§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Extension of the Household and lodger Franchise.
§ Clause 2 (Uniform household and lodger franchise).
§ Amendment again proposed, in page 1, line 10, to leave out the words "the United Kingdom," and insert the words "Great Britain,"—(Mr. Brodrick,)—instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'the United Kingdom' stand part of the Clause."
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
Sir Arthur Otway, it was not my intention to offer any further remarks upon this Bill during its passage through the House in addition to those which I made upon the first reading. I thought it a very little Bill; perhaps I might call it a trumpery little Bill, and certainly one that was not worthy of the designation of a great Reform Bill. I therefore imagined it might be allowed to take its passage, not without rapidity through the House of Commons, and go up to the House of Lords, where, no doubt, it will receive all the consideration to which its merits entitle it. But I must own, with some regret, that the question of the inclusion of Ireland in, or its exclusion from, the Bill has been brought again before the House; because I think that matter was fully gone into by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) on the first reading, and again upon the second reading; and it was also debated by itself on a separate Motion before going into Committee upon the measure. I regret that it has been brought up again; and all the more, because I am obliged to differ from my hon. Friend the Member for West Surrey (Mr. Brod- 854 rick) on the Amendment which he has moved. I differ from him so strongly on the matter that if he presses his Amendment I shall be obliged to vote against him. I wish to assure him that I have arrived at this decision with the deepest possible regret and concern. I have given much anxious thought to this question of including Ireland in the Reform Bill; and I frankly admit that my mind has undergone a change—a change, I venture to say, coming from the most legitimate source whence such a change can arise—namely, from the progress of the debates in this House. ["Oh!"] Surely, the debates in the House of Commons are supposed occasionally to bring about a change in the minds of hon. Members. If it were otherwise, the sooner we adopt the Radical programme, and abolish debates altogether, the better. Like everyone else, I was startled when it was mooted in the Autumn that a Reform Bill was to be brought in for Ireland on the same basis as the Reform Bill for Great Britain; and I imagine that even the Government themselves felt great hesitation on the point, and did not arrive at the conclusion without much consideration. But, no doubt, so far as being startled at this proposal was concerned, I was in good company, because the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War informed the country that he himself had been startled at the proposal to include Ireland in the Reform Bill; and, therefore, I think I was startled in good company. But, as the debates have proceeded, I have genuinely come to the conclusion, after balancing all the arguments for and against—and there are many on both sides—in regard to this question of Ireland whether it should be included or excluded, quite apart from the merits of the Bill in its present form, that the position which Her Majesty's Government have taken up on this particular question is, on the whole, a wise and statesmanlike position. I should be sorry, therefore, to see any strong Party opposition to their proposals on the matter. I cannot forget that the state of Ireland has very much altered within the last two years. A very remarkable decrease of disorder has taken place—a decrease which appears to be still going on—and we could not be in a better position to settle this 855 question. More than that, I think that on this side of the House we should recognize with great satisfaction that a great change has come over the mind of Her Majesty's Government with respect to Ireland, and we may feel some confidence that the Government have learnt a great lesson from the events of 1880, 1881, and 1882, and that they have recognized more fully and completely than they had done before what the duties of the Irish Government are towards the Irish people. I think it may be said that the laud agitation is dying out, and that the principal features of that agitation have disappeared as far as we can judge. Just as, in physical life, men do not take vigorous exercise on a full stomach, so in the same way the Irish farmers, who may be described as replete with gain, are disposed to settle down in the enjoyment of that gain, and, at any rate for a time, to abandon those methods of violent agitation with which the House is only too familiar. In these circumstances it appears to me that the era of crime—or, at any rate, of abnormal crime—being at an end, and violent land agitation having also disappeared, the time has come for England to hold out to Ireland the generous hand of fellowship, and to sow the seeds of conciliation. I do not know that there is any better method of sowing the seeds of conciliation than by sowing the seeds of complete political equality. I should like to be allowed to look at this matter more in detail. What is it that this Bill proposes to do? What is the chief feature of it as regards Ireland? It proposes to confer the Parliamentary franchise on the Irish peasantry. To a certain extent, no doubt, it enlarges the constituencies in the towns, and that is a feature which I must frankly confess I do not like in the Bill. So long as the extension of the franchise was confined to the Bill for the assimilation of the borough suffrage in Ireland and England, which has come so often before the House, I invariably, except on one occasion, opposed it; but the chief feature of this Bill is undoubtedly to enfranchise the Irish agricultural labourer. On the whole, therefore, I do not, from what knowledge of the people which I have been enabled to gain, fear the effect of that enfranchisement. I hold that the sympathizers with Fenianism and conspiracies are to be 856 found in the towns, and that they are chiefly confined to the lower classes of the town population. I do not think these ideas have taken much root in the country population, and as a general proposition the incidents of agricultural life are not at all favourable to revolutionary movements. The agricultural peasant is ninth more under the proper and legitimate influence of the Roman Catholic priesthood than the lower classes in the Irish towns; and, at any rate on the subject of these Fenian and treasonable societies, for a long time past the attitude of the Roman Catholic priesthood has been one that must be most satisfactory to the Home Government. Nobody can have set his face more strongly against these movements than did the late Cardinal Cullen, and as long as Cardinal Cullen was alive he repressed to the utmost this movement with a strong hand. The course which he adopted appears to have been followed with great success and determination by Cardinal MacCabe. That being so, the strong influx of the country element—which I hold is not given to those treasonable aspirations—the sounder influences of the country element will altogether counterbalance the town feeling, which is more or less given to these enterprizes, and will be a guarantee, to some extent, against any danger the House might reasonably expect from the extension of the franchise. On the question of the land agitation I think it would not be uninteresting to the Committee to consider what would be the effect of the extension of the franchise to the peasantry of Ireland. I think, on the whole, it would not be unfavourable to the landlord interest. The Committee will recollect that during the time of the land agitation there was a great diversity of opinion between the labourers and the farmers, which gave great anxiety to the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) and great satisfaction to those who represented the landlord interest in this House. It therefore does occur to me that if at that time the Irish labourer, whose interest was so totally neglected during the land agitation, had been armed, with electoral power, and had been able to influence the Parliamentary representation of Ireland—it does appear to me that it was eminently within the bounds of possi- 857 bility that the position of the landlords might have been considerably improved. It is quite clear that in the condition of Ireland now the interests of the farmers and of the labourers are essentially diverse, and from that diversity will arise strong class differences, which we may fairly look upon as a guarantee for the safety of the State at large. We have heard a great deal of the mud-cabin argument. For the mud-cabin argument we are indebted to the brilliant, ingenious, and fertile mind of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith). I suppose that in the minds of the lords of suburban villas, or in the minds of the owners of pineries and vineries, a mud-cabin represents the climax of physical and mental degradation. But I must observe that the franchise, as far as I know, in England has never been determined by Parliament with respect to the character of the dwelling-house. After all, the difference between the mud-cabin of the Irish peasant and the cottage of the English agricultural labourer is not nearly so great as is the difference between the palaces which are the abode of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) and the modest dwelling which shelters from the storm and the tempest the humble individual who is now addressing the Committee. I can truly say—Non ebur, neque aurenne,Meâ reuidet in domo lacunar:Non trabes Hymettiae,Premunt columnas ultimoâ recisasAfricâ.But if, upon a distinction such as that—a distinction so arrogant, so plutocratic—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster were to propose to the Committee that he himself should have a vote at Parliamentary elections and that I should have none, I feel sure the House of Commons would repudiate the idea with indignation and disgust. On these general grounds I dispose of the mud-cabin argument. But it should also be recollected by the Committee that the fact of a man living in a mud-cabin, in Ireland is not the slightest proof that he is an incapable citizen. Very often the man who lives in a mud-cabin has a very decent small holding, and has money in the savings' bank besides. Intellectu- 858 ally, I am prepared to contend that the Irish peasant, though living in a mud-cabin, is often more suited to take an interest in and a sound view of political questions than the English agricultural labourer. And, further, the sort of mud-cabins which fills the right hon. Member for Westminster with so much alarm are chiefly confined, I imagine, to the West Coast of Ireland, where, undoubtedly, the class of dwellings appear to the English mind to be very miserable. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster has been misinformed when he is led to believe that the population of the West Coast of Ireland, which live in these dwellings, represents the whole population of the country; and even if it did I may further point out that the population all round the coast from Kerry to Donegal form, perhaps, the most peaceful and law-abiding part of the whole population in that country. Then we are told of the ignorance of the Irish people, and I think it was in a statement of the Vice President of the Council that we were informed that 40 per cent of the Irish population are ignorant and illiterate. I do not know whether that is an accurate statement or not. I think the right hon. Gentleman put it forward in a guarded manner; but even if it were accurate the evil is eminently curable. The Irish people, it should be remembered, have never yet had a complete system of compulsory education such as exists in England. Moreover, that 40 per cent is made up, to a great extent, of a generation that has very nearly passed away, and in the course of a few years it will not be surprising to learn that it has diminished by one-half or two-thirds, or even more. Again, that percentage is composed, to a large extent, of the population on the West Coast, where, until very recently, nothing but Gaelic was spoken—where Gaelic is the popular tongue, and where, in many places at the present moment, the English tongue is almost unknown to the people. Then we are told that the Protestant minority in Ireland will be overwhelmed by the Bill. If that argument were well founded it would deserve the serious attention of the House; but I do not see why the Protestant minority should be placed in a worse position by this Bill than they occupy at the present moment. Outside of Ulster there is a Protestant 859 minority which has no political power at present, except in so far as they are represented in the House of Peers. Generally speaking-, the representation of Ireland in this House, with the exception of Ulster, the University of Dublin, the county of Dublin, Portarlington, and the happy accident of Leitrim, is almost wholly in the hands of the Catholic Party. But inside Ulster, undoubtedly, the Catholics are not over-represented, and the Protestants are in the majority, and are represented. I do not see why they should be put in a worse position after this Bill passes than they are in now; because the Protestant population in Ulster, which has political power now, and the Catholic population, 95 per cent of which has no political power, are almost exactly equal. Roughly speaking, 800,000 represents the numbers of each Party. And where there is an equality of numbers, I do not see why the Protestant Party, with superior wealth, superior enterprise, superior learning, and superior intelligence to the Catholics, should not, with all those great advantages, obtain their full share of the representation which belongs to them. Balancing, then, all the arguments for and against the extension of the Bill to Ireland, I have arrived at the conclusion that we may with safety agree with the Government in this extension. After all, I think hon. Gentlemen belonging to the Tory Party may recollect that equality of political rights between Ireland and England has been, for the last 100 years, the principle of our legislation. It was undoubtedly the principle of Mr. Pitt at the time of the Union, and Mr. Pitt would have established complete equality of rights between Ireland and England if it had not been for the prejudices of the Court and the baneful influence of a too powerful Monarch. It was the principle of the Reform. Act of 1832, the great feature of which was the £10 borough franchise. Again, it was the principle of the Reform Bill of 1867; and Mr. Disraeli, in proposing the £4 rating franchise for Ireland, did so on the ground that that exactly represented the same class as were then enfranchised in England. Therefore, in 1832 and 1867, Parliament recognized the principle of equality of treatment between Ireland and England; and it was always the argument of hon. Gentlemen 860 on this side of the House that, as regarded the lowering of the borough franchise, a £4 franchise represented the same kind of persons as those enfranchised in England under a £10 franchise. Therefore, at the time of the Union, and also in 1832 and in 1867, Parliament did recognize the principle of equality of treatment. Now comes the question of the state of Ireland, and that bears out the view I am endeavouring to put before the Committee. At the time of the Union Ireland had just emerged, by a little more than a year, from a fearful rebellion; and it would have been in the power of the Parliament then to have disfranchised that country altogether, and governed it as a Crown Colony. But Parliament adopted the principle of Parliamentary and Constitutional Government for Ireland. In 1832, again, when you extended the £10 franchise to Ireland, the state of Ireland was frightful—far different from anything ever known before or since. Disorder, outrage, and crime in the country rose to a height that was unparalleled; so much so, that in the year after that large concession Lord Grey brought in. the severest Coercion Bill ever known, by which the whole of the civil tribunals were entirely superseded, and drumhead courts martial took their place. Yet that did not deter Parliament from extending the £10 franchise to Ireland. In 1867, again, Ireland had just emerged from a Fenian movement of certainly little less dangerous a nature than the Rebellion, of 1798; and it was only just put down when the Reform Bill was introduced by Mr. Disraeli in this House, on the distinct understanding that it was to be extended to Ireland. Parliament was not then deterred from extending equal rights to Ireland. Under all these circumstances, I may appeal to hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House not to identify themselves as a Party with the Amendment which my hon. Friend has moved. My hon. Friends on this side have constituted themselves the defenders of a great cause—a far spreading and wide-reaching cause—the preservation of our institutions at home, the maintenance of a vigorous foreign policy abroad, and the promotion of Imperial rule and Imperial union in our Colonies and Dependencies. Well, if that is so—if the cause, of which Members on this side are the defenders, is so 861 great—why should we, on a mere question of detail — [Mr. NEWDEGATE: Oh!] — on what, as compared with much wider questions, is a matter of detail—why, I say, should we alienate inevitably and irretrievably an immense number of the Queen's subjects both in Ireland and in Great Britain, whom, by a wiser policy and by happier methods, we may allure to our standard and our ranks? I would appeal to my hon. Friend the Member for West Surrey (Mr. Brodrick), who, from the high intelligence and ability which he so constantly displays in the House, belongs, I imagine, to that more generous and advanced school of political thought which, having emancipated itself from the traditions of an antiquated past, desires to base the strength of the Tory Party upon the genuine and spontaneous affection of the people at large. I would appeal to my hon. Friend whether he will not now decline to press his Amendment to a Division, because it is, I think, a reactionary Amendment; it is an Amendment which is calculated to throw a slur and a stigma on the country with which my hon. Friend is closely and honourably connected; it is an Amendment which may have the effect of unnecessarily placing the Tory Party in pronounced opposition to the legitimate desires of an overwhelming majority of the Irish people; and it is an Amendment which would have the invidious effect of causing many who admire the position which my hon. Friend has gained, and who agree with him on almost all political points, to put themselves under the painful and disagreeable necessity of cither leaving the House or being found in the Lobby opposed to that of my hon. Friend. I therefore hope that, under all the circumstances, my hon. Friend will reconsider his position, and save the Committee the inconvenience of dividing.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
