§ [ADJOURNED DEBATE.]
§ Order of the Day for resuming the Debate arising on a Question put by The Earl Vane (M. Londonderry), read.
§ Debate resumed accordingly.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF ZETLAND
regretted that he was placed at a disadvantage in not having enjoyed the advantage of hearing a reply from the noble Lord in defence of Her Majesty's Government to the indictment which had been laid against them, but he would not take advantage, under the circumstances, of speeches in the House of Commons in order to anticipate the reply of the noble Lord opposite. During the time of his Viceroyalty he studied with great pleasure and satisfaction the characteristics of the Irish people, and he had never realised that silence was one of their shortcomings. He was, therefore, the more impressed not only with the system of silence upon Irish affairs adopted by Her Majesty's Government, but by the acquiescence of their supporters in that system, not only as regarded the present state of Ireland, but also as regarded the provisions of the Bill for the future government of Ireland. The present condition of some of the counties of Ireland could only be fully realised by those who were immediately connected with the country. His noble 6 Friend (the Marquess of Londonderry) had enumerated a long catalogue of crimes which had been committed there. Crimes of a serious character had been on the increase since the recent Administration was relieved of the responsibilities of Office. They were all well aware that from 1886 to the first, six months of 1892 crime in Ireland had steadily and surely decreased. He took the first six months of 1892, because it stood to reason that, with the excitement that preceded a General Election and a probable change of Ministry, the pulse of the country would be quickened and its temperature might rise, more especially in a country that bad gone through so many vicissitudes. As far as Limerick was concerned, he could fully confirm every word that had fallen from the noble Marquess. He bad resided on the borders of the County Limerick for several weeks in the Spring of 1892; be had had opportunities of discussing matters with officials and residents in the county; and he could emphasise the conclusion that must be drawn from the Official Reports. In the month of June last year there was not a single agrarian crime committed in that county; neither in that county nor in any other in Ireland did there exist, to his knowledge, any political combination of an illegal character. The crime of boycotting had absolutely ceased to exist throughout the length and breadth of the land. In order to maintain so satisfactory a state of affairs the late Government deemed it necessary, wise, and prudent to retain in use certain clauses of the Repression of Crimes Act—those relating to changes of venue, selection of special juries, and secret inquiry. They had had ample experience of the beneficial effect of these clauses of the Act. Previous experience had shown that it had been absolutely impossible to obtain convictions in certain parts of Ireland without change of venue. As regarded secret inquiry, after it became possible under the clauses, a very large number of unconvicted criminals loft the Counties of Clare, Cork, and Kerry simply from the dread of being brought to justice and convicted. He extremely regretted that the present Government arrived at the determination to suspend the operation of these clauses. The present Government succeeded to power in circumstances very different from those in which their predecessors 7 undertook responsibility for the government of the country. During his Viceroyalty—and he was certain the noble Marquess behind him would support the assertion from his own experience—the chief obstacle in the way of establishing and maintaining law and order was the existence of the Organisations set in motion by the Leaders of the Nationalist Party with a view to making good government in Ireland impossible. It might seem reasonable to suppose that, in existing circumstances, the heads of the Nationalist Party, who had become political allies of the Government of the day, would exert their influence with the more unscrupulous and more insubordinate Members of their Party, and induce them to support their political friends by bringing about a further reduction in crime. The statements of the noble Marquess behind him remained without contradiction, and he believed it was admitted by Her Majesty's Government that moonlighting was largely on the increase. Whether or not it was admitted that this increase of crime was connected with political combinations, it must be recognised that ruffianism and moonlighting were again in the ascendent, that assassins were again in a position to wield that baneful sway over the destinies of the country which they had exercised with such terrible consequences in the past. Under these circumstances, it seemed reasonable to inquire what steps Her Majesty's Government intended to take for the protection of life and property and for the repression of crime?
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
said, the noble Marquess opposite had made out a case on facts and figures which was complete enough to require a very careful answer from Her Majesty's Government. So far as the House had information, the only measure which the Government had taken for the protection of life and property was ineffectually to increase the number of the police in certain places; and he wished to ask why they did not revive the effective measures which lay in their power—secret inquiry, change of venue, and special juries? The only answer which the Chief Secretary had given was that to revive those measures was useless, because hitherto they had been ineffectual, but that answer did not appear to be correct, A Return just laid before the 8 House of Commons only yesterday showed that, while no convictions followed three secret inquiries which had taken place in the County of Clare, convictions had followed in all the seven cases which had occurred in the County of Kerry and in the single case of inquiry in Limerick. There was, therefore, very good direct results, irrespective of the indirect results, among those addicted to crime. As to the change of venue and special juries, the Chief Secretary appeared to regard them as ineffectual, but would the noble Earl who had been Viceroy (Earl Spencer) express the same opinion? These three powers were introduced into the Act of 1882, which the noble Earl worked with so much credit. In 1885 it was the opinion of the noble Lord that these clauses were extremely valuable; and in 1886, when the noble Marquess was in power, the noble Earl, in the Debate on the Address, found great fault with the Government because they had not renewed them. From that it was quite clear that the noble Earl regarded these clauses as of great value, and in that respect he held a different opinion from that of the Chief Secretary for Ireland. Was the noble Earl still of that opinion? If not, why not? And if these clauses were, in his opinion, as valuable now as they were then, did he intend to advise Her Majesty's Government to renew them? It was quite clear that the ordinary law was at present perfectly powerless in certain districts of Ireland. The Government had at their disposal a weapon for which they were indebted to Parliament, because Parliament made the Act permanent, and it was its permanence which gave to the Act its value, for it enabled the present Government to obtain the same results as the late Government had done.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (EARL SPENCER)
