§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £19,896, be granted to His Majesty to complete the 525 sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending the 31st day of March, 1910, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Offices of the Chief Secretary in Dublin and London, and of the Inspectors of Lunatic Asylums and Expenses under the Inebriates Acts."
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
I rise, not to criticise at this moment the administration of Ireland by the Chief Secretary, but to make my protest against the action of the Government in selecting, this year, today for the discussion of the year's Estimates. The Committee will possibly remember—at all events, we remember on this side—that last year, when my hon. Friends and myself were anxious to discuss this Vote, it was found impossible by the Government to give us even half a day. This year a course has been adopted which I venture to say is extraordinary, and, I submit, unprecedented. The Chief Secretary, or the Government, a few days ago communicated to my hon. Friend behind me, who acts on behalf of the Irish Unionists, the intelligence that it was the intention of the Government to take this Vote on the 29th inst. Yesterday, at Question-time, without any notice being given to the party with which I have the honour to act, with complete suddenness, we were informed that this Vote had been decided upon for to-day. The sudden character of the arrangement is emphasised by the fact that some of my hon. Friends desire, not merely to discuss this Vote but also to discuss the Vote of the Board of Agriculture. They conveyed that request in the ordinary way through the hon. Member for Somerset (Sir Edward Strachey) that the Vote for the Board of Agriculture should be put down. The Government assented, but discovered that they could not carry out even their own desires, because the Minister who is responsible for that Department is not here, and therefore cannot answer for his Department. We have been accustomed since the Chief Secretary first took office to the principle then laid down, that "minorities must suffer," but I really say that in the present state of affairs this arrangement is one that departs from the old rules of courtesy which have governed these matters, and which have hitherto governed the arrangements between the Government and the Opposition—whether the legitimate Opposition or hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, 526 who very largely approve of a good deal of what the Government has been doing. At all events, I think a communication might have been made to us yesterday morning as to whether it would be for our convenience that the Vote should be taken to-day. As a matter of fact, there are several Members of the Unionist party in Ireland who would have wished to take part in this Debate. They are not here, and could not be summoned in the time.
I regret that the Chief Secretary should have adopted this course, because it is a very remarkable event following on what happened last year. The Chief Secretary assured us last year that, so far as he was concerned, he was most anxious that this Vote should be put down and the Debate take place, but that he was unable to persuade his colleagues to give him the necessary time. This year we are suddenly told, at three o'clock this morning—when, owing to the great pressure of business and the complicated nature of the Government proposals, it was unavoidable that the House should sit at a time when everybody is agreed that it is impossible adequately to discuss important business—we are told that although the time of the House is so short, and the Government have so little time for its consideration, that it is possible for them to find time this year for a Vote which they could not find time for last year. They do it to the manifest disadvantage and inconvenience of those who are opposed to them. We are powerless in the matter. The Chief Secretary was right when he said that we are in a minority—a small minority. We are unable to resist the pressure of the Government, but I venture to say that not only is the day inconvenient, but it is, I believe, absolutely unprecedented; and I would say that it is extremely unjust to the minority, however small that minority may be. In my own case, since I have had the honour of sitting for an Irish Constituency, having been associated with the Opposition in this House to the Chief Secretary, I have never brought, nor have I ever supported, any charge connected with any alleged outrage in Ireland without having given to it, the examination of it, considerable time and care, and without satisfying myself that the facts were in no way misrepresented. I have never alleged the commission of any crime or outrage in Ireland that has not been drawn either from the Government's own Returns or which I have not verified by careful examination. I have received since I returned from South Africa—as 527 anyone in my position was bound to receive—statements about things in Ireland. I have been unable to secure a full examination into these statements up to this moment. I should have done so if I had had the least idea that the Vote was to be taken to-day. This procedure is reprehensible and ought never to be repeated. I profoundly regret that it has taken place in this particular instance, because we are a minority. We resent much that has been said and done in connection with the government of Ireland. The least the Government might do, with their overwhelming majority, is to give us fair time and opportunity to make our statement, and to treat us with that courtesy which has hitherto been available with regard to the Opposition, whether small or great.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. Birrell)
So far as I am personally concerned, the right hon. Gentleman will recognise that I am not an active partner in this transaction. My salary is a thing in which I take some personal interest. I recognise also that it is a convenient form of raising a large variety of questions. I think I said that half a day would probably be given to Irish Supply, that being, as I understood, the intention of the Government, and that my salary would be an agreeable subject to the right hon. Gentleman. He readily acquiesced in that, and I thought the matter was settled. But other circumstances arose. I certainly was not consulted very much in the matter. I quite understand that the matter was one of friendly arrangement between the Government and the official Opposition, and with hon. Gentlemen from Ireland below the Gangway, and I understood that those also behind the right hon. Gentleman were cognisant of the arrangement. [Several HON. MEMBERS: "No, no"; and an HON. MEMBEB: "We are never consulted."] It was thought desirable to have a day off from the Budget. Nobody regrets more than I do that there has been any misunderstanding on a subject of this kind. Although it is perfectly true that I did say that minorities had to suffer, I certainly did not think I was supplying hon. Gentlemen opposite with such mental pabulum as they have found in that perfectly harmless remark. I have no desire to make minorities suffer more than they must suffer in the Lobby. It never occurred to me that we should be accused of having exercised our rights as a Government majority to deprive hon. Gen- 528 tlemen of the opportunity of discussing Irish affairs. If there has been a misunderstanding it is one with which I have nothing to do. It was thought that it would suit the convenience of the House that this Vote should be taken to-day unless some other Supply should take its place. Irish Supply was suggested, and certainly no objection was made by Irish Members. I was about the House, and nobody communicated with me in any way upon the subject. These things go by when first mentioned without any comment at the time, and then hon. Members afterwards find they have some particular grievance. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister selected to-day for this particular purpose, believing that on the whole it would be less inconvenient than any other course. The notion or idea of depriving hon. Members opposite of the full opportunity of criticising Irish affairs never entered my head.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
I did not suggest there was any deliberate idea on the part of the Government of depriving us of any such right. If my words conveyed such meaning, it was not my intention that they should. What I intended to say was that in fixing the day the result that has followed has been to deprive many of my hon. Friends from Ireland of the opportunity of being present to take part in the Debate.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I am sorry to say that is a necessary consequence of any change. If we did not take Irish Supply to-day some other Supply would have to be taken, and some other Members would be taken unawares. That inconvenience is inherent, and I can only say it is the desire of every body on this side not to choose Supply without consultation of some kind or an other and interchange of remarks between hon. Members on both sides of the House as to the course to be taken. I am exceedingly sorry if any people should be deprived of the opportunity they might have had to-day of criticising that large aspect of Irish affairs which arises under the head of my salary—
§ Sir A. ACLAND-HOOD
I thought I made this case perfectly plain to the House yesterday. What happened was this: Last Thursday the Prime Minister told the House that the Finance Bill would be taken Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week. Some time on Monday the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury came to me and said that the Government wished to get Clauses 7, 8, and 9 of the 529 Finance Bill by Tuesday, and that in that case they would take some Supply—probably Irish Supply—to-day. The Parliamentary Secretary and I always act in perfect good faith. I told him that obviously I could not assent that we should finish the Debate on three important Clauses of the Finance Bill in two days. I told him plainly, and I told the Committee, that what the Government were asking us to do was to make our own guillotine. I told him the Opposition could not take part in making a machine for our own decapitation, and in these circumstances I told him I could not come to any agreement of any kind. Had I come to such arrangement, I would have told hon. Members upon this side, but I absolutely declined to come to any agreement. I thought we had a right to have three days for these three Clauses of the Finance Bill, and I naturally could not accept the offer of the Government to take Irish Supply to-day.
§ Mr. CHARLES CRAIG
From what the Chief Secretary has said the Committee may be led to suppose that if the Unionist Members from Ireland approached him yesterday he would have put off Irish Supply to another day. My past experience of the right hon. Gentleman, if I had gone to him with such a request, would not give me the slightest hope that it would have been granted. The treatment meted out to us on this occasion is precisely the same as that meted out to us on every occasion when the right hon. Gentleman's salary came up to be discussed in this House. During the three years this Government has been in power we, who look upon ourselves as the official Opposition in connection with matters such as the Chief Secretary's salary, have never been consulted as to the day to be given for its discussion, and never more than half a day was given, whereas when we were in power the universal practice was that a full day should always be given to the Debate on the Chief Secretary's salary. I remember the Prime Minister, when objection was taken from this side last year, said he considered that hon. Members from Ireland below the Gangway were the Opposition. It is a perfectly self-evident fact that in matters pertaining to the Chief Secretary's office and Irish Government generally, hon. Members below the Gangway cannot be looked upon as the Opposition, and that the real Opposition are my colleagues upon these benches. We are the persons, according to the traditions of the House, 530 who ought to be consulted in this matter. There are a certain number of Supply days which have to be gone through, and the persons interested in the Department of Government to be discussed should be consulted as to what order and what subject should be put down. Until this year we have never, since the present Government came, had a full day for the discussion of the Chief Secretary's salary. It is a curious thing that in former years, when we were only graned half a day for the discussion of this Vote, the affairs of Ireland were by no means in the comparatively peaceful condition they are in today. Last year and the year before we had a great many matters of importance that we desired to bring before the notice of the Committee in connection with cattle-driving and the prevalence of crime. On these occasions we only got half a day for the discussion of matters that could not be properly discussed in two or three days. I join most heartily in the protest made from this side of the House at the treatment meted out to us, not only to-day but on other occasions since the present Chief Secretary took office. I never heard the Chief Secretary on former occasions, when we desired that a full day should be given to the discussion of his salary, urge that it should be given, but to-day, when the right hon. Gentleman will get up and point as a vindication of his policy that Ireland is in a very peaceful condition, is the first time the right hon. Gentleman is at all willing to grant us what we consider a proper time for the discussion of his salary.
§ Mr. J. B. LONSDALE
I think we have good reason to complain of the action of the Government in putting down this Vote for consideration to-day. There was a distinct understanding that it should be taken on the 29th July, and the sudden change of intention on the part of the Government shows an utter want of consideration for the convenience of those who desire to bring forward for discussion matters connected with their Irish administration. The readiness shown by the Government to allow a discussion of the Vote for the Chief Secretary's salary this year, invites comparison with their refusal of any opportunity to discuss this Vote last year—a denial which we could only attribute to a determination to evade, if possible, an exposure of the disastrous consequences of the policy pursued by the present Chief Secretary. I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman has come 531 down to this House to-day primed with facts and figures which he believes fully justify him in saying that the state of affairs in Ireland has improved during the last few months; and we shall no doubt be invited to accept that improvement as evidence of the wisdom of the course which he has taken. If I am right in my anticipations of the line which the right hon. Gentleman means to take I should like to ask first of all whether there have been any real improvements, and in the next place, assuming that there has been an improvement, whether the Government can claim any credit for it. Both those questions, in my opinion, must be answered in the negative. I am quite prepared to hear from the Chief Secretary that the number of outrages and acts of open intimidation against individuals has diminished during the last few months; and so far as that been the case I am very glad that it is so for the sake of the persons against whom this intimidation has been practised. At the same time I do not think the right hon. Gentleman, with all his desire to paint a rosy picture, will assert that matters are even now in a completely satisfactory state. If we take boycotting as an example, I do not know what the actual number of persons known to the police as being boycotted is at the present time. The figures with reference to boycotting during the time the present Government has been in office, however, are so remarkable, that although they have been given before, I should like to remind the House and the Chief Secretary of the record. On 31st December, 1905, when the Liberal Government had just taken office, there were in Ireland 174 boycotted persons. On 31st December, 1906, there were 202; on 31st December, 1907, 420; 31st December, 1908, 746; and on 28th February, 1909, there were 889.