Sir, it is always a great pleasure to listen to what falls from the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), although I am bound to say that on many occasions a great number of those who sit on these Benches are unable to follow him, or, indeed, to agree with the conclusions to which he has arrived. At the present moment, after listening moot carefully to all that 862 has fallen from the noble Lord, what has been passing through my mind is this—what is the noble Lord really driving at? If the noble Lord is giving us a specimen of the Democratic Toryism of the future, I, for one, respectfully decline to follow any such doctrine, or any such Leader. I believe, myself, in the principles of honesty and straightforwardness, although, perhaps, they may be somewhat old-fashioned to certain Members of this House. At the same time, on a question of this sort, on which so many of us, from a close and intimate knowledge of Ireland, have formed strong and lasting convictions, I think we should, indeed, deserve the repudiation of those who have placed confidence in us, if, after having pledged ourselves to adopt a definite course in regard to this Amendment, we were to follow the noble Lord in endeavouring, at the expense of our principles, to catch a few stray votes at the General Election. Now, Sir, I will not follow the noble Lord in all his remarks in regard to Ireland, because I think, with all respect to him, that in his remarks he has shown a most complete want of knowledge of that country. I gather from his speech that he is of opinion that Cardinal Cullen is still alive.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
The noble Lord has referred to the endeavours of the leaders of the Roman Catholic priesthood to preserve order and to prevent anarchy in Ireland. We all know—or, at any rate, all who have any knowledge of Ireland know—that one man to whom the greatest praise is due in regard to this question is Cardinal MacCabe. ["Oh!"] I am aware that that is a name which is not popular with some hon. Gentlemen sitting below the Gangway; but, at the same time, the ecclesiastical conduct of Cardinal MacCabe during the last three years has earned for him the approval of every right-minded man in the Three Kingdoms. I think that what we should do upon this question is to leave those sophistries and those abstract principles with which the Prime Minister dealt, and also the Chief Secretary, the other evening, and look the question straight in the face, dealing with facts as we find thorn in Ireland at the present moment; and having carefully viewed those facts, then let us consider whether, by extend- 863 ing the franchise in Ireland, we should include in the electorate a large number of capable citizens, and also add to the strength of the State. In the opening speech of the Prime Minister the one principle which ran through it was that the object of this reform is to enfranchise nil capable citizens, and by that enfranchisement to add strength to the State; but neither in that speech nor in a single word which has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman since the introduction of the Bill has he advanced a single argument or tittle of evidence whatever to show that the people of Ireland whom he proposes to enfranchise are in any respect capable citizens. Now, Sir, the noble Lord has said that the state of Ireland has shown great improvement during the last two years. I gladly admit it, and we all rejoice at it; but we and the people of Ireland are all aware of the fact that that improvement is due to the stringent powers which the Government of the present time have at their command, and to the, on the whole, efficient manner in which those stringent powers have been enforced by the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary, We know perfectly well that if the present restrictions were for a moment to relax Ireland would sink back to the state in which she was a year and a-half ago, for the improvement of Ireland is due in the main to the provisions of that Act. Yet this is the moment which the Government choose for introducing this Bill for Ireland. It is said that an improvement is visible in Ireland. Quite true; but land at this moment is unsaleable, and everything of capital that can be realized is being taken out of the country. Trade in many portions of Ireland is at a standstill; and what all the Irish people are anxious for, and asking for, is peace and quiet, and a firm administration of the law, in order that the farmers may have the full benefit of the measures which were passed three years ago. I am bound to say that, although on this side of the House we objected to those measures at the time of their passing, they are now being carried out in a loyal and impartial spirit by all for the common good of all. [Cries of "Oh!"] Of course, that is a proposition which hon. Members below the Gangway have a perfect right to dispute, if they can give evidence in support of their contention; but I main- 864 tain that the great bulk of the landlords, although they thought they were right in objecting to the Act of 1881, are now endeavouring to carry out the provisions of that Act in a cordial and liberal spirit, feeling that the time has come when both farmers and landlords should work together for the common good of the nation. On every side there is a wish to see prosperity restored to their common country. Yet this is the moment which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister seizes for opening the floodgates of agitation in Ireland, and for bringing about such a state of things as will produce such a revolution in Ireland as we have never seen in our time. What are the grounds upon which the right hon. Gentleman does this? Have the Irish people asked for a reduction of the franchise? Can the right hon. Gentleman point to a single address or speech in which such a proposal was made at the last General Election? Can he show that any demand was made for the Bill? I watched carefully all that occurred in Ireland during the General Election; and as far as I a in aware there was no declaration, or even allusion, made upon that subject, nor, as far as I know, has there been the slightest expression of opinion on the part of the Irish people since the introduction of the Bill, in any degree, in favour of the enfranchisement which the right hon. Gentleman appears to wish so much to force down their throats. The proposal is entirely due to the exigencies of Party. The Bill is only introduced at the present moment to repair the fortunes of the Liberal Party; and no body of people could have been more astonished than the Irish people themselves, and especially hon. Members below the Gangway, when they were informed, shortly before Christmas, that Ireland was to be included in the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman's enfranchisement. I should like to know what the opinion of the Irish farmers is in regard to the matter. The Irish farmers have just emerged from a period of great social revolution in Ireland, and they are just beginning to settle down and work cordially with the landlords and those who have relations with the soil. I wonder what the farmers of Ireland will think when they find out what this Bill really is. I was over in Ireland during the Easter Recess, 865 and I had an opportunity of conversing with a large number of the farmers upon this subject; but I did not find one who was really aware of the extent to which the Bill went. When they discovered that it proposed to hand them over absolutely and bodily to the tender mercy of the cottiers who work under them, their astonishment and indignation knew no bounds, and there was but one opinion expressed—that the Bill should be resisted to the uttermost. Unfortunately, there is no valuable middle class in Ireland such as exists in England. There are only three classes in Ireland—the landlords, the occupiers, and the tillers of the soil. At the present moment a large majority of those who possess votes in Ireland are the occupiers; and although I do not agree with the views of many of thorn who during past years have enjoyed the franchise, still I feel that, on the whole, they are a body of men who have something to lose, and who have some regard to the just rights of property. But what will the condition of things be under this Bill? It will hand over the rights of the bankers, the landlords, the shopkeepers, and the farmers, and of every single man who has any property or wealth whatever in Ireland, bodily, absolutely, and entirely to another class, who at the present moment have nothing whatsoever. What guarantee have you at all that that class will use the enormous powers you propose to intrust to them with justice, or to the benefit of the country at large? The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, in his opening speech, talked of capable citizens; but he made no attempt whatever to prove that the Irish cottier is a capable citizen. He went on to say that in Ireland the peasantry whom we call cottiers were, in his opinion, skilled labourers. Now, I will tell the right hon. Gentleman that when he talks of the Irish peasantry as skilled labourers he is talking sheer nonsense. They are nothing of the kind. I myself know a large number of the labourers of Ireland, and I have a strong regard for them. They are hard-working, industrious, good-hearted, and always cheery and hospitable to the so who mix with them; but, through no fault of their own, and I do not blame them for it, on the whole they are a most ignorant class. They are a class of whom 40 per cent 866 can neither read nor write, and most of them are mere hewers of wood and carriers of water; in no sense are they educated or skilled. I may add that there are in certain parts of Ireland a proportion of labourers who are educated and highly intelligent, and who are, perhaps, more intelligent than a similar class either in England or Scotland; but, unfortunately, those to whom I allude are in a very small minority of the whole; and, therefore, I contend that those to whom it is now proposed to give votes are incapable and ignorant, and not likely to add strength to the State. Now, Sir, I wish to call attention to the fact that the Government have chosen a most unfortunate moment, on other grounds, for dealing with this question. Those who have looked below the surface in Ireland, which is a thing Her Majesty's Government do not seem inclined to do, will have seen that the power of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) is commencing to be on the wane, for several reasons, and that, like many other mock patriots, the hon. Member has had his day. That sum of £36,000 or £37,000 paid over to him has stuck fast in the throats of many Irish farmers, and many of those who were among the admirers of the hon. Gentleman are beginning to mistrust him. They cannot reconcile themselves to the fact that a man who signed the "No Rent" Manifesto can be found figuring in a Court of Law suing an unfortunate tenant for rent. Therefore, the people of Ireland, at this moment, are beginning to be in doubt as to the power and as to the honesty of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. But there is another agency at work which is a still more potent one. The Irish people, in regard to their Representatives, are beginning to ask themselves the question—"Who is to continue to pay the piper?" We know that war cannot be carried on without funds, and the Irish people are beginning to find that the support of the large number of Members who sit below the Gangway is an exceedingly expensive and burdensome duty. I heard the other day; from a town in the centre of Ireland, that when collections were being made at the chapel doors on behalf of the two Members who represent the county, great dissatisfaction was expressed by the congregation, and some of them absolutely de- 867 clined to subscribe the money for which they were asked. Now, that is a movement which will be on the increase in Ireland if Her Majesty's Government would only be firm in the administration of the law, and would not indulge in fresh legislation. Whenever the next General Election takes place, they would find that, from want of funds, what are called "Home Rule candidates" of ability and power would not be forthcoming, and the Irish people would once more return to Parliament those who have been brought up and lived amongst them, devoting their lives to the interests of their country; and they would see at last the power of the hon. Member for the City of Cork broken down and a better state of things arrived at. Yet this is the moment Her Majesty's Government choose for inaugurating the measure to which I have referred. What will be the result of this legislation in a financial sense? Everybody knows that if the franchise is extended in Ireland the days of Home Hide are not far distant, and Home Rule means picking and jobbery to any extent. Those who look forward to that would be ready to make temporary sacrifices for the present, in order to come forward and stand as candidates, in the hope of receiving their reward in the future for their present services. Therefore, I say that, on every ground, the moment selected for dealing with the franchise in Ireland is most inopportune. I heard an hon. Member sitting on the other side of the House say in private—"How can things be much worse than they are at the present time?" Hon. Members forget that Parties in this House are governed by numbers, and whenever we have a contested election we must remember the cheers which greet the successful candidate as he walks up to the Table. We well know how each Party watches with great eagerness the accession of even one vote to its side. It is, therefore, sheer nonsense to say that it does not matter whether the hon. Member for the City of Cork has 40 or 80 Members at his back. If the hon. Member and his Friends have, as they wish to have, some 80 votes in another Parliament, they will hold, as the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) has said, the fate of Parties in the palm of their hands to such an extent as to render all legislation in this House an absolute impos- 868 sibility, unless the Government of the clay are prepared to concede whatever demand is made upon them. I say that all legislation under such circumstances would be impossible. I do not suppose that hon. Members sitting below the Gangway would feel much dissatisfaction at that, for I do not imagine that they have any particular affection for Party Government, or for the Forms which regulate the procedure of this House. One or two hon. Members who sit below the Gangway have expressed in public their contempt of our Institutions, and have declared that their only object in taking their seats in this House is to achieve their desire for a National Parliament and the independence of Ireland. What said the hon. Member for the City of Cork the other day? He said that if he could only have a following of 80 Members, the renewal of a