§ 2. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a supplementary sum, not exceeding £5,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1908, for the Expenses of the Royal Irish Constabulary."
§ MR. HAYDEN (Roscommon, S.)
said he objected to the Vote altogether, because he regarded the charge as entirely unnecessary, especially when a huge Vote had been already granted for the Royal Irish Constabulary. In order to understand the nature of the cost of the Royal Irish Constabulary, he would remind the Committee that the police of Ireland cost the taxpayer a million and a half of money, and that cost, as compared with the cost of the police in this country, was grossly excessive. In England the cost of the police was 2s. 4d. per head of the population; in Scotland it was 2s. 2d. per head; and in Ireland, 6s. 8d. per head. Under these circumstances, be thought that if any extra burden 1136 was to be thrown upon the police authorities of Ireland, there was provision enough of money and men to meet any emergency without applying for an additional grant from the Exchequer. This charge for extra police was said to be in connection with the disturbed districts in Ireland. He denied that there were any disturbed districts in Ireland, and he lived in and represented one which was so described. A few years ago, he thought it was in 1901, a Select Committee of this House, presided over by the hon. Member for Sheffield, reported that there was no criminal class in Ireland, and yet not only were the huge sums to which he had referred voted year by year for the police, but each year, if anything at all out of the ordinary occurred in the country, the Government applied for an additional Vote. He was particularly interested in this matter, because it involved not merely a charge upon the taxpayers, but also upon the ratepayers in several counties in Ireland. The county council of the county in which his constituency was situated had been asked for a contribution towards these charges of £1,699 for the half-year ended last September. He would 1137 draw the attention of the Attorney-General to the law on this matter. These extra police, as he understood, had been imported into certain counties in Ireland under a proclamation, and so far as he knew they could not be so imported without a proclamation. Certain counties were proclaimed early in the month of September under 6 & 7 William IV, and this proclamation so far as he understood did not refer to any date preceding that upon which it was issued; yet the demands in respect of the charges for the extra police had been made against the county council for six months prior to the date of the proclamation. For instance, in county Roscommon, the account began in the month of May and went on in June, July, and August; but during none of those months was the county under proclamation. A demand was made upon the county council quite recently for this huge sum of money, but they postponed the consideration of the matter until legal advice could be obtained upon it. He would ask the Attorney-General to look into this question before the "lose of the debate, and to justify if he could the charge prior to the date of the proclamation. This was not a matter which referred to one county only; it referred to many; the county of Galway had had a charge of £1,100 made against it, and county Clare one for £900. It was a very serious matter in this year of all others in regard to the western province, because the local authorities had actually had to undertake obligations in respect to the future and to help the people with seed to tide over a period of distress. This charge was in connection with the agrarian movement which was taking place in Ireland. A Royal Commission had been investigating that subject, and Bills had been promised. One was promised for last year, but the promise was not kept. One was promised for this year, and they hoped that the pledge would be kept. The real cause of what were called disturbances would be very quickly wiped away if this House would act according to its own pledges and put into proper operation the law which it passed in the year 1903. Then, the Legislature held out hopes to the people that the land would be properly sold and divided amongst them. That hope had been dissipated, and in consequence these so-called disturbances had 1138 taken place, and the ratepayers in the poorest parts of Ireland were called upon to meet this huge levy, while the taxpayers of both Great Britain and Ireland were obliged to support the land owners and graziers of the western province of Ireland. Even supposing that extra police were required in any portion of Ireland, he thought that out of the million and a half which was annually voted, sufficient money could be found to send a few police from one part of a county into another; but instead of that this House was compelled, whenever anything extra was required in the way of duty by the police in Ireland, to pay extra. Moreover, the most expensive method was resorted to of bringing the police from one county to another instead of bringing them from one portion of a county to another part of it. The police were brought from the farthest county in Ireland in order to heap up the charges. He made a statement in his own constituency and he now repeated it, that the reason for importing large forces of constabulary into certain counties in Ireland was to punish the people of those counties for their activity on the land question. It was a reminder to them of those punitive expeditions which they heard of against natives in Eastern countries. He thought also that when police were brought into a district, local opinion on the subject should be taken into consideration, but the only local opinion ever adopted or sought for was that of the local police authorities themselves—[An HON. MEMBER: And the landlords]—and, as his friend said, of the landlords. It was extraordinary how different places were treated owing to the different temperament of the police officer situated in them. To give an example, last summer he attended a meeting in his constituency, and there he found a force of a hundred police with three or four district inspectors of the county constabulary. The force had absolutely nothing to do. About three weeks later he was attending a meeting about one and a half miles away from that place, but it was in the county of Galway. All the police he found there were one district inspector and three constables, and, it must be remembered, that in this case the meeting was held almost opposite and within less than one hundred yards of the house of a man who certainly 1139 was not popular in the district, inasmuch as there was a strong feeling against him for having taken a farm which ought to have been divided up amongst the people. It was said that these meetings were intimidatory. Well, if ever there was a meeting which from that point of view might be called intimidatory it was one of this kind, held almost immediately outside the house of a man whom the people regarded as a land-grabber; and yet with this small force of police the man was not molested, he was not booed, and nothing whatever took place which required the attention of the police. The people when they assembled at these meetings did not desire to violate the law or to defy the police, but they were determined to put forward their views and to carry those views, when they were right and proper, into effect. He attributed the different treatment in those two places situated in one parish though in different counties, to the fact that there were different police officers in the two places, and this set him to examining into the character of the officer who was responsible in each case. He found that in the first case the officer responsible was a county inspector, who filled that position in the years 1901, 1902 and 1903, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover set out upon a slight career of coercion. He found that this county inspector had put the Coercion Act into operation in a manner to disgust even the removeables on the bench, who rarely refused to convict when asked to do so. He brought forward a case against the chairman' of the county council of Roscommon, Mr. John Fitzgibbon, the charge being that he was driving along a road on the wrong side. That was the offence for which a special Act of Parliament and a specially packed bench was introduced into Roscommon. So absurd was the case, and so absurd was the evidence brought forward—for Inspector McConnell himself was proved to have gone on the wrong side of the road, and not Mr. Fitzgibbon—that the two removables dismissed the case, and then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover removed Mr. McConnell to the depot. When the strong hand was wanted to keep down the people who were crying to this House to keep the pledges it had made, the Government found this mail and sent him to Roscommon. The 1140 result had been that police from all parts had been flooding the place for the last twelve months and the House was now asked to vote this large sum and the ratepayers of Ireland were called on to bear to a higher degree a burden already too heavy for them. The Government which found it difficult to get money to put into operation the laws of necessity and urgency passed by this House was ready at any moment to ask for huge sums for the upkeep of the police. He asked the Attorney-General to inform the House on what ground these demands had been made on various county councils of Ireland for the payment of, extra police prior to the date of the districts being proclaimed, and to say whether the executive or the county inspector of each county was responsible for the amount of police brought into the county; what steps were taken to ascertain the necessity for the extra police; and whether immediately the inspector said they were necessary they were drafted into the district. He would point out that in England the county councils were consulted in matters respecting the police, and that they controlled the police in their own districts. He would like to know whether the county councils of Ireland were consulted and whether their opinion was taken into account in the matter. As representation went with taxation he asserted that the county councils of Ireland ought to have a voice in these matters. They had shown their capacity for local government. He further asked whether anything that took place at public meetings in Ireland justified such large forces of police being present at those meetings. It was said that the police were there to prevent cattle-driving; but cattle-driving took place when the police were asleep or away enjoying themselves. The fact was that when the people of a district assembled in a legitimate manner for a legitimate object the police were drafted in to see if there was any fear of disturbance. But seeing that all the people were agreed as to the object for which they had assembled he failed to see on what ground anybody could believe a breach of the peace was possible. Yet in some cases there were at these meetings as many police as civilians, and the charge 1141 for those police was made on the taxpayers of the United Kingdom and Ireland and the ratepayers of the counties of Ireland. He protested against such a thing being allowed. So far as this Vote was concerned they were only at the commencement of the charge. The charge was for the half-year ending 7th September last. Since then four months had passed, during which time the police authorities seemed to have lost their heads and large police forces were stationed in many counties of Ireland. Those acquainted with Ireland agreed that these large forces of police were unnecessary; that in many cases they were a cause of irritation and provoked the people to do the very things they were assembled to prevent. He warned the Government that if this system of terrorism and blackmail were persisted in it would imperil the very existence of local government in Ireland. If these large demands continued to be made people would be prevented from taking part in local government, and the result would be to kill that local government in Ireland which had proved such a success for the last ten years. He hoped that would be avoided by the extra police being withdrawn and the people being allowed to meet to assert their demands so long as those demands were reasonable. He begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £1,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £4,000, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Hayden.)
