in rising, pursuant to Notice, to call attention to the urgent necessity for further legislation in order to deal with the disorder and lawlessness existing in Ireland, said, That if it were not for the very serious condition of Ireland at that moment, and for the momentous crisis which appeared to be rapidly approaching in that country, he would not have ventured to trouble their Lordships with any opinions of his own on the present situation on that part of the United Kingdom. He would rather have trusted to the responsible Government of the country to carry out their often repeated promises—that they would maintain at all hazards law and order in Ireland. But unfortunately he felt himself obliged to stand up in his place in Parliament and tell the House that law 1360 and order neither had been nor were being then maintained in Ireland, and certainly not in that part of the country to which he more immediately belonged. The state of things, he regretted very much to have confess to their Lordships, in that part of the country in which he resided had been going from bad to worse during the last few months of the year 1886; indeed, so bad had the position of affairs become in some parts of the country, that he felt bound to state that, in his opinion, the condition of those districts could only properly be described as bordering on rebellion. He fully admitted that such serious language ought not to be used, unless there was good reason for it; but he said that, to the best of his belief, there was good reason for the language he was employing, and he maintained that it was the duty of Her Majesty's Government to lose not a moment in bringing whatever legislation they might intend to introduce before Parliament for dealing with the state of things at present existing in the sister country. Of the difficulties which surrounded the Government he was well aware, and could fully appreciate the obstacles in their path; and, to a great extent, could sympathize with them as to the course they had thought it right to pursue. But nobody, he thought, acquainted with the present state of affairs could be ignorant of the fact that Her Majesty's Government were at that moment entirely dependent on the support of the Liberal Unionists for carrying any legislation that they might desire to adopt to bring about a state of law and order in Ireland. They all knew the difficulties the Government had to meet on account of the Opposition, led by Mr. Gladstone, who were looking for even the slightest token of disagreement between the Government and the Liberal Unionists, so that they might again re-establish the late Ministry in power, and be able to force the country to accept that which it had so emphatically declared against—namely, Home Rule. No doubt, if Mr. Gladstone again came into power, a proposal of that kind, which would hand over the loyal portion of Ireland to the tender mercies of the Land League, would be the first piece of legislation he would endeavour to force on the country. He could not, therefore, help asking noble Lords opposite, and those outside of the House who 1361 supported Mr. Gladstone, whether they considered it to be honourable and consistent with good faith to hand over the lives, the persons, the property, and the interests of every kind of the whole of the loyal population of Ireland to the tender mercies of men who they knew perfectly well were the enemies of that loyal population? Language was not strong enough to condemn such a proposal. Yet it was proposed to do that, in spite of the fact that the connection with England had now lasted for the greater part of a century, during which time the interests of the two countries had become so entirely interwoven that any break of that connection must inevitably produce the greatest amount of hardship, suffering, and sorrow to what he could only describe as the poorer and the weaker country. He should be failing in his duty as a Representative of Ireland, if he did not declare that he considered it the bounden duty of Her Majesty's Government, and of any Government that might succeed them, to maintain law and order in that country. However that might be, the fact was that a rival Government had been permitted to rise up in Ireland. He did not blame the present Ministry; it was not their fault, but that of the Ministry who preceded them, the Ministry of Mr. Gladstone, that the rival Government of the Land League had been allowed to establish itself in Ireland. The Government of the Land League, however, was a very different organization from that which the late Mr. Forster had to deal with some years ago, when it was described as an organization of "village tyrants and dissolute ruffians." Since that time the League had extended itself through the length and breadth of the land; there was hardly a town, a village, or a hamlet in which it had not an organization, and those organizations were worked with a power and a will of which their Lordships were scarcely aware. One would imagine that the people of this country would by this time have realized the state of things that existed in Ireland; but they still seemed to be unaware of the enormous power wielded by that organization. They appeared unable to comprehend that that organization was, in fact, the Government of the country at this moment. The question had certainly been repeatedly asked him during this winter, 1362 whether they had any Government at all in Ireland, or any other than that of the League; for when they heard of outrages, and looked round them, all they could do was to ask where was the strong arm of the law? His contention and sincere belief was that it was absolutely essential, whatever Ministry was in power, that the League should be suppressed. That was the conclusion of those who understood Ireland; and he must strongly impress it on their Lordships that that was the only way in which they could restore and bring about peace in that country. It would be perfectly unnecessary for him to quote from speeches of members of the National League, both in the House of Commons and outside, to show what their intentions were. They really proposed to put down the Government of the Queen, and to establish in its place a Government of their own. The attack on the landlords and the destruction of all rights of property were only a means to an end—it was only that they might the easier establish an Irish Republic across the water. He thought that should be distinctly understood in this country. The League organization, therefore, ought to be suppressed at all hazards. It was because he knew that the Government intended to bring in some legislation for dealing with the conspiracy that had lately been rife in Ireland that he introduced the subject, in order to impress on them that any legislation which was proposed for that purpose would be utterly useless unless it was accompanied by such powers as would enable them, at the same time, to suppress the National League. He had little doubt, not only that the Liberal Unionists would support the Government in any course that they took to restore law and order; but also that the country would support them just as readily as they would support a measure, if necessary, to put down robbery and murder in this country. It had been said, with a great deal of justice, that