HL Deb 12 July 1888 vol 328 cc1053-70

My Lords, pursuant to the Notice which I have placed on the Paper I rise to move the following Resolution— That, in the opinion of this House, Her Majesty's Government deserves the support of Parliament in securing for the subjects of the Queen in Ireland the full enjoyment of personal freedom in all their lawful transactions, and in protecting them from the coercion of unlawful combinations. My Lords, I hardly know whether I ought to apologize to the House for putting this Notice on the Paper, It is possible that some noble Lords may think that it is asking your Lordships to go a little out of your ordinary way and to take a step which, in some respects, may seem unnecessary. We all know that it is a well-established practice in this House to discuss great questions of public policy on incidental Notices. The greater leisure enjoyed by your Lordships than by the other House of Parliament enables you to take that course without public inconvenience. It is our constant habit to discuss very grave subjects indeed on the occasion of Questions put to Ministers simply across the Table. It is also true, and no less important to bear in mind, that it has been the custom of this House, when the deeper questions affecting the Constitution are agitated in the country, to step forward over this line of dignified reserve as regards its mere voting power, and to express by its vote the opinion of the House on any such question. Sometimes, my Lords, these votes take the form of Addresses to the Crown, calling attention to matters concerning the executive action of the Government. Sometimes they take the form of abstract Resolutions. I would not detain the House for a moment upon an abstract Resolution such as this if we were not now face to face with a great crisis in our Constitution. In my opinion, and I believe in the opinion of all who look at these matters with a calm eye, we are in a crisis greater than any which has occurred since the Revolution of 1688. It is true that the succession to the Crown is not in question, but it is also true that the composition of our Parliament is in question, and the composition of our Parliament, according to the fundamental principles of our Public Law, lies at the root of the whole of our Constitution. Then, my Lords, it is not irrevelant to observe what has taken place in the other House of Parliament. A Resolution, an abstract Resolution, was proposed in that House condemnatory of the Government upon a late occasion. It was rejected by a majority of 93. Now, my Lords, 93 in any circumstances is a very large majority in the House of Commons. It is two more than the majority with which the great Government of Sir Robert Peel began its beneficient administration, and, my Lords, you must remember this, that on the present occasion that majority of 93 is a composite majority. It is a majority of many Parties united by one common feeling for a common object. The one great fear that has united these Parties is the fear lest we should see a Government in power dominated by the Parnellite section of the House, as any Government formed under the Leadership of Mr. Gladstone would necessarily be in the present conditions. Another great and further principle which has united these Parties is that of asserting the supremacy of our Imperial Law, and of desiring to maintain the perfect unity of the Empire. The House of Commons by that majority of 93 simply rejected an abstract Resolution. No explanation was given or could be given by that House of the reasons which induced so large a majority to vote together in support of the present Administration; but I propose that your Lordships should join with me in giving our reasons, not, it may be, all our reasons, but the main reasons for which so many Parties in this House are united in supporting the present Government. Now, my Lords, I venture to say that such an affirmative explanation of the fact of the union of two Parties in favour of the present Government is an explanation which is greatly needed in the present circumstances of the country. In order to impress upon you my own sense of the importance of some such affirmative declaration being made, I must ask you to go back with me for some time—to stand back from the canvas of this great picture and to examine it, crowded as it is from day to day with its painful and significant incidents, and never more crowded than at the present moment with incidents that must pain and grieve everybody. I must ask your Lordships to stand back from the canvas of this great picture and to look for a moment at the position in which we are placed. Great Constitutional questions are now being agitated. It is now little more than two years ago since the Leaders of the then Liberal Party—or rather, I should say, a few of the Leaders of the Liberal Party—announced their sudden conversion to the Parnellite doctrine with regard to the Government of Ireland. My Lords, I am not going to deny the legitimacy of any sudden conversion of that kind; I only wish to point out that there has been, so far as I know, no precedent whatever in our political history for so sudden and so violent a conversion. Many of us are old enough to recollect—perhaps too many of us, according to the hint given by my noble Friend (Earl Granville) on