HC Deb 24 July 1902 vol 111 cc1211-51

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum not exceeding £10, 108, be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessory to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1903, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Offices of the Chief Secretary in Dublin and London, and of the Inspectors of Lunatic. Asylums."

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A (Salaries, Wages, and Allowances) be reduced by.£1,000, in respect of the Salary of the Chief Secretary."—(Mr. Dillon.)


continuing his speech, said the landlords in Ireland must not count on an indefinite prolongation of the present state of affairs, and it was impossible that the patience of the people of England will allow other matters to be delayed by these questions of Irish administration. Much of the evil was, no doubt, due to the unhappy dissociation of Irish administration from local opinion and control, and that was a matter he would like to have discussed. But he was aware that that could not be done satisfactorily on such an occasion. The other great centre of aggravation was the position of the land. The statements which had been made by some hon. Members as to the poverty on the Do Frcyne estate had been travestied in the House, and had been described as exaggerations by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Antrim, who had assorted that in reality the district was prosperous and the people were well off. He had himself had it suggested that his own visit to the estate was too short to enable him to form a fair opinion. He did not desire to intrude his own opinion on the House, but he meant to see more of that district, and he hoped other hon. Members would do the same. Ho would willingly spend a much longer time there if he could hops that longer acquaintance would produce in his mind that spirit of cheerful optimism which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Antrim had; for he would do a great deal to forgot many of the scenes he witnessed on the estate, It would be much better if the landlords dealt with the problem which confronted thorn in a reasonable and businesslike spirit. They could not expect the people of this country to submit for ever to allow this difficulty to remain unsettled, and he suggested that the time had arrived for the landlords to make the best bargain they could with the tenants. Delay in this matter was no more to the interest of the landlord than it was to the tenants. It was impossible that the inflated value of the rentals on this estate should continue; there must be a decline, and he believed that every year's postponement of the settlement involved a further shrinkage of value which would have to be paid for when the settlement was made. Let the landlord drop the heroic strain, and proceed to negotiate on businesslike lines. They must know that a rapid development of land purchase under compulsion was a necessity of the situation, and they had better make up their minds to face the fact.

What was the complaint hon. Members on the Nationalist benches were making? It was as to the inaction of the Government in this matter. The Government alleged that the present movement was the work of agitators, but he was bound to confess that, in his opinion, the principal agitator in the whole matter had been the Chief Secretary himself. He had made it a reproach to hon. Members on the Opposition Benches who were now advocating a development of the scheme of land purchase that they were acting inconsistenly, with what was done by their own loaders years ago. But even if it were the case, the party formerly opposed compulsory Sand purchase, it would not prevent him now ad vocating it if he thought it the best solution of the difficulty. Further than that, to resist the beginnings of land purchase was very different to opposing; the completion of a work on which they; had already embarked. Had hon.; Members seriously thought of the responsibility of this country and of the Government for the economic condition of Ireland? He admitted that the landlords were not responsible for the rents now charged, because those rents had been fixed for them. Now they were revising the bargain and securing a different settlement much more advantageous to the tenants, and he could not help feeling that in creating the second kind of bargain they had invalidated and put an end to the first one. The Irish Government was a great agitator, and had placed a bad object: lesson before Irishmen. Its present helplessness, its position as a mere spectator of the war between the combinations on each side, was really deplorable. Why was it not taking active steps to deal with and alleviate the situation? Instead of doing that, it had intensified the immediate difficulty of the Irish situation. They did not say they believed that a large reconstruction on the basis of purchase was possible, but they fabricated all kinds of difficulties, which, if they were real, should have prevented them entering on their present course. They had no right to upset existing arrangements unless they intended to go on with constructive work. Parliament had created the situation, and it was the duty of Parliament to deal with it, and the responsibility of the Government was not limited to the preservation of public order. They had an economic responsibility as well. They were responsible for a proper land system for Ireland. It was too late now to object to Government interference between landlord and tenant; it was too late to say that land purchase meant confiscation, for it was no more confiscation that the legal regulation of rent. In principle they were the same. We were committed to State action, and action must be taken. Every act of the Chief Secretary's administration, so far as there had been any action, was a confession that the present state of things could not continue and that land purchase was the solution. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer was the obstacle, then let that matter be openly discussed. He believed there was a bridge to be built between what the landlord could afford to take and what the tenant could afford to pay, and the country owed it to itself to build that bridge. In the sense in which we used the word in this country there was no "landlord" in Ireland. The Irish landlord had no function except that which could be discharged equally well by a bank or a rent collector. Under the existing system on these estates there was no possibility of paying a rout out of the produce of the soil; it was not sufficient even for the maintenance of the occupier. The rent had to be obtained from sources very different. The right hon. Gentleman complained of the agitation on the De Freyne estate, but it required very little agitation to convince Irish tenants of their grievance; but it would be neglect of their duty to those they represented if Irish Members did not press this land question by every legal means. The stupidity of the situation was that the Government had provoked a state of things which they might easily have foreseen, and now refused to deal with it. The hon. Member for East Mayo only last Juno told the right hon. Gentleman that, if ho would promise to attempt to deal with the matter, he himself would do his utmost to end the agitation, but the right hon. Gentleman said never a word in reply. Why had ho taken no notice whatever of that offer in which there was every hope and possibility of securing a better state of things? They were prepared to see that the law was obeyed, but they refused to accept their responsibility for the economic situation which had grown up. They were placing the power of the Empire at the back of the landlords who were only one of two parties to a great industrial dispute, and he was bound to say he could not regard with anything like equanimity the refusal of the Government to apply any constructive treatment to the difficulty This was a matter of vital importance both to this country and to Ireland. He was not one of those who look with gloom and apprehension on the prospects of Ireland; he believed she could bear all her burdens, and that they would be able to leave the heritage as great and honourable as when it passed into their hands. But they could only do that by remedying injustice and by not making their power an instrument of wrong and misfortune to the people under their control. It was not by malice or intention that we in this country had acted towards Ireland as we had done; but it had been through inaction, inattention, neglect and mismanagement that we had got into a false position and now found ourselves on the wrong side in a great question of justice.

(9.30.) MR. WILLIAM O'BRIEN (Cork)

said he could not allow this singularly important debate to pass without claiming the attention of the Committee for a few moments. The Chief Secretary wound up his speech last night with a very bravo and menacing peroration such as he had heard pretty often from Chief Secretaries at the Table of the House, and such as he had known them to swallow very soon afterwards. The Chief Secretary was cheered last night with the usual enthusiasm. According to his experience in that House, he had always found plenty of men, like that superior English person the hon. Member for Tynemouth, ready to cheer on any lisping, halting words of the Chief Secretary, who ran across to Dublin Castle for a few months and then set himself up to lecture the Irish Members about their own business and their own country. It was this that had left the Tory Government and the right hon. Gentleman in the position in which they were to-day; and he could promise the Chief Secretary that he would have to begin over again the Conquest of Ireland hundred years after the nominal union. He noticed that even the enthusiasm of the hon. Member for Tynemouth somehow got frozen out when he came to speak of the case of Sergeant Sheridan. Apparently that case was so sore a case that the Chief Secretary himself, in the very short portion of the speech which he devoted to the subject last night, really devoted less energy and less passion to denouncing the crimes of Sergeant Sheridan than he devoted to denouncing the crime of the unfortunate Sheriff of Cork in not driving out with fire and sword the representatives of the people from the Council Chamber which belonged to their own Council. He was not surprised that the Chief Secretary felt keenly the position of humiliation and shame to which he had brought himself by the assisted emigration of Sergeant Sheridan and by his compassionate allowance to his accomplices. After the crushing exposure of the facts that was made by his lion, and learned friend the Member for Waterford, and by his hon. friend the Member for East Mayo, even he was himself disposed to extend a certain amount of compassionate allowance to the Chief Secretary himself if he would clear out of the country without further inquiry like Sergeant Sheridan.


