§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE) (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
, in rising to move that leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the provision for the future Government of Ireland, said: I could have wished, Mr. Speaker, on several grounds, that it had been possible for me on this 1037 single occasion to open to the House the whole of the policy and intentions of the Government with respect to Ireland. The two questions of land and of Irish government are, in our view, closely and inseparably connected, for they are the two channels through which we hope to find access, and effectual access, to that question which is the most vital of all—namely, the question of social order in Ireland. As I have said, those two questions are in our view—whatever they may be in that of anyone else—they are in our view, for reasons which I cannot now explain, inseparable the one from the other. But it is impossible for me to attempt such a task. Even as it is, the mass of materials that I have before me I may, without exaggeration, call enormous. I do not know that at any period a task has been laid upon me involving so large and so diversified an exposition, and it would be in vain to attempt more than human strength can, I think, suffice to achieve. I may say that, when contemplating the magnitude of that task, I have been filled with a painful mistrust; but that mistrust, I can assure the House, is absorbed in the yet deeper feeling of the responsibility that would lie upon me, and of the mischief that I should inflict upon the public interest, if I should fail to bring home to the minds of Members, as I seem to perceive in my own mind, the magnitude of all the varied aspects of this question. What I wish is that we should no longer fence and skirmish with this question, but that we should come to close quarters with it; that we should get if we can at the root; that we should take measures not merely intended for the wants of to-day and of to-morrow, but, if possible, that we should look into a more distant future; that we should endeavour to anticipate and realize that future by the force of reflection; that we should, if possible, unroll it in anticipation before our eyes, and make provision now, while there is yet time, for all the results that may await upon a right or wrong decision of to-day.
Mr. Speaker, on one point I rejoice to think that we have a material, I would say, a vital, agreement. It is felt on both sides of the House, unless I am much mistaken, that we have arrived at a stage in our political transactions with Ireland, where two roads part one 1038 from the other, not soon probably to meet again. The late Government—I am not now referring to this as a matter of praise or blame, but simply as a matter of fact—the late Government felt that they had reached the moment for decisive resolution when they made the announcement, on the last day of their Ministerial existence, that their duty compelled them to submit to Parliament proposals for further repressive criminal legislation. We concur entirely in that conclusion, and we think that the time is come when it is the duty of Parliament, when the honour of Parliament and its duty alike require, that it should endeavour to come to some decisive resolution in this matter; and our intention is, Sir, to propose to the House of Commons that which, as we think, if happily accepted, will liberate Parliament from the restraints under which of late years it has ineffectually struggled to perform the Business of the country; will restore legislation to its natural, ancient, unimpeded course; and will, above all, obtain an answer—a clear, we hope, and definite answer—to the question whether it is or is not possible to establish good and harmonious relations between Great Britain and Ireland on the footing of those free institutions to which Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Irishmen are alike unalterably attached.
Now, when I say that we are imperatively called upon to deal with the great subject of social order in Ireland, do not let me for a moment either be led myself, or lead others, into the dangerous fault of exaggeration. The crime of Ireland, the agrarian crime of Ireland, I rejoice to say, is not what it was in other days—days now comparatively distant, days within my own earliest recollection as a Member of Parliament. In 1833 the Government of Lord Grey proposed to Parliament a strong Coercion Act. At that time the information at their command did not distinguish between agrarian and ordinary crime as the distinction is now made. As to the present time, it is easy to tell the House that the serious agrarian crimes of Ireland, which in 1881 were 1,011, in 1885 were 245. But I go back to the period of 1832. The contrast is, perhaps, still more striking. In 1832 the homicides in Ireland were 248, in 1885 they were 65. The cases of attempts to kill, happily 1039 unfulfilled, in the first of those years were 209, in 1885 were 37. The serious offences of all other kinds in Ireland in 1832 were 6,014, in 1885 they were 1,057. The whole criminal offences in Ireland in the former year were 14,000, and in the latter year 2,683.
So far, therefore, Sir, we are not to suppose that the case with which we have now to deal is one of those cases of extreme disorder which threaten the general peace of society. Notwithstanding that, Sir, in order to lay the ground for the important measure we are asking leave to introduce—and well I am aware that it does require broad and solid grounds to be laid in order to justify the introduction of such a measure—in order to lay that ground, I must ask the House to enter with me into a brief review of the general features of what has been our course with regard to what is termed coercion, or repressive criminal legislation. And, Sir, the first point to which I would call your attention is this, that whereas exceptional legislation—legislation which introduces exceptional provisions into the law—ought itself to be in its own nature essentially and absolutely exceptional, it has become for us not exceptional, but habitual. We are like a man who, knowing that medicine may be the means of his restoration to health, endeavours to live upon medicine. Nations, no more than individuals, can find a subsistence in what was meant to be a cure. But has it been a cure? Have we attained the object which we desired, and honestly desired, to attain? No, Sir, agrarian crime has become, sometimes upon a larger and sometimes upon a smaller scale, as habitual in Ireland as the legislation which has been intended to repress it, and that agrarian crime, although at the present time it is almost at the low water-mark, yet has a fatal capacity of expansion under stimulating circumstances, and rises from time to time, as it rose in 1885, to dimensions, and to an exasperation which becomes threatening to general social order, and to the peace of private and domestic life. I ought, perhaps, to supply an element, which I forgot at the moment, in comparing 1832 and 1885—that is to remind the House that the decrease of brittle is not so great as it looks, because the population of Ireland at that time was nearly 8,000,000, whereas it may be taken at present at 5,000,000. But 1040 the exact proportion, I believe, is fairly represented by the figure I will now give. The population of Ireland now, compared with that time, is under two-thirds; the crime of Ireland now, as compared with that period, is under one-fifth.
But the agrarian crime in Ireland is not so much a cause as it is a symptom. It is a symptom of a yet deeper mischief of which it is only the external manifestation. That manifestation is mainly threefold. In the first place, with certain exceptions for the case of winter juries, it is impossible to depend in Ireland upon the finding of a jury in a case of agrarian crime according to the facts as they are viewed by the Government, by the Judges, and by the public, I think, at large. That is a most serious mischief, passing down deep into the very groundwork of civil society. It is also, Sir, undoubtedly a mischief that, in cases where the extreme remedy of eviction is resorted to by the landlord—possibly, in some instances, unnecessarily resorted to, but, in other instances, resorted to after long patience has been exhausted—these cases of eviction, good, bad, and indifferent as to their justification, stand pretty much in one and the same discredit with the rural population of Ireland, and become, as we know, the occasion of transactions that we all deeply lament. Finally, Sir, it is not to be denied that there is great interference in Ireland with individual liberty in the shape of intimidation. Now, Sir, I am not about to assume the tone of the Pharisee on this occasion. There is a great deal of intimidation in England, too, when people find occasion for it; and if we, the English and the Scotch, were under the conviction that we had such grave cause to warrant irregular action, as is the conviction entertained by a very large part of the population in Ireland, I am not at all sure that we should not, like that part of the population in Ireland, resort to the rude and unjustifiable remedy of intimidation. I am very ambitious on this important and critical occasion to gain one object—that is, not to treat this question controversially. I have this object in view, and I do not despair of attaining it; and in order that I may do nothing to cause me to fail of attaining it, I will not enter into the question, if you like, whether there ever is intimidation in England or not. 1041 But I will simply record the fact, which I thought it but just to accompany with a confession with regard to ourselves—I will simply record the fact that intimidation does prevail, not to the extent that is supposed, yet to a material and painful extent in Ireland. The consequence of that is to weaken generally the respect for law, and the respect for contract, and that among a people who, I believe, are as capable of attaining to the very highest moral and social standard as any people on the face of the earth. So much for coercion—if I use the phrase it is for brevity for repressive legislation generally—but there is one circumstance to which I cannot help calling the special attention of the House.
Nothing has been more painful to me than to observe that, in this matter, we are not improving, but, on the contrary, we are losing ground. Since the last half-century dawned, we have been steadily engaged in extending, as well as in consolidating, free institutions. I divide the period since the Act of Union with Ireland into two—the first from 1800 to 1832, the epoch of what is still justly called the great Reform Act; and, secondly, from 1833 to 1885. I do not know whether it has been as widely observed as I think it deserves to be that, in the first of those periods—32 years—there were no less than 11 years—it may seem not much to say, but wait for what is coming—there were no less than 11 of those 32 years in which our Statute Book was free throughout the whole year from repressive legislation of an exceptional kind against Ireland. But in the 53 years since we advanced far in the career of Liberal principles and actions—in those 53 years, from 1833 to 1885—there were but two years which were entirely free from the action of this special legislation for Ireland. Is not that of itself almost enough to prove that we have arrived at the point where it is necessary that we should take a careful and searching survey of our position? For, Sir, I would almost venture, trusting to the indulgent interpretation of the House, to say that the coercion we have heretofore employed has been spurious and ineffectual coercion, and that if there is to be coercion—which God forbid—it ought to be adequate to attain its end. If it is to attain its end it must be different, differently 1042 maintained, and maintained with a different spirit, courage, and consistency compared with the coercion with which we have been heretofore familiar.
Well, Sir, what are the results that have been produced? This result above all—and now I come to what I consider to be the basis of the whole mischief—that rightly or wrongly, yet in point of fact, law is discredited in Ireland, and discredited in Ireland upon this ground especially—that it comes to the people of that country with a foreign aspect, and in a foreign garb. These Coercion Bills of ours, of course—for it has become a matter of course—I am speaking of the facts and not of the merits—these Coercion Bills are stiffly resisted by the Members who represent Ireland in Parliament. The English mind, by cases of this kind and by the tone of the Press towards them, is estranged from the Irish people and the Irish mind is estranged from the people of England and Scotland. I will not speak of other circumstances attending the present state of Ireland, but I do think that I am not assuming too much when I say that I have shown enough in this comparatively brief review—and I wish it could have been briefer still—to prove that, if coercion is to be the basis for legislation, we must no longer be seeking, as we are always laudably seeking, to whittle it down almost to nothing at the very first moment we begin, but we must, like men, adopt it, hold by it, sternly enforce it, till its end has been completely attained—with what results to peace, good will, and freedom I do not now stop to inquire. Our ineffectual and spurious coercion is morally worn out. I give credit to the late Government for their conception of the fact. They must have realized it when they came to the conclusion, in 1885, that they would not propose the renewal or continuance of repressive legislation. They were in a position in which it would have been comparatively easy for them to have proposed it, as a Conservative Government, following in the footsteps of a Liberal Administration. But they determined not to propose it. I wish I could be assured that they and the Party by whom they are supported, were fully aware of the immense historic weight of that determination. I have sometimes heard language used which appears to betoken an idea, on the part of those who use it, 1043 that this is a very simple matter—that in one state of facts they judged one way in July, and that in another state of facts they judged another way in January; and that, consequently, the whole ought to be effaced from the minds and memories of men. Depend upon it the effect of that decision of July never can be effaced—it will weigh, it will tell upon the fortunes and circumstances both of England and of Ireland. The return to the ordinary law, I am afraid, cannot be said to have succeeded.
Almost immediately after the lapse of the Crimes Act "Boycotting" increased fourfold. Since that time it has been about stationary; but in October it had increased fourfold, compared with what it was in the month of May. Well, now, if it be true that resolute coercion ought to take the place of irresolute coercion—if it be true that our system, such as I have exhibited it, has been—we may hide it from ourselves, we cannot hide it from the world—a failure in regard to repressive legislation, will that other coercion, which it is possible to conceive, be more successful? I can, indeed, conceive, and in history we may point to circumstances in which coercion of that kind, stern, resolute, consistent, might be, and has been, successful. But it requires, in my judgment, two essential conditions, and these are—the autocracy of Government, and the secrecy of public transactions. With those conditions, that kind of coercion to which I am referring might possibly succeed. But will it succeed in the light of day, and can it be administered by the people of England and Scotland against the people of Ireland by the two nations which, perhaps, above all others upon earth—I need hardly except America—best understand and are most fondly attached to the essential principles of liberty?
Now, I enter upon another proposition to which I hardly expect broad exception can be taken. I will not assume, I will not beg, the question, whether the people of England and Scotland will ever administer that sort of effectual coercion which I have placed in contrast with our timid and hesitating repressive measures; but this I will say, that the people of England and Scotland will never resort to that alternative until they have tried every other. Have they tried every other? Well, some we have 1044 tried, to which I will refer. I have been concerned with some of them myself. But we have not yet tried every alternative, because there is one—not unknown to human experience—on the contrary, widely known to various countries in the world, where this dark and difficult problem has been solved by the comparatively natural and simple, though not always easy, expedient of stripping law of its foreign garb, and investing it with a domestic character, I am not saying that this will succeed; I by no means beg the question at this moment; but this I will say, that Ireland, as far as I know, and speaking of the great majority of the people of Ireland, believes it will succeed, and that experience elsewhere supports that conclusion. The case of Ireland, though she is represented here not less fully than England or Scotland, is not the same as that of England or Scotland. England, by her own strength, and by her vast majority in this House, makes her own laws just as independently as if she were not combined with two other countries. Scotland—a small country, smaller than Ireland, but a country endowed with a spirit so masculine that never in the long course of history, excepting for two brief periods, each of a few years, was the superior strength of England such as to enable her to put down the national freedom beyond the border—Scotland, wisely recognized by England, has been allowed and encouraged in this House to make her own laws as freely and as effectually as if she had a representation six times as strong. The consequence is that the mainspring of law in England is felt by the people to be English; the mainspring of law in Scotland is felt by the people to be Scotch; but the mainspring of law in Ireland, is not felt by the people to be Irish, and I am bound to say—truth extorts from me the avowal—that it cannot be felt to be Irish in the same sense as it is English and Scotch. The net results of this statement which I have laid before the House, because it was necessary as the groundwork of my argument, are these—in the first place, I admit it to be little less than a mockery to hold that the state of law and of facts conjointly, which I have endeavoured to describe, conduces to the real unity of this great, noble, and world-wide Empire. In the second place, something must be done, 1045 something is imperatively demanded from us to restore to Ireland the first conditions of civil life—the free course of law, the liberty of every individual in the exercise of every legal right, the confidence of the people in the law, and their sympathy with the law, apart from which no country can be called, in the full sense of the word, a civilized country, nor can there be given to that country the blessings which it is the object of civilized society to attain. Well, this is my introduction to the task I have to perform, and now I ask attention to the problem we have before us.
It is a problem not unknown in the history of the world; it is really this—there can be no secret about it as far as we are concerned—how to reconcile Imperial unity with diversity of legislation. Mr. Grattan not only held these purposes to be reconcilable, but he did not scruple to go the length of saying this—I demand the continued severance of the Parliaments with a view to the continued and everlasting unity of the Empire.Was that a flight of rhetoric, an audacious paradox? No; it was the statement of a problem which other countries have solved, and under circumstances much more difficult than ours. We ourselves may be said to have solved it, for I do not think that anyone will question the fact that, out of the six last centuries, for five centuries at least Ireland has had a Parliament separate from ours. That is a fact undeniable. Did that separation of Parliament destroy the unity of the British Empire? Did it destroy it in the 18th century? Do not suppose that I mean that harmony always prevailed between Ireland and England. We know very well there were causes quite sufficient to account for a recurrence of discord. But I take the 18th century alone. Can I be told that there was no unity of Empire in the 18th century? Why, Sir, it was the century which saw our Navy come to its supremacy. It was the century which witnessed the foundation of that great, gigantic manufacturing industry which now overshadows the whole world. It was, in a pre-eminent sense, the century of Empire, and it was in a sense, but too conspicuous, the century of wars. Those wars were carried on, that Empire was maintained and enormously enlarged, that trade was established, that Navy was brought to 1046 supremacy when England and Ireland had separate Parliaments. Am I to be told that there was no unity of Empire in that state of things? Well, Sir, what has happened elsewhere? Have any other countries had to look this problem in the face? The last half-century—the last 60 or 70 years since the great war—has been particularly rich in its experience of this subject and in the lessons which it has afforded to us. There are many cases to which I might refer to show how practicable it is, or how practicable it has been found by others whom we are not accustomed to look upon as our political superiors—how practicable it has been found by others to bring into existence what is termed local autonomy, and yet not to sacrifice, but to confirm Imperial unity.
Let us look to those two countries, neither of them very large, but yet countries which every Englishman and every Scotchman must rejoice to claim his kin—I mean the Scandinavian countries of Sweden and Norway. Immediately after the great war the Norwegians were ready to take sword in hand to prevent their coming under the domination of Sweden. But the Powers of Europe undertook the settlement of that question, and they united those countries upon a footing of strict legislative independence and co-equality. Now, I am not quoting this as an exact precedent for us, but I am quoting it as a precedent, and as an argument à fortiori, because I say they confronted much greater difficulties, and they had to put a far greater strain upon the unity of their country, than we can ever be called upon to put upon the unity of ours. The Legislatures of Sweden and of Norway are absolutely independent. The law even forbids—what I hope never will happen between England and Ireland—that a Swede, if I am correct in my impression, should bear office of any kind in the Norwegian Ministry. There is no sort of supremacy or superiority in the Legislature of Sweden over the Legislature of Norway. The Legislature of Norway has had serious controversies, not with Sweden, but with the King of Sweden, and it has fought out those controversies successfully upon the strictest Constitutional and Parliamentary grounds. And yet with two countries so united, what has been the effect? Not discord, not con- 1047 vulsions, not danger to peace, not hatred, not aversion, but a constantly growing sympathy; and every man who knows their condition knows that I speak the truth when I say that, in every year that passes, the Norwegians and the Swedes are more and more feeling themselves to be the children of a common country, united by a tie which never is to be broken.
I will take another case—the case of Austria and Hungary. In Austria and Hungary there is a complete duality of power. I will not enter upon the general condition of the Austrian Empire, or upon the other divisions and diversities which it includes, but I will take simply this case. At Vienna sits the Parliament of the Austrian Monarchy; at Buda-Pesth sits the Parliament of the Hungarian Crown; and that is the state of things which was established, I think, nearly 20 years ago. I ask all those who hear me whether there is one among them who doubts? Whether or not the condition of Austria be at this moment, or be not, perfectly solid, secure, and harmonious, after the enormous difficulties she has had to confront, on account of the boundless diversity of race, whether or not that condition be perfectly normal in every minute particular, this, at least, cannot be questioned, that it is a condition of solidity and of safety compared with the time when Hungary made war on her—war which she was unable to quell when she owed the cohesion of the body politic to the interference of Russian arms; or in the interval that followed, when there existed a perfect Legislative Union and a supreme Imperial Council sat in Vienna?
Now, I have quoted these illustrations as illustrations which show, not that what we are called upon to consider can be done, but that infinitely more can be done—has been done—under circumstances far less favourable. What was the state of Sweden and Norway—two small countries, Norway undoubtedly inferior in population, but still unassailable in her mountain fastnesses—what was the case of Sweden and Norway for bringing about a union by physical and material means? There were no means to be used but moral means, and those moral means have been completely successful. What, again, was the case of Austria, where the seat of Empire in the Archduchy was asso- 1048 ciated not with the majority, but with a minority of the population, and where she had to face Hungary with numbers far greater than her own? Even there, while having to attempt what was infinitely more complex and more dangerous than even prejudice can suppose to be that which I am about to suggest, it is not to be denied that a great relative good and relative success have been attained. Our advantages are immense in a question of this kind. I do not know how many Gentlemen who hear me have read the valuable work of Professor Dicey on the Law of the Constitution. No work that I have ever read brings out in a more distinct and emphatic manner the peculiarity of the British Constitution in one point to which, perhaps, we seldom have occasion to refer—namely, the absolute supremacy of Parliament. We have a Parliament to the power of which there are no limits whatever, except such as human nature in a Divinely-ordained condition of things imposes. We are faced by no co-ordinate Legislatures, and are bound by no statutory conditions. There is nothing that controls us, and nothing that compels us, except our convictions of law, of right, and of justice. Surely that is a favourable point of departure in considering a question such as this.
I have referred to the 18th century. During that century you had beside you a co-ordinate Legislature. The Legislature of Ireland, before the Union, had the same title as that of Great Britain. There was no juridical distinction to be drawn between them. Even in point of antiquity they were as nearly as possible on a par, for the Parliament of Ireland had subsisted for 500 years. It had asserted its exclusive right to make laws for the people of Ireland. That right was never denied, for Gentlemen ought to recollect, but all do not, perhaps, remember, that Poyning's Law was an Irish law imposed by Ireland on herself. That claim of the Parliament of Ireland never was denied until the Reign of George II., and that claim, denied in the Reign of George II., was admitted in the Reign of George III. The Parliament—the great Parliament of Great Britain—had to retract its words, and to withdraw its claim, and the Legislature which goes by the name of Grattan's Parliament was as independent in point 1049 of authority as any Legislature over the wide world. We are not called upon to constitute another co-ordinate Legislature. While I think it is right to modify the Union in some particulars, we are not about to propose its repeal.
What is the essence of the Union? That is the question. It is impossible to determine what is and what is not the repeal of the Union, until you settle what is the essence of the Union. Well, I define the essence of the Union to be this—that before the Act of Union there were two independent, separate, co-ordinate Parliaments; after the Act of Union there was but one. A supreme statutory authority of the Imperial Parliament over Great Britain, Scotland, and Ireland as one United Kingdom was established by the Act of Union. That supreme statutory authority it is not asked, so far as I am aware, and certainly it is not intended, in the slightest degree to impair. When I heard the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), in a very striking speech at the commencement of the Session, ask for what I think he termed local autonomy or Irish autonomy, I felt that something was gained in the conduct of this great question. If he speaks, as I believe he speaks, the mind of the vast majority of the Representatives of Ireland, I feel that we have no right to question for a moment, in this free country, under a representative system, that the vast majority of the Representatives speak the mind of a decided majority of the people. I felt, Sir, that something had been gained. Ireland had come a great way to meet us, and it was more than ever our duty to consider whether we could not go some way to meet her. The term "Dismemberment of the Empire," as applied to anything that is now before us, is, in my judgment—I will not argue it at any length now—simply a misnomer. To speak, in connection with any meditated or possible plan, of the dismemberment of the Empire or the disintegration of the Empire is, in the face of the history of the 18th century, not merely a misnomer, but an absurdity. Some phrases have been used which I will not refer to, simply because I do not think that they quite accurately describe the case, and because they might open the door to new debate. We hear of national independence, we hear of legislative independence, we hear 1050 of an independent Parliament, and we hear of Federal arrangements. These are not descriptions which I adopt, or which I find it necessaay to discuss.
