§ Postponed Proceeding on Amendment to Question, "That the Bill be now read a second time," resumed—
§ Question again proposed, "That the word ' now ' stand part of the Question."
§ *MR. ASHLEY (Lancashire, Blackpool)
said that the principal reason for our taking part in the Algeciras Conference was to safeguard our Imperial interests and to further British trade in Morocco. That was perfectly justified when we considered that Great Britain supplied more than half of the imports, that we took more than 1436 a quarter of the exports and that more than one-third of the tonnage visiting the ports of Morocco flew the Union Jack. He thought anyone who had travelled in Morocco must acknowledge that there were in connection with agriculture and other branches of industry great possibilities. The country was perhaps the most fruitful in the whole of Africa. He congratulated the House upon the fact that our Government before the Conference at Algeciras came to an end, induced the delegates to make communications to the Sultan of Morocco on the subject of slavery. In reply to a question on July 10th last, the Secretary of State informed him that he had received information that the Sultan had given orders that children born free should not be sold in slavery. 1437 That was a step in advance. If this country could interfere, as it did in the case of Turkey, with respect to affairs in Macedonia, he thought we might, as far as we possibly could without coming into conflict with other Powers, press the Sultan of Morocco to put a stop as soon as possible to the public sale of slaves in his dominions. He did not know whether many Members of this House had seen slaves in the flesh or seen a public sale of them. Some years ago when travelling in Morocco, he went down a narrow lane in Morocco City and came, upon an open courtyard, round which there were seated a number of Moors in their white dresses. He questioned his guide as to what was going on, and the guide confessed that it was the slave market, a place which as a rule Europeans were not allowed to see. It was a very pitiable sight. A slave was led round by the auctioneer, his teeth wore looked at, and after a certain amount of competition, he was knocked down for £15. A woman and child were the last to be sold. They were born in slavery, and the owner had just died. The consequence was that all the personal effects of the deceased had to be sold. When they were offered for sale, he hoped that they would be sold together, but unfortunately, they were not. The child, four or five years of age, was sold to be taken in one direction, and the woman in another. He earnestly appealed to the Secretary of State to do all that he possibly could, without overstepping the limit which made combination with the other Powers necessary, to have the public sale of slaves done away with in Morocco.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
directed attention to some aspects of Irish affairs, and, in the first place, criticised the composition of the Railway Commission in that no representation had been given upon it to those who controlled railways in Ireland. The Chief Secretary had recently seated in reply to the right hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh, that apparently it was not the intention or desire of the Opposition to indict the Irish Government. He said at once in answer to that that in his judgment 1438 it would be folly for anybody in a Parliament composed as this was not to accept the fact that there was a change of Government, and that obviously, therefore, there must be a change of policy; and to attack the Government because they adopted a policy which in many degrees differed from that of the late Government would be a waste of time. It was the duty, however, of those who belonged to the Party opposed to the right hon. Gentleman not only to watch his procedure, and to criticise it, if necessary, but to maintain the principles in which they believed. The right hon. Gentleman gave a few days ago an account of his stewardship and took considerable exception to the action of his hon. friends on the Opposition benches for criticising some of the work he had done. He was bound to say there was great justification for the criticism they had passed upon many things. He would only mention three— the appointment of three Commissions. He would say nothing about the Trinity College, Dublin, Commission, except to express the hope that the latest suggestions made in regard to this subject would receive not only the attention of the Royal Commission, but also the sympathetic consideration of the right hon. Gentleman himself. The solution of that question would be found in the lines recently suggested. In regard to the other two Commissions, he was bound to say there was good reason for dissatisfaction among his hon. friends and those they represented in Ireland. In regard to the Railway Commission there had been no representation given at all to those who controlled and worked the railways in Ireland; the whole case of the railway interest in Ireland had been left in the hands of people who were concerned with the administration of English railways. He had had some experience of the management of English railways, and when in Ireland he had the opportunity of investigating the position of Irish railways. He believed there was such fundamental differences between the two systems and