§ The QUEEN'S SPEECH reported by the LORD CHANCELLOR.
THE EARL OF LONDESBOEOUGH (who wore the uniform of Honorary Colonel of the 1st York Rifles)
My Lords, I rise to move an Address thanking Her Majesty for Her gracious Speech. I do so with diffidence, relying upon the indulgence always extended by your Lordships to those who address your Lordships' House for the first time.
The subject with which I will first deal is one that engrosses all our minds, and that is, the state of Ireland. I think it will be a great comfort to the whole of this country to read that the measures that have been passed in this Parliament have already been of such salutary effect in Ireland, and that Her Majesty's Government intend to produce further measures which will conduce to the comfort of that country. It is not for me to waste your time by entering upon the subject of Home Rule; but I do think that the most eloquent Unionist could not possibly bring forward a more forcible argument against Home Rule than the horrible and atrocious murder of Inspector Martin. I think Home Rulers themselves must feel this, because, although in different parts of the country they endeavour to stir up indignation (not with very great success, I must say) on account of the imprisonment of Mr. O'Brien, yet they pass over this dreadful murder. And I think one may mention the very last speech on this subject of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Rosebery), who alluded to it as a "death." I should call it a most horrible and atrocious murder, and a disgrace to the whole country. It reflects disgrace upon those who brought it about in that sort of way, and also on the whole country, and will continue to do so on he whole country until the state of things is put an end to. The noble Lord appears to think that one of the principals in that dreadful affair was what he called a "peaceable priest." I do not know how the noble Lord round out that he was a peaceable priest, because certainly his public form 7 does not show it. Some time ago he was sentenced to three months' imprisonment for vindicating the Plan of Campaign; and, altogether, I think he can hardly be described as a peaceable priest. At any rate, the noble Lord appears to think that the most disgraceful thing was that this man should be arrested on his return from a service at church. This priest did not act upon the example that was set him by his Master some 1900 years ago. I would ask you how it is possible that we should wish to entrust the lives and liberties of our fellow subjects to men like these. We Englishmen do not wish to send men where we would not go ourselves; and who would like to be at the mercy of these atrocious ruffians? I think even the liberty of these men themselves would not be safe. There is Mr. O'Brien. He gave the advice which tended to this murder; he advised them to bring their sticks with them—that with their sticks they would be a match for the constables. They did bring their sticks, and the deplorable result we have seen. But this is not all. A letter written by Mr. Russell has appeared in the Times. We have seen no contradiction of it; and it appears that in the month of August Mr. O'Brien wrote saying that it was most necessary to show Mr. Balfour that his troubles in Ireland were only beginning. This was in the month of August; in the month of September, directly after that, the outrages commenced; in October there were six, in November four, and in December six, showing the great effect of these meetings. Is it to be wondered at that Her Majesty's Government afterwards directed that he should be prosecuted? Considering all that he had said with respect to the treatment of land grabbers, and considering how all these people have been murdered, I think. Her Majesty's Government would have acted in the most disgraceful way if they had not taken notice of these speeches of Mr. O'Brien. But some advocates of Home Rule appear to think that because a man is well brought up he ought to be treated in a different way from one who has not had his advantages. I think it is just the reverse. Because a man is well brought up he ought to know how to behave, and he ought not to encourage acts of this kind. When the meetings were proclaimed the outrages diminished. 8 I feel certain that if Her Majesty's Government pursue the course they have taken, of administering justice with firmness, in course of time these outrages will cease. As a proof of that I may point to the improvement in the deposits in Savings Banks. I say that the outrages have diminished, and at the present moment the only great cause of complaint that Home Rulers can bring is this imprisonment of Mr. O'Brien, and that instead of being taken to prison in a first-class carriage, he was removed in a second. I hope Her Majesty's Government will continue to administer justice in the same firm way that they have done hitherto.
The next most important subject is the announcement that Her Majesty's Government intend to do something towards the National Defences. Nothing would produce more fearful results to this country than a general war happening and this country being unprepared; and I feel sure that Her Majesty's Government will not appeal in vain to the patriotism of the country for its defence. We must remember that this country is peculiarly situated, and that we are dependent, not only for our comforts and the luxuries of life, but also for the mere necessaries of life, upon foreign countries; and it is therefore necessary, not only that our coasts should be defended, but that also the ocean highways should be made safe for our vessels. Our coasts are inhabited by the finest sea-going population in the world, men who hold their lives in their hands when they go out, and who are at all times ready to risk their lives in defending the State and the safety of their wives and families. When they do this I think it is necessary that they should be able to trust the ships they have to man, and the guns they have to fire. It is only fair that the whole of the country which enjoys this safety should provide these things for its defence. There is another thing that we must remember, and that is that the money will not altogether be spent in vain, but it will be spent in this country for the benefit of the whole of the population.