this side of the House the other night—perhaps too many of us are old enough to remember two other occasions in which great conversions took place, one on Catholic Emancipation and one on the repeal of the Corn Laws. Neither of these conversions could compare with this. On both those great questions there had been long preparation and discussion. Very bitter feelings no doubt were aroused by the conversion in both cases, but there was in them nothing so sudden, nothing so violent, nothing that affected such fundamental questions as this sudden conversion of Mr. Gladstone and two or three of his Friends to the Parnellite policy with respect to Ireland. Again, my Lords, I say I am not going to contest the perfect good faith in which that conversion was affected. We all know that in the history of the world there have been many sudden conversions. The Christian Church itself affords a notable instance of the sudden conversion of a man who was undoubtedly one of the greatest men that ever lived in the world, and who was suddenly converted to preach a doctrine which, during the preceding part of his life, he had always done his best to destroy. That man was converted by a light which shone upon him. The light which shone upon him was a light from Heaven, and the course of 1,800 years has gone far to prove the truth of his conversion. The light which shone upon my right hon. Friend and a few of his Colleagues was a light which shone from the Irish Members of the House of Commons; and we may be pardoned for doubting whether the localities from which the light shone in these two cases of sudden conversion were identical. The change proposed by Mr. Gladstone involved the disintegration of the Empire. That is disputed, but there is one thing which is not disputed, and that is that it did mean the breaking up of the Imperial Parliament. The breaking up of our Imperial Parliament is directly involved in the change which was so suddenly determined upon two years ago, and the breaking up of our Imperial Parliament involves the making of a new Constitution. My Lords, I ventured some time since, through one of the usual channels of information, to warn my countrymen of two things; the first was that such a change would involve the drawing up of a new Constitution, and nothing short of it; and the second was that there was no man and no group of men competent for such work. The Constitution of this country, my Lords, has not been made; it has grown. During 800 or 900 years, by additions here and additions there, by developments here and developments there, from very small beginnings it has been built up into the glorious structure we now have. All our revolutions have been in the nature of developments; all our revolutions have been the assertions of a previous right. None of our statesmen are or have been accustomed to, or are capable of, thinking out and drawing up a new Constitution. My prediction on this point has come literally true. What happened? A small group of men sat with Mr. Gladstone round a table, and drew up a new Constitution for the British Islands. I do not for a moment deny that the Constitution was exceedingly clever and exceedingly ingenious; and, what is more, I will venture to say that it was a great deal better than any of the other reforms which I have since seen indicated in the newspapers. But that has nothing to do with the question. It was an unworkable Constitution; it was a paper Constitution. It was a Constitution made of pasteboard, incapable of resisting the tremendous pressure of human passions which would have been brought to bear on it. Mr. Gladstone's Constitution reminds me of a short conversation I had many years ago with an old lady, a tenant of my own. She had built a cottage close to the sea, rather too close to it, in fact; but it was a nice cottage, and looked quite beautiful from the outside. She said to me, "I want a new house." I said, "Why do you want a new house; this one looks good?" and she replied, "Oh! it would be a grand house if I could just keep the ocean out of it." That is a fair description of Mr. Gladstone's Constitution. It would be a beautiful Constitution if you could keep the ocean out of it. In Ireland you have to deal with some of the greatest passions that agitate the human breast, and who can think that under such a Constitution as this those tremendous passions would be held under control? We need not, however, discuss this Constitution now, for immediately after it was announced in Parliament it was abandoned by its own architect, and his supporters went about the country saying—"Remember, it is not for this Constitution, but for something totally different, that we appeal to you." I am not going to debate the question of Home Rule now, but I will say it is my firm conviction that the following opinion of no less an Irishman than Henry Grattan still holds good. In 1782, when it was proposed to limit the power of the new Irish Parliament, Grattan at once repudiated the attempt, saying, "We must be equal to England, or else we shall be her bitter enemy." No plan can be drawn by Mr. Gladstone or any other man which shall set up a separate Parliament for Ireland, and will not inevitably lead to the separation of the two countries. All your grand limitations and so-called safeguards will go by