§ The QUEEN'S SPEECH reported by The LORD CHANCELLOR.
THE DUKE OF ABERCORN
(who wore the uniform of Lord Lieutenant of Donegal) said: My Lords, I rise to propose that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty in reply to the Gracious Speech from the Throne, and in doing this I have to crave that indul- 37 gence from your Lordships which is always accorded to one who addresses your Lordships for the first time.
§ I am proud to be able to congratulate Parliament that Her Majesty has condescended to open it in person. The present Parliament opens with grave responsibilities upon those who have the administration of affairs in their hands. Questions of vital moment and importance affecting the safety of the Empire will have to be discussed, and the country will carefully scrutinize them; and the manner in which they are treated by a Parliament elected for the first time under household suffrage will be earnestly watched. There will no doubt be many difficulties to contend against; but I feel confident that the abilities of the noble Marquess and the Prime Minister, assisted by his Colleagues in the Cabinet, will be able to carry them through all the difficulties that surround them.
The country is to be congratulated on the friendly character of its relations with Foreign Powers, and I trust it will not be considered presumptuous in me if I say that much of that tranquillity is to be attributed to the sagacity and statesmanlike qualities of the noble Marquess at the head of the Government. The complications that lately existed between England and Russia with regard to the delimitation of the Afghan Frontier, and which some time since threatened to be of a serious character, are now about to be satisfactorily arranged, and the terms of the Convention on this very important subject will shortly be laid before your Lordships. Dangers in regard to this matter at one time were imminent; but owing to the ability shown by the Boundary Commissioners on both sides all fears on this ground have passed away. The rising in Eastern Roumelia having subsided, it is to be hoped that the present cessation of hostilities may result in a lasting peace, and it is also to be desired that the minor States in the East of Europe will not in any way endeavour to re-kindle a flame that has already been the cause of so great a sacrifice of life and limb. Everyone must regret a war, however small it may be, but the success of the small war that Her Majesty has lately been compelled to wage against the King of Ava cannot be denied by anybody; and the success of that war must in a great manner be 38 attributed to the prompt measures of the talented Viceroy of India supported by a united Cabinet at home, and to the energetic action of the Commander, Sir Harry Prendergast, who, with the small army under his command, so ably carried out his instructions. The incorporation of the Kingdom of Ava with Her Majesty's dominions and the consequent opening up of the country will give general satisfaction to the many merchants and traders, both at homo and abroad, who are trading with the distant parts of the Empire.
But when we turn from the peaceful aspect of affairs abroad and cast our eyes nearer home we find a cloud of gloom hanging over a part of this Kingdom. I refer to Ireland. During the short time Her Majesty's present Government have been in Office the noble Earl the Viceroy of Ireland (the Earl of Carnarvon) has endeavoured to rule that country in a spirit of fairness and impartiality, and I feel certain that many noble Lords in the House will regret the cause that has deprived Ireland of the service of a Nobleman of such acknowledged learning, intellectual ability, and unvarying sympathy and courtesy. But those to whom the hand of conciliation has been extended have not responded. Those who might have been friends have declared themselves foes. Her Majesty, in Her Gracious Speech, has mentioned three points. She has alluded, in the first place, to the absolute necessity of the Union between Ireland and England. Secondly, she has alluded to the concerted resistance to legal obligations, and thirdly to the reinforcement of those obligations, if necessary, by additional powers. Her Majesty has in Her Gracious Speech expressed her determination to maintain the Legislative Union between Ireland and Great Britain, and that resolute sentiment will be received with joy throughout the land, especially by the Loyalists in Ireland, and it will give confidence and courage to them, and to those who are about to join in the coming struggle. There is no uncertainty in those tones, and I feel sure that the trust expressed by Her Majesty in her people to aid her in the present emergency will be reciprocated far and wide by them all. The country will rejoice to hear of the fixed determination of Her Majesty no longer to submit to a state of anarchy and re- 39 volt against the law, and to the cruelty and persecution practised in many parts of Ireland. I regret to say that capital is no longer being invested in that country, trade is at a standstill, property is without security, and in some parts of Ireland even life is insecure, and the country is gradually sinking into ruin. Her Majesty adds that although there has been during the past year no marked increase of serious crime, there is in many places a concerted resistance to the enforcement of legal obligations. The first part of this statement, my Lords, is satisfactory; but the latter part shows that the spirit of lawlessness and intimidation pervades the country. The unwritten law of the National League is often stronger than the law of the land. No one living out of Ireland can adequately realize the power and tyranny of the National League. New branches are being formed in all directions, and having originated in the South have now penetrated into Ulster. Like an octopus with its large outspreading arms, it is drawing everything into its power. "Boycotting," which is the League's machinery, is the most cruel system of persecution that could be devised. Respectable merchants and tradesmen have been ruined by it; whole families have been nearly starved by it. I could mention a case where a National schoolmistress was "Boycotted" because her father, a postmaster, permitted letters containing writs to pass through his office; blacksmiths have been "Boycotted" for shoeing the horses of "Boycotted" persons. Commercial travellers are sometimes "Boycotted" for going to the wrong hotel. But, my Lords, if this practice of "Boycotting" is cruel to the living, what can be said of it when it is applied to the dead? There are even cases in which the friends of a dead man, who when alive had been "Boycotted," cannot procure a coffin in which to bury him, and where the parish priest, through fear, has declined to perform the burial rites. There are many courageous and brave men, chiefly Roman Catholics, who have resisted and are still resisting this outrageous persecution; but by the ignorant it is thought to be of no use resisting, since the Nationalist Party would be sure eventually to have their own way. It may be asked how it is that, in such a state of things, we do not 40 hear the appeals of the sufferers? But to whom could these appeals be made? The authorities when applied to in many cases reply that they have no power to interfere, as no breach of the law has taken place. If they write to the local Press of Ireland their appeals do not extend beyond the shores of that country. If they could appeal to the people of England, who are always sensible to injustice and to the wrongs of others, their appeal would, I feel sure, not be in vain. Her Majesty further declares that no effort will be spared on the part of her Government to protect her subjects in the enjoyment of their legal rights, and that if the existing provisions are not sufficient, further necessary powers will be applied for. I assume, though with much regret, that these powers will be necessary; and if enforced, many a man now a slave under the laws of the National League will become free under the law of the land. It is manifest that, although the extended franchise has conferred privileges and benefits upon tens of thousands in England and Scotland, it cannot be said to have conferred unmixed benefit upon the country at large; for it has given unlimited power to a large section of the people in Ireland who are hostile to the connection between the two countries. This Constitutional power, however, when supported by unconstitutional agencies, will have to be dealt with.
If not wearying your Lordships, I should like to refer to the paramount importance of that portion of Her Majesty's Gracious Speech which alludes to the Union between England and Ireland. For the first time in the history of the Empire a doubtful voice has been raised by a responsible statesman as to the advisability of maintaining the integrity of the Empire. Ear better would it have been if that voice had never been raised, for it has only been reechoed back in dismay and distrust by those whom it intended to persuade. In the history of a nation there are periods when a momentous question has to be considered; when the circumstances are such as call for a decision; and when upon that decision depends whether that nation is to survive in undiminished power or sink in disaster and disgrace. Such a time has now, I think, arrived, and such a question is now before the 41 people of Great Britain. The question of the dismemberment of the Empire has been discussed by many from the point of view of English advantage alone, and by others from the point of view of the advantage of Ireland; but small weight has been given to the claims of the loyal minority in that country. Have the people of Scotland, who follow with affection their kith and kin to every distant quarter of the globe, realized the fact that within 20 or 30 miles of their own shore there is a loyal population—Irishmen, no doubt, bat of Scottish descent—one with them in language, in customs, and in religion—a population which at the present moment is in serious peril, struggling for its very existence against those who regard thorn as enemies and aliens? Moreover, have the people of England realized that a largo portion of the population of Ireland which is of their own race and creed has, through good and evil report, alike in weal and woe, for more than two centuries maintained their loyalty to England, has been a connecting link between England and Ireland, and has, no doubt, largely contributed to the well-being of both countries? There is again, in Ireland, a considerable Roman Catholic element, who have always clung to the Union as their only protection against the neverending experiments of schemers and dreamers who in many ways endeavoured to upset the existing state of things. To sacrifice them would be even more disgraceful. I do not believe that we are doomed to witness such an act of treachery. Is Scotland, is England, prepared to abandon to the faction of treason and disloyalty those who so loyally and so devotedly have clung to thorn for so many years—those who for so long have been their staunchest friends and allies? I believe that such a thing is not possible. Such a proceeding would be contrary to all the traditions of British statesmanship, would shatter confidence in British honour, and would ultimately lead to the ignominious fall of the greatest Empire the world has ever seen. It would, indeed, be a clangorous thing to allow the formation of a hostile Government at England's very door; but it would be still more clangorous to show to the world that England has betrayed her staunchest friends, who put their confidence in her in vain. 42 I do not believe that any British statesman, whether he be Conservative, Liberal, or Radical, whether he holds the institutions and obligations of the past in high repute or low repute, would be tempted to sanction the dismemberment of the Empire for the sake of Party exigencies. Were he to do so, he would no longer deserve to be classed as a statesman or a leader of the people of this great country. Having the privilege of living in the North of Ireland, where at present there is peace and quietude, I sympathize with those in the South, though unable to help them without the authority and support of the law. Her Majesty has plainly indicated the course that will be pursued. The Loyalists will be supported, and those who are weak and trodden down by others. Lawlessness and intimidation will not be allowed to reign supreme. The issue must soon be decided, and the British nation must be at once awakened to the danger that threatens it. Then it will be soon whether England and Scotland are true to the past or false to the future. My Lords, I beg to move this humble Address in reply to Her Majesty's Gracious Speech from the Throne.
MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN,
WE, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that Your Majesty's relations with other Powers continue to be of a friendly character.
