§ It being a Quarter-past Eight of the clock, and leave having been given to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 10,
§ Mr. DILLON
I beg to move, "That this House do now adjourn."
This is not the occasion to discuss the general situation in Ireland. I expect we shall have full opportunity for that next week. I shall endeavour to confine what I say as strictly as possible to the terms of the Resolution on which I am moving the Adjournment of the House—that is to call attention to the arrest and banishment of twenty-eight Irishmen without any charge being made against them and to the declaration of the Government that it is not their intention to put them on their trial. The Government have adopted a most extraordinary course in connection with these arrests in Ireland. I cannot fathom their purpose, for what they are doing is calculated greatly to increase the public conception of the importance and gravity of the situation in that country, because will it be 1777 believed that the Censor in this country has issued strong advice to the newspaper Press throughout England not to take any notice of the Irish arrests, and not to comment upon them, and not for the present to discuss the situation in Ireland? A more fatuous and stupid policy could not possibly be projected, because it is calculated, when the facts leak out, as they must, to deepen greatly in the minds of the public their conception of the gravity of the Irish situation. This is on a par with the policy which appears to me to pervade the Government now more than any previous Government we have had in the course of this War, that when a situation becomes critical or serious the true policy is to put an extinguisher over it and then to expect the public to assume that everything is going right.
The second point, before I come to the main subject of my Motion, to which I want to draw attention is this—the strange coincidence of these arrests. Why is it that the Irish Debate, having been fixed for Wednesday as it originally was, and as it continued up till Friday last, these arrests take place, just to get ready as it were for the Irish Debate? Unhappily we have long memories of similar occasions in this House. We can recollect just on the eve of the Third Reading of 4he perpetual Coercion Act, which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Duke) has restored to action, that the Piggot forgeries were trotted out so as to create an atmosphere suitable to the passage of a perpetual Coercion Act for Ireland. We remember that in the month of July last, while the negotiations were pending for an Irish settlement, and when Lord Lansdowne and other members of the Ministry broke faith and induced the then Prime Minister and the present Prime Minister to break faith with us after we had risked our whole political life by recommending a most unpopular settlement in Ireland, Sir John Maxwell's lying dispatch, in which he charged the rebel leaders in Ireland with wholesale cold-blooded murders, after it had been held back for nearly three months, was launched on the public, while these discussions over the July negotiations were pending, to create an atmosphere and prejudice against the Irish people in order to throw a cloak over the Ministry in that scandalous breach of faith which has sunk deeply into the hearts of the Irish people and rendered the task to which our lives have been devoted almost hopeless and 1778 impossible. How can we go round to the people—I shall not go further on this line, because I am afraid that I would exceed the limits of order.
Having dealt with the remarkable coincidence of the period of these arrests, I do not for one moment desire to say that the state of Ireland is not serious. The state of Ireland is extremely serious, and has been so ever since the deplorable and tragic events of last May. The Government of the country is taking good care that is should remain serious. But the great importance of these arrests is this: It is not the mere fact that twenty-eight men have been arrested in Ireland. There is an old saying that "eels get accustomed to skinning," and we have all got accustomed to arrests in Ireland. During my lifetime there have been something like 10,000 political arrests in Ireland. I have been arrested six times myself; so we are not scared by arrests. But what makes me attribute such great importance to this particular outbreak of arrests and what induces me to move the Motion for the Adjournment of the House to-night, is that these arrests indicate a change of policy in Ireland. Throughout the whole of the autumn, haltingly no doubt and slowly, a policy of, what shall I call it, something of mitigation of coercion was in progress; 1,200 or 1,500 persons were at first released, and then, after a hard struggle, on the eve of Christmas 565 men in Frongoch were released. Some mitigation was introduced into the treatment of the penal servitude prisoners, though they are still treated as penal servitude convicts, and, on the whole, haltingly and deplorably deficient as it was, the progress was in the direction of appeasement, and the release of the 560 men from Frongoch was a decided step in that direction.
The Prime Minister, while that release was under consideration, declared that in his opinion the question of the settlement of Ireland, and the hope of the settlement of Ireland, was mainly a question of amnesty, and I said that I agreed with the Prime Minister. But here you have got an Act which is a reversal of the policy of the last Government and of the early days of the present Government, a reversal of the policy of the last nine months, and a recommencement of the former policy of provocative arrests. They are provocative because these men are banished from their own country without any reason being assigned. The right hon. Gentleman, when I pointed that out to him, said 1779 that they were arrested under Article 54, I think it was, of the Defence of the Realm Act Regulations. I was here during some of the Debates which took place under the Defence of the Realm Act, and I venture to say that there was not a single man in this House who ever dreamt that the Defence of the Realm Act would be put to such uses as it has been put in Ireland. It was clearly understood that the Defence of the Realm Act, if used oppressively and without a sense of responsibility, was an intolerable instrument of oppression, and the only ground on which this House could be induced to give such unlimited powers to the Executive Government as the powers under the Defence of the Realm Act was that this House would keep a close eye on what was done, and that the Executive Government, being responsible to this House, could be trusted not to abuse these powers or to employ them in an oppressive and irresponsible way. That is all very well for England, but when you cross to Ireland you are in a different world. The War Cabinet is far too busy to take any account of what happens in Ireland, but the tragedy of the matter is this, that we have been witness, during our political lives, of this tragedy occurring over and over again, and Ireland is punished, nor is she thought of. The Press have now got a new system. The Press have been ordered not to speak about Ireland and to keep silent. It is this sort of thing which naturally causes some bloody explosion or horrible disaster to take place in Ireland, and then you want to know what it is all about, as if it was not universal, where you persist in governing a high mettled, proud, and brave people against their will and in a contemptuous way, that these troubles should arise.
I ask this question, why were these men arrested? Most of them are from Heading Prison, and most of them were sent home for Christmas. We may take it for granted, therefore, now they are arrested, that it must have been for some very serious offence, seeing that these men were released, after long detention, only six weeks ago. What happened in Ireland to justified these arrests? That is a question to which we are entitled to get an answer. Really so long as we are allowed to speak in this House at all, so long as they do not put a closure upon us for expressing our views here, it is idle to tell Members in this House to take no notice of troubles in Ireland. This House still remains, 1780 though, as to its Debates, I am not quite sure that they are privileged now; I believe they may be censored a little; but if they are going beyond what is allowed in the Reichstag—for even in the Reichstag Socialists are able to attack and denounce the Government—and they are reported in the newspapers, I shall be rather curious to see if we are censored tomorrow morning. Have these arrests been made for something which occurred since Christmas? Surely these men have not been arrested for something done before they were released. It must have been for something which has occurred since Christmas; it must have been something very serious, otherwise the Government could not for a single moment attempt in this House to justify such a departure. Unless the Government are prepared to put these men on their trial and to formulate charges against them—and remember that, unlike this country, the Government have taken power by special Proclamation in Ireland, to try eases by court-martial—unless you are prepared to charge these men, I say that you have no right to ask this House for a blank cheque for your purposes in Ireland, and be content to say that Ireland is in a serious condition, and therefore you take the right to arrest anybody you choose. I say that that would be a blank cheque, and our experience in Ireland, during the last two years, certainly has not gone to justify us, so far as our own views in the matter are concerned, to give any such blank cheque to the present Government. With all due respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I contend, and I think I shall prove, that we are now in Ireland under martial law—under military rule.
The recent scenes in Dublin were certainly not of a character to justify the Government in asking for a blank cheque. They have power, even without martial law, to try men by court-martial. What was the cause of the particular occurrence in Dublin the week before last?. It was the first court-martial held but a week or two ago since the horrible courts-martial of last year. Three young men were solemnly summoned before a court-martial for singing certain songs in a private hall—"Easter Week," "Ireland, a nation once again," or songs of that character, which were described as seditious. Can human folly go further? It is like taking a Nasmyth hammer to break a nut to hold a court-martial to try a young fellow for singing a song. Such machinery turns 1781 the whole government of Ireland into ridicule, and nothing kills in Ireland sooner than ridicule. Therefore, I say that even on their recent records the Government have no right to ask us for a blank cheque. I come to another aspect of this matter. It has become extremely serious, now that the Government have shown a disposition to enter once more on a policy of coercion, and this is a particularly exasperating form of coercion, by which you will make men martyrs. You cannot get away from that fact. Do you suppose that any Irishman of any party is going to believe, because a certain number of mysterious persons in Dublin, foremost amongst them Major Price, says that those men who were recently released have committed these acts? If you believe that bring forward your evidence. If it were true that these men since their release had embarked on a fresh campaign—some of them have never had any charge preferred against them—even if it were true that they had embarked on a fresh conspiracy, surely the Chief Secretary's proper policy would be to justify the Government's action before the public. Nobody can pretend now that you require to summon courts-martial to administer justice or that there is anything to justify doing so. In a time like this you have to maintain an enormous garrison to keep Ireland in order, and it cannot be delightful to this country to keep a garrison there. You would imagine that the Chief Secretary himself would bring these men before some tribunal and produce his evidence and make his charge, and you could then make your appeal to all that section of the Irish public which is in sympathy with the Government or is for constitutional rule.
