HC Deb 06 March 1885 vol 295 cc297-322


Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Main Question [3rd March], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair" (for Committee on the Parliamentary Elections (Redistribution) Bill.

Question again proposed.

Debate resumed.


I cannot allow this stage of the Bill to be taken without expressing the strongest protest in my power against the deliberate system of jerrymandering which the Boundaries Commission in Ireland has been guilty of with regard to certain of the Ulster counties, and also with regard to the City and County of Dublin. I confess that I was very much disappointed at the nature of the action taken by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Sir Charles W. Dilke). I expected from the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Trevelyan) the partizan defence which he made the other day of the proceedings of the Boundary Commission. Demoralized as the right hon. Gentleman must have been, more or less, by his contact with Dublin Castle officials, nothing else could have been expected than that he, a leading Radical in England, the exponent for many years of the rights of the people to self-government and to full representation, should have changed his skin when he went over to Ireland, and should have become there a Tory of the Tories. But from the President of the Local Government Board certainly I expected better things. I did not expect that he would have devoted his great and distinguished talents to a special pleading defence of the proceedings of the Irish Boundaries Commission; and I should have hoped that he would have contented himself with pointing out the necessities of the case and of his position; the fact that a compromise had been arrived at between the Head of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition; and that the Government were, therefore, bound by the details settled by the Commission, imperfect and unfair and one-sided as many of those details undoubtedly are to the Catholic population of the North of Ireland. We complain of the jerrymandering of certain counties in the North, because it was impossible for the Commission to act unfairly with any constituencies, except the City and County of Dublin, outside Ulster; and because we do not complain of the proceedings of the Commission outside the Province of Ulster, the Government are not entitled to claim from us any gratitude or appreciation of the proceedings of that Commission. Wherever in an Ulster county it was possible for them by any device, no matter how barefaced, to obtain for the English Party—I call them the English Party in Ireland, because I think that more correctly designates them than the title of the "loyal minority," which they have assumed—a seat, though the Catholic population was in an overwhelming majority, as in Donegal, they did so. Wherever it was possible, on the other hand, for them to deprive the Catholics of a seat where they were the small part of the population, they did so. They were not guided by the precedents which they set up for themselves—they went upon one rule in one county, when it suited the English Party, and they followed an exactly contrary rule in other counties. In fact, the Irish Boundaries Commission only too well fulfilled the prediction which the right hon. Baronet the President of the Local Government Board ventured upon at the close of last Session, when he said that it was impossible to find men free from political bias for the services in question. The Irish Boundary Commissioners have shown themselves entirely regardless of that spirit of fair play which has, so far as I am able to learn, distinguished the proceedings of their brothers in England. How is the North of Ireland situated with regard to the division of political Parties? The Catholics of the Province of Ulster number close upon one-half of the entire population. There was only a difference of 2 or 3 per cent in the respective boroughs of Catholics and Protestants. Allowing, for the sake of argument—although I shall not allow it any further—that the English Party—the Whigs and Tories—can claim all the Protestants in Ireland as belonging to their fold, and we claim, as we undoubtedly can do—all the Catholics as belonging to us, the representation of Ulster should have been very nearly evenly distributed between the two English Parties on one side, and the Irish Party on the other. What has been the result? Out of 33 Members the English Parties will take something like 23, leaving only 10 to the Catholics. Now, it is manifest upon the face of it that such a scheme as that cannot be fair to the Catholics of the North of Ireland; and a very noteworthy fact is that in the only Province where it was possible for them to act unfairly the Commissioners have made the largest number of alterations—in fact, made all the alterations which have been made, with the exception of those made in the City and County of Dublin. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Charles W. Dilke) disputed the accuracy of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy's) figures as to the number of alterations, and said that the number of alterations outside Ulster was larger than that given by my hon. and learned Friend. But the right hon. Gentleman forgot, in his anxiety to defend a weak case, to inform the House that the alterations outside Ulster were merely nominal, and in some cases involved only the change of name. In Mayo the Island of Achill was added to one division instead of the other. Inside Ulster every alteration made had an effect upon the balance of political Parties. It was scarcely candid of the right hon. Gentleman to make a point of so technical a character, and to put forward merely technical alterations as evidence of the inaccuracy of my hon. and learned Friend's statement. That statement was perfectly accurate, so far as the arguments of the Nationalist Party are concerned. Seven alterations were made in Ulster, of which six were in favour of the English Parties, and one partially in our favour. In the three other Provinces there are 70 Members; whereas in Ulster there are only 33. But in those three Provinces there were only two alterations of any account, and those had reference to the City and County of Dublin. These two constituencies are the only constituencies outside Ulster where it was possible for the Commissioners, by deviating from the original scheme, to punish us and serve their friends. The bias of these Commissioners has been rendered very evident by the details which have been given by my hon. Friends the Members for Sligo and Monaghan (Mr. Sexton and Mr. Healy). I cannot think that the Commissioners could have taken it upon themselves to act as they have done, unless they got a hint from some higher quarter. We have the fact of the published letter of the Marquess of Salisbury, who, being in a position of greater freedom and less responsibility than any Member of the Government, did not think it necessary to cloak his views in any way; and he wrote, after the publication of the original scheme of the Boundary Commission with regard to Ulster, to his discontented Conservative friends that the future position of what he called the "loyal minority in Ulster" would depend very much upon the spirit in which the Boundaries Commissioners approached their work. I do not think that the Boundaries Commissioners would have felt themselves bound to regard the hint from the Marquess of Salisbury; and I shall believe, until the contrary is shown, that they would not have ventured upon such daring and one-sided action as has been theirs without a hint from some high quarter or personage in Ireland that the Government would stand by and defend their action, as, in fact, it has been defended by the President of the Local Government Board and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. I do not wish to go into the details of the jerrymandering in the North of Ireland, which have been sufficiently explained by my hon. Friends; but I will give one or two salient facts with regard to each county which will show the direction and the nature and extent of this jerrymandering. Take, for instance, the County Antrim. We had lately a very interesting debate on the representation of minorities, and the position of the "loyal minority" in Ireland was brought forward as a forcible argument on behalf of the scheme which was proposed in favour of proportional representation, at all events, in Ireland; and I am convinced that under the very best and most favourable system of proportional representation which could be devised you would not secure for the English Parties in Ireland so large a representation as has been secured for them by the proportional system of the Boundaries Commission. What will the House say to the County Antrim, entitled, under the redistribution scheme, to four Members? In Antrim a population of 50,000 Catholics will not have a single Member to represent them. Has the Catholic minority in the county of Antrim no claim for consideration upon the lines which have been