My Lords, I was quite ready last night to reply to the noble Marquess who opened the Debate; but when we found that your Lordships desired a longer Debate, I thought it advisable to reserve the remarks which I had to make. First, to notice the speech of the noble Marquess the late Viceroy (Lord Zetland). It was very clearly delivered and was couched in the most moderate language. I fully acknowledge the value of the arguments which the noble Marquess used, and I will 9 refer to some of his remarks later on. The noble Marquess who opened the Debate, in the not so temperate speech which he delivered, said that it was the action of Her Majesty's Government which has produced the lamentable events to which he referred. But if that is so, why is it that those lamentable events have occurred only in a few counties, Limerick, which is the subject of his Motion, and Clare, to which he only incidentally referred? If the argument of the noble Marquess is sound, the action of Her Majesty's Government ought to have resulted in disastrous effects of the same kind in every part of Ireland. In Ireland at large crime has diminished from the period when Her Majesty's Government took Office up to the 22nd of May. The number of threatening letters and notices from August 23, 1892, to May 22, 1893, was 135; in the corresponding period of 1891–2 it was 148. The number of agrarian outrages, exclusive of threatening letters and notices, was in the former period 139, in the latter period 170. So that the total number of agrarian offences from August 23, 1892, to May 22, 1893, was 274, as compared with a total of 318 in the corresponding period of 1891, or a decrease of 44. We have a still further test. There were 444 persons committed for trial from August 23, 1892, to May 22, 1893; the number during the corresponding period under the late Government was 338. Therefore, more men were made amenable by over 100 than in the corresponding period of the year before. If we compare the convictions, the number since Her Majesty's Government came into Office in 1892 up to May 22, 1893, was 139; it was 101 in the corresponding period under Her Majesty's late Government. The acquittals up to May, 1893, were 113, as compared with 91 in the corresponding period under the late Government, the comparison in that respect being in favour of the Government of the noble Marquess. These are the figures for Ireland at large; and when these grave charges are brought forward and imputed to what the noble Marquess called "the criminal action" of Her Majesty's Government, I think I am justified in showing what is the general effect throughout the whole of Ireland. I at once admit that the state of things in particular districts is not satisfac- 10 tory, and that there has been an increase of crime in those districts, but I do not think that increase is so great or so alarming as has occurred in former times. I quite admit that even if the greater part of Ireland is in a good condition, and one portion of it is in a bad state, the responsibility rests with Her Majesty's Government. The Chief Secretary, as well as myself, desire nothing more than to take whatever steps may be necessary to restore order in those districts. I am quite ready to admit that there has been an increase of agrarian crime in parts of Limerick and Clare, those districts being on the borders of Cork and Kerry. I admit that moonlighting and certain agrarian crimes have increased in those districts. But there is one matter for congratulation—there has not been a single agrarian murder during the period Her Majesty's Government have been in Office.
§ EARL SPENCER
There have been attempts, I admit. The noble and learned Lord seems to think I wish to extenuate this state of things. I have no wish to do so. I say I quite admit there have been attempts of the kind, but I think, having said that, I am entitled to take credit where credit can be taken. Though in Limerick there has been an increase in moonlighting, it is not the ease that there has been an increase in crime in Ireland generally. The Police Authorities have done everything possible to try and put it down. They have established stations in the worst districts, and have increased the numbers of the Force. Every effort has been made to put down moonlighting in these districts, and since April 23 there has not been a single moonlighting case in the County of Limerick. The Government may take credit for the success which has attended the steps they have taken in that county. With regard to this serious outbreak of agrarian crime, I have no desire to minimise the facts; but what has occurred is, after all, only a repetition of what has occurred from time to time in Ireland; and the authorities in that country do not attribute the increase of offences in the County of Limerick to more than the usual fluctuations of crime which have taken place occasionally for many years past. Everybody acquainted 11 with the history of crime in Ireland knows that these fluctuations occur in particular districts. It has happened in my own experience. Comities which, back in the thirties, were in a very disturbed state, are now quiet and peaceable. In the time of my first Viceroyalty the County of Kilkenny was in such a terrible state that the Government of the day had to take special measures to deal with it, and to overcome the influence and force of the Secret Societies which existed there. But the state of things in that county is very different now, and that part of the country is perfectly quiet. It is difficult to account for these fluctuations of crime. They may arise from the influence of some leading men of particularly bad character in the district at the time, or to some particular hardships that a locality may be enduring for the time; but, whatever may be the cause, fluctuations which cannot be altogether explained undoubtedly have occurred from time to time; they pass away, and that part of the country remains as quiet as any other. This has recently been the case in Limerick and the adjacent counties, and in that way the increase of offences is to be accounted for. The noble Marquess who introduced this subject implied that the increase is duo to defects in the machinery of government from the machinery having been allowed to get out of order; and he referred to the questions of the change of venue and the power of holding secret inquiries under the Crimes Act. I quite admit that great advantages have been gained, and may still be gained, by change of venue when the country is in an exceedingly disturbed condition. I still hold the opinion that I have previously expressed—that if the condition of affairs is such that a jury cannot act fairly in a particular county a change of venue is desirable. Accordingly, Her Majesty's Government will be perfectly prepared—and the Chief Secretary has already said so—to take the proper steps for obtaining change of venue if the necessity arises. As to the powers of secret inquiry, I must say that, though I am aware that there may be some indirect advantages to be gained from them, I have long been of opinion, and am still of opinion, that in the great majority of cases those powers have not proved to be of any real practical value in securing 12 evidence which would lead to successful results as regards convictions. I say that with regard to my own experience in Ireland. I grant that there have been many notable exceptions, but I maintain that you cannot lay down an absolute rule by taking a few cases, and in the great majority of cases the secret inquiry has not been successful. I have consulted some authorities on the subject, and they bear me out. Take the most recent cases. In the case of the three explosions that have lately occurred in Dublin the use of the powers of secret inquiry in two of them led to no favourable result. While in the third case