Who is really responsible for the government of Ireland? I do not know, and we have never been able yet to get continuity. The other day I put a question to the Chief Secretary as to whether the Proclamation of martial law in Ireland has been revoked, and the right hon. Gentleman certainly gave me an answer that I did not think was a very candid one. He said that Ireland had been placed under martial law by Proclamation dealing with the rebellion and that with the disappearance of rebellion martial law would disappear. That answer was absolutely inconsistent with three or four successive answers given to me by the late 1782 Prime Minister in this House. I asked on two or three occasions whether martial law would be revoked in Ireland, and the reply was that martial law was simply a precautionary measure and that the Government were most anxious to revoke it at the earliest possible moment. Now the right hon. Gentleman says there is no such thing as martial law in Ireland and that it is a delusion. I say, according to my interpretation of the matter, martial law, about which there is a good deal of mystery, once it is applied in a country remains in force until the Proclamation enforcing it is withdrawn. Therefore, I say that martial law is still maintained in Ireland. Martial law is a very serious matter. It has two or three sides to it. Here is what is said by the great constitutional authority, Professor Dicey, on the subject:Martial law in the proper sense of that term, in which it means suspension of ordinary law and the temporary government of a country or parts of it by military tribunals is unknown to the law in England. We have nothing equivalent to what in France is called 'The Declaration of the State of Siege,' under which the authority ordinarily vested in the civil power for the maintenance of order and police passes entirely to the Army.He goes on to say that martial law by military tribunals more or less supersedes the jurisdiction of the Courts, and he quotes several passages from the Act in France which deals with a state of siege. One of these passages is:As soon as a state of siege is declared, the forces of the civil authority for the maintenance of order and the police passes entirely into the hands of the military, hut the civil authority continues nevertheless to exercise those powers which the military delegate to it.That is my contention as to what the state of law is in Ireland at this moment. Martial law is in force. Sir John Maxwell entirely retained in his own hands full control of the administration of the law in the country. My conviction is that when the late Prime Minister said to me that he would as soon as possible revoke the proclamation of martial law, that he was then in communication with Sir John Maxwell and endeavouring to get his consent to that course. But Sir John. Maxwell was such a tremendous high and mighty gentleman that having his hands on the control of the whole country that he would not consent. Then we were all quite assured that when he retired from Ireland martial law would be revoked. But no; it is still in force. Here is a very remarkable passage from Professor Dicey's book which I recommend seriously 1783 to the consideration of the Chief Secretary. It has a very terrible bearing on what occurred:Now, this kind of martial law is entirely unknown to the constitution of England. Soldiers may suppress a riot, as they may resist an invasion, they may fight the rebels—which is the Irish case—just as they may tight foreign enemies, but they have no right under the law to inflict punishment for riot or rebellion.Thus Professor Dicey's opinion is that they have no right to inflict punishment for riot or rebellion, and yet in Ireland they inflicted punishment for riot and rebellion by secret court-martial, the most odious form of justice known to mankind.Among the efforts to restore peace rebels may be lawfully killed just as enemies may be lawfully slaughtered in battle, or prisoners may be shot to prevent their escape, but any execution (independently of military law) inflicted by a court-martial is illegal and technically murder.That is the constitution of England as laid down by Dicey, who is recognised as one of the highest authorities, and there is no getting away from it. It is categorical and clear. He says that whilst it is legal for the soldiers to fight rebels and shoot them down in the streets that, once a rebellion is suppressed, they have no right, unless they are dealing with men subject to military law—that is, men in the Army to punish the rebels, and if they execute rebels they are guilty of murder. What I want to know is this: Is martial law still in existence in Ireland? I say it is. Here is a most astonishing extract from a speech delivered on the 18th of October last by the right hon. Gentleman who is now Chief Secretary. He said, speaking in reply to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. Redmond):Two provisions exist, in Ireland with regard to the maintenance of public order at the present time. The first is the Proclamation of martial law which was made "by the Lord Lieutenant.Therefore, on the 18th of October, the right hon. Gentleman himself declared that that was the first provision which existed for the maintenance of public order, and he now stands up at that Box and says that there has been no martial law in Ireland since the cessation of the rebellion. How can he reconcile those two statements? He continued:The second set of provisions is that under the Defence of the Realm Act, with the necessary means under the Amending Acts which permit of the trial, in case of necessity, of offenders by court-martial."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th October, 1961 col. 603, Vol. LXXXXVL]I want to know from the right hon. Gentleman what is his present opinion 1784 since those two opinions are absolutely and flatly contradictory. On the 18th of October he put in the forefront of the provisions which existed in Ireland then for the maintenance of order martial law, and, as I understand him now, he says across that Table that there is no such thing. How has it disappeared? When has it disappeared? His last answer is absolutely at variance with his opinion in October. Let me quote another very important passage, as bearing upon my theory about the power and authority of the military in Ireland. It is a quotation from the famous speech, or, as some people would say, the infamous speech, delivered by Lord Lansdowne in another place in July last. Here is what he said when he was reconciling, or professing to reconcile, his political friends to the settlement of July:I say with a certain amount of confidence that under the system which exists at this moment there ought, not to be much fear of Ireland getting out of hand.That is a nice expression to use—more suitable I think to Berlin—that there should not be much danger of Ireland getting out of hand. He continued:General Sir John Maxwell—Observe this—is responsible for the conduct of Irish affairs. I believe he has some 40,000 troops to look after the safety of the country.Was Lord Lansdowne telling a falsehood then when he said that Sir John Maxwell was responsible "for the conduct of Irish affairs"? He did not say for the conduct of military affairs, but Irish affairs. I believe Lord Lansdowne was telling the truth, and that at that particular time Sir John Maxwell was the ruler of Ireland. I believe that is the reason—at least it is the only reason I can think of—why the Proclamation of martial law has never been withdrawn, because the military in Ireland are still determined to rule the roost and control the administration of the law. Who is responsible for these arrests? That is a vital question. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary may say he is responsible. I suppose he will, but I do not accept that. How, in the name of common sense, can he be responsible? I give the right hon. Gentleman every credit for being a friend of Ireland. I believe he is a genuine and a most hearty friend of Ireland. I have come to that conclusion since I have made his acquaintance. But how on earth can a barrister from London, who has spent all his life in the Law Courts here, cross over to deal with the 1785 most tangled problem to-day outside the Balkans, and in some respects which is worse than the Balkans, and decide, taking all the circumstances of the country into account, whether these men ought to be arrested or not? No, Sir. He is only the mouthpiece, the instrument, of others. Who are behind the Chief Secretary, who really rules the roost in ordering these arrests? Is it Major Price, who, to the eternal scandal of the War Council, was decorated with the D.S.O. the other day—for what? Chief spy and controller of the secret service of Ireland, he is a successor in the long line of spies that have hatched every kind of horror in that country, and now, instead of having departed with General Sir John Maxwell, he is decorated by the War Office because they approve of his conduct and are delighted that Ireland is in a state of disturbance. Is it Price who has marked out these men for arrest? Is it Sir Bryan Mahon, as was stated in some of the newspapers? I want to know who decided, and I decline to take from the Chief Secretary a statement that he is responsible, because the very facts under which he has come to Ireland, and the short period he has been there, make it absurd to say that he is competent to decide whether, taking all the circumstances into account, it will do more harm or good to arrest these men. I think, therefore, we are entitled to a full answer to the question, "Who recommended the arrest of these men?"
One of the tragedies of the present situation—and it is full of tragedies, and I am greatly afraid it will be far more full of tragedies before we are very much older—one of the tragedies is this, and make no mistake about it, that there is a considerable section of people in Ireland, and some in this country, who do not want a contented or loyal Ireland, and who are determined to drive the Irish race back into rebellion and hatred of this country. That seems a hard thing to say, but it is God's truth. It has been the policy of these men ever since they stirred up the bloody insurrection of '98, and turned Ireland from being a thoroughly loyal friend to England into for a hundred years her bitterest foe. These men, ever since the formation of the Coalition Government, have wrought ruin in Ireland. They have nearly destroyed the constitutional movement, and they boast now that our party is ruined, and that if we went to the country we would disappear. Would that be a service to England? It may be 1786 that a great many of us, or some of us, would lose our seats, but why would we lose our seats? Because we endeavoured to stand between Ireland and England and to make them friends, and because of" the irreconcilable revolutionists in Ireland, who have never ceased to exist, although we had reduced them to a very small handful, until Sir John Maxwell and Major Price came to their rescue and recruited their ranks by tens of thousands.
I say it with the fullest deliberation and with knowledge, that for the last year and a half the British Government in Ireland have been manufacturing Sinn Feiners by tens of thousands, until they have nearly maddened the country now, and the country will listen to no reason. Where is this going to end? That is the reason why, at the very outset of this new and disastrous change of policy, I thought it my duty to utter a word of warning and move the Adjournment to-night. Where is this thing going to end? Believe me, and I know Ireland well, it is going rapidly from bad to worse. You may, by pursuing the policy you have been pursuing for the last year and a half get rid of our party, or at least of a considerable portion of our party. Is it any wonder? Our party was built up thirty years ago and more by saying to our countrymen, "We will show you a road by which you can trust British people and trust British statesmen." The occurrences of last July have poisoned our people against us, and when we go back to Ireland we are asked by all the young men, "What is the use of your telling us to trust British statesmen? One blast of Carson's horn is worth all your reasoning. And why is it "—and this question is asked of me by hundreds of young men throughout the country—"Why is it that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College (Sir E. Carson) sits an honoured member of the Government now, after he has boasted in this House that he would be a rebel and defy the King's authority, and had flouted this House?" The answer of all these young men who are joining Sinn Fein by thousands now, is that that is the only argument that British Ministers understand, and they say, "If you had acted like Carson, and if you had hurled insults across the floor of the House at British Ministers, you would be in a very different position now from what you are in."
