HC Deb 24 April 1877 vol 233 cc1742-846

in rising to move— That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon the nature, the extent, and grounds of the demand made by a large proportion of the Irish people for the restoration to Ireland of an Irish Parliament, with power to control the internal affairs of that country, said: I beg to assure the House that I have consented with great reluctance to bring forward the question which stands in my name. That reluctance arises from the fact that it has been more than once brought forward by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) with very great ability, and that I feel at present the question is very unpopular both in the House and in this country. A few sentences which I shall read from The Times explains correctly your attitude towards it— Parliament will not and cannot grant Home Rule; the mere demand for it lies beyond the range of practical discussion. The utmost which the House of Commons can do for its advocates is to listen to. them with patience and courtesy once a year. I may say that if this question did not present itself to my mind as a practical question, I would not occupy the position which I do to-night. I am accustomed to deal with realities. I never address my fellow-men except to induce them to do, or to abstain from doing, something; and I would not think of occupying your time with a question merely of theory —a question which might be discussed and wait for years, without practical results. I have joined this movement because I felt, and do feel, it is eminently practical. Many persons think there is nothing practical except what they can see and feel; but I maintain that the discussion of great principles, principles which lie at the foundation of government, is the most practical and important thing that can engage the attention of this Assembly, for they are the fountains of good or evil affecting future generations. The way this question has been referred to in this House and in the English Press does not give us much uneasiness—in fact, we hardly think the writers and speakers can mean what they say. If in private life I proposed to a friend some question affecting largely his interests and his character, and he answered—" I won't attend to it," and flew into a rage, abusing me, I would conclude at once that he knew he was in the wrong. The people of England know this question has something in it—must be looked at and settled soon—but they do not Hite it or the persons who bring it forward. It has disturbed the calm of their self-satisfaction and their Party arrangements, and hence the annoyance we hear so loudly expressed around us. I know that the Leaders on both sides of the House have spoken very decidedly; they have stated that this demand can never be granted by any Party in the State. Leaders are bound not to go beyond public opinion; but when public opinion is matured on the subject, they will come down to the House and say—" Mr. Speaker, the time has come when this question must be settled." The settlement of this question does not involve such a shock to your feelings and prejudices as other questions that have been thus settled by both Parties in the State, after having been resisted vehemently for years. I refer to the Disestablishment of the Irish Church and the adoption of Household Suffrage. I shall occupy but a short time in looking at the grounds on which we desire this measure. There are arguments derived from history and from natural rights which would not have much weight I fear with the House. I know I am addressing cultivated, practical men, and I desire to show that it is a question of great practical importance, which can and must be brought into the region of practical politics. I have as great an interest as any Member of the House in dismissing this question if I find out there is nothing in it. I want to hear the most that can be said against it. Neither I nor my countrymen can afford to spend our time and energy in seeking the impossible. Why is it that we ask you to consider in order to re-adjust the Union between England and Ireland? It is now a considerable time—more than three-quarters of a century—since this Union was effected—in the midst of revolution — before the smouldering embers of insurrection were extinguished — when men's minds were incapable of thinking calmly on the great principles and issues involved in the change. It was carried by Mr. Pitt, when he knew there was a great struggle impending over Europe, and he felt it his duty at once to bind together, in as compact a body as possible, all the members of the Empire ready for defence or attack. Then political thought was in a crude state. Since then the science of Constitutional Government has been created. I may also remind the House that the relative positions of the countries has changed very much. Ireland has remained stationary, and, in some respects, gone back; whilst England has made immense strides in her commerce, her productions, her intelligence, and political knowledge. Has this arrangement worked well? It may have been effected without due consideration and by the foulest means; but if it has worked moderately well, why disturb it? I assert, without fear of contradiction, that there has not been a single period since the Union was carried in which it has worked satisfactorily. It cannot be a good arrangement unless it works well for both countries. It has worked badly for England and for Ireland. There is every reason, then, why we should examine this arrangement, try to find out the causes of its failure, and place for the future the relationship between the two countries on such a basis of right and justice as will secure the highest interests of all concerned. Why has the Union arrangement failed?

I believe it is quite impossible for this House, constituted as it is, to legislate for Ireland. Not only do you attempt to do an amount of work that is practically impossible, but you are trying to do a work for which you have no aptitude, no education. I do not mean there are no men in this Assembly—there always have been—of the highest ability; but they have not the time to give to ordinary Irish questions, which to them must be always matters of minor importance, because they have the great interests of the Empire to attend to, and they cannot give to subjects affecting only a small portion of that Empire that time and thought which they may require. To us they are of vital importance. Large interests, our entire future welfare may be bound up in these questions; but the Minister bringing them forward can only give them a portion of his thought. Then look at the two countries. The differences of race, of religion, of social development, of material progress—all requiring extensive knowledge, patience, tolerance, the greatest delicacy of handling in the Legislature. Have these qualities been shown in the legislation for Ireland during the past 75 years? Quite the contrary, and some of the most important matters remain still unsettled. I may refer to one subject—that of the higher education of the young. Honest efforts have been made on both sides of the House to settle this question, and why has it not been settled? Because statesmen in this country, in endeavouring to settle it, had to shape it, not according to the dictates of reason and statesmanship, but of the bigotry and ignorance of the English people. The Bill brought in by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) was thrown out by the Irish Members, after they were convinced that concessions were about being made to the extreme section of English politicians that would completely destroy the usefulness of the measure in Ireland. Then I may refer to measures that have passed—good measures in themselves—but which have failed to produce the good intended, owing to the mode in which it was attempted to carry them out. As an instance. The Public Health Act in England was put into operation with the greatest delicacy, every effort made to bring it into harmony with local thought, and to prevent its clashing with local prejudices, whilst in Ireland the very opposite course was adopted, and it was forced on the country in a most highhanded way. In a country governed by Party it is impossible to give that continuity of thought that is essential for the government of Ireland. If, instead of governing Ireland by Party, you had sent there some of your best men, and said to them—"Take the government of that country for 10 years, quite independent of English Party movements; give to it your best thought—it needs all you can give; develop it materially and socially, and cultivate a healthy public opinion; call to your aid the best men in Ireland; "but instead of this, Ireland has been made the battle-field of English Party. I believe the arrangement made by the Union was the worst that could possibly have been made. The Irish Representatives in this House have hardly a voice in Irish legislation; their opinion is overborne. This was notably the case in the Irish Church and Land Bills. Of this I am quite surothe Union has not done for Ireland the good it was intended to do. Our material prosperity has not been increased by it. I am told that Acts of Parliament have no connection with material prosperity; but it is proved by history that self-government and the principles developed by it have a most material influence on national prosperity. The one follows the other as regularly as day follows night. It is difficult to define how. the one affects the other, but the fact remains. If this country were united to France, as we are to England, before a generation passed you would have a collapse of three-fourths of your industry. Sentiments and influences would be at work, infallibly working out these results. Take an individual and place him in a position of dependence, where there was nothing to call out his faculties or thought, and how different from the same individual placed in a position of independence, where all his powers are called into healthy exercise. You will find the lazy, idle, good-for-nothing turned into the active, intelligent, self-helping man. The same principles apply to nations and individuals. I do not insinuate for a moment that there is not a desire in England to do the best for Ireland. I say to the English people —" Destroy that artificial, that unnatural, that blighting connection that exists between the countries, and establish a natural, a healthy, an honest Union." This is what we seek. Then, instead of having our forces scattered, and our powers paralyzed by the feeling that we are nothing, and can do nothing, the country will quickly spring into new life and vigour. We have had endless statistics brought forward to prove the prosperity of Ireland; but they prove quite the reverse—that after our long connection with the richest country in the world, Ireland is now the poorest country in Europe. I have extensive opportunities of judging this matter, and I can say, without hesitation, that the increase of prosperity in Ireland is hardly perceptible. We are pointed to the deposits in Irish Banks, but there are more deposits in one bank in London than in all the Irish Banks. As to the savings of the farmers, they are estimated at about £15,000,000. But an excellent authority in The Spectator the other day stated that it would require £150,000,000 to bring the land of Ireland to an equality of cultivation with the land of England. So that the Irish farmers have not a tithe of the capital necessary for doing a work demanding immediate attention. The Irish peasants are amongst the most thrifty and saving people in the world; and the small accumulations they have made are the results of their economical, not to say parsimonious, habits. The national annual savings of Ireland are nothing compared with those of England. How could they be? I remember a conversation I had many years ago with the late Mr. Joseph Sturge—a man of large views in politics, and of great business experience. He expressed astonishment as to how Ireland could afford the amount of money that was extracted from her year by year—for food, for absentee rents, and for taxes. But you will ask —How will you remedy this by having a Parliament of your own? I believe, judging from history—from the principles that influence human nature, and that lie at the foundation of national prosperity—that the one would certainly lead to the other. I do not wish to utter one word that would excite unpleasant feelings—to excite one country against the other. I do not look at this question as against England, but for England. It would be one of the greatest acts of selfishness which England ever performed if she granted this demand—it would save her from endless annoyances, from a humiliating sense of failure—all her efforts ending in failure. Is this state of things to go on for ever? Is there any danger in what we propose? Does it involve any evil to this country? Nothing of the kind. If I thought so, I would be the last person to propose it. I may be asked as to the practical details of the scheme. But this is not the stage to go into details; we shall be quite prepared at the proper time to propose a practical plan. You are aware of the arrangement proposed by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt)—that is, to connect the two countries on the Federal system. I have heard the speeches delivered in this House against the plan, and within the last few days looked over them again. There was not in the whole of them a single valid objection against the principle. The objections were chiefly on matters of detail, which could be easily met and adjusted by men of common sense. But we are not such fools as to tie ourselves down to any theoretical system and say this must be passed and nothing else. We admit you must be consulted on this subject. You are parties to the present arrangement, which we think is a bad one. We believe we are unequally yoked together with you in drawing the State machine. We ask for a re-adjustment. You have a right to suggest modifications in our plan—to come before a Committee or before this House, and say such and such a thing will militate against the permanent interests of the Empire, and we cannot agree to it. It will be for us, anxious to carry this question to a practical settlement, to meet your views or remove your objections. But we are quite ready to produce a practical workable plan which will maintain the connection between the two countries—will enable us in Ireland to manage our local affairs, and, instead of impairing, will consolidate the dignity and greatness of the Empire. Among the objections, one that has great weight, both in the House and outside, is the dread lest if self-government were granted us it would end in Roman Catholic ascendency. I met the other day an Irish Conservative gentleman, and this was really the only valid objection he could bring against our proposal. Now, I appeal to my hon. Friend who is to second this Motion—I appeal to every Protestant Member from Ireland, whether there is amongst us religious bigotry to any great extent, whether it is not dying away day by day? I was brought up a Protestant; but I cannot remember a time when my most intimate friends were not Roman Catholics. We have none of that religious rancour towards each other that you might imagine from some newspaper and platform performances. We are becoming year by year much less of what is called bigots in Ireland. We are learning to respect each other. The Catholic priest can compare favourably with any other body of ecclesiastics in the Kingdom for attention to their duties. In the haunts of vice, of disease, and of death, at all hours of the day and night, nothing can exceed their devotion and self-sacrifice. Since the Irish Church Act Protestantism in Ireland is better fitted than it was before the passing of that Act to resist aggression and to instruct and guide its followers. I do not believe there would be the slightest disposition on the part of the Catholics to seek ascendency or do any injustice, even if they could, to the Protestants. The Catholic Church is guided in its policy by men of the highest wisdom, and they know well that any such attempt in a country like this, with a mixed population, would do their cause more harm than good. We are not at all afraid of our Catholic fellow-citizens. Occasional ebullitions of bigotry and zeal there will be; but they are not peculiar to any Church. But English Members think—and this is perhaps the strongest objection in their minds—that what we seek now is but a first step, which must end in the dismemberment of the Empire. I say most emphatically, and for those with whom I act, that such an idea is most foreign from our intentions. We know we are bound up with this Empire, and we would not, if we could, dissever ourselves from it. We admire your independence, your grand literature, your great power in all social and political movements. It will do us good to learn from you. We want to have the connection so natural, so right, that no irritating disturbing influences shall hinder the maximum of mutual good. The man who shuts his ears to reason, and by main force insists on keeping the present unnatural connection, is the man who is doing most to dismember the Empire. There are two modes of dismembering, the one cutting off the member by main force, the other by binding it, preventing its healthy, natural action, and deadening its life. This you are doing. I acknowledge there are a few in Ireland who look to a separation from this country; But you will make them still fewer the more you bring the principles of fair play to bear on the relationship between the two countries. I am quite sure the great majority of these men are actuated by pure motives, and that they would hail with joy such a settlement of this great national controversy as we propose. We have not taken up this question for our amusement, or to gain consequence, by originating an agitation, or forming a Party. We are bound by every feeling of honour and of self-respect to do everything that lies in our power to push it to a successful issue. If the Leaders of Party persist in refusing to look at this question, they must give place to Leaders who will. The Party on this side may be described as a Party in search of a policy. We present them with a policy—an Imperial policy. Your local government, your taxation are not in a satisfactory state. How much more ground of complaint have we on these questions—a separate people, a distant country, excluded almost entirely from interest and influence in our own affairs? We must appeal from this House and its Leaders to the people—to the truth-loving, generous, English people. You may vote down the question by an overwhelming majority; but it will rise again and shatter your strongest Party combinations. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Resolution.


said, that it was with some diffidence that he rose to second the Motion; but he felt that, sitting as he did on the Ministerial side of the House, it would ill become him to flinch from giving his support to the proposal of the hon. Member opposite that a Committee should be appointed to inquire into the question of Home Rule. The House on the present occasion had not to discuss the expediency or the inexpediency of granting Home Rule; but what they had to discuss was whether this question was so large a one in the political interest of this country as to require Her Majesty's Government to give their sanction to the appointment of a Committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding this subject, and to lay them calmly and dispassionately before the people both of this country and of Ireland. This was not a new question; it had for many years been the one which had been agitating the public mind in Ireland, and that agitation was daily growing in strength. When 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 of Irish people rose at the words "Home Rule," it surely must occur to the minds of Englishman that there was something in it. That something might be wrong; if so, give them a fair and proper opportunity to discuss the matter, and show them that it was wrong. Irish questions, instead of being considered on their intrinsic merits had been made the battle-ground of contending Parties in this country for many years, and they had been bandied to and fro in order that this or that Party might obtain a majority, and it was now time for the Irish people to take them up on their own account. He asked why Irishmen should not be allowed to settle purely Irish affairs for themselves. The affairs of one parish in this country were not determined by the majority in another parish, nor those of one county by the majority in another county; and therefore he could not understand why Irish affairs should be determined by the majority in a Parliament sitting in London. He wished it to be clearly understood that he did not desire to deal with other than purely Irish matters, and he repudiated in the strongest manner any wish to interfere with Imperial questions. He was quite aware that there were numbers of men in Ireland who confounded Home Rule with separation from England, but he kept the two subjects apart in his mind; and he reminded those who mixed them up together that the first body of men who spoke up for Home Rule were principally Protestant Conservative gentlemen, who would repudiate with scorn the idea that they desired to separate from England, and who, if repeal of the Union were offered them, would refuse it at once, because they were aware that by accepting it they would be doing themselves a most material injury. It had been urged against this proposal that it was only prompted by bigotry, and that "Home Rule" really meant "Rome Rule." The Protestant gentlemen of the country had no such suspicion. He, however, was prepared to show that the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland were at first distinctly opposed to Home Rule, and he himself, as an advocate of Home Rule, had been twice defeated as a candidate for a seat in Parliament as the Representative of an Irish constituency through the influence of the Roman Catholic clergy. He admitted that at the present time the majority of the Roman Catholic hierarchy and clergy in Ireland were in favour of Home Rule; but that change in their opinions had been brought about by study and conviction. At any rate, those who thought with him by no means meant Rome Rule when they spoke of Home Rule. The House, however, was not asked to grant Home Rule at once to the Irish people, but to consent to the appointment of a Committee, having full power to inquire into the subject and to say how much or how little of the demand should be conceded, or if nothing should be conceded, then to tell the Irish people why that decision had been arrived at. There were many Irishmen of considerable intelligence and influence who would limit their demand by saying—" Give us a local commission for Ireland who can legislate for us on such subjects as Railway and Gas Bills" but he did not acquiesce in that limitation—far from it. If, however, the Committee, after a full and fair investigation of the subject, decided that Home Rule to that extent only should be granted, he asked that that might be granted first, and then they could discuss the other points afterwards. He maintained that it was contrary to common sense that when Private Bills relating to minor matters in Ireland were brought forward the whole thing had to be settled in London, and that witnesses had to be brought over from Ireland and kept waiting here for an indefinite time at considerable cost. If this subject were not permitted to be fairly brought before the public in the way suggested, so far from it being squelched or stopped, it would grow up into a larger and more awkward question, and he thought that 3,000,000 of people had a right to ask that more consideration and investigation should be given to this matter than could be de- voted to it in a debate of three or four hours. He begged to second the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon the nature, the extent, and grounds of the demand made by a large proportion of the Irish people for the restoration to Ireland of an Irish Parliament, with power to control the internal affairs of that country."—(Mr. Shaw.)


