§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment [23rd January] to Main Question [16th January], "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth:—
§ Most Gracious Sovereign,
§ "We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament." (Colonel Harry M'Calmont.)
And which Amendment was, at the end of the Question, to add the words—
But we humbly represent to Your Majesty, that the refusal of Your Majesty's Government to hold out any hope to the people of Ireland of a settlement of the Irish Land Question by a comprehensive measure of compulsory sale of the landlord's interest to the occupying tenants, and by the re-organisation of the Congested Districts Board with larger resources and with compulsory powers of acquiring land, has given rise to widespread discontent and agitation in Ireland; that the Government of Ireland, instead of applying itself to the removal of the grievances under which the people suffer and so abating the causes of reasonable discontent and of
agitation, have after a period of nine years and at a time when Ireland is absolutely free from agrarian crime, put a criminal statute of an exceptional description once more in operation, suppressed the right of free speech, dispersed legal and peaceable meetings with unprovoked and brutal police violence, and used Courts presided over by magistrates removeable at the pleasure of the Executive to send to goal without fair trial Members of this House and other citizens of Ireland for no other offence than asserting their right to address their constituents and fellow-citizens in public meeting assembled; and finally to represent to Your Majesty that the Government of Ireland is not supported by the opinion of the vast majority of the people of Ireland, and that the condition of that country demands the serious and immediate attention of Parliament, with a view to the establishment of harmony between the Government and the great majority of the people." (Mr. John Redmond.)
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ (4.15.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said he sympathised to some degree with the idea which permeated the speech of the right hon. and gallant gentleman the Member for North Armagh. There was a certain sense of weariness with repetition of the theme which was being discussed. It was pretty much the same topic; to a large extent there were the same arguments put forward by the same prominent actors in the scene. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman was especially uniform in his attitude for the principles he professed and the remedies he proposed for the existing state of things were exactly identical with those he had been putting forward for the last 15 or 16 years. He could, therefore, easily understand that to the superficial observer the debate appeared of a somewhat unreal, academic, and almost threadbare character. But in his opinion that was an entirely false view; he held that in time to come the debate would be regarded as historic and epoch making in the progress of Ireland towards the settlement of the land question.
The most remarkable thing about the debate to him was the extraordinary concurrence of testimony and opinion with regard to the main features of the discussion. The right hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh was absolutely alone among the representatives of Ireland in his attitude towards 805 the land question, and in his views of the present position of the Irish landlord. The right hon. Gentleman expressed somewhat—he feared—insincere commiseration over the rapidity of the conversion of the hon. Member for South Tyrone, but he ventured to think that the conversion of the hon. Member for North Antrim had been even more rapid. The hon. Member for North Antrim, indeed, made a mockery of the whole position of the Chief Secretary. He dealt with the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the House would never accept the principle of compulsory purchase, and he pointed out how experience had proved that these declarations of impossibility had a few years later been followed by the concession of the principle. And so in this demand for compulsory purchase the Chief Secretary had now to face a united Ireland. There never yet had been and there never could be a demand for reform made by a united Ireland, united in all its parts, its parties, and its creeds, which that House would be finally able to oppose. Therefore, he thought this debate had advanced compulsory land purchase very considerably by the revelation of the fact that even so strong a party man as the hon. and learned Member for North Antrim was compelled to join hon. members on those Benches in denunciation and disapprobation of the policy of the Chief Secretary in regard to it.
He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary on the tone of his speech; it was a striking contrast to some he had recently delivered in the country. It was to be regretted that the right hon. Gentleman felt himself at liberty to make the observations he had done with regard to hon. Members sitting on the Nationalist Benches. He had never yet been able to understand why it was deemed to be within the decencies of parliamentary warfare that Irish Members should be reproached with the fact that they are poor in means and that they receive their sustenance for political service from their constituents. That was not to them a humiliation; it was their boast and their pride and he wanted to know by what law of etiquette, polite- 806 ness and good taste, reproaches were made by Irish Members which would be scouted as indecent by the House if they were levelled against any other body of the members. There was no man who stood higher in the estimation of the House than the hon. Member for Morpeth; yet he sat there by the assistance of the men who supported his candidature for Parliament, and anyone who dared to mention the fact in terms of insult and reproach would at once be called to order. He was unable to see why what would be resented in the case of an English Member should be deemed to be permissible in the case of an Irish Member.
Now he came to the substance of the speech of the Chief Secretary, and he maintained that on the question of the futility of the present Land Acts and the ultimate advent of an occupying ownership, and on the absence of crime in Ireland, that speech was exactly the same in substance as the speech of his hon. and learned friend the Member for Waterford. Take the futility of the present land system. He knew of no condemnation more powerful and terse than that of the right hon. Gentleman, who on the preceding night drew a picture of Ireland showing that both landlords and tenants were being equally drained of money by the costs of unnecessary litigation entailed by the Land Acts. At the time the present First Lord of the Treasury was Chief Secretary for Ireland, he constantly twitted the Nationalist Members with never bringing forward anything like practical propositions. Yet they had the fact that the position which to-day was the practical policy of all parties in the State, viz., peasant proprietary, afforded the only final and just settlement of the Irish land question, and that was the doctrine which was preached from the Irish Benches 22 years, and had been consistently advocated ever since. What did the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary say with regard to the speech of the hon. Member for North Antrim? He said they differed as to the methods but they agreed as to the goal. Did anyone think that the citadel of landlordism, the very key of which was given up by its own defenders, was going to stand this last assault upon it? No, 807 landlordism was doomed. Look at the state of affairs in East Down! The feeling of political dislike and odium for the Nationalist party which was entertained by the right hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh was very much more akin to affection than was his feeling towards the hon. Member for South Tyrone, who had been denounced as the worst enemy of the Government and a very effective enemy of the Union. Yet in the Unionist-Protestant-Ulster constituency of East Down, though hon. gentlemen opposite hated the very name of the hon. Member for South Tyrone, they had not the courage to put up a single man in the House of Commons to speak against him. Where was the learned gentleman, recently elected a judge, who graced those Benches a short time ago? He himself had seen the hon. gentleman in the lobby, like the Peri at the gate of Paradise, looking into the Assembly which was no longer honoured by his graceful and convincing manners. Why had he not stood again, as he could stand, for his constituency, or why had he not got some one else to stand against the candidate of the hon. Member for South Tyrone, whom he had denounced in no sparing terms? Why had not the Chief Secretary, with Attorney-Generalships, Solicitor-Generalships, and Judgeships in his gift, been able to summon from Ireland a single man to bear the standard of the Government and of voluntary purchase against the hon. Member for South Tyrone? What did it mean? It meant that the Government had given up the fight on this question, and the only person to keep them in countenance was the somewhat forlorn and antiquated and anachronistic figure, of the hon. and gallant gentleman the Member for North Armagh.
He took issue with the Chief Secretary also, on the merits of the question. What were the merits in the case of the De Freyne estate? There they had an object lesson of the present position of the Irish land question. They had a voluntary purchase system in all its nakedness and all its glory, and yet the Chief Secretary did not traverse the essential facts advanced by the hon. Member for Waterford, that high rents were demanded for patches of land with miserable dwellings, and that the small 808 crops, being insufficient to pay them, the tenants had to go over to England to reap the harvest there and bring the money back in order to pay their landlords. There was no part of the world in which the English tongue was spoken which did not pay that tribute to the Irish landlords. The English and Scotch labourer had their sources of employment diminished and their wages reduced in order that the Irish labourer might get enough to pay his landlord. The Irish in America and in Australia also joined in paying the annual tribute to the Irish landlord, but he was glad to believe that that would soon be a thing of the past. The Chief Secretary, in language almost pathetic, had appealed to the Nationalist Members not to carry on the combination on the estate which had been started—not by hon. Members be it remembered—but by the tenants themselves, who were threatened with eviction from the small holdings which constituted their only dwelling-place in Ireland. Was not that an admission in the strongest form that these unfortunate tenants were paying an excessive rack rental, not upon the soil upon which they dwelt, but the labour which they gave to the Scotch and English landlords? Yet the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to continue that state of things, when by an Act of Parliament of ten lines he could put an end to it and give the people all the benefits in property, life and labour given by the Congested Districts Board.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. WYNDHAM,) Dover
said that his argument was, that if compulsion were applied it would not improve the position.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said on the one side they had these miserable, unfertile patches, while on the other were these immense grazing lands which were devoid of human habitations. The basis of the Irish contention was that these migratory labourers should be made peasant proprietors, and in that way by settling the people on these grazing lands the congested districts could be made districts inhabited by people with good holdings. The right hon. Gentleman had asked was there any precedent 809 for compulsion. That was a most extraordinary question. Compulsory purchase of land was the best established principle in the country. Let a railway want land, or a County Council want land, and compulsory powers were at once resorted to to acquire it. In fact, all they had to prove in order to establish the right to purchase compulsorily was that it was for a great public or national good. In France, at the time of the Revolution, they took compulsory powers with something superadded, which he did not propose to advocate; in Germany they had compulsory land purchase, and both those countries had been transformed into lands smiling, fertile, and rich, in place of being lands inhabited by ragged and shivering slaves. The right hon. Gentleman also asked the hon. Member for Waterford whether Parliament had the time to do this. That was the whole case of the Irish party. Parliament had neither the power, capacity, nor the time to deal with this question, so that the right hon. Gentleman's remarks, instead of being an extenuation, were an aggravation of the position which he had got up to defend. The right hon. Gentleman also set up an old argument in a new form. He asserted that it would be to the advantage of a poor country like Ireland to be united to a rich and a mighty one like England. Those who represented Irish constituencies thought very little of that argument. Since the financial relations had been discussed, they found, exactly as Dr. Johnson found, Tory as he was, that the unity of the two countries would be to the plunder and poverty of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman further said that Ireland required the advantage of the common exchequer to carry out the scheme of compulsory land purchase, but if self-government were given to Ireland she would carry out the scheme without a penny of British money. Amongst the local bodies of the world that stood highest in credit were the local bodies of Ireland. The Dublin Corporation could borrow money at a lower rate than the Corporations of any cities of the United Kingdom. He challenged denial to that statement. Every penny that had been advanced by the public purse to the tenantry of Ireland had been repaid with most scrupulous punctuality.
810 The right hon. Gentleman, referring to the De Freyne estate, said that the proper course to pursue was to try and prevent the men remaining migratory labourers. That was exactly the policy of the Nationalists, but how were they to be prevented from being migratory labourers if the landlord was to be allowed to extract from these men 6s. 8d. in the £, more than was paid by their neighbours? Every argument which the right hon. Gentleman had used in favour of the De Freyne estate was a confirmation of the application which the Nationalists made.
On many points the right hon. Gentleman was in practical agreement with the hon. Member for Waterford. In regard to crime in Ireland there was no great difference between them, yet one read "Crime in Ireland" in large leaded letters in every paper in England. In 1886, when he commenced to address meetings in England, he obtained some indication of the feeling which these statements used to create in this country. Once in Lancashire, where he was entertained very hospitably, the lady with whom he had stayed had had an Irish gentleman stopping with her, who had been speaking in the district, and she had told him (MR. O'Connor) that she found her children were actually safe in the presence of an Irishman! That was the inevitable consequence of the travesty of the reality of Irish social life, which the Chief Secretary of that day had endeavoured to instil into the minds of the people of this country. If the riot which had taken place at Birmingham had taken place in Ireland, there would in the first place have been 250 heads broken, and 40 or 50 prosecutions, and 150 added to the number of agrarian outrages in the Blue-book, and no official inquiry at all. Lawlessness in Ireland was due more to the Government of the country than the people. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the extent of intimidation in Ireland, and referred to the Members of this House whom he was going to send to gaol. What did intimidation in Ireland amount to. That it was held right, when there was a just attempt to transform the land system of the country from its intolerable position, to bring the force of public opinion to 811 bear upon the men who put themselves in the hands of the enemies of the rights of the people? That was absurd; if the right hon. Gentleman had found the people of Ireland asking for the names of the men it would be a different matter. There never was a Trade Union tyranny or agrarian tyranny in Ireland or elsewhere, that in its relentlessness and cruelty could approach that of medical or legal etiquette. Medical etiquette had been responsible for thousands of lives in this country. [Cries of "No, no!"] That was his statement, and, of course, doctors would deny it. He said the same thing with regard to the Legal Trade Unionism. While medical men and lawyers could establish Trade Unions for the keeping up of their fees and the privileges of their class, the one person who was to be denied the same protection was the poor cottar of Ireland who came to earn the 30s. that he paid to his landlord. The right hon. Gentleman had been unable to bring forward a single instance to show that that was not so. If from 1800 to 1845 the tenants had formed the combinations which were formed in 1880 and onwards, and they had declined to play the game of the landlords, a million people would not have died of hunger as they did.
The right hon. Gentleman made a distinction between crime and crime which was by no means a technical one; he had spoken of overt crime, by which he meant violence either to person or to property, and he had spoken of the crime of intimidation, which he had so distinguished from overt crime. There was no overt crime in Ireland practically and the crime which they had to deal with was the crime of social ostracism. The right hon. Gentleman had said it was a crime against the common weal Who were the best judges of the commonweal? The people of the country! When a crime against the common weal was brought to the Courts, the only way to try it was by the representatives of the common weal, that was to say twelve men in the jury box; they were the only people who could try it; it was not the governors of the country. The rapidity of the progress of the right hon. Gentleman was one of the most remarkable phenomena in political psychology. The right 812 hon. Gentleman was originally one of the most ingenuous and generous men, as limpid and as clear as an inland lake under an April sun; yet on the previous evening, without a smile, without even a look that would betray the absurdity of what he said, or a blush to show that he felt conscious of what he was doing, the right hon. Gentleman had said he would not comment upon the cases against hon. Members who sat upon the Nationalist Benches because his tongue was tied, as the cases were sub judice. The artistic skill with which that was done commanded his (MR. O'Connor's) admiration. The right hon. Gentleman had in Ireland a number of persons who, under the name of resident judges, were far more his servants than the footmen who stood behind his carriage, if he were blessed with such an appurtenance. If the right hon. Gentleman had a. good cook, he was conscious of the fact that she could leave him and take another place at a moment's notice, but these poor wastrels of an abandoned career, these broken-down barristers, doctors, and militia officers, who were sometimes cashiered and sometimes not, had no other resource in the world than the fees given by the Government of Ireland for the purpose of gilding despotism under the name of law and order. These resident judges—resident magistrates—were removable by the right hon. Gentleman and were dependent for the bread eaten by their wives, their children, and themselves, on the mercy of the right hon. Gentleman, who could give them a pension or refuse them a pension, who could increase their salary or reduce it; who could give them a good district or a bad district; an old age of comfort and opulence or an asylum in the poorhouse; and these were the men who were put forward before the House of Commons as judicial officers—impartial, independent, conscientious, judical officers, whose solemn and impartial verdict was to be taken in case of a dispute between their master and his political opponents. This was the matter upon which the right hon. Gentleman with such delicacy would not touch because it was sub judice! If they were to have despotism in Ireland, let them have bare, bald despotism, undisguised by the jargon of legal terms.
813 Was such a state of things good for Ireland? When he heard English members chortling and cheering at statistics of the prosperity of Ireland, his heart grew cold. When he, who knew the real state of the country remembered the tragedy of Irish life, with its separation, debt, and exile, and then heard men talk about the prosperity of Ireland, he almost despaired of being able ever to make the Irish case understood. The Chief Secretary had lectured Nationalists on the danger of agitation, and had implied that if they would only speak soothingly and quietly, and coo like doves, they would get everything they wanted. Did the right hon. Gentleman really believe that? He (the hon. Member) challenged any man to mention a single Irish reform that had been carried in Parliament except as the result of fierce, violent, and almost revolutionary agitation. That was not a desirable state of things, and one of his strongest reasons for wishing to see Ireland governed by an Irish Assembly was that such a body could and would be approached constitutionally, whereas now the governing body could be approached only when an Irish movement rode on the storm of a great and violent agitation. Was that state of things good for England? The Irish question was the spectre that haunted England in every part of the world. His hon. friends who had recently returned from America could tell the House that the greatest obstacle to a good understanding between England and the United Estates was this same open sore.
Was it good for the House of Commons? There had been conditions under which the Irish Party could make and unmake Ministries. The first time the present Prime Minister held office it was at the gift of the Irish Party. Such a time might come again. This power over the greatest of Imperial concerns was given to Irish Members, and they used it—and rightly—with a view to the interests of their own country and not those of England, but they were deprived of all power of dealing with even the smallest affairs of Government in their own country. That was a state of things as much to the prejudice of England and the British Empire 814 generally, as of Ireland, and therefore, every man of sound sense, whether he was English or Irish, ought to do his best to bring it to an end.
§ *(5.5.) MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
said he approached the consideration of this Amendment with a different spirit and with a far different purpose from that which animated the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool. He might say at once in order to satisfy the hon. Member's curiosity, that his position with regard to compulsory purchase was diametrically opposite to that of the hon. Member for South Tyrone, who had started a candidate against him in South Antrim. He deeply regretted he could not repudiate, in every particular, the other clauses of the Amendment. The policy and administration of His Majesty's Government in Ireland were not received with satisfaction and approval by those on whose behalf he was speaking. He had elsewhere criticised the Irish administration, and therefore he felt bound to state that what had occurred during the last six months in Ireland had increased rather than diminished the anxiety and apprehension which the condition of certain portions of Ireland awakened last year. He admitted that the statistics of agrarian crime last year and at the present moment were, when compared with those of 1887, of a favourable character, and if he believed that those statistics presented any accurate indication of the state of some parts of Ireland, he would not have troubled the House with a speech. But there was high Parliamentary authority for the statement that when Ireland was subject to an agrarian agitation its condition could not be accurately judged by the statistics of crimes, agrarian or otherwise. Those statistics might be an accurate representation of overt acts, but they were not and could not be an accurate indication of the organised intimidation which was always the consequence of agitation when successfully established. The First Lord of the Treasury when introducing the Criminal Law Amendment Act in 1887; laid special emphasis on that fact, for, he said, he did not rest his case on statistic or agrarian crime in Ireland, and quoted the opinion of Mr. Gladstone that the 815 amount of agrarian crime must be taken into consideration in conjunction with its source and character with what it indicated and what it meant. The First Lord went on to say that he did not think the amount of crime in Ireland taken by itself was a trustworthy indication of the state of the country. People who had lived in disturbed districts in Ireland would testify that a district might be absolutely free from the commission of overt acts, and yet be so thoroughly under the influence of organised intimidation that every circumstance of life was carried on subject with the sanction of those who directed and controlled the agitation.