We are, and I am not ashamed to admit it, in a sense between the devil and the- 1787 deep sea. On the one side we have the Irish revolution and on the other side we have the Castle gang, and the unscrupulous crowd in Ireland who batten on Irish disturbance, on prosecutions and imprisonments, and who are shaping their whole policy with the deliberate purpose of driving the Irish population into the revolutionary ranks. Our task has been for a long while difficult, and you are making it impossible. But I venture to say that the hour is close at hand when you will bitterly repent it. After all, the Castle men who live on this kind of thing may rejoice to see Ireland rendered desperate and revengeful, but can any sensible or responsible statesman in this country look forward with any degree of satisfaction or of hope to such a condition of things as will bring at the close of this War an Ireland bound down and held down by an enormous garrison under military laws? How can you face Europe? How can you face America tomorrow, and pose as the champions of oppressed nationalities? What answer will you have when you are told, as you will be told, at the Peace Conference: "Go home and put your own house in order. How many soldiers have you got in Ireland?" Sir, our complaint is this, that you will neither govern Ireland decently, nor allow her to govern herself.
§ Mr. SCANLAN
I rise to second the Motion of my hon. Friend. Ireland unquestionably is governed now by martial law. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, in answer to a question today, did not deny it. He could not deny it, because it is a fact. Why is Ireland governed by martial law? Why are a number of men from Ireland deported to this country without trial, without investigation, without any charge being made against them? It is impossible, except under martial law. Why have we martial law in Ireland? It may be said that martial law is a consequence of the Irish rebellion. The only thing that pays in Ireland, and as it seems to me in this country, is rebellion. Who taught us rebellion in Ireland? Who taught us the lesson of rebellion? The man who taught us rebellion now occupies a place on the Treasury Bench. One of the greatest criminals sitting on that bench to-day is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was a fashionable thing in this country to applaud gun-running before the unfortunate incident which occurred in Ireland a 1788 year ago. One of the most famous applauders of that now sits quite comfortably upon the Treasury Bench opposite to me. Not only that, but after the beginning of the War, when this country was in a crisis graver than it is at the present time—although the country is threatened by the submarine menace, and although questions of a graver character have arisen than had dawned on the public imagination in the early stages of the war—the right hon. Gentleman the present Chancellor of the Exchequer went over to Belfast and said that before that time he had tentatively approved of the doctrines preached by the present First Lord of the Admiralty. He would, he said, pledge himself and his whole party to go over to Ulster and to support the propaganda of rebellion if the Government of this Government decided to pat into force an Act of Parliament passed by this House and passed through another House; if any Government of this country attempted to put into force what was the law of the land for this country he himself would go over and attempt to help rebellion in Ireland.
We have a complaint from the Treasury Bench that the state of Ireland is abnormal, that Ireland cannot be governed under the ordinary law, and that extraordinary means must be found to deal with the case of Ireland. What is the reason for it? The foundation of anything abnormal in Ireland at the present time is due to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to his colleague the Member for Trinity College, now First Lord of the Admiralty. We hear a great deal about fighting for small nationalities. There is one small nationality that this country might immediately liberate, and that is Ireland.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. SCANLAN
Of course I am. The hon. Member is not entitled to speak for any part of Ireland. Ireland is a small nation, and Ireland expects from this country the treatment which this country asks for small nationalities. Is not there a fear that if we go on as we are at present in this House of Commons in the present treatment of Ireland that this country will be open to the reflection made by Germany that she is hypocritical when she asks for fair treatment for small nationalities? It is difficult for this country to liberate Poland or to give 1789 freedom to Serbia. It is difficult for this country to restore Belgium to her former state or to give her back her possessions. Is it difficult for this country to give freedom to Ireland? [An HON. MEMBER: "No!"] The only small nationality which this country is immediately in a position to deal with is Ireland. The one small nationality that this country never thinks of is Ireland. I am asking the House of Commons, then, to deal fairly with Ireland. Is it a big question? This country has tackled big questions in the past. It may be said, with the state of the country, the state of difficulty in Ireland, of the relationship between the two countries, of the state of dissatisfaction—should this country interfere? What happened to this country whenever it did anything right in a matter of this sort? What did this country do with Canada when it passed the Act which gave freedom to that country? What was the state of Canada at that time? What did this country do in the case of South Africa? This country has always been right when it has given freedom to the peoples within the sphere of influence of the Empire; when it has given them freedom to rule themselves and to regulate their own affairs This country at the present time is living a lie when it forces Ireland under military law and under coercion. Why are men deported from Ireland at the present time? Because we are under a state of martial law. What is the need of it in Ireland? You may answer quite truthfully: because the people of Ireland are dissatisfied with the Government they have. Is any country in the word satisfied with a Government imposed upon them? A Government foreign to the people, foreign to their instincts, foreign to everything that belongs to them. The people of Ireland hate English government. At the beginning of this War everybody in Ireland was in sympathy with this country. At the beginning of this War every body in Ireland believed that this country was truthful in its protestations——
§ Mr. SCANLAN
At the beginning of this War everybody in Ireland helped this country. The response from Ireland at the beginning of the War was greater than could be expected from any country 1790 treated as Ireland had been in the past. What response has this country made to the good feeling that Ireland has shown? I am not going into details. When the War started Ireland was under a Government which presumably was friendly to Ireland—a Government under which Home Rule had become an Act of Parliament. After that we had a Coalition Government. When that Government was formed we had a drastic change in the relations of this country to Ireland. I will tell hon. Members what was the first intimation we had of that change. In July of last year Lord Lansdowne, in another place, said, in regard to the way in which the laws are administered in Ireland:Reference has been made to the question of resident magistrates in Ireland. Anybody who knows that country knows that there are many parts of it in which it is idle to look to an ordinary bench of magistrates to do their duty, or, for the matter of that, to an ordinary Irish jury to do its duty. We propose to have recourse to trial before resident magistrates. If the resident magistrates already in the service of the Government are not found sufficient for the work which they will be called upon to perform, we shall be quite ready to ask for permission to increase their number.I think, one of the most wanton affronts ever offered to a free and high-minded people is to say that no jury in a country will convict a man if evidence is produced to show he is guilty. But here we have recourse to a system of trial which enables the Government to send down to any part of the country people with instructions to convict, instead of try. That is the meaning of it. Besides, suppose it is true that juries will not convict in any country; what is the meaning of it? I submit that the only underlying meaning is that the country is ill-governed, and if you have bad government, if you have government against the will of the people, you may have such a state of things as that. In the whole circumstances of the present position of Ireland there is nothing more dangerous to law and order than the continuance of martial law, and the system adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary of sending resident magistrates to suppress the ordinary civil magistrates, and to secure convictions which he wishes for the Government. I think it is intolerable that this Government, or any Government, should arrogate to itself the right to send Irishmen out of Ireland without an accusation being made against them and without trial. I think that in the face of the protestations which this country is making of its respect for small nationalities, it is a glaring case of hypocrisy for this country, for our Prime Minister, or for 1791 the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say that they favour the small nationalities when they treat Ireland in this manner. Until this country begins to realise the elementary propositions of justice in regard to a country with which England can deal readily and at once, she dare not make propositions to the countries opposed to us, and make conditions in regard to peace. Before peace is considered, this country should do justice to Ireland and remove all the criticism, all the stigma which is cast upon this country by treating Ireland in the way she is doing at the present time.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. Duke)
Listening to the speeches with which this Motion has been supported, one would have thought the administration in Ireland had suddenly pounced down in a country where no trouble has been known in our time, or, at any rate, where men were bound together in prosecuting a common object on which the existence of the British Empire depended, and that an oppressive Minister, or some tyrant placed in authority there, had swooped upon twenty-eight men and sent them out of the country. When a Motion of this kind is to be made, or when an attack of this kind is to be launched, hon. Members ignore the facts of the last, twelve months, and the situation of affairs in Ireland. They treat Ireland as a happy land, where the problems, if any problems of difficulty exist, are created by the misconduct of an imbecile administration. They assume it must be the Government that is to blame. I am not going to profess that I stand here with any satisfaction in the deportations. Hon. Members will remember that just before Christmas I stood at this Box, and I said to the House that it was with satisfaction, although not without some misgivings, that I had advised His Majesty's Government to allow the discharge from custody and the return to their homes in Ireland of between 500 and 600 men who were interned. I can assure the House that task was a much more grateful task than this; but, just as I was satisfied that the risks ought to be taken which were involved in those discharges, so I am satisfied that those are risks which ought to be taken which are involved in these removals.
