§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £13,950, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1906, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Offices of the Chief Secretary in Dublin and London, and of the Inspectors of Lunatic Asylums."
§ *MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
said one of the most serious results of the present system of the Government of Ireland was to be found in the fact that the discussions of Irish administration in Committee of Supply had been almost turned into a farce. Many millions of money were every year raised in Ireland, and by far the greater portion of the money so raised was spent in Irish administration, and he thought it was the universal belief by men of all Parties in Ireland that it was spent extravagantly and foolishly. Yet notwithstanding that fact it was impossible for Irish Members in any quarter of the House to obtain time to adequately discuss the various branches of Irish administration. Under the new rules of procedure twenty days were allocated for the discussion of Supply for all parts of the United Kingdom, and they had been able in recent years with difficulty to obtain sometimes three, and sometimes four days for the discussion of the Irish Estimates. He thought that even hon. Gentlemen opposite who differed so much from the Nationalists as to Irish policy would 1421 agree with him when he said that if they were to discuss these Estimates properly, with a view to effect economy in Irish administration, Irish Votes alone would require for discussion all the days that were given for the whole of Supply. The great majority of the Irish Votes passed without discussion. The result of the matter was that at the end of the session about five-sixths of the money voted for Irish administration was passed by the House under the closure without one single word of discussion. The Vote for the salary of the Chief Secretary was one upon which it was possible to discuss almost all questions of Irish administration—certainly all questions of Irish administration for which the Irish Executive represented by the Chief Secretary was in any sense responsible. And a general discussion was not a satisfactory thing, for each branch of Irish administration ought to be discussed separately. Irish Members had, however, no alternative but to initiate a general discussion, because the time at their disposal was so miserably inadequate.
The Chief Secretary had only held his office for a few weeks, and he presumed that the natural answer he would give to criticisms from these benches would be that he was not in office or personally responsible for these transactions, and that, indeed, he knew practically nothing about them. He was, in this respect, in the same position as every other Chief Secretary since the Union. The average official life of an Irish Secretary was about two years, and there had been about fifty-two or fifty-three Chief Secretaries. With one or two exceptions they had been all Englishmen sent over from this country to govern Ireland without any knowledge, and in most cases not having put their foot on the shores of Ireland before. Without impugning their sincerity and desire to do good for the country, he would say that the whole two years of their official existence had been spent in trying to learn something about the country they were set over. The very moment they were beginning to learn something about Ireland they were removed, and an entirely ignorant person was sent over to take their place. He was bound to say 1422 that the right hon. Gentleman had been charmingly candid. He went the other day to make a speech at the dinner given to him in the City of Dublin by those to whose service in Ireland he had devoted his sword. The first thing he said in his speech was that he was ignorant and incompetent to fulfil his duties. He said—I have come to my office with no hope and no belief that I am in any way competent to adequately discharge the responsible duties placed upon me.The modesty and honesty of the right hon. Gentleman almost disarmed criticism. But, from past experience, he was inclined to believe that such honesty and modesty would not be long-lived in his administration of Ireland. He asked English and Scottish Members whether they did not consider this an awful system that as soon as the Chief Secretary had, by patient work over in Ireland, begun to understand something about the country, he was at once removed? The truth was, of course, that the Chief Secretary was not the Governor of Ireland at all, and that, like his predecessors, he was only nominally responsible in that House for the Government of Ireland. Ireland was governed by forty odd semi-independent boards with permanent officials drawn entirely from one small section of the population who carried on the Government, of course, in sympathy with the aspirations and views of that small minority.
The right hon. Gentleman's own appointment—and of course he would be the last to deny it, if he spoke as candidly here as elsewhere—was a concession to that ascendancy faction in Ireland. His appointment, of course, heralded an entire change of policy. Almost his first official act was to go over to Dublin and make his vows to his new master, and to "kiss hands" on his appointment. In the first speech he delivered on Irish soil to the Irish people he said to his new masters, representing an insignificant fraction of the population of Ireland—I only hope I may not fail in the expectations which you, my Lord Duke, and you, my Lords and gentlemen, have been good enough to indulge in with regard to me.1423 Let the Committee mark this was not, in fact, a representative gathering of the Protestants or Unionists of Ireland at all. It represented only an insignificant fraction of the population. One gentleman of whom personally he knew nothing, with more or less of an independent mind, but a well-known Unionist—Mr. Andrew Jameson—rose to make a speech, and because he ventured to give expression, very mildly and tentatively, to some more or less liberal views—remember he was a Unionist and an anti-Home Ruler—he was howled down. That was to say, he was treated with that amount of decency and want of fair play about which the Prime Minister had been lecturing the House that afternoon. He mentioned this fact in order to emphasise his statement that the right hon. Gentleman went over to Ireland to make his vows of allegiance to a small ring of the Unionists of Ireland, who had been in the past, and were now, the cause of all the trouble and mischief in Ireland. But having commenced with whispering humbleness by expressing the sincere hope that he might not fail in fulfilling the expectations formed of him by the noble Duke and Lords and gentlemen present, he then went on to explain to the Irish people, through this medium, what his new policy was. The first thing he did was to denounce and to pour unmeasured contempt upon the idea of governing Ireland according to Irish ideas. The Chief Secretary was, he thought, a very shrewd and adroit man. He attributed these words to Lord Dunraven, but they were not Lord Dunraven's words at all, but the words of the Viceroy of Ireland under whom the right hon. Gentleman as his Chief Secretary was supposed to hold office. In 1902 Lord Dudley made a remarkable speech, speaking for himself and the Government as well. He said that—The opinion of the Government was, and it was his opinion also, that the only way to govern Ireland properly was to govern it in accordance with Irish ideas.And yet the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in his first speech after his appointment, poured ridicule upon the idea of governing Ireland in accordance with Irish ideas. He wanted to know what Irish ideas were. He said there 1424 were 1,250,000 of anti-Home Rulers in Ireland, and apparently his idea of governing Ireland properly was to govern it in accordance with the ideas of the minority as against the ideas of the majority. He said—A careful perusal of Lord Dunraven's speech would show that he was drifting down that road which had been taken by all those, who had begun their downward career by a policy of surrender to the forces of disorder.That was to say that the Chief Secretary thought that to govern according to Irish ideas was to surrender to the forces of disorder. He continued—Lord Dunraven had played a difficult and ungrateful part. He was not the first man who had carried on a campaign of law and order against disorder. He was not the first man who had thrown up the sponge. He told them to believe in another policy—the policy of governing Ireland in accordance with Irish ideas. What were Irish ideas? In the first place he took the population of Ireland. There was 1,250,000 of Unionists in Ireland; and the remainder, who were in the vast majority, held other ideas.And so the right hon. Gentleman went on, in a long passage, to pour ridicule and contempt on the principle on which Lord Dudley had said that Ireland could alone be properly governed— viz., that it should be governed according to the opinions of the overwhelming majority of the people of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman made no disguise of his real views; and he went on, in the most candid way possible, to lay down this formula. In place of governing Ireland according to Irish ideas his conception was to "tighten the chain." When he first read these words he was amazed, and was inclined to believe that they were a maladroit, or what he might call a somewhat stupid phrase which had escaped from the right hon. Gentleman. But it had been pointed out to him that the right hon. Gentleman was neither a maladroit nor a stupid man, and that he must have known the effect of the words which he used deliberately. The right hon. Gentleman used them deliberately to please the audience he was addressing, and to assert that his idea of governing Ireland was to tighten up the chain more firmly than ever. His words were—Here I believe there is room for reform and amendment in the administration in Ireland. We must tighten up the chain, and if in that 1425 chain there is any weakening it must be strengthened.He was inclined to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the candour of his speech. At any rate the right hon. Gentleman had let them know where they stood. He did not think it would be possible, after this confession of faith on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, to have any doubt whatever as to the opinions which he held.
He had some complaints to make with reference to the action of the right hon. Gentleman since he had taken up his present position, and the first was with reference to the working of the Land Act. He was bound to admit with all honesty that very largely the fault did not lie with the right hon. Gentleman personally, it was one connected with the Administration before he accepted office. He would not, therefore, in the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, seek to indict him or his policy in that respect. There were certain things in connection with the working of the Land Act he must allude to; and he was bound to admit, in candour, that the greater proportion of the fault rested not with the right hon. Gentleman personally, because they were faults committed before he came into office. He had stated, with reference to the most vital portions of the Land Act—the evicted tenants and the congested estates, and also the position of the non-judicial tenants—that the action of the Irish Executive had tended to the destruction of all hope of the Act bringing about any real settlement and peace and harmony between the different classes in Ireland. Three Commissioners were appointed to administer the Act. The largest and widest powers and discretion were given to them, and yet they found that on these vital portions of the Land Act they had had their discretion interfered with, they had had their powers cramped and confined, and they had had their action over-ridden and put on one side by the Executive. He knew he could not discuss the recent Report of the Commissioners at any length, but he contended that they could discuss any portion of that Report which bore on the action of the Irish 1426 Executive in the control of those Commissioners' action for which the Chief Secretary of the day was personally responsible.
It would be remembered that when the Bill was going through the House they received a pledge from the Member for Dover, which was renewed afterwards in the most formal way by the Attorney-General, that the regulations which were to be issued for the control and guidance of the Commissioners by the Executive would be placed upon the Table of the House, or, at any rate, that they would in some shape or form be published. They demanded the publication of these regulations, and the Member for Dover refused again and again to place them upon the Table, or to inform them as to their nature. They had nothing to go on but the vaguest rumours. They were refused that information, and all they knew was that there was a wide-spread belief in Ireland that the discretion of the Commissioners was being tampered and interfered with by orders from Dublin Castle; and, notwithstanding the pledge, these orders were withheld from them. When the present Chief Secretary came into office, and when they made this case, he answered them with perfect candour. He said he knew nothing about the past, he had not been concerned with it; but he thought the demand made for the publication of the regulations governing the Commissioners was a reasonable demand, and he would at once see that they were published. He had not fulfilled to the full and in the spirit that pledge, because what had he done? He said there ought to be no secrecy, he saw no reason for it, and he thought they ought to have full information as to these orders and regulations, and he promised that his first official duty would be to look into this matter and see that they got the information. What had he done? He had drafted a lot of new regulations, and it was those new regulations he had published, or at any rate promised to publish; but he had not published the old regulations issued by the late Chief Secretary and which were in operation up to the other day, and it was quite clear from the Report of the Commissioners that he did not intend to publish them. The demand which they had a right, he 1427 thought, to make was that everything connected with these regulations or orders which had interfered with the action of the Commissioners for the last year and a half should be published.
