§ The QUEEN'S SPEECH reported by the LORD CHANCELLOR.
(who wore the uniform of a Lord Lieutenant), in moving an Address of thanks in reply to Her Majesty's Gracious Speech, said: My Lords, I have been a very constant attendant at Debates in this House for a period of about 12 years, but I feel that the circumstances under which I come before you to-day are very different to those in which I have hitherto found myself placed. I am conscious that I stand in need of as full a measure of your Lordships' indulgence as it has ever been necessary for any noble Lord to ask for on previous occasions and under similar circumstances. In moving that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty in reply to Her Gracious Speech from the Throne, I should approach my task with more misgiving than I really do if it was not for two chief reasons. The first is my own personal conviction that the policy which is shadowed forth in the Queen's Speech, and which it is my privilege this evening to support, is a policy which is calculated to promote the real interest of this country both abroad and at home. The 6 foreign policy of the country, under the direction of the noble Marquess, is one which commands both the respect and confidence of those nations with whom negotiations, involving some difficulty, have been carried on. As to the domestic policy of the Government, I am glad to see that it promises us a continuance of the firm and just administration of the law, tempered with a serious endeavour to effect such wise reforms as the nature of the circumstances of the present day under which we live demands. The second reason, my Lords, is my conviction that this opinion, which is held by noble Lords on this side of the House, is shared to a no small extent by noble Lords on the Benches opposite; to which I might add even a third reason in the nature of a suspicion that the criticisms which will probably be delivered by the noble Earl and his colleagues on the Front Opposition Bench will, in all likelihood, be directed to the fulfilling of their obligations as an Opposition rather than to any very serious attempt to persuade your Lordships that the policy of Her Majesty's Government is wrong. However that may be, I will proceed in introducing this Motion to the House to make a very few and brief remarks on one or two important matters which are mentioned in the Speech from the Throne. The first paragraph of Her Majesty's Gracious Speech deals in very short terms with the foreign relations of this country and the securities for European peace. It is a paragraph that we have been accustomed to see somewhat in this form on previous occasions, and it is one, perhaps, that we are apt to pass over without giving it any serious attention, but, with your permission, my Lords, I would draw attention for one moment to the meaning of this paragraph, and to the way in which it affects the country at this moment. My Lords, we have not had exactly a peaceful political autumn. In addition to the occasions upon which prominent Members of the Ministry have addressed meetings in different parts of the country, we have had a Mid Lothian campaign, and we have had a gathering of the Liberal Federation, and various other incidental opportunities for using strong language and of dealing hard blows; but in all the speeches that have been 7 delivered, I certainly have not myself noticed any serious criticisms on the administration of the Foreign Office, with the one single exception of a criticism on the arrangements that have been made with regard to Malta. That was a criticism made by Mr. Gladstone in a speech which he made at Edinburgh at the end of last month. But may I now draw your Lordships' attention to some other things that Mr. Gladstone said with regard to our foreign policy? He referred to the arrangements in Africa, and he said that—He thought those arrangements did the noble Marquess credit";and he said thatHe believed, on the whole, that the noble Marquess did the best the circumstances of the case permitted.And, further, he said with regard to the Newfoundland Fisheries question and to the occupation of Egypt—We have carefully abstained from saying a single word which would create other difficulties for him either in the one or the other, and you may depend that so we shall continue to act.I quote that desiring to give full credit to Mr. Gladstone for the attitude which he has adopted. But we have likewise had, not long ago, a speech from the noble Earl who leads the Party opposite in your Lordships' House, and we might, I think, have expected some remarks from him on foreign affairs; but certainly in the report that I saw I did not notice that he made any allusion whatever to that subject. It seems to me, my Lords, we are at least entitled to infer that criticisms if there are any to be made have not at any rate been considered of sufficient weight and importance to lay before meetings of the electors of the country; and we are likewise I think entitled to infer that if such be the opinion of the leaders of the Opposition, the noble Marquess really has the confidence and support, in connection with foreign matters (taking foreign policy alone), of a large majority of the people. There is one thing that I would touch upon with your Lordships' permission which is intimately connected with the foreign policy of this country, but at the same time not strictly within the province of the Department of the Foreign Office. I allude to the national defences. I am very glad that Her Majesty's 8 Government have proved to Parliament and to the country that this question is one which has received and is receiving their serious consideration; and I hope sincerely that they will not, for the sake of the passing popularity to be gained by an economical Budget, relax in any degree whatever their efforts to put the defences of this country on a thoroughly satisfactory and sure foundation. I am no alarmist, and I would utterly repudiate any feeling of what has been vulgarly called "Jingoism"—any desire to brag or to be offensive to our foreign neighbours in any way, but I really regard this as a policy of wise national insurance, which ought in no way to be neglected by any Government. My Lords, it is difficult to approach the two prominent main questions in the Speech from the Throne