We thank Your Majesty for informing us that the difference which existed, when Your Majesty last addressed us, between Your Majesty's Government and that of Russia, on the subject of the boundaries of Afghanistan, has been satisfactorily adjusted, and that, in pursuance of a Convention which will be laid before us, the English and Russian Commissioners, with the full concurrence of Your Majesty's ally, the Amir of Afghanistan, have been engaged in demarcating the frontier of that country. We learn with satisfaction that Your Majesty trusts that their work may tend to secure the continuance of peace in Central Asia.
We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that a rising in Eastern Roumelia
has given expression to the desire of the inhabitants for a change in the political arrangements under which they were placed by the Treaty of Berlin, and that Your Majesty's object, in the negotiations which have followed, has been to bring them, according to their wish, under the rule of the Prince of Bulgaria, while maintaining unimpaired the essential rights of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan.
We thank Your Majesty for informing us that under a Convention concluded with the Ottoman Porte, Commissioners have been appointed on behalf of England and Turkey to confer with His Highness the Khedive, and to report upon the measures required for securing the defence of Egypt and the stability and efficiency of the government in that country.
We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that, greatly to your regret, Your Majesty was compelled, in the month of November, to declare war against Theebaw, the King of Ava; that acts of hostility on his part against your subjects and the interests of your Empire had, since his accession, been deliberate and continuous; that these had necessitated the withdrawal of your Representative from his Court; and that your demands for redress were systematically evaded and disregarded. We thank Your Majesty for informing us that an attempt to confiscate the property of your subjects trading under agreement in his dominions, and a refusal to settle the dispute by arbitration, convinced Your Majesty that the protection of British life and property, and the cessation of dangerous anarchy in Upper Burmah, could only be effected by force of arms. We learn with satisfaction that the gallantry of Your Majesty's European and Indian forces, under Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Prendergast, rapidly brought the country under your power, and we humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that Your Majesty has decided that the most certain method of insuring peace and order in those regions is to be found in the permanent incorporation of the Kingdom of Ava with your Empire.
We thank Your Majesty for informing us that the time which has elapsed since Your Majesty assumed the direct government of India makes it desirable that the operation of the Statutes by which that change was effected should be carefully investigated, and for commending this important matter to our earnest attention.
We learn with satisfaction that a protracted negotiation respecting the rights of the Re-public of France on the coasts of Newfoundland
under the Treaty of Utrecht has been brought to a satisfactory conclusion by an Agreement which will be laid before us, and before the Legislature of Newfoundland as soon as it assembles; and that an Agreement has also been made with Spain, securing to this country all commercial rights granted to Germany in the Caroline Islands.
We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that our consent will be asked to legislative measures rendered necessary by a Convention on the subject of International Copyright to which Your Majesty has agreed.
We learn with regret that no material improvement can be noted in the condition of trade or agriculture, and we thank Your Majesty for informing us that Your Majesty feels the deepest sympathy for the great number of persons, in many vocations of life, who are suffering under a pressure, which Your Majesty trusts will prove to be transient.
We humbly thank Your Majesty for informnig us that Your Majesty has seen with deep sorrow the renewal, since Your Majesty last addressed us, of the attempt to excite the people of Ireland to hostility against the Legislative Union between that country and Great Britain; that Your Majesty is resolutely opposed to any disturbance of that fundamental law, and that, in resisting it, Your Majesty is convinced that Your Majesty will be heartily supported by your Parliament and your people.
We thank Your Majesty for informing us that the social no less than the materail condition of that country engages your anxious attention; that although there has been during the last year no marked increase of serious crime, there is in many places a concerted resistance to the enforcement of legal obligations; and that Your Majesty regrets that the practice of organized intimidation continues to exist. We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that Your Majesty has caused every exertion to he used for the detection and punishment of these crimes; that no effort will he spared on the part of your Government to protect your Irish subjects in the exercise of their legal rights and the enjoyment of individual liberty; and that if, as your information leads Your Majesty to apprehend, the existing provisions of the law should prove to be inadequate to cope with these growing evils, Your Majesty looks with confidence to our willingness to invest your Government with all necessary powers.
We join with Your Majesty in trusting that results beneficial to the cause of education may
issue from a Royal Commission which Your Majesty has appointed to inquire into the working of the Education Acts.
We humbly assure your Majesty that our careful consideration shall be given to the subjects which Your Majesty has recommended to our attention, and to the measures which may be submitted to us; and we earnestly trust that, with regard to these and all other matters pertaining to our functions, the keeping and guidance of Almighty Clod may be vouchsafed to us.
THE EARL OF SCARBROUGH
(who was attired in. a Yeomanry uniform) said: My Lords, I beg to second the Motion of the noble Duke, and in the few remarks I have to make I must ask your Lordships to extend to me the indulgence usually granted to one in my position addressing your Lordships' House for the first time. In the first place, I humbly beg to give expression to the very great satisfaction which I feel, and which I am convinced is felt not merely by every Member of the House, but throughout the whole country, at the presence of Her Majesty at the ceremonial of to-day; and I venture to hope that on further occasions of the same nature Her Majesty may be enabled and may see fit to afford similar cause for congratulation, and so receive fresh proof of the feelings of loyalty and devotion to the Crown which are so deeply rooted in the hearts of Her Majesty's subjects, and which always find ready expression on the appearance of Her Majesty in person among her people.
Your Lordships will agree that the Speech from the Throne brings to the notice of Parliament questions of the utmost gravity and importance—questions the treatment and discussion of which I may say without exaggeration will be looked forward to by the whole country with the utmost anxiety; and this being the ease, I think Her Majesty's Ministers are to be congratulated on the plain and bold statement of the general line of policy they intend to pursue. By so clearly foreshadowing their intentions, they enable the country the more readily and easily to comprehend the course they propose to take, and thus allay to a great extent all feelings of uncertainty which may have existed, and at the same time tend to 46 increase public confidence in their administration of affairs.
In reference to foreign affairs in Her Majesty's Speech, I cannot help noticing that Her Majesty's Ministers have one great advantage over the late Government in this respect. They can come and meet Parliament with, so to speak, a clean bill of health in respect to their management of affairs abroad. They I have had dangers to encounter, and difficulties to avoid; but they have no long tale of disaster and defeat to account for—no disappointments resulting from an unfortunate foreign policy to explain away. In proof of this, your Lordships will observe the satisfactory reference to foreign affairs made in the Speech from the Throne, and the welcome statement that the relations of this country with Foreign Powers continue to be of a friendly character.
In respect to the definition of the Afghan Frontier, it seems to me, my Lords, that the grave cause for anxiety which existed last summer in reference to this question has entirely disappeared; and I look upon the statement that the settlement of the boundaries of the country are very far advanced towards completion as an assurance of the continuance of the peace in Central Asia.
In Eastern Europe Her Majesty's Government, in conjunction with the other Great Powers, have been successful in their endeavour to localize the disturbances which have broken out, and which were the outcome of a rising in Eastern Roumelia owing to the wish of the inhabitants to come under the rule of the Prince of Bulgaria. In connection with that question, I must say I think that, in coming to an agreement with Prince Alexander, the Porte is pursuing a very wise policy, for thereby the Sultan not only gains a very useful Ally, but there seems to be every reason to hope that it will have the effect of inducing the Government of Greece and Servia to withdraw from the somewhat adventurous policy they have hitherto adopted.
The Convention which has been concluded between this country and the Porte in reference to Egypt is, I think, of more importance than at first sight appears; for it not only empowers Her Majesty's Government to assist the 47 Khedive in the establishment of a Government on a firm and satisfactory basis, but by obtaining the direct authority of the Sultan it appears to me to very materially lessen the difficulties we have hitherto had to contend with in dealing with a race of people who are so very largely influenced by a religion different from our own—the religion of which the Sultan, as we know, is acknowledged the head. I hope that the severe lesson administered to the Arabs in their advance northwards by our own troops on the frontier may give the Khedive's Government time and opportunity to so organize and develop their own resources as will enable them ultimately to cope by themselves with any dangers that may threaten them from without.
The reference in Her Majesty's Speech to recent events which have taken place in Burmah gives reason for the annexation of that country. It is most satisfactory to note that the restoration of order, and the gradual settlement of the country, is progressing smoothly and quietly, and that the loss of life incurred by our troops in the operations which took place has been extremely small. I believe that the Papers on this subject about to be laid before the House will show that in assuming control over that country the Government have only done what was wise and necessary under the circumstances, and that there is every reason to hope that one immediate result of that policy will be a very large increase to our trade in that part of the world, and also that security will soon be afforded to merchants and others who have dealings in that and adjoining countries—a security which did not exist while the country was under Native rule. It seems to me at the present time, when we hear so much of commercial depression, that the prospect of the opening up of new trade routes towards China and the consequent development of trade in that direction is cause for very great satisfaction.
The mention of trade brings me to a clause in Her Majesty's Speech which cannot be regarded as satisfactory— namely, the continued deplorable condition of trade and agriculture, and for which it seems there is no present remedy. But I think, by at once instituting an inquiry into the causes and origin of this depression, the Govern- 48 ment have given proof of their anxiety to grapple with the question, and, if possible, put an end to the present lamentable state of affairs. I have every confidence, my Lords, that the Government will do their utmost in this direction.
The measure which the Government intend to introduce to facilitate the sale of glebe lands will, I think, if passed, prove a great boon to the clergy, for it will enable them, if they so wish, to get rid of land, which, instead of being a source of income, has, in many cases, become an encumbrance, and which, by reason of their position as clergymen, they may frequently be unable to turn to the best account. It will also encourage and give an opening to those of the population who wish to become possessors of allotments, for it will tend to develop the system by throwing land into the market which is, as a rule, peculiarly suitable for the purpose.
I am glad to see that the Government intend to ask that further powers shall be given to the Railway Commissioners to deal with the present system of railway rates. I hope some means may be found to reduce the great advantage which at present rests with the foreigner, and that in future the rating of goods may be regulated more on a scale in accordance with the distance the goods have travelled, and so far render the competition between ourselves and the foreigner fair and equal in this respect.