said, that the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Shaw) in the beginning of his very moderate and temperate and, let him add, his very able speech, had apologized for again bringing this important subject before the House. He (Mr. Forster) did not think that any apology was necessary. It was quite true that this very Motion had been brought forward and had been fully discussed on former occasions; but although it was difficult to adduce new facts in support of it, still the House could not be blind to the fact that a large number of Irish Members and of Irish constituencies felt strongly on this subject, and, therefore, no one would wish to discourage Irish Members from bringing this question before the House, year after year, so long as that feeling existed. he must, however, be allowed to say that he hoped that this would be the last time that this question was brought before the House in the form of a demand for a Committee of Inquiry. It was always a plausible mode of proceeding to ask for a Committee of Inquiry, especially on a matter of deep interest; but it must be recollected that there was a great difference between subjects that wore fit to be discussed in that House and those which were fit to be sent upstairs. In that House they could best discuss great principles, and when it was resolved to adopt any of those principles, then the matter was sent upstairs in order that the details of the scheme for carrying them into effect might be settled. The hon. Member for Cork had himself stated that one of his reasons for bringing this question before the House year after year was, that it was as well that the House should have an opportunity from time to time of re-considering the great principles that lay at the foundation of our government. The hon. Member might be fully justified in taking that course; but these great principles which he wished to have re-considered ought to be discussed in full debate in that House, and not sent upstairs before a Committee. Questions were not sent upstairs before a Committee unless they were open, and he maintained that at present—and he doubted if it would ever be different—Home Rule was not an open question. He did not wish it to be supposed for a moment that he thought the House of Commons should come to a determination never "in any circumstances," to re-consider its decision on this question; but what he desired to say was that until the House of Commons had become convinced that some such separation was desirable, the question would not be an open one which could be sent to a Committee. His own opinion was that the House of Commons would never entertain that conviction, and he had a sanguine hope that year by year fewer Irish Members would support Home Rule; but he was merely pointing out that from their own point of view a Committee was not the best mode of proceeding in the matter. According to the proposition of the hon. Member a Committee was to report upon the nature, extent, and grounds of the demand made by the Irish people, or a large portion of them, for an Irish Parliament. The hon. Member would hardly listen to arguments for referring the Constitution to a Committee upstairs. But, said the hon. Member—" You cannot refer the British Constititution, because there is no Constitution, and there has not been one for 70 years." [Mr. SHAW: Irish Constitution.] If they laid down the principle that great Constitutional questions were not to be referred to a Committee, was it possible to have any question brought before the House to which that principle would apply more strongly than to this Motion? Hardly any greater Constitutional change could be conceived than a change from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to a Confederation of England, Scotland, and Ireland. He thought that in some respects it would be a greater Constitutional change than even a Repeal of the Union. A repeal of the Union meant nothing, after all, than a separation, as far as legislation was concerned, of Great Britain from Ireland. His hon. Friend had avoided going into details on his plan. He (Mr. Forster) thought the most able part of his speech was his avoidance of any mention of that. Confederation involved a great change, not only in Ireland, but in Great Britain. It involved a change in the whole of the Representative institutions of both countries, in the relations of every constituency with its Members, in the relations of every elector in Great Britain or in Ireland, and indeed of every Commoner to the House of Commons. He would show to hon. Members, who were in favour of Home Rule, what great demands they were making on the English and Scotch Members. The Resolution said—" An Irish Parliament, with power to control the internal affairs of that country." Any plan for carrying this out would also, he supposed, include an Imperial Parliament and a Parliament for Great Britain. Then, instead of the present Parliament, they would have at least three Parliaments, perhaps four, perhaps more. We should have a Parliament for Ireland and a Parliament for Great Britain; and if the House of Commons were to grant Homo Rule for Scotland, we should have a Scotch Parliament also. There would be a Parliament for England, a Parliament for Scotland, and he did not know why we should not have a Parliament for Wales, and even in Ireland a distinct Parliament for Ulster. If there wore three Parliaments for England, Scotland, and Ireland, over them or by the side of them there would be the Imperial Parliament. How much would it be over them? At once came the difficulty of defining the relation between the Local and the Imperial Parliament—of defining the duties to be given to one and reserved to the other. The hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) said on a former occasion that there might appear to be difficulties, but that they were in detail, and that if the House set to work it would get over them. But he (Mr. Forster) said that the difficulties were not in detail, but in principle. The difficulty was this—you must have a definition of one Parliament compared with the other. How could that be done? Oh, it was said, that could be done by an Act of Parliament. But that meant that in place of the present unwritten Constitution they were to have a Constitution written in an Act of Parliament; that they were to put a dry piece of parchment in place of the old Constitution, which was an embodiment of their history and of their national life—that Constitution which had been the growth of centuries, and which had not ceased to grow. England and Scotland did not wish to have that written Constitution—they preferred their unwritten, historic Constitution. Home Rulers were asking a great thing of England and Scotland, and this was, at any rate, a matter that ought not to be sent to a Committee, but that ought to be decided upon by the House itself. So far as a Constitution was a written one, it must be a limited Constitution. Every power must be defined; the powers of the Imperial Parliament as compared with the Local Parliaments, and the powers of the Local Parliaments as compared with the Imperial Parliament. They had been accustomed to be proud of feeling that their ancient Parliament of the United Kingdom was omnipotent; the common story was that it could do anything except change a man into a woman; but if we adopted a written instead of our unwritten Constitution, that boast would become the merest empty word. The power of Parliament would then be limited by the words of a statute. Another result would happen. When they had a written Constitution, as the Constitution of the United States was written, was it to be unchangeable? or, if not, how was it to be changed? One of the greatest difficulties of our kinsmen in America was the enormous difficulty of making any changes in their Constitution. Any man looking to the recent history of America would acknowledge that if there had been more elasticity in the Constitution, if at the last moment they had not been obliged to abide by the letter and the law of the Constitution, the fearful Civil War might, perhaps, have been avoided. Well, how could a written Constitution in this country be changed? They could not give the Imperial Parliament alone the power of changing it, nor could they give that power to the Local Parliaments alone; it must be done by some combination of the two, or by bringing in a fresh power, and that again would be condemning us to inconviences and new arrangements involving very great sacrifices on the part of English or Scotch Members. He could not conceive of anything more contrary to Liberal policy than an unchangeable Constitution, or a Constitution most difficult to change; or of anything more in accordance, not with any Conservative policy which was now advocated, but with the most unbending Toryism. There was no way by which greater difficulties would be thrown in the way of those changes and reforms from time to time by reason of which our historic course had been so successful, and we had avoided revolution by reforms. No greater obstacle could be thrown in the way of further progress by adapting the Constitution to the needs and wants of the age than by condemning us to a written statute which could only be changed with the greatest possible difficulty. If they had a written Constitution and law they must have interpreters of that law. He had rather expected to hear illustrations of Federalism brought forward. Sometimes they heard the Confederation of Canada alleged as an illustration, but that was not a parallel case; because, at present, at any rate, every Canadian Act must receive assent in England, and therefore there was an appeal to authority at home. Federalism was a necessity in America; but that necessity involved the necessity of having a Supreme Court. If we established anything like Federalism in this country, we must have a Supreme Court something like that in the United States. When he was at Washington, he was sitting by the side of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and he said to him—" I look on you with great respect as the greatest lawyer in the world, being at the head of a Court which not merely interprets the law passed by Congress, but which determines whether the law ought or ought not to have been passed by Congress." Were we prepared to hand over this power to any set of lawyers—to say that, in addition to the power of determining the meaning of Acts of Parliament—rather a difficult matter sometimes—they were to determine—as the Supreme Court of the United States did determine—whether Parliament was or was not transgressing the Constitution by passing these Acts; and whether a British subject—as was determined by the Supreme Court with regard to American citizens—was or was not bound to obey them? He would take another instance that was often quoted—the Confederation of Austria and Hungary. He did not admit that that was at all a parallel case to the relations between Great Britain and Ireland. There never was a union between Austria and Hungary; but there, again, Federalism was a necessity. And how had they arranged that difficult question there? The Parliaments had Home Rule given to them in the widest possible sense. Foreign affairs were held to be no part of the business of either the Diet of Hungary or the Reichsrath of Austria; and yet, make what arrangements they could for excluding foreign affairs from the discussions of Local Parliaments, they were found to come under the consideration of those Parliaments. Still they had somehow or other to provide for the Imperial Assembly by the side of or above those two Parliaments. Delegations were appointed by each of those Local Parliaments. They met alternately at the two capitals of Vienna and Pesth, and if they finally disagreed, who decided between them? The Emperor of Austria, the King of Hungary. Therefore the way in which the written Constitution of Austro-Hungary was decided was not by a committee of lawyers, but by the will—he might say the despotic will—of the Sovereign. ["Hear, hear!"] It would take a great deal, he thought, to divest the House of Commons and the British Parliament of its power and hand it over to lawyers or to a Sovereign clothed with despotic authority. All these were rather abstract arguments, but they confirmed the statement made by the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. P. J. Smyth) in his eloquent speech of last year, that no Federal arrangement could be arrived at until a clear majority of the people of England, Ireland, and Scotland wished for it. In fact, whatever be the plan of the Home Rulers, they must ask that the Parliament of the United Kingdom should be turned into a Congress; that Ireland should become a State in the British Union, and England and Scotland other States. As far as he knew, the people of England and Scotland had no desire to become separate States, but wished to remain as now parts of the United Kingdom. He must say that if he were forced to decide between Repeal and Home Rule, great as he believed would be the calamity of Repeal, he should decide in favour of Repeal. Repeal, indeed, would be fraught with calamities far more dangerous to Ireland than to England; he believed ruinous to Ire- land, and very inconvenient to England. If they had a separate Irish Parliament it must be one of two things—either a vassal Parliament, as it was, up to 1782; or it must be an independent Parliament. He would not insult Irish Members by supposing that they would assent to being a vassal Parliament. But if it was to be an independent Parliament collisions would be sure to arise, resulting, very probably, in civil war. On the other hand, Home Rule would produce the same collisions. The Irish would rally round their Parliament; State rights could be the cry, Home Rule would be only a step towards Repeal; but, in making this stop, they would also have endangered the very essence of our old Representative institutions. He might be considered as rather contradicting himself if, after making that statement, he admitted that the Home Rule movement marked a great progress in Irish political life. That movement was a great advance, not merely on the Fenian movement, but on that for Repeal. In the first place, it was an acknowledgment of the enormous difficulties of Repeal, and an attempt, though a very lame one, to evade these difficulties; and, secondly, it was an acknowledgment of the wish of all Irish politicians and Irish patriots to take their share in the Imperial Government of the Empire, and their fear that with Repeal they would cease to have that share. Now, both that desire and that fear were most reasonable and natural. The matter had been put very well by the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) in one of his speeches. Supposing Repeal were effected, what about India and the Colonies? Would India be an Irish Empire? Would the Colonies be connected with the Irish Parliament as much as with the English? He was not now speaking of questions of mere place and patronage, though the fact that Ireland now had a career open to her great men in our Colonies—that the last three Governors General of Canada, the late Viceroy of India, and many of the Governors throughout our Dependencies were Irishmen ought not to be forgotten. But what he meant was that great Colonial and Indian questions would be debated and decided in the British and not in the Irish Parliament. And so with foreign affairs. It was quite possible that England might have one view as to foreign policy and Ireland another. Did anybody suppose that the resolution or opinion of an Irish Parliament would prevent Great Britain from carrying out her foreign policy? On the other hand, the arguments and eloquence of individual Irishmen had affected, and would again affect, the deliberations of that House on foreign questions. He did not want for a moment to boast as if the Saxon intellect had a faculty for ruling which the Celtic had not. How would the history of England have stood but for the help she had had from Ireland? What would have been the result of her battles without a Wellesley? Where would India have been in its great crisis without its Lawrences? But they could not get over hard material facts. The difference in the area and population and the natural resources of the two countries was so great that nothing could, by any possibility, get over that difference; and if they had two Parliaments, although the Irish Parliament might be independent of that of England, it would be the policy of the greater country that would rule, and they would find that Irishmen would have far less influence in moulding the policy of this great Empire as Members of a separate Parliament than they would have as Members of the Imperial Parliament. No Irish Member of that House could say that he was not listened to there on great questions just as much as if he had come from England or Scotland. When he heard that marvellously eloquent speech lately delivered by the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. P. J. Smyth) on the Eastern Question, he thought what a loss it would be if they had no Irishmen in that Assembly. He did not think it would have been possible for an Englishman, with English training and antecedents, to have made that speech; and although he could not absolutely agree with it, yet he felt that he understood the question better after hearing that speech than he had done before. They had had Burkes, Sheridans, and O'Connells in that House, and they hoped to have them again. They were willing to receive Irishmen on perfectly equal terms; but if they asked us to change our Parliamentary system in order to receive their aid, we should say that that was too high a price to pay for it. The legislation of this country was not an easy task, and we could not have it hampered and hindered by such a scheme. To use a commercial illustration. We rejoiced that Irishmen were our partners in this business of governing a great Empire; we did not wish that there should be any dissolution of the partnership, but we must tell Irishmen that we could not admit as the condition of their remaining in the partnership that there should be such an alteration in the articles as would make it impossible to carry on the business. It might be said that all this was philosophical and abstract reasoning, but he would deal with the question as a practical matter. It was said Irish affairs were not attended to by that House, and that was attributed to three things—want of sympathy, want of knowledge, and want of time. ["Hear, hear!"] Now, notwithstanding that solitary cheer from the right hon. and learned Member for Clare (Sir Colman O'Loghlen), he absolutely denied, on behalf of English and Scotch Members on both sides of the House, that there was any want of sympathy. The House of Commons, at any rate, for the last five or 10 years had shown no want of sympathy. How was it with regard to Scotland? In some respects Scotland differed more from England than Ireland did. But we had one comfort in looking at this question. No Union could have been arrived at by worse means than the Union with Ireland; but the Union with Scotland had been arrived at by means as bad—by means which furnished as black a record as any in history. The feeling in Scotland for years after was as hostile to England as that in Ireland, and yet a cordial union had been effected between the two countries. He believed that a similar union would yet be effected between England and Ireland. The hon. Member for Meath a few days ago at a lecture on Irish poetry prophesied that the peculiar tactics of obstruction—


I rise to Order. I think the right hon. Gentleman is alluding to a report of a speech of mine which appeared in The Daily Telegraph of yesterday. I may say at once that speech was not accurately reported, and not more accurate than the reports London newspapers usually give of my speeches.


said, he would not further allude to the matter, But merely observed that if the hon. Gentleman was misreported, he should have thought he would have considered it due to himself to write to the newspaper and state what he did say. He (Mr. Forster) would venture upon a prophecy. He believed that many of them would live to see the day when the Irish Members and the Irish people would not always turn a deaf ear to the offer persistently made to them, to take their share on perfectly equal terms with the English Members and the English people in the government of this great Empire. As to the want of knowledge, he might say that with regard to Irish and Scotch questions there was hardly an English Member who did not feel it his business to be guided by the information and knowledge given by the Irish and Scotch Members; and if the system worked well in regard to Scotland he was at a loss to conceive why it should not work equally well in reference to Ireland. His hon. Friend (Mr. Shaw) said, in the beginning of his speech, that the House had no time to give to Irish questions. But if they took the time given to Irish questions, not merely at the end, but also at the beginning of the evening, it would be found that Ireland had had her full share not only of the time, but of the brains of the House of Commons. He must disclaim any adherence to the statement that Irishmen had not been listened to with attention, respect, and even deference when speaking on Irish affairs. He had a remarkable instance of that in the case of the Sunday Closing Bill, the decision upon which he did not doubt was arrived at, contrary to the feelings of a great number of Members on the general question, out of deference to the feelings of Irish Members and the information given by them. He must, however, say that the hon. Members for Meath (Mr. Parnell) and Cavan (Mr. Biggar) had not made the want of time less. The bribe bad been held out that this difficulty would be removed by Home Rule, as those hon. Gentlemen would not then feel it their duty to take their present course. He was not quite sure about that. There would be an Imperial Parliament and Irish delegates to that Parliament; probably one or two of these Gentlemen would appear in the delegation, and he was not quite clear they would not feel it their duty, if in a minority, to take the same course in order to get what they wanted. But the House was not to be bribed, nor, indeed, threatened, into the passing of a great measure of this kind. They might depend upon it that this question, which affected the very deepest interests of the two Kingdoms, could not be decided by the kind of obstruction that was now pursued. But, putting those two hon. Gentlemen aside, he admitted that the time of the House of Commons was most sorely taxed. The complaint ought not to come from Ireland alone, it might come from England and Scotland too. He thought it was a great mistake when they determined to go to bed at half-past 12, but that was another question. He quite admitted that the House of Commons had the greatest possible pressure on its time for the business of the Three Kingdoms, and the Government and the House ought to set to work without delay to meet that difficulty. A great deal might be done possibly by some change in the forms of procedure; but he was moil hopeful of what might be effected by making use of local and municipal government. That was a great question which he supposed the Government could hardly fail to take up. We were first to define what were to be rural as well as urban municipalities; next, to say what duties were to be imposed on them, then to allow them to form themselves into County Boards, and then we might go so far with advantage as to allow counties to combine for the performance of some of these duties. It might be said this was a form of Home Rule; but there was this immense difference between this municipal government and Home Rule — that the duties of the municipalities would be clearly defined, the authority of Parliament would be maintained, and the Constitution would be preserved inviolate, for the municipalities would act in absolute subordination to Parliament. That would be a very different thing from giving independent power for Home affairs to an Irish or an English Parliament. He admitted that the distance of Ireland from England formed a special argument in favour of giving work to local and municipal bodies in her case. We might devise some means by which many Private Bills might become law without people having to come over here for them. But while making these admissions, he was not prepared to divest Parliament of its work by taking away its authority. He would not detain the House much longer, but wished to mention another reason why he could not give a silent vote. He had been arguing hitherto from a British, or at any rate from an Imperial, point of view; but were he an Irish Member, he would certainly adopt the same arguments, for he thought that every vote given for this proposition, and especially every vote given by an English or a Scotch Member, was an injury to Ireland. Every such vote weakened the efforts of those Irish patriots who believed that the prosperity of Ireland did in reality depend upon its connection with Great Britain and upon the preservation of complete union, and also tended to deceive the Irish people by leading them into the mistake of supposing that England and Scotland were ever likely to assent to the separation. The encouragement thus given, he referred the existing agitation, which could not but be mischievous in its effects on the prosperity of the country. His hon. Friend had let fall one remark —in the middle of what was certainly a moderate speech—to the effect that he felt sure the time would come when statesmen would feel themselves obliged to deal with the question as the Irish wished it to be dealt with. They had been told that the prospects of the Liberal Party were very much involved in their support of this proposition for Home Rule, and that unless they consented to do so they must be content to remain out of office. With regard to that portion of the hon. Gentleman's observations he would only say that any Gentleman either in the House or out of it who would thus attempt to control English politicians, should study the history of England, and, above all, the history of political Parties; and from that study he would learn this lesson—that there never had been, and never would be, a Party who would not greatly lose by its being for a moment supposed that they supported a measure, not from conviction, but from mere expediency. Much more would they lose if the measure they supported would sacrifice the integrity of the Empire. He would go further, and having always been a Liberal himself, would ask those Gentlemen who had studied the history of the Liberal Party whether they did not find that their Party had been prosperous and powerful just in proportion as it had acted from convic- tion, and had preferred principle to Party expediency. No man could call himself a Liberal who would ask any voter, or any Member, or any candidate, to support such a measure as Home Rule without being convinced of its utility. He had no right to speak on behalf of the Liberal Party, but he might say a word or two as to his own feelings. He believed that the Irish voters in his own constituency were more numerous than the voters in many Irish boroughs, and he would say to them what he said to the House—that he was a Member of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and that he would not be doing his duty to Ireland if he supported such a measure. He had studied the history of the wrongs and woes of Ireland in past times with sorrow and indignation; but he rejoiced now at her comparative prosperity, though he was by no means satisfied with it. He had seen Ireland at the time of her greatest misery, and had visited the scenes of that terrible Famine in the agonies of which hunger was, as it were, a disease, when men spoke of "the hunger" as they would have talked of the plague or the cholera. He acknowledged that this suffering was to some extent due, not to recent bad government, but to the neglect and bad government of centuries before, and he then learned the lesson that if ever he had a share in politics it would be his duty to do what he could to help to improve the condition of Ireland. He still clung to the hope that as its condition had been improved, the improvement might be continued. He was willing, therefore, to give due heed to Irish feelings and views. He was not, however, prepared to support the Repeal of the Union, which he believed would be ruinous to Ireland and dangerous to England. He was not prepared to support Home Rule, which in its speedy result and certain tendency would produce the evils he had described; and, therefore, he was not prepared to vote for a Committee of Inquiry into the grounds of a measure which he knew he must oppose, and which Committee would therefore be to him at least a sham and a delusion.