with becoming reticence, and in the general way in which they ought to be treated in the Debate on the Address. An Irish Land Purchase Bill and a Tithes Bill have already been before Parliament, and it is difficult not to look at these promised measures in the concrete form in which they were before the House of Commons last Session. The supporters of Her Majesty's Government had hoped that those questions would have been dealt with, and that those Bills would have been passed, last Session. For reasons that are perfectly familiar to your Lordships, and to which I need not refer, those hopes have not been fulfilled, but I trust that one advantage, at least, may prove to have been gained by this delay, and that is that the framers of those Bills and the Cabinet may have been able to make such alterations, additions, or amendments as further discussion and consideration may have suggested, and that in consequence the Parliamentary career this Session of those measures may be more rapid and more successful than it was last. I will not refer to the paragraph with reference to Ireland. It will be dealt with by the noble Lord who seconds this Motion much more ably and with much more knowledge of the subject than I can bring to bear upon it. I would only make this one general remark accounting for my hearty support of the policy of the Government, and that is that I feel it is far easier to make laws than to enforce them, and that it matters not how wise the laws may be that you 9 have made, they are perfectly valueless unless they are obeyed. I would even go as far as to say that it would be better for a Government to know how to enforce the laws they have made, be they good, bad, or indifferent, than to fritter away their energies and stultify their actions by hesitation and scruples as to the perfection of the laws themselves. I hope, my Lords, that I may not be misunderstood. I would say this: Think well before you act, but, when you have decided, carry out your decision with all the energy, all the confidence that is in you. It is because I believe that Her Majesty's Government have already adopted this policy, it is because I believe that they intend to pursue it, and thus prevent the law in Ireland being a dead letter, that I so heartily support them. Though for a time they might lose the popular support, and I believe it would be only for a very short time if they lost it at all, they would by their action permanently strengthen the hands of authority, and for that reason alone they would have rightly earned the thanks of their successors, whoever they may be. My Lords, I would for one moment refer to the paragraph relating to the tithe question. Proposals will again be made to you for remedying the difficulties which have arisen from the incidence of tithe rent charges upon the land in England and Wales. I cannot but feel that an artificial grievance has been forced up upon this question. That tithe is a part of rent, is, I suppose, an undeniable proposition; and certainly a proof of this lies in the fact that no serious proposal has ever been made to abolish tithe altogether, for the result would obviously be merely to put more rent into the pockets of the landowners; and that is very far from being the intention or desire of anti-tithe agitators. As to the tenants, it matters little to them whether they pay a certain amount into one or into two pockets. I cannot believe that any tenant would refuse to pay as rent into one pocket, what he now consents to give when he takes a farm and pays into two pockets. Therefore it is that I say it is a matter which really does not concern the tenants. I welcome any measure which will throw the responsibility of paying the tithe upon the shoulders of those who really have to bear it, and 10 have always borne it. I cannot but feel that there is a political and sectarian attack made upon the Established Church in this particular. That it should come from those who think all religion superstition, and the teaching of dogmatic creeds as the dissemination of error, is not surprising; but it does surprise me that, side by side with those persons, and hand-in-glove with them, there should be so many religious and truly Christian men. I am far from saying that there are not many who live truly good and unselfish lives, whose religion is perhaps independent of dogma, and this is surely an intellectual position which it would be idle to expect even if it were desirable from those who have not specially trained their minds towards it. For the bulk of the people it unquestionably appears to me that if you reduce the power of Christian organisations in the country and limit their influence you are really depriving so many people of the real incentive to a higher moral life; and, therefore, I cannot help thinking that a grave responsibility rests upon the shoulders of those who truly estimate the value of Christian teaching, if they should endeavour to cripple the resources of the Established Church, and to devote to secular purposes what appears to be unquestionably the rightful property of the Church. My Lords, there is only one other Bill that I would say a few words about, and that is the measure for facilitating the transaction in Scotland and Ireland of the more important stages of private legislation affecting those countries. Your Lordships are all perfectly familiar with the working of Private Bill legislation. You are aware what pressure is put upon Private Bill Committees to save the expense of bringing witnesses from long distances and keeping them for a long time in London. I feel sure, therefore, that your Lordships will agree that Her Majesty's Government are taking a right course in promising to give their attention to this matter, and to save, if possible, some of the expense of Private Bill legislation as regards Scotland and Ireland. My Lords, I cannot sit down without thanking you for the kind indulgence you have accorded. I cannot say that it was unexpected, but I am none the less grateful, especially as I am 11 painfully aware that it has been so little deserved. I beg to move the Motion which stands in my name.
Moved, "That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as followeth:—
Most Gracious Sovereign,—
We, your most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—(The Lord Windsor.)
