§ Order of the Day read for resuming the adjourned Debate on the Motion for an humble Address.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
My Lords, your Lordships may perhaps remember that on three occasions within the last two years I have felt it my duty to call attention to the serious condition of things in some parts of Ireland. When first I addressed the House on the subject the lawlessness was confined to certain parts in the extreme West of Ireland, and though it might then have been considered a cloud no bigger than a man's hand, I warned the Government, of the danger of disregarding the disorder. My gloomy prognostications have, unhappily, been fulfilled, and at the present moment there is a lawless state of affairs extending over twenty-two counties. I, therefore, need offer no apology for taking this opportunity to draw attention for a fourth time to this serious state of affairs.
My noble friend the Leader of the Opposition referred to the subject yesterday with his characteristic moderation of language. My noble friend spoke of the condition of certain parts of Ireland as 38 "scandalous and deplorable," and when one who is remarkable for the moderation of his language uses such terms others may be justified in using stronger language. I regret to find it my duty to criticise the speech of the noble Lord who yesterday discharged the difficult duty of seconding the Motion for the Address, but I cannot allow to pass unchallenged the noble Lord's statement that in twenty-four counties out of the thirty-two there was no agrarian crime and very little ordinary crime, and that the returns for last year showed a decrease of agrarian crime as compared with the previous year. I am afraid the noble Lord, in his desire to support His Majesty's Government, spoke upon imperfect information, for certainly it is a statement that cannot be reconciled with the answer on the subject given in November by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. Replying to Mr. Lonsdale on November 3, Mr. Birrell stated that outside the eight counties which had been declared by proclamation to be in a state of disturbance, cattle-drives had taken place within the previous eighteen months in fourteen counties. I assert that in some parts of Ireland there exists a state of affairs that is discreditable to civilised government, and outrages are perpetrated such as the English people scarcely realise.
Members of His Majesty's Government will not admit that the attempt to govern Ireland by what they call the ordinary law has failed. I ask them, Will they then allow the present state of lawlessness to continue? The reply of the noble Earl the Leader of the House to my noble friend Lord Lansdowne was most unsatisfactory, and certainly I cannot admit that the peaceful state of Ireland when the late Government went out of office was due to the Land Purchase Act as a species of bribery. If the peaceful condition of Ireland is to be bought at the hands of the law-breakers by bribery, surely the Bill of Mr. Birrell ought to make Ireland the most peaceful country in the world. The Act of 1903 had only one failure—it was too successful. It was taken up to a far greater extent than even the most sanguine members of the Government anticipated, and the failure was due to the fact that, in the interests of the taxpayers of England, the Chancellor of the Exchequer limited the amount to be given. Far from being an act of bribery, Mr. Wyndham's Act was a most statesmanlike 39 measure, and if further facilities were given in regard to money and office arrangements I believe the agrarian troubles in Ireland would cease. I maintain that the present condition of affairs is entirely due to the neglect of His Majesty's Government to take steps for the repression of disorder.
The Government are fully aware of this deplorable condition of affairs. Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday the Prime Minister said—I am not going to palliate or to minimise the deplorable condition of things which exist in some parts of Ireland. I and my colleagues should be false to our duty and to the real opinion which prevailed if Me did anything of the kind. We agree that things are going on in some parts of Ireland which are condemnable and reprehensible, which ought to be put down.Those were the words of the Prime Minister. Then, I ask, what steps are being taken to give effect to these words? There is no form of agrarian crime which has not increased in Ireland since the advent to power of His Majesty's present Government. Cattle-driving was unknown before. Not only has this new crime arisen, but other crimes have increased. In November, 1905, when the late Government went out of office, there were 162 cases of boycotting; on November 30, 1908, there were 840. In January, 1906, there were 208 persons under police protection; on November 19, 1908, there were 351. In 1905 there were no cattle-drives at all; there were 635 in eleven months of 1908. In 1905 there were 270 cases of agrarian outrage; in eleven months of 1908 there were 537. In 1905 there were eleven persons fired at; in eleven months of 1908 there were forty. In 1905 there were eighteen cases of firing into dwellings; in eleven months of 1908 there were eighty-one.
Cattle-driving, in spite of what has been said, has increased, and that increase is due to the fact that the law-breakers believe they have the sympathy of His Majesty's Government in their illegal action. They were told by Mr. T. W. Russell that cattle-driving is a comparatively harmless amusement, and the noble Earl the Leader of your Lordships' House has spoken of it as a species of practical joke.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (THE EARL OF CREWE)
What I said was that at first cattle-driving had 40 been taken up in somewhat of a jocular spirit, but it had assumed a very much more serious form.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
Cattle-driving has; since considerably increased, not only in the number of cases, but also in the system. Before, cattle were merely driven off, receiving but little injury. Now, cattle are maimed, injured, and blinded. There was a case the other day in which the head of a bullock was cut off and placed on a spike in the hedge. I do not call that a harmless amusement or a joke. By not having nipped this in the bud the present serious state of affairs has arisen. When I raised this question in your Lordships' House in October last Lord Crewe said that it was not possible to establish any connection between the dropping of the Arms Act and the firing outrages which had taken place, and that when that Act was in full force there were many more and much worse firing outrages than now. Will the noble Earl repeat that statement now, after the figures I have quoted? He will find that since 1882, the year in which the Arms Act was introduced into Ireland, there has never been so many shooting outrages as since the Act was dropped.
I read in the Irish Catholic, of November 7, an organ not unsympathetic to Nationalist ideas, these strong words on this subject:—We emphatically say that it was nothing short of a piece of astounding folly to repeal the Peace Preservation Act without at least enacting some such legislation as that which in England, and elsewhere, regulates the sale of firearms. For months past arms have been pouring into our provincial districts, and in far too many cases into the possession of persons who were quite sufficiently dangerous to the public peace and safety without them. The policy or legislation which rendered possible the creation of such a situation as this is simply immoral.These various classes of crime have culminated in the brutal murder of the unfortunate policeman Goldrick, and the whole country is demoralised. Let me briefly recount the history of the murder of that unfortunate man. A widow of the name of Ryan took a farm and paid what is called her footing in the shape of a sum of money down to the United Irish League, in the hope of enjoying the benefit of that farm. Within a short time, however, she was boycotted, and on one occasion shot at. In order to preserve her 41 property she had to repair a wall, and engaged two workmen for this purpose. The lives of these men were in such danger while working for her that the protection of Constable Goldrick was provided; but while they were working one night they were shot at, and the courageous policeman at once started in pursuit of the assailants. But when he got into the hedge, he was shot dead. That murder is the culmination of your allowing crimes of this class to increase.
Let me refer for a moment to an incident the other day in the metropolis. A policeman was shot dead by two miscreants. What happened? Every one joined in the hue and cry, and pursued the murderers. But did any one run to capture the murderers of Constable Goldrick? Then, again, at the funeral of the Tottenham policeman crowds assembled, and every honour was done to the memory of the late constable. At the funeral of Goldrick only a few constables and the relatives were present, and a black flag was hoisted to warn people not to attend. The whole of the country is demoralised under the Birrell regime, or what we are told is the governing of Ireland according to Irish ideas. What are His Majesty's Government going to do to cope with this appalling state of things?
