|CLASS I—PUBLIC WORKS AND BUILDINGS.|
|Royal Parks and Pleasure Grounds||20,000|
|Houses of Parliament||6,000|
|Monument to Earl of Beaconsfield (Re-Vote)||500|
|Furniture of Public Offices||2,500|
|Revenue Department Buildings||40,000|
|County Court Buildings||8,000|
|Metropolitan Police Courts||1,500|
|Sheriff Court Houses, Scotland||2,000|
|New Courts of Justice, &c.||30,000|
|Surveys of the United Kingdom||45,000|
|Science and Art Department Buildings||4,500|
|British Museum Buildings||1,300|
|Natural History Museum||8,000|
|Harbours, &c. under Board of Trade||2,000|
|Rates on Government Property (Great Britain and Ireland)||70,000|
|Metropolitan Fire Brigade||2,500|
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, he was very sorry, at that late hour (1.45), to detain the Committee; but he rose for the purpose of moving the reduction of the Vote which had just been put from the Chair by the sum of £200,000. As he understood the Vote, it was a Vote on Account for two months; and he proposed to reduce the Education Vote, which amounted to the sum of £550,000, by the sum of £200,000. That would 1921 give the Government a Vote on Account for carrying on the work of elementary education in Great Britain and Wales for one month. His reason for taking this course might be stated in a very few words. The Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) laid upon the Table of the House on the 6th of March a new Revised Code. That Code was laid upon the Table in accordance with certain powers given to the Education Department, and, so far as he knew, the Education Department was the only great spending Department of the State which had the power of manipulating the sums placed under its control for elementary education, because there was power given to the Privy Council to alter, annul, or revise in any way they chose, any of the conditions upon which the grant was given. Any Minute which they prepared for the alteration of the Code was made to apply to every single elementary school from one end of the Kingdom to the other. Now, this was an enormous power for any Department to exercise; and when the conditions under which the grant was made were to be officially imposed, and might vitally affect the schools, it was not too much to say that such important alterations in the Code which might affect the very existence of every elementary school in the Kingdom, no matter whether that school was Roman Catholic, Nonconformist, or Church of England, should be properly discussed before they were carried into operation. Indeed, Parliament had provided this safeguard over the spending power of the Privy Council—that the Minute of alterations made by the Privy Council should lie for 30 days upon the Table of the House. Of course, the clear intention, and the only object of that provision, was that during these 30 days any Member of the House who objected to the Code should have an opportunity of discussing it. Now, the present Revised Code was laid on the Table of the House by the Vice President of the Privy Council on the 6th of March, and it would consequently become law on the 6th of April. He (Lord George Hamilton) had asked the Government some time back to do one of two things—either to delay the coming into law of the Code until time could be given for its discussion, or to place a day at the disposal of the House for discussing it. He did not think that either 1922 of those proposals was unreasonable. He admitted that the Government must have a certain sum of money in order to carry on the elementary education of the country; and what he proposed, therefore, was that the Government should have money given to them for one month. The House would re-assemble after the Easter Holidays before that month had expired, and then the Government might provide an early day for securing the necessary discussion. He did not wish to say that the Vice President of the Council had made any unfair or improper alterations in the Code; indeed, he would go so far as to credit him with having made several decided improvements; but the matter was one that required further explanation and a good deal of criticism. When, on a previous occasion, Mr. Lowe and his noble Friend the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon) laid alterations in the Code upon the Table, they afforded the House an opportunity of discussing them within the time prescribed by law. [Mr. MUNDELLA said, that was not so.] He (Lord George Hamilton) had a distinct recollection that Mr. Lowe, in reply to Mr. Disraeli, said—If I wanted to play fast and loose, I should have laid the Code on the Table upon the first day of the Session, and have trusted to its passing through in the pressure of Business.That was what really happened in this case; but, so far as his memory served him, his right hon. Friend the late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir Stafford Northcote) acceded to the proposal of the Postmaster General when the last Code was laid upon the Table, and delayed its coming into law until an opportunity for discussing it was afforded. He wished to point out that although the Code would not come into operation until April next year, it would hardly be competent for any hon. Member to propose or to carry any alterations in it, and that it would necessarily become law unless the discussion were taken immediately after it was laid upon the Table. The principle upon which payments were made for elementary education was, that the schoolmasters and managers of every school should have 12 months in order to prepare the children for the examinations. It would be necessary, under the provisions of the Code, that every elementary school should be examined before April next year. He 1923 had received various letters, pointing out that if the Code were allowed to become law, and the discussion did not take place until some three or four months hence, no proposal could then be made to alter it, because, if such a proposal were made, the masters and managers would be placed under great disadvantage, inasmuch as they would not have had 12 months' notice. Under these circumstances, he hoped the Government would not refuse his reasonable request, which was that, so far as the Elementary Education Vote was concerned, they should only take a Vote for one month. He would move a reduction of the Vote by £200,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £3,431,600, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the Charge for the following-Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the31stday of March 1883."—(Lord George Hamilton.)
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, the noble Lord who had just addressed the Committee had taken an extraordinary course. He thought the object of the noble Lord was not so much to criticize the Code as to obtain a little time from the Government. ["No!"] Perhaps the Committee would allow him to state why he said this. The Government had laid the Code upon the Table, and that Code was not challenged. If any discussion were to arise on any action of the Government it must be on the Motion for the rejection of the Code that the discussion arose, as no Notice, except that of his hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock), had yet been placed upon the Paper. The noble Lord said that the Education Department had the power to alter or to annul the grant to any voluntary or other school during the year; but the noble Lord must admit that that remark would not apply to the grant for the present year. The grant up to April, 1883, must be paid according to the existing Code, as it was not affected by the new Code at all. The new Code would not come into operation until after the sums included in this Vote had been paid—namely, not until after the 1st day of April, 1883. Consequently, not one farthing of the money voted this year would be devoted to the payment of charges under the 1924 new Code. If the Committee refused this Vote—which always came before them every year, because the school payments went on every day of the year as regularly as the Inspectors made their Reports—the result would be, as the noble Lord knew very well, that the whole school machinery would be at a standstill, owing to the want of funds to pay the grants. He might further remind the Committee that there never was a Code known which had been discussed so much in advance as this, because he had made known the proposals contained in the Code in July last; and during the Recess he had received representations in regard to them from everybody who was at all interested in the question of education. The Privy Council had endeavoured to meet their wishes as far as possible, and the Council had received from school boards, from the masters of schools, and from all quarters, thanks for what they had done in the Code. He believed that the Code carried into effect the greatest improvements that had ever been introduced, and he was quite sure that when the House came to discuss the Code, nobody would give it better support than the noble Lord himself. He was quite satisfied of that. The noble Lord said that no opportunity had been afforded for discussing it. Now, 10 days ago, he had offered the noble Lord last Tuesday morning; and again, this week, he had offered him next Tuesday. There might be five hours' discussion of the Code then, if anybody cared to challenge it; and, personally, he should only be too glad to have a discussion. A discussion would undoubtedly arise some time or other; but he did not believe that it would result in any alteration or modification of the Code. Hitherto, year by year, it had always been after the Code had been laid for 30 days on the Table of the House that it had been discussed, and any modifications that were made were made by Minute after the Code had been laid upon the Table and become law. The Privy Council had no desire to say that this was a perfect Code, or that it was incapable of modification; and they would only be too happy if an opportunity were given for discussing it. He was satisfied that the noble Lord had no serious wish to delay the Code. Nobody knew better than the noble Lord that it was an improvement upon the 1925 existing Code, and that it was adapted to sweep away a great many of the imperfections which the noble Lord himself did his best to remedy when he was at the head of the Department. He (Mr. Mundella) hoped that the House would not refuse the grant upon this occasion because the Government were unable to promise a night for its discussion before the 6th of April. That was, in point of fact, the only question raised by the noble Lord.