if the League were suppressed there would be a much worse organization in its place, and there would be secret conspiracies throughout the land; and he admitted that nothing more dreadful could be imagined than that Ireland or any other country should be undermined by secret societies; but would anyone argue—and it would be just as easy to do 1363 so—that, because they had in this City an open organization of thieves and robbers, that it was not their duty to put it down, because, if they did so, the thieves would hold meetings in secret? Moreover, the National League was, he contended, even now, to a great extent, a secret society. It held its courts in secret, and nobody except its own inner circle heard what went on in its secret councils, where the mischief was brewed. It was from those secret courts of the League that the terrible decrees for boycotting and the orders for resisting the officers of the Crown were issued. Only the other day there was to be an eviction in that part of Ireland with which he (Lord Inchiquin) was himself connected. It was an eviction of a tenant on the property belonging to Mr. D'Esterre. He owed £700, his rent being close upon £200 a-year. This was three years' rent of a good farm, and probably the finest land in the county. What happened? Orders were evidently sent out by the National League, that the people were to assemble and to stop the bailiffs and the Sheriff from carrying out the law. The Sheriff was accompanied by a large force of bailiffs and police, and also by a Resident Magistrate. On arriving at the scene of eviction, what did they find there? They found that the door of the house had been taken off its hinges, and an iron gate substituted, to which was chained the parish priest. The priest immediately began to argue with the Sheriff and his men as to the iniquity of the law which they were going to carry out. The influence of the priest's sacred character upon the people and the position in which he was placed were such that the bailiffs refused to carry out the eviction. Why the Resident Magistrate did not act and call upon the police to act, he left Her Majesty's Government to answer. In any case, there was an ineffectual endeavour to carry out the law, which did more mischief in the country than a thousand evictions where the law had been carried out; because it was made clear to the people that they had only to assemble in hundreds to resist the law, and they would be able to do so. If the National League were proclaimed and put down, one most important effect it would have would be to dissociate from this organization the priesthood of the country, who were now in a great measure the leaders of public 1364 opinion, and who were also, he was sorry to say, the leaders very often of those organizations which were got up for the purpose of resistance to the carrying out of the law. They had promulgated the doctrine that it was the duty of the tenants to spend all the money they required upon themselves and their families. The important effect, therefore, of dissociating them from this organization was one which their Lordships should carefully bear in mind. He would remind their Lordships also that in the early part of the autumn the National League issued an order from its headquarters in Dublin, telling the tenants in Ireland that it was their duty to satisfy every debt rather than the debt due to the landlords; that it was their duty to pay everything they might owe to the tradesmen and others; that it was their duty to spend what they required; but that the last thing they should do was to pay the rent due for their farms. They would be perfectly justified in leaving the landlords in the lurch. The natural effect of that order was that it was obeyed. When the time came for the landlord to receive his rent, he asked the tenants in the usual way to pay what was fair. The tenants said, "Oh, we have not got the money, and the state of the country is so bad we cannot pay you any rent." It was not surprising that this should be the result of such a proclamation, nor that the landlords should resort to the only remedy they had, and one which they were reluctant to carry out—namely, to proceed to eviction. A Return had lately been issued, under the auspices of the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union, analyzing the Return of Evictions which had taken place during the six months from January 1 to June 30, 1886. The Returns were not complete. They had not been made up for the last half-year, and, therefore, he was unable to quote the result of those Returns. But from the present Return their Lordships would see that what had been said with regard to landlord evictions was enormously exaggerated. The Return proved that they were nothing like so numerous as the Home Rulers would have us believe. It stated that in the six months ending June last—The sum total of the eviction record is that out of 1,233 cases there were only 117, or less than 10 per cent, in which tenants were evicted 1365 from agricultural holdings on which there were residents for non-payment of rent, and were not re-admitted in any form by the landlord. It may be useful here to point out that the total of evictions given in the Government Return as having occurred in the first six months of the past year, bears the proportion of seven to every 2,000 of the total number of holdings in Ireland. If, in the remainder of the cases in which information has not yet come to hand, those evictions where the tenant has not been in any way reinstated are found to be in the same ratio as 117 to 1,233 (and there is no reason to suppose that this will not be so, as will be seen from an examination of the figures of those counties for which the information is practically complete), it would then appear that this extreme proceeding was only resorted to in one out of every 3,000 holdings in Ireland. In several counties it will be seen that it was not resorted to in a single instance during the period with which the Return deals.This was a very important Return, and he commended it to their Lordships' study. It had also been said that there was very little serious crime in Ireland. No doubt that was perfectly true; and he attributed the fact, in a great measure, to the influence of the League, which was used—and whose interest it was—at the present moment to keep down outrages, and to keep down crime. The small number of outrages at the present time was duo also, in a great measure, to the fact that the League had so thoroughly established its influence in the country, that there was no longer any resistance to its commands, and, therefore, there was no need to make examples in the country. Another, and the most recent difficulty which had arisen, was owing to the policy of allowing matters to drift in Ireland. He referred to the organization of the Plan of Campaign. He wished to ask the Government how and why it was that, the Plan of Campaign having been published on the 23rd of October, no action had been taken by them either to point out its illegality, or to take any measures for its suppression, until the week before Christmas. During two months this villanous and felonious conspiracy, which had been condemned by the highest Court in Ireland, had been allowed to spread its influence throughout the