I should like to ask the noble Lord who is to reply for the Irish Office whether the Government are satisfied with their present system of trying law-breakers by juries. At the Winter Assizes of 1907 and at the Summer Assizes of 1908 complete failure characterised trial by jury: and the cases brought before juries at the Winter Assizes of 1908 represented but a small proportion of the crimes perpetrated. In Clare, for example, from which only three cases were sent, no fewer than 123 serious cases were reported by the police since the previous Assizes. In Sligo the number reported was twenty-nine; yet but one solitary case was brought to trial. At the Connaught Assizes, held in Limerick, the jurors, judiciously selected by the Crown, brought in verdicts in fourteen cases out of twenty-two, involving forty persons out of sixty-two tried. I maintain that there has been a complete failure of the system of trial by jury.
In the South-west of Ireland it is said that there are large numbers of outrages, cruelties, and boycottings that are never 42 reported to the police, for the simple reason that the victims live in terror and are afraid of the consequences to themselves if they do report them. The Government, by persisting in their present idea of administration, are inflicting heavy pecuniary damage upon certain districts in Ireland. In many places heavy charges are imposed by the importation into those districts of extra police. In the county of Galway the charge for one year's extra police alone amounted to £8,000. In Roscommon, for the half-year ended September 30, there has been demanded £1,100 for the conveyance of prisoners and £1,808 for extra police. If the Government would only take the proper steps to put the law in force they could save all that extra cost. How can the Government expect districts to prosper when they by their obstinacy and refusal to put the law in motion burden them with heavy charges for the conveyance of prisoners and the cost of extra police?
When Mr. Birrell was asked in the House of Commons last autumn if he would put in force the powers which the law gave him, what did he do? He banged on the box in front of him, and said "I won't." That was, I maintain, a direct intimation to every law-breaker in Ireland that he might do what he liked. Speaking in Belfast on November 22, 1907, Mr. Birrell said—I say the Government has its duty to perform, and if it should be that this Government of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman and myself here in Ireland found it impossible to maintain law and order in Ireland— if we found crime and murder and outrage increasing on every side—it would be our duty to go to Parliament, or to summon Parliament if it were not sitting, to tell it the facts of the case, to prove those facts in the face of the Irish people, and to obtain from Parliament, if it would give it to us, the extra powers sought. That state of things has not arisen yet, and please God it never may.Will Mr. Birrell repeat that statement? When cattle-driving, intimidation, boycotting, cattle-maiming, shooting into houses and murder are going on in Ireland, it is a very serious thing for the responsible Minister when asked to put the law in motion to say "I won't." I heard yesterday, with something like amazement, the words of the noble Earl the Leader of the House when referring to this question. The noble Earl stated that—To draw a comparison between then [the year 1905] and now seems to me as unreal as to draw a comparison between the state of Ireland to-day and 43 what it was when the noble Marquess (Lord Londonderry) was there in 1887. It was then infinitely worse than it is now, though I quite admit that it does not follow from that that the noble Marquess necessarily governed Ireland worse than we do.
The noble Earl gave the whole case away. He acknowledged that in 1887 the condition of Ireland was infinitely worse than it is now. What did we then do? We passed an Act of Parliament and administered that Act, coping with most subtle cases of boycotting and intimidation; and at the close of Lord Salisbury's Government there was not a single boycotted person in Ireland. Therefore, if things are infinitely better now the noble Earl has a much easier task than we had if he would only put into use the weapon he has at hand.
The English are a very critical people. They never hesitate to say what they think of the Government of other countries in which cruelties and outrages take place. What must other countries think of British rule in Ireland? I say that the things now going on in that country are a disgrace to our civilisation. What does the noble Viscount the Secretary of State for India think of his colleague's work in Ireland? Speaking at Arbroath on October 21, 1907, on Indian lawlessness, Lord Morley said—We have, somehow or other, wisely or unwisely, by a right policy or erroneous policy, got to maintain order. Disorder, whatever your ultimate policy may be—at any rate, violent disorder—must be put down, and that with a firm band. The maintenance of order is the foundation of anything like future progress. You would not have me see men try to set the prairie on fire without arresting the hand. You would not blame me when I see men smoking their pipes, political pipes or ordinary pipes, near powder magazines—you would not blame me, you would not call me an arch-coercionist if I said, 'Away with the men and away with the powder.'
And last year, in the House of Lords, in defending his policy, Lord Morley said—You must protect the lives of your officers. You must protect peaceful and harmless people from the bloodstained havoc of anarchist conspiracy.
The noble Viscount himself has been twice Chief Secretary for Ireland. How does he reconcile his statements with what is now being done by Mr. Birrell in Ireland? The people of England have by the light hearted words of the Chief Secretary been blinded to the state of affairs in Ireland, 44 but when they throw off their apathy and call upon the Government to give an account of their stewardship, they will say to them, paraphrasing the well-known words of one of England's heroes who had been betrayed by the members of the Radical Government in 1880, "On you is the indelible disgrace of having betrayed and deserted the honest, law-abiding, and peaceful people of Ireland, and of handing them over to the tender mercies of methods of barbarism and the horrible cruelties of the United Irish League." And, in the interests of those unfortunate people, whose lives are nothing but a hell upon earth, I pray that that day may not be long postponed.
§ THE MARQUESS OF ZETLAND
My Lords, having been officially connected with Ireland I may be pardoned if I intervene for a few moments in this debate. I think my noble friend Lord Londonderry, in the course of a very elaborate and able speech, thoroughly laid bare the malpractices which are prevalent in Ireland at this moment, and also laid bare the maladministration of the law in that country. From information which has reached me from noble friends in Ireland who are able to speak with practical knowledge on the matter, I think I may say that if Rip Van Winkle were to wake up from a dream,not of twenty years, but of three years, he would be very astonished if he endeavoured to draw a comparison between the state of things which existed in Ireland three years ago and the state of things which prevails there now.
I confess that I share with my noble friend in front of me astonishment at what fell from the noble Earl opposite with regard to Irish affairs yesterday. If I am not mistaken, the noble Earl the Leader of the House stated, in effect, that the newspaper reports regarding outrage and crime in Ireland were greatly exaggerated for political purposes. Having heard the speech of my noble friend Lord Londonderry, and judging from information which has reached me from friends in Ireland whose lot it is to live in that country, and whose fate it is to suffer, I think it would be quite impossible to exaggerate the state of things in some parts of Ireland at the present moment. It is scarcely necessary for me to endeavour to explain what boy totting is. I am sure noble Lords from Ireland will agree with me that no more cruel invention has ever emanated from the brain of man for the 45 purpose of rendering the lives of men and women miserable and intolerable. Ireland is an agricultural country; the people in a great part of it are dependent upon agriculture for their livelihood, and nothing could cause more trouble or more loss or wound more severely those interested in agriculture than this newly-invented crime of cattle-driving.
I often ask myself how is Ireland now being governed. I confess that I have frequently read the speeches of the Chief Secretary in the hope of gaining some useful knowledge and information with regard to the methods employed by His Majesty's Ministers for the government of the country. But the right hon. gentleman appears to me to dilate, with very great power and eloquence, on every political subject under the sun except those topics which are connected with the office over which he presides I notice that the Prime Minister stated in the House of Commons yesterday that very often these cattle-drives were the work of one or two persons. I think all of us who are interested in agriculture must know that one man and a couple of dogs can inflict very serious injury on a valuable herd of cattle. I have no doubt that cattle-driving is an exhilarating pastime for those who take part in it with so much impunity.