He has cleared out of the House.


said he did not accuse the Chief Secretary of want of valour. Probably he was occupied elsewhere. The grand point that the Chief Secretary made was that no doubt Sheridan was a most abominable scoundrel, but that the case was not typical; that Sheridan was a mere Iusus natural such as might be found in any country; and that he was the one black sheep in a flock of spotless lambs. His triumphant point was that the House would never have heard of Sheridan's infamies only that Dublin Castle itself was the first to take action. That was precisely the point. The deadly difficulty, the almost terrific difficulty of unmasking a case of this kind was that Dublin Castle blocked the way as it always did. Dublin Castle was the first to take action in this matter. Let that be to their credit for a moment. But why did they take action? Simply because the rogues fell out. Because Sergeant Sheridan fell out with his equally shady superior officer District Inspector Irwin, the nominee of County Inspector French. If action was taken by Dublin Castle, it was action not to bring out the whole truth, but to cloak it and hush it up in the fear that bad as was Sheridan's case worse remained behind. Sheridan's case was not an exceptional case; there were at least dozens; and he was sorry to say he believed scores of cases at least as atrocious. The only difference between the case of Sergeant Sheridan and the other cases, was that Sergeant Sheridan was found out under circumstances which compelled Dublin Castle to disavow him. His hon, and learned friend the Member for Waterford last night gave the tragic story of the crime of Head Constable Whelelan and all its terrible results; but the Chief Secretary in his long speech did not by one word attempt to contravert the statements. He might go back to the case of the man James Ellis French, the detective director and county inspector and head of the whole Criminal Investigation Department of Ireland, and one of the foulest monsters that ever cursed the country; yet that man among his other horrible deeds organised an attempt to murder. He believed the hon. Member for South Tyrone was one of the jury who in the end convicted this man.

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

One of the third jury who tried him.


said that it was only after three trials that they succeeded, so desperate was the attempt of the officials at Dublin Castle to screen him. He came to a more recent case. He did not know whether the House was aware that while the United Irish League was struggling into existence an attempt was made to strangle it by involving it in a murderous plot. Another sergeant, Sergeant Sullivan of Mulranny forged a letter inviting a number of young men to commit an outrage. At the hour appointed for the outrage a double patrol of armed policemen under the command of Sergeant Sullivan was lying in ambush at the appointed spot. He was brought to trial and upon the trial the Crown became the nominal prosecutors. How did the Crown use its powers? The Crown used their power to pack the jury with an exclusively Unionist and Protestant jury to acquit Sergeant Sullivan exactly as they would have packed a jury to convict his victims if he succeeded in the attempt to carry out that object. It was at the Sligo Assize and in that venue where the population of Catholics and Nationalists was nine out of ten every single Catholic and Nationalist in the panel was ordered by the Crown to stand by. That process was now confessed by the Attorney-General for Ireland. An exclusively Protestant and he might say Orange jury was sworn to try the case. Here they had the double action system of foul play going on. They had a jury packed to acquit a policeman in exactly the same way as they had a jury packed to convict the innocent victims of Sergeant Sheridan. It was the same judge who tried the two cases, Judge Gibson, and Judge Gibson expressed his belief—he was sure he regretted it now—that there was not a shadow of doubt about the guilt of McGoohan the victim of Sergeant Sheridan. The partisanship of this jury packed to acquit the policeman was so flagrant that even the judge had publicly to rebuke the jury because in the middle of the case they actually intimated they had already made up their minds to acquit the prisoner even before the most important witness for the Crown was examined at all. That was so abominable a miscarriage of justice that when this man, Sergeant Sullivan, was afterwards proceeded against in a Civil Court, where juries could not be packed in the county of Dublin which was undoubtedly a Unionist venue, eleven out of twelve jurors beyond all manner of doubt were convinced of this man's guilt, and he was only saved by one true blue. He alleged, and it was in the knowledge of a great many, that every judge in the four Courts, and every man who heard the evidence in this case that came before an unpacked jury, were absolutely convinced that this ruffian was guilty. And if the Chief Secretary had the least doubt upon the subject, he invited him now to have a public inquiry, as they had challenged him 500 times to have. But there was this difference between Sergeant Sullivan's case and Sheridan's case, that the rogues did not fall out in Sullivan's case. Sullivan did not fall out with his superior officers. On the contrary, this man's superior officers, county and district inspectors were guilty of the infamy of proffering themselves as bail for the man committed for trial upon this atrocious charge, and these officers actually authorised a sort of national subscription among the policemen of Ireland for his defence. There was no falling out between the Sergeant and his superior officers in this case; and accordingly, instead of cashiering Sergeant Sullivan, as Sergeant Sheridan was cashiered, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary stood up in this House and declared this miscreant to he a highly honourable person, and Sergeant Sullivan was still an honourable member of the force. Literally, thousands of pounds of public money had been spent in sheltering him, and paying his expenses in the trial in which eleven of the twelve Dublin jurors were convinced of his guilt and the Chief Secretary to this day held that justice had been done in the case of Sergeant Sullivan. He ventured to say the case of Sergeant Sullivan was even a more atrocious case than the case of Sergeant Sheridan; because Sergeant Sheridan committed his crimes off his own bat and for the mere sordid purpose of promotion; but nothing was more certain than that Sergeant Sullivan acted in this matter, with the deliberate design of crushing the United Irish League by attempting to involves its leaders in the responsibility for a murderous outrage; and that he was instigated and directly encouraged to it by the Crown Solicitor of Mayo and other underlings of the Government. The Chief Secretary, who claimed so much credit for having been the first to dismiss Sergeant Sheridan at the instigation of District Inspector Irwin, the protégé of Ellis French—the Chief Secretary to this day constituted himself the mouthpiece of the officials who shielded from justice the Mulranny forger who packed the jury deliberately to acquit him where they were the prosecutors, and spent thousands of pounds in saving him from justice, and trying to thwart the efforts of private individuals. That what was about as atrocious a crime as ever was perpetrated in a civilised country; and yet, bad as it was, that was quite the usual fashion of Dublin Castle.

After the Mulranny affair no doubt they had dropped their first plan of campaign of attempting to tar the United Irish League with the guilt of crime and bloodshed. The Mulranny affair was too close a shave. Even, their own criminal statistics, their own judges, had shamed them out of their original Parnellism and crime plan of campaign against the United Irish League. They had now changed their tactics, and it was one of the curious developments of Irish life that the only Irishman who was now subject to the coarse imputation of palliating crime was not one of the Nationalist members, but was the hon. member for South Tyrone. It must be a pleasant reflection to the Chief Secretary as to the success of his administration in Ireland that that coarse kind of imputation was now necessary against a man who was the most powerful Unionist in all Ireland. Nobody dared to deny on the other side of the House that he was the most powerful Unionist in Ireland. They never dared to deny it in the Home Rule days when they wanted him and when they were ready to black his boots, as they were now ready to blacken his character. He was speaking as an impartial witness, for he beat him in South Tyrone as a Unionist, where a Unionist landlord, the Hon. Somerset Maxwell failed. Beyond all comparison the hon. Member was the man to whom was most due the defeat of Home Rule in England, and, with the usual wisdom and generosity and gratitude of the Tory party, it was just because he was now giving them their last chance of saving Presbyterian Ulster— [Mr. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S): Hear, hear,]—by a Compulsory Sales Bill, that they were treating him in the very fashion that aroused in them so much horror when it was the case of Nationalists treating a boycotted landlord. He willingly bade the Chief Secretary to go ahead with his attacks on the hon. Member for South Tyrone; and by and by, when the Home Rule days came again, as come they would, they would probably be glad enough if they still found the hon. Member sitting on the Benches opposite, having in the meantime given the Presbyterian farmers compulsory purchase. As to the Chief Secretary's taunts to the hon. Member for South Tyrone about ambiguous hints, he would have supposed that nobody ought to have realised better than the Chief Secretary that the Member for South Tyrone was a master of exceedingly plain and incisive English; and that if the Chief Secretary had a grievance as to ambiguousness he had better address himself to a certain Dr. Rutherford Harris. What were the ambiguous hints of the Chief Secretary himself? He need not tell the Committee that the: right hon. Gentleman had expressed his contempt for "sordid agitators." They were used to being calumniated and misrepresented in their cause, and the worst injury the right hon. Gentleman could do them would be if he could find anything for which to praise them.

