§ (Mr. Justin M'Carthy, Mr. Richard Power, Mr. O'Kelly, Mr. Kenny.)
§ [BILL 37.] SECOND READING.
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY,
in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, the Bill had for its purpose the abolition of the Office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The Bill consisted really of but three clauses—the first declaring that on and after January 1, 1884, the Office should be abolished; the second, that the powers of the Office should be transferred to a Secretary of State; and the third, that such Secretary of State should be a Member of the House, representing an Irish constituency. If the House was not prepared to accept the latter proposition, he would not press it in Committee, and would merely ask them to affirm the principle that the Office should be abolished. The House was well aware that this was not the first time a proposition of the kind had been made. A proposal of the same nature had been introduced, some 30 odd years ago, by the late Earl Russell, then Lord John Russell, in the House of Commons. That proposal had the same purpose in view, but was of a more complicated character. It proposed to make arrangements to take effect, provided Her Majesty in Council abolished the Office of Lord Lieutenant; but it did not propose to abolish the Office at a stroke. That measure was carried to a second reading with a very large majority in its favour; but was, nevertheless, not carried beyond that stage. The reason of its not getting beyond a second reading was partly owing to the fact that Government found foreign questions attracting too much attention; but chiefly on account of the very doubtful support accorded to it by the Irish Members of that day. Many Irish Members voted against the measure. The speaking and voting which took place in that debate formed a curiously interesting study in Irish politics. Ho might call the attention of the House to the fact 1077 that the late Earl Russell made a somewhat remarkable statement on that occasion. He said—I do not think it would be desirable that Ireland, when deprived of its Lord Lieutenant, should never have an opportunity of seeing its Sovereign; and I have great pleasure in stating …. that it is Her Majesty's gracious intention from time to time to pay a visit to Ireland, and to have the residence in the Phoenix Park maintained for Her Majesty."—(3 Hansard, [III] 180.)He would not take much notice of that statement, except to say that the promise was never carried out; and the opportunity was lost for ever, which might then, perhaps, have been turned to good account. He should. have supposed that it was only natural that in the City of Dublin there should be an interest in keeping up the Viceroyalty, in consequence of the costly pageantry which was kept up therewith; and yet, on the occasion of Lord John Russell's proposal, only 10,000 of the inhabitants of the City, headed by the Lord Mayor, were found to sign a Petition against the Bill. Many, if not most, of the Irish Members opposed the measure, on the ground that it was a first step towards the withdrawal of the Law Courts and the whole system of Judicature from Dublin to Westminster. In vain did Ministers assure them that no such thing was contemplated. The fear had become fixed in their minds, and they would not listen to the proposal. It was a curious fact that Mr. Maurice O'Connell, eldest son of the great O'Connell, voted and spoke against the adoption of the Bill. Mr. Maurice O'Connell, however, explained that he did not regard himself as especially an Irish Member, but as a Member of the Imperial Parliament. He said he did not at all feel bound, even in this matter, to look first of all to the interests of Ireland—he was bound to consider the interests of the whole Empire; and the feelings of English and Scotch Members counted for as much to him in Irish policy as the opinion of the Irish Members. He even confessed that if he were to regard the matter from the point of view of a Repealer he could not ask a greater boon than the abolition of the Viceroyalty. Therefore, while Mr. Maurice O'Connell, as a Repealer—and it was only as a Repealer that he had been elected—was in favour of the measure, Mr. Maurice O'Connell, as a Mem- 1078 ber of the Imperial Parliament, was against it. That was not the kind of argument that was likely to carry conviction to the minds of the Irish Members now. The nephew of the great tribune, on the other hand, voted and spoke in favour of the measure; but it was hard to decide the patriotic character of the Irish Member of that period by the way he voted, for men of honesty and national feeling voted for and against the Bill. For example, he found that Mr. Fagan, Member for Cork, a man of great integrity and true national sentiment, voted for the measure; while Members like his hon. and gallant Friend below him (The O'Gorman Mahon) voted against it. The late Judge Keogh voted for it; but of his support he (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) should not, as an Irishman, feel specially proud. Mr. Sheil spoke and voted in favour of the measure. In the debate Mr. Sheil replied to the speech of the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens), whom he (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) was sorry not to see in his place to-day, and who was then Member for Dundalk. Mr. Sheil's opening sentence was worth quoting. He said—The fervid nationality of my hon. Friend the Member for Dundalk has overcome his habitual good sense."