Who are these people? At whose instigation do they take part in cattle-driving? Unless I am very much mistaken in my opinion of the Irish people, this crime is not the result of any ebullition of feeling on the part of the rural population in Ireland. It emanates from a treasonable conspiracy with which His Majesty's Government are either unable or unwilling to cope —a treasonable conspiracy set in motion for the special purpose of intimidating or coercing unfortunate individuals not in a position to defend themselves but who venture to differ politically from certain parties in Ireland at this moment. I cannot help thinking that this Irish question may have a more far-reaching effect than many people imagine. News travels very quickly over the surface of the globe. We have heard of unrest in India; we have heard of difficulties in other parts of the world; and I should like to ask His Majesty's Government whether it has not occurred to them that news of this lamentable weakness displayed in the government of Ireland may travel far and 46 have a bad effect on that portion of the population in India not renowned for loyalty to this country.
Lamentable as is the present condition of Ireland, I derive one solitary scrap of consolation from the present state of affairs. I venture to think that the failure of His Majesty's Government to manage the affairs of the Sister Isle and their failure to put down crime and maintain order has driven an additional nail into the coffin of Home Rule. I say this because I feel confident that when the people of Great Britain come to thoroughly understand the distressing state of affairs existing in Ireland under a Liberal Government, and draw a comparison between the state of things now and what would inevitably exist if the loyal population in Ireland were handed over to the tender mercies of the Nationalists, they will never agree to a measure of Home Rule. I hope we shall have an answer from some member of His Majesty's Government as to what steps they contemplate taking for the future government of the country in order to promote peace, contentment and prosperity.
* LORD DENMAN
My Lords, the sweeping indictment of the policy of His Majesty's Government which has been made by two former Lords-Lieutenant of Ireland demands a reply from these Benches. For my part I regret that this duty cannot be undertaken by someone who has first-hand experience of Irish affairs. I have no such experience, and I trust that at all events my noble friends behind me will make some allowance for that fact if I fail to state the case for the Government with the force and completeness which it merits.
First of all, I am tempted to repeat the observation which I have made in former debates of this kind, that these debates serve no very useful purpose either in this country or in Ireland. In that remark I had the support on a former occasion of such a competent authority as the noble Earl, Lord Dunraven, but I was met by the retort that it was certainly to the interest of His. Majesty's Government to evade discussion on this question. I should like to repeat that we do deprecate exaggeration, but, at the same time, it is not to our interest to evade discussion. We do court full and searching inquiry into the administration and government of Ireland, and if it should 47 happen that these debates have the effect of informing the public of this country of the difficulties of the problems with which the Government of Ireland have to deal, we, at all events, shall make no complaint of that fact. I am obliged, in replying to the speeches which have just been made, to remind your Lordships —it may be, after all, something in the nature of a platitude—that it is impossible to judge Ireland by ordinary standards. The only standard of comparison which obtains with regard to Irish affairs is what has actually taken place in Ireland itself. Boycotting and intimidation are nothing new in Ireland; they have been going on for years, in spite of coercion. At present we are experiencing one of those recurring periods of disorder with which anyone who knows anything of Irish politics is tolerably familiar, though I do not admit for a moment that the state of affairs which exists at present, bad though it is, is anything like as bad as certain periods within the recollection of many of your Lordships and to which I shall presently allude.
Roughly speaking, two-thirds of Ireland are at present peaceable; the remaining third is in a disturbed condition. Of that remaining part, two counties—the counties of Clare and Galway—are in a worse state than the other parts. The noble Earl the Leader of the House pointed out last night, in his answer to the criticisms of the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition, the cause of some, at all events, of our present troubles; and, for my part, I regret that so few noble Lords thought fit to remain behind to listen to the answers which he gave, because there are two sides to this question however imperfectly I myself may be able to present our case. The noble Earl the Leader of the House referred to the fact that the Land Act itself is largely responsible for our troubles at the present time. It is obvious that it is so, because it increased what is known as land hunger in the West, and raised up hopes of peasant proprietorship which, with regard to the West of Ireland, at any rate, have been in the main doomed to disappointment.
I have said that I will compare the state of Ireland to-day with the condition of affairs in past years when Ireland was admittedly in a very bad condition. There are, in comparatively recent years three such periods. In the years 1880, 1881, and 1886 the Government of the day were 48 obliged, on three separate occasions, to come to Parliament for special legislation to suppress disorders in Ireland. Exclusive of threatening letters, in the year 1880 there were 1,250 cases of agrarian offences; in 1881, there were 2,248; in 1886, when I think the noble Marquess, Lord Londonderry, was connected with the government of Ireland, there were 632; and to-day there are 343. I admit that these figures are quite serious enough, but I also contend that they do not disclose such a bad state of affairs, or anything like such a bad state of affairs, as obtained in 1886, and that they do not warrant our coming to Parliament to obtain special legislation to deal with the matter or warrant us in the application of the Crimes Act.
I will now quote a few figures to show what steps have actually been taken to cope with the disorder in the disturbed districts. In 1908 the number of persons arrested and brought before the resident magistrate in agrarian cases has been 1,210; the number discharged has been sixty-eight, the number ordered to find bail 1,114, and the number sent to prison in default 139, while the number of extra police sent to the disturbed areas and chargeable on the local rates has been 839. In view of these figures, I think it is idle to contend that no steps have been taken by the Government to cope with the disorder.
Then I turn to the question of cattle-driving. I will admit at once that the figures in respect of cattle-drives in the past year are very bad. I see that 680 cattle-drives were reported in the year 1908, but the Inspector-General reports that out of these cases under 100 were the work of organised crowds or of anything like organised crowds. Therefore under the Crimes Act, as noble Lords from Ireland are aware, you could only have prosecuted for unlawful assembly in something under 100 cases. In the remaining 580 cases you would have had to act in just the same manner as we have acted, even though the Crimes Act had been in force. That is a point which I think is frequently overlooked. The noble Marquess, Lord Londonderry, has given some figures with regard to the Assizes. I have here some of the figures of the trials which took place for agrarian offences at this Winter Assizes. Out of the twelve cases for trial, convictions were obtained in seven; the jury disagreed in three cases, and there was an acquittal in one case. Out of ninety-three persons committed for trial 49 forty-nine were convicted, twenty-six were acquitted, in thirteen the jury disagreed, and in one case the prisoner was discharged by order of the Judge. I do not think those are very unsatisfactory figures, after all, and you cannot say, after considering them, that the law is not being enforced in Ireland.
Now I come to another matter with which the noble Marquess, Lord Londonderry, dealt—the dastardly outrage known as the Craughwell murder. That was, of course, a horrible occurrence, and I quite agree with every word which the noble Marquess uttered regarding it; but I think the noble Marquess was scarcely fair in taking this one occurrence and saying it was the culmination of a long series of crime in different parts of Ireland. I do not think that was quite a fair way in which to put it, and I am saved from any further trouble, I think, in arguing that point by quoting what was said by the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition last night. The noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, himself alluded to the Craughwell murder as an "isolated incident." Surely that is a fairer way in which to describe it. It is an isolated incident, and it is no more fair to take it as typical of the state of Ireland than to take the Tottenham murder, in which a London police constable was killed, as evidence of lawlessness in England.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
In this Craughwell case there was boycotting in the first instance, protection for the people in the second, and the murder of this policeman in the third. Therefore I say it culminated in this murder.