length and breadth of the land. Another result of that action had been that when Her Majesty's Government did take action, and proceeded against the authors of the Plan of Campaign, justice was brought into contempt by what took 1366 place after the decision of the Supreme Court had been given. That decision was practically avoided, for immediately it was given Mr. Dillon and his confrères still went about the country preaching the same doctrine. He could imagine nothing more calculated to do injury in Ireland, than the proceedings which had been allowed to take place subsequent to the decision of the High Court of Justice in Ireland in reference to the Plan of Campaign. He contended that, owing to the impossibility of the Court being able to deal with this infringement of its decision by Mr. Dillon and Mr. O'Brien, a fair case had been made out for additional legislation; but he could not conceive why the Courts in Dublin did not call Mr. Dillon before them for contempt, because it seemed to him that if ever there was a case in which the Court had been set at defiance, the case of Mr. Dillon was the most notorious. If the inability of the Court to do so was owing to lack of power, then he said it was the duty of the Government to lose no time in bringing immediate additional legislation forward. The other day he had an opportunity of speaking to several legal gentlemen in Dublin, who had taken part in the administration of justice in the South of Ireland. Their opinion was, that the law as regarded the jury system required immediate amendment. The unfortunate Act of the late Lord O'Hagan had done more mischief in Ireland than their Lordships were probably aware of. It was not many years ago that he (Lord Inchiquin) sat upon a Committee appointed by their Lordships to consider the Jury Laws in Ireland, and a great amount of valuable evidence was then accumulated, but no practical action had since been taken upon it. He contended that it was the duty of the Government to make such alterations in the Jury Laws as should make them suitable to the existing condition of the country. Remedial legislation could not take place, and if it did he wished to impress upon their Lordships it would have no effect until it had been made perfectly clear that the laws of the country must and shall be obeyed. He thought they would generally agree with him that the Land Act of 1881 had proved a gigantic failure. He had opposed it at the time, and he felt that what he had said then was to a great extent coming 1367 true. There was no one in that House but would allow that dual ownership had proved a complete failure, and the first thing to be done in the way of legislation was to do away with it, and amend the Land Laws in Ireland. There was one way in which that might be done—he meant the extension of the Act of the noble and learned Lord (Lord Ashbourne). If they could so extend it and make it workable, so that it would induce tenants to come forward and purchase their holdings; it might help in great measure to remedy the evils from which the country was now suffering; but, in any case, the system of dual ownership was so intolerable that he felt confident many years would not elapse before it would be necessary to put an end to it. Turning to other remedies, there were certain districts where emigration might be of great advantage, and where he thought it might well be promoted; but his experience in Clare and the Southern Counties of Ireland was that there seemed to be a great indisposition on the part of tenants to remove to another country. Unless inducements, and very considerable ones, were held out; he did not see how they could make emigration practicable. He agreed, however, with what had been said as to the difficulties attending migration, and considered that any general improvement must come from emigration. Nor could he agree with what the Chief Secretary for Ireland said the other night on the subject of migration. It was very well to talk of those things; but they did not seem to be practicable, and there were many things to prevent their being carried out. The system of taking people, generally paupers, from a congested district and moving them to large grass farms, seemed rather to injure than improve the country, because it was, after all, these large farms that were really the mainstay of the country. They wanted to get rid of the small impoverished holdings, the state of which was such that, even if the people had to pay no rent, they would still starve. Again, however, he must say that if the Union was to be maintained—and he was one of those who earnestly trusted, and sincerely believed it would be maintained—the only way by which it could be done was by keeping and resolutely main- 1368 taining law and order in Ireland. He would conclude by reading some words, uttered by Mr. Gladstone in his speech at the Mansion House in October, 1881. When announcing Mr. Parnell's arrest he said—That he had made himself beyond all others prominent in the attempt to destroy the authority of the law, and to substitute what would end in being nothing more or less than anarchical oppression exercised on the people of Ireland.He (Lord Inchiquin) maintained that that prophecy had been fulfilled, and that it was the bounden duty of the Government to take immediate steps to deal with that oppression. He appealed to their Lordships to support the Government, and would also appeal to the Government themselves, as well as that great nation which so unmistakably pronounced at the late Election against Home Rule, to say, whether it was not now time that these treasonable conspiracies should be put down, when law and order should be restored in Ireland, when every member of the community, however humble, should be permitted to pursue his avocations without fear and trembling, and when Moonlighting and murder should be banished from the land.
§ LORD BRABOURNE
said, that he was sorry the noble Lord (Lord Inchiquin) should have thought it necessary at the present moment to introduce this subject, because either they had, or had not, confidence in Her Majesty's Ministers. If they had not confidence, the proper thing unquestionably was to question their action or inaction by a definite Motion of Censure; but if they had confidence in them—and he, for one, was free to say that his confidence was not get exhausted—[Laughter]—he could quite understand the amusement of noble Lords opposite, and how they wondered anybody could have confidence in any Government, after the experience of Government which they had exhibited—and he thought it was most desirable that if they had that confidence, they should allow the Government to choose their own time and opportunity to tell the House and the country whether they wished for further legislation upon Irish affairs, and the extent and nature of the legislation required. Nevertheless, as the subject had been brought forward, 1369 he wished to impress upon the Government and their Lordships that the crisis before them was one of no ordinary character. They were face to face with principles and projects which were utterly hostile at once to the spirit of the Constitution and the authority of the Crown. It was all very well for the supporters of the scheme of the late Government to tell them that Irishmen in common