The noble Duke who moved the Address has drawn your Lordships' particular attention to the critical state of affairs in Ireland; and I will not, therefore, revert further to that subject, beyond merely expressing my earnest approval of the terms in which the Government have expressed their determination firmly and unflinchingly to uphold the law and protect life in that country; and it is most satisfactory to gather, as I do from the Speech from the Throne, that no amount of threats or pressure put upon them by the Separatist Party will induce the Government to alter in the slightest degree their resolution to set their faces resolutely against any line of action that may tend to weaken the foundation on which the Union of the two countries is based; and, further, that they will uphold that Union at whatever cost. My 49 Lords, I heartily approve of that policy, and it is my firm belief that it expresses the general feeling and common sense of both countries.
It is apparent to me that it is impossible to forestall with any degree of certainty at all what course events may take politically during the next few months, or even weeks; but of this I think there is no doubt—that Her Majesty's Ministers have an undivided Party at their back. They are not harassed by divided counsels. They intend, I trust, to carry on the administration of affairs so long as they may be able, and so long as they deem it expedient for the good of the country that they should do so. I therefore think it is not unreasonable to hope that, with a display of moderation and forbearance on all sides, and an absence of all factious opposition, the Government may be enabled to carry out its policy, and, in spite of many difficulties, to accomplish much good and useful work during the Session. I venture further to hope that this the first Session of the new Parliament, which by reason of the great measure of Reform recently passed may be expected to express more accurately than ever before the feelings of the people of the country, may be characterized by a determination on all sides to deal with the questions of national and vital importance which will speedily come before them in the broadest possible spirit, irrespective of Party considerations, and having for their one aim and object, always before them, the welfare and prosperity of the country and the unity of the Empire. I beg to second the Motion that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty.—[See page 4 2.]
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, I beg to offer my congratulations to the noble Marquess opposite upon his having had the good fortune, of which I have had my share during the past five years, to secure two noble Peers to do what seems an easy, but which is really a difficult thing—namely, to move and second the Address in answer to the Speech from the Throne. Though, of course, I do not particularly like the criticisms which they pass on my conduct of foreign affairs during the last Administration, I am bound to say that the cordial reception given to their speeches appears to me to be fully de- 50 served. I entirely agree with what the noble Earl who seconded the Address stated as to the satisfaction which we all feel that, notwithstanding the severe character of the weather, Her Majesty was able to open the new Parliament in person. I believe it was a most auspicious moment for Her Majesty to do so after the great Reform Bill joined in by both political Parties, which has extended, and I believe strengthened, the bases of our representative institutions. I own I am not a little surprised that in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech there is no allusion to the return by greatly enlarged constituencies of Members of the House of Commons. My Lords, short as the Recess was, grave events have occurred at homo and abroad; and before I refer to them I am sure your Lordships will allow me to express my sorrow at the numerous losses which this House itself has sustained. I remember no time so short when the losses have been so numerous. It is impossible that a great Assembly like this should not feel the void created by the death of three public men of such high character as the Duke of Somerset, the Duke of Abercorn, and Lord Halifax; of an eminent and successful philanthropist, such as Lord Shaftesbury; of such a popular man of letters as Lord Houghton, and of such distinguished Prelates as those who have passed away from us, and also of two brothers, one a most brilliant soldier (Lord Strathnairn), and the other a valued and esteemed servant of this House (Sir William Rose). It may be convenient that I should repeat the statement which, as long as I can remember, has been made by the occupant of the seat from which I have risen—namely, that I have no intention of moving any Amendment on this occasion, and I think your Lordships will dispense with my giving the obvious reasons which have been so often given why I should not take that course. I sometimes felt that it was an act of some self-restraint on the part of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) to follow that custom; but I own that I feel it a great relief to be able to avail myself of it when I regard the immense majority arrayed against me. But even with this majority the noble Marquess does not seem to be perfectly satisfied, for he has added to it an average of one Peer and a third 51 per month; and if he remains in Office the 10 years which he once intimated, we shall have 160 excellent new Conservative Peers to help us in our work. I do not intend to delay your Lordships. As to the depression in trade and agriculture, I do not propose to say anything against the statement in the Royal Speech. It does not remove the melancholy fact that this depression seems common to all countries in the world. I read at the end of last Session a rather sanguine letter from the noble Marquess —which he had directed to be written— in which he assured his correspondent that there was every prospect under a Conservative Government that there would be a return of commercial prosperity before the end of the year. [The Marquess of SALISBURY dissented.] The noble Marquess shakos his head, and I think it is very possible indeed that he did not write the letter himself, but one of his numerous Private Secretaries. With regard to the measures promised in the Speech, I do not think it necessary to refer to their objects in detail. The value of these objects will entirely depend upon the way in which they are treated in the Bills, and we cannot judge of their merits until the measures are actually before us. I am anxious to refer to the numerous and lengthy paragraphs with regard to foreign affairs. I have seen what looks like a Foreign Office communiqué in The Times of this morning. I am sorry I have not had time to read it; but if I had, perhaps it would have prevented me committing some blunders in stating my views. There is one omission which I expected. It was rumoured the other day that Samoa had been annexed by the German Government. We all know the interest which Germany has in that island; but I felt sure when I saw the statement that it was not a fact, or that it had been done by an individual officer, and would be disowned by the German Chancellor. I am glad to learn that that is the case. The next point on which I wish to congratulate the noble Marquess is the arrangement between England, Germany, and Spain with regard to the Caroline Islands; I consider that a good, satisfactory, and sensible arrangement. I must also congratulate him as to the arrangement with Prance on the subject of the Newfoundland fisheries. I felt sure that a proper 52 settlement would be arrived at under Sir Clare Ford and Mr. Pennell Ford, who have for nearly three years conducted the negotiations on the subject. The other question relates to Burmah. The reference in the Royal Speech to Burmah is the longest and most argumentative paragraph I have ever seen in a Speech from the Throne. I do not know whether it indicates that there are any doubts in the mind of the noble Marquess as to what has been done. There were good reasons why the Government should not have been precipitate; but the fact that the act was carried out by Lord Dufferin strengthens the Government very much in the course they have taken. Nothwithstanding the length of the paragraph, it would be satisfactory if the noble Marquess would give us a few more details as to this business. As to what constituted the casus belli, and what have been the reasons for annexation and against a Protectorate, my noble Friend (the Marquess of Ripon) made some observations some time ago not approving the course taken; and during the last few days many-persons of great experience and knowledge have expressed doubts whether the commercial advantages alluded to are likely to be as great as expected, and whether there will not be administrative and political disadvantages and a drain of money and men from India—a drain which is exactly what India should not be called upon at this time to undergo. I trust, however, these apprehensions will not be realized. Then, as to the position of Afghanistan, I am glad that Her Majesty's Government have been able to announce what appears to be a final settlement. Just before we left Office we had communications from the Russian Government stating the agreement and understanding at which we had arrived. This seemed to us to be a limited and restricted proposal; but I was assured by the Russian Ambassador that the answer was meant to be an agreement with us. The adverse vote in the House of Commons was taken the next day, our resignation was announced the day after, and a subsequent communication from the Russian Government, whether post hoc or propter hoc, arrived, declining to accept our interpretation. Since then both Governments have, by mutual concessions, arrived at an agreement at which I shall not cavil, if the Govern- 53 ment have been advised that it is a sufficient line, and if Lord Dufferin and the Ameer are of the same opinion. Next, with regard to the subject of Egypt, and the Mission of Sir H. Drummond Wolff, I must be allowed to say that there were some obvious objections to that appointment. Sir H. Drummond Wolff is a very clever man; he is a man of the world; he has done good service in Roumelia in preparing the Constitution, which I believe is only too elaborate. Sir H. Drummond Wolff succeeded in negotiating an Anglo-Turkish Convention on the subject of Egypt. Now, we were always of opinion that it was desirable in the interests of Egypt to remain connected with the Turkish Empire, with the guarantee that that Empire enjoys from Europe. We always thought it right to pay every marls of respect and honour to the present Sultan a9 Sovereign of the country. We thought also that it was most desirable to come into communication with the Turkish Government with regard to the best mode of establishing an Army in Egypt, which should not affect the independence of Egypt, or the safety of the Khedive. What we were above all very shy of was to allow the Sultan to interfere with the administration of the finances of Egypt. Her Majesty's Government appear to have been more easy on these points, and by this means obtained the Convention; but I am afraid that, up to this time, the Anglo-Turkish Convention has not had much effect. There is another question alluded to in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech to which both the Mover and the Seconder of the Address have referred—I mean with regard to the Balkan Provinces. Four months ago the revolution at Philippopolis, conducted with skill and decision, astonished Europe; not that people were unprepared to believe that the fictitious separation of those Provinces by the Berlin Treaty was likely to come to a very early end, and there was subsequent evidence that that attempt would be made; still at the precise moment there can be no doubt that the revolution was a surprise. I have an idea that if the late Government had remained in power we should have hoard a great many complaints. We should have been told that we were too late to prevent unnecessary effusion of Bulgarian and Servian blood, and 54 that we had not succeeded in obtaining the co-operation of European Powers in time. Since the noble Marquess made his declaration at Newport with reference to his policy in Bulgaria and Roumelia—I will not examine too closely into the consistency of some of the arguments he used—we have seen an official despatch to Rome on the subject, and I must point out that there is a great difference in the policy which was announced at Newport and the policy laid down in the despatch. The result, however, of the revolution and the subsequent war between Servia and Bulgaria has been to constitute a great military and political position for the Prince of Bulgaria and almost financial ruin to Greece, Turkey, Servia, and the Provinces themselves. Now, I hope that what can be done will be done to effect a satisfactory settlement, and that the noble Marquess may be able to assure us that peace may be assured at an early date. And now, my Lords, I come to that part of the Queen's Speech which was so ably dealt with by the noble Duko— I refer to the subject of Ireland. I do not know if the noble Marquess will excuse me if I say that the two paragraphs on this subject are drawn in somewhat vague and involved language. I do not believe that these are the words that were first drafted by so excellent a