In order to illustrate the condition of many portions of Ireland at the present moment, he would adopt the method taken by the First Lord of the Treasury in establishing his case for the Criminal Law Amendment Act. The right hon. Gentleman, on that occasion, said he would prove his case from the ample and overflowing material in the reports of local newspapers in Ireland; and he selected one particular paper circulating in one particular district, from which he invited Members of the House of Commons to picture to themselves the conditions of life, not only in that special district, but in many other districts in Ireland. Following that example, he would take a paper circulating in County Clare—the Clareman. He selected that district because he had already dealt with County Sligo, and also because, on the previous night, the Colonial Secretary had said there were only 17 active branches or the League in County Clare. In the Clareman, of January 4th, the reports of 30 branches of the League appeared. He would not trouble the House with them all, but simply give illustrations from one or two. The Ennis Branch met, and the first business was a charge against Mr. Enright, of giving work to a man who had violated the rules of the United Irish League. Mr. Enright explained that he was not and had not been giving employment to this man for 14 months. That was considered satisfactory by the tribunal and he was allowed to go scot free. The next case was that of a Mrs Considine, who had served an ejectment order on a tenant who declined to pay his rent. After considerable discussion, 816 one of the Members of the tribunal was deputed to see Mrs. Considine and arrange matters in accordance with the view of the Branch. Then they went on to consider the case of an Ennis shopkeeper who had sold a mowing machine to a farmer who was boycotted, and what was the excuse? The shopkeeper's excuse was that he had received no intimation of a boycott having been placed upon this man, but it was perfectly evident that if official information had been sent to him he would not have supplied the machine to the farmer. In another case, the man summoned before the Committee did not appear, and by his absence it was taken that he had no defence to make, and he was condemned. In another case the tenant on one estate who broke the combination agreed to by the other tenants, appeared before the Committee of the League, and apologized for what he had done; and he was let off with a caution. He had another half-dozen cases which he could quote presenting practically the same interference with the individual liberty and influence on the relations between landlord and tenant, shop-keeper and customer, labourer and employer, and, to quote the words used by the First Lord of the Treasury in the case of the Criminal Law Amendment Act:—The interest lies in the fact that they are all taken from one issue of one newspaper, and they show the extent of the system which he had been commenting upon.Before passing away from the condition of Clare he wished to take an instance from Tipperary to show the sporadic growth of this agitation. He would quote the following passage from the Irish People of January 18th, which stated that—Seven graiziers came before a special meet, ing of the Templemore Branch of the League and surrendered their farms, in all, about 2,000 acres.He mentioned this case to show that outside the area of Sligo, Roscommon and Mayo, the influence of the United Irish League had a most potent effect in determining all contracts and relations between landlord and tenant, and the evidence which he had laid before the House was an ample justification for the speech which the hon. and learned Member for the City of Waterford made in the United States 817 last autumn, in which he was reported to have said, that:—Probably the unwritten law will be tried first. What I want to see, is the people united in the United Irish League. Then they will compel the breaking up of these best grass lands. The unwritten law is already in operation since the establishment of the League. The unwritten law has become so strong that many of the grass land owners are giving up their holdings to be divided amongst the people.He would not discuss with his right hon. friend whether the area over which this agitation extended was as large as he believed it to be, or as circumscribed as he preferred to make it. He contended that organised intimidation of this nature producing the state of things which he had described, ought not and could not be tolerated, although it might be confined to one district. That was the policy which he understood that his right hon. friend adumbrated at Belfast. What he and the people, who lived in those districts, complained of was that this agitation had been allowed to grow and develop and establish itself until a few weeks ago the League thought itself strong enough to start a definite agitation against the payment of rent. The House would be very wrong if it supposed that this was the first occasion in which the United Irish League had exercised its energies in the direction of illegal pressure. It was perfectly true that the League was ostensibly started in 1898 for breaking down the system of eleven months grazing, but from its earliest moments its leaders, both inside and outside of this House, never hesitated to declare that the object and the policy of the new League were precisely similar to the objects of the old Land League, and it was organised by the same men who knew the methods by which the authority of the old League was established. If the authority of the Irish National League had been established without the commission of those crimes which dogged the footsteps of the Irish National League, it was principally owing to the fact that there was no opposition offered to it. The agitators had established the authority of the League principally on account of the attitude adopted by the Irish Government. It was the confident hope of the Irish Government that the illegal actions of the Irish League would break down of 818 their own weight; but that was a hope not shared in Ireland by anyone outside the Castle. It might be argued that the Government of that day were entitled to give this policy a trial, and to give the policy of laisser faire a run for its money. Well, it had a run, but at whose expense? Why, at the expense, not of those who promulgated it, but of the law-abiding citizens of the country who desired to live within the law and looked to the law to protect them. If the awakened energy of Dublin Castle was sufficient to restore to individuals in Sligo, Roscommon, and Clare, and other districts, their right to exercise freedom of contract, then he would be the very first person to congratulate his right hon. friend, though he was absolutely unable to attach the same weight to the distinction between the United Irish League and the Land League, or the Irish National League.
His right hon. friend was now engaged in a conflict of a very serious character. He was engaged in a conflict with the unwritten law of the United Irish League, which could not end until either the law of the League was supreme or the law of the land was supreme. The right hon. Gentleman was going to rely upon the common law of the land, and to rely upon police protection in the first instance. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that when a district was so under intimidation that the liberties of individuals were crippled, he would flood that district with extra police, and put the charge upon the district. It was a policy which punished the innocent as well as the guilty, the law-abiding citizen as well as the law-breaker. In some cases, nine-tenths of the extra charge would be paid by the very men who were the victims of the agitator as well as the law-breaker. Further than that, police protection might possibly be of some avail in the case of a large grazier. He is a substantial man, and if you spend thousands of pounds he may be able to carry on his business; but the case was quite different when it came to protecting a small shopkeeper or a labourer, or any man of humble position who had been drawn into the net of boycotting which surrounded all who opposed the United Irish League. The Chief Secretary had said he would protect the life, limbs, and 819 liberties of all His Majesty's subjects in Ireland. That might be so, but police protection would not protect a man's means of livelihood. All the police protection in the world would not induce people to go to the shop of a man who was boycotted. He knew of individual cases where widows with four or five children and other people in humble life of that description would have actually starved if it had not been for the generosity of those whose sympathy had been aroused in other parts of Ireland. Police protection would not protect those people in their livelihood, and they must go to the poorhouse. Police protection only touched the fringe of this question.
His right hon. friend proposed to rely on the common law. There he deprived himself of one of the most important instruments in securing conviction for crime in an exceptional agrarian agitation, because, under the common law, he could not resort to a change of venure except in incidental cases in the winter assizes, or by what the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland had described as the cumbrous and unwieldy method of applying specially to the King's Bench. When elaborate attempts were made to establish the superiority of the common law over the exceptional machinery which was expressly provided for dealing with an exceptional state of affairs in Ireland, he must call attention to the statement made by the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, at Cork assizes in 1900, whose authority no one on the Ministerial Bench would for a moment dispute. He called attention to the observations of Lord O'Brien, all the more readily because, in some quarters, it had been supposed that his Lordship gave testimonials to the united Irish League, when he made some statement with regard to it, which entitled the Members of the League and its supporters to say that the League had done nothing to justify proclamation. Lord O'Brien said:It has been said to me why is not the United Irish League proclaimed as an unlawful organisation? My answer to that is, and I give it without the smallest, hesitation, that whatever the future may do—I emphasise that expression—whatever the future may do there has been no case made out for the proclamation of the United Irish League as an unlawful organisation. It may be, as some people have said, nothing more than organised intimidation. That may be, I offer no opinion. I am anxious 820 to speak guardedly, but, in my judgment, whatever the future may develope, I don't think there was any such establishment of overt acts as would justify the proclamation of the United Irish League hitherto. It was very different when the Land League was proclaimed. I remember it well; I was one of the law officers at the time, and all Cork people remember it too. There the overt acts which the Government thought it right to have regard to, were distinctly established.The actual words of the Lord Chief Justice did not support the construction put upon them in some quarters. His Lordship was speaking judicially on matters brought before him, and not upon matters he had heard in the street and read in the papers. He said that up to that time a case for the proclamation of the United Irish League had not been judicially established before him, as it had been established in the case of the Land League.
§ * MR. MACARTNEY
said he would tell the right hon. Gentleman a case could be judicially established by prosecutions where crimes had been committed, and these prosecutions, whether successful or not, would judicially establish a case. It was perfectly clear that what the Lord Chief Justice was driving at was that the Government for some time past had not taken such steps as the Government in the days of the Land League, and the National League had done to establish judicially a case for the prosecution of the leaders. As an illustration of this, in 1889 there was a case in which an overt act of intimidation was committed, when a certain person was denounced and he had to give up his farm. But the other day the hon. Member for North Mayo was sent to prison for intimidation in a similar case; but they acted differently in 1899.
§ * MR. MACARTNEY
said that was so, but he had nothing to do with Irish administration then, as he was Secretary of the Admiralty. But his point was, that the common law as applied to agrarian offences had broken down. The Lord Chief Justice had stated that there was 821 no jury in the South and West of Ireland, who at the present moment would convict in any cases of agrarian offences, yet the Chief Secretary continued to rely upon the common law, and in this way he destroyed most effective instruments derivable from the passing of the Criminal Law Amendment Act. He offered extra police protection, but the branches of the United League met, and their decisions of hostility were published weekly against tenants and others. This was not the way in which the First Lord of the Treasury, when Chief Secretary for Ireland, dealt with the National League. He suppressed its branches, and he secured the conviction of some nineteen newspapers that had published the proceedings of the Land League branches, and the Attorney General of the day declared in the House that the provisions of the Crimes Act had worked equitably and successfully. He said the policy instituted by the Irish Government had broken down. If he wanted proof to support his proposition, he had only to point out that the Irish Government, after two years, had been compelled to have recourse to a series of prosecutions, which he was bound to say, if instituted two years ago would have had a most beneficial effect on the country. Take the case of James Lynam. Two resident magistrates formed a quorum, but they were joined by two local men.—[Nationalist cries of "Hear, hear."] Yes, but not on the invitation of the Chief Secretary. They joined the Court, and the two resident magistrates were not able to exclude them. One of the local magistrates was a member of the United Irish League, and was therefore in a position to hear the evidence with impartiality. The other local magistrate had never before been in that Petty Sessions Court in his life. The resident magistrates protested without effeet. The evidence was heard, and it seemed to be pretty conclusive against the accused, but the magistrates differed and the result was that his right hon. friend's court broke down and practically the machinery upon which he relied in the particular district went to pieces, and became useless. [Interruption from the Nationalist Benches.]
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! Hon. Members are quite out of order in these 822 continuous interruptions. The hon. Member did not interrupt the speeches from the other side, and I hope the same courtesy will be extended to him.
§ * MR. MACARTNEY
said he was sure hon. Members must know the difficulty he was under in presenting his case to the House. The ordinary common law did not give to his right hon. friend those instruments by which alone he could restore to those districts the liberty of the people whom he admitted had beer, crippled. He feared that the Chief Secretary was entering with much too light a heart on this struggle, which everybody in Ireland knew to be serious and would have a lasting effect on these districts unless it ended in the victory of the law of the land. As representing a Unionist Constituency he had to complain that the general attitude of the Government in Ireland for some time past had created an atmosphere which clothed with the garb of approval all those who were opposed to Unionist principles, and which had placed all those who were supporters of His Majesty's Government, and who had worked for years to place ministers who now occupied that Bench in the important position they held, and had also placed the Unionist cause in the position it now occupied, in a position of comparative inferiority. To give an illustration of this he would refer to the case of a man named Quinn—a man of rather doubtful character, who twelve years ago had got two months in gaol for stabbing, who in June last was fined for assault on a little boy, and on 28th November last was convicted for assaulting five members of the Tobercurry Board of Guardians. He spat on the face of one, he struck another, and then attempted to fell the dispensary doctor with a heavy ruler. He was convicted at the Tobercurry Petty Sessions, where he made no appearance, and was bound over to keep the peace for twelve months. Meanwhile he evaded the police until one day he mysteriously appeared at a meeting of the Board of Guardians, when the police very properly executed the warrant against him and arrested him. And what happened? A majority of the Board of Guardians (not the five members who had been assaulted) passed an 823 indignant resolution which they forwarded to his right hon. friend, the Chief Secretary, calling on him to resent this interference by the police with the sanctity of the Board room. [Laughter.] He admitted that this was a circumstance which might naturally rouse the laughter of his friends; but they must remember that this was in the centre of a district which had been boycotted most bitterly for two years. What did the Chief Secretary do? At the next meeting of the Board of Guardians of Tobercurry the Chairman read the following letter which he had received from the Chief Secretary's Office:—Dear Sir,—The Chief Secretary asks me to inform you that he has inquired into the arresting of Mr. Quinn, to who you drew his attention on 13th ult. The police authorities report that the police officer responsible (Head Constable Carrot), discharged his duty in arresting Mr. Quinn, but that his action in carrying out the arrest, while Mr. Quinn was engaged in reporting, the proceedings of your board was unnecessary and unreasonable, and he has been so informed.Mr. WYNDHAM: ["Hear, hear."] The Chief Secretary said "hear, hear;" but he had little idea of the effect of that letter. It was all very well for his right hon. friend who lived in Dublin Castle, and was not exposed to the enmity of the league to laugh, but he should realise that this was a blow aimed at the Majesty of the law. His right hon. friend did not know the district, but if he went down there, and if he knew the feeling that had been created by this letter, he would agree that it was a most injudicious and unnecessary proceeding. What was the view of the Board of Guardians themselves? This letter was brought up twice before the Tobercurry Union and the Chairman, speaking of the Constable who made the arrest, said—Mr. Wyndham said 'I will make you Head Constable if you do not tell;' and I tell you that the position that that man was put into, the representatives of North and South Sligo will drag off what Mr. George Wyndham put off in the House of Commons. This document came here because they had the British House of Commons cleared out, and he (Wyndham) says: 'If I do not reply to that resolution, I know what I will catch from the Irish Party.'…We have routed the nest, and the Royal Irish Constabulary communicates with Wyndham, and says that they would do no more dirty work for him.'Another speaker at the same meeting of the Guardians said that 824From this letter from the Chief Secretary's Office, he gathered that Mr. Wyndham was not responsible for a good deal of the baton charges because he says these officers exceeded their duty in these cases.His right hon. friend might laugh, but he repeated that that letter had a most serious effect in the district. He had been down in the district, and spoke on the authority of people who were dealing with this agrarian agitation, and he knew that the letter had thrown discredit on the police there.
He came now to the case of Anthony Calvert. Secretary of the Kilmactigue (County Sligo) branch of the United Irish League. As Secretary of that branch Calvert wrote a series of threatening letters to various people in the neighbourhood of Aclare. One of these letters was given up by the postmaster of Aclare, Mr. William Evans, for which he had been bitterly boycotted. Calvert was prosecuted at the Assizes, and his Counsel pleaded that Calvert could not understand what he was doing when he wrote the letter, and that he was not aware he was infringing the law. To the astonishment of most people the Crown Counsel, acting, he supposed on the instructions of the Chief Secretary, thoroughly agreed with what had been said on the other side, "It was," he said, "a serious case, no doubt, but perhaps his hon. friend had said all that need be said about it." Calvert was allowed out on his own recognisances; he went home as a triumphant hero, and was received with a torch-light procession, and immediately assumed his duties as Secretary of the Kilmactique branch of the League. Now he wanted to ask his right hon. friend, the Chief Secretary, if he was going to permit Calvert, who was out on his recognisances, to continue to be a member of the United Irish League signing these notices and threatening everyone in the district? Was that the way he proposed to protect the life and limb and property of the people of the people of the district? He would now refer to the case of Canon O'Hara, who was a member of the Congested District Board.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
My colleague on the Congested Districts Board, in whose discretion and ability I have full confidence, is the Rev. Denis O'Hara, parish priest. He is not a Canon at all.
§ * MR. MACARTNEY
said he was obliged to his right hon. friend for the correction. He would, however, direct his attention to the case of Canon O'Hara. His right hon. friend had up to the present been dealing with very unimportant persons in the west of Ireland, and his policy had been a policy of pin-pricks, and had had no effect on the agitation. A meeting was proclaimed at Loughglynn, and notwithstanding the exertions of the police several of these meetings were held in the neighbourhood, at one of which, at Kilmonee, Canon O'Hara presided. At that meeting the usual inflammatory language was used. He wanted to ask his right hon. friend whether, considering the fact that the meeting was held within a few miles of the spot where a meeting was proclaimed, and probably within a few miles of the people who were to be intimidated, he intended to take any action in the case of Canon O'Hara, because his position was very much more important in the west of Ireland than that of those with whom his right hon. friend had up to the present dwelt. He had one more question to ask his right hon. friend and that had reference to the Galway election. As everybody knew, one of the candidates was Mr. Horace Plunkett who went down at the invitation apparently of a very mixed body of the electors.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth N.)
On a point of order I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether the circumstances of the Galway election are within the scope of this Amendment.
§ MR. SPEAKER
A discussion on the Galway election would certainly not be within the terms of the Amendment.
§ * MR. MACARTNEY
said he only wished to refer to the action of Mr. 826 Plunkett as a member of the Unionist Government at that election. He should have been glad had a member of the Cabinet been present, because, of course, his right hon. friend was not responsible for the higher policy of the Unionist party. He wished to know whether the views expressed by Mr. Plunkett were the views of His Majesty's Government at the present moment. Mr. Plunkett quite properly entertained the view that his Department was non-political and he was quite entitled to take that view. But he should not maintain that his department was non-political, and at the same time express an opinion of very great importance on what was the keynote of the Unionist party, and the bedrock on which his right hon. friends had secured the large majority who supported them in this House. Before Mr. Plunkett went down to Galway he had an interview with the representative of the Pall Mall Gazette, and he expressed his views upon Unionist policy by stating that his position was that he took very little interest in the ordinary politics of the day, and he went on to say:—On the broad political question, however, he might say that he was a Nationalist in his own way, even as Mr. Dillon was. He would be glad to see the day when Ireland would be able to control her own business herself. But that day had not come. Ireland at present was not in a position to manage her own affairs. It was not that the people had not the natural capacity for self-government; it was that their political development had been on wrong lines….Give Ireland education and he did not care what would be the result, whether Home Rule or something else; he was certain that in such circumstances it would be for the good of the country.He should have liked to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether that was a proper definition of Unionist policy, and whether they were now to understand in Ireland that it was a matter of indifference to the leaders of the Unionist party what happened, provided Ireland was educated. Mr. Plunkett then went down to the borough, and at his first meeting the Chairman was a Mr. Martin. He was a gentleman who had been a Deputy Lieutenant, and on the Commission of the Peace, but he resigned both his offices because he objected to "God Save the Queen," as a party tune. That was a new development. Mr. Martin, speaking at an open meeting, 827 said that he would not have been in that position if it were a contest for supporting Unionism. He thought he was entitled, as representing a Unionist Division in Ireland, to say that that was quite out of the ordinary. He wished to ask the Government whether it was open to any member of the Government—especially a distinguished and most important member of the Government in Ireland—because without in any way disparaging the ability of his right hon. friend the Vice-President of the new Department was brought constantly into intercourse with all classes of Irishmen, and exercised considerable influence—to tell the people of Ireland that it was a matter of indifference whether the Unionism lasted or not provided Ireland was educated. Was it creditable that a member of the Government should go down to Galway—nine-tenths of electors of which did not share his political views—and attend a meeting presided over by a chairman who had a few months previously resigned his position as Deputy Lieutenant and as a Justice of the Peace because he objected to "God Save the Queen" being sung on his premises. He thought every Unionist in Ireland was entitled to object to the proceeding.