with themselves were anxious for a union of heart and soul between the people of Great Britain and of Ireland. He noticed that these declarations were always made by eminent persons immediately before some contested Election in this country, and he perfectly believed in their sincerity; but it was not to the opinion of those Gentlemen the country would look, it was rather to the language and action of the Leaders of the Nationalist Party in Ireland, to whom the late Government would have handed over the management of Irish affairs, including the settlement of the Land Question, that they must look; and if they found in that language and in their conduct principles of action laid down to which Great Britain never could in honour and in justice consent, he thought they might allow that they had escaped a great danger and might feel doubly thankful for the verdict of the country pronounced at the recent Elections. He had always felt that the principle which alone could justify the Land Act of 1881 was one which involved the repudiation of the title under which most Irish land was held, and which must inevitably land its authors, legitimately and logically, in the position in which Mr. Gladstone and his Friends found themselves that day; and therefore it was that—forfeiting, he feared, in some cases, personal as well as political friendships—he did his utmost to oppose that measure. Now, what was the position to-day? The problem was not one of amending a faulty Land Act, or of improving the relations between landlord and tenant within the scope and in the spirit of Constitutional law; it was a question in the minds of the Leaders of the Nationalist Party of destroying the title by which land was held in Ireland of banishing landlords from the country, and of adopting extravagant and impossible theories as to the rightful possessors of Irish land in future. To show that he 1370 was not exaggerating, he would give their Lordships some quotations from Nationalist speakers. Mr. Parnell himself had said—The titles of almost all Irish landlords are founded on robbery and embezzlement.Mr. Dillon said—The soil of Ireland was the property of the children of Ireland, and not the property of the contemptible, rack-renting, ascendancy landlords, whose fathers had robbed it from their fathers, but from whom they would now take it.At a great meeting at Dundalk on the 14th of January last a Roman Catholic priest, Father Sheehy, had said that—For 700 years Ireland has been maintaining a combat against England; a struggle which was commenced at the dawn of history for the restoration of the land and property, and was being continued at the present moment by 20,000,000 of the Clan-na-Gael.Their Lordships would probably be as ignorant as he was of the exact nature and extent of the Clan-na-Gael. There was a population of less than five millions in Ireland, and the number of Irish in Great Britain had been estimated at two millions, of which total number some must be presumed to be loyal, and it would probably not be de-denied that there were women and children among them. But although in the speech referred to there was very probably an exaggeration, but the words were important as showing the spirit of the meeting. Language such as that, and language of the same character all over Ireland, was not that of men who desired a closer union between the heart of Ireland and the heart of England; but of those who wished to defy the Queen and her authority, and indicated the spirit and feeling of men who would take advantage of every stepping-stone towards the end which they had steadily kept in view. He (Lord Brabourne) declared that if they found in that language and in the conduct of these agitators principles of action laid down to which Great Britain could never in honour or justice consent, it would be allowed that in having escaped from the Home Rule scheme of Mr. Gladstone they had escaped a great calamity. He also wished to point out that the agitators in Ireland did not desire the settlement of the Land Question, but the utter destruction of the title upon which land was held in the country. 1371 There were one or two remarks which he wished to make upon the action of the Government, which he thought required some explanation. He was not going to discuss the Plan of Campaign, as men were just about to be tried for their connection with it; but he wished for information from the Government with regard to some matters in connection with it. He saw it was reported in that day's papers that Her Majesty's Government had taken steps to remove a certain Mr. Dunne from the Commission of the Peace in an Irish county for having attended a meeting for the carrying out of the Plan of Campaign. If that was the case, he ventured to think that such consistent action on the part of Her Majesty's Government would command public approval. He had also been informed that Sir Thomas Esmonde, a prominent advocate of the Plan, had been lately appointed High Sheriff of Waterford. Now he found it stated in the newspapers that on the 15th of December last that that gentleman had been engaged in carrying out the Plan of Campaign; and he (Lord Brabourne) wished to know whether that was the case, and whether the Government were aware that that gentleman had openly advocated the Plan of Campaign at Enniscorthy and other places. If it was the case, then he ventured to think that any gentleman who was found to be assisting that which her Majesty's Government had declared to be against the law could not be a fit person to administer the law in his county. He felt certain that he should receive a satisfactory answer to that question. He was told further that this gentleman had appointed as sub-Sheriff a secretary of the National League. If a mistake had been made, he felt certain that Her Majesty's Government would take such action as would sustain their character for consistency, and that they would take steps to put this right. Another question was, that of the appointment of Sub-Commissioners under the Land Act. It was probable that there would soon be a large number of these gentlemen to be appointed to the Irish Land Courts, and that, owing to considerations of health, the position of Chief Commissioner might have to be filled up. He respectfully begged Her Majesty's Government to be particularly 1372 cautions in filling up these offices, and that men should not be appointed who had denounced the very existence of landlordism. When Sub-Commissioners had first been appointed he had, in consequence of requests made to him from Ireland, questioned the manner in which these appointments had been made, and for doing so he had been blamed by several noble Lords opposite, and especially by the noble and learned Lord then on the Woolsack. He ventured to doubt whether the present opinions of some of those noble Lords who had then blamed him were identical with those which they had then held as to the merits and qualifications of the persons appointed. It was said that in giving their decisions, the Sub-Commissioners had not taken into consideration the probable fall in prices. To any one who was conversant with land and its management, the idea of fixing rent unalterably for 15 years was somewhat preposterous; but he (Lord Brabourne) thought that no man in his senses, who