I think the country may be congratulated upon having at the head of the Government the noble Marquis, by whom our foreign relations are so satisfactorily controlled, and if the measures 9 that are promised by the Government are only considered on their merits, and not opposed merely because they are brought in by a Conservative Government, I think they will certainly be passed, with very great advantage to the country, and for the public benefit. My Lords, I will conclude by moving that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, thanking Her Majesty for Her Majesty's most Gracious Speech from the Throne, as follows:—MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN,We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to your Majesty for the Most Gracious Speech which your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament;We humbly thank Your Majesty for the information that during the brief period that has elapsed since the close of the last Session nothing has taken place to affect the cordial relations which exist between Your Majesty and other Powers.We learn with satisfaction that the operations which had been successfully completed in Egypt a few days before the last Prorogation, have effected the object for which they were undertaken, and that Your Majesty sees no ground for apprehending the renewal of disturbance in the neighbourhood of Suakin.We thank Your Majesty for informing us that the negotiations which Your Majesty had directed to be opened with the Rulers of Thibe for the purpose of preventing encroachment on Your Majesty's rights over the territory of Sikkim have not as yet been brought to a favourable conclusion, but that Your Majesty hopes that further military operations will not be necessary.We humbly thank your Majesty for informing us that your Majesty has consented to take part in a Conference with Germany and the United States at Berlin upon the affairs of Samoa, in continuation of that which was recently assembled at Washington.We thank Your Majesty for informing us that some portions of the Bill which was presented to us last year for amending the Local Government of England and Wales were laid aside in consequence of the pressure upon the time of Parliament, and that from the same cause it was found to be impossible to enter upon the question of Local Government for Scotland: and that Bills dealing with these matters will be laid before us.10We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that our attention will be asked to measures for developing the material resources of Ireland, and for amending the constitution of the various tribunals which have special jurisdiction over real property in that country. We learn with satisfaction that the Statutes which we have recently passed for the restoration of order and confidence in Ireland have already been attended with salutary results.We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that legislative provision will be necessary for executing the Convention into which Your Majesty has entered for the suppression of bounties on the exportation of sugar, and also for completing the conversion of the Three per Cent. Annuities; that the state of the gold coinage has for some years past been the subject of legitimate complaint, and that a measure for restoring it to a satisfactory condition will be laid before us.We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that though the Commission which Your Majesty appointed to inquire into the Civil Establishments of the United Kingdom has not yet completed its labours, it has already made a Report of much value, and that proposals for legislation arising out of that Report will be submitted to us.We thank Your Majesty for informing us that several subjects which Your Majesty commended to our care in previous years, but which the increasing burden of our duties has shut out from consideration, will be submitted to us again, that in this number will be included Measures relating to tithes, for the regulation of the Universities of Scotland, for determining the liability of employers in the case of accidents, for establishing a Department of Agriculture, for cheapening the Transfer of Land, and for remedying abuses attaching to Joint Stock Companies formed under limited liability.We humbly assure your Majesty that our careful consideration shall be given to the subjects which Your Majesty has recommended to our attention, and to the Measures which may be submitted to us; and we earnestly trust that with regard to these and all other matters pertaining to our functions the keeping and guidance of Almighty God may be vouchsafed to us.
LORD PENEHYN (who was attired in the uniform of a Deputy Lieutenant)
My Lords, I beg to second the adoption of the Address to Her Majesty. I must 11 ask your Lordships' consideration for any shortcomings which there may be in the performance of the duty which I have the honour of being entrusted with. I trust also that I may not infringe any of the Rules of this House in my attempt to deal with some of the topics which have been mentioned.
My Lords, we are informed that the relations existing between this country and Foreign Powers are on terms of cordiality. I think that is a proof of the ability and tact with which matters relating to Foreign Affairs continue to be conducted by Her Majesty's Government. It is highly satisfactory to know that the military operations conducted in the neighbourhood of Suakim have been so successful that the enemy have been obliged to withdraw. It is also to be hoped that the diplomatic representations made to the Rulers of Thibet will settle the difficulty about Sikkim, and will obviate the necessity of resorting to arms.
I hope that the Conference which is to take place in Berlin on the Affairs of Samoa will bring about an amicable settlement of that rather triangular difficulty which is shared by this country, Germany, and the United States. I am sure that a solution of that question will be acceptable to your Lordships.
I think that in the consideration of Home Affairs, the subject of National Defence deservedly takes precedence in order of importance. The paragraph in the Speech from the Throne which announces that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to take additional steps for the defence of our shores and commerce will, I am sure, be read with gratification by all who care about the security of Her Majesty's Dominions. I think I may say also that the prospect of additional strength being given to the Navy is welcome. In my opinion our Navy ought to be conspicuous for its strength, and although the putting of our defences upon a better footing will involve the expenditure of a large sum of money, I sincerely hope that those who are responsible for our Naval Administration will not allow any motive of parsimony to weigh with them. Of course it is possible that an addition to the strength of our war vessels will entail a heavy outlay, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer asks 12 for the means I hope he will have no difficulty about that.
My Lords, the subject of the Local Government Bill, and the extension of it to Scotland next requires some attention, and with your permission I should like to say a word or two upon how the matter stands. There is no doubt that the Local Government Bill will in many parts of England admirably replace the old form of County Government, but I have misgivings as to its success elsewhere. In Wales, for instance, where what I may call such an advanced school of politicians exists as is seldom to be met with out of Ireland, the light in which the Local Government Bill is regarded is principally that it has been brought into existence for the purpose of being used like a machine in a paper-mill, which breaks up everything. In my humble opinion, the inventor of the machine forgot to provide a strong self-acting brake, for the want of which it may perhaps work at a dangerous rate. It may be that it is intended that the body of Aldermen should act as a check by constituting something like a second and superior Chamber; and if a higher standard of qualification had been required for Aldermen than for elected Councillors perhaps it would have been well. But as it is, there is ground for anxiety at the prospect of the extension of this Act, when already, for instance, we see that in a great part of Wales all magistrates are, practically speaking, entirely excluded from the position of Aldermen; and when there is hardly anything, as far as I can see, to prevent Aldermen being chosen whose status will not inspire confidence, I think there is reason for anxiety on that account. It is a matter of notoriety that a majority of those who are placed in authority by this Act have entered into an alliance with the Parnellite Party, and there is reason to apprehend danger from such a combination.