said, that the Motion had been introduced in a speech of great moderation, and as regarded the right hon. Member who had just sat down he admired him for his outspoken and uncompromising opposition to the Motion. He had said that this question, at the present or any other time, would have his most strenuous opposition. He had heard similar declarations from Gentlemen holding high office, who, having said that they could not deal with a question, were afterwards the first to take it up. In the year 1865, when a Motion was brought forward for the Disestablishment of the Irish Church, the then Home Secretary (Sir George Grey) stated that Her Majesty's Government, which then included the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, had no intention whatever of dealing with the question, which they believed, if raised, would produce much animosity, and retard considerably the improvement of the country. But a few years later the Irish Church was disestablished, without being followed by a revolution or by any of the evils which had been predicted. The Act of Union declared the Church of Ireland to be established "for ever," and yet that institution had been dealt with in a manner which was satisfactory to the Irish people, and which did not cause any revolution. The promoters of Home Rule had considerable difficulties to encounter. Prejudice of the most extraordinary kind prevailed on the subject, and misrepresentations of the wildest nature had been made in the Press. For example, in the leading journal of the Empire, it had been stated but a few days ago that any English or Scotch Members who would support Home Rule, or who would even vote for a Committee to inquire into it, were unfit to represent any English or Scotch constituency; and it went on to say—"We hate the cause, and we hate the men who support it." This language could not be intended to intimidate Irish Members elected specially to support Home Rule, but it might possibly intimidate English Members who would be inclined to agree with them on this question so far as to vote for a Committee of Inquiry. After all, they did not ask for any startling alteration in the Constitution. They merely asked that there should be restored to Ireland what, down to the year 1800, she possessed—namely, the right of making her own laws. This right was affirmed by an Act of the British Parliament in 1783, "to be established and ascertained for ever," and that it should "at no time thereafter be questioned or questionable," and yet within 20 years of that date the Act of Union was passed. Home Rule was asked for on three grounds—first, because this Parliament was so fully occupied by its own affairs that it could not possibly do justice to Irish Business; secondly, that even if it were not so engaged, it would be incapable, from its want of information on Irish affairs, to settle Irish questions satisfactorily; and thirdly, that if it had time and proper information it would not content the Irish people—an ancient people who once enjoyed a Parliament of their own, and who still wished to possess the right of making their own local laws. No one acquainted with the Business of the House could say that the British Parliament was capable of discharging the work now forced upon it. There might be differences of opinion as to Scotch Business; but it was quite certain that they could not attend properly to Irish Business. At the end of last Session he had a Return moved for, of the number of Bills introduced into the House in the course of the Session. Of 455 Bills brought in, 264 related to the United Kingdom, 85 were English, 64 were Irish, 26 were Scotch, and 16 were nondescript Bills. This Parliament was not competent to deal with so large a number of measures. It might be said that a number of these Bills were perfectly useless; but he thought the Chief Secretary for Ireland would admit that some were not useless, and ought to have been passed. They had had the Irish Judicature Bill before them for two Sessions, and there was the Irish Public Health and the Irish Prisons Bill demanding the attention of the House, and the Chief Secretary for Ireland was unable to advance them in the slightest degree. There was also the question of University Education in Ireland, which pressed strongly for settlement; but, from want of time, Parliament was unable to deal with it. It might be said that if it were not for the obstruction of some Irish Members more Business would be done. He was sorry to say he had seen obstruction practised by Gentlemen of all Parties. They had been kept up walking through the Lobbies until 5 o'clock in the morning in consequence of the Motions upon the English Education Bill and the Army Purchase Bill, tabled by Members of the present Government. From its constitution the House was incapable of discharging adequately Irish Business. It was composed of 549 Members from England and Scotland, while only 105 were sent from Ireland. Therefore, it could not be expected that Irish affairs would receive such attention from an Assembly so constituted, as they would receive from an Irish Parliament. English Members disliked Irish Business, and the great majority of them were wholly unacquainted with Ireland. He believed that neither the present Prime Minister, nor the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) had ever visited that country. When the Railway Commission was proposed the then President of the Board of Trade declared that the Commissioners would discharge Irish Business in Ireland; but, in spite of this, they had never visited Ireland. A strong feeling prevailed among the Irish people that there ought to be some change in the legislative machinery of the country. It was a significant fact that three-quarters of a century after the date of the Union a demand was made by the people of Ireland for the restoration to them of the right of making their own laws. At the last General Election a large majority of the Irish Members—58 or 59, he believed—were returned to the House of Commons as advocates of Home Rule. His right hon. Friend who spoke last expressed a hope that this feeling would die out; but there was no evidence that it was dying out. On the contrary, in the present year there had been elections in Leitrim, Sligo, and Waterford, and in those three counties Home Rulers had been returned in the place of the former Members who were not Home Rulers. In his opinion, the Home Rule movement would extend. As long as they had a Constitutional Government, they could only judge of the opinions of the people by the Members they sent to represent them in Parliament. If the number of Home Rule Representatives in that House was so great, was it not reasonable to suppose that the majority of the Irish people were in its favour? It might be said, of course, that the Irish gentry were not Home Rulers. They were not at present; but they knew that such movements must be brought forward by persons of a different class of life, and that it was only when a certain amount of attention and popularity had been gained for them that they were joined by the higher classes of society. It was no argument against the Motion, therefore, to say that the Irish gentry were not in favour of Home Rule. He would not on the present occasion enter into any details of a scheme of Home Rule; but he thought a plan might be devised to carry out the views of Irish Members with respect to it without encountering the difficulties which had been suggested by the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. It was suggested by the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) that there should be an English Parliament for England, a Scotch Parliament for Scotland, and an Irish Parliament for Ireland. If they had an Irish Parliament for Ireland, there ought to be by strict logic an English Parliament for England and a Scotch Parliament for Scotland. But in such matters they were not bound to follow a strict logic. There were anomalies in our present Constitution, and why should not the Imperial Parliament discharge for England and Scotland the same legislative functions as before. If the people of England and Scotland did not want to disturb their old Parliament of so many ages' duration that was no reason why they in Ireland should not have a Parliament of their own if they desired to have one. They might have an Imperial Parliament as now for English, Scotch, and Imperial affairs, but an Irish one for affairs purely Irish. It might be an anomaly to have Irish Members sit in that House if that House had to legislate for English and Scotch local affairs; but, as it had also to legislate for Imperial matters, Ireland should be represented in it. He maintained that there were grounds for asking the House to grant them a Committee to consider plans for the purpose in view. He did not say that a better mode of proceeding might not be adopted; but so much prejudice existed upon the question here, that they had been prevented from bringing the subject forward in the shape they had intended. They were not seeking the consent of the House to any principle, but merely to grant an inquiry into the matter; and he could not see why anyone who had a doubt on the subject should not be willing to consider the question, and give his vote upon it. The arguments which were invariably used from the Treasury bench in opposition to any Home Rule Motion consisted in the production of statistics to show that Ireland had greatly improved since the Union; and there was much money in the savings banks, and many cattle in the country. That, however, was no good argument against Home Rule, for the supporters of that movement contended that Ireland had not improved as she would have done if she had had an Irish Parliament, and that she had, in fact, improved in spite of the Union Act. Again, it was said that important measures for Ireland had been passed by that House, and that, therefore, the Irish people had no right to complain of the way in which their Business was attended to. Well, he fully admitted that important Irish measures had been passed by the English Legislature; but it was not without considerable difficulty, and not until after the conscience of England, as it was termed, had been awakened. If there had been a Parliament in Ireland, it would not have taken 29 years, or been necessary to bring the country to the verge of civil war, in order to carry Catholic Emancipation. Then the Irish Church Act and the Land Act had, no doubt, been passed, but not until there was rebellion in Ireland, until cities in England had been stained with blood, and until the Clerkenwell Prison in the Metropolis had been attempted to be blown down. It was no argument against Home Rule to say that these measures had been passed under such circumstances. They wanted a Parliament in Ireland that would understand the Irish people, and be familiar with their wants and their wishes. They wanted a Government dependent on that Parliament that should be familiar with the country and its inhabitants. He remembered when a Lord Lieutenant was surprised to hear from a deputation that Castlebar was not a seaport town, and he knew a Chief Secretary who was not aware that a resident magistrate was not the same as an assistant-barrister. He was prepared to admit that the present Chief Secretary understood Irish interests; but he should like to know how much he knew about them before he entered upon the duties of his office, and whether, in fact, he had not been educated with regard to them in a very great degree by the Representatives from Ireland who sat opposite to him? The question of Home Rule was regarded by the people of Ireland in another way from that in which he had first put it forward. As a measure of convenience it was necessary to have Home Rule, but the Irish people asked for it on a stronger grounds. It was true they felt that unless they had an Irish Parliament, they would not have their Business done as it should be done, or as an Irish Parliament would do it. But that was not all. They wanted Home Rule to change the present state of things in Ireland. There was no centre of public opinion in Ireland now. Dublin was a decayed city in some respects. Nobody lived there who was not compelled to live there by professional or mercantile life. The houses there, which were formerly the residences of the Irish Nobility, were now converted to other purposes. Leinster House was a public institution; another Peer's residence a barrack; while money-changers occupied what was the temple of the Irish Constitution. Could any Irishman be satisfied when he saw that no Irish Peer save one had now a residence in Dublin? If an Irish Peer or commoner wished to go into political life, he must come over here and live like an Englishman, or he might migrate to a Colony. He might become the Prime Minister in Australia or in Canada; but if he remained in Ireland political life was closed against him. The Professions had dwindled down from the want of political life. The old glory of Ireland, her Bar, was dead. There were men at the Bar as eloquent and as able as any that ever pleaded in a Court; but their Currans, their Plunkets, their Bushes, their Saurins, were gone. There were no politics now at the Irish Bar, except those of the "ins" and the "outs," and the only questions discussed were who was to have this or that appointment. Other Professions in Ireland were in the same position, and from the same cause. All national sentiment was extinct. It was not held to be a proper or becoming thing to display any patriotism; it was sneered at in private, and in public it was snubbed. That would not be the case if the class of persons to whom he referred could be encouraged to remain in Ireland, and to do that they must have an Irish Parliament. The question now raised was not, as was supposed by the right hon. Mem- ber for Bradford, a mere temporary question, but was the same old question which had existed in Ireland years ago. The House had not then to deal with a mere passing phase of national life. They had the same national spirit to meet which they formerly imagined they had put down at the time of the Union. Grattan himself believed then that the spirit of Irish liberty was dead. But it was not. They would again and again have to meet it, and the question was—what would they do with it? They could not put it down as they did in 1798 with the triangle and the lash, or as they did in 1800 with Peerages and prisons. The only way in which they could deal with the question was to give them Home Rule. Home Rule might be abused by the English Press, excluded from English clubs, and refused appointments by the English Government; but year after year Irish Members would bring this question forward, and year after year he felt sure they would receive greater support. It was folly to suppose that they would be satisfied with the decision of that night. No doubt they would be beaten in the Lobby; but was not the history of every great reform—such as Catholic Emancipation, Parliamentary Reform and Free Trade—merely a history of defeats. He had heard with sorrow the declaration of the right hon. Member for Bradford, that neither he, nor those with whom he co-operated would ever yield to the demand which was now made. It might be that the race of statesmen was extinct; but, for his part, he thought there was no question more worthy of consideration by any British statesman than the question which had that evening been brought under the notice of the House.


said, he owed it as a duty to the constituents who had sent him to Parliament to protest in the most emphatic manner against any encouragement being given by the Government or Imperial Parliament to this most mischievous agitation. It had been alleged by the Mover of the Resolution that Ireland was not as prosperous as she might be. Well, he admitted that, although more prosperous than formerly, there was still something wanting; but if Ireland was not so prosperous as she might be—or as her best friends could wish—would the Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House below the Gangway say how much the want of prosperity was due to the agitation which had been carried on upon this question? The right hon. and learned Member for Clare (Sir Colman O'Loghlen) said that the agitation was not a new one. No, it was as old as disloyalty to England, and a determination, if possible, to break away from the English rule. This agitation had gone on in Ireland from time to time, sometimes under one name, and sometimes under another; But, at the bottom of it, there was always dislike to the Constitution of England, based as that Constitution was, and must be, on Protestantism. At present the Fenian organization seemed to be dormant; but he did not know how many Members of the Party opposite—the Home Rule Party—had been members of the Fenian organization. Home Rule, the name now adopted, covered a multitude of sins. It covered Repeal, Irish Republicanism, Federalism, and other things; and at the bottom of all lay a demand for severance from England. He regretted to see Candidates for Parliament pandering to this cry. For his own part, he was not sorry to see the Conservative Candidate for Manchester lose his seat by taking that course. He hoped that it would not be repeated, but that politicians on both sides would set their faces against this mischievous agitation. The Government, from whichever side of the House it was taken, had shown, by attention to the affairs of Ireland, every desire to promote her prosperity; but if, every night and morning, every measure relating to England and Scotland was to be opposed in season and out of season, it would be impossible to carry through the measures which might be necessary for Ireland. The right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) said if we conceded a Parliament for Ireland, we might reasonably be expected also to concede a Parliament to Ulster, while on behalf of Ulster he said that, if a Parliament was conceded to Ireland, they would not in Ulster be satisfied with anything less than a Parliament of their own. But they did not desire anything of the kind. They had cast in their lot with the English Parliament, and they desired to retain that connection to the end. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford had said that the adoption of the measure suggested by this Motion would ultimately lead to civil war. Well, he believed that would be the effect. Now, could they look at Europe without having their hearts wrung by the sight of impending bloodshed, devastation, and destruction? And what, he might ask, would be the result of setting race against race, and creed against creed in Ireland? The contest now about to be waged in Europe was a religious war; and, if they provoked a contest of this kind in Ireland, the consequences could not, he must warn them, be otherwise than bloody and disastrous. For his own part, he ardently desired to see Ireland prosperous; and that she might be prosperous, he desired to see her population —of whatever class thy might form part, and to whatever creed or faith they might belong—following the arts, manufactures, or agriculture, peaceably and quietly. By doing that they would, to whatever class or faith they might belong, best promote the prosperity and the well-being of their common country. Would this, however, he would respectfully ask, be done by increasing the political excitement of the country, and increasing the political divisions of the community, and the alienation between different classes and creeds? The constituency he represented (Belfast), numbering as it did one-third of the borough constituencies in Ireland, would not submit without a struggle to be separated from the British Empire. A large proportion of the men of Ulster, rather than be separated from England, would be forward at any risk — peaceably, if possible; but, if not, by the sword — to maintain the integrity of the British Empire. He must complain of hon. Members opposite being often spoken of as if they were the only Irish Members; but there were Irish Members on the Ministerial as well as the Opposition side of the House, and he could not understand why the name of Irish Members should be reserved for the un-English and anti-British party. The right hon. and learned Member for Clare had described in pathetic words the decadence of the Metropolis of Ireland, and had spoken of Dublin as a decayed city. Hon. Gentlemen who might visit Dublin during the Recess would, he thought, scarcely recognize the description; but, at any rate, he (Mr. Johnston) did not represent a decaying, but a most progressive and thoroughly prosperous city—a city in which the busy looms might be heard constantly at work, and in which, he was happy to say, the stir and movement of trade and industry might constantly be seen. The population of that city (Belfast) had, he might tell the House, increased by nearly 60,000 during the period between the Census taken in the years 1861 and 1871 respectively. The hon. Member who brought forward this Motion (Mr. Shaw) referred to Derry and Belfast as being exceptions to the generally peaceful condition of Ireland. Well, if there was some disturbance in Belfast on the 15th of August last, which was a Roman Catholic festival, it was caused by the flaunting of Home Rule banners, with disloyal mottoes, in the faces of the loyal portion of the population. This was a slight indication of what might be expected to result from Home Rule. Ulster demanded that she should not be cast adrift from the British Empire, especially at this moment, when all the nations of Europe were standing with their hands on the sword hilt. Ulster demanded that the descendants of the men who had been sent there to civilize and colonize the land should not be deserted; and as for Ulster itself, it was resolved, come what might, to defend the British connection. They might rely on it that there were men in the North who would resist the disintegration of the Empire to the last; would maintain the British connection; would fight for the red-cross banner of St. George, and display their loyalty to the Crown.