Then, again, under a sense of the real necessities of the case, there are Gentlemen who have their own philanthropic, well-intended plans for meeting this emergency. There are those who say—"Let us abolish the Castle;" and I think that Gentlemen of very high authority, who are strongly opposed to giving Ireland a domestic Legislature, have said nevertheless that they think there ought to be a general reconstruction of the administrative Government in Ireland. Well, Sir, I have considered that question much, and what I want to know is this—how, without a change in the Legislature, without giving to Ireland a domestic Legislature, there is to be, or there even can possibly be, a reconstruction of the Administration? We have sent to Ireland, to administer the actual system, the best men we could find. When Lord Spencer undertook that Office, he represented, not in our belief merely, but in our knowledge—for we had known him long—the flower of the British aristocracy, that portion of the British aristocracy which, to high birth and great influence of station, unites a love of liberty and of the people, as genuine as that which breathes within any cottage in the land. And yet, Sir, what is the result? The result is that, after a life of almost unexampled devotion to the Public Service in Ireland, Lord Spencer's Administration not only does not command, which is easily understood, the adhesion and the commendation of the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his Colleagues, but it is made the subject of cavil and of censure in this House of Parliament, and from the spot where I now stand, by Members of the late Conservative Government. I want to know—for we have not come to our conclusions without making careful examination of the conclusions of other people—I want to know how it is possible to construct an administrative system in Ireland without legislative change, and what Gentlemen mean when they speak of the administrative system of Ireland? The fault of the administrative system of Ireland, if it has a fault, is simply this—that its spring and source of action, or, if I can use an anatomical illustration without 1051 a blunder, what is called the motor muscle is English, and not Irish. Without providing a domestic Legislature for Ireland, without having an Irish Parliament, I want to know how you will bring about this wonderful, superhuman, and, I believe, in this condition, impossible result, that your administrative system shall be Irish, and not English?
There have been several plans liberally devised for granting to Ireland the management of her education, the management of her public works, and the management of one subject and another—boons very important in themselves—under a Central Elective Body; boons, any of which I do not hesitate to say I should have been glad to see accepted, or I should have been glad to see a trial given to a system which might have been constructed under them, had it been the desire and the demand of Ireland. I do not think such a scheme would have possessed the advantage of finality. If it had been accepted, and especially if it had been freely suggested from that quarter—by the Irish Representatives—it might have furnished a useful modus vivendi. But it is absurd, in my opinion, to talk of the adoption of such a scheme in the face of two obstacles—first of all, that those whom it is intended to benefit do not want it, do not ask it, and refuse it; and, secondly, the obstacle, not less important, that all those who are fearful of giving a domestic Legislature to Ireland would naturally, emphatically, and rather justly, say—"We will not create your Central Board and palter with this question, because we feel certain that it will afford nothing in this world except a stage from which to agitate for a further concession, and because we see that by the proposal you make you will not even attain the advantage of settling the question that is raised."
Well, Sir, what we seek is the settlement of that question, and we think that we find that settlement in the establishment, by the authority of Parliament, of a Legislative Body sitting in Dublin, for the conduct of both legislation and administration under the conditions which may be prescribed by the Act defining Irish, as distinct from Imperial, affairs. There is the head and front of our offending. Let us proceed to examine the matter a little further. The essential conditions of any plan that 1052 Parliament can be asked or could be expected to entertain are, in my opinion, these:—The unity of the Empire must not be placed in jeopardy; the safety and welfare of the whole—if there is an unfortunate conflict, which I do not believe—the welfare and security of the whole must be preferred to the security and advantage of the part. The political equality of the three countries must be maintained. They stand by statute on a footing of absolute equality, and that footing ought not to be altered or brought into question. There should be what I will at present term an equitable distribution of Imperial burdens.
Next I introduce a provision which may seem to be exceptional, but which, in the peculiar circumstances of Ireland, whose history unhappily has been one long chain of internal controversies as well as of external difficulties, is necessary in order that there may be reasonable safeguards for the minority. I am asked why there should be safeguards for the minority. Will not the minority in Ireland, as in other countries, be able to take care of itself? Are not free institutions, with absolute publicity, the best security that can be given to any minority? I know, Sir, that in the long run our experience shows they are. After we have passed through the present critical period, and obviated and disarmed, if we can, the jealousies with which any change is attended, I believe, as most Gentlemen in this House may probably believe, that there is nothing comparable to the healthy action of free discussion, and that a minority asserting in the face of day its natural rights is the best security and guarantee for its retaining them. We have not reached that state of things. I may say, not entering into detail, there are three classes to whom we must look in this case. We must consider—I will not say more on that subject to-day—the class immediately connected with the land. A second question, not, I think, offering any great difficulty, relates to the Civil Service and the offices of the Executive Government in Ireland. The third question relates to what is commonly called the Protestant minority, and especially that important part of the community which inhabits the Province of Ulster, or which predominates in a considerable portion of the Province of Ulster.
1053 I will deviate from my path for a moment to say a word upon the state of opinion in that wealthy, intelligent, and energetic portion of the Irish community which, as I have said, predominates in a certain portion of Ulster. Our duty is to adhere to sound general principles, and to give the utmost consideration we can to the opinions of that energetic minority. The first thing of all, I should say, is that it, upon any occasion, by any individual or section, violent measures have been threatened in certain emergencies, I think the best compliment I can pay to those who have threatened us is to take no notice whatever of the threats, but to treat them as momentary ebullitions, which will pass away with the fears from which they spring, and at the same time to adopt on our part every reasonable measure for disarming those fears. I cannot conceal the conviction that the voice of Ireland, as a whole, is at this moment clearly and Constitutionally spoken. I cannot say it is otherwise when five-sixths of its lawfully-chosen Representatives are of one mind in this matter. There is a counter voice; and I wish to know what is the claim of those by whom that counter voice is spoken, and how much is the scope and allowance we can give them. Certainly, Sir, I cannot allow it to be said that a Protestant minority in Ulster, or elsewhere, is to rule the question at large for Ireland. I am aware of no Constitutional doctrine tolerable on which such a conclusion could be adopted or justified. But I think that the Protestant minority should have its wishes considered to the utmost practicable extent in any form which they may assume.
Various schemes, short of refusing the demand of Ireland at large, have been proposed on behalf of Ulster. One scheme is, that Ulster itself, or, perhaps with more appearance of reason, a portion of Ulster, should be excluded from the operation of the Bill we are about to introduce. Another scheme is, that a separate automomy should be provided for Ulster, or for a portion of Ulster. Another scheme is, that certain rights with regard to certain subjects—such, for example, as education and some other subjects—should be reserved and should be placed, to a certain ex tent, under the control of Provincial Councils. These, I think, are the suggestions which have reached me in different shapes; there 1054 may be others. But what I wish to say of them is this—there is no one of them which has appeared to us to be so completely justified, either upon its merits or by the weight of opinion supporting and recommending it, as to warrant our including it in the Bill and proposing it to Parliament upon our responsibility. What we think is that such suggestions deserve careful and unprejudiced consideration. It may be that that free discussion, which I have no doubt will largely take place after a Bill such as we propose shall have been laid on the Table of the House, may give to one of these proposals, or to some other proposals, a practicable form, and that some such plan may be found to be recommended by a general or predominating approval. If it should be so, it will, at our hands, have the most favourable consideration, with every disposition to do what equity may appear to recommend. That is what I have to say on the subject of Ulster.
I have spoken now of the essential conditions of a good plan for Ireland, and I add only this—that, in order to be a good plan, it must be a plan promising to be a real settlement of Ireland. To show that, without a good plan, you can have no real settlement, I may point to the fact that the great settlement of 1782 was not a real settlement. Most unhappily, Sir, it was not a real settlement; and why was it not a real settlement? Was it Ireland that prevented it from being a real settlement? No, Sir, it was the mistaken policy of England listening to the pernicious voice and claims of ascendancy. It is impossible, however, not to say this word for the Protestant Parliament of Ireland. Founded as it was upon narrow suffrage, exclusive in religion, crowded with pensioners and place-holders, holding every advantage, it yet had in it the spark, at least, and the spirit of true patriotism. It emancipated the Roman Catholics of Ireland when the Roman Catholics of England were not yet emancipated. It received Lord Fitzwilliam with open arms; and when Lord Fitzwilliam promoted to the best of his ability the introduction of Roman Catholics into Parliament, and when his brief career was unhappily intercepted by a peremptory recall from England, what happened? Why, Sir, in both Houses of the Irish Parliament votes were at 1055 once passed by those Protestants, by those men, mixed, as they were, with so large an infusion of pensioners and place men, registering their confidence in that Nobleman, and desiring that he should still be left to administer the government of Ireland. What the Irish Parliament did when Lord Fitzwilliam was promoting the admission of Roman Catholics into Parliament justifies me in saying there was a spirit there which, if free scope had been left to it, would in all probability have been enabled to work out a happy solution for every Irish problem and difficulty, and would have saved to the coming generation an infinity of controversy and trouble.
I pass on to ask how are we to set about the giving effect to the proposition I have made, to the purpose I have defined, of establishing in Ireland a domestic Legislature to deal with Irish as contradistinguished from Imperial affairs? And here, Sir, I am confronted at the outset by what we have felt to be a formidable dilemma. I will endeavour to state and to explain it to the House as well as I can. Ireland is to have a domestic Legislature for Irish affairs. That is my postulate from which I set out. Are Irish Members in this House, are Irish Representative Peers in the other House, still to continue to form part of the respective Assemblies? That is the first question which meets us in consideration of the ground I have opened. Now I think it will be perfectly clear that, if Ireland is to have a domestic Legislature, Irish Peers and Irish Representatives cannot come here to control English and Scotch affairs. That I understand to be admitted freely. I never heard of their urging the contrary, and I am inclined to believe that it would be universally admitted. The one thing follows from the other. There cannot be a domestic Legislature in Ireland dealing with Irish affairs, and Irish Peers and Irish Representatives sitting in Parliament at Westminster to take part in English and Scotch affairs. My next question is—is it practicable for Irish Representatives to come here for the settlement, not of English or Scotch, but of Imperial affairs? In principle it would be very difficult, I think, to object to that proposition. But then its acceptance depends entirely upon our arriving at the 1056 conclusion that, in this House, we can draw for practical purposes a distinction between affairs which are Imperial, and affairs which are not Imperial. It would not be difficult to say in principle that, as the Irish Legislature will have nothing to do with Imperial concerns, let Irish Members come here and vote on Imperial concerns. All depends on the practicability of the distinction. Well, Sir, I have thought much, reasoned much, and inquired much with regard to that distinction. I had hoped it might be possible to draw a distinction, and I have arrived at the conclusion that it cannot be drawn. I believe it passes the wit of man; at any rate, it passes not my wit alone, but the wit of many with whom I have communicated. It would be easy to exhibit a case; but the difficulty, I may say, in my opinion, arises from this. If this were a merely Legislative House, or if the House of Lords were merely a Legislative House—this House, of course, affords the best illustration—I do not think it would be difficult to draw a distinction. We are going to draw the distinction—wo have drawn the distinction—in the Bill which I ask leave to lay on the Table for legislative purposes with reference to what I hope will be the domestic Legislature of Ireland. But this House is not merely a Legislative House; it is a House controlling the Executive; and when you come to the control of the Executive, then your distinction between Imperial subjects and non-Imperial subjects totally breaks down—they are totally insufficient to cover the whole case.
For example, suppose it to be a question of foreign policy. Suppose the Irish Members in this House coming here to vote on a question of foreign policy. Is it possible to deny that they would be entitled to take part in discussing an Address to the Crown for the dismissal of the Foreign Minister? It is totally impossible to deny—it is totally impossible to separate—the right of impugning the policy and the right of action against the Minister. Well, Sir, if, on that account, Members might take part in an Address dismissing the Foreign Minister, I want to know, considering the collective responsibility of Government—a principle, I hope, which will always be maintained at the very highest level that circumstances will permit, for I am satisfied that the public honour and 1057 the public welfare are closely associated with it—if that be so, what will be the effect of the dismissal of the Foreign Minister on the existence and action of the Government to which he belongs? Why, Sir, the Government in 19 cases out of 20 will break down with the Foreign Minister; and when these Gentlemen, coming here for the purpose of discussing Imperial questions alone, could dislodge the Government which is charged with the entire interests of England and Scotland, I ask you what becomes of the distinction between Imperial and non-Imperial affairs? I believe the distinction to be impossible, and therefore I arrive at the next conclusion—that Irish Members and Irish Peers cannot, if a domestic Legislature be given to Ireland, justly retain a seat in the Parliament at Westminster.
If Irish Members do not sit in this House and Irish Peers do not sit in the other House, how is Ireland to be taxed? I shall assume, as a matter of course, that we should propose that a general power of taxation should pass to the domestic Legislature of Ireland. But there is one very important branch of taxation, involving, indeed, a second branch, which is susceptible of being viewed in a very different aspect from the taxes of Ireland generally. I mean the duties of Customs and duties of Excise relatively to Customs. One thing I take to be absolutely certain. Great Britain will never force upon Ireland taxation without representation. Well, Sir, if we are never to force upon Ireland taxation without representation, then comes another question of the deepest practical interest—Are we to give up the fiscal unity of the Empire? I sometimes see it argued that, in giving up the fiscal unity of the Empire, we should give up the unity of the Empire. To that argument I do not subscribe. The unity of the Empire rests upon the supremacy of Parliament, and on considerations much higher than considerations merely fiscal. But I must admit that, while I cannot stand on the high ground of principle, yet, on the very substantial ground of practice, to give up the fiscal unity of the Empire would be a great public inconvenience, and a very great public misfortune—a very great public misfortune for Great Britain; and I believe it would be a still greater misfortune for Ireland were the 1058 fiscal unity of the Empire to be put to hazard and practically abandoned. I may say also, looking as I do with hope to the success of the measure I now propose, I, at any rate, feel the highest obligation not to do anything, not to propose anything, without necessity, that would greatly endanger the right comprehension of this subject by the people of England and Scotland, which might be the case were the fiscal unity of the Empire to be broken.
There is the dilemma. I conceive that there is but one escape from it, and that is, if there were conditions upon which Ireland consented to such arrangements as would leave the authority of levying Customs duties and such Excise duties as are immediately connected with Customs in the hands of Parliament here, and would, by her will, consent to set our hands free to take the course that the general exigencies of the case appear to require. These conditions I take to be three:—In the first place, that a general power of taxation over and above these particular duties should pass unequivocally into the hands of the domestic Legislature of Ireland. In the second place, that the entire proceeds of the Customs and Excise should be held for the benefit of Ireland, for the discharge of the obligations of Ireland, and for the payment of the balance, after discharging those obligations, into an Irish Exchequer, to remain at the free disposal of the Irish Legislative Body.
But there is another point which I think ought to engage, and may justly engage, the anxious attention in particular of the Representatives of Ireland; and it is this:—The proposal which I have now sketched is that we should pass an Act giving to Ireland what she considers an enormous boon, under the name of a statutory Parliament for the control of Irish affairs, both legislative and administrative. But one of the provisions of that Act is the withdrawal of Irish Representative Peers from the House of Lords, and Irish Members from the House of Commons. Well, then, I think it will naturally occur to the Irish, as it would in parallel circumstances to the Scotch or the English—and more especially to the Scotch—mind, what would become of the privileges conveyed by the Act after the Scotch Members, who were their natural guardians, were withdrawn from Parlia- 1059 ment? [An hon. MEMBER: The Irish Members.] I was speaking of the Scotch Members in order to bring it very distinctly to the minds of hon. Members, supposing Scotland had entertained—what she has never had reason to entertain—the desire for a domestic Legislature. I must confess I think that Ireland ought to have security on that subject—security that advantage would not be taken, so far as we can preclude the possibility of it, of the absence of Irish Representatives from Parliament, for the purpose of tampering with any portion of the boon which we propose to confer on Ireland by this Act. I think we have found a method for dealing with that difficulty. I may be very sanguine, but I hope that the day may come when Ireland would have reason to look on this Act, if adopted by Parliament, as for practical purposes her Magna Charta. A Magna Charta for I Ireland ought to be most jealously and effectively assured, and it will be assured, against unhallowed and unlawful interference.
Two cases at once occur to the mind. There might be alterations of detail in a law of this kind on which, everybody might be agreed. We think it would be very absurd to require either the construction or reconstruction of a cumbrous and difficult machinery for the purpose of disposing of cases of this kind, and therefore we propose that the provisions of this Act might be modified with the concurrence of the Irish Legislature, or in conformity with an Address from the Irish Legislature. That is intended for cases where there is a general agreement. I hope it will not happen, but I admit it might happen, that in some point or other the foresight and sagacity now brought to bear on this subject might prove insufficient. It is possible, though I trust it is not probable, that material alterations might be found requisite, that on these Amendments there might be differences of opinion; and yet, however improbable the case may be, it is a case which it might be proper to provide for beforehand. What we then should propose is that the provisions of this Act should not be altered, except either on an Address from the Irish Legislature to the Crown such as I have described, or else, after replacing and recalling into action the full machinery under which Irish Repre 1060 sentatives now sit here, and Irish Peers sit in the House of Lords, so that, when their case again came to be tried, they might have the very same means of defending their Constitutional rights as they have now. Now, we believe that is one of those cases which are often best averted by making a good provision against them.
Now, upon the footing which I have endeavoured to describe we propose to relieve Irish Peers and Representatives from attendance at Westminster, and at the same time to preserve absolutely the fiscal unity of the Empire. Let me say that there are several reasons that occur to me which might well incline the prudence of Irishmen to adopt an arrangement of this kind. If there were Irish Representatives in this House at the same time that a domestic Legislature sat in Ireland, I think that the presence of those Irish Representatives would have some tendency to disparage the domestic Legislature. I think there would be serious difficulties that would arise besides the insurmountable difficulty that I have pointed out as to the division of subjects. Even if it were possible to divide the subjects, what an anomaly it would be, what a mutilation of all our elementary ideas about the absolute equality of Members in this House, were we to have ordinarily among us two classes of Members, one of them qualified to vote on all kinds of Business, and another qualified only to vote here and there on particular kinds of Business, and obliged to submit to some criterion or other—say, the authority of the Chair—novel for such a purpose, and difficult to exercise—in order to determine what kinds of Business they could vote upon, and what kinds of Business they must abstain from voting on! There would, I think, be another difficulty in determining what the number of those Members should be. My opinion is that there would be great jealousy of the habitual presence of 103 Irish Members in this House, even for limited purposes, after a Legislative Body had been constructed in Ireland; and, on the other hand, I can very well conceive that Ireland would exceedingly object to the reduction—the material reduction—of those Members. I am sorry to have to mention another difficulty, which is this—Ireland has not had the practice in local self-government 1061 that has been given to England and Scotland. We have, unfortunately, shut her out from that experience. In some respects we have been jealous, in others niggardly, towards Ireland. It might be very difficult for Ireland, in the present state of things, to man a Legislative Chamber in Dublin, and at the same time to present in this House an array of so much distinguished ability as, I think, all Parties will admit has been exhibited on the part of Ireland during recent Parliaments on the Benches of this House.
But I pass on from this portion of the question, having referred to these two initiatory propositions as principal parts of the foundation of the Bill—namely, first that it is proposed that the Irish Representation in Parliament at Westminster should cease, unless in the contingent, and I hope hardly possible, case to which I have alluded; and, next, that the fiscal unity of the Empire shall be absolutely maintained. My next duty is to state what the powers of the proposed Legislative Body will be.
The capital article of that Legislative Body will be that it should have the control of the Executive Government of Ireland as well as of legislative Business. Evidently, I think, it was a flaw in the system of 1782 that adequate provision was not made for that purpose; and we should not like to leave a flaw of such a nature in the work we are now undertaking. In 1782 there were difficulties that we have not now before us. At that time it might have been very fairly said that no one could tell how a separate Legislature would work unless it had under its control what is termed a responsible Government. We have no such difficulty and no such excuse now. The problem of responsible Government has been solved for us in our Colonies. It works very well there; and in, perhaps, a dozen cases in different quarters of the globe it works to our perfect satisfaction. It may be interesting to the House if I recount the fact that that responsible Government in the Colonies was, I think, first established by one of our most distinguished statesmen, Earl Russell, when he held the Office of Colonial Secretary in the Government of Lord Melbourne. But it was a complete departure from established tradition; and, if I remember right, not more than two or 1062 three years before that generous and wise experiment was tried, Lord Russell had himself written a most able despatch to show that it could not be done; that with responsible Government in the Colonies you would have two centres of gravity and two sources of motion in the Empire; while a United Empire absolutely required that there should be but one, and that consequently the proposition could not be entertained. Such was the view of the question while it was yet at a distance; and such, perhaps, may have been our view on the subject I am now discussing while it was yet at a distance. But it has been brought near to us by the circumstances of the late Election; and I believe that if we look closely at its particulars we should find that many of the fears with which we may have regarded it are perfectly unreal, and especially so that great panic, that great apprehension of all, the fear lest it should prove injurious to what it is our first duty to maintain—namely, the absolute unity and integrity of the Empire.
There is another point, in regard to the powers of the Legislative Body, of which I wish to make specific mention. Two courses might have been followed. One would be to endow this Legislative Body with particular legislative powers. The other is to except from the sphere of its action those subjects which we think ought to be excepted, and to leave it everything else which is the consequence of the plans before us. There will be an enumeration of disabilities, and everything not included in that enumeration will be left open to the domestic Legislature. As I have already said, the administrative power by a responsible Government would pass under our proposals with the legislative power. Then, Sir, the Legislative Body would be subject to the provisions of the Act, in the first place, as to its own composition. But we propose to introduce into it what I would generally explain as two Orders, though not two Houses; and we suggest that with regard to the popular Order, which will be the more numerous, the provisions of the Act may be altered at any period after the first Dissolution; but with regard to the other and less numerous Order, the provisions of the Act can only be altered after the assent of the Crown to an Address from the Legislative Body for that 1063 purpose. We should provide generally—and on that I conceive there would be no difference of opinion—that this Body should be subject to all the Prerogatives of the Crown, but only should insert a particular provision to the effect that its maximum duration, without Dissolution, should not exceed five years.