—(1bid., 1042.)There was very little chance of the "fervid nationality" of the hon. Member for Finsbury overcoming anything now. English Members advanced stronger arguments in support of the Bill than the Irish Members. Mr. Bernal Osborne asked why should the shadow be expected to remain when the substance was gone? Why should the Irish Viceroyalty flourish when the Irish Parliament had ceased to exist? And he also said he regarded Viceroyalty as the proof and emblem of national serfdom, and pointed to the fact that very few Irishmen had ever held the Office. The Motion for the second reading was then carried, as he had stated; but the Bill was allowed to drop. A second attempt was made, eight years after, by the late Mr. Roebuck to have a Motion carried in these words—In the opinion of this House, the Office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland ought to be abolished, and an Office of Secretary of State for Ireland at once created."—(Ibid.,  712.)That Motion was defeated by a large majority, and from that time to this 1079 no serious attempt was made to get rid of the Office. What ho now proposed to do, certainly at no unreasonable length, was to show that the Office did no positive good either to England or Ireland, but that it did a great deal of positive and. negative harm; that it did not, as many supposed, unite the people of Ireland with those of England, or cause the authority of the Crown to be more respected; but rather tended to bring it into something approaching disrespect. He hoped to show that where the authority was exercised much it tended to make rather ridiculous that which it ought to elevate in public estimation; and he hoped to persuade some of his own countrymen that the Office in nowise tended to maintain the national spirit, but rather to degrade, humiliate, and extinguish that national sentiment. If they reviewed the history of the Irish Viceroys they would find them to have been either men who did nothing or men whose energy resulted in evil effects to England and Ireland. It was a remarkable fact that after the Reign of Elizabeth, and during a certain portion of the Reign of James I., there sprang up in Ireland a sudden and wide-spread growth of prosperity which then promised to be lasting. Ho would trouble the House with a sentence or two descriptive of the state of Ireland at that period. Clarendon, in the first book of his history, said of Ireland before the Civil War—Ireland, which had been a sponge to draw and a gulf to swallow all that could be spared and all that could be got from England, merely to keep the reputation of a Kingdom, attained to that good degree of husbandry and government that it not only subsisted of itself and gave this Kingdom all that it might have expected from it, but really increased the Revenue of the Crown 140,000 or £50,000 a-year, besides being of considerable advantage to the people by the traffic and trade from thence. Arts and sciences were fruitfully planted there, and the whole nation was beginning to be so civilized that it was a jewel of great lustre in the Royal diadem.Were there any other years of Irish history, excepting, perhaps, a few years before the Union, when such a description would apply? But when the Civil War broke out, Ireland became the victim of English quarrels. It chose to remain loyal to a King who, perhaps, deserved little loyalty. The Irish people had been long characterized by a passion for Royalty which he should almost call 1080 servility, and which must have taken great pains on the parts of successive Sovereigns to root out. Then came the days of Cromwell, and from that period they might trace the decline of Ireland. It seemed to him that since that period the Irish officials were either incapable or worthless men, doing neither good nor harm; or men who, when they moved at all, produced a baleful effect upon Ireland and England. There were, however, two or three honourable—he should oven say illustrious—examples. Take one man — Lord Chesterfield—who was sent to Ireland on the most inauspicious occasion. Chesterfield saw, with the instinct of genius, that Ireland was a country which must be governed according to Irish ideas, or it could never be governed at all; and to that task he set himself in a way which no Irish official ever did before or since. Ho could not repeal the Penal Laws; but he took good care that they were never put in operation. He took care that whatever discontent there was should be allayed and not embittered. Needless to say, the old ascendency class assailed him with all the energy and bigotry which they could command, with the view of bringing him into disrepute at the Royal Court. He established so much tranquillity and contentment in Ireland that at this very time, instead of asking for more troops for Ireland, he sent four regiments away to assist the Royal troops against the Pretender in Scotland. He was allowed to have his way while the danger of the rebellion lasted; but at the very moment the danger was over the counsels of the ascendency Party in England prevailed, and Chesterfield was recalled. He walked to the place of embarkment surrounded by a cheering populace, who asked him to return as soon as possible. He never at any time seemed to have required police protection. His case was an instance of how a sincere and high-minded man, anxious to do good for the country, was sacrificed to the cabals of English Parties. The same observation might apply to the case of Lord Fitzwilliam. When Lord Fitzwilliam was recalled the Catholics of Ireland saw that their hopes were gone, and the result was the outbreak of 1798. After that came the Union and other painful events with which they were all so familiar. These were striking and 1081 remarkable instances in which Viceroys were liable to be recalled, and the hopes of the country sacrificed to some sudden move in partizan policy in England. He did not think he could mention any other really good Viceroys. The Viceroys never had the power given to them of carrying out anything in the shape of reform, even if they had been inclined to do so. Lord Carlisle was popular, to a certain extent, because he gave good dances and danced well; but in Ireland they wanted a statesman, and not a dancing master. Lord Clarendon adopted the means of governing Ireland by a scurrilous newspaper published in Dublin at the time—a paper the like of