My Lords, I have expressed my own views to you fully. I hope the House will forgive me, but I take the opportunity of pointing out to Her Majesty's Government what I imagine may possibly be important. In that paragraph of the Speech which relates to Ireland it is refreshing to find that the development of the material resources of the country is the subject to which our attention is 13 almost exclusively directed. I have always thought that in the government of Ireland there should be a tight rein with a light hand—a hand so light as not to interfere in the least with liberty and legitimate action, but a rein so tight as to stop at once the slightest indication of turbulence. In my opinion, this is just the sort of policy which Her Majesty's Government are successfully pursuing.
Then we are told that it is intended to establish an Agricultural Department. I may also perhaps be permitted to say that the Tithe Bill will do away with what has been regarded as a grievance by some minds. I think it will have a beneficial effect, and that it will be welcomed by all except those who will consider that by the passing of such an Act they will lose a part of the stock-in-trade which they use for political agitation. In conclusion, I beg to thank your Lordships for the indulgence which you have shown.
§ * EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, the fact of my having had the honour of moving the first Address to the Queen in the beginning of Her Majesty's prosperous and beneficent reign, and of my having had the opportunity since then of hearing most of the speeches made on such occasions, has encouraged me, especially lately, from time to time to offer my very sincere compliments to noble Lords who have recently taken their seats in this House and who have moved or seconded the Address. My noble Friend opposite, who moved, and the noble Lord who seconded the Address, although they still seem very young to me, have had very considerable Parliamentary experience, and I should think it highly presumptuous on my part to offer them congratulations which, in other circumstances, I should give. Nothing could be more temperate than the speech of the noble Lord who seconded the Address. With regard to my noble Friend, his manner was a little more aggressive against his old political Friends than is usual on these occasions, but I do not in the least complain of that. During the very short Recess some melancholy events have occurred. The death of the Crown Prince of Austria had all the elements of the concentrated sadness of a Greek tragedy. The light which so fiercely beats upon a throne exposes its occupants to much 14 criticism on minute subjects, but the same circumstances extend the circle of sympathy beyond what can be the case as to the grief of private individuals. I am quite sure that there is no country more than this in which such genuine sympathy has been felt for the illustrious occupants of the dual throne of Austria and Hungary and their widowed Crown Princess. A remarkable figure has disappeared from this House. Lord Eversley attained his great Parliamentary reputation in another place. I do not know any one who more completely earned the respect and esteem of both sides of this House than he did. Recent incidents have convinced me of the truth of the maxim that it is better not to condemn people until you have heard their defence. During the last few weeks I read in a paper of great reputation that I had spent my autumn in training bloodhounds, but I must inform your Lordships that that statement is quite without foundation. Again, I have seen it stated that a Secretary of State had declared that I, as Secretary of State, had invited the Italians to take Massowah, and that, I may also say, was entirely without foundation. It was also reported that Admiral Maxse had revealed a State secret to an astonished world with regard to proposals made by Lord Odo Russell to me respecting a suggested mediation on the part of England between France and Germany at the time of the Franco-German War, a mediation which the German Government was prepared to accept, and that Mr. Gladstone and I are guilty of the prolongation of the war. Lord Odo Russell never left Versailles till after the peace. There is no such despatch. The genuine despatches which were published show that Lord Odo's language was exactly in the opposite direction. I need scarcely say that there is no foundation for this statement either. With regard to foreign affairs, I notice two omissions from the Queen's Speech, one of which is doubtless due to inadvertence. I do not think that the ratification of a very important document with regard to the Suez Canal has ever been communicated to Parliament. No doubt this omission is due to inadvertence. But the other omission is one I am surprised at, as it is a question creating a great deal of sensation in the country—I refer to 15 Zanzibar. In regard to this there are two questions, one with respect to the delimitation of territory under our influence, and the other relating to the joint operations to put down the slave trade. There was, I believe, a Delimitation Commission, and I do not know why it was abandoned, but I believe the matter was afterwards settled between our Foreign Office and that at Berlin. It would have been impossible for this country, after all that it has done during this century to diminish the slave trade, and having constantly complained of other countries not taking their due share of this work, to withhold its assistance from any country engaged in such an undertaking, even though such country might also have other aims. The greatest cam and caution, however, should be exercised in carrying out any such arrangement. The noble Marquess at the end of last Session gave us some satisfactory explanations which I trust he may be able to supplement this evening, or at an early date. We should also be glad to obtain further information with regard to recent incidents with regard to Samoa between Germany and the United States. I have no doubt a conference is a wise thing, and that the duty of this country is to act in the most friendly way towards Germany and the United States with a due regard to our own interests in the matter. But there was a conference under Mr. Gladstone; what became of it? With regard to Suakin, I must congratulate Her Majesty's Government and the House on the brilliant manner in which the recent short military expedition was carried out. I may observe that we were at one time severely censured for not making greater progress with regard