What occurred with reference to the evicted tenants? Everyone knew that, although the evicted tenants, question was in one sense a limited question, in another sense it was probably the most important of all questions in connection with the Land Act; because the main object of the Act was not merely to transfer the ownership of land from the landlord to the tenant, but to end the land war and bring about some appeasement of feeling in Ireland with happy consequences, as they all believed, to the country and everyone connected with Ireland; and so long as this evicted tenants' question was allowed to rankle there and fester as a sore this object could not be carried out. The Commissioners were impressed with that view, and they set to work to grapple with the matter. Considerable correspondence passed with the Treasury, which resulted in the issue of directions to the Commissioners last February to confine their inquiries to estates actually for sale before them. There was clear proof that the discretion of the Commissioners was interfered with by the notion of the Executive, and he thought the pledge given that there should be no secrecy and that they should know what was actually done in the way of orders had been violated. He asked the right hon. Gentleman would he, in fulfilment of his pledge, produce the correspondence that had passed with the Treasury and make a clean breast of the whole matter. He might have a difficulty in the matter, because this took place before he came into office; but he definitely promised them in the House, in almost the first speech he made as Chief Secretary, that there should be no further secrecy in the matter, that they should know what was going on, that the regulations and orders issued should be given to them; and he (the hon. Member) submitted respectfully that he was not fulfilling in the spirit his pledge if he only gave them future regulations and withheld all information as to the regulations and other means whereby the Commissioners were prevented from putting the Act in operation 1428 in a way likely to bring about a successful issue with reference to evicted tenants.
There was one other matter connected with this Report to which he wished to refer, and that was the position of the non-judicial tenants, who were a numerous body. The Act provided that they were not to come within the operation of what was called the zones, that was to say that in all cases of suggested sale inquiry and investigation should be instituted by the Commissioners into the security for the amount issued and into the equity of the price, and the Commissioners in their Report, at the end of page 3, said—In the case of non-judicial holdings inspectors were required, in the instructions issued by the Commissioners in February, 1904, to inquire as to the security of each holding for the price agreed to and as to the equity of the price to all persons interested, including the tenant purchaser. Subsequently, the interpretation of the law acted upon was that both in the case of non-judicial and judicial holdings the only questions which arose were the security to the State and the equity of the price to parties other than the vendor and purchaser.He did not know whether hon. Members followed this, but it was really very simple. Let them take the case of a holding of a non-judicial tenant? The property in that was two-fold. There was the interest of the tenant, and that portion of the holding was his property now. There was also the interest of the landlord. The tenant proposed to purchase the interest of the landlord, and the Act provided that the Commissioners were to make an inquiry as to the security for the loan and as to the equity of the price; but by these new orders and directions, which had been issued and which, he claimed, should be published, they were to take into account the equity of the price so far as it affected everybody except the tenant. This meant that, although the tenant might pay a price which was really the price not only of his own interest but of the interest of the landlord as well, that was not to be taken into account at all so long as the whole holding was adequate security for the loan. This was not the intention of the House of Commons when the clause was passed, and manifestly a clause in that shape would never have been allowed to pass by Irish Members sitting on that 1429 side of the House; and if the law officers of the Crown, upon whose opinion he presumed this decision had been arrived at, thought they were right, at any rate they should have full information as to how it was arrived at and the reasons for it given in order to press for such amendment as was necessary to meet the case. The Commissioners in all these cases were over-ruled, and he thought it was a most unjust tiling, not only to the Committee but to the Commissioners themselves, that full information should not be given as to the manner in which the were overruled, and as to the orders issued by the Government for that purpose.
He passed now to another subject, a subject in which the right hon. Gentleman was himself personally responsible to the full extent. He had to make a charge against the right hon. Gentleman of the most serious character. He charged the right hon. Gentleman with deliberately fostering the cry for coercion in Ireland and doing that not for the purpose of maintaining law and order, which were not threatened, or protection of life and property, which were not threatened, but for the purpose of compelling Sir Antony MacDonnell to resign his position. That was a serious charge.
§ *MR. JOHN REDMOND
Six or seven weeks ago, before anything of this kind became publicly mentioned in the papers, he was informed by those who had opportunity of knowing—not Sir Antony MacDonnell, from whom he had heard nothing, directly or indirectly—[Mr. WALTER LONG: Hear, hear!] and who were behind the scenes both in London and Ireland, that in view of the fact that Sir Antony had made a declaration that he would not administer coercion, a determination had been come to to force him out of Dublin Castle by forcing coercion upon certain parts of Ireland. He (Mr. Redmond) hardly thought it credible, but he was told to watch The Times, Irish Times, the Globe, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, and of course he need hardly say it was 1430 necessary to watch the Unionist Members opposite. Almost immediately after that communication The Times began to write upon the subject. The Dublin correspondent of The Times day after day sent letters, sometimes of a column in length, describing alleged outrages. That was followed up in the Globe and the Irish Times. After a time they came down from generalisations to particular instances, and most Members would remember the sensation created in London by the account which appeared in the papers of a midnight attack on the house of a Mr. Persse, in Galway, by a body of armed men who fired into the house and who were only routed by the bravery and valour of Mr. Persse and a few friends. That case was commented upon, and he was not sure that it was not treated pictorially in some of the weekly journals. The changes were rung upon it for a week, and then it was investigated by the right hon. Gentleman and the police of Ireland, and it was found that the whole story was an invention, and nothing of the kind had occurred at all. Then there was a sensational account of alleged houghing and mutilation of cattle—a crime which should be denounced as horrible, shocking, un-Christian, and detestable. This case was investigated, and it was found there was not a single case of a beast being houghed or mutilated. Then they had stories of incendiary fires. He must express his opinion that it was dastardly for people either in the public Press or in that House or out of that House to take part in any conspiracy of this kind, seeking to blacken the reputation of a people who, so far as outrages and crime were considered, stood on a higher position than the people of either England or Scotland. The hon. Member (Mr. Redmond) then read extracts from the declarations of Judges at the recent Spring Assizes in the counties alleged to be disturbed to show that there was no evidence of an outbreak of crime and disturbance in any part of the country. The newly appointed County Court Judge of Roscommon, Mr. Wakeley, said the other day there was a conspiracy in England to misrepresent Ireland, and though he was a gentleman bitterly opposed to him in politics, Mr. Wakeley 1431 said he should always take the opportunity of standing up for the Irish people. Lord Dunraven gave the same testimony in his pamphlet, in which he said a certain section of Unionists had been too busy painting in too lurid colours the condition of Ireland. An isolated case might be quoted, but was that fair in dealing with one country and another. Only the other day he read of a case of cattle mutilation in Sunderland, a case where a farmer had placed some calves in a shed overnight, one of the calves was missing in the morning, and the farmer traced it to a field near at hand where he found it with its hind legs cut off. He was not so foolish or unjust as to found any argument upon that case. These offences were bound to occur in every community now and then, but thank God not often. But supposing Ireland was governing this country under coercion and that trial by jury could be suspended at the will of a single man, would it be fair to ring the changes upon the case and to publish it and then to say, "This is a horrible condition of crime in England."
Questions had been asked recently about a Return of the agrarian outrages in Ireland. He sympathised with his hon. friend who asked why this Return was made at all. For example, if a man's hay was burned, or something of that kind, why was that to be put down as an agrarian offence without evidence? And why should there be this Return for Ireland more than for any other country? This Return for 1904 showed there were 206 agrarian outrages in Ireland during the last twelve months. Of those 206 outrages 124 were classed as intimidation, and of those 105 were cases of sending threatening letters. Was it not a cruel thing to charge against Ireland 124 cases of agrarian intimidation, thereby leading people to believe that serious offences had been committed, when 105 of those cases were threatening letters? He believed that this session he had received certainly 105 threatening letters, bearing English postmarks. In fact, he never made a speech in this House that he did not receive shoals of letters and postcards of a threatening character, some of which did not come stamped. He received most abusive and threatening letters of 1432 all kinds; threatening not only eternal damnation, but all pains and penalties of this life, for his having expressed opinions and convictions which were not shared by the senders. If these cases were all reported to the police and solemnly put into a Return as outrages what a farce it would be. Yet it was on a string of figures like this that the Committee were asked to believe that agrarian outrages existed in Ireland. Agrarian crime did not exist in Ireland. There was no such thing. He found further down in the Return, under the head of injuries to property, thirteen cases! Thirteen cases in twelve months amongst a population of 4,500,000! The Return showed nothing. If they went to the general criminal statistics, they would find that Ireland stood far above either England and Scotland not only in the matter of serious crimes, but of all crimes.
Coming back to his charge against the right hon. Gentleman, he said that since the right hon. Gentleman had been made Chief Secretary he had pandered to those who had endeavoured to raise the cry that Ireland was in a state of disturbance and that coercion must be put into force. He had done so by his speeches, in which he had never failed to say something about the necessity of maintaining law and order. The right hon. Gentleman had done that in order to pander to the attempt that was being made to force coercion on Ireland. But the right hon. Gentleman had done more than that; he had drafted hundreds of extra police into this district of county Galway, with the object of creating the idea that it was necessary to take some steps to protect life and property, when he could not quote an instance where the life and property of any man in that district had been threatened. What else had the right hon. Gentleman done? He had created a little reign of terror there with these policemen. Would it be believed that the innocent recreation of playing a band along a country road was forbidden in this district? A band recently had proceeded a short way along a country road when it was met by some police and ordered to stop playing and to go back. The men ceased playing and 1433 turned back along the road, and the police came after them and turned upon them and broke up their instruments, and then these men for whom their neighbours had subscribed money to buy a new drum and other instruments, were told if they brought the band out again, during the day or night, anywhere in that district, the instruments would be broken up again.
