House Of Commons
Thursday, 3rd March, 1881.
MINUTES.]—NEW MEMBER SWORN—George James Howard, esquire, for Cumberland County (Eastern Division).
SELECT COMMITTEE—Railways (Rates on Fares), nominated.
First Report—Commons [No. 115].
PUBLIC BILL— Second Reading—Peace Preservation (Ireland) — Second Night, debate farther adjourned.
The High Court Of Judicature Act, 1871—Patronage Of The Late Chiefs Of Divisions
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, What arrangements the Government propose to make with reference to the Patronage hitherto exercised by the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas and the Lord Chief Baron; and how it is proposed to carry out such arrangements?
I have to thank the right hon. Gentleman for kindly postponing this Question in consequence of my unavoidable absence. I have to say that, upon examining the matter, Her Majesty's Government have arrived at the conclusion that new arrangements are necessary with regard to the patronage hitherto exercised by the two Lord Chief Justices whose Offices are abolished. They will carefully consider what those new arrangements should be, and the House will have an opportunity of expressing its opinion upon them.
Army—Property Of Deceased Soldiers
asked the Secretary of State for War, with reference to War Office Letter, E 8, of the 19th November 1880, If he can state when the father of the deceased soldier, No. 2085, Private Alfred Hill, of the 1st Dragoon Guards, who died at Pretoria, will be likely to be informed of the receipt of any sum arising from the sale of his effects; and, if he will cause inquiries to be made why the product of such sale has not been already transmitted?
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman had spoken to me on this subject, I would have shown him the Papers and saved him the trouble of bringing the case before the House. Since I took Office, I have issued stringent orders to have these cases reported home without waiting for the periodical Returns. In this instance, the delay probably arises from the regiment having been employed on active service. I have called the attention of the Commander-in-Chief in India to the delay.
Army—Native And Colonial Levies
asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether the report alluded to in the "Daily News" of February 26th, that Sir Evelyn Wood is "organising an Intelligence Department, with Natives as scouts," conveys to him the impression that Natives may be employed as combatants against the Boers; and, whether he has any objection to state what instructions, if any, have been given in regard to the employment of Natives?
I will answer together the Question of my hon. Friend, and also the Question of the right hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for the Wigton Burghs (Admiral Sir John Hay), who asks me—
Her Majesty's Government entirely approve of the intention which Sir George Colley had expressed to avoid, as far as possible, the employment in the present war of levies raised either from the White Colonists or from the Native population; and in answer to a recent inquiry from Sir Evelyn Wood, he has been informed—"What assistance the Forces of the Crown may hope to obtain in the suppression of the rebellion in the Transvaal and in defence of the Colony of Natal, from local forces, volunteers, and native levies?"
Similar instructions will be given to Sir Frederick Roberts. I have no knowledge of any Natives having been employed as scouts."That both the White and Native populations in Natal may properly be employed to defend themselves, and have arms for that purpose; but, except in the case of an extreme military necessity, we deprecate the use of either White or Native populations as troops,"
Ireland—The Roman Catholic Archbishops Of Dublin
asked Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to a statement in the Paris correspondence of the "Times" of Saturday last, copied from "La Triboulêt," wherein it is stated, upon the alleged authority of the honourable the junior Member for Cork, that the Archbishops of Dublin are nominated by the English Government, which is careful in choosing them, these Catholic prelates share the prejudices of the Anglican Church against us; and, whether it is true that the Most Reverend Doctor McCabe, the present Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, was nominated to that see by the English Government; and, if, so, since what date, and under what circumstances, has the Holy See delegated such a power to the Irish Executive?
asked the honourable and gallant Member for Cork County, What steps, if any, he took before giving notice of the Question which stands in his name, to ascertain whether as a matter of fact the honourable Member for Cork City ever made any such statement as that referred to in the honourable and gallant gentle- man's Question merely on the authority of an interviewer in a French newspaper?
[Colonel COLTHURST did not answer the Question.]
I have seen in the newspapers the statement referred to in this Question; but I have no means of knowing whether it was published, as alleged, on the authority of the hon. Gentleman the junior Member for Cork. [Mr. HEALY: Hear, hear!] So far, however, as the statement itself is concerned, I can say that neither the present Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin nor any of his predecessors have been nominated to that See by the English Government. The statement quoted is utterly void of foundation.
Piers And Harbours (Ireland)— Foynes Harbour
asked the Secretary to the Treasury, If his attention has been drawn to the present state of Foynes Harbour, which for want of dredging has silted up, and to the fact that the pier is unapproachable, necessitating the erection some time ago of a floating stage, now rapidly decaying; and, whether, in view of the requirements of the traffic and the probability of the establishment of a fishing station at the mouth of the Shannon, the Board of Works will have the harbour and pier put into proper condition?
The unsatisfactory state of Foynes Harbour has long been a matter of difficulty. Some years back an offer was made by the Treasury to contribute one-half of the cost, estimated at £1,200, of extending the jetty into deep water, provided the other half was contributed by those locally interested; but as no contributions were forthcoming, the design fell through. Subsequently a floating stage and gangway were attached to the end of the jetty by the Limerick and Foynes Railway Company for the use of the steamer running in connection with their line. It is supposed that it is this construction that the hon. Member describes as rapidly decaying. Recently the matter has received special attention, and inquiries are being made as to the best course to be adopted for putting the harbour into a proper condition. In the meantime, directions have been given for making the harbour available, as far as possible, for fishing vessels by dredging out the mud at the pier-head.
Parliament—"Draft Editorials" —The Government And The Press
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether it was with the sanction of the Government that certain draft editorials on Mr. Speaker's New Rules and other matters have been forwarded to organs of the Press by the Noble Lord the Patronage Secretary; whether the acceptance of such draft editorials is connected with the communication of official information; and, whether he will lay upon the Table of the House, a list of the journals in London and the provinces which are in receipt of official information?
The Question of the hon. Member, if he will allow me to observe, is not one of a very usual character. It is, no doubt, within the Rules of the House, or it would not have been allowed to be placed on the Paper; but I am bound to say that with regard to Questions of this kind, and any Questions addressed to Members of the Government as to communications which they hold on their own responsibility, even with any gentlemen connected with the Press or any other person whatsoever, I have the greatest doubt—I will not deny the right of Members to put them—but I very greatly doubt our obligation to answer them. Let it be understood, therefore, that I enter a general protest. At the same time, in this particular case, a refusal to answer would appear to throw an air of mystery over an affair about which there need be no mystery whatever. I will not criticize the language of this Question; it is, a good deal of it, beyond the sphere of my knowledge, and I am not sure what is meant by draft "editorials." I know nothing about the draft editorials to which the hon. Gentleman refers or from whom he derives his information, such as it may have been, though I dare say it may have been from some Member of the House, possibly from one not sitting a very great distance from his present seat. But I have made inquiry from my noble Friend who is the imme- diate object of this Question, and I have been provided with the following simple explanation on the subject:—When the Speaker's New Rules were read to the House a few notes upon them were drawn up by a private Member. I may perhaps observe, in passing, that as, by the Rules of the House, these Rules cannot be made the subject of discussion, I imagine that that private Member considered he was rather doing a service to the public than otherwise in endeavouring to explain or elucidate anything connected with them through the medium mf the public Press. However, he drew up a few notes upon them, and he requested my noble Friend (Lord Richard Grosvenor)—who was no more than a medium in the case—to forward them to the editor of The Daily News. My noble Friend did forward them; but, unfortunately, the editor did not make any use of them. That is the true story of a very grave and, I must say, rather an alarming Question.
Ireland—Failure Of Seed Potatoes
asked Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to the fact that, although the whiterock potatoes supplied by the Poor Law Union authorities to the poor in Ireland last Spring have almost universally failed, the Guardians are not in a position, under the existing Law, to dispense with payment for the same; and, whether he proposes to take steps to relieve the poor people in question from payment for the seed that failed?
I have communicated with my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland in reference to this Question, and he wishes me to say, in reply to it, that his attention has been called to the fact that in some cases the seed potatoes supplied by the Boards of Guardians last spring have failed; but he has reason to believe that this failure has not been general, and it is not his intention to propose any legislation on the subject.
Poor Law (England)—St Olave's Workhouse
asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether he has caused inquiry to be made into the following circumstance, which is reported to have taken place at the Southwark Police Court on Friday last:—
whether, if these allegations are well founded, the guardians acted within their legal powers in expelling these sick and friendless persons from the workhouse; and, what steps he proposes to take to prevent a recurrence of similar conduct?"Elizabeth Shepherd, a young woman who had a child in her arms, waited upon Mr. Bridge to complain of the conduct of the guardians of St. Olave's Union, who had thrust her and her baby into the streets. About two months ago she was taken very ill, and, being destitute and friendless, was admitted to the St. Olave's Workhouse. On Wednesday last she was turned out by order of the guardians. She had no home or friends to go to, and she and the child were ill. Dr. Gittings, the medical attendant of the workhouse, was in court when the woman told her story, and confirmed it in every particular, saying he was surprised at her being turned out of the workhouse that morning, as her child was in a very bad state, and she had no means of providing for it. The presiding magistrate said he was of opinion that the guardians had acted very cruelly, and he had no hesitation in saying that had the child died, the guardians would have rendered themselves liable to be charged with manslaughter;"
Inquiry has been made, and the report as to the discharge of the woman and her child appears to be substantially correct, except that the woman herself was in good health at the time of her discharge, and the order was not given by the Board of Guardians, but by a member of the Visiting Committee. The proceeding was altogether irregular. If however, the order had been given by the Board of Guardians, who unquestionably have the power of ordering the discharge of any person whom they may think able to maintain himself, the present case certainly does not appear to be one in which that power should have been exercised. The Board are at present in communication with the Guardians on the subject; but, pending their reply, I cannot say whether it will be necessary to take any steps to prevent the recurrence of a similar proceeding.
Court Of Bankruptcy, Ireland— The Returns
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Why the Returns ordered on the 20th July, 1880, in relation to the Court of Bankruptcy, Ireland, have not been yet presented; and, whether he will be good enough to hasten the Returns?
I am sorry for the delay which has occurred in preparing these Returns, which has been partly owing to a misapprehension. Since then I have been in communication with the hon. Member for Dungannon (Mr. Dickson) with the view, if possible, somewhat to simplify the form of one of the Returns, which in its original shape would have been very expensive. The alterations have been agreed upon, and since then the Returns have been in preparation. One of them, Estates in bankruptcy prior to 31st of December, 1878, having assets undivided, will probably be completed within a fortnight, but the other one involves so much detail that it is feared that some time will still be required for its completion; but it is being pressed on as rapidly as possible.
Law And Justice—Admission Of Solicitors To The Bar
asked Mr. Attorney General, Whether, in view of the resolution stated to have been passed by the Benchers of the Inns of Court, as to solicitors being admitted to the Bar after keeping four terms, it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to bring in a measure by which increased facilities will be afforded to barristers becoming solicitors; and, whether it is not at the present time necessary that barristers must be of five years' standing before they can be admitted on the roll of solicitors, and pass the usual final examinations for solicitors?
, in reply, was understood to say that he was not aware that any complaint had been made as to the hardship of the existing regulations; there was no intention on the part of the Government to propose any legislation on the subject.
Metropolitan Board Of Works— Subways
asked the honourable Member for Truro, Whether, when a new street is formed, it is the habit of the Metropolitan Board at the same time to make a subway for containing gas, water, and other pipes; and, whether the Board will use their endeavours to have subways made whenever they have the opportunity of doing so?
In reply to my hon. Friend's Question, I beg to state that in forming new streets the Metropolitan Board have, when considered advisable, made subways for containing gas and other pipes, as in the case of the Victoria Embankment, Queen Victoria Street, Northumberland Avenue, Commercial Street, White-chapel, Garrick Street, and Southwark Street. The great inconvenience, however, of disturbing existing arrangements would not, I think, justify the formation of subways in all cases; and I am not, therefore, prepared to say that the Board will, on all occasions, use their endeavours to have them made. Power is usually taken in the case of long and continuous improvements to form subways; and such power has been taken with regard to the new streets proposed from Charing Cross to Tottenham Court Road and from Piccacadilly Circus to New Oxford Street.
Middlesex Magistrates—Music Licences (Good Friday)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether it is the fact that the form of music licence granted by the Middlesex magistrates expressly forbids the performance of any music in a licensed hall on Good Friday, although that day is not mentioned in the Licencing Act 25 Geo. 2, c. 36; whether he is aware that, in consequence of the action of the Middlesex magistrates in so framing their form of licence, and in refusing to permit any deviation from its terms, the directors of important public institutions in London are unable to have oratorios performed on Good Friday in the public halls under their charge; and, whether he will consider the propriety of so amending the Law as to enable the directors of these public halls to give sacred music on Good Friday?
, in reply, was understood to say it was true that Good Friday was not mentioned in the Act of Geo. II. In fact, no day was prohibited by that statute. The Justices were authorized to grant licences at their dis- cretion, and at their discretion they had excluded Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday, and public fast days. He understood from the Clerk of the Peace for Middlesex that no application had ever been made for a variation of the usual terms on which licences were granted; and it was, therefore, incorrect to speak of any refusal on their part. Moreover, the Colleague of the hon. Member (Mr. Ritchie) had given Notice to bring the Question before the Middlesex magistrates at their next meeting; and, in view of this, it would be premature to consider the propriety of fresh legislation.
asked the First Commissioner of Works, What progress has been made towards providing suitable rooms for the representatives of the press in this House, the number of whom has been increased during the present Session, by Mr. Speaker's consent, to upwards of 200.
, in reply, said, that he had no objection to give further accommodation for the Reporters, as he admitted that the present accommodation was insufficient and unsatisfactory. It was no easy matter, however, to determine how to do so. He hoped to be in a position before long to do something for the Reporters. But they were much cramped for room in that part of the building.
Army (The Auxiliary Forces)— Armouries For Volunteer Corps
asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether, in consideration of the recent order with respect to the safe custody of rifles belonging to Volunteer corps, it would be possible to obtain some additional grant to assist the corps in defraying the expenses incurred by them in providing armouries?
In reply to the hon. Gentleman, I have to state that the confidential Circular to which he alludes only instructed Colonels of Militia, Yeomanry, or Volunteer regiments to take precautions for the security of their arms and ammunition against sudden attack. Volunteer corps have to find their own armouries out of the capitation grant. I cannot promise any additional assistance for this purpose.
Protection Of Person And Property Act, 1881–The Carter Estate
asked Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, If his attention has been drawn to a letter signed "Geo. T. Shaen Carter," addressed to the Rev. Henry Hewson, J.P. of Belmullet, county Mayo, and published in the "Freeman's Journal" of Saturday, in which he promises this clergyman that if certain persons will pay him rent—
and, whether Mr. Carter had any authority whatsoever to make promises of this description; and, if not, whether the Government will take any notice of the covert threats conveyed by his letter to certain of his tenants?"It will be my pleasure to defend all the tenants on the Carter estate (with very few exceptions) from any aggressive action they may be subject to under the Coercion Bill, and I shall do so energetically wherever I find the opportunity. I shall give the tenants two weeks to come in and pay;"
Since Notice of this Question was given by the hon. Member, I have read the letter referred to. Mr. Carter had no authority from the Government for writing the letter, nor is the matter one which calls for the interference of the Government.
Public Health—Small-Pdx (Metropolis)—Fulham Small-Pox Hospital
asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether it is the fact that Fulham Small-Pox Hospital is now made the receptacle for more than one-third of the small-pox patients of the whole of London; whether the borough of Chelsea, which includes the whole of Kensington, Notting Hill, Fulham, Chelsea, and Hammersmith have volunteered to take charge of their own small-pox patients; whether the Metropolitan Asylums Board and the Local Government Board have not declined to confine the said hospital to such district; whether the Local Government Board do not decline to receive a deputation to urge such limitation; whether, according to the decision in a recent case, a small-pox hospital is not a nuisance per se which may at any time be stayed by injunction; whether he is aware that the inhabitants of Western London, in consequence of such refusal as aforesaid, propose to take legal proceedings to obtain such injunction; and, whether, in order to save public money being wasted in fruitless litigation by the Metropolitan Asylums Board in defending such proceedings, he is prepared forthwith to advise such Board to close Fulham Small-Pox Hospital, and to remit the patients to the care of local authorities, or otherwise to abate such nuisance?
The Notice of the hon. Member contains no less than seven distinct Questions. I will endeavour to answer them as concisely as I can. In answer to the first, it is not the fact that the Fulham Small-Pox Hospital is made the receptacle for more than one-third of the small-pox cases in the Metropolis. The total number in the hospitals of the managers is 763, of which 217 are in Fulham. I have not received any offer from the borough of Chelsea to take charge of their own small-pox patients. The borough, as such, has no power to undertake such a charge; and the vestries of the several parishes in the borough have not, so far as I have been able to learn, provided any hospital for such cases, although express power was given to them to do so as far back as 1866, and they have, from time to time, been reminded of it. The hospitals of the Metropolitan Asylums Board, of which Fulham is one, were provided for the whole Metropolis, at the cost of ratepayers generally; and so long as there is spare accommodation, admission could not be refused to patients sent from any part of that area. For this reason it appeared to me useless to receive a deputation on this subject. The alleged decision that a small-pox hospital is per se a nuisance, and may be stayed by injunction, is now the subject of appeal to the House of Lords. I am not aware that the inhabitants of Western London propose to apply for an injunction. My reply to the last Question is that I am not prepared to advise the Metropolitan Asylums Board to close this hospital and remit small-pox patients generally to the care of the local authorities, more especially seeing that the vestries and district boards have, as a rule, failed to provide hospitals, as they should have done—at all events for non-pauper cases, which form more than half of the cases admitted.