§ LORD ARDILAUN
(who wore the uniform of a Deputy Lieutenant), in seconding the Address, said: My Lords, I know that I might largely rely upon that wide and generous indulgence which you always extend to those who stand in the position which I have the honour to occupy to-day; but I will only occupy a very brief period of your time, and I trust that no apology will be necessary if I proceed at once with the few observations which I desire to make in seconding the Address upon those portions of Her Majesty's Gracious Speech which deal with Ireland, because that country will no doubt absorb a great portion of the time of this Session on which we are just entering, and also because in that country I have passed the greater part of my life, and trust if I am permitted to spend there the remainder of my days. I do not propose to weary you with lengthy statistics in order to prove that the task of the Government in establishing order in Ireland progresses steadily and that crime becomes daily less and less. I will, therefore, only read the following figures from the latest Returns: It appears that whereas the total number of agrarian crimes, exclusive of threatening letters, reported in the year 1886 was 632, that number has since annually diminished. Last year, 1889, it stood at 341; and the number reported for the last ten months—that is, from January 1st to October 31st, 1890, was only 244. So that we may fairly expect that at the close of the present year the calendar of agrarian crime will be less heavy by more than 50 per cent. than that of the year 1886 when the present Government took Office. But, my Lords, it is not necessary to convince ourselves 12 by statistics. No one who reads the newspapers, and especially the Irish Nationalist newspapers, can fail to have been struck by the fact that while the agitators, high and low, are moving heaven and earth to persuade the people of this country, and especially the voters, that the whole Irish people are in a state of furious indignation under the bitter oppression of unjust laws—laws which they cannot and which they are told on high authority they ought not to obey—most of the Irish people show little signs of that furious indignation, except in a few exceptional localities, carefully chosen for the purpose, and even in those localities it is necessary for them to concentrate all their great powers of creating disturbance, and all their great dramatic talent for making use of that disturbance when created, aye, and large sums of money, too, to enable them to keep up any show of resistance to those intolerable laws. Certainly, so far as concerns that part of the country with which I am connected by property and by frequent residence, I am glad to be able to give a most satisfactory account. That district not many years ago had one of the saddest and darkest records of any in Ireland. Within it occurred the now historic persecution of Captain Boycott; within it occurred such awful murders as those of the unfortunate Lord Mount-morres, the Huddys, and others whose names I do not now desire to recall. And indeed, my Lords, if I refer to those terrible times, I do so solely for the purpose of contrasting them with the present happier state of things, and the promise of—as I trust—a brighter future. I am glad to recollect that those gloomy experiences were but an episode, a passing interruption of a better and happier state of things when the people followed their avocations in peace. I rejoice now to be able to say that the district of which I am speaking is as free from all crime as any parish in England or Scotland, and that the people are readily obeying the laws, and faithfully, I believe to the best of their ability, meeting their obligations. And, further, my Lords, I believe the people themselves are well pleased with this state of peace and repose. I am confident that so long as the laws continue to be firmly and fearlessly maintained—so long as agitators are re- 13 strained from arousing and terrorising into crime an excitable, but warmhearted, peasantry, the people will follow their pursuits in peace, and the country will remain as free from crime as I well recollect it to have been before the Land League commenced its disastrous career. I have no doubt that many of your Lordships from other parts of Ireland could tell a similar tale. To anyone who has, during the last 10 or 12 years, watched the course of events upon the spot, it must be evident that from day to day, as the law is vindicated and its authority maintained, the waves of popular excitement calm down and the people soon forget the awful hurricane by which Irish society was only a few years ago swept. The truth is, that the vast majority of the Irish people desire peace—peace for the performance of their various duties and daily business—and that those cases of lawlessness of which we read in such places as Tipperary and a few other spots are not the outcome of unjust laws or tyrannical administration; they are the direct results of a deeply-planned agitatation, carefully and theatrically worked up for a political purpose. I think, under those circumstances, we may all echo the words of Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech which record the steady improvement in the social condition of Ireland which advances so rapidly under the present Administration. I need not say how much this wonderful change is due to the great ability, courage, industry, and patience with which the present Chief Secretary for Ireland has fulfilled his difficult and thankless task. But, speaking as an Irishman, I hail even more heartily those portions of Her Majesty's Gracious Speech which promise generous measures for the immediate and material benefit, and for the lasting welfare of my fellow-countrymen. I will not now venture to occupy your Lordships' time by anticipating the detailed criticism of the Land Purchase scheme which must take place when the Bill is before us; neither will I venture to offer any argument in support of the general policy of largely increasing the number of peasant proprietors. I believe that it has been admitted by thoughtful men of all Parties and all classes, that in such a policy alone is to be found a lasting and permanent settlement of that 14 disastrous struggle between the owners and occupiers of land in Ireland, which from generation to generation has been the ruin and the shame of our country. I will now only ask to be permitted to add my testimony to the large amount of evidence that already exists as to the great success of the efforts which have been already made in this direction. Some years ago—in 1886, I think—I sold to my tenants, under the Ashbourne Act, some portions of my property in the County Galway; and I am glad to be able to bear witness to the fact that the new proprietors on that and on several other estates of which I know have regularly paid their instalments, and I believe are well pleased with their new position. There is only one other point connected with this subject with which I will trouble your Lordships. I wish to say a few words in answer to a charge which has been often made, and made I think evidently not only with the purpose of prejudicing the Irish landlords as a class, but also the Government. It has been said that the object of the policy of Land Purchase is to enable the landlords to "pocket the plunder," as it is called, and to flee the country. Now, I desire most emphatically to repudiate that accusation. I know, on the contrary, of many landlords, who, unless they sell portions of their property, must leave the country, but who are desirous of remaining. I do not see why, if we enter into voluntary arrangements with their tenants for the sale of their estates