I would like to ask the noble Marquess how it is possible for him, or anyone else, to say that the Craughwell murder was the result of the non-renewal of the Arms Act. I challenge any noble Lord opposite to say that that was the case. If men are really determined to commit crime no number of Arms Acts would prevent them getting weapons. The noble Marquess said, at the close of his speech, that the English people were a critical race. If I may say so with all due respect, I think that Irishmen, more especially, perhaps, those from the north of Ireland, are a hypercritical race, because one of the things which the noble Marquess found special fault with was the remark of the Chief Secretary in another place when 50 he was asked to apply the Crimes Act and replied "I wont." Surely those two words are innocent enough. He merely put, rather more bluntly than is usual in this House, what we have said all along, that we do not intend to apply the Crimes Act at the present time. Surely it is an exaggeration to say that lawlessness and disorder in Ireland have resulted from the use of the words "I wont" by the Chief Secretary in the other House.
We have heard a great deal about boycotting and intimidation, and there may possibly be individual cases quoted later on in the debate—I do not know if it will be so—to show how bad this boycotting is. For example, there is the case of Mr. Clarke, about which a good deal has been heard in this country. I will admit at once that there is no justification or shadow of an excuse for the boycotting agitation which has been raised by some of his neighbours against Mr. Clarke. The Irish Government have done everything in their power to maintain the law, to punish the offenders, and to afford Mr. Clarke the fullest measure of protection and support. They have spared no expense in doing so, and I believe I am right in saying that Mr. Clarke has expressed himself as certainly not dissatisfied with the measures of police protection which have been afforded him, though naturally he complains, as anyone else would complain, of the boycotting to which he has been subjected. I have full details of the case, but I will not weary your Lordships with them at present.
With regard to boycotting, I re-echo what was said by the noble Marquess, Lord Zetland, as to its being a most cruel and detestable form of crime. What renders it worse is that it is frequently accompanied by that other serious evil, intimidation. Intimidation is a crime which it is extremely difficult to detect. When it can be detected the persons guilty are at once brought to justice, but it is difficult to detect; and, judging by the light of past history, to say that you can stamp out boycotting and intimidation by coercion is to my mind on the face of it absurd. Another point dealt with last night by the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition was that of old-age pensions in Ireland. It is certainly true that a considerably larger number of people in Ireland have acquired old-age pensions than the Treasury was led to expect. I may add 51 that, after all, the Irish Office, which comes in for so much calumny at present, had very little to do with that. That is a Treasury matter, and one for which the Treasury is mainly responsible. There has been, I understand, great pressure of work in Ireland, and the first issue of old-age pensions has been complicated by the fact that there was no registration of births in Ireland prior to the year 1865. Therefore it is extremely difficult to tell exactly the age of old people, and naturally these persons do not err on the wrong side when they make a claim for a pension. The census returns have been used, but I am informed that they are inaccurate and that it is impossible to accept them as a true criterion in the matter.
I pass from that to a more important issue— the question of congestion, which was alluded to last night by the noble Marquess opposite. I repeat that the Land Act of 1903, in which the noble Marquess, Lord Londonderry, claims that there was only one flaw, is responsible for much of our trouble at the present time. It has increased land hunger, it has tended to raise the price of land all over Ireland, and the Congested Districts Board and the Estates Commissioners have consequently been unable to acquire enough untenanted land in the West. People living on poor holdings of mountain land, on bog, or on the western seaboard, where they can only eke out the barest existence, have seen or have heard of land changing hands on a large scale in other parts of Ireland. There is the well-known case, for instance, of the Duke of Leinster's estate, where a purchase price of some three-quarters of a million was paid to a wealthy landlord, and where he received a bonus of £80,000 straight away for that transaction. They have heard of the operation of the Land Act, which has been to a very large degree the transference of land from well-to-do landlords to well-to-do tenants; but meantime—and it is now nearly six years since the Land Act was passed—one of the objects of that Act, namely, the relief of congestion, remains practically unfulfilled. Is it to be wondered at that the people in those districts are bitterly discontented? Why, my Lords, the wonder would be if that were not the case.
It is now, I think, scarcely disputed that the problem of congestion is one that demands immediate solution. We are accused—and I think the noble Marquess 52 said something of the kind himself in the course of his speech—we are accused of giving in to agitation by the introduction of our Land Bill; and in proof of this preposterous accusation is quoted the statement of agitators who have preached cattle-driving in Ireland that the production of the Land Bill is in itself giving in to their demands. naturally agitators in Ireland, as, I presume, in every other part of the world, have to boast of what they have done and what they will do. It is part of their stock-in-trade. But I believe that in no arena outside Irish politics would such a charge he seriously made for a moment. For it is unthinkable that the policy of His Majesty's Government should be dictated by a few twopenny-halfpenny agitators in some remote corner of the West of Ireland. The truth of the matter is that a Commission was appointed, under the chairmanship of Lord Dudley, to enquire into this question of congestion so far back as the year 1906, when, as the noble Marquess has reminded us to-night, cattle-driving was unheard of. The Report of that Commission was anxiously awaited. Practically immediately on its production legislation was introduced based mainly on the Report of that Commission, which, as no doubt many of your Lordships are aware, deals with the breaking up of the grass-lands in Ireland.
We are told that the grazing industry is bound up with the welfare of Ireland today. There are two opinions even on that point. At all events, it cannot be denied that the prosperity of the grazing industry depends on the maintenance of the prohibition in respect of the importation of Canadian cattle into this country. This Government does not intend at the present time to remove that prohibition, and, so far as I am aware, there is no likelihood of their doing so. But it is possible to imagine contingencies under which that prohibition might be removed. I will take, for instance, a possible, not, I think, a very probable, contingency of a Tariff Reform Government being in power in this country. And when I say a Tariff Reform Government I mean a Government composed of men whose purity of belief and spotlessness of character on the question of tariff reform has never been doubted —men who, to use a familiar phrase, are whole-hoggers of a very pronounced complexion; or, if I may be even more concise, a Government with Mr. Austen Chamber- 53 lain as Prime Minister, and some strong Tariff Reformer—I will take, for example, the noble Viscount, Lord Ridley—as Leader of your Lordships' House. I will take it that that Government might be engaged in negotiations or in bargaining of some kind with Canada as to the removal of this prohibition on Canadian cattle; and this is not entirely out of the question, because when Sir Wilfrid Laurier was over here at the Colonial Conference he said speaking of what he called the embargo on Canadian cattle—We think it a great injustice to us and one of which we have serious reason to complain, and in order to maintain the good relations now happily welded between the British Empire and Canada, I bring this matter to the serious attention of His Majesty's Government. It is a thing which ought not to be allowed. It is a slander upon our good name.