adopted? Take, again, the county of Armagh. Forty-seven per cent of the population of Armagh are Catholics, and all the Catholics have been put into one division, so as to make it absolutely certain, so far as the Boundaries Commission could make it, that out of the three seats to be allotted only one should be Catholic. Take the case of the county of Tyrone, entitled under the scheme to four Members. One parish, containing 21 Protestant townlands, has been taken out of one barony and added to another, so as to secure that the Protestants of Tyrone should have representation; although in the case of the County Antrim, where there were 50,000 Catholics, the Commissioners, with equal care and solicitude, contrived that for them there should be no representation whatever. Take the case of the county of Londonderry, entitled to two Members. Well, there has been gross unfairness. The Solicitor General for Ireland, at the preliminary inquiry which was held after the publication of the scheme, objected by counsel to the divisions; and it has been contrived in such a way that, although there are 47 per cent of Catholics in Londonderry, they shall not have the slightest chance of gaining one of the seats; indeed, the divisions, as shown on the map issued by the Boundaries Commission, are a curiosity in themselves for those who are anxious to study geography. By the original scheme the Catholics were massed in one of the divisions; but in order to secure that both seats in the county of Londonderry shall go to the English Parties, the Catholics have been taken away from the Catholic division, and Protestants taken away from the Protestant division of Coleraine barony and added to the Catholic division, so as to make matters sufficiently sure. In the original scheme of the Commissioners, for the county of Londonderry there were 37,000 Catholics in the Catholic division, the total population of which consisted of 70,000. It was manifest that if the division were left so that 37,000 Catholics would outnumber the 33,000 Protestants, it would carry one of the divisions for the Irish National Party. Therefore 3,000 Catholics were taken away and transferred to the Protestant division; and a certain number of Protestants were taken from the Protestant division and transferred to the Catholic division, so as to make things absolutely and entirely safe. Fancy the Whigs and Tories dividing the county between them as the result of a combination which we have heard of recently! The case of Donegal is the exact converse of what occurred in Antrim. Donegal is almost exclusively Catholic, and the same tactics have been adopted as in the other counties I have mentioned. There are 85 per cent of Catholics in the county of Donegal. [Lord GEORGE HAMILTON: Seventy-five per cent.] I am willing to accept the noble Lord's figures. The correction of the noble Lord leaves the case of Donegal practically untouched as regards the relative proportions of the two Parties. The fact remains that whereas in the case of Antrim, where a fourth of the population are Catholics, the Commissioners managed that they should have no representation, in the case of Donegal, where a quarter of the population are Protestants, of all sects, the Commissioners have contrived so to jerrymander the boundaries that they shall have a Conservative Representative. In doing so, they have forgotten the principle which the President of the Local Government Board insisted upon as his defence in reference to the County Down, when he said it would not have been right for the Commissioners to cross a lake a mile wide. In the case of Donegal, in order to jerrymander, they have crossed Lough Swilly, which is 20 miles wide. With regard to the county of Dublin, any one who looks at a map will see that they have run in and out and roundabout in a most extraordinary way, so as to give the Protestant or the English Party a good chance of securing one of the seats to which they are not entitled. In regard to the City of Dublin they have acted still more unfairly. In the Bill the boundaries of the City of Belfast are extended so as to increase the population very materially, and to give to Belfast four Members, the present number being only two. The boundaries are extended in the case of Belfast, in accordance with the Report of the Hexham Royal Commission, which recommends that the boundaries shall be exteded for municipal purposes. That Hexham Commission also investigated the case of Dublin, where a similar extension of boundaries was sought for municipal purposes. The extension of the boundaries for Parliamentary purposes, following the example of Belfast, was pressed upon the Government and upon the Commissioners; but it was refused. If the Parliamentary boundaries had been extended in the case of Dublin, the city would have been given six Members instead of four. On the basis of the Report of the Commission referred to, Dublin is entitled to an extension of boundaries similar to that which has been given to Belfast, I fail to see any satisfactory reason why Dublin should be denied the proper extension which has been conceded in the case of Belfast. The Commissioners have not been content to deny to Dublin the extension given to Belfast, but they have materially departed from the original scheme; they have broken up the wards; they have crossed the river; and they have committed the most extraordinary freaks, so as to secure that parts of the city where there is a very slight majority of the Nationalist Party shall be leavened by an infusion of electors belonging to the English Party. They have also taken away from some parts of the city a portion of the Nationalist strength, and thrown it over to quarters where there is a considerable proportion of electors belonging to the English Party. The cases of Ulster and of the City and the County of Dublin are the only instances in which it was possible for the Boundary Commissioners to treat the Catholics and the Nationalist Party unfairly, and they have done their best to prove once more that it is impossible for an English Government in Ireland to act with fair play to the majority of the people. Some better treatment is due from the Government to the Catholics of Ulster. Those people are the descendants of a sorely oppressed race. They are the survivors of a deliberate attempt to exterminate, by the plantation of Ulster, the Catholics of the North; and if they have increased and mutiplied there again it is a striking tribute to the vitality of the Celtic race. Notwithstanding all the efforts made to diminish their numbers, the Catholics of Ulster are now almost equal with the Protestant population of the district. They have survived persecution and triumphed over unjust laws. That which has been done by the Boundary Commissioners will be remembered by the Catholics of Ulster in the near future, when they join hands with the rest of their countrymen throughout Ireland in the impending struggle for the Constitutional vindication of their rights, a struggle which I hope will be the last. This population is entitled, in all the circumstances of the case, to better treatment than they have received. It is all very well to talk about the necessities of representing English Parties; the so-called loyal minority in Ireland will have been abundantly represented. And it does not deserve exceptional treatment at the hands of Parliament. The loyal minority, as they call themselves, have done more to perpetuate disaffection and embarrass and endanger the Empire than every Fenian agitator from New York to San Francisco. England placed them in Ireland in days gone by as the English garrison, and well have they served their patrons. The garrison so persecuted and so exterminated the people that England was compelled to manacle and hinder them by special legislation, and was compelled to send over and maintain in Ireland vast garrisons of armed men for their protection. At the present moment they had 33,000 valuable soldiers in Ireland for the sake of its so-called "loyal minority;" and would the loyal minority go to Egypt for England and fight the battles there? Would it go to India and protect England from Russian encroachments on the Afghan Frontier? Oh, no; that did not enter into the calculations of these men. No doubt there have been, and there are still, brave men amongst them; but, on the whole, they have shown themselves to be a selfish and an inconsiderate race, mindful only of their own ends, and little regarding the interests of the Empire. The Catholics of Ulster have been practically deprived of representation in Parliament. Until my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) was returned there was no Catholic Member for the real Ulster Province. It is not fair that the Catholics of Ireland should be treated as they are. I trust that the able way in which our case has been presented by my hon. Friends the Members for Monaghan and Sligo (Mr. Healy and Mr. Sexton) will have an effect upon the conscience and mind of the House, and that it will be able to remedy the injustice that has been done us when the Bill gets into Committee.