It has been said, more than once, that the advocates of Home Rule support their views on contradictory and inconsistent grounds, and the charge has been brought against them that, in order to meet, or rather to avoid meeting, objections to their scheme, they are obliged to have recourse to that peculiar form of fallacy which consists in alternately shifting your line of argument from one to the other of two incompatible positions. You may advocate, we are told, the claims of Irish nationality as they are understood by persons of extreme views in Ireland, or you may recommend, as a matter of convenience, the creation of some sort of body in Dublin to look after Irish local affairs, but you must not treat your proposal as a means of satisfying the wild dreams of the Nation- alists, while, almost in the same breath, you speak of it as nothing more than an innocent and simple arrangement to facilitate the transaction of Public Business. If Home Rule is to meet the views of the extreme Party in Ireland it must mean a great deal more than a local Board in Dublin; but if it is to be nothing more than that, then it is idle and misleading to advocate it as a means of satisfying extreme demands. The truth, I think, had better at once be frankly admitted—that no creation of a body with power limited to merely local affairs, not even in its fullest sense—a State Legislature on the Federal principle, as suggested by the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) —would have the effect of making Ireland a nation in the sense contemplated by the extreme section of Nationalists. They are perfectly honest and outspoken. The object of their aspiration is an independent nationality, and they would, in their present mind at all events, set no value on any measure which Parliament, under any conceivable circumstances, could pass, and which would not be manifestly inconsistent with the maintenance of the integrity of the Empire. On the other hand, we must acknowledge that a scheme of so narrow and restricted a character that it might properly be described as the establishment of a sort of Board in Dublin would fail to touch the main source of those evils in the present system, the existence of which forms the strongest argument for a change. These admissions having been made, let us attempt to find out whether there is any sound and intelligible principle left on which it is possible to found a defence of the Motion before us. This is a Motion, it should be distinctly borne in mind, which does not commit the House, or any one voting for it, to any specific declaration of opinion further than that inquiry should be made, in the most suitable and convenient manner, into the nature of a proposal which comes before us with the support of a majority of the constitutionally-elected Representatives of the Irish people—larger, in proportion, than the majority which Her Majesty's Government is able to command in this House. The object of this proposed inquiry, as I understand it, would be, not to endeavour to find a way of reconciling two incompatible extremes, but to discover a safe middle course between two lines of policy, both of which are injurious. This Motion is a protest, on the one hand, against wild and impracticable schemes of separation, and, on the other, against a policy of centralization which is full of evil to Ireland and to the Empire. Recognizing the necessity of maintaining, at any cost, the integrity of the Empire, it aims at reconciling that necessity with some acknowledgment of the local political feeling which is so strong and enduring an element in the Irish character. Its object is that there should gradually be created in Ireland a sentiment at once profoundly loyal and distinctly national; and, difficult as it may be to attain this end, I cannot but feel that in the effort to attain it lies the only hope for the political future of that country. The persistent disregard of Irish feeling and sentiment; the constant endeavour to ignore and, as far as possible, to efface the distinctive features of her national life, has been, I believe, the main cause of the failure hitherto of our system of government to create a healthy public spirit, and to foster a sound political instinct in Ireland. And I should almost despair of the future of the country did I see no other prospect than the continuance of a policy which has proved so miserably unsuccessful and even disastrous in the past. There may be—indeed, we are constantly told there is—a stern and fixed resolve to adhere to the old plan of governing Ireland, and to resist any tendency towards a change; but in that case what have we to look for or hope? The Home Rule movement may pass away as other Irish agitations have passed away before, but the causes which have produced it will remain. Older men remember that when O'Connell died it was supposed that Irish discontent had perished with its great mouthpiece, but "it was as if the Æolian harp being broken, men were to write an epitaph upon the wind." The hon. and learned Member for Limerick may cease to be an influence in Irish politics, and the Party his great gifts have gathered round him may be scattered and broken; but the deeply-rooted evils of Irish life will not have been eradicated, and an ever-increasing difficulty will remain for future generations to grapple with. Leaders of other agitations will no doubt in time arise, and it may be that the dark shadow of dis- loyalty and revolt will again sweep over the page of Irish history. I am unable to see in such a prospect any solid ground on which to rest the hope of better things. But it may be asked, what is the meaning of all this discontent and restlessness? Why can you not let things alone, and be satisfied? What cause of complaint has Ireland now left? What genuine grievance of her's has not been redressed? Is she not an integral part of the United Kingdom? Do not her people live under the same laws and enjoy the same Constitutional liberty as their loyal and contented fellow-subjects in England and Scotland? I can well imagine the weariness with which hon. Members on both sides of the House must hear the constant expression of discontent that proceeds from Ireland, and the impatience with which, Session after Session, they sit and listen to what must seem to them not unlike the poet's doleful song— Steaming up a lamentation, and an ancient tale of wrong, Like a tale of little meaning, though the words are strong. I can understand, also, the indignation —the just indignation — with which Englishmen must sometimes hear a state of things which has long passed away described as if it were still in existence, and the salutary changes of later years treated as if they had never taken place. Still, however, it is necessary, if we would understand the present condition of Irish feeling and opinion, not to lose sight of the historical causes which have produced the state of things with which we have now to deal. "Nothing," as an able writer has said— is so misleading as that political pedantry which estimates institutions solely by their abstract merits, and makes no allowance for the previous circumstances, the sentiments, feelings, and sympathies of the people for whom they are intended. In no history, perhaps, can the connection of cause and effect be more clearly traced than in that of Ireland; nor is there any country in which it is easier to see how the economical and social circumstances of the people, the very diseases of public opinion and defects of national character are the result of past misgovernment, the fruits of that stern and relentless fertility with which in all human transactions error and injustice are accompanied. Englishmen would do well never to forget, when Ireland is discontented and troublesome, and unlike their own country, that for the present state of things there the England of the past is mainly responsible, and that in the history of Ireland there are ample grounds to explain her present condition without having recourse to the assumption of any inherent defects in the national character. It is much to be deplored, however, that the past misgovernment of Ireland should ever be treated, even by the most enthusiastic of her sons, not in a calm and historical spirit, to aid us in understanding and dealing with the present, but as a means of inflaming angry passions and widening unfortunate divisions; and, no doubt, the dislike with which Irish nationalism is regarded in England has been, to a great extent, produced by the unfortunate manner in which this is sometimes done. I am alluding, of course, not to the speeches of hon. Members of the House, but to a certain class of heedless and irresponsible oratory out-of-doors. Up to the commencement of the present century, no doubt, Ireland was treated as a conquered country, and was consistently ruled as a dependency from the point of view and in the interest of England, with little or no regard to her own welfare. No stroke of a legislator's wand can remove at once the accumulated evil of centuries. This state of things passed away, gradually at first, for when Ireland began to be treated as a sister, and not as a servant, it was as a sister Cinderella. Matters, however, have gone on improving, and now no one who is not hopelessly prejudiced or under the influence of a distempered imagination can fail to see that there is among all classes of Englishmen a sincere desire to act fairly and kindly towards Ireland, or can doubt that she is governed, as far, at least, as intention goes, with every wish to promote her prosperity. To hold individual Englishmen at the present time blameable for a state of things in which they had no part, and for events which took place long before they were born, is not only unjust, but utterly foolish. It is strongly incumbent on those who profess to lead public opinion in Ireland to dissipate as far as they can mistaken notions which still linger in the minds of the uninformed, and to bear testimony to the fact that, little satisfactory to thoughtful Irishmen as the system of governing their country may be, there is no class or party in England which does not sincerely desire, and is not in its own way willing, to promote the happiness and prosperity of the Irish people. There are none so interested in doing this as those who hope in time so to lead and influence the public opinion of both countries, that a good understanding and friendly feeling between them may become the basis of a satisfactory arrangement of any remaining differences as to forms of government. A full and frank recognition of the undoubted goodwill of the English people towards Ireland is an essential condition of any treatment of the subject which will not place those who enter upon it completely out of sympathy with the general thought of England, and with the great body of moderate and educated opinion in Ireland. But if it be admitted that there is this desire in England to deal fairly and kindly with Ireland, the question naturally arises—why should Ireland not return this feeling, throw in her lot entirely with England, and become, like an English county, perfectly satisfied with her position as an integral portion of the United Kingdom? I own that this dream of complete incorporation must be very attractive to statesmen, and that it is at first sight apparently practicable. But it is only a dream, a delusive vision, and the attempt to realize it as a fact can only result in failure and disappointment. Not to speak of differences of race and the like, the importance of which it is difficult to estimate, the different history which Ireland has had has left its impress far too deeply graven on the character of her people for its distinctive features ever to be effaced. Even if it were possible to put an end to the immense differences which exist between the social and political condition of the two countries, there remains in Ireland, after repeated trials of enforced connection, a distinct and peculiar national life, and a I persistent consciousness that that peculiar life cannot and must not be merged in that of England. The true policy, I feel convinced, is not to persist in the vain effort to effect an incorporation which seven centuries of failure have proved impossible, and to which the whole spirit and sentiment of the Irish race are opposed; but, by accepting and recognizing, within proper limits, that national feeling which you cannot efface, to guide it in a safe and wise direction, and so make it the strength and not the weakness of the Empire. The object of our policy should be, to awaken by a new sense of responsibility and power, and to call into active public life the best, the wisest, the most prudent and enlightened persons in the land; to give the national pride and spirit legitimate objects for their exercise, and to endow the nation with that sense of responsibility and self-reliance which would be the most effectual antidote to wild dreams and restless disloyalty. The essential principle of such a policy as this is, that you should allow Irishmen in Ireland to possess the greatest possible amount of power in the government of their own country which is consistent with the integrity and safety of the Empire. Without this you cannot hope to create that which is the great want in Ireland —a healthy national public opinion. I mean a public opinion similar to that which exists in this country, though not identical with it—a public opinion that will find itself at home in Ireland, and concern itself in a rational and intelligent manner with public affairs, possessing a legitimate Constitutional influence upon them. I want to see created in Ireland a sphere where the energy and capacity of the best class of Irishmen will find legitimate objects for their exercise, a centre round which the intelligence, the earnestness, and public spirit of the country will gather and be concentrated. This is the function—perhaps not less important than its legislative function — which this House discharges for England; but which it signally fails to discharge for Ireland. Although Parliament makes laws for Ireland, as far as influence or opinion goes, it has but little effect. I do not know that Englishmen generally apprehend in how different a relation this House stands to the great body of the population in England and in Ireland. In this country, it may be fairly said, Parliament is the great centre of the political life of the nation. All who desire to influence public affairs naturally turn to this House, and look to it to redress any evils of which they have to complain. Its proceedings are followed with the keenest interest, and its decisions have a powerful influence on the public mind. Every wave of popular opinion is felt here, and there is a well grounded confidence that the will of the nation, when properly expressed, will, in due time, have effect given to it. No one who has any knowledge of Ireland, and who is capable of comparing the two countries, can fail to see that there all this is entirely different, and that as a guiding and moderating influence on opinion, Parliament does little or nothing for Ireland. I do not think that to find out the causes of this state of things there is any need to resort to the assumption of any special unfitness in the Irish character for Parliamentary institutions. These causes are partly historical. Parliament has been associated in the past with a long series of unjust and oppressive laws, and is burdened with unfortunate memories. I am no advocate for the Repeal of the Union. I do not believe it would be practical from an Imperial, or desirable even from a purely Irish point of view, to go back exactly to the Settlement of 1782. But there is no question that the profoundly immoral manner in which the Union was brought about has left an abiding influence on the Irish mind, and is a great obstacle to the existence of a feeling of confidence in, and respect for, the Parliamentary arrangements then instituted. The main causes, however, which weaken in Ireland the moral influence of Parliament are in actual operation at the present time, and their effect may easily be traced. Apathy and indifference to Parliamentary proceedings is, unfortunately, a characteristic of more than one class. The upper classes are withdrawing more and more from public life; those who possess most leisure and most wealth take but little part in public affairs, and enjoy but little of the influence we, might naturally suppose would belong to them. Though this may be partly their own fault, for those who confine themselves to a policy of obstruction cannot expect to be leaders of opinion, it is also to be attributed in no slight degree to some unfortunate circumstances in Irish public life, which are, I think, the inevitable result of the present system of ruling Ireland. The fact, how- ever, remains that the most educated and socially important class in Ireland are allowing themselves to drift more and more out of the general current of national sentiment, and require some strong incentive to rouse them to a more active and energetic view of these public duties. It is notorious, also, that there is in Ireland another class which takes a keen and active interest, after its own fashion, in political matters, but concerns itself not at all with the proceedings of Parliament or the machinery of Constitutional action. But, leaving this extreme Party out of consideration, is there any considerable section of the Irish people whose political condition can be regarded with satisfaction? Are there any reasonable number of persons in Ireland who can be said to be fairly satisfied with the institutions of the country as they exist, who take an intelligent interest in Parliamentary proceedings, and feel that they are in full enjoyment of the privileges of the Constitution under which they live? I am afraid there are not. Loyalty to the Throne, and a desire to see the integrity of the Empire maintained, are sentiments widely diffused throughout Ireland. There are many Irishmen who see plainly enough that nothing but measureless calamity could come to their country from a serious attempt to overthrow by violence the established Government, and who are as sincerely loyal as any Members of this House, yet who are none the less profoundly dissatisfied with the present state of things. If I were asked to name the fundamental cause of their discontent, I would say that it arises from the conviction they entertain that, although they may have Constitutional freedom in theory, they are without it in fact, and that the essential conditions which make goverment through a Representative Assembly, freely chosen by the people, the highest type of ordered liberty, do not exist in Ireland. Now, is this the case, or is it not? A primary condition of free Constitutional government surely is that the people of a country should feel that, through their chosen Representatives, they are able to exercise a direct influence upon the course of legislation; and not less important is it that the Representatives themselves should have an adequate sense of the responsibility entailed upon them by the powers with which they are entrusted. In an united Empire, of course, made up of various parts, it would be impossible for any portion to have the power of separating itself from the combined action of the rest, and it can be no grievance that, in matters of Imperial policy, individual opinion and individual interest should be obliged to yield to wider considerations of Imperial necessity. There is, however, a great body of legislation which deals with questions not of an Imperial, but of a local character, and in this class of questions the claim of local opinion to be regarded as paramount rests, I venture to think, on a very different foundation. If there does not exist between two countries, forming portions of one Empire, that complete incorporation, that identity of legal institutions, and resemblance in condition and circumstances, which would make them practically one country, and if all local questions affecting one portion are decided by the votes of a majority from another portion, it is idle to say that a people who are thus powerless to control their own legislation are in the enjoyment of any real measure of Constitutional liberty, although the larger country, which can always command a majority in the Legislative Assembly, will practically be so. It is impossible to maintain that this degree of identity exists, or ever can exist, between England and Ireland. All our recent legislation affecting Ireland is based on the assumption that it does not. In the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) —"Permanent and solid as is the union of the Three Kingdoms, they present varieties of circumstances, of organization, and even of law." Ireland has a separate Government, and a Lord Lieutenant; exceptional laws of a character unknown in England, are constantly being passed for her. Some of the most important institutions connected with the government of man have been altered or modified to suit her peculiar circumstances. The Protestant Church has been disestablished, and in attempting to regulate the relations which exist between the owners and occupiers of the Irish soil, the principles accepted on this side of the Channel have been, to a great extent, set aside. Still, it is of common occurrence —many instances must be in the recollection of us all— that, on questions solely affecting Ireland, the constitutionally expressed opinions of the Irish people, as indicated by the votes of the majority of their Representatives, have been powerless to influence the decision of Parliament. I could even point to more than one question of a local character on which the enormous majority of Irish Members on both sides of the House have failed to obtain any recognition of their wishes, their votes being out-numbered by the votes of English and Scotch Members. The moral evil springing from this state of things is so great that it has a lowering influence on the whole tone of political life. The people, conscious that they possess no direct Constitutional power to give effect to their wishes, either neglect Parliamentary proceedings altogether, or seek to influence them in a manner which can hardly be called satisfactory. Having no Constitutional power, they have but little sense of responsibility. They do not learn, as they otherwise would, to limit and moderate their demands; but have a sort of general notion that the more they ask for, and the more trouble they give, the more they are likely to get. They are in danger of looking for the accomplishment of their desires, not to a plain, straightforward course, but to the exigencies and combinations of English Party politics, in which they take no direct or intelligent interest; and there have been indications even of a willingness to tolerate that most mischievous and degrading system—mischievous to England and degrading to Ireland—of bartering Irish support on English questions for English interest on Irish subjects. The faults of constituencies cannot fall in the end to be reflected in those who represent them. A sound public opinion in the country is the best security for a sound representation in Parliament. It has been often said, for many years and many Parliaments past, that Irish Members on both sides of the House have not always shown as much moderation in their views, as studious a regard for what is practical and reasonable, as careful an appreciation of the fitness of means to ends, as might be desired. It is not for me to say whether this charge is well founded or not; but, certainly, something of the kind would only be the natural result of the position we occupy. When a body of men know that, although they are the nominal legislators of a country, they are practically without power to determine the course of its legislation—that they are free to profess opinions without the responsibility of carrying those opinions into effect, and to make proposals without the obligation of really accepting or rejecting them—it is sanguine, indeed, to expect that they will exhibit the moderation, the caution, and the steadiness which mark the highest class of political representation. The constituencies and the Members re-act upon each other, and the evil has a constant tendency to grow worse. The inevitable result must be gradually to deprive the representation of a great deal even of the moral weight it now possesses, to foster an unreasonable and impracticable tone of opinion in the country, and to make public life more and more inaccessible to men of high character, ability, and conscientiousness. These are some of the causes which tend to produce an unhealthy political atmosphere in Ireland. I believe they can only be removed by giving the Irish people, through their Representatives, a far greater amount of genuine control over the legislation affecting their own country than they enjoy at present. In proportion as this is done will a sound political sense be created in Ireland, and the defects of the present system will gradually disappear. In those matters of local administration with which Irishmen are actually entrusted there is no evidence of incapacity. Corporations, Boards of Guardians, Harbour Boards, and Public Companies are managed in Ireland with as much practical ability and regard to the public interest as in any other country. Nor is there any reason to doubt that in a higher order of affairs the same capacity would be shown. There are many, I believe, among the upper and middle classes in Ireland who do not care to join a political agitation —they cannot forget how previous agitations have ended—yet who distinctly feel the evils of the present system, and would gladly welcome and loyally cooperate with any safe and practical arrangement to remove them. I have spoken on this subject to many educated and moderate men in Ireland, resident landowners, professional men, merchants in the chief towns, and clergymen, Protestant as well as Catholic, and I have found with many of them that while they are perfectly loyal and faithful to the Imperial connection, and have a natural shrinking from wild and revolutionary notions, they are by no means satisfied with things as they are, and entertain a profound dislike to the system of centralizing everything here in London. The amount of this sort of opinion is, I imagine, very much underrated here, partly, because those who hold it are not often anxious to put themselves conspicuously forward, and, partly also because the classes of Irishmen with which English opinion is brought most in contact are, perhaps, those which are least affected by it. For instance, the highest class, in a social point of view, those who form a portion of "London Society," are distinctively Irish in little else except that they draw their incomes from Irish estates, and that the country places at which some of them spend a portion of the year happen to be situated in an Irish instead of an English or Scotch county. Such persons are far more likely to reflect the prevailing opinions of their set here in London than any peculiarly Irish feeling. I may say, in passing, that I do not suppose, or even desire, that any amount of local self-government you can give to Ireland would have the effect of preventing many members of the wealthiest classes from coining every year to London; but, still, it would be a good thing if those who own so large a proportion of the property of the country were induced to stay rather more in Ireland than they do at present, and to take a more active interest in her affairs. If the responsibility of managing those affairs was thrown, in a greater degree, upon them, I have no doubt the best of them would be found ready to do so. The other class to which I have been alluding is the official class. It is an unfortunate circumstance in Irish life that from various causes there has grown up in Ireland a sort of recognized antagonism between the official classes and the general body of the people. Many persons in the humbler ranks of life look upon any one in the position of a Government official as a sort of natural enemy, and the result is to deprive the Government and the administration of the law of much moral support. It has been truly said that the whole system of governing Ireland is based upon distrust of the people, and, in consequence, a general feeling of suspicion enters into and paralyzes all the relations of society. Under these circumstances, the official classes cannot be expected to have much sympathy with the national sentiment, with which they are constantly in conflict; and not the least of the good results I should expect to see from throwing the government of Ireland more into the hands of Irishmen at home would be to dissipate the notion that there is any antagonism between those who perform the official duties of Government and the general body of the governed, and to create a spirit of confidence in the machinery of the State. We have been told on a previous occasion by a noble Lord who holds a most prominent position on this side of the House, and who was opposing a Motion on the subject which is now before us—that whatever arguments might be used in reference to this question, as it applied to Ireland, while giving every consideration to the just claims of that country, the Imperial Parliament could only look at it from an Imperial point of view. That was a plain and outspoken declaration, and I, for one, heartily assent to it. I believe that no settlement of this question will ever be brought about except by men capable of rising to the highest level of Imperial patriotism. The only question for the Imperial Parliament to consider is—In what manner can Ireland best be governed, not merely in her own interest, but in the interest of the Empire at large; and no proposal which does not stand the test of Imperial utility can or ought to be accepted here. I believe the soundest regard for Imperial interests should prompt us to abandon, as regards Ireland, the fatal policy of centralization; and, while we are careful not to hold out a moment's delusive encouragement to wild dreams of impossible independence to give the fullest scope and opportunity for national feeling and local patriotism to enlist themselves on the side of law, order, and authority. Apart from the considerations on which I have been dwelling, there are, from an English and Imperial, as well as from a purely Irish point of view, strong practical reasons for desiring to free the Legislature as much as possible from the consideration of local affairs. These reasons are gaining strength every day. In the words of the right hon, Gentleman the Member for Greenwich— We should not only admit, but welcome every improvement in the organization of local and subordinate authority which, under the unquestioned control of Parliament, would tend to lighten its labours and to expedite public business. Mr. Mill wrote, a short time before his death— The argument for a separate Legislature for Ireland, grounded on the inability of the British Legislature to get through the necessary business for Ireland, in addition to its other work, is an extremely strong one. Time and the powers of physical endurance of Members of this House are, as we all know, limited, while the demands upon them are ever on the increase. The lines of legislation are constantly expanding and bringing new and varied interests within the range of Parliamentary supervision and control. This being the case, the question of improving the machinery of legislation must every day grow more serious. I feel sure that if the people of England and the House of Commons were to understand that, in the demand of local self-government for Ireland, there was nothing in the background, that it did not mean Fenianism in disguise, or a step towards an organized agitation for an impossible degree of legislative separation, but that it was a simple and loyal arrangement by which Parliament, while remaining, as an Imperial Legislature, absolutely untouched and unimpaired, would be freed of some portion of its labours, and the Irish people, while continuing in intimate and loyal connection with their fellow-subjects in other portions of the Kingdom, would enjoy in a more perfect degree than they do at present constitutional control over the laws immediately affecting their own country—were, I say, the English people to understand this they would welcome and rejoice at the proposal. Reasonable men in England and Ireland would have no difficulty in understanding one another if left to themselves, nor would people sincerely anxious to settle this question be in danger of quarrelling over details. It may, I think, be admitted that, if the principle were agreed upon—if it were once decided that the policy of centralization as regards Ireland was to be abandoned—there would be nothing impracticable or of insuperable difficulty, in devising means to carry the new policy into effect. It is mere trifling with the question to raise points now as to details of legislative machinery or the like. The real difficulties—and, no doubt, there are difficulties—do not lie in that direction. There are grave obstacles to the early acceptance of the principle in the attitude of the public mind towards it in England, and even in Ireland. For the way it has come to be regarded in this country I am obliged to admit that some of its own advocates are not entirely free from responsibility. We are sometimes reminded that it is possible to treat this question in a manner which can only have the effect of removing it for the time being out of the region of practical politics altogether. One extreme easily leads to another, and men cannot always be expected to bear in mind what has been said by Bishop Butler, that— A doctrine's being made the shelter of enthusiasm or extravagance is no proof of the falsity of it, truth and right being something real in itself, and not to be judged by its supposed distance from or nearness to error. A good understanding between England and Ireland, the full and ready concurrence of a great body of public opinion in both countries, is an essential condition of the satisfactory development of the Home Rule idea. There is great force in what one of the most eminent of living Irishmen—Mr. Lecky—has said, that no arrangement extracted from England as an unwilling concession to political exigencies or Party necessity, and regarded in Ireland in the light of a victory won from a natural enemy, would have the elements of permanence in it, and could only lead to fresh and dangerous complications. It may be said that if such a good understanding were actually in existence the main argument for Home Rule would be gone, but a little reflection will show that this is not the case. We must not wait to propose a change until we have secured universal assent, or we would go on waiting for ever. There is, even at present, a large body of moderate and loyal opinion in Ireland which would be found ready to throw itself actively into the work of healing up any remaining differences between the two countries if it received due encouragement and saw a fair prospect of success. There are many persons now ready to lend their aid to the task of establishing a sound system of local self-government if they could only see a safe and practical way of doing so. In the meantime, they do not care to plunge into the troubled and turbulent stream of political agitation. There may, indeed, personally be but little inducement for them to do so: still, in the famous words once applied by a great master of the English tongue to a conflict of another kind— I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies forth and meets its adversary face to face, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, notwithstanding dust and heat. I believe it to be the duty of every Irishman who takes part in public affairs and who thinks he sees a remedy for the evils which affect his country, not to be deterred by any unpleasantness, or held back by any dread of having imputed to him views more extreme and more unpopular than he really holds, from coming forward at a suitable time and declaring his views on this great question. I cannot conceal from myself the fact that, notwithstanding the great and enthusiastic popular support it receives, the attitude adopted — unwisely, as I venture to think—towards the Home Rule movement by a certain section of Irish society is a great bar to its progress; but—"I will not believe in the darkness because I do not see the new day that is to rise." I cannot help thinking that a great deal of this opposition is directed against what may be called the accidents and temporary associations of the movement rather than its fundamental principles. Difficulties and objections no doubt there are. As Archbishop Whately has said, there never was, or never will be, any plan executed or proposed, against which strong and even unanswerable objections may not be urged. The real question is whether the objections against retaining the present system are not greater than those against giving trial to the new one? To minister to the mind diseased of a nation is the noblest, as it is the most difficult, task of statesmanship. I cannot doubt that, in due time, a statesman will arise to undertake and to accomplish for Ireland this sacred task. It may or it may not be reserved for the Irish Parliamentary Party, as at present constituted, to obtain acceptance for their views, and in what particular form the principle of self-government will ultimately be applied to Ireland it is impossible now to say. Sooner or later, I firmly believe, the good sense of the English people will enable them to see, and having seen to abandon, the folly and mischief of the policy of centralization—and then, but not till then, their Irish fellow-subjects, no longer brooding over dreary records of past suffering, or cherishing wild dreams of hopeless disloyalty, will frankly accept their position as citizens of a free and united Empire, enjoying in the control of their domestic affairs the ennobling influence of Constitutional liberty, and finding in the management of institutions peculiarly their own, a centre of national energy and a field for the display of those virtues of public ' spirit and patriotism which, when well and wisely directed, are the unfailing safeguard of Imperial power.


observed that he was one of those who objected to what he understood by Home Rule. He said understood, because the Motion before the House was not sufficiently decisive on that point. The House were, in fact, discussing not the Motion for a Committee, but the subject of Home Rule itself; but the nature and extent of the demand they made had not been revealed to them by the promoters of the movement. On the main subject he admitted that there did exist grounds which more or less influenced the Irish peasant to make a demand for Home Rule. There was the memory of past disasters and past misgovernment in Ireland, and the severity with which successive rebellions had been suppressed; but the greater number of those who were influenced by such considerations were advocates for entire separation. The Irish peasant knew he was like a distant member of the body, the foot for instance, which was far removed from the seat of life. He knew that there was enormous expenditure upon our armaments, the advantage of which expenditure he did not share, and he heard that in the metropolis there was a large amount spent on parks, museums, and other public institutions of which he had not the enjoyment. He was not saying those feelings were just or logical; but to a certain extent, at least, they were not unreasonable. Coming to other considerations bearing upon the question, he could not help thinking that past legislation had been such as to give to the Irish peasantry some grounds—more or less well-founded—for irritation and disatisfaction. The abolition of the Corn Laws, for instance, considerably reduced the source of profit from farming, on which nearly the whole of the community in Ireland subsisted; while the establishment of Free Trade was much less advantageous to them then to the people engaged in English commercial pursuits and manufacturing industries. It took a long time before Ireland received a compensation for that first loss. He was not going to say that the Corn Laws did not give to the whole country enormous advantages; but that repeal was attended with certain disadvantages to the Irish farmers. Coming down to latter times, he thought the Irish people had grounds for thinking that in the process of legislation the Union between England and Ireland had not been sufficiently, if at all, regarded. By union he understood the fusion of two or more peoples into one nation; but the passing of the Irish Church and Land Acts had shown that the Imperial Parliament recognized two distinct and altogether different principles for the two countries. He charged upon the Liberal Party action which had had the greatest possible effect in producing a feeling for Home Rule among the Irish peasantry; and if they had followed up the course they took to its logical sequence they should have taken the next step, and proposed to Parliament the disestablishment of the English Church also. He knew persons of influence and thought who had been converted from adherence to the Union to a support of Home Rule by reason of the Irish Church and Irish Land Acts having been passed; but he had never heard of an instance in which the converse was the case. He could not agree with the cry for an Irish Parliament, which was based on the argument that the Imperial Parliament had not sufficient time to pass the necessary legislation for Ireland. It was true a good deal of time was wasted in Parliament; but all sections of Members were responsible for the physical obstruction opposed to the passage of Bills through the House. He could not, then, support a Motion for the establishment of an Irish Parliament, or, indeed, any proposal, which could possibly have the effect of lessening the bond of union which ought to subsist between the two countries. There could be no possible necessity or excuse for any such a proposal if only a spirit of forbearance was displayed. This was, perhaps, most of all necessary in the Press. In England the Press, when dealing with Irish questions, frequently assumed a cool insolence and an air of superiority calculated to crush all friendly feelings in the minds of Irishmen, while in Ireland there was often a violence of tone which all right-thinking men must severely deprecate. Fully admitting that the hon. Members who advocated Home Rule were actuated by their desire for the welfare of Ireland, he trusted they, on the other hand, would feel that in opposing that movement he was equally influenced by the same desire for the benefit of their common country.