was in the least fit to be a sub-Commissioner, could have thought of fixing a rent even for a less time than 15 years without taking into consideration the probable fall or rise in prices. With regard to their appointment, he agreed that no man should be made a Sub-Commissioner who was connected directly with land agency or landlordism; but at the same time, as he had before observed, that should not be done which had been done by the last Government—men should not be appointed who had denied the title of the landlords to the land at all. He did not intend going into other questions relating to Ireland. Previous to, and at, the late General Election, many of them had used their utmost efforts to place before the country the real issues which were at stake with regard to Ireland; and he was not ashamed to say that, within the last year, he had had the honour of addressing many thousands of his fellow-countrymen, and he thought that he knew the policy which the great body of the British people wished to see adopted. He believed that the British people were determined that Ireland was to be and to remain an integral part of the United Kingdom, and that in every part of that country law and order should be maintained and obeyed, and 1373 they would not tolerate any weakness in the Executive where weakness would be treason to the country. They were anxious to give to every demand and every grievance put forward by Ireland a kindly and attentive consideration; but they were determined that there should be no paltering in dealing with those who defied the law, and no investing with authority of those who had done their utmost to destroy British authority in Ireland. He was sure that the noble Marquess at the head of the Government (the Marquess of Salisbury) was firm, and he trusted that the Colleagues of the noble Marquess would support him. It was by the exercise of firmness and determination alone, that they would be able to govern Ireland and best to represent the feelings expressed by the people at the last General Election; and at the same time they would earn the affections and fervent gratitude of the whole loyal population, both of Ireland and of Great Britain.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
said, he considered that it was one of the first duties of the Government to make the law respected in Ireland. At the present moment, over a very considerable portion of that country, this was not the case, although he did not agree that the whole of the feeling of the country was against the law. On this, as on former occasions, the Irish people were very easily led and very easily frightened; and he believed that now the law-abiding spirit of the people had been quelled by the more active and more demonstrative of the people. Anyone who had to do with Ireland knew that not only were many evil deeds committed of which the Government never had known and never would know anything, but also that, for reasons of private malice, wrongs and injustice were inflicted upon those who were least able to defend themselves, which, for the safety of those concerned, could not be related in that House. There was a very considerable desire to support the law, if that could be done with safety. The question of juries in Ireland was a very difficult one, and the present system inflicted a great injustice upon an industrious class of the community. Owing to the operation of the Jury Act, men were made jurors who could not discharge the duties with justice to themselves and their families. The second 1374 question they had to consider was, what was to be done in the present condition of things? That, however, they must leave the Government to answer. They could only indicate the evil and leave the Government to point out the remedy. Knowing the difficulties with which the Government were surrounded, he would not venture to indicate this or that path to be taken. But of one thing he was persuaded—namely, that it would be absolutely necessary, sooner or later, to deal with the Land Act of 1881, convinced, as he was, of the utter and conspicuous failure of that Act. Speaking of that Act not so much in a political sense as from a social and agricultural point of view, he did not hesitate to say that it was simply monstrous in the present state of agriculture in Ireland, and in face of all the possible changes of climate and seasons, to prescribe for 15 years ahead what the proper rent of land should be. If prices fell—if circumstances over which the tenant had no control turned out so unfavourable for him that he was unable to pay the rent fixed, or perhaps any rent at all, it would be impossible to exact rent from him, in spite of judicial proceedings or of the Sub-Commissioners. He repeated, therefore, that it was absurd to definitely fix the amount of rent to be paid for so many years to come. Another great mistake which had been made in this question was the establishment of dual ownership, a system under which no business could be satisfactorily carried out. The introduction of rail and steam had greatly affected a very large and once important part of agriculture in Ireland by the introduction of cheap produce from America; and the result was that at the present time, over a large part of Ireland, farming on small holdings could not be carried on at a profit, even if the tenants had the land for nothing, and he might add that, in consequence of the use of machinery and other improvements, Irish labourers had been almost improved off the face of the earth. Those changes had been much to the disadvantage of the Irish labourer or small tenant, and had borne with great hardship on large numbers of them. Statesmen would have to deal with this problem before long; and be believed that if men of all parties would unite, would thrust mere Party conside- 1375 rations aside, and endeavour sincerely and patriotically to find a solution of the difficulty, there would be great hope of a satisfactory remedy being found. But he almost despaired of this when he saw the attitude which had been adopted on this question by the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville), He (Viscount Midleton) had expected that, as the noble Earl, who had been a Leader in that House for many years, was not afraid in the past to denounce "felonious landlords," he would now show equal courage and denounce "felonious tenants." There need be no misunderstanding as to the object of the Land League. It was plainly put by Mr. Healy in the House of Commons the other night, when he said that they should not rest until landlordism in Ireland had become extinct. The prospect now deliberately placed before the people of Ireland by those who claimed to be their leaders was to obtain possession of the land, not at a fair price, or at no price at all, but at prairie value; and yet the noble Earl opposite had not said a single word or made a single sign against that dishonest proceeding. He could only say that if a person filling the distinguished position of the noble Earl gave no more support to the cause of law and order than he had done this Session with regard to Ireland, any settlement of the question was hopeless.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
I only wish to ask the noble Viscount when and where I called the landlords "felonious?"
