Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [8th April],
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the provision for the future Government of Ireland.
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT) (Derby)
Sir, in the speech with which the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) opened the debate yesterday in a tone of welcome moderation he made a claim which, I think, was very well founded. He said that this was a vast measure, having immense consequences. That cannot be denied. It has been called a revolutionary measure. I am not sure that the noble Lord used that phrase; but revolutions may be good revolutions, or they may be bad revolutions, according to the objects towards which they are directed, and the results which they produce. But no one can doubt the magnitude of this question, and that it requires, as the noble Lord says, very broad foundations upon which it should rest. And I think an answer ought to be given to the question of the noble Lord as to what is the nature of Home Rule—for this is a measure of Home Rule—what is the character of that demand, and what are the reasons upon which it is founded? I hold in my hand a book, probably familiar, from its appearance, to most Members of the House, which is called The Radical Programme, with a preface by the Right Hon. 1440 J. Chamberlain. In that may be found, I think, as good a statement of the question of Home Rule as I have anywhere seen. My right hon. Friend says—What is the root of Irish discontent? Everyone recognizes the existence of the great grievances which distinguish the government of Ireland"——
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
I beg my right hon. Friend's pardon. Is he under the impression that he is quoting my language, or is he only quoting the language of The Radical Programme, to which I wrote a preface?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Well, I am quoting from an article in The Fortnightly Review which was reproduced in The Radical Programme.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
I am sorry that my right hon. Friend should have mistaken my style, but that article was not written by me.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I accept the denial, of course; but I cannot refrain from reading the passage. It is as follows:—What is the root of Irish discontent? Everyone recognizes the existence of the great grievances which distinguished the government of Ireland at the commencement of the century. Many of these have been removed. Yet still the Irish people are discontented, and probably there is more deep-rooted dissatisfaction with the Irish connection than at any previous period in the history of the Union. These reforms have been carried out by a foreign Government, without consultation with the Representatives of the Irish people, and under these circumstances they have been accepted without gratitude. A control which in any case would be borne with some impatience becomes odious and intolerable when it is the badge of a foreign supremacy. The sanction which the Castle seeks is to Irishmen that of a foreign race. What is needed is that Irish legislation should be domestic in its origin, and not foreign; that it should be initiated by Irish Representatives and adapted by them to the genius and requirements of the people; and that it should recognize the deep-rooted sentiment which in every nationality supports the claim for purely domestic control of purely domestic affairs.These words may not be the words of my right hon. Friend, but at all events they went forth in The Radical Programme, with his name on the back of it; and if he had disapproved of them I suppose he would have expunged them.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
I am very sorry to interrupt my right hon. Friend; but I am afraid he has not read 1441 the preface, which is really in my style, because it is written by me. In that preface I say I do not hold myself responsible for all the opinions which are expressed in the book.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
No, Sir; I do not suppose that my right hon. Friend does hold himself responsible for all the phrases. But what does he say in his preface?—There is need, therefore, for the attempt made in the following pages to compile a definite and practical programme for the Radical Party.I am only just reading the definite and practical programme. I suppose if he had not considered it practical and generally sound he would not have lent it the authority of his name. Then the article proceeds—Yet during the lapse of centuries no decisive step has been taken towards the arrangement of a modus vivendi between that Kingdom, of which London is the capital, and that other Kingdom, of which the capital, Dublin, is distant from the Metropolis of the Empire less than a day's journey. Austria and Hungary have long since settled their serious difficulties. England, however, persists in misunderstanding, and, it must be said, misgoverning, Ireland. Surely it is no slight blot on the escutcheon of that country, which is the mother of Empires as it is the mother of free Parliaments, the chosen home of liberty, the parent of all institutions resting on a foundation of freedom, that she should as yet have failed to endow an island, an integral part of herself, with a Constitution that commands the loyalty and affection of its inhabitants.That, I think, is a very clear statement of the claim that is made in respect of Home Rule. I do not approve of using the words "foreign Government." I have never employed the word "foreign" with regard to the relations of England and Ireland. But I will give an illustration the soundness of which I think my right hon. Friend will admit. Supposing the Corporation of Birmingham transacted the affairs of Liverpool, Manchester, and Leeds by a body sitting in Birmingham, and having a few representatives from the other places; we can quite understand, without treating Liverpool and Manchester as foreign cities, that they might be dissatisfied with that arrangement. Well, then, if it is admitted—and it has not been denied by my right hon. Friend and other eminent persons who have spoken in the debate—that