The Chief Secretary had attacked the character of the leaders of the people down in Roscommon, and had attributed to them the basest, most mercenary, and dishonest motives. This rich man did not think it beneath him to quote for the derision of this House the hotel bills of the professional organisers who, with the sumptuous salary of 30s. a week to keep body and soul together, were fighting the battle of the people. They were discussing tonight the modest salary of £4,500, which this Gentleman, who so loftily elevated above sordid motives, unselfishly accepted for governing Ireland in defiance of the will of the majority of the people. How would the right hon. Gentleman like it if they were to follow his example, and get hold of his wine bill and his own servants' gossip, and retail how he expended his £4,500, and entertain the House with a burlesque account of his expenditure? When the right hon. Gentleman thought fit to indulge in coarse and vulgar imputations of that kind against men who were as good as he, he wanted to know by what divine right he expected he was to be the only man who was to be caressed with silken courtesies. But the right hon. Gentleman had plainly insinuated that the Trustees to whom the De Freyne tenants entrusted their money would probably turn out to be swindlers. He said that was foul play. If it were Parliamentary to say so—he knew it was true to say it—it was just as foul play as the actions of Sergeants Sullivan and Sheridan for the Chief Secretary to take advantage of his privilege as a Member of the House to say things of his opponents in Ireland, which he would not dare, even before an Orange jury in Belfast, to attempt to justify in the witness box. These were the realities of Irish life; these were the things which made the name of England so beloved in Ireland. He did not hesitate to say that if Prince Henry and his German Fleet, when they steamed into Bantry Bay the other day, had landed an army and 200,000 rifles, he did not think it would have required many organisers to bring every young man who was worth his salt in the country to his side. That might be shocking, but he had learned that shocking an Englishman was the first step towards convincing him. Englishmen were lovers of fair play, and could be convinced by mighty Englishmen like Mr. Gladstone, but after twenty years experience he was sorry to say that, in his opinion, it was as idle for the representatives of Ireland to attempt by mere reason to affect the minds or consciences of the majority of this House as if they were to address them in their own Gaelic language. Every Irish Act in the Statute Book was a confession that the Irish were right, and that the English Government wrong, and these Acts had failed just in proportion as the English had followed their own instead of Irish advice. They had to be taught now, just as they had always been taught, not by reasoning, but by something as near revolution as it was possible to go. His answer to the right hon. Gentleman's appeal last night was that the only amendment as to the conduct of the affairs of Ireland was that England had to learn to know that she knew nothing of Ireland. He noticed that the right hon. [Gentleman had not one word of apology to offer on the subject of the new landlord conspiracy, run amongst others by a pair of perjured Privy Councillors. [HOM. MEMBERS: "Oh."] He had no hesitation in saying it.


Order, order! It is not in order to attribute dishonourable motives to Members of the other House.


said the Deputy Chairman had not waited until he had mentioned the names of the Privy Councillors.


The hon. Member referred to two Members of the House of Lords.


said he was not anxious to controvert the Deputy Chairman's ruling; one of the Privy Councillors to whom he referred was Lord Clonbrock, and at that moment he really did not know whether his Lordship was a Member of the House of Lords. He knew very few Irish Peers who were Members of the House of Lords. As to the other Privy Councillor, so far as he knew, he was not a Member of the House of Lords, and was a drummed-out Member of this House. At all events, these two gentlemen were landlords and were Privy Councillors, and on the 7th April they formed a secret association for the purpose of waging a civil war in Ireland, and seven days afterwards these same men, not acting in their capacity as landlords, but as Privy Councillors, went up to the Castle and proclaimed eleven counties of Ireland— the most peaceful country on God's earth—in pursuance of the landlords' sordid, selfish, and brutal conspiracy. He ventured to promise the Chief Secretary that the people of Ireland would know how to deal with it still more effectually whenever these landlord conspirators had got together their £100,000 with which to begin operations. They could not pretend to misunderstand the peroration of the right hon. Gentleman the previous night. They accepted his declaration. For the moment, no doubt, owing to the decencies of Coronation times, prosecutions had rather slackened off. Before a month was over, as soon as the backs of the Colonial Premiers were turned, they would have the prosecutions beginning again in hundreds and in thousands, prosecutions not against criminals—for how dared they to say there was any crime in the country except of their making— but against the best and most representative men in the country, and men who would be worth a million to England if they could only conciliate them, men who were publicly attacked in every vile form by miscreants of the stamp of Sergeant Sheridan. They would have all the forces of England that the right hon. Gentleman could command placed at the service of the Lord Londonderrys, and the Smith-Barrys, and the Clonbrocks, to nurse up another generation of young Irishmen in hatred and detestation of English rule. The right hon. Gentleman the previous night talked triumphantly of his majority. He had his majority, he had his bayonets. The Irish would not be able to fight as the Boers had fought. If they only repealed the Arms Act for a few years, they would probably find that neither the will nor the pluck was wanting. They probably would not be able to fight England in the field, but they would be able to cover her with disgrace and humiliation before other nations; they would be able to hang upon her flanks; and some day or another they might find that they might be in a fix when they would find it not quite so cheap or easy to laugh at Irish disaffection. Before very long, sooner or later, now as always, they would come to see that in this question of compulsory sale and of the resettlement of the land in Connaught the Irish were right and the English wrong, as the Irish had always been right and the English had always been wrong. Their Statute-book was the best proof of that. They would come to see it after the usual period of suffering and of persecution, and they would yield, as they must sooner or later, and when they yielded, they would as usual, in a way for which nobody would thank them and everybody would despise them. Up to the present moment, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had exercised a certain fascination for certain soft-hearted or perhaps soft-headed Irishmen, by playing the part of the coy and unwilling victim, rather than the ally of the landlord faction in the Cabinet, by posing as a sort of Lydia Languish of the Treasury Bench, whose one function was in the House to look beautiful and address captivating speeches. He had now thrown off the mask, and they now knew him as the open confederate, the ministerial emergency man of the Smith-Barrys and the Clonbrocks. Let him go on with his proclamation of war, and do his worst, and let England judge by-and-bye of his success. At all events, they in Ireland were perfectly justified, and they deserved to be termed the most arrant cowards if they did not face this infamous coercion in the most peaceful country in the world, smash it, and make the right hon. Gentleman and his landlord confederates rue the day when they even attempted to break the spirit of an unconquerable—in spite of the effort—an unconquerable race.

(10.22.) MR. JOHN MORLEY (Montrose Burghs)

I suppose the majority of this House wore not here in the years from 1880 to 1886, when the Home Rule policy was announced. If they had been, they would recognise that in Ireland the Irish question remains very much what it was nearly twenty years ago. No Gentleman on the other side who has listened to the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down will deny, after reflecting what a position he has occupied and still occupies in Ireland, that the Irish question is still alive and is still actual and burning. One expression used by the hon. Member, I must say, seems to me to go beyond the fair line of Parliamentary language. The expression which he applied to Mr. Smith-Barry and Lord Clonbrock seems to me, who am without any sympathy whatever with the policy or aims of either of these two gentleman, to be a wholly unjustifiable expression. It was no intention of mine to interpose in this discussion; but when one reflects that this is, after all, comparatively a new Parliament, a new century, a new King, a new Prime Minister, I think it is well for the House to pause and reflect, after listening, for example, to such a speech as we have just heard, and see where we stand in respect of the Irish question. I have listened very carefully to the whole of the debate; and as for the particular administrative details which were brought to light in the course of that debate, I will only say a very few words—and I would not say them except for the fact that I was myself for a certain number of years responsible for Irish administration.

The case, for example, of the choice of Mr. Harrel to constitute one of the two magistrates of this Coercion Court and the letter of Sir David Harrel in the matter, has been referred to and I think not unnaturally. I agree with all the Chief Secretary has said as to the disadvantage and impropriety of bringing Civil servants into our discussions. Sir David Harrel was appointed during our administration. I will never use any language except that of respect and confidence of my friend Sir David Harrel; but I think that whoever authorised or instructed the Permanent Under Secretary to appoint Mr. Harrel to one of these Courts—if the Chief Secretary was responsible, I blame the Chief Secretary—was guilty of want of tact, and, it plain English, of common-sense. Then a second point. The proclamation bringing certain counties under the Crimes Act was signed by two Privy Councillors. You must get two Privy Councillors, no doubt, to sign such a proclamation; but surely Gentlemen opposite will see the utter absurdity, the imbecility, of getting two Gentlemen, as to whom personally, I am not going to say a word, but who were identified with the formation of a new syndicate in the new war between landlord and tenant, to sign that proclamation. After all, Irish Privy Councillors are not such rare birds as to make a choice of this kind inevitable. I think the Dublin Executive showed an enormous want of common sense and of tact.