He would give one more instance. The Prime Minister not very long ago wrote a letter in which he reflected in very strong terms on persons with a great political position speaking and writing as if they were the enemies of their country. He understood that the Prime Minister was alluding to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition could not help himself. He had to dance to every political tune that was played. After that strong letter he should have expected something very different from the way in which the patronage of the Government had been distributed in Ireland. The other day there was an appointment at Rathmines under the Technical Department. What happened? The appointment of a very well known gentleman in Ireland was sanctioned by the Department, and who was he? Mr. Oldham was a very well known Home Ruler all his life. He held the official position of Secretary to the Protestant Home Rule Association. But he did something more. He was one of the earliest subscribers to the pro-Boer War 828 Fund in Ireland, and he was the gentleman whose appointment was sanctioned and pressed by a long letter of recommendation on the Rathmines Urban Council by the Vice-President of the Department. The Urban District Council under the provisions of the Act advertised for a technical instructor. Seven candidates applied, and they were referred to the Department under that rule. The Department disqualified every one of them except Mr. Oldham, and recommended the Urban District Council to advertise again. Only one candidate, Mr. Oldham, naturally applied and then a letter was written by the Vice-President strongly urging the appointment of Mr. Oldham who had not an iota of qualification for the position. Hon. Members misunderstood him. He was not saying that he was not a capable man, but that he had no technical qualifications, and he would point out to his hon. friends that two years ago, when this Department was first started, he was run by the very same backers for the Under-Secretaryship of the Board of Agriculture, so he must be a wonderfully versatile man—[Laughter.]—He did not think hon. Members were surprised that Irish Unionists were aggrieved at this action.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin County, N.)
The Members of the District Council of Rathmines who elected Mr. Oldham are all Unionists themselves.
§ * MR. MACARTNEY
replied that it was not the District Council, but the Agricultural Committee of the District Council who joined with another Committee, and the gentleman in question was elected by a majority of one vote, that vote having been secured by Mr. Plunkett's letter. He (MR. Macartney) had stated very clearly what were the feelings of ninety-hundredths of the Unionists in Ireland. His right hon. friend had said that he was going to deal with this agitation as a sporadic plant. Were inhabitants of these districts to be deprived in the future of that protection which alone could be afforded to them by the special machinery of the land, simply because his right hon. friend chose to look upon this agitation as sporadic? Were they to see all these districts enveloped as some districts in Sligo and Clare had been enveloped by 829 the complete authority and sanction of the League or would his right hon. friend and the Irish Government at last address themselves seriously to the problem before them?
He must apologise for the length at which he had detained the House, but he had criticised in Ireland, and criticised strongly, the administration of the Government and he did not think it fair either to himself or to those whom he represented, or indeed, to his right hon. friend that he should not state in that House what he had stated elsewhere. He sincerely trusted that before the year was over, they would see the Irish Government take those steps which would secure the administration of law, which would preserve to His Majesty's subjects their individual liberty, and which would necessarily relieve all those districts from that incubus and that intimidation which was now paralysing all her social life.
§ *(6.22.) MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
In the long oration to which we have listened, the sting was in the tail, as is often the case with oration coming from the opposite benches. The main grievance of Irish Unionism is the question of Office and the question of Rent [Irish cheers], and you will notice from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, that nothing that the Chief Secretary could do in the present Irish Government could do in the direction of the maintenance of law, and order, as it is called in Ireland, would satisfy hon. Gentlemen opposite, if the Chief Secretary so far strays from the path of political virtue as by any chance to give any office to one of the majority of the Irish people. That is an unpardonable offence. [Irish cheers.] I find myself in one particular in agreement with Mr. Macartney. I think we are entitled to obtain some explanation from the Government of the attempt of Mr. Horace Plunkett, a member of the Government, in going down to a Nationalist constituency, and masquerading as a semi-Nationalist before he went down, and endeavouring to use the patronage he possesses as a means of cajoling and bribing that constituency. Was it with the approval and permission of the Irish Government that a member 830 of the Unionist Government was allowed to go to a Nationalist Constituency and dishonestly—I use the word politically; I say nothing disrespectful of Mr. Horace Plunkett's private character—dishonestly to put all his principles in his pockets, and to hint to the constituency that if he was returned large benefits might be expected from him. Mr. Plunkett stated before going to Galway,I have already got into some trouble by my impartiality, which is denounced with vehemence, in distributing the patronage that attaches to my office.He used that expression on going down to Galway.
I pass away from that, which is a comparatively small matter, but I think the Government in Ireland were not elevated in the estimation of any section of the Irish population by allowing that effort to be made in Galway, and the result was not such as to encourage its repetition at an early date. [Irish cheers.] Now there cannot be the slightest doubt that the dominant fact of the Irish situation to day is, that after a period of nine years since the Coercion Act was repealed, so far as it was possible to repeal it, by the proclamation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose Burghs, and that for the first time since Lord Melbourne, Ireland was governed without exceptional law. We have now again arrived at a period when the Government is having recourse to coercion. When Mr. Morley suspended the operations of the Coercion Act in 1892, every week a motion was made for the adjournment of the House, and frantic and violent debates took place in which the right hon. Gentleman was denounced by Members from the Unionist benches as handing over the landlords to violence and outrage. What was the result? He presevered in his course, and for nine years Ireland has been governed without the use of the Coercion Act, and the result has been that the Chief Secretary himself speaking at Exeter the other day made this statement that at this moment Ireland is more free from agrarian crime than in any year during the last century. Surely that ought to cause hon. Members to reflect. Heavy I say is the responsibility of the man who in the face of that remarkable fact will have recourse again 831 to coercion, and I say solemnly here that if unhappily in the future crime or disturbance occurs in Ireland, every fair-minded man well know upon whose head the responsibility would lie. There is yet a more remarkable thing. After six years of Unionist government with Lord Salisbury at its head, and a majority so great that they had actually a free hand in Ireland, the Government are again at the bottom of the hill. And now they are again preparing to roll up the stone of Sisyphus. Let me ask the House to listen to a passage from a leader of The Timesof the 2nd January, 1902 based upon the annual account published from the correspondent of The Times in Ireland. It says—For more than six years the Government, supported by an overwhelming Unionist majority in the House, of Commons, has been in power, yet by universal admission the situation is no better but worse than it was when Mr. Morley resigned his office in 1895.That is rather a remarkable admission for The Times newspaper after six years of Unionist Government—Our Dublin correspondent affirms that the distinguishing characteristic of the year which has closed is that it has completely discredited the policy of killing Home Rule by kindness.We were told by the Chief Secretary yesterday that he was only going to put into force a little Act of Coercion. Well we all remember that when Mr. Forster was introducing his Act of 1881, he said it was not intended for politicians or political agitators, but only to deal with village ruffians and village violence. Mr. Forster told the House that the Act was not levelled against politicians or political agitators, and that all he desired was power to remove a few village ruffians. The same declaration is made by all ministers. But the use of coercion is like indulgence in other vices, such as gambling and dram-drinking; one never knows how far it will lead. I warn the Chief Secretary that he is now entering on a road upon which it is very hard to retrace one's steps, and which will take him a good deal further than he has any conception of. In my opinion he has started along that road against his own better judgment, not because he believes it to be the best for Ireland, but because he is driven into it by the section of the population led by Lord Londonderry, and by The Times newspaper. We are really 832 governed from The Times Office, not by the ostensible representatives of the Government in Ireland. If you want to know what is likely to be done in the future with regard to the Government of Ireland, you will find more information in the leading articles of The Times than in all the utterances of Chief Secretaries.
The policy of coercion, on which the right hon. Gentleman has now embarked, was announced and defended by him in a speech at Belfast. The circumstances under which the speech was delivered were nothing short of an outrage and an insult. The Chief Secretary, professing to hold the balance evenly between the different sections of a population which is predominantly Nationalist and Catholic, resorted to an Orange luncheon party in Belfast, under the presidency of Lord Londonderry, to announce his policy towards the Irish people. That circumstance has added greatly to the bitterness and indignation which is felt in Ireland to-day. Lord Londonderry represents all that is most reactionary, bitter, and hateful to the Irish people; and he distinguished himself by assailing and insulting the Government which he professed to support, until his mouth was stopped by £2,000 a year. "Oh, oh!"] You know it is the truth. That is the man under whose patronage the Chief Secretary makes his pronouncement to the country. Lord Londonderry is satisfied with the course the Chief Secretary is taking, not because he thinks it sufficient, but because he hopes for better things. In his preliminary speech he took the right hon. Gentleman under his wing, and said—I say to you, Mr. Wyndham, that in taking the steps the Lord-Lieutenant and you have taken in attacking these professional agitators, whose one aim and object it is to make the life of those who disagree with them a burden, you are earning the esteem and gratitude of the people of Belfast.The Chief Secretary told us that even in Belfast the object of the Coercion Act was simply to deal with criminals. But Lord Londonderry knows the object of the coercion policy better than the Chief Secretary himself, and he indicates, at all events, the path along which the right hon. Gentleman will be be forced to travel. It is a remarkable 833 fact that when Irish landlords meet together the first persons whom they consign to perdition and curse most strongly are the "Brothers Balfour," as they call them. Those two right hon. Gentlemen have probably done more for Irish landlordism than any other two persons living, and yet there are none more unpopular among landlords in Ireland. It is idle for the Chief Secretary to hope to please these gentlemen. He will travel the road; he will be their slave; they will use him to do the work; they will render it impossible for him to make his administration even passably successful; and then, when he has travelled a certain distance, they will turn on him, and speak of him with contempt as a man who broke down and could not go for enough for them.
What is it we complain of with regard to this coercion? It is all very fine for the Chief Secretary to treat this as a slight matter Coercion is never a light matter in Ireland. It has begun with 17 men, but it may end with hundreds. The feelings it engenders, and the condition of the country it creates, are such that, once the policy is adopted, no man can foretell where it will end. The Chief Secretary, goaded on by The Times and the Irish landlords, has revived the intolerable and odious system of hauling before two policemen—for it is ridiculous to call them police magistrates—Members of Parliament or citizens of Ireland, not for any crime, but merely for making speeches objectionable to the Government. Some of the seventeen men to whom the Chief Secretary referred, were charged with intimidation. Who is to decide whether or not a speech is intimidatory? If you institute a system by which a public man, who makes a speech in an open, peaceable, and legal meeting, is to be tried by the paid instruments and officers of his political opponents, you are putting an end to the rights of free speech altogether. It is for that reason we regard this particular aspect of coercion as so enormously serious. These magistrates are completely under the control of the Chief Secretary; he can dismiss or promote them; their pensions and salaries are in his hands, he is complete master over their whole lives; and when he directs a prosecution to be instituted they treat it as an order to convict. It is difficult to get Englishmen to understand that such a system is possible. If similar proceed- 834 ings were taken against any but an Irish Member the whole House would rise against it. But somehow, or other hon. Gentlemen opposite never seem to be able to regard us as they regard other members; we are outcasts and pariahs in this House. Take the case of the hon. Member for South Mayo. He is under two sentences of imprisonment. What is his offence? That he addressed a meeting of his constituents and another public meeting. Those meetings were not proclaimed; they were not disorderly or riotous; there was no disturbance or breach of the peace. But it is urged in the summonses that the meetings were unlawful because of the intent of the persons who called them. You cannot possibly raise a point more essential and vital to the liberty of the subject than the right of summoning and punishing a man for illegal assembly in this way. If you are going to subject the man who makes speeches to the judgment of a police officer, then the right of free speech ceases to exist. I should much prefer being sent to goal as I was under Mr. Forster's régime simply upon the warrant of the Secretary of State, rather than be proceeded against in this way. In order to throw dust in the eyes of the House of Commons you have set up the bogus machinery with which you now pretend to try us, but which is the same Russian system as if you did not go through this mockery of a trial. The Chief Secretary spoke of intimidation, and he used very high language about it. When it comes to a question of two or three men attempting to frighten any man from doing what he had a legal right to do, then the Chief Secretary declares that he would meet him in the Common Police Court. I admit that intimidation is a crime, but it does not appear to be a crime in England. The whole essence of this matter is: Who is to be the Judge? As I listened to the bold words of the Chief Secretary about intimidation, my mind wandered to what took place at Birmingham, Stratford-on-Avon, and Scarborough. Where was all this spirit to protect the men from intimidation when the riots took place in those parts of the country? Where was this spirit when the house of a gentleman in Scarborough was 835 broken into because he dared to lodge a gentleman who came to deliver a lecture? Where was this spirit when a poor shopkeeper was kept besieged by a mob at Stratford-on-Avon for many days and could not leave his house? When this matter was brought up in the House of Commons, the First Lord of the Treasury said that he regretted all these things very much, but "there was a limit to human patience." Is it to be wondered at that we are disgusted with British hypocrisy on this matter? Hon. Members opposite cheer lustily when they hear the Chief Secretary denounce intimidation by saying—If I failed to come to the protection of these men I should be a coward and a cur.Is the Colonial Secretary a coward and a cur? Did he go to the protection of my hon. friend the Member for Carnarvon at Birmingham, when he knew that one word from him would have stopped that riot? If such a disturbance had occurred in Ireland the crowd would have been swept away and charged with the bayonet. That is the way the law is administered in Ireland and England respectively. I have no objection to the fair trial of a man for intimidation, but it should be an honest trial and the intimidation should be real; and to say that a policeman is to decide the question of what is intimidation, is to turn the law into a mockery, and abrogate all liberty so far as free speech is concerned.
There is another aspect of these coercion trials. The Chief Secretary said he would meet the men who resorted to intimidation in the common Police Court. That is an intimation that he will treat us all as common criminals. When we are convicted, the members of our party and our public men are entitled to as much public respect as hon. gentlemen opposite, instead of being treated as common pickpockets and common criminals. In 1896 Dr. Jameson was convicted of a great crime, and, judging by the consequences which have since ensued, it was the greatest of the kind in modern history. He and his comrades were sentenced to be treated as common criminals, but two or three days after the sentence commenced, two leading members of the Tory party came with a petition to Mr. Michael Davitt and 836 myself, and begged us to sign it in order to get Dr. Jameson treated as a first-class misdemeanant. I said to them that it was a very strange thing to bring that petition to me. I reminded them that they had inflicted upon Mr. Davitt and myself the intolerable humiliation of treating us as common pickpockets and criminals. I told them that on principle I was in favour of treating men convicted of a political offence as first-class misdemeanants, and I decided, along with other members of the Irish party, to sign that petition. The result was that all those prisoners convicted in connection with this Jameson Raid were treated as first-class misdemeanants. The Government were ashamed to do this until they had got the consent of the Irish party, because of the way they had previously treated Irish Members of Parliament in prison. I said to these two gentlemen who came to me with this petition, "Will you do one good turn for another? Will you see that our men are treated as first-class misdemeanants?" And they promised that they would. I hope that they will now keep that promise.
The Chief Secretary for Ireland has not only revived the old system of coercion, but he has added to it a totally new system, the like of which has never existed before in any country in the world, and not even in Russia. This system is a new invention of the Government. In Ireland it has now become the practice that a police officer attends these public meetings and intervenes while the speaker is addressing the meeting, and he sometimes says, "Stop, you must not say that. "Not only this, but the police officer claims the right to intervene if he thinks you are approaching a dangerous subject. He has the right to say, "Stop! you must not deal with such and such a subject, or I shall disperse the meeting. "We hear of a South African censorship, but this pales into insignificance before the censorship in Ireland at the present moment. At one of these meetings the hon. Member for East Clare was permitted to make a long speech, and then, when the hon. Member representing the division whose constituents composed the meeting got up to speak, he was instantly seized by a large force of police, dragged to the Police Barracks, and a furious assault 837 was made upon the people. Has there ever been anything of the kind done in this country? For a police officer at his own discretion to claim the right to say who shall speak and who shall not speak at a legal and peaceable meeting, and stop speakers at certain parts of their remarks, is a proceeding absolutely without precedent in the annals of Irish coercion.
It is on these general grounds chiefly that I base my complaint against the present policy of coercion. The Chief Secretary tells us that, so far, seventeen persons have been proceeded against, and this total includes four Members of Parliament and several Members of Local Administrative Bodies. But this is only a beginning, and we have too good reasons to believe that it is but the preface to more serious proceedings. I do not propose to go through all the details of these prosecutions, but I shall bring one case before the special attention of the House. This is the case of Owen M'Garry, who was recently tried at Frenchpark, and sentenced to a month's imprisonment for merely presiding at a meeting which was held for a perfectly legitimate object. M'Garry's counsel asked for an extension of sentence by one day to enable him to appeal. This was rather brutally refused. Now let me remind the House that when the Coercion Act was being introduced fourteen years ago, the present First Lord of the Treasury gave a distinct and absolute pledge that an appeal would be allowed in every case. Owing to an exercise of the Closure it was impossible to move an Amendment at the proper time, the pledge was not incorporated in the Bill, but we always understood that a pledge given openly in the House would be faithfully observed. Yet Owen M'Garry, a respectable old man, 68 pears of age. is now denied the right of an appeal. What was the charge against him? He presided over a small meeting in connection with the De Freyne Estate. It was not even attempted to be proved that he had done anything objectionable, and when his counsel pointed out that he was not involved in the statements made at the meeting, the Crown Prosecutor replied—"Don't you know that according to the law he is responsible for the language of every 838 man who spoke at that meeting?" Accordingly this old man was hauled off to Sligo Jail, denied his right of appeal, and treated as a common criminal, and all because he sat in the chair at a meeting at which other men made speeches. I say this is a barbarous proceeding, and I am astonished the Chief Secretary could possibly allow it to occur. We must remember that the Chief Secretary is directly responsible for all the acts of these magistrates for they are simply carrying out his instructions. I hope that the Attorney General when he comes to answer will give us some information of the case of M'Garry, and endeavour to justify if he can what I consider to be a cruel outrage committed on this old man.
I pass to a matter referred to by the Chief Secretary in his speech at Belfast. There he made an attack on myself and other members of the party in regard to the evicted tenants. He drew a heart-rending picture of the tenants still out of their homes, and said their sufferings were very great. He ought to be the last man in the world to refer to that subject. Many of us remember the noble plea made on behalf of the evicted tenants in this House by the late member for Bodmin, a man who, to the eternal disgrace of the Unionist party, was kicked out of this House because of his views on the Boer war, a man whose name will ever be remembered in Ireland with gratitude because of the speeches he delivered on the Irish question in this House. The Member for Bodmin pleaded with the Government to heal the running sore kept open by the harsh treatment of the evicted tenants, and the Government and the then Chief Secretary turned deaf ears to his appeal. And why? Merely for the purpose of striking a blow at the Irish party by keeping these unfortunate people out of their holdings. The argument of the Government was that these people were our dupes and victims. Surely it is not the part of statesmen to visit on these poor people the alleged sins of others. Would it not have been more generous and reasonable for those in power to have accepted the Tenants Restoration Bill, and to have allowed this sore in Irish life to be heard without a penny 839 of loss but on the contrary a great gain to the landlords? Is it statesmanlike policy to keep this sore running, to keep the farms vacant, to keep the landlords out of their rent, to keep women and children in a state of suffering, and to lose the fruits of the people's industry in order to give the Chief Secretary and his predecessors the opportunity of firing off a jibe at us? I think the Chief Secretary would have shown more wisdom as an Irish administrator if, instead of adhering to such a policy, he had held out the olive branch of peace to the victims of the land war. The Chief Secretary spoke of some of these tenants in very unkind and unsympathetic language, and particularly of Mrs. Killeen, who, he said, was evicted from a holding of 180 acres and was now earning her living by knitting stockings. My attention has just been called to a letter in the Freeman's Journal to-day from this lady, in which she replies to the Chief Secretary's inaccurate statements. This is the letter:—To the Editor of the Freeman's Journal.Sir—My attention has been just called to a speech delivered by Mr. Wyndham, Chief Secretary, at Belfast the other day, and in which he had the good taste to refer to my late husband's as well as my poverty. No matter how much I may be tempted I will not follow his example, and will confine myself to facts. In the first place, he states we were evicted out of a farm of 180 acres, and next, that my present position is due to the Plan of Campaign. Now, the farm from which we were evicted by Lord Clanricard contained not 180 acres, but a little over 90 acres. As most of it was low, wet land on the edge of the River Shannon, its quality was such, and the rent so high, that we were unable to pay it, and if there never bad been a Plan of Campaign we could not have done so, and instead of having a hut to die in, God alone knows where we would have to take shelter. The Plan of Campaign and its promoters did all they could for us, whereas mean, comtemptible sneers at our poverty is all ever we got from the chivalrous Mr. Wyndham.—Faithfully yours,ANNIE KILLEEN.Eyrecourt, January 19th, 1902.
