THE O'CONOR DON
I trust I may be permitted to ask a Question of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that is—Whether the Government now sees its way to hold out any hopes to us of our being able to resume the debate on the important 1021 subject which was under the consideration of the House yesterday? and, in asking this, I trust the House will permit me to say one or two words in explanation. I only wish to say that we, who are interested in the Bill, do not desire to make any unreasonable demand of the Government. We do not wish to ask them to name to-day any particular date for the resumption of the debate; but we really do wish to impress on Her Majesty's Government the importance of the subject, and that some hopes should be held out to Members of the resumption of the debate taking place at a reasonably early time after Whitsuntide. I make this appeal entirely on public grounds; and even were I to make it on personal grounds, I think I might have some claim on the Government, considering that immediately I became aware that it was the wish of the Government and of the House that the debate of to-night on an important subject should be continued to-morrow night, I, who had the first place on the Paper for to-morrow, at once waived my right, and the result will be to place tomorrow at the disposal of the Government for the convenience of the House. Well, Sir, I do not really base this appeal on any personal ground at all. I am quite aware that the Government have many important Bills which they desire, and which they have the right, to see pushed forward; and what I would respectfully ask of them is, making all due allowance for these claims on their time, that they would hold out some hope to us of our being able to resume the debate at an early time.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I fully acknowledge the considerate manner in which the hon. Member who has just sat down has made his appeal, and I wish also to acknowledge the way in which he has acted with regard to to-morrow night. I can assure him that I wish to meet his appeal in the same spirit in which he has made it; and I trust the House will allow me to draw their attention to the present position of Public Business. We have brought in, on the part of the Government, no fewer than 28 Bills, all of which are now before the House. Of these, a great number—14—have not passed the second reading, and upon seven of these the Speaker has not been moved out of the Chair, and five are in 1022 Committee, and have to be considered on Report. Of the five in Committee, one is the Valuation Bill, with 112 clauses, and at the present time is on Clause 6; while the Army Discipline and Regulation Bill, which contains 180 clauses, has only reached Clause 44. So much for the Bills. Then, with regard to Supply, we have had only two Votes out of 26 in the Army Estimates, and we have also only got two Votes out of 18 in the Navy Estimates, and 71 out of 142 in the Civil Service Estimates. Well, under these circumstances, the House will see that there is a very considerable amount of Business—not all of equal importance, I admit; but the House is quite aware that there are several Bills which are of very great public importance; and in regard to one—the Army Discipline and Regulation Bill—I must remind the House that that is a Bill that stands in a very peculiar position, because it is necessary to carry that Bill before a certain day, or else great confusion will arise. That being so, what is the allowance of time at our disposal? Beckoning from to-day to the end of July, I find that there are nine Mondays and nine Thursdays—making 18 days—eight Wednesdays, nine Tuesdays, and eight Fridays. Now, the Wednesdays, Tuesdays, and Fridays are all more or less at the disposal of the independent Members of the House, while Mondays and Thursdays are at the disposal of the Government. That gives 18 days for the Government, which are clearly their own, and 17 days—a portion of which, up to 7 o'clock in the evening, the Government usually have in the form of Morning Sittings: while the remainder of the time and the Wednesdays are, of course, not at all at the disposal of the Government. Under these circumstances, it will be seen that, looking at the large amount of Public Business the Government have before them, and looking to the scanty amount of time at their disposal, and at the disposal of independent Members, the balance is not so greatly in favour of the Government as in popular estimation may be supposed to be the case. Of course, I do no not lay down a hard-and-fast line. Some of the Bills we have brought forward are of a more general character, such, for instance, as that to which the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) has given Notice. Under 1023 these circumstances, I think I should not be dealing fairly with the House if I held out at the present time any definite expectation of our being able to accommodate the hon. Member. At the same time, I fully recognize the importance of the subject; and I hope the hon. Member will be able to find a day for the continuation of the discussion. I can assure him that if the Government are assisted by the House in prosecuting the important Business which they have in hand, they will find that it will greatly facilitate our complying with the request, which at the present time it is impossible to do.
