§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND (Lord ASHBOURNE)
, in rising to move that the Bill be now read the second time, said: My Lords, the Bill to which I have now to ask your Lordships to grant a second reading is a Bill for the amendment of the Criminal Law in Ireland; and the title of the Bill, which I have read, indicates both the scope and the purpose of the Bill, and, at the same time, suggests two questions, which any such Bill obviously suggests, at the outset—namely, is the existing Criminal Law adequate for the 711 purposes that every Criminal Code must fulfill? and, secondly, are the proposals in the Bill sufficient to meet the evil which exists at the present time? It would, I think, be affectation to ask your Lordships if you are ignorant of what has gone on for months in the other House of Parliament descriptive of these proposals, and descriptive also of the state and condition of affairs in Ireland, which have rendered it necessary, in the view of Her Majesty's Advisers, to offer these proposals for adoption to Parliament. The attention of this House has been pointedly directed to the important aspect of this question more than once, and on the Motion of my noble and learned Friend opposite (Lord Fitzgerald) an important debate took place in the present Session with reference to the jury system in Ireland, which indicated many of the considerations which must be present to the mind of everyone who desires to approach this question with an earnest and impartial desire to do what the requirements of the case obviously call for. That discussion, temperately and fully inaugurated by my noble and learned Friend, indicated with great fullness and plainness that the present Criminal Law in Ireland was insufficient, owing to the wide system of intimidation which then prevailed, and now, unfortunately, prevails in Ireland—an intimidation which does not stop short at any class, and which includes witnesses and which reaches jurors. That debate further indicated that the present jury system under such an ordeal must be taken in a numerous class of cases and in too many parts of Ireland to have practically failed and broken down. Your Lordships are familiar with the history of this question, and of what has taken place in reference to the administration of the Criminal Law. The ordinary law has been tried for a period practically of two years, and I am very glad that that trial was made, because there were numerous statements made that until the ordinary law and the ordinary methods of its administration had been tried and fully tried for a sufficient time it would be unreasonable to ask Parliament to deal with the matter and to provide stronger measures. My Lords, it was also pressed upon the attention of Parliament and of the country that, in view of the great addition to the elec- 712 torate in Ireland, it would be unreasonable after granting great privileges to the Irish population not at the same time to give them an opportunity of showing whether the ordinary law, with its methods and system of administration, could not be trusted to preserve peace, order, and tranquillity to Her Majesty's subjects under which to carry on their ordinary avocations. That system has been tried, and I think no man can say that in his opinion the methods at present applicable to the administration of the Criminal Law can be regarded as adequate for working out the maintenance of law and order, so that the subjects of the Queen, our fellow subjects, should be able to rise in the morning and perform their duties, and lie down at night in peace and safety, and free from the dread of outrage, and free from the terrors of intimidation. It is more the machinery and the methods of administration of the law than the actual laws themselves that this Bill deals with, and, although I am sure every one of your Lordships is familiar with what has passed elsewhere, and what is known, if not universally, at all events, pretty generally, as to the state of Ireland, I am bound, I think, to make some short statement which I hope will not be wearisome to your Lordships. Although I do not think, as some think, that statistics of themselves are the only guides in reference to legislation, they are at the same time always useful, and should be presented fairly and reasonably to Parliament. My Lords, statistics taken for a week, a month, or even two months, may present an uncertain picture, and lead to fallacious conclusions, and it is always advisable to take a view of statistics sufficiently broad to enable them to be examined from a fair standpoint, and in a way that will challenge criticism. I will ask your Lordships to contrast two periods of time which will enable a wide and fair result to be inferred. Take the 20 months before the dropping of the last Act of this description, and a period of 20 months which has elapsed since, and I think that examination will lead your Lordships to some important results. In the 20 months from December, 1883, to July, 1885, the total agrarian offences numbered 1,250, and excluding threatening letters, 645, and in that time there was one murder. Taking the monthly 713 average the total agrarian offences for that time amounted to 63 per month, or, excluding threatening letters, 32 per month. So much for the 20 months during which legislation analogous to that which I now ask your Lordships to adopt, existed. Now, take 20 months from a period when no such legislation was in existence, and you will find the contrast significant. The 20 months taken from August, 1885, to March, 1887, show that there were no loss than 1,771 agrarian offences, as against 1,250, or, excluding threatening letters, 1,041, as against 645; and, my Lords, the one murder which was returned in the first period of 20 months to which I referred has to be compared with 16 murders which took place during this latter period. The result thus gained from a comparison of these two periods is certainly interesting and instructive. The monthly average during the first period was 63, while in the latter period it was 89. Excluding threatening letters, the 32 of the former period became 52 in this period when no exceptional legislation existed. I decline to rest the whole case of the Government on figures, but I will give your Lordships one more instance. Contrast Juno, 1886, with June, 1887. While putting aside the element of threatening letters, we find that 49 agrarian offences were committed in June of last year, and we find that in June of this year the number is increased to 66. The statistics with reference to Boycotting are these. On the 31st of May last 154 persons were wholly, and 647 persons were partially Boycotted. But, my Lords, these figures taken alone would be entirely misleading, because they would give your Lordships an absolutely erroneous idea of the real facts. You cannot visit one individual with this brutal and disgraceful mode of proceeding without taking into account that his family and his household are bound up with him, and equally suffer from this horrible system of denunciation and intimidation. Thus the figures work out in this way—that in reality 850 persons were wholly Boycotted, and there may be classed as partially Boycotted 3,819, making a gross total of 4,669. These figures are in themselves so grave that they would be weakened by any argument of mine. I doubt if, in all your Lordships' lives in England, in the com- 714 fortable and peaceful surroundings of English life, with all the comfort and ease provided by the laws and the administration of the laws, you can realize the painful and horrible position to which every person is subject who is mixed up in this form of intimidation, which is as criminal as it is demoralizing—this system of coercion, intimidation, and interference in every relation of life which spares neither sex nor age from its remorseless and cowardly attacks. My Lords, instead of the manly and righteous indignation which such a system requires, it has been described in language—I will not say of excuse, or of justification, or of palliation—I will not describe the language, lest it should be said I did so in terms of too great force; but words have been used in reference to this system which are not words of indignation, which are not words of reprobation, and which, to the unwary and ignorant, might be taken as amounting almost to palliation, if not to justification, of these gross offences. Your Lordships have read the suggestion that there are analogies to be found in this system to trade unions. It is a slander on the system of trade unionism to say that the system I have described would be adopted in any trade union in this country. Then, it is equally startling to find the euphemism of exclusive dealing used, not as a description of these acts, because they would be abhorrent, but the term "exclusive dealing" is used in sentences and phrases which convey to those who read them that this horrible system of Boycotting can have an analogy in some system of exclusive dealing. I know what a hopeless task it would be for me to attempt to describe the system of Boycotting; but I will adopt the words of Mr. Gladstone when he was carrying a much stronger measure than this. The words in which he spoke are strong, vigorous, and clear. These are Mr. Gladstone's words. Speaking on May 24, 1882, he said—What is meant by 'Boycotting?' In the first place, it is combined intimidation. In the second place, it is combined intimidation made use of for the purpose of destroying the private liberty of choice by fear of ruin and starvation. In the third place, that being what 'Boycotting' is in itself, we must look to this—that the creed of 'Boycotting,' like every other creed,-requires a sanction; and the sanction of 'Boycotting'—that which stands in the rear of 'Boycotting,' and by which alone 'Boycotting' can, in the long run, be made thoroughly effective—is the 715 murder which is not to be denounced …I have stated that there might be exclusive dealing between men. But that is a totally different thing; and, unless I am much mistaken, that declaration was made before 'Boycotting' was heard of. …I may have said, and I say now, that I have a perfect right to deal with one man rather than another, and even to tell people that I am doing so; hut that has nothing to do with combined intimidation exercised for the purpose of inflicting ruin and driving men to do what they do not want to do, and preventing them from doing what they have a right to do. That is illegal, and that is the illegality recommended by the hon. Gentleman; and it is plain that those who recommend and sanction such illegality are responsible for other illegalities, even though they do not directly sanction them."—(3 Hansard,  1551–2.)It would be impossible for any man to state the case with greater clearness and to indicate more completely the system which requires the denunciation of every honest man, and which admits of neither defence nor excuse. This system of outrages, I may toll your Lordships, has not the same painful intensity all over Ireland; it varies in force and it varies in degree. It is not found at all in some localities and in some places it has great power. The reports of the National League meetings in the local Nationalist Press in Ireland indicate the interferences which are sought to be accomplished by this widespread intimidation, this horrible system of Boycotting in almost every relation of life. I am afraid it will be my duty to read some of those reports taken from the various newspapers. I feel that I should not do my duty if I did not give my authority for these various quotations from the Provincial Press in Ireland which disclose the action of this combined intimidation which was denounced in such scathing terms by Mr. Gladstone. I have gone back two months in the past. The first date I take is the 27th of May and the last the 1st of July in the present year. I quote the following report from The Tuam News of May 27, 1887:—Kiltartan branch, Rev. Father Kerins, C.C., chairman.