to Suakin; but as far as I can see it does not appear that Her Majesty's Government have of late made greater progress in regard to that port. Not long ago we were informed by the Secretary of State for War that the next war would be the bloodiest ever known—that it was certain and imminent. Well, he said it was certain to come sooner or later, and he thought sooner rather than later—and that is very like its being imminent. I hope the noble Marquess will be able to tell us that he does not support the view of the Secretary of State. With regard to the references in Her Majesty's gracious 16 Speech touching the expenditure on national defences, I am sure that Her Majesty's Government will be heartily supported in both Houses in all that is clearly shown to be necessary. I trust, however, that no proposal will be made or entertained in regard to the Army which could be regarded as in rivalry with the great standing armies of the Continent, whether by conscription or by less heroic means. With regard to the legislative bill of fare, most of the measures referred to are old Bills which we have known before, and with regard to several of them I can promise that they will receive the support of the Opposition. Certain criticisms have been made by the noble seconder of the Address upon the Local Government Act, and reference has been made to desirable amendments of that Act. I hope it may be possible for the noble Marquess, without going into details, to give us some indication of the general character of the alterations which are intended. Parliament, we are told, will be asked to sanction the Convention on the Sugar Bounties. That Convention we regard as retrograde in principle and most inconvenient in practice, and we shall feel bound to oppose it. In regard to Ireland, I notice that Ireland is to be entirely excluded from legislation this year; but I am not sure that we can regard this as satisfactory. It is stated in the gracious Speech, that the condition of Ireland, politically and materially, is greatly improved, and I think the Government are bound to state why, under such circumstances, they still fail to fulfil all those promises of local government for Ireland which were made by Lord Randolph Churchill when, as Leader of the House of Commons, he expressed the opinions of the whole Cabinet. There is still the burning question of arrears to be settled, for the Bill dealing with that subject, which the noble Marquess said never could be passed—but which was passed—contains a great blot upon it so far as it relates to the poorer class of tenants. Any relief a tenant gets by the reduced rent is neutralized by the arrears of an unjust rent. I see there is to be a new measure with regard to the Land Commission in Ireland. I think Her Majesty's Government ought to be very careful in changing a Commission which obtains, more or less, the 17 confidence of the people of Ireland. I am not only talking of other parts of Ireland, but of Ulster as well. I think they will find, unless they are very careful about framing the constitution of that tribunal, the opposition will be much more than they expect. The noble Lord who moved the Address commented on the improved condition of Ireland. Now it will be interesting to know what the state of Ireland is. I have no official sources of information, and I have not been there myself, but I cannot quite accept the declaration of the Government for two reasons—first, because they have always been very chary of detailed information which we have asked for, and secondly because some of their principal members differ so entirely as to what the state of Ireland is. One of the most important statesmen in the Cabinet has said that the National League is almost ubiquitous, while another declares it is almost put an end to. Now the other day I read a pamphlet by Mr. Pease, who is well-known to your Lordships. He is a Liberal and agrees with me, so I put him on one side. I prefer to take the views of a man who has established in the House of Commons a singularly high character, I mean Mr. L. Courtney. The other day he asked a question. He asked if it was true that the state of Ireland was satisfactory; whether it was satisfactory that the Government should be flouted in so many quarters; whether one could observe with comfort that a state bordering on civil war prevailed; whether one could be pleased with seeing this day a peasant and the next day a policeman killed; whether it was agreeable that we should have Members of Parliament and priests incarcerated by the dozen. If this is the true state of things—and no one will deny it—is it not conclusive against the noble Lord? Father M'Fadden, trusted and beloved by his flock, has been arrested when surrounded by that flock at the very moment when the Church service was finished, and that ended in a most deplorable case of manslaughter or murder of an unfortunate officer who was merely doing his duty. It has been stated that the Crimes Act created no new crimes. I quoted a statement of Lord Herschell's, in which he clearly established that it did create new crimes, and I asked the noble Marquess to give 18 me an answer. In the absence of my noble Friend (The Earl of Selborne) he declined to do so, though he had his Irish Chancellor on one side, and his English on the other. We have had a judicial declaration that that Act did create a new crime, under which Mr. Harrington is condemned. There were prosecutions for publishing the doings of the National League, and for 16 months they had ceased, but now, when you tell us that Ireland is so much improved, you put a Member of Parliament in prison for what, no doubt, is an illegal act in Ireland, but which is done in England, Scotland, and Wales by his fellow journalists every day with impunity. He was tried before two magistrates, who did not show that legal knowledge which they might be expected to possess, and who absolutely refused to state a case for the superior Court, as the application was frivolous. By some means it was brought before the superior Court, which declared that it was a matter which required most solemn argument. For the sake of argument, I will admit that the O'Brien incidents are all your Lordships say: I will admit that though he is an able and eloquent man he is childish in his temper; I will admit he may be, as stated in some of the London newspapers, guilty of the charges now being brought against all the members of the Irish party. But what is the upshot of all this? The object of punishment is to deter. Mr. O'Brien has been already imprisoned, and