§ * MR. DILLON
I think it is a rather ungenerous method of political controversy to drag before the public the misfortunes of those poor people, who have been kept out of their holdings all these years by you. You say that 840 we did wrong in bringing these people out, yet, when the British House of Commons was willing to reinstate them on the motion of the Member for Montrose, you, sitting then on this side of the House, for political purposes, and in order to be able to use their misfortunes as you are now using the misfortunes of the Boers, kept them out of their homes, because you thought their poverty and their suffering would be a good political weapon. I think that is mean and unworthy of a man who had it in his power to put these people back in their homes and make them comfortable.
Now, let me turn to the question of the De Freyne estate. The Chief Secretary was very strong on that. He got on the high horse. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the horrible conduct of those who were going to inflict the misery of another Plan of Campaign on the country. I tell the right hon. Gentlemen that so far as I am aware, no one has the slig test idea of starting another Plan of Campaign. The present movement is as different from the Plan of Campaign as one thing can be from another. I am not ashamed of the Plan of Campaign, and if it were relevant to the present issue, I would defend it now. The movement on the De Freyne estate, as elsewhere, is entirely the spontaneous work of the people themselves. My connection with the movement on the De Freyne estate was very slight. They asked me to go down there after they had been kicked out by Lord De Freyne and the door slammed in their faces, and, at a meeting which I addressed, the doctrine I preached to them was the doctrine that has the sanction of Lord Salisbury that those who do not agitate would be forgotten, and that the people should decide for themselves what form the agitation would take, But I do not rest this contention with regard to the De Freyne estate on my own authority. I rest it on the authority of a well-known judge, County Court Judge O'Connor Morris, than whom no one could be more opposed to me in politics. Speaking at Boyle on the 17th January, after having issued a number of decrees against the tenants, he said—There is, I believe, a large and 'formidable' combination in the County of Roscommon. I 841 allude to the combination of the tenants on the De Freyne and Murphy estates not to pay their rents to their landlords. I say without hesitation or fear that they have a great and legitimate grievance, but that is no excuse or justification for withholding their rents. The tenants live close to the Dillon estate, and they see that the tenants on the Dillon estate, without a particle of right, have received, benefits which the tenants on the De Freyne estate have not received; that one class is a favoured class and the other is not; that one class is the fat sheep and the other the lean goats, with the result, and necessary result, that the tenants on the De Freyne and Murphy estates are discontented, and, in my opinion, naturally discontented.And later he said—Whatever may be said, this combination is the necessary and inevitable result of the system called land purchase, which, I say, is no land purchase at all.Here is a description of the Dillon estate contained in the ninth report of the Congested Districts Board, and it is really so interesting as bearing on the most vital part of the question that I may be excused for reading it to the House.The chief event in the past year in connection with the improvement and enlargement of holdings was the purchase, on 11th May, 1899, of the estate of Viscount Dillon, consisting of about 87,669 acres in County Mayo, 5,652 in County Roscommon, and 136 in County West Meath. The total Poor-law valuation is divided between the two congested district counties as follows: Mayo, £15,368, Roscommon £6,340. The gross rental was £20,370, including the head rents, and the net rental was £17,882, excluding the outgoings, which were £2,488. The price agreed upon was 290,000, equal to 16 years purchase of the net rental.That was a full price, far beyond what Viscount Dillon could have got on the market; but I have always held that it was worth while paying him one or two years purchase more than the market value in order to carry out this great and beneficent action.The arrears due by the tenants on the 11th May, 1899, excluding the year's rent then due, amounted to £27,000, and became our property. After careful consideration we decided to require payment of the rent and arrears due in May, 1899, on the following terms: Those tenants who owed two years rent, and less than four years, were required to pay one and a half year's rent; those who owed four years or more were to pay two years rent to May, 1899. These special terms were offered only to agricultural tenants whose annual rent did not amount to £25, and it was estimated that this concession was equivalent to the remission of £18,000, or a little more than one year's net rent of the estate….The tenants number 4,200, of whom more than half pay rent of £4 or less, and a still larger 842 majority are migratory labourers, whose holdings are too small to support them. Fully five-sixths of the tenants keep their cattle in the rooms occupied by themselves and their children, a custom which the Parish Committees have attacked in many parishes of County Mayo, and have already done so much to remedy by the erection of farm buildings. We propose to give some assistance towards the cost of roofing out-offices, and we shall be most disappointed if the Dillon estate does not soon show a great improvement in this respect.The owner of this estate had never expended a penny on it, and had left all this festering mass of human beings in the condition described and had spent his money in England.Most of the holdings consist of poor land capable of considerable improvement by reclamation, draining, and improved methods of husbandry. The first necessity is drainage, some thousands of acres of low land being practically useless owing to constant flooding. The tenants, individually, could not make the necessary main or arterial drains, or deepen the beds of the river—such works could be carried out only by the owners of the estate. Immediately after we had obtained possession, our Chief Land Inspector commenced extensive draining operations, and by the expenditure of a few hundreds of pounds he has already doubled the productive value of hundreds of acres in different portions of the estate.In addition to all that, the Board have bought up 1,883 acres of good grazing lands, which are to be divided amongst the poorer tenants at a moderate price. The result is that £18,000 of arrears of rent have been remitted, that the rents have been reduced 7s. in the £1, with furthor considerable reductions to follow, and that some thousands of pounds have been laid out on works of drainage, which have greatly increased the value of the holdings. I have been familiar with this estate from my boyhood, and I cannot express the pleasure it gives me now to drive through the district and notice the change all over the estate, the cleanliness which prevails and the improvements which have been effected. A revolution has taken place. No greater work was ever done for a body of tenants in Ireland, than that which has been done on the Dillon estates. I applaud the work of the Congested Districts Board. But what are we to say of the blindness and incompetence of Ministers, who imagine that while this revolution is going on and no share in it is given to the neighbouring tenants on the estates of Murphy, O'Grady, De Freyne, the O'Conor Don 843 and Denis O'Conor, on which properties the tenants are even worse off, that they will be contented. The point is that no hope is held out to them of improvement. The right hon. Gentleman yesterday drew a sad picture of the condition of the poor tenants in cases of eviction. Yes, I know it, I have gone through it all. Would it not be more sensible and practicable for the right hon. Gentleman to use his great position and influence to endeavour to bring about a settlement? Now, I will make him a practical proposal. If he will give me an undertaking that he will give these people a prospect in the near future of a settlement on the same lines as the Dillon settlement, I will go down myself to Roscommon to-morrow and urge them to pay their rents. If the right hon. Gentleman will do this, I will use my utmost influence to induce these people, even if they cannot afford it, to pay their rents for the present. Are these people to be told that they must have no hope? The right hon. Gentleman said the true remedy was to lift these tenants out of their position as migratory labourers and settle them as on the Dillon estate, so that they might earn a living and save something for a rainy day. That is my object, and that was the only reason why I entered into the struggle in regard to that and other estates. Why cannot the right hon. Gentleman approach Lord De Freyne and Mr. Murphy and these other landlords, and offer them the price Lord Dillon was willing to accept, and which would be a larger price for their estates proportionately than Lord Dillon sold for? Why cannot he hold out some hope to these wretched tenants that they will be allowed to share in the benefits of the Congested Districts Board? I think that is a fair offer, and I trust the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to some action on that basis.
I remember, when I was younger, being very fond of hurling defiance across the floor of the House, and, on the whole, we had not the worst of it. I have gone through a great many of these struggles, and I know the suffering they entail, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman also, I know the responsibilities of them. I know when the time comes you will break up our association and run us into gaol (for, of course, many of us will have 844 to go into gaol if the fight goes on) and proclaim the League, then will come the time for the moonlighter and the assassin. Having by the operations of the plan of campaign in 1887, at the risk of our lives and our liberty, lifted our people out of the path of agrarian crime, and showed them a better way, I should feel it a bitter disappointment and humiliation if I should see them driven back into the dark and uncivilised methods which your villainous Government compelled them to adopt in the past. Thank God, since the days of the Plan of Campaign, Ireland has been free from agrarian crime. What British coercion had failed to do the Plan of Campaign succeeded in doing. We have banished agrarian crime from Ireland, and I hope and pray we may be able to carry out this present struggle without the Chief Secretary taking such measures as may lead to trouble in our unhappy land. I know the enormous power of the law in Ireland, and I know it is possible by a flood of police and writs bailiffs, and the terrible machinery of the law, to enforce rents and costs, and you may succeed in levying a portion of the rent, but still many of these tenants are sunk in arrears, and will remain in arrears, and if you pursue the course of enforcing the full rents you will only plunge them into arrear, and then your only remedy is to turn them out. You may succeed in breaking up this combination, and supposing you do! Do you imagine for a moment that if you succeed in making a great portion of the De Freyne tenants pay their rents that will put an end to your difficulties? No, sir, you will then be only at the beginning of them, because I believe if you succeeded in making these tenants pay their rents there would be a large tail of them who would not be able to do so, and then there would be evictions, and no matter what mass of police you pour into this district, and at present it reminds one of the country outside Pretoria, though in place of a blockhouse line you have mounted police; every place being strongly garrisoned, and all the roads patrolled until one would think they were in a besieged country—in spite of all this, this agitation will go on in one form or another until these tenants are raised from their present miserable condition and placed on the same footing as the 845 tenants on the Dillon estate. The tenants would not be human if they did not take some steps to alter their intolerable condition. But there is another consideration. This movement of the tenants is not confined to the De Freyne state; there is the Nolan Farrell estate. The movement has appeared in different parts of the country. Take the instance I got out of the paper yesterday, the Ellis estate, in Limerick, where on Tuesday last no less than 40 decrees were obtained—decrees obtained against all the tenants of the Ellis estate, who, as they are supported by one of the most determined and best fighting priests in Ireland, I think will win. That shows that this movement, such as it is, is totally different in its essential particulars from the Plan of Campaign. In the Plan of Campaign the movement came from headquarters published as the policy recommended by Mr. William O'Brien and myself. In the present instance the movement is a natural movement springing from the necessities of the case, from the people themselves, as Judge O'Connor Morris says, and a movement which any intelligent Minister would have foreseen to be absolutely inevitable when a certain line of action was taken.
I am very curious to hear what the Attorney General for Ireland will have to say. The right hon. Gentleman, the Chief Secretary, must have been studying zoology of late, because at Belfast he compared himself to a bee working in a glass hive, and he said it was very unpleasant, and last night he compared himself to a coral insect. The right hon. Gentleman said—You cannot look back on the work which has been done, or attempted to be done, by past Chief Secretaries—the right hon. Gentleman opposite and others—without feeling that humility has been their note and not arrogance, and that they have never assumed to themselves a power other than that exercised by the coral insect in the natural world, that is, to do their own small part hoping that some day the last of their line and genus will perish when the whole work is accomplished.But so far as I recollect from my knowledge of geology, it takes many millions of coral insects many millions of years to construct a very frail and scarcely inhabitable little island, and if that is all we have before us, these unfortunate tenants of the De Freyne estate may as well commit suicide 846 at once, because at the end of a million years the last Chief Secretary will perish leaving their descendants as badly off as those unhappy people themselves. I again appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to take a more serious view. The right hon. Gentleman said in the course of his speech last night that the Congested Districts Board could not do more, and could not hurry their work even if they had compulsory powers. What authority is there for such a statement? All they need do is to increase their staff. Why cannot they increase their staff to do the work which is so urgent and for which we have waited so long.
The First Lord of the Treasury and the President of the Board of Trade have denied all responsibilities for the resolutions passed by the Congested Districts Board in 1894 claiming these compulsory powers, but I see that those two right hon. Gentlemen signed the report without any footnote signifying their dissent, and it is only reasonable that the Irish people should believe that they agreed to it without dissent. In that year the Congested Districts Board resolved unanimously—That the Congested Districts Board is in possession of information from their inspectors that there are large districts of land which could be used to enlarge the holdings of small occupiers and promote a system of migration."The Board," said the report,Are, however, of opinion that it will be impossible for them to give due effect to this important department of their work unless some funds are placed at their disposal and compulsory powers given to them to acquire land at a fair value.That resolution was passed five years ago. That was the opinion of the Congested Districts Board then, and it is the opinion of the Congested Districts Board to-day; and whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say, without those compulsory powers they cannot do their work. If they had those powers all these difficulties would disappear, because the people on these estates would not be so unreasonable as not to wait a year or so. Do you suppose I should advise them to do otherwise. If I had any promise to give them I would go down and advise them to keep quiet, but I have no promise to give them. All I can say is, wait until the 847 coral insect has completed its work. I am in entire accord with the Chief Secretary when he declared, as he did last year, that to have automatic transfer of the land in Ireland would be a disaster. What we want is a resettlement of the land; but such a resettlement cannot be carried out without compulsory powers. What is going on now—and I urge this upon the attention of the Chief Secretary because it would be the cause of greater difficulty in the future—at this very moment in Galway, Roscommon and South Mayo, the Land Judges Court, the Land Court, and Congested Districts Board are selling to the graziers, the eleven months-men, immense tracts of land, and selling it for ever away from the people. That is going on by means of a conspiracy which I denounce here to day. What will be the result if this is allowed to go on? We shall have a race of landlords far worse than that from which the country now suffers. You sell to these graziers; men who have no stake in the country; men who have been the curse and ruin of the country all the way through; who have destroyed the towns as well as the country in the west and south of Ireland; and what will they do? These men who have purchased from the State will very soon borrow money and pay off their indebtedness to the Government and sublet, and will be the worst set of landlords Ireland ever had, and we shall have to boycott them out of the country when we have got rid of the others. So that by your misgovernment we are in a cycle of passing from one misery to another, all of which is due to your wretched administration. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, as he sees this in the same way as we do, to stop this intolerable abuse, or, if he cannot do that, have some investigation into the matter and see whether this scandalous proceeding cannot be put a stop to until compulsory powers are granted.
Now I would call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to a passage in the speech he delivered in Belfast, which has produced an extraordinary effect on Irish landlords. The right hon. Gentleman said—A third duty of the Government is to assist the would-be purchaser to give a price which the vendor can afford to accept without 848 crippling his own resources. Our business as a Government is to bring Irish land into the market; Mr. Dillon's business is to keep it out of the market.Did the right hon. Gentleman know the construction put upon that statement in Ireland, fortified as it was by a paragraph, in the Irish Times, the organ of the landlords in Ireland? The meaning put upon that statement was that the Government were going to give a free grant of three or four years purchase, so that for what the tenants acquired for 16 or 17 years purchase, the landlord obtained 20. That is believed all over Ireland, and I believe the statement was made in order to affect the election in East Down. What has been the effect of that statement? The executive of the Landowners Convention met and passed a revolution fixing the minimum price at 27 years purchase.
I warn the right hon. Gentleman that this will open up a more serious crisis in Irish social life than anything that is occurring on the De Freyne estate, if that is brought about by his speech in Belfast. But what is the Government going to do with the Landowners' Convention? That is a combination to prevent the people from doing that which they have a perfectly legal night to do—to sell their estates at less than 27 years purchase—if they choose to do so. Are the landlords to be prosecuted, or is the organisation of the tenants to be prosecuted, whilst that of the landlords is allowed to go scot free. I shall watch with some curiosity to see if the same treatment is meted out to both organisations. You have fallen back on the old remedy of coercion. You thought you could use the poor peasantry of the west and south as you liked as long as Ulster stood by, and in consequence the peasantry of the west and south for the last five-and-twenty years, through the gaols and through the country, have had to fight this battle alone, but now there has arisen on the political horizon a thing more trying to the Government than anything that has ever before occurred. Oh, why is not the hon. Member for North Antrim now in East Down starting a campaign against the hon. Member for South Tyrone, in favour of some nominee of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, whose standard 849 he upholds! I have in my hand the report of a speech made by the hon. Member for South Tyrone, and I ask leave to read it as a means to his being prosecuted and so getting the Government out of a difficulty. It can easily be done. Send up one of these removable magistrates and give him a month, and get him out of the way until the East Down election is over. This is what the hon. Member for South Tyrone said—We are determined to have an end of landlordism and an end of all rents, fair or unfair.The hon. Member for South Belfast has issued a manifesto, asking the electors to hold themselves at liberty to receive a loyal candidate, and the right hon. Gentleman might fairly and reasonably give him a chance by running in for a month the hon. Member for South Tyrone. The position of the right hon. Gentleman in East Down is extremely sad. The Dublin Daily Express, the representative organ of the extreme landlord party, sent a correspondent down to the district who on all sides was told the same story, that the farmers of East Down have gone mad on this question. I ask the Government what they are going to do if they cannot contest this constituency? They must know that against United Ireland they cannot maintain this attitude of a non possumus with regard to compulsory purchase, and if that is so, why do they not yield to the constitutional voice of Ireland as expressed in this House? Why do they wait until another land war forces them to yield to what they call intimidation? If the Chief Secretary falls back upon the flimsy defence which he tried to palm off on the House yesterday that there is no time—no time to deal with a question which, if it is left undealt with, will set Ireland on fire from Antrim to Cork, no time to deal with the question of the land, for the settlement of which we have waited since 1875—I tell him, I say, to take care that if this House does not deal with it the farmers even in some parts of Ireland where hitherto they have not been of that opinion, may not come to the conclusion that it was time there was some other house which could deal with it.