I do not wish to imply for a moment that such a Government as I have imagined would not take a broad and statesmanlike view of this question. I am quite sure they would. But they might have pressure brought on one side by Canada, and on the other by that mysterious body of men known at the Confederates. who are apparently hiding their importance, or, perhaps, I should say insignificance, behind the cloak of anonimity in order to dictate the policy which the party opposite should pursue—they might have pressure brought upon them which it might be impossible to resist. Then do noble Lords from Ireland think that they would allow a question such as the prosperity of the cattle trade in Ireland to interfere with the goal to which they have so longed aimed? The point I wish to make is this, that the cattle trade in Ireland, after all, does not rest upon a secure basis. I do not wish to imply that on that account the industry should be interfered with in any way, if it can possibly be avoided. Opinions differ, as anyone who has studied the Report of the Dudley Commission is aware, regarding the effect on the cattle industry of reducing the size of the large grazing farms; but I think it is quite certain that it would be better to run the risk of some interference with the cattle trade in Ireland— although I do not believe that the changes in the grazing system which are contemplated by His Majesty's Government will have that effect—if by so doing you can solve the pressing problem of congestion in the West.
There were one or two statements made last night by the noble Marquess, Lord 54 Lansdowne, to which I should like briefly to allude. I confess that to my mind the noble Marquess is a more formidable antagonist in his suaver mood than when he is delivering those blows which he knows so well how to strike. It is when he assumes an air of sweet reasonableness that he is especially to be feared, and there was one remark he made last night which filled my mind with very grave misgivings. He said he would assist the Government in any well-considered measure for the relief of congestion in Ireland. I hope he will not think me ungrateful if I say that we on this side of the House have had some experience—rather grim experience—of exactly what his assistance means. He and his friends assisted us—I presume assisted is the word—in regard to the Education Bill of 1906; they assisted us on the Evicted Tenants Act of 1907; and they have assisted us on many other measures that have come before your Lordships' House, during the last three years. I confess that when I enter into debates of this kind I have a very wholesome dread of the blows which, as I have said, the noble Marquess. knows so well how to deliver—but Heaven protect me from his assistance. Of course, I may be wrong in this case. I may be doing the noble Marquess an injustice, but I would like to ask— and possibly some noble Lord on the Front Opposition Bench will take notice of this question—what advice, what tangible offer of assistance towards a solution of the problem of congestion any noble Lord opposite would like to give? I hope the noble Earl, Lord Donoughmore, will condescend to deal with that point presently.
So far as I know, the only advice we have received is this. It is dinned into our ears that whatever happens we must carry on the Land Purchase Act of 1903; that is to say, we must carry on the transference of land from well-to-do-landlords to well-to-do tenants. But no, solution that I know of has been offered for the present congestion, and I maintain there can be no solution of it without breaking up the grass lands. After all, these holdings in the West of Ireland must be improved in order to be made economic. That, I think, is granted on all hands; and in order to increase the size of these holdings you must take untenanted land. 55 The untenanted land is grazing land. Therefore, to solve the problem of congestion in any degree it is absolutely necessary to break up these large grazing farms. I ask the noble Earl for his opinion on the solution of this problem as to how these grazing farms can be broken up and acquired by the State at a price which the State can afford to pay. There is only one other observation of the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, to which I wish to allude. The noble Marquess said that persons who were committed to prison in default were sent there as first-class misdemeanants.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I forget my exact words, but I did not say they were sent as first-class misdemeanants. I said I believed their friends had access to them and that they had a very good time while under detention—a much better time, probably, than they had in their homes.
I accept the correction. I have never been in Galway myself, and have never had the opportunity of spending a night, much less five or six weeks, in Galway Gaol, and I do not suppose the noble Marquess has either. I wish to avoid all suspicion of exaggerated language in connection with these matters, and, therefore, I will only say that I am given to understand, on good authority, that the amenities of Galway Gaol compare unfavourably either with the Ritz or the Carlton.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
I would point out that not one of these people would have gone to Galway Gaol if he had given surety.
I have only one remark to offer in conclusion. It appears to be part of the policy of the Opposition at the present time to single out the Chief Secretary rather conspicuously for attack. I would like to remind the House that the Chief Secretary's colleagues are equally responsible, with himself, for the administration of Ireland, and they have no desire whatever to shirk that responsibility. In 56 regard to other questions in other parts of the world, you yourselves have borne tribute to the skill and courage with which the Government have dealt with problems almost as difficult as the problems which confront us in Ireland. But everything in connection with Ireland seems to be distorted and made a subject for party attack and exaggeration, and the chief reason, so far as I understand, is that we have refused to apply the Crimes Act. I might quote, in support of the Government's refusal to resort to this particular measure, authorities like Lord Dudley and my noble friend Lord MacDonnell. It is conceivable that a state of things might arise which would oblige the Government either to apply the Crimes Act, however much they might dislike it, or come to Parliament to obtain powers for a more stringent repressive measure.
It is open to doubt whether the Crimes Act would be equal to dealing with certain contingencies that might arise in Ireland.
It is possible that such a state of things might arise, although I do not think there is any likelihood of it. But I hope I have said enough to show that for the present the position is not sufficiently bad to warrant His Majesty's Government in putting the Crimes Act into force.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
My Lords, the noble Lord has applied himself in the speech he has just delivered to diverting attention from the topics which were clearly and fully brought before the notice of the House by my noble friend the noble Marquess. The noble Marquess unfolded his view, giving a clear, broad picture and presenting a clear issue—whether Ireland was at present being governed at all, and whether disorder was being adequately dealt with. The noble Lord, Lord Denman, understated the agrarian statistics of last year by over 200. The number of cases for the eleven months of last year was 537. The noble Lord gave the figure as only just over 300.
I think the noble and learned Lord is including cases of threatening letters, which, for the purpose of comparison with the previous year, I excluded.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
I took the figures from the Prime Minister's statement in the House of Commons. But I do not intend to involve myself in these small points. My noble friend the noble Marquess supported his statement by statistics and details, but the noble Lord has mainly passed by his charges, and has gone off into speculations as to the effect of a Tariff Reform Government, inviting us to give opinions on the importation of Canadian cattle, the application of the Old Age Pensions Act, and the congestion problem. Upon the last I will only say that the Bill on the subject which we are promised will be keenly and searchingly discussed. I am not going to be led into all the topics that have been raised. I come back to the topic introduced by my noble friend the noble Marquess.
Last year my noble friend rightly felt it his duty to call attention to the state of Ireland; it was bad then, but it is much worse now. I do not intend to go through all the details as to how many counties are involved and the state of crime in them, but the number is a great deal too high for the credit of this country. Neither am I going to discuss the details. It is quite enough to refer to the murder of Constable Goldrick. I did not gather that the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition referred last night to that murder as an isolated incident. It is an incident which speaks trumpet-tongued of the possibilities of the lawlessness now permitted in Ireland. I do not, of course, suggest that the mere repeal of the Arms Act enabled that murder to be committed, but it is one of the circumstances to be taken into account when you come to measure the increased facilities that there are for crime. The Arms Act was in force when the noble Viscount the Secretary of State for India was Chief Secretary for Ireland, and it never crossed his mind to take that useful measure off the Statute Book.