Those figures shown an enormous and progressive increase in the number of persons subjected to this cruel form of intimidation, but even they do not tell the whole story. There is a vast amount of pressure of an illegal kind applied to individuals through the machinery of the United Irish League which never appears in the police reports for the simple reason that the police are afraid to complain, and bear the burden in silence. This terrorism exists in full force, even after the police returns may show an improvement. Boycotting still continues to exist in many parts of Ireland, and the Government have done no- 532 thing to stamp it out. The failure of the Chief Secretary to protect the people who were oppressed in this way led to the establishment by the Orange Society of an organisation to assist boycotted farmers by supplying them with labourers, who could not be procured from local sources owing to the illegal pressure of the United Irish League. A considerable number of farmers are still being assisted by this organisation, which has undertaken what is a primary obligation of all Governments. The fact of the matter is, the present Chief Secretary has abdicated his duty of protecting people against intimidation and outrage, and has gone very far to justify the boast which was made by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford in America that the Government of Ireland was really carried on from the offices of the United Irish League in Dublin. If there have been fewer cattle-drives during the past few months, it is not due to the fact that those who have taken part in these proceedings have been convinced of the lawlessness of their proceedings. The cause of the present lull in cattle-driving is well understood in Ireland. The cattle-drivers have coerced the Chief Secretary into acceding to all their demands in the present Land Bill, and now they are graciously pleased to cease their agitation for the time in order to "give the Chief Secretary a chance." But they have made no secret of the fact that in certain eventualities they mean to resume their nefarious operations. The Chief Secretary has received full warning of what is to happen from the conspirators themselves. Mr. John Fitzgibbon, who is a notorious leader in this movement, said in a speech at Oran, Roscommon, on 30th May:—At present they were giving their lenders a chance, but they were carefully preserving their weapons. (Cheers, and a voice: 'We are ready to vise the hazel when it becomes necessary.") He did not think the Lords would reject the amending Land Bill, but if they did there would be hot times in the country, especially in the West, for they would resort to the old tactics which had been so successful in the past.The hon. Member for East Mayo, too, has threatened, both in Tipperary and in this House, that—if the Land Bill were rejected or closured he and his friends will cry 'Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war.It is evident, therefore, that the diminution of crime and outrage, so far as it has taken place, is due not to any action on the part of the Government to uphold the law and maintain order, but to the fact that the leaders of the party of disorder have their hand upon the throttle-valve for purposes of their own; but they only mean to 533 restrain their followers just so long as it suits their purpose to do so. The Government have recently withdrawn the extra police from three counties on the ground that—the Lord Lieutenant is satisfied that they have ceased to be in a state of disturbance.The Lord Lieutenant seems to have been easily satisfied, because it would not be difficult to quote particulars of cases which have arisen in the counties from which the extra police have been withdrawn showing that the property or the persons and individuals who have incurred the animosity of the United Irish League are by no means safe from molestation. I have no doubt that in the course of this Debate we shall have flourished in our faces the white gloves which have been presented to judges at the recent assizes and quarter sessions. But nobody knows better than the Chief Secretary that white gloves are no satisfactory indication of the absence of crime. In fact, the right hon. Gentleman has himself reminded the hon. Member for Clare of that very fact. The hon. Member for Clare wanted the Chief Secretary to withdraw the extra police from the county of Clare, but in a letter which the right hon. Gentleman sent him in reply, and which was published in the "Clare Champion," I find that the Chief Secretary is unable to hold out any hope of a reduction in the extra force of police in the near future, and he makes this statement:—The fact that recently in one division of the county there were no criminal cases for hearing at quarter sessions cannot be taken as truly representing the state of the county.That remark may be applied with equal force to the conditions which prevail in other counties beside Clare, and there is nothing in the existing situation which tends to weaken our objections to the policy of the Chief Secretary in Ireland or inspire us with any confidence that peace and order will be preserved in the future. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman's attention to a particular point connected with the regulations of the Commissioners of the National Education. I ventured to bring the matter before him on the Education Vote on 17th June, but the right hon. Gentleman was not then prepared to answer me, and he said he would deal with the matter if I brought it up again on the Vote for his salary. The Commissioners have given notice that in 1911 and subsequently candidates for admission to training colleges will be required to undergo examination in one 534 language in addition to English. The effect of that will be to give an advantage to students who choose to study the Irish language over those who neglect to study that language, and who wish to improve themselves in a modern language such as French or German. The advantage given to students of the Irish language arises from the fact that public funds are being applied in affording facilities for the teaching of that language, whilst no corresponding allowances are made for the teaching of either French or German. There is a special fee given for the teaching of Irish which is denied to those who prefer to teach any other foreign language such as French or German. The Chief Secretary, I know, supports the teaching of Irish. He has said so on more than one occasion.
§ Mr. LONSDALE
My point is that French or German is more useful than Irish. The majority of the people in the North of Ireland are strongly opposed to any facilities being given for the teaching of the Irish language, and they would not under any circumstances allow their children to learn it. It is of no use to them. I do not say that people in the South or West of Ireland for reasons of sentiment or some other inscrutable reason, may not want their children to learn it.
§ Mr. LONSDALE
I do not want to arouse any controversy in regard to this matter. I am not speaking with any feeling as a partisan; I simply want to do something for the benefit of the children of Ireland, I have no other object to serve. I want to draw the Chief Secretary's attention to the practical bearing which this regulation will have upon the supply of monitors, especially in the small rural schools in the North of Ireland.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Anything which the hon. Gentleman says must be in 535 reference to what has been said before. It must not be understood that this opens up a discussion on the Education question.
§ Mr. LONSDALE
Parents strongly object in the North of Ireland to their children learning the Irish language. There are, however, no corresponding facilities offered to students in the rural districts to learn French or German and as the Regulation lays down that they must take one extra language in the examination the result will be that managers will find very great difficulty in getting monitors to come forward to be trained for the teaching profession. If it is insisted that monitors in rural districts must be capable of instruct-one or two languages—Irish, French, or German—then it will be very difficult to find monitors in the small rural schools capable of doing it. This regulation will operate most unjustly in rural schools in the North of Ireland, and it will impose upon a large and important section of the people a serious disability. I understand the new rule was decided upon without any previous consultation with the managers of rural schools in Protestant districts who are chiefly affected, and it is in the endeavour to give them some assistance that I have ventured to raise this question. I hope the Chief Secretary will see his way to communicate with the Commissioners and to induce them to give further consideration to this very important question.
§ Mr. C. CRAIG
I desire to bring before the Committee a matter which, I think, is of very great importance to one of the very few staple trades of Ireland. The cattle trade in Ireland is at present passing through a grave crisis.
§ Mr. C. CRAIG
I shall be able to show that is not so. The Government, and especially the Chief Secretary, have been gravely warned of the danger and, what is worse, the folly of the policy which has been pursued by the division of the great grass lands in the West and South of Ireland. We held, of course, that it was immoral and unjust to arbitrarily take from one section of the community what they have just as much right to as other people have to their own farms, because that is what it amounts to owing to the pressure brought to bear upon them by 536 boycotting and cattle-driving; but, apart altogether from the injustice of it, another question almost as grave arises, and that is the effect the division of these grass lands is going to have upon the cattle trade of Ireland. The cattle trade is one of the few trades which up to a short time ago was in a flourishing condition, and it gives employment to a large number of people. I do not pretend to be a very expert agriculturist, but it does not require any very great knowledge of agriculture to understand that the grazing ranches which are at present in process of being broken up into small holdings are a necessary part of the Irish grazing system. The Irish farmer breeds a few head of cattle and passes them on to a large cattle grazier, who fattens them and sends them to the English market. If you take away the intermediate stage filled by the large grazier you strike a blow at the whole cattle trade in Ireland. The grazier gone, the buyer of cattle goes into the market to look for the well-fed beast and only finds young animals of a year or 15 months old, which are of no use to him. To show that I am not the only person who holds this opinion, I want to read considerable portions of two arguments which appear in a Nationalist newspaper—a paper in which I believe some hon. Member below the gangway is interested. It is called the "Tuam Herald."
§ Mr. C. CRAIG
Whether it is a Tory paper or not, I would like, to ask hon. Members below the Gangway whether another paper, the "Roscommon Messenger," is a Tory paper. I understand that is a Nationalist paper, and the "Tuam Herald" fully endorses the opinions held by the "Roscommon Messenger." The quotations are rather lengthy, but I think they have a very great interest. The article is headed "Our Endangered Cattle Trade," and reads as follows:—Our attention has been specially called to a very important and very significant article appearing in the columns of our sturdy Nationalist contemporary, the 'Roscommon Messenger' of last week. We have read this very serious pronouncement upon 'one of the results of land purchase' with considerable and deserved attention, and rarely in recent times have we come across a more momentous matter of grave public concern and interest. We learn from this newspaper, writing, it must be remembered, with every sympathy for the present purchase movement, that the Irish cattle trade is in peril, and we doubt with it very much if it can be stayed or checked in its downward course. Lest we may exaggerate the gravity of the situation in this respect we give the exact words of the writer, who, we may add, evidently well knows what he is talking about. This is his view of farming affairs in Roscommon at present:537'Recent fairs in this county, and particularly in Ros-common, have brought under notice one of the natural results of land purchase which may lead to very serious injury to the cattle trade of the county if the necessary precautions are not taken to check in time the fall off in supply. It is not necessary to be a dealer in live stock to have the fact brought prominently under observation that within the past six or eight months there has been an entire absence at our fairs of those huge herds of well-finished cattle—great heavy droves that make the windows rattle as they were rushed through the streets in hundreds, with much shouting and yelling, to the railway station to supply the cross-channel markets and butchering establishments of the cities, with their never-ending demand for live stock.'This, in our opinion, reveals a very serious state of affairs. It is all very well to rejoice over the disappearance of the grazier with his big droves, but if they are to disappear what are to take their place? The new farms must be stocked, and if they cannot turn out the class of forward animals that were hitherto in demand and in the numbers that buyers from Meath and cross-channel sources required, the present half-reared substitutes will cease to be in demand and become a drug on the market. In plain words, there will be no sale for the immature, half-reared, half-fed beast that will be alone shown, and the cattle trade industry will be consequently ruined. This class we know hitherto found its market with the grazier and large feeder. He is going or has gone, land what is to supply his place? Our contemporary further adds that:—'At no period since the passage of the Land Act has tins decline in stock of good quality been so obvious as at the fair held in Roscommon on Wednesday last—a fair looked upon as the second best in the year. More than the usual number of dealers, many of them representing important houses, attended, and thousands of pounds lay in the banks to meet anticipated transactions, but a cursory glance at the class of stock exhibited on the morning of the fair satisfied the buyers that they were not of the quality they expected or required, and a number of dealers left the town without making a single purchase.'I should like to ask incidentally whether the good, if any, which may have resulted from the dividing up of these grass lands is in any way commensurate to the suffering which the writer of this article indicates must take place? I maintain that the experiment which has been tried is a very rash one, and should only have been entered upon with the absolute assurance that it could safely be done. My friend Agricola goes on to say:—We are told that nineteen-twentieths of the grass land divided amongst the surrounding tenantry still remains in grass, and that the new owners are using it simply and solely for the purpose of turning out larger quantities of young stock.I maintain this is evidence of the fact that the object which the Chief Secretary had in view, in dividing up these ranch lands, has not been achieved and probably never will be. We were told it was for the purpose of enabling the small tenant farmers in the South and West of Ireland to become tillage farmers instead Of graziers, but here is evidence that the division has not had that effect. I have put several questions in this House to the right hon. Gentleman with a view of ascertaining whether, when these large grazing ranches have been divided up, the new tenants who have got hold of the land have not 538 instantly relet it to large graziers, so that it has continued, to all intents and purposes, a grazing ranch. I remember asking, too, in reference to an advertisement in which all the tenants of the lands into which a large grazing ranch had been divided, notified that they had handed their holdings over to the auctioneer for the purpose of allowing the land to be let as a ranch as before. Clearly, then, the object of the Chief Secretary to provide small holdings for tillage farmers has not been attained, and I respectfully suggest to this Committee that the cattle trade of Ireland is being seriously damaged by this process, as is proved by the quotations I have read from an article which has evidently commended itself to other sections of the Irish Press. The danger is that the damage will not be merely temporary; it may, in the end, result in the total loss of the trade.
§ Mr. CHARLES CRAIG
I do not know, but he signs himself "Agricola." The article evoked a few weeks later another article, from the pen of the Editor of the "Tuam Herald," and I propose to read some extracts from that. The writer says:—It is abundantly clear that not a moment too soon, if not even too late, has this question been raised in this acute form. It must be faced, and the sooner it is met the better. We cannot allow universal purchase to go on without seeing where and whither it leads. We have no desire or ambition to become alarmists, or any wish to raise false fears or imaginary dangers, but we have sufficient intelligence and sufficient patriotism and, may we add, sufficient common sense not to blindly, like dumb, driven cattle, rush headlong into an experiment without first counting the cost or seeing where we are going. The Irish cattle trade has been an established institution, and any established institution must not all at once be subjected to a change little shore of revolutionary without seeing whether it or the country can bear the effects of the change. As every school boy knows, as it is at present carried on. Irish farming, in twenty-nine out of the thirty-two counties, is a very simple almost an elementary system, consisting chiefly of two interdependent but complementary methods. "We have the small farmer on the one hand, standing as it were at the lower rung of the agrarian ladder, rearing up and raising the young store cattle, which at the age of from twelve to eighteen months he sells to the grazier who further feeds and matures them, until at the age of two years old they go to the Meath lands or across the Channel, there and then to be turned into beef. Now, to carry out that dual system, it is plain that the intermediate feeder or grazier is as necessary a factor as any of the breeder, and that if the cattle trade as now carried on is to continue by eliminating the grazier, the breeder must continue a feeder or else there will be no demand for the article he is now spending all his time and using all his land in trying to produce If the grazier, the man who prepares and fits the cattle for shipping is to go under, and he is being fast squeezed out by Land Purchase, the small owner or breeder left to his own resources must at once turn round and supply his place or he will soon be an agricultural Othello with his occupation gone too.539 My point is that the small farmer—or grazier, as he is now called—has, up to the present, shown no signs whatever of filling the place of the big grazier whom he has supplanted. [An HON. MEMBER: "He never will."] If that be so, then it means that the cattle trade of Ireland will be absolutely ruined.
§ Mr. CHARLES CRAIG
I do not suppose that hon. Members below the Gangway desire to see one of the staple trades of Ireland, which more especially affects their own constituencies, damaged in any way. But it appears to me that the articles I have read give a good summary of what is actually taking place, and this view is certainly endorsed by the communications I have received over and over again from the South and West of Ireland. They all tend to one conclusion, namely, that unless you can provide some substitute for the present grazier, the cattle trade will be placed in very grave danger. "Up to the present there is no evidence that any provision of a substitute has been made; there is no evidence that the small farmer who has had his holding enlarged or that the outsider who has obtained possession of part of the grass farm is doing anything at all to replace the large grazier, and, unless great disaster is to befall the cattle trade, I do suggest that the responsible authority for cutting up these ranches and distributing the land among the smaller men should hold their hands until the new holdings created have been properly assimilated, and until it is seen whether the new holders are filling the places of those whom they have supplanted. I understand that the question of teaching Irish in the schools cannot properly be raised on this Vote. I had intended to supplement the remarks of the last speaker upon that subject, but, in view of the ruling of the chair, I refrain from pressing the point. I hope, however, that the Chief Secretary will give serious consideration to this question of the cattle trade in Ireland, which, it must be admitted, is one of vital importance to the country.