the conditions which surrounded them that if the Government were really desirous of doing justice to them, and if they wanted to command—as they 1439 ought to do—the confidence and sympathy of the people who worked those railways, they ought in common justice to give them representation of their own in order that they might have the opportunity to exercise some control over the conduct of the inquiry and of saying what the result of that inquiry was to be. He felt they had a great grievance in the fact that they had no representation. In regard to the Land Commissioners, there was justly a strong feeling amongst many sections of the community. They had never had from the right hon. Gentleman any justification for his dismissal of several Land Commissioners whose performance of their duties had been creditable, against whom no faults had been alleged, who had done their work satisfactorily, and who were summarily disposed of and their places taken by men whose credentials were no better than those of their predecessors, and who had not the same experience, having only a limited knowledge of the work they had to do. He regretted the right hon. Gentleman found it necessary so soon after his acceptance of office to make this change not because he regretted the appointment of new Assistant Commissioners, but because a great injustice was done to the outgoing Commissioners—men who had no reason to expect that they were going to be dealt with in this way. Action of that kind must produce a feeling of want of confidence and discontent which was not to the interest of the public service. His hon. and gallant friend had also taken exception to the action of the Irish Government in regard to the eviction of Mr. Ward at Loughrea, and the right hon. Gentleman in his reply had appealed to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to say whether that interference should not have taken place and that bloodshed and trouble should have followed. There was nothing further from his right hon. and gallant friend's desire than that there should be any such consequence as bloodshed and trouble.
THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. BEYCE,) Aberdeen, S.
I do not recollect having used those words, but the argument was that the alternative to the course that was taken 1440 would have been that, and I asked him whether he would have been prepared to accept that.
§ MR. LONG
said he was only quoting from memory. Taking it that way, the result must obviously have been the carrying out of the eviction by force if there had not been this intervention. The officer who made the intervention acted under the authority of the right hon. Gentleman. What were the circumstances? A man was in occupation of a dwelling and was defying the law and refused to give up the premises to those who had the right to demand that they should be given up. The right hon. Gentleman justified his interference on the ground that by so doing he had brought about a peaceable termination of an affair which otherwise might have ended in bloodshed. As to how it would have ended they did not know. Many of these evictions in times past had led to terrible scenes. In this case what was going on? The man who occupied and declined to give up the house in question was at the same time taking part in measures which had for their object the inducing of some other people to give up their holdings for totally different reasons. He could sympathise with the Irish Government in their desire to avoid those terrible consequences which had more than once ensued from measures which were necessary for the enforcement of the law in Ireland, and it was not to this particular instance that public attention needed to be drawn. It was the results which followed an operation of this kind. He took the story as given by the right hon. Gentleman. He was quite sure it was correct. The story was that this intervention was carried out in a friendly way by an officer of the Irish Government; the man Ward was told that if he did not give up the force of the law would be used and he therefore surrendered That being so, Mr. Ward was entirely overcome by the law which took the form rather of friendly counsel than of vigorous action. What they would want to know later would be what was the effect of this particular action, not merely upon Mr. Ward, but upon the people of the whole district. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that it had 1441 been satisfactory, that the condition of the district was day by day improving; that the force of police required to maintain order was gradually being reduced, and under these circumstances so far as this particular instance in Loughrea was concerned there was no cause for anxiety. But there was cause for anxiety. The right hon. Gentleman had declared in the strongest terms that the Government meant to uphold the law. If it was true that Mr. Ward was one of those who brought influence to bear upon the occupiers of grazing farms in order to get them to give up their holdings so that the land might be made available for other purposes; if the land was obtained by improper means; if they allowed force of a moral kind to be exercised which ought not to be exercised, then they would be teaching a lesson in that district which would bring trouble. Although the Government would have dealt with a single incident they would have given encouragement to people who