Coercion Act would become an impossibility; and he said, further, that when once the Act is no longer in force the National League would then have a career before it as glorious as that of the late Land League. Those are words which, I think, should be well weighed by every Member of this House. "The glorious history of the late Laud League"—a history steeped in blood and crime to its very close; and that is what the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his Friends wish to resuscitate when they get the powers which the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government is so eager to force upon thorn. They will once more raise the standard of the National League in Ireland; once more will anarchy and crime become rampant, and once more will misery, wretchedness, and poverty prevail in Ireland. In reply to all this, the right hon. Gentleman says—"Are you not going to do justice to Ireland?" Many crimes have been committed in this world before now in the name of justice. The justice which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to mete out to Ireland on this occasion is nothing short of a national crime in regard to the loyal portion of the community of that country. What does the right hon. Gentleman say? He says he would never consent to divide the people of Ireland into two camps, with a loyal minority and a disloyal majority. The right hon. Gentleman has said a good many things which he declines to do in regard to Egypt. Unfortunately, he 869 cannot look things in the face and see them as other people see them; but he looks at them through a pair of spectacles only suited to his own mind, and he ignores that which is patent to every man, woman, and child of ordinary intelligence. What did the right hon. Gentleman say at Leeds? He always speaks according to what suits his own purpose. He declines to recognize a loyal and a disloyal Party in Ireland; but how did he characterize the hon. Member for the City of Cork? He spoke of him as the great Leader of the anti-British Party in Ireland. What does that mean? Does not "anti-British" mean that there is both a loyal and a disloyal Party, and that the hon. Member for the City of Cork belongs to that which is disloyal? Then, what did the right hon. Gentleman say at Knowsley? A short time afterwards, he turned round to a deputation at Liverpool—a few days after the Corporation had declined to confer its freedom on the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell)—with an air which seemed to say—"What a clever man I am; all this is my doing;" and he said—The Corporation of Dublin have been and are the focus of political life in Ireland, and the conduct of national political life in Ireland has been regulated by the condition of that Municipality.Sir, there never was a day since the Municipality of Dublin has been established that it was as disloyal or as anti-British as it is at the present moment. Then, again, we find the Chief Secretary for Ireland speaking at Galashiels. What did my right hon. Friend say when he went there, not from the toils of the right hon. Gentleman, nor from the purlieus of Downing Street, but fresh from Dublin Castle? What did he say? He said it was only the British Government which stood at that moment between Ireland and civil war. Surely, in a civil war there must be two Parties. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that, if all the people thought alike, there was likely to be civil war between one another? The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that what was then in the mind of the Chief Secretary was this—that if it had not been for the British Government, and the troops at their command, there would have been open civil war between those who were loyal to the British Constitution and 870 those who were disloyal to it. Therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman declines to admit the existence of these two rival Parties, he declines to acknowledge that which is patent to everybody. I do not believe that the majority of the Irish people are at heart disloyal to the connection with this country; but I believe that what has been passing in Ireland for the last three years has produced a tendency in the Irish people to be hostile to England in the connection with this country; but I also firmly believe that that feeling is only transitory, and that it is only by the action of Her Majesty's Government, by their administration of the law with firmness, by supporting those who are loyal, whatever may be their religious belief, and by encouraging those who are still on the side of order, instead of deluging Ireland with a new class of voters and creating all the excitement which will follow a large enfranchisement, that the people of Ireland are to be won over to the British connection. The right hon. Gentleman said he had no fear of this loyal minority in Ireland. He acknowledged, then, that there was a loyal minority. What is the use of allowing the people to express their wishes and then refusing to carry out those wishes? If by giving the franchise to the cottiers you enable them, as you would under the present state of affairs, to return 80 Members pledged to support the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) and the Government of the two Kingdoms, how can you venture to say that the English and Scotch Members can recognize any other opinion than that of those who represent the great majority of the Irish people; and how can you do otherwise than give effect to their wishes? If you do not give effect to their wishes, what is the use of giving them votes at all? How are you to give them votes and say at the same time—"If you ask for anything we do not like, we will take care of the interests of the loyal minority and decline to concede what you ask." That is all nonsense. We know what the exigencies of Party are. If the right hon. Gentleman is in power to-morrow, and the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) had a following of 80 Members, the Prime Minister would lose no opportunity of angling for their votes. That has been his settled course ever since he came into power in 1880. 871 On the whole, the principle which has actuated his policy has been an endeavour to gain the support of hon. Members below the Gangway, and what he has done in the past we may he perfectly convinced he will continue to do in the future. Therefore, I say that when he speaks of a minority in Ireland having the support of the Scotch and English Members, he is speaking behind the question, and is indicating a policy that can never be carried out. Then the right hon. Gentleman talks of equality. You say you are going to put Ireland on perfectly equal terms with England and Scotland; and he commences to produce the equality by taking away a certain number of Members from England, to which England is entitled both by population and taxation, and to confer those Members on Ireland. Has the right hon. Gentleman considered that England, Wales, and Scotland pay taxes from which Ireland is exempt? Are hon. Members aware that there is no Land Tax and no Inhabited House Duty in Ireland, and that there are other taxes which Irishmen do not pay, but which Englishmen and Scotchmen have to pay? If, therefore, you are going to curry into effect the strict equality about which you talk and boast so much, are you prepared to levy the taxes in Ireland which you now demand from the Scotch and English people? If yon are not prepared to do so, the equality yon desire to have will not, exist. I am bound to say that if any Minister were to attempt to raise fresh taxes in Ireland—taxes which were remitted on account of the peculiar circumstances of Ireland—he would be a bold man, and would defeat the very object he had in view. I protest, on the part both of English and Scotch Members, against this kind of equality. We gave a Land Bill to Ireland because the Irish farmer was supposed not to be able to protect his own interests. Everybody that knows the Irish farmer knows that he is a much sharper fellow than the English or Scotch farmer; but these were the grounds on which we passed these Land Bills—namely, that the Irish farmer, owing to circumstances, was unable to take care of himself. And yet what you propose to do is this—you propose to give those people, who you yourselves acknowledge are incapable of taking care of themselves, more Members than their taxation 872 and population deserve. You are going to give them a larger number of votes in order to return an increased number of Members to legislate on English and Scotch affairs, and all this time their country will be under terms of taxation more favourable than either England or Scotland. You cannot, by adding any large number of illiterate men to the electorate of a country, add strength to the Constitution. When I remember the promises and allegations of the Prime Minister in the past, I am almost tempted to ask how his legislation has borne fruit. In his speech on the Motion for leave to bring in the Land Bill of 1870 the Prime Minister said—And my hope, at least, is high and ardent that we shall live to see our work prosper in our hand, and that in that Ireland which we desire to unite to England and Scotland by the only enduring ties, those of free will and free affection, peace, order, and a settled and cheerful industry, will diffuse their blessings from year to year, and from day to day, over a smiling land."—(3 Hansard,  387.)And what did the right hon. Gentleman's Colleague (Mr. John Bright) say on the Motion for the second reading of the Irish Church Bill in 1869? These were his words—I say when I look on this measure I look on it as tending to a more true and solid union between Ireland and Great Britain; I see it giving tranquillity to our people…. I say I see this measure giving tranquillity to our people, greater strength to the realm, and adding a new lustre and a new dignity to the Crown. I dare claim, then, for this Bill the support of all thoughtful and good people within the hounds of the British Empire, and I cannot doubt that in its early and great results it will have the blessing of the Supreme; for I believe it to be founded on those principles of justice and mercy which are the glorious attributes of his eternal reign."—(3 Hansard,  1894.)That is very beautiful language; but when we come to measure it with the actual results of Irish legislation, what empty and frothy verbiage it becomes. Therefore, I say, that in this great question we should be careful how we allow the enthusiasm of the right hon. Gentleman to guide our steps. Now, what did the right hon. Gentleman say in Mid Lothian when he was warned in regard to the condition of Ireland? What did he say with regard to Lord Grey, when Lord Grey foretold exactly what has since happened? The right hon. Gentleman said—"The apprehensions of Lord Grey were the apprehensions of an old woman." I should like to ask this 873 question of the House, who is the old woman now? Certainly it is not Lord Grey. What did the right hon. Gentleman say in his Mid Lothian speeches in regard to the encroachments of Russia towards India? He said—Those who indulge in predictions regarding the encroachments of Russia upon India are simply indulging in the fears of old women.Who were right? Those who indulged in the predictions of old women, or the right; hon. Gentleman? When we, in regard to these great and important matters, have been so wofully and grossly misled by the right hon. Gentleman in the past, I think we should, indeed, hesitate before we follow him into those paths upon which he now invites us to enter. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock has appealed to hon. Members. I appeal also to hon. Members on both sides of the House, having regard to the condition of Ireland and its history during the past six years—a history for which the Liberal Party and Liberal measures have been responsible—I ask them to pause before they embark upon this course. I ask them whether they cannot hold themselves aloof, and use their common sense and pause before they follow the infatuated man who leads them into disgrace abroad and anarchy at home? If they do not do so, and they vote for this Bill, I venture to predict that before five years are past they will bitterly repent the vote they have given; and the people of England will then arrive at the true meaning of the error they committed in 1880, when they declined to listen to the warning of Lord Beaconsfield with regard to Ireland, but once more returned to power the Member for Mid Lothian to complete his work of the disruption of the Union.
§ LORD EDWARD CAVENDISH
said, the noble Lord who had just sat down had told the Committee of the feelings with which he and hon. Members on the opposite side of the House listened to the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill). He did not know whether he had given a full interpretation of that speech, or whether he reserved a certain portion of it for prudential reasons. On that side of the House there were some who interpreted the meaning of that speech to be that the vote of hon. Members below the Gangway the 874 other night, which, till the last moment, had been kept a secret from the rest of the House, was no secret to the noble Lord and those who sat near him. [An IRISH MEMBER: It is utterly untrue.] However that might be, he did not wish to press the argument further, and would only say that they were glad to count the noble Lord on that occasion amongst the adherents and supporters of the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. With the permission of the Committee, he wished to express the pleasure he felt that the noble Lord who had just spoken had sufficiently recovered from his indisposition to allow him to take part in the debate. At the same time, he was of opinion that the noble Lord's speech would do no good to the cause they all had at heart—namely, the future peace and prosperity of Ireland. There was much in that speech of the tone of the old ascendancy, and which would do nothing to reconcile the differences existing between the two countries. He felt, as an English Member, that perhaps he ought to apologize to the Committee for taking part in this discussion, which might be regarded as an Irish question; but his excuse must be that he looked upon it as an Imperial question; and he believed that many of the misunderstandings which existed between the two countries were due to the fact that English and Scotch Members had been too much inclined to regard Irish questions from their own point of view, and not as Imperial questions. The principal argument used in the course of the debate against including Ireland in the extension of the franchise was that it would largely add to the number of those Gentlemen who followed the lead of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), and thereby enable him to turn the balance of Parties in that House in any way he pleased. The second reason was that the passing of this measure would act as a grave and serious discouragement to the loyal portion of the community in Ireland—to those who remained true to the English connection. On this last point he might say that in every part of England there had been the deepest sympathy with the loyal classes in Ireland; but it was felt that the difficulties in which those classes were placed were due mainly to the hostility of those amongst whom they lived, and that their difficulties would be diminished rather 875 than increased by conferring upon the classes who were not enfranchised the benefits which they themselves enjoyed. With regard to what had been said about increasing the following of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, the real danger and difficulty was not that the hon. Member should have 40, 50, or 100 followers, but the fact that his large majority might not disclose the actual feelings of the Irish people; and therefore he thought the question was one which deserved most serious consideration on the part of every Member of that House. At the same time too much weight ought not to be attributed to considerations of the kind, although it was impossible not to feel that in the next Parliament Parties in the House were likely to be more evenly balanced than they were at that moment. He held that they ought to endeavour to convince the Irish people that there was an honest, sincere, and heartfelt intention on the part of everyone in this country to treat them with perfect justice. The former action on our part had undoubtedly led to a sense of grievance and injustice amongst the Irish people. Unless they gave men what was right and just, they could expect from them nothing but hostility and ingratitude; but he honestly believed that, by making this concession to the Irish people willingly and cheerfully, we might be brought nearer to a happy future. The past had been dark and dismal, but he trusted brighter days were in store; and, these being his views, no power on earth would induce him to give his vote in favour of an Amendment which, if agreed to, would shut out the Irish people from the privileges we were about to confer upon ourselves.