LORD DE ROS
My Lords, there is one matter connected with this subject which has hardly been alluded to either in this House or in the other House of Parliament. We have been almost sickened with the heartrending details connected with the evictions which took place at Glenbeigh, and which were mainly attributable to the pernicious doctrines which have been permitted to be sown broadcast without any check throughout Ireland by a set of the most unscrupulous agitators that ever existed. But, My Lords, there are other victims to the same cause—namely, the distressed Irish ladies, who have suffered most acutely from the non-payment of rents, jointures, charges, &c. Most of these unfortunate ladies have been ac- 1376 customed to the ordinary domestic comforts of civilized life, consequently their condition is most distressing. I have a list of some of the many cases, which can be thoroughly authenticated; but I will only trouble the House with reading one—Blind old lady, now getting childish, and requiring constant care: no rents paid. Her only daughter has taken a situation to try to earn enough to keep her out of the workhouse for the few remaining weeks of her life. Their separation is very sad, and the daughters feel it keenly.I do not think that any further comment is necessary on my part, except that what I have ventured to say tends to prove that some further legislation is necessary in order to prevent the terrible state of intimidation and disorder which at present prevails in Ireland.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (Earl CADOGAN)
said, the noble Lord who had opened the discussion (Lord Inchiquin) and the noble Lord who had followed him (Lord Brabourne) both informed the House that Irish affairs were in a state of unprecedented crisis. But whereas the noble Lord who spoke first appeared to think that the action he had taken in suggesting the present discussion was likely to further the ends he had in view, the noble Lord who spoke second seemed to think that a desultory conversation of that sort—not intended to lead to anything—was not calculated in any way to promote those ends, or to strengthen the hands of Her Majesty's Government. He (Earl Cadogan) quite agreed with that. It was not astonishing that the noble Lord (Lord Inchiquin) had spoken strongly on the subject, because he occupied the exalted position of Lord Lieutenant in a county which, could only be characterized as one of the worst with which the Government had to deal with in the whole of Ireland. There was in that speech much with which he (Earl Cadogan) sympathized, and with which he even agreed, and much with which he did not agree, and it was impossible to complain of the action the noble Lord had taken; but he (Earl Cadogan) was afraid that the answer which it was his duty to give on the part of the Government would not be entirely satisfactory to the noble Lord. This debate afforded an illustration—if any were needed—of the extreme diffi- 1377 culty any Government must find in meeting the expectations and the wishes of Members of all political Parties with reference to the government of Ireland. Her Majesty's Government had spent the whole of last week in defending themselves against the attacks of those who deprecated the use of what they were pleased to call coercive legislation, which was, in other words, the proper and due enforcement of law and order. Then, at the commencement of this week, the Government were called upon to face a Notice like that of his noble Friend, which declared the urgency of further legislation for dealing with the disorder and lawlessness existing in Ireland. He (Earl Cadogan) was not at all sure that this last phase of criticism was not more difficult to meet than the former one. It was easy for the Government to stand before Parliament and announce their intention to obey the mandate of the country, and to enforce, to the best of their ability, law and order; but it was not so easy to explain to their Lordships the various difficulties and embarrassments under which the Government laboured, and the opposition which they had to meet in the discharge of their duties as a Government. His noble Friend had given, with accuracy, the details of the case which occurred, he believed, on January 11. The Sheriff's officer, accompanied by a body of police, arrived to serve a writ, and found chained to the gate—or the door—the worthy priest of the parish. He was not quite sure that in the circumstances so unprecedented and unusual an obstacle might not have deterred even a larger body of men than that which was present. As he understood, the important point in the indictment of his noble Friend was that the law was not vindicated by those to whom the Government deputed its authority. Speaking from memory, he believed it was true that on the first occasion, and at the sight of the obstacle to which he had alluded, the party did retire; but it was also true that on the 28th of the month the eviction was duly carried out by the officers of the law; and, in these circumstances, no blame could be attached to the Government. If there were many cases in which evictions were not carried out at the first attempt, the fault of that did not lie with the Government. The Sheriff might send a notice requiring 1378 the presence of a certain number of Constabulary; but, unfortunately, impediments were placed in their way which were of a novel and varying nature, and it had been found that the Sheriff had not invariably informed the officers of the law of the new weapons which it would be necessary to use in order to effect an entrance into the dwellings. This really accounted, in many cases, for the temporary miscarriage of justice which had been complained of. Then, the complaints of the alleged delay on the part of the Government in dealing with the Plan of Campaign were entirely uncalled for. The best answer that could be made was to give the dates of the various occurrences in connection with the prosecution. He would remind their Lordships that the Plan of Campaign was published in the newspaper called United Ireland on 23rd October, 1886. It was impossible for anyone to contend that it would have been either wise or prudent or desirable for the Government to take steps at once against a newspaper, or against any person employed in the simple publication of a sketch of that Plan of Campaign in that newspaper. It was not until there were overt acts, which afforded clear evidence of the existence of a conspiracy and signs that the Plan of Campaign would be largely and widely adopted that the Government felt that they were empowered to act. On the first publication of the Plan of Campaign it appeared to fall very flat; and 14 days elapsed before the Government were officially informed of any action that had been taken upon it. The first speech of any importance made by Mr. Dillon was delivered on November 7—a Sunday—and it was an unfortunate peculiarity of Ireland that proceedings of a turbulent and unfriendly character occurred on the Sabbath. A second speech, of a still more violent character, was made by Mr. Dillon on November 21. He (Earl Cadogan) had inquired why no action was taken between those dates, and he found that it would have taken 27 days after the delivery of the first speech before Mr. Dillon could have been indicted if proceedings had been taken at once. It was too late for the Winter Assizes, as the list of prisoners for trial was returnable on December 