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
I rise to support the Motion of my hon. friend. I desire to develop one aspect of the case put forward by him. I wish to point out that so far as these districts are concerned the supposed necessity of these large drafts of police is largely due to the grossly exaggerated accounts that have been given of the agitation and of the so-called disturbances, and by the creation of a state of panic by bogus outrages which are reported in this country and in Ireland. There is at this moment in England a gentleman from Galway, one of the so-called disturbed districts where the extra police are employed, 1142 who is delivering lectures endeavouring to create a belief in this country that the portion of the county from which he comes is in a state of outrage, crime, and disturbance. I refer to Mr. H. Persse, of Woodville, in the county of Galway. There are two matters connected with Mr. Persse that ought to stand "out very prominently. The first of these is that this is Lord Clanricarde's estate, the cause of untold trouble, disturbance, and anxiety to Governments of various Parties. I will prove conclusively in a moment that there is no real outrage, but at the same time there is no use blinking the fact that so long as the law passed in 1903 proves, as it has proved up to the present, incapable of dealing with the estate of Lord Clanricarde, you will have agitation and disturbance there. The second fact which ought to stand out prominently in connection with the case of Mr. Persse is that, according to his own statement, his troubles commenced during the secretaryship of the right hon. Member for Dover and continued all through the secretaryship of the right hon. Member for S. Dublin. Therefore, if his statement as to disturbance and boycotting in that part of Galway is true, it is absurd to seek to throw the blame on the present Chief Secretary. In trying to bring this country to the conviction that this expenditure is necessary, Mr. Persse has posed as a simple innocent farmer, anxious to carry out his avocation and prevented from doing so by the machinations of the United Irish League and the intimidation of the people. What is this gentleman's record? He served for some years in the Mounted Police in India. Why did he leave India, I wonder? It would be interesting if we could follow his career and arrive at the conclusion why he gave up the avocation of a policeman in India. After that he went to South Africa and became a mounted policeman there. Why did he sever his connection with the police in South Africa? Finally he found his way to Lord Clanricarde's estate, and now poses as an ordinary farmer who is prevented from following his avocation by the action of the people. When he went to Lord Clanricarde's estate he found a large grazing farm, named Woodville, let on the eleven 1143 months system to grazers for a very large number of years. If I am rightly informed three grazers who had this large farm in order to facilitate the carrying out of the policy of the late Tory Government and of this House in the Act of 1903, gave up their holdings so that these grass lands might be dealt with and divided up amongst the people in the settlement of the Clanricarde dispute. Then this ex-policeman stepped in and took a letting. It would be ridiculous to pretend that a man of that kind could be taken on the Clanricarde estate especially, without arousing the bitterest feelings of hostility. That is the way in which Mr. Persse came into possession of the farm. Trouble began immediately while the right hon. Member for Dover was Chief Secretary for Ireland, and he applied to Dublin Castle for police protection. He was refused, not by the present Government, but by the late Tory Government. Why was he refused? I ask the Attorney-General for Ireland to produce the documents connected with that application. I ask him to tell the House frankly what local reports were sent to Dublin Castle on the matter, and what were the reasons—because he has the records—why police protection was refused. This gentleman has written to-day a letter to the newspapers in which he denies that he went to Dublin Castle for police protection until after the alleged moonlighting attack. Here is what he says to-day—To the best of my belief I was under police protection in March, 1905, and it is not improbable that after the assault on my house I did apply to the authorities in Dublin. The result of that application was not to increase the protection for which I asked. I cannot charge my memory with the official reply, whether It was a direct refusal or was to the effect that my case would receive consideration. The net result however was that no additional police protection was given.His complaint is that the protection he asked was refused. Here is what the Irish Times wrote in an interview with this gentleman at the time—Mr. Persse went to the police authorities and demanded protection, but met, he says, with scant courtesy. He went to Dublin Castle, where he saw some of the higher officials "—I wonder if he saw the Member for South Dublin—who in reply to his request promised to send down some police huts and charge the disturbed 1144 area with the cost. This promise, however, was broken. The huts were not sent, but Mr. Persse was allowed to provide for his own protection, and now he is at great inconvenience obliged to accommodate three policemen on his own premises. He is still boycotted, and for his personal protection has to carry a revolver.Therefore, it is clear that Mr. Persse, when he first went to Dublin Castle for additional police protection, was refused by the late Government. I should like to know whether this gentleman or the correspondent of the Irish Times, who professes to quote him, is telling the truth. Is it true that he went to Dublin Castle before this alleged outrage, and that he was refused, or is it true that he never went to Dublin Castle for protection until after the attack was made upon his house? A few days after this transaction—after he was told that if he wanted policemen he would have to put them up in his own house and pay for them—the whole of this country was startled by a most sensational announcement of a daring moonlighting attack upon this gentleman's house. It appeared in the daily papers in this country under sensational headlines: "Terror in Ireland," Dastardly Moonlighting Attack upon an Unoffending Farmer," "Shots fired," "Brave Conduct of an. English Lady." "We were horrified about this matter, and we asked some questions of the Government, but we were unable at first to get any information from them. They said they were making inquiries. Let me read an account of the outrage which appeared in that leading Tory newspaper, the Irish Times. The Irish Times said—At about eight o'clock on Thursday night an attack was made on the residence of Mr. H. Persse at Woodville, county Galway, by a party of moonlighters. The windows of the front of the house were smashed in with stones, while a number of revolver shots were at the same time discharged. Although a great deal of alarm was caused to Mr. Persse and his family very little damage was done apart from the smashing of the windows. A lady in the house, however, had a very narrow escape. When the shots where fired Mr. Persse seized a revolver, pursued the attacking party, and returned their fire, discharging four shots. The moonlighters returned the fire, but Mr. Persse escaped injury. The affair coming, as it does, so soon after the Athenry and other outrages has left a very uneasy feeling among persons who have become obnoxious to the United Irish League in the district. The police are 1145 actively engaged in pursuing inquiries, but up to the time of wiring no arrests have been made.Let me say at once that every syllable of that letter from beginning to end has been proved to be untrue. Mr. Persse, having been charged with creating this bogus outrage, in his letter denies now in a half-hearted way the accusation against him, and he