§ MR. SHAW
I trust the House will allow me to make a few remarks on the subject before the House, although I am extremely reluctant to interpose between my hon. Friend and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to put myself in Order I shall conclude with a Motion. I cannot but express my own very great disappointment at the answer just given by the right hon. Gentleman; and I think if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given us a more definite answer he would have served his own purposes much better. Obstruction has become almost a fine art, and the right hon. Gentleman has, in fact, almost said to the House that if they keep these Bills about long and do not allow them to pass, he will not give us a day for the discussion of the University Education (Ireland) Bill. What is the state of this Bill as it now stands before the House? This Bill, be it remembered, has been received and acknowledged as necessary by nearly three-fourths of the Members of the House, and it has been acknowledged it would have been a very useful thing if it could be passed this Session. There is no doubt in the world that there are points in it which we, and the hon. Member who introduced the Bill, are willing to look at and consider fairly——
§ MR. SHAW
I am quite prepared to move the adjournment of the House. I say that those who are responsible for the Bill are most anxious to meet the objections which are urged in a fair and reasonable way. But how have we been met? I take the answer of the right 1024 hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer as nothing but a distinct refusal to give us another opportunity of discussing this measure. Yesterday, when I addressed the House, I did so under feelings of very great difficulty. I have to acknowledge that usually, whenever I address this House, I receive nothing but kindness; but yesterday I had an impression that there was a great disposition on the part of the House to yield to that ignorant cry of "No Popery," which I should have thought had been dead and buried many years ago, and which, in my heart I believe, nine-tenths of the Members of this House despise.
§ SIR WILLIAM FRASER
, who rose to address the House from one of the cross seats close to the Bar, was received with loud cries of "Order! order!" and "Bar!" He said: Mr. Speaker, I rise to Order—[Loud shouts of "Order!" and "You cannot speak outside the Bar!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
If the hon. Member desires to address the House, he should present himself within the Bar.
§ SIR WILLIAM FRASER
then came inside the Bar, and said: Mr. Speaker, I rise to a point of Order. A Motion for the adjournment of the House having already been moved and negatived, it is not open to the hon. Member to make a fresh Motion to that effect without some other Motion having intervened.
§ MR. SPEAKER
No doubt that Rule applies when a Question is under debate as proposed from the Chair; but I cannot say that the Rule applies on the present occasion.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must point out to the hon. Member that he will be out of Order in discussing the merits of a Bill which has been ordered for consideration at another time.
§ MR. SHAW
I should be very sorry, indeed, to transgress the Rules of this House; but I was really only wishing to point out the reasons why I thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have acceded to the request of my hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon. The feel- 1025 ings in my mind yesterday were those of sorrow and regret. My wish, and that of those with me, has always been to minimize as much as possible the points of difference between this country and Ireland, and to endeavour to find some common ground upon which we can meet to remedy and reform the great evils which exist in Ireland. But what a message we shall have to take back to the people of Ireland on a subject so important and essential to the well-being of the country.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Shaw.)