fully recognized the calmness and the kindliness which characterized the speech of the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Bruen), which must win for him the respect of all who were opposed to him on this occasion, and which afforded room for hope that good might result from further consideration of this question on his part. The right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) had said on a late occasion that it was only necessary to make out a fair primâ facie case to justify the appointment of a Committee of Inquiry. However, in discussing great questions like that before the House, it was undeniable that something more was necessary before a Committee could be granted than the mere establishment of a case for inquiry. In dealing with an institution like the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which had existed for upwards of 70 years, the House of Commons, before it would be justified in appointing a Committee to inquire into its working, must be satisfied that very grave danger to Ireland resulted from the present state of things; that a domestic Legislature for Ireland would cure the evils complained of; and that such cure could be affected without danger to the stability and prosperity of the Empire. Irishmen must be excused for placing the interests of their country first in discussing this question among themselves; but in addressing an Assembly like the House of Commons, largely composed of Englishmen, they were aware that they could not hope to per- suade them of the justice of their demand unless they could prove that it was consistent with the safety, the stability, and the harmony of the Empire. In the first place, he would inquire whether there did exist in Ireland evils which were not only cured by, but which were actually caused by the present Constitution. Since the -Union there had been three rebellions in Ireland—one in 1803, another in 1848, and a third of a more dangerous character in 1867. Was it to be found in history that so many rebellions within so short a space of time had occurred in any other constitutional country? True that those rebellions had been suppressed with ease; but was that a matter of congratulation to us who were living under a Constitutional Government? Did not the fact of these rebellions prove that there was something wrong or defective in the Union between Ireland and England—something that at least called for inquiry? In 1855 if anyone suggested that Fenianism was possible he would have been laughed at, and no doubt many would now be found to say that it had passed away for ever; but only the other day the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen) told them that Fenianism was alive in England; and what security had they that it would not again revive in Ireland? He, for one, doubted whether the people of Ireland would ever lend themselves again so thoroughly as they had in the past to these secret societies; because as education and political knowledge advanced in that country the people would begin to see that the present Constitution was more and more assailable in open day without the aid of secret societies. What had been the position of the middle class in Ireland during those rebellions? Why, they had remained in a state of apathy, which was politically more dangerous than that of open rebellion. It was a fact that people of that class were withdrawing themselves from the management of affairs in Ireland. What had been the result of the attempt which had been made to govern Ireland constitutionally by means of an Imperial Parliament? Catholic Emancipation and the abolition of tithes —measures now universally admitted to be just and necessary—were not granted until the Island was on the point of rebellion. Take the case of tenant-right. If they had granted what was asked in 1850 that agitation would not have assumed the enormous proportions it afterwards reached. The Imperial Parliament had shown that it would not grant, until it was driven, any such measures as he had named. In fact, the Constitution did not work, the Irish people were not able to make their voice heard, and hence agitations arose by which, in the opinion of many hon. Members, the security of property was threatened. Was there no danger to the stability of the Empire in such a state of things? In his opinion, the establishment of a Legislature dealing with Irish affairs was the true remedy. It would put an end to rebellion, cause the law and Constitution to be respected, and extinguish that chronic and recurring disaffection which was so dangerous to the Empire. Undoubtedly the root of the existing agitation in Ireland in favour of Home Rule was a dislike on the part of the country as a whole to the present connection with England. There was no bad feeling existing between the English and Irish as individuals—nothing, for example, like the feeling which existed between the Italians and the Austrians when the latter occupied portions of Italy. There must, then, be something which kept up a distinction in Ireland. It was the policy of keeping up a garrison for England. There was not now in Ireland the same hostility between the different races as existed in former times, but they remained apart from each other. When one section proposed a measure of reform, the other opposed it and said its existence would be imperilled if the reform were granted. In the minds of people in Ireland, England was identified with the old garrison which had not surrendered its ideas of ascendency. He would not say there was ascendency in the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Bruen); but he thought there was that distrust in him which made him shrink from political contact with his fellow-countrymen of the other creed. He saw the hon. Member shook his head. He knew the hon. Member was not conscious of that sentiment; but it unfortunately existed largely among those who agreed with him. He believed the dislike to the English connection arose from the fact that the people of Ireland believed England was represented in Ireland by a class with which they had an old feud, and until we produced a fusion between the two races in Ireland he believed the hostility of the people of Ireland to the English nation would continue. How was that fusion to be brought about? We must teach the races in Ireland that they had a common country, and that on their shoulders rested the responsibility for its peace and harmony and prosperity. We must teach the Cromwellian and the Northern not to look to the policeman and. the soldier to maintain order in the country, but to act towards the people in a spirit of conciliation. Men of high social position must teach the people not to appeal to agitation, they must teach this lesson by endeavouring to promote the peace and prosperity of the country, and they must recognize the fact that the labouring classes were as much interested in its peace and prosperity as those socially above them were. The history of the Irish Parliament was a history of corruption. It did not represent the nation. The Irish Celtic Catholics took no part in it. Nevertheless, he looked back with pride to the period when that Parliament once acted with a spirit worthy of those who then enjoyed exclusive privileges. In 1782 no Catholic was elected or allowed to vote, but the Protestant gentlemen, finding that their destinies were united with those of their Catholic fellow-countrymen, said they could not exclude them—that they were their brothers; that if one party suffered, the other also suffered; that if one party was turbulent, the other was disturbed. What was the result? Year after year they passed Acts which paved the way for a complete union between the two religions. They removed penal statute after penal statute. In the centre of the wooden bridge in Waterford seven or eight Protestant Cromwellians set up this inscription—" In 1793 this bridge was erected—a year rendered memorable by the extinction of religious animosity—by the Corporation of Waterford." Such was the spirit of harmony and conciliation which the responsibility of Government produced in the Irish Protestant before the Union. If a fusion of the two races in Ireland were now effected, he believed it would remove the great stumbling-block between the two countries. If we removed the disaffection in the mind of the Irish people, we should remove the only danger which seemed to to threaten the existence of this great Empire. That danger might be said to be little; but great Empires had been destroyed by dangers that seemed trifling at their commencement. If by a cession of a domestic Legislature we produced satisfaction in Ireland, we should do a great deal to remove a danger to the future of the Empire. The hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. P. J. Smyth) had told them that the people of Ireland would not be satisfied with the Home Rule programme. Well, in 1874 the people of Ireland returned 60 Members in favour of that programme, and among those who were pledged to it was the hon. Member for Westmeath himself. If the Irish people were not active in support of its advocates now, certainly they were not active in support of the hon. Member for Westmeath. They were not active in support of its advocates, because they were led to believe by impatient speakers that the concessions which they sought could be obtained immediately, and a temporary reaction of despondency had followed the disappointment of a too sanguine people. The people, on looking at the dissensions and the painful scenes occurring sometimes among their representatives, thought they were not working for the common cause. But the tone of that debate would show them that there was more earnestness and unanimity in the party than some of its former supporters had led them to believe. Let Ireland once have its domestic Legislature, and then every man who had any stake in the peace and prosperity of the country would be found arrayed against anarchy and disorder. It was said that great confusion would arise from that system; but it should be remembered they would reserve to the Queen the right of vetoing any Act of the Irish Parliament, and though the time had long passed. since any such veto was exercised in England, it might be used in the way he had indicated on any rational and adequate occasion. Moreover, they would have an Irish House of Lords, in which the classes represented by the hon. Member for Carlow would be represented largely. It was urged that there would be great danger of the disintegration of the Empire from that measure; but, considering what were the powers they asked for, he could not understand why there should be such fears. He could say for himself, and for the Home Rulers generally with whom he had any intimacy, that they had no arrière pensée, no desire to do anything but to get back for their country, for its peace and harmony, the right to legislate in its own affairs. He had heard constant taunts of disloyalty thrown at the Home Rulers; but he would ask the House to remember that there were different kinds of loyalty. There was the loyalty which arrogated privilege and ascendency to itself and declined to confer on others the benefits of the Constitution, and that had done more to exasperate the Irish people and to create the necessity for Home Rule than anything else in the history of the country. Then, again, there was the loyalty of the gentleman who went in the morning to the Castle of Dublin, saluted his Excellency, talked of the kindly feeling of Ireland towards England, and of the absurdity of Home Rule, who then went to a high ecclesiastical dignitary and told him his bows had all been put on for the sake of advancing the cause of Mother Church, who went still later in the day to some corner of the street or some platform and addressed the crowd in words that breathed ambiguous sedition, and who ended the day by laughing at them all—Lord Lieutenant, Bishop, and people—and by reckoning with his hopeful wife on his own prospects of getting a Judgeship or a Baronetcy. He would say let them beware of that species of loyalty, for he believed it was that which had created Fenianism, because the Irish people felt that they had been sold over and over again by the seekers of place and patronage. He knew that the loyalty of his friends as well as his own was founded on something better than that. It was founded on a conviction that if Irishmen were true to themselves, if they did not disgrace themselves by dissensions and quarrels and miserable scenes in public, if they were true to the principles they advocated, and which they thought were for the benefit of their country, they would awaken—as they were already awakening—a sympathy and respect from the English people which would at last obtain for them the only thing on which loyalty could exist and be maintained in Ireland—namely, the right of the Irish nation in their old Parliament House in College Green, in the face of the statues of their great statesmen, Grattan and Burke, who taught moderation by their example, to legislate for the management of their own country.


opposed the Motion. He trusted it would not be supposed that he sympathized with the ungenerous taunts which had been indulged in, both in the House and out of it, against some English and Scotch Liberal Members who had thought it their duty to vote in support of this Motion. He thought they were mistaken in the views which they held on this subject; but, at the same time, the felt that nothing would be more unworthy or ungenerous than to let the idea enter into his mind that hon. Friends of his who were going to vote in a different Lobby were acting from unworthy motives and giving their vote in order to coquette with Home Rule. His hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) had been frequently alluded to in the Public Press, as if in consequence of the declarations he made last year on the subject he did an unworthy and ignoble thing. If he (Mr. Fawcett) had been a candidate for the representation of Manchester he should not have taken the same course; but any one who knew that hon. Gentleman knew that there was no one more absolutely incapable of acting in the slightest degree against his conscientious convictions in order to add to his chances of obtaining a seat in that House. He regarded the Motion before the House as a specious one, and one which was so worded that it could represent the subject from every point of view. It might either be exhibited as intended to carry out the views of the Nationalist Party, or it might be "whittled down," as the Seconder of the Motion had done, until it meant something so infinitesimally small and so reasonable that hardly anybody would think of objecting to it. It might be interpreted as seeking to restore to Ireland what some had described as the great boon of a landed aristocracy, who, having seats in an Irish Parliament, would not spend their time and their incomes in London, as they did now; or it might be depicted as giving expression to the National sentiment of the Irish people. In other words, the Motion was a peg upon which any kind of speech to certain sections of the Irish people could be delivered; but, stripped of all the rhetoric, what did the Motion really mean? He had listened patiently for some hours to this debate, as well as to former debates on this subject, and he was absolutely at a loss to know what Home Rule meant; and he could come to no other conclusion than this—that if the cry for Home Rule were defined with precision and distinctness it would be treated with contempt and ridicule by the Irish people. ["No, no!"] Well, he, at all events, would be perfectly explicit. Taking the most intelligible and clear definition he could arrive at from supporters of Home Rule themselves he found it came to this. They said, formulating their scheme, that Home Rule meant that Imperial questions should be dealt with by the Imperial Parliament and Irish questions by the Irish Parliament. ["Hear, hear!"] He was glad to hear that responsive cheer, because it told him he had given a definition which was accepted as correct. What, according to that definition, would an Irish Parliament have to do? Such a Parliament would not be able to deal with one single subject which concerned the expenditure of Imperial money. It could not be supposed that a local Parliament would be allowed to deal with Imperial funds. Again, Irish Members came to the House of Commons for grants in favour of education; and an Irish Parliament could not, therefore, discuss the education question. Nor could such a Parliament discuss any question connected with the Army and the Navy; and recent experience had shown that at least three Members from Ireland took a very great interest in the minutest details connected with those Services. It could not discuss a single Colonial or a single Indian subject, and yet he gratefully acknowledged the lively interest which Irish Members took in Indian questions. It could not discuss questions of foreign policy; it could not deal with a single local question, which involved a grant of Imperial money; you must know that Ireland had not always shown a great reluctance to come to the Imperial Exchequer for money in aid of local matters. All these subjects would be excluded from the ken and cognizance of the local Parliament. And what would be left for it to discuss? It would be reduced simply to the position of a Provincial Board, to consider those local questions which the hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read) proposed should be con- sidered by English County Boards. If that was the case, and if Home Rule meant nothing more than a transfer of the Private Bill legislation, or the establishment of County Boards, to do what was done by County Boards in England, did hon. Members suppose that that would satisfy the national sentiment on which they had so eloquently descanted? And what became of all those oratorical passages the House had listened to in regard to the Irish people governing themselves according to their own ideas? Then it was said that the Liberals were bound to support Home Rule because they were bound to be in favour of the principle of nationality. He could understand the old cry of "Repeal" giving satisfaction to that sentiment of nationality; but did hon. Members pretend to say that the Irish people who clung to that national sentiment would be satisfied with the transfer of Private Bill legislation to some Board sitting in Dublin, or to a Parliament absolutely debarred from taking any concern in those great questions in which Irish Members had shown that they were so particularly interested? Do not let it be supposed that he was one of those who thought that nothing could be done to improve the existing state of things. Let Irish Members formulate their scheme in such a way that one could understand it, stating exactly what they meant, and then it was quite possible that he and many other Members on both sides of the House would agree with many parts of that scheme. A great deal had been said about the injustice and inconvenience of compelling people in remote parts of Ireland who wished to get Water or Gas Bills passed to come to this House for the purpose at a heavy loss of time and money. If any hon. Member were to propose a Committee—not a vague Resolution such as that before the House—but a Committee to inquire whether amendments could be introduced into the existing method of Private Bill legislation, he, and he believed many others, would give to such a Motion their cordial and hearty approval. If what Irish Members desired was a greater degree of local self-government—if their chief aim was to weaken the principle of centralization—then they would find among the Liberal Members of England and Scotland cordial co-operation; and, for his own part, he should be glad, if nobody else did, on the consideration of such a scheme as that of the hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read) with regard to local government for England, to move that the same advantages should be extended to Ireland. With regard to the present Motion, there was much greater difficulty in opposing it than if it were a Motion distinctly asking for Home Rule formulated in a definite scheme. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster), that of all things in the world the most improper for a Select Committee to deal with would be an indistinct abstraction such as was involved in the Motion before the House. A Select Committee might as well be appointed to inquire into the soundness of some metaphysical principle or into the truth of some religious dogma. But there was one particular reason why he had been anxious to address the House that evening. There had just been published an authoritative declaration of the Home Rule Confederation, written by one who was formerly a Member of the House of Commons, and who wrote, not in his own name, but in the name of that organization. ["No, no!"] Well, the writer signed himself as Vice President and Hon. Secretary of the Home Rule Confederation. There had been plenty of time to disavow that declaration, and as it had not been disavowed, they were entitled to assume that it was an authoritative declaration of the Home Rule Confederation. And what did that Declaration state? It was nothing more nor less than a threat and intimidation to the whole Liberal Party of England and Scotland. It said distinctly that the Irish vote would be given "solid." He did not believe that any portion of our fellow - countrymen, whether English, Scotch, or Irish, would give their vote "solid" at the bidding of an organization in London. The declaration said that in 50 of the largest towns in England, London included, if the Liberal Party would not go in for Home Rule, wherever there was now a Conservative minority the Irish vote would be given "solid" in aid of the Conservative Party, and would convert that Conservative minority into an overwhelming Conservative majority. He had no right to speak for anyone but himself; but he thought he was expressing the sentiments of many on that (the Opposition) side when he emphatically declared that they would not be thus intimidated. Those who made that threat might attempt to coerce if they liked; but, for his own part, if every Irish voter in his constituency should vote against him, he wished to declare as distinctly and emphatically as he could that, if he were to lose his seat, never to enter the House of Commons again, those who made that threat had no power and should never compel and coerce him to give his vote against his conscientious convictions. This authoritative statement of the Home Rule Confederation went on to say, that unless the Liberal Party accepted Home Rule the Liberal Party should not attain office. ["Hear, hear!" from Home Rule Members.] It was important that the question should be fairly brought to an issue, because that cheer showed that there were many hon. Members who approved of the sentiment that the Liberal Party should not attain office until the "crack of doom." He had a right to say something in reply to that, and he now expressed his earnest hope and confident belief that the majority—overwhelming majority—of the Liberal Party would rather remain out of office until the youngest Member of the Party had grown grey with age than be intimidated into voting for Home Rule. The House now knew how this attempted coercion had been received by at least one Member of the Liberal Party, and they might be quite sure that he did not stand alone. But he wished also to call the attention of the House to the fact that this declaration of the Home Rule Confederation contained the assertion of a principle as unpatriotic as anything he had ever read. It declared its hope that neither of the great Parties would have a preponderating majority. It looked forward to the time when a Conservative or Liberal Government would depend upon the Home Rule vote, and that then the Home Rulers would be masters of the situation. [Cheers.] Yes, but they reckoned without their host. Let them not suppose that on a great and momentous question, when Party struggles were cast to the wind, that a Conservative Government would not be supported by many Liberals, rather than that the Government should be sacrificed by such tactics as had been sketched out by the Home Rule Confederation. It would be ungenerous in him to suppose that on the other side of the House there were not Members who would do the same thing if a Liberal Government were in office. He believed that there were many who would be actuated by the same patriotic sentiment. Therefore, let them to-night disabuse the minds of those notable authors of this Home Rule manifesto; that though there might be 50—[An hon. MEMBER: Sixty]—well, 60 or 70 Members to vote for Home Rule, they must not think that they would gain their end simply because the Party in power might not have a sufficient majority. [An hon. MEMBER: Time will tell.] Yes, time would tell that they would not be able to obtain Home Rule. They would not be able to secure a majority until they had convinced the English and Scotch and many Irish Members that Home Rule would be for the benefit of Ireland and for the good of their common country. He could not help feeling that some of them had done much on Irish questions. ["Oh, oh!"] Let them consider that some of them had voted in every division on Motions brought forward by Irish Members, and it was somewhat ungenerous to attempt to reproach them at this time for not voting for this Motion. But although he felt that the Liberal Party had been treated somewhat unjustly and ungenerously, the injustice would not be reciprocated and the Liberal Party would not turn one hair's breadth from its determination to promote every measure which they thought was for the good of Ireland. And even if he himself believed that every Irish elector meant to record a decided vote against him, he would still vote in the future as he had done in the past for those Irish measures which would prove beneficial to the whole country. He could not, however, vote for this Motion, believing that it was vague, indefinite, and unsatisfactory. Home Rule, if granted, would not satisfy the Irish people. If it were conceded it would lead step by step to the dismemberment of the Empire, and that would prove most disastrous not only to the Empire, but especially to Ireland. Actuated by common patriotism they should be careful that no step was taken and nothing done which would interfere with the union of their common country in any grave crisis of European affairs. He hoped hon. Members would consider his speech clear and distinct, and he only wished that the Home Rulers would emulate that example of perspicuity. The Motion ought not to be supported in any shape. If those who were in its favour wanted only the transfer of Private Bill legislation and an extended local government, they might, perhaps, find many supporters; but if they de-sired to go further, they would be sure to have an overwhelming majority against them, no matter what Party might be in power, and nothing would be done by Conservatives or Liberals which would be likely to promote the dismemberment of the Empire or be detrimental to the interests of their country.