Many collateral questions of grave consequence have been raised in addition to that of the immediate matter of the 1792 arrest, and, as it is called, deportation and banishment of these twenty-eight men. It was said by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) that what he regarded as the gravest element in this situation was that there was evidently a change of policy, and he paid me the compliment of saying that he had been satisfied from his observation of my conduct while I had been Chief Secretary, that I was a friend of Ireland. That is a great compliment and a large claim, and I do not intend to descant on that theme. A man must be judged by his conduct, and the matter in question is a piece of conduct which the hon. Member attributes to somebody else, rather, I think, for the purpose of reaching the administration generally, than for the purpose of exculpating the Chief Secretary. But the hon. Member thought there must have been a change of policy. There has been no change of policy. When I accepted the not very easy task which I have to perform, I accepted it with the resolution to do all that one man could do to remove obstacles which stood in the way of a settlement between Great Britain and Ireland—a settlement between classes in Ireland—and I have not ceased to devote myself to that object. But that again is beside this question. These deportations were no part of any policy of repression—of any new policy of repression, and far less were they part of any policy of irritation. I was sorry to hear the hon. Member harking back to very bitter past memories, saying that on every occasion in the affairs of Ireland, when there was some prospect of conciliation, some miserable offender had launched upon the scene a cause of discontent, which defeated the objects of those who desire conciliation. The hon. Member referred to a variety of cases, the last in July, 1916, when he said that a dispatch was published which would prevent a settlement. Anybody who studied the question of the settlement and the difficulties which prevented its being made will know how far-fetched that argument was, for that dispatch had no more to do with the failure of the negotiation than the latest eclipse. That was a lamentable failure, but it arose out of the nature of the case, and perhaps it will be made good—[An HON. MEMBER: "Never!"]—I think the hon. Member would be a better friend to his country if he tried to make it good. We believe that we shall make it good, but we are not helped on that road if, when there are difficulties of administration, those 1793 who speak for the great mass of opinion in Ireland, who favour a constitutional settlement of this question, simply because they do not understand the necessities of a particular act, rush to the conclusion that every argument of violence that is used by their own opponents is justified by the conduct of the administration. I confess that one of the greatest difficulties in dealing with the Irish question is, that when a man has broken the law in Ireland, when he has shown himself capable of violence and is brought to account, there are great numbers of people who, in ordinary times are the strongest advocates of constitutional methods, who are found ranged behind that man as apologists if not as advocates. It is a most unfortunate thing and a cause of difficulty so far as any suspicion of a change of policy is concerned, and so far as any idea of readiness to aggravate the situation in Ireland is concerned, those are unfounded charges. I tell hon. Members with the greatest seriousness if it seemed to me that I could better advance the prospects of a settlement in Ireland, and the settlement in the United Kingdom of this question, which is overdue for settlement, by removing from this bench to a bench elsewhere, I would do it to-morrow.
§ Mr. DUKE
There are none of those painful incidents connected with this act, as I trust to be able to satisfy the House. My great difficulty is that we are at war. A large number of the people who have been ordered to reside in this country were people who took up arms against this country while we were at war, and took an active part fin operations against this country. That is a serious factor in the situation. If I could disregard the state of war and speak with frankness and candour of all I know of these matters, I think I should satisfy even the hon. Member himself that what was done here was not the act of an oppressive administration misled by evil advisers in countenancing the misconduct of subordinates in its service, but it was an act resolved upon with regret, and justified by absolute necessity in the circumstances of the case. [An HON. MEMBER: "Let us hear the reasons."] If, in answer to a challenge to tell him the facts with regard to these deportations, some of them of men who last April were in open revolt against the Government and acting in complicity with the common enemy, the 1794 hon. Member supposes that I am going to unfold the tale in order that the accomplices of these men may know all that i know about the matter, the hon. Member is very much mistaken.
§ Mr. DUKE
The hon. Member spoke about martial law and the arrests which had been made under martial law. He read a passage from Professor Dicey's work on Constitutional Law, and he quoted the author to emphasise the proposition that martial law does not exist in this country. It is true it does not exist here. The state of siege which is known in continental countries, and the degrees of severity existing in continental countries do not exist in this country. There may be a state of open hostility against the Crown and the constituted authorities of the country, and then a state of martial law arises and comes to the aid of the ordinary law in circumstances where only necessity can direct the measures to be taken. The hon. Member has taunted me with having cited the Viceregal Proclamation of April as one of the instruments for dealing with the present state of things in Ireland, and he quoted a speech which I made in October last in which I said that there were two special provisions at the disposal of the Government, one the Proclamation of martial law and the other the Defence of the Realm Regulations. I think the hon. Member will find I have asserted over and over again since I have been Chief Secretary that no act has been taken which required resort to the Proclamation of martial law to defend it. Something like seven months have elapsed since I became Chief Secretary, and I think I am warranted in saying that during those months there has not been in Ireland what the hon. Member describes "as a state of martial law." The Proclamation did not bring a state of martial law, but it notified to His Majesty's subjects in Ireland that a condition of things existed in which they might be dealt with outside the law. That state of things passed away when the time of the insurrection passed, and I say now that the powers of the Government would not be diminished by a formal Proclamation announcing that martial law was at an end. I will tell the hon. Member that I believe there are a great many lawless people in Ireland who would be misled by that Proclamation to their own hurt and to the hurt of the 1795 country, and who would suppose because there was a Proclamation declaring that there was no martial law that they were at liberty to do a great many things which would bring them into conflict with the laws which exist in that country.
If hon. Members pressed it upon His Majesty's Government as a vital constitutional necessity to issue a new Proclamation which would not alter the state of the law, but which would play into the hands of lawless people, well, no doubt the House would consider the situation. I have always said that I attach no importance to that Proclamation as an authority for the administration in Ireland, and I feel convinced that no man who understands the law would attach importance to it. I have said in the answers that I have made to successive questions by the hon. Member that everything that has been done and is being done in Ireland in restraint of liberty has been done and is being done under the Defence of the Realm Regulations. The arrest of these prisoners and the order that they should reside in this country were two acts which were done under the Defence of the Realm Regulations. The Defence of the Realm Regulation, No. 55, authorises arrest where there is suspicion, not mere vague opinion, but suspicion supported by facts which are known, of certain classes of conduct which imperils public safety; and Section 14 authorises the competent military authority in any district in the United Kingdom, if he has reason to believe that the conduct of any person within the district has been or is, or is going to be, contrary to the safety of the realm, to order him to reside somewhere else.
§ Mr. DUKE
The competent military authority in Ireland is a very distinguished Irish soldier, Sir Bryan Mahon, who is certainly not a man who would be suspected of an insidious design to destroy his own country, but a man who was selected with unanimous approbation at the time that he was appointed to his post. The Defence of the Realm Regulations and the Act under which they were made are provisions taken for the safety of the realm. The acts which are done are to be justified with regard to those Regulations, and not with regard either to the common law or to the non-existent condition of martial law, or to such a state of siege 1796 as may exist in a Continental country or to any other code. If hon. Members refer to the establishment of martial law on the Continent when they challenge the terms of the Defence of the Realm Regulations which have been sanctioned by this House over and over again, I would ask them to reflect whether a man, who persistently for weeks or for months pursued a course of conduct which is known to be to the public danger in any of the Continental countries with which we are at war, would-find himself merely ordered to reside in any district. Why, he would not have any place of residence. Everybody knows it.
§ Mr. SCANLAN
If the right hon. Gentleman has such power as he says he has under the Defence of the Realm Act, why is it necessary to still continue martial law in Ireland? We have no martial law in this country.
§ Mr. DUKE
The hon. and learned Member is a member of the Bar, and of my own Inn of Court, and I am amazed that he should ask that question after the explanation I have given him. If I have not explained it to the hon. Member I am not capable of explaining it, and he must study the elementary text-books. By a Defence Regulation this House has put into the hands of executive officers in Ireland this power:Where a person is suspected of acting or of having acted or of being about to net in a manner prejudicial to public safety, or to the defence of the realm, and it appears to the competent naval or military authority that it is desirable that such person should be prohibited from residing in any locality, the competent naval or military authority may, by Order, prohibit him from residing in or entering in any area or areas which may be specified in the Order.That is what is being done in this case. Twenty-eight men have been told that they must reside in England until further orders, and they have been told the reasons to which I will refer. But it is impossible that I should state to the House with detailed particularity the facts within the knowledge of the administration which made these arrests necessary on a particular day of the week. Anybody who looks back and studies the course of events, the threats, the hopes, and, with regard to a rebellious and truculant minority in Ireland, I would even say the expectations as to what might happen, will see why it is impossible I should condescend to details, and tell the people in Ireland, who perhaps have their own ideas as to the meaning of this action, and the people out of Ireland, who knew less of it, why the Government have come to a particular 1797 decision with regard to particular men at a particular time. It is asked: Why was it done? The hon. Member for East Mayo almost adopted these twenty-eight people in his own body of constitutional politicians in Ireland.
§ Mr. DILLON
I was not such a fool. They are bitter enemies of my party, and I claimed and said that the Government were playing their game.
§ Mr. DUKE
The hon. Member always has the courage of his opinions, and I agree with him that, they are enemies of his party. I greatly regret that there should be bitter enemies of the constitutional policy in Ireland, for which many hon. Members opposite have sacrificed popularity, prospects, and expectations of political success. But what is a more serious matter to me than their enmity to a political party is their enmity to Great Britain and the Empire, in which every man of them, twenty-eight of them, is a born subject of the Crown.