MR. LYULPH STANLEY
said, he agreed with the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) as to the importance of having a fair discussion of the Code. At the same time, much as the Code needed discussion, he did not think it was desirable to adopt the Amendment which had been moved by the noble Lord and force the hands of the Government by making provision for only one month. He wished to point out to the noble Lord that the course he suggested would have a very prejudicial effect. Many of the school boards and managing bodies met only once a month, and they wanted a little more time than this proposal would afford them for examining the Code. Many of the suggestions contained in the Code were absolutely new suggestions, and were departures from the principles laid down in the autumn. It was, therefore, absolutely necessary that a night should be fixed for a full discussion of the Code, and it should not be left to private Members to take upon themselves the responsibility of ballotting for a night. The responsibility ought to be taken by the Department itself, which ought to meet the House of Commons fairly, and give them a proper opportunity for discussing the Code. It was because he believed that the discussion should be full and minute, and because he did not believe that the consideration of the Code could be undertaken with the Easter Holidays intervening, that he objected to the Amendment moved by the noble Lord. It must be borne in mind that, after the Code had been criticized, it could always be modified by a Supplementary Minute; and no one would be prejudiced by its becoming law within 30 days. He hoped, therefore, that the money now asked for by the Government would be granted, and that they would not be asked to undertake this 1926 important discussion immediately after the Easter Holidays, before an opportunity had been afforded to the country for a full examination of the Code. Therefore, in the interests of full and free discussion itself, he should object to this Amendment.
§ MR. R. H. PAGET
said, he hoped the Committee would take the view which had been put forward by the noble Lord, that more time was necessary for the consideration of the Education Code. It was, undoubtedly, a matter of the greatest concern and importance, so far as the voluntary schools were concerned, that those who were interested in them should have a thorough understanding of the new scheme. It was not his intention to express any opinion as to whether this was a good or a bad one, because, as yet, there had been no opportunity of seeing how it was likely to act; and he challenged any hon. Gentleman, however well he might be acquainted with the details of the scheme, to say in what manner it would affect the elementary schools. As to the Board schools, their position was a very different one; and, however it might result, the new Code was a matter of little importance to them. But he repeated that, in the case of the voluntary schools, and especially those of the poorer class, it was a matter of importance, and, so to speak, of life and death to them, to know how they would be affected; and, therefore, he asked that a sufficient time should be allowed for a thorough and ample study of the Code, for the purpose of ascertaining its probable effect upon the finances of these schools. Up to the present time, certainly, there had been no opportunity of doing this. The Easter Holidays were close at hand; and he contended that it was but reasonable that the Vote should be postponed till the time suggested by the noble Lord, for the purpose of consulting with those interested in the schools as to how the new scheme would apply to their work, and whether or not they would be able to survive it. He did not say they would not be able to do so; but he contended that it was not right to force this matter upon them until its effect upon their finances was ascertained.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, the whole question, so to speak, lay in a nut-shell. The speeches of the hon. Member who had just sat down, and of the right hon. 1927 Gentleman the Vice President of the Council, were proofs not only that the new Code would be made the subject of criticism in that House, but that such criticism was necessary. It seemed to him quite clear that the provisions of the new Code would be most properly discussed at the time when the Education Estimate was brought forward. The right hon. Gentleman had not said anything, in the course of the observations he had just made, in reply to the argument of the noble Lord, that schoolmasters should have, as nearly as possible, a year's notice of the Code under the provisions of which they were to come at the end of the year. That was the actual substance of the argument of his noble Friend, and it had received no attention at the hands of the Vice President of the Council. Since, then, it followed that there must be criticism, and that it must come soon, hon. Members could not insure an opportunity for this purpose unless they limited the amount asked for by Government to one month's Supply.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, the question of the new Education Code was one of vital importance to the Roman Catholic schools throughout Ireland, and he had listened with extreme surprise when the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council intimated to the Committee that the Roman Catholic clergy had expressed to him their satisfaction at the provisions of the new scheme. [Mr. MUNDELLA dissented.] He certainly understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that they had expressed to him their thanks for the new Code. But, however that might be, he could assure him that a very different feeling prevailed amongst the great body of the Catholic people in Ireland, and that they viewed the probable consequences of the Code with sentiments of the greatest alarm. The question, however, was a large one, and involved too many points of importance for it to be discussed with propriety at 2 o'clock in the morning. In leaving the subject, therefore, he would remark that the right hon. Gentleman had no right to complain of the noble Lord for raising the question of the Code on the present occasion, because he believed it would be in the recollection of the Committee that the noble Lord had given Notice that when these Estimates came forward 1928 he should bring up the subject of education. But the Education Vote was only one of 142 Votes on the Estimates, and its discussion must necessarily take up a considerable time. How, then, could the Committee be reasonably expected to pass the whole of this sum of £3,631,000 without any discussion whatever? If hon. Members would glance down the list of Votes, it would be seen that there were a number of items which many Members sitting on that side of the House could not be supposed to allow to pass without every form of challenge which it was in their power to offer. For instance, there was the Vote for the Office of Privy Seal, which he would never allow to pass without a division. Then there was the Vote for Secret Service money, which Irish Members would certainly not allow to pass without a full inquiry into its application and working. Then, again, there were the Votes for Convict Establishments and Prisons in Ireland, besides a number of others which it was then not necessary for him to point to, because those he had mentioned were quite sufficient to show the utter unreasonableness of the Government expecting them to vote this money at so late an hour. Under the circumstances, he should move to report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Arthur O' Connor.)
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, the reasonable proposal he had made to the Government with reference to this Vote was entirely in the interest of education. He had no wish to force on a discussion with regard to the Code, and he was now quite ready to make even a more reasonable proposal to the Government than he had made before. He was willing to agree to a Vote for two months' Supply if the Government, on their part, would undertake that before the two months expired a day should be appointed for the discussion of this question.
§ MR. THOMAS COLLINS
said, he hoped the noble Lord did not mean that the question should be discussed at a Morning Sitting. The House had been placed in a position of great difficulty by the debate on the Procedure of the House being put off until after the Easter 1929 Holidays, and hon. Members found themselves, after sitting for 10 hours, called upon at past 2 o'clock in the morning to go through a long series of Votes and discuss important questions with reference to education. He was prepared to admit that the new Education Code was an improvement upon its predecessor; but, at the same time, it raised questions of such magnitude that they would have to be fully discussed by all those Members who took an interest in the great question of education. He could see no reason why a Government night should not be set apart for this discussion. This would have been a perfectly easy matter had the Government not blocked the whole Business of the House, and consumed two months of the Session, by the unnecessary conflict which they had raised between the two Houses of Parliament, and by their mischievous proceedings with reference to the clôture.
§ MR. HEALY
said, the noble Lord the Financial Secretary to the Treasury could not suppose that Irish Members would allow the items in this Vote for Secret Service, County Court Offices, Constabulary, and Prisons in Ireland to be taken on that occasion. He therefore thought the noble Lord should allow them to understand distinctly the particular Services for which the money was required. For his own part, he took a very great interest in the Education Vote, and he desired an opportunity of expressing his views upon the English educational system. For instance, he believed that it required four or five times as long to teach a child to read under the system in force in England than it did under the systems in operation in France and Germany; and, therefore, he should like to take the English system and contrast it with the system in foreign schools. Further, it was his intention to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council to grant a Select Committee for the purpose of inquiring into that subject. He asked the noble Lord to say for what particular Services he required this Vote on Account.