they were not resorted to, as our Legal Advisers said it was perfectly useless to try it, and, therefore, it was given up. The point has been raised about witnesses not being afraid to give evidence when they are taken from their own into another county. But I venture to think that there is this difficulty in that assumption—that the power of holding secret inquiry does not enable you to put aside the necessity of inquiry before the Magistrates. Anyone who is afraid on account of intimidation to give evidence in his own county would probably be just as much afraid to give that evidence openly before the Magistrates in another county. What you want to do with regard to secret inquiry is to get evidence which will enable you to make men amenable and to proceed to a successful trial. In numerous cases, perhaps not an enormous number, the late Government put into force the clauses which enabled men to be imprisoned for refusing to give evidence. Why were they obliged to do it? They found that men whom they had every reason to believe could give valuable evidence refused to come forward. They had refused before the Magistrates, and they had refused before the secret inquiry. That shows that you do not gain a great deal, and that the same reluctance which prevents men coming forward in open Court operates upon them when they are before the secret inquiry. Men who are willing to come forward are not induced in the majority of cases to do so by the secret inquiry. The secret inquiry does not enable you to override the inquiry before the Magistrate, and anybody who is afraid on account of intimidation of giving evidence in his own county is just as much afraid of giving 13 it in another, because it has all to be shown upon the magisterial inquiry when those evil influences will be brought to bear against them. I do not think, my Lords, I need dwell further upon this subject of secret inquiry. I have been charged on a previous occasion with resorting to tu quoque arguments when I have compared figures under the present and the last Administration, and I wish to say that I have not quoted those figures and cases as a reproach to the late Government, but simply and entirely to show what experience has been in regard to those matters. With respect to the remarks of the noble Marquess on the offence of moonlighting, I wish to point out that moonlighting is not a scientific name or definition of any crime, and has never been adopted or printed in any official Return. It has grown up in consequence of the familiar description it conveys, and an attempt has lately been made to classify crime under this head. I believe that the term "moonlighting" is applied to crimes committed after sunset. There is no other definition of the word as far as I know. Cases of raiding for arms and attacks upon houses have been included in the Returns as agrarian crimes when the motive was clearly of an agrarian character; and cases where the motive assigned by the police fails to reveal an agrarian element have been included among non-agrarian crimes. That practice has been followed for years past, and there has been no change of procedure with regard to reporting outrages since the present Government came into Office. Upon all the points to which the noble Marquess referred yesterday I have not been able to obtain information. As to one case, however, information has reached my hands since I entered this House. That is the Moloney shooting case, and I am informed that seven men were arrested in connection with it last evening. Of course, I have not yet heard whether the case against these men is a strong one or not. I do not think it necessary to go further into the details of the speech of the noble Marquess. I will only repeat what I have said very often, that the Government are as intent and desirous of maintaining law and order in Ireland as noble Lords opposite, and that they will take whatever steps they may deem necessary to give effect to that desire. I have already explained why 14 the Government have not thought it necessary to renew certain powers available under the Crimes Act. I trust that this increase of crime in Limerick will prove to be only one of those fluctuations in the state of society in that county which has been so often found to occur in other districts in Ireland. Her Majesty's Government will not cease to take the steps which they think necessary for the preservation of law and order, and they sincerely trust that they will succeed in that small part of Ireland as they have succeeded in other parts of that country.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
said, that the noble Karl had not answered some of the most important questions which he had put to him. He wanted information as to the number of persons made amenable for the 17 cases of moonlighting in Limerick, which MR. Morley admitted bad occurred. He also wanted to know whether MR. Morley was prepared to redeem the pledge which he gave to the House of Commons a short time ago, to the effect that if any overt acts of intimidation or denunciation should be brought to his notice the Government would interfere? He had brought an actual case of the kind before the attention of the noble Earl yesterday, and he should like an answer with reference to it.
§ EARL SPENCER
I have no doubt that if overt acts of intimidation can be proved the Irish Government will take steps to prosecute the offenders. I have no information as to the number of men made amenable for the moonlighting outrages in Limerick. I have tried to obtain the information, but I have not vet received a specific answer to my question on the subject.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
What has been done with the Justice of the Peace who applauded the boycotting?
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
Really I must rise to Order. The noble Marquess cannot expect to be allowed to make a series of speeches.
§ THE MARQUESS OF WATERFORD
did not think that the House would consider the answer given by Her Majesty's Government to the indictment brought 15 against them at all satisfactory. In fact, there had been no answer given at all to the charges which had been so ably put forward by his noble Friend. The noble Earl had neither explained the serious state of affairs which existed in Limerick, nor had be attempted to suggest that the Government wore going to take any measures with a view of enforcing the law and putting down crime. There seemed to be a conspiracy of silence on the part of the Government in their Lordships House as well as in the other House in regard to Irish affairs at the present time. The noble Earl had not attempted to explain what was the reason for the increase of crime in Limerick. The noble Earl said that an influx of crime took place occasionally at intervals in Ireland. But when an influx of crime took place surely it was the duty of the Government to take steps to suppress the crime. The figures of the noble Earl distinguishing between agrarian and non-agrarian crime proved nothing. It was a curious fact that non-agrarian crime had been increasing in Ireland of late. But these so-called non-agrarian crimes were really agrarian, and, therefore, the Returns quoted were most misleading. In the Debate in the House of Commons the Chief Secretary stated that not a single moonlighting outrage had occurred in the County of Limerick since April 23. Well, he held in his hand a Return taken from the only means at his disposal, the public Press, of outrages in Limerick, and he found that on April 29 John Walshe's house was fired into, and on the same day Mary English's hay was burned, and Joanna Richardson's cow-house destroyed. On May 13 Owen Haggarty's house was attacked by moonlighters, and on May 15 Martin