the board in the first storm of political passion, and separation will follow. Do your Lordships remember what happened in the case of Scotland between the time of the union of the Crown and the time of the union of the Parliaments? So bitter was the spirit between the two countries that shortly before the union was effected the Parliament of Scotland actually passed an Act declaring that whoever succeeded to the Crown of England should not succeed to the Crown of Scotland. There you had two Parliaments in two countries which were united geographically, and which ought to be united commercially; and yet such were the passions aroused by the separate institutions that divided them that one of those Parliaments passed a vote by an immense majority in favour of complete separation between England and Scotland. One word more with reference to Mr. Gladstone's Constitution and the events which followed it. I believe the occupants of the Treasury Bench would have divided alone with the Irish Members had it not been understood that Mr. Gladstone's Constitution was to be abandoned. Men who have committed such a tremendous political fiasco are not men who are entitled to appeal to the country on the ground of personal confidence. We cannot intrust the Government of this country into the hands of men who have proved their own incompetency by producing a plan which they were at once obliged to abandon amid the derisive shouts of all Parties. I must now touch upon a somewhat delicate matter, and one upon which not many Members are willing to enter—namely, the question of comparative authority. Who were the men who adhered to Mr. Gladstone, and who were the men who revolted from him? In the first rank of political life none of his old Colleagues adhered to him except Sir William Harcourt. With him also was Mr. John Morley, who had joined the Government recently, having come from literary circles—a man of great ability, and an eminent author in the region of philosophy. I may say that I attach great weight to his opinion, and if we are to have new men devising new Constitutions for us, I should not be disinclined to take the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman. But who were against Mr. Gladstone? There was John Bright. Now, whatever differences of opinion any of us may have had with him, we must all acknowledge his vigorous, his masculine honesty, his perfect freedom from narrow Party jealousy, his manly character, and his possession of that characteristic of common sense which belongs pre-eminently to the highest class of English statesmen. Then I will take Lord Hartington. He also has a masculine honesty, and a singular sagacity in foreseeing the probable results of political changes. Then take Mr. Chamberlain, a man who has been brought up in the management of a great city, and who palpably and before our eyes has grown in political stature and wisdom. Then there is Mr. Goschen, about whose great abilities and knowledge of financial affairs I need not say a word; and I should mention also my learned Friend, Sir Henry James. I wish the English people to understand that it was a mere fraction of the Liberal Leaders who adhered to Mr. Gladstone. By far the best men who adhered to him were my noble Friends upon the Bench below me; but in the House of Commons all the most distinguished, and certainly all the most independent, Members of the Liberal Party repudiated and opposed his scheme. I now come to another point of great importance in connection with the Resolution which I shall venture to move. We have done with the Constitution to which I have been alluding. All the followers of Mr. Gladstone declared that it is dead and buried, although I, for my own part, doubt it very much. I believe that we shall see the greatest part of it revived if we ever come to discuss the possibilities of a new Constitution for this Realm. If two Parliaments should ever be set up you will find it impossible not to retain some of the points of that scheme. But, in the meantime, at any rate, it is spoken of as dead, and we have a new campaign—the appeal to the masses as against the classes; that is an appeal not to the more educated and intelligent part of the community, but to the less educated and less intelligent. I admit that there are some subjects as to which I would rather trust the instincts of the masses of the people than the instincts of the educated classes, and in the course of the last 30 years there have certainly been occasions when my sympathies were with the masses, and not the classes. I may mention, as an instance, the wonderful reception which was given in this Metropolis some 30 years ago to, the great Liberator of Italy, Garibaldi. I shall never forget that scene, the huge mass of upturned faces, all expressing recognition of a great, simple, and unselfish character, working for a worthy political object. But, at the same time, I can fully understand the feeling which influenced more educated people, which was that the means by which Garibali achieved the independence of Italy were means which could not be unreservedly approved. But when the framing of a new Constitution is in issue, is there a man in his senses who would appeal to the instincts of the masses rather than to the educated minds of the classes? To draw up a new Constitution for