§ Mr. STEPHEN GWYNN
I cannot help thinking that the Chief Secretary must be a little disappointed this afternoon. I presume he came down prepared to meet a formidable attack upon his administration, but all we have heard, so far, is a 540 statement made with chastened resignation that hon. Members who have spoken have little or nothing to complain of. Even on the subjects which they have raised, and upon which they intended, I presume, to impeach the administration of the Chief Secretary, they had to confess to complete ignorance. The hon. Member for Mid-Armagh (Mr. Lonsdale) spoke on the question of the teaching of the Irish language in the schools, and seemed to infer it was a great grievance to his constituents that the people should be forced to study what he called a foreign language. I do not know if there are any English Members in the House at this moment—I do not see any—but if there were I would ask them if they would be prepared to consider it a serious impeachment of the Chief Secretary's administration that he actually proposed that the monitors in Irish schools should be required to know some other language than the English language? I confess I am not so entirely satisfied with the state of Irish education as it stands at present that I should resent any attempt to raise the standard for teachers, and I do think it is a little preposterous to complain that it is unfair to call upon monitors to possess the qualification of a knowledge of Irish in view of the fact that public funds are being spent in teaching the Irish language. Is it to be put forward as a grievance that monitors are asked to learn Irish, which is one of the subjects principally taught in the schools?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
That question is specially alluded to in the Education Vote, and it must not be referred to in this discussion.
§ Mr. C. CRAIG
I did not say I was discussing it in absolute ignorance. I said I was not a particularly expert agriculturist.
§ Mr. GWYNN
At all events, I do not think that the hon. Gentleman speaks from any expert knowledge in regard to the cattle trade, because I have bought and sold cattle for the last year, and from my experience I think the cattle trade is in a very satisfactory position. I will leave the matter, however, to be dealt with by more expert persons, except that I will say this, that in my own Consti- 541 tuency I found one place which was conspicuously prosperous. It was full of farm-houses, with every sign of prosperity about them. This was a district, about six miles out of Galway, which is entirely and absolutely in tillage. This townland is remarkable in many ways, and because, in the first place, it lies near a district which has been unhappily conspicuous for violent and lawless deeds. In this townland, and in the neighbourhood where you have tillage, there is not the least sign or shadow of crime, and where you have tillage, you have no trouble at all, but you have prosperity and peace. And what is the cause? I found in regard to these people, who break their land, that they leave it in grass for one year and feed their cattle themselves from the time that they are calves and until they become the finished article. These men were not under the necessity of bringing their cattle to market, because buyers came down to this little townland because of the excellence of the beasts that were produced there. These men did not only the work of the small farmers, but graziers' work as well, and that is what I want to see spreading. Of course, we recognise that the transition cannot be made in a moment. That is perfectly true, and where grass lands have been divided, in a good many cases, small men who have got the grass land have been obliged to let it for the moment. Surely, the explanation is a very simple one, and it is because a man does not start with an extensive stock. He lets his land while his calves are growing. I do not suppose that this land will be let in all perpetuity. On the contrary, I know that the people who have got it will utilise that grass land themselves and the small men outside Galway are clamouring for grass land, and they want it for grass land, and do not want it for tilling. The land that they have they are tilling for all it is worth, and they want a plot of land where they can put cut a beast or two.
No one proposes that the land should be kept entirely in tillage; but what we propose is a system of mixed farming, and that will explain to the hon. Member some of the facts in connection with the cattle trade. For my own part, I should be very sorry to decide the matter on the evidence of a couple of unsigned articles, even in a Western newspaper, to the effect that the cattle trade was going to rack and ruin, in face of the statistics which show the amount of the trade. But it is not the most rapidly mounting trade in Ireland, 542 because what is remarkable at the present time is that the exports of bacon and poultry, and eggs and butter, are going up by leaps and bounds, and it is quite clear that you will not get either pigs or poultry on a cattle farm, but you can have pigs and poultry and cattle as well, and that was the case of the men I was talking about a few moments ago in this town-land where they keep cattle and also make a handsome profit out of their farming and their pigs and poultry. That is the answer to all the lugubrious vaticinations about the cattle trade which the hon. Member indulged in, and if there is nothing worse to be said against the Chief Secretary than that he has damaged the cattle trade, I think that is a complete answer to that part of the indictment. Then it was complained not so much that there was disorder in Ireland, but that there was a cessation of disorder in Ireland, and that nobody could anticipate the permanency of peace in Ireland, because order had been brought about and peace had been restored in a disorderly manner. It was suggested that a criminal conspiracy had been made in the United Irish League office to put an end to agitation. I do not know exactly what it is that Unionists, broadly speaking, propose to prove when they bring forward this sort of argument about the state of Ireland. Of course, if it is simply an argument to say, "Let us put the Liberals out and put the Tories in," it is an argument for that, but it cannot be an argument against Home Rule, and that is part of our case against the Union—that you have these periods of disorder and you have them for a clearly assignable reason.
There is less disorder, violence, and discontent in Ireland when the Irish people have been met in a reasonable way, and have been given a hope of a reasonable reform. The Chief Secretary has been bullied, as the hon. Member says, into consenting to put in a Bill, which has been brought before this House, what the Dudley Commission recommended. When the Irish people find themselves met in a reasonable manner they remain as quiet as anybody else, but unfortunately they have this experience, that before you can get any Chief Secretary to put into an Act of Parliament the recommendations of the Dudley Commission, or any other Commission, it is necessary to call attention to the fact that the people of Ireland want that change to be made. That is the simple explanation of cattle-driving. Cattle-driving has been a necessary process to direct the attention of this House 543 and of the Chief Secretary, and of the Government, to the state of affairs in Ireland, which have been reported upon by that Commission. If anybody wishes to prove that peace in Ireland is not permanent, I am not prepared to argue against that, because I have not the least doubt that these alternations of quiet and unrest will continue, so long as we are governed by the preposterous system which prevails at present, and so long as it is necessary to break the law, in order to get the law changed. That always has seemed to me to be a singularly bad argument for the maintenance of the Legislative Union.
§ Mr. JOHN MURPHY
I had a question on the Paper to-day with regard to the conduct of certain of the police forces in Ireland, which I wish to deal with, and in reference to which I wish to explain, that when I said that the right hon. Gentleman was reading out an untruthful answer, what I wanted to convey was, that the untruthful answer was supplied to him by the police authorities in Ireland. I am bound to say that in regard to every question I have asked the right hon. Gentleman in connection with the police authorities in the cases of eviction in my county, the reply has been of a character similar to that which I received to-day. I could just as easily put upon the Paper the answer of the right hon. Gentleman as I could put the original question, and it would be just as satisfactory, as far as I am concerned and the people for whom I am acting. In reference to the police authorities, generally, in regard to the recent unfortunate eviction in the county of Kerry, about which I asked, I have no complaint to make as to most of the officers and of all the men who were brought to carry out that eviction, but when a Member of this House is present himself, and alleges that he observed the matters of which he complains on a certain occasion, something more satisfactory ought to be expected than that the mere denial of the police should be given by the Chief Secretary, and it is in regard to such a policy that I regret to have to speak very strongly indeed. Sergeant Long was charged by me with assaulting Mr. Kearney, vice-chairman of the Tralee Board of Guardians, and the right hon. Gentleman reads out an answer to the effect that Sergeant Long was removing people from a fence, and that Mr. Kearney was removed by a police-constable from the fence. There is not a single shadow of 544 justification for introducing the question of the fence into the matter at all, as Mr. Kearney was in the open field, and he was coming to where I was, and where he had been previously permitted to go by a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary one hour previously, when Sergeant Long prevented him coming, and actually assaulted him to prevent him doing so. When Mr. Kearney was able to come to me we went to Sergeant Long to get his name, but he refused to give us it, or anything but impertinence, until we brought an officer of the police force to compel him to disclose his identity. When I ask a question in this House the Chief Secretary supplies the answer of the police officer and says Mr. Kearney has his remedy, and can go to the police court and have the decision of a removable magistrate. That is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs, and a comparison with the English practice would prove how differently things are done in England. The other day an indiscriminate crowd gathered outside the House of Commons, and a doctor was alleged by a Member of Parliament to be assaulted. I was in the crowd, and saw the difficulties of the English police, and I can do nothing but congratulate them upon the pains and the care with which they performed a very unpleasant duty. When a question was asked in this House the Home Secretary requested a postponement, in order that a full inquiry should be made into the conduct of this sergeant of police, but when I ask the Chief Secretary as to the conduct of Sergeant Long I am told that Mr. Kearney has his remedy in the police court, and when I make other allegations against the police the Chief Secretary says if he gives an inquiry in this case he will have to give one in every other case. I say that is hardly a fair attitude to adopt, having regard to the very serious consequences which may follow the action of the police at Castleisland, in the county of Kerry. It is a district which, unfortunately, in the past has caused a great deal of turmoil in Ireland, and the pity of the whole matter is that one little bit of common-sense upon the part of the landlord, or one little bit of fair and proper pressure on the part of the Government would have avoided all the wretched proceedings in which we have engaged up to the present, and would prevent me from having to make any complaint against the police authorities or against the action of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
This question arises on the Constabulary (Ireland) Vote. The Rule is that, although the Chief Secretary is responsible for the Royal Irish Constabulary, yet any matter which relates to that subject must be placed under the Royal Irish Constabulary Vote.
The point you have raised is of the greatest importance to every Irish Member, for this reason, that during the course of the Session we only have three days to discuss the whole of the Irish Departments, and I submit that it has always been the practice to discuss on the Chief Secretary's salary any matter over which he has control, provided it has not been included in some Vote on which hon. Members have already had an opportunity of speaking.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
No, there is no such Rule or practice. You cannot discuss on the Chief Secretary's salary a matter for which there is a specific Vote down.
§ Mr. JOHN O'CONNOR
I submit that the observations of the hon. Member (Mr. Murphy) have been directed not towards the conduct of the police, but towards the conduct of the Chief Secretary in answering questions respecting the conduct of the police, and I submit that the hon. Member ought to be regarded as in perfect order.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. and learned Gentleman knows the distinction. You are dealing here with the conduct of the Chief Secretary in relation to the Constabulary, and you must deal with it under the Constabulary Vote.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
Do I understand your ruling amounts to this, that it is impossible on this Vote to challenge the action of the Chief Secretary in refusing an inquiry into certain disturbances in Ireland? The police are always mixed up with disturbances, but that does not make it solely a question for the Police Vote.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. and learned Gentleman, of course, knows the Rules as well as I do. The hon. Member was referring to the action of the police, and the Chief Secretary was referred to as the head of the Constabulary Department.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
I understood the hon. Member's object was to complain of the action of the Chief Secretary in 546 refusing an adequate inquiry. I understand that will be in order.
§ Mr. MURPHY
I was dealing with the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman in refusing to grant an inquiry into the conduct of the police officers. I want to know now if he is still prepared to justify the sending down of a police force to Kerry and keeping them there for the purpose of using them as bailiffs for the landlord in connection with the dispute at Castle-island? I want to know whether he is going to put me off, in the allegation that we have made against certain police officials, by telling us we can go to the law courts, and refusing us any other form of inquiry so as to prevent any further disturbance in this district. I think really enough has happened in the district to justify the right hon. Gentleman in refusing to give the forces of the Crown to Mr. Mahony, an official of the Castle itself, to carry out a vendetta against this unfortunate tenant. Everything has been alleged against the tenant to Members of the House and to the Chief Secretary, but the district inspector at Castleisland on Friday admitted in sworn evidence that Walsh, the tenant, was a sober, industrious and hard-working man until he came under the control of Mr. Mahony. Mr. Mahony, of course, has the ear of many officials in Dublin Castle, and he is able to put his case very effectively to many people, but we have the evidence of the district inspector that he is sober and industrious, and that he is willing to leave his case to the decision of the Estates Commissioners or to any other body fairly constituted.
Then I want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman, under these circumstances, will allow Mr. Mahony the forces of the Crown without any inquiry into their conduct, and whether he will allow him to continue to have a police force, which is unnecessary in any ordinary circumstances, billeted in Castleisland, charged to county Kerry, and involving expense, and trouble to the district. In my judgment the Chief Secretary has shown a want of courage in dealing with this matter. On a previous occasion when there were evictions in Kerry, a Tory Chief Secretary refused to allow the forces of the Crown for the purpose of carrying out an unjust eviction, but what are the forces of the Crown being used for to-day in Kerry? The house, which was a comfortable home, has been 547 utterly shattered and ruined, and an old woman 80 years of age was lying dying in the house, and the Chief Secretary, with these facts before him, allows the forces of the Crown to go down, armed with battering rams and shields, in order that the bailiffs might put out the old woman and her son. The landlord went down in a motor car the other day, and one of the Chief Secretary's policemen, into whose conduct an inquiry should have been made, was put in the motor car beside him. Is it fair play between landlord and tenant that the Chief Secretary should give the people in that locality the feeling that under a Liberal Government a landlord can claim every assistance from the Estates Commissioners and the police, and that the tenant can expect nothing but prosecution and the refusal of resident magistrates to permit other magistrates equally capable to investigate the claims against them? I am bound to take every opportunity of calling attention to the action of the right hon. Gentleman in permitting these things to be done. If the right hon. Gentleman only made up his mind that it was a case for settlement, as I believe in his heart he thinks it is, he need only say to the landlord that it should be settled and it would be settled, and the result of that would be that there would be peace in a portion of Kerry which is not notorious for being very peaceable, and which may easily become unsettled again, and if the right hon. Gentleman only says that to Mr. Mahony, Mr. Mahony will have fair treatment from the tenant and the sale of his land will go through, and neither the right hon. Gentleman nor the police nor Mr. Mahony can make Walsh or the people of Castleisland afraid to face any consequences in securing justice and fair play for themselves.