The right hon. Gentleman also employed the police in their spare time in making domiciliary visits all through that district. The right hon. Gentleman in this House recently tried to turn the matter off with a laugh, but it was too serious a matter. Could anyone imagine anything more irritating, more maddening to the people of a district where no disturbance existed at the present moment than domiciliary visits being made at all hours of the day and night? The right hon. Gentleman admitted that some visits were made by night, but said they were not made at any hour when people ought to be in bed? What right had he to say at what hour the people should be in bed. The right hon. Gentleman had admitted that one visit was made at 10.30 at night, hours after many of these people were in bed. He warned the right hon. Gentleman that by proceedings of this kind he might create in that part of Ireland a state of things which he had assumed had been in existence for some time. The right hon. Gentleman had also instituted proceedings at law against certain persons in this district. Against that he had nothing to say. If men offended against the law let them be tried fairly and impartially. In this country in cases of this kind men were made amenable to the law by being summoned before a magistrate and sent to trial in serious cases, and the right hon. Gentleman tried that procedure in some parts of this district, but he had now mended his plan. The right hon. Gentleman was now engaged in a most provocative course of procedure, viz., arresting these people in their homes, taking them before magistrates, and then, when they were committed for trial, releasing them again. Why was that done? Did the right hon. Gentleman think that these people were going to run away to America to avoid his summonses? No such preposterous claim could be put forward. 1434 Why did he not summon these men instead of arresting them and dragging them from their homes? On May 1st, between the hours of four and six in the morning, thirteen men were dragged from their beds by the police, taken a long distance to Ballinasloe, given no food, brought before a magistrate, returned for trial, and then at once released. Could anything be more provocative? Why were not these men summoned? Or if it was necessary to arrest them, why should the proceedings be carried out in the middle of the night? If the right hon. Gentleman allowed his advisers to lead him into courses of that kind he would create disorder. ["That is what he wants."] It was absurd to imagine that such proceedings could be carried on without the most provocative effect upon the whole people.
He respectfully warned the right hon. Gentleman that he ought not to allow himself to be drawn along this road. He gave that warning quite disinterestedly as he had never concealed his belief that the national movement in Ireland was generally strengthened by coercion. Whereever the national movement was somewhat apathetic, the one infallible remedy to stimulate it into action was a little of the salt of coercion. Therefore in giving this advice he was not thinking of the immediate prospects of the national movement. He took a wider and graver view of his responsibilities. He was one of those who looked forward to the day when there would be a possibility of reconciliation between the two nations, when the people of this country, might get better and truer information about Ireland, when they would see in a truer light the facts of the Irish situation, and understand more clearly the true meaning of the forces represented by hon. Gentlemen opposite; and when, on the other hand, the people of Ireland would be able to take perhaps a fairer or more generous view of the mistakes committed by this country. He spoke for himself in saying that, and it was unnecessary to add that such a reconciliation could take place only on conditions which would leave Ireland free for the management of her own affairs.
1435 With all seriousness he warned the right hon. Gentleman that the road along which he was being pushed was a fatal road. He was being made the servant, not of the Unionist Party in Ireland, but of a section of that Party, which all through the history of Ireland had the same record—a section of men who had no country and no cause, whose one political creed was greed, and who to-day were just the same as they were a hundred years ago. He would read to the Committee an extract from a letter written in 1792 by Mr. Edmund Burke to Mr. Dundas, Secretary for Ireland. At that time the Irish Parliament was beginning to see its way towards loosening the chains on the Catholics of Ireland, the Catholic Emancipation Act of the following year was beginning to be discussed. It was a Protestant Parliament, and although as a whole it was in favour of this extension of the liberties of Catholics, there was a powerful section who were bitterly opposed to it, and who threatened Mr. Dundas with what they would do if the loosening of the bonds of the Catholics permitted any interference with their monopoly of place and power. They were then strenuous upholders of the Irish Parliament and called themselves Irish Nationalists, but they told Mr. Dundas that if this policy went on they would cease to support the Irish Parliament and become Unionists. Mr. Burke wrote as follows—If Mr. Hobart is not somewhat mistaken in his accounts of the disposition of the Council of the Lords and Commons of Ireland it is not much to their advantage. Rather than admit of the least participation in their privileges they are ready to abandon them altogether, to shut up their Parliament House, and to become a province of England. If yon had a mind to answer peevishness in kind you would tell them that the sooner they execute their resolution the better, that they have been long enough the curse, the scourge, and the bane of the Irish nation, and that never having performed one act of real legislation, when they are called upon to adopt a measure of justice, dictated by the circumstances of the times, they resent as an outrage an attempt to render them at least of some use to their unhappy country. They actually threaten if you do not behave better to quarrel with their places and pensions, to surrender with disdain their charter of monopoly and to break up the great staple trade, never carried on to its full perfection but in Ireland, of the whole art and mystery of jobbery.That was Burke's description of the small section of the Protestants of Ireland 1436 who formed the ascendancy faction in that day. Their lineal successors in Irish politics were animated by just the same spirit, and if the right hon. Gentleman allowed them to push him along the road instead of exercising an independent judgment, his career in Ireland would end, as the career of so many of his predecessors had ended, in ruin for the interests of law and order and good government, and probably disgrace to himself. He begged to move.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed. "That Item A be reduced by £100, in respect of the Salary of the Chief Secretary."—(Mr. John Redmond.)
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE (Antrim, N.)
joined in the wish of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford that the time might soon come when the people of this country, by a wider diffusion of true information, would understand the position of affairs in Ireland. Irish Unionists had never concealed what the true facts were. At the time of the Home Rule controversies, as soon as the true facts of the case were brought home to the people of Great Britain, Irish Unionists were able, simply owing to the spread of truth, to secure a verdict in their favour, and the same result would happen again. While he regarded as a base and unworthy charge the accusation that the Chief Secretary had manufactured the cases referred to by the hon. Member for the purpose of evoking the special provisions of the Crimes Act, he congratulated his right hon. friend on the fact that such a speech had been made against him. It was some time since charges of corrupt administration had been brought against the chief executive officer of the Irish Government, and the more such charges were made against the Chief Secretary the greater confidence would Irish Unionists feel in him. Speeches such as that just delivered would do the right hon. Gentleman a great deal of good in Ireland, and, when analysed, no harm in England.
The hon. and learned Member had said with truth that there had been a change of policy in Ireland. There had indeed been a most satisfactory change of 1437 policy. Owing to the action of the right hon. Gentleman during his short tenure of office there had grown up a marked feeling of confidence in those very parts of Ireland and among those very classes of the people which it was the duty of a Unionist Administration to encourage. The object of Irish Unionists was to secure in every part of Ireland an absolutely impartial administration of the law. Under a former régime there had been grounds for suspecting that the administration was not impartial, but within the last two months a most marked change had come over the feelings of those who had a stake in the country, shopkeepers as well as landlords believing that the law was going to be enforced irrespective of persons.
He would ask the hon. and learned Member for Waterford to forgive him for not going into detail in reference to the topics to which he had alluded, but there were some other topics upon which he desired to say something. He thought that when the matter came to be considered in England the gravamen of the charges which had been made against the Chief Secretary would scarcely bear close examination. One complaint made by the hon. and learned Member was that in a certain district in Galway the police made domiciliary visits at 10.30 at night. Was that a crime on the part of the police whose duty it was to preserve the peace of the district? Was it a crime for these men to knock at the doors of certain houses to make inquiries, more especially when this was done, as had been stated lay the Chief Secretary, with the consent of the occupiers. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that if he found that the system being pursued on this matter constituted an intrusion he would have it stopped wherever there was a grievance Then it was said that certain men should be made amenable to the ordinary law. It appeared that in one case some eleven or twelve men, instead of being summoned before the magistrate in the usual way, were arrested and taken out of their houses early in the morning. As in this case the men were liberated on bail almost immediately, he did not think there was very much of a grievance 1438 in that. The explanation of this case had been given in the House that day. These men were arrested at a very early hour. In Ireland it was in the discretion of the magistrates whether a person should be brought up by arrest or by a summons, and these men were arrested, upon the statement of the officer responsible to this House in order to avoid a tumultuous assembly. If in order to avoid a breach of the peace it was considered necessary to arrest certain men he thought hon. Members would agree with him that there was nothing very serious in that. Then there was the band, which the hon. and learned Member appeared to think was a very harsh case. They knew how innocent some of these transactions could be made to look. He said that this band was going through an uninhabited part of the country. He thought the hon. and learned Member was going to tell them the whole of the facts but he had omitted some very material facts. He did not say where this band was going. They had announced their intention of holding a musical demonstration at a farm in possession of a man whom the United Irish League were terrorising.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE
No, there was no meeting because before the band got there it was stopped by the police, and that was what the hon. and learned Member had complained of. The police acted with the most perfect propriety. This was a band which intended to intimidate a man who had as much right to carry on his trade without any intimidation as any man in this country, and when a band set out, in defiance of the warning and the proclamation issued by the police, to serenade with the object of attracting a crowd, he thought the police were justified in interfering.
There was another matter upon which he desired to express his approval of the action of the Irish Executive, and that was in connection with the landing of the sheriff on Dursey Island. He was 1439 surprised that the hon. and Member had not drawn attention the matter. In this case the sheriff went to the island in an Admiralty gunboat called the "Storm Cock," and, resistance being offered, he was protected by the police, when he proceeded to execute the writ of the King's Court. The duty of a sheriff was a very unpleasant one, and he quite agreed that there was not likely to be anybody in that House who did not sympathise with the poor people. The officers had of course to do their duty and obey the orders of the highest Court of the land. Nobody could say that they were guilty of misdemeanour in doing so. What was the law? Lord Chief-Baron Palles' opinion on the subject was as follows. Speaking previous to sentencing prisoners found guilty of wilfully obstructing the sheriff in the execution of his duty, he said—Speaking generally for the purpose of pointing my observations to the matter in hand, I may state that upon each of these occasions when the sheriff arrived with his force for the purpose of executing those writs, there were attempts by his bailiffs to execute them, that such bailiffs were assaulted in their attempted execution of those writs, and that that attempted execution, and the assaults upon the bailiff consequent upon it, lasted for a period upon each occasion of about an hour. During the entire of that time the Royal Irisn Constabulary, standing there under the orders of the county inspectors, did not move. No order was given to them by the magistrate in command for one whole hour, during which the officer of the Queen was attempting to execute Her Majesty's writ. For one whole hour breaches of the peace, in gross and open violation of the law, in contempt of the authority of the Queen, and of her mandate to the sheriff, were persisted in, in the presence of that strong force of constabulary, and they did nothing. Upon, as I understand it, the conclusion of that period, orders were given to them by the resident magistrates, and the moment those orders were given they performed their duty, not only with a promptitude and courage which cannot be too highly commended, but with a remarkable, amount of patience and forbearance, clearly evidenced by the fact that of the several thousands constituting the riotous mobs upon the occasions in question there is no suggestion that injury was suffered by one. In the observations I make I advisedly exclude all reference to the military. Their officers were bound to wait for the command of the civil authority. I advisedly also refrain from referring to subordinate officers, to district inspectors, and the sergeants and men of the constabulary who were under their control. They were bound to wait for the orders of the county inspectors. My observations 1440 are pointed, in the first instance, to the two county inspectors and to the two resident magistrates then present, and only upon the hypothesis that they were acting without orders and upon their own responsibility. If they acted upon orders, far be it from me to make the slightest reflection upon them, because they were obeying the dictates of their superiors. But I take leave to say that in point of law, no illegal order or unconstitutional order, given by an official—be he Inspector-General, or, going higher, even Under-Secretary or Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant—can justify any man in the violation of the law; and howsoever high the position of these officials may be, they are bound by our Constitution to obey the law in the same way as the humblest man who walks the streets.That was what a Judge of the High Court had said. It was obviously a breach of the duty of any official or other person to disobey the decree of the King's Court. And to have it said, as had been said in the class of literature to which he had referred, that in landing a force on Dursey Island to carry out the decree of the King's Bench Division was a scandal—that was an absolute misrepresentation of the case.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
Will the hon. Gentleman tell me in reference to that charge is it not a charge of Chief Baron Palles given at the Winter Assizes at Sligo in 1887, and was not that charge in condemnation of the Executive Government of the time?
