§ (1) A person examined as a witness under this Act shall not be excused from answering any question put to him, or from producing any document, on the ground that the answer thereto or production thereof may criminate or tend to criminate him, but any answer so given shall not be evidence against that person in any criminal proceeding (including a proceeding by court-martial) at any time thereafter instituted against him, and any document so produced shall not be evidence against him in any such proceeding unless the production of that document could be enforced in those proceedings or evidence of that document could be otherwise obtained in any such proceedings.
§ (2) Nothing in this Section shall apply to the case of proceedings for having given false evidence before the Commissioner, or for having procured, or attempted or conspired to procure, the giving of such evidence.
I beg to move, at the end, to add(3) It shall not be lawful to employ any of the powers conferred by the Defence of the Realm Acts to prohibit the publication of any statement made, or evidence given, before the Commissioner, and no order made by or in the name of the competent naval or military authority shall apply thereto.876(4) The inquiry shall not be held in the county of the city of Belfast.I know that the right hon. Gentleman is a prince of closurers and that there is no hope of this Amendment being accepted. But he is also on record as stating that this would be a public inquiry. He has made that statement in the case of the inquiry which was to have been conducted by The MacDermott. Public inquiries in Ireland take this shape. The Press are admitted to the presence of the judge, and when anything unpleasant for the Government appears in the evidence the competent naval or military authority, as the case may be, strikes out the passage as to what has happened in the Court of Justice and do not allow it to appear. I am, therefore, taking this precaution in order to advise the public that the reports of this inquiry will be a sham. My proposal is that the evidence shall not be closured or censored. I would remind the House of what happened in the case of another public inquiry, namely, the inquiry into the murder of Mr. Sheehy-Skeffington. The Government, although they presented a Report, have not allowed the evidence to be published. The English papers give very slight accounts, naturally enough, of all that goes on in the country. That is the great saving of the right hon. Gentleman. He would not be able to stand on a platform in Newcastle-on-Tyne if the people knew the way he was carrying on in Ireland. It is because he can control the Press and prevent Members from knowing what is going on that he of course is saved for the time being by taking that course. We have memories of other Chief Secretaries whose downfall has been witnessed year after year, and while it would be a very poor satisfaction to anybody to hear of the downfall of the right hon. Gentleman, at the same time it is necessary for all purposes, and for the purpose of making the historic protest which the Irish race have carried on in the House to expose the pretences of the advocates of small nationalities, in order to enable the public at large to see how much wisdom or how much hypocrisy there goes into these declarations. I therefore move my Amendment to give the public an assurance of knowing that at all events they will get some inkling of what is going on in this proposed Court.
§ Mr. SHORTT
The first of these Amendments apparently amounts to this, that I should accept an Amendment giving 877 power to any person who chooses to break the law of the land. The Defence of the Realm Regulations are the law of the land. People can publish anything which does not contravene these Regulations, but it is impossible for me to accept an Amendment which is in effect to give power to anybody that chooses to contravene these Regulations, and therefore to break the law of the land. With regard to the second part of the Amendment, the learned judge would himself have complete control over the venue, and I do not propose to accept any Amendment which takes that control away from him.
I would not propose anything to enable the law of the land to be broken, but I propose an Amendment to enable what witnesses swear in a Court of justice to be published, and I thought the right hon. Gentleman was sufficient of a lawyer to be able to understand that Amendment. All my proposition is that the witnesses giving evidence in a Court of justice on oath should have the privilege of having their side of the story told to the public. The Censor will not publish their side of the story. I want to take that power from him, and, forsooth, that is to break the law of the land!
As the right hon. Gentleman is in such close touch with the censorship, if he assures me that the Censor will not intervene to prohibit the publication of these Reports, that will entirely meet my view. That is what I want to ensure. He suggests that that is breaking the law of the land, and that this has nothing to do with the Censor. I do not pretend that my Amendment is drafted with that aptness which I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would bring to it if he drafted it himself, but at all events my object can be met by his statement that he controls the Censor. He prevents his own letters being published. He now says he releases the Censor. I ask him similarly to say to the Censor that this evidence may be published, and I go no further than that. Remember that this is evidence upon oath, which a man will give at the peril of a prosecution for perjury—a fact that the right hon. Gentleman has trumpeted up and down in every phase of the Debate. He said here yesterday that provision would be made which would enable Mr. Justice Dodd to obtain the evidence of the 878 prisoners in England and English prisons, but he has put down no Amendment in that sense. Does he intend to do so?