which he did not think at present existed in any part of the civilized world. It was infamous in the blackest sense of the word. It made abominable charges against men and women, and levied black mail from them if they were weak enough to yield. This paper was hired to write up law and order and abuse the enemies of the Crown — it was converted into a sort of Government organ, paid for by the Crown. This arrangement continued until the proprietor of the paper demanded too much money, and the matter was taken into a Court of Law, where the Viceroy was obliged to admit that he had hired the proprietor of this paper to make accusations against respectable and honourable men in Dublin. It would be something if they had a Secretary of State governing Ireland whom they could see sitting on the Bench opposite, and whom Irish Members could examine as to his policy, and who could come under the censure of the House if he did wrong. Some years ago he had heard the present Prime Minister explain, in a lecture, the evil caused in our Colonies by the practice which governors followed by surrounding themselves with a "British Party." The result of the practice was that the Governing Body was merely suspected of being hostile to the Colonists. Now, that was precisely the effect of the Viceregal system in Ireland. The Viceroy in Ireland was supposed to confer titles and distribute rewards for something or other. Ho gave away offices, and invited the wives and daughters of a certain class in Ireland to the Castle; and in this way he was supposed to impress on them the stamp of respectability and 1082 loyalty. The result of that was, undoubtedly, to get round Dublin Castle or the Viceregal Lodge a body of supporters whom the great body of the Irish people regarded as hostile to the national sentiments; and anyone could see that the longer this continued the more and more alien must the Viceroyalty become to the feelings of the Irish people. They had a striking illustration not long since of how the Viceroy and those around him formed one little State and the people of Ireland another. Last autumn the Centenary of O'Connell was celebrated, and on that occasion an Exhibition of Irish manufactures and products was opened. He had the pleasure of being in Dublin on that occasion, and he never saw a more striking spectacle. If ever there was a national ceremonial politically, industrially, or even sentimentally, if they wished, it was the ceremonial in question. It represented the whole interests of the Irish nation. Where, then, was the Irish Viceroy? The position of the Viceroy on that occasion might well be likened to the position of an Austrian commandant in a Venetian town in former days. He sat apart in the Castle, or the Viceregal Lodge, practically alienated from everything connected with the interests of the Irish people. He (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) was very much struck by the marvelleus change in the position of affairs. The people kept order for themselves. They needed no assistance, and if the Viceroy did not appear himself, he certainly did not trouble the people much with his Police Force. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) might suggest that the patronage of the Viceroy had been rejected. He (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) did not care if the patronage of the authorities was rejected, because that only showed how little sympathy there was between the people and the official who was placed over them. If in another country the patronage of the Government were rejected by the people on an occasion of that kind, what would be thought? Why, that between the people and their rulers there was an almost impassable gulf. The people of Ireland had nothing to do with the Viceroy. As far as they were concerned, they had shaken the whole traditions of the Office away from them—they did not want to 1083 go to his dances or dinners. Even when the Office of Viceroy did positively neither good nor harm, it stood in the way of good that might be done, thus negatively doing harm. Socially it did harm, because it created in Dublin a class of "flunkies," and encouraged sycophancy. This kind of social demoralizing influence produced some political evil by separating still farther class from class, and at last driving the people to that degree of antagonism that they were inclined to regard anyone who had friendly relations with the Viceregal Party as necessarily inimical to all the national aspirations. He hoped that the House would now accept the policy approved by Lord John Russell. Let the House say, as had been said before—"Abolish this mock dignity — this sham ruler-ship—and give us a Secretary of State, who will be answerable to the House of Commons." If the right hon. Gentleman would rise in his place and say that Her Majesty's Ministers did think it worth while to make this change at a time like the present, because they believed much greater changes were necessarily near at hand, and that they hoped before long to be able to say that Ireland was entitled to a measure of self-government, he would not press his Bill to a Division. As, however, he felt he could hardly expect any such offer as that to be made, or any such argument to be used, he would have to press his Motion for the second reading to a Division, and endeavour to get the sense of the House in its favour once more. What he asked the House to do was to put an end to a wretched, decaying, and demoralizing system. The system, as it stood, was only a delusion to the English Members, a mockery to the Members for Ireland, and a snare to the simpleminded noblemen who seemed occasionally to fancy that by a few Court dinners they could charm away Connemara distress, and that by patronizing a few dozen shopkeepers in Dublin they were conciliating the hearts of the nation. He begged to move the second reading of the Bill.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Justin M'Carthy.)