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE
said he would now pass to another matter, one in reference to the Estates Commissioners. He thought that the arrival of the Chief Secretary in Ireland had done a great deal towards influencing for the better the action of the Estates Commissioners. A very significant fact with regard to the Estates Commissioners would be found in this. As the Act of 1903 was passed, the House would remember that there were two ways in which a man could get rid of his land. He could either deal direct with his tenants or he could sell to his tenants by selling in bulk in the first instance to the 1441 Estates Commissioners, and a very good clue to the confidence which at the start of the Act was felt by the general public who had land to sell was this, that practically, except in those parts of Ireland where intimidation was rife, everyone refused to sell to the Estates Commissioners. Nearly everybody preferred to negotiate with his tenants himself, and conversely when they got to Connaught and to the very place where intimidation was rife they found the local bodies—branches of the United Irish League and in other places, Town Tenants Leagues—in Tipperary and Cork cases were brought to his knowledge—they were insisting that they would in no way deal unless the sale was made through the Estates Commissioners. He thought if a Return were published the number of estates outside Connaught sold to the Commissioners would be limited to something under ten. And unfortunately there was a great deal of idea abroad that the Estates Commissioners were very apt to lend themselves to the local behests of the United Irish League. He was glad to say that that had been altered. The other day the Estates Commissioners for the first time published a circular which had reference to the proceedings in the West of Ireland—a most proper circular, and the only misfortune was that it was not published twelve months ago—that where they found that local intimidation was on foot for the purpose of forcing the owners to sell the land to themselves (the Estates Commissioners) they would absolutely decline to deal.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE
thought the hon. Member was right. It was a letter which appeared in the papers and which was published, he supposed, by the Commissioners or by the Executive, and it appeared in the whole of the Irish Press. With regard to the question of the Estates Commissioners, as they all knew they had a very strong power and he would like to know in a particular case which had attracted a great deal of public attention how it was going to be exercised. It was a case which had been brought several times before the House by Question and Answer by his hon. friends. The 1442 Commissioners had the power of deciding what part of a landlord's estate was to constitute an estate for the purposes of the Act, and the importance of the decision on that was this, that unless they declared the bit which the landlord was able to sell an estate he would get no bonus and practically there would be no sale. He found that on an estate in Cork—the Arnott estate—
§ MR. DILLON
A very interesting point of order arises here, and we should be clear upon it. I perceive that the hon. and learned Member is going to discuss in detail the action of the Estates Commissioners. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford discussed the action of the Estates Commissioners in so far as, according to their Report, it had been dictated by the regulations of the Executive. The hon. and learned Member opposite is going a step further, and is discussing the powers of the Estates Commissioners and the action they have taken on their own responsibility.
If the case is sub judice certainly it cannot be discussed. Nor do I think the action of the Estates Commissioners can be gone into in detail as the hon. Gentleman proposes. The action of the Commissioners, I understand, is like that of a legal Court. [NATIONALIST cries of "No. no!"]
§ MR. DILLON
It is not in that sense a legal Court. It is subject to the Executive and the criticism of this House. The hon. and learned Member for Water-ford guarded himself specially and said he was entitled to discuss the action of the Commissioners in so far as, according to their Report, that action had been coerced or dictated by the Executive Government. The hon. Member opposite is going a step further than that. He is discussing the action of the Commissioners in so far as they are acting independently and on their own judgment. I do not object in the least, but I only want to know whether we will be at liberty to answer it.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
I hope you will give no decision which will bar the way to the discussion of Section 5 where the Executive have interfered with the Estates Commissioners and reversed their proceedings. That is a wholly different thing.
§ THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. ATKINSON, Londonderry, N.)
That is also sub judice.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
In so far as it is merely an administrative operation I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman will see that that will come more appropriately on the Vote for the Commissioners.
§ MR. DILLON
No, Sir, the Executive Government has decided the question. We must be allowed to challenge that.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Surely it is not in order that on a matter affecting the administration of public money, which is at the present moment before a tribunal, whether it be a legal or administrative tribunal, a discussion should take place for the purpose of affecting that body with reference to the particular distribution of the money.
§ MR. DILLON
This is an important question, and the Chairman is in a difficult position when asked to decide upon in, because it all depends on the construction of an Act of Parliament which we have followed very closely and which may not be so familiarly known to the Chairman. I differ from the hon. Member for North Louth. This strikes at the promise given to us that the whole of the proceedings of the Commissioners in all their details should be submitted to the judgment and criticism of the House of Commons. We have that promised most clearly in the wording of the Act 1444 and in the promises of Ministers. The proceedings of the Commissioners are not those of a judicial body in the sense that they are withdrawn from the consideration of this House.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
There is no difference between the hon. Member for Mayo and myself. I think we have a right to object to the hon. and learned Member opposite discussing a particular matter which is really intended to prejudice the tenants' side of the question in the Arnott Estate case.
§ MR. ATKINSON
It is quite true that the Commissioners are not wholly in the position of Judges. It is quite true that some of them are under the control of the Executive and some of them guided by the regulations but, at the time they are judicial in this sense, that they have to decide certain applications that come before them upon facts that come before them, and while they are deciding these applications, I submit that they are in the same position as any other judicial authority, and that you should not discuss the matter of that application.
If the Commissioners are acting under the responsibility of the Executive, of course their actions can be discussed. If the case is sub judice, of course it cannot be discussed.
§ MR. DILLON
But what is the meaning of sub judice? I cannot allow it to pass without protesting against the assumption of the Attorney-General that the action of the Commissioners is withdrawn from the discussion of the House of Commons.
§ MR. BLAKE (Longford, S)
I venture to hope that the hon. Member opposite will not carry this further. I think the point is important, and it requires serious consideration before a conclusion is reached.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE
said he would not state anything that was to the prejudice of the case. What he was about to bring to the notice of the Committee was a certain statement made in regard to this estate that the Commissioners had acted in a particular way. If the statement were true, he thought it was a case in which the Executive should exercise their control. In deference to the hon. Member ho did not put it further than that.
He came now to the question of the constabulary. He thought that the feeling in the force, so far as he could see, was greatly improved during the last couple of mouths. The constables had more confidence that they would be protected—a confidence which unfortunately previous to this they had largely lost. From all he could find out—and he had been talking to some of them—he believed a great deal had been done in the way of strengthening the esprit de corps between the officers and men, and the belief was now much more general than it was formerly that they would be protected in the discharge of their duty. He saw the other day at Limerick an application was made in thematter of some maliciousincendiarism, and the application was tried before County Court Judge Adams. Judge Adams they all knew, and he did not suggest that he had any prejudices or sympathies. If he had, hon. Members opposite would agree that they rather lay with the Nationalist Members. A police sergeant went before the Judge and stated that he believed the application was a bogus one. If the Judge had acted on that evidence there would not be another word to say, but the Judge said he had no doubt malice had been proved and injury had taken place, but he held there was not a tittle of evidence to support the constable's statement. That was an extraordinary thing to happen, coming as the statement did from a constable who was supposed to know the district. It was a matter that should be investigated, and if any investigation had taken place he should be very glad to know the result. The Chief Secretary had behind him the fullest approval of those who wished to see the law enforced, particularly in regard to public meetings 1446 in those districts in the West of Ireland where unfortunately intimidation prevailed. He did not wish to see the right of public meeting prevented, but it had been properly prevented where, in the judgment of those responsible for the peace of the country, it would lead to a breach of the peace. He had no doubt that a great many of the constituents of Members opposite who wanted security for themselves would also support the Chief Secretary in this matter. It was also satisfactory to find district inspectors and county inspectors and the force generally were not intimidated by the fact that a gentleman, knowing what he was about, had committed a breach of the law, from doing their duty. So long as that course was pursued, the right hon. Gentleman would have the support of the Members from Ireland who sat on those benches.
There was a case also where local justices refused to attest a recruit for service in the Army. The men who did that were not fit to hold the commission of the peace. It was clearly a matter which ought to receive the attention of the Chief Secretary. There were also cases in which justices were very apt to act, and especially ex-officio justices, in defiance of evidence. He knew it was a delicate subject to touch, but there were cases which were too plain. He referred to one case where the defendant admitted he committed the offence, and yet the magistrates ordered his acquittal. There was a case at Westport. A Bible-reader met a Roman Catholic clergyman and assaulted him, as he admitted. The case came before the magistrates, three in number. They unanimously acquitted the prisoner, although he said he assaulted the man and would do so again. That carried the law into contempt. He noticed in the same week a priest was assaulted in the street in Belfast, the defendant holding a Bible close to the priest's nose, saying he was in need of it. Although he had not laid a hand upon the priest he was fined 40s. or a month's imprisonment with hard labour. This showed that the law was administered in one way at Westport and in another way at Belfast. Where there was open disregard of evidence in law the Lord-Chancellor should take action and remove these gentlemen from the administration 1447 of justice. After all, the administration of local justice went to the security and contentment of Ireland.
