required before the kept the pledges so solemnly made to Ireland when Members of a former administration.
120 The Attorney General said that if the police committed any violence there was a remedy ! He should repeat a compliment which he had paid to the right hon. Gentleman before, and that was, that great as was his eminence in the legal profession, he always regretted he was lost to the dramatic profession. He possessed all that powerful command of impassivity of countenance, and almost seriousness, while saying the most comic things, which was at once a mark of genius in the low comedian and the high Government official. What was the remedy against the police? The poor person who had been struck with a baton or kicked could bring an action in a court of law. Never in the whole history of the last century in Ireland was a policeman brought into court by one of the people convicted. The police had behind them the Treasury and they had behind them the Attorney General for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman knew very well that Sullivan, the forger, was still in the police, as opposed to the cattle maimer Sheridan, whom the Government never prosecuted, although he had sent three men to penal servitude by perjury for crimes which he himself committed with his own hands. Sheridan was allowed to go to America scot free. If the Government did not send him, they tipped him the wink, whereas he ought to have been in a convict cell, to which he had condemned three men for crimes committed with his own guilty hand, backed with his own perjured evidence before a jury which the Attorney General packed. He would call the attention of the Committee to the grave fact that, according to every hon. Member who had taken part in the debate—a debate for the most part which had taken place in the absence of hon. Members who were now going to vote for the Government—according to the incontestible evidence of the Government themselves, Ireland was at the present moment in the most crimeless condition it had ever been for 100 years; and the reason he regarded the debate as serious and solemn and as a parting of the ways in Ireland was, that if the Government did not deal with the problem of which the De Freyne Estate was only a symbol, they would have to bear the crime of 121 turning a crimeless nation into a nation once more distracted by turbulence.
§ (11.56.) Question put.122
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 96; Noes, 184. (Division List No. 51.)123
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Hayne, Rt.Hon. Charles Seale-|
|Ambrose, Robert||Helme, Nerval Watson|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Jameson, Major J. Eustace|
|Black, Alexander William||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Reddy, M.|
|Blake, Edward||Joyce, Michael||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Boland, John||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Burns, John||Labouchere, Henry||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington|
|Leigh, Sir Joseph|
|Caine, William Sproston||Lundon, W.||Scott, Chas. Prestwieh (Leigh)|
|Caldwell, James||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Carew, James Laurence||M'Govern, T.||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Spencer, Rt Hon C R (Northants|
|Channing, Francis Allston||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Sullivan, Donal|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Minch, Matthew|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Mooney, John J.|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Morley, Rt. Hon. Jno. (Montrose||Thomas,David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Crean, Eugene||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.|
|Cremer, William Randal||Murnaghan, George||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Cullinan, J.||Murphy, John|
|Walton, John Lawson (Leeds, S.|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Delany, William||Nolan, Col. John P.(Galway, N.)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Dillon, John||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Norman, Henry|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)|
|O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Emmott, Alfred||O'Brien, Kendal(Tipperary, Mid|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N,)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W|
|Fenwick, Charles||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Sir Thomas Esmonde and Captain Donelan|
|Ffrench, Peter||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Field, William||O'Dowd, John|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||O'Kelly, James(Roscommon, N.|
|Gilhooly, James||O'Mara, James|
|Acland-Hood.Capt. Sir Alex.F.||Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Beach, Rt Hn Sir Michael Hicks|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bain, Colonel James Robert||Bentinck, Lord Henry C,|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Bignold, Arthur|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W(Leeds||Bigwood, James|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Banbury, Frederick George||Bill, Charles|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor||Bond, Edward|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Boscawen, Arthur Griffith|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hamilton, Rt HnLord G(Midd'x||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Hamilton, Marq.of(L'nd nderry|
|Bull, William James||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.|
|Bupaett-Coutts, W.||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Penn; John|
|Harris, Frederick Leverton||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Carlile, William Walter||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Cavendish, R. F.. (N. Lancs.)||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Helder, Augustus||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Henderson, Alexander||Purvis, Robert|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Higginbottom, S. W.||Pym, C. Guy|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm.||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield,Brightside|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Hornby, Sir William Henry|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Howard, John (Kent, Faversham|
|Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Ridley, Hon. M. W. (Stalybridge|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bain bridge||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. Thomson|
|Cubitt. Hon. Henry||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Cust, Henry John C.||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney).|
|Ropner, Col. Robert|
|Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Russell, T. W.|
|Davenport William Bromley-||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop|
|Davies, Sir Horatio D (Chatham||Keswick, William|
|Dewar, T. R. (T'rH'mlets, S.Geo.||Knowles, Lees||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lawson, John Grant||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Lee, Arthur H (Hants., Fareham||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Durning-Lawrenee, Sir Edwin||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Smith, H C(North'mb. Tyneside|
|Dyke, Rt.Hon. Sir William Hart||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks)|
|Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Spear, John Ward|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk|