said, that the hon. Member who had just addressed the House was the first English Member who had spoken on this question, and he would be the second; but he was afraid he could not make such an interesting and exciting speech as the hon. Member, nor could he declare to the Ministry opposite that he was ready at any moment to go to their rescue; as, so far as his observations went, they did not appear to be in want of his aid. The hon. Member said that on this Motion anyone might put his own interpretation, and in accordance with that view he intended to give his interpretation of it. Hon. Gentlemen would remember that not many years ago a great part of the Session was spent in attempting, to use Mr. Cardwell's phrase, "to blend all ranks of the Army into one harmonious whole." Now, he presumed the object of the present Motion was to do something towards blending the different portions of the Empire into one harmonious whole. If that were the case, no more important question could be brought before the House, and on this ground he did not like to give a silent vote upon it. No one, he thought, would dispute that the state of Ireland for a long time had been, and now was, unsatisfactory. In time of peace Ireland was irritating to us, and in time of war—if ever we should go to war—Ireland would be our danger. [Murmurs.] He would say nothing which he had not warrant for, and he heard two or three hon. Members opposite express dissent when he said that Ireland was our danger. Well, his authority for the statement was their own great Leader, who said three or four years ago that Ireland was in a state of veiled rebellion. This had been often said; and the evil did not stop there. There was a large emigration from Ireland, and it had been stated that wherever an Irishman planted his foot there sprang up an enemy to the British Government. Surely this was a most distressing and disheartening state of things. He had said that the state of Ireland was irritating. That, perhaps, was the smallest part of the grievance; but still it was irritating. In that House the debates were generally conducted with good humour, and if ever there were unseemly wranglings, it always arose on some unfortunate Irish question. What could be more distressing to hon. Members than the necessity imposed upon them very few years ago by Governments formed from both sides of the House, who thought it their duty to carry Coercion Bills, which gave rise to much discussion? The disaffection, the hatred of the emigrants towards England, and the necessity for these perpetual Coercion Bills, warranted him in saying that the state of Ireland was somewhat alarming. ["No, no!"] Well, then, he would say it was unsatisfactory. But the most extraordinary thing was that there should be this discontent in Ireland after all we had done for her. The laws were equal, as far as he was aware, in England and in Ireland. ["No, no!"] He knew it was impossible to get at the truth about Ireland; but he was only expressing his own opinion. Even the most discontented Irishmen would admit that they had some advantages which Englishmen did not possess. For instance, they had no State Church in Ireland. Surely everyone must admit there was some advantage in that. ["No!"] At all events, hon. Gentlemen on the other side must be delighted to think there was a country in which Dissenters had been abolished. We all knew that Dissenters in this country were in life, to every right-minded person, a source of serious annoyance, and a still more serious trouble when they were dead. Parliament had given Ireland a beneficial Land Law. Many hon. Members on the Conservative side of the House admitted that the Irish Land Bill did a great deal of good. ["No, no!"] Well, he would try something else then. So far as he knew, they had a very good and efficient system of education in Ireland. ["No, no!"] Well, then, he would pass over that. He believed that the taxation was the same in the two countries. [Sir JOSEPH M'KENNA: No.] If the hon. Member for Youghal contradicted that statement he would retract it, because he knew the hon. Gentleman's grievance, having frequently heard him descant upon it. It was that the Irishman was not allowed, through the taxation of whisky, to get drunk so cheap as an Englishman. This he did not think was a very serious grievance. His hon. and learned Friend the Leader of this movement (Mr. Butt) would not deny that, with all the disaffection in Ireland, he believed that there existed in the House of Commons an earnest desire to govern Ireland wisely and justly. People said—"How ungrateful these Irish are for all we have done for them." The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) hinted that they were rather ungrateful to him. For his own part, he did not believe in political gratitude, and he did not know why it should exist. Politics were the science of the future, and we must support those men out of whom we could get the most good, regardless of what they had done in the past. In his opinion, the great evil in all this Irish affair was that the two nations really did not understand each other. This seemed to him to be the source of the evil; and, for his own part, he should be prepared to take any course that was right, however exceptional it might be, if there was any reason to think it would bring about a better understanding between the two nations. He thought, however, it was the duty of the Home Rulers and their Leaders to do something more than to bring forward a Motion of this nature. They ought to have been able to bring before the House a distinct and practical scheme which they were prepared to stand by and to advocate. He heard his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick, when he introduced this subject in 1874, make one of the finest speeches he had ever heard in that House; and ever and anon his hon. and learned Friend said—"Now I will explain how the thing is to be worked;" but he sat down without explaining it at all; and in perusing the speech the other day he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) could only find one sentence which was at all definite on that point—namely, that The only change would be to take from that Assembly some of the duties which it now discharged in reference to Irish business, and to relegate them to another."—[3 Hansard, ccxx. 703.] But his hon. and learned Friend did not make it clear what those duties were; and this was his difficulty. Still, the great fact remained, that there were in that House nearly 60 Members returned for Irish constituencies who were pledged to support what was called Home Rule. It was a curious circumstance, however, that of these 60 there was not one who could explain to the House what Home Rule meant. But they all demanded a Committee, and the hon. Member who moved this Resolution said that if they got this Committee they would be able to explain what their scheme was. Therefore, he said that if there were 60 Members unable to explain the scheme in the House, but able to explain it in Committee, this was a strong reason for going into Committee. He should be told that this grievance of Ireland was only a sentimental grievance, but half the grievances of mankind were sentimental grievances. He did not think the rankling feeling of hatred to the English Government that was so prevalent in Ireland was entirely based on reason, but still it existed. He himself should prefer a Government which protected life and property and gave equal laws, even though it was a Government of the same race that half a century ago had tarred and feathered his great-grandfather. He repudiated altogether the argument about centuries of oppression, for that could not make the Government of to-day better or worse; but there was the fact that there was a rankling feeling in the minds of the Irish people, and that fact statesmen must recognize. There were a great many sentimental grievances. The hon. and gallant Member for Waterford (Major O'Gorman) could give an illustration of one which afflicted him. That hon. and gallant Member made a speech during the Recess, in the course of which he explained that the population of Ireland was so many millions less than it should have been. He said that, according to the natural rate of increase in prosperous countries, it ought to have had so many millions more, instead of which it was so many millions less; and therefore, he said, it followed that Ireland had two millions less population than an uninhabited island. Now, that he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) called a sentimental grievance. The hon. and gallant Gentleman maintained that he was living in an uninhabited island; but he was evidently not very discontented at the conclusion at which he had arrived, because he was called upon at the end of this Home Rule meeting to sing a song as an act of defiance to the British Government. They had been met to-night—as was the case on all Home Rule debates—with the great prosperity argument. He did not dispute that there had been a great increase in the quantity of roots and live stock in Ireland during the last few years; but, in his (Sir Wilfrid Lawson's) humble opinion, pigs and potatoes would not fill the aching void of Irish disaffection. He should be told that Irishmen did not know what they wanted. That was perfectly true, also. To judge by their Representatives, he thought it was not improbable that a great many Home Rulers did not know what they meant by Home Rule. During his election he and his Colleague received a deputation of about a dozen Home Rulers, whom, of course, they were delighted to see—candidates always were delighted to receive deputations during an election—and he and his Colleague asked the leader of the party what they meant by Home Rule. The leader commenced a speech, But before he had got very far he stopped short and said—"In short, it means repeal," upon which No. 10, who was standing at the other end of the room, shouted out—"It means nothing of the kind." Under these circumstances, he and his Colleague felt quite free to give their votes upon this question as they thought fit, and the hon. Member for Chelsea need not fear that he was voting to-night under coercion of any kind. The Home Rulers, however, a great number of whom were doubtless very ignorant persons, were not the only politicians who did not know the meaning of the phrases they were in the habit of using, for he found in looking over the evidence taken on the occasion of the Taunton Election Petition, that when the counsel asked a witness, who was not over bright, whether he knew what politics meant, the latter replied—"No, Sir, I don't; but I have always been a Conservative." But the greatest argument of all, the sounding and the telling argument, was that if they voted for this Motion, they would be attacking the integrity of the British Empire. He did not believe that the integrity of an Empire consisted in its acreage, or in the extent of its territory, or in the number of men of heterogeneous views who lived under its rule, or in its wealth; but that it consisted in the union of hearts, and in those common interests and affections which bound men together in one harmonious whole. He believed that a small and contented Empire was one of which we might affirm the integrity, rather than of one, however large and populous, which was afflicted with the knawing canker of chronic disaffection. He wanted to know what reason there was why they should not yield to the wish of this large number of their Irish fellow-countrymen and allow them to have this Committee. He had noticed a slight fallacy in the able argument of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster). They were not going into this Committee to discuss the ground why Home Rule was to be given to the Irish people—that, of course, must be left to the House to determine; but they wished to go into it in order to inquire into the grounds of the agitation which existed in Ireland, and whether any cause existed for that agitation. The Committee was asked for to inquire into the present state of Ireland, and that was, in his opinion, a matter in which inquiry might be very properly and usefully made. If it were appointed, the cleverest men in the House would be placed upon it. There would be the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) and all the leading Ministers who were disposed to do anything to conciliate the people of Ireland, and all his right hon. Friends sitting on the front Opposition Benches, who he was sure by this time must be very anxious for a job. The Committee would inquire into the grounds of this agitation, and it was possible that they might find that it was groundless. But in that case what could possibly kill Home Rule quicker than such a decision pronounced by such a Committee; what could blow up the delusion more thoroughly than such a decision? And if, on the other hand, it was found that it had truth, soundness, and vitality to support it, how could you better ascertain such a fact than by means of such a Committee? He hoped that it would be understood that he had been making not a Home Rule speech, but a speech for the Committee. He had made that speech with a full sense of the responsibility he incurred by uttering it, because he well knew the danger of holding out hopes to a nation that never could be fulfilled. He, however, believed that there was nothing like the light of truth for dispelling and getting rid of political superstition and prejudice. Ireland, it was admitted on all hands, was the most puzzling question of politics, and he respectfully submitted that it required investigation. He, for one, should vote for the inquiry proposed by the hon. Member, because he was anxious to support anything that gave the faintest chance of stopping this long and wearisome Irish controversy, and because he did not believe that that House would be acting unworthily of itself or of the interests which it represented, if it decided to empower some of its ablest Members, at the risk of its own inconvenience and loss of time, to inquire whether there might not be some means of still further securing that for which they all prayed at the commencement of their sittings—namely—"The public peace and the tranquillity of this Realm."


as the Representative of an Irish constituency, felt it was not only his right but his duty to express his opinions upon this question. Having referred in complimentary terms to the speech delivered by the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. P. J. Smyth) last Session, he said he entirely concurred with what had fallen from the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster) this evening. It was a satisfaction to those on the Ministerial side of the House, as well as a large majority on the other side, to find that his speech was almost to the same effect as that delivered two years ago by the Leader of the Opposition—and to recognize this conclusion, that upon this subject, with regard to the great Liberal Party, there was to be no compromise. This was a question upon which it was necessary that all men, whether exalted or humble, should speak straightforward. He, like many others, had endeavoured to grasp what appeared more like a phantom than a reality — the meaning of the words "Home Rule." It had not been explained to the House by its advocates, and the Mover and Seconder of the Motion wished to refer it to a Select Committee, because they did not know what it meant. The Motion was ambiguous in its terms, and when they considered what must necessarily flow from its adoption, the only interpretation that could be put upon it was that it pointed to the restoration of the Irish Parliament as it existed in the last century up to 1782, which was that of a vassal Parliament subjected to the dictation of the English Parliament, or as it existed from 1782 to the Act of Union, which was a Parliament with certain independent rights of legislation, but with no right to interfere in the legislation of the Imperial Parliament. Would the supporters of the Motion be content to be excluded from the Imperial Legislature? No; they all repudiated such a notion. Therefore, what they really wanted was not a restoration of anything which Ireland had ever possessed. It was a restoration of the Irish Parliament plus the right to interfere in the Imperial affairs of the British Parliament. They called this Federation, and the case of Canada was quoted as a precedent. Federation did not proceed usually upon a pre-existing state of union but upon one of separation, and Federation was resorted to, not for the purpose of separation, but for the consolidation an Empire; and therefore before they could come to Federation they must go through a period of separation, and there was no precedent to be found in the case of Canada. With regard to Federation in America, he would observe that no one who had not been to the United States could in the least degree appreciate the extraordinary jealousy which manifested itself in that country on the subject of "State rights." A little more than a year ago, when on a visit there, he actually found that the question of State rights was sufficiently serious to prevent the Congress from giving the Union a better system of telegraphy by buying up the existing lines. Then, if there was an Irish Legislature distinct from the Imperial Legislature, what Court was to decide when there was an at- tempted infringement by one upon the rights of the other? In America there was a Supreme Court, which had control over the Legislature but how could a Court be established to judge between the Representative Assemblies of England and Ireland? If there was to be a majority of Scotch and English Judges would they not be charged by hon. Members opposite with a spirit of bias? The hon. Member for Cork County (Mr. Shaw), who brought forward this Motion, as a banker ought to know the great wealth of the farming population of Ireland. There had been a great social advancement of late years in the farming classes and great improvement in the residences of the people generally. The great want of Ireland had been the formation of a middle class of farmers, corresponding to the Yeomen of England. During the last 25 years he found from the Registrar General's Return that whilst farms under 15 acres had decreased between 1851 and 1875 from 280,000 to 236,000, farms between 30 and 200 acres had increased from 139,000 to 150,000. According to the Census Returns for 1841 the inhabited houses of Ireland were divided into four classes, the lowest being mud cabins, with one room and one window. In 1851 the two lowest classes amounted to 677,000, and in 1871 they had diminished to 529,000, while in the two higher classes there had been an increase from 368,000 to 441,000. With regard to the financial advantages enjoyed by Ireland he found that £700,000 a-year was devoted out of the Imperial Exchequer for National education as against a very small amount of local contributions. Turning to local taxation he found that out of something over £3,192,000, no less than £1,410,000 was provided from the Imperial Exchequer. It seemed to him, therefore, that Ireland had very much the advantage as compared with England and Scotland. The grounds on which they were asked to make this change rested either on right, expediency, or agreement. There was no agreement; it was not attempted to rest the claim on right; and the question of expediency, and of the necessary means was a most perplexing practical question, on which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford had only touched. They had the greatest reason for satisfaction at the way in which the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), representing the Liberal Party below the Gangway, had dealt with the question. He wished that the Members of the Liberal Party were as consistent outside the House as they were in. At every election in a large constituency the Liberal candidate was sure to be visited by a Home Rule deputation, which came not merely to ask what his opinions were, but also, if they deemed it necessary, to apply pressure and coercion. We had this system pursued, not so much at a General Election, for their machinery would not then avail, but at by-elections, when, forsooth it was necessary to show the people of England that the public had not any confidence in Her Majesty's Government, and when it might be possible to obtain, as had been done in many instances, by a little leverage the United Home Rule vote. The hon. Member elected for Oldham the other day (Mr. Hibbert) if he was not most grievously misrepresented, in one form or another, qualified it might be, pledged himself to vote for Home Rule inquiry. He was in hopes that the hon. Member for Oldham would have been in his place to-night, because he had written to him stating that he would ask whether it was true that he had entered into engagements on this subject. When we saw that a Gentleman who held a responsible office in the last Government and who probably would be a Member of the next Liberal Government took that course, could it be wondered at that the Members for large constituencies having a number of Irish voters who held the Home Rule principle were subject to this system of terrorism? In the letter which appeared yesterday with reference to the election for Salford from Mr. O'Donnell, formerly returned as a Home Rule Member to that House, and who claimed to be Vice President and hon. Secretary of the Home Rule Confederation, we had this most remarkable paragraph— In any case the Irish vote is given to the highest bidder, unless a special reason, such as the necessity of inflicting deserved punishment, leads us to adopt a different course. He (Mr. C. Lewis) did not put any stress on "the highest bidder," he understood it meant highest in point of measures; but when they saw that this was part of a system by which outside the House coercion was attempted to be placed on those who stood as candidates for constituencies, and when they found a sort of modified coercion in the House applied by certain Members of the Home Rule Party, this was a painful and perilous part of the question which the House and the country had to deal with, looking forward to the future. In the early part of the evening reference had been made to a speech which was delivered by the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell) last Saturday evening, in which it was suggested that 10 Members would be sufficient to bring the business of the House to a dead-lock, and for the accomplishment of that object in an indirect way —


I rise to Order, Sir. Is the hon. Member entitled to allude to a speech made by the hon. Member for Meath outside the House, which the hon. Member has stated was not correctly reported?


The hon. Member is simply quoting a speech which he has read of the hon. Member for Meath. He is perfectly in Order.


said, he had merely mentioned the speech for the purpose of giving the hon. Member for Meath an opportunity of repudiating the report. He wished to call attention to the great difference between the way in which the question was treated in the House and outside the House. The great danger of the future was not inside the House, but arose from the fact that men might be induced to take pledges which might afterwards have an injurious effect. In the elections at Manchester and Salford a lesson was read to both sides. The defeated Conservative candidate at Manchester justly received the due reward of his deeds in promising to support the Motion of the hon. Gentleman opposite; and he believed that a similar promise defeated the Liberal candidate at Salford. But if these elections taught gentlemen seeking to enter the House to have the same manliness, candour, and courage as their leaders, these discussions would not be throw n away, while their own Ad political experience might not be lost on the candidates themselves.