§ MR. J. N. RICHARDSON,
in moving that the Bill be read a second time that 1084 day three months, said, he had listened with very great interest to the speech of his hon. Friend—he had listened to him with the interest which always accompanied any remarks of his in that House on historical subjects. He hoped his hon. Friend would believe that he was just as sincerely desirous of seeing legislation for the benefit of their common country as he himself was. This was a subject on which there was room for very diverse opinions; and though one might well be liable in after times to change one's mind upon it, at the present moment he must say that his feelings upon the matter were so strong that he could not agree with the proposal now before the House. As to the occurrence in Dublin in the autumn of last year, he could not follow his hon. Friend into the particulars, as he was not familiar with the circumstances; but he would just observe to the House that the Viceroy in Ireland and the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the Secretary of State as mentioned in the Bill were very much in the position of Ulster Members at times, for they represented to a certain extent two wings. He could quite understand the displeasure with which a certain portion of the Irish community would regard the refusal of a Viceroy to attend a celebration such as that mentioned by his hon. Friend; but it was well to look at the other side of the question. If the Viceroy had been asked to go up to the North of Ireland and to attend the celebration at Belfast in commemoration of some persons with whom a section of the people in the North sympathized very largely, he would no doubt have refused, very properly, because otherwise he would be outraging the sentiments of a large number of people over whom he was supposed to rule in the South of Ireland. Thus he could quite believe that a somewhat similar feeling would prevent the Viceroy from taking part in a celebration which would outrage the feelings of persons in the North of Ireland. Of course, he only mentioned this for what it was worth; but it seemed to him that the system of Party government which so entirely appeared to suit the populace of England and Scotland in many ways did not suit the populace of a very large part of Ireland. If a grievance existed in Great Britain a party rose up willing to remedy 1085 the grievance, and when it was remedied those who were in favour of the remedial legislation acquired a certain loyalty and gratitude to the Party which carried it. On the contrary, in a considerable portion of Ireland—he regretted this, but no one in the House could hide it from himself—no feeling of gratitude was ever aroused by the efforts of either of the two great Parties of the House. ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. Member for Waterford County (Mr. Blake) cheered that remark, and he apprehended he had accurately expressed his sentiments. There was certainly a tendency in a considerable portion of Ireland to regard the discussions— the cold-blooded discussions—which took place in that House about Treasury matters, about money matters, about official routine, as a general unwillingness on the part of Parliament to grant certain concessions to Ireland. He did not agree with that sentiment. He believed that both Parties in the State, and certainly the Liberal Party, were extremely willing to meet in every way they could the views and the wishes of the Irish people. He felt very strongly, however, that they might carry a Land Bill and amend it in certain directions; and he believed that in certain directions that Parliament or another would amend it until it became what the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party had intended it to be in 1881. Though they might carry a large scheme of peasant proprietary, though the House should grant, as he hoped, a large scheme of county government in Ireland, a certain portion of warmhearted fellow-countrymen would regard these measures not as granted by an English Party, but as wrung from the British Parliament as a whole—despite all this concession, all this legislation, a hostile feeling, he feared, would exist towards this Parliament. It therefore seemed to him to be very desirable that they should maintain in Ireland some power or some individual above all Party. If his hon. Friend had proposed in his Bill a scheme by which the Lord Lieutenant would not be a direct Representative of a Party, as ho was, and could not fail to be, as well as a Representative of the Queen—if he had proposed that the Lord Lieutenant should not necessarily go out of Office with the Ministry which had appointed him—he might have been able to support his 1086 Bill. At present they had, as they bad had occasionally in the past, a good Viceroy; and he could not help regretting that when such Viceroys went to Ireland, and became acquainted with the feelings of the people, they could not remain longer than the Ministry which sent thorn there. He could not help thinking that unless the Island was to be visited more frequently than it had been by a Family of which he spoke with the greatest diffidence and intense respect—unless they could see more of that august Family in Ireland, it would be a very serious thing to do away with the Office which represented that Family. He could bear testimony to the benefit which a Viceregal visit conferred. He did not speak in the interests of the residents of Dublin who were alluded to by the Mover of the Bill, and in whose interests he believed the hon. Gentleman said the Viceroyalty was kept up; he spoke on behalf of the community at large. Newry, he believed, had been visited by three Viceroys. By the Duke of Berwick, who burnt it, in 1690, by Lord Spencer in 1870 or 1871, and by the Duke of Marl-borough in 1879 or 1880; and he should never have believed, unless he had seen it in the course of one of those visits, how beneficial such an event could be in smoothing down asperiites and removing the sense of old grievances. He could not but think that a Viceroy with the courtesy of Lord Chesterfield or of Lord Spencer would he a great benefactor to Ireland. He believed that the Office of Viceroy might be made extremely beneficial to the country if it were made permanent, as he had suggested, and if the holder would make himself personally familiar with the various districts. He begged, in conclusion, to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice.
Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—(Mr. J. N. Richardson.)
Question proposed, "That the word ' now' stand part of the Question."
§ SIR EARDLEY WILMOT
said, he had always been in favour of the abolition of the Viceroy's Office; but he could not support the present Bill. In the first place, it was an anomaly in our Constitution that the Administrative and 1087 Executive power should be in the same person; and, in the second place, it was also an anomaly that the Executive should be the Representative of any Party. The Lord Lieutenant went to Ireland as a Party man, he governed as a Party man, and as a Party man ho quitted the country. His opinion, however, was that, without reference to politics, there should always be someone in Ireland to represent the Sovereign who was of no political Party, and who should maintain a State worthy of that Sovereign. Besides, the nomination of the Viceroy was always accompanied by the appointment of men who were not natives of the country, Englishmen being almost invariably chosen to fill the chief Offices in the Administration. Irishmen desired that the Office of Lord Lieutenant should, whenever it was possible, be filled by an Irishman; and he should be glad to see, much as he respected the present Chief Secretary, his position filled by a person more conversant with the requirements of Ireland. Then, again, the Lord Lieutenant's stay in Ireland was, as a rule, far too short to admit of his making himself acquainted with the wants of the country. In former times, the Lord Deputy, as he was then called, remained many years in Ireland. He did not go out on every change of Administration. They had heard from the hon. Member for Long-ford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) that Lord John Russell had indicated in 1850 that a change of the nature now desired was at that time in the mind of Her Majesty's Government; but the change had never been made, and it could not really be said that the administration of Ireland had improved since 1850. Still, it was impossible, he admitted, that the administration of Ireland could have been better carried out that it was being carried out by Lord Spencer; and, therefore, looking at the surrounding circumstances, he was obliged to ask himself whether this was really the time at which such a measure as the present Bill ought to be introduced. He could not think that the moment was appropriate; but he hoped that at some date, not too distant, they might witness such a change as that which Mr. Roebuck, when he brought the matter before Parliament, had so strongly urged.