—Hugh Baldwin was summoned to attend the meeting, the charge of consorting with a notorious anti-Nationalist being brought against him. He assured some members of the committee before the meeting that he did not know what he was doing, and that it would not happen him again.I quote the following from The Nationalist and Leinster Times of the 28th of May, 1887:—Moone branch, Mr. P. P. Farnane, chairman.—'That having deliberately inquired into 716 the case of landgrabbing in this district in which a man named Patrick Bourke has deprived Thomas Byrne of all chances of regaining possession of his farm, we desire to denounce in the strongest terms such base conduct; and, moreover, as the said Patrick Bourke, who carries on the business of a dealer, earns his living by the support accorded him by the people, we deem his conduct the more reprehensible, and as he has done irreparable injury to Thomas Byrne by depriving him of the opportunity which existed but for his uncalled for and unnecessary interference of regaining possession of his farm, we call on our fellow-countrymen to aid us in marking our abhorrence of such vile conduct.' The hon. secretary was requested to send copies to circumadjacent branches of the League.In The Leinster Leader of June 11, 1887, was this report—Monasterevan branch, Mr. Patrick Carroll, and subsequently Rev. James Hughes, C.C., chairman.—The committee, however, desire it to be known that they will not receive anybody into the branch who will take a turf-bank against the wish and expressed consent of the person who usually cuts such bank, and if any member of the branch violates this rule he will be summarily expelled. The people should make their own rules about their turf-banks, and light their pipes with the estate office permits. Mr. James Carroll, Kildangan, came before the committee and apologised for having accommodated the Messrs. Fitzpatrick, of Derryoughta, with a stand in his yard for their horse and trap every Sunday for years past. He acknowledged that he was fully aware of the part of the Fitzpatricks had taken against the National League during all that time, and that he knew that were it not for them there would most probably never have been a landgrabber in the district.What do your Lordships think of a state of things in which an unfortunate man is compelled by terror to apologize for having done an act of mere neighbourly kindliness? The People of June 15,1887, contains the following:—Ballaghkeen branch, Thomas Kinsella chairman.—The following resolution passed unanimously:—'That Jack Doran, late of Ballymurry, at present living in the labourer's cottage, Mountdaniel, be turned off this committee and expelled from membership of this branch for putting his horse to graze on the evicted farm in Garrymoyle.' William Murphy, of Derry, is also aiding the grabber by building a house for him on said farm.What liberty can there be in a country where a man is not allowed to graze cattle or to build a house on particular land? The Tuam News of June 17, 1887, contains the following statement:—Loughrea branch.—Mr. Lee also appeared and gave his reasons for retaining Graham. A Delegate.—Is this the man that used to be painting the banners for us? (Laughter and applause.) Mr. Lee.—What do you want me to 717 do with him? I do not know how I can legally turn him out. Mr. Mulkerns. We do not mind what is legal in the eye of the English law at all; you can get him out as you get him in. (Applause.)Then, again, in. The Leinster Leader of June 25, 1887, appears the following:—Edenderry branch, Rev. J. Kinsella, P.P., chairman.—'That it having come to our knowledge that certain traders regularly supply goods to emergency mea working on Hyland's farm, from which he was unjustly evicted, and on inquiry finding that such is the case, we call on all persons who have hitherto supplied goods and thereby encouraged evicting landlords to desist from this practice, or they themselves must be considered emergency aids and treated as such.'What is the horrible suggestion that is conveyed by the words, "They themselves must be considered as emergency aids and treated as such?" We may affect here to be ignorant of everything that has not been brought fully to our notice, but it would be presuming too much to assert that your Lordships do not know what the meaning of that threat is. Emergency men in Ireland have been murdered; they have been waylaid and subjected to every form of outrage; and with the light of that fact thrown upon the matter we can appreciate the hideous significance of those words. And yet we have been told that we are to pass by those facts because the Irish National League is merely a form of trade union. I say that the trade unions of this country are slandered by such a statement. I will now quote the following from The Dundalk Democrat of June 25, 1887:—Tallanstown branch, Thomas Keiran chairman.—'That we deem it a disgrace to the county Louth that the rich and populous parish of Ardee during this year of trial should have only 78 members enrolled in its branch of the National League out of a possible or more than 600. That we believe the Irishman of to-day who in times to come will be unable to show his card of membership for 1887—for the year memorable for campaigning and struggling for life of the unfortunate Irish peasantry, for the revival of priest hunting, and the suicide of landlordism—we believe such delinquent must in future be regarded as a traitor and a coward, as worth being shunned and unfit to ever trusted.' The resolution was unanimously adopted, after which the meeting adjourned.The resolution was, of course, unanimously passed, as they always are, for obvious reasons. I take the next extract from The Tuam News of June 24, 1887— 718Kilcornan branch.—The following resolution was unanimously passed:—Resolved, 'That any member of this branch who supports or holds any communication with persons who decline to become members of the National League be expelled from this branch; that the names of the anti-leaguers be published after next meeting, and be known as the black list of the parish.'On the 1st of July, 1887, the same paper contained the following:—Mulla branch.—The next case was that of John Briscoe, who was found to be a backslider. He was joined in the Plan of Campaign on the estate of H. B. Trench, but he tendered his rent to the receiver without the knowledge of the Estate Committee, for which he was brought up before the last meeting of this branch, and his case was referred to the Loughrea District Organization, where, after a long deliberation, he was exonerated on condition that he would pay in the full amount, minus the reduction demanded by the tenantry, which he agreed to; hut afterwards he refused emphatically. It was resolved by the committee that all persons who were the cause of the Plan of Campaign being broken in the Clonbrock estate be expelled from the branch, and that a full list of their names should be published in our next report.The same paper of the same date contains the following:—Tuam branch.—The hon. Secretary read the following letter from the Cummer branch of the National Leage:—'Corofin, June, 25, 1887. Dear Sir,—Enclosed you will find postal order for 10s, the amount voted by our branch towards the fees of your solicitor for the League. The following is a resolution passed at our meeting on Sunday last:—"That we, the members of the Corofin League, request our secretary to write to the Tuam secretary to bring under the notice of the next Tuam convention the conduct of some of the Tuam inhabitants who are sustaining a man named Pat Tarpy, of Doonbeg, by giving him employment against the will of this League, by whom he has been Boycotted for grabbing the turf bank of a poor widow." Yours truly, James Mullin, sec'I now come to a case with which your Lordships must have been familiar through the statements that have been made in the public Press. It is the means that have been taken to compel the tenants of a lady at Mitchellstown to stand out against her. In one case the following letter was received by the tenant:—Dearest Madam,—I know you would not like to injure me, and as there is no—coming to market at present, don't come into the shop; if you are seen coming into the shop I may as well shut the door; nothing would free me from blame and things may be settled in a few days please God, and as I can do no good there is no use in you coming about the place. I am dear Madam your friend—719 In the next case the tenant received the following letter:—Jan., 1887. To—Esqr. Sir,—I fear according to the notice of this morning that I could not safely send in—but perhaps we could manage to have it left some place privately for some time. At any place you would say around the—as I nearly supplied them all it must he done very privately as in the present stale of the country the consequences might be something terrible to me. Hoping you will take the matter into consideration, and you will much oblige yours respectfully—. P.S.—If you would kindly drop me a note by this (Monday) evening's post and say what you think on the matter.I do not think that your Lordships can fully appreciate—I will not use the word "inconvenience," because it is not a term strong enough—but the suffering that is caused by living under such a state of circumstances. I will now proceed to refer to the charges of Judges to the grand juries of Ireland. Charges of Judges are usually regarded as being of very high authority; and, indeed, I recollect that when a Bill making important changes in the Criminal Law of Ireland was introduced in 1870 the charges of the late lamented Baron Deasy were referred to with approval by Mr. Chichester Fortescue, Chief Secretary for Ireland, and Colleague of Mr. Gladstone, in support of the Bill of which he was in charge. The charge of Mr. Justice O'Brien, which Mr. Gladstone thought unworthy of much consideration, your Lordships, I am sure, will think worthy of your serious attention. Mr. Justice O'Brien said—All the accounts that I have received as to the state of this country since the last assizes concur in representing that no kind of improvement whatever has taken place. On the contrary, the information that I have been able to collect leads me, I regret to say, to the inevitable conclusion that this county of Clare possesses the bad distinction of being the worst part of all Ireland in respect of social order, and to the further conclusion that it is worse at present than it was at any time before. You know there is another and a greater evil which stares you in the face every day, and that is the evil of intimidation, open or unexpressed, that permeates the whole of this community. You need not be told that there is in existence a form of unseen terrorism that interferes at present with all relations of social life, penetrating every class and every relation, hampering and checking men in all their daily business pursuits, and utterly hostile and inconsistent with the necessary freedom and confidence of social life and civil life, which are the foundations of all prosperity and all happiness in the community; and—as so commonly happened in the past history of Ireland—criminal means and 720 criminal organizations, once in