O'Mara's hay was burned. So that the House would see that the Returns of outrages put forward by the Government were incorrect even for the short time that had elapsed between April 23 and the present time. He would tell Her Majesty's Government the reason why there had been an increase of crime in Limerick and other counties in Ireland. It was because Her Majesty's Government knew that they were kept in Office by the Leaders of the National League, and had been obliged to throw away all the weapons which were necessary to enforce the law in Ireland. They were 16 endeavouring to preserve order in Ireland with the assistance of the forces of disorder. As he had pointed out, Her Majesty's Government were kept in Office at this moment by the Leaders of the National League, and they were attempting to govern the country with their assistance. Of all the mistakes that were ever made in the government of Ireland—and there had boon many—there never had been a greater mistake made than the attempt to govern the country by the aid of those who had openly defied the law. This mistake had been made over and over again, and it was this mistake which was now causing this terrible state of affairs in Limerick. He had always admired the firmness and courage with which the noble Earl (Earl Spencer) administered the most stringent Coercion Act of modern times, but he asked the noble Earl whether there could be a greater encouragement to the forces of disorder than to see him supporting a policy which would be certain to hand over the very men be himself had used against the disloyal classes in Ireland to those classes, tied hand and foot, to do with, them as they would, and probably to punish them for the very support and assistance they had given him when he was trying to enforce the law and maintain order in Ireland. Was not that in, itself enough to encourage disorder and lawlessness? No wonder the lawbreakers believed that a surrender had been made to them. Then, again, was not the action of the Members of the present Government when in Opposition sufficient to give impetus and encouragement to the criminal classes in Ireland? They encouraged the Land League in their endeavours to upset the law of the land. They never said one word against the Plan of Campaign. Although the noble Earl the other night declared that he had done so, he did not think anything of the kind could have been said in their Lordships' House. Certainly he was not present when the declaration was made, and he had not seen any report of it in the newspapers. On every occasion when MR. Balfour was attempting to enforce the law and punish law-breakers they did all in their power to put every obstacle in his way. They sat by and allowed the Magistrates to be attacked and the police abused, and 17 never said a word in their defence, and the peasantry in Ireland naturally believed that they approved these attacks. They voted in the House of Commons in favour of the Evicted Tenants Bill, and there was nothing which had caused Her Majesty's Government so much trouble, he was glad to say, since. Was it wonderful that their Lordships now saw that people in certain counties in Ireland were taking these lessons to heart? Was it wonderful, when such encouragement had been given to those who represented the National League in Ireland, when such ideas had been put into the heads of their supporters and dupes, the evicted tenants, the moonlighters and assassins, that Her Majesty's Government now found it difficult to enforce the law for the protection of life and property in certain counties. It was easy to understand how these people had taken the hint, and how the action which the Government took in Opposition had led the uneducated peasantry to believe that they had friends at headquarters, who, if they were not prepared to support them, at any rate would not punish them if they were detected in crime. The very fact that the Crimes Act had been made a dead letter, that the Evicted Tenants Commission had been appointed, with its outrageously biased composition and its more than ridiculous procedure and Report, were enough to encourage the forces of disorder to make themselves severely felt, and hence the state of affairs which his noble Friend had put before their Lordships. The condition of Ireland was getting, and would get, worse and worse from month to month and from week to week, unless Her Majesty's Government were prepared to take measures to improve it, until at last the Chief Secretary would be forced to choose between the Scylla and Charybdis of either bringing in a new Coercion Act or giving up Ireland altogether to the Nationalist Leaders and the Land League. The Chief Secretary, in the House of Commons some time back, said that the change of venue was useless. If the change of venue was useless, how was it that a number of convictions took place under it which were quoted by the Chief Secretary on Monday night in the House of Commons? How was it that MR. Balfour had been able to bring the country into such good order? How 18 was it that he was able at last to withdraw the operation of the Crimes Act in almost every county in Ireland? How was it that Limerick was quite orderly and quiet during the last years of Office of the late Government? How was it that MR. Campbell-Bannerman in 1885, and Sir G. Trevelyan in 1886, advocated a change of venue as a moans of punishing crime? Both those right hon. Gentlemen had been Chief Secretaries for Ireland; both of them were now in the Cabinet. Did they agree with the present Chief Secretary that change of venue was not of any use? If the change of venue and secret inquiry and other provisions of the Crimes Act wore of no use, how was it that MR. Balfour effected the great change he brought about in the condition of the country? There was another effect of the Crimes Act which Her Majesty's Government seemed to have disregarded. When it was in force, even if prosecutions and convictions were not very numerous, the law-breakers knew that they were in danger of being found out, and left the country, and almost immediately a change was seen in the diminution of terrorism and outrage. But what was to cause lawbreakers in Limerick at the present time either to fear the law or leave the country? They knew that their friends in Parliament had absolute control over Her Majesty's Government, and that they could turn them out of Office at a moment's notice. They had seen men who had boon convicted of murder let out before their time had expired. Was not that enough to encourage the forces of disorder and lawlessness? Again, the forces of disorder saw a Government pledged up to the eyes to hand over the whole country, every portion of its wealth and manufactures, to the very men against whom the noble Earl put the forces of civilization in action in order to punish and prevent crime. What must these classes think when they saw in the Bill, which had been rightly called a "crazy measure"—for it was crazy in almost every clause—the provision that the whole management of the land in Ireland was to be handed over to the tender mercies of an Irish Executive within three years? Was it a wonder that the forces of disorder should believe that they had won all along the line when they saw the very 19 thing at last proposed for which they had been fighting for generations—that the country should be handed over to an Executive appointed by themselves within a very limited period? They had at last induced Her Majesty's Government to bring in a Bill proposing to give them what they had so long been fighting for, and naturally they had every inducement to go on in their present course, believing that Her Majesty's Government would never interfere with them even to stop outrage or put down crime.