I will now tell the House—and I would beg particular attention to this—what are the functions that we propose to withdraw from the cognizance of this Legislative Body. The three grand and principal functions are, first, everything that relates to the Crown—Succession, Prerogatives, and the mode of administering powers during incapacity, Regency, and, in fact, all that belongs to the Crown. The next would be all that belongs to defence—the Army, the Navy, the entire organization of armed force. I do not say the Police Force, which I will touch upon by-and-by, but everything belonging to defence. And the third would be the entire subject of Foreign and Colonial relations. Those are the subjects most properly Imperial, and I will say belonging, as a principle, to the Legislature established under the Act of Union and sitting at Westminster. There are some other subjects which I will briefly touch upon. In the first place, it would not be competent to the domestic Legislature in Ireland to alter the provisions of the Act which we are now about to pass, as I hope, and which I ask that we should pass with the consent of the three countries—it would not be competent to the Irish Legislative Body to alter those provisions, excepting in points where they are designedly left open as part of the original contract and settlement. We do not propose universal disability as to contracts; but there are certain contracts made in Ireland under circumstances so peculiar that we think we ought to except them from the action of the Legislative Body. There are also some analogous provisions made in respect to Charters anterior to the Act which, in our opinion, ought only to be alterable after the assent of the Crown to an Address from the Legislative Body for that purpose. There is another disability that we propose to lay upon the Legislative Body; and it is one of those with respect to which I am bound to say, in my belief, there is no real apprehension that the thing 1064 would be done; but, at the same time, though there may not be a warranted apprehension, there are many honest apprehensions which it is our duty to consider as far as we can. We propose to provide that the Legislative Body should not be competent to pass a law for the establishment or the endowment of any particular religion. Those I may call exceptions of principle. Then there are exceptions of what I may call practical necessity for ordinary purposes. The first of those is the Law of Trade and Navigation. I assume that, as to Trade and Navigation at large, it would be a great calamity to Ireland to be separated from Great Britain. The question of taxation in relation to Trade and Navigation I have already mentioned. The same observation applies to the subject of Coinage and Legal Tender; but we do not propose to use the term "currency," simply because there is an ambiguity about it. Ireland might think fit to pass a law providing for the extinction of private issues in Ireland, and that no bank notes should be issued in Ireland, except under the authority and for the advantage of the State. I own it is my opinion that Ireland would do an extremely sensible thing if she passed such a law. It is my most strong and decided opinion that we ought to have the same law ourselves; but the block of Business has prevented that, and many other good things, towards the attainment of which I hope we are now going to open and clear the way. I only use that as an illustration to show that I should be very sorry if we were needlessly to limit the free action of the Irish Legislature upon Irish matters. There are other subjects on which I will not dwell. One of them is the subject of Weights and Measures; another is the subject of Copyright. These are not matters for discussion at the present moment.
There is, however, one other important subject with regard to which we propose to leave it entirely open to the judgment of Ireland—that subject is the Post Office. Our opinion is that it would be for the convenience of both countries if the Post Office were to remain under the control of the Postmaster General; but the Post Office requires an army of servants, and I think that Ireland might not wish to see all the regulations connected with that 1065 unarmed army left to an English authority. We have, therefore, placed the Post Office in the Bill under circumstances which would enable the Legislative Body in Ireland to claim for itself authority on this subject if it should see fit. There are some other matters, such as the Census, the Quarantine Laws, and one or two others which stand in the same category. Now, Sir, that I believe I may give as a sufficient description of the exceptions from the legislative action of the proposed Irish Legislature, bearing in mind the proposition that everything which is not excepted is conferred. I have dealt with the powers of the Legislative Body.
I come next to the composition of the Legislative Body. We propose to provide for it as follows. I have referred to the protection of minorities. We might constitute a Legislative Body in Ireland by a very brief enactment if we were to say that the 103 Members now representing Ireland and 103 more Members, perhaps elected by the same constituencies, should constitute the one and only Legislative House in Ireland, without the introduction of what I may call the dual element. But, Sir, we are of opinion that if a proposition of that kind were made, in the first place it would be stated that it did not afford legitimate protection for minorities. And, in the second place, it might be thought by many of those who would be less sensitive on the subject of minorities that some greater provision was required for stability and consistency, in the conduct of the complex work of legislation, than could possibly be supplied by a single set of men elected under an absolutely single influence. Upon that account, Sir, we propose to introduce into this Legislative Body what we have termed two Orders. These Orders would sit and deliberate together. There would be a power on the demand of either Order for separate voting. The effect of that separate voting would be that while the veto was in force, while it sufficed to bar the enactment of a Bill, there would be an absolute veto of one Order upon the other. Such veto, in our view, might be salutary and useful for the purpose of insuring deliberation and consistency with adequate consideration in the business of making laws. But it ought not to be perpetual. If it were perpetual, 1066 a block would arise, as it might arise conceivably, and as really, we may almost say, we have seen it arise in certain cases in the Colonies, particularly in one where there were two perfectly independent Orders. What we, therefore, propose is that this veto can only be operative for a limited time, say until a Dissolution, or for a period of three years, whichever might be the longer of the two.
So much, Sir, for the relation of these two Orders, the one to the other. I may observe that that distinction of Orders would be available, and is almost necessary, with a view to maintaining the only form of control over the Judicial Body known to us in this country—namely, the concurrence of two authorities chosen under somewhat different influences in one common conclusion with regard to the propriety of removing a Judge from his office.
Now, Sir, I will just describe very briefly the composition of these Orders. It may not have occurred to many Gentlemen that if we succeed in the path we are now opening, with respect to the 28 distinguished individuals who now occupy the place of Representative Peers of Ireland, it will not be possible, we think, for them to continue to hold their places in the House of Lords after the Irish Representatives have been removed from attending the House of Commons. I do not say that the precedent is an exact one; but the House may remember that, in the case of the Disestablishment of the Irish Church, we did disable the Bishops who were entitled to sit for life from continuing—I mean disable them personally from continuing—to sit in the House of Lords after the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. We do not wish, Sir, to entail this personal disability. We propose that these 28 Peers shall have the option of sitting, if they think fit, as a portion of the first Order in the Irish Legislative Assembly. And that they shall have the power—that they shall personally have the power—of sitting there, as they sit in the House of Lords, for life. There may, Sir, be those who think this option will not be largely used. I am not one of that number. I believe that the Irish Peers have an Irish as well as an Imperial patriotism. In the 18th century Irish Peers were not ashamed of the part they played in the Irish Parlia- 1067 ment. It was, I think, the Duke of Leinster who moved the Address in the Irish House of Peers, which he carried, expressing the confidence of that House in Lord Fitzwilliam. I may be too sanguine; but I say boldly that if this measure pass under happy circumstances, especially if it pass without political exasperation, one of its effects will be a great revival of the local, as well as a great confirmation and extension of Imperial patriotism. At any rate, it is our duty, I think, to provide that the Irish Peers, the 28 Representative Irish Peers, may form part of the Irish Legislative Body. There will be no disability entailed upon any Irish Peer from being at once a Member of the Irish Legislative Body and likewise of the House of Lords. In the last century many distinguished men sat in both; and, in the circumstances, we certainly see no cause for putting an end to the double qualification which was thus enjoyed, and which, I think, worked beneficially. There is a difficulty, however, to which I will just advert for one moment in combining the connection or place of these 28 Peers who are to sit for life with the rest of the first Order of the Chamber. We propose, as to the remainder of the first Order, that it shall consist of 75 Members, to be elected by the Irish people under conditions which we propose to specify in the Schedule to the Act, not yet filled up as to its details. But I mention at once the two provisions which would apply to the election of 75 Members. First of all, the constituency would be a constituency composed of persons occupying to the value of £25 and upwards; and, secondly, they would be elected for a period, as a general rule, of 10 years, with a little exception I need not now refer to. Thirdly, they will be elected subject to a property qualification of realty to the extent of £200 a-year, or of personalty to the extent of £200 a-year, or a capital value of £4,000. The Peers would ultimately be replaced by 28 Members, elected under the above conditions. We cannot insure that all these 28 Peers shall die at the same time. It would, consequently, be extremely difficult to devise an electoral machinery for the purpose of supplying their places by election. We therefore propose to grant to the Crown power, limited to a term which we think may fairly well exhaust the 1068 present generation, of filling their places, by nomination, not for life, but down to the date to be fixed by the Act. After the system had ceased to operate, and the Representative Peers had ceased to be in that first Order, the first Order of the Legislative Body would be elected entirely upon the basis I have described.
With regard to the second Order, its composition would be simple. Of course, it would be proposed to the 103 Gentlemen who now represent Ireland in this House from county districts, from citizen towns, and from the University of Dublin, that they should take their places in the Irish Legislative Chamber in Dublin. We should likewise propose, as nearly as possible, to duplicate that Body. Another 101 Members, not 103, we propose should be elected by the county districts and the citizen towns in exactly the same manner as that in which the present 101 Members for counties and towns have been elected. We shall also propose that in the event of any refusal to sit, refusals to accept the option given, the place shall be filled up by election under the machinery now existing. I ought to say a word about Dublin University. We do not propose to interfere by any action of ours with the existing arrangements of Dublin University in one way or another. But certainly we could not ask the House to adopt a plan at our suggestion which would double the representation of Dublin University. We propose to leave it as it is, but, at the same time, to empower the Legislative Body, if it should think fit, to appoint a corresponding representation by two Members in favour of the Royal University of Ireland. There would be no compulsion to exercise that power; but it would be left to the discretion of the Legislative Body. The effect of that would be to give to the first Order of the proposed Legislative Chamber or Body a number making 103; to give to the second Order the number of 206 at the outside, or 204 if the power of the Royal University were not exercised, and to leave the relations of the two Orders upon the footing which I have described.
I must now say a few words upon the subject of the Executive; and what we think most requisite with regard to the Executive is that our Act should be as elastic as possible. It is quite evident that, though the legislative transition 1069 can be made, and ought to be made, per saltum, by a single stroke, the Executive transition must necessarily be gradual. We propose, therefore, Sir, to leave everything as it is until it is altered in the regular course; so that there shall be no breach of continuity in the Government of the country, but that by degrees, as may be arranged by persons whom we feel convinced will meet together in a spirit of co-operation, and will find no great, much, less insurmountable, difficulty in their way, the old state of things shall be adjusted to the new. On the one hand, the Representatives of the old system will remain on the ground; on the other hand, the principle of responsible Government is freely and fully conceded. That principle of responsible Government will work itself out in every necessary detail. It has often, Sir, been proposed to abolish the Viceroyalty, and some Gentlemen have even been sanguine enough to believe that to abolish the Viceroyalty was to solve the whole Irish problem. I must say that I think that that involves a faculty of belief far beyond any power either of the understanding or imagination to which I have ever been able to aspire. We propose to leave the Viceroyalty without interference by the Act, except in the particulars which I am about to name. The Office of the Viceroyalty will only be altered by statute. He would not be the Representative of a Party. He would not quit Office with the outgoing Government. He would have round him, as he has now, in a certain form, a Privy Council, to aid and to advise him. Within that Privy Council the Executive Body would form itself under the action of the principal responsible Government, for the purpose of administering the various Offices of the State. The Queen would be empowered to delegate to him in case his Office should be permanently continued—which I am far from believing to be unlikely—any of the Prerogatives which she now enjoys, or which she would exercise under this Act; and, finally, we have not forgotten that his Office almost alone is still affected by one solitary outstanding religious disability—a kind of Lot's wife, when everything else has been destroyed—and that religious disability we propose by our Bill to remove.
The next point is with regard to the Judges of the Superior Courts, and here 1070 I draw a partial distinction between the present and the future Judges. As regards the Judges of the Superior Courts now holding office, we desire to secure to them their position and their emoluments in the same absolute form as that in which they now exist. Although they would become chargeable upon the Consolidated Fund of Ireland, which we propose to constitute by the Act, still they would retain their lien—so to call it—on the Consolidated Fund of Great Britain. Under the peculiar circumstances of Ireland we cannot forget that some of these Judges, by no fault of their own, have been placed in relations more or less uneasy with popular influences, and with what, under the new Constitution, will in all probability be the dominating influence in that country. We cannot overlook the peculiarities of Irish history in framing the provisions of this Bill; and we therefore propose, both with regard to the Judges now holding office and with regard to other persons who, in what they deemed loyal service to the Empire, have been concerned in the administration and conduct of the Criminal Law in Ireland, that Her Majesty may, not lightly or wholesale, but if she should see cause on any particular occasion, by Order in Council antedate the pensions of these particular persons. With regard to the future Judges, we hold the matter to be more simple, We propose to provide that they should hold office during good behaviour; that their salaries—these are the superior Judges alone—should be charged on the Irish Consolidated Fund; that they shall be removable only on a Joint Address from the two Orders of the Legislative Body; and that they should be appointed under the influence, as a general rule, of the responsible Irish Government. There is an exception which we propose to make in regard to the Court of Exchequer, which is a Court of Revenue Pleas. I will not enter into any details now, but the enormous financial relations which will subsist between Great Britain and Ireland, if our measure be carried, made us feel, for reasons which I shall, perhaps, on another occasion more fully explain, that it is necessary for us to keep a certain amount of hold on the Court of Exchequer, or, at least, on two of its Members; but the general rule of our measure will be that the action of the Judges will pass under the 1071 new Irish Executive, and will rest with them, just as it rested in former times with the old Irish Executive.
I must now say a few words on the important subject of the Irish Constabulary. The substance of those words really amounts to this—that I think there remains much for consideration in order to devise the details of a good and prudent system; but we think it our first duty to give a distinct assurance to the present members of that distinguished and admirable force that their condition will not be put to prejudice by this Act, either in respect of their terms of office, their terms of service, or with regard to the authority under which they are employed. The case of the Dublin police is not quite the same; but we propose the same conditions with regard to the Dublin police, as far, at least, as the terms of service are concerned. With regard to the local police I will say nothing, because I do not want at present to anticipate what may be matter hereafter for free consideration or discussion, or for the action of the Irish Legislative Body. There will be no breach of continuity in the administration with regard to the police. One thing I cannot omit to say. The Constabulary, as I have said, is an admirable force, and I do not intend to qualify in the smallest degree what I have already said; but the Constabulary on its present footing exhibits one of the most remarkable instances of waste of treasure and of enormous expense, not with good results, but with unhappy results, with which, and under which, the civil government and the general government of Ireland have hitherto been carried on. The total charge of the Constabulary amounts to £1,500,000, including the Dublin police. Now, Ireland is a cheaper country than England, and if the service were founded on the same principle and organized in the same manner, it ought, per 1,000 of the population, to be cheaper in Ireland than in England, assuming Ireland to be in a normal condition; and our object is to bring it into a normal condition.
Now, the House will, perhaps, be surprised when I tell them this—the present Constabulary of Ireland costs £1,500,000 a-year, every penny of it now paid out of the British Exchequer. If the police of Ireland were organized upon the same 1072 principles and on the same terms as the police in England, instead of costing £1,500,000, it would cost £600,000 a-year. That will convey to the House an idea, first, of the enormous charge at which we have been governing Ireland under our present system; and, secondly, of the vast field for judicious reductions which the system I am now proposing ought to offer to the Irish people. I anticipate a vast reduction, both in the force and in the expenditure. The charge is now £1,500,000. We propose that the Consolidated Fund of Great Britain—this subject I shall revert to in the financial statement which I shall have to put before the House—shall for a time relieve the Irish Legislative Body of all expenditure in excess of £1,000,000. I am bound to say that I do not look upon £1,000,000 as the proper charge to be imposed on Ireland. I am perfectly, convinced, however, that the charge will be reduced to a much smaller sum, of which Ireland, of course, will reap the benefit. After two years the Legislative Body may fix the charge for the whole police and for the Constabulary of Ireland, with a saving of existing rights. One thing I must say. We have no desire to exempt the police of Ireland in its final form from the ultimate control of the Legislative Body. We have no jealousies on the subject; and I own I have a strong personal opinion that, when once the recollection of the old antipathies has been effectually abated, the care of providing for the ordinary security of life and property of the citizens will be regarded as the very first duty of any good local Government in Ireland. I think it will be understood from what I have stated that the Constabulary would remain under the present terms of service and under the present authority, although I do not say that this is to be so for ever. Assuming control over the Constabulary, that control will be prospective, and will not import any injury to existing rights.
With respect to the Civil Service, of course the future Civil Service of the country generally will be absolutely under the Legislative Body. With respect to the present Civil Service, we have not thought that their case was exactly analogous either to the Constabulary or the Judicial Offices, and yet it is a great transition, and moreover it will, without doubt, be the desire of the 1073 Legislative Body of Ireland forthwith, or very early, to effect a great economy in its establishment. We have, therefore, considered to some extent in what way we can at once provide what is just for the Civil Servants of Ireland, and, at the same time, set free the hands of the Legislative Body to proceed with this salutary work of economy and retrenchment. Our opinion is that, upon the whole, it will be wise in the joint interests of both to authorize the Civil Servants now serving to claim the gratuity or pension which would be due to them upon the abolition of their offices, provided they shall serve not less than two years, to prevent an inconvenient lapse in the practical business of the country, and at the close of those two years both parties would be free to negotiate afresh, the Civil Servants not being bound to remain, and the Legislative Body not being in any way bound to continue to employ them. That is all I have to say upon the subject of the new Irish Constitution.
I am afraid I have still many subjects on which I have some details to show, and I fear I have already detained the House too long. I have now, Sir, to give a practical exposition of the phrase which I have used, that we looked upon it as an essential condition of our plan that there should be an equitable distribution of Imperial charges. The meaning of that is, what proportion shall Ireland pay? I must remind Gentlemen, before I enter upon the next explanation, that the proportion to be paid is not the only thing to be considered; you have to consider the basis upon which that proportionate payment is to be applied. Looking upon the proportionate payment, we now stand thus. At the time of the Union it was intended that Ireland should pay 2–17ths, or in the relation of 1 to 7½ out of the total charge of the United Kingdom. The actual true payment now made by the Irish taxpayer is not 1 to 7½, but some thing under 1 to 12, or about 1 to 11½—that is the total expenditure. The proposal I make is that the proportion chargeable to Ireland shall be 1 to 14, orl–15th; but that will not be understood until I come to join it with other particulars. I will look, however, Sir, a little to the question what are the best tests of capacity to pay. Many of these tests have been suggested—one of them 1074 is the Income Tax, which I conceive to be a very imperfect indication. The Income Tax, I believe, would give a proportion, not of 1 to 14, but of 1 to 19. This is to be borne in mind, if you have regard to the Income Tax—that while, on the one hand, it is paid in Ireland upon a lower valuation than in England or in Scotland—because, as we all know, in England Schedule A is levied on the full rent—it is also unquestionable that many Irishmen also hold securities upon which dividends are received in London and pay Income Tax, I hope, before the dividends come into the hands of the persons entitled to them. Therefore, it is almost a certainty that a considerable sum ought to be added to the Irish Income Tax, which would raise it from the proportion of 1 to 19 to, perhaps, 1 to 17. But there are two other tests which I consider far superior to the Income Tax. One is the test afforded us by the Death Duties, not by the amount levied, because the amounts levied vary capriciously according to the consanguinity scale, but by the property passing under the Death Duties. The amount of property on which, on an average of three years, the Death Duties fell was for Great Britain £170,000,000, and for Ireland £12,908,000, or 1 to 13. I have taken three years, because they represent the period since we entered upon a somewhat new administration of the Death Duties, and that is by far the best basis of comparison. When we come to the valuation, inasmuch as Ireland is valued much lower in proportion to the real value than England and Scotland, the valuation in the latest year for which we have Returns is in Great Britain £166,000,000, and for Ireland £13,833,000, giving a proportion of 1 to 12, or 1–13th.
Under these circumstances, what ought we to do? In my opinion, we ought to make for Ireland an equitable arrangement, and I think that when I propose to assume the proportion of l–15th, it will be seen that that is an equitable or even generous arrangement, after I have mentioned three considerations. The first of these considerations is that if we start an Irish Legislative Body, we must start it with some balance to its credit. But if we are to start it with a balance to its credit, I know of no way except the solitary £20,000 a-year which still remains to 1075 be worked out of the Church surplus after all the demands made upon it. I know of no way of honestly manufacturing that balance except by carving it out of the Budget for the coming year, and providing for the sum at the expense, as it will then be, not of the Irish Exchequer exclusively, but at the expense of the English and Scotch taxpayers. That is one consideration; the second consideration is this—I take this 1 to 14 or 1–15th for the purpose of ascertaining what share Ireland is to pay to the Imperial expenditure. But when I said that Ireland now pays 1 to 11½ or 1 to 12½ of the Imperial expenditure, I meant the amount of the whole gross Imperial expenditure; and when I say that we shall ask her to pay l–15th of the Imperial expenditure in the future, that is an Imperial expenditure very materially cut down. For, upon consideration, it has been thought right, in computing the military expenditure, to exclude from it altogether what ought strictly to be called War Charges. We do not propose to assume, in fixing the future Imperial contribution of Ireland, to base that calculation on the supposition of her sharing in charges analogous, for example, to the Vote of Credit for £11,000,000 last year. Therefore, this proportion of 1–15th is to be applied to a scale of Imperial expenditure materially reduced.