The incident of the murder of Constable Goldrick is one that calls for the gravest and most earnest attention of the Government. This state of things is not confined to Connaught. Tipperary, an immense county with large, populous, and thriving 58 towns, is involved. Take the case of Mr. Clarke. That case must also be taken as symptomatic of the state of affairs which has been, I will not say tolerated, but allowed to grow up unchecked by His Majesty's Government. Mr. Clarke is a gentleman whose father and grandfather lived on the property. They have never been absentees. The present Mr. Clarke spent at least £1,000 a year in wages, and employed a number of men who were entirely dependent upon him for their living. He sold his property to his tenants, only retaining his demesne and residence; and because he fell under the denunciation of the United Irish League he is at the present minute boycotted by every shopkeeper in the large town of Thurles, his neighbouring town, and is compelled to get from Dublin the provisions necessary to feed himself, his family, and his workpeople. That is going on now in the great county of Tipperary under the present Government, and we are asked to forget these incidents by reference to old age pensions and the possible introduction of Canadian cattle. A County Court Judge who knows Meath and West Meath well says that the law prevailing there in many districts is the triumphant and coercive jurisdiction of the League. Those are the points to which you must apply yourselves. Those are the matters the existence of which is a disgrace to this country.
Have any of your Lordships tried to realise what boycotting means? The life of the boycotted man is made a hell upon earth; he is cut off from all connection or intercourse with his neighbours, and is denied even the means of getting food. It is a disgrace and a scandal that these things should be going on within a few hours of London and the central Government. Is it not appalling that there are at present 840 people in Ireland who are boycotted? Are we not entitled to ask what is being done to remedy this state of affairs? The noble Earl the Leader of the House stated last night that the real explanation of the whole trouble was the Act of 1903. The Act of 1903 was not a coercion Act. It was passed by agreement between landlord and tenant; it was founded upon the voluntary principle and was regarded as a great message of peace. No tenant was forced to buy; no landlord was forced to sell. The Act has worked well. The point is that it has worked rather too fast for the amount of money 59 available. What the noble Earl meant in attributing the present state of affairs to that Act passes my comprehension.
The noble Earl called the Act a bribe. He said you could always keep Ireland quiet with a bribe. That was not the kind of language used by Mr. Gladstone, who never forgot to speak as a Statesman. Mr. Gladstone would say—"Let us not be weary of well doing. Let us take care that our measure is founded upon justice—justice to all." Would he have listened to the suggestion that Ireland could be let alone in the present state of affairs without consideration of what was just to all? Many will remember the great speeches which Mr. Gladstone made, showing that when the necessity arose for applying exceptional measures to Ireland he would not shrink from his duty. One also recalls the powerful, fearless speeches of Mr. Trevelyan when he was Chief Secretary, and of the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, declaring that, whether it was popular or unpopular, law and order should be maintained. Those are circumstances which may well be borne in mind when one considers the application of the Crimes Act. The noble Earl the Leader of the House used last night a curious expression for him. He declared that the Crimes Act was "rotten." There is one clause in the Act, enabling two resident magistrates to deal with cases of riot and unlawful assembly, which, if put into operation by the Government, would have stopped cattle-driving in a month. There are provisions in that Act for putting down intimidation and boycotting, and it cannot be said that an Act which has been found adequate to put down the crimes at which it was levelled during eighteen years is incapable of being effectually used.
It is said that the ordinary law has been used. I am speaking in the presence of those who know what that euphuistic phrase means. It very often means nothing. It has not even the utility of being full of sound and fury. It frightens nobody. Whatever the Irish are, they are people of acute intelligence. They know that the ordinary law pivots on juries, and they know that under the ordinary law you cannot get what you are able to secure under the Crimes Act, both in regard to venues and special juries. They know you cannot use the force required in order to secure the maintenance of law and order. 60 Boycotting, intimidation, and terrorism are difficult things to get at, but surely it is worth while making some effort to cope with them. The Government complain that people will not come forward to give evidence. Naturally, they will not get people to imperil their lives by coming forward to give evidence when they know that that evidence is not to be used in a really honest effort to get a conviction.
The worst sign of all that I see in Ireland at the present moment—and I speak with some knowledge of the country—is that the contempt for the law and government in Ireland is increasing in force. People have ceased to believe that there is any nerve or any real intention in the Government to put down crime. And once that belief exists, it is very hard indeed to get the law respected. The noble Earl the Leader of the House said that a good Government might have many crimes committed in its time and a worse Government might have fewer crimes committed. I am not going to be entrapped into this kind of excursion. Nor will I follow what was said by the noble Lord who has just spoken regarding congestion. We will deal with that when it comes before us. But Lord Denman mentioned that there had been convictions at the Winter Assizes under the ordinary law. Certainly, because there had been a change of venue and because the Attorney-General on that occasion used the power of challenge in order to ensure an independent and impartial jury.
What is the present position of things regarding the question of arms? I do not know what the Government propose to do about that. It was always possible, of course, to get arms in Ireland, but the appalling facility with which arms can be obtained at the present time—they can be procured by small weekly payments—renders the commission of crimes very easy, and throughout Ireland there is spreading a feeling of profound insecurity. There is a powerful party in power, and it should be powerful enough to know how and when to be strong. What is the good of a great majority, what is the good of having in the Cabinet many very able and gifted men if the state of things described by my noble friend Lord Londonderry is allowed to exist unchecked? I am satisfied that very few men in the Cabinet can like the present condition of Ireland. I am sure the Chief Secretary himself does not like it. Then 61 why does not Mr. Birrell take some vigorous, manly, efficient measures to cope with it? What is the good of his taking up a lofty attitude and saying "I wont " if he does not know the meaning of his words? What is the meaning of "I wont"? Does he mean—I wont take the steps needed to stop the murder of a constable; I wont take the steps necessary to prevent the boycotting of Mr. Clarke at Tipperary, and I wont take the steps necessary to check what the County Court Judge of Meath and West Meath called the triumphant and coercive power of the Land League? If these debates do nothing else they will lead the country to understand that it is very necessary that steps should be taken to ensure that the Chief Secretary should realise, in somewhat of an adequate way, that the need of preserving law and order is the first requirement of civilisation.
* THE EARL OF MAYO
My Lords, before I say anything with regard to the state of disorder in Ireland, I should like to read to the House a resolution which was unanimously adopted at a great meeting of Irish country gentlemen in Dublin the other day. The resolution runs:—That we call upon our fellow-subjects in Great Britain to use their voice and influence to compel the Government to take adequate measures to put an end to the disgraceful intimidation, boycotting, and crime, which a small section of the population has been allowed to create in many parts of Ireland. That we deplore the fact that in these districts, in which order and peace prevailed two or three years ago, law-abiding people cat now no longer enjoy their civil rights or pursue their lawful business because the Government, for mere political reasons, refuse them the protection of the law.
The noble Lord who replied on behalf of the Irish Office said that these debates served no useful purpose, either in this country or in Ireland. My retort to that is that the remarks of the noble Lord, especially with regard to cattle driving, do not serve any useful purpose either, but do a great deal of mischief. Lord Denman said that Ireland was experiencing one of those recurring periods of disorder. But is that any reason why adequate measures should not be taken for dealing with the situation?