§ *(7 52.) Dr. AMBROSE (Mayo, W.)
said that both to-night and on the 850 previous evening they had had such a discussion upon the question of agitation and the reforms brought about by it, as would, he thought, satisfy the House for years to come. A stranger coming into the House for the first time last night, and hearing the Irish Unionist Members speaking, would imagine that their breasts were bursting with sympathy for the Irish people. Every measure of reform which had been passed for Ireland, had only been passed after some 20 years of agitation. Neither Catholic Emancipaton nor the Disestablishment of the Irish Church were passed because English ministers thought such measures were right—Catholic Emancipation was carried"—said Sir George Colville—"because the Catholic Association, founded by O'Connell, and the result of the Clare Election, in which O'Connell beat Mr. Oscar Fitzgerald, the nominee of Sir Robert Peel and the Duke of Wellington, had convinced them that Ireland had become ungovernable, and that the choice lay between Concession and Civil War.Sir Robert Peel himself, said—I have for years attempted to maintain the exclusion of Roman Catholics, but I resign the struggle, because it cannot any longer be advantageously maintained.It took 69 years of the Union and 40 years of agitation, and in the end the insurrection of 1867, to bring about the Disestablishment of the Church. Lord Dufferin said—I entirely agree with the noble Earl (Earl Granville) and with the late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, that the attention of England with respect to this question of the Disestablishment of the Church, was much stimulated, if not altogether awakened, by the fact of Fenianism.And even Mr. Gladstone himself admitted that fact. The Devon Commission sat in 1845; the Commission, composed of landlords, reported that a tenant was entitled to the benefit of his improvements in case of disturbance, but it was not until 1870, when Mr. Gladstone passed his first Act of Land Reform for Ireland, that any man ever attempted to pass an Irish Land Bill. He (Dr. Ambrose) had the authority of the great Lord Derby for saying that it was not because Mr. Gladstone considered that there was a just claim on the part of the Irish tenants, that the Land Act was passed. This is the language of Lord Derby with regard to the value of agitation—It is by no means clear to the unprejudiced observer that any gratitude has been earned 851 on the part of the Irish to England Why have we altered the land laws? To put an end to Irish Agitation. Not because it is discreditable to England as a ruling power, but a practical obstruction to the transaction of English business.Not all the influence and eloquence of Mr. Gladstone would have prevailed in the English House of Commons to do what has been done in the matter of Irish tenant-right, if the answer to all objections had not been ready, viz.: How else are we to govern Ireland? By an unfortunate fatality every concession made to the weaker State has been made under pressure. This conclusion then seems to follow on what has been said. Agitation not confined to legal means, but in every case accompanied by acts and demonstrations showing intentional disregard of law, have gained for Ireland (1) her shortlived, still regretted legislative independence, (2) Catholic emancipation, (3) the disestablishment and disendowment of the church of the minority, (4) the practical conversion of Irish landowners into rent-chargers, and the transfer of possessory rights of the soil, in a large measure, at least, to the tenants.For a long time after 1870, although Bills were brought in by Irish Members in 1876, 1877, and 1878, nothing was done; and then came the Act of 1881, which established Courts for fixing fair rents. The two things which contributed to the passing of that Act, were the famine in 1878 to 1879, by which the value of potato crop fell from £12,500,000 to £3,500,000 in three years, while in the same period the value of the total crops fell from £36,000,000 to £22,000,000; and the establishing of the Land League. Lord Salisbury described that Act as an act of simple robbery, and yet passed the Act of 1885. He (Lord Salisbury) said in the House of Lords, on the second reading of the Bill of 1881—In view of the prevailing agitation, and having regard to the state of anarchy in Ireland, I cannot recommend my followers to vote against the second reading of the Bill.Lord Salisbury, speaking on the forecast Act of 1882, by which £2,000,000 were wiped out—I believe it to be a pernicious Bill, an act of simple robbery which will bear the gravest fruits in the legislation of the futnre. If I had the power I would have thrown out the Bill. I find myself in a small minority, and therefore shall not divide the House.Finally, we have the Act of 1887 admitting leaseholders to the benefits of the Act of 1881, and revising judicial rents, which Mr. Parnell asked for in 1883, but which Lord Salisbury said would be dishonest and inexpedient to press. In 1883 Lord Salisbury protested most em- 852 phatically against the revision of judicial rents, but in 1887, of his own free will he passed a measure dealing with that very subject. Great emphasis had been laid as an evidence of the prosperity of Ireland, on the fact that the amount of money in the savings banks was greater than was the case 20 years ago. But the very fact that so much money was lying idle in the banks showed there was nothing in Ireland in which to invest it, and consequently was a proof of the impoverishment of the country. What was the fact with regard to agriculture? Between 1881 and 1896 the value of the crops decreased by £19,174,853, while the reduction of rents in the same period amounted only to £1,319,707. England had brought the Irish problem upon itself. It destroyed Irish industries and shipping, and compelled the Irish people to look to the land for a livelihood. Prior to 1846, Ireland was a considerable corn-growing country, and in 1841 there were 1,844,000 farmers in the country, but in 1891 that number had dwindled down to 986,000. After the passing of the Corn Laws in 1846, it did not pay to grow corn, and the tenant farmers consequently turned their attention to raiding cattle. As a proof that by that process the tillage industry had been ruined, he pointed out that between 1855 and 1901, the area under oats had decreased by 48 per cent., under wheat by 90 per cent.; under barley by 28 per cent.; under flax by 42 per cent.; under potatoes by 35 per cent.; and under turnips by 21 per cent. Nothing had increased except the area under meadow, and that had increased by 65 per cent. Hence the great famine which carried off over a million of the Irish people. As to the raising of cattle, prices went up for a considerable time, but eventually, other countries began to compete with Ireland, until even that industry did not pay. Twenty years ago Canada, the United States, and the Argentine were unknown as competitors with the Irish farmer. In 1876, Canada sent 2,682 cattle, and 2,410 sheep into the United Kingdom, whereas in 1896, the figures were 101,656 and 83,767 respectively. The United States in 1876 sent 388 cattle and 211 sheep against 393,054 cattle and 266,762 sheep, in 1896. There was no record of any cattle or sheep coming from Argentina 853 in 1876, but in 1896 the figures were 66,081 cattle and 342,470 sheep. When it was remembered that cattle could be brought a distance of 10,000 miles and deposited in Deptford Market at a cheaper rate than they could be brought from Ireland, it was difficult to see how an Irish farmer was to compete with the ranchman of Canada, the United States, or Argentina, and landlordism was an unknown thing in those countries, whereas, the Irish farmer had to support his own family, the landlord's, the agent's, the bailiff's, and the labourer's. The cattle-raising and tillage industries having been destroyed, emigration followed. The population had dwindled from over 8,000,000 in 1841, to less than than 4,500,000 in 1901. Instead of any expression of disapproval from the great organs of the London Press, the Saturday Review and The Times absolutely gloated over the flow of population from Ireland. It apparently never dawned on the conductors of those organs that where ever the Irish emigrant went he taught his children to cherish in their bosoms the fact, that had it not been for the misrule of Ireland by Englishmen, they would not have been compelled to leave their native land. Hence it was that they heard of men like Colonel Lynch and Major M'Bride meeting the forces of England in the open plains of South Africa, as those whom you deceived at Limerick met you at Fontenoy. He remembered reading a speech made by Lord Beaconsfield, then plain Mr. Disraeli, when he was struggling hard to climb on to the Treasury Bench. Lord Beaconsfield once said that the remedy for the ills of Ireland was a revolution, but that Ireland could not have a revolution because she was hound to a stronger and more powerful country, and therefore England was the cause of all the miseries of Ireland.
A great deal had been said about the congested districts. He would give the House a little idea of what they were like. They comprised one sixth in extent of the whole of Ireland, they contained one-ninth of the population of Ireland, and the valuation was represented by one-twenty-eighth The average poor law valuation of the people in the congested districts was £1. 0s. 3d per head Such a picture as that did not exist in any part of the British Empire not even in 854 India. Of the 98,139 families which inhabited scheduled districts, 26,645 dwelt on holdings, the valuation of which varied from £2 to £4 each, and 28,570 persons dwelt on holdings valued at less than £2 each. The latter lived in a condition approaching the border-line of pauperism, and the former were very little above that line, and both those classes comprised more than half the families inhabiting the districts. According to the statement of the present President of the Board of Trade, when he was Chief Secretary for Ireland, there were 30,000 of these people who were in danger of starvation and had to be supported out of public and private funds. He was not surprised at Lord Beaconsfield saying that the only remedy for this state of things was a revolution. The right hon. Member for North Armagh said that the United Irish League was active only in Connaught. He wished to show the House why the League should be active in Connaught. Connaught had in 1901 a population of 649,625. The number of migratory labourers was 27,234, or 1 in every 23 of the population had to come across to England for at least six months in the year to earn money to put into the pockets of the landlords in Ireland. The average earnings of these men was about £7 11s. per man, which meant that they brought home to Connaught £205,616, of which £165,000 reached Mayo. According to the report of the Land Commissioners the landlords in Connaught raised the rents by exactly the same amount of money as was brought home by the harvesters. Therefore every farthing of the money which they brought home found its way into the landlords' pockets. He wished to know whether the Member for North Kensington thought it satisfactory that 1 out of every 23 of the population should be compelled to go over to England for six months in the year in order to bring back £205,616 for the Irish Landlords. In Connaught alone the judicial rent exceeded the valuation, while in rich Ulster the judicial rent was 33 per cent. below the valuation. In poverty-stricken Connaught, with its periodic famines, the judicial rent was 50 per cent. above the valuation.
He would like to give to the House a picture of some other parts of Connaught, 855 and he would take the parish of Westport where the United Irish League was first established, and where it was pretty active at present. In the six Roman Catholic parishes of the Westport Union there were in the year 1841 12,000 agricultural tenants, but atthe present time there were only 3,300 tenants in those parishes, and their condition was far worse to-day than it was in 1841. In Achill Island, with its 35,283 acres of land, and a population of 6,000, nearly 2,000 of those poor people—1,112 males and 850 females—come across to England and Scotland every year to earn sufficient to keep body and soul together for the rest of the year. It might enlighten some hon. Members opposite if he told them the experiences of some of those poor girls who came across to this country from Achill Island. There was one young girl aged 16—one of a family of eight—and she and her friend left together. They arrived in Paisley, and subsequently found their way to Dumfries and Perth, and they trotted about night and day under the direction of a ganger. They slept sometimes in small dark places and in barns, sometimes in a Paisley lodging-house; they were much exposed to the cold and wet. If any hon. Member in this House would stand up and say that there was no harm done by a condition of things that compelled those poor girls to be exposed to such danger and temptation, then he would have as much respect for that hon. Member as he would have for a dead dog. There were three or four little villages in Achill Island, and the people lived in houses unfit for human habitation. There was no such thing as a chimney to the houses, and no windows, and the only light that penetrated into the house was through the doorway. Those one-roomed houses had to accommodate the cattle as well as the whole family. They had heard the right hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Antrim, denounce the Chief Secretary and the Attorney General for not putting those people into Castlebar Gaol if they attempted to meet together to discuss the problem of how to buy Achill Island, and put the tenants on good land. Not one acre of the land in Achil Island had ever seen a plough, and had 856 never been properly cultivated, and there were at least 89,000 to 90,000 acres in the hands of graziers who employed one man and one dog to take care of their land. In one parish in the Westport Union, the parish of Louisburgh, there were 50,000 acres of this grass land owned by the Marquess of Sligo who refused to accept Land Stock, and who held out for solid cash. That was why they were going in for compulsory purchase. When they saw a man like the Marquess of Sligo insisting upon solid cash for his land, while the people were bordering on starvation and living in huts in which hon. Members would not put a dog, they would not be surprised at the tenants going in for compulsory purchase. Some of those graziers in Louisburgh actually lived 30 miles away from the land. In the Islandeady parish there were 6,800 acres owned by the Marquis of Sligo, and this was let to graziers. In another parish, where the land was owned by the Marquess of Sligo, there were 600 tenants, and not one of them above £4 valuation. In the Newport parish there were 30,000 acres of land, of which there were not 30 acres under tillage at the present moment. Those 30,000 acres were occupied by graziers who lived between 30 and 50 miles away, and they each employed on those lands only one man and one dog. (8.30.)
§ (9.5.) On the return of Mr. Speaker—
§ * Dr. AMBROSE
resuming, said that looking at the attitude of hon. Members opposite towards Irish problems, he had often despaired of the House of Commons. He quite agreed with Lord Beaconsfield that the only remedy was revolution, but, of course, that was impossible in poor Ireland. There was no other country on the face of the earth where such a number of people had to leave it for six or nine months every year. He doubted whether even in India the people were as badly situated as they were on the west coast of Ireland, not only in Connemara, but also in Kerry. It was said in England that Ireland was enjoying the benefits of British civilization; he said that Ireland was enjoying the experience of hell under British rule. He would give advice to the Government and to the people of England as to the 857 remedies to be adopted. His first remedy was Home Rule. He did not think that God was ever so unkind as to create any man who was more capable of managing the affairs of a country than its elected representatives. His next remedy was to get rid of the landlords. They were the laziest body in Ireland, and he thought no one would more readily admit that than the Attorney General. They never did any work, and had compelled their tenants to slave for them. He remembered travelling down to Brighton a few years ago, and he fell into conversation with a gentleman in the railway carriage, and his fellow-traveller began to tell him about his "fellows," meaning his tenants in Ireland, whom he described as dirty and lazy. At last he asked by what authority his fellow-traveller had called his tenants his "fellows," just as if they were slaves at New Orleans, before slavery was abolished. He said to him that God had never ordained that the Irish tenants should be regarded as slaves; that they were doing the work the landlords refused to do; that they had brought the land from a state of barrenness into a state of fertility; and that they enabled the landlords to idle about in England. He therefore said: get rid of the idlers who were not only a curse to Ireland, but a curse to England. Lord Salisbury was a pretty shrewd man; he did not know if he kept a racing stable, but he evidently knew something about betting, because he could tell people on what to put their money. He recommended the English people to put their money, not on the Irish landlords, but on the Irish tenants, and they would find that the Irish tenants would prove a far better asset to the British Empire. As another remedy he would give compulsory powers to County Councils, free from the trammels of the Local Government Board, in Ireland to buy out waste lands, which could not even feed a snipe at present. If a County Council were empowered to borrow, say £50,000, at 3 per cent., and money be got at a cheaper rate for the purchase of waste land, to be repaid, principal and interest, in one hundred half-yearly payments, that would get rid of a lot of trouble and would give employment to those migratory labourers who now had to come to England. 858 He advocated compulsory purchase, in order to free the matter from the trammels of the Local Government Board. Irish men knew that the qualification for any public position in Ireland—the Lord Chancellorship, the Lord Chief Justiceship, and membership of the Local Government Board or any other body—was that the candidate should from his cradle be totally opposed to the national view, and that he must be a hater of the people of Ireland. Not one of his hon. friends would get one of those appointments if he wanted to. Of course, even if they were offered them, they would treat them with contempt, but the son of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Armagh, could get a position under the Local Government Board, because the right hon. Gentleman was, from the very day he first entered the House of Commons, the enemy of the vast majority of the Irish people. He supposed hon. Gentlemen opposite would say that the Irish people were agitators, but they were not. Why the very men whom England exiled to Australia in 1848, became the very best citizens. He would only mention Sir Charles Gaven Duffy. Why then, was it not possible for Irishmen to be good citizens in Ireland if they only got the opportunity? The same conditions did not apply in Ireland as applied in Australia. In Australia the people were free. The Irish people were not agitators in Canada, or in the United States of America, or in England. There was not a public body in England of which Irishmen were not members, and if they were capable of such things in England, why could not they be allowed to manage their own affairs? They were not agitators, but owing to the misgovernment of Ireland and the misery that England had brought on that unfortunate country, they had been compelled to look to agitation as the guardian, the protector, and the foster mother of the country.
§ *(9.18.) MR. SHARPE (Kensington, N.)
said that the hon. Member for West Mayo had done him injustice when he accused him of smiling at the heart-rending pictures which he had drawn of the Western districts. Though he did not sit with hon. Gentlemen opposite, he ventured to say, as an Irishman, he was as patriotic and sympathetic, and as full of love for his country as any hon. Member who sat upon the Nationalist Benches. They differed with 859 regard to the methods, but they desired the same end, the same object, the good and prosperity of the people. He had been extremely pained by many of the speeches which had been delivered—by the speeches of the right hon. Member for North Antrim on this side, and of the hon. Member for East Mayo on the other, in which sad facts, sad history, had been referred to in a very bitter and vitriolic manner not calculated to smooth the difficulties of the Government, or to lead this House to a line of conciliation with, regard to the future of Ireland. He had no sympathy with the first part of the Amendment, which aimed distinctly at a comprehensive measure of compulsory sale of the landowners' interest to occupying tenants. That was a policy which would never commend itself, in his judgment, to a British House of Commons, Whatever might be said of the misery which had resulted from ages of misrule in Ireland, he did not think they should commit themselves to such a gross injustice to one class, after the last 100 years had been characterised by the most devoted, continuous, and persevering efforts to do justice to the country. The Amendment in the first place committed the House to a large, general, and comprehensive scheme for the compulsory sale of the landlords' interest in Ireland; it then asserted, as a subsidiary matter, that the Congested Districts Board should be re-organised with larger areas and compulsory power of acquiring land. If the first port on of the Amendment had been omitted, the second would have been a fair subject for discussion, and it might have been argued that the area for such experiments could be enlarged with advantage. But the way to induce the House of Commons to take up such a subject was not to introduce a preliminary measure of general confiscation of the landlords' interests of Ireland.
The Amendment complained that the Government had, after nine years, once more brought into operation the provisions of the Crimes Act of 1887. There was no reason why they should not have done so. After all they had only called into operation certain provisions for the preservation of peace, which, so far as he understood in the case of Scotland, had existed for ages 860 past. They had on their own responsibility, brought an existing law into operation, and he thought they had done wisely in so doing, having regard to the facts brought to light by several speakers in the debate. It was constantly said by the hon. Gentlemen opposite that it was the fault of the British Government that the population of Ireland had dwindled and was dwindling; but, hon. Members forgot that in the begining that was the act of God [Cries of "Shame," and a voice from the Irish Benches, "That is Blasphemy."] It was the potatoe disease and the famine which followed that led to the reduction of the over population of Ireland. [Renewed cries from the Nationalist Benches of "Shame" and "Blasphemy."]
§ * MR. SHARPE
continuing, said the population of Ireland in the first half of the century had increased abnormally.
§ * MR. SHARPE
desired to explain that by "act of God," he meant nothing more than what was usually meant by that phrase. What was in the nature of a visitation was always spoken of in ordinary parlance as the "act of God." No one sitting on the benches opposite would venture to get up and say that the famine was the fault of British Ministers from Castlereagh downwards. The population of Ireland having been decreased by that frightful famine, nature herself, directed the thoughts of the Irish people, the young and the strong towards seeking out new lands and new countries where they could acquire means of subsisteuce. Who was to blame them for having done so? The tide of emigration had set in and steadily increased. No one could blame the Ministers of this country. No one could charge Sir Robert Peel with want of sympathy with the grave and great disaster which befell Ireland. The Encumbered 861 Estates Court was intended to be the first of a series of remedial measures; it was well-intentioned, and might have succeeded but for other circumstances. These things being so, it was sad and painful to listen to the bitter and vitriolic utterances of the hon. Member for East Mayo and his colleagues. No doubt the Government had succeeded to a damnosa hereditas, but who could say that for the last century British Governments had not been honestly and generously devoting themselves to remedying the evils from which Ireland suffered? What was there they had not done? They had sacrificed various interests, such as the Church of Ireland, the landed gentry, and local government in counties. The grievances of Ireland were deep and far-reaching, but the speech of the Chief Secretary was one worthy of his office, position, and antecedents, and it was the utterance of a wise and generous statesman. The Irish gentry had to be considered, and in this matter of land purchase, difficult though the question was to deal with, they would be considered by the present House of Commons. English members and the British people generally would not be influenced by the speeches of a few agitators. Ireland had suffered, and suffered bitterly; she reminded him of the woman in the Gospel who had suffered much of many physicans and was none the better, but rather made worse; she wanted not compulsory sale, not experimental legislation, but firm administration, personal rule, rest. He strongly urged the House to reject the Amendment.
§ (9.35.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I gather from the somewhat full-blooded phrases of the hon. Member who has just spoken that he must be an Irishman himself; it certainly requires a gentleman from the other country to deliver such a speech as he has given us. He has told us that the series of coercion acts which have been passed for Ireland in the last 80 years were a perfect disgrace to the Parliament of England—a statement in which I cordially concur. But it was no disgrace to that Parliament that England in the 87th year of the Union should have rolled all those Coercion Acts into one and made them perpetual! And 862 this was done by the way of consecrating and making grateful and fragrant to us the 50th anniversary of the accession of the late Queen. Really, I think it is astonishing that hon. Gentlemen should not be able to see the absurdity of the position. Above all, it is very curious that year after year the same arguments have to be addressed, and the same lectures delivered to a new and equally inept set of scholars. The Irish Member seem generation after generation to be engaged in giving English Ministers and Members a liberal education on Irish questions and when we have succeeded in partially educating them, a dissolution occurs, they go to their constituents, and a fresh set of ignore-amuses are returned in their stead. We then have to begin again our system of instruction and illumination.