said, the hon. Member for the City of Cork had used strong language; but he was not in the House on Wednesday afternoon, when his case was stated by the hon. Members for Monaghan and Sligo (Mr. Healy and Mr. Sexton), and he did not hear the reply of the President of the Local Government Board to those two hon. Members. He had now spoken with great force; but he had not added a single fact to those brought before the House on Wednesday, nor was it possible to add much to the reply which had been already given. What was the charge they had made against the Boundary Commissioners of Ireland? They alleged, in the first place, that Earl Spencer gave hints to the Commissioners contrary to the instructions given to them publicly; and that, in pursuance of those hints, the Commissioners had dealt with the question unfairly, and had jerrymandered the districts in Ulster for the benefit of the Loyal Party, and against the interests of the Nationalist Party. Anyone who knew Earl Spencer—and, indeed, any right-minded man—would say at once that it was impossible that he could have acted the part which was attributed to him. It was totally impossible that Earl Spencer could have given to the Commissioners privately hints different from those he gave to them in his commission. It was unnecessary to ask Earl Spencer a question on the subject; but he had received a letter from Mr. Piers White, one of the Commissioners, in which he said— The Commissioners never had the slightest communication, directly or indirectly, from Earl Spencer or anyone else in the Irish Go- vernment as to the mode in which our duties were to be discharged beyond the public instructions. He had received similar communications from two other members of the Commission. Everyone who knew the members of the Commission would admit at once that it was totally impossible that they could have acted otherwise than in strict accordance with the public instructions which had been issued, and he hoped they would hear no more on that point. His right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board stated, on Wednesday, that the official schemes of the Commissioners were merely tentative; that they were prepared without any local knowledge of the districts to which they applied; and that they were submitted merely with a view to inquiry.