The noble Lord admitted that one-third of the country is in a bad condition. Well, when you have a gangrene in your little finger and you do not take measures to stop it, it spreads throughout the whole body. We know what it is to have these periods of disorder, but in the past 62 measures have been taken to put a stop to it. The present Government, however, will do nothing; although they have the power to put in force the Crimes Act, the Chief Secretary says the Government will do nothing. There can be no question that the policy of the present Government leads to disorder in Ireland. Disciples of that policy go about this country saying that, after all, Ireland is, on the whole, very quiet, and that the state of things is greatly exaggerated by many people for party purposes. Those were the words of the noble Earl the Leader of the House. Was the murder of Constable Goldrick greatly exaggerated? Was the attack on Mr. Clarke's house greatly exaggerated? I admit that boycotting is very difficult to deal with. But what happened at Mr. Clarke's house? I will read his own statement of what occurred:—On November 17 eight men were bound over to keep the peace for attempting to intimidate me. On the same evening at half-past five, the Holy-cross Land League Band, followed by a large mob, forced their way through my entrance gate, and seriously injured the policeman who tried to stop them. They then marched along my carriage-drive, passing close in front of my house, went through my yard, round my demesne and returned to the road out of my entrance gate. They threw stones at the house and broke two windows. They kicked at my hall door and threw stones at it. They also smashed a window at my Gate Lodge. The Holycross Chapel bell was rung for hours in order to assemble the crowd and bands. I am boycotted by every shop in Thurles, and have to get all my provisions from Dublin by rail. The two smiths near here have refused to shoe my horses. I am now guarded by seventy police, five of whom sleep in the house, fifty in my farmyard, and the rest in two cottages in my demesne.
The noble Lord who replied for the Irish Office said the Government had done everything in their power and had spared no expense to protect Mr. Clarke. Spared no expense, indeed! The expense falls on the county. The Treasury do not pay. It is true that the Royal Irish Constabulary are an Imperial charge, but these extra police are paid for by the ratepayers. Therefore I take very strong exception to that very definite statement by the noble Lord. I will not go into the question of Tariff Reform and the importation of Canadian cattle. That is a little humbug which does not take us in on this side of the House. I cannot help wishing that the noble Lord would go over to the other House and tell the Nationalist leaders that they are only twopenny-halfpenny agitators. I should like to witness the interview between the noble Lord and Ms. John Dillon when the 63 latter was told that he was a twopenny-halfpenny agitator of the West. It would be a delightful situation. Last night the noble Earl the Leader of the House attributed all the trouble to the Wyndham Act of 1903. He said that you can always make Ireland peaceful for a time by bribing it and that the last and greatest of all these bribes was the Irish Land Bill of 1903, which was at the time captivating the imagination of the Irish people. Personally I cannot in the least see how the Act of 1903 can be held responsible for cattle-driving, intimidation and boycotting.
At the beginning of his speech the noble Earl the Leader of the House said the condition of Ireland depended exclusively and entirely on the state of things with which the Government's Land Bill was designed to deal. I suppose nobody has read that Land Bill more carefully than I have. What does it do? It offers to pay us in depreciated Stock. That is, after all, the essence of it. The Act of 1903 was a measure under which those who sold their land were paid in gold; and how the noble Earl can say that the state of affairs in Ireland is going to be improved because of Mr. Birrell's Bill, under which landlords are to be paid in Stock, I fail to understand. The serious offence of firing into dwellings has greatly increased. In 1906 there were twelve such cases; in 1907, there were forty-nine; and in 1908 the number went up to 121. As this debate is to be adjourned, I hope that to-morrow someone will answer, on behalf of the Government, the pertinent questions which were put by the noble Marquess who initiated the debate to-day, and which have in no case been replied to. The noble Earl the Leader of the House slid off last night, in his usual courteous manner, and said that all this trouble in Ireland was due to the 1903 Act. And today Lord Denman began talking about Tariff Reform and the importation of Canadian cattle. All this is only shirking the subject. In the meantime people are being intimidated and shot in Ireland, and cattle-driving is proceeding. I contend that cattle-driving could have been easily stopped if some of the ringleaders had been sent to prison. Mr. Ginnell happened to suggest that there should be a cattle-drive on certain land which was under the Court presided over by Mr. Justice Ross. The result was that Mr. Justice Ross declared this action to be contempt of 64 court, and Mr. Ginnell was sent to prison. There was then a great lull in cattle-driving, and there is no question that it could have been put a stop to altogether if vigorous action had been taken by His Majesty's Government. If I were to make a speech in Trafalgar Square urging that it would be a good thing to rob Cocks Biddulf's bank, I should be immediately marched off to Scotland Yard. Yet this kind of thing is allowed to go on in Ireland with impunity, and we are told that it is the result of the policy of the 1903 Act. I do not think that argument bears examination for one moment.
If, however, the Government remain supine there are men in Ireland who are determined not to allow this state of things to go on for ever. I have the authority of a noble Lord from Ireland, who took his seat yesterday, to say that he is the chairman of a body of Orangemen who have organised a system of emergency men for the relief of the boycotted in the west of Ireland. These men are being armed, equipped, and fed from Belfast. They are determined not to allow that fair country to be ruined by political exigencies; and perhaps when the Government realise that these emergency-men are maintaining law and order at the point of the revolver they will wake up to the fact that this is a duty which should be discharged by the police. I do not wish it to be supposed that we are in a state of civil war in Ireland, for that is not the case; but crime and outrage are rampant there, and if there is a responsible Government at all, it is their duty to listen to the cry from Ireland of those who are in distress. Let gentlemen who live at ease in this country think of the words of the Litany which they hear every day in church, "From murder and sudden death, good Lord deliver us!" and remember that there are people in Ireland who dwell in danger and can hardly call their souls their own.
* LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE
My Lords, I do not think it is Unionists alone who will rejoice that the noble Marquess has raised the subject of the state of Ireland in this debate, for there must be many Nationalists who feel that the state of anarchy which now prevails in Ireland must re-act on the whole body politic, and there are others who, while they have not the courage to resist, secretly writhe under, and long to be delivered from the tyranny of the United Irish League. We have heard the usual excuses from the Govern- 65 ment in the short portion of the speech delivered by the noble Lord who represents the Irish Office which dealt with the subject which is engaging the attention of the House. The only consolation we are offered by His Majesty's Government is a constant reference to the classic story of the curate's egg. The state of parts of the country, we are told, is quite excellent. If I summon a doctor to treat me for lumbago it would be small consolation to me if he were to tell me that both my legs were perfectly sound. But, my Lords, even this simile fails to carry its lesson, for lumbago is, after all, a local ailment, whereas Ireland is suffering from a species of gangrene which is spreading, and which is bound to spread unless drastic measures are taken to stop its progress.
Irish Unionists are often taunted that they impute to those of their countrymen who disagree with them a double dose of original sin. This is not a fair accusation, nor is it a true one. We know, perhaps, better than Englishmen, the good qualities of Irishmen, and we also recognise that they have defects. As a people they are able, courteous, and brave, but they have not those gifts of self-reliance and independence of judgment which characterise Scotsmen and Englishmen. They are much influenced by the opinion of their neighbours, and find it easier to allow their actions to be governed by a few excited and fluent demagogues, who, by working on their cupidity persuade, or, if necessary, compel them to carry out the edicts of what it now the real government of the country. There are still parts of the country, as the Government hasten to remind us—and I am thankful to say that the county of Mayo where I live is one of them—where people have so far resisted the pressure put upon them to join in illegal action which is so prevalent elsewhere; but the knowledge of the supineness of the Government and the pressure of the tyrants of the League make it every day more difficult for them to resist. If noble Lords want an instance of the absence of self-reliance or independence of judgment in the average Irishman, can a better one be found than at the Convention in Dublin last week, when Mr. William O'Brien, who one would think deserved at least a patient hearing in a Nationalist assembly, was howled down because he ventured to put forward a view of the land purchase question which did not recommend itself to the wire-pullers, who care very little 66 about land purchase but a great deal about the continuance of agitation?