The right hon. Gentleman has not dealt fairly with Walsh in his answers. He has represented him as not being a tenant at all. That is nothing but a legal quibble. Walsh's grandfather was a tenant, his father was a tenant, and he himself was a tenant, and the question of non-payment of rent arose entirely at the time that negotiations for purchase were being carried on, and Walsh said he would not purchase except upon fair and reasonable terms, and unless he got those fair and reasonable terms he would pay no rent. That was an extreme course, and perhaps an unjustifiable course according to law, but I am bound to say it was a necessary 548 course in order to make the Estates Commissioners pay any attention to his position and to his claims in reference to the sale of the property. When the Chief Secretary represents in the House of Commons that Walsh was not a tenant at all, it is rather extraordinary that on another occasion a short time subsequently he represented him as owing £401) in rent. He cannot have it both ways. The landlord gives this information to the right hon. Gentleman's officials in Dublin, and the answers given in this House are furnished by the officials. The blame which I wish to put on the officials in Dublin is not meant for the right hon. Gentleman. I state the matter strongly in the hope that I will induce him to take the matter into his own hands, and not bother with the representations of police officers, Under-Secretaries, or others who are more in touch with the landlord. I hope he will endeavour to take up this case himself and deal with it in the interest of the district. It is not an isolated case in county Kerry. There are other cases, and if a fire is kindled in Castleisland it will spread rapidly, and the right hon. Gentleman may have some regret that he did not deal with the matter in the way I suggest.
There is another evicted tenant near my own locality, where there are four police officers. There is no need to keep them there at the expense of the district. Their presence brings disgrace on the district. Within half a mile of the hut erected for the accommodation of these policemen there is a permanent police station, where there are sufficient officers to perform the duties. When is the right hon. Gentleman going to direct his attention to these matters? When is he going to look into the conditions of the police force in Ireland himself without taking the reports of police officers as being perfectly unquestionable and correct in every detail? I make no general allegation against all the police who were engaged in the dirty and unpleasant duties they had to perform. They acted fairly well, having regard to the unpleasant nature of their duties, but there were a small number, sergeants and constables, who were a disgrace to the name of Irishmen, and whose conduct ought to be inquired into. Apart from my own statement, I can produce photographs of the police removing obstacles and becoming bailiffs on the occasion of the first eviction. I can produce another photograph showing one of the police officers holding a young girl by the hair of the head and removing her from a 549 place where she was not interfering in any shape or form with the administration of the law. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that serious matters of that kind carried out by irresponsible and blackguard policemen are not matters for inquiry? Does he think it sufficient to tell the Member for the district, who, whatever little qualities he may possess, represents the people concerned in this matter, that no inquiry will be made, and that the people can go to the police court and the resident magistrate? I hope what I have said will have some effect on the right hon. Gentleman, and that he will take steps to have an inquiry made into the matter. I hope he will do even better than that, by taking the matter into his own hands and effecting a settlement in the Walsh case through the Estates Commissioners or other powers at his disposal. If he does so, he will have a chance of maintaining in county Kerry the reputation for sympathy with real grievances which he has won from all the people in my native county, and from none more than myself. If I select this isolated case, and speak strongly about it, it is because I believe the right hon. Gentleman could bring about a settlement if he would give his attention to it. I would then have no occasion to speak in this condemnatory manner in regard to the case.
§ Mr. BARRIE
I wish to say a word in reference to the circumstances under which we are asked to deal with this important question this afternoon. My Friends and I understood that this Vote was to come before us to-morrow week, but we were told yesterday afternoon that the Government had altered their plan for reasons known to themselves. We are now asked to deal with what I venture to describe as the most important Vote on which criticism will be offered from the Unionist Benches in regard to Irish administration during this Session at a time when I regret to say many of my colleagues cannot be present to raise matters of which they have special knowledge. We are all glad this year at least the Chief Secretary has been willing that we should have an opportunity of discussing the Vote for his salary, and we welcome the opportunity of drawing the attention of the Committee to the peculiar position in which we are asked to-day to approach that Vote for the salary of the Chief Secretary. I have no doubt when the Chief Secretary comes to speak he will tell us a pleasant tale of the improved state of law and order and of the lessening of crime; but I think also he will have 550 to admit that, so far, he does not feel at absolute liberty to reduce the Irish police force to the number which he found enrolled upon it when he took charge of the government of Ireland. We have always to remember when dealing with the present Chief Secretary that he holds views as regards his personal responsibility for the discharge of the duties of that office which are held, I venture to say, by no other British Minister at the present moment. We know that he was practically an apologist for the crime and disorder prevailing in Ireland. We found him speaking in great towns in England as regards his responsibility on remarkable lines. I think it was at Warrington, in December last, he made a speech from which I quote a sentence. Referring to the serious and unsatisfactory state of Ireland at that time, he said that so long as Ireland was governed by a stranger, like himself, at a distance, it was only natural and to be expected that there should be disorder. [NATIONALIST cheers.] I am aware that is the sentiment held by hon. Members below the Gangway.
§ Mr. HUGH BARRIE
Here we have the Chief Secretary last December stating that the conditions under which he discharges his responsible duties are such that disorder is to be expected. How, in the face of that speech, can he reconcile his new attitude? I am heartily glad that he will be able this afternoon to congratulate himself and the people of Ireland on the somewhat improved state of affairs in that country. I submit to him that in the face of that speech he has to admit there are circumstances underlying the present state of affairs in Ireland which are alike a disgrace to those who have brought them about and a disgrace to the Chief Secretary who is responsible for entering into such a bargain. We know that the Chief Secretary is at present on parole.
§ Mr. BARRIE
It is a term not altogether so pleasant to the Chief Secretary as he ventures now to suggest to the Committee.
§ Mr. BARRIE
In view of the speeches made in Ireland, to which reference has been made time and again, that lawlessness is to be stayed until the Chief Secretary gets through his Land Bill—I think the man in the street will understand what I mean when I say that the right hon. 551 Gentleman, is on parole—I hope—and I say it with all sincerity—that the improvement which we have seen in Ireland in recent months will continue. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Belfast?"] We are glad to say that even in Belfast everything is peaceful. I am sorry that the Chief Secretary thinks there is reason to differ from that opinion, but I think it will be admitted that the great city of Belfast, taking it per head of the population, and comparing it with Dublin, comes out an enviable first. I have no desire to dwell upon that. I have said that the Chief Secretary holds unique views as regards his responsibility. When he was selected for his high office he undertook to maintain law and order in Ireland. He did so by practically handing over the government of Ireland to what is called the Directory of the United Irish League.
§ Mr. BARRIE
The hon. and learned Member for Waterford seems to think that was not so. I would remind him of a speech made on the other side of the Atlantic, in which he told his people there that he practically ruled Ireland from a certain office in the city of Dublin. I only mention that because of the interruption of the hon. Member. There are other facts which should also be brought to the recollection of the Committee. Here we have this hon. and learned Member (Mr. J. Redmond) occupying a position of such great responsibility, and yet at the present moment he finds it impossible to address an open meeting in the metropolis of Ireland.
§ Mr. BARRIE
The last time he attempted to address an open meeting in the metropolis there was a large force of the Royal Irish Constabulary there to protect his person and preserve the peace.
§ Mr. BARRIE
The hon. and learned Gentleman is perfectly correct. I do not think the members of the Constabulary force were admitted inside the hall, but they were there in ample force outside. It is a matter of public knowledge that the great Convention called by the hon. Member—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I would remind the hon. Member that this is a discussion on the Vote for the salary of the Chief Secretary.
§ Mr. BARRIE
I have no desire to be out of order, but I thought the connection between the Chief Secretary and the hon. and learned Member for Waterford was so close that I was entitled to deal with this incident in their public life as a matter worthy of mention. I have no desire to dwell on that. I pass to other and, perhaps, less important matters. Before doing so I rejoice to be able to agree with hon. Members below the Gangway who say that a great improvement has taken place in Ireland, that agriculture, comparatively speaking, is progressive, and that as regards the small agricultural industries a very great revival indeed has taken place. Hon. Members from the South and West rejoice in this fact, and we all hope that it will continue. I regret that under your ruling I cannot refer to the beneficent operations of the new Department, which has done so much in that direction, and is doing it to-day, with the help of many Members of the Irish Nationalist party. But I regret that apparently under your ruling we will not be allowed to deal with that Department under this head, although I may remind you that the Chief Secretary himself is the head of that important Department. But I pass from that, again expressing my gratification that the position in Ireland, tested in various ways, has improved greatly, and promises, as regards the advancement of agriculture, to be even more progressive in the future.
But, speaking as an Irish Unionist, I have another complaint to make as regards the Chief Secretary. I confess that in these latter months I have ceased to trouble the Chief Secretary as regards matters in which my Constituents are particularly interested, because I recognise that the Chief Secretary's hands are tied in this matter, and that as regards the granting of some of the public money for the advancement of local projects it was only wasting the Chief Secretary's time as well as my own to press for substantial grants in aid of these projects. But I feel it my duty to say that our Friends below the Gangway seem to be able to get practically all that they care to demand, while hon. Members representing Unionist constituencies are severely left out in the cold. Some three years ago, immediately after the Chief Secretary took office, I had occasion to press very strongly for a grant in 553 reference to the Magilligan ferry. This was a matter which concerned a Nationalist constituency as much as my own. Means of communication were required even more for the Nationalist constituency than for my own. Both sections joined in a deputation to the Chief Secretary, but nothing came of it, and nothing has been done. The sum asked for was some £7,000. We were told that the Treasury could not possibly make any grant that year for any purpose of the kind. Judge of my surprise a few weeks later to find a grant given to the prosperous harbour of Sligo of £20,000. That, I think, is one instance of the hopelessness of Irish Unionist Members expecting any substantial aid for progressive and productive work in their constituencies from the present Chief Secretary. But there are some matters which do not cost money in which we believe that even the present Chief Secretary can help us substantially, some objects affecting the whole of Ireland. And one which I would like to press on the Chief Secretary is that of again taking up and placing on the Statute Book the measure introduced two years ago by the Vice-President of the Agricultural Department to enable harbour authorities who are self-supporting, and who have never asked for a Government grant, and do not intend to ask for a Government grant, to make fresh loans on the security of the rating of the townships, without having to get a new Act of Parliament to give them power to do so. In my own Constituency especially we feel the necessity of this, as we are debarred from carrying out a work which would cost us £10,000, because of the heavy cost of coining here to get a private Bill passed through. Surely there are other matters in Ireland in reference to which the Chief Secretary could in that way help us substantially. There is another Bill in which I am specially interested.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
No, because the question of legislation does not arise on the Votes in Supply. We can only deal with questions of administration.
§ Mr. HUGH BARRIE
I can only regret that we have so very few opportunities of addressing the Chief Secretary with regard to these matters. I do not know that I need refer to the criticisms offered by hon. Members below the Gangway, but 554 the hon. Member for South Kildare (Mr. Denis Kilbride) ventured to differ with one of my colleagues in reference to the cattle trade. I rather think with all respect that he misunderstood what was said by the hon. Member for South Antrim (Mr. C. Craig). I do not think that any Member in this House would venture to say that as regards young cattle there has not been a very great improvement in the trade in Ireland; but all that my hon. Colleague ventured to submit was that if the policy of breaking up the grass lands was followed up, as seems to be the intention of the United Irish League, instead of tillage taking the place of grazing, you will have a large number of small landowners still grazing, and the cattle trade in one of its largest interests will be seriously assailed. And in that connection might I say that there never was a time in which all Irish Members should be more united in doing everything they could to foster the cattle trade. [An HON. MEMBER: "YOU know nothing about it."] I happen to have a practical knowledge of the cattle trade, and I know exactly what I am speaking about, and I speak with a full knowledge of the conditions prevailing in the North. We have under the Department improved substantially the breed of all cattle in the district, and what we have so far obtained we believe to be but a small part of what we will be able to do within the next few years. In concluding these observations, which I hope I have made without offence to hon. Members below the Gangway, I venture to say that we should have had, if possible, larger liberty under the Vote for the Chief Secretary's salary when we are able to get at it only once in two years.
§ Mr. WILLIAM REDMOND
I only desire to say two or three words on the particular subject of the Chief Secretary, but I may be allowed to commence my observations by saying that I think this day will do the cause of the Irish people a very great deal of good in the estimation of the people of this country. We were told for some time past that the legitimate and ordinary opportunities afforded by the Chief Secretary's salary would be taken of calling attention in this House to the condition of Ireland. Everybody must admit that for the last year, and for a considerable period before, that a section of the newspapers of this country have been filled to overflowing with accounts of the extraordinary state of lawlessness and disorder and outrage prevailing in Ireland.