existence, are applied to other objects and other ends besides those that brought them into existence. It is not the relations connected with land that are affected by it, but every relation is affected by it more or less. Men cannot pursue their daily avocations, they cannot buy or sell, they cannot employ or dismiss their servants, they cannot regulate their own domestic or family relations without being subject to a species of tyranny so dire that, over and over again, it has become a common marvel.My Lords, that is powerful and felicitous language, and describes a terrible and appalling state of things. It cannot be put aside by any language calculated to make Judges disregard grave and serious facts brought before them in the ordinary discharge of their duties There is also a charge in the Queen's County of Baron Dowse, who used cautious but suggestive language. I will not quote it to your Lordships, but it points outgravely a significant increase of crime, and he was unable to congratulate the grand jury on the condition of the county. Then there was a trial before Mr. Justice Murphy at the Longford Summer Assizes. It was the trial of a man named Cunningham for homicide, which resulted in acquittal. Mr. Justice Murphy said that such a verdict was flying in the face of the strongest evidence. I do not read these sentences as indicating, any one of them, conclusively the state of facts which exists, but, taken together, I say they all go to make up a picture which, with the knowledge which I am entitled to assume every man in this country possesses through the public papers, must bring home to the mind and conscience of every man what is the state of affairs that we have either to deal with or deliberately to decide that we will not deal with. I have presented to your Lordships a state of facts which must either be dealt with or left alone, and the only way to deal with crime and intimidation is by a measure for the amendment of the Criminal Law. If you do not so deal with crime and intimidation you will prefer to let them go on intact, with impunity, and safe. The Bill which I have to present to your Lordships' notice is a Bill which I think very intelligible in its objects and in its purposes. It would be improper for me in a second reading speech to go in detail through the provisions of the measure, as I feel that I have already more than trespassed on the indulgence of your Lord- 721 ships. But this Bill may be divided into three main parts. One is contained in the second clause for increasing the summary jurisdiction. This subject is familiar to your Lordships. It was brought before the House by my noble and learned Friend and others this Session in the debate on the jury system in Ireland. It was also dealt with in a Committee of the House in which some noble Lords opposite took an active part. This Section 2 contains provisions which I regard as of the highest importance, and which I am satisfied will be found efficacious. The clause creates no new offence. It brings within the summary jurisdiction of this Act, in its first sub-section, any person who shall take part in any criminal conspiracy, now punishable by law, to compel or induce any person or persons either not to fulfill his or their legal obligations, or not to do what he or they have a legal right to do. The 2nd sub-section also brings within the area of summary jurisdiction any person who shall wrongfully and without legal authority use violence or intimidation to any person or persons with a view to cause him or them either to do any act which he or they has or have a legal right to abstain from doing, or to abstain from doing any act which such person or persons has or have a legal right to do. The 3rd subsection deals with people who take part in riots or unlawful assemblies, or wrongfully take or hold forcible possession of house or land, or unlawfully resist or obstruct Sheriffs, constables, or others. There is also another sub-section, which deals with persons who incite others to commit such offences. These offences are made triable, not before the ordinary magistrates, but, following other precedents, before paid magistrates, and are punishable with six months' imprisonment with hard labour. This clause is one which can only be applied in the main in proclaimed districts. I regard that provision as of the highest importance. I believe that this summary jurisdiction, if fairly, firmly, and steadily applied, will work out peace and quiet in many districts now disturbed by crime, outrage, and intimidation. It is necessary that for the class of offences mentioned in this section there should be a trial speedy and effective. The next branch of the Bill is that which enables either party to obtain a special jury and 722 the Attorney General to get a change of venue. These are clauses which are to be put into operation in proclaimed districts. The last part of the Bill, beginning with Section 6, deals with dangerous associations. Your Lordships will see that if the Lord Lieutenant is satisfied that any association is formed for the commission of crimes or for carrying on operations for or by the commission of crimes, or for encouraging or aiding persons to commit crimes or for interfering with the administration of the law or disturbing the maintenance of law and order, it may be declared by him a dangerous association. This power is subject to this great and most powerful check—no greater, or more powerful can be imagined—that the special Proclamation bringing this section into effect must be laid before Parliament and be subject to its judgment. Your Lordships will see that the power of Parliament is invoked, the control of Parliament maintained, and that every safeguard is given for a just and wise use of this power. There is also the first clause, which is, of course, of importance; and also there are other clauses of importance—machinery clauses; but I do not think it would be expedient to weary your Lordships by going through them in detail. There is one other matter which I must mention. No term is named for the termination of this Bill. [Cries of "Hear, hear!"] I put that as one of the points on which we invite any criticism which may be offered. I mention it in order that it may be canvassed by anyone who feels disposed to question it. Anyone acquainted with this subject must know that legislation such as this loses much of its efficacy by having a fixed date of one, four, or five years, and that the putting in of such a date tends to the creeping paralysis of such legislation. Everyone knows that at a certain date such legislation may possibly be allowed to drop; there may be Dissolutions, there may be changes of Ministry; but, independent of these two contingencies, everyone knows that to fix a date to such legislation is to render it infirm and enfeebled and somewhat halting weeks before the legislation expires. But, though no date is mentioned in this Bill, the whole affair is before Parliament and can be dealt with according to the requirements of the case. I have always called this Bill 723 by its proper name—a Bill to amend the Criminal Law in Ireland. This Bill has been called a Coercion Bill. It is an entire misuse of language. I do not think that the noble Earl opposite, the late Vicerory of Ireland (Earl Spencer), who has had ample experience of such legislation, would say that he was administering at any period of his life legislation which he did not feel was necessary for the protection of the honest subjects of the Queen and for safeguarding the liberty of the subject. And yet I have read that this is not only a Coercion Bill, but a special form of Coercion Bill. I do not want to make any personal charges; but I will say that the only speciality I can find in this Bill is this—that certainly for the first time for many a long year the Government have come forward with a Bill for the strengthening of their hands in the enforcement of law and order, and for the protection of personal liberty in Ireland, not with the loyal co-operation, but with the resolute hostility of the Opposition. No matter what Government might be in power, no matter what form of government might be in existence in Ireland, this legislation would be absolutely necessary unless you wanted to make Ireland a place where crime and intimidation are committed with absolute impunity. I am entitled to say this, that Mr. Gladstone described his own Bill of 1882 as a Bill that in its administration was ''public, judicial, and responsible." Mr. Gladstone is a master of phrases with regard to his own handiwork; but the Bill he so described had clauses far stronger and far more open to criticism than the Bill which I have so imperfectly explained. I ask what portion of the administration of this Bill is not public, is not, before any person can be deprived of his liberty, subject to judicial sanction, is not responsible? How can any man be sent to prison without the intervention of judicial action, or be jeopardized by a single clause without its being known that every circumstance would be made public? In some cases, the absolute notice of Parliament is essential, A Bill of this kind, to be adequate, must be sufficient. A Bill of this kind should grapple with crime, should prevent crime, it should punish crime. A halting Bill called a Crimes Prevention Bill that would not prevent crime would be 724 ridiculous. A weak Bill would be worthless. A real Bill must be a Bill that is strong enough to be always sufficient. I put this one test of the Bill before the House—would that Bill, would a single one of its clauses, jeopardize a single innocent man? That is a fair test of the Bill—would any man not guilty of an offence be imperilled by a single one of its provisions? The Bill itself I do not say is sufficient to promote, to cause the happiness and the peace of Ireland, but it takes an important and essential part in that direction. A Bill for the amendment of the Criminal Law is necessary for the maintenance of law and order, which it is necessary to re-establish where it has been imperilled, and for restoring, where it has been taken away, that liberty which is essential for everyone. The Bill, taken in conjunction with other Bills, will tend, I believe in my heart, to the settlement of the peace of Ireland; it will be, I hope, a terror to evildoers; it will, I know, be a terror to nobody else. Its introduction has had an effect for good in Ireland. That everybody knows. Its enactment must have a more powerful effect in the same direction. The knowledge that such an Act is law, that such an Act is capable for effective use, must in itself be a vast and powerful factor in bringing about that respect for law and liberty which is at present so urgently needed in many parts of Ireland. I believe that this Bill, fairly and firmly, justly and steadily administered, will be a great encouragement to all law - abiding citizens; will powerfully assist the reign of order, tranquillity, and liberty in Ireland; and, animated by that belief, I earnestly hope that your Lordships will accord the Bill a second reading.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(The Lord Ashbourns.)
I should much have preferred following a layman in this debate, and certainly not one who stands so high as a lawyer, and who has undoubtedly so much knowledge of Ireland that we may well assume that he has stated at least all that can be said for the Bill the second reading of which he has moved. But it may be convenient to your Lordships that I should take an early opportunity of stating the course which my late Colleagues and I propose to take with regard to this Bill.