There is another case which was referred to last night by my hon. friend the Member for South Tyrone—the appointment of a Protestant lady to inspect places where children under the Poor Law are boarded out. I am not acquainted with the circumstances of that case except as told in the House by my hon. friend. If my hon. friend's story is an accurate story—and I, who have had many a year of contest with my hon. friend will admit this of him, that I do not think I ever found him out in an inaccuracy of detail—I am bound to say that there, again, the Chief Secretary, if he is responsible, has shown an extraordinary want of tact and—again, I must use the word—of common sense.

As to the case of Sheridan, the House has heard a great deal about it, and I, for one, see perfectly all the difficulties which the Chief Secretary had to encounter in this case. Put I cannot absolve him from an administrative indiscretion, first of all, in not prosecuting Sheridan, whether he was likely to get a conviction or not. The all important thing in Ireland is to try to convince the people—a difficult task, I admit, especially for a Government in the position of the present Government, existing in antagonism to the wishes of the majority or the Irish people. It is most difficult for them to try to get into contact with the feeling of the community. But surely this was a case where you ought at all costs to have convinced the public opinion of Ireland, being what it is, suspicious and jealous, often ill-informed, that the Chief Secretary and the Irish Government were not intent upon shielding any constabulary officer guilty of any offence so gross, cruel, and monstrous as that of Sheridan. I think, therefore, that the Chief Secretary was guilty there again of a very great indiscretion in not running the risk of not getting a conviction, in order to show to the people of Ireland that he, at least, had nothing to conceal, and had no intention of masking any of these misdemeanours. Then, I cannot for the life of me understand by what administrative rule, moral or political consideration, the right hon. Gentleman was actuated when he retained in the constabulary force a, man whom he knew to have been an accomplice in crime of the most monstrous kind, both in itself and in its consequences. That is a thing the Committee ought really to consider. In his own narrative last night, the right hon. Gentleman said— One of these two men was a party to crime. The other two knew that Sheridan was not speaking the truth, and if they had had sufficient moral courage might have exposed him, hut they did not do so. It is all very well to use a moderate expression of that kind about moral courage, but the point in this case is not the moral courage of this or that constable; it is whether the victims of these abominable proceedings were to suffer a wrongful punishment, and whether those who had been the means of this wrongful punishment being inflicted were or were not to be in a position which indicated—to a certain extent, at all events—confidence on the part of the Executive Government, in spite of their being kept in the depot. That is all very well, but it comes to very little: they were retained in a position which indicated that they still retained the confidence of the Executive Government. I do not believe that it can be stated either by the Chief Secretary or by any one else that that represents anything else than a monstrous indiscretion. If I had been Chief Secretary, while admitting all the difficulties about the evidence of this accomplice, or quasi accomplice, I certainly would, conviction or no conviction, have had the case tried out, to show Irish opinion that I was perfectly fearless of any exposure that could be brought to light.

In that connection there is an alarming thing about the position taken up by the right hon. Gentleman. I did not hear an accent or sentence in his speech which indicated that he owed any responsibility whatever to Irish opinion, or that he cared one straw—I am sure he does care —whether Irish opinion is pleased or displeased, or expresses its confidence in him or not. He is very careful about the constabulary and the landlords, but for the majority of the people of Ireland, whom it is his business to govern, and whom, if I may say so without impertinence, if he were prudent, he would take care to conciliate, he apparently has no care.

Some language has been used on this side of the House which indicates an opinion that Sheridan is a typical example of the Royal Irish Constabulary. I have had a great deal to do with the Irish Constabulary in a particularly delicate and dangerous operation. When the Home Rule Bill of 1893 was brought in, among its proposals was a proposal to disband the Royal Irish Constabulary. The right hon. Gentleman, at all events, will not deny that that was a very delicate and dangerous proposal— I mean dangerous for immediate adminis-strative purposes. I made it my business to see a great deal of the Irish Constabulary, their officers and men, and when any one tells me that Sheridan is a type of the Irish Constabulary, I can only say that I disagree with him, root and branch. I was glad to hear this afternoon the hon. Member for East Mayo say particularly that this is not his view, and that it cannot be the general view of the Irish Members. To say that Sheridan, this abominable scoundrel, is the ordinary type of the Irish constable is a calumny and delusion. [Several IRISH MEMBERS: No one here said that.]


What I said was that I was sorry to think that there were dozens, and oven scores, of such persons; that I said and that I stick to.


The Royal Irish Constabulary consists of 12,000 or 13,000 men, and, under an abnormal system of government, I daresay you will find among them half a dozen, if you like, of men as bad as Sheridan. So you would in any other force. But this I would say of the Royal Irish Constabulary. A great deal is said of the collisions between them and the people. A great deal depends in those matters on the spirit in which they are supervised, the vigilance exorcised, and upon the spirit which they know to prevail among the governing authorities. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think ho had made a point, but how I did not gather, when he defended the necessity for there being in Ireland an armed and drilled police force, by quoting from a speech made in 1893 by a brilliant Member of this House—I wish he were a member now— Mr. Sexton—in which that gentleman insisted that there should be of necessity a drilled and armed police force. Well, of course, nobody in his senses would suppose that, considering the temper and the position of affairs in some parts of Ireland—and, by the way, in some parts, especially where they wear very broad phylacteries, as in Belfast—it could be otherwise. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think he had made a point when he said that under the Home Rule Bill of 1893 there was to be a drilled and armed police force.


No, not in the Bill, but in Amendment proposed by Mr. Sexton, and seconded by the hon. and learned Member.


That is not so. I think 1 remember very well the policy of the Bill of 1893. It was the policy of 1886, and I discussed it twenty times with Mr. Parnell, and Mr. Parnell, like Mr. Sexton, would have been sorry to have made himself responsible for the government of Ireland in the county of Kerry as it then was, and I hope the hon. Member for Clare will allow me to say— in the county of Clare as it then was. ["Sheridan had been in Loth."] But what was the proposal? It is a by-point, but the Chief Secretary chose to raise it—the policy was that you should have in central depots an armed and drilled force, very much like what the Royal Irish Constabulary is, but you should have in the counties, if you have anything like proper local government, a purely local force entirely under local administration. But if there was a disturbed area, and the local force was not adequate to deal with it, then the armed and drilled force would be called from the depot. I have never taken a sentimental view of Irish administration, but I have always know very well that in a country so ruined, so demoralised by your administration and government, you cannot, right away, trust the people with the same local government principles as prevail in our more fortunate country.

The Chief Secretary last night talked about the agitation, as he regards it, now prevailing in Ireland, and used language which has already been referred to tonight. The blame, he said, "rests on those who find it easier to inflame the peasantry of Ireland with rhetoric than to persuade the House by argument." Now I would really ask the Committee whether they think that any rhetoric is required to persuade the De Freyne tenants living on the edge of the Dillion estate that they have a grievance which ought to be redressed? An hon. Gentleman, speaking from below the Gangway, though a supporter of the right hon. Gentleman, at once perceived, having knowledge of the circumstances, that you do not want rhetoric and argument to persuade a man who is paying 33 per cent, more rent than his neighbour over the border is paying, and who knows that his neighbour's privilege is due to the action of the Government—I say you require no rhetoric to convince a man on the De Freyne estate that he has a grievance. The right hon. Gentleman has overlooked a good deal, and I do not object to hon. Members referring to this. What single reform in the Irish land system—I mean what great reform—has been achieved by argument in this House? Not one. Last night my hon. and gallant friend the right hon. Member for North Armagh said Ireland is extremely prosperous; he spoke of large funds in the savings banks, and ho made a very remarkable admission, which I noted—he said that since the passing of the Act of 1881 the position of the Irish tenants had unquestionably been very different from what it ever had been since the Act of Union. I wonder whether my right hon. and gallant friend supported the passing of Mr. Gladstone's Act of 1881?


I was not in the House at the time.


Then that was a loss to the House. Every one of the class of which my right hon. and gallant friend is the spokesman, it would be safe to say, opposed that Bill, denounced it, and did all he could to prevent its passage.

MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)

That is not accurate. [Cries of "What is not?"] That every Irish landlord opposed the Act of 1881. ["Oh, oh."]


Every one of them did. Mention one who did not.


The right hon. Gentleman surely does not mean to say that Irish landlords as a class ever used language towards the Bill but that of the strongest denunciation and even vituperation?