He and his friends heartily approved of the new policy that had been carried out during the past six weeks. The first consideration for the country was the observance and enforcement of the law of the land. If that was successfully asserted, he had no doubt the Chief Secretary would carry out to the full the policy which, up to the present, they had earnestly hoped the right hon. Gentleman would develop—namely, the industrial side. Last night, so far as the Bann was concerned, they had had an offer from the right hon. Gentleman to reorganise the whole drainage system of Ireland. He did not say that that was very much, but, at any rate, if the Nationalists insisted in paralysing the executive officers of the Crown by acting in defiance of the forces of law and order in the country, it was obvious that they were delaying the industrial development of Ireland. The hon. Member for Mayo had been good enough to give him notice that he intended to attack him in regard to what he had said about Sir Antony MacDonnell. What he said and what he still said about the Under-Secretary's position in regard to the unhappy Anderson case was this,—parenthetically he might say that he did not think it was very useful to the Under-Secretary that this case should be so constantly dragged in. He maintained that every thing which he had said was absolutely true.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE
said he also desired that. What he had stated was that the Under-Secretary was directly responsible for the dismissal of Constable Anderson on the identical evidence on which that man was afterwards reinstated. Of course, he was aware that the Chief Secretary was, in constitutional law, responsible for the acts of his subordinate; but in dealing with that charge he was dealing with actual responsibility. On June 26th the late Chief Secretary the Member for Dover said that he was first cognisant of the matter in the 1448 month of February; and that was supplemented afterwards by saying that he had never heard a word about the case until February. Whatever that right hon. Gentleman's responsibility might be it was limited till after February. Who, then, did deal with Constable Anderson? It was the Under-Secretary and the Inspector-General. What were the facts? This man was dismissed in December. On January 2nd a letter was written by his solicitor enclosing a medical certificate which was received in Dublin Castle on January 3rd. It was I this medical certificate which induced the right hon. Member for Dover to reinstate Anderson. According to the statement of the right hon. Member for Dover the police records of Anderson were for seventeen and a-half years perfectly clear.
§ MR. DILLON
said he did not dispute that the late Chief Secretary said that Anderson's record was perfectly clear; but he knew that it was not.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE
said he thought that was hardly a generous way of dealing with this matter. The late Chief Secretary said that the man's record was perfectly clear, and he reinstated him on the medical certificate after consultation with the law fficers of the Crown, who revised the case, and who advised him that on the evidence the man should not have been convicted. Why did not the Under-Secretary consult the law officers? Up to the dismissal of Anderson the Under-Secretary could only have communicated with the Rev. Mr. O'Hara. What communications passed between the Rev. Mr. O'Hara and the Under-Secretary? He was privately informed that in spite of this man's record every effort was made to rake up scandals against him until January 23rd, when it was stated that the medical certificate on which the whole case turned had no bearing on it and that the dismissal accordingly stood. That letter was drafted by the Inspector-General and submitted for approval to Sir Antony MacDonnell. That proved the whole case to the hilt. He himself felt so much approval of the change which had taken place in affairs in Ireland that he regretted he was not able 1449 to vote for the salary of the Chief Secretary. If it were only a personal matter he would vote with a heart and a-half, but voting would involve an expression of confidence in the Irish Administration, all the members of which were not responsible to this House. The Lord-Lieutenant was a most generous and lavish entertainer, but they had no confidence in his political opinion. Then there was Sir Horace Plunkett, and he did not know what the present opinion of Sir Horace Plunkett might be, but at one time he was in open sympathy with the Lord-Lieutenant and Lord Dunraven. Further, the Under-Secretary was the actual draftsman of the devolution scheme. All these excellent officials were opposed to Unionist policy. In these circumstances, it would be impossible for Ulster Unionist Members to vote for the Chief Secretary's salary.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said in days long gone by he once heard Mr. Disraeli remind the Members sitting behind him that this country was not governed by logic. He thought the Chief Secretary for Ireland, after listening to the hon. and learned Member for North Antrim, would be inclined to believe in that statement; for, that he should be deprived of his salary because of certain views of Lord Dudley, whose salary was not involved, Sir Horace Plunkett, whose salary was not involved, and Sir Antony MacDonnell, whose salary was not involved, was certainly one of the most illogical things ever submitted to the House of Commons. Truly, the official Unionists of Ulster were fearfully and wonderfully made, and had their own ideas of logic, no doubt. He agreed in one thing, and that only, with the hon. Member. He said that a great change had come over Irish policy. It was true. He noticed, however, that the hon. and learned Member never suggested any change until the Land Act was passed, and he got thirty-one years purchase for land he had offered for twenty before it was passed.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE
The hon. Member has told the story so often that he believes it, but it is not the case. He has been misinformed.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I have the hon. Member's letters. I say we never heard a whisper of new policy until the Irish landlords, the hon. and learned Member included, got their purses well lined. They spoke out when the new policy involved justice to other parties.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE
I defy him to produce the letters. I am prepared to go into the whole history of my estate; every tenant was satisfied and I have forty-two.
If a charge is made against an hon. Member which he repudiates it is usual to accept his statement.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said he withdrew his statement so far as the thirty-one years was concerned. If the hon. Member had any refuge behind that he might take it. His case was this, and it included every Irish landlord who was now to the front of this new policy, they never complained of the old policy until the Land Act was passed which filled their pockets out of the funds of this country. It recalled the time when Lord Cornwallis wrote to the Duke of Portland with regard to the negotiations for the Act of Union—You cannot believe how I loathe the men with whom I have to treat, and how I should like to kick them.The leopard had not changed his spots. The hon. Member made a side attack on the Estates Commissioners. He did not take a reasonable view of their explanation or what would be their explanation. He said the general public distrusted the Estates Commissioners, and that practically no land had been sold to them as the Act authorised and provided.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
Why did the landlords prefer to sell direct to the tenant? There were great inducements given for sales to the Commissioners. A great deal of the expense was borne by the Commissioners. Why did not the landlords deal with them. They knew the Commissioners inquired into the value of land before they purchased. They knew they would not get the price out of the Commissioners which they could wring out of the tenants. That was the reason why the landlords had set aside that portion of the Act.
The hon. and learned Member, in his long speech, had gone over a large number of items. Let him say this to the House. He had been a Member for twenty years. He had heard debates on the Chief Secretary's salary which were debates indeed. He had lived through times of outrage and crime in Ireland, and intimidation that could be called such. But what was the case now? Contrast past times to this. Contrast the debates of old and horrors of old with what they had heard that day. Was it not ludicrous? The Judges were going through Ireland receiving white gloves, and declaring the country practically crimeless. There was one spot in which it was alleged there had been intimidation. The whole of the country except that spot was perfectly peaceable and perfectly quiet. What did this reorganisation of the Unionist forces in Ireland mean? There was a perfectly plain and clear meaning to everyone who chose to go beneath the surface. He was a somewhat old electioneerer. He had been in a good many battles and he could tell the House what it all meant. He would tell the House what this conspiracy to libel a country which was perfectly crimeless and clear from outrage meant. Those Gentlemen were politically played out and they knew it. When they were down in their luck electorally they tried Home Rule. They raised the Home Rule bogey. That was the way to frighten Englishmen. They did not care about other things. They had broken their pledges—they were played out, and being so they raised the Home Rule bogey. "Let us," they said, "take that through England. Let us send the Member for North Antrim 1452 through England with the Anderson case or with the Ballinasloe doctor's case." He had been more through England than ever the hon. Member had. He had fought a good many more battles than he had fought or ever would fight. The English people would not be deceived by him now as they were in 1886. They would not be deceived by these bogus charges—by this new election conspiracy which had been got up for political purposes. It was a scandal that a country should be libelled and defamed by newspapers and politicians without the slightest cause.
Now he rose for the purpose of asking two Questions of the Chief Secretary. He wanted to put down cases to him very explicitly, and he asked for a plain answer. The Chief Secretary had been at Dublin, and he (Mr. Russell) had noticed the company that surrounded him—landlords and agents and men connected with Irish land. That was the company he had got into. It was the beginning of the Chief Secretary's term of office, and he had no right to give him advice. He had known him for a long time and he wished to say frankly that he had no desire to obstruct him in his work, and he had no sympathy with bigotry and outrage. He had voted against these things all his life and he was as bitterly hostile to them to-day as ever he was. From him the Chief Secretary would find no difficulties in these matters. He himself admitted that, as administrator of the law in Ireland, the Chief Secretary was bound by the law. He, however, wanted to be frank and fair with the other side. The Chief Secretary would admit, he thought, that it was of the utmost importance that at this juncture in Irish affairs he should strive to steer an even keel.
The first Question he desired to ask the right hon. Gentleman was a Question regarding the action of the Executive in reference to the alteration of the Commissioners findings in regard to Section 5 of the Land Act. If the House would permit him for a few moments he would like to make the case clear. When the Land Act was debated in Committee in 1903, a clause stood which placed all rents of 1453 whatever kind under the zones. Three nights were spent in the House endeavouring to alter the zones. They failed to alter them. But the Chief Secretary on the third night made a great concession. He declined to alter the zones, but on an Amendment of his (Mr. Russell's) he agreed to strike out from the zones all the non-judicial tenants. Their case was that these non-judicial tenants who had never had rents fixed ought not to come under the zones because their rents were too high, and that they ought not to be treated on the same plane as judicial tenants. The Chief Secretary gave way on that, and he exempted from the zones all non-judicial tenants and promised to treat them in a different way. What took place was this: a new clause was brought up and that clause now stood as Section 5 of the Act. The Estates Commissioners in their Report gave a fair rendering of that clause. The inspectors went to work on that clause, but they had not been long at work when the Executive interfered. His first point was what right had the Executive Government to interfere in a matter like this. The Act stated that all questions of law were to be referred to a Judge, who was appointed for that purpose. Yet the Executive on their own Motion, after these instructions had been in operation for some time, absolutely reversed the instructions and told the Commissioners that the equities of the tenants were not to be taken into account, but that all that was to be considered was what was the fair value so far as the incumbrancer and remainderman were concerned. Was there ever a more monstrous interference? But half of this had not been disclosed, because the Commissioners in this Report said that there was one set of instructions issued in which the equities of the tenants were to be taken into account. But the Executive reversed that, and the question of law thus raised as to the meaning of "equitable" under Section 5 had been referred to the Judicial Commissioner under Section 23 of the Act. Did anyone ever hear the like of that? Why did they not refer it to the Judicial Commissioner at once? Why did they presume to alter what was considered to be the law, and after they had made the alterations, if they were not sure about 1454 them, why did they agree to send the matter to the Judicial Commissioner, why did the Executive step into the shoes of the Land Judge? He thought that of all methods of doing business this was the funniest he had ever heard. What did it all mean? It meant, and the sooner the House of Commons knew it the batter, that they might pass whatever Act of Parliament they liked for Ireland, but the moment the Act went across to Dublin and into the hands of the law officers of the Crown and the Executive generally, that moment it was twisted and perverted in favour of a class. That was the position in which the right hon. Gentleman would find himself before he was much older. The right hon. Gentleman was bound to tell the House how, in face of the concessions the right hon. Member for Dover made in 1903, these non-judicial tenants came to be treated in this way.