§ Mr. DUKE
Then I make no excuse for telling them that they shall not reside in Ireland. These gentlemen, some of them, conceal their citizenship when it is convenient. We have their privileges as British subjects trotted out here, and we are to weep over them because they are not allowed to reside in Ireland and plot against the safety of the Kingdom and the Empire. Well, there are two of them with regard to whom I need not justify myself. I am much obliged to the hon. Member for his information. With regard to the remaining twenty-six, I should have been thankful and happy if it had been, possible for me to have said, when it became my duty to deal with them, "No, it is safe for them to stay in Ireland." But I could not. Although I have the feeling I have expressed with regard to current political affairs in Ireland, that which the people of the United Kingdom and of the Empire expect of an administrator in Ireland is that he shall take care of the interests of the Empire salus populi suprema est lex. It is on that ground it has been necessary to take action. The hon. Member for East Mayo complained of our action, but does he think that among the twenty-six men in question there was one man capable of taking the oath of allegiance? Is there any member on the Irish Benches who thinks there is one of these twenty-six 1798 men capable of taking the oath of allegiance? I will say this for them, I do not believe they would perjure themselves, and I say it with the utmost candour——
§ Mr. DUKE
The hon. Member throws in an irrelevant observation which does not help us seriously. I have stated the position with regard to these twenty-six men. It is asked, Who are they? Why did you do it? What is your charge? Why don't you bring them to trial? Who are they! The hon. Member for East Mayo has told the House who they are. The majority of them are men who, by a stretch of leniency, were released with harmless men from Frongoch just before Christmas. I am glad to know that on the whole that release justified itself. I do not regret it in the least, and with a knowledge of what has happened, even within the last ten days, I would do it again. I would except these twenty-six or the part of them who were interned. But with regard to the other men—the great majority of them—hon. Members were right when they said they would not engage in any insurrectionary action. They were rushed, with the multitude, into a position which they did not anticipate. I do not say it with confidence, but I have great hopes that, with regard at any rate to five-sixths of these men who have been released, men whom the judges had previously said could not be rightly released, men of whom the judges had said, when examining their cases, it was not possible to say they ought to be at large—as to five-sixths of them, I say it was a very good thing that they should be set at large to start again—to start again; I do rot say without any ebullitions, because one may expect ebullitions under some circumstances. They went back and are carrying on their businesses, and are not engaged in revolutionary actions. If they have opinions which do not square with their duty and loyalty they are keeping them to themselves, and they are not imperilling the safety of the Empire or of the Kingdom. But there is a minority, and with regard to some who were at Frongoch, and a considerable number who were well qualified to be there, but who did not happen to get arrested at the time of the rising—this minority since the end of the Christmas holidays have devoted themselves to an endeavour to revive and set in motion that conspiracy which had such fatal results in Easter week last year. 1799 Everybody who has responsibility in Ireland has some knowledge of what is going on. Men have devoted themselves to that action—it has been practically the only employment some of them have had—and that was a state of things which we could not regard with equanimity. Whether you are going to treat a man who is engaged in a criminal conspiracy with contempt or with severity depends on the circumstances in which he is engaged. There is a part of this story I am not able to unfold. Hon. Members who have no responsibility in these matters say, "Tell us an interesting story; it will fill columns in the papers to-morrow." That is not the way in which I interpret my duty. I am responsible for silence as well as for speech. Week by week there are some of these men who, in spite of warnings, have gone on doing forbidden things, reviving, as far as they were able and as far as growing restrictions permitted, those pernicious activities which could only, if brought to a head, result for themselves and for other people, in bloodshed, death, and devastation. Through January, and for a little longer, those who knew what was going on, looked on and took no action. It is asked, what has happened since?
§ Mr. DUKE
He is so obsessed with the grandeur of his triumph that he cannot keep North Roscommon election out of this Debate. I assure the House that that election had no more to do with the matter than our victory in France yesterday had to do with it. Just let me remind the House for a moment of the position a week before Easter. Suppose suddenly the Government had been compelled then to arrest some of the large number of persons who had formed themselves into an armed force, had taken possession of the streets of the towns, had marched upon the roads, and had held up the traffic. I do not doubt there would have been a Motion for Adjournment. We would have had a full-dress Debate, and the Government of the day would have been denounced even more bitterly than the Government has been denounced to- 1800 day, for its tyrannical action which sought to stem the tide of an unconstitutional movement which would set back the course of true progress. But if we had had a number of judicious arrests made in the week before Easter last year, Easter week would have had no significance, and all that we should have had to deplore would have been that the Minister of the day would have been denounced as an offender against constitutional propriety. That is all, and that would not have mattered. I greatly regret that, without telling the House all the facts, which I cannot do, I am bound to vindicate the action which has been taken, beause I knew it had to be taken. Suppose in an ordinary criminal matter you found night alter night A, B, or C watching at an appointed place, or haunting a usual haunt, and you knew that A, B, or C and his associates had already been involved there in one crime. Are you to wait until he has committed another.
§ Mr. FLAVIN
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what these cases were? We who have been living in Ireland do not know anything of them.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one of these men was with the First Lord of the Admiralty in running guns at Larne?
§ Mr. DUKE
The hon. Member must not expect me to be acquainted with the more innocent pursuits of any one of them, These men are ordered to reside in England. If I were asked to reside in a rural part of England, which docs not strike me as being a horrible thing, I would do it if I could lawfully accept the invitation.
§ Mr. DUKE
That is the extent of the matter—that these people are ordered to reside in England. The state of Ireland is that which the hon. Member for East Mayo described. He said—I took down his words:—The state of Ireland was serious and has been since May last.The hon. Member went on to state thatIt had become worse.That is the condition of the country. The hon. Member also said that people were being recruited to the ranks of the Sinn Feiners in tens of thousands. It is possible to attach even too much seriousness to recruits to the ranks of the Sinn Feiners. There are many honest people who were beguiled into the ranks of the Sinn Feiners.
§ Mr. DUKE
But there are in the ranks of Sinn Fein many people who are, as the hon. Member is aware, enemies of the constitutional movement, enemies of the Union, enemies of the Empire, and enemies of the cause in which we are engaged. That is the position with regard to at any rate, some of these persons who are concerned. With regard to the whole body of them, I wish to say two or three further words. There was no sudden act of any obscure authority upon any report of any police officer. There was no act of any individual upon his own suspicions. Three persons share the responsibility in this matter. In point of fact, I, of course, have full responsibility to the House. The Inspector- 1802 General of the Constabulary, General Byrne, a modest, law-abiding, patriotic and generous Irishman—he knows all about it. Sir Bryan Mahon, the Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, had the responsibility of deciding whether this ought to be done—he knows all about it. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had the responsibility of saying whether the Executive Government, that is, His Majesty's Government, should step in and either prevent or reverse this act. The Chief Secretary believes that he knows grounds which warrant a finding in the affirmative upon the questions of fact which have to, be answered before a decision of this kind can be come to, and, in the state of things of which the hon. Member has spoken, and in the face of an enemy vigilant, ruthless, unscrupulous, who thought he gained a triumph in Ireland in April, who is always ready to countenance any sinister action, the Chief Secretary came to the conclusion that he ought to be ready to stand in the House of Commons and say, "In my judgment this is a transaction in which, although there can be no charge, and although there can be no trial——
§ Mr. DEVLIN
The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to make a comparison between my forensic abilities and his great powers as a lawyer. I am quite prepared to admit my inferiority in that regard. He says that he is too old and experienced a practitioner in the Courts of this country to be cross-examined by untutored laymen like myself. If he will permit me to say so, there are one or two fundamental things that ordinary common-sense people, and even the commonest minds, cannot understand. The first of them is, what right has the right hon. Gentleman or his advisers, or any series of so-called administrators of the law in Ireland, to arrest men and deport them without a trial? That is a legal question, and it is a question of common justice. The right hon. Gentleman has not answered it. He has made a speech which lasted for nearly an hour, and no doubt most of the statements he made were exceedingly interesting. It is all very well for him, standing at that box, to lay down 1803 wide, general academic principles, but there is one thing deep and profound in all our hearts in Ireland, which is that if men are to be taken from their homes and deported to another country we ought to know the reason why. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that the safety of the Empire depends upon this act of the Government, and that it is absolutely essential in the interests of the Empire that these twenty-eight men should be deported to this country. Is the right hon. Gentleman joking? Does he mean to assert in this House and before the country that if you remove twenty-eight men from Ireland all your difficulties disappear? If so, I think it is a very sorry compliment to pay to the Empire which is engaged in the War in which we are now engaged, a War of such magnitude, a War that calls forth the greatest military power that the world has ever known, that that Empire is seriously endangered unless twenty-eight men are taken from Ireland and sent over to this country. I again congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on being a great lawyer instead of, like the rest of us, a man of common sense.
I trust that he will not mind me reminding him that when we pointed out and pressed upon the late Prime Minister how vicious and appalling and evil in its results would be the execution of these men, we were told that this act was absolutely essential in the interests of the Empire, and these men were executed. I suppose, in the interests of the Empire. You carried out the executions. You had the vengeance of the law upheld, but what have been the crop of evils which have sprung up in every part of Ireland since? If you were to sit down now coldly, as we asked you to do when these executions commenced in Ireland, and consider the appalling consequences which would come, not only to Ireland, but to you, by that act of justice which the interests of the Empire demanded, do you think you would repeat that appalling political crime for you here, and the appalling crime for every interest in Ireland which was the result of your action at that time under the guidance of the same military authorities who were responsible for the arrest of these men, their deportation without trial, and this outrage upon common justice in the country. I have nothing in common with Sinn Feiners in 1804 Ireland. In my judgment, the Sinn Feiners are as much out to destroy this constitutional movement as they are out to fight you, and perhaps more so. It is not my interest to defend them. I have fought them all my life, and when people tell us that the Sinn Feiners are going to sweep us out of existence, that election after election will force the representatives of the people in this Parliament to disappear as the upholders of the constitutional line in the fight for the peoples' freedom, my withers are un-wrung. My only regret is that we have not an opportunity in the form of a General Election to-morrow in which every one of us would be prepared not only to defend our public conduct in this House, the principles we hold in favour of universal freedom, and our full conviction that, if there was sanity in this country as well as in Ireland, you would be able to solve this seemingly insoluble problem of Ireland. Therefore I do not stand here as their advocate. I stand here as the advocate of simple justice. But I agree with my hon. Friend (Mr. Dillon) that while you may drag men to England on suspicion you may get rid of the men, but you poison the whole national life of the country, because you send men out of the country without giving a reason, and no one knows in Ireland who may be the victims to-day when the victims of yesterday have disappeared from the country.