I do not know that at any time since I have had the honour of sitting in this House any message from the Treasury Bench has been sent to the people of Ireland so full of despair and irritation. There is no doubt on the part of Her Majesty's Ministers—there is no doubt on the part of the Members of this House—that the subject of the interpellation to Ministers this evening is one of momentous importance to the people of Ireland. Her Majesty's Ministers own the fact—they own it is most exigent and most necessary; and yet they have to-night told my hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) that he may take his Bill under his arm and walk out of the House with it. Let us recognize the fact that the present Ministry have, like other Ministries that have preceded them, mocked the claims, baffled the hopes, and sported with the expectations of the people of Ireland, cruelly to deride and deceive them. Now, I charge, across the floor of this House—and let us have no beating about the bush—I charge that negotiations—semi-official negotiations—were carried on last December on this question in Ireland. There is no use in concealing this any longer—we shall have it out. I say the persons in the con- 1026 fidence of Her Majesty's Government have approached the Catholic authorities in Ireland; and I told them at the time, when I was privately consulted, that the Government approached them to betray them. They know it to-night. The Catholic authorities of Ireland were told if a moderate compromise were offered, the liberal feeling and common sense of this Assembly would welcome the solution of so knotty a problem, and the Members would be delighted to have this question out of their way. They were told that this question was embarrassing alike to the Government and the Opposition. We were told, and the Catholic authorities were told—let it be denied if it can—it was told upon what I call quasi-official authority, in Dublin—that this proposal was to meet with a cordial, or, at all events, a friendly, reception from the Government. I said, when I heard that, that I was sceptical. There are Catholic Friends about me now who know that I was sceptical then. I told them what would happen, and it has happened here to-night. I am vindicated now. My hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon undertook the unpleasant duty of proposing a compromise which might have imperilled his popularity in Ireland. He hears me, and he knows that the man who stands between a strong popular demand and the House of Commons, as a middle course, subjects himself to the misunderstanding of his motives, to the possible loss of popularity, and, lastly, to the possible failure of his attempt. I ask my hon. Friend, for whom I have the greatest regard, not to dig the grave of his own public position by any effort to settle the question, or to extricate the Government from their difficulty. I told him the Government were strong; and if there was any proposition to be made in the way of a compromise it lay upon them to make it. I told him that for the weaker party to make a compromise on this subject would be to put himself in the wrong; and that it was my sorrowful fear that it would lead to cruel disappointment and irritation of the feelings of the Irish people. One hundred and fifty years ago, we braved the penalties of felony for education. We are a people who have bled and suffered for our desire to give education to our youth. To-day we come to your House with a proposal which every man recognizes as 1027 likely to afford the basis of a happy solution of the question. Her Majesty's Government have 18 days at their disposal, and they cannot listen to us. "Come to-morrow," they say. I might write over the portals of this House for all Irish Members—"Abandon hope all ye who enter here." When we came here as an Irish Party in 1874, hon. Gentlemen who, like myself, then entered the House for the first time, said—and I believed them, and I believe them sincerely now—"Do not ask for Home Rule, or for separation, but show us what Parliament can do, and we will show you what Parliament will do. Put your finger upon practical questions requiring solution in Ireland, or that an Irish Parliament would deal with, and we will show you that English Gentlemen can solve them for you here." Here is one of these questions. Is it a question of magnitude? I appeal to the Government themselves—I appeal to the previous Government, with whom the question prevailed when they were in power—is this a question of pressing importance? I see here one of the greatest statesmen that England or Europe has ever produced. Yes; I repeat it. I did not then believe the proposal made by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) acceptable; but that never shook my confidence in the gigantic ability of his character. He proclaimed equally, with his Conservative opponents, that this was a question pressing and goading so far as the feelings of the Irish people were concerned, and he essayed a solution of it. You cannot deny that the Irish Party in bringing forward this Bill offered—I will not say the last, but one of the last, of the tests by which they endeavoured to ascertain if this Assembly is prepared to give that which the Irish nation with an Irish Parliament would give. What you give us now is the confession of impotence to deal with the question as regards time, or unwillingness as regards