|Fergusson, Rt.Hn.SirJ. (Manc'r||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Finch, George H.||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Fison, Frederick William|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Macdona, John Cumming||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||M'Calmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.)||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Flower, Ernest||Majendie, James A. H.||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Foster, Sir Michael(Lond.Univ.||Manners, Lord Cecil||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Foster, PhilipS(Warwick, S. W.||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Milvain, Thomas||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Gardner, Ernest||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Garfit, William||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Gibbs, Hn.A.G.H.(City of Lond.||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn)||More, Robert Jasper(Shropshire||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Gordon, Maj Evans-(T'rH'mlets||Morgan, David J (Walthamstow||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc.||Morrell, George Herbert||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Morrison, James Archibald||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Morton, Arthur H. A.(Deptford|
|Green, Walford D. (Wednesbury||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury||Murray, Rt.Hn. A.Graham(Bute|
|Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath|
|Mr. Anstruther and Mr. Hayes Fisher.|
|Hain, Edward||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Hall, Edward Marshall||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
§ (12.8.) Original Question put.124
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 194; Noes, 51. (Division List No. 52.)127
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Flower, Ernest||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Foster, Sir M. (London Univ.)||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Foster, PhilipS (Warwick, S.W.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Milvain, Thomas|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Molesworth, Sir Lewis|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Galloway, William Johnson||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Gardner, Ernest||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy|
|Garlit, William||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)|
|Gibbs, Hn.A.G.H.(CityofLoud.||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline Fitz. R.||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow)|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Gordon, Hn. J. E.(Elgin&Nairn||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Gordon, Maj.Evans-(T'rH'ml's||Morrison, James Archibald|
|Balfour, RtHnGeraldW. (Leeds||Gore, Hon.S.F.Ormsby-(Linc.)||Morton, Arthur H.A.(Deptford)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Mowbray, Sir Robt. Gray C.|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Murray, RtHnA.Graham(Bute|
|Bathurst, Hn. Allen Benjamin||Green, Walford D. (Wednesb'y||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)|
|Beach, Rt.Hn.Sir M.H. (Bristol||Greene, Henry D.(Shrewsbury)||Murray, Col. Wyndham(Bath)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.|
|Bignold, Arthur||Greville, Hon. Ronald|
|Bigwood, James||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Bill, Charles||Hain, Edward||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Bond, Edward||Hall, Edward Marshall|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Hamilton, RtHnLord.G.(Mid'x|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hamilton, Marq. of(L'nd'nd'r'y||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. Wm.|
|Bull, William James||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'd|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury).|
|Harris Frederick Leverton||Penn, John|
|Haslett, Sir James Horner||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Caldwall, James||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Carlile, William Walter||Hayne.Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Helder, Augustus||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derb'shire||Helme, Norval Watson||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Henderson, Alexander||Purvis, Robert|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Higginbottom, S. W.||Pym, C. Guy|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Hope, J.F.(Shelfield, Brig'ts'de|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Hornby, Sir William Henry|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Howard, John (Kent,Fav'rsh'm||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Howard. J. (Midd., Tottenham)||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles R.||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Remnant., James Farquharson|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Ridley, Hn.M.W.(Stalybridge|
|Corbett, A. Cameron(Glasgow)||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Ropner, Colonel Robert|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Cust, Henry John C.||Jones, William Carnarvonsh.)||Russell, T. W.|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop|
|Davenport. William Bromley-||Keswick, William||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Knowles, Lees||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Davies, Sir Horatio D.(Chatham||Seeley, Charles Hilton (Linc'n)|
|Dewar, T R. (T'rH'mlets.S. Geo.||Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Lambton, Hon. Fred. Wm.||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Lawson, John Grant,||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||Lee, ArthurH.(Hants. Fareham||Smith, H.C. (North'mb. Tyns'de|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Smith JamesParker(Lanarks.)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Duke. Henry Edward||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Spear, John Ward|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Leveson-Gower, Fredk. N.S.||Stanley Hon. Arthur(Ormsk'k)|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. H.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A.R.||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)|
|Long, Col.CharlesW.(Evesham||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Lonsdale. John Brownlee||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Lucas, Col. Francis(Lowestoft)|
|Fergusson, RtHnSirJ. (Manc'r)||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Finch, George H.||Thomas, David Alfred(Merthyr|
|Fison, Frederick William||Macdona, John Cumming||Thomson, F. W. (York, W.R.)|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||M'Calmont, Col.J.(Aiitrim, E.)||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Majendie, James A. H.||Tomlinson, Wm. Ed. Murray|
|Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Manners, Lord Cecil||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Walker, Col. William Hall||Webb, Col. William George||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)||Wharton, Rt. Hon John Lloyd|
|Warde, Colonel C. E.||Whitinore, Charles Algernon||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Warr, Augustus Frederick||Wilson, John (Glasgow)||Mr. Anstruther and Mr. Hayes Fisher.|
|Wason, JohnCathcart(Orkney)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Abraham, William(Cork, N. E.)||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Ambrose, Robert||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Boland, John||O'Kelly, J. (Roscommon, N.)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||O'Malley, William|
|Burns, John||Lundon, W.||O'Mara, James|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||M'Govern, T.|
|Crean, Eugene||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Reddy, M.|
|Cremer, William Randal||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Cullinan, J.||Minch, Matthew||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Mooney, John J.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Morton, Edw.J. C. (Devonport)|
|Delany, William||Murphy, John||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Dillon, John||Sullivan, Donal|
|Doogan, P. C.|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Young, Samuel|
|Nolan, Col. JohnP. (Galway, N.)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Nolan, Joseph (Louth. South)|
|Field, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Brien, Kendal(Tipper'yMid.|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Sir Thomas Esmonde and Captain Donelan.|
|O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Gilhooly, James||O'Connor, James(Wicklow, W.|
§ It being after Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next: Committee to sit again upon Monday next.