says that he never stated that shots were fired at his house. This was his wire—"Woodville House was attacked last night. I pursued and fired several shots." He says he was in no degree responsible for the account given in the Irish Times of the attack on his house in March, 1905, but from that date until his letter this morning he never denied the statement which appeared in the Irish Times that shots were fired at his house. We questioned the Government over and over again upon this matter, and we could get no reply from them except that they were making inquiries. Now, let me read the real account of this transaction. There is the report made by the Special Commissioner of the Freeman's Journal, sent down by that newspaper to investigate the occurrence on the spot, and whose account was never challenged, either by the Irish Times or the representative of the Tory Government of the day, or by anyone else, from that day to this. Writing from Loughrea on 4th March, 1905, he says:—I made careful inquiries in reference to this report, and I was informed by the police authorities that no shot was fired, either at or into Mr. Persse'a house by anybody.This is admitted by Mr. Persse to-day for the first time. The Freeman's Journal Commissioner goes on to say—I made further inquiries to-day in reference to the phantom shooting by phantom moonlighters into the house of Mr. H. Persse on Thursday night. On Thursday evening I learn Mr. Persse was upstairs in his house dressing for dinner. He heard a crash like the breaking of glass, and rushed down asking what it was. In the hall he met an English lady, who handed him a double-barrelled gun which was in the hall. He seized it, opened the hall door, and shouted, 'Police!' The police were quartered in an outhouse adjacent to Mr. Persse'a residence, and they were instantly on the scene. The police searched every inch of the place, but no trace of a moonlighter was to be seen. The only human being they discovered was a man named Mike Mannion, who is a kind of general factotum for Mr. Persse. Mike said he was looking after the rabbit traps, but he saw no moonlighters.1146 This is the whole story of the diabolical moonlight outrage. I challenge the Attorney-General, as the representative of the Irish Government in this House to-night, to deny that this is the absolutely true account of what took place. As I have already pointed out, we have a dramatic confirmation to-day from Mr. Persse himself that there were no moonlighters, and that no shots were fired. Now this is the gentleman who is here to-day rehearsing in English drawing-rooms what is alleged to be going on in Ireland, and inducing people to believe that the country is in a state of disturbance necessitating the expenditure of thousands upon thousands of pounds upon the police. That lie about the outrage on Mr. Persse at Woodville, which was spread at the time was published all over the world. I read it in big type in American papers, I read it in Australian papers, I read it in French papers, and the contradiction which I have given now has never reached the public through these papers, and that bogus moonlighting outrage at Mr. Persse's house has passed into the kind of history that is made up upon this agrarian question in this country. It is monstrous that a gentleman with a record such as this should ask anybody in England to take his word when he comes to tell them of alleged outrages in any part of Ireland. If he lied with reference to this transaction, who can take his word in reference to any story he tells in London drawing-rooms. I dwell upon this incident in order to emphasise the point made by my hon. friend the Member for South Roscommon that these extra police are requisitioned largely owing to the panic created by the dissemination of lying stories in this country. I have more than once said in this House that there is a section of the Press and a section of certain politicians in this country who, quite regardless of the highest interests of this country in connection with Ireland, are sedulously devoting themselves to the object of trying to create the belief in Great Britain that Ireland is in a state of crime and outrage. I have exposed one of these stories. It is typical of many others. I have only taken this particular instance because it is the case of this gentleman who has come over here to pose as a poor persecuted farmer, and to ask the people of this country to take his word with reference 1147 to the state of Ireland. I warn the people of this country not to trust the word of a man whose record is such as I have shown in connection with this case, and I beg the Government not to persist in throwing into these districts large bodies of police on the information of persons of this kind, but to investigate every case of alleged outrage and to enter into the consideration of it with suspicion in their minds, because it has been too often the habit of English Governments to take for granted every story of crime and outrage that comes to them. I beg the Government when a story comes to them to view it with suspicion, and not to act upon it until they have assured themselves by the clearest possible evidence that there is at any rate some ray of truth in it. I sincerely trust that the House will make a protest against what is going on in Ireland, by voting with my hon friend.
§ *MR. BARRIE (Londonderry, N.)
said they all appreciated the eloquence and skill with which the hon. Member for Waterford had tried to draw a red herring across the path. They were asked to conclude from what the hon. and learned Gentleman had said about one case, and from the element of doubt which he had suggested, that the case was typical of many others of which the House had made painful acquaintance in recent weeks. Instead of dwelling on the picture which the hon. and learned Gentleman had drawn, he preferred to refer briefly to the statements made by the hon. Member for South Roscommon, and to the arguments which he adduced in favour of the rejection of this most important Vote. The hon. Member's argument was—[A NATIONALIST MEMBER: Persse]. He did not think it necessary to take notice of that interruption. The hon. Member for South Roscommon had assured the House that this was an unnecessary Vote. He admired the courage of the hon. Member who could stand up and make that statement. The hon. Member had reminded them that the cost of the Royal Irish Constabulary was £1,500,000 per annum, and he had contrasted the cost of the police in Great Britain and Ireland. In England it was 2s. 8d. per head of the population, in Scotland 2s. 2d., and in Ireland 6s. 8d. He could not help reflecting why the cost of this force was so great in Ireland; and he was bound 1148 to say as a Member of this House who had the honour to represent a peaceful and orderly constituency, that in the speeches, of which they had had a fair sample in that delivered by the hon. Member for Roscommon, they discovered an explanation of the great increase in the cost of the Royal Irish Constabulary. [Ironical cheers from the IRISH Benches.] He deliberately stated that by the speeches of different Members of the House, the discontent and crime and outrage prevailing in Ireland had been largely stimulated; and it was because of those unfortunate speeches, alas! only too typical of those to which they had been accustomed for so many years, that this Government were in the unfortunate position of coming to the House and asking for a Vote, substantial, though comparatively small, of £5,000 to cover the extra cost of making what he must consider the very feeble attempts of the Government to maintain law and order in Ireland. They were told by the hon. Member who moved the reduction of the Vote that he had been considerably mystified by the fact that the Government had only proclaimed some counties in September last, and yet they had had the audacity to charge the cost of extra police on those counties as far back as July. He believed the hon. Gentleman was a member of a county council.