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
said, he wished to point out that this Vote on Account was necessary for carrying on the whole Civil Service of the country. Hon. Members would be aware that it was clearly understood that no money would be taken except for 1930 purposes previously sanctioned by Parliament, and the money now asked for was simply for carrying on the Service of the country until the Estimates of the year came forward and were passed. The present Vote on Account appeared to be the smallest ever asked for the Civil Service. He entirely agreed with the noble Lord opposite that the Education Code should be discussed; but he did not understand that it could make any difference to the noble Lord whether or not it should be discussed exactly within the period he had named. The discussion, which he admitted to be necessary, could take place, without any loss to the public, after this Vote was taken. It had already been promised that the Votes for the Army and Navy should be taken at an early date; and, although he was not in a position to say when the Education Vote would be brought forward, he could assure the noble Lord that it was the wish of Her Majesty's Government to place it amongst the earliest Votes to be discussed.
§ MR. REDMOND
said, that the fact of the noble Lord not asking for money in respect of any new Services, as he had just informed the Committee, was not of the slightest importance in dealing with this Vote on Account. The noble Lord was asking, on that occasion, for money in support of the Secret Service, which, amongst other things, was being used in Ireland to demoralize the Irish people as far as possible. Further, it had been used for the purpose of carrying out a rule in Ireland, against which he and his hon. Friends were bound, on every occasion, to protest. It was all very well for the Government to tell the Committee that the money asked for was for purposes which had received the sanction of Parliament; but his complaint was that the Government were carrying on new proceedings in Ireland under cover of the old Services. He objected to the present Vote being taken in its entirety, because it included sums on account that would be applied to various Services in Ireland which would necessarily be the subjects of discussion on the part of Irish Members. If, however, the noble Lord the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, in asking for money on account, would exclude all contentious matters with reference to Ireland, he should not object in the slightest degree to the Vote being taken. But, unless 1931 he was able to exclude from this lump sum the money demanded in respect of the following Services, in the way of which Irish Members felt it their duty to place every obstacle in their power, he should certainly oppose the Vote. They protested against any money being voted on the present occasion for the Establishment of the Lord Lieutenant, and in respect of the Office of the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant; they objected to the voting of money for the maintenance of Prisons and Convict Establishments in Ireland as they were at present managed, to the mismanagement of which, institutions Irish Members had, over and over again, called attention in that House; they objected to money being taken for the Local Government Board in Ireland, for reasons that had been frequently explained: for the Queen's Colleges, against which they had protested on every occasion when the question came under the consideration of the House. Then there was the Secret Service money, that was doing so much to demoralize the Irish people, as he had already pointed out. Irish Members protested against the use to which this money was being applied; and they were, moreover, bound on every occasion to object to any money being taken on account of the Post Office Service in Ireland until the recent proceedings in that Department had been explained and justified. Finally, there was the money asked in respect of Criminal Prosecutions in Ireland. They were told that no money was required in respect of any new Services; but, as he had already explained, it was under the cover of the old Services that new proceedings were being carried on against persons in Ireland. They might have allowed this Vote for Criminal Prosecutions to pass, had it not been for the novel character of the proceedings which had been carried on under this guise; but Irish Members now felt it their duty to protest against the Vote. If there was a subject upon which they were bound to protest, it was that of the Constabulary in Ireland. The proceedings of that force were a disgrace to the Government of any civilized nation; the proceedings of the Constabulary in Ireland to-day were a disgrace to the Government of England; and he was convinced that if only in this country of England the proceedings of the Irish 1932 Constabulary were properly exposed, if only their protest in the House of Commons could reach the English public, and if they could understand, that the forces of the Crown and the Constabulary were being used in a barbarous manner to carry out a barbarous rule, he believed that very much indignation would be felt amongst a large class of English people who to-day gave a tacit assent to the government of Ireland. That assent was now given because the people of England were ignorant of the manner in which the government of Ireland was being carried on. He did not believe very much in English public opinion on Irish questions; but he was convinced of this—that if once they could reach the public ear of England, if they could once impress on the English people the true manner in which the government of Ireland was being carried on, a large section, at any rate, of the English, people would rise in revolt against the Government of the country. The government of Ireland to-day presented, in many respects, the worst features of a despotism. The money which they were asked to vote for the Secret Service provided a means whereby the Government could suborn false witnesses, whereby they could pay men to swear away the lives and liberties of the people he (Mr. Redmond) and his hon. Friends represented. They would be false to those who sent them to represent them in the House of Commons if they did not oppose every obstacle in their power to the passing of a single Vote, or one farthing of money, to perpetuate the system at present carried out in Ireland. In his heart he believed the Secret Service money was at the bottom of, a large portion of the crime and the outrage which to-day, unfortunately, existed in Ireland. He presumed the money which was given to informers, and which was given under the recent Police Circular to men who came forward and gave evidence of crimes which in their opinion were about to be committed, was supplied out of the Secret Service fund; consequently, it was palpably their duty to protest against this Vote. English Members, no doubt, viewed the opposition of hon. Members in his quarter of the House to Votes of this kind with great impatience. That was but natural, because they were ignorant of the manner in which the rule of their 1933 nation was carried out in Ireland. ["Hear, hear!"] He ventured to ask any hon. Member who by his cheers accused them of unduly prolonging the discussion on Votes of this kind, whether he understood the manner in which the Secret Service money was being expended in Ireland? Did he know that recently a Police Circular was issued by Colonel Hillier, offering rewards to men who might offer evidence of crimes which were to be committed, and that policemen had been instructed by that Circular to go, in a friendly manner, amongst the people and worm themselves into the confidence of the people, and thus endeavour to obtain evidence from men who might be cognizant of crime about to be committed? He asked hon. Members, in a spirit of fairness, was it likely that such a system of government could tend in any other direction than in the creation of outrage? What was the effect of a Circular of that kind upon the people? The police were anxious to show their dexterity in the detection of crime, and they were able, under Colonel Hillier's Circular, to tell the men that if they gave them information about crimes which were about to be committed, even though they themselves instigated the commission of the crimes, they would obtain from the police large monetary rewards. Furthermore, the Circular went on to say that the man who gave the information would not even not have his name given to the public, but he would be treated in every way that his identification should not be arrived at. For the reasons he had given, amongst others, he considered they were bound to protest against this Vote. He had said that he believed that to the issue of the recent Circulars to the police many of the crimes and outrages which were happening in Ireland were to be attributed. He wanted, before he voted a single farthing in support of the Secret Service in Ireland, to hear some justification for the issue of those Circulars. It was all very well to tell them that the fund was required for the Public Service, and that they were not asked to vote any money in respect of Services which had not already been approved in this House; but he cared not if majorities of the House of Commons had, Session after Session, approved of the institution of the Secret Service; it still remained the 1934 duty of himself and hon. Friends to oppose it by every means in their power. If the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) could by any means exclude from the bulk sum now proposed those sums which were required in respect of the contentious Irish matters, and would bring those sums up separately, he would have no further opposition to offer; but unless the noble Marquess would do something of the kind, he should conceive it to be his duty to prevent, by every obstacle the Forms of the House allowed him to avail himself of, the Government obtaining the money they now asked for.