disposition. I tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-night—a Gentleman for whom every Member of the Party with whom I serve entertains unbounded respect—that by the answer he has given to-night he has struck a pang of sorrow and regret into the breast of every Irishman who had hoped to see removed a cause of bitterness, irritation, and exasperation existing be- 1028 tween the Irish people and this House. I will also tell the Government this—that they have not facilitated the discharge of Public Business by what they have done. Let the Chancellor of the Exchequer realize this fact—that we fail to recognize in any one of the measures he has laid before the House one at all deserving to be ranked in its pressure and importance with the settlement of the question of University Education in Ireland. For my own part, I feel, after the answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-night, that it would be a mockery for my hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon to attempt to persevere with his Bill. If he takes my advice, he will rise in his place and remove the Bill from the Order Book, and go back to his constituents and his countrymen, and tell them that his efforts—recognized as he is in this House and in Ireland as a Gentleman of moderate opinions—that even his efforts were vain to extract from the British Parliament this simple measure of justice to our country.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
ventured to interpose, because he really thought that a great amount of indignation that had been excited by what he said was thrown away, being founded on a complete misapprehension of what he intended to convoy. He was told that he had made a distinct refusal, that he had sent a message of "despair and irritation" to Ireland, and so forth, in regard to this Bill; whereas what he had said was of a wholly different character. He appealed to hon. Gentlemen from Ireland to consider the matter from a common-sense point of view. They knew perfectly well that there was a considerable amount of Public Business which must be got through, and also that there was but a limited time usually given for a Session. They might, however, feel assured that it was the desire of the Government, if it was in its power, to facilitate the discussion of the important subject which was before the House yesterday. The Government had shown that, by the arrangement they made to enable the hon. Member for Roscommon to bring the Bill in. With regard to the time for its resuming consideration, he had said that the Government were unable at the present moment to make a proposal, because of the state of their Business; that what he hoped 1029 was that the House would assist them to get on with the Business, and, if they made satisfactory progress with it, they would be glad to do what they could as to giving a day for the University Education (Ireland) Bill. He called attention to the distribution of the time which remained till the end of the Session as between the Government and private Members; and he thought it would be borne in mind that as there was yesterday so there might be again other occasions between this and the time at which they might be able to offer him a day when the hon. Member for Roscommon might have an opportunity of renewing the discussion of his measure. Commanding, as it justly did, very great interest on the part of hon. Gentlemen throughout the House, he thought it very probable that the hon. Member would be able to find another day on which the same thing might happen as occurred yesterday, when hon. Gentlemen having priority on the Notice Paper would give way, and so allow the Bill to be proceeded with without interrupting the Business of the Government. He wished distinctly to say that he had in no way endeavoured to stop or to stifle the discussion of the Bill; but he felt that, in the first instance, the Government ought to receive the assistance of the House in advancing the important Business they had in hand.
THE O'CONOR DON
felt it necessary, after what had fallen from the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), and from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to say a few words. He confessed that he could not regard the answer given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in as completely hopeless a light as the hon. and learned Member for Louth did. At the same time, he felt deeply disappointed at its not being in the right hon. Gentleman's power to give a more definite encouragement to the promoters of the Bill than he now found himself able to do. But he understood the right hon. Gentleman to state that at the present moment the Government was not in a position to give them a day, and he did not think it would be wise on their part to press the right hon. Gentleman further on the matter at the present moment. It was not his intention, however, to abandon every hope of passing the Bill; and he would, under any circumstances, put it down for an early day after Whitsuntide, 1030 when he and others would repeat the appeal they had made to the right hon. Gentleman to afford them facilities for the discussion of that important measure. He might add that every word which the hon. and learned Member for Louth had said with regard to his conversation with him was perfectly accurate. The hon. and learned Member had pointed out to him, in the very terms he had used to-night, the