the government of a country is the most difficult of all tasks. It was not done by the masses in America, but by the most eminent of their public men, and not without great difficulty. I say it is unreasonable to appeal to the masses with regard to the form of our future Constitution. When Mr. Gladstone talks about the classes as opposed to the masses he means, I suppose, that the higher classes have a certain bias against which they have a difficulty in struggling, and which interferes with their candid consideration of certain questions. But we must remember this—that political leaders are a class as much as any other, and that they are subject to the most tremendous temptations to lead them from the path of rectitude. I do not know whether your Lordships noticed some time ago a letter—possibly not, as it was only published in a local paper—a very remarkable letter, which was written to his constituents by a young Member of Parliament who was at one time a keen Gladstonian Liberal—I allude to a man who is the son of one well-known and beloved by many Members of your Lordships' House—I mean Mr. Lacaita. He was elected as the Gladstonian Member for Dundee; but many months had not passed before he, being a thoroughly straightforward man and having no personal ambition to serve, became completely disgusted with the developments of the Gladstonian policy and the open excuses for crime, and he wrote to his constituents a letter, in which he said that when he became a candidate for Dundee he had no idea to what lengths Party passion could carry those with whom he was elected to act, that he could no longer sit in the House of Commons by their side and act with them, and that therefore he felt constrained to resign his seat. We have been told by one in authority that up to the time when Mr. Gladstone announced his change of opinion on the Irish Question the people of this country were as ignorant of the idea of a separate Parliament for Ireland as they were of the Differential Calculus. If this is the true character of the masses of this country—and I believe that it is to a great extent true—then I maintain that we ought to be particularly scrupulous and careful as to the accuracy of the instruction given to the people on this subject. But I find at the present interim that we are enjoying between the abandonment of Mr. Gladstone's last new Constitution and the production of his next new Constitution is being given up by the Gladstonian Party to two things—grievous misrepresentation of the history of the past, and as grievous misrepresentation of the acts of the Government in the present. Mr. Gladstone has charged us with being ignorant of history, and especially of Irish history. This charge directed against men, some of whom are quinquagenarians or sexagenarians, and others septuagenarians, and some even bordering on octogenarians, is a somewhat startling one. It so happens that when I was a boy and present at the first scene I witnessed in the House of Commons, I was shortly afterwards standing close beside the gigantic form of Daniel O'Connell as he came out in a great state of excitement after a severe defeat obtained against him by one whom he always termed "that scorpion Stanley;" and ever since that time at frequent intervals we have all been compelled to study the history of Ireland, to read Blue Books upon Blue Books, and turn our attention to the state of things in that country. I must confess that I have thought it odd that Mr. Gladstone, with whom I have been in close communion for a great part of that time, should now accuse us of being ignorant of the history of Ireland. The results of my own reading of Irish history have certainly not been agreeable to the doctrines of my right hon. Friend. But certain of my late Colleagues who sit in this House have also been talking history—Gladstonian history—lately. Among them is my noble Friend who leads the Opposition, and this reminds me of an anecdote—told by a friend of mine and of many of your Lordships—of a gentleman who has an impediment in his speech. It appears that he went into a naturalist's shop and was much pleased with a parrot that he saw there. With very considerable difficulty in getting out the first and last words, he said to the woman behind the counter, "Can he talk?" "Well," said the woman, "if he could not talk better than that I would wring his neck." The way that some persons talk Irish history reminds me very forcibly of that story. I am not, however, disposed to deal with my late Colleagues so harshly as that; but I must say that anything like the monstrous misrepresentations of Irish history indulged in by Mr. Gladstone and his Friends I never heard. Mr. Gladstone, for instance, has told us that the state of Ireland had been very happy until the invasion of the English. Is there any Member of this House who does not know enough of Irish history to be able to contradict that absolutely? When one is studying history it is always better to go back to original documents, and anyone who wishes to see how monstrous are these statements of my right hon. Friend should go back to the memorable volume called The History of the Four Masters. Anyone who reads those volumes will find there a graphic picture of the savagery that existed—constant feuds between the Chiefs, the burning of