it has not deterred him, and he has created immense excitement in this country. If I were a prisoner and I thought I deserved it, I should try to make myself as comfortable as I could. Considering that going into prison confers great honour upon an Irish Member, who is put upon a pedestal not only in Ireland but in all the great cities of this country, I should have thought he would look upon prison clothes as robes of honour. Mr. Balfour is in a difficult—I think an impossible position—but I think he makes the difficulties even greater than they are. I think it was Mr. Chamberlain who said that measures of repression were painful incidents for the Liberal party and were to be deplored, and I believe that is also the opinion of the Government; but it is a great pity that Her Majesty's Government should give some sanction 19 to the idea that they hold the opposite opinion, by members of it treating those cases as the subject of somewhat forced hilarity. The other day a great scene took place in prison, and Mr. Balfour, speaking at the Mansion House, said that the Prison Department was not under his control, and that it was not his duty to interfere in any details, but that when cases arose which might have political results it became his duty to look into the matter. I believe it is just as much under the Lord Lieutenant and his Chief Secretary, as the Prisons Board in England is under the Home Secretary. Mr. Balfour did do this, because he boasted that he had penned a cynical Minute to the effect that if Mr. O'Brien chose to go without clothes he must bear the consequences. Two days afterwards a change takes place. Mr. O'Brien's clothes are restored, and he is placed in comparative luxury, and I find to my great astonishment that having made a demand to travel in a first-class carriage he was placed in one. Ridicule is all very well, but it may be applied both ways, and I do not think that the Government stands out very well when these things are constantly occurring. If Mr. Courtney's description of Ireland is correct, what will be the effect on the English people? There is a remarkable statement by Sir Robert Peel to the effect that "if you irritate the Irish beyond measure the result will be that they will return a majority of Irish Members hostile to this country, and if you once have that state of things it is impossible that England can govern Ireland." Here is another opinion which is often quoted: You know that in 1844 Lord Beaconsfield stated as his view of the condition of Ireland that it was the duty of all English Ministers to do by all constitutional means what the Irish, if strong enough, would effect by revolution; and he added that if those views were carried out the people of Ireland would, in 50 years—that is, about this time—be happy, contented, and prosperous. Are they so now? Lord Beacons-field, as appears from a remarkable statement of Mr. Pierrepoint, shortly before his death stated that the time had come when the desire of the Irish people for the care and management of their local affairs and of their grievances must be considered. He said that, for his part, he 20 thought something should be done in the shape of the American system, and he ridiculed the idea that this would lead to separation. He said with regard to the policy of force that it had failed in Cromwell's time and it would always fail. Mr. O'Connell used similar language. As it is, the great need for Ireland is pacification; and there are two ways of pacifying her. One is by meeting her wishes in a legitimate way, and thus bring peace and content. The other is by a course which can only produce dissolution and not peace, and the consummation of all trouble. In quoting Lord Beaconsfield I do not pretend that Lord Beaconsfield's opinions are to me conclusive on all political subjects, or that they have that influence with my noble Friends on this side who differ from me on the Irish question. I do not know that it will at once convert noble Lords opposite, but I appeal to that great majority whether it is not some justification of us that Lord Beaconsfield should have entertained for more than 30 years these views, and that if we have been converted to them rather lately it does not rest with noble Lords opposite to twit us with our change of view as being insane, dishonest, and self-seeking. I claim that amount of justice from noble Lords opposite, although I do not expect that they will agree with me. But I have before me evidence that the constituencies of this country are tending in that direction. No one more than myself thinks it unwise to reckon upon one or two by-elections. I am always struck by the absurd reasons which are given by the beaten party for their beating, and we Liberals commit just exactly the same fault, but of late months we have had this advantage, that these opportunities are not so frequent with us as with our opponents. When I see a Parliamentary majority melting away, I do think I have a right to claim that as a true test of the direction of public opinion. A most amusing instance of these excuses is to be found in the noble Marquess's excuse for the altered figures at the Holborn election. He said that English constituencies did not like to be represented by any one but an Englishman, and that a black man would have no chance. In the last century there was a very distinguished jurist and writer, who said if he had to make a speech in defence of the slave 21 trade he would say that the negroes had flat noses and were black from top to toe. It was impossible to feel any sympathy with people of that colour. It was impossible to believe that an all-wise Providence should have placed souls in a people who were black. He would have inculcated the importance of the colour of the skin by the importance of the colour of the hair, as he found that the Egyptian philosophers always killed a red-haired man, wherever they could find him. It was clear, too, that the negroes were not a civilized people, because they attached value to beads, whereas civilized people attached value to gold—he may possibly have been unaware of the bimetallic controversy which is going on at this moment. But all these arguments unfortunately fail the noble Marquess, because the black man turned out to be rather paler than the candidate who opposed him and defeated him. Therefore it is some comfort to me that the constituencies of this country are coming to the opinion that it is time for a change of policy to take place, and that that change of policy should be in the direction which we advocate.