These men I say, therefore, were entitled, if they were guilty of any offence, to be brought before some tribunal in Ireland. You have plenty of tribunals in Ireland. I do not believe this statement that these men were engaged in another conspiracy. I believe this has been another attempt on the part of officialdom in Ireland to tickle the imagination of the latest English Governor of Ireland. I know the right hon. Gentleman has been friendly to our country. I make public confession that I was prejudiced against him when he went there first. I have watched his public conduct since, and I have seen many manifestations of his desire to be just and kind to Ireland and see freedom restored to her, but if you see the right hon. Gentleman over here, if you put before him, as we have done in the case of the Food Committee, the simplest suggestion in favour of carrying on even such questions as the production of food, the division of land, the raising of larger 1805 stores of potatoes, in my opinion a means to successfully carry out the policy of better food production, he goes over to Ireland and comes back and gives a non-possumus to the suggestions we have made, though he has received them perfectly sympathetically. Every time he goes over from this country to Ireland I believe he comes back prejudiced against Ireland. That is my conviction and that is my experience, and therefore I do not believe a word of the story. I do not believe that thirteen men were organising another rebellion. It has been all suspicion from beginning to end. He has not given us a single instance where he can justify his action, and when you get these thirteen men to England will not thirteen more arrive, and when they go will there not be thirteen others. Sir John Maxwell told my hon. Friend (Mr. Dillon), when he went to violently protest against these executions, "I will put down sedition in Ireland so forcibly and powerfully that it will never raise its head again." Was Sir John Maxwell right or was he wrong? What has been the practical experience of his operations? Would it not have been better for him to take advice from the constitutional leader, whose constitutionalism you are very proud of when it takes the form of helping you, but which you despise when it takes the form of advising you as to what is best for the country he represents?
I myself believe that there is a sinister influence in Ireland at the bottom of all this, and I think that influence is Major Price. I want to know from the right hon. Gentleman why it was that when Sir John Maxwell left Ireland Major Price did not leave Ireland with him? I got a specific promise from the late Prime Minister that Major Price should go with Sir John Maxwell. I got a similar promise from the present Prime Minister, and I say while he is there there will not be suspicion against the Irish people, but there will be suspicion by the Irish people against the administration of justice, and even if you are right the Irish people will refuse to believe that justice is not poisoned in its very wells, and not Sinn Feiners, but the universal mass of the people will incline to believe that justice can be honestly administered while that condition of things goes on. The right hon. Gentleman must really make up his mind whether things are to go on in Ireland as they are or whether there is to be a change. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot come here and 1806 talk about constitutionalism in the House of Commons and suspend the Constitution in Ireland. One policy or the other is perfectly clear and definite, and one policy or the other ought to be adopted. You are either to suspend every law or you are to give the country the guidance of its own affairs and the control of its own destinies into its own hands. There is no other policy, and the sooner you make up your mind about it the better. Ireland to-day is pained, disillusioned, angry, and wondering, not knowing where to turn or where she stands, with all these powers of Government and all these repressive measures and all this spirit of discontent scattered over the Island. People who believe in constitutionalism do not know where they are. I believe the vast mass of the people of Ireland, 95 per cent, of them, are passionately anxious to end this state of things. You seem to be the only people who are not anxious to end it. Although you are in the middle of a great war you are not anxious to end it. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for North Sligo on this point: From the beginning of the War on platforms in Ireland there was hardly a county or a town where I did not address meetings, pointing out to the Irish people that this War in which you were engaged was a war on behalf of small nationalities. That aroused their passion. It moved their chivalry. It touched all their belief in great Christian and humane principles, and in the spirit of liberty. But when they had given you their all you betrayed them, and still you talk about small nationalities and the rights of small peoples on the platforms of this country, and you tell that to the peoples of Europe and America.
I still believe that this was a battle for small nationalities, but I believe this, too, that there are people in this country, and the official classes in Ireland and in Dublin Castle, who inspire the elements in this country, who would rather see the Empire crash to pieces than to see justice done to Ireland. This spirit is so deeply rooted in their very souls that they can see nothing good in Ireland. You talk about your power to guide a great Empire, and you are boasting upon every platform, and rightly boasting, that you have been able to rally to your support and to your flag in this moment of Imperial peril and vicissitudes, the children of the Empire. Who are those children who have gathered round your flag? They are the children who have 1807 drunk in the spirit of liberty in South Africa, in New Zealand, in Australia, and in Canada, and the only element in the Empire which you have not got now, but which you had at the commencement of this War, when the heart of Ireland was warm towards you, with the breath of liberty which was stirring the people of that country, is Ireland, the nation that is next door to you; a nation with so many common interests; a nation which could be of countless value, not only in the War, but in every great cause which makes for human progress and public liberty. But she is now rendered angry and sullen, and she occupies a position tragic before all Europe. The heart of America, too, is angered and indignant that this Empire which has solved the great problems that have made it what it is to-day is incapable, not of the statesmanship, not of the wisdom, but of the spirit—for that is all that is needed—to be generous with a beneficent hand, as your predecessors were generous in their concessions in Canada, Australia, and South Africa. If you do that, and you get this question settled, then you would stand an irresistible power before the world.
§ Sir J. SIMON
The wider considerations which the hon. Member has just presented with such eloquence to the House are considerations which I think will arise more directly, and in a more convenient form, when we have the Debate which is promised, and is to be raised by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). The question on the Motion for the Adjournment to-night is definite and urgent, and relates to an Executive act of His Majesty's Government. With reference to that, I have a few observations to make, in view of the statement of the Chief Secretary. As I understand the Chief Secretary's speech, his convinced view is that he would not be acting in accordance with his duty if he was to state to the House and to the country what is the nature of the suspicion, in any detail, which he and his advisers entertain with regard to these twenty or thirty men. The right hon. Gentleman has made it quite plain that in his judgment his duty is not to make that relevation. If that is the Chief Secretary's view, no one could quarrel with him, because, having formed that view, with the knowledge he has, he is acting upon it, and he 1808 is in no way to be reproached because, having stated that view, he has, as everybody must realise, presented a very ingenious argument, without revealing that which he was asked to disclose. That is not a criticism of his conduct, because, if he takes the view, on the knowledge which he necessarily possesses, that he cannot properly reveal these matters, then, of course, he would be very wrong to reveal them; but, at the same time, it is no good pretending that his speech is a speech which has disclosed to the House of Commons or to the country what is the ground for the action that has been taken. The right hon. Gentleman, I am sure, will be the first to recognise that those two positions cannot be successfully occupied at the same time.
I would like to put to the right hon. Gentleman and to the Government a few points for consideration. For my part, I feel bound to say that I believe he is acting in good faith, that he is acting with the most sincere desire to promote the public interests, and that he is speaking with the most genuine feeling, when he says that he would surrender his position here and now if he did not, think that by maintaining it he was serving the cause of the Empire. Accepting all that, is the Government really quite satisfied that the course they are prosecuting is the right one? Are they quite justified in it? It is obvious that the course which the Government is disposed to take is likely to produce at the best an immense amount of misunderstanding, and, it may be, do a great deal to inflame and intensify feeling, when, as an alternative, the knowledge that these persons were going to be exposed to a proper inquiry, through proper channels, would possibly assuage very bitter and very passionate emotions. That is not a matter about which any private Member can form a judgment. We quite recognise that it is for the Government, with their knowledge, to say, but I do wish that it were possible to give us a little more assurance than we have had that the alternative course, the ordinary course, the course which certainly in ordinary times would be taken without any question, is one which really is barred by the very exceptional circumstances of the case.
But I may point out this, that, as I follow the Chief Secretary, what is now being done is to go further in the direction of denying the ordinary protection of the law to persons, possibly falsely arrested, 1809 than has hitherto been the case. He referred to that large body of persons who were detained and brought over to Frongoch. Am I not right in saying that everyone of those persons had his case examined by the Advisory Committee, on which there were, I think, two high judicial authorities, one an English and the other an Irish judge, as well as Members of Parliament? I do not say that that is the same thing as a trial, but it is a great deal better than nothing at all. And I do not quite understand why persons who were, in the first place, arrested and detained, and whose cases were then examined by this advisory committee, exercising, as I know, a very difficult task with the greatest desire to serve their country, if there are any more persons going to be arrested, should not also have their cases tested by a similar process. I know, for instance, that some time ago the Home Office did, and I think it still does, submit such cases, many of them, let me tell hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, English cases, to a body of that sort, and I took the view when I was Home Secretary, and I still take the view, that there are cases in which no better precaution for securing civil liberty, in the circumstances, was possible. But I would urge the Government to consider whether it is not possible to offer, at any rate, that degree of security, that sort of protection, against a thing which, I am sure, my right hon. Friend is as much concerned to avoid the reality of and the suspicion of as anybody in this House.