danger that would be run in the introduction of the Bill. But even if the Government were to treat them in the manner in which the hon. and learned Member for Louth thought it might treat them—and in which, perhaps, it would—he, nevertheless, was not a bit ashamed of having introduced the measure. He did not at all regret having done so; and, whatever the result might be—whether the Bill passed or was thrown out—he did not think he would have any reason to regret that he had proposed a measure which was not of an unreasonable character, but one which, if it had been brought forward by the Government, he ventured to say, would have been deemed moderate and reasonable. Whether the proposal led to the settlement of that question or not, it would, at least, have shown that those who were interested in the matter—and especially those who belonged to that community in Ireland which was particularly interested in the settlement of that question—were not unreasonable in their demands; that they knew what they wanted, and understood how to put their demands in such a shape that they might be fairly considered by Parliament. Whether Parliament rejected those demands or not, they had no reason to regret having made the proposal. In these circumstances, he thought the best solution now, on the eve of the Holidays, was to postpone the Bill; and then, after Whitsuntide, when the Government were better able than at present to give him a definite answer, he would repeat the Question he had put to them to-night.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
On this matter we are not discussing the Irish University question, but we are discussing the conduct of Her Majesty's Government, and I wish to point out the differ-once which exists between the position which the right hon. Gentleman took up some time ago and his present position. The impression he made on a former 1031 occasion was that the Government were anxious, and were almost prepared, to give facilities for the further discussion of the measure; and he almost announced that they would consider immediately as to the day on which the Bill should be taken. It happened, however, that some private Members—the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Galway (Major Nolan) being the first—offered to give up Wednesday last in order that the second reading of the Bill might be taken. What is the impression the conduct of the Government will make out-of-doors? It will be said Her Majesty's Government are waiting to see how the wind may blow on the subject of Irish University Education. The manner in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has dealt with the subject shows that the Government are not able to make up their minds, and are waiting to see how the tide of public opinion will run to determine their attitude. I do not think it contributes to the dignity of the Leader of this House that an important question like this should be dealt with as he has dealt with it. My hon. Friend has been asking him for further facilities for the purpose of this Bill; the right hon. Gentleman was able to find facilities for the introduction of the measure, and the state of Public Business was then much the same as it is now; but as he had not ascertained what the state of public opinion is out-of-doors, he has not been able to offer any further facilities at present. Surely, a most unsatisfactory position for a Leader of the House and a Member of the Government. As a Representative of an Irish constituency, I protest against—I will not say the juggling, but I will say the equivocal and ambiguous conduct of the Government in reference to this Bill. I regret the rather too conciliatory tone which I think the hon. Member for Roscommon has adopted on this occasion. [Mr. BIGGAR: Hear, hear!] I am one of those who put very little faith in any compromise that may be sanctioned by hon. Gentlemen opposite. But I felt it my duty to preserve silence, and to give my hon. Friend all the assistance in my power, because I felt that my hon. Friend was engaged in a difficult and dangerous task. There is a time when conciliation must come to an end, and when compromise is only another word for surrender; and, look- 1032 ing at the action of the Government, I think that that time has come, and that the Irish Members, who have been sent here to endeavour to settle this question, should take the very earliest opportunity of consulting together in order to see what course should be taken in reference to the Bill and the shifting conduct of the Government.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
expressed a hope that if the Government intended to give an opportunity for the further consideration of this Bill, it would not be brought on so near the end of the Session as was the case with the Intermediate Education (Ireland) Bill of last year, which was taken after a large number of hon. Members had left London. Referring to what had fallen from the hon. Member who had just resumed his seat, he said that the Members of the House must make up their minds whether they would exercise control over their own Business; because it appeared to him that the section of the House to which the hon. Member belonged had undertaken to exercise a kind of lordship over their time. For his own part—and he believed he was speaking the feeling of the majority of the English and Scotch Members—he refused to submit to such a control.