725 I shall endeavour to avoid all unnecessarily contentious matter; but I cannot blind myself to the fact that what I have to say will be contrary to the views of the great majority of the House. I feel, however, that this very circumstance will induce you to bear patiently with me while I trespass upon your attention for a short time. I refrain from making any remarks or passing any judgment on the action of various Parties during the passage of the Bill through the House of Commons. It would not be becoming for me to do so in this place. I will confine myself to the position in which we find ourselves. The noble and learned Lord (Lord Ashbourne), in his vigorous perorations, said that this Bill, in conjunction with others, will have a good effect. How do we stand with regard to those Bills? At the beginning of the Session, Her Majesty's Government promised one Bill of repression and two of a remedial character. The smaller of the two remedial measures was brought into this House, and has left it with the uncontradicted and undeniable assertion that nobody liked it. I have already ventured to prophecy that it will come back to your Lordships in a different form, and for once I feel pretty sure that my prophecy will be fulfilled. The other remedial measure has never appeared, and has probably never been prepared. But to make up for its absence, we are promised that the Government will present to us immediately a second repressive measure, containing provisions which it is true have been before granted, but which have never been used. The result is that, instead of having one measure of repression and two of a remedial character, we have one of a more or less, remedial character and two of a decidedly repressive kind. I will now proceed succinctly to state, on behalf of my late Colleagues and at their request, the principal objections, for I do not propose to go into any details, to the Bill which comes recommended by such large numbers from the House of Commons. It has been said that no politician should make any admission; but I freely admit that any Government coming to Parliament and declaring their inability to maintain law and order are entitled to demand from their political opponents a full and fair consideration of their proposals. And the appeal does not 726 come with less force from a Government which is substantially the same as that which in the most formal manner announced that the cardinal principle of their Irish policy was the absence of exceptional legislation. This is especially the case if we refrain, as I shall always wish to do, from any inquiry as to the possible motives which may have contributed to the change. But, on the other hand, this House is likely to agree that the Opposition have a correlative duty from which they cannot shrink—namely, when a proposal is made to restrict in an exceptional way the rights of the subject, it is their business to consider whether there are sufficient grounds for such exceptional restrictions, and whether the latter are such as ought to be applied. Now, we assert that no such grounds have been laid before Parliament for such a measure. We do not know, and have not been informed by the Government, of any exceptional state of Irish crime which justifies exceptional legislation at this time. The noble and learned Lord throws some little contempt upon the statistics of crime, and says that no statesman would rely upon, statistics to frame the course he would pursue—
§ EARL GRANVILLE
The noble and learned Lord afterwards went into statistics, and it is remarkable that while for four months complaints have been made in the House of Commons that the case is not made out, your Lordships should now be treated to an entirely new view of the case which has not been presented before. The noble and learned Lord took two periods of 20 months; but he did not make the slightest reference to matters which have something to do with a comparison of the two periods. He did not say whether the state of the country was the same in both periods, whether in the early period and the late period there was the same amount of distress, or whether the same number of evictions were carried out in both; and all these things are surely elements of consideration in making a comparison of this kind. But there is another comparison which has been already made; I do not think an answer has been given to it; and it is possible an answer may be given now. The comparison is between the first five months of this year and the 727 last five months of 1885; and the number of crimes had fallen from 474 to 387; so that there were nearly one-fourth more in 1885 than in the present year. It does strike me that if Her Majesty's Government declared, during these five months of greater crime, that there was no ground for exceptional legislation, it is strange they should think there has been such ground during the five months they have been pressing forward this Bill, when the amount of crime has been decidedly less. If in the former period the amount of crime was not sufficient to justify exceptional legislation, why does an improved state of things call for it now? I have no idea what answer can be given. I feel sure that in this House the extraordinary attempt at an answer will not be made—that the Government now about to pass the Bill were not aware, when they introduced it, that there was about to be so few offences. We are told that we are not to look at statistics of crime alone. We want to know, if we are not to look at crime, but to the state of Ireland, in what particulars, whether as regards Boycotting, acquittals of criminals, or any other such symptoms, that country is worse than at the end of 1885, when the Government declared it was not justifiable to apply exceptional measures, whatever causes of regret may exist in both cases. We believe that we are entitled to precise information on this point. The Bill is partly directed against crime, but largely also against the associations which are complained of, and against others which may arise. I am somewhat fearful of entering upon a difficult and complicated question upon which one who is unlearned may easily make a slip. But I believe the state of the case as to combination to be this. The Common Law, as interpreted by Judges—in fact, Judge-made law—bore heavily upon combinations for purposes which were not unlawful when followed by one person. By Clause 2 you submit to officials—some of whom are without legal training and who are dependent upon the Executive Government—the application of these most difficult legal doctrines. You enable the Lord Lieutenant, on his own judgment, or advised by his Executive or his lawyers, to declare what combinations, in his opinion, are dangerous, and so to make them illegal, going in direct oppo- 728 sition to the decision of Parliament in 1882, when Clause 38 in the Prevention of Crimes Act was passed in order to prevent such a danger. You take away from the tribunals in these cases all discretion as to the legality or illegality of the combination. They can only ask the question—"Who says that this combination is illegal?" The answer, "The Lord Lieutenant," closes their mouths, and behind it the Courts cannot go. The tribunal, whatever it may be, is debarred from inquiring into the legality or illegality of the combination. Indeed, the provisions of Clauses 6 and 7 assume that the associations thus made illegal are not unlawful at Common Law. If they are so they are already made the subject of summary conviction under Clause 2, and these clauses would be unnecessary. The Law of Conspiracy in Great Britain has been described by Mr. Justice Stephen and others as being of a singularly elastic, and, therefore, dangerous character, depending not only upon the acts themselves, but upon the motives with which they were taken. These authorities have pointed out that the only safeguard against its becoming a perilous tyranny has lain in the fact that the accused has always had the protection of a jury of his fellow-citizens. This Bill, not content with opposing intimidation and crime, allows the work of conspiracy to be so carried on as not only to impose on the breach of a civil obligation the penalties attached to a criminal offence, but to render criminal the exercise of a man's undoubted right to deal with whom he pleases. It is true that the Irish tenant has been liable to such a risk. But, while you leave him open to a criminal liability, condemned in principle by the Act of 1875, you take from him the only safeguard he has hitherto had in the presence of a jury. I must ask your Lordships' permission to guard myself from being misunderstood. Do not think that I am of opinion that all these combinations are defensible, or that many of them are not to be condemned and deplored. What I wish to insist on is this—that in your desire to prevent what I much doubt is to be prevented you ought not to be tempted to tamper with so important a principle as the separation from criminal penalties of the breach of civil obligations. By this Bill you give to the Executive, and 729 not to Parliament, the power to enact what is and what is not law. Lord. Hartington, with his usual frankness, stated that this Bill technically created a new offence. It gives to the Lord Lieutenant the power to do so. Every Irishman for the future will live under laws which may from time to time be changed by the Executive. I have tried to show why we believe that there are no sufficient grounds for this measure, and why we object altogether to the machinery and procedure which you create by this Bill. We equally object to another unprecedented innovation—the giving a permanent character to an exceptional measure. As a medicine mercury may do good for a short time to a temporarily diseased liver, but it is fatal as a permanent application. Coercion may possibly deal a useful blow to temporary disorder. But as a permanent instrument of government it is worse than useless; it is dangerous. And yet, when once adopted, it is a reed on which rulers soon teach themselves to rely. The noble Marquess the Prime Minister (the Marquess of Salisbury) declared not long ago his confidence that 20 years of repression, or what he called firm and resolute government, might be sufficient; but he has now deviated into eternity. It is true that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has denied the permanency of the measure, saying that all that had been done was to omit fixing the date for its coming to an end. There might be some consolation in such an assurance when we consider the late practice of the Government about Egypt. Following the example of their Predecessors, who, for obvious reasons, refused to fix a date for evacuation, they absolutely refused to do so; but immediately afterwards, without any apparent advantage, they agreed to an exact date. But, unfortunately, Acts of Parliament are construed by their words and not by any gloss put upon them; and there is no measure on the Statute Book which is more permanent on the face of it than the present Bill. It is impossible for us to believe that to apply permanent disabilities to Ireland from which Great Britain is free, and against the wishes of five-sixths of the Irish people, can either theoretically or practically conduce to harmony of feeling or to a real political and social union of the two islands.
730 But it may be, and probably will be, said these may be good arguments in the mouths of those who always held them to be sound, but they are without weight from public men who, when in a position of responsibility, did exactly the same thing as that which they now attack. I take the liberty of altogether repudiating this tu quoque argument, a class of argument which may be some-times effective in debate, but even when just, is of little use in determining the merits or demerits of a question. But I deny that the tu quoque applies that we have ever done the same thing, or I that the same thing has ever been done by any other Government, even by the most ultra-Conservative, when dealing with unreformed Parliaments. There were strong powers given in the Act of 1881, but not such as are contained in the present permanent Bill. Were I to admit that we were bound never to object to the renewal of any legislation which we had once promoted, I should, at least, have the right to claim that the obligation should be confined to that which we had most recently done, and not to that which experience had taught us to discard. I defy anyone to say that the provisions of this Bill are justified by those in the Act of 1882; and it is well known that in 1885 we only thought of renewing a very few of the provisions of the Bill of 1882, which was much milder than that of 1881, which, again, did not contain some of the most prominent provisions of the present Bill. But I go much further, and I say that if as late as 1885 we had proposed, this very Bill, it might diminish the weight of our advice, but not in the least diminish our duty to oppose that which in the present circumstances we sincerely believe to be not only not beneficial, but of a singularly harmful character. Many of your Lordships must remember the time when duelling was generally acknowledged to be a necessary evil. I, as a very young man, advised a contemporary to send a challenge, an action which, while it exposed my own safety to no danger, was calculated to lead a dear friend to risk his own life and that of a fellow creature in a manner which would be universally condemned now. I was, however, sincerely convinced at the time that I was doing right, and I know that I was thought to be so by all who were cognizant of the circum- 731 stances. Now, ought this action to have debarred me from offering exactly the opposite counsel a few years later when full and ripe opinion had condemned these appeals to force established by an old and barbarous custom. One lesson I learn from the present state of things and difference of opinion. It is to avoid all bitterness and acrimony of attack upon those who differ from me and my Friends; they differ from us; they wish to stand upon the old ways, and adhere to those methods of routine which have been so often tried and have so often failed. We wish that they should agree with us in thinking that recent events have made a very great change in the circumstances which ought to govern us in this matter. We look to the extension of the franchise in Ireland; we look to the expression of the opinion of the enormous majority of the Irish people to be allowed their Constitutional liberty; we look to the concurrence of the clergy; we look to the opinion of men such as the representatives of Ulster tenant-farmers whom you placed upon your Royal Commission, and we look to the sympathy of millions of Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Welshmen, who are united in believing that this act of the Government is one not only not beneficial, not only not advantageous, but as one that is of a most injurious, ineffectual, and dangerous character. But, though we may regret we have no right to complain that others do not agree with us, yet this respect for the conscientious opinions of others cannot prevent me, on behalf of my late Colleagues, and authorized by them, to protest as strongly as we can, consistently with no unnecessary violence, against the Bill which is about to be passed. We fully acknowledge that we are absolutely without the power of rejecting or amending this Bill, and for that reason, and for others connected with the deep interest we feel in this great Assembly, we do not intend to offer an opposition—which could only be impotent and absolutely futile—either at this stage or at any further stages of the Bill; we prefer leaving upon Her Majesty's Government the responsibility of the Irish policy which they have thought it their duty to propose.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