But, Sir, there is another consideration which I think it right to mention. It is this—that this Imperial contribution would be paid by Ireland out of a fund composed, in the first instance, of the entire receipts paid into the Irish Exchequer; but that, Sir, is not a true test of the amount of taxation paid by Ireland. There are goods which pay duty in England, and which are exported, duty paid, to Ireland, which are consumed in Ireland, and upon which, therefore, the duty is really paid by Irishmen, while the receipts go into the Imperial Exchequer. But there is not only a corresponding movement the other way, but there is a movement very much larger and more important. More than £1,000,000 of duty—I think £1,030,000—is paid upon spirits in Ireland that are exported to Great Britain. Every shilling of that duty is really paid by the Englishman and the Scotchman; but, at the same time, the whole receipts go into the Irish Exchequer. The same thing 1076 holds with respect to the porter brewed in Ireland. The same thing holds with regard to the very considerable manufacture of tobacco carried on in Ireland. We have made it the object of our best efforts to ascertain how much money Ireland loses to England by the process which I have described—and which I have no doubt is accurately understood by all Members of the House—how much money Ireland loses to Great Britain by the flow of duty-paid commodities from. Great Britain to Ireland; and how much Great Britain loses to Ireland from the flow of such commodities from Ireland to Great Britain. The result of this investigation is—I state it with confidence, not actually as if it were to be demonstrated in every point by Parliamentary Returns, but I state it as a matter of certainty with regard to a far greater portion of the sum, and as a matter certainly subject to very little doubt—that the Irish receipt gains from Great Britain by the process I have described more than Great Britain gains from Ireland, and more, to no less an amount than £1,400,000, paid by the British taxpayer, and forming part of the Irish receipt. If you maintain the fiscal unity of the Empire, if you do not erect—which I trust you will not erect—Custom Houses between Great Britain and Ireland, if you let things take their natural course, according to the ordinary and natural movement of trade, £1,400,000 will be paid to the benefit of Ireland as a charge upon the English and Scotch taxpayer, and will form a portion of the fund out of which Ireland will defray the Imperial contribution which we propose to levy upon her.
If this amount of Imperial contribution to be paid by Ireland, which I have described as 1–14th, comes to be reduced by subtracting this sum of £1,400,000, the portion which Ireland will have to pay will be, not 1–14th, but a fraction under 1–26th. That is a very great change. It is a benefit she gets, not only in the state of the law, but owing to the course of trade. We cannot take it away without breaking up the present absolute freedom between the two countries. I hope this will be borne in mind by those who think this charge of 1–15th is a heavy charge to be thrown upon Ireland; and by those who think, as I certainly do, that in a case 1077 of this kind, after all that has occurred, when two countries are very strong and very rich compared with a third of far more restricted means, the pecuniary arrangement ought to be equitable and even bountiful in some moderate degree. It will be interesting to the House to know what payment per capita the plan I have described will allot to the Irishman and to the Briton respectively. I use the word "Briton" because I know that it will gratify my Friends from Scotland. The incidence of this plan per capita I will state as follows:—In the first place, if I were to take the present contribution of Ireland to the entire expenditure of the country according to the receipt into the two Exchequers, the inhabitant in Great Britain pays £2 10s. per capita, and the inhabitant in Ireland £1 13s. 1d. That is obviously and inequitably high for Ireland. But if I take the real payment of the Irish taxpayer and compare that with the real payment of the English taxpayer, it will follow that the English payment is £2 10s. 11d. as against £1 7s. 10d. of Ireland, which is certainly a more equitable proportion.
Now I pass to the basis of 1–14th or 1–15th. This is not founded upon the total expenditure of the country; but upon what we are about to reckon as Imperial expenditure, and the respective contribution to the Imperial Exchequer. The respective contribution per capita will be for Great Britain £1 10s. 11d., and for Ireland 13s. 5d., and I do not think that that is an inequitable arrangement. I wish to exhibit exactly what alterations we propose to make. Under the proportion now proposed Ireland will pay 13s. 5d.; while, if the present proportion were maintained, she would pay 16s. 10d., which will be a very considerable diminution in the amount of her contribution per capita.
I will state only one other striking fact with regard to the Irish expenditure. The House would like to know what an amount has been going on—and which at this moment is going on—of what I must call not only a waste of public money, but a demoralizing waste of public money, demoralizing in its influence upon both countries. The civil charges per capita at this moment are in Great Britain 8s. 1d. and in Ireland 16s. They have increased in Ireland in the last 15 years by 63 per cent, 1078 and my belief is that if the present legislative and administrative systems be maintained, you must make up your minds to a continued, never-ending, and never-to-be-limited, augmentation. The amount of the Irish contribution upon the basis I have described would be as follows:—1–15th of the annual Debt charge of £22,000,000 would be £1,466,000; 1–15th of the Army and Navy charge, after excluding what we call War Votes, and also excluding the charges for Volunteers and Yeomanry, would be £1,666,000; and the amount of the Civil charges, which are properly considered Imperial, would entail upon Ireland £110,000, or a total charge properly Imperial of £3,242,000. I am now ready to present what I may call an Irish Budget—a debtor and creditor account for the Irish Exchequer. The Customs produce in Ireland a gross sum of £1,880,000, the Excise £4,300,000, the Stamps £600,000, the Income Tax £550,000, and Non-Tax Revenue, including the Post Office, £1,020,000. And perhaps here, again, I ought to mention, as an instance of the demoralizing waste which now attends Irish administration, that which will, perhaps, surprise the House to know—namely, that while in England and Scotland we levy from the Post Office and Telegraph system a large surplus income, in Ireland the Post Office and the Telegraphs just pay their expenses, or leave a surplus so small as not to be worth mentioning. I call that a very demoralizing way of spending money. Although I believe that there is no purer Department in the country than the Post Office, yet the practical effect of our method of administering Ireland by influences known to be English, and not Irish, leads to a vast amount of unnecessary expenditure.
The total receipts of the Irish Exchequer are thus shown to amount to £8,350,000; and against that I have to place an Imperial contribution, which I may call permanent, because it will last for a great number of years, of £3,242,000. I put down £1,000,000 for the Constabulary, because that would be a first charge, although I hope that it will soon come under very effective reduction. I put down £2,510,000 for the other Civil charges in Ireland; and there, again, I have not the smallest doubt that that charge will likewise be very 1079 effectually reduced by an Irish Government. Finally, the collection of Revenue is £834,000, making a total charge thus far of £7,586,000. Then we have thought it essential to include in this arrangement, not only for our own sakes, but for the sake of Ireland also, a payment on account of the Sinking Fund against the Irish portion of the National Debt. The Sinking Fund is now paid for the whole National Debt. We have now got to allot a certain portion of that Debt to Ireland. We think it necessary to maintain that Sinking Fund, and especially for the interest of Ireland. When Ireland gets the management of her own affairs, I venture to prophesy that she will want, for useful purposes, to borrow money. But the difficulty of that operation will be enormously higher or lower, according to the condition of her public credit. Her public credit is not yet born. It has yet to lie, like an infant, in the cradle, and it may require a good deal of nursing; but no nursing would be effectual, unless it were plain and palpable to the eye of the whole world that Ireland had provision in actual working order for discharging her old obligations, so as to make it safe for her to contract new obligations more nearly allied to her own immediate wants. I, therefore, put down £750,000 for Sinking Fund. That makes the total charge £7,946,000, against a total income of £8,350,000, or a surplus of £404,000. But I can state to the House that that £404,000 is a part only of the Fund which, under the present state of things, it would be the duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the three countries to present to you for the discharge of our collective expenditure.
Sir, the House has heard me with astonishing patience while I have endeavoured to perform, what I knew must prove an almost interminable task. There is only one subject more on which I feel it still necessary to detain the House. It is commonly said in England and Scotland—and in the main it is, I think, truly said—that we have for a great number of years been struggling to pass good laws for Ireland. We have sacrificed our time; we have neglected our own business; we have advanced our money—which I do not think at all a great favour conferred on her—and all this in the endeavour to give Ireland good laws. That is quite true in regard to the 1080 general course of legislation since 1829. But many of those laws have been passed under influences which can hardly be described otherwise than as influences of fear. Some of our laws have been passed in a spirit of grudging and of jealousy. It is most painful for me to consider that, after four or five years of Parliamentary battle, when a Municipal Corporation Act was passed for Ireland, it was a very different measure to that which, in England and Scotland, created complete and absolute municipal life. Were I to come to the history of the Land Question I could tell a still sadder tale. Let no man assume that he fully knows that history until he has followed it from year to year, beginning with the Devon Commission, or with the efforts of Mr. Sharman Crawford. The appointment of the Devon Commission does, in my opinion, the highest honour to the memory of Sir Robert Peel. Then, notice the mode in which the whole labours of that Commission were frustrated by the domination of selfish interests in the British Parliament. Our first effort at land legislation was delayed until so late a period as the year 1870. I take this opportunity of remarking that sound views on the Land Question were not always confined to Irish Members, nor to the Liberal side of this House. The late Mr. Napier, who became Lord Chancellor of Ireland, when he sat in this House for the academical constituency of Dublin, developed, with great earnestness, truly liberal views on the subject of Irish land, and made generous efforts in that direction—efforts which were, however, intercepted.
But, Sir, I do not deny the general good intentions of Parliament on a variety of great and conspicuous occasions, and its desire to pass good laws for Ireland. But let me say that, in order to work out the purposes of government, there is something more in this world occasionally required than even the passing of good laws. It is sometimes requisite not only that good laws should be passed, but also that they should be passed by the proper persons. The passing of many good laws is not enough in cases where the strong permanent instincts of the people, their distinctive marks of character, the situation and history of the country require not only that these laws should be good, but 1081 that they should proceed from a congenial and native source, and besides being good laws should be their own laws. In former times it might have been doubted—I have myself doubted—whether this instinct had been thus developed in Ireland. If such doubts could be entertained before the last General Election they can be entertained no longer.
The principle that I am laying down I am not laying down exceptionally for Ireland. It is the very principle upon which, within my recollection, to the immense advantage of the country, we have not only altered, but revolutionized our method of governing the Colonies. I had the honour to hold Office in the Colonial Department—perhaps I ought to be ashamed to confess it—51 years ago. At that time the Colonies were governed from Downing Street. It is true that some of them had Legislative Assemblies; but with these we were always in conflict. We were always fed with information by what was termed the British Party in those Colonies. A clique of gentlemen constituted themselves the British Party; and the non-British Party, which was sometimes called the "Disloyal Party," was composed of the enormous majority of the population. We had continual shocks, continual debates, and continual conflicts. All that has changed. England tried to pass good laws for the Colonies at that period; but the Colonies said—"We do not want your good laws; we want our own." We admitted the reasonableness of that principle, and it is now coming home to us from across the seas. We have to consider whether it is applicable to the case of Ireland. Do not let us disguise this from ourselves. We stand face to face with what is termed Irish nationality. Irish nationality vents itself in the demand for local autonomy, or separate and complete self-government in Irish, not in Imperial, affairs. Is this an evil in itself? Is it a thing that we should view with horror or apprehension? Is it a thing which we ought to reject or accept only with a wry face, or ought we to wait until some painful and sad necessity is incumbent upon the country, like the necessity of 1780 or the necessity of 1793? Sir, I hold that it is not. There is a saying of Mr. Grattan—who was, indeed, a fiery and a fervid orator; 1082 but he was more than that; he was a statesman; his aphorisms are, in my opinion, weighty, and even profound, and I commend them to the careful reflection and examination of the country—when he was deprecating the surrender of the Irish Parliament, and pointing out that its existence did not prevent the perfect union of the two countries, he remarked—"The Channel forbids union; the ocean forbids separation." Is that Channel nothing? Do what you will with your steamers and your telegraphs, can you make that Channel cease to exist, or to be as if it were not? These 60 miles may appear a little thing; but I ask you what are the 20 miles between England and France? These few miles of water have exercised a vital influence upon the whole history, the whole development, and the whole national character of our people.
These, Sir, are great facts. I hold that there is such a thing as local patriotism, which, in itself, is not bad, but good. The Welshman is full of local patriotism—the Scotchman is full of local patriotism; the Scotch nationality is as strong as it ever was, and should the occasion arise—which I believe it never can—it will be as ready to assert itself as in the days of Bannockburn. I do not believe that that local patriotism is an evil. I believe it is stronger in Ireland even than in Scotland. Englishmen are eminently English; Scotchmen are profoundly Scotch; and, if I read Irish history aright, misfortune and calamity have wedded her sons to her soil. The Irishman is more profoundly Irish; but it does not follow that, because his local patriotism is keen, he is incapable of Imperial patriotism. There are two modes of presenting the subject. The one is to present what we now recommend as good, and the other to recommend it as a choice of evils. Well, Sir, I have argued the matter as if it were a choice of evils; I have recognized, as facts entitled to attention, the jealousies which I do not share or feel; and I have argued it on that ground as the only ground on which it can be argued, not only in a mixed auditory, but in the public mind and to the country, which cannot give a minute investigation to the operations of that complicated question. But, in my own heart, I cherish the hope that 1083 this is not merely the choice of the lesser evil, but may prove to be rather a good in itself. What is the answer to this? It is only to be found in the view which rests upon the basis of despair and of absolute condemnation of Ireland and Irishmen as exceptions to the beneficent provisions which enable men in general, and Europeans in particular, and Americans, to be capable of performing civil duties, and which considers an Irishman either as a lusus naturœ or one for whom justice, common sense, moderation, and national prosperity have no meaning, and who can only understand and appreciate perpetual strife and dissension. Well, Sir, I am not going to argue that view, which, to my mind, is founded on a monstrous misconception. I say that the Irishman is as capable of loyalty as another man—I say that if his loyalty has been checked in its development, why is it? Because the laws by which he is governed do not present themselves to him, as they do to us in England and Scotland, with a native and congenial aspect; and I think I can refer to two illustrations which go strongly to support the doctrine I have advanced. Take the case of the Irish soldier and of the Irish Constabulary. Have you a braver or a more loyal man in your Army than the Irishman, who has shared every danger with his Scotch and English comrades, and who has never been behind them, when confronted by peril, for the sake of the honour and safety of his Empire? Compare this case with that of an ordinary Irishman in Ireland. The Irish soldier has voluntarily placed himself under military law, which is to him a self-chosen law, and he is exempted from that difficulty which works upon the population in Ireland—namely, that they are governed by a law which they do not feel has sprung from the soil. Consider how common it is to hear the observation, in discussing the circumstances of Ireland, that while the Constabulary are largely taken from the Roman Catholic population and from the very class most open to disaffection, where disaffection exists, they form a splendid model of obedience, discipline, and devotion such as the world can hardly match. How is this? It is because they have undertaken a voluntary service which takes them completely out of the category of the ordinary Irishman. They are placed 1084 under an authority which is to them congenial because freely accepted. Their loyalty is not checked by the causes that operate on the agricultural population of Ireland. It has grown as freely in the Constabulary and in the Army as if every man in the Constabulary and evey Irish soldier had been an Englishman or a Scotchman.
However this may be, we are sensible that we have taken an important decision—our choice has been made. It has not been made without thought; it has been made in the full knowledge that trial and difficulty may confront us on our path. We have no right to say that Ireland, through her constitutionally-chosen Representatives, will accept the plan I offer. Whether it will be so I do not know—I have no title to assume it; but if Ireland does not cheerfully accept it, it is impossible for us to attempt to force upon her what is intended to be a boon; nor can we possibly press England and Scotland to accord to Ireland what she does not heartily welcome and embrace. There are difficulties; but I rely upon the patriotism and sagacity of this House; I rely on the effects of free and full discussion; and I rely more than all upon the just and generous sentiments of the two British nations. Looking forward, I ask the House to assist us in the work which we have undertaken, and to believe that no trivial motive can have driven us to it—to assist us in this work which, we believe, will restore Parliament to its dignity and legislation to its free and unimpeded course. I ask you to stay that waste of public treasure which is involved in the present system of government and legislation in Ireland, and which is not a waste only, but which demoralizes while it exhausts. I ask you to show to Europe and to America that we, too, can face political problems which America 20 years ago faced, and which many countries in Europe have been called upon to face, and have not feared to deal with. I ask that in our own case we should practise, with firm and fearless hand, what we have so often preached—the doctrine which we have so often inculcated upon others—namely, that the concession of local self-government is not the way to sap or impair, but the way to strengthen and consolidate unity. I ask that we should learn to rely less upon merely 1085 written stipulations, and more upon those better stipulations which are written on the heart and mind of man. I ask that we should apply to Ireland that happy experience which we have gained in England and in Scotland, where the course of generations has now taught us, not as a dream or a theory, but as practice and as life, that the best and surest foundation we can find to build upon is the foundation afforded by the affections, the convictions, and the will of the nation; and it is thus, by the decree of the Almighty, that we may be enabled to secure at once the social peace, the fame, the power, and the permanence of the Empire.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the provision for the future Government of Ireland."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
§ COLONEL WARING (Down, N.)
said, he knew that he had need to appeal to the consideration of the House on rising to address it after the marvellous performance and extraordinary piece of eloquence which they had just heard from the right hon. Gentleman opposite. It had, however, fallen to his (Colonel Waring's) lot to make an attempt to follow him, and he would perform his duty to the best of his ability; and in doing so he would endeavour to avoid treating the subject controversially, though he would admit that it was very difficult for him to do so. No science, he supposed, had advanced so much in recent years as chemistry; but in all his progress and all the perfection of his appliances the chemist, so far, had utterly failed to transmute the baser metal into gold; and, equally so, to his (Colonel Waring's) mind, the political chemistry of the Prime Minister had failed as completely as scientific chemistry. The right hon. Gentleman's speech was in itself a wonderful and unparalleled piece of oratory; but when the glamour and the eloquence of the oratory had passed away it would be found that the measure itself was not one which would be accepted by the House or by the country. The fact was that, though the measure was prepared, sent out, and put into form by the right hon. Gentleman, the material came from another workshop. There it acquired an odour and flavour which all the spices of the 1086 East could not remove—an odour left by hands steeped in treason. The House, however, was not taken by surprise at the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman, because, in his speech at Edinburgh on the 9th of November last, he had given the country fair warning when he said that if the Liberals were returned to Parliament in a minority which could only become a majority by the Irish vote, it would not be safe to enter upon the consideration of a measure in respect of which it would be in the power of the Irish Party to say—"Unless you do this and unless you do that we will turn you out to-morrow." It appeared, however, to him (Colonel Waring) that though the right hon. Gentleman had proved to the House that he had himself been unable to resist the temptation which he had foreshadowed, it remained to be seen whether or not the whole Liberal Party would yield to the same temptation. There was one fallacy which pervaded the right hon. Gentleman's speech throughout which, he (Colonel Waring) must at once point out—that was that it was possible to have a united Ireland, and that the present majority of the Representatives of Ireland was, in any true proportion, a representation of the people of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to the old Irish Parliaments. He said that for many centuries Ireland had had a separate Parliament of her own, and contended that the present proposal was, therefore, no innovation. But it was well known that the experiment of a free and independent Parliament was not tried prior to the year 1782. In that year Poyning's Act was repealed, with the result that where force had been previously used corruption was resorted to. Before the year 1782 there was a Parliament of iron, which gave place to a Parliament of gold; and now Ireland was offered a Parliament of paper, bound by obligations which it would observe precisely as long as it thought fit. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to derive great satisfaction at the manner in which the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) had modified his demands in that House. But he (Colonel Waring) thought that, if a little care was taken to see how far the statements of the hon. Member for the City of Cork in that House tallied with his statement outside, 1087 it would be found that the congratulations of the right hon. Gentleman were scarcely founded on a satisfactory basis. That hon. Gentleman, in a recent speech, said that his object was to make Ireland a nation free from outside control, with a right to direct her course as she might choose amongst the other nations of the world. Did the right hon. Gentleman believe there was any finality at all to the scheme he now proposed, or that it would be accepted by hon. Members below the Gangway in any other sense than as a fulcrum for extorting further concessions? They were told that this proposition was brought forward as an alternative for coercion. That word "coercion" was, certainly, a most unfortunate word for those who believed it was only a name and not a reality; and he hoped that if the English Parliament continued to rule Ireland when exceptional measures were necessary they would be extended to England and Scotland. It would then be found how little such measures were to be feared by law-abiding persons; for he never heard yet of an honest man who had ever suffered from them, or who, if he were asked to obey the provisions of these Acts, did not feel that he was, at the same time, morally bound to do so. Then they were told that Grattan's Parliament was the model of everything that it ought to be, except, unfortunately, that it was impossible to recall it from the past. But that system was one which no one would think of reconstructing, and any substitute for it now would be anything but Grattan's Parliament, which was Protestant and loyal. After all, what was the effect of Grattan's Parliament during the 16 years that it ruled Ireland? Perhaps it might be going a little too far to frame an argument from the post hoc to the propter hoc; but they knew that the rule of that Parliament resulted in the Rebellion of 1798, out of which sprang the Act of Union. The Prime Minister, in the earlier part of his speech, spoke about guarantees. The Loyalists in Ireland, however, were not going to place very much faith in paper guarantees, and did not care if they never heard of them again. Yet in the course of a very exhaustive speech the right hon. Gentleman never said what they were to be. It was true that, at a later stage of the 1088 Bill, they would hear what the guarantees would be; but he (Colonel Waring) confessed that, if the lives and property of the minority were supposed to be made safe by those little pieces of parchment, he had great curiosity to know how it could be done. It was said that, after all, there remained the golden link of the Crown. He would be very sorry to throw any doubt on the value of that link; but he could not help thinking that its strength had undergone a considerable amount of discredit among those who would be asked to believe in its security. He held that the Parliament of this country was going beyond its right and legitimate powers when it proposed to transfer from itself to any other Body, however constituted, the allegiance of those people in Ireland who disagreed with that transfer. When it was decided to alter the position of the Honourable East India Company, and to transfer its rule in India to the Crown, the European soldiers of that Company were given their option either to enlist in Her Majesty's Service or not, and were offered a passage home in case of refusal. They were also offered a bounty if they remained. Some of the Irish Loyalists—that was to say, the landed proprietors—had been offered a bounty. It was within their right to decline that bounty, and they did decline it, and they refused to transfer their allegiance from Her Gracious Majesty and the Parliament of this country to any other Body whatever. He declared that, if it became necessary, they would take such steps as might be advisable to secure their connection with this country, and to resist any attempt to transfer their allegiance to any other Power or Parliament. The Prime Minister said he did not propose that taxation should not have representation; yet his proposed scheme for Ireland looked uncommonly like it. They were now part and parcel of one of the greatest Empires of the world that the sun ever shone upon, and were utterly determined that they would not be changed into Colonials, and made a Dependency, not only not self-governing, but a Dependency which would be at the mercy of those from whom they differed politically. There was not a single argument used by the Prime Minister, in favour of his proposal, that would not apply with, equal force to the North-Eastern part of Ireland. If that portion of Ireland were 1089 represented in an Irish Legislature, he (Colonel Waring) did not doubt it would not be long before a Home Rule movement for it would be instituted in that Assembly. It appeared to him that there were three courses open to the right hon. Gentleman, one of which would have been to rule Ireland with a just and equal hand in the same manner as he would rule England and Scotland. Another course, not quite so good, but which, perhaps, might still be justified as not altogether dishonourable, was to say—"This grand old Empire is getting into the sere and yellow leaf. We do not feel ourselves competent to rule such an extent of territory, and we will do as the Emperor Honorius did in the 4th century—we will withdraw our legions from Ireland and allow it to rule itself." That would be an intelligible course to take, and an honest one; for by taking it an opportunity would arise for the minority to do what the right hon. Gentleman said he had no doubt they would be able to do—to take care of themselves. The minority certainly had not the slightest doubt in the world of being able to take care of themselves. But the course foreshadowed in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman—the third course—was one which could not be adopted without dishonour to England and the nation at large, and that was to turn over those who had been England's faithful garrison in Ireland, bound hand and foot, to the tender mercies of their bitterest enemies. It was true, they had not always done what they ought to have done; but, whatever their faults in the past to others, they had been always faithful to England, indeed, probably too much so, and any dangers confronting them had arisen from their loyalty to this country and to the Empire, of which he hoped they might still continue an integral part. He thanked the House for the attention with which it had heard him. He would not have risen to address it only that he felt bound to speak the feelings of what he might not be allowed to call the loyal minority, as they were forbidden to assume that title to themselves, but which he would call, for want of a better name, the West Britons of Ireland.