churches, the peasantry up to their elbows in blood from year to year without any apparent redeeming quality to indicate the beginning of national civilization. I should mention that I was rather amused on reading in this book an account of one of the Chiefs who died and was buried in Rome, and over whose tomb the following inscription was placed, "To our great, noble, and predatory Lord." No doubt that was his true character. My noble Friend on the Bench near me has also been talking history lately, and I find that in one of his speeches the other day he said that Henry VIII. confiscated the land of the poorer classes in Ireland and gave it to the Chiefs. I venture to say that that is as monstrous a travesty of history as I have ever seen—save Mr. Gladstone's. I do not know where he got it from, unless it be from some obiter dicta of various writers who put down all the evils of Ireland to the introduction of English law. Nothing more mischievous could be done at the present time, I think, than to tell the Irish people what is not true upon this great matter—when we know that most of the crime in Ireland is agrarian—namely, that it was the power of England that forced upon them the cruel land system under which until recently they lived. There is absolute proof against the proposition of my noble Friend, and there can be no doubt whatever that the system under which the land was held in Ireland under Native Chiefs did infinitely more injustice than could be done under any feudal laws. Upon this point I do not wish to detain your Lordships by quoting authorities. I will merely refer to the authority of Hallam and the words of Prendergast, who may be said to have been quite a ferocious Irishman. Prendergast said— The Irish knew no such thing as tenure, nor forfeiture, nor fixed rent; at this they repined, though willing to offer such tribute of victual as was required and to let their chieftians eat them almost out of house and home. Hence the saying, 'Spend me but defend me.' Such was the condition of the Irish tenants, which my noble Friend represents as having been made much worse by the measures of Henry VIII. What is the real truth about Henry VIII.? Nothing is more strange than the great contrast between the personal characteristics of the great Tudor Monarchs and the effect which their measures had on the history of the country. There are many passages in the life of Henry VIII. in which we can think of nothing but his tyranny; but still in other things he displayed a political wisdom which enabled him to contribute to the noble structure of English history. In a letter which he addressed to the Earl of Surrey in 1520 he said— Show unto the Irish people that of necessity it is requisite that every reasonable creature should be governed by a law. Show them that of necessity they must conform the order of their lives to the observance of some reasonable law, and not live as they have done heretofore. It was the absence of law that characterized Ireland in the Reign of Henry VIII., and what he sought to impress upon them was that they must live according to some reasonable law; and what was the report to Henry VIII. of his Commissioner? He reports—how strange after the lapse of centuries the language should still be so true!— For there is no land in all this world that has more liberty in vices than Ireland and less liberty in virtue. I pass to the misrepresentations which have been made by Parnellite speakers as to the transactions of our own times. The noble Earl the late Lord Lieutenant (Earl Spencer) is not the only one who has been guilty of the gravest misrepresentation, but I take him because he is here and can answer for himself. I cannot see the necessity of the course which has been taken by my noble Friend. Even according to his own convictions, which I doubt not are perfectly sincere, would it not have been easy for him to say—"We tried to govern by enforcing law and order; we failed; we are quite willing to wait for the result of your experiment." Would not that have been a patriotic and perfectly reasonable course? Is it a reasonable course to turn round upon those who succeed you and who are trying the use of the very powers which you exercised, and to accuse them of every political vice? My noble Friend gave figures to prove that crime had decreased to a greater extent under his rule than it had under the present Government. No wonder. Does my noble Friend recollect one advantage which he had that the present Government has not? Does he not remember that, when he was in Office, he received a universal and generous support? [Loud Ministerial cheers and counter cheers.] I do not quite know what it is which excites the cheers of my noble Friends. I was with them during those years, and I recollect no attack upon Lord Spencer from any part of this House. I recollect occasional debates in which some Irish Peers may have brought forward individual cases in which it was thought the Government might have acted otherwise. But I am not talking of that sort of legitimate criticism; and I say that, on the whole, he was supported by public opinion and by the speeches of responsible politicians of all Parties. Does he not know the enormous impediments which have been produced by the contrary course taken since? Does he not know how difficult it