I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman means by a class. If he says that every Irish landlord voted against the Bill, I say that that is not so.


Mention one.


My father did not.


Our records show that Irish landlords opposed that Act of 1881 which the right hon. and gallant Member for Armagh says, and truly says, placed Irish tenants in a position far more favourable than they had ever been before. I welcome the admission, because it is the fashion—I will not say in this new Parliament—but it has been the fashion for gentlemen sitting on that side of the House to denounce the Act of 1881 as an Act of confiscation and spoliation. But I come back to the point, a very painful point, but you must not forget that the history of Ireland is full of painful points. Was the Act of 1881 obtained by argument; was it got by rhetoric? No, when the Government of 1880 was formed there was no notion, I think, in the mind of a single Minister of passing that great Act. Why was it passed? I am ashamed to give the answer to my own question. It was passed because there was violence in Ireland, and for no other reason. It has been admitted by Members of that Cabinet that, if they had trusted to argument and to rhetoric alone, that great charter of the Irish peasant would never have been passed. Therefore the right hon. Gentleman is leaning upon a broken reed when he appeals either to Irishmen or to impartial Englishmen to insist upon the Irish peasants trying to put everything right that they think wrong by argument alone. History will not bear them out in showing the validity of that proceeding. I am bound to say, a more extraordinary expression I have seldom heard in this House than that used by the right hon. Gentleman when he talked of the operations for reducing rents as a sordid enterprise which this chivalrous race is asked to undertake. Why is it more sordid for the United Irish League to combine for the purpose of reducing rent, or of effecting what other agrarian changes may be their object, than for the right hon. Gentleman and his friends to combine and make a syndicate? Is not that sordid? What is the use, therefore, of the right hon. Gentleman's saying anything of that kind of an operation which, after all, is the only kind of operation that has ever gained a single boon to the Irish tenantry, and entirely passing over the combination of the landlords, which, of course, is equally justifiable?

I think the right hon. Gentleman last night was extremely unfair to the Member for South Tyrone. He certainly was repaid in the most tremendous and crushing piece of invective that it has ever been my fortune to hear either in this House or out of it. He said my hon. friend endeavours to palliate outrage, boycotting, and so forth, and he said my hon. friend—who is well able to take care of himself—is guilty of gross inconsistency because he used certain language in 1890 and uses different language in 1902. Is my hon. friend the Member for South Tyrone the only person who uses inconsistent language? I have got what was a classic piece of language in old days—the language used by Lord Salisbury about boycotting. This is to show how futile are charges of inconsistency either against the Member for South Tyrone or almost anybody who takes part in an Irish discussion. If there is a single man dealing with the Irish question for a course of twenty years who takes a point of view at the beginning of the twenty years and holds to it at the end of the twenty years, you may be pretty sure he is mistaken. It is a very shifting question. In 1885, on the eve of an election, Lord Salisbury presented an audience with this philosophic view of Irish boycotting, and I commend it to the attention of candid Gentlemen on the other side of the House as well as to some candid friends of my own. He said— Boycotting is an offence which legislation hag very great difficulty in reaching. The provisions of the Crimes Act against it had a very small effect. Boycotting grew up under the Crimes Act. And, after all, look at boycotting. An unhappy man or his family goes to mass. The congregation with one accord get up and walk out. Are you going to indict people for leaving a church? The plain fact is that boycotting, after all, is more like excommunication or the interdict of the middle ages than anything we know now. The truth about boycotting is that it depends upon the passing humour of the population. It is important to remember that in the month immediately preceding that polished apologetic of boycotting, some of the most violent boycotting speeches ever delivered in Ireland had been made. Therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman taunts the Member for South Tyrone with inconsistency, let him reflect on the inconsistency of his own leader and his own party. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman talked about the County Councils, some of whose doings were reported last night by the Chief Secretary, and he made, in effect, two pointed observations. He said— When you were arguing for Home Rule, you used to tell us that if you only gave them Home Rule, they would be perfectly fair, and would make friends with the landlords and Unionists, and all would be well. And then the right hon. Gentleman said— See what happens now. They do not admit Unionists on to the County Councils. Surely he must see that this exclusion, as to the extent of which I am not well informed, but granting it is total—this exclusion goes on at a time when the war for Home Rule is still unsettled. It does not at all follow, because they exclude Unionists now, when they have not been granted their demand, that they will exclude them afterwards, when that demand has been granted. That, at all events, is a possible position. Supposing they do exclude Unionists from the County Councils, where would they find an example for a policy of exclusion What did the right hon. Gentleman's friends ever do on the old county Governing bodies, to give the common people in Ireland an atom of a share in the management of affairs?

Then there is a more important matter raised by the right hon. Gentleman. He said that the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway had missed a great chance in the line that they took about the Boer War. Many of the manifestations of feeling in Ireland about that war were as disagreeable to me as they were to anybody in this House. But let us consider why they took up that attitude with regard to this war which has concluded in South Africa. What is it that the Irish Members did or that other Irishmen did? The right hon. Gentleman and his friends have held Ireland in the hollow of their hand for centuries. But it is not England that they hate; it is the landlords; and for very good reasons. And to argue that because they show absolute want of sympathy to English sentiment in respect to the war while England refuses their demands for self-government, to argue from that that they would persist in the same course of animosity when their demand was conceded, is logic which for the reasons I have stated I do not admit for one moment. I certainly have not got in my pocket a draft of any Home Rule Bill, but there are one or two remarks I should like to make, because here we are now, after seven years of Unionist government, and in what position are we placed? You know perfectly well, from your conversations with one another, that the question of Ireland is as much alive as it ever was. You may seek to drive it under the surface—I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman will or not—but the question is alive; and, therefore, perhaps I may be allowed for a moment or two to interpose a few remarks in reply to something which has been said in the course of the debate in respect of this situation. It is said, I know, that Home Rule is dead. I do not think so. We are told that we shall do well—we who are in favour of the extension of self-government in Ireland—that we shall do well "to go step by step." Step by step ! Step by step is a mere phrase, it is nothing more. When I ask my lion, friends what it is they mean by going step by step in the extension of local government to Ireland I have never been able to get from one of them an intelligible or even plausible reply. It is said, for example, "We will give Ireland a local body to deal with education !" Now just think of that. The education question in this country is not a very smooth subject to grapple with, but in Ireland it is a particularly difficult problem, more so than it is here; and yet we are going, according to this suggestion, to proceed step by step and to throw upon a raw and unfledged council the task of finding a resolution of the most difficult of all questions. You will have the Ulsterman and the Catholic disputing about education, and you will have England looking on over the fence with a not very sympathetic, but jealous eye. The case I put is that without the full power of Parliamentary responsibility this is a mere infatuation—as great an infatuation as it is possible to conceive.


Whose prescription is that?


It is a current prescription; it certainly is no prescription of mine. Then there is another favourite formula which is heard on both sides in a reforming spirit. They say, "Reform Dublin Castle." What does the reform of Dublin Castle mean? I know something of Dublin Castle. I do not think so ill of it as some of my friends below the gangway do. I think that as governing Ireland against its will it is extremely efficient. But what does this reforming of Dublin Castle moan? It means that you want to give the Irish people control over their own Executive. How can you give the Irish people any control over their own Executive, as we have it in Scotland and in England, unless you have a Legislature to provide the Executive? The more that formula is examined, the more hollow and unsubstantial it appears. This is not my view alone; it was the view held by Mr. Gladstone when he brought in the Home Rule Bill of 1886. Upon that occasion he said: "There are those who say 'Let us abolish the Castle.' "I only present those points as showing the unworkability and unreality of the policy of step by step. The right hon. Gentleman said last night that I had suppressed thirty-nine public meetings. I think the House were probably deceived by that. They supposed that these were political meetings. They were nothing of the kind. They were not even agrarian meetings. They were gatherings which any policemen in the world would have suppressed, because they were meetings to intimidate individual? Do you suppose that, I or any of us, would tolerate intimidation of individuals? After all, will you be good enough, when you mock at that assertion, to remember two things —first, that everything we did was done under the ordinary law, with no coercion and no exceptional legislation; and secondly, that when we left the Irish Government, Ireland was never in a condition of better order. Therefore, I beg the right hon. Gentleman, when he talks about our having suppressed thirty-nine meetings, to remember that that has no point in it. The Attorney General for Ireland charges me with jury-packing. I do not care about recrimination. It is the thing I desire least in the world, if I may say so without discourtesy to the right hon. Gentleman. Will he tell me one single case—he has all the archives of Dublin Castle under his hand—in our Administration in a criminal case outside the North where there was a jury exclusively Protestant? That is jury-packing. The right hon. Gentleman, when he makes that statement again, will be good enough to introduce that qualification.