§ * LORD ASHBOURNE
My Lords, the noble Earl opposite, speaking on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, spoke, I think, in a way calculated to divert attention as much as possible from the question presented for the consideration of your Lordships' House, because he endeavoured to divert attention from the state of Limerick by referring to some general statistics as to all Ireland, which would include petty crimes committed in the City of Dublin; and he again endeavoured to divert attention from the serious nature of crime in Limerick by drawing distinctions between definitions of crime in that county. I think it better to remind your Lordships shortly in a sentence of what was presented to the attention of the House by my noble Friend the Marquess of Londonderry yesterday. The state of Limerick may be set out by three figures which have been admitted by MR. Morley in the House of Commons. Agrarian crime has gone up from 11 to 15 since the present Government came into Office, loss than a year ago; non-agrarian crime has gone up from 25 to 51; and moonlighting offences have risen from 1 to 17 in the County of Limerick. These are grave, painful, and significant figures, and what we want to know is, not generally as to Ireland, but particularly as to Limerick, where these melancholy disclosures have been made, what efforts the Government are going to make to deal with this painful state of affairs in that particular part of Ireland. Now, my Lords, I put aside the distinctions drawn by the noble Earl in this House and by Mr. Morley in the other House of Parliament. I do not care whether the crimes are called agrarian or non-agrarian, White boy outrages, or moonlighting. What we have to look at 20 is the state of demoralisation which is shown by the increase of serious crime and substantial advance of ruffianism. That is the problem; and whether you call them moonlighting, White boy, agrarian, or partial-agrarian offences, it does not lessen the seriousness of the position. I maintain that the figures I have quoted show a diseased state in that particular part of Ireland, and we have a right to know whether the Government recognise that grave state of affairs, and what steps they intend to take in that particular part of Ireland to grapple with crime. The noble Earl, in the closing part of his speech, endeavoured to make out that Ireland occasionally suffers from ebullitions of crime.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
Well, parts of Ireland: apparently as children suffer from measles or whooping-cough. But surely that, again, cannot be applied to the particular problem put forward in this Motion. We are dealing with Limerick, which shows an immense growth of crime under all heads of classification, and we have a right to ask the Government, "Are you alive to the responsibilities of government, and what are the steps that you intend to take to cope with this grave, serious, and dangerous state of affairs?" I am surprised that the noble Earl repeated the statement made yesterday in the House of Commons by MR. Morley that since April 23 there have been no moonlighting offences committed in County Limerick. MR. Russell gave four cases of outrage, with the names of the people and all the particulars which had occurred since that date; and what was the answer given to MR. Russell? MR. Morley's reply was that, as the offences were committed in the day time, they were not moonlighting offences. What difference does that make? It does not affect the question a pin's point. These ruffians had the audacity not to wait for night, and it is misleading the House to give such a poor, puny, wretched answer that these cowardly offences were not moonlighting outrages because they did not occur at night. It has been said that in Kerry and Clare there has always been agrarian crime, but that is not the history of Limerick. Until recent times Limerick had a far better record than the 21 other two counties. How was this brought about? I do not care to go into any personal recriminations on this point. It is far too serious a matter for that. But, at all events, this remark may be made, and the Government in relying upon statistics must bear this fact in mind. For the first time they have upon their side those who previously have not been found in support of the cause of law and order. They have those who have preached and have given their aid to sedition. They have also the unalloyed support of the Roman Catholic priesthood. These are great agencies, and I would not have been surprised if the statistics had shown in many eases an enormous falling off in crime. We might have expected that at least there would have been no great increase of crime in County Limerick. How is it that with these aids, this vast assistance, the Government have these startling figures in unchallenged existence? How is it that, with those forces now arrayed on their side, the Government are powerless to keep down crime and outrages since they came into Office? Because the Party in favour of disorder—those who are criminals—have seen the example set by the Government in weakening the powers of administration. They have seen the Government laying aside the special powers which heretofore have worked efficiently to put down crime, and it is more than foolish to expect men of the criminal classes not to be encouraged to deliberately defy the law when that law has laid aside its remedies, its most certain means of detection and punishment. Of course, it goes without saying that no Government wishes for crime. But there is a certain method of speech employed when these topics are brought before Government, which may tend not to denounce and discourage crime as it should be denounced and discouraged. When crimes of intimidation and boycotting are brought before the notice of the Government I have never heard them indignantly denounced. Let them not think that a quick-witted, keen people, like the Irish, do not read and study these things. What are the weapons that the Government have laid down? When the late Government left Office they left certain clauses of the Crimes Act in force dealing with the change of venue, getting special juries, 22 and making secret inquiries. Those are provisions that will be found to be in operation in any well-governed country. Putting aside all questions of so-called coercion, what country with a Criminal Code, intent on punishing crime and obtaining trials fair and free, free from intimidation and undue influence, would not welcome a system whereby secret inquiry, change of venue, and special juries could be obtained, a system known to all law? Why were those powers laid aside? Was it to assist the administration of justice? Was it done in order to show that the present Government were better than their predecessors in being able, no matter what was to happen, to govern without those clauses? If that was their object, the disuse of them puts on the Government a gigantic responsibility. Can they give a single valid reason on the merits in the nature of things, why they should not have continued to use the power of change of venue which at Assizes after Assizes has been proved to work well, and where the local venue notoriously prevents in many cases the administration of justice? Can a single argument that would be listened to by rational men be adduced to show that, that power is not one that would be welcomed by any Government that seriously intended to prevent and punish crime The process of secret inquiry is common in Scotland, and it was adopted under the Explosives Act. Is there anything in the history of the administration of justice in Ireland to justify its being given up? It will not do for the noble Earl to give his own opinion. I respected the personal opinion of the noble Earl opposite when be was Viceroy of Ireland. When he was Viceroy of Ireland, the noble Earl used this power because he found it to be efficacious. But now the noble Earl thinks it sufficient across the floor of your Lordships' House, when challenged upon it, to set up his own ipse dixit, and to say he does not think it a good and useful power. As an answer to that opinion I appeal to the Return distributed yesterday to the House of Commons, which shows the value of the power in the convictions obtained for attacking dwelling houses, firing and wounding, and in the exemplary sentences passed upon the offenders. Is it not idle, in the face of 23 these facts, to say that the process is not efficacious to track and punish crime? An immense responsibility rests upon the Administration, which, with such facts before it, deliberately lays aside a power that can be used only to discover and punish guilty persons. Is it not futile for the Government to say—We will rest tranquil and see if there is more crime—wait and see what we will do if there is more crime. These are points worthy of serious attention, and they go to show that the condition of the County of Limerick has not been brought forward one moment too soon. What are the alternatives suggested by the noble Earl? I have been