were only too readily inclined to take the lands within their reach and turn them to their own advantage. And the difficulties of the Government would consequently be far greater when they had a dozen cases to deal with than when they had a single case. Dealing vigorously with these cases not only settled the momentary difficulty but produced peace and quiet for some time. The right hon. Gentleman had said that there was too much law and too little liberty in Ireland. He did not know what was meant by that. He had always believed that the law was the greatest protector of liberty. In the law was to be found the best form of liberty. If there had been too much law and too little liberty there were some who feared that the phrase might be interpreted to mean that there had been too much latitude given to those who enforced the law and not enough to those who desired to interfere with the liberty of others in an illegitimate manner. There was a considerable minority in Ireland who suffered bitterly when the belief obtained that the law of the land could be disregarded and the law of private association was shown to be stronger than the law of the land, and compulsion which interfered with their ordinary business could be brought 1442 to bear on private individuals. The right hon. Gentleman knew perfectly well that there were many in the west of Ireland who believed that there was an undueinterference with their ordinary business—the occupation and holding of farms and so forth. He would therefore urge upon him in the name of those on whose behalf he spoke the absolute necessity for exercising every possible vigilance in order to see that there was freedom, not only for one class, but for every class, so that people should not be led to surrender their holdings or their business because there was some improper feeling against them or some desire to get land for other purposes than those for which they were using it. There was another practice which he thought was most improper, but which he admitted it was exceedingly difficult to deal with. It had been brought to his knowledge that there had been in existence a practice of circulating seditious literature among soldiers quartered in Ireland. Those who circulated this literature were very difficult to find. No doubt it was some wretched lad, and there was a great deal to be said against proceeding against people of that kind, but it was desirable if possible to proceed against the people who were the real source of the mischief. But these lads who assisted in the distribution of this literature did it knowing they were committing an illegal act, and he thought every step should be taken by the Government to check the practice, which was very improper and was directed against the forces of the Crown. He did not think it was beyond the power of the Irish police to step in in regard to such action, and he had no doubt they would do so if they knew they would be supported in any proper action. This literature was distributed to the soldiers, many of whom were young men, and the object was to make them false to the terms of their enlistment, and to make them believe that they were in a degrading service. He hoped the Government would put down this disgraceful practice. He also wished to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the correspondence which had passed between the Irish Government and the Board of Intermediate Education with regard to the action of the latter 1443 body. A great deal of interest was taken in this question by people of all classes, not confined to those with whom he generally acted. The correspondence he believed had not been published at present, at all events he had not seen it, but he thought it was most desirable that it should be in the possession of the public, in order that those who were interested might know the facts. When he left Ireland there were in progress a great many schemes connected with harbour, pier and railway development. He believed that the very best thing that could be done for Ireland was to carry out these works of internal and coast improvement, and he earnestly hoped that whatever schemes the right hon. Gentleman had in his mind with regard to the future government of Ireland he would not let them interfere with the equally if not more important question of the development of the resources of the country. He regretted that the carrying out of these schemes should have been temporarily arrested. So long as the policy of the Government was the maintenance of the law and the development of the resources of Ireland, the Chief Secretary would find no hostile critics on that side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman had exceptional opportunities which were not enjoyed by his predecessors,and he believed that these powers were given to him not so much in view of contentment prevailing in the present but in a confident hope and expectation for the future. It was not, however, for them to deal with these proposals until they came before the House in a practical form, and therefore it was not their desire to indict the Government or challenge their action. It was their duty to watch their policy and see what the results of that policy were. All they said was that if the right hon. Gentleman was going to do justice to Ireland it must be justice to all classes and not justice to one only.
§ SIR THOMAS ESMONDE (Wexford, N.)