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, he thought hon. Members scarcely understood the position of affairs. The Vote asked for was simply to carry on the government of the country for two months, and until the Committee should have an opportunity of fully discussing the questions, amongst others, raised by the hon. Member for New Ross (Mr. Redmond). To enter into a discussion at the present moment, which the hon. Member now invited them to do, would really rather tend to defeat than to promote the object in view. If there were to be a discussion now on the Constabulary or Secret Service Votes, the decision arrived at might be held to prejudge the opinion of the Committee when it came to vote the whole sum.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, he hoped hon. Members below the Gangway would see the force of the observations which had just fallen from the noble Marquess, and not persist in a discussion which, would prejudice the position even from their own point of view. He understood that the Educational Estimates would be put down amongst the first of the Civil Service Estimates, so as to secure a full discussion upon educational matters without further waste of time. Desultory discussions like the present only resulted in a waste of time; and, upon the understanding that the Votes he had referred to would be taken early in May, he and his hon. Friends would withdraw their opposition.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, he admired the tactics of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith). It had been the right hon. Gentleman's task, on previous occasions, to ask for money, and he, therefore, knew the difficulties he had to face. He (Colonel Nolan) did 1935 not wish to occupy much of the time of the Committee; but the present was a fitting opportunity to ask one or two questions of the Officials of the Irish Government. The first question was in regard to the provision of new potato seed. In four or five years time the value of Champion seed now being used would be spent. Some time ago a resolution was arrived at to take steps to obtain new seed, and he would like to know whether any provision was made in the Estimates in this respect? The second question was in regard to a grievance that was brought before him by a constituent of his. It was the case of a Mr. Newman, who was "reasonably suspected" by the Chief Secretary of having signed a "no rent" notice. The gentleman denied it; he had never done anything of the kind, and he had promised that he would never do anything of the kind again. He (Colonel Nolan) hoped the Committee would give him the whole of the credit of that "bull," for certainly Mr. Newman never said anything of the kind; it was entirely his own invention. Mr. Newman was a national school teacher, and by his having been imprisoned on suspicion, his result foes were greatly affected. An attempt had been made to suspend him from his position; but it appeared to him (Colonel Nolan) that to do this, when the man had not been tried, would be most unfair. They were entitled to an assurance from the Chief Secretary that unless Mr. Newman were brought to trial and convicted, his position as a school teacher should not be interfered with. In his opinion it would be well if Mr. Newman were released and allowed to return quietly to school.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he thought the course of instruction which the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) had given them might very well have been delivered earlier, because he told them that it pledged the Committee in no way if they passed the Vote on the present occasion. He should have pointed that out at the outset. The noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) had moved the reduction of the Vote by £1,000,000; but the noble Marquess waited until an Irish Member got up, and then he opened a fusillade at the Irish Benches. He told them if they voted the money now they would not be pledged to the principle of the 1936 Vote. How was it the noble Marquess did not impart that information to the Committee as soon as the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex rose? The noble Marquess did not give his very excellent instruction to the noble Lord on the Front Opposition Bench. It appeared to him the position of the noble Marquess was somewhat incongruous. Now, let them make up their minds what they were going to do? Were they going to make a night of it, or were they going to make up their minds at once? As far as he was personally concerned, he was not going to allow 1d. of the Constabulary, or the Prisons, or the Secret Service Votes to be taken tonight. Notwithstanding the charge of Obstruction, he should resist the Votes to the utmost of his power. Of course, when the Government had got the clôture, there would be no more Obstruction; it was intended to put an end to it, so that he and his hon. Friends could not be charged with it again. The present position of affairs appeared to be this. Irish Members were determined that the Government should give them ample time to discuss various matters relating to Ireland; the Government, upon their part, had determined that they would absorb all the time at the disposal of the House by discussions on the clôture and the House of Lords, about which questions no one cared anything. Owing to this determination of the Government, the House could not at reasonable times discuss many important Irish subjects; but at the fag end of a Friday Sitting they were asked to give their assent to a Vote for the Constabulary, Prisons, Secret Service, Local Government Board, and many other important matters. That sort of thing did not hang. Because the Government chose to take up all the time of the House by the consideration of the action of the House of Lords and a discussion on the clôture Resolution, he did not see why they should be asked to vote £3,000,000 at a quarter past 2 o'clock in the morning. They intended to avail themselves of every opportunity to discuss the Irish policy of the Government. They meant to sicken the Government of Ireland; they would raise Irish subjects in season, and out of season, until the Government would be sick of Ireland and of their coercive policy. He noticed that last 1937 night, when he and his hon. Friends were discussing a very important matter relating to their imprisoned Mends, the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. W. H. James) and the hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. J. Wilson) endeavoured to organize a "count out." Why did not the hon. Member for Gates-head, when the Business of his own Party was under discussion, try to "count out?"
The hon. Gentleman must address himself to the Chair, and keep to the question before the Committee.
§ MR. HEALY
said, if the Chairman said he was not addressing himself to the Chair, of course he was not; he intended to do so. He would ask Mr. Playfair, if, under all the circumstances, it was unreasonable that Irish Members should desire full discussion of Irish questions? They knew very well that the Government endeavoured to shirk Irish questions. They gave no opportunity for their discussion; they, time after time, refused days for the consideration of Irish matters, and the consequence was that the Irish Members had to seize opportunities as they arose. These opportunities arose largely on Motions to adjourn the House and on the Estimates; therefore, when they got a chance like the present, it was too good to be lost. They found Her Majesty's Ministers wanted money to carry on their nefarious system of government in Ireland. They wanted £8,000 for Secret Service; £8,000 to debauch public opinion in Ireland; and £800,000 to enable them to turn decent people out on the road sides for not paying hardly possible rents. Then they required money to pay the Local Government Board for dismissing innocent public servants like Dr. Kenny. They wanted money to enable them to carry out the Coercion Act, and to enable them to keep in prison men in every way as respectable as anyone on the Treasury Bench. The Irish Members would make the Government give them the opportunity they wanted, and the matter had better be decided one way or the other, and that at once. It did not matter to him whether or not the Government decided to go on with the discussion of these Estimates. He would as soon stay up all night as not. He had in his portfolio, outside, valuable documents 1938 relating to all these Irish subjects, which. they would take seriatim. The noble Marquess considered that if they allowed these Votes to pass now, they would not be pledging themselves to support them in the future; but that was not the view of the Irish Members. The Government had better say whether they were now going to take the discussion. ["Order!"] Gentlemen who cried out "Order!" should learn something about Order before they commenced to interrupt.
I must remind the hon. Gentleman that the Committee is not discussing the items in the Votes now, but the Motion to report Progress.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, he had put a couple of definite questions to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, and he thought he had a right to ask for a reply.
§ MR. METGE
said, the Government should give them a guarantee that they would not bring on another Vote on Account before the Whitsuntide Holidays, and then bring on the residue of the Estimates late in the Session, without giving the Irish Members a chance of discussing them. The clôture Rules might be in force when the Estimates were finally brought on for consideration; and the Government would then be able to close the mouths of the Irish Representatives, and prevent them from discussing those questions that they looked on as so important to the country.
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
said, that, under all the circumstances, it was impossible for him to say what progress would be made in Supply. He could only assure hon. Members that the Government would be anxious to bring on the discussion of the Votes on the earliest possible day. With regard to what had fallen from the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for County Galway (Colonel Nolan), he must say that a Vote on Account was hardly the time for discussing the matters he had raised. So far as he could catch the meaning of the hon. and gallant Member, he had referred to something which concerned a new Service. He could tell the hon. and gallant 1939 Member, if that was so, that no part of a Vote on Account was ever applied to a new Service.