writer as the noble Marquess. To me the paragraph looks much more as if it were the combined literary effort of a Cabinet declared to be united, but possibly, on this occasion, not exactly of the same mind and view. I see in The Times of this morning references to the precedents of 1833 and 1834 in the time of Lord Grey. In 1833 Ireland was in the most fearful state—much more fearful than it has ever been since that time till the present moment. Lord Grey's policy in that crisis may have been good, or it may have been bad; but, at all events, it was a strong policy expressed in very clear and decisive language. He proposed the strongest Coercion Bill that has ever been applied to Ireland in modern years, accompanying that with a declaration as to the maintenance of the Union. In the Speech before us, however, we have an abstract opinion in favour of the Union; but there is not the slightest declaration as to how it is to be maintained. And with regard to precautionary measures to strengthen 55 tho hands of the Government, that is put entirely in a conditional and hypothetical manner. As to any measures of a conciliatory character, it is put in this form—not that the Government have got a measure, but that they are preparing a measure which may come on after Procedure and after Local Government in England have been dealt with. Now, my Lords, to every one of your Lordships, I suppose, the state of Ireland has been a nightmare for some months past, if that term can be applied to a subject that has occupied, our thoughts by day as well as by night. I have no official knowledge. All that I have gathered about Ireland is from private correspondence, from newspapers, and from private conversation. But I am bound to say that impression is completely confirmed by the statement made by the noble Duke when he moved the Address this evening. There is no doubt that the statement in the Queen's Speech is a gloomy description of Ireland. But if things in this world go by comparison, I say it is positively cheerful in comparison with the black descriptions we have had about that country from so many sources. I cannot help feeling grateful as an individual that I have no share in, or responsibility with, the Government at this moment. That responsibility was immensely increased by the policy which Her Majesty's present Advisors adopted when they formed a Government. Various reasons were given for that policy. It was announced by the noble Marquess that it was impossible to strengthen the hands of the Government for the purpose of maintaining order in Ireland, Because you had lately extended the franchise in Ireland. Why, you might just as well say that, because the constituencies in England and Scotland had been largely increased, therefore you might do away with the laws against murder or arson. In the House of Commons the reason put forward was a very different one. The Leader of the House of Commons put it entirely on the responsibility of the Government, and said that, after careful deliberation and consideration of all the circumstances of the case, they had come to the conclusion that a renewal of exceptional powers was not required. Speaking, I think, at Sheffield, the noble Lord the Secretary of State for India (Lord 56 Randolph Churchill) said that, before taking Office, a decision had been come to by the noble Marquess and a few of his political Friends, subject to any official information he might subsequently receive, to form a Government which would dispense with all repressive legislation for Ireland. That decision was very well received by all classes in this country; and such a decision was sure to be well received when a Government, on their own responsibility, state that they think such a course can be safely followed. The noble Lord added that the Irish Peers sitting in this House, when they heard that announcement of policy, were perfectly silent; and he mentioned the sources from which the information as to the condition of Ireland was received. I see the Lord Chancellor of Ireland taking notes. The noble Lord referred to him, in terms which I entirely endorse, as being the most experienced, wise, and cautious, of modern Irishmen. Well, the noble Marquess formed a Government, Parliament met, and day by day "Boycotting" increased, and still continued to increase. The noble Marquess said publicly at Newport that, in his opinion, there was no law which could be applied to that offence, and that it was a thing which would find its own level. That was an encouragement to "Boy-cotters" when they found that nothing could be done; and now the question is, What have the Government in view at the present moment? Are they able, or are they not able, to say whether, by enforcing the law, they can put an end to the state of things described by the noble Duke? They must have made up their minds by this time. I presume that during the past six months they have been exercising their powers to put an end to this state of things; and if they have not succeeded in putting an end to it, what possible good is there in saying that if they get certain information, and if certain circumstances arise, they have no doubt Parliament will be willing to give them the necessary powers? Is this the proper manner of dealing with a vital question? Sir Michael Hicks-Beach described the condition of Ireland when the late Government left Office, and I cannot conceive a greater compliment than he paid to my noble Friend near me (Earl Spencer). He described the 57 state of Ireland as excellent; he said that the diminution of crime was most gratifying, and that crime was decreasing every day, and he said, further, that Ireland was almost in a state of normal quiet. I do not know whether it was in a state of normal quiet; but, at all events, its condition was a very great contrast indeed to the state of Ireland as it is at the present moment. Since then we have heard of the resignation of Lord Carnarvon, who, I regret, is not here to-day. It appears that while the noble Marquess spoke cheerfully of a long tenure of Office the noble Earl seem to have calculated that six months would be sufficient to hold one of the most responsible positions under the Crown. Lord Carnarvon was to be exactly six months—and no longer —Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Well, then, why was his resignation announced only three or four days before the meeting of Parliament, and how was it that the Government had no plan for replacing him? And the difficulty became the greater to my mind when I saw the statement that the Chief Secretary also had resigned. That statement remained uncontradicted for a time, and then it was stated not that the right hon. Gentleman had not resigned, but that the report was premature. That does not enlighten us as to the means by which order and peace would be re-established in Ireland. The whole thing seems to be in a state of chaos. Then take another point. Great hopes were held out to Ireland of concessions. On the 9th of November the noble Marquess spoke of large organic changes. He did not refer to little questions, such as he is contemplating now—namely, the transfer of duties from one set of men to another — which, as I know, is entirely repudiated alike by Loyalists and Parnellites in Ireland; but he talked of great organic changes. He said—With regard to large organic questions I have nothing to add to what I have said. The traditions of our Party are known. The integrity of the Empire is more precious to us than any possession that we can have. We are hound by motives not only of expediency, not only of legal principle, but by motives of honour to protect the minority, if such exist, who have fallen into unpopularity and danger because they have followed, or been the instruments of, the policy England has deliberately elected to pursue; and within those lines every English Government, and I will say the present Govern- 58 ment, is bound to do all that it possibly can to give prosperity, contentment, and happiness to the Irish people.What was the effect of that declaration of the noble Marquess? The majority of the Irish electors voted for the Conservative Party, to whose principles they were opposed; and was it to be thought that they were not influenced by that declaration? It appears to me that the Government have no policy. They have put into the mouth of the Queen a statement that the Legislative Union is to be maintained; but they give us no inkling whatever how that Union is to be maintained. They leave us practically without any knowledge what they will do if things in Ireland go on as at present, or by what method they intend to conciliate the Irish people. Lord Carnarvon, speaking on the 30th December, 1880, said—I will not disguise my opinion that the first and paramount duty which a civilized Government owes to its people is the enforcement of law and order; for law and order are the first reasons for which Kings reign and Parliaments are assembled, and civilized communities exist; and when life and property are not safe I fail to see what useful purpose a Government fulfils.These are not my words, but with some addition I could readily adopt them. They are the words of Lord Carnarvon rebuking Mr. Bright for advising conciliation. What we want to know is, what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, (PRIME MINISTER)
My first duty, my Lords, before replying to the speech of the noble Earl (Earl Granville), is to express how heartily I feel with him in the happy and eloquent eulogy which he passed on the Members this House has lately lost. He is right in saying that we have never, as far as my memory serves, had to deplore so many losses, or to feel so great and so keen an interest in the rising talent in this House, which may be called upon to replace the gifts of those now unhappily absent. My Lords, the speeches which we have heard from my two noble Friends behind me encourages us in the hope that we shall not look in vain to that source of supply. The noble Earl the Seconder of the Address is absolutely new to Parliamentary life. I am sure those who heard him will feel that he brings 59 here talents of the highest order, and we must expect the very ablest service from him in the future. The noble Duke who spoke first is not so new to Parliamentary life, though he is new to the debates of this House. I will only say of him—and it is high praise—that his speech proves to me that we shall not look in vain to him for those words of weighty wisdom and energetic eloquence which we have been accustomed for many years to associate with the distinguished name he boars. My Lords, the noble Earl (Earl Granville) went through the foreign part and the Irish part of the Speech from the Throne; but he left untouched the question of the various measures which Her Majesty's Government propose to bring in, and I think I shall do wisely to follow his example, because the discussion is very difficult when the details are not before the House. With respect to foreign affairs, allow me in the first instance, in answer to the first question put by the noble Earl, to state that I think he is in error in supposing that there has been, in any hypothesis, any annexation of Samoa by Germany. There are recent events which are imperfectly reported by telegraph, but which, strange enough, have not reached the Court of Berlin at all, and we are at present unable to place an exact interpretation on the news which has come to us; but this, which is quite satisfactory, we have received — namely, the most positive assurance on the part of Germany that she will adhere to the Treaties in respect to Samoa which already exist. With respect to Burmah, I think the noble Earl himself indicated the belief that it would be better to wait for a discussion until Papers are before us; but there is another reason which induces me to suggest to him that such postponement would be desirable—namely, that, if I mistake not, under the Act of Parliament regulating the Government of India it will be necessary that this House should be invited to consider the operations in Burmah specially, and that then discussion should be taken at length with respect to the policy the Government have pursued in that country. I will only say that I have no ground for belief that the anticipations which the noble Earl has expressed have any foundation in fact. He is quite right, of course, in saying 60 that it is to us, and not to the Earl of Dufferin, that the country must look for the responsibility for what has taken place. We have to express the very highest sense of the ability and promptitude with which the Earl of Dufferin carried out the orders which he received from the Imperial Government; but, of course, the policy pursued by the Earl of Dufferin rests upon the responsibility of the Government at home. But so far as our information reaches us, we do not think there will be any heavy burden upon the finances of India—even in the first few years—imposed by the measures that have taken place; and we believe that, in the long run, the addition that has been made to Her Majesty's Empire will furnish a very large increase to the resources of the Indian Treasury in the most healthy and desirable manner— namely, by opening out a large and prosperous trade, as we hope, with those vast districts of China which hitherto we have been unable to reach. It has been an object for many years with English merchants and manufacturers to find some mode of attaining to the markets of China in