§ MR. PLUNKET
remarked, that it must have struck the House as rather 1088 curious that, of the two Irish Bills discussed that afternoon, one professed to confer very large powers on the Viceroy, by entrusting him with the direction of £250,000 for the assistance of Irish fisheries; while the other, introduced by the same Party, was intended to abolish his Office altogether. The seeming inconsistency might, perhaps, be susceptible of explanation; but he, for one, could not explain it. Arguments had, from time to time, been undoubtedly advanced in favour of the present proposal; but the hon. Member who had introduced the Bill had brought forward none at all of a substantial character. The long review of the history of the earlier Viceroys, with which the hon. Member had begun his speech, was interesting enough; but it had little or no connection with the Bill before the House, and might be passed by as irrelevant. The hon. Member had said that Viceroys had often been very unpopular, and had called attention to the fact that the Exhibition in Dublin last year was not attended by the Lord Lieutenant. But he had frequently seen, and hoped soon to see again, Viceroys heartily cheered by Dublin crowds; and the truth as to the Exhibition last year was, that it was opened in circumstances which compelled the absence of loyal men. Nor was it the fact that the Viceregal Court merely promoted "flunkeyism" among the Dublin shopkeepers. The Court in Ireland was precisely like that in London; but, of course, on a smaller scale. Its Levées and other entertainments were equally representative, and it could not be fairly described as the Court of a foreigner with an entourage of foreigners. The only contention of the hon. Member which rose to the dignity of an argument was that it would be advisable to have in the House of Commons a Minister responsible for the affairs of Ireland, whose actions could be challenged in the House itself. But, surely, this state of things existed already. The responsible Minister was there, on the Treasury Bench; and he put it to Irish Members themselves to say whether they did not challenge all he did, and whether their challenges were not answered? Ho had no hesitation, however, in saying that it would have been impossible for the Lord Lieutenant to have performed his difficult duties as ho had done during the last year if he were a Minister obliged to be 1089 in attendance in the House of Commons. He had really heard nothing in support of the proposed change; and it seemed to him, as it would to most hon. Members, that the moderato and firm way in which Lord Spencer had exercised his powers admirably illustrated the advantages of the present arrangement, and amply justified the existence of his Office. He hoped, therefore, the House would reject the Bill.
§ MR. GRAY
said, he could perfectly well understand the hon. Member for Long-ford's (Mr. Justin M'Carthy's) discontent with the present arrangements as to the Viceroyalty; but, at the same time, he could not understand how a Member, with his political views, and desiring a greater extension of self government for Ireland, could advocate a measure which would go still more to reduce that country to the position of an English Province. The position of the Viceroy was certainly a very anomalous and a very unconstitutional one. He thought Her Majesty's Representative in Ireland should be above Party and above politics—he should be appointed, like the Viceroy of India and some Colonial Governors, for a term of years, and ought not to go out with an Administration. He should be the Representative of the Queen, not the Representative of a Party; and there should be in the House of Commons a responsible Minister for Irish Affairs to answer for the administration of the country. At present the position of the Viceroy was a most extraordinary one. Sometimes, as in the present case, ho really governed that country, controlled even the minutest details of the administration, interested himself in the political work of the Government to a great degree, and held in his own hands the reins of Government. Now, if the House compared the position of affairs under Earl Spencer and the Chief Secretary to-day, with the position of affairs under Earl Cowper and the Chief Secretary 18 months or two years ago, they would find that then the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), as Chief Secretary, was that responsible Minister, and that Earl Cowper, in an elaborate manner, did the ornamental; at the present moment, it was his right hon. Friend (Mr. Trevelyan) who did the ornamental in an equally admirable manner; and 1090 Earl Spencer it was who was now the Chief Minister and Governor of Ireland, responsible for its administration, and holding a seat in the Cabinet. Now, he thought it would be very well to abolish that most anomalous and unconstitutional state of affairs; but to abolish the Viceroyalty altogether, and transfer its duties to a Secretary of State, would be to abolish one of the most formidable recognitions of the nationality of Ireland, and to abolish an Office which would have again to be established, if at any time they were to have an Irish Parliament. In his opinion, therefore, they should have an Irish Viceroy who would be above Party, and who would represent the Queen alone; and they should also have a responsible Minister for the administration of Irish affairs, who would represent, if possible, au Irish constituency, and not, as at present, a Minister who, although not a Member of that House, really ruled the roast in Ireland in all important matters. While he very much desired such a reform as that, which, in his opinion, would be far more Constitutional than the system at present in existence, ho could not vote for the total abolition of au Office which would have the effect of reducing Ireland still more into the position of a mere Province of England.