§ MR. DALY
said, he was perfectly aware that the Business of the country must be carried on; but, at the same time, this sheet of Votes that he had in his hand was before him now for the first time. He was asked to vote a sum on account for the Constabulary of Ireland. When he compared the Vote for the coming year with that for the past year, he found an increase in the former over the latter of £114,000, In common with many other Members, he had a strong feeling that the Constabulary of Ireland were not doing so much the work of the country as the work of cruel and heartless landlords; and he did not think he should be called on to affirm, even in part, a Vote of that kind. He would put it to the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) that they should not, as it was now within 12 minutes of 3 o'clock in the morning, be called on to affirm, either in whole or in part, any such Vote as that. There were other Votes down which he would not refer to at this late hour; but he certainly did think that, as a matter of principle, this was not the time when these Votes should be submitted to the approbation or disapprobation of the Committee, because they could not receive that treatment at the hands of the Committee their importance deserved. The Constabulary Vote he should have thought of sufficient importance to have induced the Government to agree to report Progress.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, his constituency paid from £15,000 to £20,000 under this Vote alone, and he thought it was, therefore, only right that he should avail himself of the Forms of the House for, at least, extracting information. This new charge on the Estimates was asked for last year, and was nearly refused—for he thought they would have beaten the Government with regard to it had it not been for the support given to Her Majesty's Ministers by the Conservatives and some few Irishmen. He had only just seen the Estimates and did not know where to look for the amount to which he referred. Where was he to find it? And how was he to discuss it unless he received this information? No one on the Treasury Bench seemed to know anything at all 1940 about it; but he hoped he should hear an explanation of some kind from someone. They might, at least, tell him whether or not it was in the Estimates. Surely, this was a very moderate request. As to the second request, about Mr. Newman, he was sorry the Chief Secretary for Ireland was not in his place to give the necessary information. There ought to be two Chief Secretaries for Ireland, one—an Assistant Chief Secretary—in Ireland, and another in the House of Commons to answer questions. He wished to know if Mr. Newman was to be allowed to resume his position, seeing that he had not been put upon his trial? This was a reasonable question, to which he was entitled to receive an answer.
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
said, there was no Vote such as the hon. and gallant Member had mentioned in these Estimates. The subject had not been brought under his notice.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
wished to know whether any attention had ever been paid to the Resolution of the House of last year as to seed potatoes? If no money had been paid in respect——
The hon. and gallant Member has no right to discuss a question that is not within these Estimates. If the subject is not within these Estimates it cannot be discussed.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, that if they looked through the Estimates they would find there were two Votes under which this question as to school teachers could be raised.
That was not the point on which I spoke; it was with reference to an entirely different subject not in the Estimates before the Committee.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
wished to know how the Chairman could say that the Vote he had referred to was not down in these Estimates? If he (the Chair- 1941 man) could assure him that the Vote was not down in these Estimates, of course, he was out of Order in referring to it.
The noble Lord the Financial Secretary to the Treasury distinctly stated it was not in the Estimates; therefore, not being in the Estimates, it is not before the Committee.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, these were Votes under which the case of these school teachers could properly be raised.
Order. The point is, whether the Vote for seed potatoes is in the Estimates, and not as to the school teachers.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, he had understood the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Nolan) to be talking about something else. With regard to the position in which they now were, he would point out to the House the very great danger they stood in of entering upon proceedings which could not reflect credit on the House, and which were not at all likely to render the course of Business in future Sessions either more pleasant or more profitable. The noble Lord said it was absolutely necessary to vote this money. Well, he (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) thought he could show that it was not absolutely necessary to vote it—or, at any rate, that there was a great deal that the Government did not require at all. There was, for instance, "Vote 4. A. Monument to Lord Beaconsfield." He was not going to oppose that Vote, but it would serve as an illustration of the point he wished to enforce. There was £2,100, voted in the present financial year for that monument, which had not been expended. The Government had some of that money in hand, and they did not propose to spend it until the end of the year, and then they would have it re-voted to them. That was perfectly unnecessary. Then, take Secret Service money. Anyone would suppose that the Government was dependent on the Estimates for Secret Service money, but that was not the case; £10,000 was charged for Secret Service on the Consolidated Fund, and the Government had as much control 1942 over that portion of the Consolidated Fund as they had over that which went to pay the Judges' salaries. Besides, the Government did not want so much Secret Service money as they used to, because out of the £23,000 voted in the past only £13,000 had been expended, and thousands were handed back to the Exchequer. As to the question raised by the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Metge), in regard to bringing forward these Votes on Account, if they granted the Votes they would be finding the Government in ample funds for carrying on every department until June; and then in June they might find Her Majesty's Ministers coming forward again for a second Vote on Account, as they did last year—the Government telling hon. Members that it was absolutely necessary that they should have the money, and that the discussion could be taken on a future occasion. When did that discussion that the Government promised come on last Session? Why, it came on when it was hardly possible to keep a quorum together, when hon. Members were hardly physically able or willing to keep a House. Anxious as he was as a Member to do his duty, he protested against this system of doing away with all fair opportunity of canvasing the Public Expenditure as it ought to be canvassed. He would ask the Government to say whether, having regard to the very ample provision they proposed to make for their immediate requirements, they had not sufficient margin to enable them to dispense with some of the items on the long list in the hands of hon. Members. He would ask them whether it was absolutely necessary to take £500 for the Privy Seal Office; whether they conscientiously said they required £6,000 for the Secret Service; and whether they could not dispense with the items for the Lord Lieutenant's Household, and for the Office of the Chief Secretary for Ireland? He would put it to them, also, whether the Vote was absolutely necessary just now for Prisons and Constabulary in Ireland? Though there were some other Votes which, under other circumstances, he should certainly oppose, so far as he was concerned he should be content to withdraw his personal opposition if the Government would consent to eliminate from the present Votes the items he had mentioned.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I can hardly believe, in spite of what has fallen from hoc Members, that there can be a determined intention on the part of any Member of this House to obstruct the obtaining of money which it has been stated is absolutely necessary for the Public Service. The hon. Member who last spoke wishes to know if all the sums asked for are absolutely necessary? Our reply is in the affirmative, because we cannot discriminate in a Vote on Account between the various items. If we did do so, we should have to enter into long discussions, and have to waste a great deal of time in regard to matters that are really urgent. If we were to discriminate between the importance of one Vote and another, we should be declaring an opinion which might be of the utmost possible importance, and might be very inconvenient. We, therefore, ask the Committee to do what it always has done—namely, to enable the Government to continue the Services for a limited period—until the time when the Committee will be able to discuss all the Votes irrespective of their importance. I hope hon. Gentlemen will re-consider the intention announced by the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy), and will not think it necessary to enter into one of those contests which do not reflect credit on the Assembly.
§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
said, the noble Lord hardly perceived the force of the temperate and moderate intimation of the hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. Arthur O'Connor), and the noble Lord had seen that there were many matters in this Vote which the Irish Members could not allow to pass without discussion and protest. What they hoped to do was to impress upon Parliament and upon the English people their objections to these Votes, which ought not to be taken at this hour of the night; and they wanted to know what security they would have, if they allowed the Votes to be passed, that there should be an opportunity for discussing the Votes? As the hon. Member had said, many months hence there might be a further Vote on Account asked for, and a full discussion on these Votes might be put off almost to the Greek Kalends, or to the end of the Session, when there would be no chance of discussion, and when it was supposed 1944 the Government would have the clôture, under which the Chairman could bring the discussion to a close at any moment. Could the noble Lord, to whom he gave great credit for manhood and fair play, say it was reasonable to expect them to allow these proposals to pass now without some genuine assurance that they would have an opportunity for a fair discussion?