§ * THE EARL OF SELBORNE
My Lords, as the noble Earl has alluded to ma and to my absence from the House last year, I may be allowed to make some remarks on that part of his speech before the noble Marquess addresses the House. I maintain this day as firmly as ever I did that the object of the Crimes Act passed the year before last was not to create new crimes in Ireland, but to prevent criminal acts already criminal by the law of both countries. I never said that it created no offences against the Act, which would have been the most preposterous thing in the world to say. On the contrary, I said in the very speech which I made in this House upon the third reading of the Bill, the Act, in order the better to provide means for repressing things which were already criminal, gave power to the Lord Lieutenant to issue proclamations in certain cases, and, of course, it made disobedience to these proclamations, either by taking part in associations which were proclaimed, or by doing things equivalent in their effect, as publishing proceedings at prohibited meetings, offences against the Act. But what I took notice of then, and always have, is this—that one of the leading 22 sections of the Bill, the one which gave summary jurisdiction in cases of intimidation and other cases which some persons go about the country comparing to exclusive dealing, that that clause was on the very face of it limited to things already criminal and punishable by law. The provisions of the Trades Union Acts were expressly preserved, so that that clause could not affect anything of that kind, and yet people go about the country and write letters telling the people of England that the contrary of that is true. And with regard to the other leading clause, giving the Lord Lieutenant power to issue proclamations, what were the things which were to justify him in issuing proclamations? It was if he were satisfied that certain associations were dangerous, because they were formed or carried on for the commission of crime, or to encourage crime, or for opposition to the law. What I said two years ago and what I repeat now is this—that such associations were not made illegal by that Act of Parliament. They were in their very nature illegal, and their existence in Ireland made it expedient to arm the Lord Lieutenant with summary power against them, as had been done before in another shape when the noble Earl who was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (Earl Spencer) was empowered to prohibit meetings, and the attending those meetings was made an offence against that Act. For the sake of preventing those dangerous and illegal associations for criminal purposes the Lord Lieutenant might issue a proclamation, and then, of course, acts done in disobedience to that proclamation were necessarily made offences against the Act. And there is no real difference between my noble and learned Friend Lord Herschell and myself so far, when he said that, in that way, new offences were created by the Act. It could not be otherwise. Till the Act was passed there could be no offence against the Act. Till the proclamation was issued there could be no offence against the proclamation. There was another observation of my noble Friend's, who always speaks candidly and like a man who is sensible of his responsibility, with which I do not agree—namely, that these things might be done with impunity in England. They could not be done in England at all. In England associations for criminal pur 23 poses are criminal, and it wants no law to make them so. In England intimidation and those things which were dealt with by the earlier clause are criminal, and it wants no law to make them so; and in England the ordinary means of executing the law are sufficient, and we want, therefore, no special powers to be given for that purpose. No such Act of Parliament exists in England, and therefore no similar proclamation can be issued in England, and no offence against that Act could take place in England. To attempt to argue that because you have not got the same Act of Parliament for England things are made criminal in Ireland which are not so in England is a mere fallacy. The things aimed at by this legislation in Ireland are as much criminal in England. The only difference is that the law of England is sufficient when executed by the ordinary means, and therefore we want no special Proclamations making acts done in contravention of them special offences. And these things are not done in England. My noble Friend who last addressed the House, while he has very ingeniously put together a good many things, has left some things out. He began his speech by correcting several deviations from veracity which affected himself as to Foreign Affairs. My noble Friend has not taken notice of the systematic means which are used to delude and deceive the people of England as to matters of fact affecting the administration of the law and the acts of the Government. He has not taken notice of the fact that for the first time in the history of this country means of opposition are used against those whose duty it is to administer the law, of all grades, Ministers of State, magistrates, even policemen, used by those who speak in the name of a great and important political Party, and even by men who have held high offices, such as I venture to say no Government has had to encounter before. Instead of that general support to law which it has been the pride of this country to see ordinarily given by statesmen in Opposition as well as in Office, for the first time organized opposition is directed, not against the policy of opponents, but against the law and the administration of the law. That is a state of things perfectly new. I do not know that the Government have made the mis 24 takes which are sometimes imputed to them; but if they had, it should be borne in mind that they have had to do their duty in such circumstances as no Government in that respect was ever placed in before; and whatever may happen during these years, whatever success the use of such means may achieve, I am quite sure of the verdict which posterity will pass upon those who have used them.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I have always had this satisfaction in meeting the noble Earl on these occasions—that until we get to that classic land of struggle that appears in all our discussions I have very little to complain of, or to differ from, in what is said by him. I cordially agree in most of the compliments with which he received the first effort in this House of my two noble Friends the Mover and Seconder of the Address. I earnestly congratulate them upon their eloquent speeches, and if I condole with my noble Friend who moved the Address upon the feelings of anxiety with which he said he was afflicted, I would represent to him that this formality which has been to him so terrible is the means of introducing to the debates of this House, as I hope it will be on this occasion also, many effective debaters who, but for this first plunge, would probably never face the ordeal of speaking in this House. The noble Earl complained, I think rather unreasonably, of things which had been left out of the Speech from the Throne. He spoke, among others, of the great and terrible tragedy which has recently been enacted in a friendly country. I earnestly echo the language in which he spoke of that event, and the expressions of sympathy concerning the sorrows that have befallen that great and illustrious Emperor, who for 40 years has struggled so nobly and with such splendid devotion in the performance of the formidable task which has been placed upon him. The sympathy that he has met with in his own country has hardly exceeded that with which this terrible affliction has been received in this allied country of our