§ MR. O'SHAUGHNESSY
said, that, to some extent, he took a similar view of the Bill as the last speaker, and would oppose it. There were two views that might be taken of the future of Ireland. They might look to have Ireland play a greater share in the management of her affairs, or they might look to Ireland managed exclusively by Imperial means. Ho thought, from whichever point they looked, the proposition contained in the Bill was one that could not well be adopted. If they had an independent Assembly of a greater or less extent, they would require a recognized Head of the Executive, a person of dignity, and one who should hold very much the same position towards the Executive as the Queen held in this country, independent of any other power in the State, and unattached to any Party. Under such circumstances, he quite agreed that the Viceroy of Ireland should hold the Office for a specific time, and that he should be a person independent of the English Par- 1091 liament. But the Bill dealt with the Office in connection with the existing Imperial Parliament, and would throw the responsibility of government on the Chief Secretary. That was practically the condition of things which existed prior to the appointment of Lord Spencer, and during the time of former Chief Secretaries; and the arguments which had been used in favour of the Bill simply meant a return to that state of things, so far as political and Executive affairs were concerned. They would, however, in such a case, still be obliged to have some official in Ireland responsible for carrying on the administration of the country, and that official would be a subordinate far less responsible to public opinion than were those Lord Lieutenants in former times who were second in political power to the Secretaries. He would just add one word on the social aspect of the question. There was, undoubtedly, a good deal of social harm occasioned in former times by the Viceroyalty in Ireland, for the reason that a large number of persons, whose means did not make it desirable that they should go to the expense of going to the Courts held in Dublin, used to go; and, undoubtedly, the high standard of living and expense thus introduced was fraught with a certain amount of social harm, and many families who had moderato fortunes thus lost them. But that practice did not now prevail. This was a question on which Irish Members had at all times within his recollection held different opinions. Mr. Butt, his late Colleague, always said that the maintenance of this institution was the maintenance of one of the last vestiges of Irish nationality. He shared that view, and should, on all grounds, vote against the Bill.
said, that Earl Spencer's administration in Ireland furnished a very good proof of how mischievous a Lord Lieutenant might be. Ho was neither a Sovereign nor a subject. He was directing a vast network of secret and irresponsible power of all kinds, and the people of Ireland had no remedy against an abuse of that power. They might fairly assume that if the Chief Secretary were the Representative of an Irish constituency he would be a great deal more accurate and circumspect in his replies to Irish Ques- 1092 tions. In Ireland they had all the disadvantages of a Russian despotism, with a spurious and second-hand Czar. The only frank argument he had ever heard in support of the Viceroyalty was that it enabled £53,000 to be spent in Dublin. But was not that a melancholy proof of the condition to which English misrule had brought a city which was once a great commercial capital? It was not a proof at all for retaining this palpable sham, which was of less pecuniary advantage to Ireland than one good factory. As to the opinion that nationality could be in any manner served by it, he could understand the tenderness of the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Shaughnessy) for the interests of Irish nationality. But it seemed to him almost too absurd to argue for a moment that the interests of Irish nationality depended upon the sort of gentlemen who clustered around Dublin Castle. The place was simply a hotbed of false and mean West Briton sentiment. The people who were reared up there had ceased from being Irishmen, and never could become Englishmen, although they sometimes affected to pose in the character. Whatever wore the results of the abolition of the Viceroy, he believed the people of Ireland and the people of England would be able to understand each other a little better. He, therefore, certainly would vote for the Bill.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, this was rather a funny Bill. A few moments ago the House was engaged in discussing a Bill by which the Lord Lieutenant was to have the power of appointing Fishery Commissioners; whereas now it was proposed to abolish the Viceroyalty. He did not see any clear gain, from a national point of view, in substituting under the provisions of this Bill one sort of foreign official for another foreign official. They might as well have a Lord Lieutenant as a Secretary of State carrying out the policy of coercion. The Bill spoke of "that part of the Kingdom commonly called Ireland." Well, that was the way he was accustomed to see it spoken of in Royal and Viceregal Proclamations; but it was, surely, in a sense of severe sarcasm that his hon. Friend the Vice Chairman of the Irish Parliamentary Party had adopted that peculiarly British phrase. If they went further into the Bill, there was a clause 1093 providing that the new Principal Secretary of State should be an Irishman, and should represent an Irish constituency. Well, he did not know what Member of the Irish Parliamentary Party his hon. Friend had in view to be the new Secretary of State in the British Government for "that part of the United Kingdom commonly called Ireland." He had no doubt they could find an Irish Gentleman like the Attorney General for Ireland or the hon. Member for Londonderry City (Mr. Lewis) who would accept the post, or they might find a very genuine Irish Gentleman like either of the two Gentlemen who represented the University of Dublin; but he could not see the national gain from appointing any of them to be Secretary of State "for that part of the United Kingdom commonly called Ireland." Well, suppose the Bill to be in operation, his hon. Friend the Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien) had denounced the Castle very fairly as a sink of corruption, or something of that sort; but he did not see how the introduction of a Secretary of State would tend to purify the political atmosphere of Dublin Castle. Even when the Chief Secretary had a seat in the Cabinet he did not observe any perceptible improvement in the condition of Dublin Castle. He could, therefore, only regard the Bill as a grave but somewhat undiscoverable sarcasm on the part of his hon. Friend. The only practical benefit to be derived from the introduction of the Bill was that it gave his hon. Friend the Member for Long-ford an opportunity for a most charming historical survey of former Viceroys. If any considerable number of Irish Members intended voting for the Bill he should not vote against it; but, for the reasons he had stated, he would abstain from voting.