or portions of them, that should be called "plunder;" but I desire to say on my own behalf—and I think I may speak in this matter on behalf of the vast majority of the Irish resident landlords—that we desire to live in our own country; and if we join in supporting a change in the relations which have hitherto so long existed between ourselves and our tenants, it is because those relations have been rendered difficult, and in some parts of Ireland precarious. On this account we are willing to substitute for them a new state of things under which Irishmen of every class may continue to live in their own country, but under conditions which shall be more permanent and happy. It is the proposal of the Government for dealing with the congested districts which claims the warmest gratitude of those who, like myself, have had opportunities of seeing 15 the misery which inclement seasons from time to time bring upon those fringes of our civilization. No one can help feeling the deepest sympathy for those poor people who inhabit the rocky and sterile coasts which all along the western seaboard of Ireland are visited by the fierce gales and drenching rain of the Atlantic; but they have hitherto been left hopeless and helpless. I hold that the Government have followed a wise and certainly a humane policy in proposing to establish and endow an independent Board, which shall not only study such difficult questions as emigration, migration, and the consolidation of holdings, but shall also forthwith proceed to consider how far they can render assistance to fisheries and other local industries. And I am glad to know that the vigour with which the policy of providing light railways has been pushed has brought hope and confidence to many a poor family whose outlook for the winter was desolate enough in view of the potato failure, which failure, by the way, seems to have lost all interest for the so-called "patriotic" party since it ceased to offer them a good opportunity for the furtherance of their political ambitions. It is still difficult to accurately estimate the extent of this misfortune, so capriciously has the blight fallen this year upon the various localities, farms, and even upon different parts of the same field; but, speaking generally, I would venture to predict that in many places the distress caused by it will be serious, and, in some, acute; but I do not think it will be anywhere so bad that the promises of vigorous assistance—which has been given by the Government—will not be able to grapple with it. I believe that a well-arranged system of light railways will prove to be the pioneer of comparative prosperity in many of those districts in the West which have hitherto seemed to stand still, or retrograde, while other parts of Ireland were improving. I have detained your Lordships too long, but I trust you will not charge me with egotism for having brought before you these views and opinions gathered from personal experience and observation; for I am confident that every one of your Lordships, to whatever Party you may belong, takes a deep and kindly interest 16 in all questions which touch the material welfare and happiness of Ireland.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, for various reasons I do not propose to trouble you at any length. At the very beginning I am confronted with a difficulty—I admit a small difficulty. It has been my happy lot, not unfrequently, to compliment with well-deserved compliments the Mover and Seconder of the Address in this House, but I do not know that I have ever had to go so far in the chivalry of opposition as to complain of those speeches being too good or too full. I will explain my meaning. Since I have been in this House—now a good many years—I have never heard any criticism whatever with regard to the manner in which we debate the Address in Answer to Her Majesty's Gracious Speech from the Throne. But this has not been the case in another place. This is not an old grievance, but a recent grievance. One of the fruits of that obstruction which was brought almost to the perfection of a science by the Irish Members on the one hand, and by the Fourth Party, supported by other Conservatives, on the other, against the Administration of Mr. Gladstone, was a lengthy Debate on the Address. That was one of the means used. I think there has been a general feeling that it is desirable to shorten these Debates, and for that reason—although the noble Lords who moved and seconded the Address did not allude to the innovation—I have not any objection to make with regard to the form of the Answer being quite different to what it has previously been. It seems to me quite as businesslike and quite as respectful to Her Majesty. But I think there has been some inconsistency shown in making that change. To that change I see no objection, because I imagine, notwithstanding the shortness of the Answer, it would be perfectly competent to myself or any other Peer to move an addition to the Answer if we thought fit. At all events, the intention is good, and I certainly desire to assist the Government in making whatever use of that change that may be possible. But it does not seem to me to be perfectly consistent with this desire to shorten the Debate, to introduce into the body of the Speech that which is of a somewhat controversial character, namely, the state 17 of Ireland; and also to encourage the Mover and Seconder of the Address—I presume in the other House as well as in this—to touch upon almost every point—there was one exception to which I will afterwards allude—as has been done under the former state of things. It appears to me to be a sort of invitation to this House, which I do not think we shall take unfair advantage of, and to the other House also, to nullify the course which has been proposed. There is one point to which the noble Lords who moved and seconded the Address did not allude—I think very judiciously—namely, why we meet on this particular day, one of the last days of November. Last February I took the liberty of pointing out that Parliament was meeting at an unusually late period. No answer was given to that observation; but there is no doubt that the lateness of that meeting contributed, with other causes, to the complete legislative collapse which took place. When that collapse took place there was no doubt a good deal to be said for and against an Autumn Session, but I do not think that any of those persons who argued in favour of an Autumn Session imagined that it was going to be reduced to the smallest possible limits, and that there would be any serious hope in a period of not more than three weeks of making up for that with which more than six months had been inadequate to deal. There may be Party reasons for objecting to it, but why a Government with a large majority in both Houses, and with a sincere desire to press forward the measures which they propose, should always show a reluctance to meet Parliament I am unable to understand. It was different formerly. Lord John Russell always proposed to meet Parliament on the earliest possible day, and Mr. Gladstone always followed the same course; but what particular reason the present Government have for always postponing to the last moment the meeting of Parliament I will not attempt to explain. The first and principal portion of the Speech is devoted, as is the custom, to foreign affairs, and I must at once thank the noble Lord who moved the Address for the very handsome tribute which he paid to the attitude of the Opposition with regard to the administration of foreign affairs. Like everybody else—I am sure 18 no one can doubt—I am delighted to hear the confidence with which peace is spoken of by the noble Marquess, and it is all the more