§ MR. TOTTENHAM
said, he was sorry that the happy accident referred to by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock had enabled him to hear a speech from him (Lord Randolph Churchill), which, considering the favourable position he occupied with reference to the obtaining of information on affairs in Ireland, nevertheless contained more inaccuracies, fallacies, and antiquated theories than had often before been uttered by a Member of that House. The noble Lord had adverted to many topics which might as well have been left out of the discussion; for instance, he referred to the action of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and to the difference 876 between the Protestant and Roman Catholic religious. No one more than he (Mr. Tottenham) gave greater credit to the heads of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland for the manner in which they had endeavoured to put down everything in the nature of agitation and outrage; but the noble Lord must remember, or if he did not he ought to be perfectly well aware, that amongst the junior members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy there was not the same spirit which reigned amongst their superiors. He might, at all events, have known that there were Parties other than those in that House in which insubordination existed. Now the noble Lord, amongst other things, had stated as one of the reasons for the illiteracy which prevailed in the lower stratum of society in Ireland that the Irish language was principally spoken in the West. His recollection, however, went back further than the noble Lord's, and certainly that was not his experience. Again, the noble Lord had questioned the figures which had been quoted on this subject; but he believed he should be able to convince him that those figures were absolutely correet. Then the noble Lord went on to say, because Lord Grey passed one of the strongest Coercion Acts ever passed in the country the year after the passing of the Reform Bill that it was a reason why they should follow his example. Passing from the speech of the noble Lord to that of the Prime Minister upon this question, which the right hon. Gentleman said was made out of courtesy to the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket), and not because it was necessary to reply to his arguments—the right hon. Gentleman stated that he could not consider that Ireland was divided into two Parties—namely, a loyal minority and a disloyal majority. Now, the right hon. Gentleman could generally persuade most people to take his view of most things; but he very much doubted whether he could persuade the English people that there were not two Parties in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said that there was a better feeling in Ireland than formerly; but if that were so, what was the reason for these repeated Coercion Acts which had culminated in that Act the most drastic and severe that ever passed the House of 877 Commons? Again, the right hon. Gentleman argued that because there were 500 or 600 English and Scotch Members of that House they were not likely to be dictated to by the Irish Members who would be returned under the Bill. But that was a false issue to put before the country; the right hon. Gentleman knew well that it was not a question of 70 or 80 Members dictating to 500 others, but of their dictating to the balance between Parties on a Division; he knew what the effect of that must be upon any Party in power; and he knew, further, that either on the old field of Kilmainham or elsewhere it would be necessary to make fresh, concessions to that Party to whom he had already so often given way. He (Mr. Tottenham) asked whether it was just to the people of England and to the loyal minority in Ireland that they should be placed in that position, and that instead of endeavouring to curb the power for mischief, which the Party to whom he alluded undoubtedly possessed, the right hon. Gentleman should deliberately place in their hands a weapon which would increase their present power four-fold? As the right hon. Gentleman had said, "It is equal justice which will determine the issue of the conflict," he would draw the attention of the Committee to a few of the component parts of that equality. The present value of rateable agricultural property in Ireland was £11,021,000; it was represented by 166,000 electors, and the Government were about to hand it over to an entirely new class—the 662,000 electors who would be created by the Bill. He failed to see any justice in that proceeding, which entirely obliterated all the capital, intelligence, and property in the Irish counties. These 662,000 electors did not contribute 1s. to the rates and taxes of the country, which were paid for them by a section of the existing 166,000 electors, it having been considered in previous legislation that persons in so low a position should not be called upon to pay their quota of public burdens. Yet these were the men that were to be allowed to swallow up the existing electorate by the means he had described. With the single exception of County Dublin, in which the addition to the roll of electors would be two-and a-half times the existing number, there was 878 no county in Ireland in which the electorate would not be trebled, while in Donegal and in Mayo it would be respectively eight and 12 times what it was at present; or, otherwise expressed, the electorate of Mayo, which was now only 3,080, would be raised by the Bill to 37,660, and that of Donegal, at present numbering 4,484, would be raised to 37,779, a state of things for which no parallel was to be found in any English county that would be brought within the scope of the measure. Looking at this matter from an educational point of view, he asked what was the condition of the citizens whom it was proposed to enfranchise; and whether the Government, or any Member of it who had considered this matter, would lay before the country and the House the real facts of the case? He thought the Committee would be astounded by some of the figures which he proposed to give from the Return of the Registrar General, and which he believed the Committee would think constituted an unanswerable argument against the extension of the franchise in Ireland in the manner proposed. It would be found that the average for the whole of Ireland of those who could read and write was only 59.3. In the counties where the additions to the existing electorate would be specially large the average was lower. Thus it was only 31.8 in Galway, 42 in Donegal, and 30.8 in Mayo, while the Province of Connaught, taken altogether, had only 47.2 who could read and write. Again, how would the matter stand in relation to the supposed secrecy of the Ballot? Why, the figures meant that out of every 100 votes for these comities, 60 per cent would be known to all the persons in the polling-booth, and the same would be the case with regard to Connaught and the whole of Ireland, to the extent of 53 percent and 41 percent respectively. He asked those who were responsible for the secrecy of the Ballot whether they were not stultifying themselves by supporting this measure? Then there were 64,000 persons who could only speak the Irish language, and who would further require an interpreter between them and the presiding officer. The Returns showed that at the lection of 1880 there were 5,312 illiterate votes recorded; but the Government were now 879 going to take in the whole class in which illiteracy existed. The result would be that, instead of 1 in 47, there would be 40 in every 100 whose votes would be known in every polling booth. Was there any justice in that—taking the voting power away from the educated people, and giving it to people who could not read the names of those they were taken to support? Now, what were the class, and the residences, and the surroundings of these people? The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock had already adverted to this subject, and he agreed with the noble Lord entirely in the sentiment that it did not follow that because a man lived in a mud cabin, or in one or two rooms, he should therefore invariably be unfit to exercise the franchise; but when they found such an enormous preponderance of those who wore the lowest in the social scale, they were bound to come to the conclusion that they should not be allowed entirely to swamp those who were educated and were in a higher social position. He did not think they were aware of the extent to which houses or cabins of this sort existed in Ireland. From the Registrar General's Returns it would be found that no less than 40,665 of the proposed electors lived in mud cabins of one room, and that 376,165 lived in cabins of the same sort, but of more than one room. He maintained that these were hardly the circumstances and social surroundings which capable and independent citizens who were to be intrusted with the franchise should have. In 1867, on the 1st of August, when the Reform Bill was introduced, or when the second reading came on in the Upper House, the late Lord Derby used these words—In considering the wants of enfranchisement, we took into consideration, not only great counties and great towns, but the due distribution of representation among the manufacturing, commercial, and landed interests."— (3 Hansard,  540.)That was an intelligible principle; but what was there analogous to that in the proposal now before Parliament? They were sweeping away the whole of those interests by the predominating power which they proposed to place entirely in the hands of one class, and that class the one which had, in many instances, proved itself the least competent to possess it. He wished he could close the list 880 of electoral disabilities here; but there was another element to be considered even if any justification had been shown for this total and entirely arbitrary transfer of power. Given on both sides of the Channel equal conditions, he would admit that it would be hard to justify the proposition that Ireland should be denied what was given to England; but, given on one side loyalty and attachment to the Queen and the country, and given on the other side disloyalty and intended dismemberment of the Empire, little short of absolute recklessness and insanity could possibly prompt a policy of aiding and abetting this disloyalty, and making these people the sole depositories of political power. In this case the loyal minority would be reduced to absolute silence, and the disloyal majority would be invested with undisputed sway. Was it necessary to recall to the recollection of the Committee the state of two of the counties to which he had already referred, and which had been more or less distinguished for outrages during the past two years? The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock had referred to thorn as being among the most peaceable and well-behaved counties in Ireland; but after the Papers presented and the statements made in that House, he should really think the noble Lord must have been wilfully deaf to all he had heard, or had shut his eyes to the facts presented to that House. One of those counties in particular was the hot-bed and birth-place of the crime and outrages which had disgraced the country; and to this it was now proposed to give a greater extension of electoral privileges than to any other district—and for what? To enable them with redoubled force to prosecute that agitation which their experience of the present Government had taught them could only be too successful in the hands of unscrupulous men. The Prime Minister had stated that he was not a flatterer of Gentlemen from Ireland below the Gangway, and he accused the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) of being their flatterer. Why? Because he called a spade a spade, and unmasked the fallacies and false issues put before the House and the country by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister and other Members of the Go- 881 vernment, by which they endeavoured to mislead both the House and the country. His right hon. and learned Friend showed up the naked facts in an unanswerable manner; and he would ask any unprejudiced listener who heard the speech of the, Prime Minister, and saw the glances and blandishments he lavished upon that quarter of the House, and particularly when he stated that Ireland was fairly entitled to more than her numerical proportion of representation, and that she should gain it at the expense of this country, to say who was the flatterer. The Prime Minister, in a sketch of redistribution which he laid before the House, informed Members from Ireland that the number of Members from Ireland ought not, in any case, to be reduced, but that the number of Members for the Southern boroughs of England ought to be reduced and made use of for the benefit of Scotland and the North of England. If that was not practically telling Ireland that she was to obtain more than her proper numerical representation at the expense of England, he failed to understand the English language. Who was the flatterer then? Was a more undisguised or more unblushing attempt to gain the vote of a particular section of the House ever made by the right hon. Gentleman, or by anyone else, during his long career? The Chief Secretary had compared the present proposal with the principal feature of the Bill of 1868, which reduced the borough franchise from £8 to £4; and he argued that because that was done during the existence of a Coercion Act, the same thing might be safely and fairly done now. But what was the effect of that Bill? It had the effect of adding 15,000 electors to the whole electorate of Ireland, or about 10 per cent. Surely that was a very different proposal from that now before the House, by which they were about to add 300 per cent of the class who had principally brought about the necessity for a Coercion Act? The Chief Secretary further said that those people had yet to be proved to be bad citizens. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in his experience, they had proved themselves to be good citizens? He had also said a large class would be won over to the side of the law who were at that moment outside the law. If the right hon. Gentleman seriously 882 believed that that would be the case, all he could say was that his credulity had been more imposed upon than he could ever have believed possible during his tenure of Office for two years in Ireland. In his opinion, the sum of the whole matter was this—the proposition was to transfer the representation of Ireland from those who had a stake in the country to those who had none—to the poverty-stricken; from those who had education and intelligence to those who were illiterate and ignorant; from those who had some little social status to those who were in the lowest scale in that respect; from the remnant of those who had been loyal to their Queen and their country to the disloyal and the turbulent. He would not be misunderstood by the loyal people of Ireland in regard to his opposition to the Bill and his support of the Amendment. There would, no doubt, be a small proportion of loyal men who would not be enfranchised if the Amendment was carried; but they would know that it was in their interest that it should be so, and that what had been done was solely to prevent their coming under the domination of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) and his following. There was a view of the question touched upon by the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket), and that was, the possible relations between this proposed change and the hoped-for change in the relations between England and Ireland which underlay every act and motion of the Party who called themselves the National Party. The Prime Minister had been well reminded that he could persuade himself of almost anything. Had he persuaded himself that he was not placing the trump card in his adversaries' hands, and, in fact, saving them the trouble, of playing the game? To anyone who knew anything about the country, and was not blindly reckless of the consequences, a more disastrous policy than this could not be conceived. He could not attempt to emulate the eloquent language of his right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Plunket) in the way in which he put the issue before the Committee; but he implored the Committee to pause before they gave their assent to a proposition fraught with the most grave and perilous consequences to the honour and dignity of Parliament, and to such a vital blow as this must 883 necessarily be to the integrity and unity of the United Kingdom.