Dublin Science And Art Museums —The National Library, Dublin
asked the Vice President of the Council, Whether any site has yet been fixed on for the National Library in Dublin; whether any decision as to its external and internal plan has been arrived at; and, if the Trustees of the Library have been consulted on these points; if he would state why the Reports of the Visitors of the Dublin Science and Art Museum, the Natural History Collection, and Botanic Gardens for 1877, 1878, 1879, and 1880 have not been laid before Parliament; and, if the Visitors have met, and how often, to advise on matters affecting the Institutions above named?
The Lord President visited Dublin during the Recess for the express purpose of settling, if possible, the long-pending questions referred to by the hon. Member. He called the Visitors together for the first time, to consult with them as to the site for the new Museum. He also had an interview with the Trustees of the Library, and ascertained their views as to its future location and arrangement. We have not made the progress we hoped, owing to the conflict of opinion in Dublin as to the Leinster Lawn site. I can, however, assure the hon. Member that we are very anxious to come to some agreement as to the site, and to commence the new buildings as soon as possible. We shall ask the House for a Vote of money for that purpose; but, until the site has been decided upon, no plans can be finally settled. As to the last part of his Question, the Visitors not having been convened before the Lord President's recent visit, no Reports have been received from them; but a fortnight ago the Director of the Science and Art Department in Dublin was instructed to call them together, and I understand they all meet this week to discuss the points referred to in the hon. Member's Question. Any Reports they may make will be submitted to Parliament.
The Education Acts—School Fees
asked the Vice President of the Council, If his attention has been called to a decision given by Justices Lindley and Lopes, in the Court of Common Pleas on Saturday last, in an appeal from a decision of magistrates who hail fined a man five shillings for not causing a child to attend a school:—It appeared that a child, in obedience to a magistrate's order, had been sent to school, but without the school fees, and that admission had been consequently refused; the learned judges quashed the conviction, on the ground that the appellant had sufficiently complied with the order by sending his child to school, adding that, if this interpretation had the effect of creating difficulties about payment of fees, "which was likely enough," that was an omission to be remedied elsewhere; if he will initiate some legislation which will prevent the compulsory clauses of the Education Acts being so neutralized; and, if he will also take into consideration the desirability of reenacting the clauses that gave power to school boards to pay the school fees of children of necessitous parents?
My attention has been drawn to the newspaper report of the decision to which the hon. Member has referred, and we have decided to consult the Law Officers of the Crown as to the steps it may be advisable to take in consequence. I can hold out no expection to my hon. Friend that the Government will re-enact the 25th clause of the Act of 1870, which the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon) found it necessary to repeal; but we are considering whether it is not possible to assist the children of necessitous parents to obtain payment of school fees with less difficulty and less contact with the machinery of the Poor Law than at present.
The Ordnance Survey
asked the First Commissioner of Works, When the enlarged Ordnance Map of Warwickshire will be published?
asked a similar Question with regard to Staffordshire.
I am afraid I cannot promise a very speedy publication of the Survey of Warwickshire, as, even under the scheme for accelerating the Surveys, it will not be begun till 1885. Of course, all the counties cannot be surveyed at the same time; but no time is lost in completing a Survey when once it is begun. I cannot, at this moment, answer the Question of the hon. Member for Staffordshire.
asked, whether it was in any way in the power of the county of Warwick to assist in the earlier production of the Map?
Some of the towns obtained earlier Surveys by contributing a certain portion of the expenses. I am not sure whether the same thing can be done by counties; but I will make inquiries.
South Africa—The Transvaal— British Garrisons
asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether he can, without detriment to the public service, inform the House of the latest authentic intelligence received at the War Office respecting the provisioning of Pretoria, Potchefstroom, and Wakenstroom, and also if in the opinion of military authorities at home, it is deemed to be absolutely necessary for Sir Evelyn Wood to risk an early advance in order to relieve those garrisons; or whether it is intended as far as practicable to restrict further operations until the arrival of General Sir F. Roberts?
Surely my hon. Friend must be aware that I could not, with due regard to the interests of the Public Service, state to the House, and through the House to the Boers, what is the condition of the beleaguered garrisons in the Transvaal. I have given to the House at this Table, and I have sent to the newspapers, all the information upon subjects of this kind which I think proper to communicate. If my hon. Friend would look at the morning papers he would see that with respect to Pretoria provisions were in abundance. As to the latter part of his Question, I am still more surprised that he should think of putting it to me.
South Africa—The Basutos— Official Minute Of The Cape Ministry
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether it is true that Sir Hercules Robinson and the Ministers of the Cape Colony have published an official minute protesting against the public expression of disapprobation by the Home Government of the terms of peace offered to the Basutos; and, if so, whether he will communicate such minute to the House?
I believe this Question has reference to an answer lately given in this House. [Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH: Yes.] All I can say at present is this—that on the 28th of last month Sir Hercules Robinson informed Lord Kimberley by telegraph that his Ministers were engaged in preparing a Minute on the subject. That Minute has not been transmitted to the Secretary of State, and he has no official intimation of its publication, or any official knowledge of its contents. It is probable that we shall have more information in the course of a few days; and I need hardly say that we shall then be happy to give the required information.
South Africa—The Transvaal (Military Operations)—The Command Of The Forces
asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is true that Major General Newdegate is under orders for the seat of war in South Africa; and, if so, on what grounds Her Majesty's Government have thought fit to supersede Sir Evelyn Wood as second in command of the forces there?
I hope, Sir, that the House will not expect me to explain to them the reasons for the appointment of the officers selected to command Divisions or Brigades under Sir Frederick Roberts. I should deprecate extremely the House of Commons taking upon itself duties for which the Commander-in-Chief and the Secretary of State for War are especially responsible. But I must remind the House that matters have very materially altered since Sir Evelyn Wood went out to serve under Sir George Colley. The force in or on the way to Natal and the Transvaal now exceeds 15,000 men; and it would be out of the question to lay down the rule that no officer should be employed under Sir Frederick Roberts with higher rank than that of Colonel, which would be the result of only employing juniors to Sir Evelyn Wood. Sir Evelyn Wood is only a Colonel with Brigadier's rank; and in the event of Sir Frederick Roberts being disabled, it would be out of the question that the command of 15,000 men should devolve on an officer, how-over distinguished, of that rank.
Does the right hon. Gentleman think it right to communicate to the Boers the amount of the force on its way to Natal?
Yes; because it has already been communicated to the newspapers, and is very well known to everybody who reads them.
South Africa—The Transvaal (Negotiations)
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether the Government has considered the propriety of associating with Sir F. Roberts a civil commissioner, who might give assistance to the Commander in Chief in the event of an opportunity occurring of entering into negotiations with the Boers, in the same manner as political officers in India are attached to armies in the field?
Upon this subject I have to say that, when Sir Frederick Roberts accepted the appointment of Commander-in-Chief in South Africa, he was informed that in the event of negotiations for the settlement of affairs in the Transvaal, Her Majesty's Government would, in all probability, appoint Civil Commissioners for the purpose of conducting those negotiations. At the present juncture it would not be advantageous to enter further upon that matter. But I may say there is a widespread, and, I think, natural and just, anxiety on the part of Members of the House for information with regard to the political situation of the question in South Africa, and I wish to explain as exactly as I can at the present moment how we stand, hoping in a short time to be able to give fuller information. The House is aware generally that there were negotiations going on at the period immediately before the lamentable event of Sunday last—that actual communications had been made to the Boers, and that an answer was expected from them. The sad death of Sir George Colley has retarded, and, up to the present moment, prevented our receiving information as to the present position of those communications. On Sir George Colley's return from Majuba Hill, he would unquestionably have let us know their exact position. It will be borne in mind that in the actual state of things the authority devolved upon Sir Evelyn Wood; but Sir Evelyn Wood was not at the front, and has not, therefore, been able to give us the information that we expected from Sir George Colley. On Tuesday last, my noble Friend (the Earl of Kimberley) telegraphed to Sir Evelyn Wood requesting him to lose no time in obtaining that information, and sending it to us in the fullest and most explicit form. Considering the probability of Sir Evelyn Wood's position, the time has hardly yet arrived to enable us to receive an answer to that telegram, but it may be expected within a very short period; and it will not be possible without that answer for us to convey to Parliament information of such a character as might not be open to the risk of leading to misapprehension after what has occurred. We hope to receive it in a very short time—very probably in a day or two, as it is not unlikely that Sir Evelyn Wood may have reached the front at the time I speak—and that then it may be in our power to lay before Parliament an exact account of the political situation as regards the communications between the Government and the Boers, so that hon. Members may be in a position to form their own judgment as to what has occurred. My right hon. Friend near me (Mr. Childers) informs me more distinctly that Sir Evelyn Wood will probably be at the front this evening.
South Africa—The Transvaal (Military Operations)—The Naval Detachment At Majuba
asked the Secretary to the Admiralty, If he would give the House any information as to the number of men in the Naval contingent engaged at Majuba Hill on Sunday last; whether he could state how many were killed and wounded; and what their behaviour was so far as he had any information?
We have just had a telegram from the Commodore, in which he gives an account of the loss in the Naval Detachment, or, as in some of the newspaper accounts it is misleadingly styled, the Naval Brigade. Lieutenant Trower, of the Boadicea, and 16 men were killed; and Commander Hominy was wounded—very dangerously wounded—as well as 16 of his men. That is all we know; and as regards the behaviour of our seamen, that is enough. As far as we have heard anything officially, the contingent went out 60 strong. The Gatling guns could not be hauled up the precipices, and had to be sent back to camp; and we may answer for it that they did not go back without a sufficient escort. Out of the slender remnant which stood on the hill top, 34 were killed and wounded; and the Admiralty await in full confidence the details of a story which, even in its present condition, speaks for itself.
State Of Ireland—Mr John Devoy
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether he will kindly read to the House the telegram he received from Mr. John Devoy of New York, and to which reference was made yesterday?
I hope the hon. Member will not think me discourteous if I decline to comply with his request. If I produced the telegram, I should be giving to the affair an importance it does not deserve.
If the right hon. Gentleman will not read the telegram, perhaps he will inform the House, and through the House his many friends, whether the telegram alleged to have been received by him from Mr. John Devoy really contained any positive threat as to the right hon. Gentleman's life. I ask the Question all the more, as I understand that Mr. John Devoy is rather a small man.
; Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether he still adheres to his assertion, that the words "stamp out" were used in the telegram?
I will not say. It is some time since I saw the telegram; but I remember the word "stamp" was in it. The other hon. Member asks me on behalf of his many friends—[Mr. CALLAN: The right hon. Gentleman's many friends.]—I do not know whether the hon. Member——
I rose distinctly to ask the right hon. Gentleman to allay the fears of the right hon. Gentleman's own friends.
I thought, perhaps, you meant the many friends of Mr. John Devoy.
The hon. Member has put his Question, and he must allow the right hon. Gentleman to answer it.
I ask the House to allow me to express my regret and indignation that the right hon. Gentleman should think it consistent with his position to insinuate that I am in any way one of Mr. Devoy's friends.
I did not mean to insinuate that the hon. Member was a friend of Mr. John Devoy, and I am very glad he repudiates him; but, as he has asked the Question on my behalf, I can assure him, and, through him, my many friends, that I have no apprehension on the subject.
Orders Of The Day
Peace Preservation (Ireland) Bill—Bill 98
( Secretary Sir William Harcourt Mr. Gladstone, Mr. William Edward Forster.)
Adjourned Debate Second Night
Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [2nd March], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
And which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now" and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—( Mr. Justin M'Carthy.)
Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
said, when he was interrupted the day before, he was pointing out that though in the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland there had been a great deal of sound, there was a lamentable deficiency of facts and figures to support his argument. It was said that Mr. Hearne had been foully murdered; but Mr. Hearne was still living. It was also said, to add a dash of sensationalism to the matter, that Mr. Hearne was an agent of the brother of Lord Mountmorres. It had turned out, however, that he had no connection with that unfortunate nobleman, and that he was not dead. So it was that hour by hour, and day by day, additional light was thrown upon the inaccuracy of the statements which proceeded from the Treasury Bench; and if the Bill were postponed more light might be brought to bear on the situation, to show how utterly unsuitable was the measure before the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman had cast a very severe censure upon the Irish Members on account of the manner in which the Irish Judges had been spoken of. It would, no doubt, be an extremely novel and unaccountable thing to hear hon. Members speak thus of English Judges; but it would not be so regarded if hon. Gentlemen were only intimately acquainted with the procedure which led to the Judicial Bench in Ireland, and with the conduct of those who found themselves in that high place. In this country eminent lawyers, irrespective of Party considerations, were chosen from the ranks of their fellows to sit on the judgment seat, and none of them were open to fear, favour, or affection. But in Ireland men proceeded to the Bench through the mire of politics; they were obliged, in too many cases, to be agitators, and there was evidence of one Judge, now deceased, whose appointment was a matter of debate in that and the other House on account of the agrarian agitation which he had stimulated. Therefore, they found excited harangues from the Bench where they should expect to find coolness and impartiality. A Chief Justice in Ireland had, in his own hearing, confessed in open Court that he had been carried away by passion and blinded by prejudice, and, therefore, he abandoned the part which otherwise he would have taken at a late trial. He would, however, address himself to the specific provisions of the Bill. The hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), with his usual ability, had proved that continuous Arms Acts had in every case been followed by an additional crop of crime. Arms might be used by bodies of men riotously proceeding through the country and terrifying peaceable inhabitants. If that were so in Ireland, he would at once favour its repression with a strong hand. But that idea was immediately dismissed, when they came to consider the matter carefully. If there were bands of 50 and 100 armed men perambulating the country now, an Arms Act was not required for their repression. The provisions of the ordinary law would enable such bands to be stopped in their riotous career. It was said in that House, on the part of the Government, that there should be every forbearance in the disarming of the Basutos; and, if so, it should not seem strange that a nation not in arms should appeal to the House to temper coercion with mercy. Firing at the person was a very tangible crime; and yet, with the gradual aggravation of distress in the last three months of last year, there were only three cases in October, three in November, and seven in December. Not one of these cases was attended by any personal injury. This was over the entirety of Ireland, amongst a population of 6,000,000, in a time of aggravated distress and the most intense excitement. But even then, when they looked into these, the majority of the cases turned out to be family quarrels, having no connection with the Land League, and which could not be termed agrarian. In one case, in October, a man named Harding had by will left his farm to a younger son, to the exclusion of the elder son, who had come from America expecting to have the farm. There was a family quarrel, and the pistol was fired by the wife of the elder son, who was tried, convicted by a jury, and sentenced to 12 months hard labour. In one case, in November, there had been a long standing family feud, existing long before the Land League was heard of, and before his hon. Friend (Mr. Parnell) had assumed his present prominent position. In this case, too, the offender was convicted by an Irish jury, and sentenced to 20 years' penal servitude. In the last case, in November, in which no injury was inflicted, the man was found guilty and sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment. In nearly every case in which a tangible crime had been committed evidence was forthcoming, and Irish jurors did convict. There had been no time to examine the Return just issued for December; but he recognized one case in which there had been a long-standing family quarrel. In the whole quarter there were only two agrarian murders. This was at a period of political excitement and aggravated distress in the four Provinces of Ireland, with its 32 counties and 5,000,000 of people. The cases of firing did not in the slightest way justify such a Bill as this, and there had been only two agrarian murders. It was astounding that the Government should think for a moment of bringing forward a Bill of such a nature on such flimsy reasons. Let them turn to England, and for the same period they would see greater reasons for passing an Arms Bill for England. Let the Home Secretary turn to the shooting affair at Kensington, and the undiscovered murder of an officer in a dastardly manner at Chatham. In Ireland there were no such terrible cases, and yet an Arms Bill was about to be passed for that country, while he saw no sign that the people of England were about to be subjected to similar legislation. The noble Lord the President of the Council, speaking a few evenings before in "another place," had quoted the opinion of Lord Macaulay, to the effect that the Habeas Corpus Act was the bulwark of English freedom, and that the liberty which it gave ought not to be touched except for overwhelming reasons, and with the probability that good results would follow from its curtailment. But, in the present instance, no such overwhelming case had been proved, and the measure before the House, instead of tending to good results, was calculated to have the very opposite effect. That was the view, he believed, which the people of England now took of coercive legislation, which, notwithstanding the speeches made by the President of the Board of Trade in the Autumn, the Government had proposed. It was, perhaps, useless for him to deliver these remarks to the House when the mind of the Government was made up in the same way as it was made up in regard to the last Bill. Irish Members had been credited with good debating powers when there was none to debate with. It, nevertheless, was the duty of the Representatives of Ireland to protest to the uttermost against this superfluous and most unjust Bill; and notwithstanding the speeches of the Home Secretary, who took refuge in lengthy quotations, delivered, it must be admitted, with dramatic effect—
"Not florid prose nor honeyed lines of rhyme Can blazon evil deeds or consecrate a crime."