said, that at that late hour of the night he would endeavour to economize the little time he would occupy by avoiding a great many of the topics that had been introduced into this discussion. He should not discuss with the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. C. Lewis) whether it was "terrorism" in any number of constituents in a borough or city to try and induce a candidate to support any measure which they might think for their good. He should not discuss the right of the hon. Member to interrogate the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hibbert) as to pledges he had given; but he thought the hon. Member (Mr. C. Lewis) ought to be a little cautious, from his past experience in putting questions of this kind, and the House a little cautious with following his guidance. he could only complain that it was to be regretted English Gentlemen did not inform themselves sufficiently of Irish history; and he could have wished that the hon. Member for Londonderry had taken pains to inform himself on the past history of the Irish Parliament before he addressed the House on the subject, for more confused ideas than those which the hon. Member for Londonderry had on the subject he had never before had any conception of. The hon. Member for Londonderry appeared to think that the Irish Parliament had nothing to do with foreign affairs. There was a sense in which it had not, and there was another sense in which it had. War was declared upon the advice of the English Ministry, responsible only to the English Parliament, and the moment war was declared Ireland was at war; but it rested with the English Parliament to give supplies and it rested with the Irish Parliament to give supplies also, and some of the greatest discussions took place on the question of the French War. Did the hon. Member mean to say that the Imperial Parliament should have no power of levying taxation on Ireland? Let him offer to exempt Ireland from all taxation, and he would accept it. But he thought that would be unfortunate for the stability of the Empire. That was the reason why he proposed Federation, which, perhaps, was a slight misnomer. He was the author of this Resolution proposing a Committee. It was identical with the words of the Resolution which he himself proposed last year; but he was very glad to transfer it to the care of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Shaw), and the House would agree that the proposal had not suffered under the advocacy of his hon. Friend. But he wished to explain clearly what would, in his opinion, be the effect of it. He asked the House to remember the undoubted facts with which they had to deal. For the first time since the Union a large majority of the Irish Members had been returned pledged to seek an alteration in the arrangements of the Union. That never occurred till the General Election of 1874. Was there nothing to excite the attention of the House in the fact that a large majority of the Members for Ireland now asked an alteration in the arrangements of the Union? In 1874 he brought forward a distinct Motion that the House should resolve itself into Committee to consider these arrangements, with two consequent Resolutions; and if he had carried them his next step would have been to embody them in a Bill. He was told there were many among them seeking separation, while others would be satisfied with a Grand Jury Parliament, and others demanded ulterior measures. Was it not a subject to be inquired into whether this was a real demand for self-government or veiled rebellion? The first thing it was proposed to inquire into was the nature of the demand for Home Rule. If separation was suspected, he might be called before the Committee and cross-examined. What was the next thing he wished them to inquire into? The extent of the demand. Suppose there was an immense majority—not a small discontented Party; was that nothing to inquire into? These were the subjects of inquiry. He did not propose to send the question of Home Rule before a Committee; but there were facts which he thought the House ought to know, and which could be authoritatively elicited by the Select Committee. That was the object of the proposal of the Committee. He did not wonder that some of his Friends who were opposed to Home Rule should object to the Committee. It was exactly such a Committee that in 1825 carried Catholic Emancipation against the strong prejudices of the House, because that Committee, entering on inquiry, produced evidence to bring conviction to the strong opponents of Catholic Emancipation. Was there anything dangerous to the integrity of the Empire in the inquiry? If the inquiry was groundless and unnecessary, the Committee would report. If the demand meant separa- tion, the Committee would report. If it was not supported by the people of Ireland, the Committee would report. Was there nothing unsatisfactory in this—that a large majority of the Irish Members demanded an alteration in the arrangements made at the Union? Three elections had been held in Ireland, each seat having been occupied by a gentleman who would not vote for Home Rule. There was the county of Leitrim, where a Home Ruler was returned. There was the county of Sligo; the hon. Member who seconded the Resolution (Mr. King-Harman) was returned. There was the county of Waterford, where a strong majority of 5 to I voted for Home Rule against all the influence of money and territorial power. If Home Rule was a delusion, there was nothing so likely to put it down as inquiry. He did not think, speaking of himself, that he had been fairly dealt with in this matter. He had been challenged as to why he had not brought in a Bill on the subject. He admitted that he had not drawn up a Home Rule Bill, and in reference to the question being dealt with by a Resolution, he would point to the precedent set by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), who, when he moved his Resolution as to the disestablishment of the Irish Church, and was taunted with not bringing in a Bill, said it was his duty to affirm principles, and if they were adopted it was for the Government to embody them in a Bill. He saw no difficulty in defining Home Rule, and he could not conceive that the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) had carefully read the Declaration to which he had alluded. He had already read it in the House, but had not brought it with him now, not expecting any question to arise concerning it. However, he ought to know it by heart; and it said they wanted an Irish Parliament to determine all questions relating to the internal affairs of Ireland, leaving to the Imperial Parliament, as at present constituted, all Imperial matters, all Imperial taxation, everything relating to questions of peace or war, and the foreign relations of the country. If hon. Members did not understand the question in that light, he would ask did they understand it the other day when they were asking for autonomy for the Bulgarian Provinces? Did they understand it when they gave Canada Home Rule, and by doing so converted a most disloyal province into one of the most loyal portions of Her Majesty's dominions? Let them give Ireland the same control over Irish matters that Canada possessed over her affairs, and the Irish people would ask no more. But there was this difference between Canada and Ireland—the English Government did not tax Canada, and it was not intended that they should give up the taxation of Ireland. It would be a misfortune if they did so, as far as Imperial taxes went, and where this Imperial taxation was imposed. Ireland, which had spent so much blood and treasure in the acquisition and maintenance of the Imperial territory, was entitled to a share in the representation by which that taxation was levied. Consequently, Ireland could claim representation in the House, while Canada could not. Well, was he to be told that English statesmanship had fallen so low that all the wise men in the Cabinet could not construct a plan for giving Ireland with safety and advantage the same rights as Canada now enjoyed without the slightest prospect of endangering the Empire? He utterly denied the imputation, and would state his belief that the day would come, no matter what Resolution the House might pass in the meantime, when the prejudice against Home Rule would vanish as many other prejudices quite as thoroughly grounded had already done. He denied the imputation that he had not placed a distinct plan before the country, and claimed the right to assert a principle without committing himself to every detail about which there might be difference of opinion. One of the details that would be discussed on the second reading of a Bill would be whether the Post Office in Ireland was to be Imperial or Irish, and a great deal could be said on both sides; but, assert the broad principle, and then five men on each side of the question would have no difficulty in determining what ought to be open questions for the consideration of Parliament. Even a dependent Parliament, whose province would be determined by the Imperial Parliament, would be an immense step for Ireland; but these were questions that might be hereafter discussed. He had fairly met the question as to what they wanted. Education they must have, and their own prisons they must have, unless the Government chose to have some merely for State purposes. They must make their own Grand Jury laws, and they must determine the franchise for their own Parliament, though not for the Imperial Parliament. There was no difficulty in drawing a line of demarcation for an Irish Parliament administering Irish affairs. There might be safeguards and checks; but these were matters to be considered and no new principle ought to be burdened with all the details that could arise. A great many checks might be suggested for making the plan more safe for the united Empire; but any plan would trench on Irish independence and rights. He was much struck by one argument used by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster), in a speech the conciliatory tone of which would do a great deal of good in Ireland — more good than many other speeches and many newspaper articles. The right hon. Gentleman said that the English Members were always glad to take the advice of Irish Members on Irish affairs. He had a little book which contained a record of the advice given by Irish Members last Session. On the 1st of March, 1876, the Irish Members recommended that the Irish Municipal Franchise should be assimilated to that of England—at least 41 Members did so, 16 dissenting; and yet the Irish majority was overriden by a majority of 26 English Members. He asked the right hon. Member for Bradford whether that was one of the occasions on which the advice of Irish Members ought to have been accepted? [Mr. W. E. FORSTER: I am sorry I was not here to support the Bill.] He (Mr. Butt) was sorry for it; but it did not alter the fact. The "disintegration" of the Empire had been referred to? It was a word that alarmed English Members whenever it was used; but it required at least as much explanation as Home Rule. In addition to the assimilation of the municipal franchise of Ireland to that of England, there was the question of the Parliamentary franchise. There again the Irish Members by a very large majority a—majority of 2 to 1—gave advice which was overruled by the English and Scotch Members. He should like to ask his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford to mention one occasion, except that endless Sunday Closing Bill, on which since Parliament had met the English Members had certainly taken the advice of the Irish Representatives. Their complaint was that Parliament had done nothing for Ireland. What measures had been passed for Ireland? The present Government had been three years in Office, and he said unhesitatingly that there had never been a Chief Secretary for Ireland more anxious to do what was right, more desirous to serve Ireland, or more indefatigable in his devotion to Irish interests, than the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach). But what were the fruits of all his industry and all his exertions? The Coercion Bill. The unruly waters of the Shannon still flowed beyond their natural boundaries, the fisheries were still neglected, and the Judicature Bill and the Grand Jury Bill had not been passed. Those were the things of which Irish Members complained. He remembered when a collegian listening to a speech made by a leader of the Conservatives of that day. He said—"We have no Government for Ireland. There is a Government for British interests, but Ireland is regarded as a mere Province." That complaint was just as true now as it was then. ["No!"] Well, what had they done for Ireland? For three years Irish Members had been trying to gain the miserable justice of the assimilation of the corporate franchise and the town franchise with that of England. Why had it not been done? Four years ago the then Prime Minister declared that the question of University Education was in the worst possible state. Had anything been done, or even proposed, that was likely to give satisfaction to the Irish people? If there had been a Home Rule Parliament sitting in Dublin with its Protestant House of Lords, and under the control of the British Sovereign, the Irish University Question would have been settled by this time. The Land Question, too, would have been much more satisfactorily settled by a Home Rule Parliament—and it could not be settled without the consent of the Irish landowners—than by the Irish Land Act. He put it to the conscience of every Member of that House, whether he believed in his heart that this House of Commons ever did or ever could discharge the duties that a Representative Assembly ought to discharge for Ireland. ["Yes."] He did not think there was one. Representative Government consisted in a Minister living amongst the people who were governed. Could the House, however well it might be disposed, carry out the functions of Representative Government for the Irish people? There was no such thing as Representative Parliamentary Government in its true and proper sense in Ireland. The House discharged that duty for England, but not for Ireland; and did the House believe that the Irish people ever would or ought to be satisfied with such a state of things? Parliament might, however, attain the desired end by giving Ireland a Parliament for local affairs. How could Irishmen feel self-respect and discharge the duties of self-government when every ambition of an Irishman was turned to that House? He would ask them in fairness whether there was even a fair chance for their ambition in that House? He did not deny—he should be ungrateful if he did—that however unpopular the views which an Irish Member might urge, still, if they were spoken with moderation and good sense they would be listened to by that House. But in England the way in which men rose to high office was by first filling the subordinate offices. In England Ministers presided over the Boards of Education, Works, the Privy Council, and Local Government. In Ireland those duties were administered by Boards, and no Parliamentary Minister presided over one of thorn. Why should not those Boards be presided over as in England by a responsible Minister? But if these measures were adopted, and the Boards established, what would be the result? They might hope to destroy the intense passion of the people of Ireland for self-government. He did not think they would; for his belief was that the additional love for it experience would give them of the blessing of constitutional Government would make them more and more anxious to see that blessing crowned by the only measure which could give perpetuity to it. But if the boon that was asked for were freely granted—if the demand of the Irish people were wisely and well responded to, how different would the future be from the past, when the ancestors of those whom he addressed were forced to appeal in a time of terror to the Irish Parliament in 1782. He believed that if the Federal system were established its benefits would be far greater if England and Ireland were associated together in bonds of amity and good will. But it had been said that certain measures could be passed for facilitating the passing of Irish measures, and three were specially mentioned, the establishment of County Boards being the last. Well, had one syllable been uttered which could lead any hon. Member to believe that any one of those measures would be opposed by the Irish Members? Let them or any one of them be brought forward and they would be fairly considered; but if they had been spoken of as they had been for years, and nothing had been done, could it be said that Ireland had been fairly treated? He had avoided topics of irritation, but others had alluded to one such topic, contained in a letter in the papers. He was not going to condemn or defend that letter, for the best of all reasons—perhaps he ought to be ashamed to say it—he had not read it. For himself, he could only say he would not support any man who would bring undue pressure to bear upon candidates or voters. The Home Rulers did not do so. Did not the supporters of the Permissive Bill seek pledges from candidates? Was it not done by those who wished for liberty to marry their deceased wife's sister? There was no form of crotchet which had been introduced into that House whose votaries did not do the same thing, and it was idle to speak of it as terrorism. He could not help thinking that hon. Gentlemen who raised that charge would have shown more real courage by treating the matter with contempt. The present was a great question, and was not to be settled by such miserable suggestions as these. No consideration had been urged—no argument advanced derived from that or any other source, which should induce the House to resist a demand which had its origin in the honest convictions of the Irish people.


said, it was his duty, on behalf of the Government, for the third time to give a decided negative to the proposition before the House. The Government were not prepared to abide by the decision of a Committee upon this question, if it should chance to be in favour of the views of the hon. and learned Member who had just sat down; and they could not admit the propriety of an inquiry by a Committee of that House into the Constitution of the United Kingdom. He had listened with attention to the speech of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Resolution (Mr. Shaw). That speech had been praised by several hon. Members opposite; but, to his mind, its ability had been chiefly shown by the singular haziness of its arguments, and by the extreme cleverness with which it avoided the real issue before the House. The hon. Member asked for inquiry, but he gave no reasons for the inquiry he asked for. From the hon. Gentleman's point of view an inquiry could not be necessary, for he and those who thought with him had voted for a direct Resolution on the question which was really before the House. An inquiry was not required to elicit information on the subject. Full information had already been given in the course of the debates which had arisen. Nor was it necessary, as suggested by the hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), to expose the singular delusion which prevailed in Ireland; for that delusion had been exposed by the reasons and arguments advanced in former discussions. The real reason for the Motion for an inquiry was the hope that a fictitious number of supporters might thus be apparently secured for the question which lay behind the Motion. Nothing was more sure than this—that the success of the Motion for inquiry would be taken as the success of Home Rule, and no Member who sat in that House could be so short-sighted as to suppose that his vote would not be regarded in that sense. Well, then, as to the real question, he would say, in spite of what had been stated by the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt), that they had not yet been told what Home Rule really meant. The hon. Member for Cork asked for a Committee in order that those who wished it should produce a scheme of Home Rule. Why was it not possible to produce that scheme in the shape of a Bill which could be laid on the Table of the House? Nearly every other possible subject relating to Ireland had been made the subject of a Bill by hon. Members opposite within the last three years, and it was strange that this, which they con- sidered the most important of all, should be the only one of which the plan was concealed. If the Federation of the Canadian Dominion was the model which the hon. and learned Member for Limerick proposed for imitation, there could be no difficulty in propounding the copy in a Bill, as the original scheme was propounded by the authors of the Federation, who were, he believed, the last Conservative Government. He thought he had some ground for complaining of the course which had been taken by the hon. and learned Member for Limerick. On the first occasion, when he brought the question before the House, the hon. and learned Member told the House that he believed his duty was to put them, as far as possible, in possession of the fullest and most complete information as to the new arrangement he should propose in place of that which still existed. And now he fulfilled his promise by referring the House to the resolutions passed at the first Home Rule meeting held in Dublin in the autumn of 1873. If he was contented to adopt those resolutions as a sufficiently definite expression of his views, why did he not lay the resolutions on the Table of the House, in order that a fair and decisive consideration might be given to them. If, as the hon. Member for Cork said, the question was a practical one, why did not he and his Friends formulate their views in a Bill which he would venture, in the name of all Parties, to say would receive attentive and patient consideration. If the House had not received information as to what Home Rule was, at least they had learnt what it was not. In the first instance, the suggestion that it meant separation had been repudiated alike by the Seconder of the Resolution and by the hon. and learned Member for Limerick. It was not Repeal, although the hon. and learned Member spoke with more hesitation about that. It might be assumed, however, that in the opinion of the hon. and learned Member, and of a considerable number of his supporters, Home Rule did not mean a repeal of the Union.


wished to explain that in his view, although it would not involve Repeal of the Union, it would involve a re-arrangement on a different basis from that which existed before the Act was passed.


Precisely, but while the hon. and learned Member for Limerick would substitute for the existing arrangement something different from that which obtained before the Act of Union, many of his Supporters would substitute nothing at all. It was somewhat singular that the repudiation of a desire for Repeal by the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. King-Harman) was coldly received by the Home Rulers who sat on the benches below the Gangway on the Opposition side of the House. Home Rule was not, it appeared, a proposal to place Ireland in the position with regard to England that was occupied by one of our Colonies. Nor was it, on the other hand, a mere empowering of certain local and municipal authorities in Ireland to pass Gas and Water Bills, under the general control of the Imperial Parliament. That 'had been suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster), not as a solution of the question before the House so much as a possible amendment of the law. There was much to be said in favour of propositions of that nature; but the question now before them was one of a very different kind. There was one expression in the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick, which might, to some extent, guide the House to a definition of Home Rule—it was a Federation, similar, not to that of Austro-Hungary or the United States, but to that of the Dominion of Canada. The hon. and learned Member for Limerick said—"Give us over Irish matters the same control as Canada has over Canadian affairs, and I claim no more." But what was the position of the Federation of the Dominion of Canada? The Dominion of Canada, as everybody knew, was formed by a Federation of separate Colonies, separated by distances of hundreds of miles, varying in interests, inhabited by races perhaps even more different in religion and history than those which inhabited England, Scotland, and Ireland. Nor should it ever be forgotten that this Federation, like nearly all others, was an union of separate Colonies for the purposes of a closer union, and not a separation of an existing union for the purposes of a future Confederation. And what were the powers reserved by the terms of Confederation to the respective provinces? He ventured to say that all the real powers were defined by the Act of Federation to be vested in the Dominion Government, and that only the least important local matters—such as municipal powers and local taxation—were left to the Provincial Legislatures. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Limerick had told the House that it was essential that the Education and Land Questions should be among the subjects which would have to be decided by a future Irish Parliament. He hinted also that the Post Office might form a subject for considerable discussion. Now, the Post Office was a matter which, in his opinion, under no really practical system of Federation could be left to a Provincial Parliament. But in Canada questions relating to land and education were not left entirely under the control of Provincial Legislatures. Those Legislatures might make, no doubt, certain changes with respect to both those questions; but they could only introduce them—at any rate with respect to education—subject to certain provisions with regard to the rights of minorities, carefully laid down in the Act of Federation. More than that, all the Acts of Provincial Parliaments in those matters were subject to confirmation or veto by the Dominion Government. He would ask the hon. and learned Gentleman whether that was a state of things which he would like to see established in Ireland? Would he be satisfied that all legislation on these subjects in the Irish Parliament should be subject to certain provisions laid down by that House securing the rights of minorities in the matter of education; and, above all, that the legislation of the Irish Parliament in these matters should be liable to the veto of the Imperial Government? But if that would not content the hon. and learned Member—and it required very little consideration to enable the House to see that it would not content, at least, his Supporters—what would be the position of the Irish Parliament with free power to decide all questions relating to land and education in the country? Those, he thought, who were in favour of the idea of Home Rule had been led to support it mainly by the notion that their peculiar views as to the Land Question or education would be carried out by a Home Rule Parliament; and if a Home Rule Parliament should not comply with them, either of its own Motion or because of the veto of the Imperial Parliament, they certainly would not be satisfied with that Home Rule for which they now contended. But if the proposed Irish Legislature did carry out their views, he could only say we should find ourselves in the situation of having an Assembly in Ireland acting upon principles to which in this country we entirely and completely objected; and, more than that, principles which, in the case of education, would be received by 'nearly the whole of Ulster in the manner described in the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Belfast (Mr. W. Johnston). As to property in land, was it not too probable that this would be dealt with so as to insure grievous loss, not only to persons residing in Ireland, but to a large number of mortgagees and landowners, in England, Scotland, and elsewhere, interested in Irish landed property. The questions to which he referred wore, he thought, surrounded by the difficulties which he had mentioned; but would the Irish Parliament content itself if it were confined to internal questions of the kind? Would there be no danger of collision between a local Parliament of that nature and the Imperial Parliament on questions of trade, taxation for Imperial purposes, and, above all, on questions relating to foreign affairs? Only lately in the Corporation of the City of Dublin some little time was diverted from municipal matters to an important subject now being discussed in Italy—namely, the Clerical Abuses Bill, and the Corporation had, he believed, passed a resolution for presentation to that House or to the Government, expressing it to be their opinion that it was desirable to interfere in a certain direction. Now, if that was done by a municipal body in Ireland, did not the House think that a local Parliament might not improbably throw the greatest difficulties in the way of the foreign policy of the country? It would be difficult to exaggerate the dangers which might flow from that source. But if it were possible to confine the Irish Parliament to its proper work, what would be the position of those who were anxious to maintain the settlement arrived at in accordance with the views of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick? He could imagine the hon. and learned Member for Limerick sitting in the Irish Parliament as the Representative of the Local Government of Ireland. He could imagine him met by a pugnacious opposition headed, perhaps, by the hon. Members for Meath and Cavan (Messrs. Parnell and Biggar), and composed of those who might not be over appreciative of the benefits of Constitutional institutions; who might not be invariably courteous or considerate in the tone or manner in which they addressed their fellow-Representatives; and who might care but little for the credit of the Assembly to which they belonged. He could imagine the difficulties in which the hon. and learned Member for Limerick might then find himself involved. An agitation would be commenced for a bolder or more national policy than that adopted by the hon. and learned Member: a Party of action would be formed, and the hon. and learned Member might, in the end, have to come down to the Irish Parliament to propose those Coercion Laws which he denounced with such effect in the House of Commons. They were told that the material prosperity of Ireland suffered under the rule of the Imperial Parliament. He would not go into statistics on that subject at that advanced hour; but he ventured to say that of all exaggerated statements, and there were many, which had been made on the question of Home Rule, none had been greater than those which complained of the material losses of Ireland. He could quote half-a-dozen speeches delivered not so much to that House as to the Irish constituencies, proving that Ireland had less than no population at all, and less than no means to support it. No exaggerations of that sort, in fact, appeared too great for some persons. But yet it was a curious fact, and one worthy the attention of the House, that while the whole of Ireland in those matters was under the same law, the most prosperous Province — namely, Ulster—was directly opposed to Home Rule—that Ulster, which was best able to manage its own affairs, showed absolutely no desire for this great Constitutional change. ["Hear!"] It was true that under the Union the population of Ireland had diminished; but it was also true that under the Union the population had most largely increased. It was curious that since the accession to office of the present Government emigration from Ireland had steadily diminished. [Ironical cheers.] He took no credit to the Government for that: it was a matter over which the action of the Government had as little control as over a good many others with respect to which they were continually blamed. But he was glad to know that there had been this diminution; and he was still more glad to know that those who did not emigrate, but remained behind in Ireland, were infinitely better off than the population of 20 or 30 years ago. He could tell any hon. Members who doubted his statement as to the diminution of emigration, that during the last year there had been a decrease of 14,000 emigrants from Ireland compared with the year before, and that the emigration from Ireland to America (luring that year was absolutely less numerically than the emigration from Ireland to England and Scotland, so much so indeed that, looking to the singular position of trade in the United States and the number of persons who returned to Ireland, it was questionable whether at the present moment there was any emigration from Ireland to the United States at all. Well, not only had emigration diminished, but he ventured to add that during the last few years, at any rate, Ireland had been comparatively more prosperous than England or, perhaps, than Scotland. Since 1841 the shipping of Ireland had increased no less than 150 per cent; exports and imports had largely increased. Since 1868 railway property in Ireland had increased by £5,500,000, or 50 per cent; while the English railways, he fancied had been almost at a standstill. The banks were prosperous, the deposits in them had largely increased, the rents of the landlords had been better paid, and he believed that, as a rule, Irish landlords were now in receipt of higher net rents from their property than English or Scotch landlords. In England the farmers were almost invariably debtors to the banks; in Ireland the farmer was the bank's creditor. He did not believe there was a single class of society in Ireland which, during the last few years, had not improved to a greater proportionate extent than the same class in England. Let anyone but visit the cities of Dublin, Cork, and Waterford. Let him compare the trade and commerce of those cities with what he might have seen of them only five years ago. If Limerick was backward, whose fault was that? If Ireland was not rich in mineral wealth, was that the fault of the Imperial Parliament or Government? If manufactures did not prosper in Ireland as well as in this country, was it not the fact that no capital was more susceptible to a feeling of insecurity than the capital invested in machinery? And as long as agitation against the rights of property or against peace and good order continued capital would be shy of investment in Ireland. He said that if any Irish Member, no matter what might be his preconceived opinions, would but fairly look at the figures and facts of the case, he would admit that Ireland could not reasonably blame either the laws or their administration for any want of material prosperity. But the hon. and learned Member for Limerick said there was no real Constitutional government in Ireland, and that sentiment was repeated by the hon. Member for Kerry (Mr. Blennerhassett), who had spoken of the antagonism between the officials and the people. Well, the only antagonism between the officials and the people which came under his own notice was this—that nearly all the people of Ireland wanted to be officials; and those who failed in their desire sometimes regarded with antagonistic feelings the comparative few who were fortunate enough to succeed. But Ireland had as constitutional a Government as any part of the United Kingdom. Then the hon. and learned Member asserted that Ireland was kept down by an army of occupation—the Constabulary Force. Now, he supposed that nearly every man in that Force was as much an Irishman as the hon. and learned Member himself; and did the hon. and learned Member complain that peace and order were preserved in Ireland by a Force recruited from the people themselves? The hon. and learned Gentleman said there was no Parliamentary Government in Ireland. Why, Ireland was more fully represented in that House, looking at its present wealth and population, than either England or Scotland. Irish questions were fully and fairly discussed, and with a patience not always shown to questions affecting either England and Scot- land; and the House decided with proper consideration upon every Irish question brought before it. But then they were told, with some friendly compliments to himself, that all the present Government had done was to enforce on Ireland a coercion law. Never was a statement more unfair than that. What law did the present Government find in force in Ireland when they took office which had been imposed before that time by Parliament for good and sufficient reasons? Why, they found that the Press was not free; that the Habeas Corpus Act was practically suspended in three counties of Ireland; that in several counties persons abroad after dark, and strangers who could not give an account of themselves, might be arrested and imprisoned for a considerable time; that liberty of search for arms was granted to every constable in the Force by day or by night in every house. Why, all those things were now practically gone. He did not take credit to the Government for that. They were gone, because the condition of the country had made it no longer necessary to continue them. But as they were gone, and gone mainly because the Government, in passing the Act to which the hon. and learned Member had referred, did not ask Parliament to renew them, it was scarcely fair for the hon. and learned Gentleman to charge the Government with only having passed a coercion Act for Ireland. Again, we were told by the hon. and learned Member that we had failed to relieve the floods in the Shannon. That was a fact, but whose fault was it? On the proposal of Her Majesty's Government, this House voted £150,000 towards the drainage of the Shannon—a sum which he would venture to say it would not have voted for any river in England or Scotland. Why had not the Act been carried into effect? Because the persons most interested—the landlords and others resident in the district—declined to tax themselves. Then it had been said that we had done nothing for the Irish fisheries. But no Government could teach Irishmen to catch the fish that swarmed on their coasts. We were told also that we had not passed a Grand Jury Bill for Ireland. Had a County Boards Bill been passed for England? He stated to the House on a previous occasion, and he was willing to repeat the statement now, that it was his intention when the proper time arrived to deal with Ireland, looking to the different circumstances of the country, precisely in the same spirit as England. But, it was said, the House of Commons had passed no Irish University Education Bill. Who had unanimously opposed the University Education Bill of the late Government but the Irish Members themselves. Then it was a great grievance that the Irish municipal franchise had not been dealt with. It was true that last Session, at his suggestion, this House rejected a Bill on the subject, proposed by the hon. and gallant Member for Waterford (Major O'Gorman). But why? Because he ventured to point out that not merely the municipal franchise required to be considered, but also the whole system of local government and taxation of towns in Ireland. The House appointed a Committee to inquire into the subject, and no one could deny that the evidence taken before that Committee and before the Commissioners who had held local investigations amply justified the House in deciding to deal with that question as a whole rather than in the partial way proposed. Then it was said that the Borough Franchise had not been lowered to the same point as in England. But was it the first time that Parliament had declined to deal with the Parliamentary Franchise apart from the more important question of the Distribution of Seats? He could go through a list of other measures to which hon. Members had referred, and to which he might give a similar reply. The hon. and learned Member for Limerick had told the House that if we passed a Municipal Franchise Bill and a Borough Franchise Bill, Ireland would be content and would not ask for Home Rule. But we knew that this demand would continue to be made until the Irish people had discovered it to be futile; and therefore it was more incumbent than it had ever been before that those who could speak with authority in this House should meet the demand with a firm and decided negative in whatever shape it should be proposed. The noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington), when this question was first submitted to Parliament, had spoken in very clear language as the Leader of the Party opposite, and for a time had quenched the hopes of the supporters of the Motion. But they had gained courage since, probably on account of certain circumstances which had been already alluded to in this debate, and for which he would not hold the noble Lord responsible. No one, in fact, would hold him responsible for foolish pledges given by individual Members of the Liberal Party, any more than the Leader on the other side could be held to incur a similar responsibility. But there were circumstances connected with this matter which, he thought, called for some remark from the noble Lord, seeing that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster), with all his ability, all his eloquence, and all his authority, was not the Leader of the Liberal Party. He would venture to say that when an hon. Member in the position of the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hibbert) had pronounced what he would call that shameful Shibboleth, and when the defeated candidate at a recent election, who had taken the same pledge, yet received the hearty support of those two distinguished Members of the great Party opposite, whose special function it seemed to be to write good characters for Liberal candidates out-of-place, the time was arrived when the Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition should give a clear and certain sound. Hon. Members from Ireland were always very apt to take to themselves the possession of the virtue of patriotism. He would ask them to believe that Englishmen and Scotchmen had some share in that virture and some feelings of the same kind. If the patriotism of Irish Members impelled them to support Home Rule, he would tell them that our own national feeling was equally strong, and was accompanied by the conviction that to accede to their demands would be to weaken, if not to destroy, the unity and strength of the Kingdom, and that at a time when more than ever it was necessary to consolidate it. Some Irishmen might hope to take advantage of the struggles of English political Parties; but he believed that whatever might be the differences of English Conservatives or Liberals upon minor points, all would join in the common purpose of resisting for ever the bribe offered by the hon. and learned Member for Limerick, and in maintaining, at any cost, the Constitution of the United Kingdom and the integrity of the Empire.