§ MR. MACNAGHTEN (Antrim, N.)
said, that as an Irishman deeply attached to Ireland, and deeply interested in its welfare, he should be very much 1090 wanting in his duty to his constituents if he did not state the grounds on which he objected to the measure which had been proposed. Much as he admired the Orange Body, and great as were the services which they had rendered, he was not one of their number, nor had he any intention of becoming so. He belonged to that class of men to whom the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) alluded not very long ago when he said that there were in Ulster a number of quiet folk who were content to leave the care of peace and order in the hands of the Executive Government of the day. Whether those quiet folk would be content to leave the care of peace and order to the Executive Government that would be created if this Bill passed he did not know, and very much doubted. But it was on behalf of those quiet folk that he wished to address the House. Upon this subject there was no difference of opinion whatever among loyal subjects in Ireland; none among Conservatives; and he would go further, and say he was happy to think there was none among Liberals either. It was not with the Loyalists of Ulster a question of Party; the interests at stake were far too serious for that; and he was quite sure that no hon. Member who sat on either side of the House would knowingly prefer the interests of Party to the interests of the nation. He did not think, therefore, it would be treated as a Party question in that House. Although the Liberals in Ireland did not succeed in returning any Member to Parliament at the General Election, they were still a numerous Body, and a Body of great weight and influence in Ireland, and at a recent Conference they declared their determined opposition to Home Rule. Indeed, when it was first suggested that the right hon. Gentleman intended to introduce a measure to repeal the Union, such as he had unfolded to-night, the Liberals in Ireland absolutely refused to believe it. They said it was an invention of the Tory Party, and that it was impossible that a man whom all admired would commit an act which the right hon. Gentleman himself had said could only be done for the purpose of making this country ridiculous in the eyes of mankind. But when, the truth forced itself upon them they held a very large meeting in Belfast, at which 1091 all the Leaders of the Liberal Party in Ireland were present, and passed this resolution—We declare our determined opposition to the establishment of a separate Irish Parliament, as certain to result in disastrous collision between sections of the people holding conflicting views on social, economic, and religious subjects, and as likely to create a feeling of insecurity that would jeopardize all industrial and commercial pursuits. We are satisfied that the maintenance of the Union with Great Britain is the best safeguard for the peace and prosperity of all classes in Ireland.They had heard a speech that night of unexampled power and marvellous eloquence, to which the House had listened with rapt attention. The right hon. Gentleman said in it that he did not propose the Repeal of the Union; but if it was not that, what was it? It was Repeal of the Union more complete than O'Connell himself had ever dreamt of. ["No, no!"] Hon. Gentlemen said "No." Well, then, what was it, if it was not Repeal of the Union? What was there left out? If it was not degrading Ireland into the position of a Colony, what was it? Ireland would no longer be an integral portion of the Empire, but would be treated exactly as a Colony. It was not to interfere with Customs; it was to have nothing to do with the Army; it was not to discuss Foreign or Colonial relations. There was no voice that it could have in the affairs of England, and it could not have a voice in the affairs of the Empire as a whole. Therefore, those Irishmen who consented to accept the position of a Member of that Parliament would accept a position very different from that which Members held in this House of Commons, where they held a far higher position than they would in their own country. But the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman was not received with unanimous applause by those who called themselves the Nationalist Members; and he should be very curious to know what course, on reflection, they would take. What would they do when sitting in an Irish Parliament? What could they do there that they could not do here? They had here the most complete control of Irish legislation. Here they could turn out Ministries; and there he did not know who would be Prime Minister. He supposed the Gentleman in whose hands they had placed their votes would be perpetual Prime Minis- 1092 ter or President of the Assembly. To allow a separate Legislature in Ireland would degrade them to the position of a mere Colony. [An hon. MEMBER: NO degradation.] Well, what, he would ask, was to become of the Loyalists of Ulster? They were somebody, and though a minority, yet a loyal minority. Apparently, the Prime Minister had not quite made up his mind. In one part of his speech he seemed to suggest that Ulster might remain an integral part of the Empire; and in another part of his speech he appeared to favour the notion that she might become a smaller Colony than the rest of Ireland on her own account. The people of Ulster would not be satisfied with that. If they had to choose, they would choose to remain part of the Empire, and that their Members should continue to sit in that House. He did not believe they would be content to leave their business and the control of their taxation to such a Parliament as it was proposed to create. To do so, he believed, would be fatal to the liberty, the education, and the religion of the people of the North of Ireland. Neither the House nor the right hon. Gentleman had the smallest notion how deep and unanimous was the feeling of the people in the North of Ireland as regarded this subject. There they were all determined, so far as they could, to hold their present position, and not to exchange it for one so vastly inferior. They also opposed the measure because they thought it would be disastrous to England. It seemed to him that some Members were greatly relieved at the prospect of getting rid of the Irish Members. He was not sure at all what view the Irish Members took on this matter; but he was extremely doubtful whether they would accept the provision which the Prime Minister had offered. They were all extremely anxious to hear what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) had to say. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken very clearly and very fairly upon the subject, and had publicly told them, some time ago, that nothing except the Queen's Government stood between Ireland and civil war, and that the separation of the two countries would be followed by scenes which would take them back centuries in the march of civilization. He (Mr. Macnaghten) did not know whether the 1093 right hon. Gentleman was of that opinion now; but, whether he was or not, the situation at the time that he made that speech remained unchanged, and he (Mr. Macnaghten) held the right hon. Gentleman to what he had said. Did he still think that that opinion was settled in the minds of every reasonable Englishman?
§ MR. O'NEILL (Antrim, Mid)
said, that the Party to which he belonged had been returned to that House with one distinct order from their constituents, which was to oppose as much as they could, and to resist to the utmost of their power, anything like an approach to a violation of the Act of Union ending in a separation of England and Ireland. For a number of years past what had been called remedial legislation had been passed by that House, and hon. Members had flattered themselves, from time to time, that they had passed measures which would be final, and of a character to gain the affections of the Irish people. But not a single measure that had been passed had gone one step towards attaining that object. The fact was that there existed among the great mass of the Irish people an innate hatred of England. ["No, no!"] It was hopeless to suppose that a measure, even of a sweeping character such as that suggested by the Prime Minister, were passed in its integrity, the people of Ireland could stand still under the circumstances, for it would be regarded by certain classes in Ireland as nothing more than an instalment towards an end, which meant the Repeal of the Union. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) gave them, last year, a very strong idea as to what his views were. He did not state that he wished for complete separation; but he did say that he thought there were better men to come after him, who would not be satisfied with the extent to which he had gone, and would do their utmost to bring about legislative separation between the two countries. He (Mr. O'Neill) did not defend the manner in which England had treated Ireland in years gone by; he might, however, say that the Loyalist minority were now perfectly satisfied with the way in which England dealt with Irish affairs, and they feared that if any change were made in the Government of Ireland, such as that proposed, they would, come very badly out 1094 of it. Therefore, if there was any alteration made in the Government of Ireland with regard to separating Ulster—the Loyalists of Ulster—from the Mother Kingdom, he could assure the House that such alteration would be most strongly resented. The measure which had been proposed by the Prime Minister was not at all satisfactory, for even the right hon. Gentleman could not pledge himself to the integrity of an Irish Parliament, such as he now proposed. The reason why he (Mr. O'Neill) made that observation was plain. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister) could not trust an Irish Parliament, such as he proposed to institute; because he had felt it necessary to place a certain check upon what such a Parliament could do. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the loyal minority must be protected, thereby acknowledging that they required protection from the Parliament which he now proposed to give to Ireland. He (Mr. O'Neill) supposed that that protection was to come from England. What he wished to impress upon the House was that, by its adopting such a measure of Home Rule as this, they would be alienating the loyal Ulster people. He did not want any restrictions placed upon the people of Ulster, for it would then be found that the Protestants of that Province would be perfectly able to protect themselves, in case of any interference with what they considered their just rights. From his knowledge of the temper and the feeling of the Protestants of the North of Ireland, he could say that they were quite determined to protect themselves by all means in their power if by any chance their liberty was interfered with. People in Ireland, even hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, could not help feeling proud of occupying the position of an integral portion of the United Kingdom. From what had been heard that night, however, it appeared they were to be deprived of that position in the future; but how Ireland was to continue to exist on its own basis he could not see. One objection to Home Rule, as carried out in the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman, had been urged before he (Mr. O'Neill) was quite aware; but he ventured to urge it again, and that was that an Irish Government would have no credit at all. They would not be able to borrow money; for he did 1095 not think that a prudent person, with a proper idea of financial security, would be foolish, enough to lend money to financially independent Ireland. A loan of the kind would be on such a condition of interest that it would be ruinous to a Government to accept it. So, then, the result would be that none of the great works now carried on with the assistance of the British Treasury would be continued hereafter. Railways would not be constructed; for there was not the capital in Ireland for the purpose. Those who had capital would not spend it. The same might be said of harbours, roads, and other public works. In that way Ireland would suffer in a terrible manner from the carrying out of such a proposition as had been foreshadowed by the Prime Minister. He would not detain the House with an attempt, on that occasion, to reply to the long speech of the Prime Minister; but, as he said before, if they were to have Home Rule, let it be thorough, and the Protestants would be quite prepared to take care of themselves. All the restrictions which had been indicated by the right hon. Gentleman would be looked upon as grievances, and would be resisted, not only by the bulk of agitators, as what were called grievances were now resisted, but resisted with all the weight, authority, and importance of this new Parliament to be constituted in Ireland. In the end, the English people would be brought to feel they had no right to resist opinion expressed in such a manner by a constituted Representative authority. There would be no speciality; grievance after grievance would be agitated, until total separation resulted, and the result would be the establishment of an Irish Republic, which would be the focus of foreign intrigue in time of peace, and would be a source of imminent danger in England in time of war.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.)
said, he thought it was time that some hon. Member representing an English constituency should rise to support the opinions of the minority in Ireland, and not leave the Irish Loyalist Members to fight the battle unaided. He could not help feeling there had been an air of unreality about the whole of the night's proceedings. To understand the position of affairs it was necessary to recall the incidents of 1096 the last few months, and especially the speeches delivered by the Prime Minister in Mid Lothian. Nothing that was then said was sufficiently precise to induce the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) to give his support to the right hon. Gentleman; and if it had been known that the right hon. Gentleman was going to propose a Home Rule scheme, it was doubtful whether even he would have been elected for that constituency, and he was quite sure, if he had been, he would not have had a large following. It was certain that fewer Members would have been returned to support him, and there would have been in Parliament a good many more supporters of the Union. There was at first nothing like revelation; but since then there had been a good many inspired newspaper letters and interviews; but they were always being warned that they were not authorized. When the present Government was formed, it was significant that there were a great many remarkable abstentions from the Government, and also some very remarkable inclusions. The Liberal statesmen to whom they might have looked with confidence to oppose any attack on the integrity of the Empire were not in the Government; but an eminent literary man who had advocated Home Rule was in it. Since then, as they all knew, two eminent Members of the Government had resigned. That was the way in which the country had been kept in suspense, and more painful suspense he had never known. He was glad the suspense was at an end, and that they were now in possession of the truth—he could not say the unvarnished truth, because the weak parts of the scheme had been glossed over. The ground, or rather the extraordinary excuse on which the Prime Minister justified his change of policy, was that after the late Government declined to renew the Crimes Act repressive legislation was at an end. The right hon. Gentleman said it would have been easy to pass a renewal of that Act, but the general opinion was that it would have been very difficult; and it was doubtful whether the right hon. Gentleman himself would have given any assistance to get it passed. But why should the omission have rendered the renewal more difficult than it was after the right hon. Gentleman refused to 1097 renew it in 1880, when the consequence was that crime increased so much in the two following years that it was necessary to ask for greater powers than would otherwise have been necessary? It was an entire assumption to say there was now no course midway between exceptional coercion and the separation proposed. The right hon. Gentleman said there was much less crime in Ireland now than there was in 1832; but, instead of that being a reason for granting Home Rule, it was a proof of the good that had been effected by the beneficent government of Ireland under the direction of the Imperial Parliament. It showed that education had done much for the people; that law and order, on the whole, had been maintained; and that justice had been administered, if with lessening severity, at least with increasing efficiency. During the last 20 years the advances made to the farmers and the savings they had invested had increased out of all proportion to the wealth of the landowning classes, which was diminishing. The improvements in communication and other evidences of material progress showed that British rule had not been altogether unsuccessful. The right hon. Gentleman said that the scheme did not impair the Imperial Union, and he contrasted it with proposals for a central Administrative Board. But in what did his scheme differ from the others, if it did not involve separation? Could there be a wider separation than that the Representatives of Ireland in this and in the other House of Parliament should be removed to a Legislature sitting at Dublin, with full powers to legislate, except upon Imperial affairs? What did legislation mean? Did it not mean the power of passing laws affecting the liberty, the prosperity, and the welfare of the subjects of the Queen under whom they lived. Did it not mean that everyone who lived on the other side of the Irish Channel should be withdrawn from the care of the Imperial Parliament and placed under the control of the Irish Parliament? It was a question, however, whether the Irish people would be satisfied with the domestic Legislature promised to be given them. He (Sir James Fergusson) was inclined to think that they would feel themselves placed in a position of inferiority in consequence of the many things which were with- 1098 drawn from their supervision. There were two points which seemed to him to constitute a weakness in the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman. The first was the lack of provisions for the necessary protection of the minority. The right hon. Gentleman said that there were several schemes which had been discussed for the protection of the minority in Ireland, and he could not say which of them would be most effective in the attainment of its object. For his part, he (Sir James Fergusson) should say that it should be one of the first elements in the consideration of any scheme to be submitted to Parliament, and more especially in a scheme like the one under notice, that the minority in Ireland, whether in religion or class, should be entirely protected against any unjust legislation. He felt certain that this Parliament would never allow the minority to remain unprotected without the fullest conditions being made in their interests. Yet that was a point of the scheme which the right hon. Gentleman passed over in the lightest manner. He (Sir James Fergusson) thought that circumstance showed that it was impossible to frame any scheme by which the minority would be adequately protected, otherwise they might feel sure that the right hon. Gentleman would have stated it to the House that evening. Another point which struck him as being a lamentably weak one in the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman was that in which he spoke of putting Ireland in the position of a self-governing Colony. He (Sir James Fergusson) would remind the House, however, that in a self-governing Colony there were no Imperial troops, unless they were desired by and paid for on the part of the particular Colony. He certainly did not hear the right hon. Gentleman say that a large garrison would not still be required in Ireland. If it should be, he did not understand that that garrison was to be paid for by Ireland, or that it was to be at the option of Ireland whether she retained that garrison or not. However that might be, he did not think the House would be ready to place Ireland in the anomalous position of being free to say whether or not she desired the Queen's troops to be kept in Ireland. The Prime Minister said that Irish laws had been passed under the influence of fear. 1099 He (Sir James Fergusson) did not understand whether, in that reference, the right hon. Gentleman meant the laws which came under the name of coercive laws. He (Sir James Fergusson) did not think, however, that these particular laws were passed under the influence of fear. He thought rather that they were passed under the influence of a sense of duty, for the protection of the Queen's subjects in Ireland and for the maintenance of law and order. Surely it was well known that laws had been passed in this country for the repression of special crimes—such, for example, as the large number of robberies by violence in the streets of London by midnight robbers. Laws were passed to inflict the punishment of flogging, and those laws were effective in putting down the particular crime of garotte robbery. It would be a strong thing to say, however, that those laws were passed under the influence of fear. Again, when agrarian crimes became common in Ireland, when persons were shot down at their own thresholds, and in the presence of their families, and when cattle were shockingly mutilated, he did not think that the special laws which were passed, designed to enforce obedience to the law, were passed under the influence of fear. It would be quite as justifiable to say that this Bill was introduced under the influence of fear. At all events, he believed that, in our generation, Parliament had been actuated by an earnest sense of justice, and they desired to repair the mistakes of the past—a desire which had even gone beyond the laws of political economy, in order to give prosperity and peace to that country. The right hon. Gentleman made use of a curious illustration, taken from one of the speeches of Mr. Grattan. He (Sir James Fergusson) maintained, however, that the existence of the Irish Channel was not a fact which essentially prevented harmony between the two countries. The real cause of disunion was to be found in the existence of a number of selfish agitators, many of whom were foreign to the country, who lived by sowing dissension between the two nations; that was the reason why England and Ireland were not more united. It was not the English Channel, but the separate national organization, which divided the English from the French; 1100 and they would not now be lamenting the differences between England and Ireland were it not for the agitators who made profit by exciting the passions of the Irish people. He thought it must have been with a sense of degradation that the House of Commons found that evening their oldest statesman false to the traditions of his life. They must have felt pain at seeing him separated from many of his old Colleagues in order to propose a scheme at which the statesmen under whom the right hon. Gentleman rose to eminence would have marvelled—a scheme which entirely undid that work which England had been doing for so many generations. About such a man as the right hon. Gentleman one could not say that a vulgar love of power had driven him to such a declaration as they had listened to; but one could only wonder that the right hon. Gentleman's mind could have so altered as to induce him to falsify every statement he had made about Ireland up to the present time. The power of the right hon. Gentleman over the House, the interest which he threw around every subject, were truly astonishing; yet he (Sir James Fergusson) felt it would take more than his power and his ability to induce the House of Commons to consent to such a scheme as that which he had propounded that evening. But they had something else to do than to admire the right hon. Gentleman. They had to be true to the principles which had been handed down to them by their forefathers, which were their inheritance now, and which called upon them to discharge solemn duties from which he trusted they would not shrink.
§ MR. SHIRLEY (Yorkshire, W.R., Doncaster)
said, he would remind the House that they were not discussing the proposals of the Prime Minister on the second reading of the Bill. The discussion of the merits of the Bill were to some extent premature; and there were many Liberal Members who, having heard the provisions of the Bill explained by the Prime Minister that evening for the first time, would like a little time to consider it before making up their mind with respect to it. He should certainly, for his own part, like an opportunity for consideration before finally deciding whether he should vote for or against it on the second reading. 1101 It had been said that the constituencies had not yet had time to form an opinion on the subject; but he could answer with perfect safety as to the views of his constituency in the West Riding of Yorkshire on the subject. The people there had made up their minds that they ought to give to the Irish people the fullest measure of self-government which was consistent with the unity and integrity of the Empire. The only question which arose for doubt was whether this particular measure was consistent with the unity and integrity of the Empire? Well, on that point he might remark that if hon. Members would study the record of Parliamentary debates in any year—when the Irish Parliament did exist—say in the year 1795—they would find that the unity and integrity of the Empire were assumed. In all those great debates, in which Pitt and Fox took part, no one ever expressed a doubt that the unity and the integrity of the Empire existed, notwithstanding the fact that Ireland had then a separate Parliament. The Prime Minister therefore had argued—and he (Mr. Shirley) trusted that it would be found to be the case—that the existence of a separate Parliament for Ireland was not inconsistent with the unity and integrity of the Empire which he (Mr. Shirley) desired to maintain. The hon. Member for Mid Antrim (Mr. O'Neill) had stated that, in the event of this measure passing, he and his Friends would resort to civil war. He (Mr. Shirley) left that seditious expression to remain where it was. He believed it was part of the language of brag and bluster which Irish Members who came from that part of Ireland were accustomed so frequently to employ, and by the use of which, perhaps, they did not mean anything in particular. If, however, they really meant what was intended to be implied by such expressions, all he would say was that he trusted the Executive would give attention to those Gentlemen and deal effectively with them.