said, he rose for the purpose of opposing this Bill, which seemed to him a most unnecessary measure; but, before he gave his reasons for objecting to the Bill, he would ask the permission of the Speaker and the indulgence of the House for five minutes, whilst he uttered a word or two of personal explanation on behalf of an absent friend in answer to what he must term a most cowardly and uncalled-for attack. He thought he had a right to make a personal explanation on his own behalf; for he had read a speech of the Home Secretary, which had been interpreted by the Irish people to mean that he (Mr. Dillon) was an assassin. He only wished, however, to speak on behalf of his friend, who could not speak in this House, and who, the Home Secretary had boasted, could not set his foot on English soil. He thought it would have shown more manliness if the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had abstained from that boast. The words he objected to were contained in the concluding passage of the Home Secretary's speech on the third reading of the Protection of Person and Property (Ireland) Bill—namely,
Also, in answer to a Question with reference to Mr. Devoy, the right hon. Gentleman had said that so long as Mr. Devoy and his confederates—the leaders of the Laud League (including himself, he supposed)—thought fit to remain beyond the seas—whether at the Straits of Dover or the other side of the Atlantic—the less notice the Government took of them the better. Now, if the House complained of Mr. Devoy being thrust under their notice, he (Mr. Dillon) would never have mentioned him if the Home Secretary had not made the remark he had. After accusing Mr. Devoy of cowardice, the Home Secretary said that if he set foot on British shores it would, no doubt, be his (the Home Secretary's) official duty to pay him some attention. That was certainly inconsistent with his (Mr. Dillon's) ideas of manliness. When he read the Home Secretary's speech, he thought it contained one of the most cowardly attacks that had ever come under his notice. It was always a cowardly thing for a man, taking advantage of an eminent position, and catching the ear of the multitude, to blast the character of a man whom he knew circumstances prevented from making a reply. There were peculiar circumstances connected with the present case which made it more cowardly than an attack of this kind usually was. Who was the obscure man whom the Home Secretary had attacked? He was a man who had spent his whole life—who had spent the best years of his manhood—struggling, sometimes in the direst poverty, against a hateful and atrocious Government, which he saw was destroying his country. He had shown, on more than one occasion, the best and highest qualities of courage; and he could not believe that when the Home Secretary taunted him with cowardice that he was acquainted with his history. For seven long years he endured the torture of an English convict prison, and, though he had never proclaimed it before the world, he had described to him treatment he received which would have disgraced the dungeons of Naples. With regard to the language used in reference to Mr. Devoy, he did not know whether hon. Members of that House were aware how inaccurate the reports of American newspapers usually were; and to charge a man with being an assassin because of some report published in an American paper was a most unjust and unwise proceeding. But suppose, for argument's sake, that Mr. John Devoy, in a moment of passion, used the very language which was attributed to him by the Home Secretary, he (Mr. Dillon) would prefer his friendship, even after he had thus spoken, to the friendship of a sleek and contented Home Secretary who could make the attack he had spoken of. Mr. John Devoy had faced imprisonment and exile, which, to him, were very bitter; he had devoted the best part of his life to a cause which he held sacred; and now, at the end of all his exertions and all his sacrifices, he saw his country, as he believed, about to be drenched with the blood of her children deliberately by the Government. He saw his country stamped on and insulted by two such worthies as the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the Home Secretary. Therefore, if, for the sake of argument, he were to admit that John Devoy made use of these words—strongly as he dissented from anything tending to assassination—he would recognize that they were spoken in a moment of rage, which he would almost call a noble rage—that they were spoken from the bitterness of a spirit which was broken by long years of suffering and disappointment, and which saw all the hopes of a lifetime overthrown. In dismissing that subject he now wished to say a few words with regard to the present Bill. He had been accused of advising the Irish people to supply themselves with arms. He most decidedly did advise the Irish people to supply themselves with arms, and he should explain his purpose in so doing. Not being an Irish farmer himself, he did not know what view they took exactly with regard to evictions; but he might be allowed to state in that House that if he were an Irish farmer himself, and a body of men came to turn him out of his house and land, he should decidedly shoot as many of them as he could manage to do, and then abide the consequences. He believed if the Irish farmers took that course the evictions would soon come to an end in Ireland. Not being a farmer himself, and not being likely to fall under those circumstances, he had not given that advice. If he did, he might lay himself open to the charge of cowardice by recommending others to place themselves in a danger which he would not have to encounter. Therefore, he had not been in a position to give that advice. But he thought it well just to state that he held that view. [Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT: Hear, hear!] This Arms Bill seemed to him to be a very cowardly measure, and also to be one of a degrading character. It was, to his mind, one of the greatest insults that could be offered to a free people. He did not even think the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act was as insulting to a free people as to deny them the right of carrying arms. Would the Government disarm the Irish landlords? Or would they do what he thought was one of the most cowardly things ever done—would they disarm the Irish people, and leave the English people armed? The Home Secretary, in introducing this Bill, said at least it would prevent the open and ostentatious carrying of rifles and revolvers. Who was it that had carried rifles and revolvers openly and ostentatiously? Who but the landlords and their retainers, who went about and brandished them without the slightest justification? If they wished to restore peace in Ireland, they would disarm the Irish landlords, and tell them that the 50,000 troops they had sent into the country were sufficient to protect them. Let them at least disarm everyone in Ireland, and not leave the Irish people helpless, to be shot down, as they would be by armed landlords and their armed retainers. He had been accused, as he had said already, of advising the Irish people to procure rifles. The Home Secretary might have quoted a dozen speeches of his in which he gave the same advice. He did that for this reason—that he considered if the Irish landlords had the knowledge that in every farmer's dwelling there was a rifle, it might exercise some check on their depredations. [Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT: Hear, hear!] He did not believe that the English Liberals would have lent themselves to so cowardly a proceeding as to disarm one class and leave another class armed. Neither did he believe that many of the Irish Members who had voted for coercion would have given their support to this disgraceful measure. He could not admit that a shred of justification had been shown for it, for the absurd and offensive observations of the Home Secretary with reference to plots and schemes of assassination directed against himself and his brother Ministers would justify an Arms Act for England, quite as much as Ireland. The real object of the Bill was to remove the last check upon eviction in Ireland. The landlords were not content with the suspension of the Habeas Corpus. They were not content with having placed at their disposal 50,000 troops, who were now marching about the country, insulting members of the Land League, and provoking outrage and bloodshed. It was only three days ago since he was insulted by a company of English troops at Ballybrophy, in the county Tipperary. They were drawn up at the railway station, and they called out—"There goes the Land Leaguer," without receiving any reprimand from their officers, who wore listening. Was that conduct which should be permitted to go on amongst unarmed people, smarting under injustice and oppression? If they wanted to provoke a civil war in Ireland—but it could not be a civil war, for the Irish people had not the means of waging a civil war—he wished they had—[Cries of "Oh!" and "Withdraw!"]——"If there exist men entertaining such sentiments, it is the duty of the House and of the Government to stamp upon them as upon a nest of vipers."
The hon. Member is now exceeding the licence of Parliamentary language in advocating civil war.
withdrew the expression, and said, if they wished to provoke bloodshed in Ireland, they could adopt no better means than to let their soldiers, as they were, loose through the country, insulting the people. He wished he could take hon. Gentlemen into the offices of the Land League, and show them the unfortunate farmers coming in from every district with handfuls of writs and ejectment notices, which were falling in Ireland as thick as snowflakes; in fact, he believed that the proceedings of the Irish landlords would justfy any extreme that the people might have recourse to, had they any chance of success. The landlords knew this themselves; and, therefore, they asked the Government to take the arms out of the hands of the Irish people. He must confess that the Property Defence Association had given him a great deal more trouble and anxiety than had the Coercion Bill, for they hired gangs of armed men, and sent them down to sales of property seized upon for rent. The danger attending these proceedings was terrific. They came down in the midst of furiously excited masses of people. They came armed to the teeth, and they purchased the cattle of farmers which had been seized upon and sold for rent. He acknowledged honestly that these proceedings had interfered a great deal more with the power of the Land League than the Coercion Bill could, and that he was much more uneasy about them than he was about the Coercion Act. But he still believed that he would be able to defeat the Property Defence Association. What he wished to point out was the cowardice of these men, who sent down hired gangs of armed persons whom they would not disarm, but would leave arms in their hands, to seize upon the goods of the people, and who were surrounded by crowds of armed police, and the soldiers of England, who alone supported them in their brutal conduct in Ireland. And while these men were permitted to pursue this atrocious conduct, the Government wanted to strip the people of their arms, for fear on some occasion they might in desperation, resist the proceedings. He would not detain the House much longer, and probably he should not address the House again for some time. He should not detain it, except to comment upon one of the concluding statements of the Home Secretary. He said—and in that sentence was a complete condemnation of the Bill—he (Sir William Harcourt) said—"I have no doubt that this Bill will fail to take away all the arms from the people. I have no doubt that numbers of arms will be retained with which murders and outrages will be committed." He would ask the House to consider that while the people were taking that advice of his, which had been represented as murderous, while they were acting upon his advice of supplying themselves with rifles, had murderous outrages increased? On the contrary, it had been acknowledged on all sides, and no attempt had been made to deny it, that while the people were arming themselves with rifles, outrages decreased in a most marked manner; and while Arms Acts such as these were in operation, ten times more murders were perpetrated in Ireland than there were now. There was much of the philosophy of Irish history contained in that sentence of the Home Secretary's. He (Sir William Harcourt) looked forward, he dared say, without regret, to an increase of murderous out-rages in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said that numbers of these arms would be retained in spite of all their exertions, that horrible crimes would be committed with them. He (Mr. Dillon) was afraid that was so. He was afraid that if they drove those people to desperation that they would have recourse to the old methods of avenging crime, which they had hoped they had succeeded in driving them from. He told the House the simple truth in that he said the men had come to him in Ireland and had blamed him because they had induced the people to leave the old methods which they considered effectual. They said it was all very well to drive them into Constitutional agitation; but there they were now to be disarmed and put under the heel of the landlords. Formerly, when they used the more effectual weapon, one or two landlords were marked, then shot, and that proved more beneficial than all your Constitutional agitation. By their Coercion Acts they had driven the Irish people out of their paths of legal and Constitutional agitation rich they induced them to go into; and they were driven back to the dark lays of assassination by these Coercion Bills, passed amidst the jeers of a triumphant Ministry and a triumphant Irish Liberalism; if they were driven back to the dark and desperate methods which the leaders of the Land League had almost successfully induced them to give up, he said that the blame of the murders which would be committed on the return of the Irish people to the old methods must be laid at the doors of those men who struck out of their hands the weapons of open and legal agitation by arresting the men who committed any crime, and driving the Irish people back into desperation, from which they—the Land League—sought in vain to save them.
I think the time has now come when this debate may be closed. We have heard the doctrine of the Land League expounded by the man who is an authority to explain it; and to-morrow every subject of the Queen will know that the doctrine so expounded is the doctrine of treason and assassination. Sir, I will not yield to the hon. Member——
I rise to Order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to correct a mistake.
The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary is in possession of the House.
May I not say a word in explanation? ["No!" "Order!"]
No, Sir, I did not interrupt the hon. Member, for I was determined that without interruption he should be allowed to give utterance to sentiments which, I venture to say, will bring horror and disgust into the mind of every honest man. He said it was true that over and over again he had advised the Irish people to arm themselves with rifles, and he told us he would explain for what purpose they were to have these rifles. He added—"I have not in Ireland explained to them exactly what I meant." It was well he did not. He has come here, under the privilege of this House, to explain what he meant. He said—"If I was an Irish farmer, and if I saw men come upon my land to put me out of the land, then whatever people might think, and although they might come, in the name and under the authority of the law, I would shoot as many of them as I could." That has been said in the hearing of the House of Commons. To-morrow it will be in the hearing of the civilized world, which will pronounce its judgment on this—I will use the word—this vile conspiracy. Sir, I knew that these were the objects of the Land League. I knew it as one responsible for the public peace in the Dominions of the Queen, and as one whose duty it was to denounce it as I have denounced the language of John Devoy, as I denounced the language of Redpath, and as I denounce the language of the Member for Tipperary. I call them confederates. They are confederates in action, and their language is the same. The language of Redpath, which I read out the other day, and in which he recommended that the landlords should be shot down like rabbits, was exactly the language which the hon. Member for Tipperary has just used.
I rise to Order, Mr. Speaker.
No, no; the hon. Member was not interrupted when he was speaking.
I did not advise the Irish people to do any such thing. I say it is a gross misrepresentation.
I am speaking in the hearing of the House, who know whether or not I have misrepresented him.
You have misrepresented me.
I have said that it was the language of assassination. I have said that it was the language of treason. You, Sir, were obliged to rise in your place and stop the hon. Member, who said he advocated and desired civil war. We now know what the hon. Member and his friends mean by saying that they are the friends of Constitutional agitation. I have given the hon. Member greater credit for his frankness. I said his doctrines, his policy, and his principles were such as deserved the severest reprobation; but I also said that, at all events, he had the manliness to avow them, and did not pretend to the hypocrisy of those who, while advocating such schemes, pretend that they are acting in a Constitutional manner. All I can say is, that the matter has passed beyond the region of debate, when we have a man in the position of the Member for Tipperary getting up and speaking as he has done. He said I was cowardly in my attack on John Devoy in the absence of the man. Did Devoy think of the absence of 4,000,000 of people, when he said he meant to set Lon- don on fire? Was that not a cowardly action on the part of a man who was, in a manner, one of the officers of the Land League in America? I felt it my duty—and I hope the House still think that I did my duty—in telling them what I knew—that the Land League is an association which depends upon the support of the Fenian conspiracy. The hon. Member has avowed it to-day. Who are the men they know? Who support the Land League in Dublin? Is it supported by Irish subscriptions? Why, the Irish subscriptions are coppers; but the gold and silver come from Fenianism in America. That is where it comes from, and the hon. Member knows it as well as I do. Who are the men they take for their agents to send this money to Paris and thence to Dublin? Men like Devoy, a convicted Fenian. When they set to work to organize this Land League, who were the chief agents by whom it was started and conducted? Why, they were notorious Fenians, many of whom had been convicted, while others were perfectly well known to be connected with the Fenian conspiracy. I am not accusing all the people who are members of the Land League. The hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) appealed to me the other night; but who would suppose that he had sympathized with views of this kind? I do hope and believe that most of those hon. Members who sit upon that Bench will view the sentiments of the hon. Member for Tipperary with the same abhorrence as I do, and that they will to-night get up and disavow the language we have heard. If they do not, then the Land League is condemned by the language of the hon. Member for Tipperary, which must be reprobated by every honest and Christian man. For what is the use of going to Blue Books and asking what is the meaning of these armed attacks on men, women, and children? Why, was I right or was I wrong the other night when I said that it was the language of the hon. Member for Tipperary, and men like him, which instigated to such crimes? [Mr. DILLON: You are wrong.] I say that the case is concluded. There is nothing more to be said upon the subject. [A laugh from, Mr. HEALY.] Ah! I see one Member, at least, who sympathizes with those sentiments. I am not surprised. I should, perhaps, have made him an exception when I expressed a belief that all the persons who sat near the Member for Tipperary would disavow his language. It was said that I did not prove my case the other day. If I did not prove it then, I summoned the witness, and I meant to summon him, who should prove that case before the House of Commons. If I had had a case to prove at the Bar, I would have called the hon. Member for Tipperary to prove the true spirit, the true character, and the true nature of the Land League. There may be men who think it more prudent to use more covert language; but the language which we have heard from the hon. Member for Tipperary to-night, depend upon it, is the true spirit that animates the Land League. [Mr. BIGGAR: Hear, hear!] It is therefore that Her Majesty's Government, with the assent of an overwhelming majority of the Representatives of the people, are about, by this Bill, to take the murderous weapons out of the hands of men who represent such opinions and avow such sentiments as we have heard from the hon. Member for Tipperary to-night.