said that in view of the short time at their disposal he would curtail his remarks as much as possible, as others wished to speak. There had been absolutely no crime in Wexford 1444 of any sort or kind, since 1878 and the magistrates were invariably presented with white gloves at the Assizes, and under those circumstances it was perfectly ridiculous that it should be proclaimed under the Peace Preservation Act. There was no necessity for it. It was an insult to the county, and he asked the Chief Secretary to repeal the Proclamation. With regard to the fishing industries, he blamed the system that existed under which these important industries were neglected rather than the Chief Secretaries who preceded the right hon. Gentleman. In 1902 he first drew attention to this matter, and the then Chief Secretary said he would make inquiries. In 1903 he was told that those inquiries were proceeding, in 1904 that they were approaching a satisfactory conclusion, and now in 1906 the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary said no inquiries had been made. Upon the last occasion, about eighteen months ago, when he brought this matter forward the then Chancellor of the Exchequer said that if the Chief Secretary would bring him a perfected plan he would not find the Treasury wanting, yet nothing had been done. Except the assistance given in regard to the harbours at Arklow and Wicklow nothing had been done. He believed the fishing industry was the largest industry in Ireland; there were more men engaged in it than there were agricultural labourers in the country. The Government had given a large sum for the agricultural labourers and he thought the time had come when they should do something for the fishermen. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would pay a visit to the eastern and southern coasts and see these fishermen and realised the possibilities of the fishing industry, he was sure he would be converted to their views. With regard to the fishing boats supplied to the congested districts, he saw no reason why they should not be built in Ireland. He believed they could be built as cheaply there as elsewhere, and he hoped in future that they would not be built on this side, of the Channel.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
said he recognised the difficulties which the Land 1445 Commissioners had to contend with, and the great responsibility cast upon them, and he had no desire to criticise them, unduly but he wished to direct his remarks to two or three particular points. One was the lack of energy with which the Land Commissioners in Ireland tackled the all-important questions of grazing lands, the evicted tenants, and the labourers. He drew attention to two cases which had occurred during the last fortnight, in one of which 160 acres were sold to a man who already held a large tract of land, with the result that thirty or forty families were unable to secure land. In the second case a man already owning over 100 acres secured some further 300 acres. It seemed that to those who had much, much was to be given. He desired the Chief Secretary to urge the Estates Commissioners to use their powers of acquiring untenanted land for the purpose of restoring evicted tenants. It was futile to think of settling the Irish land question by the mere transfer of land from a certain number of landlords to a certain number of tenants if they did not above all things deal with the congestion in the west and other parts of Ireland. The plain and palpable intentions of Parliament three years ago were that the evicted tenants should be reinstated as far as possible and the grazing lands divided amongst the industrious population.
§ MR. GORDON (Londonderry, S.)
asked for information as to what course the Government proposed to take in regard to the Bann drainage. Sir Alexander Binnie brought in a report some months ago which by the people in the district was regarded as a very practical way of dealing with the question. The cost was estimated at £75,000, and he thought if the Chief Secretary could see his way to give some practical relief the best form it could take would be to contribute a substantial sum towards the cost of carrying out Sir Alexander Binnie's scheme.
§ MR. POWER (Waterford, E.)
urged the Chief Secretary to give his attention to the question of the Irish fisheries. 1446 There was a large coast to protect and they had very little help from the Admiralty in the matter. He thought the right hon. Gentleman might certainly press upon the Admiralty the necessity of providing gunboats to assist the only two boats they now had for the protection of the coast. Referring to the duties of the Estate Commissioners with regard to tenancies, he regretted that the circular issued by that authority had not been more favourably received by the landlords. In many places the landlords looked upon the action of the Commissioners as an attempt to intimidate them. The Estates Commissioners had endeavoured to carry out a settlement with regard to tenancies, and he thought the landlords should be particularly glad to have the opportunity of handing the land over, especially when the price offered was far larger than they could ever have hoped to have got under the Act of 1903. The representative of the landlord said that he objected to the Inspector reporting to the Estates Commissioners in regard to these farms. The Inspector thought that he had no power to insist on inspection if the landlord objected. It would be a monstrous state of things if it were possible for such a landlord openly to defy the wish of Parliament, and he was perfectly sure that the Estates Commissioners, when the case was brought to their notice, would make it clear that this landlord could not trifle with the wish of Parliament. From an executive point of view, it was desirable that the Chief Secretary should make a statement on the subject. These people had lived in the hope that they would be restored to the farms and to the houses they themselves built, and it would have a disastrous effect on the peace and the condition of the locality if they were to be told now that they had no hope of being restored to the farms.