Let the House understand what had been done. He took one case of the 70,000 future tenants of Ireland. The estate was being sold. The man's holding was not a judicial rent; therefore it could not come under the Zones. The Estates Commissioners sent down an inspector. Under the first rule the inspector would have been entitled to report whether the price agreed upon between the tenant and landlord was a fair price or not. But under the new rule, what he was told in his instructions was to value the farm as it stood—landlords property and tenants' property—and if the; two combined were security for the advance, then that was all that was wanted, and he had no right to enter into the question whether the price was a fair one or not. Did the Attorney-General; dispute that advances had not bean made under the old Acts because the security was not sufficient?
§ MR. ATKINSON
said there was not a line to that effect in any Act of Parliament. The security given was the property of the landlord and tenant combined.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman any right to say that to me? I appeal to the Chair.
§ MR. ATKINSON
I mean that it is unfounded; not that the hon. Member made a deliberately false statement.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said the right hon. and learned Gentleman had better say what he meant, and not bandy words like these across the floor of the House. What happened on these holdings? The inspectors simply found out whether the property of the tenant and the landlord was security for the advance, and that was taking all the equities into account. The tenant might, and very frequently would be, buying his own improvements. The old Act prevented that, because the Commissioners would not advance the money. These 70,000 future tenants were tied up: they could not get their rents fixed; if they purchased they would be at the mercy of the landlords; and the Executive by a mere act of its own stopped the inspector from reporting on the equity of the bargains, and then referred them to the Judicial Commissioner for decision as to whether they were right or wrong. That was the way Ireland was governed! These were the only people fit to govern the country! Who authorised these instructions? In reply to the Question whether the law officers of the Crown had given any advice to the Estates Commissioners on the administration of the Act, the reply was given the other day to this effect: "No; the law officers advise the Lord-Lieutenant." Of course they did, and the Lord-Lieutenant acted on their advice. Was that so?
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
asked whether it was fair or reasonable that the right hon. Gentleman should deny that he had ever advised the Estates Commissioners when what he did was to advise the Lord-Lieutenant, 1456 who acted on his advice and directed the Estates Commissioners—
§ MR. ATKINSON (interrupting)
was understood to say that he had never given any advice. When he was asked a Question he had to reply. He could not state what advice he had given the Chief Secretary or the Lord-Lieutenant. The Estates Commissioners were not to take any law from him at all, and he had always disclaimed any attempt in that direction.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
asked whether anyone could say how the alteration had been made, and by whose authority? The Chief Secretary said it was done by order of the Executive. The Executive was Lord Dudley. Did Lord Dudley give these instructions off his own bat or on his own idea? Was that governing Ireland according to Irish ideas? No! they all knew how these things were done. The Executive acted on the advice of the law officers. Lord Dudley gave these instructions on the advice of the law officers, and they ought to state to the Committee what their grounds were for giving that advice. The Attorney-General had said that he had nothing to do with the intentions of Parliament: he had only to deal with the Act of Parliament as it stood. That was so, but the right hon. and learned Gentlemen knew what the intentions of Parliament were, and if the section did not carry out those intentions it was the fault of the Attorney-General. He was not paid £5,000 a year for doing nothing. It was part of his duty to see that Bills in their passage through Parliament carried out the intentions of their promoters.
There was only one other question with which he intended to deal. He desired to call in question the action of the Crown Solicitor of the county of Tyrone and the Solicitor-General for Ireland in appearing in Court in a case in which the Judge pronounced his decision that the man was guilty of conspiring to boycott. He did not doubt that it would be said that that was a civil case, and that that fact differentiated it from a case of criminal conspiracy. That was a lawyer's subterfuge which he could not appreciate. Was 1457 not the "Tallow" case a civil action? That was one of the worst cases of boycotting which ever took place in Ireland. What would have been thought if the Crown Solicitor of Waterford and the Solicitor-General had gone down and taken briefs for the leading boycotter in the Tallow case? What had made the Tyrone case a civil case? There was no doubt about the facts.
§ MR. GORDON (Londonderry, S.)
asked whether, having regard to the Answer given by the Chief Secretary that there was an appeal pending in the Tyrone case, it would be in order to discuss the matter?
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL (continuing),
said he did not propose in the remotest degree to touch the question itself. He was dealing with the question of the law officers of the Crown taking up such a case with a view to preventing their appearing in it should there be an appeal.
§ MR. GORDON
said that as he understood the case the question was whether there was a conspiracy to boycott, and the hon. Member wished to raise the point whether the Solicitor-General should appear in that case, when the question was still pending as to whether or not a man was liable for damages for criminal conspiracy.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
thought the hon. Gentleman entirely misapprehended his object. He dismissed altogether the case as far as its merits were concerned. His point was that it was unseemly for Government officials to stand up to defend a man whom the Judge had pronounced guilty of boycotting.
The matter is out of order on this Vote, as there is no mention in it of the law officers of the Crown.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said he had got out all he desired. He had managed to call attention to what he ventured to call the 1458 scandal of the law officers of the Crown standing up to defend a boycotter in the North of Ireland. With what face could the Government denounce boycotting in the West of Ireland now when their own Ministers stood in Court to defend it? Did they think that people would believe in their sincerity? Not a bit of it. They would believe as mach in their sincerity in this case as they would in their new cry of Home Rule, which they were dragging as a red herring across other electoral issues. He had said enough to convince the public that a grave dereliction of duty had taken place and that the Executive should interfere to prevent its occurring again.
He would tell the Chief Secretary frankly that he was beginning a very perilous march. He could see what was going on in Ireland as well as most people. He had been long familiar with every part of that country and he knew many people on both sides of politics. He would tell the House of Commons perfectly frankly that they would not ultimately succeed in keeping the two-sections of the Irish people apart. That was the basis of the whole policy of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Anything that would bring Catholics and Protestants together was anathema maranatha to them. Their two objects were to keep the Irish people at each other's throats and to get place and pension for themselves. That was their idea of politics. He regretted the new policy mainly for one reason. For four years there had been something like daylight in Ireland. They had had a gradual appeasement. He had noticed it in Ulster. There he had seen sights that had never been seen for over forty or fifty years—thousands of Catholics and Protestants marching to the same polling booth to vote for the same man. He had seen it in Orange Fermanagh, in Antrim, in East Down, and they would see it all over Ulster at the general election. That was the cause of all the trouble. The idea that Irishmen had a common country, common interests, and that it did not so much matter where men worshipped or at what shrine they knelt so that they united for the good of their common country was making its way all through the country, 1459 and the new policy was designed to thwart it and stamp it out. Members opposite knew that the moment the Irish people united, their rule must cease. They had got the Chief Secretary by the two shoulders and were endeavouring to make him stand firm as a kind of bogeyman. He hoped they would not succeed. If he was spared in health and strength he would do one man's part in preventing them succeeding. He thought it was a scandal that after four years of peace and light, the dark cloud should again drop over the face of the country, owing to the action of half-a-dozen men who did not represent Ulster and who could not get fifty men to their meetings when they held them. That was the imposture the Press was carrying out. The Unionist Press was almost as bad as the Unionist Members. It was a catastrophe for Ireland that such a thing should be allowed, but he hoped there were some Members from Ireland on the benches opposite who would see what was at the bottom of the whole business, and would refuse to bow at the bidding of hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG (Antrim, S.)
said he was sure they were all much obliged to the hon. Member for his very statesmanlike and moderate speech.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
You had better wait to hear it before you express an opinion. Continuing, he said the hon. Member had held up a picture of thousands of Catholics and Protestants marching to the polls together. He did not say whether they would do so in his own constituency of South Tyrone.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said time would show. The circumstances of the hon. Member's constituency were peculiar. There were a little over 6,000 voters there, of whom 3,000 were Nationalists and a little over 3,000 were Unionists. At the last election Mr. Russell got in by the votes of 3,200 Unionists.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said at the next election the hon. Member hoped to get in by the half of the three thousand majority.
Order, order! These are personal matters. I ought, perhaps, to have stopped the hon. Member for South Tyrone. They have nothing to do with the Chief Secretary's Vote.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said of course he bowed to the Chair, but it was rather hard to hear oneself attacked in a most personal manner.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
Yes, you did, in a most personal and almost insulting manner. Continuing, ho said if he was not permitted to reply he would confine himself to some remarks which the hon. Member made with respect to the Party to which he once belonged, but from which, he was glad to say, he had now parted. He wished Members on the opposite side of the House joy of their new acquisition, and he could assure the hon. Member for South Tyrone that the attacks he made upon the Irish Unionist Members, so far from doing them harm, would do them good in their constituencies. In one of his most violent attacks the hon. Member for South Tyrone pointed the finger of scorn and said, "That is the Unionist policy in Ireland." They had been trying to pin him to a definite statement that he had left the Unionist Party. For some time he found it very difficult to vacate his seat on the Unionist side of the House. They were glad he had done so, and that he had now declared himself in such a way that they would know how to deal with him when the election came. He had accused Unionists of a change of policy.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I said that I agreed with the hon. and learned Member for North Antrim that there had been 1461 a change of policy. I did not accuse him of it.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said the hon. Member stated that their policy had been changed because some of them who were landlords had had their pockets lined under the Land Act. He thought the hon. Member for South Tyrone was the last man in the world who ought to throw out a taunt to anybody of having changed their policy, because he had changed his own no less than six times. Probably the hon. Member began to change his policy before he (Mr. Craig) was born.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said he had tried to avoid personal matters, but the remarks of the hon. Member for South Tyrone had been directed solely against himself. He said that the Irish Unionists as a Party were played out politically, and that was a personal remark. He ventured to predict that the political career of the hon. Member for South Tyrone would end within the next two years.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said he was sorry to say that if he was stopped upon this subject he had very little more to say, because having addressed the House at very great length on the previous day he did not intend to inflict another speech on the House that day. The personal remarks, however, of the hon. Member opposite had drawn him to his feet, although by the ruling which had just been given his remarks would be considerably curtailed.