is to repress crime when you have eminent statesmen introducing phrases to conceal crime? The course that has been pursued has not been fair, just, or generous. But, apart from the question of sentiment, I come to the question of fact as to crime. It has been repeatedly asserted that when the Crimes Act of the present Government was passed crime was low in Ireland. Here are the figures comparing 1869 with 1886. Murders, 10 against 10; offences against the person, 42 as compared with 64; offences against property, 32 against 234; offences against the public peace, 286 compared with 324; total in 1869, 370, compared with 632 in 1886; or, including 397 threatening letters in 1869 and 424 in 1886, totals of 767 in the former year and 1,056 in 1886. Crime was therefore rife in Ireland when the Crimes Act was passed. But let me remind your Lordships that crime is low where intimidation is most complete, and the reason why crime is low in many parts of Ireland is that the tyranny of the League is so complete that its decrees do not require to be enforced. Mr. Considine was asked by the Commissioners whether there was much intimidation in Kerry at the time of the inquiry, and he replied— No; as a rule at the present moment intimidation is not very active, because the League and the whole system down there is so well organized that no one offends against it, and so there is no necessity for active intimidation. Another misrepresentation which has been made—and in which I fear my noble Friend (Earl Spencer) has had some part—is that the present Government are enforcing the Crimes Act for the purpose of suppressing, not crime, but the expression of political opinion. I say there is not a shadow of a foundation for that assertion. We passed the Act of 1870 with great reluctance; it was a very severe Act, and much more severe than that which now exists; and I ask my noble Friend whether at that time he ever dreamt of suppressing the freedom of political opinion? I say no; he knows that none of us had any such idea; and yet we passed a much more violent Act. What right has he to accuse the present Government of having a motive which he knows we had not at that time in passing a more violent Act? The noble Earl seemed to imply that the present Government were trying to put down the National League as a political agency. What right has he to assert that? They have not proclaimed it all over Ireland; they have not power to do so; they proclaim it only where its existence leads to crime. I hold in my hand a Return which shows that my noble Friend in one year suppressed seven branches of the National League. That was in the year 1883. My noble Friend exercised powers almost without any restraint from Parliament. But the present Act places a very serious restraint upon the Government. The Government cannot proclaim any district for the purpose of suppressing meetings without presenting their reasons to Parliament, and if an Address is carried against them their action is stopped. I challenge my noble Friend to explain this. If he has thought that for two years the Government have been suppressing meetings for the sake of breaking up a political society, why did he not move an Address which, if carried, would have stopped the action of the Government at any moment? My noble Friend might say, "We have no chance of success if we did;" but he had a chance of speech, and in no Assembly in the world is speech so free as here. It is no excuse for my noble Friend to say that he did not move such an Address because he might not have succeeded. To move such an Address would have enabled him at least to bring forward his evidence. He has not done this, but he has contented himself with vague declarations. I now come to another misrepresentation, which I consider to be a very grievous and unjust accusation against Members of the Government, and with which my noble Friend the official Leader of the Opposition is connected. It is an attack upon Mr. Balfour for his manner towards Irish Members. In this, I am sorry to say, Sir George Trevelyan has taken a most ungenerous part. On two occasions lately my noble Friend near me and Sir George Trevelyan have spoken of the contemptuous manner of Mr. Balfour towards Irish Members. I can only judge of this from the ordinary sources of information; but I take it that this attack is made because Mr. Balfour has stated a few facts which sometimes have been enough to overthrow whole paragraphs of Irish blarney and bluster. The answers given by Sir George Trevelyan to the Irish Members when he was Chief Secretary were not speeches; they were the ordinary average common business answers of the House of Commons; and I can say that nothing could be, in one sense, more utterly contemptuous than the answers he gave during those years. They were exactly like Mr. Balfour's; they were perfectly cool; and they exhibited no temper. They were short, curt, and effective contradictions, and it was this that brought the deepest reproach of the Irish Members down upon the Irish Secretary. But that is not all. On one occasion Sir George Trevelyan had to sum up his opinion of the Irish Members. Here is the language which he used, and I appeal to your Lordships whether it is the language of a man who has the moral right to quarrel with Mr. Balfour for anything that