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
said, he hoped the noble Lord would adhere to the statement he had made to the Committee, and not distinguish between one of these Votes and another. It had been the practice for many years for the House to take Votes on Account which were absolutely necessary at this time of the year; but the practice had also been to take the Civil Service Estimates on the first day after the Easter Vacation. Could the noble Lord say that an early discussion would be taken on these Estimates?
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
wished to remind the Committee that a promise had been given that the Army Estimates should be taken on the first day after the Easter Recess, and the Navy Estimates on the earliest opportunity after that. He did not think any further pledges could be given.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, he should not assume that, this being a Vote on Account, there would be no discussion; but he wished to obtain an answer from the noble Lord upon the question he had raised, and if the Government were determined to give no answer, and to take £18,000 from his constituents alone, he should protest against that; and he believed he should be right in doing all he could to prevent the money being so obtained.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan) had been shut out from discussing the question of seed potatoes; but would not the hon. and gallant Member be entitled to discuss the grant administered by the Local Government Board, Ireland, under Class II.?
As I understand it, the hon. and gallant Member desired a Vote to be put in the Estimates this year for seed potatoes; but that has not been done, and therefore it is not a matter for the Committee.
That is not before the Committee at all. The hon. and gallant Member will have a right to ask that question in the House; but it is not before the Committee.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, he had made two or three efforts to answer the hon. and gallant Member; and he put it to the Committee whether it was not rather unreasonable that he should unexpectedly be asked to specify the position in which a particular individual, of whom he (the Attorney General for Ireland) could know nothing, was? All he could say was, that if the hon. and gallant Member would give him Notice, he would take care to inform himself upon the matter and give the result. [Colonel NOLAN: On Report?] He could not say he would do so to-morrow or Monday, but he would at the earliest opportunity. If the hon. and gallant Member could state that this person would promise not to do anything that was objectionable, he thought he could say there would be no difficulty about the matter.
§ MR. HEALY
said, the noble Lord had asked whether there was any intention to carry on these principles of Obstruction, There was no such intention; and the only thing the Irish Members claimed was an opportunity to discuss these Estimates. They required time to do that; and he himself had several questions which he intended to raise. It did not matter much to him whether he did so at 3 in the morning or at 3 in the afternoon, and he could not see how the noble Lord could consider his action Obstruction. The Motion for Progress might be withdrawn, and the items taken seriatim. The Chief Secretary for Ireland was not in his place; and it was a remarkable thing that when there were a number of Irish questions to be considered, the right hon. Gentleman was away enjoying himself in Dublin Castle or elsewhere. The Irish Members intended to discuss these items; and the noble Lord could not consider that there was any Obstruction in discussing them now, any more than at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Owing to the extraordinary position of the Gentlemen on the Front Bench, they 1946 could not expect to get on without Obstruction, and he thought the Committee had better enter into the matter with full heart. For instance, there were 600 suspects; and a question could easily be raised upon every one of those cases, and upon the salary of the Chief Secretary for Ireland; and the Prisons Board, &c. There were a number of questions as to the Prisons. He required to know something as to the conduct of the Governors, and the detention of suspects' letters. These things would be raised; and the Committee need not suppose that because the noble Lord brought on his Estimates at this hour, that was any reason for not discussing them. He intended to discuss them, and his only regret was that the Chief Secretary for Ireland was not in his place. Of course, they had great respect for the Attorney General for Ireland, who gave them all the information in his power; but when they came to discuss these matters, he would tell them that these matters were not in his Department, and they had better wait for the Chief Secretary for Ireland to return from Ireland. When a number of items were proposed—including his own salary, and £6,000 for his Office—that right hon. Gentleman ought to be in his place. He, therefore, protested against the interpretation the noble Lord had placed upon his remarks.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he thought it would be much better to discuss these items once for all. It would be no use discussing them partly now and partly on some other day; and, no doubt, the noble Lord could state that there would be some early opportunity of discussing these Estimates before the Vote on Account passed away, so that there might be one discussion, and not two.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, he would be glad to give every assurance that was possible; but a great deal of time had already been promised, and it was impossible to say on what precise day there should be this discussion. It would be desirable, no doubt, to bring on these Estimates on the earliest opportunity, to give hon. Members a fair opportunity of discussing them; but it was impossible to fix the day.
§ SIR HENRY HOLLAND
asked whether, as the Committee was anxious 1947 to get out of this difficulty, the noble Lord would say that the Irish items should take the first place?
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he thought nothing like a definite response had been made either to the appeal of the Irish Members, or to the appeal of the late Home Secretary. The doctrine apparently laid down by the noble Marquess, that the Government could escape all criticism by bringing in their Votes at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning, was not a proposition which should commend itself to the Committee. He regretted that the noble Marquess had assumed that there was a disposition on the part of the Irish Members to do more than to legitimately discuss the items in which they were interested. The hon. Member for the Queen's County (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) had no other purpose in moving to report Progress than to obtain an assurance that an early day would be given for the discussion of these Estimates, feeling that they had no alternative but to discuss the items now if that assurance was not given. He did not think that course was convenient, or ought to be forced upon the House by the Government; and if the noble Marquess was not himself responsible for this state of affairs, but had been simply sent there to represent the Government without any instructions, and without any power to give a definite engagement, he thought those Members of the Government who had placed the noble Marquess in that position had hardly been fair to the noble Marquess, or to the Committee. He did not know whether his hon. Friends intended to go to a division on the Motion; but he certainly could not see that they had any alternative, in view of the nebulous response they had received, but to take advantage of the information they possessed regarding these items, and expose, at proper length, their objections. If the Government were not prepared with the requisite information, that was their own fault; and to bring forward demands for public money at this hour, without explanation and without definite statements when inquiries were made, was a most extraordinary mode of doing Business, and was not a mark of careful economy with regard to the time of the House.