The hon. and learned Member for Waterford had proved, no doubt to his own satisfaction, that Ireland was in a perfectly peaceful condition and that there was no more necessity for the application of force than there 1462 had been during the last two years. Dealing with the county of Galway the Member for Waterford instanced two cases out of many which had been reported to show that the complaint made that the county was in a disturbed condition was bogey. He was glad to hear that the attack in one of those two cases had proved to be much less serious than was at first reported, but was the hon. and learned Member opposite prepared to say to the House that in the case of Patrick Costello there had not been very serious intimidation. This was one of the first cases in which this new form of intimidation, namely, the pulling down of walls around the farms and rendering them useless as grazing farms, had been committed. In this case over 600 yards of solid stone wall were pulled down in one night. When it was remembered that this was a grazing farm it would at once be seen that this conduct was one of the must ruthless forms of intimidation that could be indulged in. Costello then put up 600 yards of wire fencing, but three days later that was demolished, and then, to add injury to injury, Costello was summoned five times because his cattle had strayed on to neighbours' lands. It was a most horrible system of intimidation. Then there was the case of a man named Dooley. He had the lease of a farm which he wanted to buy. But the United Irish League, who up to the advent of the present Chief Secretary were the absolute lawgivers in the district, wanted this farm to split up amongst the small holders round about, and on 8th April the walls surrounding that man's farm were pulled down. Could it be contended that a county in which such things went on was in a peaceful condition? It had been stated that the policy of the Act of 1903 was that large grazing farms should be divided amongst small holders. There was no doubt that was one object of the Act, but did Members opposite uphold the methods used by the people in Galway to carry out that policy. Did the Act say that if a grazier refused to sell his farm it was legal or justifiable to put such pressure upon him as to make it impossible for him to live in the country? Every Unionist, nay, every fair-minded man in Ireland, and the Nationalist 1463 Members also, if they believed his statement of the state of affairs existing there, must think that it was a perfectly disastrous state of things that the law should have been allowed to be set aside and that an evil policy of that sort should have gone unchecked for the time it had. He was glad to say that since the present Chief Secretary had been in office there was every appearance that that policy would be checked. An hon. Member the other day accused him and his colleagues of glorying in the coercion of his fellow-countrymen. To-day he might tell him, as he told him then, that that was absolutely false, but that if it was necessary and if the state of affairs which existed continued or grew worse, then it was the duty of the Chief Secretary to do everything he could, and if necessary to put the Crimes Act into force.
§ MR. HAVILAND BURKE (King's County, Tullamore)
said the only fact he regretted in connection with the speeches of the hon. and learned Member for North Antrim and his colleague who had just sat down, was that every English, Scotch, and Welsh Member of the House was not present to listen to them. He believed that if a few thousand ordinary level-headed Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Welshmen were doomed to hear Orangemen talk for an hour once a week for twelve months the Irish question would be solved, and Home Rule secured at the end of that period. On this occasion, and on the occasion of the debate on the Address, the hon. and learned Member for North Antrim, with terrific solemnity, rose to indict a nation and to impeach the Government on the score of its suspected toleration of the majority of the nation in question. What did his speech on the Address, and even his speech that afternoon, amount to? One would have thought that after all his "sound and fury signifying nothing" he had some dark and fearful secret in the background, some real iniquity to reveal, some plot to unravel; but his grievance on the last occasion amounted to a twopenny-halfpenny complaint as to the action of a rate collector under a Nationalist county council, and to-day they had the Constable Anderson case. Constable Anderson occupied in the mind of the 1464 hon. and learned Member for North Antrim the same place that King Charles's head occupied in the mind of Mr. Dick when drafting his famous memorial. He was an absolute maniac on the subject of Catholicism and Catholics, and his judgment on any matter where the anti-Catholic question could by any possibility be brought in absolutely precluded him from presenting a reasoned argument or drawing a reasonable conclusion. He challenged the hon. and learned Member for North Antrim to say whether what he had done that afternoon—and he was possibly a future resident magistrate or County Court Judge—
§ MR. DILLON
said his hon. friend was perfectly in order. He was entitled to reply to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for North Antrim, and his personal remarks arose out of that speech.
What I heard was that the hon. Member was said to be looking forward to being made a resident magistrate or a County Court Judge.
§ MR. HAVILAND BURKE
said he was about to say, when called to order, that the hon. Member for North Antrim rebuked the Nationalist Members for undermining the foundations of society in Ireland, though he himself, possibly a future administrator of justice in Ireland, came down there that afternoon and made a deliberate attempt to ruin the professional career and future of a head constable in Limerick, who had the courage to stand up in Court and say that the outrage of the incendiary fire had been the work of some malicious tramp and not the result of any agrarian agitation in the district. This was the respect for law and order which they were invited to copy. The hon. and learned Gentleman came there deliberately to make a public appeal to the Chief Secretary to black-mark a head constable in Limerick because he had the manhood and the courage to say 1465 that an incendiary fire was not a malicious or an agrarian outrage, but the action of a tramp who was revengeful on account of not getting relief.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE
said the constable did not say it was an accident. He said that the man had done it himself. The Judge said he did not believe the constable, and that was his reason for mentioning the matter.
§ MR. HAVILAND BURKE
said if the hon. Member insisted that the oath of a head constable in Ireland was not to be believed he would close with the bargain and accept the statement. The whole gist of the hon. Member's complaint was that the head constable swore in Court that the National League had nothing whatever to do with it. If that was not intimidation, he did not know what intimidation was. Another small complaint of the hon. Member was in regard to a Bible-reader who got into conflict with the local priest. The priest admitted that he lost his temper, and that he struck or hustled the Bible reader. Speaking as a Protestant, he said that anybody who knew at all about Ireland knew perfectly well that the visits of these so-called Bible-readers were neither welcome nor wanted by more than one out of every 500 Protestant curates or rectors in the West of Ireland, [An HON. MEMBER: That's no reason for assault.] The question of assault was a dangerous one to raise, because the trivial assaults made on Irish Church Society Mission men, the presumptuous youths who called themselves Bible-readers and went about the South and West of Ireland, were insignificant when compared with those committed on the Salvation Army in an old cathedral town, or by mobs in places in England.
He sincerely regretted that the Chief Secretary should have allowed himself, the moment he crossed the water, to be "collared" by the Orange gang in Ireland. He repudiated the right of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Antrim to speak for the mass of the Protestants of Ireland. There were tens of thousands of Protestants in Ireland who would no more be seen in an Orange procession than in one of Dr. Bowie's tabernacles. 1466 The wretched Protestant versus Catholic question only flourished and provoked riot and bloodshed in those districts where Orangeism flourished. In King's County Protestants formed a strong and influential minority of the population and such a thing as the Protestant versus Catholic question did not exist in Tullamore. The Catholic and Protestant clergy were on the best of terms with one another, but if an Orange lodge were imported this good feeling would be at an end. They would have bogus outrages and bogus prosecutions. What were the Orangemen doing at the present moment? The hon. and learned Member for North Antrim talked about "my country," and yet he engaged in the ignoble work of defaming that country! He put it to Englishmen, Scotsmen, and Welshmen, no matter on which side of the House they sat, what would they think of a Member who went through the London weekly papers every Sunday, made an abstract of all the murders, incendiary fires, assaults on women and children, etc., and then put on the Notice Paper of the House Questions as to why the police were not taking more stringent measures to suppress these. Yet that was what the hon. Members opposite were doing assiduously; and they were aided in their work by a gang of journalistic scavengers in Ireland. What did these Unionist scavengers do in the different towns of the country? A rumour, perhaps, got afloat that a shot had been fired into a country house, and it was published with great head-lines in the Irish Times and the Daily Express. A few days afterwards it had to be confessed that it was all a mistake; that, at most. only a stone had been thrown. [MINISTERIAL ironical laughter.] Hon. Gentleman opposite railed, but everybody knew that if a lie got twenty-four hours start, it could never be caught up,.
§ MR. HAVILAND BURKE
said that he had never known a case in which hon. Members opposite, belonging to that particular group, had put a Question relating to an outrage in Ireland which 1467 was subsequently proved not to have happened—he had never heard one of them stand up and say that he was sorry he had put the Question.
As regarded the suppression of public meetings he thought it would be very interesting to have a Return of the number of public meetings which had been interfered with in England during the last fifty years. He was sure it would compare in a very startling way with the number of meetings which had been interfered with in Ireland within the last two years. He wanted to speak coolly and impartially to the Chief Secretary. The peculiar folly of proclaiming public meetings in Ireland was that it could do no good; it could only do harm. He had been at a good many proclaimed meetings, and never at one which they did not succeed in holding in the long run. He could not imagine any possible reason for proclaiming a meeting, even if it were intended to cause harm to or increase bitterness against some local man. By proclaiming the meeting it made the harm and the bitterness all the more certain. Surely the police, who were always in overwhelming force, and armed to the teeth, could prevent any outrageous attack on a particular man. To drag Members of Parliament about like common felons when they went to visit their constituents, and to inflict cruel injuries on unarmed people with baton and musket-butt, did not enhance the respect for the law. They heard a great deal about respect for the law; but he did not think the law in Ireland deserved to be respected. Repect for the law rested on the general moral sense of the community. There was respect for the law in England, because there was a widespread public belief that the men who administered the law did so without fear or favour, and without any thought as to whether their decisions would be acceptable or otherwise to a section of the community. In Ireland they had no such belief. The public sentiment was very much to the contrary.