§ MR. JOHN O'CONNOR (Kildare, N.)
said he was not surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin make the characteristic speech which he had delivered. It was full of the cry for repressive measures. He was 1447 bound to make that speech, having regard to the place and the people he represented. He himself wished to enforce the demand made by his hon. friend the Member for Wexford. There was absolutely no use for the Crimes Act in Ireland. It was an Act passed many years ago for the purpose of dealing with an exceptional state of things which had ceased to exist. The right hon. Gentleman who was at present responsible for the Government of Ireland had established for himself the character of a philosopher. When the late Mr. Forster was asked to make permanent the Coercion Act of 1882, he absolutely refused to do so, stating that he would not be the man to hang up a sword of Damocles for anybody but himself to take down. Mr. Forster had confidence in himself, but none in his successors. The present Chief Secretary now found himself in possession of such a sword. He could hang it up or take it down at pleasure. He trusted that he could show the right hon. Gentleman some reason why he should take it down for the last time and throw it away. Writing on the subject of civil liberty, the philosopher Paley said—A law being found to produce no sensible good effects is a sufficient reason for repealing it, as adverse and injurious to the rights of free citizens, without demanding specific evidence of its bad effects. This maxim might be remembered with advantage in the revision of many of the laws of this country, and amongst people enamoured to excess and jealous of their liberty it seems a matter of surprise that this principle has been so imperfectly attended to.He thought that principle might be attended to by the right hon. Gentleman at present. He had taken the trouble to make out a comparative statement of crime in Ireland, England and Scotland. If he were to quote the figures, though he did not intend to occupy the time of the House in doing so, he thought hon. Members would wonder at the amount of money spent on police in Ireland, where there was a comparatively small amount of crime, as compared with the amount of money spent on police in England and Scotland where there was an enormous and increasing amount of crime to be dealt with. A reduction of the police force in Ireland had been promised from time to time, but he doubted whether that was going on 1448 apace. He trusted that what he now said in regard to the Crimes Act would not be said in vain, and that the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to have it repealed.
said he would not enter in detail into the points which had been raised. Some of the questions could only be answered by entering at considerable length into the way the law was administered. The hon. Member for Wexford had objected to the maintenance of the Peace Preservation Act and had denounced the proclamation of the County of Wexford. It reminded him of a parallel case when, thirty years ago, he visited Iceland and had difficulty in getting quarters in the capital town. The authorities said that, as the gaol had not an occupant, they would be only too happy to give him quarters there. The question of the Peace Preservation Act was engaging his attention, and during the course of the autumn he would consider the whole subject fully to see whether the proclamation of a certain number of counties could be withdrawn.
said he would consider the whole subject. On the subject of the fisheries he regretted as much as the hon. Baronet that the industry of line fishing was diminishing. It was diminishing all over the United Kingdom, it was diminishing on the east coast of Scotland, on the Moray Firth, and on the Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire coast. This was largely owing to the growth of trawlers, and therefore the hon. Baronet must not suppose that the diminution was confined to the North of Ireland. He would do what he could to encourage the fishing industry, but why should not the hon. Member if he thought the subject had been inadequately dealt with by the Department tender evidence to the Committee who were sitting on that subject, and say what could be done for the promotion of fisheries in that part 1449 of the country. As to the provision of gunboats the Admiralty was very chary in giving gunboats for the protection of fisheries, and even the Secretary for Scotland found great difficulty in getting help from the Admiralty. They had two boats which were engaged in the work, and these he thought were sufficient. A trawler might escape now and again, but he did not think much harm was done. The hon. Member for North Cork had called attention to grazing lands and evicted tenants, and had brought up a case in which he did not think justice had been done. His complaint was that the Estates Commissioners were not sufficiently energetic in getting hold of un-tenanted land. He once travelled in company with the Estates Commissioners some years ago and they talked a great deal about the subject. He could assure the House that the Commissioners were exceedingly anxious to carry out the duties thrown upon them, and they were anxious to get hold of untenanted land and divide it up for the benefit of the people. They were by no means friends of the largo grazing ranches. Now and then it was not possible for them to avoid leaving a certain amount of untenanted land in the hands of some person in the neighbourhood, but speaking generally the Estates Commissioners were not selling land to large holders. Sometimes they had to make a bargain to get other advantages, but they were doing what they could to break up grazing farms and put them into the hands of men who would use for them for agricultural purposes. The hon. Member had referred to congestion, other than in the congested districts. There were parts of Ireland where that evil existed. The hon. Member