Now, take this Coercion Act as it was passed in 1887. I myself was not in the House on the occasion of the Second Reading of the Bill, having been suspended the day before, but I was in the Strangers' Gallery, and I well remember it was the day the Pigott forgeries appeared in The Times. Those Pigott forgeries were used to coerce the unwilling Unionist party to vote for the measure. But for those forgeries, I venture to say that that Act would never have been passed. What occurred and what was the chief inducement for the passing of the Act? I should always regard this incident—no matter how much one may learn to respect the right hon. Gentleman's motives—as a shocking breach of faith committed by the First Lord of the Treasury, then Chief Secretary. On 17th May, 1887, on the question of appeals, the right hon. Gentleman committed what I regard as the most appalling breach of the plighted word of a Minister ever made in this House, and one that should for ever prevent this Act being put into force. On that occasion the Opposition was represented by the tremendous force of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian, and, with the instinct of a statesman and a warrior, he took up this question of evading the common law, of evading the right of trial by jury, and of remitting all these delicate and doubtful questions-questions of illegal 863 conspiracy, illegal assembly, and the right of public meeting—to removable magistrates—or as I would call them, immovable magistrates, because they are never open to the arguments of the defendants' counsel. What was the reply of the present First Lord of the Treasury?The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the law of conspiracy is an obscure law. He said it is a difficult law which is capable of dangerous extension, and that we are leaving it to the administration of men who are not learned in the law, viz., the resident magistrates; but the right hon. Gentleman forgets that the resident magistrate's decision is not final.Then I interrupted, and the right hon. Gentleman continued—I do not complain of the interruption. The hon. and learned Member is quite correct in saying that under the Bill as we have drafted it we may be followed too close by the Act of 1882, and that by the existing law of Ireland there is no appeal if the imprisonment is for less than one month, but we propose to give an appeal in every case. There will be an appeal in every case to a County Court Judge, and if on legal technicalities a County Court Judge is objected to, the Government will be prepared to consider a plan for giving an appeal in cases in which any legal difficulty may be involved to a still higher tribunal.What happened on that solemn pledge? There was at the time in this House a little German Jew named Baumann. A man of about as much importance as a doorkeeper. He made a protest, and the next day there appeared in The Times two letters; one from this amiable German, and the other from a gentleman then representing a London constituency, and who now, I believe, is Recorder of London, but who then, as Lord Randolph Churchill would have said, was on the cadge for a job—Sir Forrest Fulton. These gentlemen protested against the idea that Irish Members sent to gaol by their political opponents should have any right of appeal even to a County Court Judge appointed by the Government itself. On the representation of these two men, the First Lord of the Treasury—and he has never been able to explain his action, and all the waters of the sea will not wash out his breach of faith—dropped the solemn pledge given to the Member for Midlothian, and upon which this clause was passed, with the result that the resident magistrates obtained absolute power to give a month's imprisonment without appeal. A law passed under these circumstances in regard to a country which watches every breach of faith, which has a 864 memory that goes back to the beginning of all things British, it is in such a situation as this that you propose once more to renew this appalling measure. According to the hon. Member for North Kensington, the great merit of this Act is that it may be put into operation mechanically. I should say the fact that this Act has been made perpetual involved the corollary that it should never be put in force until circumstances have arisen in Ireland which would justify, if the Act was not perpetual, the passing of a temporary measure. Therefore I say that hon. Members and Ministers should be able to establish, before this Act is put in force, whether circumstances exist which, if the Act had not been perpetual, would have entitled them to come to Parliament and ask for a temporary measure.
I listened to the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Antrim, and I presume that he brought forth from his repertoire all the cases that would justify the re-enactment of this Act. I must say that the right hon. Gentleman has now added a new terror to existence in this country. He has made me now consider the case, not of the placemen, but of the ex-placemen. He is the enlarged placeman—the tiger out of lair so to speak—and I would really ask the Irish Government is it fair to unfortunate Ireland to give an Irish Orange Member a job—his virus is sufficient already—and then let his disappointed fangs loose upon themselves and the Government. I respectfully ask the Government to consider whether the next time they give any Irish Member a place on the Bench, and find it necessary for the good of the country to release him from obligations there, it would not be best to send him to the Bermudas as Governor or some other light and entertaining occupation of the kind suited to his tastes and prejudices. The right hon. Gentleman went over the entire case against the Government. Strange to say he was two years a member of the Government while all those horrors were going on, and he never said a word as long as his mouth was stopped by £2,000 a year.
I was delighted to hear the Member for South Antrim say he had other cases. I listened to his cases with great care, and I think if the right hon. Gentleman had 865 gone on a little longer with his speech he would have made the Chief Secretary popular with the Irish Members. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the case of the newspaper reporter named Quinn and whether he meets with 4 or 64 magistrates I wish him a happy delivery. This reporter was reporting the proceedings of a Board of Guardians in Ireland when a policeman interrupted him in the middle of his stenography with a warrant for his arrest. It would have been much more prudent if the officer of the law had waited until the reporter had got outside. On that ground the late Secretary to the Admiralty declares that the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant has committed an outrage, and that his action has caused dismay in every part of the House. In another case where a man was prosecuted for some offence, and the magistrates released him, to come up for trial when called upon, because the branch passed a resolution with which the right hon. Gentleman does not agree, he suggests that the Chief Secretary was guilty of some grave dereliction of duty.
The case of Canon O'Hare which the right hon. Gentleman alluded to was one in which this gentleman was assured of making a speech within two miles of a place where another meeting had been proclaimed some months ago. Those are the four cases to meet which the Parliament of England is asked by the right hon. Gentleman the member for South Antrim to pass a new Coercion Act, and to suspend the liberty of the subject in Ireland, a more ridiculous farrago of nonsense he had never heard. He says that if any of the tenants on De Freyne estate are miserable there is an easy outlet, because the Government had afforded them facilities for emigration. And so in future whenever anyone in Ireland is oppressed, harried, weary, and heavy laden the answer is: "A single ticket for New York from Holyhead." Liberty was bought by men's blood, fought for with knives and hatchets—["Oh, oh" and a laugh]—that, I may tell hon. Members opposite, is a phrase of The Times in the days of the Italian insurrection. Is it to be pretended that it is in circumstances like the present that the liberty of members of this House is to be interfered with, and that Ireland is in such a terrible plight? What is the whole story? Who has blown the bellows of this miserable business? Lord 866 Ardilaun. All this pretence is due to the newspaper of one discontented Peer—not only discontented, as I am told now, but also a pro-Boer in disguise—Lord Ardilaun, because he does not get his step in the peerage, a Star or a Garter. If I had been the Government I would have given him a garter for both his legs. I hope I have not made any error in the insignia. Perhaps there are two Garters. I cannot understand the reluctance of the Government in a grave case of this kind to gratify the ambitions of Lord Ardilaun. It was his newspaper in Ireland that had served up the whole thing. If Lord Ardilaun had not existed, I venture to say—such is the weakness of the Government—there would not have been one single word about these arrests—there would not have been a word of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite heard.
With the exception of this comparatively small area, where the people practically cannot get bread, and where they are in a state of chronic misery, landlords' rents were never better paid than at present, and the country as a whole was never so steeped in quietness as at present. The right hon. Member for North Armagh was at any rate better advised, for he does not attempt to make this the occasion of a fresh coercion debate, but rather admits the case put from this side. I was thinking is it not a great pity that all these fine young men, capable, like all my countrymen, and unable to find occupation on their own shores, should be denied facilities for emigration? I was half wondering whether, when the Chief Secretary was approached on behalf of the son of a very distinguished Member of this House for a position on the Irish Local Government Board, he did not say, "Oh, we will give him facilities for emigration." It is a pity that this young man, as brilliant as his father is, should not shine beneath the Southern Cross, or find the new highway of freedom amid the pines of Canada, or perhaps he might become the President of the United States, if the White Star Line would only provide him with a steerage ticket. The idea of putting this forth as a serious argument in the case of a country which in the lifetime of 867 Members of this House has lost four millions of its population! Have you no answer—you, of all nations of the earth, except, to use the word of the Member for Kensington, that this is "the Act of God?" The increase of deposits in the Savings Bank is due to the beneficence of the British Government, but the emigration is the act of God. Whatever happens that is bad for the country is the act of God, or of the agitators—the same thing I suppose. I heard that argument used in this House in 1884. Why don't you count the postage stamps? There were none fifty years ago. Now, why don't you count the increase in the telephones and in the Marconi telegraph stations. There are three of these stations now and there were none in the late reign, and so you might go down the whole gamut of absurdities to show that Ireland is prospering. These things are seriously put forth in answer to the demands of eighty men who are here, and here, only to testify to the misrule with which you have afflicted our country. I have put the question before in the House. Why, if you must hold our nation, don't you say honestly that you do it for strategic purposes? Why don't you put your grounds in this way—"We have emigrated the Boers to Ceylon, and we have permitted your extermination just as we permit the extermination of the Boer babes as the act of God. It is a necessity for this larger island that we should hold your country because you are a dangerous population and not to be trusted?" If you would put forward that argument we could meet it. We would show you how you could shackle, and, I may say, amputate our limbs, and at the same time allow us some decenter system of government than you offer us now.
The hon. Member for Waterford, in the brilliant speech he made yesterday, brought forward the case of the De Freyne estate. I do not know so much of the West of Ireland as perhaps I should. It may be that Lord De Freyne, being a poor man, was unable to make any amelioration in the condition of those people without doing great wrong to himself. That is the argument. But let me give you the case of the Chairman of Committees in the House of Lords—Lord Morley. Let me give you this case 868 not from impoverished Connaught or of an impoverished native Irish proprietor. I ask English gentlemen to pause on this question and to say is there not some necessity for some measure, if not of compulsion at least of pre-emption in regard to a case of this kind. Lord Morley owns five-sixths of an estate in County Cavan. I am bound to say that Lord Charles Beresford sold lands eight years ago in Ireland on very handsome terms to the tenants, and they have always allowed him to go there since and shoot. Lord Morley owns an estate near by, having a rental of something like £2,800 a year. He has an agent named Johnstone, who for some purposes of his own allowed the arrears on the estate to accumulate, and made no substantial effort to collect them, so that until a year or two of the present time there was something like £12,000 arrears due on this estate, which is cut-away bog and barren territory, just the same as the land in Connaught. The tenants approached him and asked him if he would sell it. Lord Morley indicated that he would. The tenants at the end of October sent him an offer of sixteen years purchase of the rent, less 6s. 8d. in the £, rebatement, which he had been giving them for twenty years. He did not go into the Land Court, but he gave that abatement, and therefore, the sixteen years purchase was to be subject to that abatement. It is said there is no necessity for compulsion or even pre-emption. What did Lord Morley do? Not, I am sure, on his own initiative. The next thing the tenants heard was a letter from his lordship, in which he said he regretted that a sale was practically completed. That was a sale to other people and over the heads of those tenants, and one would suppose, of course, at a much larger amount. The next thing the tenants heard was a falsehood, which, I am sure, Lord Morley never heard of, in the shape of a printed notice purporting to be signed by Lord Morley, that he had sold the estate to Mr. Crookenden and Mr. Casey, and that he had appointed Mr. Hatt as agent on 5th December, 1901, for the collection of rents. Now mark that. Lord Morley had never sold to Mr. Crookenden and Mr. Casey, but to speculators, well-known and notorious.
869 MR. Saunders and this agent, Mr. Johnstone, are found to have been the assignees of the estate on money raised on mortgages amounting to £23,000. In other words, his lordship was misled into selling his estate to those people, who had not a shilling themselves, and raised the entire money on mortgages for £10,000 less than the unfortunate tenants were willing to give. Why do I mention this? Do you think the tenants on this Cavan estate will pay up their rents cheerfully to Messrs. Crookenden, Saunders and Hatt? Nothing of the kind. Do you think they will pay their arrears? Nothing of the kind.
We are told by the right hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh that there will be a combination of landlords pitted against tenants in cases of this kind. Well, whoever goes up the mountains to clear out the 300 or 400 befooled tenants, who have been depoiled of what they conceive to be their right—namely, the right of pre-emption in the case of an absentee landlord—whoever marches up the hill will be well advised if they march down on the other side. I am not one of those who would advise any tenant needlessly to enter into a campaign against his landlord; but if ever there was a case justified by the circumstances it is this, when you find landsharks going about the country misleading the honest owner of an estate and inducing them to sell that estate for the purpose of having a subsequent deal under the Purchase Acts. I say that is a prostitution of public money, and the Government should give no countenance to it. There is at the present moment an interest attaching to every question of this kind. I am sorry to say that the condition of one estate in one county in Ireland is not comparable to any other estate. I do say it would be satisfactory to the House, and certainly it would have been satisfactory to the Irish Members, if the Chief Secretary had indicated in his speech some intention of dealing with circumstances such as these I have mentioned, and as to the right of pre-emption which a landlord who was clearing out of Ireland bag and baggage is exercising. We hear a great deal in Ireland of the lawlessness of the words addressed to tenants by platform agitators. I wonder if mem- 870 bers of this House have ever read the evidence given by Sir Redvers Buller, whose sayings and doings have been so much canvassed of late. By the way, the Government seemed to have a mania of getting rid of all their good men not only in the Army but in the Navy. As we are engaged in giving them these old lessons over again of which I confess I am getting tired, I wonder if hon. Members have ever read the evidence given by Sir Redvers Buller at the Railway Hotel, Killarney, when he was sent over to Ireland to be, in the words of Lord Salisbury, "a fresh eye in the head of the Government?" Sir Redvers Buller was appointed in August, 1886, and his evidence was given in November of the same year. He had not been much longer in Natal when he relieved Ladysmith. Perhaps it might be said that he could not get much knowledge of the condition of Ireland in that time, because he had moonlighters to deal with. He was asked by the late Lord Milltown, an Irish Peer—Do you suggest that there should be a discretion in giving decrees of ejectment (such as have been given against the De Freyne tenants and such as will soon be issued against Lord Morley's tenants), and that there should be some means of modifying and redressing the grievance of rents being higher still than people can pay?This was what Sir Redvers Buller said—I think so. You have got a very ignorant, poor people and the law should look after them, instead of which it has only looked after the rich. That at least appears to me to be the case.Sir Redvers Buller was not dismissed from office for making that speech, although I think it did much more harm to the British system in Ireland and its methods of government than his recent speech at a luncheon in London. Luncheon speeches, by the way, seem to be rather the fashion just now. Again, in answer to another question Sir Redvers Buller—he was speaking, be it remembered, in 1896, of the Land League—said—Nobody had any sympathy with the tenants until the League was established, and when the landlords could not let their farms, they were then forced to consider the question of rent.Force! I was very much amused when it was said that nothing is done in 871 Ireland except for the rich, at a question put in this House yesterday to the Financial Secretary to the War Office by the hon. and learned Member for North Antrim, about the Society for Promoting Protestant Schools in Ireland, which is a Society for kidnapping young Papists and turning them into Protestants by a patent "soupery" process. I observe the confident assurance with which this hon. Member of a learned and privileged class put this question in the House—To ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether he is aware that the War Department took a portion of the agricultural land at Athlone belonging to the Incorporated Society for Promoting Protestant Schools in Ireland (lands confiscated from the Catholics), compensating the the occupying tenant, but paying nothing to the Society, who were the landlords—Dean Swift has said: "When nothing's left that's worth defence, they build a magazine,'—that having covered the land with fortifications, mounds, and buildings, the War Department surrendered the lands under their powers in 1896 unfit for agricultural purposes by reason of these works; that in proceedings by the Society to compel the War Department to restore the surrendered land to their original state the War Office obtained in the Court of of Appeal in Ireland an Order for £404 4s. 4d. costs to the Crown; and whether seeing that the Society (being Protestant) had no income available for meeting this expense, and that its exaction would cripple the Society in carrying its educational work, the War Department will favourably consider the remission of their claim for costs.The noble Lord, the Financial Secretary to the War Office, said that the question of remission of these costs would receive the favourable consideration of His Majesty's Government. In the face of 86 vigilant Nationalist Members they could get as a matter of course the remission of £404 due to the taxpayers of the country because the litigants were Protestants! I wonder if 300 or 400 poor Irish tenants would have had their costs remitted to them after unsuccessful litigation! Is not this an example that in Ireland there are favoured sects and favoured classes, and I take it as a sample of the basis of English rule in Ireland. In China there is a system of competitive examination for Mandarines, but in Ireland for 700 years positions had been filled by a single favoured class, and this is extended even to jurors.
Take another case. Is infanticide popular in Ireland? Is it pretended that the people of Ireland have any 872 sympathy with ordinary crime, or that in their ordinary domestic relation they have not a higher standard of morality than in England? Yet, at the Cork Winter Assizes, the largest county in Ireland, where 70 or 80 jurors were summoned to try Bridget Neilan charged with infanticide, I find that 64 Papists were ordered by the Crown to stand aside. That was not a case of land grabbers. I ask when the Government have resort to these miserable subterfuges in a case of that kind where are they going to stop? Would it not be a reasonable thing for His Majesty's Ministers, as on other questions of equal importance, to adopt the Chamberlain plan. I noticed that when the right hon. Member was met by an Amendment, in careful mosaic, by the Opposition, he spatchcocked himself into the middle of the debate, and took all the wind out of the sails of the Opposition by saying he would give them everything they wanted, and perhaps a little more. Would it not, then, have been reasonable for the Chief Secretary in this case to indicate what were the views of the Government with regard to this system of purchase, to give us some sign of what his measure is to be, and above all to declare that it is one which His Majesty's Government intend to press forward to a final and decisive issue? I noticed the quavering and halting manner in which the right hon. Gentleman made allusion to this question. I can well understand the argument "when remedies by means of purchase on the voluntary system are exhausted, having given every temptation to the landlord to sell, we will consider later on the question of the residuum" But the Chief Secretary did nothing of the kind, nor did he make any reply to the statement of my hon. friend in regard to this appalling system of suppression of public meetings by means of the Darwinian selection of the constabulary. That is the natural selection of oratory. Then you have the policeman with his spiked helmet and waving his baton about like the conductor of an orchestra—and emulating Mr. Speaker with his cries of Order, Order! will you come to the particular point in your speech. These are methods not of coercion they are methods of absurdity and farce, much as I could have wished the right hon. Gentleman a happier course than that 873 which he is pursuing, I tell him the course that he is pursuing is one that will not gain him respect for firmness on this side of the House, neither will it get him the gratitude of those who pretend to be his friends on that.
§ *(10.30.) THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. ATKINSON,) Londonderry, N.
I will not attempt to deal with many of the topics which has been raised in this debate. No doubt another opportunity for discussing them will arise during the course of the session, and, therefore I shall pass by much that has been said by hon. Members to which, if I had either time or opportunity, I should do my best to reply. I am sure, however, that hon. Members will not take it in ill-part if I do not refer to their speeches. I do not propose to enter at all into the question of compulsory purchase. I think it is easy to show that the statements contained in this Amendment—the first of which is that this question of compulsory purchase and sale is so pressing and so imperative that the Government deserve censure for not being now ready with a solution, and the second of which is that as the Government are not ready with a solution immunity is to be given to the criminal agitation which has been instituted in Ireland to forward this purpose—can be refuted. Whatever the merits of compulsory sale and purchase may be, whether it be possible or not, I have observed throughout the progress of this debate no single Member has alluded to the difficulties and dangers that present themselves in its path. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Montrose who was in office from 1892 to 1895 brought in a Land Bill, but he did not attempt to deal with compulsory purchase, although it would have been quite competent for him to have brought in such a Bill if it were desired. He himself has suggested, to use his own words, thatThere is no such crucial test as drawing a Bill.I should like to see any one of these hon. Members who talk so flippantly about bringing in a Bill put down to a desk and asked to draw a measure of the kind. They would have to consider whether it should be reciprocal or not, and if reciprocal they would have to consider what should be the tribunal to fix the purchase money of in the case of an unwilling 874 tenant. They would have to consider the dangers which would arise from the measure being immediate and universal, and not gradual and progressive. They would also have to take into consideration the danger of making Ireland the tenant of this country at the very time that this measure is asked for for the purpose of freeing Ireland from English control, and securing her that independence which the hon. Member for Waterford said compulsory purchase was one of the means of obtaining. They would also have to remember that the hon. Member for East Mayo, although he seemed conveniently to forget it, when the Voluntary Purchase Bill of the First Lord of the Treasury was introduced 1891 was before the House, stood up in his place and said that the time might come when for political or social purposes they, the Nationalists, would order their followers in Ireland to repudiate their debts.