He believed that the Chief Secretary had made his initial mistake by pandering to this little pushing, noisy, bullying Orange faction which was 1468 playing the same game to-day as they had done a hundred years ago. No better illustration of that bullying game could be found than the Question put on the Notice Paper by the hon. and learned Member for North Antrim, who complained of the fact that when Sir Antony MacDonnell, at the suggestion of the Congested Districts Board, visited Galway to arrange a local dispute, he was guilty of the infamy of calling on Mr. Higgins, the chairman of the local branch of the Land League, a man of considerable local importance, a magistrate, and one universally respected. The whole Orange virus was concentrated in that Question. Let the Committee observe the bullying audacity of the contention. This was what the Chief Secretary would have to guard himself against. The right hon. Gentleman would have to understand that the ascendency men were not Irishmen, any more than they were Scotsmen or Welshmen. They had arrogated to themselves the title of the garrison in Ireland; and their only grievance, at the present moment, was that they had only 80 per cent. or 90 per cent. of the rich places in the administration of the country. Their only objection to Sir Antony MacDonnell was that he was a Catholic, and was suspected of Nationalist tendencies. That was the casus belli. It commenced when Mr. Gill was appointed secretary to the Board of Agriculture. Then the Dublin Unionists were prepared to tear the Union Jack into tatters in order to punish Sir Horace Plunkett for appointing Mr. Gill, who, after being a member of the Irish Party, had not donned the penitential sheet and lit the penitential candle. The whole matter was that latterly Catholics and Nationalists were to a small extent having a part in the administration of Ireland. That was the frightful grievance which the Orangemen brought before Parliament. The Chief Secretary was on the wrong tack. He could not satisfy an appetite that was insatiable; and the right hon. Gentleman could no more change the ascendency man from what he was a hundred years ago than he could change wrong into right. He was still thinking of the gallant days when he lived on the fat of the land; and when the Catholic was only a hewer of wood and drawer of 1469 water. His beau ideal would be the revival of the penal laws. He, himself, did not impute conscious inaccuracy as regarded hon. Gentlemen opposite; but he believed their dominant feeling was that Ireland should be governed apart from the opinion of the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of that country. A very superficial examination of the history of Ireland would teach the Chief Secretary that to throw himself into the arms of the Orange gang would mean ruin to any political reputation to which he might aspire.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)
said they could afford to take compliments of the kind paid them by the hon. Member who had just spoken when they remembered that they represented 1,250,000 of the people of Ireland; and not the least respectable and loyal of those people. They had been taunted with living in an atmosphere of unjust and unfair suspicion. Ulster Members and the Press were so spoken of by the Prime Minister. They had indeed been living more or less during these past years in an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust, but he denied it had been either unfair or unjust. Recent events had proved up to the hilt the need of that suspicion and that vigilance on the part of the Ulster Members. The representatives of Ulster had always been the most loyal supporters of the Unionist cause. It would be strange indeed if that were not so, because the Unionist cause meant to them not a mere item in a political programme, but a question absolutely vital to them and the constituencies they represented. In the feeling of mistrust and suspicion they had not been alone in the House, and they had also been backed, he was thankful and grateful to say, by a very large section of the Unionist Peers in England. He believed the Prime Minister did not make a practice of reading the newspapers. If he had read the newspapers he would have been surprised by the warning of journals, usually his hearty and enthusiastic supporters. He would take the opportunity of thanking the Press and his Unionist colleagues in the House for the support received in bringing home the reasons for this suspicion and distrust. Ulster Members might be few in numbers, 1470 but they represented the province which was the very corner-stone upon which the Unionist Party was built, and their influence had been recognised by all who realised their true position in the Unionist Party. He had spoken of suspicion and distrust, but he was very glad to be able to say—and he thought he spoke on behalf of a great many of his colleagues from Ulster—that that suspicion and distrust had been so far removed that they felt they were in a position to vote against the Amendment, and to vote with the Government for the first time for some time past on questions affecting Ireland, [A NATIONALIST: 'Moore did not.'] He was speaking for himself and possibly for some others.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT
said they would see when the division took place. He was undivided in his allegiance to the Chief Secretary for the splendid work he had done for Ireland, and in recruiting the Unionist Party since he took office. The Chief Secretary was not one of those who would indulge in idle dreams, like those entertained by the hon. Member for South Tyrone and those sitting by him, of an ideal Ireland which could never be. He was a strong man, determined to master his own Department, and to deal with facts as he found them, and he, while seeking to improve the material condition of the people of Ireland, would not allow any criminal conspiracy of any league or any Church to interfere with the carrying out of the law which it was his first duty to enforce. They believed he had the two great qualities most needed in Ireland, the most respected in Ireland in the end, the qualities of courage and sympathy. He heartily congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the beginning of his career as Chief Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman undertook the office with great courage and self-sacrifice, and he had great pleasure on behalf of his constituents in heartily supporting him.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
expressed his regret that the Chief Secretary had surrendered so easily and so quickly to the miserable forces of bigotry and reaction. The right hon. Gentleman had already shown that he had a 1471 blind confidence in the official gang and an absolute distrust of the people. Law and order were not imperilled even in Galway. Where was the contempt for law and the disregard for property? What justification had the right hon. Gentleman for delivering such lectures? Great political capital had been made out of a few disturbances in Galway. But one of the main purposes of the Purchase Act of 1903 was to divide the vast grazing lands amongst the people. All sections of the House were united in the hope that these unfortunate people would be placed upon the rich lands to work out their salvation under circumstances of comfort and possibly prosperity. There was no more cruel and tantalising state of affairs in any civilised country of the world than that which presented itself in Galway and Roscommon, where there were these vast grazing ranches on the one hand and people anxious and willing to work on the other, and yet an unnatural, anomalous, and deplorable condition of things kept the population and the land apart. Orderly meetings were held to demand that the law should be carried into effect; representations were sent to the Estates Commissioners to deal with the matter; but all the forces of so-called law and order were ingeniously worked against the people. Where was the wrong if they called upon the men who held the land, and practised neither violence nor outrage? Did hon. Members opposite believe that the House would have consented to the passage of the Act of 1903 if it had been thought that these people would have been excluded for ever from the arable lands of the country? Even the hon. Member for South Antrim would not deny that that was a laudable and praiseworthy object, good for the people and good for the common weal. The atrocious crime of these people was that they held meetings and petitioned the Estates Commissioners, and because they did not conduct their debates with the moderation of the hon. Gentlemen on the Front benches they were to be visited with the pains and penalties of the Coercion Act. Feelings of indignation could not be coped with by the importation of thousands of policemen.
The Chief Secretary was not to be commended for the manner in which 1472 he replied to Questions of hon. Members whose only object was to defame the character of their fellow-countrymen. The history of representative institutions afforded no precedent or parallel for a body of representatives being constantly engaged in defaming the character of the people of the country from which they came. It was reserved for hon. Members opposite to devote their energies to fouling their own nest. Attention had recently been called to the total of 205 agrarian outrages during the year, and the Chief Secretary, to keep hon. Members opposite in a good temper, gave the congenial Answer that the immunity from punishment was due to the fact that the people who were victimised were afraid to come forward. But 124 out of the 205 cases were only cases of intimidation, and of these the bulk were threatening letters and notices. Did anybody believe that the majority of those letters were not written or caused to be written by the people themselves? How could anything of that kind be proved to be a threatening letter. He had always believed, and he still believed, that it was quite within the power of an unscrupulous policeman, panting for promotion, to keep his finger on the valve of crime and outrage, make the register rise or fall, and to increase or decrease the number of threatening notices and letters and even the atrocious crime of cattle mutilation and outrage. Had the House forgotten the Sergeant Sheridan, the Constable Sullivan, and the Mulrooney cases? Were not Sergeant Sheridan's colleagues capable of doing the same thing to-day? Surely they were not going to accept these figures of 205 simply upon constabulary authority. The Chief Secretary accepted this statement without examination and analysis, and then proceeded to lecture the Irish people as a whole and the Irish Members without discretion or discrimination.
They had observed with what levity the right hon. Gentleman had treated the sacred right of public meeting and free speech. An hon. friend of his attended a public meeting in Ireland at which he was subjected to personal violence by the police and where he saw one of his colleagues attacked by the police. And what did the Chief Secretary bring 1473 forward in reply to a Question upon this subject? Simply the bare statement of those who were on their defence in this matter. But for the ruling of the Chair his hon. friend would have been denounced as guilty of falsehood, although he was speaking of what he saw, because he was looking on and saw the occurrence himself. The Chief Secretary, without investigation, was always ready to accept the statements of constables, and he waived aside the testimony of his hon. friend. That was not treating Members of the House of Commons with proper courtesy. He disputed the doctrine of the Chief Secretary that the police had a legal right on their own mere ipse dixit to prohibit a public meeting in Ireland. They knew how all this was worked. The right, hon. Gentleman said that the police had the power to stop a lawfully convened public meeting on their own responsibility. The Russian police at the present time claimed no more than that. When they saw the right hon. Gentleman addressing a meeting of his political friends in Dublin accompanied by all the forces of bigotry and ascendency in Ireland, and laying down all the old doctrines, the Irish people were apt to take such action as the prelude and forerunner of a course of coercion, and naturally their suspicions were aroused. He warned the right hon. Gentleman against taking a course of that kind. All they could do in the matter now was to remonstate. The right hon. Gentleman might consider it to be his duty to do what other Chief Secretaries had done, but his effotrs would end in failure in the same way as the same policy adopted by his predecessors had failed.
§ *MR. SLOAN (Belfast, S.)
twitted the Nationalists with having during the past three hours devoted themselves to personal recrimination instead of the discussion of Irish administration. The hon. Member for King's County had said that he spoke as a Protestant. He deprecated references to the religious beliefs of hon. Members, although he quite believed that if he were to cross the floor and declare that he was a converted Orangeman the Nationalist Members would not only accept him but even find a constituency for him in order to point out the great salvation there was within their fold. He protested against the 1474 unscrupulous attempts which were made to misrepresent the position of Ulster Members, and complained that the Nationalists in their criticisms did not give other people credit for the honesty they claimed for themselves. The hon. Member for King's County had referred to the treatment which the Salvation Army received from English mobs in a cathedral town. He could not help recalling that when in Dublin on one occasion he saw a little bit of Irish administration in regard to the Salvation Army. Walking along the street one evening he heard a great noise, and on going to the scene he found 300 or 400 people not disguising the fact that they were Nationalists. They were gathered around two or three Salvation Army lasses, and were cursing and swearing at them while there was breath in their bodies. On that occasion they were tolerated by the police, and in the interests of law and order it was found necessary to pat them on the shoulder and say, "Now boys, keep quiet." His idea of Irish administration would have been to lock them up, but he knew that would be repulsive to people whose tolerance in the case of Dr. Long of Limerick took the form of refusing a conveyance to drive him to a patient. Yet they found hon. Members representing Nationalist constituencies getting up, without blush or shame, and making certain charges against Members from the North of Ireland. These personal attacks were a waste of the time of the House.
His hon. and learned friend the Member for North Antrim had referred to the notorious case of Constable Anderson. He, himself, had been waiting with anxiety to hear a demand from the hon. Member for East Mayo for the public inquiry in regard to which he had put a Question on the Paper the other day. He did not object to the effort on the part of the hon. Member to enable the Rev. Mr. O'Hara to clear his position, but that should not be made at the expense of the character that had already been indicated, and it should not be made in order to bring further base insinuations against a man who had been tried once and acquitted, tried again and found guilty, and tried a third time, by the head of the Irish Administration 1475 and reinstated with full pay for the time he had been off. That man had had the misfortune, in the estimation of some, to pay attention to a girl who happened to be a Roman Catholic. He had been refreshing his memory regarding what passed in the House when the subject was debated, and he found that the late Chief Secretary did not attempt to justify Father O'Hara's action with regard to the whole of this transaction. He and his friends had no objection to an inquiry for they had nothing to fear. But he would ask hon. Members opposite whether it was their intention or desire that this woman, who had become the wife of Constable Anderson, should go through this unpleasant ordeal again. Her character had been vindicated beyond dispute, and was she to be held up to the public gaze for the gratification of one man. He regretted that the case had been brought up again, and he thought hon. Gentlemen opposite should have some consideration for the feelings of people who had been in a position less fortunate than themselves.
§ And, it being half past Seven of the Clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ The Clerk at the Table informed the House of the unavoidable absence of the Chairman of Ways and Means from the remainder of this day's Sittings.
§ Whereupon Mr. JEFFREYS, the Deputy-Chairman, took the Chair as Deputy-Speaker, pursuant to the Standing Order.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again this evening.