utterly unable to gather how the Government is going to deal with the crime prevailing in that county; and I suspect they do not know themselves. MR. Morley used a phrase that would be admirable if we could govern a country with phrases; he said he would continue using with reference to Limerick a vigorous, a firm, and a prompt policy. But where are the vigour, firmness, and promptitude? Are we to wait until the Winter Assizes for a resort to a change of venue? Is there to be no remedy applied to the existing state of things before them? The noble Earl knows as well as the Law Advisers of the Government that if the offenders in some of the cases are sent for trial before common juries at the next Assizes the result may be a farce. I could so describe it if the result would not be so appalling for the interests of the country. But are the Government justified, from any motive of policy, in playing with the peace of a county and its inhabitants? Is it not a tremendous issue for the inhabitants of Limerick? They are subject to these outrages upon themselves and their property. They have no reason to be thankful to a Whiteboy assassin who is not a good shot. It is of no use saying there have been no murders in a certain locality if, in the next breath, you have to admit that there have been attempts at murder, which are just as demoralising as if the attempts had been successful. Surely the wickedness of the Whiteboy assassin and the depravity of mind shown in the locality are just as great. I could have understood it if we could be told that this is only a question of lawyers' points; but this is an immense matter of substance— 24 it is no lawyer's technicality at all. You cannot get fair trials without in some cases changing the venue, and Her Majesty's Government are not justified in refusing to use the power which was ready to their hand when they come into Office. Without change of venue and special juries you cannot in many cases punish crime, and the effect is most demoralising when criminals find that crime can be committed with impunity. You have put your sword into your scabbard to go into this campaign; you have deliberately gone into the campaign with old flint-locks that will not go off, and have laid aside your good and efficient weapons. And how will it affect the poor people whom yon say you wish to give evidence? Why should they give evidence? Why should they have courage when you have—almost I would say—cowardice, if you have not the moral courage to do what is right about change of venue? How can you expect them, living on the spot, in the midst of intimidation and danger to their lives, to have the courage to come forward and give evidence when they find this cowardice in the Government itself, and when, as the result of that cowardice, convictions are not obtained, the prisoners at once go free, and the witnesses return to their homes with bowed heads, to remain in misery and terror as long as they live? My Lords, in my opinion it is impossible to overstate the importance of this matter. We are dealing, not with hypothetical cases, but with proved realities. The figures quoted yesterday show that in Clare and Limerick change of venue has been very successful. In Limerick itself, out of 41 cases and over 60 prisoners, 28 have been actually convicted. Without change of venue, these offenders would have gone scot free. The Government have ready to their hands a power that has been proved to be efficient. Knowing it was ready to their hands, on them rests a terrible responsibility if they refuse to use it when the necessity is so obvious. Why will not they do it? I do not know why Her Majesty's Government have not used it. From some sentences spoken by Mr. Morley yesterday, it may be that they are prepared to do it. I gather from the noble Earl that he would not himself be reluctant to use it, though he guarded himself cautiously. 25 However, one thing is obvious: the present painful state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. I will quote MR. Morley's own words again—they are weighty provided they mean something; he said that the Government are prepared to cope with this state of things in "a vigorous, firm, and prompt manner," and he admits that it cannot be allowed to continue. In addition to the figures I have mentioned to your Lordships, there has been a growth of what the noble Earl knows well is painfully significant of a great element of lawlessness in Ireland, and that is the establishment of Land Courts, which issue process compelling people to appear before them and with their own system of rewards and punishments, the punishments being very direct, and the rewards being the non-infliction of punishment. This is a grave state of facts taken in connection with the growth of intimidation. Everyone knows it. A case was given by the noble Marquess yesterday where a person was mentioned byname and all the circumstances given; and others are given every day in the House of Commons. Is not that a grave and serious state of facts? I venture to say that the Government should put one problem before themselves for the sake of the lives and property of the poor people of Limerick, and that is—"How shall we maintain law and order in that part of what are still the Queen's Dominions; how are we to insure with all the power at our disposal that crime shall be detected and punished? "You know that, taken by itself, it is no use drafting in extra police. You will never detect crime in Ireland; you never have detected crime in Ireland, unless you satisfy people that you mean to punish the criminals. But if you only mean to go through what, after all, may be the miserable farce of trying to find the criminals, inducing poor people to come forward and give evidence against them, and then refusing to place those criminals in a position where they can get an independent trial free from intimidation, then, I say, enough has not been done to satisfy the requirements of the case and the demands of public justice. My Lords, I appreciate the difficulties of an Irish Government. Any Irishmen, not to speak of anybody who has ever been an Irish official, must 26 thoroughly appreciate the difficulties which Irish officials are constantly exposed to. Those difficulties are common enough and sufficiently well-known. But this is a matter which is to be viewed from a very original point of view. Never before, as far as I know, in the history of Ireland was an Administration in the painful—almost the horrible—position of knowing what was necessary and yet was not sure that they would do what was needed. If only the character of the Members of Her Majesty's Government was at stake, I should not deem it necessary to say more. They must satisfy the obligations of their own honour. But what is to happen to the poor Limerick people while these crimes are developing, and while the Government are saying they are going to do something that they have not done yet? This, my Lords, is a serious and grave state of affairs. Honest and honourable men are terrorised, property is destroyed, and the Queen's peace is broken. These are grave statements to make unchallenged. They cannot be questioned. We have given our figures on the authority of the Government themselves. Chapter and verse have been given for every one of them. My Lords, I still have a hope, from some sentences which have been spoken elsewhere, and from part of a sentence uttered by the noble Earl in your Lordships' House, that the Government will rise to the dignity of their position, that they realise their responsibilities and the obligation of satisfying them. If they do so, I venture to think they will obtain the approval of all honourable and honest subjects of the Queen. The state of Limerick at present is a discredit to any Government and an outrage on all decent public opinion.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
My Lords, the noble and learned Lord, near the conclusion of his speech, informed us that he and others who have spoken on the opposite side have given chapter and verse for their statements. They have spoken of the number of recent moonlighting outrages in Limerick; but the fact is there has not been a moonlighting outrage in that county since April 23. I am extremely glad that the noble and learned Lord gave what he called chapter and verse for his statements, for 27 I shall have great pleasure in giving him chapter and verse for what I am about to say. My noble Friend (Earl Spencer) bad not in his hands the answer to those statements when he spoke. I, fortunately, am possessed of them. These were the statements of noble Lords opposite. They said that on May 2 the house of John Walsh was fired into in Limerick. The answer to that is that this outrage occurred in Clare on April 29. The next case they gave was that of Mary Richardson, whose cow-house they said was burnt in Limerick on May 17. The fact was it was burnt on December 21, 1892. The third case was that of Owen Hegarty, whose house they said was fired into in Limerick. That occurred not in Limerick, but in Clare, on May 11.