§ MR. LEA
said, he did not remember ever to have heard any of his constituents express an opinion either for or against this proposal; and, therefore, he did not think it necessary to express any view upon the subject himself. But he wished to say that, when questions like the Poor Law Removal Bill or the Bill that was debated this afternoon came before the House, the Government did not and would not pay that consideration to Irish opinion which they ought to do. He regarded it as unfortunate that the Chief Secretary was 1094 not a Member of the Cabinet; and, without disrespect to his right hon. Friend, or Earl Spencer, he felt bound strongly to urge that they were unable to bring their views and opinions effectively before the Cabinet, and this was most unsatisfactory. It seemed to him, therefore, that the Irish people were not represented as they ought to be; and for that reason he should give his vote in favour of the Bill if it came to a Division.
§ MR. SHEIL
said, the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) had expressed his intention not to vote against the Party to which he professed to belong. It would be very interesting to know why the hon. Member had spoken against that Party. That was not the first time they had been entertained by speeches from the hon. Member, which, however they might raise him in the estimation of English Members, certainly were not calculated to promote admiration in the minds of Irish Members. The hon. Member's speeches were framed in that peculiar vein of sarcasm which belonged, fortunately, only to himself. The hon. Member had declared that he did not see what gain the Bill would be to Irish nationality. But what would be gained to Irish nationality by speeches such as the hon. Member made? He should like to know from the hon. Member to what portion of the Irish Party he claimed to belong? They often had letters in The Times and other journals dated from the Parliamentary offices of the Irish Party over the signature of the hon. Member. If the hon. Member belonged to the Party, why did he get up and seek to create dissension in the midst of that Party? If the hon. Member found himself unable to work with the Irish Party the best thing he could do would be to disassociate himself from them altogether. The hon. Member had stated that he could not support the measure, but would not vote against it. He (Mr. Sheil) thought it would be better and more consistent, holding the particular view that he did, if the hon. Member were to vote against the Bill, rather than shirk his responsibility by avoiding the Division Lobby.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, that the debate, which had closed with a good deal of vivacity, had not been throughout characterized by much vivacity. The hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) had given an interesting 1095 historical account, but gave the impression that he felt the debate to be of rather a hollow character. The hon. Member had given very interesting accounts of the Viceroyalty of Lord Chesterfield and other Viceroys, from which he was not much disposed to differ. But it was clear that he did not seriously expect to carry his Bill. The hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Gray) had given reasons for doubting whether the Bill was well advised. It was for hon. Members sitting around the hon. Member to judge of that; but if he (Mr. Trevelyan) were a Member of that Party in the House, he certainly should not vote for the Bill. A measure like this could only be proposed on the authority of the Government as a whole, and the Government certainly had not made up its collective mind that so strong a step was required at the present moment; and ho could not say that the Bill was so drawn as to make the Government think it was seriously necessary at this moment to make up and announce their minds on the subject. The Bill, which related to the government of 5,000,000 people, only consisted of three clauses; and, as far as he understood, there was one clause out of the three upon which the hon. Member did not insist. Ho doubted whether it lay within the Constitutional limits of the power of the Crown to choose its servants under such conditions as were proposed in the 3rd clause of the Bill. Even if there were no such Constitutional objection, no Government could consent to such conditions. If the Government could not return the man of all others whom they wanted for an Irish constituency, they would be forced either to repeal that clause, or, while nominally acceding to it, and appointing as Secretary of State a Gentleman representing an Irish constituency, they would be forced to leave the administrative functions in Ireland in the hands of some thoroughly competent official; and the measure of competency would have to be high, as he would have to discharge the duties both of Lord Lieutenant and of Chief Secretary. The hon. Member for Longford, too, ought to remember that this Bill would deprive Ireland of the services of such men as Lord Chesterfield and Lord Fitzwilliam, as he proposed that the Chief Administrator should not be a Peer of the Realm. There were also other 1096 objections to the Bill. It transferred the statutory powers of the Lord Lieutenant to the Secretary of State. But what about the non-statutory powers, of which an enormous number was vested in the Lord Lieutenant? He appointed justices, officials in all the Public Departments, revised sentences on behalf of the Crown, issued warrants for the arrest of the more important criminals. The Lord Lieutenant had sometimes in the course of five minutes to determine questions on which the most important interests of Ireland, and perhaps of the United Kingdom, might depend. Such a crisis occurred three or four Viceroyalties ago; and in the recent difficulties which had arisen with the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police, if there had not been a responsible Executive Officer of State on the spot, the most disastrous consequences might have ensued. There was also a great number of statutory powers exercised by the Lord Lieutenant. Hon. Members were probably hardly aware of what the duties of a Lord Lieutenant were. He had to make rules for the government of the Royal Irish Constabulary and of the Dublin Police; he was responsible for all the prisons, and had to decide which should be closed and which remain open; appointed the governors of prisons, regulated lunatic asylums, appointed Sub-Commissioners under