How was it that they suited the three Southern Provinces?


said, his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board explained that in the Southern Provinces the Nationalists were so completely in command of the constituencies that it did not matter which boundary was adopted. That accounted for the fact that the changes were not so numerous in those Provinces as in the Province of Ulster. The hon. Member for the City of Cork had stated that the Commissioners in Ulster had given but one decision in favour of the Nationalist Party. He thought the hon. Member was wrong, and that Down was not the only case. In the case of Armagh objection was taken to the Commissioners' scheme by all parties—[Mr. HEALY: Nothing of the kind.]—and the decision arrived at by the Commissioners was more in favour of the scheme of the Nationalists than that of any other Party. He had gone carefully into these various schemes with the President of the Local Government Board; and he would undertake to say that every one of them might be defended on their merits. When these schemes came to be discussed in Committee, the Government would undertake to prove that in every instance the Commissioners had acted rightly according to the instructions given to them, and they could not be accused of having decided unfairly against the Nationalist Party. He denied that any jerrymandering had taken place in the interests of the Protestant Party of Ulster. With regard to Donegal all Parties, including the Nationalists, objected to the Commissioners' scheme, and the main objection was, that the two southern baronies had been separated. The Commissioners decided to re-unite the baronies in question in one division, and any independent person who looked at the map could see that the other divisions must follow as a matter of course. The hon. Member for the City of Cork was not correct in stating that Lough Swilly was 20 miles broad; it was not more than four miles across at any part. Looking at the division of Donegal, he contended that it was a legitimate one, and one which thoroughly carried out the instructions of the Commissioners—namely, that the divisions should be compact, and that the pursuits of the people should be considered. The people living on either side of Lough Swilly were fishermen, and most-of them spoke the Irish language. Much had been said with regard to the decisions of the Commissioners in the case of Dublin County, which had been divided into two divisions. The Commissioners had in this case followed exactly the same plan as was adopted in England and Scotland, especially in the neighbourhood of London. The hon. Member for the City of Cork complained of the conduct of the Commissioners in not extending the boundary of Dublin while they extended the boundary of Belfast. In the case of Belfast the Bill itself proposed to extend the boundary, adding to the borough those parts which the Municipal Boundaries Commissioners of 1881 recommended should be added, and the Commissioners had somewhat extended those limits. With regard to Dublin it was impossible to extend the boundary without adding places which would practically entitle the city to another Member. It was not within the powers of the Commissioners to extend a boundary so as to entitle a place to an additional Member. The hon. Member for the City of Cork, he believed, complained that the Dublin decisions of the Commissioners would have the effect of giving a seat to the Loyalist Party. That was a conclusion very different to that which had been arrived at from a Loyalist point of view; for ho believed it was generally considered by the Conservative Party in Dublin that their hopes of returning a Member had been extinguished. The hon. Member for the City of Cork, however, went on to say that he considered that no process of proportional representation would possibly have given the Loyalist Party so large a representation as they would have under the Commissioners' decision, and that in Ulster alone they would, obtain 23 seats, besides two from the University and two from Dublin County, or 27 in all. The Protestants formed one-fourth of the whole population of Ireland; and as they hoped that a not inconsiderable portion of the Catholics might remain, as they probably would remain, among the Loyalists, he thought they might assume that the Party was entitled to one-fourth of the number of Members returned by the country, which would be 26 or 27. Ho hoped the Loyalist Party would be as well off under the Bill as the hon. Member supposed. While the hon. Member for the City of Cork had, probably, taken an exaggerated view of the case, he did not himself take so gloomy a view as some hon. Members opposite above the Gangway. Taking Ireland throughout, and considering that it would be divided into one-Member districts, the Loyalists would secure a fair, though, perhaps, not the full, representation as they were entitled to. There were three counties in Ulster—Donegal, Cavan, and Monaghan—in which the Catholics formed no less than 74 per cent of the population; and if these three counties were taken away, the Protestants formed a considerable majority in the remaining six counties of Ulster. The hon. and learned Member for Monaghan did not take exactly the same view of the number of Members the Loyalists would be able to return. The hon. and learned Member put the number at 23, including the two University Members. Again, he said that was short of the number to which the Protestant Party were entitled by their numbers. [Mr. HEALY: I never said the Protestant Party."] Well, the Loyalist Party. The hon. Member for the City of Cork argued as if the Protestant and Loyalist Party were alike. [Mr. PAUNELL: The English Party.] The hon. and learned Member for Monaghan stated the other day that, in hi3 view, the proposal of the Government with regard to the number of Members given to Ireland was just and fair. It did not appear that the hon. and learned Member and his Friends were acting in the same spirit of fairness towards the Loyalist and English Party in Ireland, for their claim was that the 23 Members of the Loyalist Party should be reduced to something like 16 or 17. He did not think that the House would alter the scheme in the direction in which the hon. Member for the City of Cork pointed. There was no change which could be made in that way which would not be open to the charge made against the Commissioners of jerrymandering in the interests of a Party.