§ MR. T. A. DICKSON
said, he was anxious, as one of the loyal Irish Members, to say a few words, before the debate closed, upon the speech of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Claud Hamilton). He would say, as one of the loyal minority, that they would be able, in Ulster, to take care of themselves in the future as they had in the past; and he believed that when the crisis came in Ireland, under this Franchise Bill they would not be without their fair representation in that House. The noble Lord the Member for Liverpool had spoken of the Government angling for the Irish vote. If his recollection served him aright, he was not aware that the Government during the last three or four years had ever received the Irish vote on any crucial occasion, when their existence was at stake; and he thought that angling for the Irish vote might be very well left to hon. Gentlemen opposite. With regard to the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), the Committee had had an opportunity of comparing the broad and generous sentiments uttered by an English Conservative with the narrow and bigoted speeches of Irish Tories, who, with the exception of the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket), never in that House uttered one generous sentiment with regard to their fellow-countrymen. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock said he objected to an extension of the franchise principally on account of the danger of increasing the electorate in towns in Ireland. What were the facts? In Ulster, every borough but one—namely, that represented by his (Mr. Dickson's) son (Dungannon), was in the hands of the Tory Party; so that in that Province a £4 franchise returned all Tory Members, while the Liberal representation was confined to the counties upon a £12 franchise. Why should Ulster Conservatives, therefore, object to a reduction of the franchise? The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock had effectually disposed of the cry about mud cabins; and he hoped it would not again be referred to in that House. The mud cabins in Ireland were in many cases very comfortable dwellings, and the occupants were not less qualified to 884 exercise the franchise than the dwellers in the foul slums of Liverpool, Birmingham, and London. The noble Lord the Member for Liverpool had asked the Committee to look at this question of the extension of the franchise straight in the face. He would ask the Committee to do the same thing, and to consider for a moment the disastrous results that would follow upon refusing to Ireland equality with England and Scotland. That was a refusal which would scatter broadcast in Ireland the seeds of discontent, and which would yield in the future, as in the past, a harvest of disaffection and crime. He was anxious to see the Union between the two countries continued and more firmly established; but the enemies of the Union in that House were the men who would seek to deprive Ireland of the franchise and place her in a position of inequality to England. After the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock, he had every confidence that the opposition of the Conservatives would cease; for he believed that in the country the Conservative Party would endorse the policy announced by the noble Lord, that Ireland should be placed in a position of political equality with England and Scotland.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
The hon. Member who has just spoken drew a comparison between what he called the conduct of a bigoted Irish Tory on the one hand, and a generous English Conservative on the other. I am not able altogether to share the hon. Member's estimate of the generous English Conservative in this case; and I desire to make one or two comments upon the speech which was delivered by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) this afternoon. Unfortunately, I was not in the House when the opening of that speech was made; but I listened with the closest attention to the greater part, which was remarkable in itself, and will, I think, be known hereafter as memorable in the extreme. The noble Lord has recently achieved, by the display of rare political qualities, a very considerable, and even a great position among the statesmen and politicians of this country; but there is one quality—namely, that of political consistency, for which I cannot help thinking the noble Lord, in his speech he has made this afternoon, will not have much enhanced 885 his reputation. The noble Lord dealt with the question of mud cabins at considerable length; and, passing from that, he alluded to the charges of ignorance made against the Irish people; and then he proceeded to give his reasons in answer to the argument which had been used with respect to Protestant minorities; and he finally arrived at the conclusion that it would be his duty on this occasion to press Conservative Members on this side of the House not to persevere with their opposition to the extension of the suffrage in Ireland. But there was one question with which the noble Lord did not deal at all, and that is the question which has been pointed out over and over again in this House, and also by the noble Lord himself, as constituting the great danger we have to deal with in connection with this question, and it is a danger which I venture to think has occupied the attention of hon. Members on both sides of the House, and of a vast number not only of Conservatives, but of Liberals, for months past—namely, the enormous addition to the force of the Separatist Party which will be made by this Bill. That, I think, is the real danger we have to deal with and to face; and so strongly is it felt, that not only was it spoken of by the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War during the Recess, but his noble Relative (Lord Edward Cavendish), this afternoon, has also alluded to the question, although he came to a different conclusion. But I must say I am not altogether surprised at the entire and complete avoidance of this subject in the noble Lord's speech, because I recollect being amazingly struck by one of the most able speeches I ever read, and which was delivered by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock during the Recess on this particular question. Well, recollecting some of the sentiments which fell from him oil that occasion, I was greatly surprised at the speech he has now delivered; and I have taken an opportunity of refreshing my memory in the Library with regard to the contents of that speech during the Recess. I am sure the noble Lord will excuse me if I mention the statements he made at that time. He had been speaking of the probable number of adherents with which the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) would return to Parliament under any circumstances after 886 a General Election. He put the number at 60 or 70; and he said—If you lower the franchise in Ireland to the same level as the Government propose for England and Scotland, if you establish household suffrage in town and country all over Ireland, Mr. Parnell will have a working Party in the House of 100 Members; and this Party, be it 70, be it 100, will continue to proclaim, with increasing and resounding chorus, that the first and the last, the greatest and the least, of their demands is the repeal of the Union. Now, I say that is a serious state of things in time of peace; it would be a perilous state of things in time of war.I am reading exactly what the noble Lord said, and I cannot be a willing or a consenting party to this alarming and perilous state of things which he describes in these words. A little later on the noble Lord proceeds to say—I do not say we are on the high road to losing Ireland; but I say this—that we are in sight of the entrance to the high road that will lead to the loss of Ireland.And, finally, he concluded with advice to the Conservative Party, which, I must say, appeared to me to be exactly opposite to that which he has given his Conservative Friends this afternoon, for he said—It is time—it is high time—to pull up. Concede nothing more to Mr. Parnell, either on the land, or on the franchise, or on local self-government.Now, I must say I think I was justified in some of the astonishment I felt when I saw the noble Lord, with these words fresh in my recollection, turn round to my hon. Friend, and appeal to him to make the concession to the hon. Member for the City of Cork and to the House, which is demanded by the Government. I do not wish to deal with this matter in any way but a way which will be considered good-humoured. I am in some difficulty as to how to describe the matter, but I think the noble Lord himself has helped me out of the difficulty; and if I could cull a few flowers from his rhetoric I should call it "emancipation from an antiquated past." But the antiquated past in this case dates only from December last, and I hope that in the future these conversions of the noble Lord will be somewhat less sudden, and the past somewhat more antiquated than it has been in this cause. The noble Lord the Member for North Derbyshire (Lord Edward Cavendish) addressed us this afternoon—I think for the first time 887 he has taken any part in this question. I confess I would much rather have heard the sentiments of his noble Relative who sits on the Front Treasury Bench. That noble Marquess has been repeatedly challenged in this House to explain to Parliament the statements upon this question which he has repeatedly made in the country; but upon every one of these occasions he has remained silent, and has never had the courage to get up in this House and justify his position in the House of Commons at the present time. I must say that when a distinguished statesman like the noble Marquess, who was but lately the Leader of the Liberal Party in this House, is repeatedly challenged to make good before the House of Commons statements he has made in the country—or, at all events, to explain his reasons for departing so completely from them, and remains utterly silent in respect to challenges, there is only one conclusion which the country can place upon it. It has been stated over and over again—I think even this afternoon it has been referred to—that the noble Marquess declared that the extension of the franchise—or, at all events, that was the only possible inference to be drawn from his language—to Ireland at the present time, and in the present condition of that country, would be nothing short of absolute madness. I believe in saying that the noble Marquess accurately described the position as regards the country; but what is the position as regards the House of Commons? We have all seen the effect which the determined action of 30 united Members has bad in paralyzing the Business in this House. I cannot complain of the Irish Members, for they have been perfectly frank from the first, and have openly avowed that the great object and aim they have is to bring about a separation between England and Ireland. [An hon. MEMBER: No, no!] A declaration was made the other day by the hon. Member for the City of Cork that national independence of Ireland was the goal he had in view; and how Ireland is to have national independence without separation I am at a loss to conceive. But what would be the position of the House? When you have had difficulties from the presence of 30 determined Irish Members, when you have had your Business paralyzed, and your Rules altered, and 888 the House of Commons rendered practically powerless to deal with manifold and important subjects put before it, what will be then your position? Will it be better, or will it be infinitely worse, when you are confronted with 100 determined men, following the same Leader, and for the same purpose and object? A great danger which the country will have to face in future, and it is the greatest danger which I foresee, is this—that the time will arrive when, we shall have evenly balanced Parties sitting opposite to each other in the House of Commons, and the hon. Member for the City of Cork, with 100 men behind him, will be able to balance the scales. As illustrative of the fear which I entertain, and of the difficulties which I foresee, I would like to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, or to the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. Can they govern Ireland now without the Prevention of Crime Act? Will any Member of the Government get up in his place and say they are able, consistently with their duty to the country and the Queen, to govern Ireland at the present time without coercion? Have they any reasonable hope, that they will be able to govern Ireland next year without coercion? In the face of all the recent dynamite discoveries, of the serious gravity and importance of which I suspect the Government are more aware than any Member of the House, they must, indeed, be sanguine, if that is their opinion. If they cannot govern Ireland without coercion, I ask them how they are going to renew the Coercion Act, supposing this Bill is passed, and the Party of the hon. Member for the City of Cork receives large additions to its strength? You remember what occurred on the last occasion, when there were only 30 Members opposed to you. Even then the passing of the Coercion Act was only effected by a coup d'état, which the right hon. Gentleman himself was the first to say must never occur again. Does he think that the position will be made much easier or facilitated by trebling the number of the supporters the hon. Member for the City of Cork commanded at that time? I assume that we shall be told by Her Majesty's Government that this Amendment, if carried, will be fatal to the Bill; that, I understand, is the view which the Government take on 889 this question. I have held, from the first, that the present condition of Ireland affords a complete justification, not for separating, not for placing Ireland on a footing of inequality from England or Scotland, but for postponing the consideration of this question altogether. As I understand that this Amendment, if carried, would be fatal to the Bill, the end and object which I have in view would be accomplished by the adoption of the Amendment; and I shall, therefore, give my hon. Friend (Mr. Brodrick) my most hearty support.