All these things would have to be considered, but I do not propose to enter into them to-night. The policy of the Unionist Government is to establish the principle of peasant propriety in Ireland, and that is an object I take it, to which each party in the State is committed. That principle was first applied in the Church Bill of 1869. It was carried out to some extent in the Bill of 1870. It was taken up again in 1885, again in 1887, and again in 1891. It is the object of each party in the State that this difficulty should be solved, but it by no means follows that those who talk most freely about it are those who are ready with a solution. It has been its fate to have been used as agrarian questions had been used before; to give same life and some vitality to those political and national questions, which, without it, would also sink and die of inanition. It was for that reason that after the Fenian fiasco of 1867, and the almost as absurd fiasco of 1848, it was revealed to the agitators of Ireland that in order to keep national movements upon their legs and make them progress at all it was necessary to join with them agrarian questions to pull them as an engine pulls its train. I may say for myself that I bitterly regret that the whole policy of the Congested Districts Board, a beneficent policy in itself, and a policy which must be carried out, if carried out at all, with benev- 875 olence, in a philanthropic spirit, and with temper, tact, kindliness, and patience has been thus degraded and has been sought to be made a mere instrument for dragging forward a political agitation. The hon. Member for Waterford announced that there were three ways of obtaining Home Rule. There was one way by force, a second by agreement, and there was lastly, this compulsory sale, which would drive out the garrison from Ireland. If compulsory sale has all these merits, if it is such a help to the efforts to which the hon. Member has devoted so much of his life, the thing which strikes one as strange is that it took him so long to discover its merits, because it was only in 1899 that he condemned and derided it as the work of the United Irish League.
§ MR JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that I ever at any time derided compulsory purchase? I invite him to quote my words.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
I think they have been quoted already. I did not profess to use the hon. Member's words
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
The right hon. Gentleman must allow me. He said that I had on some occasion derided the principle of compulsory purchase—attacked it. I ask him to quote the words. I utterly deny that I ever said anything of the kind in my life.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
The hon. Member misinterprets what I said. The speech has been already referred to by my right hon. friend.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
No, no! Quote the words yourself. Mr. Speaker, this is a serious matter. The right hon. Gentleman's words are in the recollection of the House. He distinctly stated that I had at some time derided and attacked the principle of compulsory purchase. I deny that, and I challenge him to quote my words.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
My recollection of the effect of the hon. Member's words is that the hon. Member did not approve of the action of the United Irish League. The United Irish League from the first adopted the principle of compulsory purchase, and I understood that, at all events in 1889, the hon. Member disapproved of the action of the United Irish League, and said it was impossible to get up an agitation for compulsory sale.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I hope the hon. Gentleman will withdraw that. He said that the right hon, Gentleman was misrepresenting him, and that he knew he was doing it.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
Of course I will withdraw, but I think that you, Sir, and the House will admit that I have had some, provocation. I again say to the right hon. Gentleman if he wants to fasten any charge on me in connection with any statement of mine, he is bound to quote my words.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
The right hon. Gentleman said he withdrew, and then he proceeded, without quoting the words, to fasten on me the same interpretation.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
I did not intend to quote any words. If I have in any way misrepresented the hon. Member, I entirely withdraw. I may, however, say that, up to 1899, it never struck the hon. Gentleman that this policy was of such vital importance to secure the independence of Ireland.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
I will pass from that, because, as I have said, I do not propose to discuss the question, but whatever may be the merits of compulsory sale the Government were bound to take action to check and pnnish crime. Before however I deal with that question I should like to refer to the speech which has been made by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Antrim. Everybody will, I think, admit that it is not possible either for a Government or an individual who endeavours to steer an even keel between the two conflicting parties in Ireland, so to manage affairs as to meet with the approval of the opponents that exist on different sides of politics in Ireland. Hence it is that to-night we are bitterly assailed on one side for having put in force any of the provisions of the Crimes Act of 1887, while we are as vehemently assailed on the other side because we did not put them into force long ago. I am glad the right hon. Gentleman has brought forward his charge. We are quite aware that discontent exists, but we believe the criticisms upon us are unfounded and unfair. Whether that be so or not, it is unquestionably better that these opinions should be expressed here, where they can be discussed, than outside, and so far from complaining of the right hon. Gentleman's criticisms, we welcome them. He has accused us of being false to Unionist principles.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
He declared that we have assumed an attitude which clothed with approval opponents of the Unionist cause, and I can conceive nothing which would be more false to Unionist principles than an endeavour "to clothe with approval opponents of the Unionist 878 cause." In addition to this, the right hon. Gentleman complains that we did not put in force coercion against organised intimidation, and that we did not two years ago suppress crimes of the character which took place on the De Freyne estate. As to the accusation that we "assumed an attitude which clothed with approval opponents of the Unionist cause," what are the grounds on which it is made? They have been already dealt with in some degree, with his usual pungent humour, by tho hon. and learned Member for North Louth. Two instances, and two alone, were selected—the cases of Quinn and Calvy.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
Wide as this Amendment is, embracing so many subjects as it does, it passes my comprehension to understand how the promotion of Mr. Oldham can fairly come within its purview. However, I am not cognisant of that matter, and I cannot deal with it. My right hon. friend the Chief Secretary is President of the Department concerned, and it would have been fairer if the right hon. Gentleman had made his speech before the Chief Secretary spoke, so that he could have dealt with the matter.
§ * MR. MACARTNEY
I insist on making this explanation. I gave way last night to the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He desired to speak at a certain time, and it was entirely for the convenience of my right hon. friend that I did not intervene in the debate last night.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
At all events, I pass by that matter; I cannot deal with it because I know nothing whatever about it. What are the other two cases? I am quite sure my right hon. friend is too old a parliamentary hand not to have brought forward the strongest cases he could collect, but what are they? Out of the whole history of this Government, both while he was a member of it and since, the right hon. Gentleman has selected these two cases as proof that the Government has abandoned its duty, abandoned its friends, and clothed with approval its enemies. The case of Quinn is the first, and of that it is difficult to 879 speak seriously. Quinn was brought up and bound over to keep the peace or to be imprisoned for a month. He was a reporter, and a policeman arrested him at a meeting of the Poor Law Guardians. I believe that in the first instance a policeman was about to arrest him, but an assurance was given that he would be present at the end of the meeting, and then another policeman came and arrested him. Complaint was made of that, and the superiors of the police officer, before whom the complaint came, considered that it was a very unwise and improper way of executing the warrant. That it would have been quite easy to have waited until the man was leaving the meeting. The police officer's superiors—who, after all, the right hon. Gentleman will doubtless admit, ought to be the best judges of what is becoming discipline in the force—disapproved of the action taken by the constable, and all that my right hon. friend did, was to write a letter in reply to the Board of Guardians, who complained of their meeting being invaded by the police, expressing in the very same words the opinion expressed by the superior officers of the constable.
But ridiculous as Quinn's case is, the other is even worse. It is the case of a man named Calvy. Calvy was secretary to the local league and he wrote a letter. The right hon. Gentleman calls it a threatening letter, and in one sense it is. It is a threatening letter within the provisions of a very old statute, 1 and 2 Will. IV., but I venture to think that when I read it to the House, hon. Members, if they are unacquainted with the provisions of that statute, would come to the conclusion that it is not a criminal letter at all. Here it is—It was reported in the Committee yesterday that you were supplying—with goods. Of course, I do not want to prevent you doing as you like, but I am to inform you that we will take all steps in our power to prevent—living in our midst, and if you come under our rules you can only blame yourself. A reply will oblige.I examined that letter most carefully, and came to the conclusion that it came within 1 and 2 Will. IV. I accordingly directed that Calvy should be prosecuted. But the first difficulty in the matter was that it was perfectly impossible to prove Calvy's signature, and I do not believe 880 that to this day we could have succeeded in the prosecution but for the fact that Calvy appeared as a witness in some subsequent proceedings, and with apparent unconsciousness of having done anything in the least wrong or illegal, said "I wrote the letter." I have had a good deal of experience, but I have never known an accused person averse to taking advantage of any quibble with which the law furnished him, or, above all, of the plea that he was not obliged to say anything that would incriminate himself, and I am confident that had Calvy thought for one instant he had committed any offence by writing that letter he would have refused to answer at all as to the authorship of it. But that admission having been made, the prosecution went on, and the case came before a jury. I wish my right hon. friend had had some experience of the difficulty of securing a conviction in an agrarian case from a western jury. The judge, in charging the jury, called attention to the extraordinary fact—new in his experience—that the accused had admitted writing the letter, and he presumed therefore, that the act would be justified. But Calvy's solicitor came to the representative of the Crown, and said, "Calvy did not think he was doing anything wrong, and if he pleads guilty will you refrain from pressing for punishment? The representative of the Crown thought it would be a good thing to get a conviction, but he also felt certain that Calvy had no idea he was doing wrong, and therefore, when Calvy made a long apology for what he had done, he did not press for punishment. Calvy thereupon received a lecture from the judge, and was released on recognisances, to come up for judgment when called on.
§ * MR. MACARTNEY
Will my right hon. friend complete the story by informing the House what was the result to the man who received this harmless letter?
§ * MR. ATKINSON
If that is so, I am sorry for him; but I do not see how it is 881 possible to bring home to the writer of the letter the responsibility for that Certainly it is not possible to bring home to the Crown any responsibility for it. I should like to know what the right hon. Gentleman would have the Crown do?
§ * MR. MACARTNEY
I will tell you what my complaint is. This man, who is out on his own recognizances, is still acting as secretary of the Kilmactighe branch of the League, and weekly publishes boycotting notices signed in his name.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
The right hon. Gentleman also complained that the Government did not proclaim the United Irish League. That would be the most ineffective of all proceedings. We know that O'Connell boasted that he could drive a coach and six through any Act of Parliament, and, during the whole time the Act which the right hon. Gentleman would have had us put in force had been in operation, there were only 64 convictions under the particular clause referred to whereas under Section 2 their were 2,800. The porvision has been completely ineffective, because it is perfectly possible to dissolve the association, and the next day to give it a new name and a new charter. It was proved in 1889 to be an absolutely ineffective procedure.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
Then the Attorney General of that day must have been mistaken; he could not have known. During the years the Act was in active operation there were 64 convictions under that section, and only 14 convictions for publishing notices of the proceedings of Leagues in the papers.
§ * MR. MACARTNEY
If my right hon. friend will take the trouble of reading the speech of the Attorney General for 882 Ireland on the Address in 1888 barely six months after the proclamation of the League, he will find that Mr. Madden—Mr. Justice Madden a he now is—stated there had been at that time 18 convictions obtained against newspapers for publishing illegal notices.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
All I can say is, that if Mr. Madden said that he must have been mistaken, because in the whole of the time there were only 14 cases in which the Press were punished for publishing reports of meetings or of the proceedings of the League; five more were summoned, making 19, and there were 64 altogether. The effect of the Act of 1887 in suppressing the League was absolutely and entirely due to proceedings under Section 2.
The right hon. Gentleman next blamed the Government for not taking two years ago such proceedings as we are now taking on the De Freyne estate. To that there is one answer and one only. The Government cannot punish offenders two years before the offences are committed. This is the very first attempt which has been made since the starting of the League in January, 1898, to apply the Plan of Campaign to any estate.
§ * MR. MACARTNEY
I have not stated that any attempt had been made to start the Plan of Campaign until quite recently. I was referring to a case which occurred in October, 1899, of a precisely similar character to the one in relation to which the Government has recently instituted a prosecution, and I said that if the Government had prosecuted in that case in 1899 it might have had some effect.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
Then I misunderstood my right hon. friend, and, therefore, I pass by that. What is the next matter?
§ * MR. ATKINSON
Change of venue is applicable to cases in which serious kinds of crime are involved. At present, there is scarcely any serious crime in Ireland. 883 Hon. gentlemen opposite are quite right in saying that crimes of violence were never at a lower ebb than now. But I do not agree with them when they go on to say there is no crime in Ireland. There are crimes of intimidation and of conspiracy not to pay rent. Those are not crimes of violence, but they are crimes which are met by Section 2 of the Crimes Act—the section we are putting in force to deal with them—and for the punishment of which change of venue is unnecessary. In addition to that, change of venue is a provision which can only be applied to county areas. You must take for your unit the entire county. There is no county in Ireland over the whole of which, or nearly the whole, the operations of the League extend. There are unsettled districts in Mayo, Galway, Roscommon, and Sligo, but these are comparatively small portions of the different counties. If the right hon. Gentleman had inquired, he would have found that, whereas in 1887 the judges, in their charges to the juries at the Assizes, made reference to the existence of a state of turbulence, and the prevalence of crimes of violence as prevailing in may counties, every one of the judges who went to the recent winter Assizes declared that serious crime did not exist to any great extent, and no crime of any kind connected with the League existed, except in these particular infected areas, where there is boycotting and conspiracy not to pay rent. For these offences it becomes necessary to put this Act into force with regard to those counties, and not to rely on trial by jury. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose Burghs relies greatly on the ordinary law. Yes, everybody should reverence the ordinary law. No person delights in coercion or desires to put coercion in force if it is possible to govern the country without it. But when it comes to be a choice between coercion and the paralysis of justice, you must put coercion in force. To enforce this by what means is efficient is the Government's first and primary duty. Coercion has been put in force in these cases, because the juries of Ireland have been taught that crime of this description is not crime at all. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford himself has said 884 that members of the League should obey the law of God rather than the law of the land, which was bad and ought to be broken. If juries are trained in such a way, if they are taught that it is their duty to disobey the law of the land, is it not a farce to put them into the jury-box to carry out that law—the law which they are told has no binding force or moral authority, and convict their felions under it.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
The passage to which I have referred is in a speech by the hon. and learned Member of Waterford.
§ * MR. MACARTNEY
The cases which I have put before the House, I have examined myself personally on the spot.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
Notices signed by the secretary of the League are often published in the newspapers. Very often those statements are not accurate, but the moment the matter is stated in the papers the Government are forthwith blamed for not putting the transgressors on their trial though there is no evidence against anyone. You cannot prosecute a man if there is no evidence against him. Without there is something in a paper to show that the proprietor publishes something with a view to carrying out boycotting, you are equally powerless. If you had the Crimes Act to-morrow that would not enable you to dispense with evidence. I will pass on now to say a word or two about the resident magistrates. Of course there has been the usual criticism about the resident magistrates, who have been called "removables;" but I think that, if 885 I could cross-examine the right hon. Member for the Montrose Burghs, I might find that during the years he was in offices there was not a universal objection among the Nationalist party to secure that iniquitous position for some of their own friends. The tenure of these magisstrates is that of every civil servant. [Nationalist cries of "No, no."] An appeal is given on matters of law to the superior Court, and an appeal is given to the County Court Judge on the facts if the term of imprisonment be over a month. Again, if the case be removed by certiorari, and it should turn out that there is not any adequate evidence to support the conviction, it would be quashed. As far as possible the jurisdiction is guarded, but it must be borne in mind that in every one of these cases referred no evidence of importance was given on the part of the accused.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
Yes, but in the instance in which they refused to state a case they pardon two of the accused sentences of two months, and they refused because the conviction was appealed against by these two persons. The House may be perfectly certain that the Government will steadily and resolutely enforce the law, and throw its protection around even the meanest of her citizens in Ireland.
§ (11.20.) MR. JOHN MORLEY
Last night the Chief Secretary said proudly "We are an Imperial race." But to-night in this Imperial Chamber we have spent 40 minutes by the clock in in discussing Mr. Calvy and one or two other extremely obscure personages. Forty minutes by the clock we have expended upon the trumperies which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Antrim thought fit to bring up before the House. And I cannot help interposing that here you have an Amendment of which you may say what you like, but it is an Amendment at all events which covers an enormous field of ground. I have been in the House for 19 years or so, and we have all the time been dealing with the Irish land question coupled with coercion and Irish self-government. To- 886 night we have all these three topics and perhaps a fourth; and yet the Attorney General's speech for the Government has not dealt with the Amendment at all. He has not said a word on the Amendment. He has spent 50 minutes—I will not use too harsh a word—in an altercation between himself and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Antrim. I think it is playing with the House of Commons for the Government, after the speeches which were made to-night by my hon. friend the Member for East Mayo, and my hon. and learned friend the Member for North Louth—it is playing with the House of Commons and with the Question to spend all this time in all this ridiculous trumpery. I listened with astonishment, with as much respect as I could muster, to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Antrim. The Attorney General says that be would like to cross-examine me as to the demands made upon me, when I was responsible for Irish Government, for places and posts. But there is his own right hon. friend below the gangway—the right hon. Member for South Antrim—one of the shrillest of whose grievances is his dying swan-song of Irish ascendency, one of whose bitterest complaints was that patronage in the hands of the present Unionist Government is not given, to Unionist gentlemen, but is given occasionally to Home Rulers.
§ * MR. MACARTNEY
I complained that the Government sanctioned the appointment of a special person, who was in violent antagonism to the Government, and a subscriber to the pro-Boer fund.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
I will not spend another 50 minutes in another altercation with the right hon. Gentleman. The Attorney General is at liberty on any occasion to cross-examine me to any extent as to our distribution of patronage when I was at Dublin Castle. There are said to be differences on this side of the House, and there are degrees of ridiculousness, but I think that the discussion to-night between the two sections of the Unionist party—I observe that the right hon. Gentleman said not a word about what was, after all, a rather striking point in the speech of the right hon- Gentleman—I mean the attitude of a 887 friend of many of us in this House, Mr. Horace Plunkett, at the Galway election. I am bound to say that a Member of the Government taking up the attitude which Mr. Horace Plunkett thought it right to take up, and saying the things which he thought it right to say, deserved some of the criticisms which the right hon. Gentleman bestowed upon him.