§ MR. COGAN
approved of the course which his hon. Friend (the O'Conor Don) had taken in not yet abandoning the Bill. That was a step of the most serious import, and the political feeling it would create in Ireland would be most disastrous and dangerous to the common weal of the United Kingdom. He believed the course which had been already taken by Government with regard to the measure would create a feeling of uneasiness, a feeling of want of confidence in the Parliament being able to deal with matters of great importance to Ireland, and a feeling of distrust, the effects of which he felt would be impossible to exaggerate. He had already stated in that House that he believed it would be an ill day for the United Kingdom if the people of Ireland came to believe that a question which had been admitted by two great Parties in that House to be a question that required settlement, and to be inevitably interesting to the welfare of their country—if they came to believe, after it had been admitted that this question was so important and so necessary to be dealt 1033 with, that, after all, their hopes had been trifled with, and that neither the Government nor the House was prepared seriously to take the question into consideration. Whatever might be the fate or the result of the Bill now before the House, he felt that his hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon had done a wise and good act in placing before Parliament a moderate and reasonable proposal for settling this question. In that proposal he had had the concurrence of many Irish Members who sat on the opposite of the House, as well as on this; and it was so reasonable and so evidently fair that it had elicited the warm support of even so strong an advocate of secular education as the right hon. Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe). In the few sentences which the right hon. Gentleman uttered yesterday in that House, he spoke what he (Mr. Cogan) believed to be wise advice, when he asked hon. Members to consider whether they would not enter on a new departure in dealing with this question, and endeavour, as an act of great statesmanship, to secure on the part of the Irish people feelings of love, and not of hate. He felt those words of the right hon. Gentlemen were true; and as one who had been for many years an Irish Representative in that House, he had not himself abandoned the hope that the Parliament of the United Kingdom was able and willing to deal with questions that affected the welfare of his country. It would be a matter of deep regret to him if the day came when he should feel it necessary to abandon that hope. He confessed those feelings would be greatly influenced by the future course of Her Majesty's Ministers and the influential Leaders of public opinion who sat in that House; and if—which he would deeply regret—he should be forced to come to the conclusion that this Parliament would not be prepared to deal with this question, as he believed was required by justice and the interests of his countrymen—deeply as he should regret it—having now for 27 years been a Member of that House—he should feel that the time had arrived when he should abandon the hope. He should no longer ask to be elected to this House, when he felt that he was utterly powerless to aid in carrying out the wishes of those who sent him there; and he should feel it to be his duty to 1034 retire into private life, deeply regretting that the course taken by this House should have done the most serious thing possible in endangering the continuance of the union between the two countries.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
I wish to ask if the country can be expected to believe that it is the difficulty of time which prevents the Government giving a day? The Chancellor of the Exchequer says "Yes;" but I must say that it is a new event in Parliamentary history, when a matter is before the House which may determine whether Gentlemen on this side of the House or Gentlemen on that side shall form the Government after the next Election, that we should be told the want of a day prevents the matter being discussed. Why, there are plenty of ways of doing it. You might make the Session one day longer, or sacrifice a Saturday, or adopt various other methods which will be obvious to the youngest Member. It is quite in accordance, however, with previous experience that the Leader of the Government may not want to commit himself on a great question, and that he may so manœuvre as to keep dangling a particular bait before a large section of the country, and, by refusing to give a day for the matter to be debated, so tide over the time till the next General Election. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has taken great credit to himself for giving us an hour and a-half for this Bill the other night. That was the first time he had given us an hour for any purpose this Session, and, after all, what did that hour and a-half give us? We know what a first reading is. It gives the Mover an opportunity of making his speech and stating the substance of his measure; but it does not force the Government to express any opinion. The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave us a hour and a-half, knowing he would not be obliged to commit himself to any promise of support. Perhaps the Bill being put down for Wednesday was a little surprise to the Government; but with a great skill they managed to let the debate go on for five hours without showing any sign. At the end of that time the Chancellor of the Exchequer did get up, and he said there were a great many good things in the Bill and a great many bad things, and there were various things that he recommended 1035 for consideration. He went into other points; but he never said Yes or No. He never told us whether he was going to support the Bill or oppose it. At the present moment we are perfectly baffled. All we know is that certain Conservative Irish Members have put their names on the back of the Bill; and, on the other hand, we certainly attach some importance to some cheers with which hon. Members below the Gangway opposite greeted some of the arguments against the measure. I believe the Chancellor of the Exchequer wants to ascertain the feelings of his own Party; and, therefore, to put off committing himself either way till the last day. Now, I will tell you how he will probably treat my hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon. He will give him a day very late in the Session, and then at the end of the debate he will say there is no use going on with the measure at such a period of the Session, and that it had better be put off. I believe that is the position in which we shall be placed, unless we obtain some more definite promise than we have yet received. If we have to put the Bill off till next Session, then we shall have to put it off till next Parliament; and at the General Election the constituents in some parts of the Kingdom will be told the Government are against the measure, and those in Ireland will be asked to believe they are in favour of it. In that way the Government hope to secure a majority, if their cards are well played. I do not think this is a high way of governing the country; but we have sometimes seen it done, and it is not inconsistent with the action of the Government up to the present hour. To say that a day cannot be found for a measure supported by three-fourths of the Irish people—for it is supported by Irish Members on that side as well as on this—and a measure which may largely influence the General Election, is to show that the Government wish to retain in their hands, till after the Dissolution, the power of either supporting or opposing us.