knew that the attention of the Government had been called to this point. They had lately appointed a Commission to deal with the question, and it was part of the reference to that Commission to inquire whether there were not outside the areas now scheduled as congested other districts practically in the same position which "ought to have special treatment accorded to them, and to ascertain how much untenanted land there was which could be made 1450 available in whatever part of Ireland for the relief of congestion. He hoped the hon. Member would see that the importance of the subject was fully realised by the Irish Government who were endeavouring to do all they could in the matter. He assured the hon. Member for East Waterford that the Government were doing all they could to meet the cases of the evicted tenants. The six new inspectors were busily investigating cases and advising the Estates Commissioners as to lands available where they could be placed. The inspectors could not trespass on lands where the owner did not desire their presence, but the Estates Commissioners would have their attention directed to such cases and would exercise their jurisdiction when the lands came to be sold to impose such conditions in regard to untenanted land as would be salutary and beneficial for the neighbourhood and the small people who desired to acquire land. He had no complaint to make against the tone and spirit of the remarks made by the right hon. Member for South Dublin. His speech was in no way acrimonious, and it did not make any unfair charges against the Irish Government. He quite understood the right hon. Gentleman's wish that schemes to which he was attached should, from time to time, be debated in this House, and that the attention of the House should be called to anything that might be described as a dereliction of duty on the part of the Government. He did not think, however that the right hon. Gentleman had shown that the Government had departed from the admirable general maxims that he laid down. The right hon. Gentleman spoke first of the appointments to the different Commissions by the Government, and said, what he (Mr. Bryce) was very glad to hear, that if the Royal Commission sitting at Trinity College, Dublin, was able to arrive at any solution that would satisfy Irish public opinion on the long-vexed University question, which had been a trouble to British Parliaments beyond the memory of anyone now sitting in the House, he and he believed the Opposition would support it.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
No, I did not say anything in regard to the Opposition. The only matter I was referring to was the latest suggestion that had been made, and which I hoped would receive the attention of the Commission and the attention of the right hon. Gentleman. I have only real of the suggestion within the last forty-eight hours, but I think it is a solution which everyone will rejoice in.
I thought the right hon. Gentleman was speaking of the Leader of the Opposition and himself desiring to see a solution of this question. He certainly said it was outside of Party politics and in that I, of course, agree with him. Continuing, the right hon. Gentleman referred to the Commission on Irish railways. It had been said that there was a feeling among a certain number of people connected with the rail ways that the Commission was a menace to them. He could not understand how that feeling arose. The only result of the Commission would be, he was quite sure, beneficial to Ireland. He trusted that it would be found possible to work the Irish railways more economically and effectively than they were at present worked. That would lead to greater efficiency and would result in better dividends to the shareholders. He hoped, therefore, that the Commission would be able to suggest more economical methods of working based on English experience and the development of the branch line system. He had never heard any suggestion from Irish railway companies that they should have any representatives on the Commission. The Commission consisted of gentlemen who had held high places in the railway world. The Chairman, Sir Charles Scotter, was a member of the Commission which sat upon Irish railways twenty years ago and knew the Irish railway system thoroughly. He did not think that in any way the interests of the Irish railways could be threatened or imperilled by the Commission which had been appointed. The Commission could do nothing but good, and he hoped that the groundless apprehensions to which expression had been given would be dismissed from the 1452 minds of those who held them. As regards the Land Commission, also referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, he would not go again into the justification he made three months ago. The accounts he had received from those who had to deal with the new Assistant Commissioners, and those whom they served, were to the effect that they were better men and were doing their work more efficiently than their predecessors. He thought, therefore, that the substitution of those five new men had been amply justified in the result, and he repeated what he had said on a previous occasion, tint politics had nothing whatever to do with the appointments, because the authorities, had not the slightest knowledge of the political opinions of any one of the Assistant Commissioners. Referring to the Loughrea dispute the right hon. Member for South Dublin had confined his criticism to the suggestion that if any intervention on the part of the Government in that dispute were to encourage in any way intimidation or disorder or any interference with private life that would be unfortunate. He (Mr. Bryce) quite agreed, but he had no reason to believe that it would have tint effect. Loughrea was a part of Ireland where disorder might be said to be more or less endemic. He could not say that even now the condition of the place was altogether satisfactory, but he believed the