§ Mr. WILLIAM REDMOND
I cannot complain of the hon. Gentleman interrupting me, because I fancy that once or twice I have interrupted in the same way myself; but not only in the Press, but at Question-time in this House, from the platforms, and at public meetings throughout the length and breadth of Great Britain, people have been industriously and repeatedly told over and over again that under the present Government during the régime of the last three years in Ireland, crime and disorder and outrage had increased and multiplied to such an extent that Ireland is almost, if we are to believe what we have been told, a country unfit for civilised people to live in. Nobody can deny that those statements have been distributed broadcast throughout this country through the medium of the platform, of Parliament, and of the Press. Now we get the opportunity—which is the proper opportunity— of making a ease against the Government in regard to the condition of Ireland. Every year, everyone knows who has been in this House for some time, an opportunity is offered on the salary of the Executive officer of the Government responsible for Ireland of laying bare to friend and foe alike the true condition of the country and of voicing every complaint that may legitimately be made. I imagine that the vast majority of the people of this country who have believed these statements made to them rather looked forward to to-day. They were told if not to-day some day this week, or about now, a great Debate was to be raised by the Unionist Members from Ireland, during which they would arraign the Chief Secretary, and during which they would substantiate what they have insinuated at Question-time, and prove by fact and by figure beyond all contradiction or doubt that Ireland was in a horrible condition, and that under the present Administration things have become immensely worse. We had this great Debate this afternoon, and I only wish that larger numbers of the people of this country could have been present in order that they might have heard the statements made in substantiation of these wild, wicked, cruel charges against Ireland of being in a state of disorder and outrage of every kind. Instead of any serious attempt being made to substantiate the charges levied against Ireland in the matter of crime and outrage, no attempt was made, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Armagh (Mr. Lonsdale) opened the Debate in a speech 556 of the mildest possible character. He made certain statements, and he read a few extracts from certain speeches in the newspaper. We have heard these statements and we have heard these extracts over and over again. We come across them in the literature of the Unionist party and in their leaflets and pamphlets. They have done service on almost every Unionist platform in the country. We have heard them at Question-time in this House. Nothing fresh, nothing distinct, nothing definite was stated by the hon. Member for Armagh.
He was seconded by another hon. Unionist Member (Mr. Craig), and I suppose those who expected the great attack which was to be developed listened anxiously to him. What did he devote himself to? Not to the crime, outrage, murder, lawlessness, and disturbance in Ireland. He said hardly a word on that subject at all. He devoted himself, and I think he showed his sense as a practical man in discussing, not the moonlighting, not the law-breaking, but the very practical and common-sense question as to the present condition of the cattle trade in Ireland. I do not agree with the opinion of the hon. Gentleman as to the present position and future prospects of the cattle trade of Ireland, but at any rate it was a legitimate and reasonable subject for any Irish Member to discuss. Where was the great attack against the Government, where was the attempt to prove the lawless state of Ireland? It was non-existent. The Member for one of the Divisions Londonderry (Mr. Hugh Barrie) told us that the condition of the country in regard to agriculture has actually improved, and beyond a few jeers and sneers about public meetings and against some Irish Members, he really said nothing at all. In all these speeches there was an absolute absence of anything like a particle of proof in sustainment of these horrible charges that have been dinned into the ears of the British people to the discredit and dishonour of Ireland. What does it all prove? It all proves that the state of Ireland to-day, from the point of view of disturbance and crime, is immensely favourable when compared with this country. There is no crime and outrage, practically speaking, in Ireland. There is more crime and more outrage in almost any single district of Great Britain in one week than there is in the whole of Ireland for a year. If that were not the case, and if it were true that the country was convulsed by these outrages and this disorder, surely some interest 557 would be taken in the discussion to-day. The fact that the House of Commons sat until after seven o'clock this morning cannot be taken as a sufficient reason for the entire absence of the whole of the Unionist party. That party and their Leaders on the Front Bench are often said to be the champions of law and order in Ireland. Sometimes they speak of the great oppression of the minority, of the horrible lives and of the terror of the poor people—persecuted, boycotted, and injured, and almost done to death. We hear this frequently. But when a day is given—and you cannot in the present condition of Parliament easily get a day for anything—and when an opportunity is afforded, from four in the afternoon until 11 o'clock at night, for everything to be said that can be said against Ireland, where is the whole of the Unionist party, where is the Leader of the Opposition? There is not a single man on the Front Bench, not a single Leader of the Unionist party present. Are we not entitled to ask reasonable and fairminded Englishmen to believe that, if these statements as to the condition of Ireland were true, these benches would be thronged, and the Leader of the Opposition would be present? They are not here. What does that prove? It proves that they recognise the utter hollow-ness and mockery of this talk about the horrible condition of Ireland. It proves that all this attack has been indulged in simply as a part of the political machinery intended to injure the present Administration, and also the Irish people in the national demands they make. I am glad this Debate has occurred, because it clears the air. It shows that here in Parliament, the proper place, no attempt even has been made, nor could be made, to substantiate the stories which are circulated with regard to disorder in Ireland—stories which would be comical and laughable almost, save that they are cruel, and that they carry a mistaken idea of the true state of Ireland to the minds of the people who are not acquainted with the actual facts of the case.
There are two points which I ask the Chief Secretary to very seriously consider. One is, whether the time has not arrived when in certain districts in Ireland the large expert forces of police might not, with absolute safety, be removed? I represent a county in Ireland which, I am afraid, has been given a bad name in this country. I think there are more questions asked about law and order and disorder in county Clare than in any other 558 county in Ireland. The hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. Lonsdale), whenever he is stuck for a subject, always thinks of Clare, and puts a question down about it. The result is that the name of Clare, by repeated questions and statements, has been given a notoriety in this country which makes people believe that, even if all the rest of Ireland is peaceful, the county of Clare is still in a state of indescribable uproar and disorder. I do not deny, far from it, that in the course of agitation in times past, when passions were aroused and feeling ran high, when people were fighting for possession of their homes and defending themselves against the landlords, who were levelling their houses and throwing men, their wives, and children on to the roadside, the people of Clare did take the law into their own hands; and I do not blame them for having done so, because I solemnly believe myself that the remedial land legislation, which has done so much good in Ireland, never would have been passed if the people had not taken the law into their own hands. That time has gone by. I would call the attention of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to the fact that county court judges have received white gloves when they have gone to quarter sessions because there were no cases of crime to be brought before them. That fact in itself is very good evidence as to the generally peaceful condition of the country. In the county of Clare, time after time at quarter sessions recently, the county court judge has been presented with white gloves. That county at present is in a state of peace which cannot be equalled or paralleled in this country. Take the last assizes at Clare. The judge said that the county was not, of course, in an ideally peaceful and perfect condition, but there were few cases of crime to go before the jury, and they were only such as would be looked for in the case of a big community, or a large centre of population, where there was usually a certain amount of crime. He added that there was nothing in the cases before him to show that there was any conspiracy to cause disorder, and that the condition of the county had greatly improved. I think, in view of that statement and these facts, it is hardly fair to burden the ratepayers with the charge of many thousands a year for extra police. I believe the Chief Secretary is anxious to do what is proper in the matter, but I am afraid he is badly advised. I fear there are certain people who object to the removal of these extra police. I directly 559 appeal to the Chief Secretary to consider this matter, particularly in regard to the county of Clare, as well as to the whole of Ireland. If the right hon. Gentleman will inquire into the subject, I am sure the result will be that the ratepayers in Ireland will be relieved of the excessive burden which is placed upon them.
There is one other point I wish to put to the right hon. Gentleman. We passed through Parliament a year or two ago a very beneficial Bill for housing the working classes in towns. The operation of that Bill is, to a certain extent, controlled by the Irish Local Government Board. I appeal to the Chief Secretary, as representative of the Local Government Board, to set himself particularly to the task of ascertaining whether it is not possible to put the Housing of the Working Classes Act into force more generally than has been the case up to the present time. I refer to the case of the chief town in my Constituency, Ennis, where a loan was applied for and refused. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider this matter from the point of view of those people who are anxious to give the working classes better houses, and I ask him to see that the Local Government Board and the Board of Works deal sympathetically with the people in their endeavour to fairly administer the Act.
§ Captain CRAIG
I wish to bring out as clearly as I possibly can how unfair is the attack of the hon. Member for Clare (Mr. W. Redmond) upon the few Members who represent the Unionist constituencies of Ulster. It was unfair on the part of the hon. Member to suggest that my hon. Friend the Member for Armagh was quoting anything other than the official Returns granted by the Chief Secretary himself. My hon. Friend is most particular on every occasion to be accurate in his statements, and the figures he quoted were taken from official sources, and cannot be disputed. The hon. Member complained of the absence of Members from these benches and from the Front Bench. It is to be borne in mind that Members of the Unionist party have taken a very difficult part in the legislation of this House. Their duties have been far more arduous than those of the Nationalist party, who have taken no part whatever latterly in the Debates on the Budget, whereas the right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen on these benches have been in constant attendance, and have had to take part in 560 every stage of the Bill, early and late, during the sittings of this House. Therefore, I think it is unnecessary to apologise for them because they are taking a rest on an occasion of this sort, when we are discussing a Vote that has been sprung upon us.
§ Captain CRAIG
The hon. Member is quite unfair. The Vote was sprung upon us, and consequently it is not to be wondered at that many Members are not present. I pass from that unjust imputation upon my hon. Friends, that they have taken no interest in the welfare and condition of Ireland because they happen to be absent at the present moment. I am only re-echoing what my colleagues have said in saying that it has never been any pleasure for any one of us to come down to this House and to draw attention to any of the unfortunate occurrences which have given a bad name to parts of the South and West of Ireland. I can assure the Committee it has always been with the greatest sense of responsibility and with pain and sorrow that I have ever asked a question in this House which has been directed towards the terrorism and crime committed during the past three years. If it were the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Birrell) who was responsible for the momentary cessation of disorder in Ireland, I would be one of the first to join with my colleagues in congratulating him upon the state of the country. The Chief Secretary knows, and, probably, will confess to the Committee, that it is through no effort of his that that state of affairs has been brought about. No one speaks with more force and with a greater number of the Nationalist party behind him than the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon). What does he say? I think really if any hon. Member of the Committee were to simply quote the hon. Member's speeches he would show in the shortest possible space the exact situation in Ireland at the present moment. The hon. Member says in effect if you give us what we want you may count on peace and quietude in Ireland; and if you do not give us what we want, that is the Land Bill, which is hanging over the House, then what does he say? "We will let loose the dogs of war." Those are the hon. Member's own words. What can this House and the country, and especially all the poor tenant farmers and artisans and small shopkeepers in the south and west, take out of it than that if the Nationalist 561 party do not get their wishes, complied with they will let loose the dogs of war, and the unfortunate occurrences of the last three years will be once more entered upon in the country. I am sure none of my Friends here are looking forward with pleasure to such an occurrence—far from it.
Are we to be asked to congratulate the Government and to congratulate the Chief Secretary on having secured a somewhat temporary relief for those poor people in the south and west who were terrorised, and whose lives were made miserable by the action of the United Irish League. We cannot do it, and that is the unfortunate situation in which we stand here to-day. If it were due to any action of the Chief Secretary or the Executive, or of the Cabinet, in order to secure life and property in Ireland, then we would join in most heartily congratulating him on having brought that about. We cannot do it. We are standing on the brink of a precipice, because of the very fact that if the wishes of the party are not carried out then the disturbances are to break out again. The hon. Member for Louth in this House said that he himself would not raise his voice in order to prevent a rising in the country in certain eventualities. What does all that mean, but that for a momentary period we are being treated to a show, as it were, which hon. Members like the hon. Member for East Clare (Mr. William Redmond) have made the most of to-day in parading the peaceful state of Ireland. The hon. Member referred to questions which we asked in the course of our duty—not so much as to our constituents, but as to those isolated Unionists throughout Ireland who have no representative in this House. Our duty was to stand by those isolated Unionists who were unable to make their voices heard in the British House of Commons, unless by some of those who represent constituencies in Ulster which are still able to return Unionists to the House.
§ Captain CRAIG
The two hon. Members for Dublin University have, as everyone knows, always assisted their colleagues in any step we took. No action has been taken without consulting them, and none at all without consulting the right hon. Gentleman now leading the House on our side. These instances are not sent to us for the purpose of parading before this country. We are just as much Irish as hon. Members, and they know it is no 562 pleasure to us to have to ask these questions about women and children and old men. They are no fancy cases, but cases admitted, and if I went to the library and produced answers from the right hon. Gentleman, I could read for hours and hours, not so-called "fancy cases," but cases that actually happened. Therefore to twit us with parading those questions from any other motive than to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman and the constabulary in Ireland, to the specific cases which required immediate attention, that I say is a travesty of the whole condition of affairs. I came down here to-day for the purpose of taking no part in the Debate, but the spirit in which the hon. Member for Clare approached this subject tempted me to rise at once to give a flat denial to the statement that those questions of ours were asked for any ulterior motive, or with anything but the best intentions, to strive to get for a class of Irishmen a proper sense of protection from the Executive in Ireland by the ordinary methods of the law, the same as in England and in Scotland. I hope we will not hear from anyone below the Gangway any more of those random statements about our action in the matter. With regard to the taunt that was thrown at us with regard to the great city of Belfast, I was in the neighbourhood during the whole of the great celebrations of 12th July, and as to the insinuation that they gave rise to trouble in the North of Ireland, far from it. If the right hon. Gentleman only knew it, in that part of Ireland peace and quietude and harmony does prevail. The people are law-abiding and peaceful in their nature and conducted themselves at that time in an exemplary manner. It is no pleasure to us, but it is the fact, that the only disturbed part of the city was in the Nationalist quarter. That is well known to the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin), whom I do not see in his place. Therefore the taunt that was directed at these benches was entirely misdirected energy on the hon. Member's part.
Outrages in Ireland have undoubtedly ceased. Will the hon. Member and his Friends guarantee that that will continue to the end of the year in any eventuality? No; I am afraid, in the case they have made out for themselves and for the Nationalist party, that it is impossible. All that we ask the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Birrell) to do, and it is a fair thing to ask, is that he should not allow the Government of the country to pass out of his 563 hands, but that he should do what every other Chief Secretary has always done as long as I can remember, and that is to ignore any pressure brought to bear upon him, and to try and maintain the law of the land as though they were living on this side. I am afraid that the Chief Secretary has allowed the authority to slip out of his hand on too many occasions ever to be able to regain it again. That is how the unfortunate situation has been created. While we must frankly admit apparently somewhat better times are looming in Ireland, there is, owing to this unfortunate catering on every possible public and private occasion to pressure of the Nationalist party, the result that the Chief Secretary has allowed all the power of ruling to slip out of his hands and out of the hands of the Lord Lieutenant. Although momentarily there is a little cessation of hostilities on the part of the United Irish League, it is not a matter of congratulation. There is still hanging over our heads the outbreak which has been threatened by hon. Members below the Gangway. I only urge the Chief Secretary, in the case of such an outbreak, to show some more firmness than he and his colleagues have shown when it occurred before. In order to show how we stand with regard to this matter, and in reply chiefly to the hon. Member for East Clare, I beg, as a formal protest, to move to reduce this Vote by the sum of £100.