consolatory because it seems to be in harmony both with the thoughts and actions of the other great Governments of Europe. Then with regard to other things, nobody who has been connected with the Foreign Office can fail to rejoice very much at the chance of our coming to an arrangement respecting the Newfoundland fisheries, and I certainly hope the noble Marquess will be able to carry out that arrangement. With regard to the negotiations with Portugal, I also, instead of wishing to criticise, entirely rejoice that after a very sharp and disagreeable conflict of feeling, the noble Marquess has adopted a modus vivendi, in which, I think, it is likely that the substantial merits of the case may be settled, and at the same time I hope that it may do away with the friction which to so great a degree has been created on this subject. Then with regard to the delimitation of colonial possessions of the European Powers, I am sure that that is a good thing in itself—of course it depends upon details into which I am not entering now, but in itself the thing is good, and the noble Marquess has had an opportunity of giving urbi et orbi, both to the city and to the universe, his views upon the result of that delimitation. With regard to the hostile tariff which has been lately passed by the United States, I entirely agree with the noble Marquess that we have no action to take with regard to that tariff, especially as it could only be done by the old, fatal, and useless tariff wars which I, for one, deprecate, and would regard with the greatest degree of apprehension. But I am not sure that I am at one with the noble Marquess as to the measures by which we are to neutralise in some degree the bad effect of that hostile tariff. I had an opportunity in public not long ago of saying that I firmly believed that this tariff was not owing to any hostile feeling on the part of the United States towards this country, but was partly due to electioneering questions, to the extreme popularity there of Protection, and also perhaps to capitalist and very powerful vested interests. I am exactly of the same way of thinking now, and I do not 19 think that the reaction which seems to be taking place has anything to do with any interests they have with regard to our commercial prosperity or depression. But there is no doubt that this tariff will do harm. It will affect certain manufactures very much, and it seems manifest that such a tariff will do infinitely more harm to the United States themselves than to others. It will derange trade; it will be injurious to their agriculture, to their labourers, to their farmers, and to their artisans. To us there will be compensations. I have no doubt that they will fail in prohibiting trade, as this tariff proposes. This country, like America, must sell its extra produce, and in order to sell that produce it must buy the produce of other countries. Another consideration is that I do not think that any nation has ever succeeded in establishing very strong prohibitive duties without creating an enormous amount of smuggling, and if the Dominion would only take the course, which would be in their interest, of lowering their duties, I believe the amount of smuggling would be so enormous as in itself to very much counteract that tariff. It appears to me impossible to station along thousand of miles of frontier lynx-eyed Customs officers such as those who discovered the cigars and brandy which were lately so unfortunately placed in the middle of the noble Marquess's luggage. The noble Marquess laid great stress on the fact that "trade follows the flag." I am not so certain that trade does follow the flag. Trade follows the language and the habits of a race. Our trade, notwithstanding all our commercial difficulties with that country, has enormously increased with the United States, where certainly our flag does not float. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that our trade has greatly decreased with some portions of the Dominion and our Colonies, where our flag does float. In those places the flag has not removed obstacles to trade between them and the Mother Country. For those reasons I do not think we can look to the noble Marquess's remedy of annexing enormous territories occupied by uncivilised peoples as a means of meeting any hostile demonstration as regards the demands of our trade. The noble Marquess alluded to the Protectionist feeling of the 20 whole world. It is very sanguine to say that, but it cannot obliterate altogether the importance of the change which is taking place in the United States at this moment. I have not the slightest doubt that the Protectionist feeling in Europe which has prevented their following our example in the direction of Free Trade has been very much owing to seeing so prosperous and free a country as the United States devoted to Protection and against Free Trade. I myself am sanguine that if a great change took place in that country it would react upon the feelings not only of the Americans themselves, but of the nations of Europe also. My Lords, I do not know that I have anything more to say upon foreign affairs. If I had, I should be prevented by the absence of a noble Friend (Lord Rosebery) who is suffering under one of the greatest misfortunes that can happen to a man. But, asking the indulgence of the House, I may, perhaps, allude to two questions which are not in the Queen's Speech. I have no right to complain of their omission from that document, still, they are questions of considerable importance, and I think possibly—I do not say certainly—Her Majesty's Government may give some explanation upon them. One of these questions is with regard to the great financial panic which occurred quite lately in the City. It seems to us who are not, of course, perfectly well-informed in the matter, that it has been met in a manner which is exceedingly creditable to the firmness, prudence, and liberality of the City itself. There is, however, one fact that needs explanation. It has also been stated in the newspapers that there were communications with the Government; but there were statements made with regard to that which are unintelligible, and cannot be true. One statement was that Her Majesty's Government, without giving a guarantee, stood behind the Bank of England to the amount of £2,000,000. That appears to me to be nonsense, and I cannot conceive how that can have been so. I do not know how far these communications were of a perfectly confidential character, or of a nature which Her Majesty's Government would do wrong to divulge. But it would be satisfactory, if that is not the case, if the noble Marquess would state the fact, and give us a little 21 inkling of what the course was which Her Majesty's Government took on this important occasion. The other question is one of the most painful that I remember during my political life. It is the charges that have arisen with regard to an expedition in which great qualities of enterprise and of endurance were shown—charges so painful that I do not know how to allude to them. I do not know whether the Government have considered how far they are called upon to take steps with regard to these charges. I do not give any opinion upon the question whether they ought or ought not to take steps, but it would be satisfactory to know whether Her Majesty's Government have considered the subject, and how, if at all, they think they are called upon to deal with it. Then, my Lords, I come to the Bills which are promised. There are four of them. As I have already said, the noble Lords who moved and seconded the Address touched upon every point in Her Majesty's Speech with one exception, and I think they were perfectly justified in making that exception. They