I only wish to say one word of personal explanation. I am perfectly prepared to stand by every word I uttered; but the right hon. Gentleman grossly misrepresents what I said. ["No!"] Yes, he did, indeed. ["No!" and cries of "Order!"] May I not say a word? He represented me as having said something which amounted to approval and admiration of assassination. I did not, indeed; and I distinctly said in the beginning that no amount of injury or wrong would induce me to tolerate such a crime for one single second.
said, that no man could have more regard for anyone than he entertained for the hon. Member for Tipperary. He knew him to be an honourable man. He was not connected with the Land League; but he believed it had done much good in Ireland. He felt bound now to say that he entirely dissociated himself from a considerable portion of those who belonged to the Land League and its proceedings. [cheers.] Those cheers gave him great pain. He could not justify the language which had been used, except on the ground of excitement, by the hon. Member. He did not believe it was the language of the Land League, and he was confident that much of it would not be endorsed by that Body. But whether that was so or no the could not connect himself with them. He was sure the hon. Member spoke what was true when he said that the results of the Government legislation would be disastrous, and would bring about that bloodshed and assassination which, notwithstanding the Blue Books, had never been caused by the Land League. Anybody who knew the hon. Member knew the loving heart he had and his great spirit; and he (Mr. Gray) believed that it was because the hon. Member foresaw from his knowledge of the country—his intimate knowledge of the country—more clearly than anyone else that the legislation that was about to be consummated, and the discussion of which the Home Secretary said had reached a sufficient point, would result in such a way that the hon. Member made the speech he did. The House would understand the speech better when they saw the results of their legislation, and that the hon. Member had been led into it.
fully shared the personal respect and regard for the hon. Member for Tipperary which had been expressed by the hon. Member for Carlow. He had not been present when the speech was made, but came in while the Home Secretary was speaking; and he took it that the character of the language used was accurately expressed by the right hon. Gentleman. Had he been in the House he would have heard it with deep pain, and immediately resolved to dissociate himself from language of such a character. Although he occupied a seat amongst the Irish Party, he would not hold it for an hour if, by doing so, he was supposed to identify himself with anything un-Constitutional, still less avowedly Fenian; for he claimed to be as loyal a subject of the Queen as any Gentleman in that House. He had no sympathy with illegal action; but it was clue to his hon. Friend to say that he associated himself with him most heartily to any amount of self-sacrifice that might be necessary in the effort to reform Irish grievances by Constitutional action. He had the highest opinion of the hon. Member; but he at once disavowed all sympathy with the violent opinions he had now expressed.
said, that the hon. Member for Tipperary was responsible for his own words, and he was well able to defend himself in that House and elsewhere. Anything he uttered did not implicate his Colleagues; and, for his own part, he felt no obligation resting upon himself to disavow the language he had heard. It was time, indeed, that they should take a lesson from the enemy, and give no one any handle by the use of expressions which were liable to be tortured by the ingenuity of right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench. For his own part he was not inclined to do so; but what must be the state of things in Ireland and the condition of the landlords when a Member like his hon. Friend (Mr. Dillon), who was as good and honest a man as the Chief Secretary, felt it incumbent on him to say so? Desperate was the condition of the country, and to such a pass had the people been brought, that if he found an armed party came to turn him and his family out on the roadside he would shoot as many as he could. ["Oh!"] The hon. Member was responsible for his words, and the right hon. Gentleman would be happy if any other Member accepted his words; but he thought they were a little too wide to give the right hon. Gentleman a chance. For himself, when he had anything to say to the Irish farmers, he would say it to their face; and if the Irish people were to be driven to a pass when he considered certain advice necessary, he would not shrink from giving advice, no matter how bad that advice might seem in the minds of some English Members. The hon. Member for Tipperary only put into plain words what was the saying of one of the best English, or rather Irish Generals, the Duke of Wellington, who said—"If you wish for peace you must be prepared for war." His hon. Friend said that if each man had a rifle, and knew how to use it, there would be less unfair evictions. Not being prepared to engage in any war with this country, because the people would simply be mowed down, he (Mr. Healy) did not feel at liberty to give any such advice; but there was sound truth at the bottom of the saying, for if the Irish farmers had guns, and knew how to use them—just as the Boers did—the Member for Tipperary would be found to be very near the truth. The Home Secretary had stated that the doctrine of the Land League was a doctrine of assassination and treason. That statement was a deliberate untruth.[ Cries of "Oh, oh!" and "Withdraw!"]
I cannot allow that expression to pass. It is un-Parliamentary, and the hon. Member must withdraw it.
would withdraw the expression, and say that the Home Secretary, in so describing the Land League, had stated what was distinctly untrue. [Cries of "Withdraw!" and "Name!"]
That is merely a repetition of the expression. I must call upon the hon. Member distinctly to withdraw it.
said, he was only following the example set by the Chief Secretary, who stated that what an hon. Member had said was untrue.
If the hon. Member contests the authority of the Chair I shall have only one course to take.
said, he did not desire to dispute the ruling of the Chair; but the expression was not necessary to his argument, and he would pass from it. ["Withdraw!"] He supposed hon. Members wished the operation repeated half-a-dozen times. So far from its being true that assassination was the doctrine of the Land League, the Land League had distinctly lessened the number of assassinations. Before the Land League they were 132; but in 1880 they were reduced to eight. It was true that there was one assassination which had excited a good deal of comment. But if anyone deserved his fate, it was the person in question; for his cruelty, his evictions, his persistent rent-raising, his exactions as a Grand Juror, his cruelty as a magistrate, marked him out, if such a thing was justifiable, for the bullet of the assassin. ["Oh"] If the right hon. Gentleman searched the speeches at Land League meetings from first to last he would find a distinct deprecation in every sense, not merely of assassination, but of outrage in all its forms, though the landlords' journals, through which information filtered into English newspapers, ignored such things. The right hon. Gentleman had accused his hon. Friend of having made his statement under the Privileges of the House. But it might have en- tered the narrow soul of the right hon. Gentleman, if he felt himself obliged to escape from the penal consequences of his acts, to come into the House to make attacks upon absent men, and charge them with committing the breaches of truth that he had committed himself. [Cries of "Withdraw!" and "Name!"]
I must call upon the hon. Member to withdraw that expression at once. It is the second time that the hon. Member has offended against the Rules of the House, and I must call upon him now to withdraw the expression without equivocation.
said, he did so frankly, and without any reserve whatsoever, because the expression only slipped from him. ["Oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite might think it very good play to engage in baiting Members engaged in a struggle of that kind; but they could afford to despise such conduct, as they had behind them the opinion of their own nation. The hon. Member for Tipperary came into the House for the purpose of repelling the charges brought against him by the right hon. Gentleman. They would soon go over to Ireland; and he would venture to say the right hon. Gentleman's opinions as to their cowardice would not be sustained. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Land League as a "vile conspiracy." He must allow the right hon. Gentleman to choose his epithets; but the Government and the entire might of the British Crown, though attempting to pack a jury, had failed to prove a conspiracy. There was no one who knew anything about the movement that did not know it was a Constitutional and noble movement, and that it had at its head a body of men the most scrupulous in any country—the Catholic priesthood. These were the men whom the right hon. Gentleman charged, by implication, with being abettors of assassination. The right. hon. Gentleman had referred to officers of the Land League in America. No doubt, many of them had expressed themselves without restraint as to the means of getting rid of the cruel laws from which the country suffered; but it was not because the Land League accepted aid from those men that it must be held responsible for what they said. The members of the Land League were not bound by, or responsible for, the politics or the religion of the people who chose to send help to the Irish nation. Whatever men in America might say, they were not responsible to the Land League; those in America carried on their own organization in their own way. The Irish Members were not responsible for the opinions of those in America any more than for the cut of their coats. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, with his usual disingenuousness—["Order, order!"]—
I think the House will feel that, after the frequent admonitions I have addressed to the hon. Member, I shall only be doing my duty to the House by Naming the hon. Member. I therefore Name you, Mr. Healy, as continually disregarding the authority of the Chair.
On the declaration you, Sir, have made, I propose that the hon. Member for Wexford be suspended from the service of the House during the remainder of this day's Sitting.
The Member for Wexford County.
Motion made, and Question put, "That Mr. Healy be suspended from the service of the House during the remainder of this day's sitting."—( Mr. Gladstone.)
The House divided:—Ayes 233; Noes 15: Majority 218.—(Div. List, No. 106.)
If Mr. Healy is in the House, I must call upon him to withdraw.
rose and left the House.
Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
said, he hoped that, in spite of what had taken place, the House would hear him with patient attention. He congratulated the Home Secretary on his invitation to the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) to attend in his place having been accepted, and on his rhetorical triumph, which might be a satisfaction to the right Eon. Gentleman, but was no proof of the gravity befitting a statesman. For his own part, he was going neither to explain nor to extenuate the language which had been used by his hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary. At the same time, he must say that his hon. Friend had given advice to which he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) could not give his adhesion, and which he thought would rather prejudice than serve the cause which he had so much at heart. On the other hand, he was glad that his hon. Friend had used words which expressed not only his individual opinion, but the burning thoughts of many Irishmen, both in Ireland and in America. It was well that the country should stand face to face with the hot, mad passions which the Government, by its conduct, was provoking. There was no use in coming to that House and telling hon. Members that the patient was merely suffering from cold when fever was in all his veins. The coercive legislation of the present Session was stirring up every bitter memory of the past; and statesmen who were not simply rhetoricians, and whose aim was not, by resorting to paltry witticisms, to win a momentary cheer, were not sorry when the true state of a country was laid before them, in order that, knowing the disease, they might try to apply the remedy. If his hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary had used hot language, it was only because he was giving voice to that universal sentiment in Ireland which the insulting sneers and safe braggadocio of the Secretary of State for the Home Department was so active an agent in promoting. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman that, in discharging in that House what ought to be the solemn and painful duty of proposing coercive legislation, a spirit of conciliation would have become him, and that taunts and sneers should be avoided, even though by refraining from their use he might receive one cheer the less. The restless vanity of the right hon. Gentleman might, he thought, on an occasion like the present, be satisfied in the absence of such incense. If his hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary had been betrayed into a display of feeling to which the right hon. Gentleman objected, he himself was the culprit who had provoked it by his insults. His hon. Friend had spoken of the dreadful possibility of civil war in Ireland, and had stated that if he was a farmer he would shoot as many of those persons who came to enforce an eviction upon his farm as possible. And did his hon. Friend stand alone? They had the words of the Prime Minister to show that the murderous outrage at Clerkenwell had matured public opinion in England. [Mr. GLADSTONE: No, no.] The right hon. Gentleman had given several explanations on that point; but the fact remained that that outrage matured the opinions of English politicians as to the necessity of practical politics for Ireland. It was well that heated and passionate language like that used by the hon. Member for Tipperary should occasionally be heard in that House as a warning against the criminal and dangerous courses in which the present Government were engaged. The object of the Land Leaguers was that the people should offer a passive but Constitutional resistance to those who rack-rented their farms, and to pay only as much rent as they were able to do. As for the Bill, the best they could hope for it was that it would prove merely ineffectual. He would do all he could to discourage crime; but he very much feared, remembering the previous experience of the country, that crime under that Bill would increase.
said, that some of those who sat below the Gangway on the Ministerial side had that night learnt a lesson which they would not readily forget. They had not been willing to include the whole body of Irish Members in one condemnation. They had discriminated between man and man—between, for instance, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon), whose courage and candour they had respected, and some of his Coadjutors, who had neither the courage of their convictions, nor the silence of their shame. But the language that night of the hon. Member for Tipperary, although it might, perhaps, be the outcome of excitement, had been vividly impressed on the minds of all who heard it. It was true that his language had been disclaimed by those who sat near the hon. Member; but the hon. Member had expressed by his words, plainly and unmistakably, the terrible sentiments which the House had been told from the Treasury Bench actuated a great part of those who were said to be fighting for the liberties of Ireland. One hon. Member, in disclaiming the policy of murder and civil war, had expressly done so on the ground that he and his Colleagues were "too wide awake" to adopt it. The denial was not made on the ground of moral reprobation. Liberals below the Gangway had followed with considerable reluctance the paths of coercion and repression; but they accepted the Bill as a disagreeable necessity on the part of the Government, for they had learnt that night to believe that those charged with the burden of government had better opportunities than themselves of realizing the actual situation. If that were the same kind of language as used by the hon. Member in addressing public meetings in Ireland, he would ask the House to picture to itself what might be the effect of such words on crowded assemblies of uneducated men, suffering, as it must be admitted they were, from extreme pressure of wrong and injustice. The possible effect of such words was the measure of the responsibility which rested on the Government to deal firmly, nay, peremptorily, with such an evil, terrible as it was in its dimensions, and one requiring to be sternly repressed. There was one thing—perhaps only one—that was more sacred than liberty, and that was human life.
said, that, in desiring to give adequate expression to his feelings as to the unfounded accusations levelled by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department against the Land League, he was hampered by the limits of Parliamentary language, which prevented him from characterizing as untruths statements which he knew to be grossly inaccurate. He was a member of the Land League; but he denied that that association was a "conspiracy for assassination, and treason." The principles of the Land League were well known, and by no one better than the right hon. Gentleman. The Land League advised rack-rented tenants to combine and offer their landlords a fair rent; and, when that rent was not accepted, then to abide eviction if necessary. It endeavoured to create a public opinion strong enough to induce tenants to leave idle on the hands of the landlord farms from which tenants had been unjustly evicted. That, and that only, was the teaching of the Land League, which ever denounced outrage, and ever advocated passive resistance. The hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) had not, as the right hon. Gentleman cleverly asserted, spoken authoritatively on behalf of the Land League. The hon. Member spoke in that House for himself, upon his own responsibility. He was perfectly ready to accept the responsibility of his words. He did not compromise the Land League or any of its members, whose policy in the present crisis was one of passive resistance. When the Speaker thought it his duty to interfere, he understood the hon. Member to be expressing his sorrow that the Irish people had not to-day the means of successful rebellion or of civil war against England. So far as that, he (Mr. Redmond) agreed entirely with the hon. Member; because he was firmly of opinion that if the only thing wanting—the possibility of a successful rising against this country existed, it would be an ample justification for the Irish people at the present moment. [Mr. PARNELL: Hear, hear!] Having said so much with regard to the speech of the hon. Member, he desired, notwithstanding what was said by the Home Secretary, to recall the attention of the House to what was the real question under discussion. It was not a speech of the hon. Member for Tipperary, nor an interpretation which hon. Members might please to put on that speech; but it was a Bill authorizing persons to search for arms, and arrest men who might be found in possession of them. He believed some time ago that a policy of repression was about to give way to one of reform; but he was disappointed. Exasperated as, no doubt, the Irish people were with the precedence which had been given to coercive legislation, he knew that all the country to-day were looking forward with feelings of intense anxiety to the promised Land Bill of the Government to save them from the tyranny which, under the admittedly unjust state of the law, at present rendered the life of the tenant-at-will to-day one of continual uncertainty, of hopeless poverty, and helpless misery. But once again their, perhaps, foolish faith in the justice and wisdom of that House had received a severe shock. Reform had been postponed indefinitely, and the policy of force and coercion was to have another innings. They were now discussing the latest development of English Liberalism, and it seemed inevitable that before many days were over this Arms Bill would form part of the laws of the land. He believed the measure would ever remain a fruitful source of injury and wrong, and he had to protest against it as impolitic, unnecessary, and unjust. There never was, he believed, a Government since the so-called Union which had so great opportunities of winning the hearts of the Irish people, and of diminishing natural animosities, and of removing the great and admitted grievances of the country as the present Government. Such a policy was worthy of the great men at the head of that Administration, men to whom the Irish masses turned with confidence and hope, all the more confident and the more hopeful because of the six years of Conservative inaction which they had just passed. The Irish people had fought the electoral battle all over the Kingdom for their Liberal friends, and had listened with delight to the promises of the Candidate for Mid Lothian. They had materially assisted in transforming those Liberal friends and that philanthropic Candidate from a disorganized Party and a discredited Chief into the Rulers of the destinies of Ireland. The whole people cried aloud for the fulfilment of those promises, and what had been the reply? When the history of the day was written it would be a sorry record of what Liberalism was; and he regretted to think that these coercive measures would be the one sole blot on the reputation and character of a man whose name would otherwise be given down to posterity as a friend of the people—he meant the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright). The measure was impolitic, because it destroyed whatever chance remained to the Government to consolidate the Irish people by means of remedial legislation, and its very existence proved very clearly what the value of the Government Land Bill would be. If that Land Bill was, indeed, to be of a comprehensive and satisfactory nature, the necessity for repression, if ever it existed, would be at once removed. It was a common assertion amongst a certain class of politicians that agitation in Ireland was ever the result of cunning and self-seeking agitators; but he gave credit to Her Majesty's present Advisers for a keener insight into cause and effect. They knew very well that no agitators could create a movement such as the land movement unless there were real and terrible grievances crying for redress. It was not the Land League that had created the agitation; but the wrongs and miseries of the Irish people had created the Land League. The only politic and sure way to pacify Ireland and make the law respected was to go to the root of the evil, and to rob the law of its injustice and inhumanity. The only effect of this Bill would be to render the agitation in Ireland more formidable, and to increase—if, indeed, it was possible to increase it—the intense hatred which was entertained by four-fifths of the Irish people against the rule of their country by this Parliament. The Government had indefinitely postponed reform; and, in the meantime, what were the people to do? By those coercive measures they had armed the enemies of the people with every hateful weapon known to the history of despotism. Emboldened by the weapons they had placed in his hands, the rack-renter and the exterminator would once more set about their unholy work. The sentences of death would again be showered down upon the people. But did they think the people would tamely submit to a law which they themselves had declared to be unjust and inhuman? What did the history of the whole world prove but that, when open agitation was stifled, the passion of an oppressed people found vent in secret organizations and secret plots. To stop outrages, forsooth! He would tell them what those Bills would do—they would create outrages; and if, as he prayed might not be the case, the history of these measures should be marked with blood—not the Irish Members, whom they suppressed upon the floor of that House, but the Government who, in order to carry their hateful proposals, sacrificed even liberty of speech in that House, would be the guilty ones. That measure was not alone impolitic—it was unnecessary. The measure which had already become law was sufficient to meet every possible contingency. Do not tell him that by an Arms Bill they would take the weapon from the hands of the assassin. He cared not if every house in the land were stripped of arms, the murderer would still find his instruments of murder. To prove the efficacy of Bills of that kind, the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland told the House how outrages increased year by year up to 1870, when such another Bill came into operation, and then they suddenly and rapidly dimi nished. When the hon. and learned Gentleman used that argument he (Mr. Redmond) knew he was speaking dishonestly, for the hon. and learned Gentleman knew that in 1870 the Land Act was passed, and that to it, and not to any wretched repressive legislation, was due the change. Now, as then, they said, remedy the grievance and the evils would cease. He listened to the speech of the Solicitor General for Ireland with feelings of the keenest humiliation and pain. He (Mr. Redmond) was pretty well accustomed, even from his short experience in that House, to hear English Members misrepresent the Leaders of the Irish people, and calumniate the Irish nation. But, it was with far different feelings he heard an Irishman, the Member for an Irish constituency, rise up and, encouraged by the cheers of ignorant and prejudiced men behind him, level calumnies against his own people and his own nation, in a speech which from an Englishman would have been unworthy, but from an Irishman was absolutely discreditable. If that Bill was impolitic and unnecessary, it must also be unjust; but of its injustice he did not care to say much, for the government of Ireland from that House ever had been, and ever would be, based upon injustice. But he would like to say of one thing that House might be assured. The Irish people would not be intimidated by those measures. They had passed through too many persecutions to learn what fear was now. They felt they were battling for the dearest cause that ever urged the heart of man—the right to live and prosper on the land of their birth. In battling for that cause they were ready that day to suffer as their fathers suffered before them, and their Representatives in that House would be found by their side in the hour of peril, ready to sustain them in their struggles, and share with them in their sufferings. He had done. He cordially detested that measure. Upon every opportunity which was open to him he should oppose it step by stop; and when at the close the Speaker should have, in the exercise of his new-born functions, stifled discussion upon every stage of the Bill, then he and the other Irish Members would, at any rate, be able to say they had done their duty to those who sent them there to protect the liberties of the people, and would be able to say with pride, that owing to their efforts that House of Commons was obliged, in order to coerce Ireland, first to suppress, coerce, and to degrade itself.