§ *MR. BARRIE
said he regretted the hon. Member was not; but many Nationalist Members enjoyed that privilege in common with himself. He was sure that if the hon. Gentleman had been he would have known that the Government did not require to proclaim any county in Ireland in order to recover the cost of the special force of police necessary for the preservation of law and order in that country. They had been told that the county of Galway had been charged £1,100, and county Clare £900 for extra police. He admitted that these were large sums, and with one or two others they covered the larger proportion of the extra cost which had been thrown on the country because of the unfortunate state of certain parts of it. They had also been told by some Members that they had encouraged the efforts of the people to obtain the fulfilment of the promises which they had 1149 received from the British Government; and again, they had again repeated the pitiable spectacle of Members asserting that it was only by agrarian outrages in Ireland that certain legislation could be obtained. He desired to point out that any such assertions were only bound to intensify the evil about which he and his friends complained. Let him say now what he had never before said in that House, that he thought the time had come when they were fairly entitled to ask the Government why it was that with so many recorded crimes in Ireland the proportion of arrests were so small? He was in the City of Dublin a fortnight ago, and there met a sergeant of the Royal Irish Constabulary formerly stationed in the North of Ireland. He took the liberty of saying to him that they in the North were disappointed that the proportion of arrests in regard to crimes committed was so small, and he asked him whether there was any explanation for it. He would not soon forget the answer that he got. It was that, since the present Government came into power, there had been, the officer said, a feeling throughout the constabulary, to put it exactly in the words that were used to him, "That the less we do and the less we see we will be the better thanked." He believed there was a great element of truth in that statement, and he was glad if the law officers of the Crown in Ireland were beginning to see for themselves that this discouraging idea prevailed amongst those charged with the maintenance of law and order in Ireland, because it gave them an opportunity of making it plain there that night whet they had never yet done, that they were prepared to stand behind the Constabulary in Ireland when they tried to do their duty.
§ *MR. BARRIE
said he wondered what their hon. friend below the gangway would do if it were not for these repeated references to Sergeant Sheridan. The figures they were asked to vote that night were sufficiently ominous, although covering only £5,000 for sustenance and travelling expenses of extra police. The Chief Secretary in reply to a question 1150 the other day, said that during the last six months over 800 constables had been enrolled in Ireland. They would deal with that figure when the Estimates came on, but on the present occasion they could deal only with the special items before them. He thought he was correct in saying that the sustenance allowance per night for a constable was only one shilling and sixpence, and it was a very easy calculation for the House to make in order to see how many days duty had been performed by the number of police who were now engaged. They had heard that evening that the sustenance allowance received by certain Post Office officials was three shillings a night, so that the one and sixpence could not be considered excessive. He repudiated the idea that there was any desire on the part of the authorities to shift police from one end of the country to another, when police might have been found in neighbouring counties. The total sum they were asked to vote then spoke far more eloquently than any tongue could of the state of the country, and they were glad that the Government had come forward at this stage, earlier in the session than usual, to tell the Committee that they were determined to see that adequate provision was made for special constables where necessary in the disaffected parts of the country. Speaking from those benches he desired to say nothing that could be further from their wishes than to exaggerate the present state of Ireland. He claimed to have a fair knowledge of Ireland, and he said that nothing that had been stated in that House by any of his colleagues had in the slightest degree exaggerated the unrest, the disaffection, and the pain and injury that had been inflicted on many loyal, quiet, and peaceable citizens in many parts of that unhappy country. He did not hope that they would immediately see a great reform in that matter, but he did think that now that public opinion had been attracted to the matter the Press of Great Britain would not be intimidated in any course they chose to take by anything that was said from time to time from the benches below the Gangway. This much he did say and with it he would conclude, that no man would rejoice more fully and amply than he would, if the time had come when their friends below the Gangway realised 1151 that the Government was no longer to be intimidated and that they were now prepared, even somewhat late in the day, to maintain law and order, which was the first and primary duty even of a great Radical Government.
§ MR. RICHARDSON (Nottingham, S.)
said that as an English taxpayer and as a representative of English taxpayers, he rose for the purpose of protesting against being asked to contribute towards the expenses of the Royal Irish Constrabulary, considering the principal occupation in which they were engaged. He had often asked himself the question, what was the reason why in this country, in at least forty constituences, the deciding factor was an alien vote, namely, the Irish vote. He was quite convinced that the Irish in our large towns and cities were not in this country because they loved England more than they loved their own country. The chief instrument that was used for the driving of Irishmen beyond the sea and into this country was the Royal Irish Constabulary. He would not have risen but for the fact that some four or five years ago he, with one of the members of the present Cabinet visited southwest Ireland, and the scenes they witnessed, especially with regard to the Royal Irish Constabulary, he would never forget. Wherever they went, at whatever station they stopped, they found at least two of the Royal Irish Constabulary. When they arrived at a little place which was then supposed to be a centre of disturbance, wherever they went they were closely followed. After attending a meeting which was held on a Good Friday at the market place they set out to look at the poor people on one of the estates hard by, and no less than fourteen of the Royal Irish Constabulary followed them on bicycles and jaunting cars. But the thing which cut deepest into his soul was when they went out to the hills about eight miles away, and he was shown a hovel, with an earth floor, in which a man and his wife were living who had been evicted from a farm hard by, the rental value of which was £35, whilst four of the Royal Irish Constabulary who were protecting the land-grabber had a beautiful police hut and were guarding that property at a cost of £400 a year to the country. For these reasons he hoped 1152 the hon. Member opposite would go to a division. If he did he would support him.
§ MR. CULLINAN (Tipperary, S.)
said they had recently heard from Members above the Gangway extraordinary statements with regard to the necessity for putting coercion in force in Ireland. But in 1902, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover was Chief Secretary, there was discontent over the land question. A Bill was introduced that year which was not acceptable to the Irish Party. It was withdrawn. Discontent raged and coercion was in full swing. Several of his colleagues were imprisoned. In the autumn of that year they were promised a comprehensive Land Act and immediately the discontent disappeared, the Coercion Act was withdrawn, and the prison doors were opened. When the general council of county councils protested against an excessive charge being placed upon them the Chief Secretary withdrew the charge. That was greatly at variance with the auguments now used by Gentlemen above the Gangway who said that the only way to govern and control Ireland was by coercion. If the late Government had withdrawn the charges against the county councils it was monstrous that the present Government should try to enforce them, especially where the county councils had no voice in the matter. The elected representatives of the people who managed their affairs in a most creditable manner were simply asked to pay these demands without any consultation as to the needs of the district. They knew exactly what the position of affairs was, and they were the parties who were competent to say whether extra police were necessary or not. It was not they but the local policeman or resident magistrate who was consulted, and they knew very well that crime and outrage in Ireland was butter to the bread of the removable magistrates, and of the police who magnified cases in order to try to get promotion. It was an extraordinary fact also that in the Land Act of 1903 they had provision made for the buying up of grass lands and for their distribution among the people. They had also in the Evicted 1153 Tenants Act increased powers given to the Estates Commissioners, and the real secret of any trouble there was in Ireland was attributable to the weakness of the Government in enforcing the existing law. Let them contrast the misery of people who had to pay exorbitant rents without any help or assistance whatever with the happiness and contentment and industry of the tenants on estates that had adapted purchase. He well remembered the right hon. Member for Dover distinctly stating that any body of tenants in Ireland who fought against the law would be put on the bottom of the list and would not be recognised by the Estates Commissioners. What was the value of such a statement as that coming from gentlemen like the right hon. Member for Dover? Immediately the Act was in force one of the very first properties bought by the Estates Commissioners was the de Freyne and the adjoining estates. Whatever this trouble might be it was attributable simply to the fact that the Act of 1903 and the Evicted Tenants Act of last year were being interfered with and hampered by an outburst here and there. An outrage was supposed to have been committed in Tipperary, a bomb being placed on the lawn in front of a house. It exploded, but was pointed in the opposite direction from the house and did no harm to anybody. This happened while there were three policemen in the house with a poor, delicate, lonely widow, who weighed only about twenty-four stone, and who was the most masculine female in their part of the world. Could anyone in his senses believe that anybody in the locality would for a moment run the risk of planting and exploding a bomb in front of that house? He had suggested to the lady's solicitor that the way to settle the matter would be to sell her property to the Estates Commissioners. The solicitor took steps at once, and the negotiations were entered into in a most friendly manner, and were on the point of being arranged when the explosion took place. Was there any reason to believe for a moment that it was the work of any friend of the tenants? It was the work of an enemy, and instead of getting extra police to put down the United Irish League, what they wanted was to remove 1154 the causes of trouble and discontent. He hoped that when the amending Bill was introduced its provisions would not permit of the smooth working of the Land Act and the Evicted Tenants Act being hampered and interfered with.