§ MR. BARRY
said, if these were ordinary Estimates, it would be startling for the House to be called upon to vote them at this hour; but several of these items were of a specially contentious character. There were the Irish Prisons Vote, the Law Charges, and other Votes, which called for a great deal of investigation and discussion. Under the head of Public Works there were 10 or 20 cases of gross injustice which he intended to bring before the House. One was the case of a magistrate in Wexford. No one would suspect him of undue sympathy with magistrates; but here was a case of peculiar hardship on the part of the Board of Works in Ire land. He was very anxious that this case should be fairly sifted and inquired into; but there was very little chance of that being done at this hour of the night in a satisfactory manner. The noble Marquess stated that some time in the Session there would be an opportunity of discussing these Estimates; but, for himself, he would lose no opportunity now, or at any other time, of putting any obstacle he could in the way of Supply being granted to carry out the present infamous system in Ireland. It was very well for the noble Marquess to say there would be an opportunity; but he had consented before to Votes on Account, and then he had found, to his sorrow, that the opportunities for discussion were very limited indeed. He was inclined to think, on the present occasion, that the Irish Members should not consent—and he hoped they would not consent, if they stopped till next week—to money being granted to carry on the present evil system of rule in Ireland. The chance of future discussion would be very limited indeed; and he hoped the Irish Members would persist in their determination to oppose the Votes for Secret Service, and the Constabulary, and several other items in these Estimates.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, the present Government had introduced what seemed to him to be very much of an innovation—namely, a system of forcing on Votes of money at a very late hour. The late Government, as far as he recollected, never insisted on Supply after 1 o'clock in the morning; but the present Government had introduced what he held to be the unconstitutional principle of insisting on large sums of money being 1949 voted at a time when there was no possibility of a proper discussion. For this reason, he thought the Government should either have agreed to report Progress and bring this Vote forward at some reasonable time, say, at a Morning Sitting, or some day next week; or have given a substantial and bonâ fide promise that an opportunity would be given for the discussion of Irish Estimates before the clôture came into operation, because it would be perfectly absurd to say they were to discuss the Irish Estimates with a power in the hands of the Government of stopping discussion at any time they liked before the Irish Members had pointed out their objections to particular Irish items. If the Government would undertake that before the clôture debates were finally ended time should be given for discussing these Irish Estimates, they might save a great deal of time and trouble; or, if they would agree to report Progress now, and bring forward these Votes at a reasonable hour, that would very much facilitate the progress of Business. But if the Government said they must have this money at 3 o'clock in the morning—these Votes not having been proposed until after 2 o'clock—he thought that was most unreasonable; and he must point out that the argument of the right hon. Gentleman who recommended the Irish Members to submit to this Vote on Account, that it was not the practice to divide Votes, was not consistent with the action of a Member of the Government who had moved to leave out the Education Vote until he got a promise of an opportunity of discussing that Vote. He did not wish to bind the Government to a particular day; but he thought that before Easter, before the discussions on the clôture came to an end, an opportunity for discussing these items should be given; and nothing would be lost by the Government through that course.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, he thought the proposal to report Progress at 20 minutes past 3 o'clock in the morning, a very fair and reasonable one. There could be no doubt, looking at the headings of the Votes, that there were a number of items here which Irish Members could not allow to pass without challenge. They were bound to criticize these items on the earliest opportunity. They were told that "the Business of the country must be carried on." Well, 1950 what was the Business of Ireland? What sort of business was being carried on there, and what was this money wanted for? It was wanted for the eviction of tenant farmers, for the payment of informers, and so on; and Irish Members were bound to meet the proposal for its appropriation on the very threshold, and challenge it. This Vote for Secret Service they objected to, holding that the application of the money was a fruitful cause of crime and outrage in the country. It tended to demoralize the people and create confusion and disorder in every part of Ireland. Similarly, the Irish Members had an objection to urge as to the payment of the Police Force, who were employed in harrassing ladies of the Land League, and taking up people without the shadow of a reason, except the whisper of some informer—of some magistrate or magistrate's man. The Irish Members were bound to meet this thing and arrest it at the outset. What could be fairer than to say to the Government—"Give us a reasonable and early day, give us a reasonable hour, and we will accept the offer; but to force us to go into a criticism of these Votes, which are so important to our country, at such an hour as this, is a course which is neither fair nor reasonable, and we protest against it."
§ MR. HEALY
said, he had not read the clôture Rules, and he did not care whether they were passed or not, either in their present form or 10 times more strongly worded. They did not affect the Irish Members in the slightest degree, and the Irish Members did not wish to talk about them; and he had no doubt, if the Government would give them a few hours on Monday, they would be easily able to say all they had to say and settle the whole matter as to these Votes. The Irish Members wished to expose the weakness of the proceedings of the Government in Ireland, and to do it in daylight. There should be daylight let into these proceedings; and the Irish Members, therefore, did not wish to discuss them at 3 o'clock in the morning, when what was said could not be reported. If the Government would give them Monday evening for the discussion of these matters, the Irish Members would agree not to debate them beyond 10 o'clock. By that time, no doubt, all who wanted to speak would have said their say. So far as he was 1951 concerned he should not say a word upon the clôture, or do anything with regard to it until the division was taken. He ventured to say that his proposition was a reasonable one to make to the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington).
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he thought the noble Marquess should by this time have fully appreciated the strange and embarrassing situation in which the Committee found itself. ["No!" and laughter.] That seemed to be amusing to hon. Members; but it would not be later on, if that which promised to be a bitter struggle was beginning. He would urge upon the noble Marquess the desirability of considering most carefully whether he should press on this Vote at the present time. The Government asked for £3,600,000—sufficient to carry on the Services for three months—sufficient to carry on the government of Ireland to the month of June; and the Irish Members had no means of knowing what facilities, if any, would be afforded them up to the end of the Session for discussing the agencies of misgovernment and oppression at work in Ireland, and which they felt bound to denounce on every occasion in their power. He could not accept the theory proposed to them by the Front Opposition Bench—that it was sufficient for them to discuss these matters once in a Session. He rather accepted the theory of the hon. Member for New Ross (Mr. Redmond), that the time for discussing these Estimates, and the spending of money for purposes Irish Members denounced, was whenever the opportunity offered itself. He should like to discuss these matters every day, if possible. He could not forget how futile were the opportunities granted them; nor, that when they put questions at half-past 4, they received offensive answers; nor, that when they put Notices of Motion on the Paper and held them over for months, when at last they got a few hours discussion, they were voted down by the House. He could not forget that it was impossible to get adequate attention paid to the Business of Ireland. He would remark that at this hour of the night, or morning, everything that they might say was lost within the walls of the Chamber, and had no effect, either on the Committee or on Ireland. What was it they 1952 were asked to do? They were asked to give into the hands of the Government the money required to carry on every possible misgovernment in Ireland; and. he considered it would be a gross breach of public duty and breach of trust on the part of the Irish Members to sit there tamely, and in cowardly spirit allow this money to be taken. It was their highest, their inevitable duty, to protest against it on every possible occasion. The amount they were asked to vote was £3,600,000; two-thirds of which, probably, was for the misgovernment of Ireland. Take the Vote for Secret Service money—£6,000. How did they know to what purposes this money might not be applied? How did they know it would not be spent in stimulating the production of perjured evidence? How did they know that it would not be spent in paying people who came up at the request of Colonel Hillier—a base brood of informers that infested every country, and his poor country worst of all.
The hon. Member will be perfectly in Order in discussing any particular item when the Estimate is under consideration. At present, however, we are on the question of reporting Progress, and specific items cannot be discussed.
§ MR. SEXTON
thanked the Chairman. He wished to say that this Vote for Irish purposes would enable the Government to carry on the maladministration of Ireland till the beginning of next June. He saw nothing in the words of the noble Marquess to enable him to hope that he would give them an early opportunity of discussing these matters; but he could not wonder that the noble Lord had treated their appeals as he had done, seeing that the appeals of the regular Opposition who sat on the Front Opposition Bench had fallen on a heedless ear. No doubt there had been nothing objectionable in the tone of the noble Marquess; but he had listened with attention to what had fallen from him, and had failed to discover in it anything like a firm ground on which to resist the appeals of the Irish Members. The principle of the course adopted by Her Majesty's Government was radically vicious; and if there was anything more vicious it was the theory put forward from the Front Opposition Bench, that discussion was not proper 1953 when Votes on Account were taken. When Irish Members of Parliament were in prison, for having committed no other crime than having been too strong opponents of the Government, and the demand was made for money to pay the cost of that imprisonment, could the Irish Members in the House be expected to sit still silently and vote that money? No; and he would say this—that, though he was not disposed to push the Committee to extremes, on his conscience—["Question!"]—this was the question—on his conscience, he should not feel himself entitled to desert a Member of the Irish Party to what extent soever, and in what mode soever he might push his opposition to this Vote. The money would go to pay those who harassed and pursued the ladies of the Land League, who were engaged in charitable work in every town and village of Ireland. Did the Committee think he and his Colleagues were going to sit tamely by and agree to a Vote on Account which would enable the Constabulary to continue this sort of thing? Certainly not. If they passed this Vote without the utmost protest it was in their power to make, they made themselves accomplices in the guilt of the Government—accomplices in a guilt which, in the minds and consciences of the Irish people, they would never be able to wipe out. He would close, as he began, by saying that he should to his utmost support any Member of the Irish Party in whatever mode he might at such an hour oppose the granting of this money.