§ MR. LONG (Wilts, Devizes)
said, he was rejoiced to find that, at last, a Member of the great Liberal Party had found his tongue, and had given the House his opinion on the subject now in debate. The hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Shirley) had told them, though he might not have made up his 1102 mind on the measure under discussion, that he, speaking on behalf of his constituents, was ready to see put in execution for Ireland as complete a system of local self-government as was compatible with the maintenance of the integrity of the Empire. It seemed to him (Mr. Long), however, that the hon. Gentleman had arrived suspiciously near the formation of a judgment on the question then under discussion; and if the Loyalists of Ireland and the people of England who hoped to see that measure defeated had no better assistance to look to from the opposite side of the House than that of the hon. Member who had just spoken, then he feared they would have a very small Party indeed to rely on if that was a fair specimen of the general feeling among Liberal Members. No doubt they had had a speech of marvellous ability from the Prime Minister; but it was almost impossible to realize that the right hon. Gentleman was the same person who had previously spoken in such very different language, both in and out of that House, from that which he had used that night in reference to the men whom he described as the Representatives of the opinion of Ireland. When he observed that evening the aspect of right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the same Bench with the Prime Minister, he could not help thinking that, delightful as place and power might be, he (Mr. Long) would not, humble individual though he was, exchange positions with any of those right hon. Gentlemen, considering the feelings which they must have entertained. Hon. Members from the North of Ireland might be accused of talking brag and bluster; but he thought that the great majority of English Members and of Englishmen also would be inclined to use as strong, if not much stronger, language if they had been subjected to the same trials and troubles as the Ulstermen had experienced of late. The people of England had very little conception of the present state of things in Ireland. He had listened to the speech of the Prime Minister with amazement and sorrow, because he thought it would be a great misfortune to the country that a career so great and so brilliant as that of the right hon. Gentleman should, almost at its termination, culminate in asking for leave for the introduction of a measure of 1103 that character. It was all very well to say that there would be guarantees for the protection of the minority, and that there would be no severance of the union of the Empire; but if hon. Members opposite had varied in their opinions since the General Election, certainly the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) and his Party could not be fairly charged with inconsistency, because they had always held the same views from the beginning to the end, and had never failed to make their plans and purposes perfectly plain to the country. Therefore, whatever safeguards they might place around the maintenance of the Union, and whatever steps they might take to preserve that Union, the Party which had followed so successfully up to the present one particular line of action would follow it to the end; and if the actions and utterances of that Party, both in and out of that House, meant anything at all, it meant, in the end, the severance of the Union between England and Ireland. He had taken the trouble, to the best of his ability, to elicit the opinion of his own constituency on that subject, and the directions which had been given to him by all classes among them, including the agricultural labourers, were simple and plain—namely, that nothing should be done, not merely to sever, but even to weaken the Union. Believing as he, and they as well, did that, if it were to pass through Parliament and become law, that measure must result in the severance between the two countries, he thought they were justified in opposing it to the utmost of their ability. They had on former occasions been carried away by the force of the Prime Minister's eloquence, and had forborne to pronounce any opinion on his proposals until they had seen them in print; but that night the right hon. Gentleman's speech was very different. The right hon. Gentleman had not employed that rhetorical power of which he was so great a master in laying his scheme before them; and if what they had heard that night from "an old Parliamentary hand" and so skilful and advocate was the best case that could be made out for that measure, the right hon. Gentleman's Friends must feel that, after all, it was but a very poor affair. The right hon. Gentleman had talked about the present state of "Boy- 1104 cotting" in Ireland, and had asked—"Is there not intimidation in this country?" Was that worthy of so great an occasion. He did not desire to argue whether there was, or was not, some amount of intimidation in this country; but was there anything to compare with the system of "Boycotting" prevailing in Ireland? He maintained that there was nothing of the kind. Anxious as Members of the Conservative Party were to see the way for legislation clear, the troubles of Ireland set at rest, and the difficulties removed that had hitherto retarded our progress, there was a price which was too high for such benefits, and that was to give up the integrity of the Empire. Because they saw in the Government scheme proposals which would lead to the dismemberment of the Empire, they would do their utmost to prevent the Bill being read a second time. If the Government had been consistent, and adhered to speeches they delivered to their constituents at the late Election, he believed they might have carried out a policy which would have had the support of the Conservative side of the House, and brought just as much peace and prosperity to Ireland, while running no risk whatever of destroying the unity of the Empire.
§ MR. TREVELYAN (&c.) Hawick,
Mr. Speaker—Sir, I certainly should not have ventured to interpose so early in such a debate as this if it were not that recent circumstances have laid on me an obligation to speak, which I am told by my Colleagues in this House is considered to be imperative. I certainly should never have ventured to criticize from notes hastily taken in the course of an oration which, differing from the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, I must say was so full of matter, so grand in words, and, still more, so remarkable in energy and diction that, judging by own experience, it actually benumbed the faculties of those who heard it. But my task, though difficult, is not impossible, for I rise to explain why I left the Government of my right hon. Friend; and I am told, both in private and by the newspapers, that it would be as well that I should explain why I joined that Government, holding the opinions I did. Now, I should like to express the extreme compunction and regret with which I left the Government. 1105 Hon. Members who have been 20 years with me in the House will remember the staunch and eager, but, I think, not very prominent part I have always taken in every Party conflict, and they may now measure that compunction and regret; but, in spite of that regret, I may say that from first to last, in this business, there is no step I have taken with any doubt or hesitation. When the rumours of Home Rule began first to go abroad, I thought it was my duty, as one of the only two—alas! since the event of last Monday, I am now the only one of the Irish Secretaries who had had experience of Ireland since the new circumstances, which are entirely different from her past—I felt it my duty, at the earliest possible moment, to place before the country what I had thought out about Ireland in the clearest and plainest words. I made a speech in Warwickshire which the Prime Minister tells me he had already read with attention when he asked me to join the Government, and he was good enough to allow me to repeat the principal points of that speech, and to assure him that I still agreed with them. As to what passed on that occasion when I joined the right hon. Gentleman's Government, the right hon. Gentleman allows that my action since that date has been perfectly consistent with political propriety, with loyalty towards my Colleagues, and with my duty to my right hon. Friend. But, apart from loyalty and honour, there is a question of judgment and of wisdom. Was I wise in joining the Cabinet under the circumstances in which it was formed? Now, I will say what I have to say in the plainest words. What did the situation appear to be last January? The Conservative Government had fallen, as it seems to me, for the simple reason that it had not supporters enough in the House to keep it up, and it was necessarily succeeded by a Liberal Government. A Liberal Government was formed which was the same, with very few exceptions, as the one I sat in last June. There were only five new Members of the Cabinet, and of those three had been Members of the same Government as I had previously sat in, and were bound by the policy of that Government. Nothing that the Prime Minister had said or written in public—nothing that he had spoken till three or four hours ago— 1106 was inconsistent with the views which I held about Ireland. All his Colleagues—well, almost all—had pronounced themselves against Home Rule. One, and one only, had pronounced himself strongly in favour of it; and that right hon. Gentleman—my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. John Morley)—I should never dream of putting myself by the side of, either in ability or literary power. Not only should I not dream of doing so, but no other man in the country would who is under 45. But I still maintain that my convictions are as deeply rooted as his, and I feel myself quite assured of being able to act up to them. Well, Sir, at this crisis other right hon. Friends of mine took another view, and all honour to them. But my view was that if those Liberals who were opposed to Home Rule, and were opposed to handing over law and order in Ireland to those whom we had all of us so often described as the enemies of law and order, were to stay out of the Liberal Cabinet, that would voluntarily and spontaneously be making a confession that the Liberal Party was a Home Rule Party; and that confession—I speak with all respect to those who feel otherwise—is one which, until every faculty I have is strained to the uttermost, and until every Constitutional method and opportunity inside and outside the House had been exhausted, I, for one, will never consent to make. Knowing the opinions which my Colleagues had held, I thought we should knock the measure about in the Cabinet, as Cabinets do, and mould it into accord with what had been our relative opinions, and what are mine now. But I was disappointed in my expectations, and that is why I stand here to-night. I know not whether I chose the better part; but of this I am quite certain—that I chose the most unpleasant one. I did my best according to my lights to prevent one of the great Parties of the State—and that a Party in regard to which, as a Member, I have a small and humble responsibility—from what I cannot but regard as neither for the credit nor for the welfare of the country. Now, I come to the points upon which I thought it necessary to leave the Cabinet, and they are very simple and clear points. In the first place, I should like to read an extract from my speech in Warwickshire, because it will put, as 1107 strongly as I can put it, what my opinions are. I said—Now, there is one point which in the coming controversies public men ought to fix quite clearly in their minds, and that is, as far as law and order and the peace of the country are concerned, there is no half-way house "between entire separation and Imperial control. In Lord Spencer's time, when the tribunals and the police were in the hands of the Central Government, the peace of the country was preserved, and men were able to go about their business in security. But it was very up-hill work, and it was all the Government could do to hold its own against disorder. Every Minister of the law, from the Judge to the constable, did his duty in the full sense that he was serving masters who wished him to do his duty and would protect him in doing it. But even then it was no very easy matter. There was one district in the West of Ireland where in the course of a very short time there were no less than eight violent murders in the immediate vicinity of a single town; and in 1881–2 if the Constabulary had been at the disposal of a popularly-elected body, instead of a strong Central Government, nothing could have preserved that district from disasters as serious as any recorded in Irish history. Unless we are prepared to give the control of the police to the Central Authority in all its departments, we had better go in at once for the repeal of the Union.I am not going to trouble the House with long quotations, but it was necessary that I should read this passage; and I will ask the House is this speech consistent with the Prime Minister's plan of preserving law and order which he has detailed to us to-night? In my opinion, it is utterly inconsistent with it. The Resident Magistrates—the backbone of the system of law and order in Ireland—will, if they continue to exist, be officers under the Executive Authority, which Executive Authority will be dependent upon an elected Parliament. The Judges will, with the exception of one Court, principally concerned with fiscal cases, be appointed by the Ministry, and removable by an Address of the two Orders. Now, I have the greatest possible respect for the existing Irish Judges. They have done their duty under circumstances of the very greatest difficulty and trial, and even now it is necessary that I should speak plainly, because I am the only man in this Lower House who has this experience. Such was the tremendous moral pressure upon them—such, in some cases, was the physical danger—such was the terrible vituperation and calumny to which they were subjected, that we used to consider that it was only a very 1108 brave Judge who would do his duty under these trying circumstances; and that this feeling was indicated in this country is plain by the respect with which courageous Irish Judges were treated. Now, if this was the case when the Judges had below them all the hierarchy of the Resident Magistrates and the Constabulary in the hands of the Central Authority, what would be the case when most of the Judges would have been appointed by a Ministry dependent upon an elective Parliament, when all the Judges would be removable by an Address from that Parliament, and when they would stand almost alone in supporting the old ideas of law and order against a sea of sentiment of a very different nature? Well, but the Judges and the Magistracy are the masters of the police. Being the masters they, in the long run, set in order the civil police, the bailiffs, and the process-servers—if there will be any process-servers in degenerate Ireland. It is all very well to say that there will be the Constabulary. But the Constabulary will be, as a police, a moribund force. At any moment the new Parliament could put an end to them as police by setting up a civil police themselves. They would be part of the British garrison, and a garrison cannot do police duty. It cannot punish people for sending threatening letters; it cannot enforce civil payments; it cannot arrest offenders and do police work on its own account. All it can do is to come in and strengthen and aid the Civil Authority and interfere on great occasions; and it is quite plain that the Civil Authority can, in the long run, only act through civil means. Now, I maintain, Sir, that that state of things which, I believe, I have described with perfect accuracy—[A laugh from the Irish Members.] I am glad of that salutation; it reminds me of old days. Well, I believe that such a state of things is absolutely inconsistent with the lines which I had laid down for myself in that speech in Warwickshire. I know it is true that before I joined the Cabinet the present Home Secretary (Mr. Childers) had expressed himself practically in favour of the scheme adopted in this Bill; but that any responsible body of Ministers, whatever else they did, should put the keeping of the police, the enforcement of civil obligations, and the 1109 safety and property of our fellow-citizens throughout Ireland in the hands of an elective Irish Parliament I could not believe. And now, Sir, I will give my reasons. The contention of those who desire to set up this Parliament in Ireland rests upon the assertion that Parliament would be actuated, in the main, by the sentiments of the Party led by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell); and of that Party it is no exaggeration to say that all through last Parliament everyone, from the Viceroy down to the constable, who endeavoured to enforce the law—[An hon. MEMBER: The English law.] [Cries of "Order!"]—were the subject of the denunciations of the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his followers. Well, Sir, I want to refer to a little incident for the sake of the new Members of the House. During the 30 months from the beginning of 1880 onwards there were 44 agrarian murders committed with impunity. During the first nine months of 1882, 26 political and agrarian assassinations took place in Ireland, which were all of them unpunished, and then, in September, 1882, the law began to be enforced. A murderer was brought to justice, and under great difficulties; because the attack on Mr. Field, and the attack on Judge Lawson's life, showed that every honest Judge and bold juryman carried his life in his hands. What was the result of the Government and of the Judges and juries doing their duty? It was that, whereas there had been 26 assassinations in the first nine months of 1882, in the following 12 months there was only one. What course would hon. Members have expected the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his followers to take? You would have expected them to say—"We differ from the Government on political matters very widely indeed; but the stain of unpunished crime no longer rests on our land, and we applaud the men who have done their best to remove that stain from our land, and who have done it successfully." Was that the course taken by the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his followers? On the contrary, on the very first opportunity, in the House of Commons, they moved the following Resolution, and you must read it by the now dying light of the terrible difficulties against which law was struggling 1110 in Ireland at the time. The Resolution was to the effect:—That justice is administered in a most partial and prejudiced spirit, and that the confidence of the people in the application of the Law is destroyed by a system of jury packing which has already, in the opinion of the vast majority of the Irish people, led to many iniquitous sentences, and the execution of innocent persons." [Ironical cheers from the Home Rule Members.]
§ MAJOR SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
I rise to a point of Order. I wish, Sir, to call attention to the persistent interruptions of hon. Members below the Gangway.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
It is an expression of opinion on their part, and I am too old a Member to be disconcerted by it. Hon. Members opposite, no doubt, even while they were cheering, remembered that the Administration which they were denouncing, at any rate, prevented the murder of a good many innocent persons. The Resolution proceeded—While it is practically impossible to obtain justice or protection for the masses of the people from the present administrators of the Law.Well, these opinions have been expressed more recently, and in a very extreme manner. Here is a sentence from a speech of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) on November 22, 1885, which I must read in order to cite him as an authority. The hon. Member said—A Manifesto has been issued by the Leaders of the Irish Party in England asking the Irish electors to vote everywhere throughout England against Liberals and Radicals, and in favour of the Tories. With that Manifesto I heartily concur. It was drawn up with my approval and sanction, and I will only say that I trust every Irishman, whatever his personal interest may be, will vote against the Liberal Party.What is the Manifesto which the hon. Member for the City of Cork is willing to adopt? It uses this language: that the late Governmont—Mr. Gladstone's Government—practised a system of coercion more brutal than any previous Administration. Juries were attacked, and it was said that without precedent, even in Liberal Administrations, innocent men were hanged or sentenced to a living death in long terms of penal servitude, and that representative Liberals in Ireland were men like Mr. Forster and Earl Spencer, who had left more hateful memories in Ireland than 1111 any statesmen of the century. Why did Earl Spencer leave such a very hateful memory? I should imagine the reason was that he vindicated law and order. That is what justifies the hatred in the eyes of those who, with others gathered around them entertaining the same sentiments, will form the vast majority of the new Parliament. I ask hon. Gentlemen to say whether, in their heart of hearts, they feel justified in committing to a Parliament actuated by such feelings the charge of tracking out and punishing crime, of discouraging the disorderly classes, and of encouraging and keeping in countenance quiet people who ask nothing of the Government except the privilege of going about their business in peace without injury to their neighbours. The Attorney General for England (Sir Charles Russell), speaking at Hackney quite recently, said—They knew there came from Ireland a loud-voiced opposition to any fair consideration of this question; but he warned them, and he warned the English people, to distrust this loud-voiced protest, because it would be found to come mainly from two classes—from the landlord class, and from the remnants of the privileged class, who had never forgotten their ascendancy, and who could not reconcile themselves to the new state of political equality that now existed.Sir, that is not the case. It is not only the landlords and the red-hot Orangemen who feel apprehension, but it is everyone who has offended the Land League—or the National League, as it was called afterwards—by not taking an active part in its support; everyone who has asserted his legal right to work for whom he likes, or to take farms from whom he likes; everyone who has taken any part in bringing to justice those whom the organs of the new dominant Administration and Party regard as victims and martyrs; every quiet citizen, and every member of that minority which would not be a minority if both Parties would join in a determination that law and order should no longer be trifled with in Ireland any more than it is trifled with in Yorkshire or Somersetshire. Now, Sir, what I am saying now, the Prime Minister allowed me to say in at least 50 speeches when I was his Irish Secretary. That was what my Colleagues thought then, and that is what I think still. All of us were of one mind in June last. In that month 1112 —and I am not telling a Cabinet secret, because, to the best of my recollection, the Prime Minister announced it to the world—we were unanimously resolved, some, perhaps, reluctantly, to support Earl Spencer in asking for the renewal of some of the provisions of the Crimes Act, which might, perhaps, be terrible to bad citizens, but which, I am quite certain, would not have made any good citizen uncomfortable. What has happened since that time? What has happened since the day when we all opposed Home Rule? I cannot tell the House how much I dislike to seem to hon. Members to be arguing against their strongest convictions; but it is absolutely necessary, in order that I may express myself. What has happened since? [An hon. MEMBER: 86 Members have been returned for Ireland in favour of Home Rule.] I know what in private conversation people say has taken place in order to make Home Rule necessary now and not in June last; but I prefer to take it, not from the talk of the Lobbies, but from the speech of an important Minister. I will take the speech of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. John Morley); and I think, from conversations I have heard, that a great many people will agree with what he said. In the first place, he said that there were 86 Irish Members in the House supporting the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell); but, I would ask, is it credible that Earl Spencer, or anyone who had been in Ireland for the last three or four years, could have imagined there could be the least doubt about the result of the General Election? Talk about June last, or the June before that, has it not been certain for ever so long that, if we had to go to the country on the old franchise, the hon. Member for the City of Cork would have come back with certainly not 10 supporters less than he has at the present moment? That was my opinion, and the opinion of the officials in Ireland. The next point my right hon. Friend mentioned is that the Roman Catholic Church has declared for Nationalism—I am using his own words. I ask, again, is it credible that anyone who was behind the scenes in Ireland in 1882 and 1883 could not see the direction in which the Roman Catholic priesthood was going? I venture to say that if in those years there was any dis- 1113 trict in which it was difficult to maintain law and order where there were evil influences at work, if there were any districts in which, disorder was far too strong for the law, it was the districts where there was an active and energetic priest, or, more probably, a curate who was not very scrupulous about the language he used, and who, we sometimes thought, was not very particular about those of his parishioners, whom he appeared to regard with approbation. Every month it became plainer that the moderate Bishops and the older priests were less able to keep their hold, until at last they lost it altogether. That is the case now; but everyone in the position of a Cabinet Minister must have known it in June, 1885. The third point which my right hon. Friend puts forward is the influence of the Irish in America. Well, the influence of the Irish in America was as great in June last as it is now; but it is a very dangerous argument to use for doing anything which otherwise you would not probably be prepared to do. I will quote a few words from the speech of the Prime Minister, in which he spoke of the assassination literature in America. The Prime Minister said that there was a knot of Irishmen—not Americans—who were not ashamed to point out how British ships could be Mown into the air, and how certain men should be made the objects of the knife of the assassin because they did not conform to the rules which those persons chose to lay down. Now, it may be a knot who write such matter as this; but I am afraid that those who read it cannot be described by so limited a word. If my right hon. Friend rates the American influence by the amount of money that comes from America, I agree with him that it is very great; but if he thinks that on account of that influence so manifested we ought in any way to mould our legislation in accordance with American sentiment, I think that he makes one of the most grievous mistakes it is possible to make. Who is the most prominent representative of that particular way of thinking in America? It is Mr. Ford, of The Irish World. [Interruption.]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must ask the hon. Member for East Cavan (Mr. O'Hanlon) not to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
If we are to measure Mr. Ford's influence by the surest of all tests—the amount of money he has contrived to collect—by that influence he is not only the most powerful newspaper editor in America, but the most powerful newspaper editor of all time. Not only in his paper does Mr. Ford write up as a heroine the woman who was connected with what he calls "the victory in the Phœnix Park," but it was Mr. Ford who sent £300 to the families of the men who suffered for that murder, carefully excepting the families of those who pleaded guilty to it, because to plead guilty of a murder, in his eyes, is a crime that cannot be wiped out. Does this House believe that Mr. Ford, and such as he, will be contented with the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman? Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that he will be satisfied until everyone who has been brought to justice, and sent into penal servitude during the last four years for crime, has been released, and until what ought to be the machinery of law and order has been converted into an instrument of terrorism, and oppression? I have been told in private circles that we ought to let the dead past bury its dead; that the hateful incidents of 1881 and 1882 ought to be forgotten; and I have further been told that we ought not to allow our attitude in this matter to be vindictive. But I deny that it is vindictive to say that the Nationalist Party in Ireland—I do not refer to any particular man—by the laxity of its attitude towards crime, has not established such a title as would justify us in handing over to it the lives, the property, and freedom of Ireland, which have suffered enough, God knows, already. Those who hold the language I am holding are assailed with charges of desertion and disloyalty from quarters from which they ought to be very little expected. In December last the hon. Member for the City of Cork urged every Irishman to vote against a Liberal who would not accept Home Rule, and in preference to vote for a Conservative. I shall not forget the energetic protests that were made by the newspapers, in which appeared letters from Members of Parliament asking Liberals to vote for Conservatives. Those of us who have protested silently and most respectfully against the introduction of this Bill— 1115 for hitherto we have not said one single word in public—have been threatened on all sides with the extinction of our political careers; and I must say that my sense of political morality was very much shocked by the fact that nine-tenths of the newspaper correspondents, in referring to my action, that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), and that of my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) in this matter, have discussed it, not as being a matter of right or wrong, but as to the effect it will have upon our future political career. Upon a question like this who cares for a career, and who cares for one's political future? There are other careers open to honest and industrious men; and if there is no other career open to us, there is open to us the career of a private citizen who has not got it upon his conscience that he gave over to the tender mercies of a separate Parliament in Ireland—in which Parliament men like Sheridan and Egan are pretty sure to be prominent Members—the law-abiding citizens of the country. There is one other point that I must draw from my Irish experience, and it is this. I think there is no precedent in Ireland which will really hold water for having a police force that does not depend upon a Central Government. There was a separate police force in Belfast; but in Belfast, although there were no agrarian crimes, such was the condition of society that the experiment had to be abandoned; and I appeal to the hon. and gallant Gentleman who sits below me (Colonel Salis-Schwabe) whether, two years ago, during the Ulster meetings, the determined handling of his Cavalry alone did not save the fields of Ulster from one of the most formidable outbreaks, and perhaps massacres, that had ever occurred in the vicinity? If there had not been at that time a Central Government having control alike of the military and the police, there would have been disturbances in Ulster which would over and over again almost have approached the dignity of civil war. It is said that the Conservatives are to blame. It is said that they broke off the continuity of Earl Spencer's method of government. I have never concealed my regret, and a somewhat even stronger feeling, at the course which was then adopted. I took a very active part in the 1116 last Election, and I was actuated chiefly by the sentiments I felt on account of certain speeches made by right hon. Members opposite; but that is not a reason why I will not justify, and justify 50 times over, all the actions and words which led us to make speeches against them during the Election, because I think right hon. Gentlemen opposite wanted firmness, and showed a tendency to words conciliating favour and making a wholesale surrender, in which they proposed to give up that hold over law and order which they could never get again. That is the first point upon which I loft the Cabinet. The House will be glad to hear there were only two. The other point was the question of the land. It is not necessary for me to say, after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, that we had before us in the Cabinet a Bill for the purpose of enabling landlords to sell—making it certain of their being able to sell—on the ground that they might be expected to regard the Parliament which we are going to institute by this Bill as absolutely destructive of their interests. Now, I know what is due to Cabinet propriety, and I know the rule of the House. I am, therefore, not going to discuss a scheme which is not now before us, or to enter into details with regard to it. But we are discussing a scheme for the future government of Ireland, and the Prime Minister, in the first and most emphatic words of his speech to-night, said that the question of the land was closely and inseparably connected with the question of the government of Ireland. And he plainly indicated that that part of the inseparable corollary to the scheme was that there should be another scheme to enable landlords to fly from what they might regard as "the wrath to come." It was to that scheme that I had grave and insuperable objections, and it was that scheme which formed the ground on which I left the Cabinet. In the first place, landlords are not the only people whose interests are not affected and whose apprehensions are raised by a proposal to establish a separate Parliament in Ireland. So far from that being the case, they are a very small section of the people who will be injured by the carrying out of this scheme. If we set up a Parliament which, by our own confession, we cannot trust with exacting the payment of 1117 rents, and those judicial rents fixed by the State, what obligation is there which is unpleasant to the constituents of this Irish Parliament which it will oblige them to fulfil? I absolutely refuse to guarantee the payment of £500,000 to this Duke and £750,000 to that Marquess merely because they happen to be landlords, and yet allow the poor doctor, and lawyer, and clergyman, and Sheriff's officer, and process server, aye, and even witnesses in the old trials, to remain absolutely without protection or compensation of any kind. I object to give so much to these great men to go off and to leave these poor people behind. Here is a poor fellow who, in order to keep his wife and children from starving, has taken a farm which was under the ban of the League, or who works for a "Boycotted" farmer, and you leave him in Ireland, while you give large compensation to his landlord, who may go to the Highlands, or Paris, or anywhere else he likes, with hundreds of thousands of pounds in his pocket, which you may call Irish money if you like, but which, as we shall prove, will in the long run turn out to be the money of the hardworking and over-burdened constituents of England and Scotland. My other objection was that you cannot limit the buying out of the landlords. That is quite impossible. If you buy out one because you think it is not safe for him to stay in Ireland, you must buy out all who wish to be bought out. You must buy them out at whatever the land is worth according to the scale you choose to fix, and when you have bought them out you will never see the colour of your money. There is no plan, neither that of Mr. Giffen nor of anybody else, for repayment to the Treasury which will secure the regularity of the payment of rent by the Irish farmer, and the security which, in the long run, this country will have for its money will depend on the willingness of the Irish farmer to pay rent.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that he is going into considerable detail on the subject of a Bill which is not before the House.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
It is needless for me to say, Sir, that I bow to your ruling; but I hope the House will excuse me if I have been led by paragraphs in the newspapers, and what was said in the Lobby, 1118 into supposing that this would partake, perhaps, too exclusively of the character of a Ministerial explanation. But I clearly see that I have been under a misapprehension, and I have been carried too far by that idea. I have very little more to say. I will only say that this buying out of the landlords is extremely important, because it will be part of the financial details of the present scheme of my right hon. Friend, and the financial details of that scheme, constitute exactly that portion of it which I regard with the most apprehension. It was impossible to listen without the most absorbed admiration to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. Such a mastery of financial details astonished even those who have heard some of his Budget speeches. As I listened to him I could not but think of a sentence of M. Thiers, in which he described how dismayed were all the friends and followers of Napoleon when they saw him planning with great military ability and mathematical precision schemes for the invasion of England or of Russia, forgetting all the while some small matter of fact that lay deep in the circumstances of nature and which would spoil all his calculations. And I cannot but think that the right hon. Gentleman, in making his calculations, has left out of account, not only Irish human nature, but human nature itself. Here is a country intensely national, which is characterized by great intensity of political opinion, which, when she has got all that this Bill proposes to give, will be practically independent—for if I know anything of Ireland she will certainly regard herself as such—and which will be asked to pay to a neighbouring nation, including its contribution to the Sinking Fund, £3,500,000 a-year. This sum she will soon begin to regard as a species of English tribute. If you add to that £500,000 a-year—[An hon. MEMBER: £1,000,000]—well, £1,000,000—if you add to that £1,000,000 a-year for keeping up this English Constabulary, you have a sum of £4,500,000 which Ireland will have to pay annually over and above what it may have to pay in respect of loans and by way of instalments of the Sinking Fund, and the people will say that these payments are the consequences of that English connection which they will affirm was forced upon them against their will.