the West and North-West; but it has always been prevented by the terrible state of anarchy in which the upper valleys of the Irrawaddy have been placed. Now that that obstacle is removed, and that they will be governed as well as the rest of India, I have no doubt that new trade will ultimately be opened to the enterprize and energy of this country. My Lords, with respect to Eastern Roumelia, on which I think the noble Earl asked me some questions — he asked me whether I was prepared to explain a certain despatch which I had written to the Court of Rome. I do not recognize at all to what the noble Earl refers; and I am not aware of having written any despatch containing views of policy on this question to the Court of Rome. The noble Earl made a mistake in regard to that; but I have no difficulty in telling him what are the hopes we entertain. We believe that the course which this Roumelian affair has recently taken, of being subjected to the immediate negotiation between the Prince and the Sultan, is a course which we think will lead to a prosperous and peaceful conclusion. We have every ground for hope that, with the consent of the Great Powers, the Sultan and the Prince will 61 come to an agreement; and I am sure that if they do so it will not only be to the happiness of the people of Bulgaria, but will add no little strength to the power of the Turkish Empire. There are dangers, of course. There is the danger of disturbance on the part of some of the smaller States, who—to us, at least—it seems, are very little interested in the events that are going on within the borders of the Two Bulgarias. I regret very much the views that Servia and Greece have taken of their interests and their duties in this matter. I believe they are imperilling their own dearest interests, and that they are imperilling the peace of the Balkan Peninsula—possibly the peace of Europe—by the claims that they are setting up. All those claims, especially that on the part of Greece, to be indemnified at the expense of Turkey on account of a change which certainly Turkey did not initiate, and did not particularly welcome, is the most extraordinary introduction into International Law which has been attempted within my memory. Such claims will meet, I am convinced, with no sympathy on the part of the Powers; they will meet with no sympathy or support on the part of England. So far as the influence of England goes— so long as it is entrusted to our hands—it will be used to prevent any wanton breach of the peace in the East for objects and on pretexts which the conscience of mankind cannot justify. I earnestly hope the Greek Government may be persuaded to abstain from a venture which will compromise a future which, if they were only prudent, is brilliant enough; and we think there is no want of real sympathy on the part of the nations of Europe if they entreat them to allow that settlement which was come to a few years ago to last, without any disturbance on their part, and to believe that in the cultivation of their own internal resources, and in a strict regard for their International duties towards the nations that surround them, they will find true strength and support in carrying out all the promises which were then made. My Lords, I have spoken strongly on this matter, because reports have been spread that England has been encouraging the claims of Greece in this matter. I wish to give them the most absolute contradiction. We desire, above all things, to keep 62 peace in the East at this time. My Lords, the noble Earl rather accused me, I think, of inconsistency in respect to the line we have taken with regard to Eastern Roumelia. I cannot agree with him in the least. I cannot see any inconsistency in what we have done. The decisions which were come to at the Congress at Berlin were come to when Roumelia was occupied by foreign soldiers, and while there was every prospect and possibility that the sentiments and the institutions of that country might be moulded by foreign influence. We were obliged to take precautions against any dangers that might arise on that occasion. But if we are to treat this matter as a matter of consistency, and I am to be asked to reconcile my conduct of today with the conduct I pursued in bygone years, I ask that similar circumstances may be appealed to, and that our action now, if called in question, may be compared, not with the action which I recommended in 1878, when that country was full of foreign soldiers, but with the action I recommended in 1876 and 1877, when the state of things was more similar to what it was in September of last year, when the matter was again opened. If the noble Earl will refresh his memory, he will find that my recommendations were for a much larger Bulgaria than was ultimately approved by the Conference of Berlin. Before the war had begun, Her Majesty's Government of that day fully recognized the importance of bringing, so far as it was practically possible, the Bulgarian people under a single Government; and my belief is now—and every week that passes confirms me in it—that in the creation of a larger Bulgaria there would have been no danger to Turkey; but that there will be the creation of an allied Power, which, under conceivable circumstances, may be of great value in maintaining the independence of the Balkan Peninsula. My Lords, I think the rest of the speech of the noble Earl was devoted to the question of Ireland, and he denounced us for a great many varied and diverse offences. As I understood him, our language, he said, was ambiguous and unintelligible. We had no policy at all to pursue. We ought to have proposed a measure of very strong coercion immediately, and we ought, at the same time, to have proposed some large organic 63 reform, although the noble Earl went on to say that such reform would be welcomed neither by the Loyalists nor by the Separatists. As to the obscurity in the paragraph of the Speech to which the noble Earl has referred, I am very sorry that my powers of writing have not at all come up to the flattering description given of them by the noble Earl. But it seems to me that this language is as clear and precise as it is possible for language to be—I am resolutely opposed to any disturbance of that fundamental law, and in resisting it I am convinced that I shall be heartily supported by my Parliament and my people.Is it possible to state in more distinct and absolute language our resolution to maintain the Legislative Union between England and Ireland? The noble Earl said we had no right to pretend that we followed exactly the Speeches that Lord Grey prepared in 1833 and 1834. We never pretended that we did follow them exactly. We have never mentioned the Speeches of 1833 and 1834. This is an expression, not in the mouth of King William IV., but in that of Queen Victoria. It is an expression of opinion which it seemed to us important to give in clear and unambiguous language in the year 1886, and not in the year 1833; and if the result, under the circumstances, is that our Speech is not a precise copy of the Speech delivered by King William IV., I should say that it was a natural result to predict from the circumstances of the case. The Speech of William IV., to which the noble Earl refers, no doubt, was dealing with a state of Ireland that, in one sense, was very formidable. Order was very much more broken up than it is now; but in another sense it was far less formidable. There was not a concurrence of 86 Members from Ireland in behalf of repeal of the Union; and it seems to me that every consideration which justified the Ministry of that day in recording in clear language their determination to uphold the foundation of our Constitutional system and the United Kingdom justifies us all the more in using similar language. And, may I be allowed to say that the circumstances of the time require such unambiguous language from us. But it has not been used by everybody; there are others who have allowed impressions of their opinions to go forth, fatal to the maintenance of the 64 Legislative Union, and they have met those impressions with no clear contradiction. They have practically given all the support that their authority could furnish to the belief cherished by the Separatist Party, that the hour of their triumph is at hand. It seemed to us very necessary to show that, at all events, we would have no share in the responsibility for that ambiguity, and that our opinions, such as they were, should be boldly stated and manfully maintained. My Lords, it has been no small addition to the responsibilities which this Government has had to face; it has been no small addition that from time to time we have had declarations of opinion—or indications, I should rather say, of opinion—from Mr. Gladstone, operating with fatal effect upon those with whom we were dealing. Doubtless, your Lordships will remember the elaborate statement just at the time when we were negotiating with the Sultan and trying to repair the chaos that had been created in Egypt. Your Lordships will remember the declaration that came from Mr. Gladstone, that we ought to escape from Egypt as rapidly as we could, and apparently by any means. What do you imagine the effect of that was in Egypt? The noble Earl has reproached me because the Convention of Sir H. Drummond Wolff did not convince the Soudanese that their enterprize was impossible. But the Soudanese were speculating on the possibilities of English politics. They were told that there was an English Minister who was prepared to give them whatever they liked, and from that moment right through Egypt there was a change of tone and a belief that the policy of England could not be relied on as stable and certain, and that they had only to wait in order to get the accomplishment of the dreams which they had hitherto entertained. The same thing has happened with respect to Ireland. The noble Earl spoke of the failure of the experiment which we made last summer. I am not prepared to admit the description of it which he gave. The problem which we had to decide was whether the Crimes Act was an Act which it was desirable for us, under the circumstances then existing, to renew. We came clearly to the conclusion that it was not desirable to renew it. Why? Partly be- 65 cause by the accounts we received of the state of the country there seemed to be a state of returning order; and we entertained a hope that the necessity of having coercive legislation had passed away. But, much more than that, because the special provisions of the Crimes Act had ceased to be of any value for the purposes for which they were intended, The special provisions of the Act were of very great use at the time when they were enacted; but in the summer of 1884— though I do not say that the evils against which they were levelled had entirely disappeared—there was no doubt that there was a very great change in the character of those evils; and that the evils which the Crimes Act dealt with were no longer prominent or marked, while another class of evils which the Act was unable to repress appeared to be growing in importance. It was, indeed, generally admitted on the other side that the greater part of the Crimes Act had become superannuated; but great stress was laid on that set of provisions which provided for a fair jury trial. A fair jury trial could not be obtained two years before; but our impression was at the time when we had to deal with the matter that a fair trial could be obtained, and that impression has been justified by facts. If you turn to the records of the Munster Assizes you will see that there was a large number of convictions obtained without much difficulty; and I am assured by the Law Officers for Ireland that there was not, in their opinion, a failure of justice in any single case; but that does not diminish the evils under which Ireland is suffering. What I wish to impress upon your Lordships is that the character of those evils has changed, and that the particular provisions of the Crimes Act to which so much importance was attached with respect to jury trials had ceased to have the value which they formerly possessed. Then, as to "Boycotting." The noble Earl addresses us as if "Boycotting" had sprung up in our time; as if it was an invention of the last six months. Why, ever since the Crimes Act was passed I believe "Boycotting" has been steadily on the increase. No doubt it is increasing still; but it has been steadily on the increase since the passing of the Act, and the provisions of the Crimes Act, as a matter of fact, did not stop it; and I do not 66 believe myself that any very considerable difference is to be found in the progress of "Boycotting "before the Act lapsed, and since. Then, again, the real evil—the most formidable evil—is the growth of this illegal association. Was that an invention of ours? Did that begin after we had suffered the Act to lapse? I believe that before the Act lapsed the number of branch associations of the League had already reached the number of 1,000. The Act was powerless to stop it, and to revive the Act for that purpose would have been impossible and wholly valueless. No doubt you may say—" Then, why did not you bring in some other legislation? "But our judgment was—I do not deny that it was formed under circumstances of some difficulty—that with the state of Ireland then before us, the fact which the noble Earl despises—namely, that a vast amount of power had been given to the lowest classes in Ireland, and that any new device of coercive law just before the elections was very likely to be interpreted by them as intended to limit the power given to them by Parliament—with these facts before us, and with the knowledge that any such legislation, if proposed, could not be brought into existence except at the end of a long and exasperating campaign in the House of Commons, we came to the conclusion that the danger of exasperation attaching to such an experiment was larger than the danger of going on with the existing law in Ireland. Well, my Lords, to some extent, standing as we are now, you may say that the experiment has failed. It certainly has had every chance. It is impossible to exaggerate the care, benevolence, the tact, the skill, which my noble Friend (the Earl of Carnarvon) brought to bear on the task of executing the message of conciliation of which he announced in this House that he was the bearer. He did all that man could have done. He displayed very high qualities of statesmanship in the task which he had undertaken; and I still believe that the worst part of the failure, as we see it now, and the worst exaggeration of the symptoms which Ireland exhibits, is due to the declarations in favour of Home Rule which were believed to have been made by a leading statesman. [" Oh!"] Yes, I say the worst; I do not say all of them. I say that those declara- 67 tions have enormously added to our difficulties and increased the belief in the minds of certain men that they are going to win, and their resolution to take every means and to run every risk for the purpose of coercing the opinion of their fellow-countrymen to the same end.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