I have listened with great interest to the manner in which the noble Earl (Earl Gran- 732 ville) has summed up the objections to be urged against this Bill. Some of those objections doubtless have great weight with those who disapprove the Bill; but I cannot concur in them, especially as to the alleged severity of the measure. As regards the objection to the permanency of the Bill, so far from viewing that feature of the measure as harmful, I believe it to be a great advantage; and again with respect to the objection that the Bill is directed against combinations, I cannot but feel that the noble Earl is under some misapprehension on that point, when I find that there are clauses in the Bill—the sixth and seventh—which explicitly exclude from the operation of the Act any agreement or combination under the Trade Union Acts of 1871, 1876, and 1879, and which practically protects the Irish tenants from the danger which the noble Earl apprehended. Now, it has been said that the state of things now is not worse or better than that in 1885, and that consequently this Bill becomes unnecessary. I should like to say a few words on that point. When we entered Office in 1885, and I assumed the Vice-royalty of Ireland, I must frankly tell the House that there was no alternative to the course we then pursued. The Cabinet to which I belonged decided that it was impossible to ask Parliament for a renewal of the Peace Preservation Act. I and those who acted with me accepted the facts of the case as we found them, and I endeavoured to make the best of them. I was a party to the course adopted, and I thoroughly agreed with it, and anyone who will review the circumstances will see the peculiar position we were in. We were in a minority in the House of Commons, we could obtain no definite promise of support if we asked for a renewal of the Peace Preservation Act, there were only a few weeks of the Session remaining, and the Cabinet, under the circumstances, came to the conclusion that it was impossible to ask for a renewal of the Act. That experiment was worth making, and I agree with the noble Lord that good has come from that experiment. My main objections were that repressive legislation such as the Peace Preservation Bill which was in question at the time was open to these two objections—that it was temporary and that it was excep- 733 tional. Now, as regards this present Bill the objection that it is temporary cannot lie. It is a permanent measure, and I will frankly say that that permanence is in my eyes a merit. I know nothing more distracting, more disquieting, more irritating, than an Act which is to expire within a few years. It is impossible with such an Act to have consistent and steady government. And if there has been one great error of policy which runs through the whole course of Irish history, it has been this incessant vacillation and oscillation in legislation. I have said that a main objection to repressive legislation was that it was exceptional. Now, to a certain extent, this Bill is exceptional, but only to a certain extent. I wish to argue the question of exceptional legislation with perfect fairness. In itself exceptional legislation I believe to be a great evil. It is a course to be adopted only as the lesser of two evils. It irritates, it is bad for the Government, it is doubtful as regards the governed, and it is only effective as long as it lasts. Some of your Lordships may remember Sir Robert Peel's speeches in 1844 on the question of coercion. I am bound to say that those speeches made a great impression upon my mind. Sir Robert Peel was no weak Minister, and he acknowledged very frankly the evils of this system; but, after all, this must be set down to the other side of the account, that legislation of this kind offers both direct and indirect powers. It offers direct powers in all those clauses to which allusion has been made to-night, but it also offers that which is almost as useful—namely, an indirect power in the apprehension which it engenders in the minds of individuals. In the Peace Preservation Act there were powers, as the noble Earl opposite will remember, which were never or hardly ever used. I am bound to give the House my own experience in this matter. When I wont to Ireland and the Peace Preservation Act was on the point of expiring I felt the enormous disadvantage under which the Executive Government laboured from the approaching expiry of those powers. I felt and I knew that a very large part of the turbulent and disaffected population of Ireland were conscious that when those powers expired an authority and an influence on the part of the Crown had expired with them. But I have a 734 third answer to the argument which was used to-night. It has been said that the condition of Ireland is no worse now than it was in 1885. Now, my contention is that the condition of Ireland is, as compared with 1885, both new and worse. I will not judge this matter exclusively by figures and tabulated Returns, but I will refer to unquestionable facts. During the last few months we have seen the Plan of Campaign brought into operation. I will only say of that Plan of Campaign that it goes to the very root of all contracts between man and man, and, more than that, it is tainted with this great immorality—an immorality which I for one cannot understand how any section of the Catholic clergy can overlook—that it constitutes every man a judge of his case. Secondly, during these last few months, we have also seen the expedition to Canada of Mr. O'Brien, a leader among the Nationalists—an expedition conceived and undertaken under much of the highest influence and authority of his Party, an expedition almost without parallel in the history of this country, an expedition to Her Majesty's Dominion across the sea for the purpose of levying war and stirring up sedition and insurrection and attacking the Representative of the Queen, both in his private and public character. Thirdly and lastly, I will say that during these last few months we have seen an open, avowed, and confessed strife between order and disorder. My Lords, I say that the first condition of all things in any country is obedience to the law. But when we come to a state of things such as I have described, almost any measure which restores respect for law and which enforces law is right and necessary. Therefore, I say that these facts which I have stated show that the condition of Ireland is a new condition and indicates altogether a new departure. I will go a step further. The condition of things is not merely new, but it is distinctly, in my opinion, worse. In these points at least the condition of things has become gravely aggravated. In 1885 there was great lawlessness in parts of Ireland; but there was not in the whole length and breadth of the country an open and avowed defiance of all law and of all Government as such. Then crime was contracted within a comparatively narrow sphere, whereas now it has assumed a 735 much larger area. My noble and learned Friend (Lord Ashbourne) will remember that in one memorable Assize, when I was Viceroy in Ireland, there was not a failure, if I remember rightly, of one single State trial or prosecution. Now, from what my noble and learned Friend said to-night, your Lordships may judge how impotent the juries have become to discharge their duties under the terrorism, to which they are subjected. Again, there is now a much larger organization of lawlessness, and this is a state of things which is utterly inconsistent with peace, with order, and with security. My noble and learned Friend dwelt at considerable length on the system of Boycotting. But we could not put a stop to it, we had no power to put a stop to it, because that power had expired with the Peace Preservation Act. When I think of this system of Boycotting, which has been described by my noble and learned Friend to-night, I have been, lost in astonishment when I have heard it apologized for by one who has held the high position of Prime Minister, and who has thought it worthy in him to justify this monstrous system by the term of exclusive dealing. One other point, my Lords, in reference to my argument. It shows that the state of things is worse now than before. In 1885—I say it without fear of contradiction—as head of the Irish Government, I had the support in the maintenance of law and order of a considerable section of the Catholic body, whose power is undeniably great, and I regret to see how great the difference now is, and how very large a proportion of that clergy has been alienated. That the Catholic clergy are in a position of great difficulty I do not deny, and it is not surprising if in many instances they consent to swim with the tide. My Lords, those of you who will reflect upon the principles held by the Parnellite Party, and who will reflect as to what the full meaning of those principles is, must be conscious that they go to the very root of many of the things which many of the Catholic clergy of Ireland would hold most dear and most valuable; and I am confident that they must be alarmed at the prosecution of their designs. Now, my Lords, if all that I have said be true, and from the bottom of my heart I believe it to be true, then I am forced to this conclusion, that if property is in any sense to be pre- 736 served, if the people of Ireland are not to be demoralized, if the Government is to be a Government in anything more than in name, then it is absolutely necessary that this Bill should pass. But having expressed my full concurrence in this measure, allow me to add a few remarks. First, then, when this Bill has become law, I trust that the Government will use the powers conferred by it upon them firmly. Temperately, it may be, but firmly. I am bound to say that I think the provisions, on the whole, are moderate; but I am quite sure there can be no unkindness to a people so great as the uncertain or capricious exercise of those powers; and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will, when this Bill has become law, make a determined effort for the material good and welfare of Ireland. My Lords, there are evils of the very highest kind to remedy. There is in Ireland a poverty that is almost shameful, there is a congestion of people on poor and barren soil, there is an absence of those communications even which in the Colonies you would have long since established, and the resources of the country are too often allowed to lie idle. Here and there, indeed, there are instances of individual benevolence, but, as a whole, I am bound to say the Government has done but little, and even of that little has done much unwisely. How can you expect to find content in a population so poor, so depressed, so weighted with difficulties of every kind unless the Government will adopt an almost paternal attitude towards them? It would, as has been said, be vain to prophecy, and I shall not do so; but I do entertain the hope that when this Bill has passed there will come a time, it may be short, it may be long, which, if Her Majesty's Government will use it wisely, for the material improvement of the country, may be turned to very good account. I must, however, say this first of all. The Government must not be afraid of spending money. They must not, as many Governments have done before them, haggle over the few pounds which may be necessary. I believe that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) has already very seriously proposed to devote£50,000 to objects which, I believe, to be of the very first class importance in Ireland. My Lords, I vote for this Bill, but I vote for it regretfully, 737 and in a certain sense unwillingly. I look upon it as a melancholy necessity. I believe that this Bill will restore order, but it cannot of itself cure many of the evils under which Ireland labours. Do not let us blind ourselves to the past history of Ireland. I do not look upon the condition of affairs as desperate, nor will I say that the population of Ireland is a disloyal population, though I believe that there is great disaffection. I believe that there is a deep-rooted ignorance, which is played upon by the demagogues; but, at the same time, I believe that there are sounder elements below the surface, which the skilful touch of wise statesmanship may once more call into being. Parliament is giving Her Majesty's Government great power, full power, the power that they claim and pronounce to be necessary, and I have every trust and confidence that they will use those powers as discerning and patriotic statesmen.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