§ MR. GIBSON
said, that, so far as he could find out, there seemed to be a great deal of anxiety exhibited to ascertain whether it would be possible, consistently with the due progress of Public Business, to obtain an opportunity for the discussion of some of the important representative charges of this Vote before another Vote on Account was taken. So far as he could gather, if there was any such opportunity possible—and he was sure he did not know whether there was or not—the granting of it would meet the objections taken. He did not himself pretend to be in the slightest degree acquainted with the mysteries of Supply; but he would venture to ask this question—would it be possible, before the expiration of the two months for which, he believed, this Vote on Account was 1954 taken, to put down one or two of the Votes which were most likely to lead to conversation or debate as the first items some night when Supply was taken? He would not now specify the items; but probably they would be those relating to the Lord Lieutenant or the Chief Secretary. He did not know whether his suggestion would be consistent with the claims of Public Business; but, if it was, it might get the Committee over a difficulty.
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
said, the Government were most anxious to meet the wishes of hon. Members; but as to taking the Votes out of their order, he had repeatedly pointed out that nothing was more inconvenient than taking a Vote here and a Vote there. He could assure the Committee that the only anxiety of the Government would be to take the Votes in the manner and at the time that would be most convenient to the Committee.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he would remind the Government that they had been asked to give an opportunity for a four hours' discussion on these Votes, but had refused. They had been asked not to fix a day, but to give an assurance that the Votes would be discussed before another Vote on Account was taken. This, however, they had not done, and there was no resource now left to the Irish Members, in the face of the attitude of the Government, but to discuss the Votes now, item by item. He hoped his hon. Friends would go to a division on this Motion for reporting Progress, to mark their sense of the conduct of the Government in bringing forward such Votes as these at this hour of the morning; but he hoped that, after that division had taken place, hon. Members would settle down to their work, and devote whatever energies they might have left to the discharge of their duties to their constituents. They must examine these Votes item by item, not at any excessive length, but fairly and sufficiently. He expected, of course, that the officials of the Government would give all the information which might be required on these items.
§ MR. METGE
said, he hoped the Government would see their way to accepting some of the suggestions which had. been made. He, for one, did not wish to challenge, much less to defy, on these matters; but he must say it was a point 1955 of duty which, none of them could refuse to follow, the course pointed out by the hon. Member who had just spoken. It would have some effect on the public, even though they might not read reports of what was now taking place; because if the Government were kept in the House until Tuesday or Wednesday, or even Thursday—and it was not impossible for the Irish Members to do that, for they were young and strong—it would form a spectacle that would attract all eyes. It would be a spectacle that Europe would gaze upon. Who would be in the worse position before the world if such a thing occurred—the Irish Members who were contending for what they believed to be their Constitutional rights, or the Liberal and Radical Members who, despite their pledges to their constituents, repeated over and over again, were proceeding to force the Committee to pass a money Vote, at the same time refusing to allow them to discuss it? The effect of the Government policy would be to produce results of the most undesirable character, and he should say that the impression upon the public mind in England would be that there was something rotten in the affairs of a Government which proceeded by such means. Therefore, he should consider it his duty to oppose any of those Votes which came forward.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, he was extremely anxious to arrive at some reasonable understanding which would meet the views of hon. Members opposite. As the Committee would be aware, he had already put in a protest against the practice of making use of the time at which Votes on Account were brought forward, for the purpose of entering into discussions upon the details of the Estimates to which those Votes on Account related. Now, the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) stated that the Government had been asked for a period of four hours certain for the purpose of discussing certain Votes, and refused it. But he would point out that the question which hon. Members desired to raise could be quite as well discussed upon the Report of the Vote, as upon the Vote itself; and, therefore, if it would meet their views to enter such protests as they desired to make on Report, he proposed that there should be a Morning Sitting on Tuesday for taking the Report, and this would place 1956 at the disposal of hon. Members more than the space of time which the hon. Member for Dungarvan said would satisfy them. He made that proposal, of course, subject to an understanding being arrived at that the Government would be allowed to obtain the Report of the Vote within the limits of the Morning Sitting.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, that the time within which this Vote ought to be taken was becoming extremely short; were it otherwise, he should have been willing to adopt the suggestion of the hon. Member for Wexford. Under the circumstances he trusted the proposal he had made would receive the assent of hon. Members opposite.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, that the noble Lord had said that Irish Members could make their protests, and any other observations they had to put forward on Report; meanwhile the Government were to be allowed to have this Vote on Account. But he could assure the noble Lord that their protests were not meant for the air only; on the contrary, they intended to oppose the Votes in reality. The protest he had made, and intended further to make, did not apply to Irish Votes alone, but to the general system of taking all Votes at an hour when it was too late to bestow upon them the amount of attention and discussion which their importance demanded. He objected to the system altogether, and he trusted that the House would come to an understanding upon the question as to whether there was to be another Vote on Account asked for this Session, because, if that were to be the case, he wished it to be perfectly understood that he should do everything in his power to prevent its being taken. If necessary, he should divide the Committee against each Vote. But the noble Lord had made no concession to Irish Members. His proposal was merely that they should consent to the Vote, and go through the formality of protesting on Report at a Morning Sitting on Tuesday next. To suppose that they could do justice to the multitudinous matters they had to bring under the notice of the House within the limits of a Morning Sitting was simply to laugh at the wishes of Irish Members. The noble 1957 Lord was entirely mistaken if he supposed that the offer he had made contained anything for which Irish Members ought to be grateful. On the contrary, Irish Members perfectly appreciated the littleness of the offer made to them; but, inasmuch as he (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) did not wish to be unreasonable, or to detain the Committee unnecessarily, and in view of the fact that, however long they might remain, the discussion at that hour would be of no practical value, he should be willing, with the concurrence of his hon. Colleagues, to ask leave to withdraw his Motion for reporting Progress.
§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
said, he thought his hon. Friends could not do better than accept the offer of the noble Marquess. He hoped, however, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant would be in his place on Tuesday morning, because he alone could answer and explain the points which would probably be proposed, on that occasion.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he wished to detain the Committee for one moment before the Motion to report Progress was withdrawn. He believed the noble Marquess had said that there should be an understanding that the discussion should terminate within the limits of the Morning Sitting—that was to say, before 7 o'clock on Tuesday next. Now, although it was most probable that the discussion would end within the time named, he could not but regard this as an unreasonable pledge, which the Government sought to exact from Irish Members. No one Member of the House could bind others to such a limitation. Although, as he had said already, the probability was that the discussion would terminate before 7 o'clock on Tuesday, yet there was no possibility of any hon. Member knowing what others would have to say, and how long the discussion would be prolonged. He made these remarks for the purpose of showing that there was no formal pledge upon this point, one way or the other.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Question again proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £3,431,600, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the Charge for the following Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March 1883.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.1958
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported upon Tuesday next, at Two of the clock.
§ Committee to sit again upon Monday next.