I do not draw any distinction between persons who are responsible for the Government and private Members. There is not one of us who does not desire everything to be done which may remove the suspicion that there are not good grounds for what is undoubtedly a very grave executive act. It seems to me that the Government ought to do everything in their power to show that there are good grounds for what they are doing, and that that is the statement of persons who are in no way themselves either the Government or in the service of the Government. May I observe on that, if I understand aright, it has been decided on this question within the last few days by the Courts of this country that persons who have been put on a trial, which no doubt was a trial by a military Court, and was no doubt a trial behind closed doors, but which none the less was a trial, having been convicted by such a tribunal, are well and properly 1810 detained. I am not going to say anything in defence of military trials or trials behind closed doors, but do not let us rest content with the suspicion that this is merely part and parcel of a Castle conspiracy, without some process which being used, however imperfect, would go some way, I do not say towards restoring public confidence, but at any rate would show that independent persons not acting under the influence of the administration in Dublin have come to the conclusion that these persons should be detained. That was one of the questions which I wanted to put to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, because I believe he is as anxious as anybody, more anxious than anybody else can possibly be, to show that he felt it his duty to take this step, and that is not open to the reproach that it will not stand any form of independent test or examination. The hon. Member for East Mayo, I think, said twice in his speech that orders had been given that the Press were not to comment on these proceedings.
§ Mr. DILLON
To be quite accurate, I said the Censor had requested—I did not say ordered—the Press in this country not to comment on the arrests in Ireland, in the situation as it is at present.
§ Sir J. SIMON
The right hon. Gentleman opposite, in the course of his careful speech, made no reference to that allegation at all. The statement which the hon. Member made, left quite uncontradicted, undoubtedly causes grave concern in many quarters. It goes far beyond anything which I recollect in times past. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] Yes, so far as I know, it goes far beyond anything done in times past in the Censor's Department, when I was at the head of the Bureau, and I fail altogether to understand how such a statement by the hon. Member for East Mayo could be made and not dealt with, whether by way of denial or by way of explanation on the part of the Government. For my part, I believe it to be absolutely essential to deal with these matters in time of war in a different way from the way in which we should normally and naturally expect them to be dealt with in ordinary times. I think that throws most serious responsibility on the administration of the day, first of all, to explain the necessity of the action they are taking, and, secondly, to seek by every means to prove to the community at large that what they have done is in the circumstances necessary, and, indeed, inevitable. It 1811 cannot be denied that however necessary these steps may be they are totally repugnant to our traditions in ordinary times. We must sacrifice some portion of liberty in order to preserve the rest, but I do think that on these two points we should have some rather more definite assurance from the right hon. Gentleman And his colleagues than we have had in the course of the speech the right hon. Gentleman has made. For my part, I deliberately postpone the more general considerations raised both by the hon. Member for East Mayo and by the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, because I must say that I desire in this matter, as in others, that when the action, which the Government has thought it right to take, is raised in this way and challenged, it should be defended on its own merits and for its own sake, and it should not be used simply as a measure of raising a wider and more general issue.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Bonar Law)
I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend (Sir J. Simon) that in view of the opportunity which the Government will afford later for the discussion of the larger issues raised by the hon. Member, this not a suitable occasion to dwell upon them, but even tonight I should like to say that I entirely agree, as far as my knowledge goes, with the suggestion that next to the War itself there is no party which does not desire most strongly that some means should be found by which the long misunderstanding between Great Britain and Ireland should be brought to an end. In that respect we are all at one. There seems to have been during this War a very sad fate touching everything which has been done, but I cannot accept the view—which, of course, is always put from the benches opposite, that the faults are all on one side from beginning to end, that it is altogether the fault of the Government, and that nothing whatever is due to mistakes on the part of those who dwell in the other island. With regard to the points raised by my right hon. Friend, he began by putting the case in what seemed to me exactly the right way. It is really a question of the Executive Government of the day asking the House of Commons to justify the course we have taken on the faith that we are doing it with knowledge, and that it is necessary in the interests of the safety of the Empire. That is our case. My right hon. 1812 Friend accepts that, and says that if it is so, he for one will accept the view of the Executive Government. He goes on to make suggestions which I must say rather surprised me. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Duke) pointed out quite plainly what were the dangers which he anticipated. My right hon. Friend opposite suggests that, at all events, some part of the evil would be removed if those men could be brought to trial. But is it not obvious that at the trial the very motives and facts which the Government and the Executive of the country know would have to be brought to light, and it would be quite as injurious to mention them in the trial as in the House of Commons itself? He suggested that at all events we might have a comparatively independent tribunal such as that which dealt with the men who were at Frongoch. He seems to have forgotten that there is a great difference between the two cases. The men dealt with by that special tribunal were in prison, and it was obviously right that some examination should take place so as to make it plain whether or not they ought to be kept in prison. But this action does not imprison them; it merely lays down the rule that for the present they are not to live in Ireland.
I think the same thing as I said before applies here. If we are to be justified in this action on the ground of fear that something may happen, then we are justified in not conveying that information to anybody, including the prisoners themselves, by such a course as my right hon. Friend has suggested. It is a question of whether the House as a whole believes that this action is not taken arbitrarily, is not taken on the dictation of officials in Ireland, but is a question of Government action. On that point I do think the record of the Government as a whole and of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary should have some weight. The House remembers that just before Christmas all these men were released. My right hon. Friend came to the Cabinet with a recommendation that they should be released. In making that recommendation he pointed out that there was a certain number of them whom he thought were really dangerous and who would, he feared, if they got the opportunity, stir up trouble, and dangerous trouble, in Ireland. In spite of that fear he recommended us to let them all go free, in the hope that that action would prevent even those who were enemies to 1813 this country from taking a course which would be dangerous to the safety of the State. That surely proves, in my opinion, that the Government was actuated by a desire to show the kind of clemency asked for by hon. Gentlemen opposite. The best proof, in my opinion, that there was justification for what my right hon. Friend has done is to be found in the statement of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) himself. He told us, much to the regret of all of us, but I am afraid we know it to be true, that the state of Ireland is bad, and he added that he feared that in two or three weeks we would know how bad the position was. I put it to the House that if that is, in the opinion of the hon. Member for East Mayo, the position of Ireland——
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
It may be. Admit that for the sake of argument. If that is the condition of Ireland, and if the hon. Member fears such results as he has indicated, is it not quite plain that whatever else may be the duty of the British Government and of the British people, it is their duty above all, in the interest not only of the subjects of the Empire, but in the interests of the people of Ireland themselves, to prevent another rising similar to that which occurred last year by very means in their power?
§ Mr. JOHN O'CONNOR
With the very best intention in the world, I rise for the purpose of protesting against the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He will remember that before ever he came to that country we wished him well, and we have watched his career with great interest. I protest, in the first place, against his statement that because of the Motion that is now before the House and because of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo, we are the apologists and advocates of the people whom he has thought fit to exile from their native land. I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman was betrayed in the exuberance of his speech into such a statement. As well might he associate himself with any person whom he had defended in his brilliant career. Surely he does not associate himself with the person charged if he defends that person. He as an advocate knows that he does not associate himself with a crime or a criminal if he undertakes the defence. He merely insists upon the 1814 forms of justice being exhausted before that accused person is condemned. And surely we are not wrong in insisting that, all the forms of law with which people accused are surrounded by the custom and by the law shall be exhausted before they are condemned. He has said that it might he supposed from this Motion and from the speeches with which it has been supported that Ireland was a happy land. We know well it is not a happy land. We know well that it is very much irritated, that it is a running sore which has been irritated by the action of the Executive. It was said by the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken that the Chief Secretary speaks with knowledge. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman himself is one that might have been delivered any time in this House with regard to Ireland for the past forty or fifty years or even more. It was a speech to which we have listened at any time during our career in this House.
I remember well when a predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary sat in the very place which he now occupies and stated, under almost similar circumstances, that he had under lock and key in Ireland every dissolute ruffian and every maurais sujet in the country. He lived to regret that phrase. He lived to know that he had said what was not a fact, and he made that statement because he was advised to do so by the very people under whose influence the right hon. Gentleman seems to have fallen now. The right hon. Gentleman occupies a position in which it is his inexorable fate to come under the influence of those persons who give such advice. He says that we are advocates and apologists of the views of the deported persons. He knows very well that they are not our friends; that they are our most active enemies; that they, in very recent times, have given proofs of their hostility to us. It is not because they are our friends, or that we are their apologists, defenders, or advocates that we stand here to-night as a matter of public duty to insist that our fellow citizens, no matter how they may have offended, if they are accused, shall be entitled to trial before condemnation, and that before the latter all the forms of justice shall be exhausted. That is our justification for the stand we are taking now. Every effort that has been made to bring discontent here or in Ireland has failed. We can make no objection to the right hon. Gentleman or the Execu- 1815 tive defending themselves against attack or hostility if it takes the form of open rebellion. But there is one thing they always fail to suppress by these measures—that is that natural discontent of Ireland. If there is discontent in Ireland, it is—we have asserted it here to-night—their fault. By maladministration of the law they have changed a state of things that we not very long ago regarded as healthy into a state of things that is most unhealthy and irritating.