§ Question proposed, "That the reduced sum of £19,796 be granted for the said service."
§ Mr. KILBRIDE
A more remarkable or astonishing statement I have not heard in this House in the course of my Parliamentary experience than the statement of the hon. Member (Captain Craig) that he had no intention whatever of intervening in this Debate, and that he would not have spoken had it not been for the speech delivered by the hon. Member for East Clare (Mr. W. Redmond). I thought the hon. and gallant Member had been thirsting for this opportunity for months. Judging by the Notice Paper of the House during this and preceding Sessions', I should have thought the hon. and gallant Member would have had his indictment of the Chief Secretary so complete that he could have delivered it at a moment's notice. We now find that he has no indictment, and he admits that he had not intended to speak at all. Why did he not intend to speak?
§ Captain CRAIG
Because I always have the feeling that when the hon. Member for South Antrim (Mr. C. Craig) takes up a matter of this sort it is unnecessary for me to intervene.
§ Mr. KILBRIDE
I am extremely pleased to hear that statement, because it affords a higher example of brotherly affection than I thought Irishmen possessed. But where is the indictment of the Chief Secretary? What becomes of the Notice Paper of the House of Commons? What becomes of all the outrages which have been paraded from end to end of England as showing the state of lawlessness and disloyalty and all the rest of it prevailing throughout Ireland? Is it to go forth to the hotels of this country, on whose tables you will find "Grievances from Ireland," that those grievances do not exist and that the hon. Members representing Ulster Conservative constituencies have absolutely thrown over Lord Ashtown? The hon. and gallant Member made another statement, which gave me sincere pleasure and satisfaction, namely, that it always gave him intense pain to be obliged, in the interests of certain of his co-religionists in Ireland, and in response to the call of duty, to ask questions having the effect, whether it was intended or not, of showing up the Irish race as a lawless and criminal people with whom it would be dangerous to associate, and Ireland as a country in which it would not be safe for an honest man to live. I can only say that the hon. and gallant Member physically stands pain well. I know the effect of intense pain on myself and other people, and I can only congratulate the hon. and gallant Member on the fact that he appears to fatten on pain.
I rose, however, for the purpose of referring to the speech delivered by the hon. Member for South Antrim (Mr. C. Craig). For a long time it has been put forward on Conservative platforms in this country, and made use of among certain classes connected with land in Ireland, that the legislation and administration of the present Government was calculated to injure the Irish cattle trade. The hon. Member for South Antrim did not pose as a personal authority on the question, but he read extracts from newspapers and from an article signed "Agricola," whose views apparently he was prepared to adopt. He began by saying that one of the great crimes committed by the Chief Secretary in the West of Ireland was to take arbitrarily these grass ranches from 565 the present occupants. He did not say, but I presume he intended to say, that when the Government took these grass ranches they always gave very liberal compensation—in my judgment, a great deal too much, and far more than the lands were worth—with the result that when the grass lands are divided, the annuities are considerably higher than second-term rents, and in many instances, of which I have personal knowledge, are on the scale of first-term judicial rents. We are told that this will have a disastrous effect upon the Irish cattle trade. The hon. Member said that it would ruin the Irish cattle trade "if it was to be carried on as it is at present, and as it has been for years." I admit that if the Irish cattle trade is to be carried on as it has been carried on for the last 20 years, the legislation of this House and the general administration of the Chief Secretary does not tend to improve it. The question I want to ask is whether the hon. Member is in favour of what I may describe as the antediluvian system of agriculture in Ireland, or of the system of agriculture which in his absence was praised and advocated by his colleague the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Hugh Barrie), which I might describe as progressive agriculture? We are in favour, not of the antediluvian system of agriculture or of the cattle trade which existed previous to the introduction of the land legislation, but of the mixed system of farming as against cattle ranching and cattle raising. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gwynn) told us that one of the most comfortable, peaceful, and progressive districts in Ireland was within five or six miles of his constituency, where most of the land was under cultivation. Our difficulty in the West of Ireland has been that the small people in the bogs and on the mountains have no chance of cultivating land, because the bog and mountain in their possession is not capable of tillage. What we hope is that when once the people in the West get possession of the land which nature intended to be tilled, and of which they were in possession generations ago, the antediluvian system of the cattle trade will be a thing of the past, and an entirely different system will prevail. The hon. Member for South Antrim did not tell us that the occupants of these cattle ranches were liberally compensated, nor did he tell us how much compensation their predecessors in title were given when they were cleared off. 566 They were ruthlessly cleared off, and there was no question whatever of compensation, except the compensation of a cotton ship to America or the compensation of the Lansdowne ward in the New York Hospital. What is the kind of land which is being taken from these people in the West of Ireland? The soil of the counties of Roscommon and Galway is mainly suitable not for cattle-raising, but for sheep-grazing, and apparently the hon. Member for South Antrim wants the Ballinasloe of the future to be like the Ballinasloe of the past, when the Roscommon and Galway flock-masters sold, 10, 20, or 30 thousand sheep at the October fair in Ballinasloe. Instead of the Chief Secretary injuring the ranchers in Roscommon and Galway by taking these sheep farms from them in the present condition of affairs, the greatest friend they have in the world is the Chief Secretary, and those who are anxious to take from their present possessors what are known as the sheep-walks in the West. What is the condition of the sheep trade to-day? Speaking from a practical experience of 40 years, I assure the Committee that never before did I know sheep to be as low in price as they are to-day, and never, in my judgment, was there less chance of a recovery in price. That statement of the published price might be taken by anybody outside to be a mere statement of my own. But some time ago I read a somewhat remarkable statement made by an Irishman living in Glasgow, or at least having much business there as well as in London. He is well acquainted with the resources of Argentina, and what that country is likely to do in the future in the production of sheep. In his judgment there is no possibility within any reasonable time for the recovery of the price of sheep in Ireland. In-view of the fact that mutton was never, during the last 30 years, as cheap as today, I say that the Chief Secretary for Ireland is the greatest friend to the occupiers of the sheep walks of Roscommon and Galway, while relieving them from what is at present a losing job, and compensating them; and putting at the disposal of the small people that particular class of land which is suitable for mixed farming, because nature intended that it should never remain in permanent grass. The hon. Member for South Antrim (Mr. Charles Craig) bewailed the fact that in the future there would be no such thing as fat cattle coming from Connaught. What does the hon. Member for South Antrim know about Connaught affairs? 567 If he knew anything he would know that not 1 per cent, of the cattle in Connaught fair are fat. Connaught never raised fat cattle. The best they could ever do there was to produce cattle in a sufficiently good condition as to be fattened by the Munster graziers, and made fit for the butcher after the cattle had been in the possession of the grazier for perhaps 18 months. The hon. Gentleman bewailed the fact that owing to the administrative policy which the Chief Secretary desires to see put into operation in the West of Ireland that these fat cattle should be no longer available for Munster. It will mean, he says, the destruction of the cattle trade. What the present difficulty in the cattle trade is is this: Whether you take a man in the cattle trade from Ulster, or Leinster, or Munster, they all have the same thing to tell, and that is the difficulty they have in finding well-bred, well-fattened young cattle for the Scottish and English markets. Why is it they have that difficulty? Because the people who were in Ireland formerly producing that kind of stock have been removed. They were to a large extent favourable to the policy of the right hon. Gentleman. Things will continue as they are so long as the comparatively small farmer is in possession of land on which Tie cannot be reasonably expected to rear well-bred and good-conditioned young animals.
A well-known man in the cattle trade in Ulster, in evidence given before the Committee, stated that he himself purchased a number of young cattle off an Irish grazier at the same time that a number were bought by a Scottish farmer and shipped to Glasgow. The Scotchman reared his cattle on a mixed farm, while the young cattle that remained in Ireland were fed by a grazier. In the course of 12 or 18 months both lots were sold within a month, and the cattle in Scotland brought £4 more per head than those in Ireland. That is the sort of thing that the Member for South Antrim wants to perpetuate. Of course the Member for North Londonderry (Mr. Hugh Barrie) felt himself obliged to make excuses for what his colleague had said, and to explain the speech to a certain extent. The reason for that is this. The hon. Member for North Londonderry is somewhat of a Progressive. He has a great admiration for agriculture and technical instruction, and he, I am told, reasonably expects some day, when the Opposition come to sit on 568 the present Government Benches—after, say, a General Election—to find himself on that Bench as the. Irish representative of progressive agriculture. It therefore would never do for him to allow the party from Ulster to which he belongs to be for a moment associated with the antediluvian notions of the hon. Member for South Antrim! There is another reason why I think the hon. Member for South Antrim was not enthusiastically in favour of the policy of the Chief Secretary. He spoke of Galway and some places in the immediate vicinity as being good for growing good barley. There are a lot of places in Galway, and a lot of places in Roscommon, the nature of whose soil is the same as the nature of that in my Constituency, and is excellent barley-growing land. I think the hon. Member for South Antrim, having such a warm affection for barley, should have naturally desired to see barley growing to an increased extent in the country, and so that he would have been delighted to have supported the Chief Secretary. One would have thought he would have said to these people in the occupation of the sheep ranches that; the soil of Galway is naturally adapted for growing barley, and therefore that he commended the Chief Secretary for taking the land out of their hands and putting it in the hands of the small people to grow barley. For, again, if barley is turned into whisky it will produce a large amount to the Revenue. The land of Connaught turned into barley-growing land, and that barley turned into whisky, would produce enough revenue to build four or five "Dreadnoughts." For that reason alone I should have expected that the hon. Member for South Antrim and his colleagues would have been enthusiastically in favour of the policy of the Chief Secretary. I was sorry that the hon. Member should leave himself open to the imputation that he is not a supporter of the methods advocated by Sir Horace Plunkett, who was what is called a progressive agriculturist. The Member for South Antrim wants to maintain a cattle trade as carried on for the last 40 years. He said that Sir Horace Plunkett's methods were more or less of a failure.
But I rose for the purpose of referring to the Irish cattle trade. It has struck me in the course of this Debate that the gravamen of the offence of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary is this: That he has been unable to proceed, and that Ireland has been unable to proceed because of the alliance between the Chief Secretary, the Member for East Mayo, and the 569 hon. Member for Waterford, and that with themselves the very best intentions they have not been able to give the hon. Member for Antrim, or any of his colleagues above the Gangway, an opportunity of saying an unfriendly word with regard to the administration of the affairs in Ireland or with regard to the general condition of affairs. They hope it will continue. I am very glad that they say so. But sometimes when I read their speeches on platforms outside there is a tone of bewailment, there is a bit of an "Ohone" running through them, as though they did not really regret that cattle-driving has diminished. It is a grievous matter, because it provided food for speakers. Cattle-driving is more or less a thing of the past, and I am glad of it. Cattle-driving has been put down under the ordinary law of the country; when we were told that it could never be put clown except by coercion. The right hon. Gentleman has found that as soon as the Irish people began to realise that Irish administration is sympathetic, and those responsible for the administration of Ireland really intend that the legislation should be passed to carry out the objects that Parliament had had in view, that the Irish are not a lawless people, but that they are a very law-abiding people. As everybody knows, they naturally are a law-abiding people. They can reciprocate kind treatment and just action. Let me wind up by reminding hon. Members from Ulster of what was said by a distinguished lawyer in the reign of Elizabeth. He had some connection with Ireland, and he said: "That of the people of all races under the sun no people had a higher appreciation of justice than had the Irish people."
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Somehow I cannot help regarding this Debate as a somewhat remarkable sequel to the Debate we heard some time ago upon the Address, when I was arraigned as a criminal before the country, and when generally it was asserted that not only was Ireland full of crime and outrage, but that it was rapidly going downhill, and that everything was getting worse and worse; that before long, unless some very strenuous measures were taken, the whole country would be reduced to a saturnalia of crime. Somehow or other that has not happened, and although I do not wish to hold hon. Gentlemen opposite to any prophecies as to the future, and although I would be the last man in the world to take any credit to myself for any action whatsoever, I cannot help asking them to put this question to 570 themselves. "Ireland is quiet," they say, "not in consequence of anything you, did"; but let them ask themselves the question, What would the condition of Ire^ land have been now had I taken their advice? I am bound to look at the question perhaps from both points of view. Ireland is quiet now.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
No, they do not regret it, but they observe that it is an illusive calm, and that there is no reason whatever to suppose it will continue, and that the peace which undoubtedly does prevail throughout Ireland now is not a peace any statesman can rely upon. I am very well aware of that. Ireland be, according to the Ireland which make of it, and according to bow govern it; the spirit in which govern it; to some extent the nature of the legislation you propose for it—all these will play a large part, and must of necessity play a large part in the history of a people still free. Parliamentary institutions are still at their service; the right to be heard in this House and in this country. I quite agree and accept the omen that Ireland if it is peaceful now will only continue to be peaceful if it is wisely and sympathetically governed, and it is because I hope it will continue to be governed in that way that without prophesy, without laying any flattering unction to my soul or seeking to rely more than it is proper to do on the present state of Ireland, I nevertheless think that if the government of Ireland by this House continues to be wise, it may be peaceful not only now, but for many a long day to come.