Mr. Justice Dodd has power then to obtain by order the release of these prisoners and to bring them over? Has he also power to provide the expenses of witnesses from any part of the country? The right hon. Gentleman is so liberal in the matter of releasing these prisoners from England and in providing the expenses of the witnesses, that I would ask him while in mild mood to say that he will extend to the Censor his benediction in allowing the evidence in a Court of justice to be published.
§ Amendment negatived.
I beg to move, at the end, to add the words,nor shall the provisions of the Criminal Law and Procedure (Ireland) Act, 1887, apply to the case of such proceedings.The evidence of these prisoner witnesses is not to be allowed to be published, but that of the prison witnesses, the warders, will of course be blazoned in all the newpapers, and in due time the right hon. Gentleman has announced that he is to have prosecutions for perjury by the prisoners. Mr. Kenny is one of those who is to be prosecuted for perjury if, as I understand, he is contradicted by a prison witness. The Government have issued a Proclamation during the last few months providing that all trials must be tried in such venue as they select, if they choose to intervene, and before a special jury. They have sent one prisoner in the South of Ireland—they have tried to send more—to Belfast for trial. In the long history of Ireland, except in accordance with the Statute under a venue site Act, no Government until the right hon. Gentleman came into office as a Liberal has sent a prisoner from the South of Ireland to Belfast for trial. He did that under the Crimes Act, and I am now moving that if these prisoners or any of them are indicted for perjury—because that would be one of his devices in order to show the equality and impartiality of British law—because they are contradicted by the warders, the recent Proclamation shall not in their case be operative and they shall be tried in a venue which would be the natural venue in their case.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I cannot accept this Amendment. I do not yet fully understand what the point of the Amendment as put forward by the hon. Member is, and I do not see that it is in the least necessary, nor do I see why these people, whether officials or otherwise, should be in a different position from anybody else in Ireland.
I am not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman is unable to follow the words of my Amendment. I will not therefore trouble him with an explanation of them, but I would only say that they are at least clearer than his own policy.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 4 (Short Title) ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Bill reported, without Amendment.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—[Mr. Shortt.]
I object. There is no reason why the Third Beading should be taken immediately after the Committee stage.
I am sure that except by general consent it has been frequently laid down that the two stages of a Bill cannot be taken at the same sitting. It is quite true that with general assent it can be done, but the result in this case is that it deprives us of consideration of the right hon. Gentleman's lucid statements for the purpose of considering to-morrow our attitude towards this Bill. I therefore suggest to you, Sir, that the true course is to postpone the Third Reading. There is no hurry about this Bill, because it has been delayed for over three months already, and therefore to suggest that there is any hurry for the Third Reading to-night would be entirely baseless.
It is not really in my jurisdiction. It is for the House to decide whether or not the Bill shall be read the third time.
With great deference, Sir, that is not the question. I submit that it is in your discretion to say whether you will put that question on the same day that you have allowed the Committee stage to be taken.
There is no point for the Chair to intervene upon. If the Third Reading is named, it is a question whether the House will refuse to take the Third Reading or not.
§ Question put, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 96; Noes, 3.881
|Division No. 86.]||AYES.||[7.58 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes (Fulham)||Newman, Sir Robert (Exeter)|
|Archdale, Lt. Edward M.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Gibbs, Col. George Abraham||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray|
|Barnett, Capt. Richard W.||Gilbert, James Daniel||Pratt, John William|
|Barnston, Maj. Harry||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. John||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Barrie, H. T.||Gulland, Rt. Hon. John William||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvon, Arfon)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, South)||Rees, Sir J. D|
|Bigland, Alfred||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Robinson, Sidney|
|Black, Sir Arthur W.||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hibbert, Sir Henry||Samuels, Arthur W. (Dub. U.)|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith-||Higham, John Sharp||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hills, John Waller (Durham)||Shortt, Edward|
|Boyton, Sir James||Holmes, D. T.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)||Swift, Rigby|
|Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Horne, Edgar||Thomas, Sir G. (Monmouth, S.)|
|Carnegie, Lt.-Col. Douglas G.||Hudson, Walter||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Cator, John||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Weston, John W.|
|Cheyne, Sir William W.||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, E.)||Wheler, Major Granville C. H.|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Kenyan, Barnet||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Colvin, Col.||Lane-Fox, Major G. R.||Williams, Aneurin (Durham)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Larmor, Sir Joseph||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, E.)||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wood, Sir John (Stalybridge)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Maitland, Sir A. D. Steel-|
|Dougherty, Rt. Hon Sir James B.||Marshall, Arthur Harold||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Dudley Ward and Colonel Sanders.|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||King, Joseph||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. T. M. Healy and Mr. Byrne.|
|Healy, Maurice (Cork City)|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a third time, and passed.