opposed the Bill, and condemned the language used by Ministers in the course of the debate. The Bill did not even exclude the female population from being arrested. The Bill was unnecessarily severe and cruel. It empowered the arrest of any person having arms or ammunition by any constable or peace officer, without warrant; this—without punning, for the subject was too serious—he regarded as a most unwarrantable interference with ordinary freedom. Clause 4 introduced a new personage upon the scene. Any warrant or order of the Lord Lieutenant could be signified under either his own hand or that of the Chief Secretary, or of the Under Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, and this would give the last-named official an amount of authority which was quite disproportionate to his proper function. The 4th sub-section of Clause 4 contained the provisions for proclamation, and he thought that these were altogether inadequate.
rose to Order. He wanted to know whether the hon. Member was in Order in discussing the details of the Bill, clause by clause, as if the House were in Committee?
said, that the hon. Member was not at liberty at that stage to discuss the Bill clause by clause.
said, he bowed to the ruling of the Chair. He was only giving his reasons for opposing the Bill, which was unnecessary and uncalled for. There was no evidence to show that the people had arms. The language of Judge Fitzgerald on the subject was very unguarded. That learned Judge had no means of knowing that every farmer's son and every farmer's servant had a gun or a pistol. He would oppose the Bill at every stage. Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
, referring to the statement that Aims Acts had been necessary in Ireland since 1847, said, they had been necessary since the Union, and would be as long as that House governed Ireland. The Home Secretary said that in the Bill the Government had adopted the mitigated Code of the Act of 1875; but he forgot that the present Bill did not contain two important provisions of the Act of 1875. The latter Act gave a power of appeal which was not given by this Bill, nor did it contain a provision enabling a person accused and acquitted to obtain a certificate, freeing him from further proceedings. Moreover, under the Act of 1875, the magistrates had power to dismiss a case which they did not consider sufficiently serious to require the infliction of a penalty. No such provision was contained in this Bill. It was, he thought, a most serious objection to the Bill that it did not give a person who might be convicted at Petty Sessions by a resident magistrate, surrounded by landlord magistrates, the right to appeal to Quarter Sessions. That was a serious restriction upon the rights of the people, whom it placed in a far more unfavourable position than that in which they had been placed by the Act of 1875. He submitted it was unfair to legislate by giving undefined powers to the Lord Lieutenant. It was unfair that power should be given to disarm the people, and allow the landlord class to go armed. He was also strongly opposed to that provision of the Bill which would give to any Justice of the Peace the power to search any person whom he might reasonably suspect of carrying arms. In conclusion, he would observe that so long as measures of coercion for Ireland were before the House, it would be the duty of Irish Members to resist their passing, however anxious they might be to see a Land Bill introduced.
said, the Bill was not levelled against presumably guilty persons, but against the whole people—the most honest, the most upright, the most just. The power of searching the person ought not to be given to a policeman. As the Bill stood it was a provocative to breaches of the peace and outrages. The right of search should be exercised only under a certain degree of responsibility; and he hoped a provision would be introduced into the Bill providing for compensation in the case of a man whose home had been searched, and perhaps his furniture, without any reasonable ground of suspicion. If the Bill was directed against the criminal classes, why was the night time carefully excluded from its operation? This ex- clusion was an admission by the Government that the Bill was not necessary. There had been no proof submitted showing that there were such wholesale outrages with firearms as would justify a Bill of this kind. The increase of political badinage, such as that which had passed between the Home Secretary and John Devoy, could not be reasonably adduced as a reason for this Bill. The Home Secretary had dexterously made use of the language which had fallen from the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon); but he had submitted no reason for the Bill. The hon. Member for Tipperary had been betrayed into uttering expressions by the most unfair treatment he had received. He had, no doubt, used language which must be regretted in reference to evictions in Ireland. He (Mr. O'Donnell) could not justify those expressions; but how would those things which took place in Ireland be looked at if they had happened in a foreign country—in Bulgaria, Thessaly, or Epirus? The hon. Member for Tipperary wished to convey to the House the true state of affairs in Ireland, And to show how terrible they were, when Irish farmers were often placed in a position of great peril to themselves and families when evicted and thrown out to starve and die upon the roadside. The rash statement of the hon. Member was not, however, an argument in favour of this Bill, but for the passing of remedial measures. The whole policy of the Home Secretary was one of hitting them when they were down. Instead of proofs the right hon. Gentleman treated them with sarcasm, with quotations, with jokes more or less heavy, and seemed to calculate upon finding some one among the Irish Party more excitable than his Colleagues, who, irritated by the insulting tones and language, would give utterance to words too candid and too violent upon which he could seize. Thereupon he executed one of his characteristic war-dances on the floor of the House, and declared that he had proved that the Land League was a combination of assassins. The right hon. Gentleman had carried the game of irritation and provocation a little too far. One year's duration of this Bill would create a feeling of irritation which for years to come would tell against the Liberal Party.
MR. CHILDERS moved the adjournment of the debate, remarking that it was understood on Tuesday that this Motion would be made soon after 9 o'clock.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—( Mr. Secretary Childers.)
wished, before the Motion was put, to make a few observations upon the present position of affairs. ["Oh, oh!" and "Divide!"] He was surprised at these interruptions. He had sat some years in the House, and it had not been his habit to unduly trespass upon the time of the House; and he hoped he should not be interrupted in the few observations which he thought it right to make on this Motion. The present position of affairs was most peculiar; and, had it not been for the ruling of Mr. Speaker, he should have said most irregular. The Resolution of the 25th of January, which ordered that preference should be given to two particular measures, still remained unrescinded. Nevertheless, they were in this position. Government Business was taken on Monday last, and was to be taken again to-night, other than that which the House had ordered to have precedence. If this course were continued, independent Members would have to surrender their nights and days for an indefinite period, in order that the Government might get on with Supply. That was not an object for which, generally speaking, he should feel called upon to make any sacrifice, unless the Government were, in their turn, prepared to make some sacrifice in behalf of English Members and English Business in which they were interested. He himself had obtained, by persistent balloting, a place for a matter which he regarded as of urgent and immediate importance; and that was with respect to the foot-and-mouth disease. If the Government would guarantee to give him a place for his Motion before Easter he would consent to the adjournment. Not only that; but he had also a Motion on the question of compensation to tenants for improvements, and this, too, he took leave to consider as "urgent" Business. He thought independent Members ought to raise their voices against the course which was being taken by the Government, unless the Government made some compensation to them for the days of which they would be deprived. The noble Lord had told them that the course taken by the Government was owing to the excessive delay in discussing the Protection to Person and Property (Ireland) Bill. He differed entirely from the noble Lord. He said the Government, and the Government alone, were entirely responsible for it. The unfortunate position in which they were placed arose from two facts—first, from the gross mismanagement of Irish Business by the Government; and, secondly, from the violation by the Government of the solemn pledges they gave to call Parliament together in the autumn. ["Question!"]
I must remind the hon. Member that the Question is the adjournment of the debate. He is not speaking to that Question.
was perfectly aware that the Question before the House was that of adjournment; but he referred to the pledge given by the Government in order to illustrate his argument—to show that the necessity for this adjournment was solely caused by the conduct of Her Majesty's Government. The noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) complained of delay; but surely he must have foreseen this delay when the Cabinet decided not to call Parliament together in the autumn. ["Order!"]
I rise to Order, and wish to ask whether the hon. Member is acting in accordance with your ruling?
I have already stated that I consider the hon. Member is passing beyond the immediate Question before the House, which is the adjournment of the debate.
As I consider that to bow to your ruling, whatever that ruling may be, is the first duty of every Member of this House, I will not continue my remarks.
Even if I thought I should be in Order, I certainly should not have attempted, upon this occasion, to follow the hon. Member into the remarks which he seems to have found this the most convenient opportunity in the course of these two months to make upon the conduct of the Government in regard to Irish affairs. The course of the de-bates surely might have afforded a more appropriate opportunity. But I am willing to admit that the position in which we find ourselves is, to a certain extent, an anomalous one. I explained on Monday how we stood, and the circumstances in which we had to ask the House to accede to the arrangements we proposed; and I stated that we were bound by, and were still under, the operation of the Resolution of January 25, by which it was determined to proceed with the Peace Preservation Bill from day to day, and it was our intention, as far as the exigencies of the public service would permit us, to proceed with the Bill; but I stated, at the same time, what was the condition of affairs as to Supply, and that it would be absolutely necessary to interpose, from time to time, with the Business of Supply before the consideration of the Peace Preservation Bill. That is simply the state of the case. I pointed out that it was absolutely necessary that a certain class of Supply should be disposed of within a very short time; and it cannot, therefore, be said that we are moving this Motion in order to go on with any other Business. If the House decline to accede to the arrangement which we proposed, it will be necessary for the Government to take some other course; but I understand it was the sense of the House generally—and, at all events, that it was the sense of the Party opposite, if I may understand it is represented by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Stafford Northcote)—that the proposal was acquiesced in, and that, for the purpose of proceeding with certain classes of Supply, the Opposition, at all events, were quite willing that the debate on the Peace Preservation Bill should, from time to time, be interrupted.
The noble Lord has made a personal appeal to myself, and I must say that, to a great extent, I admit what he has said. There is no doubt that in the discussion the other day the Government proposed to ask for urgency for the Arms Bill, with the understanding that the discussion on that Bill should be suspended at a particular time, in order that an important statement of great interest might be made. I expressed my assent to that arrangement; but, at the same time, it should be borne in mind that on that occasion there was no opportunity for discussion. We were unable to do more than ask for explanations; and it is, consequently, not unnatural that my hon. Friend should take the present opportunity of making observations on the course of Public Business, considering that it is not easy to find such opportunities. I hope it will be understood, at all events, that if we consent, as I hope we do consent, to the course proposed by the Government on the present occasion, we do so on the strict understanding that it is for the convenience of the House, and because we are anxious to hear the statement of the Secretary of State for War, and that the House is in no way bound to accept a similar course without full understanding and argument on its own part. It certainly strikes me that my hon. Friend has a very strong case. We have sacrificed the rights of private Members to a great extent in order to give way to the Government for a particular object, which, I think, they have not taken the best means to promote. I am not referring to the necessity of calling Parliament together last autumn; but with respect to this particular Bill within this particular Session, I do think that if the Business is to be urgent it should be urgent throughout, and that the wasting of Monday night and the interruption of the debate this evening have not advanced the Business of the House. For my part, I think we should go on with a determination like that of a man who means to clear a fence, and intends to get over it. However, we are bound by the understanding we came to, and, not so much for the convenience of the House as for the sake of the House and the country generally, to hear the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. It is clearly understood that it is only for that purpose that we propose to adjourn this debate.
complained that there were very few opportunities for discussing the state of Public Business. The noble Marquess had spoken of the urgency of the Estimates; but, after all, were the Estimates so extremely pressing? This was the 3rd of March, and on only one occasion during the last 10 years had the first Vote for the Army been taken earlier in the Session; the same might be said of the Navy. The Supplementary Estimates, also, had only on three occasions during the last 10 years been taken earlier than the 3rd of March. The point, however, was not a Party question, but rather concerned the rights of private Members, many of whom on both sides of the House felt very keenly the invasion of their privileges by the Government. ["Divide!"] He was sorry hon. Members opposite should be so impatient while their rights were being defended. He would take another opportunity, if one presented itself, of bringing the matter before the House.
wished to enter his protest against the action of the Government in moving the adjournment of this debate at the early hour of 9 o'clock. He could not understand the policy of taking this course. They were told that the Arms Bill was a very urgent matter; but the urgency was only in the view of the Prime Minister, and was of such a character that it could cease at 9 o'clock, or any hour the right hon. Gentleman desired. If a question was urgent yesterday it ought to be urgent to-day. There had been no reason assigned why the discussion on this Bill should cease at this hour, and why the House should proceed to the consideration of a fresh subject. A Resolution was passed on the 25th of January, declaring that the introduction and several stages of the Protection of Person and Property (Ireland) Bill and the Peace Preservation (Ireland) Bill should have precedence of all other Business until the House should otherwise order. And now the Government were attempting to evade that Order. The Government said they were not going to take any Votes. But the right hon. Gentleman was about to adopt an unprecedented course in making a statement on Army Organization before the Speaker left the Chair, thus preventing private Members from exercising their inalienable right of discussing grievances before Supply. The whole course of the Government was nothing more nor less than a dodge to override the Rules of the House, and to do that by a side wind, indirectly so illegitimately, which they could not do in a straightforward manner. He claimed the right of the Irish Members to continue the discussion on the Peace Preservation Bill until half-past 12, and then the Government could adjourn the debate if they liked. He was not going to lend himself to this attempt of the Government to put aside the Orders and Regulations of the House, and thus deprive them of time for discussing the Bill. He would prefer to obtain such time as he could to show the false position the Government had taken up with regard to it rather than to listen to the eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman. The whole conduct of Business for the last fortnight was most extraordinary. A few days ago rumours were circulated in the Press that the Arms Bill was to be abandoned.
The hon. Member is not keeping to the Question before the House, which is simply that of the adjournment of the debate.
said, that he was only referring to the introduction of the Arms Bill instead of the Laud Bill. He believed that the great body of Members had been misled by the introduction of the Arms Bill; in fact, the policy of the Government had been shifted about in the most extraordinary manner, and they did not seem to have made up their minds for 24 hours together. Let them go on with the debate, and give Irish Members an opportunity of convincing the House by fair argument that they were right. He was sure the eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman would keep.
asked whether he was to understand that while the Government asked, for their own particular purposes, to have an interruption of the debate to-night, they meant to give the Irish Party any compensation for the time so taken? On the showing of the Government, there was no extreme urgency with the statement of the Secretary of State for War. He did not see why the right hon. Gentleman should not send his speech to the newspapers. The Home Secretary always did so. The Government had entered on the Land Bill in a dilatory manner, showing there was no Cabinet agreement with regard to the measure. They seemed to be engaged in burlesquing their own policy.
, who doubted whether it would be necessary to adjourn the debate, in order that the right hon. Gentleman might deliver a combustible speech, spoke amid cries of "Oh!" "Divide!" and "Question!" and said. he was really speaking to the Question, because it was one between a paper war in that House and real war in Ireland.
I must call upon the hon. Member to confine himself to the Question of the adjournment of this debate.
said, they were asked to adjourn the debate on the Arms Bill; and there was an intimate connection between an Arms Bill and war. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War might say, "Arma virumque cano." He sang of arms, and they against arms.
The hon. Member is not confining himself to the Question before the House. [Cries of "Twice!"]
said, no doubt some hon. Members would be glad if it were thrice; but it should not be if he could help it.