1119 Unfortunately, this is just the moment which a very able financier—Mr. Giffen—selected for informing the Irish people that, after making the most careful calculations, they are terribly overtaxed. There is something ominous in the unanimity with which Mr. Giffen's opinions have been adopted by hon. Members opposite. Well, it is now proposed to make this amount of taxation permanent and eternal, and to keep it at its present figure, in order, according to the Irish idea, that the Irish may pay £4,500,000 a-year to the English Treasury. The Irish Parliament will consider that the Irish nation will pay £8,350,000 in taxation, besides so many millions in the shape of rent, and that they will only have £3,000,000 net to spend upon themselves. The right hon. Gentleman talked of the Colonial system. He told us that he was going to introduce something like a Colonial system in Ireland, and he reminded us of the loyalty of the Colonies. To begin with, it is not too much to say that the Colonies liked us better when the Colonial system was set up than the Irish do now, and then the Colonies have not to pay over £4,500,000 a-year to this country. They pay nothing at all; and when they send a company of soldiers to our aid, or an iron-clad gunboat, we rightly feel the greatest gratitude towards them. How long, I should like to know, will it be before a Resolution denouncing this English tribute will be brought forward in the Irish Parliament? How long will it be before it is passed, and how long will it be before any English Ministry which refuses to accept it will have ceased to stand? Why, Sir, I was reading a passage in United Ireland the other day, in which that very able paper tells us how we are to be treated if we do not grant a separate Parliament. We are threatenedwith the vicissitudes for ever lowering over an Empire having an overgrown population, a decaying trade, and millions of enemies in its bosom.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
I will read on. The hon. Gentleman will see that I have not taken the passage for any unfair purpose. We are told that—There would, of course, be a Coercion Act. But there have been 50 such Acts in the course 1120 of this century, and yet the Irish cause is a thousand fold stronger than it ever was. The most stupendous Parliamentary scandal ever witnessed would be followed by the most horrible suppressed civil war in the country where every peasant had learnt to laugh at the terror of the prison and the plank bed, and to treat his rulers to armed insurrection without handling a gun.There is only one sentence more; but as it applies to my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), perhaps it is not necessary that I should read it.
§ MR. W. O'BRIEN
Allow me to explain. I have had to write to the English papers to complain of the passage read by the right hon. Gentleman as a most garbled and misleading extract from an article, the object of which was directly opposite.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
I take in United Ireland, and this is a cutting out of United Ireland itself. But the use which I am going to make of this passage is one which I think the hon. Gentleman will not object to. The hon. Member gives these as the dangers which will overtake England if a separate Parliament is not granted; but it seems to me that the same threats will be equally useful hereafter even if it is granted. They will be useful for getting everything which this Bill omits to give. When it is a question of the interest on the land loan, or the instalments of the Sinking Fund, when it is a question of payment of debt incurred in wars in which Ireland has had no interest, this sort of argument will be brought forward. I would begin by disregarding it now. If you regard it now you will have to listen to it in the future, when it will have a great deal more force and more reason than it has at present; because I do not say the Irish nation, but no nation that exists in the world, when it has got a separate Parliament, will be willing to go on for ever exacting rents from its farmers which it will consider as rent payable to foreign landlords, and to pay taxes which are to be handed over to something very like a foreign Treasury. It is said that an Irish Parliament will be unable to hamper the English Parliament, because it will be strictly limited in the subjects it can discuss. Sir, how can you limit any Parliament in the subjects it will discuss, let alone a Parliament in a country which has produced such men 1121 as Wolfe, Tone, O'Connell, Sheil, and John Mitchell? Do hon. Members think we shall be able, by any paper bonds, to keep the Irish from discussing and passing Resolutions with a view to taking action upon any Foreign or Colonial question? And I am afraid that in matters relating, for instance, to France, Italy, or the United States, or the quarrels of Orangemen and Catholics in Canada, the opinion of an Irish Parliament might very often be found not exactly the same as our own. Separation, Sir, is preferable to such a course. Then we should know the worst at once; whereas now we shall come to it through a vista of bad blood and quarrels between the two nations which will greatly embitter us. And if we embark on this course we may just as well come to a separation once for all. Now, Sir, there is only one observation more that I wish to make, and it is with reference to what is very often said to me in the Lobbies, and which I know very much influences some hon. Members—I only say some—but some of the more strong-willed of my Friends have talked to me in the following strain:—"We have got in the end the guarantee of force." I will read one sentence from the letter of an exceedingly able public man—not, I may say, one of my Cabinet Colleagues—who thoroughly knows Ireland, and who takes the strongest view in favour of this scheme. I asked him what would be our security? He told me what he considered would be the security of our money, and then he said—If the Irish State repudiates, the country would have to be reconquered, and the payment enforced as now.He said further—If we now do everything that will conciliate Ireland, then we should be able to invade and reconquer her with a clear conscience if she breaks faith with us.Now, in the first place, I cannot help thinking that the reconquest of Ireland would be a very much tougher job than Gentlemen who say that think. I believe there is hardly an Irishman in the country who would not fight to prevent a nation which had neglected its duties in Ireland coming back with an army. And as to "a clear conscience" a more immoral proposal never was made. The Central Government now is possessed of a vast machinery, and a very effective 1122 machinery that has gradually grown up through long years, which has a multitude of friends and well-wishers in Ireland, who were loyal once because they had privilege and ascendency, but who would have no privilege or ascendency hereafter; who have an affection for our Government because they consider that under it they can go about in peace and safety; and we are asked to throw to the winds all this machinery, to sacrifice and alienate all our friends and well-wishers, and then after years of misrule and anarchy to go with a clear conscience with an army to reconquer the country. That is the position to which Gentlemen are reduced who find it comfortable, for the moment, to give Ireland a separate Parliament; but who cannot disguise from themselves that a separate Parliament is in the end equivalent to disruption of the Empire. And now, Sir, what we are asked for is an alternative scheme. I am not going to detain the House with an alternative scheme at this time of night. Fortunately it is not because I have not got one, for the main outline of any alternative scheme should be, in my opinion, to maintain law and order in Ireland in the hands of the Central Government—in the hands of the Ministers responsible to the Parliament here. If you do this it will enable you to do what nothing else will enable you to do—namely, to dispense with the necessity of endeavouring to solve the absolutely insoluble problem of buying out the Irish landlords. At the same time, in the interests both of Ireland and of the British taxpayer, I would make freely elected Irish Local Bodies responsible for education, higher, middle, and lower; for the superintendence of local government; for poor relief; and for what is called the development of the resources of Ireland in every respect. These Bodies should have all the powers that now lie with the Imperial Parliament or the Lord Lieutenant for the arrangement of Railway, Tramway, Canal, and Harbour Bills. To all these Bodies I would allot, with a generous hand, and once for all, their share of the produce of the taxes, so as to make them responsible for the local finances of Ireland; and what is required over and above should be raised as in England and Scotland by local taxation. To these Bodies should be committed full power of local administration and local 1123 taxation; but they should have no Executive power over the incidence of local taxation or over valuation and assessment, in order that injustice should not be done indirectly between class and class. The desire of the great body of the people of this country has long been to see a sense of responsibility awakened in Ireland, and to see that sense of responsibility grow up under the security of law and order exercised by the Central Government. This plan, or something like it, if introduced by a powerful Minister, would, I am satisfied, have commanded the confidence of the enormous majority of our Party, and under present circumstances it would, I believe, have recommended itself to a great number of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I feel satisfied, too, that there are many Ireland who would have accepted it with a genuine though perhaps a somewhat silent welcome. It would have been passed in Parliament, and in its working it would have tended surely and steadily to the pacification and prosperity of the country. It would have had one main recommendation, and that is it would not have been extorted, but it would have been conceded. I do not know anything of more serious augury to the future not only of Ireland, but of England, and not only of England, but of the Empire, than that Ministers, in their recent addresses, and their followers, in their speeches, have fallen back on an argument which they consider unanswerable—the ultima ratio in this great controversy—that if you do not give Home Rule with a generous hand you will be reduced to the terrible necessity of performing the most primary and elementary duties of a Government in the face of the disturbers of law and order. What is wanted in Ireland is justice, firmness, courage, and patience, which is the highest kind of courage. I am obliged to the House, and to all parts of the House, for having heard me out. I was most anxious to be heard while giving reasons for taking what to me was almost the heartbreaking step of leaving a Liberal Government, and that, too, a Government presided over by my right hon. Friend. His eloquent words are still ringing in our years; but, in spite of that, I hope hon. Members will reflect that, perhaps two years, 10 years, or 20 years hence the still small voice that speaks to our hearts alone may tell 1124 us that at the greatest crisis which I hope will ever occur in the history of our country we were led, not by an ignoble attachment to Party, but by a merited love and reverence for a great and good man, to do that which we never can redress or expiate.
§ MR. PARNELL (Cork)
Mr. Speaker, I am glad to find that we have not been disappointed by the Lobby rumours which have been circulated for some days past regarding the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan), and that he has, after all, like the celebrated but unsuccessful French General who defended Paris against the Germans, got his own plan, and that he did not think the hour too late at the close of his interesting but not very fair speech to give us the details of this important plan. But I noticed it as a somewhat significant, although it must have been to the right hon. Gentleman a rather discouraging fact, that the gradual unfolding of his plan elicited no enthusiasm of any account from any section of the House. It was not until he had pointedly appealed to hon. Members of the Conservative Party that at last some small section of them gave him a cheer or two, and then he did succeed in getting some faint applause from a few Gentlemen around the Gangway. The Conservative Party has always been most remarkable for its discipline. Being somewhat a small Party, and very often in a minority, it is bound to be remarkable for its discipline; and, doubtless, in its reception of the plan of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone), it had in its mind the declaration of the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), when he announced in a speech some two or three years since—Concede nothing more to the Irish Nationalists, either in the direction of local self-government, county boards, or anything else.Of course, the rank and file of the Conservative Party, under these circumstances, could not have ventured to applaud the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) without breaking from their allegiance to the noble Lord the Member for Paddington. I may be told that the noble Lord has improved since then. Some say that he has been flirting with Home Rule and 1125 a separate Irish Parliament, the apparition which has caused so much, consternation in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan). I know nothing about those things, and I shall not express any opinion upon them. But I do think that the right hon. Gentleman, in the comparison which he appeared to draw between the action of Earl Spencer in remaining in the Cabinet, and his own action in leaving it, to Earl Spencer's disadvantage, scarcely stood upon a very firm or satisfactory ground. Englishmen love the man who fights his own corner out to the end, and Earl Spencer certainly did do that. He went over to Ireland to fight a battle which was not his—to fight the battle of the Irish landlords, and he stuck to his post. He faced every danger, every risk, both physical and otherwise; but the right hon. Gentleman opposite did something which looked very like running away from his post. Although the right hon. Gentleman attempted to explain to the House his reasons for leaving the Cabinet, he did not try to explain to the House why he left his position of Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. Does the right hon. Gentleman propose, in the event of his plan being carried out, to compete for the Office of Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant? If he be not willing to assume the Office himself, is it very chivalrous of him to open such a tempting door to future aspirants? The right hon. Gentleman attempted to prove to the House what terrible things we should do in an Irish Parliament by making an allusion to the Motion which I moved in the last Parliament in 1883. Mr. Speaker, I do not desire to go back over old quarrels. It generally happens that those who are defeated dislike to recur to those distant and unhappy recollections; but I have nothing to retract in regard to the terms of my Motion. The right hon. Gentleman read that Resolution to the House. It complained of the execution and imprisonment of innocent men. I believed then, as I believe now, that innocent men were executed. I never accused the right hon. Gentleman or Earl Spencer of having believed the same thing. I did not accuse them of having sanctioned the execution of innocent men, knowing that they 1126 were innocent. But I can scarcely think that the right hon. Gentleman is of the same opinion to-day. How about the case of Bryan Kilmartin, who was sentenced to penal servitude for life, and who, upon the case being brought forward by us, and supported by the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill)—if my memory serves me right—and one or two other prominent Conservative Members, was released during, I believe, the tenure of Office of the right hon. Gentleman himself? The right hon. Gentleman taunts us about the language of the Resolution to which I have referred, and about the language of the Manifesto which was issued by my hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). But if I considered that all these things had taken place, was I not right, at the very height of this reign of terror in Ireland, to state so publicly? I do not see how, with any sort of consideration for my public duty as regards questions of law and order in Ireland, of which the right hon. Gentleman has constituted himself the sole champion to-night—I do not see how I could refrain from bringing these matters under the attention of the House. If the same thing were to occur again to-morrow, I should act in exactly the same way.That in the captain's but a choleric word,Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy.While the right hon. Gentleman bases such weighty arguments on the expressions contained in the Resolution to which he refers, and the expressions in the Manifesto of my hon. Friend, he passes over the language which has been used since then in Ireland by a very prominent Member of the late Administration—a man who was specially charged with the maintenance of law and order in Ireland—no less a personage than the Attorney General of the late Government (Mr. Holmes). Speaking at a public meeting in that country, the late Attorney General for Ireland asserted that the blood of Giffein was on the head of Earl Spencer. The right hon. Gentleman has no censure for that language. He does not pick out that language as an example of the great risk of intrusting the care of the lives of the Irish people to a future Conservative Ministry under the plan 1127 he has formulated to-night. Oh, no! he passes that by; but surely no language that was ever used by any of my hon. Friends exceeded in gravity the charge that I have just quoted, and which was made by the late Attorney General, that the blood of Giffein was on the head of Earl Spencer. Certainly the language used in the Resolution and in the Manifesto of my hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool was mildness itself in comparison. Well, Sir, of course, if the question of the future relations of England and Ireland is to be discussed with the heat—I will not say the ill-temper—shown by the right hon. Gentleman—but if this question of the future relations of England and Ireland is to be discussed with heat, it will undoubtedly increase the difficulty of discussion. But I hope the example of the right hon. Gentleman will not be imitated. I do not wish to go into a justification of our action in the last Parliament; but I could do so if I thought fit. I could remind the House of the agents used by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) in upholding law and order. I could remind him of the result of the trial in the case of French, the Inspector of the Royal Irish Constabulary, a man whom the right hon. Gentleman actually did not shrink from defending in this House. But I do not desire to go into these things. I believe history will record that in every Resolution which we moved with reference to the administration of the right hon. Gentleman during his time of Office we were amply, and more than amply, justified by the terrible circumstances of the country. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of assassination literature, and would lead the House to believe that Irish sympathy in America for the cause of their native country is confined to a very few supporters of this assassination literature. He has spoken of Mr. Ford. All I can say with regard to Mr. Ford is that he has been constantly denouncing both myself and my policy during the last five years. The right hon. Gentleman is right in saying that this assassination literature is not American literature; and if he has studied it attentively he will also see that it is not Irish literature either. If he were to study the literature of America at the present moment he would find that the 1128 sympathy with the just settlement of the claims of Ireland by the concession of a domestic Legislature is shared by all classes in that country, whether they are Irish or native-born Americans; and it is more especially the native-born Americans who are welcoming the efforts of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone), in the belief that they will bring peace between England and Ireland, and more especially that they will bring peace between Irish-Americans and England. It is a remarkable fact that the great meetings which are now being held in every State in America in favour of Ireland are mainly called together and organized by native-born Americans, and by the editors and conductors of the purely American newspapers. We regard the fact that during the last five or six months we have succeeded in entirely gaining the sympathy of the two great American political Parties, the Democratic and the Republican, as an omen of great hope and the dawn of the future of our cause. The right hon. Gentleman, in speaking about the Land Purchase Bill, turned to the Radical Members sitting below him in order to try and catch a cheer or two in his denunciation of the proposal to give money to Irish landlords. Now, Sir, I do not propose to go into the merits of that question at any length; but regarding that matter just as I regard the other matter, I will only say that it is not out of the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman that such unkind words should proceed, because he himself brought in a Bill in the last Parliament, as a Member of the Government, for buying up the Irish landlords. If that Bill had succeeded in passing—unfortunately it was added to the long list of failures—and if it had been successful, which was a still more doubtful prospect, it would have necessitated an additional payment of a very large sum of money for the purpose of buying out the Irish landlords—the very thing which he denounces now with so much eloquence, in order, if he possibly can, to throw some discredit on the scheme now under the consideration of the House. Perhaps I may say, in leaving the right hon. Gentleman, as regards his picture of the horrible consequences which will result to Ireland and to England if any such proposal as that suggested in the Bill under discussion were adopted—the 1129 consequences of physical force, of rebellion, and of separation—that I believe, so far from anything of the kind happening, your guarantees for a peaceful solution between the two countries will be enormously increased. Why do I say that they will be enormously increased? They will be increased for several reasons. Why is there trouble in Ireland now? Why do the people talk about separation? Why does my hon. Friend the Member for Tyrone (Mr. W. O'Brien) write what the right hon. Gentleman considers violent passages in United Ireland? It is because the people are desperate, and have nothing to love; but give them a Constitution, and they will be proportionately careful not to lose that. Every violent speech, every criminal action, will be so many nails driven into the coffin of their Constitution. You will have every guarantee you possess now. These cannot be weakened, or diminished. You will have the Forces of the Crown, which will act just as freely and effectively as they act now. No possible adjunct to physical force can be gained by Irish support to such a measure. Even the control of the Constabulary is to be withhold from us until their character has been altered, because they are an armed force. Although it has been impossible, or very difficult, for England to govern Ireland without 15,000 armed policemen, we are expected to govern Ireland without any policemen at all. Certainly no additional strength can be added to the physical force argument; and you will have those guarantees of peace and contentment which have always accompanied, in the experience which we have had, the concession of these measures to the Colonies and to the countries of Europe. You will have these as your surest and best guarantees, in addition to those you possess at present. Now, Sir, I will pass on to the measure from the consideration of which my attention was withdrawn by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I desire to speak very briefly. It is difficult to express a definite or positive opinion with regard to a Bill before it has been printed. I should like to reserve a more definite and positive expression of opinion until I have seen the measure placed completely before us. I presume it will be issued on Monday. Still, however, I think it is right that I should 1130 say something about the merits of the Bill, as they have now been explained to us by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone). Allow me to say, Sir, that I think it will prove a happy and fortunate thing both for Ireland and England that there was one man living—one English statesman at all events—with the great power and extraordinary ability of the right hon. Gentleman, to lend his voice to poor, helpless Ireland on this question. He has devoted his great mind, his extraordinary energy, to the unravelling of this question, and to the construction of this Bill. It seemed to many people that the task might prove too largo, too terrible, even for him. I believe it will not prove so. But whatever may be the fate of the measure, the cause of Ireland, the cause of Irish autonomy, will have gained enormously in a way it never could otherwise have gained by the genius of the right hon. Gentleman: He has drafted this Bill; he has explained it to the House in a speech of extraordinary power and eloquence. To Ireland, I suppose—to none of the sons of Ireland—at any time has there ever been given the genius and talent of the right hon. Gentleman—certainly nothing approaching to it in these days. I thank, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman for the energy and for the time he has devoted to this matter; and I believe sincerely in my heart that the result of it will be that the people of England will recognize as the result of what he has done, no less than the