§ CAPTAIN J. CRAIG (Down, E.)
said he never met Mr. Persse, and in fact had never heard of him until a few days ago. With his customary fairness he had expected that the hon. and learned Member for Waterford in quoting a letter from The Times of that morning would have at least read the concluding paragraph. What had been referred to occurred in 1905. In the concluding paragraph of his letter Mr. Persse said—It his not been, and cannot be contradicted… that at Woodville, county Gal-way, I am protected by sometimes four and sometimes five policemen day and night. I am boycotted to the extent that I cannot get the necessities of life, nor labour for my fields, nor my horses shod.It was very unfair of the hon. and learned Member to stop reading the letter where he did. No member of this Committee could suggest for a moment it was untrue that this man was still being persecuted, boycotted, and treated in a manner which in this country was practically unknown. ["No, no."] It had been shown that the state of affairs in Ireland was not satisfactory. The Chief Secretary stated when he came into office that Ireland was more peaceful and satisfactory than it had been for the last 600 years. ["Oh, oh!"]
§ CAPTAIN J. CRAIG
, continuing, said that notwithstanding that statement by the Chief Secretary the Committee was now being asked for an increased grant of £5,000 for assisting the constabulary How was it that they were being asked to spend £30,000 more on the constabulary in Ireland for maintaining law and order under the present Chief Secretary than under the last Administration? This money was all frittered away upon an administration in Ireland which kept them not under the law of the land, but under the law of the United Irish League. Throughout this debate there had been a 1155 tendency to cast a slur upon the good name of the Royal Irish Constabulary. Whatever might be the Government in power or the tactics of the Home Rule Party, whatever the Irish Unionists might say or do, it had always been the pride and glory of Ireland that the Constabulary were able and willing to carry out their duties. They might be wrong sometimes. [NATIONALIST Cries of "No, never."] They might make mistakes like other people, but they had always felt that if the law was in the hands of strong men in Ireland, backed up by the best force of Constabulary in the world, Ireland would be peaceful and quiet. The Unionists had been blamed for using expressions which had caused all this disorder in Ireland. What expressions had fallen from the right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench and from those who represented the present Administration in the Upper House? He maintained that it was those expressions which had created so much chaos and disorder in Ireland. Speeches had been made by members of the Government both in Parliament and outside, in which they had declared that cattle-driving was not considered by the Government a very serious matter. He and his friends maintained that such language excited the cupidity of a certain class in Ireland—cupidity of a socialistic nature, which if carried to its logical conclusion would permit people in London who desired to obtain some of the large jewellers' shops or some of the wealthy drapers' establishments to tamper with those premises, to scatter the goods about, and to look to the responsible Minister to rise in the House and say that after all it was only a haggle of the market. The hon. Member who moved the reduction of the Vote could not understand the necessity for police being present at some meetings, seeing that all the people in the neighbourhood to which he was referring were agreed. Were the poor herdsmen who were guarding the cattle and the farmers who occupied the land included among the people who were agreed? The meetings were often for the purpose of intimidating those very people, and impressing upon them the terrors of the United Irish League. It would be disastrous for Ireland if any responsible Minister countenanced the suggestion 1156 that such action would hasten legislation. The first essential to the introduction of any Act dealing with land or any other property in Ireland must be the sternest determination of the Government to maintain law and order. The unfortunate fact of the present movement was that it was directed not so much against landlords as against those who could less easily protect themselves—against farmers, herdsmen, and all classes of shopkeepers who were not so well able as landlords to leave the country. If these proceedings were allowed to continue he was afraid that in time Ireland would see an even greater decrease of population than had been the case recently. There was only one remedy, and that was for the law to be enforced against all, irrespective of persons. It was not his intention to vote against the Government on this Vote. His objection to the voting of an additional £5,000 was the fact admitting that the Government which found the country so peaceful when they came into office were now compelled to admit that their Administration had been a failure, and that Ireland was not so peaceful as it ought to be.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
said he wished to say a few words in support of his hon. friend's Amendment. He thought hon. Members would join in feeling astonishment that no attempt had been made by hon. Members above the gangway to reply to the speech of the hon. Member for Waterford. Two Unionist Members from Ireland had addressed the Committee since that speech was made. He had never heard a more damning charge made against one of the missionaries of Unionism from Ireland. He fully expected hon. Members above the gangway to rise and vindicate the character of Mr. Persse.
§ MR. DILLON
said he directed the attention of Members of the House, and he wished he could direct the attention of the public of this country, to the fact that when these lying charges, which were 1157 made in the drawing-rooms of London where there was no one to contradict them, were challenged on the floor of this House, the late Chief Secretary for Ireland, sat silent, and a Unionist Member from Ireland declared he knew nothing about Mr. Persse.
§ CAPTAIN J. CRAIG
All I said was that personally I never heard of him until a few days ago, and I knew nothing whatever about him.
§ MR. DILLON
The hon. Member for East Down was not the only Unionist Member who stood up and spoke. The learned and hon. Member for Londonderry, North, spoke before him.
§ MR. BARRIE
May I also say I have no personal knowledge of Mr. Persse. At the same time, I do not think the charge made here to-night against that gentleman should be made in a place where he cannot make reply.
§ MR. DILLON
What about the duchess's drawing-room? Is it no crime to tell lies against a nation and to blackguard a whole people?
MR. T. L. CORRETT (Down, N.)
Every word is true. [NATIONALIST and MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh, oh."]
§ MR. DILLON
Every word is false, and I say it has been proved on the floor of the House by the hon. Member for Waterford to be false.
§ MR. BARRIE
I am exceedingly sorry to interrupt, and you will bear me out, Sir, when I say I am not accustomed to do so, but I challenge the hon. Member 1158 who makes these charges to make them where he can be held responsible.