I wish again to point out to the hon. Member that he is bound to confine himself strictly to the Question of the adjournment of the debate. [Cries of "Thrice!"]
said, he had thought that on the proposed adjournment of a debate on an Arms Bill there was a fair opportunity for alluding to the status quo in Ireland; but he did not wish to make himself a hero by coining, at the goading of hon. Members opposite, into conflict with the ruling of the Chair. He was of opinion that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin), whom he gladly welcomed to their ranks, had made out a very good case against adjourning the debate.
asked whether, if the Irish Members consented to the adjournment of the debate, the Government would undertake to do nothing to curtail the debate on the Arms Bill to-morrow morning?
expressed his satisfaction that Members on the Opposition Benches had at length had the courage to break down the outworks of Whig tyranny. He did not see why the debate should be adjourned for a matter which was neither urgent nor necessary.
said, he should vote against the adjournment. He quite agreed with the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire. He considered that two Saturdays and a Monday had been wasted by the Government that ought to have been applied to the carrying forward these measures of urgency which were important for the peace of Ireland. As had been pointed out, it was quite as early now in the Session as it had been customary to introduce the Army Estimates. Therefore, he did not see any necessity for adjourning a discussion on a Bill which had been voted to be urgent.
spoke against adjournment.
repeated the question of his hon. Friend (Mr. O'Connor), for the purpose of demonstrating that there was a little courtesy left upon the Treasury Bench.
hoped that, after the expression of opinion which had taken place, the House would assent at once to the adjournment of the debate, so that the Secretary of State for War might have the opportunity of making his promised statement. It had been said the statement of the right hon. Gentleman would not really advance the Business before the House. That was perfectly true in a certain sense; but what really advanced the Business was the Vote for the men and for the Supplies. Unquestionably, as a preliminary to both these, the statement of the right hon. Gentleman must be made; and it was for the convenience of Parliament that the statement should be made when the House was full. He believed it was understood such an arrangement should take place. He quite admitted that his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire had considerable ground for complaining that he was unable to bring forward the important question of which he had given Notice relating to the agricultural interests.
said, he did not know that he should oppose the Motion, because, as a rule, his policy was in favour of the adjournment of debates. He must, however, point out that the course pursued by the Government with regard to a Bill which they had declared to be urgent was extremely inconsistent. But it would, perhaps, after all, be a hardship on the Secretary of State for War that he should not be allowed to proceed with his statement, especially as he understood the greater part of it was in type.
The House divided:—Ayes 277; Noes 28: Majority 249.—(Div. List, No. 107.)
Debate further adjourned till To-morrow.
I beg to move an Amendment—["Order, order!"] I wish to ask you, Sir——
The Clerk, in pursuance of his duty, is proceeding to read the Orders of the Day.
Yes; but I wish to ask you whether——
Is the hon. Member rising to a point of Order?
I wish to know, Sir, whether, when you put the Question to the House that the resumption of this debate be taken to-morrow, whether that is not a matter within the cognizance of the House to decide; and whether I shall not be entitled to move an Amendment to that Question—namely, that the resumption of the debate shall be deferred until Monday. I would wish to point out to you a precedent which occurred in the course of the progress through the House of the Protection of Person and Property (Ireland) Bill, which has since become law. I think it was after the Committee stage, when the Question was put as to the committing of the Report for a certain day, that I moved an Amendment to that Question that it should be taken on a later day. You permitted me to move that Amendment; it was put from the Chair, and a division was taken; the House affirming the Previous Question, that the resumption of the debate should be taken on the following day. I wish to ask, therefore, whether in the present instance I shall not be in Order in now moving that the resumption of the debate be deferred until Monday?
No doubt the hon. Member has correctly stated what occurred on the former occasion, and no doubt that proceeding was quite correct and in Order. If the hon. Member had proposed his Amendment in time, no doubt it would have been in Order; but to-morrow has been appointed for proceeding with the Bill.
rose to speak, but was received with loud cries of "Order!"
Does the hon. Member rise to the Main Question?
I rise to another point of Order. The Question that the debate be resumed to-morrow was never put to the House; and, Sir, until it is put to the House I ask, as a point of Order, is it not competent for any Member to move an Amendment?
The Question was put to the House, and the House has decided that the resumption shall be taken to-morrow.
rose on a point of Order.
By direction the Clerk has proceeded to read the Orders of the Day. The Order of the Day for Supply has been read, and I have called upon the right hon. Gentleman to address the House.
I rise to another and a fresh point of Order not connected with the other point——
again said that the right hon. Gentleman was in possession of the House.
I rise to Order. [Cries of "Chair?!"]
In accordance with the understanding arrived at on Tuesday last, I now rise to explain what are the main recommendations as to Army Organization which Her Majesty's Government propose to follow.
rose to Order. He wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman, in making his Ministerial Statement before going into Committee of Supply, was in Order; and he also wished to point out that when the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon) wished to make a similar statement on the Educational Estimates on the 10th July, 1877, before the Speaker left the Chair, he was not allowed to do so?
also rose to a point of Order as to whether it was regular for the right hon. Gentleman to make his statement before hon. Members, who had previously given Notice, had had an opportunity of moving their Amendments against Supply? He found that there were a number of Notices on the Paper; and he submitted that if the right hon. Gentleman was entitled to make his statement on the present occasion before the Speaker left the Chair, and before any of the hon. Members who had given Notice had moved their Amendments, it practically precluded those Members from the right which had hitherto been secured to them by the Forms of the House. He submitted that he was en-titled, according to the Rules of the House, to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice—namely—
"That, in the opinion of this House, the Boers of the Transvaal, by their valiant resistance, have proved the earnestness of their desire for independence, and earned a right to its restoration."
Before the point of Order is distinctly decided by you, I wish to ask you very respectfully whether, in the course of the last Parliament, you did not declare that my right hon. Friend the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) was adopting an un-Parliamentary and irregular course in attempting to move the Navy Estimates with you in the Chair?
I conclude the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War is about to conclude with a Motion, and I shall not interpose to prevent his making any observations to the House he may think proper before so doing. At the same time, if the right hon. Gentleman were to go into great detail in regard to the Estimates which will have to be voted in Supply, I should consider it my duty to interfere.
If the right hon. Gentleman proposes to conclude with a Motion, will it not be necessary for him to confine himself to such remarks as are relevant to that Motion?
said, that no reply had yet been given to the question of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) with regard to the course which was adopted when the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool wished to move the Educational Estimates in the last Parliament before the Speaker left the Chair.
I have already stated within what limits the right hon. Gentleman would be at liberty to address the House, and, of course, the hon. Member asked me whether the right hon. Gentleman would be in Order in doing so and so. If the right hon. Gentleman is out of Order, of course I shall interfere.
Order for Committee read.
Mr. Speaker, I rise, in accordance with the understanding arrived at on Tuesday, to move that you do now leave the Chair, in order that I may have an opportunity of explaining to the House the main recommendations of the Government as to changes in Army Organization, and other matters not strictly financial, which it is my duty to place before the House of Commons. I will first ask the House to recall to their recollection our military condition in 1867, 14 years ago, when General Peel, standing at this Table, moved the Army Estimates. The organization of our Military Forces was far less efficient than it is now. The Militia were still practically separated from the Army; and, indeed, the Militia Vote had only quite recently been prepared and moved by the Secretary of State instead of by a Select Committee. Less than 2,000 Militiamen annually enlisted into the Army. The Volunteers had only about 150,000 efficients against about 200,000 now, were hardly at all connected with the Army, and were still regarded with little favour in many quarters. In the Army itself, the system which we now call that of "Long Service" had, in two respects, entirely broken down. It held out insufficient inducements to recruits; so much so, that from 28,000 a-year in 1859, the number annually recruited had fallen in 1865 to about 13,000, against above 20,000 stated by Lord William Paulet, the Adjutant General, to be required; and it had entirely failed to produce any Reserve. Almost the whole body of the older officers disapproved of the system, and looked back with regret on that which before 1847 had been known as "Life Service," and which had in that year only been abolished, against the general sense of the officers, by the personal influence of the Duke of Wellington. Indeed, it is most instructive to read, on this question, the Evidence taken by the Recruiting Commissions of 1860 and 1866. The Commission of 1860 was appointed because, to use the words of the Report—
But the remedies they proposed failed; and then the second Commission was appointed, in 1866, because the number of recruits had fallen to the extent which I have just described. Then, as before and since, the most varied opinions were given as to every detail of Army Service; but the great majority condemned the then existing length of service—10 or 12 years—as too short. The Adjutant General, in 1866, especially complained of the youth of non-commissioned officers, and urged the increase of pensions as a means of filling the Army with older men. The Commander-in-Chief was anxious for enlistment for 21 years; and did not consider any Army of Reserve necessary. Lord Grey, on the other hand, thought the Militia a gigantic mistake, and that the failure of the plan for a Reserve was due to the manner of its administration. There was a minority who advocated still shorter service; so that every view, from life enlistment to a colour service like that which prevailed in foreign armies, was represented by witnesses before the Commissions. On the question of the adequacy of recruiting for a 12 years' service, the second Commission were hopeful, if large additions were made to the pay and prospects of the soldier; but as to the formation of a Reserve they practically despaired. For a solid Reserve they said we must look to the Militia; and for two or three years after their Report, nothing in this respect was done. But, meanwhile, the country was dissatisfied. The Crimean War had indeed shown, some years before, that without a Reserve of men who had passed through the Army, our military force would soon be exhausted; but it was the two great wars in which Germany was concerned that occasioned the deepest anxiety in the public mind. In 1866 Prussia, with an army consisting of men between 20 and 23 years of age, enlisted for three years with the colours, and, supported by Reserves, had, in seven weeks, totally defeated the more veteran troops of Austria; and in 1870 the French Army, which had only recently been re-formed on the basis of containing a much larger proportion of old soldiers, received a still more crushing defeat at the hands of Germany. Is it to be wondered at that the difficulty in obtaining recruits, and the impossibility of forming a Reserve with long service, taken in connection with the evidence of what a short-service system could do on the Continent, made public opinion all but unanimous in favour of such a system being tried here? Lord Cardwell, however, did not effect this change all at once. In the Artillery and Cavalry it commenced in 1874; and as the period with the colours was fixed at eight years, it is only in the financial year 1881–2 that the Reserve will begin to be fed from these Arms. In the Infantry it began in 1870, and for some time recruits were accepted both for long service—that is to say, 12 years with the colours—and for short service—or six years with the colours and six in the Reserve. But it was soon found that both systems would not work together. Men would not enlist for long service, if they could enter the Army for the shorter period; and at present the only term of Infantry service, with unimportant exceptions, is six years. Lord Cardwell's second reform, the first in point of date, was to recall from the Colonies a large number of battalions serving there, until the number of home battalions and of those serving in India and the Colonies were just equal. He then took advantage of this equality to combine the battalions in pairs, a system which he found in existence with respect to the 25 first regiments; and for this purpose adopted a plan proposed by the Commander-in-Chief, for linking, as it was called, a pair of battalions, so that each battalion abroad should be mainly fed by drafts from the one at home; which, when low on the roster, would be little more than a recruiting machine. With the two Line regiments he linked two county Militia regiments, establishing depôt centres for the four battalions, which formed a brigade; and to this depôt he appointed a colonel and other officers, both for the recruits to the two regiments and for training the Militia. Lord Cardwell's third reform was the Abolition of Purchase. The disadvantages of that system were manifest; but it had one great merit, inasmuch as it enabled officers who did not care to make the Army their profession, or saw little chance of advancement, to retire by the sale of their commissions, and thus secured a most unequal, but still large, flow of regimental promotion. It remained, however, to be seen how this promotion could be secured in a professional service. We have now, Sir, had from eight to ten years' experience of these changes, and the time has arrived for reviewing them, and, if any defects have appeared, for applying the necessary remedies. I will endeavour to point out to the House some of their merits, in what respects they have been criticized, what blots, if any, have been hit, and how we propose to cure them. I will take, in the first place, the question of the proper length of service. Now, there can be no doubt whatever that to short service we owe the fact net only that we have obtained of late years an ample supply of recruits, but that they are almost from year to year of a better class, and of a higher average of age. Comparing 1871 and 1879, we had in the Army at the former period 190 men in every 1,000 under 20 years of age, and in the latter only 106; and the percentage of recruits under 20 years of age in 1874—which is the first year in which the information is shown in the official Returns—and 1879 was 58 and 43 respectively. But, on the other hand, there are two considerations to which I think great weight must be attached. The first is, that whereas Lord Cardwell only appears to have contemplated that three-fourths of the recruits should be enlisted for short service, and one-fourth for the whole term of 12 years, the fact that the two systems of recruiting, would not work together has led to the whole of the Line being recruited for short service, and hence arises the inability to retain any men with the colours for more than six years, except with their own consent. The second is, that the Army has to provide, not only for service in this Kingdom and its Colonies, but, so far as European troops are concerned, for India; and that a six-year term of service, especially where the Army is, to a great extent, recruited at 18 and 19 years of age, does not practically give an average of more than four years in India. There is, I admit, great difference of opinion, both medical and mili- tart, as to the proper length of a soldier's Indian service. But, after carefully considering these conflicting views, I think it may be fairly said that six years is, according to the best authorities, about the time during which a soldier who is not invalided should generally be kept in India, and this undoubtedly points to an increase in the present time of service. This question of the proper length of service was, in 1879, referred by my Predecessor to a Committee of 11 officers—Generals and Colonels—over which Lord Airey presided. I do not mean that this was the only question upon which the Committee were invited to advise the Secretary of State; but the others were subsidiary to it, except, perhaps, the best means for obtaining more efficient non-commissioned officers. Much difference of opinion was expressed by the Committee. One Member did not sign the Report, and five more signed it with qualifications. But on the question of the length of service, a decided majority were in favour of enlistment for 14½ years, of which six months were to be at the depôt, eight years with the colours, and six with the Reserve. One very distinguished Member of the Committee, Sir Lintorn Simmons, who is known as the writer of letters signed "One Who Has Served," wholly differed from his colleagues, and advocated enlistment for three years only with the colours, any extension of that period for foreign service being voluntarily made by the soldier. We do not think that it would be possible to rely for the defence of our possessions abroad, requiring about 90,000 men in India and the Colonies under arms on such a system of volunteering; and, after well weighing its merits, I am unable to adopt Sir Lintorn Simmons' plan. But, with some modification, the plan of the Committee is, in my opinion, more feasible; and I will now state in what respects I think it faulty. It assumes that men could be enlisted for 14½years without infallibly raising a claim for pension. Now, I do not believe this. Under the system in force in 1867, it was found very difficult to obtain 13,000 men for time Army with the obligation to only 10 years' service. I doubt, therefore, whether, without the promise of pensions, or without large bounties, 25,000 men could be got annually for a service of 14½ years. But with pensions, the expense would be such as no House of Commons could be expected to pay. Reference to the 73rd Appendix to the Report of the Committee, which will be in the hands of hon. Members to-morrow, will show that without pensions the proposals of the Committee would add to the normal expense of the Army about £700,000 a-year; with pensions, this increase would reach at least £1,500,000. The Report of Lord Airey's Committee also contains a proposal for abolishing the system of linked regiments, and for obtaining recruits for each battalion separately, whether at home or abroad, from large training depôts. I must refer to this part of their Report with some qualification; because, however eminent may have been the gentlemen who constituted the Committee, their opinion on this question was not sought in the official reference to them. On the contrary, they were told—Even when, after the Mutiny, the bounty was increased, and the standard lowered to such an extent as to bring boys instead of men into the ranks, the required establishment was not complete."