said, he had thought that that evening the House would have proceeded calmly with the consideration of the Bill in Committee; but the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) had chosen, for purposes of his own, to make a most violent and unprovoked attack on what he truly called the Loyalist minority in Ireland. This debate had been prolonged in order that the hon. Member for Cork might make that speech—a speech the obvious purpose of which was to prejudice and intercept the discussion of those matters of detail which must turn up by-and-by in Committee, and to produce, by anticipation, upon the House the impression that he and his Friends had been treated with the greatest harshness and oppression in the matter of the Franchise and Redistribution Bills. The hon. Member seemed to think that his Party were entitled to the deepest consideration and gratitude of the Members representing England, Scotland, and Wales, and that the Loyalists were entitled to nothing but the severest treatment that could be heaped upon them by way of revenge. It would be impossible to discuss the former question in detail on this occasion; he would only say in general that he could confirm, as far as his information went, the views put forward by the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken. He was assured by his friends, who were well acquainted with Ulster, that, so far from getting any advantage, they were placed at the greatest possible disadvantage by the course taken during the last few weeks; and with regard to the County and City of Dublin, with which he was intimately acquainted, he could speak from his own knowledge. But as to the latter part of his speech he must say that the statement of the hon. Member for the City of Cork exceeded, in perfect sang froid and audacity, anything he had ever heard even from that hon. Gentleman before. The Party which the hon. Member called the English Party was as decidedly an Irish Party as that of the hon. Member himself; but they happened to be the loyal Irish Party. It was not possible to draw the line of the loyal faction and the Separatist Party conterminous with the lines of Protestant and Catholic Ireland; for whilst there could not be found in all Ireland, he believed, 100 or 200 Protestants who were in favour of separation, there were multitudes of men of the Roman Catholic religion who were as loyal as any others. Outside of Ulster there were 300,000 and odd Protestants; and, according to the views of the hon. Member, they had no right even to one seat for Dublin. Why, they were entitled to five or six seats instead of one. And that was the great grievance that the hon. Member brought forward, and the great complaint he made against the action of the Commissioners. He (Mr. Plunket) did not desire to dwell further on this point; but they knew that, while the Protestants were one-fourth of the population of Ireland, and the whole Loyalist population was certainly one-third, if they took the well-to-do Catholics, who were Loyalists almost to a man, they were not going to get anything like a proportion of Members to which they were entitled, even according to their numbers, under this redistribution scheme. What, however, he wished more particularly to call attention to was another part of the speech of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, which was as gratuitous and unjust a reproach as was ever directed against the Loyalist minority in Ireland. Would it be believed that the hon. Member appealed to the Members for England, Wales, and Scotland, for more favourable treatment of the Nationalists, on the ground that they were entitled to the gratitude of the Members in question and their fellow-countrymen, while the Loyal or English Party in Ireland were not entitled to any gratitude at all? The hon. Member asked—" What have the Loyalists, what have the Protestants ever done for you? What has Ulster done? Think of all the troops that are sent to protect Protestantism in Ireland. Have any of them ever gone to fight your battles? Have any of them spilled their blood for you?" In face of the facts, such language wa3 presuming on the supposed ignorance of the audience to whom it was addressed. What were the facts? He did not believe that there were now more than two regiments in all Ulster; and the Army in Ireland was not there to protect the men of Ulster, who were well able to take care of themselves, but to protect loyal people who were scattered throughout the rest of the country. And as to volunteering, he was glad to know, as a fact, that one Militia regiment in the North of Ireland had already volunteered to go out and take part in the war in Egypt. Who were those whose lives had been sacrificed in the Soudan? What were the names connected with their struggles and difficulties there?


Officers or privates?


Privates as well as officers. Of the 11 officers who fell at Abu Klea, five or seven, he did not know which, were Irishmen. Stewart and Wolseley—were not these Irish names? Gough, Darley, and the others—did they not know them well? And did not the hon. Member know that it was an Irish regiment which was foremost when a prize was offered for the first which arrived at the place of danger? What right had the hon. Member for the City of Cork to claim gratitude for his friends in Ireland at the expense of those whom he called the English faction? Was not Power, the companion of Stewart, a Celt, if there was one? Yet at this time, when his fellow-countrymen, Catholic and Celtic, as well as Protestant, were exposed every day to deadly peril, when Irishmen were daily adding new lustre to the Irish name, the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his Friends, at every meeting of their followers, were calling out for cheers for the Mahdi.


said, he did not know where the occasion came from for all this indignation on the part of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Plunket), except upon the assumption that he had been touched by the spear of truth, and smarted under it. It was the fact, and there was no use denying it, that the gentlemen who called themselves the loyal minority in Ireland had taken the main part in making the country ungovernable by England. The loyal minority had been petted, pampered, and indulged by successive Governments, to the detriment of the majority. How long would they be loyal if they received the treatment which was dealt out to the majority of the Irish people? How long would they be loyal if they had to submit to confiscation and religious persecution? Their loyalty was conditional upon their remaining lords and masters in Ireland, under the protection of the strong arm of England. Which was it better for England, that there should be a loyal minority or a loyal majority in Ireland? He could tell the House that there would never be a loyal majority in Ireland until those who were known as the loyal minority were brought to their senses. Arguments were urged there about the necessity of fully representing the loyal minority; but he would say what about the 2,000,000 Roman Catholics in England—what representation were they to get? The game of the so-called loyal minority had been played by the Boundary Commissioners, who had tricked the Nationalist majority. Their first schemes were impartial, because they were drawn up in London without local knowledge; but when they went to the North of Ireland, and learnt the views of the Tories, the Commissioners at once accepted the suggestions of the Emergency men and the Orange Party.


said, he wished to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill to a matter brought before the House on Wednesday by the hon. Member for Roxburghshire and the hon. Member for Edinburgh. What was said in the debate on Wednesday by the Chancellor of the Duchy had created great uneasiness amongst the Scotch Members. It seemed to indicate on the part of the Government their intention to give no effect to the proposals which the Lord Advocate submitted to the Scotch Members. These Members felt very grateful to the Lord Advocate for the pains which he had taken in preparing the scheme for there-grouping of the Scottish burghs. They had devoted two whole days to the discussion of the scheme; and although there were some points on which difference of opinion arose, yet the scheme, as a whole, was very generally ap- proved of. In those circumstances the Scotch Members thought it very strange indeed that the Government should de sire to depart wholly from the proposed arrangements. [Sir CHARLES W. DILKE: No, no!] Well, he was very glad to know it was not the intention of the Government to do so; but that was certainly the impression produced on Wednesday. The Chancellor of the Duchy said the proposals were so connected together as to form a kind of puzzle, and if one piece fell out the whole scheme dropped to pieces. The right hon. Gentleman surely could not have read the proposals of the Lord Advocate——


explained that what he did say was that some of the proposals would involve the fate of others; and he endeavoured to justify that by pointing out that it would be extremely difficult to take one part of the plan and leave the other parts.