§ MR. A. MILLS
said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given the House no reason to suppose that the Government were trifling in the matter. On the contrary, he said he would do his best to appoint another day for the consideration of the subject. They had now been discussing the matter for an hour, 1036 and he hoped they would be allowed to proceed to Business.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
I shall not detain the House very long; but I wish to point to one or two observations made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. When the right hon. Gentleman refers to a number of Government Bills, and to his desire for getting through these Bills before he can consider the question of granting a day for this important Irish measure, and when he allows other determined opponents of justice to the Roman Catholics of Ireland to exercise the time of the House in the discussion of these Government measures, so as to make it impossible for them to grant a day, I think we have a right to assume that there is little probability of our obtaining further facilities. For all we know of the extreme violence—I would add, virulence—of the anti-Christian party of this country, there cannot be the slightest doubt but that they will be able to bring sufficient influence upon probably well-meaning, but susceptible, Members of the House, to use the time of the House in what may be considered legitimate discussion. The Government will, doubtless, give them the opportunity which they require, and which may render it impossible to deal with the subject of University Education. Whatever may have been the charges brought against me on many occasions, I have certainly no desire on this occasion to address the House in language which may be considered, in the slightest degree, aggravating. I may, in. my conduct, have shown a disposition slightly to amend and alter a Christian precept, and to have asked the House to do unto others as they would do unto us. But, on the present occasion, I am singularly disposed to act in the most conciliatory manner towards the Government and Opposition; but I cannot conceal from myself that there is a resolute determination to refuse justice to the Roman Catholics of Ireland amongst an influential party in this country. In reference to the suggestion, I have only one other observation to make. It is too commonly reported—and I am afraid too commonly believed—that this demand for denominational education in Ireland, for Catholic education, for freedom of Catholic education in Ireland, for liberty and equality of education, is a mere sacerdotal and episcopal demand, 1037 originating in, and supported by, the priests. It is said that the Catholics of Ireland are merely moving like a drilled battalion at the command of their episcopal commanders-in-chief. I beg to say that nothing of the sort is the ease. No man reverences more than I do the Catholic clergy and hierarchy of Ireland; but I, as a Catholic Member of the House, take upon myself the responsibility of saying that, if there were a hesitation, if there were a variation, in the attitude of the Catholic Bishops and priests of Ireland, with regard to the absolute necessity of the Catholic education of the Catholic people of Ireland, dearly as the people of Ireland love their faithful pastors, from that day a gulf would be fixed between the people and the clergy. If, by an impossible and monstrous hypothesis, the Catholic clergy and Bishops of Ireland were to be in favour of secular education, they might go to Zululand, they might go to Patagonia; but a new class of priests and Bishops would have to appear in Ireland to resume the unbroken traditions of Catholic Ireland. That is, as I have said, a monstrous and impossible hypothesis. The priests and the people are united on the subject; but I beg to assure the House that the question of Catholic education in Ireland is a layman's question. If the present moderate demand of the Irish people is refused, the Catholic laity of Ireland will take it up with determination, and there is no doubt as to what will be the result. Supposing there is any irresolution on the part of the clergy, the laity will insist that the Irish people shall receive an education which will fit them for the combat of life, for progress in every department of the world's affairs, in conformity with the conscience, the hereditary instincts, and the glorious traditions of the Catholic people of Ireland, who look back upon 45 generations of Catholic ancestors.