1; therefore it was obvious that any action taken at that time must have been too 1379 late for the Winter Assizes. In order, therefore, to obtain an authoritative pronouncement on the actual state of the law—which otherwise could not have been obtained until February—proceedings were taken against Mr. Dillon in the Court of Queen's Bench on November 25. He appeared on December 1, and the case was adjourned for 10 days at the instance of Mr. Dillon himself through his counsel. The Court gave judgment on December 14, and Mr. Dillon was bound over. The proceedings that had taken place since then were those of an ordinary criminal trial. Application was made to a police magistrate on a sworn information against Mr. Dillon, Mr. O'Brien, Mr. Harris, and Mr. Redmond, who were charged with conspiracy. The magistrates returned them for trial. A bill of indictment was sent up to the Grand Jury of the county at the ordinary Commission for the County of Dublin, and a true bill was found in the ordinary way. He thanked his noble Friend for giving him the opportunity to state the actual facts, and the dates with which they were connected; they were of the utmost importance, and deserved the careful consideration of the noble Lord. As to the appointment of Sir Thomas Esmonde to the office of High Sheriff of Waterford, he (Earl Cadogan) was sorry he was not able to give the information that was asked for. If Notice were given of a Question he might be able to answer it. But the name of Sir Thomas Esmonde stood first on the list returned by the Judges, and the Lord Chancellor appointed him upon that recommendation. If the facts were as they had been stated by the noble Lord, and if Sir Thomas Esmonde had violated the law and had done that which was illegal, he would, no doubt, he dealt with by Her Majesty's Government. As to the alleged urgency of further legislation for dealing with disorder and lawlessness, he would give a few official figures bearing upon the state of Ireland which did not seem to hear out the statement of his noble Friend that it was going rapidly from bad to worse. He was quite aware that in those matters statistics were, to a certain extent, fallacious. It was quite possible that there might be an amount of crime which was not reported officially, and it was also possible that the action of the National League might 1380 have the effect of diminishing the list of offences which were officially reported to the Government. The figures he would quote related to agrarian offences in all Ireland; and included in these were offences against the person, offences against property, offences against the public peace, and threatening letters. The periods covered by the figures were the last six months of 1885, the first six months of 1886, and the last six months of 1886; and the figures were as follow:—First six months, 232 threatening letters, 311 other offences—total, 543. Second six months, 239 threatening letters, 314 other offences—total, 553. Third six months, 179 threatening letters, 293 other offences—total, 472. He (Earl Cadogan), therefore, could not agree with his noble Friend that things were going from bad to worse. There was an improvement in Kerry, where, in the last six months of 1885, the threatening letters were 55, and other offences 65—total, 120; as compared with 25 threatening letters and 50 other offences—total, 75—in the last six months of 1886. Again, in Clare, another disturbed county, with which his noble Friend was connected, there was a slight decrease of offences. The figures were:—In the last six months of 1885, 67; in the first six months of 1886, 70; and in the last six months of the year, 65; showing a falling-off even in that disturbed locality. So much for the state of disorder and lawlessness in Ireland. He did not wish it to be understood for a moment, in speaking of law and order in Ireland, that the Government closed their eyes, and did not realize the serious aspect of affairs owing to the very large amount of crime they had to deplore in Ireland; but when his noble Friend asked them to act at once, to legislate even to the extent of altering the Jury Acts and other enactments, he could only refer him to the pledges which were given in the Gracious Speech from the Throne. His noble Friend would find in that Speech that the dangerous state of affairs in Ireland was recognized, and that the policy which the Government intended to pursue was pretty clearly foreshadowed. He might remind his noble Friend that the Speech informed them that the efforts of the Government to enforce the law had been seriously im- 1381 peded, and that proposals would be made for a reform of legal procedure, with a view to render more efficient the administration of the Criminal Law in Ireland. Since that Speech was delivered, his noble Friend might, no doubt, reply that a considerable time had elapsed, and no scheme was forthcoming; but if there was any reason for the impatience of his noble Friend, it certainly was not to be found in that House, or even with the Government, who were anxious to press on with legislation. He could only say that in the meantime, and until the condition of Business in the other House enabled Her Majesty's Government to produce their measures for the simplification of the law and the preservation of law and order in Ireland, they were enforcing, and would continue to enforce, the law to the utmost of their power. He fully admitted that the powers which the Government at present possessed were not adequate for the proper fulfilment of their duties; but the remedy for that lay with the other House, and was a matter which, he hoped, would not be delayed much longer. He did not know that he could add anything to what he had said. He thought he might appeal to noble Lords opposite. He (Earl Cadogan) hoped that in their arduous and difficult position the Government would have the assistance of noble Lords opposite in dealing with the unhappy features that still existed in Ireland. The plan proposed by noble Lords opposite had been rejected in Parliament and by the country. Until the noble Lords had some other proposal with which to supplement those so emphatically rejected, they ought to give their assistance, or, at any rate, he hoped they would not join with those of their Friends who gave their support to men whose sole object was the embarrassment of the Government. His noble Friend was quite correct when he stated that the question of the laud was the great question in Ireland. In dealing with that question it would be necessary—and he expressed merely his own personal opinion—to abolish that dual ownership which was the baneful effect of the legislation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). He thought they must look to the settlement of the Land Question and to the encouragement of in- 1382 dustry, trade, and manufactures in Ireland. To both of these important questions the attention of the Government had been directed, and Royal Commissions had been appointed, upon whose Reports he trusted it would be possible to found valuable legislation, which would have a lasting effect on the prosperity of the country. But until the time came when it would be possible to examine into questions of that sort, it would be their anxious duty to maintain law and order in Ireland. To that duty all their best efforts would be directed, and in the discharge of that duty they hoped for the assistance of noble Lords on both sides of the House.