To the declarations of a distinguished statesman. They were declarations which appeared in the newspapers. They seemed to be authentic, and they were not distinctly contradicted. Do not tell me that when a man in the position of Mr. Gladstone has attributed to him opinions at variance with all the opinions of his life and fatal to the Constitution of this country—do not tell me that he is at liberty to skulk behind ambiguous denials, and not to say boldly before the country whether the opinions which, apparently with authority, are attributed to him are really his or not. If it be really true that he has carefully concealed what he really thought, and allowed the Separatist Party in Ireland to derive all the advantage that they have derived from the opinions attributed to him, he is scarcely less guilty of the result than as if the opinions circulated had actually been his own. I heard the other day of the effect which those opinions which the noble Earl affects to disbelieve have had in Ireland. A great town in the North of Ireland desired to borrow £100,000, and endeavoured to borrow it of some financial authorities in London. Then came—what shall I call it?—the kite that was flown, the pilot balloon that was sent up. Immediately the negotiations were broken off, and the refusal to lend any money to this great town was prompt and decisive. Men saw in the supposed opinions of a man like Mr. Gladstone, who has played such a splendid and enormous part in the history of the last half-century—they saw in the opinions attributed to him dangers that would make the investment of capital in Ireland insecure, and which business men, at all events, whether statesmanship did so or not, concluded was a sufficient ground for acting as if the opinions attributed to him had been really uttered by him. My Lords, the noble Earl says that our statement of policy is indistinct 68 Our statement of policy, I apprehend, is the usual statement that is put into a Queen's Speech on such an occasion. The government of Ireland has been changed. As the noble Earl probably knows, my distinguished Friend, Mr. Smith, undertakes the Chief Secretaryship of Ireland, which means practically that the.government of Ireland will be committed to his care. Undoubtedly, we shall not have long to wait for his distinct opinion as to the precise details of the legislation which we shall have to recommend. I do not think that on the joint of his going over to Ireland it would be fitting or wise to have laid a Bill on the Table; but I can assure the noble Earl that the language used in the Queen's Speech indicates no doubt, no faltering on our part, as to the necessity of action when we have received Mr. Smith's Report. I will not anticipate what that action must be. I know the subject is full of difficulty. The noble Earl has blamed me because in my speech at Newport I pointed out the singular difficulty attaching to all attempts to put down conspiracies of this kind, in regard to which evidence is so hard to obtain. I do not agree with him. I do not admit his censure. I do not think a public man does wrongly in pointing out to his fellow-countrymen the difficulties that lie in the way of any policy proposed to be adopted. Difficulties are made to be conquered; but they are not to be conquered by ignoring their existence. We wait until we hear from Mr. Smith his precise opinion as to the nature of the crisis with which we have to deal. We should be unworthy, I repeat, of the position which we hold, if we did not make the utmost effort that the confidence of Parliament will enable us to make in order to put a stop to a state of things perilous to this country and disgraceful to its reputation as a civilized Power. But, my Lords, do not imagine that the evil with which we have to deal is chiefly in Ireland. The disease is not in Ireland. The disease is here—in Westminster. If you had pursued—if you would now pursue—any steady, unvarying, and consistent policy with regard to Ireland, you would find that the problems that that country offered to you in respect of government are not greater than the problems of government which have been successively overcome by every Government in the world. There is 69 nothing in them of that extraordinary or extreme character that should set at defiance the resources of civilization. But it is necessary, above all things, that the play of our Party system shall not call into question the foundations upon which our polity rests. It is necessary that men should not be able to speculate on the change of Party to Party in the hope of altering the fundamental laws on which the union of the United Kingdom is based. If you have instability of purpose, if you have a policy shifting from five years to five years with each change in the wheel of political fortune, or the humour of political Parties in this country, you are drifting straight to a ruin which will engulf England and Ireland alike. Your hope is not so much in this or that particular plan or panacea for restoring order, or maintaining law, or reviving the conditions of civilized life in Ireland. Your hope is in this—that Parliament shall school itself to adopt a steady, consistent policy, and maintain it when it is once adopted. A resolution of that kind manfully carried out will restore that prosperity to which Ireland has for so long been a stranger.
§ EARL SPENCER
I do not intend to follow the speakers that have preceded me into the various topics on which they have addressed the House; but I think it is right that I should make some remarks upon what the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) has said with regard to my Administration in Ireland. The noble Marquess admitted that the state of Ireland was very grave; but he added that the gravity of affairs in Ireland had been largely increased by statements which appeared—unauthorized statements, as I maintain—in certain papers. It is not for me to defend my right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone), to whom those statements were attributed. He will himself meet those statements if challenged; but I will point out that the lawlessness at present prevalent in that country could not have occurred in consequence of any statement my right hon. Friend has made, and I will ask the noble Marquess whether the state of things of which he speaks, and of which we have hoard so much within the last few days, had not arisen long before those statements appeared? They appeared in the beginning of December; and if the reports current in the news- 70 papers were correct, Ireland was in a very dangerous condition long before then. I venture to think that the noble Marquess himself may have given some encouragement to "Boycotting" by the words in which he referred to it in his speech at Newport. No doubt, the noble Marquess has a right to point out difficulties; but there are certain things which it is not necessary for a person in his, position to say, and the National League must have received considerable encouragement from the noble Marquess's statement that the offence would be likely to die from the Nemesis of its own action, and that it would be impossible, or at least extremely difficult, for any Government to deal with it. Having regard to the condition of Ireland when the present Government came into Office, I think that they took on themselves a serious responsibility in not renewing any portion of the Crimes Act. I do not say that they were wrong in not renewing the whole of the Crimes Act— there was no question of that—but certain important portions of it, which, in my opinion, and in that of the late Government, were essential for the maintenance of law and order in Ireland, and particularly in relation to the change of venue and special juries. In wishing to retain those portions, we had no wish to interfere with liberty, simply wishing that the people should enjoy that liberty unmolested, of which, in England, we are so proud. At the time we left Office, outrages had fallen to a very low ebb indeed. But the fact remained that it was only recently that those organizations of crime had been broken up, and condign punishment had been meted out to the offenders. I never heard from any reports of the Law Officers before I left Ireland that the ordinary jurors were to be relied on; and I challenge the noble Marquess to produce any evidence that, on entering Office, his Government had received any such reports as would give them reason to believe they could rely on any ordinary jury in either Leinster, Munster, or Connaught. No doubt, the jurors have recently done well; but that is due to the fact that the trial of prisoners at the Winter Assizes is tantamount to a change of venue and special juries. Prisoners from Clare and Kerry, for instance, are brought to Cork, and instead of being tried by rural jurors of 71 their own county, who are subject to be intimidated, they are tried by juries composed of Cork citizens. I ask the noble Marquess whether he has considered this matter; and I would ask the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor of Ireland whether he can now rely upon a jury in Ireland for convicting a man committed for agrarian crime, or crime connected with agrarian matters? Take the county of Kerry, where we have had the instance of a cruel murder — that of Mr. Curtin. "What has occurred since? The very people who boldly and courageously came forward to give evidence of the murder have public opinion in that county raised against them so strongly that they have to be protected by police; and his daughters, who came forward to protect their father, and afterwards gave witness of the murder, have been "Boycotted" by the people around. If such was the case in these circumstances, what would be done to jurors and these who may have to come forward and vindicate the law? I believed that it was necessary to introduce this important alteration in the law; and I believe it was a most serious risk to attempt the government of the country without the power of changing the venue. The noble Marquess has referred to the decrease of ordinary crime. I admit—I am proud to admit—that, under the operation of the Crimes Act, it had decreased in the most remarkable way; but there is always a fear of its beginning again. In 1881 the number of cases of agrarian crime was 4,439; in 1882 the number was 3,433; while in 1884 the number was only 762; but should there be a fresh outbreak of agrarian crime, I believe we should not be able to depend on the ordinary law or ordinary juries. The noble Marquess has referred to the existence of the National League, and he said that it had increased to an enormous number of branches at the time when they took Office; but I do not think that they ever attacked the Irish Government for that. I admit the fact that the National League, which in its constitution was legal, had greatly increased in power; but during the time I was in Ireland there were no repeated acts of its leaders, or its committees, or of anyone of sufficient importance in it, which brought it under the ban of the law. There are, I admit, great difficulties in 72 proceeding against the members of an association such as this; and I believe that during the three years in which I held Office it would have been extremely hazardous to take any proceedings against the National League, because there is nothing more destructive to, and calculated to discredit, the maintenance of the law than the institution of a weak prosecution which breaks down. I am not, however, aware that there were any special provisions in the Crimes Act sufficient to put down such associations as the National League. What my Government attempted to do was this—we endeavoured to maintain the law throughout Ireland, and bring to justice all these who committed offences—whether of intimidation or