§ * LORD ASHBOURNE
May I venture to say in explanation that I had before me the report of the speech of Mr. Russell delivered before Mr. Morley in the House of Commons?
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
And I have the Report of the Irish Government, which has been prepared since Mr. Morley spoke, and I could not wish for anything better than that we should be judged by the accuracy of those two statements. The noble and learned Lord denounced the Government in the most violent language upon statements which I have shown to be inaccurate and not worth the paper on which they are written. The noble and learned Lord said that my noble Friend (Earl Spencer) endeavoured to divert the attention of the House from the particular case of Limerick by going into the general case of Ireland. But my noble Friend was bound to do that, because, as the case was presented, the whole state of affairs as regards crime in Ireland is said to be the result of the action of the Government. The noble Lord talked a great deal of the growth of crime in Limerick; but he brought in Clare and Kerry too, and at the end of his speech he spoke of the growth of crime, and he did not say anything with regard to Limerick. My noble Friend has shown, I fully admit, that the state of things in Limerick is in the highest degree unsatisfactory. But, having said that, I shall probably be told that I have not denounced crime in language sufficiently strong. I am quite ready to denounce it in any language, and 28 to employ any number of epithets that will satisfy noble Lords. I abhor crime; I detest it in every shape; and I desire that by every possible means it should be put down. Having said that, once for all, do not let my noble Friends suppose that we pursue our policy from any sympathy with crime, for I can assure them there is no foundation for that suggestion. I admit that there has been an outbreak of crime in Limerick; but, as my noble Friend has pointed out, during the last month there has been a subsidence of it. That may be due—though I am not prepared to so ascribe it—to the fact that a Liberal Government is in Office; it is impossible always to say that causes and effects can be proved. But this I do know—that the measures taken by Mr. Morley in Limerick have been followed by a subsidence of crime in that county during the last month. That being the case, what possible ground is there at this moment for denouncing the Government for what they have done, and for not taking other measures? When, under these circumstances, there has been a subsidence of crime in Limerick, it is only reasonable that the Government should wait to see whether the steps that have been taken will continue to be successful. Allow me, for a moment, to tell the House what I think is the right way of looking at this question. No doubt noble Lords will differ from me; but in dealing with Ireland, which has long been suffering under those evils, we ought not to fix our minds on the occurrence of crime in some particular district at some particular moment, but to take a wider view and try to ascertain to what general causes the existence of this crime is due. Special measures at some special moment may be necessary and may produce some effect; but the main point to consider is whether the policy followed is such as to permanently improve the condition of Ireland. Noble Lords opposite seem to be very greatly enamoured of the Crimes Act which they passed. They seem to regard it as the one and only panacea in dealing with Ireland, and that peace and order cannot exist in that country unless the Act is in operation; and they seem to be almost disappointed to find that Ireland can be governed under the ordinary law. The Government takes an entirely different view. We believe 29 it is a misfortune to any country and to the Government to have to govern the country by moans of special laws; and we believe that it is our absolute duty, if we see any reasonable ground for supposing that we can dispense with such special laws, to govern according to the ordinary law. Although I entirely and fully admit that the suppression of crime is one of the first duties of Government, I contend, at the same time, that the Government ought to look to the permanent effect of the measures which they apply. What we want in Ireland, and what, I admit, we have never yet been able to achieve, is to get the masses of the population on the side of the law. Coercion Acts may be passed, and the law may be administered with all the vigour and promptitude that noble Lords opposite desire; but unless by some means the peasantry of Ireland can be got to support the administration of the law no permanent improvement will ever be effected in that unfortunate country. The noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Ashbourne) referred to the special advantages the Government possessed in regard to this matter at the present time, and he said, perhaps not unnaturally, that as the Government has now in Parliament the support of the Irish Nationalist Party it might reasonably be expected that there would have been an enormous diminution of crime in Ireland. But the noble and learned Lord seems to forget that that argument has two sides. Noble Lords opposite and their Party have again and again denounced the Nationalist Party in Ireland as the authors and instigators of crime. But if, when that Party is on the side of the Government, and when it is obviously to their paramount interest to prevent as far as possible any increase of crime, it can be shown that they have failed, and that, nevertheless, there has been an increase of crime in Ireland, the fact proves that those accusations are untrue. You cannot escape the logic of that argument. I do not say that this is a complete answer to all the accusations made against the Nationalist Party, because in some conspicuous instances in times past outrages have occurred in Ireland which could be traced to Organisations used for political purposes. But I repeat that the Government ought not, because there is a sudden outbreak of crime in one or two parti- 30 cular districts, forthwith to give up the endeavour to govern Ireland by the ordinary law. But we do not deny that circumstances may occur in which it may be necessary to have recourse to exceptional measures; and as to change of venue, my right hon. Friend in another place has fully admitted that if it became necessary in order to procure fair trial and conviction it would be adopted, and my noble Friend (Earl Spencer) has admitted that if you see good reason to think you can obtain good results by a resort to change of venue, to that change of venue you ought to resort. In conclusion, I will only say this: The Government have been challenged, and fairly challenged, to say what they are going to do in Limerick. That is the question at present before your Lordships. I reply, then, that in Limerick the Government are going to administer, for the present, the ordinary law of the country, and if that conspicuously fails in suppressing these outrages, and, as a necessary protection, other measures have to be taken, Her Majesty's Government will know what it is their duty to do.