MR. STAVELEY HILL
said, the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Lord Claud Hamilton) had suggested that any hon. Member who took a line in favour of the view which had been expressed by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) might be wanting in honesty and straight forwardness. The hon. Member for Leitrim (Mr. Tottenham) carried the matter a little further, because he suggested that any person who took the same view as the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock would be guilty of recklessness or insanity. It was a little dangerous for hon. Members to speak so strongly upon a matter on which they could not feel that the whole of their Party were agreed; and they might well take a lesson from a very wise remark that he remembered had once been made to him by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. (Sir Stafford Northcote), as to the course he pursued on the Irish Land Bill, that it was scarcely to be expected that he would take a very strong line when so many of his own political Friends took a directly opposite view. It would be well that those hon. Members who happened to take a strong view upon this part of the Franchise Bill should, at any rate, allow that it was possible that some persons who thought and voted with them upon most political subjects might take an opposite view. The noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Lord Claud Hamilton) spoke of the Conservative Party as being pledged to a certain view upon the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Surrey (Mr. Brodrick). Now, whatever might have been the inconsistency of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock, as put forth by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lincolnshire 890 (Mr. Chaplin), the noble Lord was quite capable of clearing himself from any charge of inconsistency. The noble Lord made no secret of his change of opinion, as, indeed, during the autumn, he had openly put forward a different view to that which he entertained at present. He (Mr. Staveley Hill) gladly welcomed the change of view which the noble Lord had adopted. He had always said that though the state of Ireland at present might be a sufficient reason for postponing the Bill; though it might be well to wait until there was that pacific, condition of Ireland to which he hoped events were leading; though it might be well to wait for a happier state of things before they gave the Irish people that right to which citizens of this country were entitled; yet if the condition of Ireland be not held to be a sufficient ground for the delay of the Franchise Bill, it could only be justice that that which Parliament gave to England they should also give to Ireland. It could be the only means which Parliament had of saying to the people of Ireland— "You may seek to separate yourselves from us if you will; you may enter into illegal combinations; but that will be no reason why we shall do anything which savours of injustice towards you or any part of your citizens." What was it that was said against the extension of the francise to Ireland? The mud-cabin argument was, to his mind, the lowest argument that could be used. Surely the majority of the House did not contend that because a man did not live in a good house he was unfit to exercise the franchise? Why, it was patent to everybody that the man who lived in a good house might be a fool, while the man who lived in a mud cabin might be just the reverse. It was said it would be dangerous to sanction the proposed extension of the franchise because the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) might have a larger following than he had at present. All he (Mr. Staveley Hill) could say was—"Be just and fear not." Let the hon. Member for the City of Cork come into the next Parliament—an event which he (Mr. Staveley Hill) hoped was not far distant—and let him come, if he could, accompanied by 80 or 100 Members. Let those Members, however, be elected by the larger constituencies; let them come to the House of Commons and be 891 able to say—"It is not simply the vote of the farmer we represent; but it is also the vote of the labourer." If they could come to the House and say that, their opinions would be entitled to far more weight than they were at present. He, for one, did not believe any harm would result from the extension of the franchise to Ireland, he believed that when the Irish Members felt that justice had been conceded to them it would be found that they were not so obstructive in the government of the Kingdom; it would be found that they would take a far greater interest in the affairs appertaining to the welfare of the Empire. At any rate, let Parliament give them the chance of doing so; because what did such an argument amount to if it was pursued to the end? It was said they ought not to extend the franchise to Ireland, because a greater number of Members holding the views now held by the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his followers would be returned. But if that argument was good for anything they ought to go further and say—"We will disfranchise Ireland altogether." It was conceded that what was described as an equally bad result would follow an Election by the present constituencies. If they were not prepared to disfranchise Ireland, why not give her the full measure of the franchise which they claimed for England and Scotland? He had no great love for the Bill at the present time; but he felt that if they altered their electoral power in one part they must alter it in the whole. When, however, they came to the Amendment of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Lancashire (Colonel Stanley), or to that of the hon. Gentleman oppposite (Mr. A. Grey), it should have his (Mr. Staveley Hill's) support, because he agreed that the Bill should be delayed until the introduction of the Redistribution of Seats Bill. But the non-introduction of the Redistribution Bill was no reason why, if this Bill should be passed, an act of injustice should be done to Ireland. They must be just to the Irish people; they must give them that franchise which was claimed for English citizens; and they must trust that that franchise would be well and properly used.
§ MR. EWART
said, it was his intention to support the Amendment, because he did not share the optimist views which 892 had been expressed by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) and by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. He considered that at the present time Ireland was in a state of veiled rebellion. It was true there was a large diminution in the number of outrages—the "Boycotters" and the "Invincibles" had suspended their operations—but he attributed the cause to the very extraordinary power which the Government possessed in the Coercion Act, and not to any change in the opinions or views of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parcell) or of the people of Ireland. Now, this Bill would, according to the hon. Member's (Mr. Parnell's) own admission, add very much to his power. The hon. Member had a great object in the passing of the Bill, hence the attitude towards the Bill which he had adopted. The hon. Member had not in the slightest degree modified his demand for a separate Legislature, for his latest utterances upon that question were as strong as those of any previous time. A separate Legislature for Ireland meant nothing more than a repeal of the Union; and if hon Gentlemen opposite seriously considered the matter they must arrive at the same conclusion. If, however, they had any difficulty in arriving at that conclusion, he referred them to a recent declaration of Lord Derby's, who had said that if Ireland were granted a separate Legislature there would certainly be a repeal of the Union before many years were over. This Bill, if passed into law, would be the greatest possible discouragement to the loyal people of Ireland, while it would be the greatest possible encouragement to the disloyal portion of the community. It would practically disfranchise the loyal people of Ireland. He wished his hon. Friend the Member for Tyrone (Mr. T. A. Dickson) had given some details of the method in which the, loyal people of Ireland would in future be secured in anything like a fair representation. The Return relating to the number and value of houses in Ireland threw a flood of light upon the question. In round numbers there were now 230,000 electors, but it was proposed to increase them to 730,000. The new voters would be of a class very much inferior to the old voters, in education, in intelligence, and in independence. The Irish con- 893 stituencies, on the whole, would be very much inferior to those of England and Scotland. In Ireland, unfortunately, the middle class formed a very small proportion of the community, so that the whole preponderance of political power was to be given to those who were wanting in the important Qualifications to which he had just referred. He should be sorry to see, even in Great Britain, supreme control in political affairs given to one class without some check or counterpoise, which this Bill did not propose. It was generally agreed that to give all the power to one class was highly dangerous to the State. If it was unwise to give unchecked power to the lower classes in Great Britain, how much more unwise would it be to give absolute power to the lower classes in Ireland, a large proportion of whom would be entirely in the hands of the demagogues? They would have no less than 80 or 90 Members following the hon. Member for the City of Cork, or if they were to take the opinion of that "eminent" Irishman and ex-head centre, Mr. Stephen, they would have returned to the House of Commons Members holding even more extravagant views than the followers of the hon. Member for the City of Cork held. Members would be returned who would be pledged to the dismemberment of the Empire. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had spoken of the moderate views of the hon. Gentleman the Member for County Cork (Mr. Shaw); but he (Mr. Ewart) very much feared that if this Bill passed his hon. Friend (Mr. Shaw) would not be found in the next Parliament. What was it the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) said on the subject? Speaking at Manchester recently, the hon. Gentleman said—His Party would come back to the House of Commons strengthened in numbers by probably 30 or 40. They would then be so strong that they would turn the balance in whichever way they thought right, and it would not be possible for any Ministry to remain long in power, unless they suited the Irish Parliamentary Party. When that time came they would hold the fate of English Ministries and political Parties in their hands.Was that a state of things which hon. Gentlemen opposite would like to see? Was that a state of things which would tend to good, useful, and honest legislation? He fully admitted that there 894 were great objections to omitting Ireland from the Bill; but such arguments were unanswerable against proceeding with the Bill at the present time. If the Leaders of the Irish Party laid down their arms the case might be different; but even then the Bill ought not to be passed without some good scheme for the representation of minorities. Without some such scheme the loyal people of Ireland would be practically disfranchised. Those people formed a third of the population, and they comprised the intelligence, the industry, and the wealth of the country. There were wanting in this Bill clauses dealing with the redistribution of seats in Ireland, and with the number of Members Ireland should have. He protested against the measure, because it would work nothing short of a revolution. In the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Childers), "this Bill would be the greatest change in the law since the Revolution of 1688;" it transferred power from, those who now had it to those who had it not, and it contained proposals with regard to Ireland which were received with great concern by the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington) and by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen). The opinions of those Gentlemen were entitled to the greatest weight. The words of the noble Marquess were particularly weighty from the fact that he once held the Office of Chief Secretary for Ireland. Other opportunities would probably be afforded of speaking on this question; but he (Mr. Ewart) felt bound to protest now, in the name of the largest constituency in Ireland, against this very dangerous measure.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
said, that when the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) introduced his Motion some days ago, hon. Members were in great expectation that something like the opinion of the House would be taken on what was really the main principle of the Bill. Undoubtedly the main principle of the measure was the extension of the franchise to Ireland, because it was well known that if Ireland were excluded from the benefit of the Bill, the Bill must fall to the ground. But the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire, notwithstanding his great gallantry in debate, declined to go to the Division 895 which was open to him, and therefore, it was that the question was brought on again on Friday last, after comparatively little notice. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) had incurred the displeasure of some hon. Members because he had the courage (if his opinions; although some of his opinions had been recently formed he had had the courage to express them. Many other hon. Members had changed their opinions, although they did not always make the fact known. When the Bill was introduced it was believed by some hon. Gentlemen that it would enormously magnify the power of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). He (Sir Joseph M'Kenna) believed it might increase his hon. Friend's power to some extent; but he ventured to say that nothing could be more unwise than the policy which the Irish Conservative landlords wore pursuing in denying the extension of the franchise to the labouring classes, confined, as it now was, most exclusively to the tenant farmers. All that could be said against the Bill, so far as Ireland was concerned, had been said by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket). Now, that right hon. and learned Gentleman addressed the Committee in a speech of great power; but there was this defect in that speech—that he indulged very largely in prophecy. The Right hon. and learned Gentleman placed before the Committee some statistics which were taken from a Return prepared for "another place." He (Sir Joseph M'Kenna) accepted those statistics as a valuable contribution to the knowledge of the House; but what did they prove? That there was a large class of householders, or, if they preferred the phrase, hovel-holders, who were without political significance and without the franchise, and who had no mode of expressing their opinions to those who had the franchise, except by outward demonstrations which did not always contribute to the maintenance of peace and order. When men were enfranchised they at once had more self-respect; each man was capable of taking care of himself, and would proceed to give judgment upon those who solicited his vote. What evidence had been adduced by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, or by those who thought with him, to show that the class 896 it was proposed to enfranchise were likely to be less safe or less appreciative of the importance of questions brought before them than the class which had now almost exclusive possession of the franchise, at least in the. counties of Ireland? The right hon. and learned Gentleman said it was proposed by Her Majesty's Government to give the franchise to these people as a right, and he argued that the franchise was not a right. He (Sir Joseph M'Kenna) admitted that people did not possess the franchise as a right; but that admission applied equally to the franchise that already existed. The classes now enfranchised were originally unenfranchised; they had no actual right to the franchise until Parliament conferred it upon them. He did not think the Committee had anything to fear from the proposed extension of the franchise to the Irish labourers. They were the least dangerous and least criminal class in Ireland. He ventured to say that the cottiers, or hovel-occupiers, as they had been so described, contributed, in proportion to their numbers, the smallest number of criminals of any class in the country. As a matter of fact, it would be found, upon an analysis of the criminal statistics, that the criminals in the country were furnished by the classes who had no habitations of their own which would entitle them to the franchise under this Bill. Now, as to the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) returning to the House after the next General Election with a greater number of followers, he (Sir Joseph M'Kenna) did not hesitate to say that his hon. Friend would return to the House with a maximum number of followers with no extension of the franchise. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) had put forth no logical arguments against the inclusion of Ireland in this Bill; but he had drawn, from his own imagination, a series of pictures to scare them, which reminded him (Sir Joseph M'Kenna) of the shadowy Kings in Macbeth. The right hon. and learned Gentleman asked the Committee to believe that because he made prophecies they were certain to come to pass. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that the main object for which those whom he called the Separatist Members would use the powers they would get under the Bill 897 would be to break up the United Kingdom. The right hon. and learned Gentleman chose to assume the entire argument and case by speaking of Separatist Members. Now, he (Sir Joseph M'Kenna) knew as much about the Home Rule Members and those whom the right hon. and learned Gentleman had styled separatist Members as the right hon. and learned Gentleman could possibly do, and he could state that there was no more foundation for the use of the term Separatists than if the right hon. and learned Member were to call them Mormons. The right hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say that "they proposed to sweep away by this Bill the innocent and harmless Home Rulers, if there were any such," and thereby to increase the number of the dangerous and disloyal section which was virtually seeking for separation. This statement was one which he (Sir Joseph M'Kenna) utterly and completely rejected. Did the right hon. and learned Gentleman believe that the Irish Members were fools, and that while they sought the advantages of autonomy they did not also see the further advantage that would accrue to them by being subjects on equal terms of a great Empire which had influence and power and patronage in every quarter of the globe? There was nothing which appeared to him so inconsequential as the reasons assigned by those who argued that Home Rule meant Separation. He confidently asserted that it meant nothing of the kind. On the contrary, it meant the very opposite; and he would unhesitatingly say, whatever effect the statement might produce on his constituents, that the great object he had in view in attaching himself to the Home Rule Party was that he desired sincerely the consolidation of the Empire which he believed it would be the best possible means of effecting. Hon. Members might receive this statement very coldly, and, perhaps, incredulously; but if he had time he could cite abundance of examples to show why such was really the case. He would, however, ask the Committee what accession of territory did Austria gain when there was a forced Union between Austria and Hungary? While, on the other hand, when there was Union founded since Sadowa on Home Rule for Hungary, did they not extend their influence and territory in the East? Was it not the case that when that 898 real Union was wanting Austria lost a portion of her Dominions, because the brother-in-arms who helped her to quell or put an end to the French-Italian War robbed her, or, at any rate, dispossessed her, of the remainder of her Italian Possessions? And what, he asked, was the reason of this? Was it not because he had three or four regiments of Hungarians behind him at Sadowa? He (Sir Joseph M'Kenna), for one, was a strong Unionist in the sense of desiring to maintain the union of the various portions of this great Empire; and he believed it was as great a slander to say that the Irish Members were Separatists as it would be to say that the autonomies at the present moment enjoyed by Canada, New Zealand, and Australia were being used for the purpose of obtaining separation. He wished now to say a few words with the view of reminding the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin that assertion was not prophecy, and that he had better abandon it for the future, and forget it as regarded the past. On the 15th of January in the year 1800, an ancestor of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, speaking of the measures then taken for bringing about a Union, under the Administration of Lord Camden, used these words—and he would ask right hon. Gentlemen on both the Front Benches of that House to bear them in mind. The ancestor of the right hon. and learned Gentleman said—During the Administration of that nobleman (Lord Camden), the most extensive, deep, well planned, and wicked conspiracy that ever a nation escaped was hatched, matured, and prepared to burst upon the country. It was detected in all its parts and published in all its details, and the energies of the nation called out to resist it by the vigilance, information, and resources of a resident Irish Parliament.Then he went on to say—If this wicked plot of Union (that was to say, the plot of the Union as carried out in. 1800) had then been effected, our Parliament at Westminster and every vestige of British connection would have been swept off the face of the land.And yet, in the face of these views, the grandson, or great grandson, of that noble Lord (Lord Plunket) came to that House and spoke as if Ireland had no past whatever—as if she had had no connection whatever with the past history of this Empire. The fact was that the 899 loyalty of Ireland to the Empire had been proved on many a bloody field when the loyalty of the English was doubtful, and the loyalty of the Scotch was gone. He would also venture to say that if the present Dynasty should in any emergency require soldiers for its defence, it would be found—and not the less if Home Rule were in the meantime conceded—that, in proportion to the population of the Three Kingdoms, the best and the bravest of its upholders—or, at any rate, men equally as good and brave as any in the other portions of the Empire—would not only be found in Ireland, but in numbers relatively greater than the other countries would furnish.