I earnestly hope your Lordships' House will give a second reading to this Bill. The noble and learned Lord (Lord Ashbourne) who presented the case for the Government has, in my opinion, done so with great perspicuity and great moderation of tone. The speech of the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition (Earl Granville), though characterized, as his speeches ever are, by great ability and moderation combined with great dexterity, nevertheless seemed to me a speech intended to smother debate and prevent the full discussion of all that is involved in this measure. My Lords, I hope it will be understood in the country that your Lordships are unwilling, as a rule, to sanction exceptional legislation and to take away the liberties of the subject. "We do not pass these Bills for nothing—we do not pass them without a strong opinion that there is a great and sufficient justification for our action. There are two great recommendations, in my eyes, in favour of this Bill. It does, or attempts to do, two great things, First, it endeavours to restore to the people of Ireland those personal liberties of which they have been deprived by the most odious conspiracy that has ever sprung up in any civilized nation. Secondly, my Lords, it tends to redeem the public men of this country, and to save the public men of this country, from the terrible, and, I may say, insupportable, temptation to play fast and loose 738 with the liberties of the people of Ireland solely with reference to the Party necessities and interests of the day. On this second point I am disposed to hope that we shall never again in this House witness such a scene as that enacted in June, 1885, when the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) took Office, with a knowledge that a measure prepared by the previous Government with reference to Ireland would not be supported by them in Opposition. The information that the noble Marquess had taken Office without the power to carry the legislation that might be necessary for the liberties of the people of Ireland filled the Conservative Party with blank despair and dismay. The noble Marquess was compelled to take Office under the peculiar circumstances of the case, though he knew that the very measure which had been prepared by the late Liberal Government would not be supported by its authors, and that if he brought it forward he could not carry it. I hope that we shall never again look upon so discreditable a scene; and I confess that I consider one of the most valuable parts of the Bill to be that which gives it a definite term. We ought to do nothing with regard to Ireland which would limit the liberty of the subject; but when we pass a measure in order to secure that liberty against secret conspiracy, we ought to make it as permanent as possible. Let us take a little broader view of the position in which we are placed. Why does my noble Friend who leads the Opposition wish to limit the discussion on this measure? I do not expect to hear from anyone here that passionate declamation that we have read of elsewhere. I am not speaking of the House of Commons; I speak of platforms, of dinners, of garden parties; I speak of luncheons, and of railway stations; I speak of every place and every occasion on which the public mind can be moved and public opinion can be formed by passionate eloquence. I will tell your Lordships why my noble Friend did not go into a wide discussion of this measure. He had no alternative. No man can deny the state of things in Ireland, whether or not he may choose to call it terrorism. Terrorism has been rendered so perfect that crime has ceased to be necessary. Is there any remedy for this state of things? I listened carefully to the speech of my noble Friend the 739 Leader of the Opposition, as I thought lie might say what they say out-of-doors—"We have got a remedy in our pockets which will do everything." He did not say that he had a measure which would render this Bill unnecessary; but I wish to press this point upon your Lordships' attention—that on the part of the Leader of the Opposition there is no alternative scheme for the redemption of the people from the thraldom of the system under which they are now suffering. It is most important that the public should understand that there was a scheme—that two Bills were produced, the production of which ended in the complete defeat of the Government in Parliament. The very first thing they did afterwards was to announce that both those Bills were gone. I say that they are not entitled to claim that they have an alternative scheme. They have vague and empty phrases—ambiguous phrases which no human being can understand. But it is most important the public should understand there is no rival scheme before the country to put an end to the crime in Ireland. We had two most remarkable speeches last week—one by Mr. Gladstone and the other by Mr. John Morley, the two great apostles and prophets of the Parnellite Party in this country. Both clearly show that the great principles on which the scheme of Mr. Gladstone was based have been abandoned. We do not know—can any human being tell us?—whether there is any scheme before us. But, on the other hand, we do know that the Irish Members will be retained in this Parliament. That is at the root of the whole question. Most people will think that Mr. Gladstone was originally quite right—that if there was to be a separate Parliament in Ireland we ought not to have the Irish Members here to dictate to us. But Mr. Gladstone has now made an announcement on the subject, though in very ambiguous terms. Poor Mr. John Morley undertook to explain the other day what Mr. Gladstone said at Swansea, and the upshot of his explanation was that Mr. Gladstone's proposal was now the converse of that made by Mr. Whitbread. That is all we know of that part of the scheme which lies at the root of the whole business. But they resort a great deal to general phrases. A favourite stock phrase is "the management by the Irish people 740 of exclusively Irish affairs." There are a great many people who open their eyes wide and believe that they have got something better than the east wind when they have swallowed that phrase. They offer no definition of Irish affairs, and we do not know what they mean by it. Is it purely an Irish affair that Irishmen should hold the property to which they are entitled? Is it purely an Irish affair that under the Imperial Government of the Queen every Irishman should be free to dispose of his property and his liberty as he pleases, and not as a secret conspiracy pleases? Then we ask you to explain what is an exclusively Irish subject. When the Land Bill was before the House of Commons, it was pointed out in a powerful speech by Sir Henry James that under Mr. Gladstone's scheme every part of the Land Act of 1881 might be called in question. I understand Mr. Gladstone to say that that was a mistake, and was not so intended. I believe the truth was that there was to be a clause prohibiting the Irish Parliament from dealing with the landlords. Surely these things ought to be made known. I should like to know if it is a purely Irish question whether men who hold land under charters dating from the 12th and 13th centuries are to be deprived of their property? I certainly should regard that question as one of Imperial and not of merely Irish interest. We have a state of things in Ireland that is terrible, and the Leaders of the Opposition do not pretend that they have a scheme that will put an end to that state of things. It has been asked—"Why do not the Government adopt the plan of the Cowper Commission, and propose a periodical revision of rents?" I say that the Cowper Commission never suggested such a plan; they never recommended a periodical revision of rents, but that they should be fixed according to the average of prices extending over five years. I do not think that the proposal of the Cowper Commission was in itself unreasonable; but we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that the Land Court in Ireland has only disposed of 200,000 cases out of 500,000 cases which have been brought before it, and if we were to have a periodical revision of rents, it would be hopeless to expect that that Court could get through its work for years to come, as it will pro- 741 bably take it another five years to dispose of the cases already before it. The suggestion of the Cowper Commission, therefore, supplies no remedy for the difficulties with which we have to deal. I have, I think, good ground for complaining of the course that has been taken by the noble Lords who are responsible for the Act of 1881. They know that I never approved that Act, but I have never said anything against it which can compare with what they have said against their own Act within the last three or four months. Moreover, they continue to use the old cant and slang about the Land Question in Ireland which they used before that Act was passed. It is quite true that you cannot expect to settle the Irish Land Question for ever by an Act. I quite agree on the principle that you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear; that you will never legislate satisfactorily on the subject of the Irish land by attempting to tinker up the Act of 188l, because that Act was founded upon false and dangerous principles. Everyone has now discovered that for himself. If the arguments of noble Lords who oppose this Bill are right, there ought to be a revision of rents in Ireland every year. It was the reductio ad absurdum to suppose that the State could legislate to regulate differences in prices which took place from time to time, or to regulate the seasons. The noble Earl near me has said that crime in Ireland is only agrarian. That is another of the stock phrases of the noble Earl. What does the noble Earl mean by that phrase? Does he mean that crime in Ireland only exists in connection with the relations between landlord and tenant, and that it does not exist as between tenant and tenant and between tenant and labourer?
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
Does the noble Earl appreciate the full meaning of that; does he not know that Ireland is not a commercial or a manufacturing country, and that nine-tenths of the relations which exist in that country are agrarian? What the noble Earl and those who think with him really mean by agrarian crime is that crime which occurs in connection with the relations between landlord and tenant. We have heard a great deal about the cruel evic- 742 tions that have occurred lately in Ireland Noble Lords do not adopt the same Ian guage with regard to these evictions in this House which is familiar in "an other place." We are too well acquainted with the facts in this House to be misled upon the matter. We know that during the last quarter the proportion of evictions in Ireland compared with the total number of tenants hat been 0.3 per cent, and that for the four quarters of the year it has only amounted to l.4 per cent. There are more evictions in the year within two miles of this House than occur in 10 years in the whole of Ireland. Do noble Lords really mean that Irish tenants are to be kept in possession of their holdings for ever, whether they pay their rent or not? With regard to the attitude which the Liberal Party has assumed towards Lord Lansdowne, I must say that it is opposed to all their best traditions, and that they have left it to the people of Canada to do that justice to the noble Lord which ought to have been done by his noble Friends. They have not done that justice to him because it did not suit the book of the Leaders of the Liberal Party at the present moment. Liberalism does not consist in holding political power, but in maintaining truth. As far as we know, the so-called evictions in Ireland have of late been got up by the Parnellites and by the National League inciting the tenants not to accept any compromise which might be offered them by their landlords. I will give your Lordships some cases in illustration of the state of things I have described. But first I wish to notice a speech made by Mr. Morley the other day at Cambridge. Mr. Morley was very angry because educated men at Cambridge had presented an address to Lord Hartington, and he said there was the greatest ignorance on the part of the educated classes. I dare say there is. But will Mr. Morley say there is less ignorance among the masses he is in the habit of addressing? I thought Mr. Morley was going to show that the Irish had proved themselves capable of self-government in every case in which they had been tried, in Poor Law management and so on. But what was my astonishment when I found that Mr. Morley said that Englishmen do not know what gross, "scandalous maladministration" went on in Ireland. Here is a case. I be- 743 lieve, under Mr. Morley's direction, about two years ago an Act was passed giving enlarged powers to certain Unions. In the course of six years five Unions spent on 156,000 persons £317,000, a total composed partly of Government advances at low interest, partly of benefactions at no interest at all, and partly of ruinous rates levied on property, of which those who