said, the noble Earl who had answered for the Government seemed to take comfort from the fact that in some of the outrages which had been committed murder had not resulted. That reminded him of a story told of a curate in the South of Ireland, who, in addressing his congregation, said—Why do you commit these outrages—what is the cause of them? I will tell you—whisky. What is the cause of your shooting at your landlords? Whisky. What is the cause of your missing them? Whisky.Before he sat down he would show the noble Earl that many serious outrages had boon committed in Limerick and in Clare since the present Government came into Office. Early in September, on November 14, April 15, and April 16 moonlighters visited the houses of farmers in Limerick, and shot them and members of their families in the legs, or beat them in the most cruel and dangerous manner, for occupying evicted land. In Clare there had been no diminution of crime since he last drew their Lordships' attention to the matter. As a resident in one of those disturbed districts, he called upon the Government for a more decided 31 reply to the facts and charges which had been brought forward than had been given. The answers already given were most incomplete and unsatisfactory. Could it be supposed that if such outrages as he had mentioned had been committed in any county in England special legislation would not very speedily be adopted to stop them and to deal with the criminals? Why were the Government so very tender about reviving the Crimes Act to deal with outrages in Ireland—an Act, it should be borne in mind, which interfered with no single person, except the men who perpetrated crime? Simply because their Irish masters in the other House forbade them to do so. He believed that but for the influence of the Irish Members in the House of Commons the Government would at once have recourse to the Act. At the Clare Assizes recently the jurors were visited and intimidated by the friends of certain prisoners, with the result that all the prisoners except one were acquitted. In one of the most recent cases, before Mr. Moloney was shot at, there had been an outrage committed upon his estate, and nobody was convicted for it. Nothing could be stronger than Mr. Justice O'Brien's Charge respecting the troubled state of Clare. The Ennis Board of Guardians had actually denounced the Judge for delivering that Charge, and had praised the jurors for the determination which they had shown to acquit prisoners. To MR. Blood's case attention had been drawn in a graphic letter to The Times, which some of their Lordships might have seen. Mr. Blood had been fired at four times. On the last occasion three policemen were with him on his car, but they did not attempt to follow the men who had fired at him, alleging as the reason for their inactivity that they were ordered not to leave the person entrusted to their care. Surely if that was the case there must be something wrong in the instructions given to the police.
§ EARL SPENCER
I do not know whether it will be any satisfaction to the noble Lord to hear that the order requiring all three men to remain with MR. Blood has been modified since.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Does that mean that one of them may run after the men when he is shot at again?
hoped that better precautious would be adopted. On May 13 and 17, and on June 1, other outrages were committed and murders attempted, the last one making the eighth attempt at murder since the present Government came into Office, and he called upon the noble Earl to say whether that was not a state of things which required exceptional legislation. When a special provision for a change of venue was in force fully half the men who were tried were convicted. Yet the noble Earl affirmed that to change the venue was of no avail.
§ EARL SPENCER
The noble Lord misunderstood me; I said nothing of the kind. In fact, I said just the contrary.
said, that, at all events, the Chief Secretary for Ireland had said that no advantage was to be obtained by a change of venue. If the noble Earl was of the contrary opinion, why did he not press that opinion upon his colleagues? The great importance of reviving the powers under the Crimes Act was clear. Mr. Morley had taken great credit for having provided 50 additional police for the County of Clare, but in the present state of the county he might just as well have spread the 50 police over the whole of Ireland. Land League Courts had been re-established in Clare and Limerick. Nothing could be more disastrous than the effect of the proceedings of those Courts before which men were held up, and were then threatened, and if they did not do as they were ordered were shot. That was a state of things which certainly deserved attention, and he trusted the Government would take note of the fact. He suggested that the presence of military detachments in disturbed counties would have a salutary effect, and urged the Government to recognise the necessity of searching for arms. He felt it his duty in that House, as a resident in that part of the country—for its Representatives in the House of Commons tried to make out that there was no real trouble there at all—to call their Lordships' attention to these things. Mr. Healy had stated the other day that the whole cause of trouble had been the evictions. Did he or any sensible man suppose that evictions 33 would ever cease when people refused to fulfil their contracts and pay their rents, whoever held the land? If the people held those views and believed that no steps would be taken against them when evictions took place, and these outrages occurred, the matter became of great moment; and he, therefore, trusted that Her Majesty's Government would give serious attention to the question of his noble Friend the Marquess of Londonderry, and to the facts which had been brought before them.
THE EARL OF MAYO
said, the noble Karl opposite (Earl Spencer) had stated that secret inquiry was of no use, and had referred in support of that statement to the result in the case of the dynamite outrages which took place not long ago in Dublin as showing that it would be of no use in the ease of agrarian outrages. Their Lordships were all familiar with the terrible crimes which had been committed by the Invincibles. He had good reason to believe that this party still existed in Dublin; and that it' the cause of the outrages was ever discovered, that would be found to be the case. The answers which had been given by the Government on this question of crime had been unsatisfactory. No doubt the crime thermometer in every country fluctuated; but those who had to live and die in Ireland, and were liable to ^be shot at, wanted to know what the Government were going to do, and what height the crime thermometer in Ireland must reach before the Government cooled it down in the shape of a strong protective measure. The Chief Secretary said that he was going to do something; but those who resided in Ireland wanted to know what really was going to be done. A few words from the Government in power stating that they would support the loyal portion of the population in Ireland would do more good than any number of vague speeches; and, therefore, if they could only obtain a straightforward statement, to make a bad joke, a "Clare and satisfactory" answer from the noble Earl opposite, and from Mr. Morley now and then, if not this time on future occasions, a great deal would have been achieved.