condition would be a great deal worse but for the last intervention. A very serious conflict, which would have resulted no doubt in serious bloodshed, was only averted by the action of the Under-secretary. It was most fortunate that he had such an Undersecretary. The Irish Government had in no way departed from the principle they laid down from the first, viz., that they had been endeavouring to give to every private person all the protection possible, whether by way of police protection or by prosecution of offenders where the offence was one which could be made the subject of prosecution. Where there had been any attempts at intimidation, action had been taken. The Attorney-General for Ireland authorised him to say that no case in which there was sufficient evidence to justify a prosecution 1453 had been brought to his notice without his ordering a prosecution. The Irish Government believed that it was its first duty to enforce the law whenever it could. There were, however, means of bringing intimidatory force to bear upon individuals with which the law could not deal. Wherever there was a prospect of enforcing the law there the Government would not neglect their duty. The right hon. Member for South Dublin referred to the distribution of seditious literature among soldiers in Ireland. He (Mr. Bryce) had heard of no such distribution. There had been a few instances in which attempts had been made to distribute anti-recruiting leaflets, but they were very few and it had been found impossible to discover the perpetrators. The particular case the right hon. Gentleman mentioned must have been exaggerated or based upon some idle report, because the police were very careful to give information from time to time on all offences that came to their knowledge, and they had not reported any such case. The right hon. Gentleman had asked that the correspondence between the Irish Government and the Intermediate Education Board should be published. No one desired that that correspondence should be published more than he (Mr. Bryce) did. He had hoped to have it published before now, as he said a few days ago. The position was this, that the members of the Inter mediate Board did not desire their part of the correspondence to be published, and the Irish Government had there fore refrained from publishing their part because they felt it would not be fair to do so if the Board did not publish their replies. If the right hon. Gentle man represented the Board—
§ MR. WALTER LONG
Certainly not, I have only raised the question in the interests of those who want to have the fullest information hi regard to it.
said his own personal wish would be to publish the correspondence to-morrow. He had it almost all in 1454 print and it could be published at a day's notice. He agreed with what the right hon. Member for South Dublin had said as to the importance of schemes for the development of harbours and railways in Ireland, but the right hon. Member of course knew that money was necessary for these purposes. It was, moreover, very difficult to decide which of a number of schemes for improvements throughout the country should be selected, and the greatest care was needed in the administration of the money the Irish Government had at its disposal. One of the projects for which there was a great demand was the drainage of the River Bann. There was nothing nearer his heart than to secure the carrying out of that project. The Irish Government were going to communicate with the comity council to see what help they could give, and to discover whether any means could be found by which the water power of the Bann could be utilised for industrial purposes which would repay some of the cost of the project. He would do his best to bring about a solution far too long delayed. The House would be glad to know that in Ireland generally there was freedom from crime and disorder. The reports of Judges who had attended the assizes where most hopeful. The aims that the right hon. Gentleman had stated in his concluding sentences to be his were those of the Irish Government; and he hoped that even if the methods by which the Government proposed to attain the ends that they had in view were different from those favoured by the right hon. Gentleman he would recognise that it was the wish of the Government to secure equal justice to all classes in Ireland, to render Ireland powerful and prosperous, and to see that respect for the law went hand in hand with that largo measure of liberty and self-government which they hoped the country would enjoy.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)
complained that there had been only one day for Scottish Estimates. There was one important point which he wished to bring before the notice of the Secretary for Scotland and that was the administration of the Central Board which 1455 controlled Scottish affairs. A great deal was needed to strengthen the Central Board, and he asked the Secretary for Scotland if he would institute an inquiry into the working of the Board. He was confident that a good many of the smaller Boards could be made more effective by amalgamation. The right hon. Gentleman himself had proposed to absorb the Congested District Board in a land commission. The Board of Agriculture in Scotland was an admirable Department, but there were other Boards which might be amalgamated. For instance, the Prison Board and the Lunacy Board might be amalgamated. It would be as great an advantage to have the Board of Education moved to Edinburgh, as it would be to have the Board of Agriculture moved. The Local Government Board no doubt did admirable work, but it; was not properly equipped to carry out legislation. In his opinion one of the greatest benefits that the people of Scotland could have would be a strong departmental inquiry into the working of all these different Boards, into the possibility of having the representative element introduced, and into the advisability of amalgamating the Boards where possible.