I am sure the House will allow me to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland to what letter of mine he refers as having been written in support of the candidature of Mr. Kay.


I have it in my pocket, and in a few minutes I will find it.


There is one advantage, at all events, in the discussion which annually takes place on this subject. It gives the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland an admirable opportunity of making an annual and a stale statement with respect to the material progress and prosperity of Ireland. I have no doubt the facts brought forward by him constitute in themselves a sufficient and convincing proof why it would be extremely unwise to disturb a state of things which it has been shown is one of prosperity by ill-considered and reckless alterations. But I am sorry to say that the experience of nearly 30 years has shown us that material advance and prosperity is not sufficient to remove this disaffection from Ireland. I wish the right hon. Gentleman had told us that in addition to the proofs of an advancing material prosperity of Ireland there was also in that country an increasing extent of confidence in the good intentions, at all events, of the Imperial Parliament; that there was a decrease in the bitterness of religious animosities; and that there was a growing disposition to believe that English statesmen and English Members of Parliament could at least be animated by a sincere desire to remove the grievances which still pressed upon the people of Ireland. I do not believe it will be until that conviction—which I believe to be a growing conviction—is firmly established and rooted in the minds of the Irish people, that it will be possible that we can look forward to a well-affected and united people. It is not for me to question the policy of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) in substituting the Motion brought forward to-night for a more direct and simple one he moved three years ago. It certainly appears that this change has been accompanied by some inconvenience. The Motion now before us does not enable the hon. and learned Gentleman to calculate with any certainty on those who support him, or those who differ from him. The Motion is not for Home Rule. It certainly sounds something like Home Rule, and probably it will indicate to those who brought it forward that hon. Members who vote for it are favourably disposed to Home Rule. One inconvenience in it is that it appears to be utterly impossible to debate the present Motion for a Committee, which has now for the second time been brought forward, without diverging, as almost every speaker to-night has done, into arguments for or against Home Rule itself. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster) and my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) have so fully expressed the views entertained, as I believe, by the vast majority of Members on this side of the House, that it will not be necessary for me to address the House at any great length on the larger question. In regard to Home Rule itself I do not wish to go one step beyond the arguments adduced by one party or the other of the Irish Nationalist Members. In my opinion, the hon. and learned Member for Limerick utterly demolished on a former occasion the arguments of the simple Repeal Party. Speaking for himself as an Irishman, the hon. and learned Member wholly repudiated the doctrine of simple Repeal, and said he would be no party to depriving his country of a share in the management of the great Imperial interests which were inseparably connected with the Imperial Legislature. The hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. P. J. Smyth), who spoke in the debate last year, completely demolished the arguments brought forward in favour of Federation. My right hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe), myself, and others, have endeavoured on former occasions to prove the impracticability of the Federal scheme as a practical scheme of politics. I myself endeavoured to show that, as the hon. and learned Member for Limerick appeared to suspect, it was nothing but a proposal to pull all things to pieces, in order to re-construct them like a political toy. No one has shown with more clearness than the hon. Member for Westmeath has done on a former occasion that the claim now put forward is one which has no foundation in history and one which would be destructive of the British Constitution and of the greatness of the British Empire; that it was a claim unworthy of the history and traditions of Ireland itself, and one which, if granted, would be degrading to the present position and future hopes of Ireland among the nations of the world. That is all I wish to say as to the proposal for Repeal itself. But now, one or two words as to the proposal for a Committee. The hon. and learned Member has said, almost in the same words as he used last year, that the Committee was not to consider whether Home Rule should or should not be granted, but to inquire into certain facts concerning Ireland which it was right the House should know. I ask, Sir, what facts, and what sort of facts, are these? There are many facts which I should be perfectly willing to concede. For example, it is evident from the large number of Members pledged to support Home Rule that many of the people of Ireland do desire, in some shape or other, an Irish Parliament. Other statements with which I do not altogether agree, I might be willing to admit for the sake of argument. The hon. and learned Gentleman says that he does not desire the separation of Ireland from this country, and that he is prepared to show that if this Committee is appointed. Then, Sir, what is the nature of the facts for which this Committee is to be granted? I, for myself, can conceive no other object for the appointment of this Committee than to give to the hon. and learned Member the opportunity of producing some scheme for Federation or Home Rule sufficiently plausible to stand the test of cross-examination. He says he does not want the British Constitution to be examined upstairs in a Committee; but that seems to be the very purpose for which the Committee is to be appointed. Does he believe for one moment that if any Committee, persuaded by his ingenuity, were to assent to his scheme for a Federal Union, that the House would accept the recommendation of that Committee? If we are going to vote for a Committee upon any such grounds as these, it would be to deceive the Irish people and lead them to believe that their claim had been accepted by a large number of the constituencies of this country; whereas if the subject were clearly made known and understood, the hon. and learned Member must know—and if he does not the House ought to tell him—that if the claim were fully and frankly explained to any constituency of this country it would be instantly repudiated. Moreover, if we were to agree to the inquiry which is proposed we should only be paving the way to a future series of recriminations and imputations of bad faith. I should like to ask the hon. and learned Member if he is right to pledge his constituents to the fact that if the scheme is examined before a Select Committee, and that if the Committee reports against it, it will destroy the claim which he is making on their behalf. I maintain that he has no such right. He had been sent to submit a certain claim to the judgment of the House of Commons, and not to the judgment of a Select Committee. I am then unable to see what good effect this Motion can be intended to have, and I am forced to attempt to find out what effect it will have. It would not be within the bounds of Parliamentary law and practice, and I have no desire to do it, to impute any motives to the hon. and learned Gentleman and his Friends; but I am bound to say that the effect, the necessary effect, of the demands made will be to deceive the Irish people. What has happened in certain constituencies is likely to happen again. There are many English constituencies in which the Irish vote is an extremely important element, and that vote can be secured by an apparently harmless pledge. To vote for a Select Committee pledges a Member to absolutely nothing. The liability of the candidate is discharged by au annual vote, and even if the Motion were carried he feels that the integrity of the British Empire would not be in the least impaired. But in Ireland the effect is very different. The pledge given is not minutely examined. It is known that the candidate having pledged himself to something which sounds very like Home Rule, the agitation is thereby prolonged; and groundless hopes, which otherwise would have passed away, and which it would be best should be as soon as possible destroyed, are raised and sustained. At the same time, I must join in what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett). I believe that several Gentlemen who have taken this pledge are not actuated by selfish and personal considerations, and that they have taken it seeing no harm in it, and being honestly of opinion that an inquiry would do good. I am not of that opinion; and I regret, for the reasons given, that any Member should support the proposition now before us who is not prepared to support a direct Motion in favour of Home Rule. My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham has in the course of this discussion been accused of having given way to intimidation and coercion by giving a pledge that he would adopt a particular course on this question. My hon. Friend was extremely anxious to address the House, but at so late an hour that is impossible. He wishes me, however, to state that he has taken no pledge whatever on this subject. Being unable, then, to support this Motion, I ask, Is there no common ground on which we can meet our hon. Friends from Ireland? My right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford has shown there are many such grounds. He has pointed out that if it is local self-government which the Irish people desire, we are willing to concede to them local self-government as fully and completely as we desire it for ourselves. The Party to which I belong has always had for its watchword "Civil and religious liberty." That, however, is construed differently by Irish Members than by us. If there are any disabilities under which they labour, I shall be ready to examine them, but on this condition—that they shall not ask as a preliminary that we shall agree to proposals which we firmly believe will destroy that unity which is essential to the greatness of the British Empire and injurious to the Constitution and our liberties.


I now ask the indulgence of the House to read the letter which I was unable to find a few minutes ago. It appears from The Times of April 11 that a meeting in support of Mr. Kay was held, at which it was stated that he would be prepared to support Mr. Butt's Motion for a Committee of Inquiry into Home Rule, and an amnesty for the political prisoners. On Wednesday, April 18—a week afterwards—there appeared the following letter, under the heading "Salford Election" [Mr. GLADSTONE: What is the date of the letter?] There is no date to the letter, but it appears in The Times of April 18; and it is as follows:— It is not in my power, as you have anticipated might be the case, to attend your meeting at Salford—[Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear!]—but I send it, as you desire, a hearty greeting. You have much to do there in organizing the Liberal opinion and Party of the town with reference to the interests of the present and the future. I will not for a moment believe that the currents which are shown by the elections to be running strongly elsewhere have not a like force and direction in Salford, or that your townsmen will be less anxious than others to do their part towards bringing to a close that reign of shame and outrage in the Sclavonian Principalities of Turkey which is a reproach to Europe in general, and, I grieve to say, to this country in particular. I have the honour to be, Sir, your faithful servant, W. E. GLADSTONE.—Mr. Harold Rylett.


I must say, Sir, that I think I have never known upon the part of a Gentleman in office a more significant and a more instructive example of the manner in which the keenness of Party spirit and anxiety to convict an opponent of something or other can lead a distinguished Gentleman holding high office into a scrape. The right hon. Gentleman quoted me as one of two persons on this side of the House who had written letters recommending Mr. Kay, when Mr. Kay was known to be a Home Ruler, to the notice of Salford, and whose special function it was to recommend, I think he said Liberal candidates, or Liberal candidates of a certain order, to constituencies—to give them a political character. And the right hon. Gentleman made this charge upon the ground of a letter of mine addressed to a gentleman in Salford, without any date at all, such was his eagerness to jump to his conclusion. With regard to my right hon. Friend (Mr. Forster), I did observe a letter of his in the newspapers, but according to my recollection it was before any question had arisen about Home Rule. But it was a letter in which my right hon. Friend—and I thought most fairly and most judiciously—stated what he conceived to be an important public service rendered by Mr. Kay with regard to a particular question. For that offence my right hon. Friend has come under the wrath of the right hon. Gentleman. But what is my case? Why, my case is this—that the letter which I wrote, and which the right hon. Gentleman has so incautiously quoted, had no- thing whatever to do with the Salford election, and though he does not give me the date—[Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH: There is no date to the letter.] Very well. Then how rash of you to quote this letter, and to assume your conclusion, in which you are totally wrong. That letter had no relation whatever to the Salford election, and it was written—unless I am very much mistaken — before the death of Mr. Cawley. A gentleman in Salford wrote to me on the subject of the coming opening of a Liberal Club, and requested me to attend. I wrote back to him to state I could not attend, but I did express my hope—and I did feel the hope, although it has been disappointed—that Salford would have imitated the good example set in some other quarters, and that out of the foundation of that Club would have arisen measures for the consolidation of the resources of the Liberal Party in the borough. So that the right hon. Gentleman made this charge against me of supporting the candidature of Mr. Kay in a letter which never mentioned his name, and which had no reference to any contest whatever. But the right hon. Gentleman goes further, and says I am in the habit of writing letters to give political characters to Liberal candidates. To what Liberal candidates have I written letters to give them characters? I will not say I have never given an opinion on any gentleman who has offered himself to any constituency; but the truth is, I am opposed to that practice. The right hon. Gentleman being entirely wrong in the particular charge he has made, is equally wrong in the general charge. I have always felt, for a good many years past, extreme scruple, delicacy, and unwillingness to write these letters. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen may laugh, but not a single instance has been named. The right hon. Gentleman says it is my constant practice to write these letters. He has not named a single instance except that of Salford, in which through great rashness he is absolutely wrong. I will tell the House why I have great scruple and delicacy in. writing these letters. I have always felt the practice to be one of the greatest danger and inconvenience, as savouring much of impertinent interference with the constituencies; and the occasion on which I received that remarkable lesson in political life was the occasion of a particular election for the city of Bath, when a distinguished Gentleman, who is now First Lord of the Treasury, thought fit to write a letter of recommendation for a Conservative candidate to the city of Bath. By that letter of recommendation the right hon. Gentleman, as he was then, most materially contributed to the decisive success of the Liberal candidate in that very election. ["Question"] An hon. Gentleman calls "Question." I think I am a little too near the question for him, who I have no doubt was one of the loudest cheerers for the Chief Secretary for Ireland when he fell into the scrape. I have been warned by that letter of the First Lord of the Treasury which materially contributed to the success of the Liberal candidate in Bath, and I have determined to avoid as far as I am able performing the same part on behalf of some Liberal candidate.


rose amid cries of "Spoken."


said, the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland had made a statement which called for explanation from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. These explanations had been of a personal character; and if the right hon. Baronet had anything further to say upon the point, he would, no doubt, receive the indulgence of the House. At the same time, he might point out that the Question before the House was the Motion of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Shaw).


I merely wish to make a personal explanation in reference to this point, and therefore I trust I may claim the indulgence of the House. It is only right that after what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman I should say frankly that I regret the mistake I made in attributing to him any support of the candidate at Salford election who was pledged to Home Rule; but I must add that, looking at the fact that the publication of that letter did not take place until after the date of the announcement of Mr. Kay's pledge on Home Rule, my mistake is one which may have been shared by many electors of Salford. It seems that the right hon. Gentleman's letter, not to put too fine a point upon it, was fraudulently used. I think it a pity he did not correct that mistake be- fore, and I am glad I have afforded him an opportunity of correcting it now.


said, he hoped the Chief Secretary for Ireland would withdraw another misstatement which he had made—no doubt unintentionally—that the North of Ireland was absolutely opposed to the Motion. He (Mr. Fay) was in favour of Home Rule, and he represented 130,000 Ulster men.


protested againt the threatening speech of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), the object of which was to deter hon. Members who were in favour of the Motion from supporting it by their votes. They (the Irish Members) were in no danger of misunderstanding the sentiments of the hon. Member. The hon. Member seemed not to understand what the meaning of the word "autonomy" was unless it was to be applied as far away as Bulgaria. The hon. Member complained of the vagueness of this Resolution; it was almost as vague as the Resolution of the hon. Member on the subject of the Eastern Question. The hon. Member could not understand what the meaning of the word "coercion" was, the only coercion he could understand being that which was applied to the Sultan. The hon. Member for Hackney had made his cruel speech of that night in consequence of having read Mr. O'Donnell's letter in The Times, written with considerable, but justifiable warmth, seeing that it was called forth by an insolent and anonymous letter to the same journal, which, though signed "M. P.," he did not believe had really proceeded from an hon. Member of that House. He would recommend what was in the letter of Mr. O'Donnell to the attention of both the Liberal and the Conservative Parties. Three elections had been fought before and three seats won by the help of the Home Rule vote; but it was not until the Salford election had been lost that all this virtuous indignation had been expressed. Why was not that abhorrence of the Irish vote expressed before the election? They could not but resent the insult offered when they were practically told that they were Pariahs and not to be associated with because the election was lost. He had heard wiser expressions from the noble Lord, and there was a growing feeling outside the House in their favour; a desire, too, to investigate questions not well understood. The hon. Member for Hackney asked for a definition of Home Rule; but would he himself be so good as to define what was meant by Liberalism. Why, 50 different definitions could be given of it, for it was notorious that as great a difference of opinion existed on the Opposition benches as to what should be the Shibboleth, of Liberalism as ever prevailed among Home Rulers. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had referred to the great Liberal Party—a Party he never praised only when he wanted to hound it on against the Home Rulers. They were taunted about winning seats for the Liberals by Home Rule votes; but what about Sligo? Would a Tory ever have sat for Sligo if he was not pledged to support Home Rule? It was the old story—sour grapes. With regard to the position of the Home Rule Party in that House, no one knew better than the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary for Ireland, that the Members of that Party were sorely troubled in Ireland because of the moderation of the tactics they were pursuing. The ebullitions which had frequently of late excited remark in the course of their proceedings were merely a symptom of the exasperation of the Irish people. No people were more susceptible to kindness than the Irish. He would appeal to the House and say that all honour was due to the hon. Members for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen), Morpeth (Mr. Burt), Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), and Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright), for desiring an inquiry into the question of Home Rule, and he hoped it would be granted, so that some of the misconceptions which prevailed might be cleared away.


in reply, referred to the time when he declined to pledge himself on the disestablishment of the Irish Church on the ground that at that time it was not the "practical question" which it became so soon afterwards. The supporters of the Motion intended to work at this question until they made it a success—not a success in the sense of dismemberment, but in the sense of securing to Ireland the just right of managing her own affairs without in any way jeopardizing the unity of this great Empire.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 67; Noes 417: Majority 350.—(Div. List, No. 87.)

Barran, John Middleton, Sir A. E.
Biggar, J. G. Montagu, rt. hon. Lord R.
Blennerhassett, R. P.
Bowyer, Sir G. Moore, A.
Brady, J. Morris, G.
Bright, Jacob Murphy, N. D.
Brooks, M. O'Beirne, Captain
Browne, G. E. O'Brien, Sir P.
Bryan, G. L. O'Byrne, W. R.
Burt, T. O'Clery, K.
Butt, I. O'Conor, Denis M.
Callan, P. O'Conor Don, The
Collins, E. O'Gorman, P.
Conyngham, Lord F. O'Keeffe, J.
Cowen, J. O'Leary, W.
Cross, J. K. O'Loghlen, rt. hon. Sir C. M.
Dease, E.
Delahunty, J. O'Reilly, M.
Digby, K. T. O'Shaughnessy, R.
Downing, M'C. O'Sullivan, W. H.
Dunbar, J. Parnell, C. S.
Ennis, N. Philips, R. N.
Errington, G. Power, J. O'Connor
Fay, C. J. Redmond, W. A.
French, hon. C. Rylands, P.
Gourley, E. T. Shaw, W.
Henry, M. Sheil, E.
Hibbert, J. T. Sherlock, Mr. Serjeant
Hutchinson, J. D. Stacpoole, W.
King-Harman, E. R. Sullivan, A. M.
Kirk, G. H. Synan, E. J.
Lawson, Sir W. Ward, M. F.
Lewis, O.
Macdonald, A.
M'Kenna, Sir J. N. TELLERS.
Martin, P. W. Nolan, Captain
Meldon, C. H. Power, R.