There is one point in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Antrim, which I would like to say a word about. In endeavouring to make out a case for coercion, he quoted the words from a charge of Lord O'Brien, I think at Cork. In what I am going to say I am not making the slightest reflection upon Lord O'Brien personally, or this particular charge, with which I was not acquainted until I heard it from the lips of the right hon. Gentleman. But this I say, and I say it from experience, and from a very deliberate opinion on the subject—that it is a monstrous thing that Irish judges should be permitted, by public opinion, in this House or elsewhere, to build up cases by their language for the application of coercive enactments. When we were in office there were always these charges to be found. We were unluckily a very weak kneed Government—I mean in this House, not weak otherwise. And I applied to the speaker of that day, Mr. Speaker Peel, to know whether I should be out of order if, when gentlemen who then sat on this side of the House quoted judges' charges in order to make up a political case against the executive Government—whether I should be precluded by the Standing Orders from dealing with those charges. Well, I got no encouragement. But, undoubtedly, a strong 888 Government like this, who are at this moment, I am sure, doing their best to resist the course of coercion into which, in a small degree they have slipped—I am perfectly sure that they ought to resist that practice, by which Irish judges have before them the county inspectors and read the returns. That is, in my opinion—I say it from my experience and observation, and I hope the House will believe that I have no prejudice against the judges—that is an abuse which, if I were the Chief Secretary of a strong Parliamentary Government, I should do my best to abolish and put an end to. It is a most extraordinary thing that this Amendment for the first time within nine years raises the question of coercion—that is to say, the application of a special and an extraordinary statute to Ireland—and yet on this occasion the Attorney General for Ireland, the man who knows most about what is going on in Ireland, who knows best all the rules and maxims of procedure, comes down to this House to defend coercive practices, and his statement to-night has been, "There is no serious crime in Ireland." In the grand old days of coercion no Chief Secretary would have ventured to come down to this House to defend coercion unless he had unfortunately a red list of agrarian crime, of murders, of moon-lighting, and of threatening and intimidation; but now coercion is to be defended—exceptional criminal law is to be defended—the suspension of trial by jury in cases where in England and Scotland we hold trial by jury sacred—by the right hon. Gentleman who comes down to this House and says there is no serious crime except in Calvy's case The Attorney General did not answer a 889 question with which I interrupted him. Have you tried the experiment of getting a conviction for any of these offences by a jury?
§ MR. ATKINSON
These cases are cases of conspiracy not to pay rent—of illegal assembly held to promote conspiracy not to pay rent.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
I do not wish to be importunate, but it is rather important when you suspend the ordinary law of the country. I ask the Attorney General, have you tried in any of these cases of conspiracy and unlawful assembly to promote a conspiracy to get a convictionl by a jury?
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The right hon. Gentleman asked me for a case of boycotting; that was alleged to be a case of boycotting.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
I am sure that the House which has listened to this dialogue will agree that the position of the Chief 890 Secretary and of the Attorney General is, to say tbe least of it, extremely obscure. I do not know now whether they have attempted to get from a jury convictions for these offences, which they have tried to get out of two resident magistrates [Nationalist cries of "Not one."] The right hon. Gentleman, I feel sure, from his language last night, is as anxious as any of us on this side, if he were not coerced by gentlemen like the right hon. Member for South Antrim and the right hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh—is as anxious as we are to avoid this resort to exceptional law; but undoubtedly he has taken the first and the second steps in a most slippery and disastrous course. I recollect only too well all the debates that we had in 1887, when this Act became law, and afterwards, when it was put into force. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University, I am sure, remembers a great deal of what was said at that time, and of what was done. I recollect two propositions laid down by two of the Irish judges in the course of the administration of that Act which bear, in my opinion, strictly upon our remonstrances with the Government for so hastily, and for such slight and flimsy reasons, resorting to this extraordinary law. One judge—I have not the name here but I think it was the Chief Baron—said that the Crimes Act falls within the class of laws which must receive a strict rather than a liberal interpretation. Exceptional law of this kind must receive a strict and not a liberal interpretation. The proceedings, so far as I understand them, are the result not of a liberal, but rather an extremely strict and narrow interpretation. Another judge said—and I commend this to the attention of the House:—That men brought up under this Act of Parliament, the Crimes Act, have rights, and 891 it is far better that even criminal acts should go unpunished than that parties should be convicted against the law or by the straining of the law.We cannot help in reading of these transactions thinking that there has been something in Ireland at present like a serious straining of the law. Because you wish to avow the political scandal of proclaiming districts, you have, I daresay, under a strictly legal but not a liberal, interpretation of the law, brought cases up under this Act which this House, when it passed the Act, never dreamt for a moment, and none of the gentlemen around me would ever have said that they dreamt of bringing under this Coercion Act. The shortness of memory of politicians is extraordinary. I am not sure whether the Chief Secretary was in the House in those days, but he used last night some very strong language with regard to boycotting. Nobody has a greater aversion to boycotting than I have, and when I was in Ireland I had cases of that kind to deal with, and I did not refrain from dealing with them. But I think the memory of the Prime Minister will reproach him for the violent language that was used with regard to it, because in the election of 1885, when he thought that Irish votes, which we all now, in these better days, are going to be independent of, were of value, he said—I shall quote his words from memory—that boycotting grew up under the Crimes Act itself—that is, the Crimes Act of 1882. "Let us, after all," said Lord Salisbury, "look at boycotting. It is more like the excommunications or edicts of the Middle Ages than anything we know now. The truth about boycotting," he went on, "is that it depends upon the passing humour of the population." If 892 Lord Salisbury had thought of the matter then he would have found that this profoundly interesting explanation and the historical analogies did not supply a good maxim for a Chief Secretary or a Lord Lieutenant with responsibility.
Something has been said to-night by a previous speaker with regard to the incidents of 1892–93. I am anxious, for a reason which I think will be apparent to the House, to refer to this matter for a moment. In those days I had the honour to hold the post which the present Chief Secretary holds; the right hon. gentleman the Solicitor General will recollect them, and the Member for South Tyrone would recollect them if he were here. There were, I think, five votes of censure upon me in seven weeks, or seven votes of censure in five weeks, and I remember a particular incident. The First Lord of the Treasury then sitting on this side, said to me in debate with perfect sincerity, I know that if I would forego my fad about coercion and would put the change of the venue and summary jurisdiction clauses in force in Co. Clare, which, in those days, with all respect to my hon. friend the Member for Waterford was in a rather rough condition.—What was my reply? I refused to take any notice of the friendly overtures from this side of the House and I refused to give way to the menaces of the Member for South Tyrone, and the result was that in a short time Clare was perfectly clear and perfectly in order. But supposing I had taken, as the right hon. Gentleman has taken, the bad advice offered to me on that occasion—I am sure hon. Gentlemen will believe me when I say that I express my real persuasion—I am perfectly sure that instead of Clare instead of subsiding would have become 893 more—well—effervescent. At all events, I know what hon. Gentlemen opposite will say, "Oh, that is not fair. You were able to do that without the Crimes Act because you had on your side popular sentiment." As if it were something under a system of free government disreputable and even ignominious to act with some regard to the popular sentiment. I am afraid that this first step, although a tolerably moderate one to appearance, will not have the effect which gentlemen from the north of Ireland expect that it will have. On the contrary, it will multiply difficulties and will increase the dangers that I think may possibly grow out of the present agrarian situation in Ireland. The Attorney general told us to-night there is no serious crime. But the Chief Secretary made a very important speech, I do not think under very felicitous auspices, at Belfast. If I were Chief Secretary, endeavouring to hold an even keel, I do not think I would go and announce measures of high policy at a banquet or luncheon with a Minister in the Chair, of whom I wish to say nothing disrespectful for a moment. I should not think that was a very happy occasion on which to make an announcement of policy which was to reconcile great sections of Irish opinion. He said:—There is at this moment a very skimpy very paltry, and, as I think, a very inadequate and unsuccessful attempt to embarrass the Government.Well, if I were one of the hon. Gentlemen below the gangway who wanted to tell him how to turn a "skimpy" movement into a more formidable movement, I should say I would do the best I could to begin at once to resort to the Crimes Act.
I cannot discuss the Irish Land Question and Home Rule in ten minutes, but I should like to say a few words as 894 to the course that I, without responsibility, and without the right to speak for others, propose to take upon the Amendment before the House. The Amendment contains a proposition about compulsory purchase, one about coercion, which I have dealt with, and one about the Government of Ireland and the importance of establishing harmony between the Government and the great majority of the people. First, upon the very difficult subject of compulsory purchase. The Attorney General was perfectly right when he said it is a difficult and an intricate subject. The whole Irish land question, owing to the extraordinary manner in which for 40 or 50 years it has been treated in this assembly—and in the other one still more—is no doubt difficult. I must say there may be other questions in Europe larger in scale. I do not believe there is one more intricate, more complex, and more entangled than the Irish Land Question. I sat 36 days on an Irish Land Committee and I think I know something about the Irish land question. The Secretary of State for War cheered the reference to that committee. I am rather doubtful whether he is wise to recall that committee, because he represented the landlord interest, and the right hon. Gentleman and a colleague left the committee.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. BRODRICK,) Surrey, Guildford
Because you would not hear our evidence.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
.—I cannot go into altercations. Whether we heard your evidence or not, in the following year your own Chief Secretary brought in a Bill founded on the recommendations of that committee, and, 895 if I may say it without presumption or impertinence, in which you appropriated one of the strongest, clearest, and best trained minds in this House, and what happened to him? He went to Ireland, and am I saying too much when I say that he was hounded out of Ireland by the gentlemen for whom the Secretary of War spoke on that Committee? I should be rather glad if some of my hon. friends behind me would lend me their ears while I state my views of this case. Of course, you are all sick of Irish Land Bills, but there must be a case for reopening of the land question, because the Chief Secretary announced last year, and has again announced this year, an Irish land Bill. This Bill will be a Bill for extending purchase. The right hon. Gentleman has said another thing—that there is no course that you can take, whatever it may be, without its difficulties. That is extremely true, because the purchase question has undergone a complete transformation. Mr. Bright never dreamt for a moment of the State's advancing the whole amount. What he said was—If a tenant comes forward with one-fourth of that purchase-money in his hand, then in answer to that evidence of thrift and providence the State may advance three-fourths.But all this has now undergone a complete transformation; and I agree with those who think that perhaps it was a pity that we committed ourselves to purchase instead of adhering to a system of continued rent-fixing. But I follow in this matter the language of my right hon. friend the Member for North Tyrone—I will not say I regret his absence to-night, for I understand he is doing missionary work—when he says that it is impossible that the present arrangements by which tenants—I will not describe the situation, 896 the Chief Secretary calls it looking over the hedge—it is impossible that this can be the final issue of the Irish land question; absolutely impossible. The House was not so full when the hon. Member for East Mayo stated the case, but any hon. Member who heard the statement as to the tenants on the Dillon estate, which was acquired by the Congested Districts Board, and the tenants on the adjoining De Freyne estate will see that the situation is absolutely impossible to continue. It is a most dangerous situation. Therefore, with more or less misgiving, I for one would certainly support any measure the right hon. Gentleman brings in, if reasonable, for extending purchase But compulsion? Some of my friends think thas to apply the principle of compulsion is a thing unheard of and intolerable. Well, but that position cannot be taken up. When you say to a landlord, "We are going to compel you to take this rent, and not that rent," there you have inserted the thin end of the wedge of compulsion, and you cannot draw back. Compulsion is no idol of mine, but everybody admits, the Chief Secretary admits, that the principle of compulsion is not indefensible. At all events, hear what The Times says—It is sufficient to say that compulsory purchase in principle is a policy that is entirely defensible if adequate reasons of public advantage can be shown.[Cries of "Read on"]And if the interests of the persons concerned are safe guarded. Such was the policy put forward for the settlement of the Irish Land Question in 1868 by John Stuart Mill.And now the pressure will increase. The Chief Secretary will bring in a Land Bill to promote a great extension of purchase by tenants, and the privileged men will get an advantage of 30 or 40 per cent. It is impossible that two classes of privileged people and those outside can remain face to face without an attempt at legislation. I am sure of that. The phrase in the Amendment is "a comprehensive measure of compul- 897 sory sale." Comprehensive I do not myself understand; at all events I could not support it if the notion of comprehensive means universal. You must classify for your application of compulsion. I do not think it is expedient, as I believed in preparing the Bill of 1896, that where any landlord's estate is a centre of social disorder, there you are entitled to bring compulsion into play. I wish I had a little more time. For my own part, I am going to vote for this Amendment because I believe compulsory purchase is in prin-
§ ciple not indefensible, and the application of the principle must depend on legislation. As to the last paragraph of the Amendment I need not say that as I have always spoken and voted for the last fifteen or sixteen years, so now I will vote for any motion which carries in it a proposal to confer on the people of Ireland the same right to govern themselves that you give own colonies. [...]to your
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 134; Noes, 237. (Division List No. 6.)899
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N. E.)||Ffrench, Peter||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary Mid)|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Field, William||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Flavin, Michael Joseph||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary N.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Flynn, James Christopher||O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Gilhooly, James||O'Connor, T. P (Liverpool)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. H. J.||O'Doherty, William|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Hammond, John||O'Donnell, John (May, S.)|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||O'Dowd, John|
|Bell, Richard||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Kelly, J. (Roscomomon, N.)|
|Black, Alexander William||Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. S.||O'Malley, William|
|Blake, Edward||Healy, Timothy Michael||O'Mara, James|
|Boland, John||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. C. H.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Boyle, James||Horniman, Frederick John||O'Shee, James John|
|Brigg, John||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Waldren)|
|Brown, G. M. (Edinburgh)||Joicey, Sir James||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Brunner, Sir J. Tomlinson||Jones, D. B. (Swansea)||Reddy, M.|
|Burke, K. Haviland-||Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire)||Redmond, J. E. (Waterford)|
|Burns, John||Jordon, Jeremiah)||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Burt, Thomas||Joyce, Michael||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Kennedy, Patrick James||Rigg, Richard|
|Caine, William Sproston||Kinloch, Sir J. G. S.||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Caldwell, James||Labouchere, Henry||Roche, John|
|Cameron, Robert,||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Lewis, John Herbert||Scott, C. P. (Leigh)|
|Carew, James Laurence||Lloyd-George, David||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Carvill, P. G. Hamilton||Lundon, W.||Sheehan, Daniel D.|
|Causton, Richard Knight||McDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||MacNeill, John G. S.||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R. (N'thants|
|Cogan, Denis J.||M'Cann, James||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||M'Dermott, Patrick||Sullivan, Donal|
|Crean, Eugene||M'Govern, T.||Tennant, Harold John|
|Cremer, William Randal||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Thompson, Dr. F. C. (Mon. N.|
|Cullinan, J.||M'Kenna, Reginald||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.|
|Davies, A. (Carmarthen)||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Tomkinson James|
|Delany, William||Minch, Matthew||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Dewar, J. A. (Inverness-shire||Morley, Rt. Hn. J (Montrose||Wallace, Robert|
|Dillon. John||Murbaghan, George||Wason, E. (Clackmannan)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Murphy, John||White, Luke (York, E R.)|
|Douglas, C. M. (Lanark)||Mannetti, Joseph P.||Whiteley, G. (York, W. R.)|
|Edwards, Frank||Newnes, Sir George||Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.)|
|Ellis, John Edward||Nolan, Col. J. P. (Galway, N.|
|Emmott, Alfred||Nolan, J (Louth, South||TELLERS FOR THE AYES,—|
|Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan)||Norman, Henry||Sir Thomas Esmonde and|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Captain Donelan.|
|Fenwick, Charles||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Bullard, Sir Harry|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bignold, Arthur||Carlile, William Walter|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Bigwood, James||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir E. H.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Cautley, Henry Strother|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Blundell, Col. Henry||Cavendish, R. J. (N. Lancs.)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bond, Edward||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Dby'shire|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Cecil, E. (Ashton Manor)|
|Bain, Col. James Robert||Brassey, Albert||Cecil, Lord H. (Greenwich)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.|
|Banbury. Frederick George||Brookfield, Col. Montagu||Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)|
|Beach, Rt. Hon. Sir M. H.||Bull, William James||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Chapman, Edward||Henderson, Alexander||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Higginbottom, S. W.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E.||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E||Hope, J.F. Sheffield, Brightside||Purvis, Robert|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Howard, Jn (Kent, Faversham||Rattigan, Sir William Henry|
|Corbett, A. C. (Glasgow)||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hozier, Hn. Jas. Henry Cecil||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Crossley, Sir Savile||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Ridley, Hn. M.W. (Stalybridge|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Ridley, S. Forde(Bethnal Green|
|Cust, Henry John C.||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Dalkeith, Earlof||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir Jn. H.||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney|
|Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T. (Denbigh||Ropner, Colonel Robert|
|Dickinson, Robert Edmumd||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop.||Round, James|
|Digby, J. K. D. (Wingfield)||Keswick, William||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Dimsdale, Sir J. Cockfield||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Rutherford, John|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Knowles, Lees||Sackville, Col. S. G. (Stopford|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. D.||Lambton, Hn. Fredk. William||Sadler, Col. Samuel A.|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Samuel, H. S. (Limehouse)|
|Doughty, George||Lawson, John Grant||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. E. J.|
|Doxford, Sir William T.||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Seely, Capt. J. E. B. (I. of W.)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Dunning-Lawrence, Sir E.||Leveson-Gower, Fredk. N. S.||Shaw-Stewart, M.H. (Renfrew|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Elliott, Hon. A. Ralph D.||Loder, Ger. Walter Erskine||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.||Long, Col Chas. W. (Evesham||Smith, A. H. (Hertford, East)|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Bristol, S||Smith, H.C. (North'mb.Tn'side|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E.||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Smith, J. P. (Lanarks)|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Lowe, Francis William||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Finch, George H.||Lowther, C. (Cumb. Eskdale)||Spear, John Ward|
|Finlay, Sir Robert B.||Lloyd, Archie Kirkman||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Stanley, E. J. (Somerset)|
|Fison, Frederick William||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Macartney, Rt. H. W.G. Ellison||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Macdona, John Cumming||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M.|
|Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Maconochie, A. W.||Stock, James Henry|
|Flower, Ernest||M'Calmont, Cl. H. L. B. (Cambs.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Forster, Henry William||M'Calmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.||Stroyan, John|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Majendie, James A. H.||Sturt, Hon. H. Napier|
|Gardner, Ernest||Manners, Lord Cecil||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Garfit, William||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Ox. Univ.|
|Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of L.||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Gibbs, Hon. V. (St. Albans)||Maxwell, R.H. Sir H.E. (Wigt'n||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Godson, Sir A. F.||Maxwell, W. J. H. (Dumfries.||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Gordon, Hn. J.E.(Elgin&Nairn,||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M||Tomlinson, W. E. Murray|
|Gordon, Maj. Evans(T'rH'mlets||Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. E.||Milner, Rt. Hon. Sir Fredk. G.||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Golding, Edward Alfred||Milton, Viscount||Valentia, Viscount|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Mitchell, William||Vincent, Sir E. (Exeter)|
|Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Warde, Col. C. E.|
|Grenfell, William Henry||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Wason, John C. (Orkney)|
|Gretton, John||More, Robt. Jasper (Shrops.)||Webb, Col. W. G.|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Morgan, Dav. J. (Walthamstow||Welby Lt.-Col. A.C.E. (Tn'ton)|
|Groves, James Grimble||Morton, Arthur H.A. (Deptford||Welby, Sir C. G. E. (Notts)|
|Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray, C.||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Guthrie, Walter Murray||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute||Wilson, A. S. (York, E.R.)|
|Hain, Edward||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)||Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks)|
|Hamilton, Rt H, Lord G. Midd'x||Nicholson, William Graham||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Hamilton, Marq.of (L'nd'nde'ry||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robt, Wm.||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Wylie, Alexander|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Wyndham, Rt. Hon George|
|Harris, Frederck, Leverton||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Wyndham-Quinn, Maj. W. H.|
|Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Pease, Herb. Pike (Darlington||TELLERS FOR THE NOES,—|
|Heath, Jas. (Staffords, N. W.||Pemberton, John S. G.||Sir William Walrond and|
|Helder, Augustus||Pilkington, Lt.-Col. Richard||Mr. Anstruther.|
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ Debate arising; and it being after midnight, the debate stood adjourned.900
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.
§ Adjourned at a quarter after Twelve o'clock till Monday next.