§ MR. DILLON
said he was sorry to say he was not favoured with invitations to the Duchess of St. Albans', and therefore, he was not likely to have an opportunity of meeting Mr. Persse. Rut let him recall to the minds of members of the Committee the main points in the story told by the hon. Member for Waterford, which had been left unchallenged. He remembered one sentence—a most significant one—which fell from the hon. Member for East Down. He said that he did not know Mr. Persse, but his was the strongest case they could bring forward to show the chaotic and lawless condition of Ireland, and the hon. Member turned round to those benches and asked was there anyone would deny that Mr. Persse was boycotted in the year of grace 1908. Rut the significant fact was that he was boycotted in January, 1905, when the right hon. Member for Dover, and later when the right hon. Member for South Dublin, was Chief Secretary. Mr. Persse was boycotted throughout the whole of the period of the Government of the right hon. Gentleman, which had been held up over and over again as the period when the law was maintained unquestioned. What was the statement made by the correspondent of the Irish Times, which Mr. Persse had left uncontradicted? That in the first week in March, 1905, he (Mr. Persse), having been boycotted in January, went up to the Castle of Dublin, that he interviewed a high official, that the high official promised to send him down police huts and policemen, and charge them upon the district as extra police; that that promise was broken, and that for some reason not known to him, the Government sent him word that they would not send down the police, but that if he wanted police he would have to 1159 pay for them himself. Was that true, or was it false? Mr. Persse might have complained, and if it were true that he did complain, and that the police were refused, he would like to know the grounds given to the high official at Dublin Castle by the local police, and who the high official in Dublin was. But that was not all. Mr. Persse got his three police, and he asked Members of the Liberal Party sitting opposite to picture to themselves what would be said from the Unionist Benches if a boycotted man came forward with this story and charged the Chief Secretary of a Liberal Government with having refused him police protection and declared he was told he would have to pay for the police himself if he wanted them. Of course what was perfectly legitimate in the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin, who was a true-blooded Tory, and above suspicion, would be high treason in a Liberal Chief Secretary. No such charge was made against the present Chief Secretary. On the contrary, Mr. Persse said he was now protected by about ten police. Mr. Persse went on, in the statement he made to the correspondent of the Irish Times, to say that he was refused by the Government of the day police protection except at his own charge. He got them, and he stationed three policemen in his outhouse, and then there arose this extraordinary attack upon his house, which went the rounds of all the newspapers in the world. It was published in every newspaper in this country, but the Irish Members were unable to get any contradiction of it published. He must direct attention to the way the Irish Members were treated. Question after question was put to the then Attorney - General, and on March 15th, 1905, the Member for South Tyrone asked the Attorney-General if he would say whether there was any official report of the alleged outrage on Woodville House. Mr. Atkinson, who was then Attorney-General, replied that the occurrence consisted in this: that the fanlight over the door was broken, it was believed, by a blow from a stone. The matter, he said—is receiving, and will continue to receive the close attention of the police, but for the reasons given on Thursday I must decline to disclose the contents of other Reports.1160 He (Mr. Dillon) put a subsequent Question, and he got exactly the same reply. On May 31st, 1905, on a Motion to repeal the Coercion Act, he challenged the Government to say whether the whole of this occurrence from beginning to end was not an invention, and later on he said—That the whole story from beginning to end was a deliberate invention, invented by Ash-town and his gang of liars organised for the purpose of blackening the reputation of Ireland.Still the Government of the day maintained an obstinate silence. Now it was manifest—and he did not believe it was intended to be contradicted—that the whole thing was a bogus outrage, that there were no moonlighters, that no shots were exchanged, although Mr. Persse said in his telegram he went out to the door, exchanged shots, and pursued the moonlighters. The whole thing now had been proved to be an invention. It was now admitted that the whole thing was bogus, and he believed that by it Mr. Persse achieved his object and got rid of the necessity of paying for the police. Yet London was ringing with the sufferings of Mr. Persse, and there was not a dinner-table at which the subject was not mentioned. After what they bad heard from the Unionist Members that evening, and after their failure to defend their action, he thought they were entitled to ask the Government to let the light of day in upon this matter and let them know what were the confidential police reports in connection with these bogus outrages. No doubt Mr. Persse was boycotted because he joined Lord Clanricarde in his war upon his tenants. They could not, however, shut their eyes to the situation, inasmuch as it was fifteen years ago that Lord St. Aldwyn announced in this House that he had put pressure within the law on Lord Clanricarde to try and alleviate his tyranny, that Lord Clanricarde was still the puzzle of the Government of the country, and the centre of disturbance, and a man who joined him was likely to be boycotted. Was such a man as this worthy of credence in his description of alleged outrages? After listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Waterford, he said that any Unionist Member ought to be ashamed to have anything to 1161 do with the case of Mr. Persse, or in future to refer to the matter.
§ *THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. CHERRY,) Liverpool, Exchange
My first duty to-night is to deplore the absence of the Chief Secretary, who would if present have replied upon this Vote. It is impossible for my right hon. friend to be here to-night, but I hope we shall have him in his place on Monday. As to the Vote, it is with the very greatest regret that we are compelled to ask for this sum, which although trifling, still is an extra sum of £5,000 for the police. I think hon. Members will agree with me that if the Government were as neglectful of their duties and as indifferent to the maintenance of law and order in Ireland as they are told they are by hon. Gentlemen opposite, they would not have come to the House for this extra money. It was because we were deeply anxious last summer to preserve peace and order in Ireland, and to give every individual, no matter what his politics or business, the full protection of the law, that we felt constrained to proclaim six counties as being in a state of disturbance, and requiring the presence of extra police. Those six counties are Clare, Galway, King's County, Leitrim, Longford, and Roscommon, and they are the only counties in Ireland in which there is any trouble at present. It is said in the newspapers that Ireland is in a state of anxiety, but there are only six counties out of thirty-two in which there is the least trouble and difficulty, and even in those six the trouble is not at all so great as is said from the benches opposite. We have limited the number of extra police as much as possible, and the greatest care will be taken that no unnecessary force is employed in any county. The largest number we have had sent into any county is into Galway, where we have 145 extra police at the present moment. The next largest number was in Roscommon, where there were 133 police who were brought in shortly after the proclamation, and that number is now reduced to ninety-five. The total number of extra police employed in all Ireland, both under the proclamation and under the other power, which the Lord - Lieutenant possesses, was 408. They are required 1162 chiefly because of the reprehensible practice of cattle-driving, and that is really almost the sole explanation of the necessity for the extra police, and the fact that we are asking for them is no indication whatever that in other respects there is more crime and outrage in Ireland than in years past. The hon. Member for South Roscommon denies that there are any disturbed districts at all, but I cannot agree with that. He also complained that Roscommon had been charged with a moiety of the expense of the extra police sent, not only under the proclamation, but under the other powers of the Lord-Lieutenant. That matter has been carefully looked into by the law officers, and they are quite satisfied that there is power, and even the obligation, under the Acts to charge a half of the expense of police upon the county to which they are sent, either under the proclamation or under the general powers of the Lord-Lieutenant. As to the complaint that too many police have been sent in some cases, that is a matter which must be left to the judgment of the officers on the spot. It is difficult sometimes for the officers to form a correct judgment beforehand, and unfortunately sometimes the force sent is too large and sometimes too small. In the two cases mentioned by the hon. Member, the two officers formed a different judgment, and while one sent a small force the other sent a large one. It must be left to the discretion of the police officer to say how many will be required.