otherwise—against the law, whether they were members of the National League or not. My belief is, that we did check to a great extent the influx of the National League, and that we did keep intimidation in chock, though I admit that its existence caused anxiety. For that reason I strongly advocated the re-enactment of powers to keep it in check. If the clause against intimidation were allowed to drop I feared that the power of the National League and of intimidation would increase to an enormous extent, and that the liberty of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland would be destroyed. We who are out of Office are not able to know the exact number of cases; but, from statements in the public Press and from the words of the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Abercorn) and of the noble Marquess, I greatly fear that the condition of Ireland with regard to intimidation and "Boycotting" is more serious than it has ever been before; and if this be so, I maintain that it has increased ten-fold or a hundredfold since I had the responsibility of the Irish Government. With regard to "Boycotting" having arisen in connection with the Crimes Act, "Boycotting" was in full force when I went to Ireland. Take Wexford for an example; in that county "Boycotting," which had been prevalent before, ceased entirely after the passing of the Act. At this moment is it free from it? I do not want to dwell too much on this painful subject of crime. It is a very serious thing that the law should not be maintained in that country, and it is essential that a policy should be pursued by which 73 law and order should be restored and maintained in Ireland. The noble Marquess referred to the question of instability; but I would ask whether any greater sign of instability could be shown than that the Conservative Party, who have always stood up and said that law and order should be maintained, should have rejected the advice of these who were concerned in the government of Ireland, and should have upset the policy of maintaining law and order? What could have a greater effect upon the existence of stability than the policy which the Conservative Party, led by the noble Marquess, initiated last year? When I consider that want of stability, I almost despair of finding a remedy for the great evils we find in that country. I wish the noble Marquess, in the Queen's Speech, had been more explicit about what he is going to do. He said that the reason why the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for War (Mr. W. H. Smith) was going over was that they might have the advantage of his advice. But I should like to know what has been the advice of the present Viceroy, and of the present Chief Secretary, and what has been the advice of the noble and learned Lord opposite the Lord Chancellor of Ireland (Lord Ashbourne)? Did they say that the law was respected, and that the Queen's writ ran throughout the country? I think that the policy of the Government in the matter is vague and undecided; but I also think it is absolutely essential that we should know precisely from the Government what the actual condition of the country is as to outrages and as to intimidation. They should either be able to say that special legislation was not necessary for Ireland, or be prepared with it at once if it is. I thank you, my Lords, for listening to these remarks, which I have thought it necessary to make since allusion was made to my administration in Ireland.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND (Lord ASHBOURNE)
My Lords, it is not surprising, having regard to the statements made in the public Press and these made by the influential deputation from Ireland, composed of all Parties, that waited upon my noble Friend the Prime Minister, as well as these made in the course of this debate inaugurated by my noble Friend (the Duke of Abercorn), that that debate 74 should largely turn upon the condition of Ireland. They all lead to a view of Ireland which is not satisfactory, and which, indeed, has been described as very gloomy. I listened with earnest attention to the interesting speech of the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition (Earl Granville), and especially to his references to Ireland; I listened with attention and respect to the speech of the noble Earl the late Viceroy (Earl Spencer). What the noble Earl said was interesting, and entitled to the closest attention; but I venture to think that what he did not say is not entirely unworthy of consideration. The general condition of Ireland is one with respect to which, though men may differ as to details, there is very little difference as to the way in which, it is to be regarded. The Press practically regards it in only one way; and influential deputations of ail Parties have endeavoured—not always with success— to address themselves to the Leaders of both Parties. Closely identified with Ireland as I am, I have always tried to avoid taking a desponding view of my country. I have always striven, in every debate in which I have had the honour to take part, to urge that the best possible way, no matter how dark may be the prospect at the present time—no matter how little room there may be for immediate hope—is to avoid the language of exaggeration and the language of panic. The condition of Ireland is grave, serious, and anxious; and I can use no words too strong to express the momentous gravity of the crisis. The real questions are—What is the present condition of Ireland, and what is the remedy for that condition? I wish Ireland could be put altogether outside the region of Party politics. Of course, I am a Party man; but I have used this language in Opposition, and no one knows that better than the late Viceroy. The present condition of Ireland is, as I have said, calculated to excite anxiety. Intimidation is considerable. It is not universal. In many parts of the country it is potent; in other parts it is growing. The National League has been referred to, and in a way which rightly indicates that it is a great factor in the present problem; but I would remind your Lordships that it is not the growth of yesterday — its organization grew up in the time of the 75 noble Earl opposite the late Viceroy. It succeeded almost at once the Land League. I do not make these observations for the purpose of indulging in recrimination; but it is necessary to bear clearly in mind that it is not the growth of yesterday, and that it did not come into existence with the present Government. The Government found it in active operation when they came into power. In Juno last, when my noble Friend (the Earl of Carnarvon) succeeded the noble Earl, there were over 800 branches, and when the Crimes Act expired there were about 1,000. This greatly operates on the movement. I beg to tell your Lordships what also operates upon the strength of the movement—and it has been alluded to already by the Prime Minister, grappled with very feebly by these who have since spoken on the other side—and that is the statements of responsible English Ministers. I venture to think that there never was a statement more wild, more reckless, more mischievous, than the statement of Mr. Childers in reference to what would happen to the Royal Irish Constabulary. I am quite aware that he says he used the word "police;" but that was understood in Ireland as meaning the Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police—the only police there. I think that if the noble Earl the late Viceroy were speaking after me, he would find it absolutely impossible not to endorse, by his eloquent silence, every one of these adjectives. If there is any noble Lord on the Front Bench who is yet going to take part in this debate, I venture to think he will not use a word indicating concurrence in the suggestion that any Government, at any time, would be justified in handing over the control of the Irish Constabulary to any other control than that which exists. Mr. Childers is, of course, an eminent statesman; but there are other degrees of eminence. His words were comparatively mild side by side with the language attributed to the Prime Minister— [Laughter.]—I mean, of course, the late Prime Minister. As long as the Elections were going on, not a whisper could be gained from Mr. Gladstone as to what he thought; and when he was appealed to by Mr. Parnell, in respectful terms, to state what scheme he would like presented, Mr. Parnell was told, in 76 weighty and dignified language from Scotland, that Mr. Gladstone was not prepared to do anything of the kind. But, as if by magic, when the last poll of the General Election was over, the whole country was flooded by a statement, of considerable precision, that Mr. Gladstone would be prepared to discuss, examine, or present, or something of that kind, a scheme, if the opportunity were afforded him. I am told by the late Viceroy that Mr. Gladstone has denied, and is going to deny, that. I do not attribute to the right hon. Gentleman any attempt to spread these reports; but certainly, I must say, he was very unfortunate in the mode and method of his denial. If I were irreverent—which I am not—I would say that his language was involved; I might say that it was "characteristic," whatever that means. But I desire to contrast these earlier denials with the method of repudiation adopted by Mr. Gladstone within throe days, when he refused to receive a deputation of Loyalists from Ireland. He alluded then to the charges which had been made as mischievous and groundless. What were these charges? If he was able so to describe them, three days before the opening of Parliament, what was to prevent him using these clear words, so emphatically contradicting them, a month or six weeks ago? However that may be, I think that good has come from the starting of the question; in whatever way it may have arisen, it has caused a preliminary discussion and examination of the question, powerful and exhaustive, in the Press, and thus it is that Parliament is now fairly able to understand this question. The paragraph in the Queen's Speech in reference to the Legislative Union is, I venture to say, about one of the clearest that ever was framed. It represents the views of the Government, and, I believe, of the country; and I call the attention of your Lordships to this— that not one syllable has been heard to indicate that it does not represent the unanimous opinion of this House. The paragraph is simple; but the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition, a master of phrases, calls it "abstract." Is it meant to be suggested that the question has not become a living question now, with 86 men returned to Parliament to demand hardly anything else? What, 77 then, is the meaning of this specious word "abstract?" It is a very good word, but it does not toll much. But is the paragraph true? That is the question. The noble Earl sat down without dissenting from a single word in that paragraph; and the noble Earl the late Viceroy, in his interesting speech, avoided absolutely oven the smallest reference to the subject. Beyond that, none of the noble Lords who have spoken have offered any hostile criticism upon it. What is the meaning of that? Either the noble Earl agrees with the paragraph and of the way in which it presents the question, or else he is afraid to suggest to public opinion how it is. The only criticism which we have heard has been with reference to the intentions of the Government in the present state of the country. My Lords, I am not aware that there is any ground for hostile criticism in reference to the action of the Government on this point. The paragraph in reference to the condition of the country is, in my opinion, a true paragraph. It depicts in no roseate hue, and under no hopeful aspect, what is the position of affairs. It also indicates, I venture to think, with considerable clearness, what are the views of the Government as to the best way to cope with this matter. The intimidation which prevails in Ireland, wherever it does exist in all its vigour, is an intimidation which is not confined in its operations to one class or one creed, but goes equally against Catholics as against Protestants, against peer as against peasant, against merchant as against artizan. The agents which feed this organization are sympathy and terror. The Government have applied to the best of their ability, and with all the vigour they could, the powers of the ordinary law to put down this deplorable system. We have been taunted about the Crimes Act and the non-renewal of it. I think it is to be regretted that the Into Government never stated, until they left Office, what particular paragraphs of the Crimes Act they had decided upon renewing, although they were asked over and over again, in my presence, in the House of Commons, to do so. The ordinary law—which I do not say is sufficient—has, however, under the wise and able guidance of my noble Friend (the Earl of Carnarvon), been administered with vigour and with 78 effect. Although some of the effects of the operation of the ordinary law have been extremely good, I do not say that all the results have been what we could desire. My noble Friend the Prime Minister was perfectly accurate when he referred to the results of the Winter Assizes, for the proceedings there were satisfactory. Now, it is obviously right, when there is a change in the personnel of the Irish Administration, and when my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. II. Smith) is, with great public spirit, about to apply his great and recognized powers to this difficult and somewhat thankless task, that he should be given an opportunity, in that great position of responsibility which he will fill, for considering closely and anxiously exactly what it is he would desire to have submitted to the consideration of Parliament. The Government are keenly, seriously conscious of their duty in reference to Ireland. It is their resolute purpose, to the best of their power, to fulfil it. Ireland must always be ruled, and should always be ruled, with kindly sympathy, impartial justice, and unflinching firmness; it should be ruled with an anxious desire to do justice to Ireland—that is, to all in Ireland, and life, property, and liberty must be preserved there. Those are the conditions of every civilized society. One of the first—indeed the very first—condition of liberty is that men shall be able to go about their ordinary avocations, and to discharge their duties honestly and fairly, without fear of having their lives placed in jeopardy or ruin brought upon their trade or businesses. The Government recognize their duty in these difficult and anxious circumstances; and I trust that your Lordships will give them credit for an earnest and resolute intention to spare no effort loyally to fulfil their duty to the very best of their ability.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