Now I want to explain the reasons why I am going to, give the vote I shall give tonight. I think since 1895 I have never voted against the Chief Secretary's salary. But the vote tonight is a vote of want of confidence in the Irish Government, which 1ms introduced coercion, without attempting to set forth, as used to be the fashion in the old days, the foundations of the case upon which such extreme measures were based. In old times we used to have to bring figures and quote charges. It was felt to be so serious a thing to suspend the right of trial by jury in the most important class of cases, that a very strong case must be made before the House of Commons was asked to assent to it. The right hon. Gentleman has placed no such case before us. He has contented himself with a vague phrase. He has said that Ireland is "seething with a spirit of discontent and revolt" It is admitted that Ireland was never more crimeless; and does the right lion. Gentleman say that because the country is, as he thinks—though I believe it is a most exaggerated description—does he mean to say that that is a reason for suspending the right of trial by jury in the very class of cases where the right of trial by jury is of the most precious and inestimable value? The Gentlemen who are for step by step will, I think, recognise in this proceeding that this new policy is a policy step by step backward. Never before has coercion, repressive legislation, been brought to bear—never before—without a proper statement being made. The right hon. Gentleman, I am afraid, belongs to that school—that bad school—who have been described as preferring to perpetrate a great amount of injustice rather than to create a small amount of disorder. You had much better, as Lord Salisbury said in the passage I have quoted, have used the ordinary law vigorously and vigilantly, if necessary taking your chance cf convictions from time to time—there are plenty of devices apart from jury-packing for securing convictions—than resort to the repressive measures you have adopted. We have now in England a great body of important gentlemen from the Colonies, I wonder what one of these colonial Ministers will say when he sees that in Ireland, by a stroke of the pen, without a case stated to the House of Commons or the House of Lords, the Irish Executive can suspend jury trial and the constitutional guarantees for as long a time as they think fit. I think our colonial friends will well understand what it is that causes disloyalty and discontent in Ireland. It is on these grounds that we say at this moment you have no Irish policy. I will ask—and it is my last question— what is your Irish policy? What are you going to do for Ireland? There is the Catholic College. The Prime Minister has expressed his strongest opinion that that is a necessary reform in Ireland, and I believe every one of those seven ex-Chief Secretaries to whom I referred, certainly most of them, approve of it. The Chief Secretary himself admitted, when he brought in the Land Bill, that there was an urgent case for it. He now says there is nochance—or the Irish see, at all events, that there is nochance—though sorely needed, of that Bill passing. What is your Irish policy now, at the beginning of a new reign, with a new Prime Minster, and a Chief Secretary apparently about to take a more responsible position? You have no policy, except this wretched, ragged, universal failure, the policy of coercion. And on that account I shall vote for the Amendment.

(11.18.) MR. WYNDHAM

I made yesterday evening so large a claim on the patience and indulgence of the Committee that I hardly feel justified in rising again tonight to trespass upon their kindness; but it will be felt that some reply is required by the speech to which we have just listened, and, indeed, by many others that have preceded it in the course of the afternoon and evening. Let me take some of the last words which fell from the right hon. Gentleman before I attempt to deal with his speech as a whole. He said that in former times preceding Governments—and I have no doubt he had in his own mind the Government probably, of Lord Spencer, and the Government in which the present Prime Minister was Chief Secretary —had founded the case for what is called coercion by adducing statistics of crime, in the sense of violent crime against the person and against property, and by citing the charges of judges. Well, I suppose that the right hon. Gentleman will tell me that had I done that I should have shown at any rate a laudable desire to convince or conciliate Irish opinion. But had that been done, we should have been told that the statistics were cooked, and that the judges were the mere tools of the Executive. That being the reply which any man of ordinary intelligence must have anticipated, I hold that it is bettor and franker to keep close to the facts and give for the policy of the Government the reasons which actuated us in adopting that policy. Those reasons have not been, and I have never said that they were, that a number of persons in Ireland have been murdered or maimed. Those reasons are that there is in Ireland at the present moment an interference with private liberties which makes it impossible in that country for agriculture to prosper, or for any substitute for agriculture to be introduced with any prospect of success. It may be said that this House ought not to govern Ireland. Of course, this is not the occasion for arguing on Home Rule—and I doubt if the right hon. Gentleman would even have touched upon that great theme had he not wished to give a back-hander to those who would approach it stop by step—this is not the occasion for arguing on Home Rule; but that being so, so long as this House is responsible for the government of Ireland, it is the duty of the Government, resting on the support of this House, to see that the people of that country enjoy that modicum of liberty which must be the foundation of any superstructure of industry or of civilisation. The right hon. Gentleman took exception to my pointing out that he had prohibited thirty-nine meetings in Ireland. I thought I had made it clear last night that I was not using a tu quoque argument. I was enforcing the point that every Administration finds it necessary, fortunately, to do in this country.


Is it true that in this country no Administration breaks up a disorderly meeting?


I am not pleading for England robed in a white sheet of innocence—that is not the point. The charge is that the Government of Ireland do things which stand in need of justification very clear and convincing. But I say that in Ireland every Government—even a Government allied with the Nationalist Party for the purpose of achieving Home Rule—found it necessary to break up thirty-nine meetings in the course of three years. The right hon. Gentleman says that he did that to protect individuals. Does he charge me with having done it for any other reason? He made a great point of the fact that, during the three years he was responsible for the Government of Ireland, he did not use what is called the Crimes Act, although he kept it on the Statute Book. But, although he did not institute any prosecutions under the Crimes Act, he did proceed in 279 agrarian cases under the provisions of the Statute of Edward III. But that, again, is an exceptional method called for by exceptional circumstances, called for by circumstances with which the House is quite familiar—namely, that in Ireland it is the business of certain people to endeavour for the advantage of their country, as they say, to plunge it into disorder by looing on one set of men on to the backs of another set of men. It is not that the farmers are looed on against the landlords, or that the Irish people are looed on against the Irish Government. That is not what takes place. What takes place is that a certain number of persons in a village are set like a pack of hounds on some individual in that village who happens for advantitious reasons to be unpopular. I believe the object is at all costs to create a situation which calls for the intervention of the Government, and then to charge the Government with intervening without any just cause, and then to appeal to this House, and to this country, and say: "See the tyranny of the Government! Give us Home Rule !" The right hon. Member at the beginning of his speech said quite truly that many of those who listened to him were not in this House during the late eighties, when we had a party in alliance with the Nationalist Party for the purpose of obtaining Home Rule for Ireland. Yes; but we had the old situation revived on a small scale this evening; and I am glad that hon. Members who are now in the House, but were not in the House then, have had the unique opportunity of hearing the hon. Member for Cork City followed by the right hon. Member for the Montrose Burghs. The right hon. Member listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Cork City. He would, I suppose, have wished to agree with it all, but he could not do so, and in that conciliatory manner which he recommends to me and to all Chief Secretaries, he ventured so far as to say that the hon. Member for Cork City had used one word which went beyond the limits. But I never heard beyond the limits of what, because there was such an uproar on those Benches from the hon. Member and his colleagues at the bare idea that one of them could have gone beyond the limits in anything. Well, that is indeed the old situation. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say: "We have a new King, a now century, a new Prime Minister; let us pause and see where we stand." We stand exactly where we did. We have a right hon. Gentleman in his position trying to work with the Nationalist Party, and finding it impossible to do so unless he is prepared to condone words and actions which are repugnant to him, as they are to every Member of this House. The expression that went beyond the limits was a charge levelled at two hon. Gentlemen. [Cries of dissent from the Nationalist Members.] There you have it. Two men, let me call them, are placed by hon. Members opposite outside the pale of humanity, not for any action they have done, or refrained from doing, but simply because, being Irishmen, they happened also to be landlords. What a peaceful prospect for the future of Ireland if the right hon. Gentleman, in spite of these small exceptions he takes to the hon. Member for Cork City, completed his purpose of handing that country over to the tender mercies of the hon. Member for Cork City arid the organisation which he directs and controls. Then to show how hollow this whole case is, the right hon. Member put up a charge, repeated by the hon. Member for Cork City, and on which the changes have been rung throughout the debate— a charge I did not notice because I thought it so trivial, so beside the issues which this Committee has been considering for two days—the charge that the proclamation which brought certain provisions of the Crimes Act into force was signed by two landlords. I have been taken to task because I have not taken serious notice of that which was made almost the gravamen of the whole of the attack of some of the speeches to which I listened. But the right hon. Gentleman knows that the signature of such a document by the Privy Council has as much to do with its contents as the stamping of a letter in the post office before it goes through it. He knows perfectly well that the policy of reviving coercion is a policy for which I am the Minister responsible.