§ *MR. CHERRY
There have been disturbances in some instances which would have been prevented if there had been a larger force of police available. The riot at Hill Street was a case in point. I can assure the hon. Member that the Government do everything they can, with safety, to reduce the number of the police. We do not want, however, to render ourselves liable to the charge of neglecting our duty. The hon. and learned Member for Water-ford has alluded to the case of Mr. Persse, and has asked me to produce the police reports and to say whether it is true that he was refused police protection I am unable to do so at the moment. The 1163 matter took place before I became Attorney-General; but if the hon. Member will put down a Question on the Paper for Monday next, then I hope the Chief Secretary will be able to give the hon. Member satisfactory information in reply. I am surprised that the right hon. Member for South Dublin, who was Chief Secretary during a great portion of that time, has sat there the whole of the evening and has not attempted to make any explanation or statement.
§ *MR. CHERRY
I think the explanation might have been given immediately after the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. However, the right hon. Gentleman, no doubt, knows what is the proper course to pursue. I cannot control his actions in any way, but I certainly would like to hear from him whether the statement by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford represents the facts. The hon. Member for North Londonderry has made a serious charge against the police to the effect that they were guilty of deliberately refraining from doing their duty, and he has stated that a sergeant had told him that the less the police do and see the better.
§ MR. BARRIE
said he suggested that in the north of Ireland they were disappointed at the small number of arrests compared with the recorded number of serious crimes, and the sergeant answered that undoubtedly since this Government came into power there was a feeling throughout the force that the Government were not behind them in showing the same amount of energy as their predecessors.
§ *MR. CHERRY
I think that is a very gross charge to make against the Government, and to my certain knowledge it is absolutely untrue. I am constantly in communication with the police, and I know that they are discharging their duty to the best of their ability. I have the highest opinion of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and I could not give a single instance where the police have: done anything for which they could be fairly or justly blamed, and it is very unreasonable 1164 and unjust to make charges of that kind against the police.
§ *MR. CHERRY
Of course the hon. Member can make any charge he likes against me, but if he says that I have not been doing my duty in this respect he is saying something which is absolutely contrary to the fact. In no single instance which has come to my knowledge have I done anything to prevent a prosecution.
§ MR. BARRIE
Perhaps I may be allowed to recall the Attorney-General's decision in the case of Larkin.
§ *MR. CHERRY
In a case where a jury has disagreed it is unusual to prosecute a second time, but I have violated that rule in prosecution more than once. Larkin was prosecuted for assault in connection with the strike in Belfast. There were two persons charged and the jury acquitted one and disagreed in the other case. As the strike was over and the city peaceful I thought the ends of justice would be perfectly satisfied without any further prosecutions. [A NATIONALIST MEMBER; "The Empire remains unshaken."] It is really our sincere hope to be able to reduce the number of extra police who are dispensed with as far as we possibly can.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
I share entirely the regret of the Attorney-General at the absence of the Chief Secretary, and the cause of his absence, and I hope that he may soon be back again. I regret his absence because I believe that had he been present the defence he would have made of the action and policy of the Government would have been much more complete and much more vigorous than that which has been attempted by the Attorney-General. I really think the Attorney-General might have made out a stronger case. He wound up his speech by stating that the police were sent to the railway stations, a custom which he believes to be peculiar to Ireland, because they had nothing better to do. To my certain knowledge 1165 it is part of the duty of the police of this country to be in attendance on our platforms at the stations. [Cries of "No, no."] Oh, yes, it is. I think, too, that the Attorney-General will find that some time before I left office the attendance of the Royal Irish Constabulary at the stations on the platforms had been largely dispensed with, and that in a number of cases this duty was put an end to altogether. That being the case, the right hon. Gentleman might at all events have mentioned it in his reply, instead of telling the Committee, in order to raise a laugh, that the police were sent there when they had nothing better to do. That is not the case at all. They were sent there for very good reasons—because it was thought by the authorities to be necessary, and unless I am altogether wrong it was under the Party to which I belong that the change was made, and in a large number of cases the attendance of the police was dispensed with. The Attorney-General has complained that we on this side of the House have charged the Government with having been neglectful. Well, that is only half our charge. We go further than that, and say that through their want of complete and full action their policy with regard to Ireland has failed. Can there be a greater proof of that than the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Member for Roscommon. The speech of every Member who has spoken from below the gangway has been in condemnation of the action of the Government, and has been consistent with the policy which the hon. Members adopt, but which the Government, though they may believe it in their hearts, are afraid openly to profess and avow. Hon. Gentlemen accused them of increasing the police force. What is the Attorney-General's reply? He tells us—It is quite true we have increased the police; we are very sorry for it; we hope we will be able to decrease the numbers; we will do our best; we have only done it where necessary. The increase is only a small one, six counties, and so many in each county "—and so on—a faint-hearted apology for doing their duty, for increasing the police force when necessary in order to give the protection of law to people in Ireland. For that the head of the Irish Bar makes an humble apology to the House of Commons, and hopes he will be forgiven this time, if he promises not to do it again 1166 The position of the Government, of course, is an extremely difficult one. They are on the horns of a dilemma. They have professed that everything in Ireland is better than it has been before. We have had the Attorney-General telling us that all the statements about the unrest or agitation or agrarian offences are exaggerated, and that extra police protection is not necessary. Why for the first time for twenty-two years is the Irish Government obliged to come to Parliament to ask for a Supplementary Vote for the Irish Constabulary? Why, if there is all this absence of unrest and agitation, is it that the Irish Government have been compelled to proclaim these counties and to come for a large Supplementary Vote, first for law expenses, and now for the police? What is the indictment of the hon. Gentleman below the gangway? It is that these extra charges for police, for law officers, and law expenses, are all improper and unnecessary, because the cases in respect of which they are incurred are not real cases. We have had the case of Mr. Persse quoted, and the Attorney-General attacks me for not having risen before in order to deal with it. He knows very well that I have no access to the Papers. I shall say—I had no intention of evading it—what my personal recollection and knowledge of the case is. Nobody knows better than the Attorney-General that the Papers dealing with the case are in the possession of the Irish Government. The Irish Government know what was the policy adopted by the Government when I was responsible. They know who the official was to whom application was made, and they know what were the particular circumstances which led to the reply Mr. Persse alleges he received. All I know of the case I am prepared to tell the House. An application was made when I was Chief Secretary for, I think, additional police. Mr. Persse was already, I believe—but I am not quite sure—under partial police protection. Application was made for additional police protection. I took the steps which I imagine the present Government would take. I caused inquiries to be made on the spot. I believed Mr. Persse was receiving such protection at the hands of the police as made his life and property secure. I gave instructions that everything was to be done that was necessary to protect him and his property. Having 1167 done that, my duty in the matter ended. I do not know what the circumstances of the Reports were. I have no copies of them, and I have no access to them. But I can say that so far as I am concerned there is nothing connected with the case that I have any desire to have concealed. I am surprised that the Attorney-General should try to divert the attack made directly not upon me, but upon the Government, by asking me to produce information which he knows well is open only to the Government.