he has ever said? I have never seen anything in Mr. Balfour's answers which will equal this for calm and cool contempt— Their remarks upon crime had consisted entirely of one long palliation of everyone who had been accused of crime, except the comparatively small number of accused persons who had eventually given evidence against others—palliation, in fact, of everyone who had been convicted of crime; and accusations couched in very severe, and he thought very unjust, terms against everyone who had been concerned in bringing criminals to justice, from the Judge to the jurymen in the box, and to all the counsel and witnesses who had been concerned. I now come to a comparatively small point, but it is one which, in my opinion, shows none the less how grossly inaccurate, as well as unjust, has been the language of Parnellite-Liberalism. I may remind your Lordships of a discussion that took place not long ago on the question of cumulative punishments. As a layman I may say that I think I have observed cases of cumulative punishments in England and Scotland. When this question was raised in the House of Commons, Mr. Gladstone said—"If you can bring forward a single case during my Administration, of course I am out of Court." Since that time repeated cases have been brought forward, but Mr. Gladstone does not go out of Court. I am much mistaken if I have not got some speeches of Mr. Gladstone and others, in which cumulative punishments are urged over and over again as crimes against the Government. I absolutely believe Mr. Gladstone when he said that he knew nothing about them; it is perfectly natural that he should not. I believe my noble Friend (Earl Spencer) when he says that he did know anything about it; but I shall show you how fallacious his memory is. He said at Sheffield the other day that he had a faint recollection of one case, but not one of cumulative penalties. My noble Friend further stated that when the case came to his knowledge he passed a positive Order that no such prosecution should be instituted against the Press or the platform without his personal knowledge. My noble Friend is quite wrong in that recollection. What are the facts? One of the most notorious cases of cumulative sentences occurred after, and not before, that Instruction. On the 2nd of November, 1882, the Commons were told that Lord Spencer had passed an "absolute rule" to that effect. Two months after, on January 1, 1883, Mr. M'Philpin, the editor of The Tuam News, was prosecuted by the Government of my right hon. Friend, and it must have been with his personal knowledge. Mr. M'Philpin was found guilty, and was imprisoned for a month and two fortnights—a cumulative sentence. It is quite impossible that that could be done without the knowledge of my noble Friend—I do not say his sanction, because I suppose it was done by a Judge, and the Executive Government have no power over a Judge; but it could not be done without the knowledge of my noble Friend. As proof of that, I may say that on the 17th of January, 1883, Mr. F. H. O'Donnell, M.P., wrote to The Times a bitter complaint, and declared that cumulative sentences had been "cleverly arranged" in order to strain the law. He brought the very accusation against my noble Friend which my noble Friend and his Colleagues are bringing against the present Government. On the 26th of February, 1883, in the House of Commons, Mr. Parnell moved an Address, which amounted to a Vote of Censure on the Government for their administration of the Crimes Act. The Government opposed the Motion, and they were supported by the whole of the Liberal Party except 15 Members, who followed Mr. Parnell. But the Government did not express one iota of contrition for cumulative sentences; and yet Members of that Government now spoke of the "incredible meanness" of Mr. Balfour in his administration of the Crimes Act. Such expressions should not be held. I have brought forward this Motion, and worded it as I have done, with but one view. I would not wish to commit your Lordships—I do not wish to commit myself—against any measure that shall come before us in future years for the settlement of this tremendous difficulty which has arisen in Ireland. I hope that we shall maintain a clear and impartial judgment on what may be the outcome of this grave political matter. But there is one thing which we may affirm positively, and we ought to make clear to the people what it is that we are supporting at the present moment. We are not supporting the Government on any crotchet of our own, but we are supporting them on the great principle that until Parliament shall decide this question, all law of property and the law of the land must be maintained, and that the poor must be protected as well as the rich. I trust that on these grounds, and on these alone, this Motion will be supported with the hearty concurrence of your Lordships. I beg to move the Resolution which stands in my name.

Moved to resolve, That in the opinion of this House Her Majesty's Government deserves the support of Parliament in securing for the subjects of the Queen in Ireland the full enjoyment of personal freedom in all their lawful transactions, and in protecting them from the coercion of unlawful combinations."—(The Duke of Argyll.)

On Question, Motion agreed to, nemine contradicente.