levied the rates paid nothing themselves. That meant final, complete, absolute ruin. And now a Bill is before Parliament to take the management of these Unions out of the hands of men whom, if Englishmen knew more about them, they would, according to Mr. Morley, be willing to trust with absolute power. He says these Unions are insolvent, "over-populated, wretchedly poor," and, what is more, that the population is increasing, although all means of subsistence are diminishing. Then he goes on to say, this is "typical of the problem we have to face" in Ireland. But how does he propose to face it? He proposes to hand it over to others, to fly, to resign. He says, in effect—"We have no remedy; let us hand it over to an Irish Parliament to exercise their ingenuity upon." That is the whole policy of Her Majesty's Liberal Opposition. I was in conversation with an Irish gentleman a few weeks ago, and he told me some stories which are very horrible. I will give your Lordships two or three cases which I can place before Parliament. I cannot give your Lordships all the verifications which I asked for myself; you must take them upon my word. The first case occurred on the property of a man who has some land in Ireland, but is not dependent on the land, and he is a warm Irishman. Case A was this. A farmer came to him and said—"I wish to sell my holding." The landlord said—''You are quite free to do it; you need not ask my leave; the law gives you leave." The whole transaction was settled. The holding was duly put up to auction, another Irishman bought it, and the new tenant entered into possession. This poor man was in possession for a few months when a third Irishman or Irish-American, of whom nothing was known except that he had come from America, appeared, and he said—"Mr. Gladstone says that the Irish tenant is to sell his land for the best price he can get." All the Irish are resolved to get 744 the highest price they can. The Irish-American went to the man who had the farm, and said—"You must get out of that farm. I am willing to give the man who sold it to you a higher price for it." The other replied—"I have bought the farm and am in possession, and I will not go out." What was the consequence? A Moonlight agency was set to work, the poor man who bought the farm had his house invaded, the Moonlighters put a gun to his head and said—"Unless you sign a revocation we will blow your brains out;" and the poor man, from fear for his life or the lives of his family, gave up the farm, and the Irish-American stepped into possession. That is what you call liberty in Ireland. The whole transaction was no secret. The landlord could do nothing, and he was advised to accept the man as a tenant. I was told by my friend of a precisely similar case on a neighbouring estate. A tenant had made his bargain, bought a farm, and paid the price; but another Irishman came, and, with the support of the National League, offered £30 more, and the poor man who had bought the farm was obliged to give it up. These are operations which tell upon the poor man and not upon the rich. It is the tenant class who are tyrannized over by the National League. Is this the teaching of political truth; is it teaching worthy of a great political Party? You talk of this Bill interfering with the liberties of Ireland. Precious liberties! My Lords, I am reminded that in Scotland liberties meant monopolies in ancient times—privileges of monopoly enjoyed by certain burghs. But, at least, these privileges were legal; they were known to the law. But what you call "liberties" in Ireland are the privileges of ruffians sitting in secret council calling before them poor people and depriving them of their rights. A friend of mine, well and honourably known by both Parties in this House, and living in a part of Ireland where crime in the ordinary sense of the word is hardly ever heard of, told me of a case on his own property where the tenant came to him and said—"Here is my brother; he is as good a man as I am, and will take the farm off my hands and pay the price." The landlord said—"By all means. I shall be delighted to see your brother in the farm." The brother paid the price 745 with the assent of all parties and to the satisfaction of the landlord. He entered into possession. The National League called this poor man before them, and ordered him to surrender the farm. That farm is now vacant and uncultivated. These are mere specimens of cases that have occurred. "But," says the noble Earl (Earl Granville), "I do not find these cases in the papers." No; because he only fumbles over the police reports. You go to your Parliamentary Returns and police reports and say that you do not find this and that percentage of crime. That is the stock argument of my noble Friends who are opposed to this Bill. But these cases, specimens of which I have given, do not appear in police courts at all. A poor man who has any complaint dare not make it known in a police court, and for every case of the kind that is brought before a police magistrate there are 100 that never get there at all. We must depend upon the common sense of Parliament in dealing with this question. This should be remembered—that when the authority of law is suspended in any country, it is the universal fact that those who rise to the top and exercise despotic authority are the very lowest and the most disreputable. Private motives and envy and covetousness dictate the actions of these men, and the whole country is kept under a sense of villainy triumphant. It has been stated that this Bill will fail in its purpose. My noble Friend has predicted this. It may fail, as so many others have failed, although I think it has a better chance from circumstances connected with it; but if it does not fail, its failure will be largely due to my noble Friend and those with whom they act. It is sometimes said that society rests always ultimately upon force. I think this is a great mistake. Society does not rest upon force. The ultimate, the lowest, and the firmest foundation on which it rests is not force, but accepted and acknowledged authority. When you assail the accepted doctrines on which society rests you may even paralyze it, and these are now assailed by passionate declamation. In their phrases, in their legal arguments, plausible, but, in my opinion, altogether erroneous, my noble Friends have displaced the primary duties which are owing between man and man, and by 746 their false analogies they confuse that sense of right on which society ultimately rests. My right hon. Friend who leads the Opposition in the other House (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) has been busy lately in confounding the case of trade unions with combinations in Ireland for agrarian purposes. Now, can there be a more transparent fallacy than this? The right hon. Gentleman said—To give to the Irish tenants and cottar population the same protection in respect of their land strikes that you give to the English artisan in respect to his labour strikes.Certainly the trade unionist has a right to combine in defence of the price of his own property. There is not a man in the other House, or a demagogue on any platform, who would assert more clearly than I do the right of workmen to combine in defence of the price of their property. Their labour is their property, the most sacred of all property, and they have a perfect right to combine in defence of it. There may be economic difficulties; but there is nothing dishonest, nothing illegal, nothing unjust, in combinations of that character. Compare with that the case of the Irish tenants. The essence of the case of the Irish tenant is that he holds the property of another, and Mr. Gladstone's position is that the tenant is to have the same liberty of dealing with the land as the English labourer with his own property. No Minister has ever laid down such a doctrine as this before. The two cases are absolutely different. You talk about evictions on account of such proceedings happening in no other country in the world. I had some conversation the other day with a very distinguished American, who is at the head of a large commercial concern holding large estates of chiefly forest land, and employing a large number of men who live in houses on the estates. I put the question to him—"What would you do if your men struck and refused to go out of your houses, and adopted Mr. Gladstone's principle that they have a right to deal with your houses precisely on the principle that they have a right to deal with their own labour?" My friend replied—"I should write a letter to the Governor of my State, and within 24 hours five companies of Militia would arrive and turn them out." In no country in j the world does the law and the public sentiment protect the rights 747 of property more absolutely than in America, and the people know that the welfare of the poor is as much defended by the law as the property of the rich. And now as to the general position. I am not now talking of mere changes of opinion, which must happen from time to time. There has been a complete forgetfulness of everything, a complete repudiation of those things which go down deep to the very foundation of society. We have seen during the last 18 months four or five gentlemen sitting round a green table at Westminster and drawing up a new edition of the British Constitution. No such a thing has ever been adopted before, go back as far in our history as you please. There have been no span new inventions, no brand new Constitutions, given to the foundations of society; and it was, therefore, unprecedented, unjustifiable, immeasurable presumption. The greatest of Mr. Gladstone's constructions was the famous Budget of 1853. I do not deny that the measure disestablishing the Irish Church showed immense constructive power; but in that case he had to deal with a Christian Church, and all he had to do was to divide the spoil. In this case he has attempted to re-constitute a whole Constitution, to make a brand new system of Government for the Three Kingdoms. Not even he was adequate to these things. I shall vote for this Bill, because I wish to secure for every individual of the Irish people the liberties which have come down to them under the Imperial system. I wish that every peasant in Donegal and every peasant in Kerry shall be free under an Imperial system to dispose of his property and of his labour as he thinks fit.
§ THE EARL OF DENBIGH
said, it was a strange anomaly that this Bill should be opposed by an ex-Prime Minister and some of his most trusted coadjutors, when its sole object was to cause the majesty of the law to be respected. It was no more a Coercion Bill than was the Decalogue. It would only be brought into action by special Proclamation in disturbed districts, and it would become inoperative as soon as crime and disturbance ceased. A second anomaly was that the Bill was applicable only to a country which, in its normal state, was peculiarly free from crime, and at this moment, with some terrible exceptions, was very orderly and well- 748 behaved. These terrible exceptions, however, which existed in a few black spots where the law was rendered nugatory and set at defiance were the cause of this exceptional legislation. This lawlessness originated in the schemes and machinations of the enemies of the British Crown, who had imposed upon the ignorance and simplicity of the Irish peasantry, and by dwelling solely on their grievances, many of which were happily records of the past, had roused their passions to a degree which rendered them well-nigh indomitable. Attempts had been made to give a religious character to this movement, and to fasten a stigma on the loyalty of Catholics, as such, because the lawlessness was most observable in Catholic districts. It was his object to deny this false conclusion, and to account for the facts on which it was founded—namely, that Catholics, apparently supported by their clergy, had been openly acting in opposition to the teaching of their Church as laid down by the Roman Pontiff in his Encyclical of November, 1886. His Holiness said—Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. Indeed, to contemn lawful authority, in whomsoever invested, is as unlawful as to resist the Divine Will, and whomsoever resists that rushes willfully to destruction. 