The Statute says— By and with the advice of the Privy Council.


The hon. and learned Member is a lawyer, and he will hardly contend that all the language of a statute corresponds so very closely to the realities of modern life. I am glad he thinks it worth while to get up and make this preposterous charge, because every one in the House knows that the revival of the Coercion Act is the collective action of the Government of the country, not of the Irish Government alone, but of the whole Cabinet. Of course I am responsible, because, if I disapproved that, I should have resigned; but it is an action which the Government has taken for reasons they approved; and yet, I suppose, an hour and a half of our time has been taken up by fulminations against these gentlemen for signing the proclamation, and against myself for a gross dereliction of duty, because until 11.30 on the following night I have not taken notice of so small a matter.


Of course, I knew perfectly well that Mr. Smith-Barry and Lord Clonbrock had nothing to do with the issue of the proclamation. My point—a small point if you like— was that it showed want of tact to choose these two gentlemen to sign— formally and mechanically, of course— that proclamation.


If that was all that the right hon. Gentleman had to urge—a want of tact and thoughtful stage management—his case against the Government is not such a very strong one. I am told that I ought to have conciliated Irish opinion by putting Sergeant Sheridan on his trial, even although I thought—as I do think—that that would result in a divided jury. Imagine the result of that policy of conciliation! Every single hon. Member on those Benches would have got up one after another and said I had packed the jury to rehabilitate the character of Sergeant Sheridan. I do not wish to add to what I said yester-day, except to correct a point I had left in doubt. Not two constables, but one constable remains at the depot; he was not an accomplice in the crime, and he still protests his innocence. He is not believed by those who conducted the inquiry to have been guilty of more than this. Whilst his own evidence was probably true, he must have doubted some of the evidence of Sergeant Sheridan, and had not the moral courage to stand up and expose him. That was on the second trial when the man accused pleaded guilty. I suppose there are many men, unhappily, who would not have had sufficient moral courage when a prisoner himself pleaded guilty to get up and give the lie to a superior officer without any prospect or hope that his word would be taken against that of his own superior officer. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman invited me to attempt a policy of conciliation. He must know that that is the dire offence with which I am always being taunted. I am not ashamed to say—and I do say it again here tonight with all emphasis—that on proper occasions I have invited, that on proper occasions I shall continue to invite, the House to do what I believe to be the duty of all true Unionists—to discharge in the spirit as well as to the letter the pledges given by Pitt and Castlereagh at the time of the Union, and, if not as a matter of duty, of expediency and common sense, to devote as much attention to Ireland at our door as to Egypt over which we have no sovereign rights at all; but this is not the proper occasion for advancing such arguments, because if they were advanced they would be misunderstood by hon. Members opposite as well as by those who sit upon this side of the House. In the face of the direct challenge to Government to proceed at its peril on its primary duty of protecting property and liberty, it is absurd to talk of remedial measures, of a policy of regeneration. You do not abandon it; but you do not insult the intelligence of everyone who is listening to you by pushing it into the forefront as a reply to assailants who are doing their best, as I hold, to ruin Ireland. Now, let me turn to the hon. Member for Cork City in the very few words more which I have to say. I listened to his speech. It was a fearless speech. He dreaded only one thing. He dreaded that I might in some moment of aberration bestow some praise upon his conduct in the course of this debate.


No; I did not.


The hon. Member spoke of being in danger of being praised! but I do praise him for the skiliulness with which the subject of the De Freyne estate has disappeared altogether out of the discussion in this House, and for the way in which the defiances of the Government uttered in the Cork Court-house the other day have formed no portion of the hon. Member's speech; and I notice that after being in Ireland for a year, he has not said here those things which he said in Ireland.


I had to compress my remarks, or I should have been delighted to refer to the statement which was deliberately made by the right hon. Gentleman in this House during my absence—that I was responsible for the starting of the no-rent campaign on the De Freyne estate. I should have been proud to meet that statement with the pretty conclusive evidence of an affidavit sworn by Lord De Freyne himself this week. That affidavit, a couple of hundred folios long, which gives a history of the whole struggle, never makes the smallest allusion to my name, or the smallest suggestion that I had anything to do with it.


The words of the hon. Member which I quoted are those:— I have already taken the liberty of suggesting that the only means of bringing this question of compulsory sale and of the terms of purchase to an issue in the south, is that the tenants of each estate should make a combined demand next November for an abatement of rent equivalent to that made to the tenant purchasers.


There is no recommendation of non-payment of rent on the De Freyne estate there.


The phrase "combined demand for an abatement of rent" suggests to my poor intelligence that, if that payment is not complied with, the tenants will show their displeasure on the lines which the hon. Member has again and again expounded.


Of course I suggested that the tenants should bring their demand before the landlord; and I urged that they had as good a claim to purchase as the tenants on the neighbouring estates; but the question, raised in this House was not the demand, but how it was to be enforced. I said distinctly in the passage which the right hon. Gentleman quotes how I proposed to enforce it, and it was not by withholding rent, but by a system of social excommunication of the landlords, such as you have practised with such success against the pro-Boers and the hon. Member for South Tyrone.


The hon. Member's method is social excommunication of the landlords, some of whom are non-resident and cannot therefore be excommunicated. In that event would he advise the tenants to go no further, but to pay their rent at the rent office? If he would, he agrees with me and with the Bishop of Elphin, who thinks that the best advice which could be given to the De Freyne tenants is "to pay up." In his speech the hon. Member attacked me in most violent language because I had given that advice. He said that I made coarse and vulgar imputations; that I quoted the expenses of one of those who were stirring up this strife. So I did. But my words were a verbal quotation from the discourse of the Bishop of Elphin. I have been advised to associate myself with the efforts of the Catholic clergy in this district. I took the advice. I associated myself with their efforts. I quoted their words, and I pointed out to the tenants on the De Freyne estate, as far as I could reach them, that unless they took that advice there was no better fate in store for them than that which overtook the earlier dupes of the hon. Member for Cork City. [Cries of "New Tipperary."]


I acknowledge New Tipperary.


The hon. Member is himself incorrigible, and then complains that we will never be taught. But who is it that enters his disciplinary school? It is not we, the Members of this House, who sit here in safety and ease. Those who arc the subject of his bitter correction are the poor tenants on these estates, who are, if not deluded, mystified by this ambiguous language, supposing it to be ambiguous, which I deny. For I say it is a direct incitement to the refusal of rent. They are either directly incited to refuse to pay rent or mystified by ambiguous language, and, overtaken by the inevitable results of that action, then to whom are they to look for assistance? Not, I think, to the hon. Member for Cork City.


said he had challenged the right hon. Gentleman to quote out of some 500 or 600 speeches he had made in the course of the United Irish League movement one single sentence in which lie advocated nonpayment of rent as a weapon in their struggle, and the right hon. Gentleman had never succeeded, even with all the powers of Dublin Castle.


I hope the hon. Member will join with me and the Bishop of Elphin—


Indeed, I will not.


And advise the tenants to pay up. I draw the attention of the Committee to the contrast between the speech of the hon. Member made tonight and the speech he made in the Court-house at Cork the other day. He stood there on the platform with the leader of his party. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford made a speech in which he seemed to advise the Irish people to proceed to lengths which would force the Government not alone to revive coercion, as it is called, but to disfranchise the country and to turn Ireland into a Crown Colony. That is very tall talk, the key to which is to be found in one sentence in the speech made there by the hon. Member for Cork City— You have a perfect legal right," he said, "to know how your landlords stand upon this question of compulsory sale, and whether they mean to persevere in their policy of vengeance upon evicted tenants. If the landlords refuse to receive you, or if they will hear of no terms, what is there to prevent you, if you are in earnest, from treating them, as I hope you treat every landgrabber that pollutes the soil? What is there to prevent you from issuing a sentence of social excommunication against every landlord?