made no allusion to that bogus part of the speech. It is a perfect innovation for Her Majesty's Government in the Queen's name to introduce a whole list of measures with more or less popular titles without taking any of the responsibility which is usually incurred in naming the popular measures proposed to be introduced. I think the omission of the noble Lords was perfectly wise and perfectly justified; and necessarily any discussion upon my part of those important subjects, brought forward on so airy a foundation, would be entirely out of place, and could only be of the most academic character. The noble Lord the Mover said something about two Bills. I do not know what they are. Is the Tithe Bill the same as that of last Session, and is the Land Bill exactly the same as that to which so much attention was given last Session? I do not know whether the noble Marquess will think it right to give us any inkling as to how far they resemble those which came to grief last year. Then there is the question with regard to private legislation in Ireland and Scotland. I am quite sure we shall not oppose Bills if we see no objection to them. Unlike the obstruction which was offered to Mr. Gladstone's 22 Administration, where obstruction was offered to every measure good, bad, and indifferent, whether the Opposition liked it or not, we do not oppose Bills, but we give facilities to them where we do not think they are subject to any fatal objection. As to the proposals with regard to free education I think I can answer for the Opposition being prepared to give that cordial support which they have always given, though that support depends, of course, on what system of free education is proposed to be established. I am afraid I cannot contribute anything further to the Debate, in regard to those four Bills of which at the present moment I really know nothing. Then there is the question which always crops up and stands in the way—the Irish question. During the short recess very heavy charges were brought against the Government as to the policy of the Tipperary prosecutions—how far they assisted in establishing order and the authority of the law. On this point there is a singular commentary in the coincidence that two men so very unlike in their politics and character as Her Majesty's Solicitor General and Mr. Labouchere both agree that those proceedings were a farce. Questions were raised as to the competency of the Judges, as to the sufficiency of their legal training, as to their independence, as to the action of the police, as to the action of the Divisional Magistrates—one individual being told that if he said anything which seemed to the Magistrate illegal that that would at once make him disperse the assembly—and as to the mode in which the Magistrates had been selected for the purpose of these trials—all sorts of questions in short, into which at this moment I do not propose to enter, and I will tell you why. Your Lordships may remember that last Session, in June, Mr. W. O'Brien brought before the House of Commons the subject of a certain meeting which he described as having been dispersed without notice and without invitation to disperse. Mr. O'Brien then described the violent charges of the police, in which a woman was struck on the breast. The Chief Secretary, relying upon official information which he had received, denied those statements, and the House of Commons, by the majority which the Government command, endorsed that denial. It happened that Mr. John 23 Morley, the late Chief Secretary, went to Ireland to judge for himself of the condition of the country, particularly with reference to the likelihood of a potato deficiency. He went, and while there with Mr. Dillon, who is being prosecuted in Tipperary, Mr. Illingworth, and other persons, saw what appeared to be a repetition of the charge made by Mr. O'Brien in the House of Commons in June. Mr. Balfour then did a thing which I think he must have done inadvertently and without thinking of it. He, in a public speech, intimated, not only to those whom he addressed, but to the Magistrate who was subordinate to him, that he had considered the matter, and that he had come to the conclusion that Mr. Morley's evidence was not worth anything. I am not going to argue whether Mr. Morley's evidence is worth anything, because, with the evidence of Mr. Illingworth, it will be given in a Court of Justice next week, and will be subject to cross-examination. In these circumstances I do not think it would be right for me this evening to introduce a discussion upon this important Irish question, more particularly as I do not wish to give an example to obstructionists in another place, but on the contrary desire to facilitate passing the Address as soon as possible. My Lords, I said I would be short in my remarks. I have not broken that promise; and in conclusion I can only say that I trust that this Session will be more bearing of good fruit than at present it seems probable that it will be.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (The Marquess of SALISBURY)
My Lords, I have the happiness to be in accord with the noble Earl in his criticism of the speeches of my noble Friends. I have heard, and the House has heard, them with very great pleasure, and though possibly they may coincide with the noble Earl in thinking that they were very full, I do not think they will coincide with him in thinking that they were too full. What my noble Friend who moved the Address said on the subject of his career in this House I hope I may interpret as a cry of penitence for not having more frequently given us the advantage of his assistance in council. At all events, he cannot plead in future that there is any doubt on our part of 24 his fitness to address the public and ourselves with great advantage. To my noble Friend who seconded the Motion my thanks are due for the counsel and assistance which he and his friends have given to the Government and to the House on the grave questions with which he is, by his position, so specially familiar; and I hope that in the Irish Debates which are probably impending over us, and which may occupy much of our time and energy, we shall not lack the assistance, the guidance, and experience of my noble Friend. I feel, in discussing foreign affairs, that there is one circumstance which would hinder us—a circumstance which was referred to with his customary good taste by the noble Earl. We cannot now touch upon foreign affairs without feeling that they would have been spoken to with the greatest authority by a noble Earl who is absent from this House to-night, over whose hearth the bitterest sorrow has fallen that can befall a man; and in regretting his absence from this Debate from that cause I am sure every Member of the House tenders his earnest sympathy to one of its most distinguished Members in the terrible grief that has befallen him. The speech of the noble Earl might be conveniently summarised by this formula—"I could say something about some of the subjects which have been placed before us, bat I would rather say nothing at all." The noble Earl referred to a succession of subjects on which he should like to have made some observations, but as he advanced towards the consideration of them he always saw good reasons for abstaining from saying more. I will not go into the politico-economical questions which the noble Earl raised. They could only be dealt with satisfactorily by an array of statistics which certainly I do not carry in my head. I think, however, he will find that the doctrine that the flag draws the trade is covered and supported by the documents which are annually laid before us. He talks of its being really the language that attracts the trade, but if we look at