'He that resisteth the Power resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist purchase to themselves damnation.' Wherefore, to cast aside obedience and by popular violence to incite the country to sedition is treason, not only against man, but against God,He (the Earl of Denbigh) asserted unhesitatingly that this movement had no religious motive. It was purely economical, and to understand it one must cast a glance back on Irish history. If he had often in the course of his argument to use the words Catholic and Protestant in antagonism to each other, he did so with no desire of emphasizing or accentuating religious differences, which no one could deplore more than he did. He was sanguine enough to hope that the time might not be far off when if we could not all worship, as once was the case, at the same altar, we might yet, with a more perfect knowledge of each other, cease to judge harshly of those who conscientiously differ from us and contend only who shall outdo the other in charity, and best set an example of loyalty to our Sovereign and devotion to the best interests of our country. The 749 past history of Ireland for three centuries afforded melancholy pictures of cupidity, cruelty, and intolerance. The Irish Catholic population was dispossessed of its land and persecuted for its faith in form and to a degree that one shuddered now to read of. Driven out of their possessions by aliens both in race and in creed, they were mercilessly shot down or martyred as traitors for their faith alone. The favoured Protestants divided their fairest lands among themselves, and drove the dispossessed ones into the wilds to starve and perish. In short, the Catholics got all the kicks, and the Protestants the halfpence. What wonder, then, that there should have grown up a bitter hereditary hatred among the Catholic Irish for their English oppressors. They clung with passionate love to their clergy, who were mostly of the same class and suffered the same wrongs as themselves. But, it may be argued, all this was hundreds of years ago, and for the last 50 years we have done our best to make amends; may not this be taken into account as a counter-weight? Wrongs that have been inflicted for a series of years cannot be forgotten in a day. Wrongs beget wrongs, and like curses and chickens come home to roost. Wrongs never remain unpunished by Him who has said—"Vengeance is mine, I will repay." We had sown the wind; and he believed we were reaping the whirlwind. Moreover, it could not be denied that the tenant farmer in Ireland had not had the same advantages as in England. With some notable exceptions, he was generally considered as a rent-paying machine; and but little consideration did he get if he failed to pay his generally exorbitant rent. There was no sympathy between him and his landlord. The Catholic districts being the poorest, generally speaking, had ever been the focus of discontent. Emissaries from America, many of them descendants of those who had in time past emigrated from the Irish shores with bitterness and hatred in their hearts, came over and traded on the lowest passions of the poor and ignorant Irish. They assured them that if they would band, together to repudiate their debts they would impoverish and drive out the landlords, and would thus enter again into the estate of which their forefathers had been dispossessed. What 750 wonder, then, if they jumped at this and fell into the specious snares of these schemers, whose chief object was to embarrass and impoverish the England they had been brought up to hate. Combination when innocent was lawful; but when it was used to violate the laws of God and of the land it must be put down as immoral. He need not tell them the horrors of Boycotting, which was a distinct violation of the Divine law of charity. The Plan of Campaign was organized plunder, and as the leading Irish Judges had declared that juries could not be depended upon to convict, there remained nothing but the summary jurisdiction of trained magistrates. The anomaly was increased by the fact of these Catholics being apparently headed and supported by their clergy in these un-Christian actions and violations of the law; but, from inquiries he had personally made recently in Ireland, he was convinced that a large number of the Bishops and superior clergy lamented these excesses, and would willingly receive assistance from without to help them to control the unruly and deplorable actions of the National League. This National League, by its intolerable tyranny, kept in subjection both clergy and laity, with some notable exceptions; and, as a Bishop expressed it to him, it required a hero or a saint to brave its displeasure and penalties. He was told of one case that was so remarkable in proving what moral courage was capable of doing that he felt disposed to mention it. A certain parish priest named Doyle, since, unfortunately, deceased, had been in the habit of condemning openly and forcibly the acts of the Land League. Two of his own parishioners were sent to him to threaten him that, unless he promised to cease from these condemnations, he would find that when the day came for collecting his dues they would be wanting. He sharply rebuked them for their cruel threat, but added—"I have been put here by God to do my duty, and I shall fulfil it at whatever cost. He will take care of me." When the day came to collect his dues, which was the following Sunday, these two same emissaries were the men that held the plates for the collection, and the dues, instead of being withheld, were doubled. Such is the force of courage in a good man. It was astonishing to think how men, 751 who probably would be capable of giving their lives for their faith, as did their forefathers, were yet so terrified of incurring unpopularity at the hands of their neighbours, that they would abstain from openly condemning what they knew must be wrong. They were like the Comtesse de Cruise in The Ingoldsby Legends, who "did not mind death, but could not stand pinching." It was, however, difficult to judge of others until we have passed ourselves through a like ordeal. Some priests had purposely joined the councils of the National League in their own parishes in order to control their actions and minimize the evil; but many, instead of exercising control themselves, had been carried away and compromised by the movement. It was chiefly the younger and more ardent curates that had figured most in the Nationalist ranks. The parish priest, as a rule, kept quiet, or stood aloof altogether. He had touched on the past unjust behaviour of England towards her Catholic subjects in order that he might have the satisfaction of bearing witness to her present fairness and consideration for them. He was encouraged the more in this by the testimony of the reigning Pontiff, Leo XIII., who, in an audience which he granted him four years ago, expressed himself to the following effect:—I am so sensible of the justice of England towards her Catholic subjects and of the liberty which they enjoy under her rule—a liberty greater than in any other part of the world—that I wish to mark my gratitude by aiding England to maintain order, peace, loyalty, and good government as far as my influence can extend throughout the world. I can help her, not only in Ireland, but in India and in her Colonies. To do this, however, I must know what she wants, and must have accurate and official information as to the state of things.The Pope never interfered in Party politics, such as Home Rule, which were outside his scope. He confined his attention only to the observance of morality and religion; and lest anyone should imagine that he would attempt to exercise any undue influence over the consciences of non-Catholics, he would again refer to the Encyclical already quoted—The Church diligently takes care that no one shall be compelled against his will to embrace the Catholic faith, or, as St. Augustine wisely saith, 'Man cannot believe otherwise than of his own free will.'752 It was his conviction that it would not be enough to repress disorder unless we added an antidote to the causes. We were about to give facilities for the transfer and acquisition of land. Give also facilities to those who wish for a good Catholic education, especially in the higher branches. Hitherto we had barred the subject of theology in all State-supported Colleges. Remove that bar, and permit Catholics to have as free an education as Protestants in their religion. We had never succeeded in converting them to Protestantism. Let them learn to be good Catholics. We should then find them as loyal and peaceable as the English Catholics. He drew great distinction between an Irish Catholic and a Catholic Irishman. The first would square his religion to his politics; it was an accident of his birth. The other made his religion his guide and the motive of all his actions, and his politics must not transgress it. Whatever their legislation was let it be firm and unwavering, but, above all, let it be just. If he might venture to address Her Majesty's Ministers, he would do so in the words put in the mouth of Wolsey by our greatest dramatist—Be just, and fear not;Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's,Thy God's, and truth's; then, if thou fall'st,Thou fall'st a blessed martyr.There was no people on the face of the earth that more appreciated a strong Government than the Irish if it were just. Let them adopt the old French motto—"Fais ce que dois advienne que pourra." The Irish nature, where not excited by drink or politics, was a generous, kind, and sympathetic one. While we held aloft the sword of justice in the one hand, let us extend the olive branch in the other. We might win those hearts to us that were now so bitterly hostile to us, and blessed would be the day, if it came, as he prayed it might, when that green isle, peopled with god-fearing, law-abiding, and loyal subjects, might become, not, as it is now, the weakness, but one of the best bulwarks of our glorious British Empire.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
I consider with my noble Friend (the Duke of Argyll)—who has delivered such a powerful speech—that this is a Bill which should be discussed in a serious and not in a merely perfunctory manner, and that the opposition to the Bill should 753 not have been left to my noble Friend the Leader of the Opposition (Earl Granville), when in "another place" it was recommended that it should be fought line by line and word by word. I had intended to make some observations which I think material to the Bill in the presence of those noble Lords who usually sit on the Front Opposition Bench, and I did not think that they would have thrown the whole and sole burden of maintaining the debate and the opposition to the Bill, which in "another House" was fought clause by clause and line by line, upon my noble Friend (Viscount Oxenbridge), who is now the sole occupant of that Bench. There will, however, be a later stage of this Bill, from which I suppose my noble Friends will hardly be able to entirely absent themselves, and I shall then have an opportunity of saying in their presence that which I think ought not to be said when they are absent. I regret their absence for two reasons—first, because I think some rather pertinent questions have been put by the noble Duke as to the alternative which they would propose for the establishment of law and order in Ireland. But I also hoped they would have remained for another reason, and that is that my noble Friend (Earl Granville) touched on some intelligible, if well-founded, objections to this Bill, and I should have liked to state my reasons for thinking that these objections, though they may sound plausible, are not well founded in point of law or of fact. I repeat that I hope I shall have an opportunity of saying what I desire to say in my noble Friends' presence at a later stage of the Bill, and I take this opportunity of giving notice that I have something to say which I desire to say in their presence.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
said, that the discussion was left to the Liberal Unionists, who had been charged and taunted with having deserted the Liberal creed. He, however, contended that they had not changed their opinions; and he maintained that they were the only Liberals who adhered to the language which they used two or three years ago. His noble Friends who usually sat on the Front Opposition Bench had adopted principles which had separated them from the Liberal Party. He had hoped that they would have had 754 an opportunity that night of hearing from the noble Lords who occupied the Front Opposition Bench what were the reasons that, having led their supporters on previous occasions to vote for measures of this sort, they had now entirely changed their opinions. He had hoped that they were on that occasion to hear answers to certain objections to the Bill which were brought forward in the other House—answers to legal points, because his noble and learned Friend sitting below him (the Earl of Selborne) certainly could deal with those points as no other person in Parliament could deal with them. And when they were told that fresh crimes were created under the Bill, they were anxious to hear what those new crimes were, and then to hear the answer of his noble and learned Friend below him on that point also. Now, what was the condition of the House? He could not deny that usually the House was comparatively empty at that hour; but nobody was now present to conduct the debate on that side of the House. What a position for the House to be placed in! (At this time there were about 15 Peers on the Conservative side of the House, and five on the Opposition side, but only one (Viscount Oxenbridge) on the Front Opposition Bench, and the Benches immediately behind it.) Would the noble Lords who had left return to the House that evening? Would any noble Lord say that the noble Lords had gone away with the intention of returning an hour hence, or that they had any intention of returning at all? He should like to have asked them a number of questions had they been present. Although it was the dinner hour, no one believed for a moment that it was the intention of the Opposition to return later on.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
His noble Friend said that he had done his best to keep a House, and he would accept the statement. At all events, he hoped that on the third reading they would have a debate which was worthy of the subject. Then, he trusted, reasons 755 would be given to them which had not been given to-night, and that a statement would be made with regard to the objections to the Bill. The only statement they had had was a statement of a most meagre description by the noble Earl who led on that side of the House, which was perfectly inadequate to the enormous importance of this Bill. Those who, like himself, claimed to have adhered to their principles, and to have maintained the Liberal creed, had a right to hear something more from noble Lords on the Front Opposition Bench than they had heard to-night. He hoped, also, that they would have more courtesy shown them, and that they would be more fortunate in their attendance on the third reading of the Bill than they had been to-night in regard to the Front Opposition Bench.
§ Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past Eight o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter past Ten o'clock.