My Lords, there was one observation made by the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Ashbourne) in which I thoroughly concur, and that was when he stated that the Irish Question had been discussed far too much from a Party point of view. I suppose all of us would desire, if it were possible, that our Party quarrels should not affect so strongly as they have done Irish policy. 79 But what did the noble and learned Lord proceed to do? Ho proceeded himself, in sentence after sentence, to make a vigorous Party attack on the Opposition, and so to bring into his discussion of Irish policy that which he, with singular inconsistency, said ought to be removed from Party warfare, and he contrived to bring into the matter as much Party animosity as could be expected from a Gentleman of his very amiable temper. That is not the spirit in which we should approach a crisis perhaps the most grave during this century in Irish affairs. If we do, I agree with the noble and learned Lord that we are likely to do very little for the good of the country. Now we are waiting to hear what is the policy which the Government recommends; and our complaint is that there is a want of precision in the statements of the Government. Before we can decide or agree about it we must know what that policy is. "Oh, but," said the noble and learned Lord, "look at our grand declaration about the Union"—which my noble Friend behind me (Earl Granville) called an abstract Resolution. And so I think it is, because the point is not to pass some high-sounding Resolution that we are all in favour of; the real point is how, in the present condition of Ireland, with 85 Parnellite Members returned, with "Boycotting" rife throughout the country, with the Crimes Act lapsed, the withdrawal suddenly of my noble Friend (the Earl of Carnarvon), and the advent to Ireland of a Gentleman very able and highly respectable, but knowing very little of Irish affairs, the Government are going to face the crisis. The noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon) certainly had a policy, and a very singular policy it was. I listened with astonishment to his most rash and unfortunate speech, in which, referring to the resolution of the Government not to renew any of the provisions of the Crimes Act, he said—"I believe, for my own part, that special legislation of this sort is inexpedient," and ventured upon the prophecy that "Ireland will justify the confidence which is shown her when this Act is allowed to lapse." There the noble Earl laid down the principle that special legislation was undesirable; and yet six months after, when the Elections are over, and the time being over when, perhaps, the old policy was not so con- 80 venient, and not so opportune, the Government turn round and indicate that the old form of action may have to be resorted to. But it is useless now to look back upon Irish affairs. What we want to know, as I have already said, is, I what is to be done? I gathered from the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) that it is necessary to wait until Mr. Smith has examined the problem for himself. I should have thought that the Member of the Cabinet who is Lord Chancellor of Ireland, who has unrivalled experience of Ireland, might have been capable of advising the Government in this crisis. He has had six months of Office, and has a knowledge of Ireland that none of us Englishmen possess; and, under these circumstances, to be told that we are to wait until an Englishman, who knows practically nothing about Irish affairs, goes over to Ireland to make himself acquainted with Irish affairs, is nothing less than a confession of that weakness and indecision which Her Majesty's present Advisers were at one time so fond of denouncing. We ask, and ask in vain, what, after six months' incubation, is the policy of Her Majesty's Government in this great crisis? A more deplorable confession of weakness on the part of a Government in a great crisis I have never heard of before, and I hope I never shall again. The business of the Opposition will be, when the Government clearly show what their policy is, to give it fair and just consideration, and, as patriotic men, to throw no impediments in the way of its realization if we can approve of it; but if they have no steadfastness of purpose, and no clear aim or object, and if their remedy be such as we cannot approve, then it will be our duty, by every means in our power, to endeavour to replace them by a Government more worthy of the approval of the country.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Viscount CRANBROOK)
My Lords, the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Kimberley), first of all, asks what it is the Government are going to do when they are proposing exceptional legislation? Was there ever heard of such a thing—that in a Queen's Speech the form and character of legislation should be stated in detail? If not, then the attack of the noble Earl, as regards ambiguity of language as to repressive 81 legislation, falls to the ground. The noble Earl also says that the Members of the Government and the Parnellites combined, to obstruct the late Government in their efforts to maintain law and order in Ireland.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBROOK
The noble Earl distinctly stated it, though he may not have meant it. I called the attention of my noble and learned Friend near me (Lord. Ashbourne) to the words at the time, and I would not have risen only that he used them.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
; If the noble Lord says distinctly that I used the words I will at once admit it. But what I thought I said, and what I intended to say, was that when the late Government were struggling to maintain law and order in Ireland they had to deal with a strong Opposition in conjunction with the Parnellites.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBROOK
Does the noble Earl think that on no conceivable occasion are men of different Parties to oppose a Government when they differ with it on any particular question? I wish to deny most emphatically that there has been any such alliance as the noble Earl imputes between the Parnellites and the late Opposition. I say that it was the alienation of the Parnellites from you in consequence of what you call your endeavour to support law and order, and not their affection for us, that made them oppose you. And as to how the Parnellites voted at the Elections, if the question came to be examined, it would be found that they voted in as many cases against us as for us. My Lords, it is a most remarkable thing that these who stand up so strongly for the secrecy of the ballot are always the first to cry out how persons voted; and yet, without a scrutiny, it is absolutely impossible to determine. The Government of this country admits its deep responsibility. It is, first of all, responsible for protecting men in the exercise of their rights; and I invite tie criticism which the noble Earl has promised us on our policy if our measures are inadequate for that purpose. Should our measure be not a sufficient or good one, then let them dismiss us; but if it should prove to the contrary, and if we bring in measures adequate to the occasion, I hope we may 82 rely on you to support us in endeavouring to put down organized resistance to law and order.
§ THE EARL OF LEITRIM
said, that the question of the maintenance of law and order in Ireland fully deserved the serious consideration it had received that evening from their Lordships. He thought, however, that a little more might have been said upon the good that was in the country, and that it was unfortunate Her Majesty's Speech had not contained a distinct accusation in that direction. The good in Ireland did not seem to him to be likely to be developed by Her Majesty's Government in the way it ought to be. For instance, the reference in Her Majesty's Speech to the question of Local Government in that country was in the most indistinct terms. The words were—A measure for the Reform of County Government in Ireland is also in preparation.Now, that was in striking contrast to the preceding words of the same paragraph, which said—Bills will be submitted to you for transferring to Representative Councils in the Counties of Great Britain local business which is now transacted by the Courts of Quarter Sessions and other authorities.So far as his knowledge of local government in Great Britain extended, his belief distinctly was that it was far better and far more thorough and fairer as regarded the taxpayer than local government in Ireland. The Grand Jury Laws in Ireland, for instance, were perfectly indefensible, and formed a standing danger to the country. These laws, as they now existed, merely represented the landowning classes. The fiscal powers exercised by the Grand Juries were enormous; while the cesspayer, who was really the occupier, was completely outnumbered at the Presentment Sessions. Various powers had been conferred on the Grand Juries since they were first established—such as the power to guarantee railways and tramways at Presentment Sessions. The powers exercised by the Presentment Sessions, under the Tramways Act of Lord Spencer, were exceedingly dangerous. The cesspayer was by no means represented, and yet the Grand Jury had the power, subject certainly to appeal, of taxing them, it might be in perpetuity, for a tramway which might be of no use to them at all. He be- 83 lieved that county government was much desired by a large and important class in Ireland, and that no time should be lost in introducing a measure for the purpose. A very remarkable letter appeared in The Times some time ago from Mr. Clifford Lloyd with regard to the remedies which should be adopted in Ireland. He contended, in that communication, that the grievances of the country were due—first, to the exclusion of the people from any share in the management of their affairs; and, secondly, to the continuation in Dublin of a centralized Government, alleged to be out of touch with the Imperial Parliament, the British Cabinet, and the Irish people alike. Mr. Lloyd went on to express an opinion that the creation of elective County Beards, with powers of taxation, would afford a basis giving ample scope for the growth of political life. He (the Earl of Leitrim) believed with the writer that in that direction it was possible to mitigate some of the evils that existed in Ireland; and, further, that it was quite within the natural aspirations of the Irish people that they should be able to control their local affairs in the counties, and manage that taxation which they were called upon to pay. In connection with that there must come, undoubtedly, the abolition of the Viceroyalty, which was quite out of date and out of consonance with the feelings of the country, both high and low. While ready to grant Her Majesty's Government any powers that might be necessary for repressing crime, and bringing Ireland to a better state, it was, to his mind, imperatively necessary that a measure of local government should be introduced.
§ LORD WAVENEY
said, that there was no doubt that crime and outrage was increasing in Ireland at a rate of which few of their Lordships had any conception. He was accustomed to watch the rise and fall of the tide; and he asserted that in the past month the greater part of Ireland had gone back a whole year in its neglect of duty. It was for the Government to say whether that state of things should continue. They might judge how matters were when they found that in Ulster Liberals and Conservatives had been brought to act together; and in his opinion it would be well if this truce of Parties were not only maintained, but extended. Judging 84 from these indications, he thought he was justified in complaining that there was in the Speech from the Throne the merest general indication on the part of the Government of their intention probably to deal with that serious state of affairs.
Address agreed to, nemine dissentiente, and ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.