And now I come to the sentence which gives the key to all this tall talk— What is there to prevent you from keeping their cattle without, a buyer at the fair, from calling out their servants from their service, and from requesting the blacksmith not to shoe their horses?

A casual perusal of that sentence might lead anyone to suppose that it contained a very courageous defiance to the landlords and threatened them with great penalties. But who is threatened by penalties in that sense? The man who tries to sell cattle, the man who wishes to shoe the horse, the poor herd on the farm who has to support his wife and family by looking after the cattle. It is upon them, and upon them only, that the full force of this much-vaunted national movement falls; and it is because it falls upon them, upon the poor and oppressed, that I, for one, am proud if I can play any part in relieving them from so dire a calamity.

(11.49.) Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A (Salaries, Wages, and Allowances) be reduced by £1,000, in respect of the Salary of the Chief Secretary."—(Mr. Dillon.)

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 135; Noes, 196. (Division List No. 315.)

Abraham, William (Cork. N. E.) Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Doogan, P. C.
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)
Ambrose, Robert Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton Duffy, William J.
Atherley-Jones, L. Canston, Richard Knight Duncan, J. Hastings
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Channing, Francis Allston Emmott, Alfred
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Clancy, John Joseph Evans, Sir Francis H (Maid stone
Blake, Edward Cogan, Denis J. Farquharson, Dr. Robert
Boland, John Condon, Thomas Joseph Farrell, James Patrick
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Craig, Robert Hunter Fenwick, Charles
Brigg, John Crean, Eugene Ffrench, Peter
Brown, George M. (Edinburgh) Cremer, William Randal Field, William
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Cullinan, J. Flavin, Michael Joseph
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Delany, William Flynn, James Christopher
Burke, E. Haviland- Devlin, Joseph Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)
Caine, William Sproston Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh. Gilhooly, James
Caldwell, James Dillon, John Gladstone, Rt Hn. Herbert John
Grey, Rt. Hn. Sir E. (Berwick) M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North) Redmond, William (Clare)
Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton Minch. Matthew Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries
Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B. Mooney, John J, Rickett, J. Compton
Hammond, John Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil Murnaghan, George Roche, John
Harmsworth, R. Leicester Murphy, John Roe, Sir Thomas
Harrington, Timothy Nannetti, Joseph P. Runciman, Walter
Hayden. John Patrick Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.) Russell, T. W.
Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Samuel, S. M. (Whiteehapol)
Healy, Timothy Michael Norman, Henry Sehwann, Charles E.
Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H. O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork) Shipman, Dr. John G.
Horniman, Frederick John O' Brien. Kendal (Tipper'ry Mid Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)
Jameson, Major J. Eustace O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Jones, William (Carn'rvonshire O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.) Sullivan, Donal
Jordan, Jeremiah O'Brien, William (Cork) Tennant, Harold John
Joyce, Michael O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W. Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)
Kitson, Sir James O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Tomkinson, James
Labouchere, Henry O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.) Tolly, Jasper
Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.) O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.) Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Layland-Barrart, Francis O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N Wason, Eugene(Clackniannan)
Leamy, Edmund O'Malley, William Weir, James Galloway
Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington O'Mara, James Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Leigh, Sir Joseph O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Lough, Thomas O'Shee, James John Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)
Lundon, W. Partington. Oswald Woodhouse, Sir J. T(Huddersf'd
MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Pearson, Sir Weetman D).
MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Philipps, John Wynford
Mac Veagh, Jeremiah Power, Patrick Joseph TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
M'Arthur, William (Cornwall) Priestley. Arthur Sir Thomas Esrnonde and
M'Cann, James Reddy, M. Captain Donelan.
M'Kean, John Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F Clive, Captain Percy A. Guthrie, Walter Murray
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Hall, Edward Marshall
Anson, Sir William Reynell Coghill. Douglas Harry Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.
Archdale, Edward Mervyn Cohen, Benjamin Louis Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nd'rry
Arkwright, John Stanhope Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Coloumb, Sir John Charles Ready Harris, Frederick Leverton
Arrol, Sir William Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Hatch. Ernest Frederick Geo.
Atkunson, Rt. Hon. John Compton, Lord Alwyne Hay, Hon. Claude George
Bagot, Capt. Jo-celine Fitz Roy Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley
Badey, James (Walworth) Cranborne, Viscount Heaton, John Henniker
Bain, Colonel James Robert Davenport, William Bromley Henderson, Sir Alexander
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J.(Manch'r Dickson, Charles Scott Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T
Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey) Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph Higginbottom, S. W.
Balfour, Rt Hn. Gerald W (Leeds Dorington. Rt. Hon. Sir John E. Hope, J F.(sheffield, Brightside
Banbury, Frederick George Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers Hoult, Joseph
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Doxford, Sir William Theodore Houston, Robert Paterson
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir Michael Hicks Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil
Beckert, Ernest William Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward Hudson, George Bickersteth
Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Fergusson, Rt Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r Hutton, John (Yorks. N.R.)
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse
Bignold, Arthur Finch, George H. Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton
Bigwood, James Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)
Bill, Charles Fisher, William Hayes Kenyon Hon Geo. T. (Denbigh)
Blundell, Colonel Henry FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose Keswick, William
Bond, Edward Flannery, Sir Fortescue King, Sir Henry Seymour
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Foster. Philip S (Warwick.S.W. Knowles, Lees
Brooktield, Colonel Montagu Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H (City of Lond. Lawrence, Sir Joseph (Monm'th
Brotherton, Edward Allen Godson. Sir Augustus Frederick Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)
Bullard, Sir Harry Gordon, Maj. Evans (Tr H.'ml'ts Lawson, John Grant
Butcher. John George Gore, Hn G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop Lee, Arthur H (Hants., Fareham
Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A (Glasgow Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-(Line.) Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh. Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage
Cayzer, Sir Charles William Greene, Sir E W(B'rySEdm'nds Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury) Leveson-Gower, Frederiek N. S.
Chamberlain, J. Austen(Wore. Gretton, John Llewellyn, Evan Henry
Chapman, Edward Greville, Hon. Ronald Lockwood, Lt,-Col. A. R.
Churchill, Winston Spencer Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine
Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Long, Rt. Hn, Walter(Bristol, S) Purvis, Robert Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier
Lonsdale, John Brownlee Randles, John S. Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Lowe, Francis William Rankin, Sir James Thornton, Percy M.
Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowe-toft) Rasch, Major Frederic Carne Tritton, Charles Ernest
Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsm'th) Reid, James (Greenock) Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward
Macartney, Rt Hn. W. G. Ellison Renshaw, Charles Bine Valentia, Viscount
Macdona, John Cumming Richards, Henry Charles Warde, Colonel C. E.
Maconochie, A. W. Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green Welby, Lt. -Col. A. C. E (Taunton
M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Ritcihe, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
M'Calmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.) Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield) Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd
Manners, Lord Cecil Robertson, Herbert (Hackney) Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Maxwell, W.J.H.(Dumfries-sh. Robinson, Brooke Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Molesworth, Sir Lewis Rolleston, Sir John F. L. Wills, Sir Frederick
More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire) Ropner, Colonel Robert Wilson, A. Stanley (York. E. R.)
Morgan, D'vid J.(Walthamstow Round, Rt. Hon. James Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Morgan, Hn. Fred. (Moum'thsh. Rutherford, John Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Morrell, George Herbert Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford- Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks)
Morton, Arthur H. A. (Dept ford Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)
Mount, William Arthur Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Nicholson, William Graham Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. Edw. J. Wortley. Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln) Wylie, Alexander
Palmer, Walter (Salisbury) Seely, Maj. J. E. B (Isle of Wight Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Parker, Sir Gilbert Seton-Karr, Henry Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Penn, John Smith, HC (North'mb. Tyneside Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Pilkinston, Lieut,-Col. Richard Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.
Platt-Higgins, Frederick Smith, Hon. W. F.D. (Strand)
Plummer, Walter R. Spear, John Ward TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Stanley, Lord (Lancs) Sir William Walrond and
Pretyman, Ernest George Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M. Mr. Anstruther.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

It being after Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Resolution to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again upon Monday next.