own. I believe that the deepest sympathy for the Austrian Emperor and Empress, as well as the Austrian people, will be felt. On such a topic as this, however, it is better not to enlarge, but merely to 25 repeat in the words of deepest sincerity that we feel their griefs as if they had been our own. The noble Earl also rather reproached me because the Queen's Speech contained no reference to the ratification of the Convention with respect to the Suez Canal. The noble Earl's authority as to such measures is high. I confess that I have not been able to verify the matter; but my impression is that ratifications are not usually mentioned in the Queen's Speech, though, of course, the conclusion of the Convention always is; and the conclusion of the Convention was duly mentioned at the time. But what, no doubt, has drawn the attention of the noble Earl to the matter is that the ratification has been somewhat difficult, and there has been some delay before we have been enabled to induce the Porte to consent to it. The noble Earl also notices the fact that the Queen's Speech said nothing about Zanzibar. Zanzibar was mentioned in in the Queen's Speech of two months ago. It is usually one of the Constitutional functions of the institution of a Parliamentary Recess to secrete new matter for the Queen's Speech; but this Parliamentary Recess has been so short that that ordinary function has not been performed, and really nothing has happened at Zanzibar which we could recommend Her Majesty to include in her Speech. The blockade, so far as I know, has been exceedingly successful. A few slaves have been seized; but the success of the blockade has been seen in the fact that the slave-traders have not been generally seen. We have greatly supplemented its provisions by obtaining from the Sultan of Zanzibar a delegation to the Admirals of the two fleets to exercise in the territorial waters of Pemba and Zanzibar the powers of the Sultan as territorial Sovereign, to seize all Arab dhows that are guilty of the prohibited trade. Pemba is really the place where the slave trade of Eastern Africa is carried on; and if we are successful in preventing that market from being used, and in arresting those Arab dhows in the territorial waters of the island, no doubt we shall add a very considerable impediment to the progress of the trade. But the contest will be a long and difficult one. I believe that the Arabs of the class who live by this traffic are so thoroughly alarmed that they are doing 26 their utmost to keep it alive, and probably we may not have heard the last of their desperate efforts to retain this unholy means of gain. With respect to Samoa, I hope to lay papers on the Table immediately. I think it will be more convenient to defer any discussion of matters affecting those islands until those papers are before your Lordships. There was, as the noble Earl observed, a Conference on the subject at Washington. The Conference was not broken up, but it was adjourned in consequence of a difference of opinion. It will now be renewed, and the deliberations will be taken up again at the point where they were left. The difficulty is really this. A native Government by itself will not stand. The effort to sustain any Government by a kind of tri-partite device of the three co-equal Powers has broken down by the fact that the three co-equal Powers seldom agreed, and the consequence is that there is more friction in the conduct of such Government than even when the native Government is left alone. An effort was made to reconcile the demands of public order with the various rights possessed by the three Powers. We have not arrived at a solution yet which has given satisfaction to all the Powers; but I hope we shall do so. It is a matter as to which our great object is to restore peace and to enable trade and commerce to be conducted satisfactorily. We have no political claim on the island, and the idea which I saw stated in some of the American newspapers that England is guilty of the thought of seizing, in part or in whole, Samoa, has about as much support as those stories with respect to the noble Earl's sporting tendencies in training bloodhounds, or that other report in a foreign newspaper with respect to the sporting tastes of a noble Lord whom I do not see present—that the Duke of Argyll was on the point of going to the South of France with his well-known pack of beagles to hunt wolves. I daresay the noble Earl has come to the conclusion before this that probably there is very little use in contradicting things that are said of him abroad. I do not know that there is any part of the noble Earl's observations outside the subject of Ireland which call for any statement on my part. I made some reference to Bills, the titles of which we have indicated, and he has 27 suggested that I should give a kind of preliminary rehearsal by telling him what the provisions are to be. I am afraid that the performance would be a very unsatisfactory one. It must necessarily be brief and imperfect, and might end by creating misconception. I must therefore ask the noble Earl to wait until, I hope no distant date, when those Bills will be laid on the table. Before the noble Earl sat down he made that obligatory expedition into Irish subjects which is now a necessity of almost all speeches. According to his fashion, he touched the matter lightly; he went deeply into no argument, but assumed most of the contentions of his adversaries for the sake of argument, and as far as I could observe, he committed himself to no positive statement of opinion or policy. But he contrived in the course of this performance, with his usual skill, to suggest a great number of small objections which, though they might not have a formidable influence, still have a decidedly stimulating effect on debate. He made some references to my colleague in the other House, the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I rather shrink from defending the right hon. Gentleman, who is, I think, quite competent to defend himself; especially as it is encouraging what is not a very convenient practice—that of attacking a Minister in the House in which he does not sit. But, whenever the noble Earl is guilty of that offence, I think the least he can do is to frame his accusation in terms sufficiently definite to allow of a reply being made. He did not imitate his leader in accusing my distinguished relative of cynical brutality, but he spoke of cynical observations, or something of that kind. I understand that part of the grievance against the Government is that they have not preserved a sufficiently tragic air in speaking of the experiences of Mr. O'Brien. If any Member of the Government has been guilty of the offence of laughing at Mr. O'Brien, or at the proceedings with respect to his clothes, I would ask the noble Earl, in all confidence, was there ever a prisoner so ridiculous as Mr. O'Brien? It is not possible to speak of him with the seriousness with which you would desire to speak of the case of any gentleman who had the misfortune of incurring a sentence of six months' 28 imprisonment. But I must demur to the statement that this offence has been especially committed or even has been committed at all by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I did read one very amusing speech of my right hon. Friend; but the matter that he laughed at was nothing connected with Mr. O'Brien, but was connected with the strange proceedings of the Lord Mayor of Dublin. When a Lord Mayor sends to a Minister's house at two o'clock in the morning, and then publishes a statement that the Minister came down to him in his nightgown, and with the cross of some Order on his left breast, and it turns out that it was the Minister's private secretary who had put on a college jacket, it is very difficult