thought that was exactly what he had said.


said, he was referring to some of the proposals.


said, he was happy to have had the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, and to be assured that the impression produced on his mind and the minds of many Scotch Members was an erroneous one, and that the Government really saw their way to carry out some of the proposals. There were several of those proposals as to which the opinion of the Scotch Members was all but unanimous, and there could be no difficulty in carrying these out. There were others which involved debatable questions, and he could understand there would be some difficulty in giving effect to these; but that was no reason for setting aside others that were simple. He trusted, after what was said, that the Government would see their way to put some of the proposals on the Paper shortly. Scotch Members had been expecting to see them on the Paper; and he knew the intention of many of these Members was, that if the Government did not put them down they would themselves do so on their own account, in order that they might be discussed by the Committee. He trusted, however, to see them down on the Paper to-morrow.


said, that as some reference had been made to Armagh County, he should like to remark that he was present on the occasion of the visit of the Commissioners. They had their map, and it was found that they had not allowed a sufficient number of inhabitants to No. 2 division of Armagh. They were, in fact, 6,000 short of this, and the discrepancy was so great that, of course, it had to be rectified. There was also a Petition from the inhabitants of Ballymore praying to be included in the Mid-Armagh district, which was duly considered. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) had talked of the plantation of Ulster. Well, it was probably owing to that plantation that the hon. Gentleman himself came to be an Irishman. If not, how could he account for the estates of Mr. J. Parnell in County Armagh—which, by the way, was reported to be the most rack-rented property in Ulster.


I rise to Order, Mr. Speaker. Is the hon. Member in Order in going into the ancestry and landed possessions of the hon. Member's (Mr. Parnell's) family?


The remarks of the hon. Member were becoming irrelevant.


said, of course he bowed to the Speaker's ruling; but, as the hon. Member for the City of Cork had talked about the plantation of Ulster, he (Mr. Beresford) was showing that the hon. Member must originally have come into Ireland in that way. He did not believe there was a drop of Celtic blood in the hon. Member. The hon. Member had also thrown a doubt on the bravery of the men of the North of Ireland. The right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Plunket) had sufficiently made answer on that point; and he would only add one name that had been omitted—a name that was a household word in the North of Ireland, and a name which was heard with pride all over the United Kingdom—that of Charlie Beresford. The loyal minority had to complain that instead of being unduly represented they would not be as sufficiently represented as they ought to be in future Parliaments.


in reply to his hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock Burghs (Mr. Dick-Peddie), said there was every desire on the part of the Government to place before the House those portions of the proposals to which he had referred, and which were found to have had prevalent or very general assent. There were certain parts as to which it was found that that condition did not exist; and, consequently, there were some of the proposals which would not be submitted to the House by the Government, and, as the Chancellor of the Duchy had said, that would also involve, so far, the fate of certain others by a certain measure of re-arrangement. But those portions as to which there had been, and still was, as the Government believed, a general assent would be put on the Paper, and possibly certain modifications made in some of those which were involved more or less in some of those portions which would have to be dropped. That was all that the Government would do. Of course, it would be quite open to any hon. Member to put on the Paper such further additions in the same direction, or in a different direction, as they might think fit, and they would be duly considered.


thanked the hon. Member (Mr. Dick-Peddie) for bringing forward this matter as to the grouping of the burghs in Scotland, and the re-arrangement which was brought before the conference of Scottish Members. He thought it would have been a very strange thing if the views of the Scottish Members regarding the arrangements for Scotland had failed to be carried out by the Government; because the Scotch Members met for the purpose of considering the schemes that were laid before them, and in the majority of cases they approved of them. What met with general approbation should surely be carried out. For example, in the case of the five burghs that he had the honour to represent, each of them had agreed to the proposition that had been made to dissolve the group, or rather to take the returning burgh (Falkirk) from the group, and to connect another burgh in Lanarkshire with three other burghs which he at present represented in the county, and to form these four Lanarkshire burghs into a group. He had presented Petitions from the members of the Liberal Association in these burghs in favour of this proposal, and they had the assent also of various Town Councils. Therefore, he was glad that the misapprehension amongst Scotch Members as to what was stated by the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Trevelyan) should have been removed in this casual way.


called the attention of the House to the County of Wicklow, which was divided by the Boundaries Commission into East and West Wicklow, whereas it would be more fairly divided into North and South Wicklow. A great deal had been said about the representation of the "loyal minority" in Ireland. There wore 2,000,000 of Catholic Irishmen in England, and they would not be able to return more than one Member to represent them. Except in one division of Liverpool the Catholic Irish minority in England would be unrepresented.