people of Ireland, that he has been to them a national benefactor. But there are, undoubtedly, great faults and blots in the measure. The right hon. Gentleman has had to meet very hostile criticism, and a very extraordinary state of affairs. He has seen his officers leaving his side one by one, and drawing their swords upon him as the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) did to-night. And he has had, I suppose, to shape his measure to meet the tremendous opposition which has been evoked against him. There are several points which it will be our duty when the measure reaches its Committee stage to oppose very strongly, and to press for their serious modification and amendment. The question of the Customs has been touched upon. In giving up the Customs we should prac- 1131 tically give to you the whole control of six-eighths or three-fourths of the revenues of Ireland. It would be absolutely as much within your power as it is now, both as regards the original assessment of the taxes and the receiving of the money. The right hon. Gentleman has explained to us that, instead of our insisting on separate Custom-houses, England, by collecting the duties on whisky and tobacco in her own Customhouses, gives £1,400,000 a-year. This, of course, is a very serious consideration, and it may be very fairly balanced against the surrender of the control of the Customs and Excise. But, at the same time, if the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister is to take credit for giving us that £1,400,000 as a consequence of the surrender of the Customhouses and the collection of the revenues by the Imperial authority, I do not think he is entitled to claim credit for it a second time, and to make us pay out of the £1,400,000 £1,000,000 for the Irish Constabulary, over whom we are not to have any sort of control whatever, at all events for the present. Then there is the great question of the contribution to the Imperial Expenditure. I cannot admit—and I say it with great deference—either the justice or the liberality of the standard of comparison which the right hon. Gentleman has taken. It appears to be the amount of property which comes under assessment regarding the payment of Legacy and Succession Duties. That is the most unfavourable standard for us that the right hon. Gentleman could have chosen. Of course, I understand that he is anxious to make the best bargain he can for England, and to secure as large a contribution for the Imperial Treasury as possible; but he should also remember that Ireland is a very poor country, and that with such a small balance as he showed on the Budget of £400,000 a-year, it will be impossible for Ireland to have any credit for floating loans. Irish landlords now can borrow money at a low rate of interest for the improvement of their estates. Irish tenants can borrow money for improving their farms. Local bodies can borrow money for sanitary purposes within their jurisdiction. All these are Very important matters. But we shall have to surrender all of them under the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman, 1132 and we shall be left with a Budget which only exceeds the annual balance by about £400,000 a-year, and a Budget arrived at on an estimate which necessitates that the consumption of spirits, not only in Ireland, but also in England, should continue at its present high rate, and, of course, that the duty should be kept as it is now. Probably, one of the first things that will happen in Ireland under an Irish Legislature will be the imposition of restrictions in regard to the sale of strong drink on Sundays as well as on other days, and certainly we must anticipate, and I should hope we can anticipate, a considerable reduction in the amount of the revenue derived from those duties. It is, therefore, scarcely fair, I think, to press us too closely, or to insist on driving too hard a bargain in this matter. If the sum is agreed upon, of course we must pay it; we must pay it, and we will pay it; but it would be most unfortunate if the right hon. Gentleman selected such a standard of comparison as would lead him to adopt the proportion of one-fifteenth, and thus bring about a future state of poverty in the Irish Exchequer. In that case only would there be any possibility of the danger which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) has conjured up as to the repudiation of the Imperial Debt, an attempt which, if it were made, would be entirely unsuccessful, because you have the collection of the Customs and the Excise absolutely in your own hands. When you are proposing a great settlement—a settlement which admittedly can only succeed if cheerfully accepted by public opinion in Ireland, and all its important provisions are recognized as just and equitable—is it worth while for a rich country like England, on the question of £1,000,000 one way or the other, to drive too hard a bargain? I have every conviction—I do not want to go into the question to-night; but after carefully reading the article by Mr. Giffen which has attracted so much attention, and a long communication which appears in The Times of this morning from a gentleman who evidently knows what he is writing about—I am convinced that it is clear that one-twentieth is a far better standard of the relative share of the two countries than that most unfortunate standard of one-fifteenth which the right hon. Gentle- 1133 man has adopted. We could show several standards much more favourable to us, based upon the various commodities consumed in Ireland, and which will show that Ireland is a very much poorer country in comparison with England than is expressed by the proportion which the right hon. Gentleman has selected. I have every confidence that when the time comes when this Bill is in Committee, and when we put forward our case, the conscience, not only of the House of Commons, but of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will be touched in regard to this matter, and that the Prime Minister will see that his zeal for making a good bargain for his own country in Imperial questions has misled him into doing an unintentional injustice to Ireland in regard to this question of the contribution towards the Imperial Expenditure. I think, also, that the question of the Royal Irish Constabulary has been left in a most unsatisfactory condition. I maintain that it is most unfair to ask us to pay for a force, or at all events for a large proportion of a force, over which we are to have no control whatever. This, however, is also a matter upon which we shall probaby have more light when we see the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman. There is another important point to which I wish to allude—namely, with regard to vote by Order. As explained by the right hon. Gentleman, to the first Order, elected by a fancy franchise, is given the right of hanging up any and every Bill for three years. I understood the words of the right hon. Gentleman to be these—"Three years, or until a dissolution, whichever is the longer." Well, I think that that would indicate three years as the minimum of time during which the first Order could hang up a Bill; and if a dissolution did not take place before three years the Bill would be hung up for a still longer period. I shall be very glad if I am mistaken on this point, and it is possible I may be; but in any case, whatever the period may be, it would be absolutely within the power of the first Order, in which, from the nature of the franchise, the popular Party in Ireland could not obtain many Representatives, to hang up any measure they pleased, and so to bring the whole proceedings of the Legislature to a deadlock. This is a very important point. I am one of those who have always insisted 1134 that a due proportion of representation should be given to the Protestant minority in Ireland. I would give them full representation according to their number, so far as the first Order proposed by the right hon. Gentleman goes, and any thing also which would tend to prevent rash, hasty, ill-considered or revolutionary legislation I cordially welcome; but as far as the measure leads to obstruction more or less permanent to legislation, and the means of bringing about a deadlock on the part of a body of Members who can scarcely be said to be representative, I think that it ought to be modified so as to render such delay as that absolutely impossible. As regards the measure itself, the Prime Minister has truly said that it ought not to proceed unless it is cheerfully welcomed, not only by the Irish Members but by the Irish people. I cordially agree in that proposition, and I am convinced that if our views are fairly met in Committee regarding the defects to which I have briefly alluded, the result of this Bill will be to agreeably disappoint the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) and all those who think with him; that it will be cheerfully accepted by the Irish people and by their Representatives as a solution of the long-standing dispute between the two countries, and that it will lead to the prosperity and peace of Ireland and the satisfaction of England.
§ MR. PLUNKET (Dublin University)
I do not intend to ask the indulgence of the House at any great length this evening, because I am in the unfortunate position of the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan). The Prime Minister has kept his secret so well up to the present time that we were left entirely in the dark as to the statement he was to make this evening. Of course, it was a very extraordinary speech; but it was extraordinary in several ways. I thought it was strange that the Prime Minister should indulge in great elaboration of certain somewhat whimsical proposals which he placed before the House, and that he should pass over, in a cursory and perfunctory way, other really important matters. All discussion on that part of his statement must be completely postponed for the present, owing to the manner in which the Prime Minister handled that part of his speech. As to the position of Ulster, 1135 whether it is to be brought under the control of the new statutory Parliament, or is to have a Parliament of its own, or is to be left to the control of the Imperial Parliament, that is a matter of so little importance that it may be thrown over altogether. But there were some points which came out pretty plainly in the statement of the Prime Minister, and the first and most important of these points was, in my opinion, that this Bill cannot be truly said to be a Bill for the repeal of the Union, because it is a Bill that goes much further than that which is usually spoken of as a measure for the repeal of the Union. And I think that to-morrow morning, when the public opinion of this country comes to study this Bill, it will be amazed to find that it is a large, revolutionary, and far-reaching proposal; and it will be still more amazed when the proposals themselves are considered and confronted with the modest assurances which have been given and the view which for the last few weeks the Prime Minister has led the country to entertain as to the character of his proposals. I believe that the opinion of the country will be that it is not the mild and simple scheme which the country was led to expect, but that it has a perilous character. There is another matter which comes out plainly, and it is the relations which have been established between the Prime Minister and the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). The hon. Member for the City of Cork has spoken his evening in language of the most charming confidence, and almost of affection, of the Prime Minister. He said in the course of his speech that he, for one, "was not a man who liked to rake up old quarrels. I thought that a very happy observation on his part, because there was passing through my mind at the moment a speech made not so many years ago by the Prime Minister at Knowsley, when he described the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his supporters as men who were—Not only pursuing a policy of rapine, but were marching through rapine to the dismemberment of the Empire.A few days afterwards the hon. Member for the City of Cork made a speech in reply to the present Prime Minister, and his language on that occasion was even more vigorous than that of the Prime Minister towards him. I have 1136 not, unfortunately, that speech by me at this moment; but it was not exactly the same kind of language as that in which he has this evening spoken of "the one man living who is willing to lend his voice to poor, helpless Ireland." The country will doubtless be a good deal struck with this wonderful reconciliation and this making up of old quarrels. But, as I was thinking of that Knowsley speech, I remembered how the Prime Minister in that speech called upon the Loyalists of Ireland to be more vigorous in their resistance to the policy and the action of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, and said he had chided them, and was glad to say they had at length taken action against that Party which was marching through rapine to the dismemberment of the Empire. A good many friends of mine at that time did act on the advice of the Prime Minister, and they put their lives in peril in resisting the policy of the hon. Member for the City of Cork; and now the recompense they are to receive is that if the Bill were unfortunately to be carried—as I am well assured it never will be carried—they will be handed over, for the loyalty with which they responded to the call of the Prime Minister's invitation to resist the hon. Member for the City of Cork, to the control of a Parliament in Dublin, which would practically be a Parliament of the National League, and of an Administration in Ireland which would probably be composed of the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his immediate political Friends. Now, there are some points in the statement of the Prime Minister to which I should like to call attention. The Prime Minister said this was not a Bill for the repeal of the Union, and that he never would entertain such a proposal. Why, this Bill goes much further; for it establishes a Parliament much more independent of the Imperial Parliament in London than would be created by the repeal of the Union, and in two important points. In the first place, there was a kind of veto reserved to the Imperial Parliament at the time of the Parliament which sat in Dublin from 1782 to 1800; there was the Great Seal of England, which was necessary to the enactment of any law that might be passed by the Irish Parliament. But, what is much more important is this—that, as I understand the proposal of the 1137 Prime Minister, the administration of the Government in Ireland is to be entirely dependent on, and solely responsible to, the statutory Parliament to be created there; whereas, as everybody knows, the Lord Lieutenant and Chief Secretary who were in Office in the last century were perfectly free from the Parliament of that day. There is another point which I should like to raise. Supposing these checks are disregarded, and the statutory Parliament in Dublin is unwilling to observe the restrictions and checks put upon it, how are they to be enforced? Who is to decide? I have heard nothing of a Supreme Court, or of any power to enforce them save this—that the Lord Lieutenant is to be left in charge and control of the military forces in Ireland. But what does that mean? Why, I suppose that in the enforcement of any civil matter the Commander of the Forces in Ireland would be obliged to give his assistance to the Secretary of the Irish Administration; that is to say—reasoning by analogy—that force is to be exercised in putting down any resistance which may occur in this National Parliament. The proposal amounts to this—that the Lord Lieutenant is to assert his authority by a series of coups d'état. On the other hand, if the Parliament in London is to have the means of enforcing its views, and the National Parliament has a desire to shake off any trammels which may now be imposed upon it, it may have recourse to a Declaration of Rights. Then, where is to come your authority to decide upon the matter, and where is your authority to enforce your will upon the Parliament of that country? Then, Sir, the Prime Minister, in a decided manner, said that it was his intention by his proposal to maintain the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. Now, I do not know whether any right hon. Gentleman is going to speak from the Government Bench this evening; but I should like to have an explanation how the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament is to be maintained. As I understand the proposal, it is maintained by excluding the Irish Members wholly from attendance here, and also releasing the statutory Parliament from all the control which might be exercised by the Imperial Parliament in Imperial matters. Now, there was an observation made by the 1138 Prime Minister in his speech to which I should like to call attention. He spoke of the old Parliaments of Ireland, and said they had existed for 500 years, while England was growing in greatness and glory. That is an entire mistake. I venture to state, on the high authority of Mr. Isaac Butt, that the Parliaments of the Edwards and Henrys were mere inventions of the English—irregular in their constitution and place and time of meeting, without any of the attributes of Legislative or even Deliberative Assemblies. It is, therefore, absurd to speak of these 500 years. As a matter of fact, the only part of the time that the Irish Parliament was independent—namely, the last 18 years of the last century—was not a time when the greatness of England was growing, or her affairs were particularly prosperous abroad. But what is the whole argument of this vast and revolutionary movement? Why, as I understand, it is to develop a nationality in Ireland as distinctive in every way as it can possibly be from the Welsh and Scotch nationalities. The right hon. Gentleman said—"Why should not a man be a patriot in Ireland, and take an interest also in Imperial concerns?" Certainly, that is my view of patriotism. But the right hon. Gentleman would exclude Members of the Irish Parliament from all opportunity of exercising patriotism by preventing the Irish Parliament from having any opportunity of taking any part at all in Imperial affairs. There was another very remarkable observation of the Prime Minister. He thinks it but fair that the Judges in Ireland should have their retiring pensions, because, in administering the law, they have brought themselves in collision with the national sentiment. Is the national sentiment with which they were brought into collision the kind of sentiment which the right hon. Gentleman is anxious to cherish and develop in Ireland? Again, the right hon. Gentleman proposes that 28 unhappy Irish Peers should be sent back to the first Order of this new statutory Parliament in Ireland. Well, I was asking myself what can they have done to exasperate the Prime Minister? To my horror, he told me, the next moment, that, as a Member for the University of Dublin, I might have the opportunity of going there 1139 too. It is all very well to laugh at some of the extraordinary and elaborate proposals with which the right hon. Gentleman has found it necessary to fence about his policy of a statutory Parliament in Ireland; but it is a serious matter, from another point of view, for if the Bill could by any possibility become law, I believe that its first effect would be to drive enterprize and capital directly out of Ireland. I do not wish to trouble the House by reading a long extract; but I have a passage here from a Memorial presented at the beginning of this year to the late Prime Minister by a deputation, which came over from Ireland, and was composed of the most eminent merchants and traders of all political Parties in the Provinces of Ireland. And what do they say? They say—The political agitation for the last few years has done serious injury to Irish commerce; but, notwithstanding that agitation, such has been the confidence of Irish mercantile men in the practical wisdom of British legislators, that few have admitted to their minds a belief in the possibility that any proposal for the separation of the Irish from the British Legislature would be countenanced by responsible statesmen. Recent political rumours, however, have given a rude shock to public opinion, and the result has been a paralysis of enterprise, a rapid fall in the price of securities, and worse than a fall in prices, such an absence of buyers as has obliged railway and other public Companies to suspend operations involving the outlay of capital, rather than attempt to issue stocks, or raise funds in such a condition of the market. For the time being the fall in prices has been arrested by a prevailing belief that the rumours will not be followed by action; but, should these hopes prove false, financial distrust will be intensified, and will result in panic and disaster. There seems to be an idea in some quarters in England that the granting of limited legislative powers to an Irish Representative Assembly will produce contentment and confidence. It seems to us idle to suppose that the surrender of power, under such circumstances as those which now exist in Ireland, will produce any such effect, or lead to a change in the objects of the agitation or to an improvement in the character of the representation of the people. On the contrary, it is our full conviction that existing political and social evils will be aggravated, and that the mercantile community will lose all confidence in the future. They will feel that their property will be at the mercy of persons willing to conciliate the masses by financial schemes for their enrichment at the expense of property. Every effort will be made by capitalists to withdraw their money from Ireland, the most energetic and industrious of our people will remove, with whatever property may be left to them, to other countries, where they may hope to receive that protection from the 1140 laws which hitherto they have relied on the Imperial Parliament to secure to them at home; and that portion of the people of Ireland—fully one-third of the whole—who are now strongly attached to the British connection, supporters of the Constitution and loyal subjects of the Queen, will feel themselves betrayed, and deserted by those from whom they are entitled to receive support and protection.Now, Sir, there is no doubt that if such men as those who form the minority and who presented that Memorial to the late Prime Minister were to withdraw from Ireland with their capital it would strike a very heavy blow at the prosperity and credit of the country, and would, if it be so poor as the Prime Minister has told us this evening, render Ireland bankrupt in its resources and bankrupt in its credit. I remember, when the Franchise Bill was passing through this House at the end of 1884, I made an appeal as strongly as I could to the Prime Minister and to the House deprecating the changes that were being made. I ventured to predict what I thought was likely to happen, and I am sorry to say my prediction has turned out to be only too true. That, however, is not what I want to say. I want to call attention to the reply which the Prime Minister gave me on that occasion. He said—No laws can be passed in this House under Irish influence adverse to the loyal minority in Ireland, except by the consent of the Representatives of England and Scotland."—(3 Hansard,  608.)A little later he went on to say—I remember the scene very well, because the right hon. Gentleman was very enegetic on the occasion—I am not a flatterer of Gentlemen in that quarter of the House (pointing to the Home Rule Benches). [Laughter.] When have I flattered them? There (pointing to Mr. Plunket) is the flatterer of those Gentlemen. The man who flatters them is the man who says that, in a House of 550 Members for Great Britain, 70 or 80 for Ireland are going to give them the law."—(Ibid. 609.)Well, Sir, the 70 or 80 Members from Ireland have given the Prime Minister the law; but I trust they are not going to be allowed to give it to the House of Commons. How has the Prime Minister given that protection? Why, by banishing the loyal minority to the Parliament of Dublin where they will be away from the protection of this 1141 House, and by handing them over to these very 86 Members against whom the Prime Minister was formerly so valiant. The Prime Minister refused in the beginning to deal with disorder in Ireland by overcoming it; and he has now, on the other hand, bargained with the Separatist Party to give them this Repeal Parliament in Dublin as a means of enforcing the law in Ireland. This is the real state of the case—because the present Government are not prepared to meet obstruction in this House, and grapple with lawlessness in Ireland, they propose to pass the very measure which has been denounced by every statesman who has devoted his labour and his life to the interest of Ireland as the most fatal measure that can be proposed, both in the interests of Ireland and of the Empire. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) shows that there are still statesmen in this House, even in the ranks of the Liberal Party, who, in the language of the right hon. Gentleman, will never until they have strained their energies to the utmost give their consent to the proposal for the adoption of this kind of Home Rule. Speaking for myself as a member of the unfortunate Party in Ireland described as "the minority," I place our case and fortunes with confidence in the hands of the Members of this House of Commons, believing thoroughly in their honour and their justice, and trusting that they will not abandon their friends in Ireland.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. J. Chamberlain.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT) (Derby)
As it seems to be the general desire of the House that this debate shall be continued to-morrow, I beg to give Notice that at half-past 4 o'clock to-morrow the Prime Minister will move that the Rule regarding the first Order of the Day for going into Committee of Ways and Means, be suspended. That will enable this debate to be resumed to-morrow.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To morrow.