was expressly stated to be one of those general principles. I find, however, that at the last moment, when five-sixths of the Evidence had been taken, and when the Committee were on the eve of preparing their Report, a note, in an unofficial form, of which there is no record in the War Office, was received by the Chairman of the Committee, saying that they were not "precluded from touching on" this question. Whatever may have been the authority for this note, I must decline to treat the recommendations of the Committee on this head, in which they were not unanimous, as other than the personal opinions of a body of officers for whom, as individuals, I have the greatest respect. On the question of the effect of promotion on the abolition of purchase, it became soon evident that, without the adoption of some comprehensive scheme, great stagnation would occur under the new system. As I had for some years before taken, myself, a great interest in this question, and, anticipating the consequences of the abolition of purchase in the Line, had studied it as Chairman of a Select Committee with reference to the three corps in which purchase did not exist—I mean the Artillery, the Engineers, and the Marines—I hope I may be permitted to detain the Committee for a few moments while I explain the conclusions at which I arrived, and which formed the basis of the scheme of naval retirement of 1870, with which my name is connected. No plan will secure an efficient and steady system of promotion which is not constructed according to mathematical rules in two respects—one the proper proportion of the higher to the lower ranks of the Service, and the other the ages at which officers must retire from those ranks. If the higher ranks are unduly small compared with the lower, you must provide from the latter a very burdensome and unpopular forced retirement at an early age. If you are able to increase the proportion of the higher ranks, this forced retirement may be minimized and even almost dispensed with. Now, this was what I effected in the Navy, and what Lord Cardwell did in the Artillery and Engineers. By largely reducing the number of cadet entries, and the volume of the ranks of sub-lieutenant and lieu-tenant as compared with the higher ranks, the Admiralty will be able, when the great surplus list of officers has been reduced, to keep promotion in an efficient state. Similarly, Lord Cardwell reduced the captains and subalterns, and created majors, of Artillery and Engineers, with the result that there will be in those corps little or no forced retirement from the rank of captain. But with respect to the Line and the Cavalry the Secretary of State who succeeded Lord Cardwell appointed a Royal Commission under the presidency of Lord Penzance, which, not feeling itself authorized to propose any alteration in the relative numbers of regimental ranks, necessarily fell back on compulsory retirement at early ages, and so, if they solved the problem at all, did so at an enormous cost, and in the way most distasteful to the officers themselves. I shall give the figures when I describe the remedy we propose; but, in passing, I will only say that the present system will force out of the Army more than half its officers before or when they reach the early age of 40. I think I have now brought my narrative of the changes introduced into the Army between 1867 and 1872, and of the controversies which they have evoked, pretty well down to the present day, and I proceed to explain what proposals we have determined upon. I will do so as concisely as possible, first explaining what are those which are of a general character; then giving in more detail the alterations in length of service and regimental organization which we consider necessary. I will first take changes which affect specially the Auxiliary Forces. Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to decide that the number of her Aides-de-Camp shall be increased by four, and that these much-prized, though honorary, distinctions, shall be conferred on Volunteer officers. Her Majesty has also approved of an alteration in the regulations of the Order of the Bath, under which five Knight Commanderships and 25 Companionships of the Civil branch of that Order will be conferred upon officers of the Auxiliary and Reserve Forces who may, while in command of a regiment, have contributed in a marked degree to its efficiency. Perhaps I may here state that I am permitted by Her Majesty to announce her intention to hold a Review of the Volunteers in Windsor Park, unless anything unforeseen should occur to prevent it, either in the middle of May or towards the end of June. My attention has been drawn to some anomalies in the regulations under which Militia and Volunteer officers are allowed to retain their rank or to obtain steps of honorary rank after long service or on retirement. It has been decided that after 15 years' commissioned service in any of the Auxiliary Forces, or in combination with Army service, an officer will be allowed, if duly recommended, to retain his rank and wear his uniform; that after 25 years' similar service in the Militia or Yeomanry, or 30 years' in the Volunteers, a lieutenant-colonel or a major will be allowed a step of honorary rank, and a captain after 20 years in the Militia or Yeomanry, or 25 in the Volunteers. The same boons, if not already granted while serving, will be granted on retirement, and in each ease combined service will count like service in the corps from which the officer retires, or in which he gets the step of honorary rank. There is one other question in connection with the Volunteers, about which, after taking the highest legal advice, I have not felt able to comply with, a suggestion from time to time made in this House—namely, that Volunteer officers should be exempt from serving on juries, to the same extent as Militia officers. Militia officers are, in fact, only exempt while on full pay, which Volunteers never receive; but that is not the only difficulty. I do not see on what ground we could exempt Volunteer officers and not privates, who, for the most part, are of the same social class; and if we exempted the latter, among whom there must be many thousand jurymen, a heavy burden would be thrown on the rest of the community, which it would be impossible to justify. I have, therefore, arrived at the conclusion that I should not recommend to Parliament an amendment in this sense of the Juries Act. I believe, however, as a matter of fact, that Judges will always excuse Volunteers shown to be absent in camp, or on similar duty. With respect to the Militia, I shall explain, before I sit down, the arrangements we contemplate, acting on the Report of my right hon. Predecessor as Chairman of the Committee of 1876, for still more closely connecting this ancient Constitutional force with the Army proper, by making county Militia regiments the third and fourth battalions of the new territorial regiments. But in thus bringing the Militia into still closer connection with the Line, I think it will be necessary to apply to their officers some rules as to age retirement, the absence of which has certainly produced some remarkable anomalies. I find among colonels and lieutenant—colonels actually commanding regiments—I do not include honorary colonels—officers of over 70 years of age, and some nearly as old among majors. In future we intend to provide that no colonel, or lieutenant-colonel commanding, shall retain his appointment after 55, or, under special circumstances, 60 years of age; and that none now serving remain after 67, or, if at present under 60, after 62 years of age. All future majors will retire at 50, and all present majors at 55. All captains will retire at 50. Passing from the Auxiliary Forces, I will now fulfil the promise which I gave to the late First Lord of the Admiralty, a few clays ago, that I would explain our policy about ordnance. I hope to give full details of the matériel to be bought or manufactured this year when we arrive at Vote 12; but, meanwhile, I may say that we are now engaged in a series of important experiments with breech-loading guns of various calibres, from the 43-ton gun to a 13-pounder field gun; and the recent renewal of the controversy between the muzzle-loader and the breech-loader, and the multiplicity of proposals for ordnance of every variety of construction, have led Her Majesty's Government to the conclusion that it would be desirable to recur to the advice of an independent Ordnance Committee, with functions somewhat differing from those of the former Committee. It will consist of officers of the Artillery, of the Navy, and of the Engineers, with two eminent civil engineers; and while we hope to obtain from this Committee technical advice of extreme value, we have determined not to run the risk of the disadvantages felt in connection with the old Ordnance Committee, and strictly to limit its functions to such inquiries and experiments as may be categorically referred to it by the Minister holding my Office. We have every reason to believe that the additional cost to the country, about £3,000 a year, of the services of these gentlemen will be far more than compensated for by the valuable results which the weight of their authority may be expected to secure. I had hoped to be able to name to-day the gentlemen selected for this service; but I find I must postpone doing so for a few days. I will now state to the House what we recommend as to length of service. In the first place, we propose to raise the minimum age when a man may be enlisted from 18, at which it now stands, to 19; and not only to that age nominally, but so that no man who (though 19) has not the physical equivalent of that age will be accepted. I should have been glad to raise the minimum age to 20, and I hope that this may be possible before long; but if we did so at present, we should risk not obtaining a sufficient number of recruits. No man under 20 years of age, or with less than a year's service, will, under any circumstances, be sent to India or to a tropical station; and it is most desirable that after arrival he should not be em- ployed on active service for a year or so—that is to say, until he is acclimatized. In the second place, we propose that the terra of enlistment should remain 12 years, as now, but that the period with the colours should be seven instead of six years; and that all soldiers serving abroad should be liable to remain with the colours eight years, and, if serving in India, should always be required to give this additional year. This extra year's service is rarely enforced now; but we propose to make it the rule. The effect of these two changes will be, that instead of serving from 18 to 24 years of age, every man who goes to India will serve in the Army at least from 19 to 27. We have well considered whether it would be safe to make obligatory colour service longer than eight years; but we have decided that this very considerable increase on the present system goes as far as prudence will allow. I have carefully read the Reports of, and the Evidence taken before, the two Commissions of 1860 and 1866, and Lord Airey's Committee; and while I find many officers anxious to revert to the old term of what is now called long colour service (that is, 12 years), and indifferent to the formation of an Army Reserve, which this would render impossible, I find hardly anyone advocating nine or ten years with the colours. The term we have proposed, and which was formerly recommended among soldiers by Sir Charles Napier, and among civilians by Mr. Godley, will, I believe, both supply us sufficient recruits, and, with the further provisions I shall explain, steadily build up a Reserve. It must be remembered that it is to the attractions of short service with the colours, and passage to the Reserve, that we owe the great majority of our recruits and their continuous improvement, and we must be cautious lest in making the term of service too long we spoil our market, and revert to the disastrous state of things in 1860 and 1866. We also propose that the Secretaries of State for War and India should from time to time settle the extent to which, and the terms on which, a certain proportion of men in good health, and serving in India, should be allowed to extend their service within the period of their engagement. I doubt whether it will be often necessary to carry out this extension for more than two years, as the previous conditions will insure from six to seven years' service for all men in India who may not be invalided; and probably not more than 10 to 15 per cent of the privates of a regiment will, under any circumstances, be permitted so to extend their service. I come now to non-commissioned officers; and, in addition to the other advantages of pay, pension, and rank, which we intend to give them, we pro-pose the following boons in respect of service:— First. Every corporal, on completing a year's probation and being confirmed in his rank, will be allowed to extend his colour service to the full period of 12 years. Secondly. Every sergeant will be allowed to engage for his second term of nine years, subject only to the veto of the War Office in each individual case; and thus to have an "assured military career" of 21 years, ending with a pension. His deferred pay will also continue during his second term of service, instead of ceasing, as now, after 12 years. Similarly, every corporal will lie allowed, with the sanction of his commanding officer, to engage for his second term of service, and to earn a pension. Finally, we shall arrange that sergeants, after 15 or 16 years' service, shall be liable to be transferred to the permanent staff of their Militia battalions. I may say that we propose that the term of seven or eight years' service should be applicable to all arms alike, whether Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, or Engineers. This change front six to practically eight years' service will have an unfavourable effect on the Army Reserve. Under the present system, the Infantry Reserve may be expected to reach, in about 1890, its maximum strength of 44,000, and even this I do not consider sufficient. To meet, therefore, the effect of the extension of service, and still more to strengthen the Reserve, I propose two things: the first, that men serving at home, and not likely to be sent abroad, should be at liberty, and indeed encouraged, if the state of recruiting permits, to go into the Reserve after completing three or four years' service. One of the inducements to do this will be permission to receive, when so discharged into the Reserve, their accumulated deferred pay, none of which is now paid to men until the expiry of their full time of colour service. The second will be to allow Reserve men, on or before completing their 12 years' engagement, to volunteer for a further period of four years, during which they will receive pay at the rate of 4d. a-day, but will not be liable to be called out until after all the other Reservists. We shall limit the number of this class to 10,000. On the other hand, we propose to allow the Enrolled Pensioner Reserve gradually to die out, as such, without diminishing the service liabilities of pensioners. It has been suggested to me that we might allow Volunteers of certain qualifications to join the Army Reserve, and I propose to take powers with this object. But I have not yet had time to mature a scheme for this purpose. Under these conditions we hope to secure for our military system two great advantages; first, for all regiments on foreign and especially on active service, a full proportion of what are called "seasoned soldiers," by insuring an average of about eight year' service from all men not permanently invalided; and, secondly, a steady flow into the Reserve, not only of men who have served seven, eight, or mote years, but of a considerable number who have served three or four years, and who will bring habits of steadiness and discipline into the civil employments for which their age will well fit them. Besides this, we shall be able to set against the great increase in deferred and reserved pay a solid reduction in the Pension List, which, for non - commissioned officers and men, is rapidly approaching £2,000,000 a-year, but which, under our proposed system, will be applicable mainly to non-commissioned officers. Finally, I may say that this great economy will be much more felt by India than by the Imperial Exchequer, and will, I hope, be an answer to some of the plans for restoring a separate Indian Army, upon which I confess I look with unmitigated dislike. The second great branch of the changes in the period from 1867 to 1872 related to the localization of the Army, and especially of the Line, and I will now state our proposals on this subject. I must premise by stating that, from everyone who has studied this branch of the question, I have heard, at any rate, this undoubted proposition, that we cannot leave things as they are. Either we must follow the advice of those who, like the late Colonel Anson in 1872, or my right hon. Friend and Predecessor with his influential Committee in 1876, recommended the complete union in a territorial regiment of the four battalions—two of the Line and two of the Militia (and it must be remembered that on that Committee sat Sir Henry Havelock, General Taylor, Sir Garnet Wolseley, General Bulwer, General Greaves, and General Herbert, besides the Duke of Buccleuch, Lord Exeter, Lord Limerick, and Colonel Corbett); or, according to every opponent of the system, we must repeal our whole legislation and undo our whole policy as to a territorial Army; convert the Depôt Centro Barracks, for which Parliament voted £3,500,000, into something else; alter the whole system of brigade enlistment; confuse the rights and seniority of every officer appointed during the last eight years; and, by making each regiment recruit for itself, through the agency of its own depôt, add perhaps 11,000, perhaps, according to the Appendix to Lord Airey's Report, 15,000; or, according to some, 20,000 men to the Army. The first 25 regiments of the Line, which are already double-battalion regiments, would be broken up and made into 50 single-battalion regiments, and the Rifle Brigade and 60th Rifles would be similarly divided into four regiments each. I have studied this question most carefully, with the aid of my professional advisers and by the light of the Committees which have investigated it during the last 10 years, and I have come to the conclusion that in this matter we should adopt an advancing, not a retrogressive, policy. We propose, therefore, that the two battalions of the Line, and the two battalions of Militia which now form a territorial brigade, shall hence-forth form a territorial regiment with a county depôt; the first and second battalions being Line and the third and fourth Militia. The officers and men of the four battalions will have the same uniforms, only, in the case of the men of the Militia, distinguished by the letter "M" on their shoulder-straps. The regiments will be carefully preserved, but be common to both battalions. In fact, the whole Line will be organized as the 25 first regiments now are. To this there would be two classes of exceptions. We do not propose to disturb the four-battalion organization of the rifle regiments; and the special circumstances of some of the Scotch regiments require particular treatment. I will describe them with a little detail, as some most extraordinary misconceptions appear to exist, about projects affecting them and their uniforms, which never entered my mind. At present there are nine Highland regiments, the 42nd, 71st, 72nd, 74th, 78th, 79th, 91st, 92nd, and 93rd, wearing the kilt or trews; two double-battalion regiments, the Royal Scots and Royal Scots Fusiliers; and three single-battalion regiments, the 26th, 73rd, and 90th, all localized in Scotland, and one, the 75th, localized in England. We propose to group these after a new arrangement, in a manner which I will now describe."That there was no intention on the part of the Government to depart from the general principles of re-organization which had been accepted by the country since 1870;" and the "formation of the Army in regiments of more than one battalion for the purposes of mutual support"
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—( Mr. Secretary Childers.)
Sir, I believe that I only express the general sense of all around me, and I may add, I hope, of the opposite side of the House also, when I say that the statement which the right hon. Gentleman has just made has, at all events, had this effect—it has caused us to forget, for the last two hours, how the hands of the clock were moving. We have listened to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman with the greatest pleasure and the greatest interest. I do not propose now, in the remarks I am about to make, to enter into any discussion whatever upon the statement of the right hon. Gentleman; but before the discussion comes on, which I understand the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly willing to take, there are one or two points which I think it is desirable to clear up, and in regard to which I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to supplement the statement he has made by giving some further information to the House. Perhaps, before I specify what those points are, I may be allowed, from a personal point of view, to say a word with regard to what fell from the right hon. Gentleman about Lord Airey's Committee. It will be within the recollection of the House that that Committee was appointed to discharge a very difficult and a very delicate duty at a time when it was perfectly clear that our forces were not quite in so good a condition as could be wished, and when, above all things, it was desirable to know, from candid observation, what was the real truth of the case. The right hon. Gentleman has said, and, no doubt, he is perfectly right, that the Committee went beyond their official instructions. Now, I desire to say that those official instructions, although they were framed so as formally to prescribe the limits of the inquiry, were supplemented by constant reference to myself on the part of the Committee, and if the Committee, in any instance, went beyond their original instructions, the responsibility of their having done so rests with myself. I can only bear my testimony to the zeal, ability, and industry with which the Committee pursued their inquiry, and I do not doubt that the right hon. Gentleman himself will acknowledge the assistance which he has received in his scheme from the Report which the Committee felt it their duty to make. I have no desire to enter further into this matter now; but I wish to ask for one or two particulars from the right hon. Gentleman if he feels himself at liberty to give them. I should be glad, if by printed statement or otherwise, the right hon. Gentleman could find himself able, at an early date, to acquaint the House with the nature and general scope of the experiments which the revived Ordnance Select Committee are to undertake. I speak with some reserve; but I must confess the fear which is in my mind, and I believe in that of some other persons also, that if the Committee is appointed for experimental purposes, they may be induced to leave out of sight that which was the original intention of the Committee I had the honour to appoint—namely, to secure, as soon as possible, the best gun for the Service. I hope that the Ordnance Committee will have their instructions limited so that they shall not go off into a series of experiments and put off the securing of the best gun, both for the Army and the Fleet, until a remote date. There is another point upon which, if the right hon. Gentleman is able to give any ex- planation, it would be of great interest and utility to the Committee when we come to discuss the proposals of the Government in a Committee of this House, and that is the manner in which the roster for the Service will work. It is very easy, and, at first sight, most important, to show by figures how the bringing up of battalions to a particular strength at a particular time will enable drafts to be sent out in regular proportion, and the service to be carried on equally in all parts of the world. But I am anxious that the right hon. Gentleman should give the House such information as lies in his power, and is convenient, so far as his public duty is concerned, to show the House upon what data these calculations are founded, and how the details are worked out. I should like to ask a further question in regard to the proposal for allowing the regulation value of commissions to be granted to the families of officers. I want to know how the right hon. Gentleman gets over what has always been felt to be a considerable difficulty—namely, whether the scheme is to apply to the future only; and, if not, whether he has considered to what extent he will be committed to a retrospective action? Dealing with the past has always been one of the crucial difficulties in dealing with the matter, and I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman can give the House any information on that point. With respect to the reduction of generals, I will not say anything in regard to that proposal at present; but I may have a word to say hereafter as to whether the advantage proposed to be derived from the limitation will really compensate for the disadvantages you may have obtained from striking off from the active list officers who, although above a certain age, are perfectly competent for the performance of all the duties attending strategic command. There is another and a more prominent question, which I dare not touch in detail now. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman Will be able to accomplish all that he proposes within the limits of the Estimates laid upon the Table. I would really ask the right hon. Gentleman if all his proposals are included within the four corners of the Estimates; or whether he thinks that on any of these points it will be necessary hereafter to take Supplementary Estimate? I am extremely glad that the right hon. Gentleman has found himself able to deal with a case on which, I think, there is a general agreement—the case of the non-commissioned officers. Last year, in moving the Estimates, I said that I hoped to deal with it at an early period. It will, no doubt, be a difficult matter to deal with satisfactorily; and I would congratulate the right hon. Gentleman if he is able to carry out the whole of his proposals within the four corners of the Estimates. I am not going to say one word with regard to corporal punishment, except that, having had occasion to consider the question, and to consider it in a serious and practical light, I believe I speak the mind of a good many persons when I state that I welcome the time when the right hon. Gentleman, acting upon his responsibility for the discipline of the Service, feels himself enabled to dispense with this punishment, although, of course, I reserve my opinions as to the merits of his proposal until I know what he intends to substitute for it. We should all be glad if anything in the character of a sentimental objection could be removed on the part of those who entered the Service. Personally, I may say that, having willingly assented to the changes that were made in 1879, I am additionally glad, if the right hon. Gentleman feels it is safe for the Service, and from his own observation is able, upon his own responsibility, to dispense with this punishment now. I hope it will be fully understood that the right hon. Gentleman can show that it can be done without any relaxation of discipline. It is not necessary that I should touch at present upon any other point. I think, if the right hon. Gentleman is able to give certain details, such as I have indicated, it may facilitate the progress of the Estimates through Committee. Personally, I confess that, so far as my experience goes, the fuller the information given to the House, generally speaking, the more ready has the assent of the House been to the proposals made; and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider that, in making these suggestions, I am prepared to consider fairly the propositions he intends to submit, and to assist him as far as is in my power.