Only a short while ago I visited my own Constituency. I met many old friends; many who had supported the constitutional movement for the past thirty or forty years. One morning in a country read I met one of my oldest friends, whom I greeted warmly. He returned my greeting more coldly than ever before. I asked him the cause. He replied, "England is the cause." Further interrogated, he said, "England is no good." We have been supporting you in your constitutional movement for many years, and what is our return? When we are rebels we are taken out into a courtyard, and, if we are invalided by wounds, put into a chair and shot. But," he went on, "there are other rebels, who glorify in their rebellion, and who are taken into the Government. England is no good!" He proceeded, "You have had the cause of Home Rule before Parliament and the country for many years. Its justice has been admitted, and no doubt it may become the law of the land on some near occasion. But whom shall we have to thank for it? The English people or the English nation? The English Parliament? No, we shall have to thank Germany and Germany alone for giving us Home Rule." He said to me very logically, "If our cause is good now, it was good years ago. Why did not we get it through a sense of justice? Now we get it only through a sense of fear, and we shall not have the gratitude we might have had on a past occasion." That is the state of feeling that has grown in Ireland. My friends and myself, as you, Mr. Speaker, and other Members of this House, are well aware, have striven through difficulties in times past to bring about a better state of feeling between the two countries, and we had almost succeeded when—I am sorry to say it—by the maladministration, by the mismanagement of the Executive in Ireland, that state of feeling 1816 which we had almost established has been, changed into a feeling of irritation and discontent. Now you are trying to suppress this discontent by what means? By the same old means as in the past, and justified by the same old speeches as in the past. I have listened to the speech of the Chief Secretary. It carried my mind back thirty-two years, when I first entered this House, when I heard his predecessors make the very same class of speech, justifying the very fame class of Act. "We know," they said. "We have knowledge; you have not. We know the motives that actuate us; you do not." That is not good enough. We have heard those speeches too often, and they will have no more effect to-day than they had in the past.
Let me give an example from the right hon. Gentleman's own course of action. He will remember that when he took office I took occasion from one of these benches to wish him well in his new career. I had reason to know that he had not unkindly feelings towards Ireland. I felt it my duty to give, public expression to it. Not only that, but I took occasion in the Lobby to greet him and bid him welcome and Godspeed in his new work. I thought I knew his heart was in the right direction, as I believe it is. Some little time after that I had occasion to communicate with the right hon. Gentleman and to suggest to him that I wanted to visit my Constituency, that I believed he could help me, and that I was eager to help him. I asked him to release the men of my Constituency who were. I believe, many of them wrongly accused of having sympathy with the disaffected sections in Ireland. None of them had taken part in the armed rebellion. I wrote to the right hon. Gentleman stating what my feeling was, knowing and believing, as I have said, that his heart was in the right place, and I asked him to help me to help him. I got back a reply which I might have received from any Chief Secretary in Ireland in the past fifty or sixty years had I been in this place—a non possumus. It could not be done; these men should go down on their knees, these men should beg pardon, these men should offer securities for their future good behaviour. Futile I knew it all to be, I, who had passed through it all; I who knew you could not get an Irishman to bend the knee in that manner; I who had seen thousands of Irishmen in prison all decline to sign similar petitions. You may convert, you 1817 may bring them to your side by kindness, but you cannot scourge them into submission, and you cannot get them to sign what they believe to be dishonouring and dishonourable conditions.
I remember, in my own time, to have seen thousands of men serving various terms of imprisonment in Ireland; I have known a predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman submit to 6,000 of us conditions similar to those referred to to-night; and I have seen those 6,000 men all decline to sign the conditions and prefer to go on serving a long term of imprisonment rather than submit to dishonourable conditions. What the right hon. Gentleman put before himself as the means to the end would be futile. I did not reply to the right hon. Gentleman's letter because I knew very well that he was pursuing a course that was old and had been a failure in the past. What happened? After a couple of months the right hon. Gentleman comes down to this House, and he stands up before that box and tells us that ho is now satisfied that this might safely be done, that these men might safely be released without asking them to sign any condition, without imposing upon them anything dishonourable and as they thought dishonouring conditions, and they were all released, repeating the history of the country from one Chief Secretary to another, just as the late W. E. Forster acted, for he retired rather than do the same thing. He was obliged to abandon it, and so was the right hon. Gentleman opposite obliged to abandon this plan of governing Ireland. Why did not the right hon. Gentleman accept what I put before him in the first instance? It took almost a violent agitation upon our part. It took public meetings and public resolutions, and Motion after Motion from these benches to bring home to him a conviction which he might have entertained in the first instance, that the course he had set out upon was the wrong course, and had been tried before and had failed.
What has the right hon. Gentleman done now? He has gone back to Ireland. He has conferred with those who are in office. We thought that a revolution had taken place in Ireland, and that the atmosphere of Dublin Castle had been changed, but it appears that it cannot be changed, and that a Chief Secretary, no matter how well disposed he may be or how honourable the intentions with which he enters upon 1818 his office may be, if he falls under the hereditary influence of the governing circles in Ireland he most assuredly shares the same fate as his predecessors. I believe the right hon. Gentleman has taken a false step this time, and I trust that this Motion will not be made in vain, but that he will reconsider the step he has taken. I do not know how far the advice offered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Walthamstow (Sir J. Simon) will have an effect upon his mind, but I think something is due to the public opinion of Ireland. Enough has been done already and a great deal was done before the right hon. Gentleman took office to irritate the people of Ireland and make our position rather difficult. We do not care much about our position, certainly not individually; what we do care about is the position of the constitutional movement is justice, and is that our people shall, at all events, have the forms of justice meted out to them just as the right hon. Gentleman would insist that all the forms of justice should be used on behalf of those accused whom he might defend. The right hon. Gentleman has taken the wrong course, and the sooner he abandons it the better, if he wishes, as I am sure he docs, when the time comes for him to retire from this most difficult of all Government positions, to be able to say to himself that he was misguided, not by prejudice or by hereditary injustice, but by his own interest, and by his own desire to bring about that state of things between the two countries which we all of us desire.
§ Major NEWMAN
The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Walthamstow (Sir J. Simon) made some little point of the fact that news from Ireland was being censored in English newspapers. It is perfectly obvious that he did not read his "Daily Mail" this morning, because, if he had done so, he would have seen an account of something in the nature of a gala night the night before last in the city of Cork. He would have read how Sinn Feiners were out in platoons roving the streets in a spirit of high bravado, with girls admiring them, and how crackers went off, but no serious damage was done. He would have read how the commandant of the local Sinn Feiners with another bad been arrested, and how no more trouble was expected in Cork for several months. Two months ago news from Ireland were suppressed, and I have been surprised lately at the amount of news that has been allowed to appear in 1819 the English newspapers. If the Debate has done nothing else, it has revealed one of the unseen hands. The unseen hand in Ireland, according to the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin), is an English officer, Major Price. It is certainly a somewhat sinister thing in my mind that the hon. Member for West Belfast should have told us that he arranged, I imagine it was Christmas time, with the Prime Minister that Major Price should be dismissed from his post. That throws a rather sinister light on the Government of Ireland in some aspects, at any rate. The Chief Secretary dealt rather hardly with the hon. Member for North Westmeath (Mr. Ginnell) when he told him that we obsessed with the recent election in North Roscommon. I think the hon. Member is quite right to be so obsessed. If I had gone against my party and had broken my party in the by-election, and had come back to this House and had founded another party, myself and one other, I should have been a very proud man. The Chief Secretary assured the hon. Member that the re-arrest of the deportees had nothing to do with the result of the by-election in North Roscommon—no more than it had to do with the recent success of General Sir Douglas Haig in the capture of Serre and other towns. Let me read to the Chief Secretary exactly what took place in this by-election at Roscommon. We are told in one of the newspapers thatIn the polling booth on the election day at the counting of the votes prominent men were there from Dublin, Cork and Limerick, who were only released a few weeks ago from the internment camp in Wales, and as the result Mr. Redmond's election machine went to pieces. It meant that if Mr. Redmond's party joined the sore-heads arid forced an election, they would be swept out of four-fifths of their seats in the same way I as they had from out of North Roscommon.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the Unionists in Roscommon voted for Count Plunkett?
§ Major NEWMAN
Yes; and I am afraid if I had been there I should have done the same thing in order to defeat the party machine. Why on earth was this Debate raised at all? Why was the Adjournment of the House moved? It was because the stock of politicians stands very low at this moment. Politicians are at a discount— 1820 even the leaders are—and the humble-Member like myself on £400 a year is at a bigger discount still.
§ Major NEWMAN
I do not get any-There are very few Christian virtues supposed to attach to the politician, but I must confess that here Members below the Gangway are enumerating one of the principles laid down in the Sermon on the Mount and are blessing those who despite-fully use them. I should like to refer to the last article written by a gentleman who has been re-arrested and brought back to England in which he speaks of Roger Casement. He says:If one Irish Member had risen to demand the reprieve it would have been granted. Conceive it! Not one question for one man's life to be saved. Yet the whole 80 Members sat silent in their seats or asked questions bout Timbuctoo.We know that the ungrateful dog bites the hand that caresses him, and the Irish party seems unwilling to lick the hands of the Sinn Feiners. I have here a magazine called the "Catholic Bulletin." It costs 2d. I know something of the cost of printing and publishing magazines, and, if it costs 2d., unless it has a very big sale, it is run at a big loss. The editor of this, magazine was deported the other day, so I take it that I shall not get any more numbers of it. What was his last article? It was a very long, very able, and extremely bitter article against the hon. Member for East Mayo, criticising a speech he made at Swinford, in which he dealt with a variety of topics—recruiting, and so on. That was one article. The other article——
§ It being Eleven of the clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 12th February, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Adjourned accordingly at One minute after Eleven o'clock.