MR. MACARTNEY (who rose amid cries of "Oh, oh!")
said, he did not intend to occupy the time of the Committee at any length; but notwithstanding the outcries with which his rising had been received by the Party on the Benches below him, he desired to deliver his opinion as one of the loyal Irishmen of the North. He was well aware that they were looked upon with very much of what he might term detestation by what was called the great body of the people of Ireland, and he was also conscious of the fact that they were also regarded with very great contempt by hon. Members who represented the Radical Party on the opposite side of the House. Moreover, he knew that they were looked upon with very little favour by hon. Gentlemen who sat on the Benches immediately behind Her Majesty's Government; and he was sorry also to be obliged to add that they had frequently been looked on with very little encouragement and oven with a certain amount of distrust by certain Members of their own Party. Only on that very afternoon they had had two examples of the truth of what he had just assorted. He was not present in the House when the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) was delivered; but he had had the opportunity of listening to the speech recently made by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for West Staffordshire (Mr. Staveley Hill), and he regretted, from what the hon. and learned Gentleman had led them to understand by that speech, that the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock had seen fit to change his opinion within the last few months 900 on the subject now being debated. He must say that he thought the opinions first expressed by the noble Lord on that subject were better than his last, and be hoped that the indications given in the speech of the noble Lord would not prove, in regard to his own career, a forecast of anything similar to that which had occurred in the career of his great ancestor who had supported one side apparently with the greatest firmness, while at the same time he was carrying on communications with and receiving encouragement from the other. He knew that the noble Lord had been on very intimate and friendly terms with Gentlemen who represented the party of disorder in Ireland; but he did not know that they had been able so far to prevail on the noble Lord's better understanding as to persuade him that it was his lot to offer a sop to Cerberus, as well as of the Prime Minister. Having said so much with regard to that particular point, he now desired to state what, in his opinion, were the facts before them at the present moment in Ireland. By "them" he meant the Loyalists. When the Loyalists were spoken of in that House, hon. Gentlemen on the Benches below him were very fond of claiming to be assumed to be counted among them. But he thought that those who were opposed to the Constitution of the country as it at present existed and to the connection which subsisted between the two countries—those who objected to the "crown" being put on the "green flag" along with the "harp," and who had recently made themselves notorious by their opposition to the name of the Monarch of the country being used in connection with the great Exhibition in Ireland, the result of which had been that in the late Exhibition at Cork those who represented the Loyalists were afraid to put forward the name of the Sovereign, and, therefore, on that occasion, for the purpose of securing unanimity, had refrained from doing so—could hardly be considered as being very ardent Loyalists. The position which they, the Loyalists, occupied was this. The proportions of the Irish population had been stated over and over again. They were represented as closely as possible by 79 as against 26—that was today, there were in Ireland 79 Roman Catholics to every 26 Protestants. This was as close an approximation as they could make. 901 Well, this would give the Loyalists, if; they were properly represented—and in this estimate he included Liberals as well as Conservatives—26 Members. Would anything like such a result be secured under the present Bill? Was it at all probable that under this measure they would have anything approaching to 26 Representatives? It should be remembered that these 26 Members would represent in a great measure the education and intelligence—he would not say the lower classes were not intelligent, for he knew that they were extremely so—but he meant the elevated intelligence of the Irish people—the intelligence of those engaged in matters connected with the commercial interests of the country, and who had in a great measure made Ireland what she was. He referred to those who had adhered to this country through weal and through woe—those who had shed their blood like water in defence of the connection between England and Ireland—those who had fought — though Irishmen always fought in every rank—but who had fought as leaders of the loyal Irish in the battles of byegone days. And here he would ask, had the Party below the Gangway on that side of the House ever been the leaders of the armed hosts of Great Britain in India, in America, in the Colonies, or in any part of the world? The answer was "No." The men who had been distinguished as military men on the side espoused by that Party had always been found in the Armies of France, Germany, and Spain, and among those invading forces that had made their way into Ireland when there was a disconnection of the two countries. He would not speak of the loyal Representatives of Ireland in long past times; but he would remind the Committee of the period that had elapsed from the days of Wellington to those of Roberts and Wolseley, and ask whether Ireland had not in the interval between those Generals sent forth a galaxy of heroes of whom any and every country might well be proud? Then, again, they had had in another walk of life men like Goldsmith, Burke, and Swift; while the only really illustrious author the other side could lay claim to was Moore. He put it that in such men was evidenced the intelligence of the country and its real intellectual strength. What, he 902 asked, would be the result if that intelligence were deprived of its representation? Because such would, no doubt, be the consequence if this Bill were carried in its present form. The result would be that the only constituencies which would return Representatives like those hon. Members opposite who sat on the Benches behind Her Majesty's Government or who sat on the same Benches as himself would be such as Belfast, the University of Dublin, and the counties of Down, Antrim, and Deny; and that would be the end of it. Everywhere else there was a majority of Roman Catholics; and though he was not fond of saying anything against the Roman Catholics, he felt that in mentioning them he was speaking of a body of men who were ready to vote at the bidding either of the priests, or of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), or of any other agitator who might assume his position and who might go further than he—for the more immoderate the Leader of Irish agitation, and the more anxious he might be to upset everything, the more ready would the majority of which he was speaking be to give him their support and approval. If, therefore, another man should assume the place now occupied by the hon. Member for the City of Cork, and should try even to extend the present agitation, he would have the same sympathy as was now accorded to that hon. Gentleman. [Cries of "Question!"] He was speaking to the Question. The hon. Member below him who had spoken a short time since (Sir Joseph M'Kenna) had dilated on the extreme loyalty of the Irish people, and he (Mr. Macartney) had a right to give his opinion on that subject. What be desired to say was this—that in all probability—for it was not only possible, but he thought it very probable—out of 105 Members whom the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister thought it absolutely necessary to assign to Ireland, notwithstanding that she had no right to that number, and who exactly represented those who were either Liberals or Conservatives in that House, no fewer than 95 would be returned as the Representatives of the so-called Irish National Party in Parliament. He had called it the so-called National Party advisedly; for when it was convenient in Ireland they wanted to create a 903 separate nation, but when they found another course convenient in England they only wanted the assistance of the English people to give them their just rights. The prospect before the loyal people of the North of Ireland was extremely black. He believed that the two great Parties in England were nearly equal in numbers; but if tins Bill were passed, the enormous majority of the people of Ireland would send a greatly enlarged Representation under the Leadership of one man, who would compel them to act as the House had seen the other night, when, on a Division which took place after a considerable amount of discussion, he led them, like so many sheep, into the Lobby. This being the case he could only say he should be apprehensive of the destinies of this country being placed in a very dangerous condition if one Party in that House was to bid against the other for the support of a body like that which he had foreshadowed. If such a state of things were to be brought about, he should say "Ichabod" might be inscribed on the standard of England, for its glory would have departed. He had felt it necessary to say this much, and he had only to add that he should give his cordial support to the Amendment.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, it had been the impression on that side of the House that Gentlemen opposite had made up their differences; but from what had taken place they appeared to be far from a happy family. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) had uttered sentiments which were regarded with so much horror by hon. Gentlemen opposite that they had spent the whole afternoon in denouncing them, and then not knowing what to say, or whether to oppose the proposal or not, the occupants of the Front Opposition Bench had gone away. He congratulated the noble Lord on much of what he had said that day; he thought it creditable to him as a politician anxious to take a leading part in the business of the country that he should have recanted and renounced the pernicious and reckless nonsense which he had been in the habit of uttering before the commencement of the Session, and which he thought good enough to throw in the ears of what he called the Conservative Democracy. He had hoped that, having recanted, the 904 noble Lord would have given them a sounder policy; but what he seemed to say was this—"Principle is all very well, but let us do all we can to get votes, and then, perhaps, we shall attain Office." The noble Lord told them that the psychological moment had come for the Conservative Democracy to make certain concessions to the Irish Party; but it seemed to him that the term "opportune moment" should be used, because the Irish Party a few days ago voted against the Government and with the Conservatives upon the Vote of Censure. Gratitude was all very well as a recognition of past services, but it was not so good a quality when it expressed a lively sense of favours to come. But that was not all. They were now informed that it was the intention of the Conservative Party in the House of Lords to throw out the Bill; and he asked what in the world was the good of tolling the Irish people that the Conservatives would agree to the clause giving the franchise to them, when the whole of the franchise proposed by the Bill to be given to England, Scotland, and Ireland was to be refused by the House of Lords? That was what the noble Lord offered to the Irish Party. But where, he asked, was the Leader of the Opposition? Perhaps the noble Lord would say—"Here I am!" But he was referring to the right hon. Gentleman whom they all respected as the Leader of the Opposition. He saw the right hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith); but it could not be suggested that the noble Lord was the Leader of that right hon. Gentleman. If a triumvirate had been established on the other side of the House which included the Members for Westminster and North Devon and the noble Lord, it must be based upon some sort of agreement that each Member of it should throw over their own followers, because the noble Lord had treated the right hon. Member for Westminster as a kind of Jonah, or as a sacrifice to be laid upon the altar of that friendship which had just broken out. For his own part, he very much distrusted what was going forward on the other side of the House; his impression was that a great deal of it was mere simulation. As on the Ministerial side of the House there did not appear any desire to talk on this Bill, it seemed to him that hon. Gentlemen opposite had decided to discuss the 905 matter between themselves. One Conservative Gentleman got up and expressed his views, and another rose to say they were worth nothing at all, the result being that the time was wasted, for nothing was done. All that must, he thought, be due to an arrangement amongst hon. Gentlemen opposite, and he would suggest that Gentlemen on the Ministerial side should meet that conspiracy of loquacity by a confederacy of silence. He had asked the Leader of the Opposition, a few days ago, whether he was to take as gospel what he had read in The Standard, the organ of the Conservative Party — namely, that a meeting of the Leaders of the Opposition in that House and in "another place" had been held, and that it had been agreed to throw out the Bill in the House of Lords? He was confirmed in the view he had taken of that matter; the right hon. Gentleman, by not replying, practically assented to the statement, because silence gave consent. But he had read to-day in The Standard newspaper two letters. ["Question!"] It was the Question, because his point was that Gentlemen on that side of the House ought not to take part in useless discussions. He repeated that he had read in the newspaper called The Standard two letters—one from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote) and the other from Lord Salisbury, in answer to a gentleman of Ipswich, both stating that they would do their best to promote as speedily as possible an appeal to the country. When two distinguished persons, the one a Peer in his right and the other the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, thus declared their intention, it must be clear to all that they wished to get this question of Reform into their own hands. Under the circumstances, his opinion was that Gentlemen on those Benches should be silent while Gentlemen opposite were settling their difficulties amongst themselves, and await the result of the Bill being carried to the House of Lords, when, if it were thrown out, the question would have to be submitted to the country—whether 2,000,000 of people were to have the vote, or whether they were to be kept from having it by 300 or 400 Conservatives?