§ *MR. MORTON (Sutherland)
said there was no doubt that these Boards were working most unsatisfactorily, and it was unfortunate that the Secretary for Scotland was not their master. Parliament could not get near these Boards. Mr. Gladstone said on many occasions between 1886 and 1892 that it was all very well to have good laws, but things could not be got to work right unless ! there was good administration also. They wanted in Scotland good administration. What he complained of was that there had been only two or three hours this session for the discussion of Scottish affairs. There were a number of social questions affecting Scotland which the present Government were pledged to attend to and which must be attended to. The Prime Minister had said that one of the great things needed was the colonisation of our own country. Many parts of Scotland wanted colonising. 1456 Millions of money were wasted each year in foreign countries which should have been saved for the benefit of Scotland, and to enable Scotsmen to live in their own country. The main roads wanted attending to and the steamboat service to be developed. New harbours were required. [Cries of "Divide," and laughter.] Hon. Members sneered at him for trying to do something for his constituents. He was not going to sit down, however, but was prepared, if necessary, to sit all night. To his repeated Questions as to the suppression of illegal trawling he had had no satisfactory Answer. Some of the cruisers that were engaged in this work were not doing it properly, and, therefore, somebody ought to go and see that they did it properly. He had asked more than once to be allowed to see what these cruisers were doing, but had been refused. That refusal was proof of his assertion that the work was not being properly done. As to education, he was afraid that the pupil teacher system was going to be done away with without the House being consulted. He hoped that the Prime Minister would next year treat Scotland at least as well as he treated Ireland in the matter of opportunity for discussion. At present there were millions of money voted without discussion. It was a scandal and a shame that that should occur in a civilised country of this sort, and there ought to be found time and means for the thorough discussion of the expenditure of money before it was voted.
§ *MR. MORTON,
continuing, said he hoped the Secretary for Scotland would show more backbone and be master of all the Boards that were ruining Scotland as similar Boards had ruined Ireland.
§ THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. SINCLAIR,) Forfarshire
remarked that no one knew better than 1457 the hon. Member who had just spoken that the Government regretted as fully and deeply as he did that more time could not be given to Scottish business. The volume of business of the House was increasing yearly, and the Government had not yet had time to carry out their purpose of lessening the labours of the House in matters of detail. It was not in order on that occasion to discuss legislation, but he might say that in the legislation they had promised the Government had given substantial evidence of their desire to deal with the present evils in Scotland. The hon. Member for the Leith Burghs had alluded to the question of the Boards. Personally, he would like to have more experience before he expressed any definite opinion as regards the work of these bodies. As a matter of fact, in the legislation introduced by the Government they were now attempting to deal with three of the existing Boards. There were four Boards that remained, and he was prepared to admit that it was quite possible that more economical and better government might ensue from some different arrangement with regard to their working. These were the Lunacy Commissioners, the Prison Commissioners, the Fishery Board, and the Local Government Board. He would greatly like to enter into the discussion of several of the points raised by the hon. Member for Sutherland, but he dared not at that late hour. He would only throw out the remark that it seemed to him that while on the one hand there was no definite charge of inefficiency or extravagance that could be brought against the Boards—
§ MR. SINCLAIR
On the other hand, he was prepared to admit that improvement might follow upon inquiry or legislation 1458 based upon such an inquiry. His humble opinion was that the difficulty did not lie with the Edinburgh Boards, 'but in the fact that Parliament could not under present arrangements afford to give sufficient time for the administration and control of Scottish business and those responsible for it. He was not sure that the elective principle with regard to these Boards would not weaken the control of Parliament itself. This was a large subject and he would not enter upon it that night. He hoped that some real advance would be made in the directions indicated.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to:— Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.