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I must confess there appears to me to be hardly sufficient cause for the expressions of despair and irritation which have reached us from a certain quarter of the House. If hon. Members representing Irish constituencies will consider the position of this Bill, I think they will be obliged to acknowledge that they have cried out before they are hurt. I really cannot remember any 1038 Bill of similar importance to the Bill which is before us having made such rapid progress. If they will take the trouble to consider the matter, they will find that it was only introduced by the assistance of the Government on this day last week, and it has already received a considerable amount of discussion on the second reading. I rose yesterday, immediately upon the adjournment of the debate, to press upon the Government the expediency of making some arrangement as to its resumption; and I do not think that anyone will suspect I am indifferent to the importance of the subject, or that I have refrained from impressing the importance of it upon the notice of the Government. I think that the Government, upon further consideration, will see that it is not only desirable, but absolutely necessary, that a question which has excited so much attention as this, not only in Ireland, but also in England, and in this House, should receive further and full consideration before the close of the Session. The reason for this was given by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), and the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Major Nolan); and I hope the opportunity will be afforded before we arrive at a late period of the Session. I do not detect in anything which fell from the Chancellor of the Exchequer an absolute refusal to give an opportunity for further discussion. I understood him to state simply the position of the Government Business, and to say, under these circumstances, it was not in his power to fix at this time a day for continuing the debate. The hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) has taken a proper and reasonable course in putting the Bill down for an early day after Whitsuntide, when the House and the Government will be able to see what progress they have made, or are likely to make, with some of the most important measures, and the Government will also have an opportunity of further considering the importance of this great subject, and the necessity of giving the Bill some further consideration. I really think that hon. Members from Ireland might wait, at all events, until after Whitsuntide, before they express their condemnation of the conduct of the Government; but, so far as I am able to judge, there is nothing which has fallen from the 1039 Chancellor of the Exchequer to-night that in the slightest degree approaches an absolute refusal to give the consideration required on behalf of the Bill.
§ DR. WARD
said, hon. Members had complained that the House had been taken by surprise in this matter, and that very short Notice had been given of the Bill. The question, however, had been before the House for the last 20 years. It had been brought forward by responsible Ministers of the Crown of opposite sides; and, under those circumstances, were they to be told that they were taken by surprise? Why, this Parliament had heard the arguments over and over again. There was no proposal in the present Bill which had not already been before the House. Surely the House had by this time made up its mind; and if the Government were in earnest in this business, it certainly must be within their power to give them a Saturday for the discussion of the subject. Hon. Members might say that if such a course was pursued the Motion would be againt the Irish Members. But if that were so, often as they differed, he could assure the House that they would pass the Bill in a proper form. What he wanted to impress upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer was this—The right hon. Gentleman knew he would have to give in at some time, that he would have to sacrifice a day sooner or later. Let him, then, make the sacrifice graciously now. Give them a day—say a Saturday; that would not sacrifice the time of the Government, but it would meet the requirements of this Bill.
§ MR. PARNELL
I do not join in the belief that has been expressed by hon. Members that it is hopeless to try to pass the Bill. The hon. Member for Roscommon (The O'Conor Don) has adopted a courageous course in persevering with the measure for a while longer. At the same time, I do not agree that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has done everything that is required of him. The hon. Member for Roscommon has asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give a day for the resumption of the debate, and he did not ask for the day to be mentioned at the present moment, but what was the reply? The Chancellor of the Exchequer went over a long list of Bills introduced by the Government, and he pointed out how very few had been 1040 passed, and the small amount of progress which had been made with others. We should have been children, did we not see that he did not mean to afford opportunity for the resumption of the debate upon this Bill. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer retains his present ideas, it is hopeless to suppose the Bill can be passed; and I see no reason why he should retain the unfortunate idea he has taken up. I will not prolong the debate; but I should not abandon the Bill hastily if the Government retain their opinion after Whitsuntide. We shall have had an opportunity of considering the matter, and we may take such measures as may seem desirable and necessary in reference to the subject.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.