§ MR. CHERRY
I have already explained to the House that I had not the papers. I have telegraphed for them, but they have not arrived. I thought the Tight hon. Gentleman would have remembered the circumstances.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
In the nearly thirty years I have been in this House I have never heard a more unfair suggestion made by any Member, and certainly not by any Member on the Front Bench. The Attorney - General must know perfectly well that cases of boycotting occurred during the time of all Chief Secretaries, and that they were the most difficult cases to deal with, but there was nothing Connected with Mr. Persse's case in 1905 which brought it specially under my notice. Mr. Persse's case was one of those cases which came under my notice, and I make no complaint because hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway attacked' me,; but for the Attorney-General to try to; divert the attack from himself and turn it on to me is the most astounding method of defence I. have ever listened to. [NATIONALIST cries of "Oh, oh!"] I understand the charge to be in regard to. Mr. Persse that the outrage was a bogus one. If it was a bogus outrage, by, all means let the truth be ascertained, and let those be held responsible who have been guilty of so gross a crime. But that is no answer to Mr. Persse's statement that he is boycotted and unable to live as most men are. Surely he is as much entitled as any man to the protection of the law. If you want his land, why not legislate and get it by fair means? Surely it is no answer to say that Mr. Persse's boycott is inevitable because he occupies some of the land upon the Clanricarde estate. Are we to be told that this gentleman, if he 1168 is occupying land according to law, has to submit to persecution of this kind because his land is wanted for some other purpose? What an astounding argument that is. Why should they try to drive this man out of the occupation of his land by making his life intolerable? I do not think the Attorney-General need have apologised so humbly for the extra police employed in order to give protection to Mr. Persse. The position of the Government is one which commands our commiseration. They have told us that all our statements are exaggerated, and that cattle-driving has been described by hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House in most exaggerated language. When I was dealing with the question of cattle-driving upon a former occasion I quoted the language of the Attorney General himself, in which he said the country was getting into a state of turmoil and terror.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
The Attorney-General said that the reserve force at the depôts was so depleted that it would be necessary to proclaim certain counties so as to secure repayment from those counties. The Government claim that theirs is? an administration of peace and conciliation, but now they have to admit that the police force was so depleted that they were obliged to proceed by proclamation under an Act of William III. In the indictment we have levelled against the Government, we have not used exaggerated language, because we have quoted the language of members of His Majesty's Government; we have not produced bogus figures, because they are the figures of the Government. It is, however, no part of our intention to vote against this Supplementary Estimate which is required for the service of the police, although we consider that the Government have done their duty in a way which had ensured failure rather than suceess. Because of that, we find it our duty to express in as strong language as we can our view of the incapacity of the Irish Government in dealing with the difficulty.
§ * MR. KETTLE (Tyrone, E.)
said that the voting of an extra £5,000 for the Irish Constabulary was to Ireland a very 1169 serious matter, and this campaign of calumny was a subject which he thought might very properly engage the attention of the House even at 12.20. The net result of the debate was "that the duchess is very sorry she gave that tea party." They were all struck by one characteristic of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin—he kept away from Mr. Persse as long as he decently could, and he dropped him as soon as he decently could. He was not able to give them any specific recollections of the case when it was submitted to his notice. Surely the facts of the case must have fixed themselves on the attention of the right hon. Gentleman. The story had been published in the Unionist Press of this country, and it had also been published in continental countries and in America. The right hon. Gentleman was only able to tell the Committee that all necessary steps should be taken to protect Mr. Persse. But the real point was whether it was necessary to send down extra police to protect Mr. Persse. The Government had refused again and again to produce the police reports in this case or to hold an inquiry. Why were the papers not produced? He could tell the Committee. It was because the woes of Mr. Persse were only discovered last Sunday. They were discovered by a leading Tory Sunday newspaper on the day before the Home Rule
§ debate. Mr. Persse was discovered last Sunday, and in the interval between then and now he had been found out. He was sorry the hon. Member for North Derry had gone away, because he wished to remind that hon. Gentleman that according to statistics the increase in the number of offences in county Derry was greater than that in any other county in Ireland. But in Derry the cost of extra police was £42, whilst in Roscommon it was £1,699. The political ideals of hon. Members above the Gangway was an Ireland in which every man would be a policeman. In Ireland the policeman was everything but a policeman. Frequently he was an author, the producer of threatening literature. Sometimes he maimed cattle, and got innocent men sent to gaol. The constabulary were now and again described as an army of occupation. It was really an army of no occupation. In his official capacity the Irish policeman was a mixture, of about equal parts of soldier and spy. He hoped the House and the British people would realise that resolute government in Ireland was considerably more expensive than the most generous form of Home Rule.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 63; Noes, 142. (Division List No. 20.)1171
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Jenkins, J.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Boland, John||Jowett, F. W.||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Brace, William||Joyce, Michael||Reddy, M.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Kelly, George D.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Cooper, G. J.||Kettle, Thomas Michael||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n|
|Cullinan, J.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Richardson, A.|
|Curran, Peter Francis||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Devlin, Joseph||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Dillon, John||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal. E.)||Seddon, J.|
|Duffy, William J.||M'Killop, W.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Meagher, Michael||Summerbell, T.|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Mooney, J. J.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Muldoon, John||Verney, F. W.|
|Gill, A. H.||Murphy, N. J. (Kilkenny, S.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Glover, Thomas||Nolan, Joseph||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid|
|Halpin, J.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Grady, J.|
|Hogan, Michael||O'Malley, William|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Agnew, George William||Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Everett, R. Lacey||Pollard, Dr.|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Fenwick, Charles||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh. Central|
|Armstrong, W. C. (Heaton)||Ferens, T. R.||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Radford, G. H.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Barker, John||Gooch, George Peabody||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Grant, Corrie||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'|
|Barnard, E. B.||Gulland, John W.||Rees, J. D.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Henry, Charles S.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Beale, W. P.||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Higham, John Sharp||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Beaumont, Hon. Hubert||Hobart, Sir Robert||Robinson, S.|
|Bell, Richard||Holt, Richard Durning||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Horniman, Emslie John||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Bennett, E. N.||Horridge, Thomas Gardner||Rose, Charles Day|
|Branch, James||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Scot, A H (Ashton under Lyne|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Hyde, Clarendon||Sears, J. E.|
|Brodie, H. C.||Illingworth, Percy H.||Seely, Colonel|
|Brunner, J. F. I. (Lancs., Leigh)||Jardine, Sir J.||Shackleton, David James|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick, B.)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Kekewich, Sir George||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Syndey Charles||Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Byles, William Pollard||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Laidlaw, Robert||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Stanley, Hn. A Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|Cleland, J. W.||Lehmann, R. C.||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Clough, William||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Thomas, Sir A (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Lough, Thomas||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.|
|Collins, Sir Wm, J. (S. Pancras, W||Lupton, Arnold||Vivian, Henry|
|Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Walker, H. De H. (Leicester)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Macnamara, Dr Thomas J.||Walters, John Tudor|
|Corbett, C H (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||M'Callum, John M.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||M'Crae, George||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth||M'Micking, Major G.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Crossley, William J.||Maddison, Frederick||Whitehead, Rowland.|
|Davies David (Montgomery Co.||Massie, J.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Menzies, Walter||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.)||Micklem, Nathaniel||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Duckworth, James||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall||Nicholls, George|
|Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Nicholson, Chas. N. (Doncaster)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. J. A. Pease and Mr. Whiteley.|
|Erskine, David C.||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Essex, R. W.||Nuttall, Harry|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)|
Motion made, and Question, "That this House do now adjourn,"—(Mr. Joseph Pease.)—put, and agreed to.