the trade of this country with India, and compare it with the trade that we carry on with other countries quite as rich and quite as vast, I think he will see that the political connexion with that country is a very powerful factor in the enormous com- 25 merce which we are enabled to derive from it. Although it is lamentably true that some of our colonies, not following our Free Trade example, have interposed the obstacles of tariff between us and them, which hinder our trade, yet I think it is the fact that our trade is increasing more rapidly with the Australian Colonies than with any other part of the world. I do not, of course, say that the trade of Africa will be an immediate compensation, for what we may lose in consequence of the existence of Protectionist beliefs in America, but it is a motive for preventing territory from falling into the hands of other Powers, that those Powers will probably use the dominion which we concede to them for the purpose of crippling the trade that we otherwise should possess; and that seems to me a legitimate motive for the accession of territory which might otherwise be wanting when we consider how vast the territories of this country are. The noble Earl put two questions to me which I am afraid I cannot answer in a very satisfactory manner. He asked me with respect to the events which have recently taken place in the City of London. Undoubtedly it was the duty of a very able man, the Governor of the Bank of England, to whose prudence and strength of character I believe the City owes an incalculable debt of gratitude, to place himself in communication with the Government. If any action of the Government had taken place on those communications, it would have been my duty to lay it frankly and without reserve before Parliament. But I do not think that inchoate and contingent matters are profitable subjects of debate. They could not be explained without disclosing matters of a purely confidential character, and I say that we should only be doing harm and not good if we were now to unrip transactions which have now happily floated back into the past. With respect to Africa, of course there are no two opinions as to the horror of the matters upon which for the last fortnight or three weeks we have been fed almost every day. But I am not prepared to accept for Her Majesty's Government the duty of preserving life and property in the heart of Africa. I do not think it is tiny part of our duty to take any notice of those things as a Government. 26 I do not wish to lay down general rules, because events might happen which would set general rules at defiance; but I say that, as far as events have gone, there is nothing that would justify us in incurring the cost, the difficulty, and hazard of doing injustice, all of which evils we should incur in the search after results that we should be very unlikely to obtain. We are very unlikely to get at the truth, and we incur enormous risk of perpetrating injustice if we act on the imperfect information that we can obtain; and we must always remember that, while the principal actor—a very distinguished man, whose proceedings have first brought these matters to light—is not an English subject, the two men on whom the chief weight of those accusations has fallen have passed beyond the reach of all human jurisdiction. I think the noble Earl complained with respect to the time of the meeting of Parliament. He seemed to me to be very inconsistent. The last time we met was, I think, on the 11th of February. The noble Earl said that was much too late. Now we have met on the 25th of November, and yet the noble Earl says it is much too late. I fear the noble Earl will compel us to the somewhat Irish expedient of proceeding with the ensuing Session before the preceding Session has expired. The noble Earl, with a want of candour which is unusual in him, did not tell the House the real reason for the warmth of his feelings; he confided it to a meeting in the country, where he expressed the hope that Parliament might open a few days earlier in order, that it might furnish materials for a speech. It was very cruel of us to disappoint the noble Earl, and I heartily sympathise with him, for I know of nothing more painful to a public man than that of having to make a speech and of having nothing to make it about. It is a lamentable position, however, in which all public men are sometimes placed, and it is one of the severest drawbacks to public life. But I must say that the noble Earl is a little exacting if he has not been able to make a speech out of all the events which have occurred during the last three weeks. I never remember a period in which more striking and powerful events have happened in a short space of time than the period which the noble Earl might have 27 included in his survey. I do not understand the complaints of the noble Earl with respect to Ireland. He complains that the Chief Secretary should have beforehand said that Mr. Morley's evidence was worth nothing when Mr. Morley was going to give his evidence in a Court of Justice.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Then, of course, the complaint falls to the ground. I quite admit that a witness should be protected in the way the noble Earl suggests, and that his evidence should not be discredited beforehand; but it is on the condition that he confines his testimony to the one proper and judicial use. If he uses his testimony for platform material, and takes the things which he is about to swear to in a Court of Justice as missiles to throw at the head of a political opponent, it is a little too much to expect that the political opponent will not say that the missiles are worth nothing. I understand the noble Earl to lay down the doctrine that when a politician has denounced his opponent with all the vigour which a wealth of vituperation and vigorous imagination can confer, and afterwards says the events are going to be the subject of evidence in a Court of Justice, then his political opponent, who is the victim of that proceeding, is to be compelled to admit that these accusations are unjust. I am quite sure the noble Earl would not like to undergo that ordeal himself. I do not quite apprehend the full nature of the noble Earl's objection to the Tipperary proceedings. He said something about their being injurious to the cause of law and order and conciliation, and so forth. It is difficult to speak of the Tipperary proceedings, because they were cut off, as it were, in mid-life by a strange event which happened to two of the defendants. There is always some difficulty with Irish leaders. Their strong point just now is escaping. Some prefer to escape by water; some prefer fire-escapes. But if we may pass from the personal part of the matter affecting those two distinguished men who are now exhibiting the tyranny of their country in America, I only wish the House to think for a moment of 28 what this Tipperary business really is, and what crime it was of which those defendants were accused. It has been often said, and said most untruly, that we are stopping combination in Ireland while we do not stop combinations of working men who refuse to work in England. The comparison is an utter disfigurement of the truth, and is a great insult to the working men of England. The working men of England have combined to refuse to give that which they have a perfect right to refuse to give—their labour. The combination which has been compared with that combination, the combination in Ireland which goes by the name of boycotting, is a combination, not to give what a man has a right to give or to refuse at his pleasure—it is a combination not to pay just and honest debts—it is a combination to swindle, to steal. But these