said, he was most unwilling to delay even for a few minutes the Speaker leaving the Chair; but there was a point of principle in regard to redistribution of seats in Scotland which could only properly be discussed, he thought, at the present stage. Generally, he thought, Scotland would not trespass much on the time of the House in Committee, because Scotch arrangements were mostly recent, and did not require much re-adjustment. But one part of their electoral system was of an ancient and archaic character—namely, the groups of burghs, which were wholly unsuited for the present time. The question he wished to raise was, in dealing with these groups of burghs, which they had not to deal with in England or Ireland, how far were they placed under restrictions of principle by the understanding that had been come to by the two Front Benches? These burghs were arranged in the most singular manner. He might illustrate it best by referring to the case of his own own county. The burgh of Kilmarnock, in Ayrshire, having a population of about 26,000, was conjoined with the capital of Renfrewshire, the capital of Dumbartonshire, and one of the largest towns in Lanarkshire. Again, in the same county, the burgh of Ayr was combined with the capital of Argyllshire and with one town in the extreme North and another in the extreme South of Argyllshire. It was generally agreed that such a combination should be broken up; but when they came to rearrangement, then arose this difficulty of principle. It seemed to be argued on behalf of the Government that in the re-arrangement they were not to include in a group any burgh which had not at present Parliamentary representation, nor might they add a surrounding district from the county. Then, what remained? A satisfactory arrangement became extremely difficult under such narrow restrictions; and it seemed to him that, the case of Scotland being different from that of England and Ireland, abstract principles which had been arrived at in regard to these two countries should not be applied so rigorously to Scotland. In Ayrshire they had a population which made four quotas, entitling to four Members. They had at present a Member for North Ayrshire, one for South Ayrshire, one for the Kilmarnock, and one for the Ayr Burghs. Surely it seemed a most reasonable arrangement that, in place of distant outlying burghs, they should either give Kilmarnock two or three neighbouring burghs in the county within a few minutes of it by rail, making up a quota, or that they should carve out from the county a district of which Kilmarnock should be the centre. They should deal with the burgh of Ayr in the same way, and in that case they would give to Ayrshire the four Members to which its four quotas entitled it. But if they proceeded otherwise they would have this difficulty. They had a town like Kilmarnock, with a population of 26,000, far above the number that retained representation in England and Ireland, which was a returning burgh, and the Lord Advocate proposed to combine it with Ayr, also a returning burgh, with a population of more than 20,000. If these burghs were of the same character something might be said for this proposal; but Kilmarnock being essentially a manufacturing town, and Ayr being a county town, with agricultural interests connected with it, both the towns objected to that combination, and if an abstract principle were laid down against adding any population not already included in a group, they would be driven to remain under the old-fashioned arrangement. This was a point of principle; and he begged to protest against its being considered that the point of principle had been settled on the second reading, or in the course of the present debate. It should be open to them, on the individual cases as they arose, to propose that one or other of these towns, such as Kilmar- nock or Ayr, might be conjoined with neighbouring burghs, or with the neighbouring district in its own county.


said, he wished to make one remark with reference to observations that fell from the hon. Member for Roxburghsire (Mr. A. Elliot), who the other day referred to a meeting of Scotch Members, convened by the Lord Advocate, in the Committee Room upstairs, respecting the question of redistribution in Scotland. The hon. Member on that occasion expressed an opinion that the majority of Scotch Members, or, as he went on to say, of Scotch Liberal Members, were in favour of the Lord Advocate's scheme. He regretted that the hon. Member should have made any allusion to Scotch Liberal Members, or that he should have mentioned Liberals at all; because he always considered that a meeting to which the Lord Advocate summoned Scotch Liberal and Conservative Members alike was entirely a non-political meeting. If it was not a non-political meeting, then he thought it would never do to have these meetings at all for the consideration of great Imperial questions. They sat for two days, he might say, in camerâ, and none of the proceedings were allowed to transpire; and he therefore regretted that any Member who was present should state what were the views of either the Liberals or Conservatives on the occasion. Another point he wished to refer to was that just alluded to by the hon. Member who had just sat down—namely, the way in which this redistribution scheme would affect the county of Ayr, one division of which he had the honour to represent. He might tell the Prime Minister, whom he saw in his place, that the scheme was not popular even with the Liberals of the county of Ayr; because the leading Liberal organ of the county had, week after week, made strong statements against this redistribution scheme, and it went on to suggest that if the House of Commons would not listen to reason an appeal should be made to the calm judgment of the House of Lords, as they called it. The reason why the Liberals objected to the scheme for the county of Ayr was, because it restricted the representation of Ayrshire, which was considered as too much restricted already. Ayrshire, after Lanarkshire, was the most populous county in Scotland, hav- ing, at the last Census, a population of 217,000, hut now increased to 220,000. Whereas it had now two county Members, and a preponderating influence in returning two burgh Members, it was actually proposed to restrict its representation to two county Members and one burgh Member. It claimed the right to four Members, having a population, as he had said, of 220,000. If they contrasted the treatment which the county of Ayr received with that accorded to the county of Fife, they would see the vast difference between the two, and the justice of what both the Liberals and Conservatives of Ayrshire were saying; because, whereas the county of Fife had a population of only 171,000 at the last Census, it was to have a representation of four Members. That seemed almost inexplicable. But if they went a step further, and took the St. Andrew's group of burghs, which had a population of 19,000 or 20,000, that small and comparatively insignificant group was to retain a Member; while the large burgh of Kilmarnock, which had been from time immemorial a returning burgh, was to be merged for the future in the burghs included in the Ayr group. That had caused great discontent in the burgh of Kilmarnock, and he hoped, at least, that part of the scheme would not be carried out. Then the hon. Member for Fifeshire (Mr. Preston Bruce) said everything did not depend on numbers. Now, he thought it was precisely on that point they were claiming additional Members for Scotland. If they considered the population of Scotland, it was properly entitled to some 12 or 15 additional Members entirely on the ground of population, and he did not understand that these Members were to be given irrespective of population. He would respectfully point out to the Prime Minister and the Government that it was not sufficient to give these additional Members for Scotland; but that it was also the duty of the Government to see that these Members were properly apportioned and distributed.


said, when they came to consider the Bill in Committee he would call attention to the divisions of Dublin City and County. Leaving to one side the political aspect of the case, the divisions made by the Commissioners would be a great inconvenience.

Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)


Clause 1 (Short title).


in moving, as an Amendment, in page 1, line 6, after the word "the," to insert "increase and," said, that if the Amendment were adopted, the Act would be cited as "The Increase and Redistribution of Seats Act." He would point out that all former Bills for the redistribution of seats had been brought forward with the object of redistributing seats which already existed. Some of the 658 seats, that were appropriated for the representation of the people had been, on various occasions, removed from decayed or small constituencies and added to larger ones; but the Bill now before the Committee, if it was to be carried out according to the promises and intentions of the Government, would not only redistribute seats, but would add to their number. He spoke as a Scotch Member, and unless, by some means or other, they were assured that the 12 additional Members it was the intention of the Government to give were provided in the Bill, Scotland would certainly not be satisfied. He had suggested an arrangement by which the equalization of the number of Members for different parts of the Kingdom might have been obtained. It had been decided by the House, however, that the number of the Irish and Welsh Representatives should not be diminished in proportion to the numerical representation which obtained in England and Scotland. If the proportion of 45,300, which obtained in Wales, were applied to the other parts of the United Kingdom, England would have 560 Representatives; Scotland, 85; Wales, 30; and Ireland, 105—making a total of 780 Representatives for the House, instead of 670, as proposed by the Government. It was quite evident that the general; sense of the House was against any increase in the number of Members, and the Bill itself recited that it was a Bill for the redistribution of seats at Parliamentary Elections. Therefore, in order to make the provisions of the Bill run in conformity with the title of it, it was necessary, seeing that an increase of 12 Scotch Members was to take place, that the Bill should be cited, not only as a Bill for redistributing seats, but also for increasing the number of seats. He would have preferred infinitely that the equalization should take place in the way he had before suggested; but the House had already decided against the proposal, and he was afraid that when the Committee came to discuss the clause which increased the Scotch representation, the Scotch Members would have very little chance of obtaining what they desired, unless they amended the title of the Bill so as to carry with it the determination that there should be an increase. A little further on the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold) had an Amendment on the Paper which provided that the additional Members for Scotland should be obtained by disfranchising existing boroughs. As an old English Member, for he (Sir John Hay) had enjoyed the honour of sitting in the Imperial Parliament for an English constituency, he could not concur with the hon. Member in any proposal to diminish the number of English Members below the number now returned. As he had already pointed out, if the number of Members for Ireland and Wales were continued as at present arranged, the number of English Members ought to be increased to 560. That, however, was a reductio ad absurdum, and it was not to be supposed that such a proposition would for one moment be accepted by the House. At the same time, it showed how over-represented Ireland and Wales were as compared with England and Scotland; because, if England had 560 Members and Scotland 85, there would only be 13 left for the rest of the Kingdom. He would not detain the Committee by enlarging further upon the Amendment; but he confessed that he should not believe Her Majesty's Government were in earnest in proposing any addition to the numbers of the House, in order to satisfy the just claims of Scotland, unless the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill (Sir Charles W. Dilke) accepted the Amendment he had now the honour to move.

Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 6, after the word "the," insert the words "increase and."—(Sir John Hay).

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


said, that the right hon. and gallant Baronet opposite (Sir John Hay) appeared to refuse to believe that the Government were in earnest about the increased representation of Scotland unless they inserted his Amendment in the clause. He could assure his right hon. Friend, however, that Scotland would receive the additional Members promised, and that the Bill was not likely to pass unless that part of the programme was complied with. He wished, however, to point out that the Amendment was not necessary in order to secure that object, because the increase of one Member instead of 12 would satisfy it, and it did not in the slightest degree carry out the pledge that 12 additional seats would be given to Scotland. As a matter of fact, it would not necessarily increase the Scotch representation, although it would put the Government in fetters and shackles. The Amendment was quite unnecessary. The number of Members in the House was not fixed by any Constitutional rule, and after the strong declarations which had been made by the Government regarding this subject, he hoped it would be found unnecessary to pursue it further. He might point out that, as a matter of fact, the House at the present moment did not consist of 658 Members, but only of 652, which was really the present number by law, and had been so for some years. It was only a matter of superstition, therefore, to attach so much reverence to the number of 658. Furthermore, the Act of 1868 took away seven seats from England and gave them to Scotland; but there was no allusion to that fact in the recitals of the Act, and he thought they ought to adopt the general rule in Bills of this kind. Even the right hon. and gallant Gentleman himself admitted the necessity of increasing the number of seats for Scotland in some form or other; but the Government, having already made declarations so complete and strong, would only weaken their position by going further.

Question put, and negatived.

Clause agreed to.

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