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, he had not intended to long occupy the 906 time of the Committee by intervening in the short space which remained before the Sitting was suspended. He should, therefore, be very brief in replying to the observations against this Amendment, the question being of too grave a character to justify notice of the jests of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere). He had ventured on a previous occasion to name his reasons for considering why this franchise ought not to be extended to Ireland. He was ready to admit, strongly as he held that opinion, that the question was one of some difficulty; and he could understand that some Members of the House should entertain doubts upon the subject, and argue that if this franchise were extended to England and Scotland, they could not very well refuse it to Ireland. But there were certain considerations which he thought it desirable to bring again before the Committee. They were asked, on the abstract grounds of justice and equality, to extend a uniform franchise to England, Ireland, and Scotland; and yet they were asked to make the qualification in Ireland lower than it was in England and Scotland. It was a matter of absolute certainty that the franchise in Ireland would be nearer to manhood suffrage than it was in England or Scotland. One of the arguments of the Prime Minister in favour of the extension to Ireland was that the people were poor. Last autumn, there was great excitement in this country at the miserable conditions under which many of the inhabitants of our large towns were housed; but he asked if it would enter into the mind of any Member of that House to believe that those unfortunate people could be made prosperous by merely giving them the vote, and making them the predominant political power in the country. Would not their circumstances and conditions prevent them from making a satisfactory use of the franchise? No answer had been given to the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket), although they had had two speeches, one from the Prime Minister and the other from the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. His objection to the proposal was that not only was the Prime Minister strengthening a most dangerous and anti-British movement in Ireland, but that, in order to 907 support it, he -was compelled to resort to arguments which would be hereafter turned against him by the anti-British Party. Every argument in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman might have been used in support of the repeal of the Union. The right hon. Gentleman said that there was only one way of making England weak in the face of Ireland, and that was by not applying to Ireland the principles of equality and justice. And he went on to say that so long as they endeavoured to do justice to Ireland, no one, however evilly disposed, could prejudice or injure the integrity of the United Kingdom. He would read a resolution which had been passed at a large meeting of the National League in November last at Ballynaclo, and he would ask hon. Gentlemen opposite and the Prime Minister, who used such strong language on Friday last, whether he was prepared to endorse that resolution, which was the practical application of the principles laid down by the Prime Minister? The resolution ran thus—Whereas Mr. Gladstone had declared policy of equality and justice as one which should he pursued towards Ireland, and as the standard of equality and justice in England was to he found in the doctrine of Constitutional Government, which recognized the voice of the majority as the will of the people, it was resolved that the meeting demanded the application of that standard to Ireland.Would the right hon. Gentleman assent to that? When that question was asked there was a dead silence at once; but when the right hon. Gentleman uttered the sentiment which the resolution embodied, he was cheered to the echo. The resolution concluded with these words—We pledge ourselves never to rest satisfied with anything short of national self-government such as the majority of the Irish people desire.If the Bill were passed in its present form, what would be the position of subsequent Houses of Commons? They would have to meet the question of the repeal of the Union. But how would that question be met? Not by argument, because the Government had made that practically impossible. Well, then, would it be granted? It could not be granted, because, as the President of the Board of Trade had admitted, national self-government in Ireland meant the ruin of the Empire. How, then, could it be met, except by the old agency of 908 force? They had been told they would be creating a grievance if they refused the extension of this franchise to Ireland. The Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland spoke of a grievance universally recognized there. But the grievance was, not that the franchise was high, but that England governed Ireland. The Government were going to extend this franchise to Ireland, in order that the Irish people might more adequately represent their views in that House. Could they enfranchise vast masses of men on the ground that they were capable citizens, and when these masses, through nine-tenths of their Representatives, asked for the repeal of the Union, would the Government be able to treat that demand as the whim of spoilt children? There was no mean between refusing their right to the franchise and admitting their right to have their wish granted; and if they turned a deaf ear to the expression of those wishes, they would be creating a tenfold more legitimate grievance than any which existed at the present time. But the Government were striking at the root of Constitutional Government; they were bringing all the principles of the Constitution into ridicule and disrepute, and were giving to those dangerous men who wished to have recourse to violence and outrage for the attainment of their ends an argument which they never possessed before. It was said to be a mere question between the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) having 40 or 70 or 90 followers in that House. But the moment they lowered the franchise and allowed, nine-tenths of the representation of Ireland to be absorbed by that Party, they gave them an excuse for their demand for the disintegration of the Empire which, unless the right hon. Gentleman did violence to his own principles, he could not refuse. The Prime Minister said—"You flatter these hon. Members by assuming that 70 or 80 of them will be a match for the English and Scotch Members of the House of Commons." It was true that they would not be a match for the English and Scotch Members, if those Members were always true to themselves; but three years ago, when it was not a case of 550 against 70 or 80, but when 600 Members were prepared to support the Government against 20 or 30 Members, the Chief of whom, they had imprisoned 909 on a charge of treason, a Cabinet of 12 could not be true to themselves, for they deliberately threw out one of their ablest Colleagues in order that they might enter into negotiations with the very Gentleman whom they had imprisoned. He said that with that recent experience in their minds they would be fools indeed if they trusted to the, contingency that, in the face of Party exigencies, 500 men would always be together on national questions in that House. "Oh!" said the Prime Minister, "we have often heard those predictions before," and he answered the speech of the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) with a reference to some predictions which were indulged in in regard to the Emancipation of the Catholics. But if there was one man in the House who had not indulged in those predictions it was the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The Prime Minister was for ever throwing at the heads of the Opposition the fact that 50 years ago the Conservative Party opposed a large number of legitimate and just reforms in Ireland; but it was a curious fact that the only man now in that House who was associated with that Party, and who then persistently refused to redress the just grievances of the Irish people, whether on the subject of municipal or national rights, or on that of Catholic Emancipation, was the right hon. Gentleman himself. It was not fair of the right hon. Gentleman to throw upon the present Opposition the heritage of his own misdoings. If anyone would refer to the eloquent speech of the right hon. Gentleman when he accompanied Sir Robert Peel to Glasgow, in 1837, he would find that he was correct in his statement as to the predictions of the right hon. Gentleman on the subject of Catholic Emancipation. But since the right hon. Gentleman became himself a Reformer, the position was reversed, and it was the Conservatives who had been right in their predictions, and the right hon. Gentleman who had been wrong. Therefore, the presumption was that the Conservative Party were right in predicting what would be the certain result of the extension of this franchise to Ireland if unaccompanied by a redistribution of seats. He believed it was the hon. Member for Tyrone who taunted Gentlemen on those Benches by saying 910 that a generous thought never entered into their heads. They had not, perhaps, the same idea of generosity as the hon. Member and his Friends, because they came into that House and disappeared with such rapidity info lucrative permanent appointments that they evidently believed that a due recognition of self was a primary part of a just policy towards Ireland. Then the Conservative Party were told that they were opposed to every reform tending to improve the condition of the people in Ireland. He quite admitted primâ facie that because a man was poor it was not a sufficient reason for depriving him of the vote, and no one more than he deplored the lamentable standard of life which existed over a great part of Ireland, where many of the people were badly clothed, badly fed, and miserably housed. The fact could not be disputed that such was the condition of large numbers of the people, and he would be always ready to support any proposals made for the purpose of raising their standard of life. If the Government would adopt a sensible and sounder policy, such as that of bringing home to the poorer classes in Ireland the belief that it was their interest to support the Union, he believed that in process of time they would bring about a better state of affairs. The moment they could convince the people of Ireland of that truth, their hatred of England and their unquestioned disloyalty would be undermined, and no one more than he would work in the direction he had pointed out. He had stated on a former occasion, that if the Bill passed in its present state, no measure of redistribution would be possible for many years to come, and no Member of the Government had attempted to deal with that argument, which he adhered to and repeated. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), returned to that House with 90 Members at his back, would represent more than the number of seats to which his Party was entitled, and did the Government suppose that they would hereafter be able to curtail that number? The result would be that for years to come there would be no Redistribution Bill, because it would be impossible to carry one, and that was the consideration which everyone who looked at this question must bear in mind. It was not a pleasant thing to oppose the extension 911 of this franchise to Ireland, and to support its extension in England and Scotland; but those who supported the Amendment of his hon. Friend knew the danger involved in such a step too well to stifle their consciences with threadbare platitudes, or to surrender their judgment at the request of the Prime Minister. Therefore, he should cordially support the proposal of his hon. Friend, because he was perfectly certain that, if the Bill passed in its present shape, they would in a few years find themselves face to face with this dilemma—either the Imperial Parliament would have to consent to its own disruption, or it would have permanently to deprive a large portion of the United Kingdom of Representative Government. As he was not prepared to face either alternative with complacency, he should vote against the Government proposal.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, he should endeavour to fulfil the promise of being very brief in the observations he had to make—a promise which the noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton) made at the commencement of his speech, but inadvertently did not perform. It was the fashion with many hon. Gentlemen in that House to call themselves Irish Members. His impression was that they were American Members. As one of the small body of Members whom he might call "the Old Guard," he wished to say a word or two. He could comprehend the position of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench if they stated that Ireland ought to be governed as a Crown Colony. Not one hon. Member, however, had ventured to make that declaration; and it was one that he and his hon. Friend could not assent to. It was said that because a lot of money had been flooded into Ireland with the best intentions, and accepted with equally good intentions by those who received it, they were to consider that for all eternity Ireland was to be a prey to those locusts which at present infested it. His humble opinion was that there would be a change in that regard, and that as the supplies went down the people would become more intelligent, and act according to their lights in reference to the particular gentlemen in question. This was a question for the tenant farmers of Ireland, of whom he was one; and those 912 gentlemen whom he called American ad venturers, finding that the question was worn out, were going about Ireland to find out a new position which they might take up. ["Divide, divide!"] Those Gentlemen who cried "Divide!" complained in Ireland that they could not be hoard in the House of Commons; they told the people of Ireland that they were not listened to; and yet they refused to allow a man to be heard who told them the truth to their face. He had the honour of being the senior Member in that House—at any rate, on the present occasion—and he might not, perhaps, have the honour of again addressing it. ["Hear, hear!"] He understood the hon. Gentleman who cheered that remark, who, doubtless, in Chicago and other places where money was to be collected through The Free man's Journal, would be ready to take one side today and the other side tomorrow. ["Order, order!"] He was not out of Order. If he were out of Order the Chairman would take note of it. Perhaps the young sea serpent from the county of Clare—
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, he withdrew the expression "sea serpent," and would confine himself to the doctrine that no man who called himself a Statesman or a Minister could say there was a United Kingdom of which England, Scotland, and Ireland were parts, and deny to one of them what was offered to the other two. With hon. Members below the Gangway opposite the question was one of self-preservation; they were paid for their services, and fought the country in the interest of self, and not in the interest of the country.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said, the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) had appealed to him to withdraw his Amendment on the ground that he might be in a minority. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: No.] Then he had misunderstood the noble Lord. However, he and his hon. Friends felt that there was one thing worse than being in a minority, and that was the sacrifice of a principle upon which they had taken their stand. However rapid the process of conversion might be, and however quickly conviction might come upon one, it was impossible that it 913 should take place within the brief period occupied by a Parliamentary debate. Having been supported by every Member of Irish experience on that side of the House, he felt that it would be discourteous to the Committee, and contrary to the pledge he had given, if he did not carry his Amendment to a Division.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 332; Noes 137: Majority 195.—(Div. List, No. 99.)
§ It being ten minutes before Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to report Progress; Committee to sit again upon Friday, at Two of the clock.
§ The House suspended its Sitting at Seven of the clock.
§ The House resumed its Sitting at Nine of the clock.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present,
§ House adjourned at five minutes after Nine o'clock.