§ LORD FITZGERALD
said, he admitted the obligation of Her Majesty's Government to maintain law and order in Ireland; and it was his desire to assist the Government in doing so fully, and in making whatever amendment of the law was necessary to that end. He had heard with pleasure the statement of the noble Earl (Earl Cadogan) that the attention of the Government was directed to the Land Question and to the promotion of industrial employment in Ireland. It had already been pointed out in that House in very forcible language that the real question which must be settled in Ireland was the Land Question. That was what the people were eager for. He did not wish to call upon the Government to state their proposals on the question at present, as he did not think it would be reasonable to do so until the Royal Commission had sent in its Report. The noble Earl had also spoken of promoting industry in Ireland. He (Lord Fitzgerald) believed a great deal might be done in the direction of increasing industries in Ireland. There was a large debt due to Ireland in this matter, England having for many years—from 1690 to 1782—through her whole course of legislation, sought to repress manufactures and industries in Ireland. He did not agree with the condemnation of the Land Act of 1881. No doubt, that Act worked a great deal of hardship, and amounted in some instances to confiscation of property; but he thought its benefits far exceeded the injuries it inflicted, so far as it inflicted injuries. He had always been anxious to assist in giving compensation to those who lost 1383 by that Act; but there was one principle in it alone to which he attributed so high a value that he would not part with it unless upon the most powerful and persuasive argument, and that principle was the principle of the fixity and security of tenure. Formerly the position of the Irish tenant was that of a mere serf, a mere tenant-at-will—he was without security, and was liable to be turned out by notice to quit at the mere whim of the landlord. No doubt the Act of 1881 required considerable amendment—extension in some directions and amendment in others—and in this he (Lord Fitzgerald) was willing to give his humble assistance whenever the subject came before their Lordships' House; but he could not concur in unqualified condemnation of the Act of 1881. With regard to the case of Sir Thomas Esmonde, it was about two and a-half years ago since his name had been recommended. He did not know whether there was any objection to him. The appointment of Sheriff rested with the Government entirely, and if the Sheriff was guilty of misconduct or illegality, it was the duty of the Government to supersede him. He did not know anything at all about Sir Thomas Esmonde—he did not know whether he had been guilty of any misconduct or illegality; but if he bad been, it was open to the Government to supersede him. He (Lord Fitzgerald) wished to point out to the House thas the system of violence and intimidation referred to as the Plan of Campaign had been going on to his knowledge for more than 40 years. He had in his hands a statement made by one of the wisest Irishmen about 40 years ago which he would quote to their Lordships. Chief Justice Blackburne, in 1848, in addressing the Grand Jury of one of the Southern Counties, thus expressed himself—It further appears that the principal object of this confederation is the destruction of the rights of landlords. Fraud, violence, and intimidation are resorted to, and even murder itself is perpetrated, to impede them in the execution of their legal rights and remedies. I hesitate not to say that if these designs be not frustrated the necessary effect must he that the occupiers of land must become its proprietors.The noble Lord (Lord Inchiquin) had called upon the Government to take active steps to rehabilitate authority and maintain the law in Ireland. In 1384 that he entirely concurred with him; and that, he gathered from the Speech from the Throne and from the declaration of the noble Earl who spoke on behalf of the Government, it was their intention to do. It was essentially necessary that the dignity of the law should be restored, and that justice should be duly, fairly, and firmly administered. The importance of that being done could hardly be exaggerated. For the last six years there had been going on in Ireland a determined conspiracy to bring the law into contempt and to bring the Judges into direspect and clothe them with calumny, and to usurp the province of the law and to defy its execution by the Queen's Government. So far back as 1880, when addressing the Grand Jury of Cork, the proceedings which he then saw going on, and every day since, had satisfied him that he was right, and that it was then, as it was now, a determined conspiracy to usurp the functions of the law, and for that purpose to throw every obloquy upon the administrators of the law. His noble Friend had referred to the recent proceedings in the Court of Queen's Bench in Ireland to compel certain persons to give security that they would be of good behaviour, and to the judgment that was pronounced on that occasion. The Judges of the Court of Queen's Bench were upright, honest, and fearless men, who were determined to do their duty and to administer the law, not against the people, but for them. For giving their decision the Judges had been thus assailed by a speaker at a meeting—The Judges of the Court of Queen's Bench in this country are not like English Judges. They are not independent men; they do not sit upon the Bench to do even justice between the Crown and other men, the subjects of Her Majesty, in a political case. No; they go to the Castle, and take their orders and give judgment according to what the Castle officials order them to give. They say that the Plan of Campaign is illegal, and so say their Judges.That was only a single specimen of the vituperation, obloquy, and calumny with which Irish Judges were assailed. That language was published in newspapers which circulated largely among the Irish people, and which were possibly the only means of information that many of them had; and thus the law was brought into open contempt, and ignorant people were led to believe that it was not honestly and impartially administered. 1385 Such a state of things should be met by a steady maintenance of the law, and the firm administration of justice to the parties who ventured to circulate such calumnies as those to which he had alluded. With respect to the condition of land in Ireland, he desired to point out how untrue it was to say that Irish land was at present of no value; he knew the case of a farm, the tenant's interest in which was recently sold in a Metropolitan county for £8,000, at a rent of £496 a-year, being 300 acres in extent. Referring to crime in Ireland, he would quote the account of some recent Moonlighting outrages in the neighbourhood of Millstreet. Among other houses entered by the raiders was the dwelling of a farmer named Murphy, and the report stated—Murphy, though a member of the National League, does not take an active part in promoting the objects of the organization. He had two daughters, named Albina and Mary. When the Moonlighters entered the premises Murphy was called on to bring forward his daughter Albina. A friend of Murphy's, who was sojourning with him, remonstrated with the armed party for their violence towards a man who had never broken the rules of the National League. While he was doing so a shot was fired, the bullet lodging in the wall. Two of the Moonlighters then entered Albina's bedroom, seized her violently, forced her on her knees, and held her in that position while another of the ruffians cut off her hair with shears, and then poured upon her head a quantity of tar. They then entered the second daughter's bedroom, and treated her as they had her sister.The ruffians then proceeded to commit other outrages of a like description, which he could only characterize as savage and brutal, and a disgrace to the country in which they occurred. There was great difficulty in punishing such offences, because, although the law itself might be sufficient, they could not get evidence. People would not come forward and tell what had taken place because of the system of terrorism which prevailed. In alluding to the contemplated reform of criminal procedure, he (Lord Fitzgerald), would observe that that reform was at present the law in Scotland. The magistrates should be empowered to make any inquiry into the crimes that had been committed, although no accused persons had been charged before them. It was owing to the existence of that power under the Crimes Act that the 1386 murderers of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Burke had been discovered.