the Land Act, and superintended the carrying out of the Crimes Act. He was also President of the Queen's Colleges, appointed Resident Magistrates, gave licences for the celebration of marriage, and appointed Sheriffs for some of the chief towns in the country. He was also President of the Privy Council, and had to make rules under such different Acts as the Judicature Acts and the Cattle Diseases Act. Could such duties be discharged by an official in an office at Storey's Gate, Westminster, who had a seat in that House, or by an official who was hurrying backwards and forwards between London and Dublin? Yet those duties would have to be discharged by the Chief Administrator of Ireland, whoever he might be. It was obvious that no one but a man well acquainted with Ireland, and constantly resident there, could perform such multifarious functions. But, at a time like this, there were personal reasons why this Bill should not be favourably con- 1097 sidered. The hon. Member for Longford had quoted Mr. Bernal Osborne as saying that there was no reason why the shadow should remain when the substance had gone. Several such expressions had been used in the course of the debate—phantom, puppet, decaying system. None of these terms could rightly be applied to the Viceroyalty of Lord Spencer. Again, to use the words of the hon. Member for Longford, Lord Spencer went to Ireland at the most inauspicious and dangerous moment at which a Lord Lieutenant could have been sent to Ireland. The hon. Member had spoken of previous Lord Lieutenants not having to go about under police protection; but he was sure he did not mean that as a personal taunt. [Mr. BIGGAR: Yes, yes!] His (Mr. Trevelyan's) interpretation was that the hon. Member meant that Lord Spencer was advocating a policy which placed him in personal danger from which his Predecessors were free. It was not because of his personal qualities, or his political and administrative opinions, but on account of the position he held as Lord Lieutenant which made him disliked, as any Lord Lieutenant would have been at the time he took Office, and in the circumstances then existing. It should not, therefore, be a reproach to him that he had to be protected in his walks from his residence to the Castle. From the first moment of his landing, before there was time to ascertain what manner of man he was, his life, as far as one class of the community was disposed, was not worth one moment's purchase. It was not, then, for his political opinions that the Lord Lieutenant required police protection. It was enough for those against whom that protection was required that he was Lord Lieutenant. It was not for him to dwell on the qualities of Lord Spencer. It might be that his abilities, his experience of Public Business, and his extraordinary industry, were qualities that could be found elsewhere, though it would not be easy to do so; but he had other qualities which had a bearing upon the vote which he hoped the House would give. He had other qualities peculiar to himself—an extraordinary knowledge of Irish Business, gained by doing Irish Business for six hard-worked years, a great knowledge of Irishmen, a great interest in Irish affairs, and an honest determination to apply all the qualities with which 1098 Heaven had endowed him to work Irish affairs to the best of his ability for the welfare of Ireland. Lord Spencer had been called a "foreign official" by the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell); but if they calculated the number of years that Lord Spencer and the hon. Member for Dungarvan had respectively spent on Irish soil since they came to manhood the comparison would not be at all to the disadvantage of Lord Spencer. It was impossible to exaggerate the advantage of having a man like Lord Spencer applying his ability and industry to the work of administration on the spot in Ireland at the same time that another person was applying such poor powers as he (Mr. Trevelyan) had to the work of representing the Irish Government in that House. They could not abolish the Viceroy without replacing him in Ireland by a man of equal industry, equal ability, and equal authority; and that man must not be on these Benches, but he must be doing administrative work in Ireland. The hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) had said that he would be satisfied if the Government would undertake to consider the question of the reconstitution of the Government of Ireland, and that, in that case, he was willing to withdraw the Bill. He did not think this was a moment when the Government could enter upon such questions. They were perfectly satisfied with the existing system, and would oppose the second reading of the Bill if the hon. Member insisted on taking a Division.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, that in the enumeration of the duties of the Lord Lieutenant and Chief Secretary the right hon. Gentleman had omitted the duties of emigration agent. As he had learned, however, from the right hon. Gentleman that the Lord Lieutenant had authority over the lunatic asylums, he hoped His Excellency would devote some time to the lunatic asylums of the two counties from which Whig Members came to that House—namely, the counties of Derry and Donegal—where all the appointments were Protestant and Presbyterian, to the exclusion of Roman Catholics. But he could not support the Bill; it was a sham, and, as the Chief Secretary had said, the debate upon it was a hollow one. He denied that it was in any sense a Party Bill. It had never been brought before the Irish Party, never 1099 considered by them, and some of them had never seen it at all till it was put into their hands to-day. The attack, therefore, of the junior Member for Meath (Mr. Sheil) on the hon. Member for Dungarvan was most unjustifiable. He thought, however, that if a Member of the Royal Family were to undertake the duties of Viceroy for five or six years, and thereby raised the Government of Ireland out of the muddle of Party politics, it would cause great satisfaction in the country. Two changes, however, were required. It was now provided by law that no Catholic could be Lord Lieutenant, and this was a great injustice. He saw in his place the Envoy to Rome—["Hear, hear!" and "No!"] He said "Yes," and was as well acquainted with Irish opinion as the hon. Members who said "No."
It being a quarter of an hour before Six of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at ten minutes before Six o clock.