The hon. Member for Mid-Armagh (Mr. Lonsdale), who introduced this Debate, assumed I should come down here to-day full of facts, figures and statistics, and make a speech bragging and bouncing and boasting about the success of my administration, and comparing it with the evil prognostications and forebodings made so vigorously a year or so ago. He thought I would magnify my office and the part I played in it. I can assure him I never had the faintest intention of doing anything of the kind. I rejoice, we all rejoice, that the figures of crime and outrage in Ireland are now greatly reduced, and that the judges have been able to hold their sessions and assizes and to congratulate the grand juries upon that state of things. Is it nothing that murder no longer stalks through the 571 land; that midnight outrage and crime are of rare occurrence? Of course it is a great deal, and we all rejoice that it should be so, but I was not going to come down here and make any boast about that, or in any way to seek to take any portion of the credit for it myself.
I rejoice that the Government to which I belong resolutely declined to have anything to do with coercion. I was never tempted to adopt that course, and therefore if you are never tempted I do not know that you can take any great glorification to yourself for resisting something which never really presented itself to you as a possible or reasonable course of action. I think we are justified in the course we took, and that events which are now admitted are of such a character as to show that, so far from having been guilty of any dereliction of duty, we were wise in our generation and time in declining to adopt a course of action that could not by any possibility have produced better results, and that might have produced terrible and violent results. The Debate we are having to-day might be of a very different character had I taken the advice proffered to me, not by everyone, but in some quarters of this House. I turn away from that subject to the Debate itself, and I really do not know that there is anything very much which would justify me in occupying the time of the House. Upon the cattle trade I readily admit I am not an expert. I do not pretend to know very much about the cattle trade, except that it is a very great trade for Ireland and that it is one in which Ireland naturally and properly takes a very deep and active concern. But I know this, it is perfectly idle to denounce the Government for having a policy which involves the breaking up of those great grazing lands into smaller holdings. It is preposterous to blame us for that, because it has always been an admitted fact by hon. Gentlemen opposite as much as by ourselves that these great grazing lands cannot be maintained in their present method of holding if the economic question in Ireland is to be dealt with at all. There is no other way of increasing small uneconomic holdings in Ireland than by giving more land, and the only land available is what is called untenanted land—that is to say, land not already occupied by some tenant or tenant-proprietor for the purpose of farming. It is the only land you can get. Therefore, if you are going to say positively, "Never are we going to break up these great 572 grazing lands," it is the same as saying, so far as the condition of the West is concerned, "we are going to leave it absolutely, sternly, and ferociously alone."
Hon. Members say if you do break up the grass lands you will be dealing a deadly blow to the cattle trade, because there will be no longer any grass land upon which the cattle would fatten, and sometimes they say, "If you break up the grass lands and divide them the tenants who get the divided land will use it for the purpose for which it is used now." Well, but hon. Gentlemen cannot have it both ways. If the tenants are prepared to keep the lands for the cattle trade the cattle trade will be prosperous as it is now. If they combine their operations by keeping cattle and tilling the soil, viz., by a process of mixed farming, that course is open to them. I am very glad to think those persons who studied the question most closely—and there is a good deal of evidence to be found in this matter in the Dudley Commission— are satisfied that it is quite possible to enable the land to support the people without dealing a deadly blow to the cattle trade or any blow at all, although it may possibly somewhat alter the conditions of this great trade in which the fortunes of Ireland are so bound up and connected—
§ Mr. BIRRELL
And immensely improve it! That is the whole thing that has been said upon the general administration by me of my office, and I am bound to confess it seems to me very small to what it might have been in other circumstances. The hon. Member for Mid-Armagh was quite right in saying that I had promised to consider a question in which he was interested about the Irish language and about Irish monitors, and, although the Chairman prevented the Debate from running away on to that educational ground on the ground that it was not included in this Vote, still it was allowed that I should say something in reply to the hon. Member.
It is perfectly true that the Commissioners of National Education have inserted in their code a notice that in the year 1911 and subsequently candidates for admission to the training colleges shall be required to undergo examination in one other language in addition to English. The complaint of the hon. Member is that monitors, who, no doubt, are candidates for entrance to training colleges, will in many schools find it difficult 573 to qualify themselves in an additional language to English unless they take Irish, which they do not want to do. I called the Commissioners' attention very particularly to that point, and they really have no such desire. It is not a regulation they have made in the interests particularly of the Irish language, but in the interests of the general culture of persons who seek admission to the training colleges. The Commissioners are in the habit of obtaining candidates for entrance to the training colleges not only from the monitors, but from students of the intermediate schools who have at least equivalent qualifications, and the regulation is not confined therefore, in any sense, to monitors alone. There is no difficulty, the Commissioners assure me, in monitors at the different schools receiving extra instruction, not only in Irish, but in French or German, at specially fixed centres, such as intermediate schools in their neighbourhood.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Well, the monitors in the rural schools can get their extra instruction in the intermediate schools scattered all over the country. It is a fact that they have many applications for admission to training colleges from monitors from these rural schools. They are largely in excess of the numbers required, and some of the most pressing applications come from Protestant National schools in Ulster, and a very considerable number from rural schools. I assure the hon. Member it is a great mistake to suppose that the monitors in the Ulster Protestant schools or in the rural schools will find themselves under an obligation to learn another language incapable of being fully made up by them if they are so minded. They may go on with Irish if they choose. Nobody should be compelled to learn Irish. There is no reason why persons of Scotch descent living in Ulster should wish to learn Irish unless it be from a desire to acquaint themselves with the language of a country in which it is almost impossible to travel ten miles unless you know something of that ancient and most interesting language. I hardly know a phrase in Irish the meaning of which I can understand unless I take up Mr. Joyce's admirable book, which tells me the meaning of these words so strange to my ears, and which makes travelling in Ireland much more pleasant when you are acquainted 574 with the language, which lives in the names of every river and village and town. I assure hon Members that this grievance with regard to monitors is one which, in the opinion of the Commissioners of National Education, does not really arise, and will not arise in any such way as to compel monitors in rural schools in Ulster to learn a language they are desirous of avoiding. Passing away from that, the next two points are those raised by the hon. Member for Clare (Mr. William Red-mond), who asked me two questions. One was as to the extra police force in Clare, which he is desirous should be reduced. The extra police have been reduced by recent orders by one-half in Clare. In 1906 the free force for Clare was computed at 367 and now it is 429. Therefore the expense of the extra police has been very materially reduced by the recent redistribution of the force, but there are still a number of extra police in county Clare whose presence there imposes considerable burdens upon the residents in that favoured county. All I can say is—and I say it with reference not only to Clare but the other counties as well, three of which have been withdrawn by proclamation from the black list—I am quite disposed to think that the time is actually approaching—in one or two instances it may actually have occurred—when the extra police may very properly be reduced. But this matter we must leave to those who, rightly or wrongly, are charged with the duties of the Executive. All I can say is that I shall always consider the question of the police in each county with a view to the reduction of their numbers. I know nothing more regrettable in the whole history of Irish affairs, going back no further than the Act of 1903, than that instead of reducing the total number of police and the enormous cost which the police are to the Imperial Exchequer—to say nothing of the extra expense which the police are to the localities themselves, which is most disappointing—we should have now almost as many police as we had in 1903. No one can regard these figures otherwise than with dissatisfaction, and I shall do the best I can, consistently with what is due to the people who live in those localities and the protection they are entitled to receive, and always will receive so long as I am responsible—subject to these considerations I regard favourably the prospect that we shall soon be able to reduce even in county Clare the number of the extra police. 575 [MR. WILLIAM REDMOND: Why do you say "even in county Clare"?] Well, county Clare, as my hon. Friend knows, has a history of its own, and it has not undergone much alteration.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
If it has those fine qualities it must put up with a little extra restriction for a short time longer. County Clare is improving every day, and I hope my action may take the form of reducing the number of extra police there. With regard to Ennis and the general question of the housing of the working classes, I have already told the hon. Member my view, but I will tell him again, because it does not seem to have made much impression upon him. He approached this subject by saying that the Local Government Board had something to do with it, and that I was President of that Board. That is perfectly true, but the Local Government Board have not interfered. Not only have the Local Government Board not interfered with the proposed loan, but, on the contrary, they have in every way blessed the undertaking, and every step Ennis may require them to take they are ready to take. They are prepared to hold a statutory inquiry, and if they are satisfied that the loan is right, they will sanction it. They are therefore favourable to the loan, subject, of course, to proper conditions, but they have no power in the matter, no more has the Board of Works. The power rests entirely with the Treasury, and the Treasury, as I have informed the hon. Member, definitely refuse to grant the loan. Although it is quite open to me to see what I can do with that body, it is not a subject matter of criticism of the Local Government Board, because I can assure the hon. Member that that body is not obstructing this proposal—on the contrary, they are sympathetically inclined towards it. The power of saying "No" rests with someone else, and that power has been exercised. The hon. Member for Kerry referred to an eviction which has lately taken place in his county. I can assure the hon. Member that I make no complaint against him for bringing this subject to my notice. As has already been pointed out, there can be no doubt that it is in order to criticise my conduct in refusing, as I certainly have done, to grant a special sworn inquiry into the conduct of the 576 police on this particular occasion. I do not quarrel with the hon. Member for, in season and out of season, bringing this subject before me, but I must ask the hon. Member and the House to consider one or two other matters which have been introduced.
The hon. Member complained of the conduct of the police, and he said he could not understand why the police should be there at all supporting the authority of the law in carrying out an eviction which he considers to be a cruel one, or one which reasonable people might have avoided. He has appealed to me to go and see the landlord who bears a name not altogether full of invitation to me personally, and ask him whether he had not better give up at once this struggle and make terms with his former tenants as rapidly as possible. He seems to think I ought to do it because the landlord is some sort of an official in Dublin Castle. He knows very little about Dublin Castle if he thinks I can exercise authority in a matter with which I have nothing whatever to do by saying to this official "as a landlord you are unreasonable, you leave this matter to me, and I will settle it with your tenants." I will not put myself in that position. I am not going to Mr. Mahony to be ordered by him to walk out of the room for attempting to exercise authority over him in a matter which is no concern of mine. If he were to seek my advice I should be ready to give it. I quite agree it is a thousand pities to have evictions of this kind, but at the same time the obligation to pay rent or give up possession of property which is no longer yours is still an obligation pressing upon Irishmen just as much as upon anyone else. But, although I am perfectly ready to play a friendly part in any matter in which I am invited by both sides to intervene, I am the last man in the world to take up a job of that kind unless I have a good locus standi before I begin. I really wish the hon. Member would take it from me that whatever may have been the case in times gone by when Tory Chief Secretaries or anybody else were in power, it is now distinctly laid down by the highest legal authorities in the land that I have absolutely no power to interfere for one single moment with the execution of a writ properly issued by a competent court of jurisdiction. I cannot do it, and if I did I should be very properly haled before a court and sentenced to pains and penalties. There is no more solemn distinction which people ought to keep in their minds 577 than that between legal and Executive authority. The law may be right or wrong, and if it is wrong Parliament has power to alter it; but the law undoubtedly is that if a sheriff seeks to execute a writ issued by any court of competent jurisdiction he is entitled to have as much of the civil force as he conceives to be necessary to execute that writ, and anybody who refuses to take part in it exposes himself to what might be a serious imputation, namely, that of being a law breaker. The hon. Member will get no further with that point so far as I am concerned. If he will refer to the judgments in the superior courts in Ireland, volume 1889, page 30, he will find legal language of the highest authority confirming what I have said to him, and a good deal more.