Tipperary proceedings are even worse than the ordinary combination to steal, if it is worse to combine to steal in order that you may oppress and coerce instead of combining simply to steal and to defraud; because the conspiracy for which these men have been condemned in Tipperary is this—they conspired not only to defraud a man of the debts to which he had a good right according to law, but they conspired to do so in order to punish him for exercising that which was undoubtedly his right—namely, buying an estate in another part of the country in open market. A more monstrous combination or conspiracy of coercion, tyranny, and dishonesty the annals of Irish disorder have not, I believe, produced. For that reason it was necessary that the prosecutions should take place. I do not deny for a moment that these prosecutions, if they could be avoided, are undesirable; but the first thing necessary is to maintain the rights of Her Majesty's subjects to possess their property and to exercise their avocations in Ireland, and, however long the process may go on, and whatever difficulties it may involve, you will never establish good government or restore prosperity in Ireland unless you rigidly determine to go on punishing by law those who conspire to commit frauds and to tyrannise over their neighbours. The noble Lord did not criticise the Bills which we have indicated in the Queen's Speech; he rather complained that we 29 had not affixed to their names a general summary of their provisions. Such an arrangement would be inconvenient, impracticable, and might swell the Queen's Speech to an inconvenient size; and certainly I am unable to respond to his challenge when he suggested that I should now give an account of what these very complicated measures, which will be very shortly introduced, will contain. I will only say we entertain the hope that by increasing the number of those interested in the ownership of land in Ireland we may create a moral and political force which shall frustrate the efforts of future agitators to raise occupier against owner, and shall establish that balance of various interests in the midst of which every citizen may pursue his way and exercise his rights in peace.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
My Lords, I think the noble Marquess has a little misunderstood the position which my noble Friend intended to take with regard to these recent events in Ireland—I mean the Tipperary prosecutions, the conduct of the police, and the other matters to which he referred. What my noble Friend intended, I think, to convey was this, and I thought he did convey it very clearly to the House, that this would not be a proper opportunity for discussing those matters, for this obvious reason: that many of them have still to come before a Court of Justice in Ireland. And although there are matters which could be very properly discussed, it is very obvious that once you introduced the discussion it would be very difficult indeed to draw distinctions between the different matters. For instance, the conduct of the police has been very much impugned. Concerning that matter I do not desire to express any opinion in this House. It will shortly be inquired into in a Court of Law, and I think there could not be a reasonably impartial and effective discussion upon it now. We ought, of course, to be entirely untrammelled in discussing these various subjects. No doubt they may be brought forward at a future time if an opportunity should arise, and if we should think fit to do so. I do not desire to add anything more on the present occasion, but I thought it right to say a few words, as the noble 30 Earl said very little upon those subjects in his speech, and the noble Marquess has said little in reply. The noble Lord who seconded the Address very properly brought forward some interesting statistics, which I was glad to hear, with regard to the diminution of agrarian crime in Ireland. That must be a matter of satisfaction to us all, on whichever side of the House we may be; but he drew from that a conclusion which I thought dangerous. He implied from it that there is now political contentment in Ireland, and it appeared to me a very dangerous thing to measure political contentment by the amount of crime existing. It amounts to saying to the people, "If you do not commit crime you show that you are content with the political system under which you live." I am not for a moment arguing that the absence of agrarian crime is not a very favourable symptom, but I do urge that in a country situated as Ireland has been you should not connect contentment or agitation too closely with agrarian crime. Unfortunately these agrarian crimes have existed so long that we can hardly fix the date when they began. If you look back to the time before the Union you will find that agrarian crime was very rife. I am afraid it is much more due to what the noble Lord called "the perpetual contest or struggle that has gone on between the landowners and the tenants," than to the agitators, who have merely taken advantage of that unfortunate state of relations between the landlords and tenants in Ireland. I do not think, my Lords, there was anything else in the remarks which have been made on the present occasion which would make it necessary to add anything further.
§ LORD BRABOURNE
My Lords, the etiquette of your Lordships' House prevents along Debate upon the Address such as usually takes place in the other House; and I should not have risen but for one circumstance which has occurred this autumn, and which, I think, we ought not to allow to pass without holding up to reprobation. We ought to earmark and stereotype in reprobation two lessons, which, for the first time in the history of this country, have been taught by an eminent statesman and 31 leader of the Liberal Party. That statesman has deliberately told a portion of his fellow-subjects that if they had any love for their country and their family it was their duty to hate the law. That is one of the lessons which have been taught the public; and the other lesson taught by the same great leader is that there was no such thing as right and wrong in politics, but that it is the duty of a politician to ascertain on what side the majority is likely to be, and then to go with the majority without regard to principle. I think it would be a mistake if, on this first day of the meeting of Parliament, attention were not called to these new moral doctrines which, though they are taught by a leader of the Liberal Party, I venture to say are doctrines which will not be accepted by the people of this country at large, and which will not bring so much satisfaction even to those by whom they are taught as they seem to think possible. With regard to the business of the House, I would ask the noble Marquess what course of business will be proceeded with in reference to the matters which have been referred to, or whether your Lordships are to be troubled at present with any business at all?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I can only say that the course of business will at present depend upon the action of this House. I do not know of any business which is likely to arise among ourselves before Christmas, but of course if there should be any we shall be glad to discuss it. I am afraid there is still less likelihood of any business coming to us from another place. I think, therefore, until we are further informed, it is not desirable that we should meet every day; and my proposal, which I have mentioned to the noble Earl, is that on rising to-day we should adjourn for Public Business to Tuesday next.
§ On Question, agreed to, nemine dissentiente; Address ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.