believed the statement which had just been made by the right hon. Gentleman gave promise of changes that would be highly beneficial to the Service. It was especially gratifying to those who, knowing they were contending against popular feeling on the subject, had maintained for the last six years that the general lines of the system of short service, when modified, were capable of being made to answer all the requirements of the country, in giving us better means of concentrating Reserves to be called out on an emergency. The announcement made by the Secretary of State for War with regard to the changes about to be introduced was also satisfactory; and, in his opinion, the more those changes were considered, the more they would commend themselves to the country. It had never been maintained that the system was perfectly right; but, on the contrary, it had been admitted that, in matters of detail, it was open to revision and improvement. The changes proposed were, of course, too large to form the subject of discussion that evening; but they contained in themselves the promise that the system about to be introduced would give the country that which had been looked for eight years ago, when the present system was announced. There were, however, two subjects upon which the statement of the right hon. Gentleman did not enter into so much detail as would probably be afforded hereafter. The first was that of the benefits proposed to be held out to the families of officers killed in action; and upon this point the right hon. Gentleman did not say to what degree he would make them retrospective. In making the suggestion, therefore, that the retrospective benefit should be made to include the casualties incurred within the last two years during the Afghan War, he believed the proposal of the Government to that effect would be received by the country with the greatest satisfaction. Again, with regard to the proposal to cut down the list of general officers, he reminded the right hon. Gentleman that within the last year and a-half a considerable number of young colonels—70 in all—were chosen by the late Government to rank as major-generals. He trusted that, whatever changes might be made in the higher ranks of the Army on account of age, they would not apply to those officers. The subject, however, was one that would be considered more in detail upon another occasion. In conclusion, he thanked the right hon. Gentleman for giving his attention to all the evidence and suggestions laid before him in the Report of Lord Airey's Committee.
cordially agreed with almost all that had fallen from his right hon. Friend, and would not, therefore, trouble the House by going into all the details touched upon by him. The enlistment of recruits of not under 19 years of age was a question of great importance, and with reference to it he should have some remarks to make at another time. He was glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman would have no recruits sent to India but those who had at least one year's service, and would like to know whether that rule would extend to the Colonies—whether, in fact, it was the intention of the right hon. Gentleman that no soldier should leave the country until he was 21 years of age, and had seen one year's service? Again, while the statement of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the list of generals would, no doubt, cause a great deal of inquiry as well as satisfaction, hon. Members on that side of the House were puzzled to understand how all these proposed reductions were to be effected within the scope of the Estimates. He would also like to know whether the reduction of the number of general officers to 140 was to begin on the 1st of July next; and when the now scale of pay, as laid down, agreeably with the scale of pay to officers in the Navy, would come into force? The recommendations of the Committee over which he had the honour to preside had been dismissed by the right hon. Gentleman in a very few words; but when the subject was again approached it was to be hoped he would refer to it at greater length. With regard to the Ordnance Committee about to be appointed, he wished to ask whether the Chairman would be a naval or military man, and if the right hon. Gentleman could give the names of the Members? However that might be, he thought it most important that the Chairman, whether a military or naval man, should report direct to the Secretary of State for War; for, as the right hon. Gentleman would understand, where two such Departments as the Admiralty and War Office were concerned, uniformity of system and report were most necessary, in order that the wants of the two Services should be uniformly supplied. He had to thank the right hon. Gentleman for his statement; and, although it contained some points upon which he found himself unable to agree with him, he admitted that no one could have placed his proposals before the country in an abler or clearer manner.
was understood to say that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman had not made it clear to the House in what manner the recruits of the age of 19 and upwards were to be obtained. The difficulty of getting suitable men as respects age and stature was recognized by the Commission of 1866, on which he had served; and he felt sure that since that time no sufficient improvement had been made in the mode of obtaining recruits, so as to supply the heavy drain to meet the short service system. He found that out of 18,000 recruits enlisted last year, 1,000 were entirely unsuitable for the Army; while a large proportion of the men serving in India, the Colonies, and at home were also unsuitable on account of their age. He would therefore like to see the settlement of the important question as to how men of 20 years of age and over were to be obtained. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that in future he would prevent any soldier going to India under the age of 20. But a similar rule had been in force for many years, and it was still found that many of the troops sent to India were under the required age. He suggested, with regard to the battalions on service in India, that the present establishment of 780 privates should be divided into six instead of eight companies, the number of subaltern officers being too few for the requirements of the regiments when divided into eight companies. He would also urge that all men forming the band, the pioneers, clerks, lance sergeants, and corporals now returned amongst the privates being returned separately, and not counted as part of the duty privates.
asked whether there was any intention of increasing the retiring allowance to purchase captains, many of whom, having paid £2,000 or £2,300 for their com- missions, stood in a worse relative position than the non-purchase captains? He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would direct his attention to this subject.
said, the right hon. Gentleman had grappled with nearly all the difficult questions in connection with the Army, and there were some changes proposed as to the value of which there could not be two opinions; for instance, in the age of recruits, and the improvement in the position of non-commissioned officers. Further, there was the main point to be considered of keeping a certain number of regiments up to their war strength, for such campaigns as we had been recently engaged in. Then there was another point, as to the Militia; and upon this matter he wished to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman had made no reference to the Militia Reserves, and this was very like leaving out the part of Hamlet from the play of that name. The Secretary of State for War knew the Militia was the backbone of the Army, although it was to be feared it was semi-invertebrate at the present moment. Would the right hon. Gentleman look into this question, so that before the Estimates came on he would be able to say something about it?
wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman would take into consideration the desirability of adopting one of the recommendations of Lord Airey's Committeen—namely, that such privates as might be recommended by commanding officers should be allowed to extend their service and proceed to pension, provided that the total number of men of all ranks so allowed to extend their service should not exceed 25 per cent of each battalion? There was another matter to which he wished to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention. He had said that the sergeant-major was to be made a warrant officer; but if they were to judge by present experience, the position would be anything but an enviable one. Without going at ony length into the matter, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman to give the House some information on these points.
wished the right hon. Gentleman to explain the alterations he proposed to make in the Infantry to do away with so many compulsory retirements of officers,
thought the right hon. Gentleman's proposal an excellent one, especially with regard to the improvement in the position of the non-commissioned officers; and he (Major Nolan) hoped that in future years the position of those men would be still further improved. It was satisfactory to know that the right hon. Gentleman had corrected the retirement scheme, as the whole of the statistics upon which it had been based were wrong. He agreed with the proposed plan of fixing the age of the men at 19, although, with regard to the point of service, he was afraid the Secretary of State for War had made a step in the backward direction in yielding to the long-service cry. Many officers, no doubt, thought differently; and the subject was one which admitted of argument, and should be thoroughly discussed; but, for his own part, he thought that the right hon. Gentleman, in increasing the period of service with the colours from six to seven years, had made a mistake. He did not think that more than six years' service at home was necessary, and the problem was to reconcile a short service at home with a tolerably long one in India. It was satisfactory to find that the right hon. Gentleman had not given way to the popular cry on the subject of localization. It was right to put three or four battalions together—much more advantageous than only having two together. In following the example of Continental Armies on this point, and making our regiments as large as we could, we could not be far wrong. With regard to breech-loading guns, he thought this country had made a mistake, for if proper experiments had been made four or five years ago many millions would have been saved. No; we had so many men in the Department pledged up to the lips for muzzle-loading that innumerable experiments would be necessary to change their opinions. It was time to take up a firm position on this subject, and say—"We will have no more muzzle-loading guns, with one or two exceptions." A rapid change to breech-loading was necessary; not that he would wish to see any extraordinary expense incurred; but no more muzzle-loading guns should be made than were necessary for ships of a certain construction, and for other special purposes, and as little muzzle-loading ammunition as possible.
quite agreed with the general concensus of opinion that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman had been a most explicit, and, so far as he could judge, a most satisfactory one. He would go farther, and say that it was the most important statement that had been made to the House since 1870. No doubt, the right hon. Gentleman did not expect, and could not wish, that they should now discuss any of those great changes which he had shadowed forth; and he would venture to ask him that lie would now give them the assurance he had tendered to them before—namely, that they should have a clear fortnight for the consideration of his proposals, so that they might consider them in all their various bearings. There was one point which the right hon. Gentleman had not made quite clear. He had told them that the head-quarters of regiments were to be in India for 16 years; but he had then informed them that no individual was to go for more than eight years. It would be as well to have this explained, for if the Staff were to be at head-quarters 16 years, it was obvious that some individuals would be there more than eight years. With regard to the Ordnance Committee which had been referred to, there was nothing that the country was more interested in than its composition. What was wanted was a judicial Committee, and not a constructive Committee. They had had enough of constructive Committees—not that they had done anything absolutely wrong; but they had been too fond, for their own ends, of carrying out their own theories, and of having done what they thought ought to be done, and having made what they thought ought to be made. What was now wanted was a Committee who would judge as to what was best to be done in the interest of the country.
thought it was only proper, before the adjournment, that some Volunteer officer should get up and thank the right hon. Gentleman for the great concession he had made to the demands of the Volunteers. He was a Volunteer officer; and he wished to present to the right hon. Gentleman, on behalf of the Volunteer Force of the country, his sincere thanks for what he had done, and to assure him that the honour he intended to confer on the different officers would be highly appreciated by them, and taken as a compliment by the whole Force. If he understood the right hon. Gentleman rightly, he intended to grant to the Volunteer officers the same honorary rank as Militia officers; and he congratulated the Government upon being able to offer such a piece of good news. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that Volunteer officers should not be exempted from serving on juries; but, at the same time, it was only right that a Volunteer, when in camp on military duty, should be exempted; and he believed a Judge invariably took that view, and on such an occasion exempted Volunteers from their civil duties. The right hon. Gentleman had said that Her Majesty would be graciously pleased to hold a Review at Windsor this year. He wished he could persuade the right hon. Gentleman to recommend that it should be held in Hyde Park. He did not see why Reviews should not be held in Hyde Park, and certainly did not think it would do any more damage than the monster meeting held there two or three Sundays ago. He would not further discuss these matters now, as they were sure to have a further opportunity when they got into Committee.
, though not a Volunteer, had lately been much consulted by Volunteer officers on the various points raised during the discussion, and to which the right hon. Gentleman had alluded in the course of his statement. He could concur in the expressions of satisfaction of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down, because he believed that the concessions made by the right hon. Gentleman would afford considerable gratification to the Auxiliary Forces throughout the country. It was not without reason that some concession had been made to the Volunteer Army, for in London there was not a single Volunteer regiment with its full complement of officers. The same remark would apply to other parts of the country; and the concession that had been made, and others that might follow, involving no expense, would give great satisfaction to the Auxiliary Forces, and bring in an accession of officers which was now so much required.
wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman did not consider it desirable to have some scheme whereby the Army Reserve could be called upon to act in the regiments when they went out to take part in these small wars that we were now engaged in? The regiments otherwise would, when kept up to their full strength, consist mainly of young soldiers. He wished to point out that a grievance in the Army was the stoppage of 1d. a-day on board ship for certain grocery allowances.
said, the right hon. Gentleman had made a concession to the Scotch regiments; and he would like to ask him whether he could not also make a concession to Irish regiments? There were 16 regiments bearing a Scottish designation, whereas the number of Scotchmen in the Army was under 15,000; but there were only six regiments bearing an Irish designation, while there were 40,000 Irishmen in the Army. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman not to destroy the individuality of two historic regiments like the 87th Royal Irish Fusiliers and the 88th Connaught Rangers, by affiliating them, but rather to add to each regiment one of the old Indian regiments, which had had no local connection with the United Kingdom.
I have no right to address you again, Sir; but perhaps I may answer some of the questions that have been put to me. My right hon. Friend opposite (Colonel Stanley) for whose encouraging words I am very grateful, asks me to illustrate certain of my statements by a printed paper. I am very anxious that the House, when in Committee, should have before it all the facts as to our proposals in a simple and intelligible form, and I will lay an explanatory Memorandum on the Table. With regard to the question as to how the roster will work under the new system, when the leading regiments will be so much stronger than they now are, we have given great attention to that subject; and there are at the War Office gentlemen who are extremely skilled on this particular point, and who have satisfied me that there will be no difficulty. It has been asked whether any retrospective arrangement will be made with respect to the families of purchase officers who have been killed in action or have died from wounds. I may state that there will be, to a small extent, a retrospective character in our proposals in this respect. I have also been asked whether I can give the Committee when it sits the fullest opportunity of discussing in detail the statements I have made. I will undertake to do so; and by a method, which I need not describe now, I will practically bring before the Committee all the particulars of the proposals I have stated. I am asked whether the limit of 20 years of age will apply to the Colonies as well as to India, and I should say that in regard to some Colonies it would not be necessary to send soldiers to them under that age. The noble Lord the Member for Essex (Lord Eustace Cecil) also asked me whether the Chairman of the Ordnance Committee will be a soldier or a sailor, and to whom he will report. He will be a soldier, and he will report to the Secretary of State for War. Another hon. Member asks how we hope to obtain sufficient recruits. I can only say that, in the opinion of the Inspector General, a most efficient officer, we shall obtain them under the new system. He has submitted some plans for bringing the advantages of Army service home to the young people of every village through the instrumentality of the Post Office; and this, I think, will work very much to our advantage in bringing young men into the Army. Living a good deal in the country, I am bound to say that in many places I cannot find anybody who knows anything about the Army, or how to become a recruit, and I hope we shall be able to tap many new sources. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kincardine asked whether we had consulted the Government of India about charges involving an additional charge on them—as, for instance, the increased number of field officers. Yes, we have done so, and I am happy to say that the charge, instead of being a burden, will be an immediate relief to India. At present, when a captain retires, if he is on the Indian charge, India has to pay the capital value of his retired pay, so that the proposed reduction in compulsory retirements is a benefit to India exceeding any increased charge for pay. As to the question of the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Henry Fletcher), whether any increased payment will be made to purchase captains on retirement, I will look into the matter; but I cannot imagine good ground for it. The hon. and gallant Member for Cork County (Colonel Colt-burst) asks whether our proposal with regard to sergeant-majors will be a real boon. I certainly think so. The hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Major Nolan) fears that I have given way to the long-service cry. I do not know from what time he would date this cry; but all the arrangements on the subject of the length of service, down to the smallest details, were certainly settled three or four months ago. He says, also, that I do not pledge myself on the question of breech-loading or muzzle-loading ordnance. I was careful to say nothing on the matter this evening; but when we lay our proposals in that respect before the House, I think we shall be seen to have adopted a perfectly clear policy. With regard to the headquarters of regiments remaining in India longer than now, I can only repeat that, unless they wish, no one need remain in India for more than eight years. An hon. Member suggested that the Volunteer Review to be held by Her Majesty should be held in Hyde Park instead of at Windsor. I am afraid I have nothing to do with that question, as the Park is not under my control. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Carington) asks whether any portion of the Reserve will be called out for small wars. I think it is important not to make the Reserve unpopular among employers of labour by increasing the legal liabilities of the men to be called out for service; and so far, when we have asked the Volunteers, the invitation has answered admirably.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Supply Committee deferred till To-morrow.
Railways (Rates On Fares)
Ordered, That the Select Committee on Railways (Rates on Fares) do consist of Twenty-three Members:—Mr. ASHLEY, Mr. BARCLAY, Mr. BOLTON, Mr. CALLAN, Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL, Mr. CRAIG, Mr. CROSS, Mr. DILLWYN, Sir DANIEL GOOCH, Mr. GREGORY, Mr. LOWTHER, Mr. MONK, Mr. SAMUEL MORLEY, Mr. MULHOLLAND, Mr. WILLIAM N. NICHOLSON, Mr. O'SULLIVAN, Mr. RICHARD PAGET, Mr. JOSEPH PEASE, Mr. PELL, Mr. SAMUELSON, Mr. SCLATER BOOTH, Sir HENRY TYLER, and Sir EDWARD WATKIN:—Power to send for persons, papers, and records; Seven to be the quorum.
House adjourned at half after One o'clock.