§ Mr. MURPHY
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, because I agree that the law is as he has stated. My complaint is not that the police were sent there to afford protection, but that he allowed them to go down with crowbars, battering rams, shields, and other implements to act as bailiffs, and that they did act as bailiffs.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The duty of the police is to see that the law is obeyed, and to assist the Sheriff in executing the writ, and they have to take any steps that are necessary for that purpose. I do not know what machinery they employed, but they can use whatever force is necessary to execute the writ. To say they took precautions beforehand is really not a very forcible criticism, because if they did not take the necessary force they would only have to go away for another day and go back again. It must be remembered that, the first time, Walsh and his friends triumphed over the Sheriff. The police had to face a most fierce and well-armed force, and therefore to say that they had no power to take with them a force sufficient to enable them to carry out the law is not a sound criticism. Although I regret the occurrence, and I do not wonder that it should give rise to strong feelings and annoyance, yet, on the other hand, you should not blame the police. Even the police were subjected to every kind of violence, hot tar was hurled upon them, the sight of one of them was considerably imperilled and he suffered a great deal of pain, and others had to suffer both hardship and ignominy, which nobody likes to suffer in his own person. 578 Although we may regret these evictions, still the law allows them, and the law requires that they shall be carried out, and that the necessary force shall be employed. Therefore, the police did no more than they were absolutely bound to do, and I cannot agree that they were wrong in being there or in being there in full force. What is the good of being there in feeble force? What is the good of being driven off by my hon. Friend and those who acted with him? If you appeal to force, the law has got to have enough force behind it to see that it is carried out. With regard to the misbehaviour of some of the police on this occasion, the hon. Member thinks I ought to have an inquiry instituted because three or four police misbehaved themselves, and generally did not behave with the discretion and judgment expected of police constables. A good deal has been said on this point, and I agree that one man's word is as good as another, and there is no imputation on the, hon. Member. I do not, however, think there is a case for a sworn inquiry, because the hon. Member says that something happened on this field of battle. I have had a careful report made to me by a most competent person, and I have the whole thing before me. I have an account of the conduct of the hon. Member himself, who went about and gave a great deal of, perhaps, good advice. His interference was rather like that of the clergyman in a famous battle in the North of Ireland which was resented by William III., who did not want the clergyman giving him advice on the field of battle. Some remarks may in the same way have passed between the hon. Member and some of the police force. I have gone into the matter, and there is nothing, in my judgment, to expose the police to the slur of having a special sworn inquiry into their conduct, nor do I think any good would result from such an inquiry. We should have a conflict of evidence as to what took place, and as to the angry or wise words, or anything you like, which passed. The whole thing would hardly permit of a legal determination of each particular item in dispute. All we should know would be that there was a battle royal round this house, that the police were there in force, that they were exposed to great irritation and also to personal danger and risk, and that after all no great harm was done. The law was vindicated, the hon. Member played his part, and everybody else played theirs, and I think the matter, as far as the police 579 is concerned, might now very well be left alone. I cannot, therefore, hold out any promise to the hon. Member of reopening this dispute. I only hope and trust that as between the landlord and his former tenant some arrangement may be come to, but if it is it must be by good will between the two and without any outside interference. I do not know that I can now usefully add anything. I only express a hope, and I am sure we are all entitled to it, that the state of Ireland may continue to improve. I quite agree there are in Ireland, as anywhere else, still things going on which I should like to see stopped, but I hope we may, by the wisdom of our administration and the justice of our legislation, be able to secure for Ireland a peaceful and happy condition.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
The Chief Secretary has addressed himself to this question in a somewhat chastened spirit, and I rejoice very much to find that he has not come down, as he tells us, to boast either of the situation or of his administration. For my part, and I believe I express the view held by everybody, and especially toy those who have ever had anything to do with the government of Ireland, I heartily rejoice that what are known as the criminal statistics show, so far as information reaches me—I have not been able to obtain information myself—a very decided and marked improvement during recent months. Everybody, inside and outside the House, must rejoice that this should be so, and as one who for a short time was in charge of the government of Ireland, I especially rejoice; but I must remind the Chief Secretary, when he draws a sharp comparison between the probable result which would have followed the suggestions made on this side of the House and the results which have followed his own administration, that nobody was a more earnest witness to the peaceful condition of Ireland, after the late Government had been responsible for it, than the right hon. Gentleman himself and his immediate predecessor, who, when they took over the reins of office, declared they found Ireland in a wholly peaceful and satisfactory condition. That is not only a tribute to the administration for which we were responsible, but it shows it is a little dangerous to draw conclusions upon questions so difficult and complicated as the administration of Ireland. I must also remind the right hon. Gentleman that, although he is able to-day—and I congratulate him upon it— 580 to present a very much better record, yet, as compared with the time when I resigned office, he has a much larger force of police, he has still counties which are proclaimed, and he has had himself to proclaim other counties, six or eight, now reduced to three or four. The last role I wish to take up in this House is that of a prophet; it is a most undesirable part for anyone to play, and, in dealing with the future of Ireland, one cannot have definite knowledge with which to prophesy. I do not believe in prophesying unless I know, and that kind of prophecy I am not in a position to make.
It is alleged, it is impossible to say whether on good foundation or not, that the reduction in crime is due in some degree to the fact that people have got their own way, that by violent measures they have succeeded in inducing graziers to give up the land and have divided it amongst themselves, that in some cases men have been placed on farms from which in reality they were never evicted, and that in their desire to get back there have been some most deplorable scenes with the people in occupation. I am not going into those cases, because I have not been able to test them. They have only reached me recently, and I have not had an opportunity of examining whether they are well founded or not. It is in the interests of the community that, however anxious you may be to reduce crime and remove its cause, nothing should be done which is likely to give people who desire to obtain certain things the impression that they have only to resort to illegal and improper methods and they will succeed and get what they want. Obviously, if that obtains, not only will they succeed, but others will profit by the example, and although you may be able to say there is a reduction in crime, there will not be a reduction brought about which is likely to be permanent or durable. I hope the concluding words of the Chief Secretary will be ratified, and that this condition of things will be maintained. We have had many acrimonious Debates in this House, and at first to-day I was a little afraid that this Debate might take that form, because some hon. Members below the Gangway seemed anxious to suggest that we regretted this improved condition of things, that we regretted we had not got cattle-driving or crime of other kinds to talk about. There is no foundation for any charge of that kind whatever. It is our duty to put the case of those we represent in Ireland before this House from time to time, but to 581 charge us with having some horrible fancy or affection for crime is to make a charge which is altogether unjustifiable, and one which cannot be maintained by those who fling it about so carelessly. We rejoice in this improvement, and hope it will continue, but we also hope the Government will bear in mind that it will be risking too much in the interests of the future of Ireland to bring about these results by any such means as I have referred to. I have appealed to my hon. and learned Friend (Captain Craig) not to press his Amendment, and I have his authority to ask leave to withdraw it.
§ Mr. LONG
It will be immaterial; of course, it will be negatived. I do not propose to deal with the question of grass lands and the difference between feeding, grazing, or fattening beasts. It is a very interesting question, and I have more than once expressed the views which I hold rather strongly upon it. I frankly admit, if you are to extend the uneconomic holdings in order to make them economic, it is quite obvious you must get more land. All I hope is that that very desirable object will not be attained by such a destruction of grass lands as will put an end to an industry which is of a most valuable description. To lay down the broad proposition that you can make people prosperous and contented by substituting mixed farming for grass lands is to lay down a proposition to which all past experience in this country is opposed. I only rose in order to emphasise the fact that those with whom I have the honour to sit in this House cannot be justly charged either with regret at an improvement at which they rejoice or with any desire to parade the miseries or the troubles of their own country. All they desire is that the case shall be frankly and fairly stated. They rejoice as heartily as anybody opposite at any improvement, and they hope sincerely that that improvement may be maintained.
§ Mr. JOHN O'CONNOR
I have listened with very great pleasure to the interesting speech of the Chief Secretary, and I would not have intervened but for what I regard to be an extraordinary interpretation of a certain case decided not long ago. I think we would be guilty of a dereliction of duty if we did not challenge the interpretation the right hon. Gentleman has put upon that decision. It is an extension I submit 582 of what has always been regarded as the duty of the police in the execution of the law in Ireland. I quite agree that that decision is absolutely in accordance with all correct interpretations of the law. It goes so far as to say that it is necessary for the Executive authority to provide sufficient force to see that the writ is executed in a proper and in a safe manner, but it is going beyond that precedent when it is stated that the police force, the ample and sufficient force supplied by the Executive authority, should act in any respect in the capacity of bailiffs. I submit that, when the right hon. Gentleman speaks of the proper equipment of the police force for this purpose, that equipment does not comprehend what has generally been known as the battering ram. We all know that the first time the battering ram was used was under the régime of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Balfour). A name was applied to it by virtue of the ingenuity of the Irish people—it was known as "Balfour's maiden." I suppose that was after the manner of the time of the French Revolution, when the guillotine in Paris was known as "the revolutionary maiden." This instrument for the execution of writs in Ireland was thus designated by the Irish people at that time. But the operation of that portion of the equipment of the police force in Ireland was resented at that time by Members from Ireland, as well as by the Liberal Party who were then in Opposition. It was protested against in all quarters of the House. It was urged that it was no part of the duty of the police force supplied by the Executive authority to carry out the execution of a writ. There is another part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman I wish to challenge. He stated that the police force are bound to see that the writ is executed. I challenge that. I say that that is no part of the duty of the police, supplied by the Executive. It is their duty to afford protection to those who are legally responsible for the execution of the writ. The sheriff is the man responsible for that execution, and his officers are the people who are in charge of the duty. The police have a very distinct duty from that of the sheriff's officers. It is their part to protect the sheriff and his officers, and when they go beyond that then I say they are improperly employed. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Kerry, who has put questions on this subject, that the right hon. Gentleman is taking up a false position when he endeavours to 583 extend the decision in the case I have referred to, and to amplify it to the extent of saying that the police are properly employed in seeing that the writ is executed. I would not be fulfilling my duty as a Member of this House if I allowed such a statement to pass unchallenged. I thoroughly believe, if I had had time, I could have satisfied myself that the decision in the case quoted by the right hon. Gentleman goes no further than to say that the duty of the executive authority in Ireland is to furnish a sufficient force to protect the sheriff's officers in the due execution of the writ. But the right hon. Gentleman goes beyond that, and justifies the use of the battering ram by the police, and the provision of it out of money supplied to Dublin Castle by the Imperial authority. I say it is not part or parcel of the proper equipment of any police force. I entirely object to it.
There were other matters with which I might have occupied the attention of the Committee, but under the circumstances I do not intend to press them. This Debate has been a thoroughly interesting one. I think it will possibly have very useful effects. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on having escaped the scathing observations we sometimes have had from hon. Members from Ulster above the Gangway. We were expecting a fearful indictment of the right hon. Gentleman. It has not come off. It was a mere squeak. The right hon. Gentleman not long ago was encouraged by speakers from Ireland—by Nationalist representatives—to follow the example of those great predecessors of his in the thirties, when pressure was brought to bear upon Lord Morpeth and his Assistant-Secretary (Drummond) to set aside the ordinary law and to adopt coercive measures. It was pointed out to the right hon. Gentleman, not long ago, that the refusal of Lord Morpeth and Mr. Drummond to put coercive laws into operation had good results with regard to the administration of the country, and it was suggested that like results would follow the adoption of a similar policy at this time. The right hon. Gentleman has chosen a manly part. He has chosen a patient part, and the result has justified his conduct. I congratulate him most sincerely on the manly course he has pursued, and I congratulate him on the results—results of which we are all proud. May I say in conclusion that if I am wrong in my interpretation of the law I hope an opportunity will be taken to set me right.
§ Mr. W. P. BYLES
I feel it my duty to associate myself with the view put forward by the last speaker with regard to the use of the police at evictions. I have myself protested on scores and even hundreds of public platforms against the doctrine that it was the duty of the police to evict tenants. That was in days when tenants were being evicted in far greater numbers than they are at the present time. It always seemed to me wrong and cruel for any Government to allow the police to help the sheriff's officers in putting poor people out of their homes. I do not agree with the doctrine that it is the duty of the police to carry sufficient weapons and instruments to enable the tenants to be evicted. That is the duty of the sheriff's officers. The duty of the police is simply to afford those sheriff's officers protection in carrying out their work. But that the police themselves should attend with battering rams and axes and other weapons of warfare and take part in the operations of knocking down the walls of poor men's houses seem to me to be a doctrine which none of us can assent to, even although it may be advanced by an eminent lawyer like my right hon. Friend. Until it has been more thoroughly thrashed out by lawyers I, at any rate, shall not be content to accept it. I believe that we ought to maintain an absolutely clear distinction between the duty of the civil officer and that of tie police.
§ Mr. J. P. NANNETTI
I wish to associate myself with everything that has been said by the hon. Member for East Clare (Mr. W. Redmond) regarding the action of the Chief Secretary in attempting to put upon the police of Ireland a duty which was never thought of by them when they entered the force. I am one of those who are very anxious to see a better feeling brought about between the police and the people of Ireland. I think that the action which has been taken arid the advice which has been given to the police by the Chief Secretary, in this House, in encouraging them to act the part of bailiffs, will do more to restrain that kindly feeling which we all wish to see established between the police and the people than anything else which has occurred in recent years. We recognise that the police are necessary in all civilised countries. But they are there as preservers of the peace, with the intention of gaining the confidence of the people, and if you attempt, as has been done in this case, to impose upon them duties which I know are repugnant to the men themselves, if you are going to call upon 585 them to go into some miserable cottage because there is a dispute between the landlord and the tenant, and take upon themselves the role of bailiffs, then you are doing that which is calculated to bring about estrangement between the police and the people, and the police will no longer be regarded as respecters of law and order. Such a thing as has been attempted in the Kerry case could not be attempted in London, or in any other part of the British Empire. The authorities would not dare to send the police down to some poor quarter in London and instruct them to help the sheriff in throwing out the pots and utensils of the unfortunate tenants of a house in a case of dispute between the landlord and tenant. I am sorry the Chief Secretary has so far forgotten the grand ideas with which he began his administration. I fear he has made a fatal mistake, and one which will bring ill-feeling between the police and the people of our country. What is the history of our country at the present moment? The police are there as masters; they are not the servants of the people. They are in an antagonistic position to them. They are called upon to do dirty work; they are compelled to do it against their wish, and they have no Press by means of which they can make public their objections to it. I sympathise with them. I know they do not like the work, and I am sure that all my colleagues will join with me in appealing to the right hon. Gentleman not to endanger good relations between the police and the public by putting this dirty work on the constabulary. Let the man who is paid for doing it do the work. The bailiff does not receive his salary from the Executive Authority, but is the servant of the sheriff, and let the latter see to his proper affairs and to his assistants. I agree that the police have a right to be there; it is their legal duty to protect the sheriff and the men who are working under him, but it is not right that they should be asked to do the sheriff's and bailiff's work. I had some experience of the Clongorey evictions, when bailiffs were putting paraffin on the rafters of the houses in which these unfortunate people were brought up, and in which their fathers and grandfathers were brought up, and they were protected by the police. It was dirty work for the police; it was bad work in which they were assisting, but they were not asked to carry out the operation themselves. The Government, however, are starting it, and it will be used by another Government, 586 which is not a sympathetic one, and as a reason why this work should be carried out by the police, it will be said, that a Liberal Government and a Chief Secretary who was sympathetic with the Irish people have shown us the way and how to carry the work out. That is why I regret it, and I join in every word that has been said in regard to the work which has been put upon these men. They are citizens as well as ourselves, and while they should carry on their proper avocation, I do not think they should be called upon to do work which is repugnant to themselves and the country at large.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Progress reported; Committee to sit again to-morrow.
§ Resolved, "That the House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Joseph Pease.]
§ Adjourned it Ten minutes before Eight o'clock.