indeed to put on that solemn, tragic air which the noble Lord thinks alone suitable to the circumstances. One of the painful consequences of this controversy is, that Irish people appear to have entirely lost their sense of humour, and they not only do not indulge in those sportive graces of fiction to which in former days they were accustomed, but they never seem to have a notion when they are making themselves ridiculous by their proceedings. I confess that I wish very much that it was possible to avoid any statement that would be wounding to the feelings of any sincere and earnest person; but I do feel to at there is no real sincerity in this appeal for the compassion of the English people. It is a great stage-play that is being enacted for the purpose of catching a few votes at a by-election. Mr. O'Brien struggling for his clothes; Mr. Harrington mourning after his moustache; Mr. Healy dashing out of Court; Mr. O'Brien escaping; the insults offered in open Court; and all other business of that kind is only so much theatrical work which is intended to be used on platforms at by-elections to take in those of the English electors who pay little attention to these subjects, and who are easily persuaded that some great oppression is being practised. I entirely agree with my noble and learned Friend who spoke last that it is a disgraceful incident in our public life, and that it marks an epoch of degeneracy in Party struggles when no respect for the law, or for the Ministers of the law, is shown by those who have Party objects to serve, and that no regard to the effect of ob 29 servations on the maintenance of the law is paid by those who have an opponent's character to blacken. The noble Lord asks us whether the state of things that is going on in Ireland is satisfactory; whether we are pleased with what is done to Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Harrington; and whether that state of things is reconcilable with our assurances that the condition of Ireland is improving, and that the operation of the law that we have passed has been salutary? I can assure the noble Lord that we never thought, never in our wildest dream hoped to improve Mr. O'Brien or Mr. Harrington. We never expect to affect their conduct. Whatever happens they will, no doubt, go on to the end trying to make political capital out of the feelings, the prejudices, and the errors of the Irish people. But what we say is, that we are stealing their following from them by the beneficent legislation that we have passed. We say that the outrages which they have encouraged are no longer so common, that the fabric of oppression and tyranny which they have set up is crumbling to its foundation, that their power is being broken, and that the Irish people are slowly, steadily, and quite perceptibly returning to ways of order and confidence and peace. And it is from the unmistakeable signs of that change that we draw our confident auguries of the future. I would ask your Lordships' leave to read a few figures to show from the unfailing testimony of crime and outrage how real the improvement in the condition of Ireland has been. I will take only two points—the question of agrarian outrages and the question of boycotting. I find that whereas at the height of the crisis during the viceroyalty of Earl Cowper in 1881 the agrarian offences ran up to 4,439, in 1883, under the influence of the Crimes Act, they fell to 870. They rose in 1886 to 1,056. Now they have fallen to 660, which is lower than in any year since the time when the agitation commenced, and lower than it was in 1879, when the number was 863. Therefore, we have a right to say that the instrument we use to discourage crime is apparently having its effect. Another test is the rapid disappearance or diminution of that atrocious practice of boycotting which is a very different thing from 30 what it pleases some statesmen to call exclusive dealing. On the 31st of July, 1887, the number of persons Boycotted was 4,835. On the 31st of July, 1888, they sank to 1,179. That was in the first year of the Crimes Act. On the 31st of January last they sank to 555. That was in a year and a-half of the Crimes Act. Therefore, we are justified in saying in the Queen's Speech that the measures which Parliament passed have already had a salutary effect. The noble Lord derives great consolation from the result of by-elections. It is a curious arithmetical study on which Oppositions especially love to dwell during the period they remain in that position. It beguiles its tedium. But I doubt whether the experience of the past can encourage us in drawing any very confident inferences from the result of by-elections. It is natural that it should be so; because, whereas in a general election the attention of the whole people is directed to the burning questions of the day, at a by-election it is very difficult to obtain a similar concentration of views. But I ask the noble Lord to remember what took place in the last decade during Mr. Gladstone's Government of 1869–74. There was a constant succession of by-elections going against the Government; and when the General Election came the by-elections were confirmed and the Liberal Party was defeated. But in the next Ministry the by-elections went for the Government. Everybody remembers the crucial cases of Southwark and Liverpool. Nevertheless, when the General Election came the by-elections were not confirmed, but were reversed, and the Conservative Party were defeated. So that in the two great cases which you have to guide you since the Reform Act of 1867 the by-elections in one case were reversed by the General Election, and in the other case they were confirmed. Therefore, I am justified in saying that it is a perfectly idle study to attempt to cast the horoscope of a future General Election by by-elections. But I confess that I wish to pass from that somewhat ignoble discussion. I do not care, in reference to the course that we are to pursue, what the verdict of a by-election may be. Parliament has been returned to give its advice and to sanction the measures which it honestly believes to 31 be for the advantage of the country. In the performance of that duty it must listen to no superior and take the advice of no authority whatever. It is its business to consult its own wisdom and its own conscience. This Parliament will, I have no doubt, like other Parliaments, perform that duty to the end of its existence, whenever that end may come. What the result of the next General Election may be I will not attempt to forecast. I believe, myself, it will be in favour of the maintenance of the Union, because I have great faith in the sound sense of the English people. The noble Lord thinks that he will, at some distant period, obtain a reversal of the last decision at the poll. Concede, for argument's sake, that it is possible that prophecy should prove true. Does he imagine that that would be a close of the controversy? Does he imagine that our convictions would be affected by that, or that we should struggle a bit the less earnestly than before to maintain, and, if need be, to restore the Union. We are engaged upon an enterprise of momentous importance—that of keeping unimpaired the unity of an Empire which has never been divided yet—an Empire which has lasted for centuries, whose glories we have inherited and which we are bound to transmit. It is not by any passing vicissitudes of political opinion that our duty in such a matter can be determined. To the end, whether through good report, or through evil report, but sustained, I fully believe, by the increasing convictions and the courage of the people of this country, we shall uphold the integrity of the Empire.
§ Address agreed to, nemine dissentiente, and ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.