And, my Lords, if you want a still more striking case it is presented in that of Constable Goldrick, who was cruelly murdered at Craughwell. The noble Marquess who initiated this discussion referred to the almost parallel case in London—that of the murder of Constable Tyler at Tottenham—and called attention to the scenes which took place at the funeral of that constable. He told your Lordships that the funeral passed along streets lined with thousands of spectators anxious to show their respect for the dead; the shops were shut and the blinds drawn down;everywhere there were signs of mourning. Then, my Lords, think of the funeral of Constable Goldrick, with the black flag hoisted between a skull and cross bones, with boulders placed on the road to upset the hearse, and with not one civilian following the melancholy cortége. And yet I am sure there are very few people in or around Craughwell who, if you spoke to them about the crime, would not express regret at the death of the young man and disapprobation of his murder. They have not the courage to do more. But was it want of courage that dictated the attitude of His Majesty's Government with regard to the funeral? Mr. Birrell relies on what he calls the ordinary law to enforce law and order. We see with what result. Constable Goldrick is killed, a martyr to Mr. Birrell's policy. Surely the Department which by its neglect of the warnings of those who know Ireland is responsible for his death might have paid some tribute of regret to his remains.
Your Lordships all know what was done officially in London on the occasion of the funeral of Constable Tyler. Let me read one small extract from The Times of January 30—The procession itself was one of the most striking which has been witnessed, not merely in Tottenham, but in any part of London, both in regard to its representative character and its proportions. Its composition is sufficiently indicated when it is stated that the State sent its representative in the person of Mr. Herbert Samuel, M.P., Under-Secretary at the Home Office; that the highest police officials in the metropolis were present, and that representatives of the municipal, political, and social life of the district found a place in it. Some idea of its dimensions may be gathered from the statement that at least 2,500 uniformed police officers followed the mourning carriages, that hundreds of others associated with 67 State and local services joined in this homage to a gallant officer, that its length measured considerably over a mile, and that it occupied twenty-five minutes in passing a given point. … It can be most appropriately mentioned here that the bands of the N, A, Y, H, and K Divisions of the Metropolitan Police, and that of the City Police also, formed part of the procession.
Now let me read a short extract from the Irish Daily Express of January 25 concerning the funeral of Constable Gold-rick:—Some relatives of the deceased constable yesterday afternoon arrived in Craughwell, and the remains were taken in a hearse from the village. Not a single local civilian attended the funeral along with the police, some of whom carried wreaths. Four police cars and the hearse travelling across the country side were a mournful sight. The cottagers even ignored the passing procession; to such length is bitterness of feeling carried.
I can conceive the explanation which His Majesty's Government will give as to why a large number of constabulary were not present at the funeral. To such a state has the country been reduced by the misrule of Mr. Birrell that if the police had been withdrawn to pay the last tribute of respect to their comrade more outrages and more murders might probably have taken place. But this does not explain why the band of the Royal Irish Constabulary was not sent, and, above all, it does not explain why there was no representative of the Irish Office present at the funeral.
The Chief Secretary told us the other day that he preferred men to cattle. My Lords, was not Constable Goldrick a man, aye, every inch of him? Why could not my noble friend who replies for the Irish Office in this House with that cheery optimism which only his ignorance of the country can explain have attended the funeral? We know perfectly well that he regards the driving of cattle into bog holes as reprehensible in the same sense that we regard a bull fight as reprehensible, which, however, does not prevent the majority of us from attending a bull fight when in Spain. The noble Lord has told us that he feels as acutely as anyone this atrocious murder, and I cannot help thinking that if he had followed that hearse through the wilds of Galway and had marked the condition to which the people have been reduced by the tyranny of the League we should have less of his cheery optimism in future. I do not know whether Mr. Birrell will call me a carrion 68 crow because I denounce the murderers of Constable Goldrick even if they are Irish, and reserve my meed of praise for the dead man, who was not only an Irishman but a hero. I have dwelt at some length on this, for it seems to me to exemplify very clearly the attitude which Mr. Birrell takes up. I do not say that he sympathises with crime, but I think his point of view is distinctly sympathetic to the criminal. He tries in every way to find an excuse for his action, and, on the other hand, does not support those who, through good report and evil report, in spite of unpopularity, in spite of threats, in spite of boycotting, in spite of outrage and fears of murder, try to do their duty and to carry out the law.
We hear constantly that the police are getting demoralised and discouraged by the knowledge that they are not supported by the Government and that the Government do not wish active measures to be taken to bring an end to the state of things which now disgraces many parts of Ireland. The Chief Secretary has little or no sympathy with those who try to enforce the law; he is ever inclined to make excuses for those who break it; he claims and exercises dispensing powers, and because he is of opinion that Home Rule should be granted to Ireland he will not take any steps to protect the lives or the properties of His Majesty's loyal subjects in Ireland. It is a commonplace that the first duty of a Government is to enforce law and order; the next duty is to remove grievances, and we find Mr. Birrell preparing to perform this portion of his duty. A little more than five years ago a Bill was passed, with the consent of both great parties in the State, which was to effect a revolution in Ireland, but it was a peaceful revolution, and the only complaint that is made of it is that it has been too successful. It was mentioned at the time that it would take fifteen years to carry it into effect, but so successful has been this Act that, if sufficient money could be forthcoming, effect could be given to it in ten years.
But what does Mr. Birrell do? He stops the action of that Act and brings in a new Bill. I should, of course, be out of order if I discussed the provisions of that Bill, but I suppose I may say that it absolutely does away with all the conditions which made the Act of 1903 a success, that it is a highly contentious measure which has no 69 chance of being passed, as was the existing Act, with the consent of Unionists and Nationalists alike. And in the meantime Mr. Birrell has stopped all purchase from proceeding by reducing the bonus from twelve to three per cent. My Lords, this is what we specially complain of in the Chief Secretary. He claims a dispensing power. He does not seem to think that it is his duty to administer the law as Parliament has enacted it. He claims to sift it and reject such portions as do not agree with his views. Many of Mr. Birrell's obiter dicta are remembered. We do not forget that when he was asked whether he would put the Crimes Act into force he answered "I wont." Perish Ireland rather than Mr. Birrell should not be allowed to have his own way about everything, like a wilful child! He says, in effect, "I think you ought to give the Irish Home Rule, and as you have not done so I wont protect life and property over there. I think landlords should be compelled to sell their lands at any price the purchaser may be willing to give for them, and I wont allow any sales to take place until I have starved them into consent." How long, my Lords, is this to continue? Judging by the very small amount of time which Mr. Birrell spends in Ireland I cannot believe that he would have much objection to transferring his energies to some other Department of the Government where he could indulge his theories with the knowledge that even if unsuccessful they would only ruin a Department and not a country; and every 70 Irishman would be grateful if then were sent to us a Statesman like the noble Viscount the Secretary of State for India, who would administer the law as it exists and not as he would wish it to be.
Moved, "That the Debate be adjourned."—(Viscount Ridley.)
On Question, Debate adjourned accordingly till to-morrow.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
—Appointed, nemine dissentiente, to take the Chair in all Committees of this House for this Session.
Committee for Privileges—Appointed.
Committee for the Journals—Appointed.
Stoppages in the Streets—Order to prevent, renewed.