the present arrangements with reference to the government 1442 of Ireland are not satisfactory, we have to consider what can be done. I do not think my right hon. Friend will contend that the arrangements made at the Union have produced that unity of sentiment between the two nations which no doubt the Act of Union was intended to bring about. The Government, to the best of their ability, have produced to this House and to the country a scheme for removing these evils which are pointed out in the passage to which I have referred. I am not going now into that scheme, and even with regard to the financial arrangement, upon which the noble Lord last night invited my opinions, I will reserve them until he has had the opportunity during the Easter Recess of studying the provisions which he will find in the Bill. But there is one question I should like to ask. If the Government Bill is to be condemned, what is the plan which is to be submitted in its place? Now I think that every Member of responsibility who has spoken has felt that it was not enough to condemn the policy of the Government, but that they were bound to state an alternative. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) accepted that responsibility. He has had great experience of Irish affairs, and what was his plan? His plan was to institute local bodies, who were to have local administration, local taxation under certain conditions, uncontrolled command of education and poor relief. Now, Sir, there is one very fatal objection to the alternative plan of my right hon. Friend, and that is that nobody accepts it. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) and his Friends do not accept it. I am very much surprised if the Irish Members who sit above the Gangway accept it. I have seen nothing but denunciations in the Press representing the Protestant minority, of any plan which would give to local bodies in Ireland undisputed control of these affairs. One argument against our plan has been that it will afford leverage for further demands for extended powers. That argument applies equally to those local bodies which have been suggested. But the plan of local bodies, as I understand, is not accepted, but it is rather repudiated by the noble Marquess, and above all it is repudiated by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. 1443 Chamberlain); it is a child whom he has discarded. The other night he said it had been a good plan, but it had ceased to be so. It happens with fashions sometimes that when a particular style of dress has gone out of fashion in the Metropolis it travels down into the Provinces, and has a continued existence for a period there. It seems to me that the plan of six months ago of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham has only just reached the Border Burghs. The alternative plans in which the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs has bedizened himself are nothing but the cast-off ideas of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. Then what are we to do with this alternative plan? The right hon. Member for Birmingham says—"I no longer regard National Councils as a solution; it is only a very large proposal which can at any future time be accepted." Well, then, although the right hon. Members for Birmingham and for the Border Burghs resigned together, they do not think together. The very plan the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs offers us is rejected the very next night by its author, the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. With all his experience of Ireland the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs appears in his alternative plan to stand alone. He has not a single supporter. He is not supported by those (the Home Rule) Benches, nor by these (the Opposition) Benches, nor by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, nor by the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale. I am afraid we cannot hope, in his solution, to find an alternative plan for the settlement of Ireland. The right hon. Member for Birmingham also propounded his plan. He congratulated the Government that their scheme was somewhat changed since, to our great regret, he left us. But his scheme has marvellously changed also, and in these circumstances he propounded a plan of great importance the other night. It was not one of which he ever gave us the advantage; it was not an alternative he ever submitted to our consideration as a possible plan for the settlement of the government of Ireland. But what is that plan? It was not explained with great definiteness, but it was said to be upon the lines of federation. He illustrated it by the cases of the United States, by Germany, 1444 and by Italy. Well, federation is an idea, I suppose, with which everybody is familiar; and the essence of federation, as pointed out by the hon. and learned Member for South Londonderry (Mr. Healy), is that it pre-supposes, ex vi termini, that there are independent bodies, previously existing, to be federated. Before the federation of the United States of America took place the 13 States were separate Sovereign Bodies; they were so at the Declaration of Independence; they were so when their independence was recognized, and some years before the Federal Union was established. If they had not been there could have been no federation. It was so with Germany, and so with Italy; they were separate Sovereign Bodies which were the subject-matter of federation. And to deny that federation pre-supposes the establishment of independent Legislatures is to deny the fundamental condition upon which federation rests. Nobody must know that better than my right hon. Friend, because he is the author of a great federation which has its centre at Birmingham. How could you have a Central Federation if you had no local Caucuses? Those local Caucuses have independent existence, which is the basis of that federation. I think my right hon. Friend ought to have explained to us what are to be those separate bodies in Great Britain and in Ireland which are to be the subject-matter of the federation which he recommends. But federation is a business which would take some time, and my right hon. Friend perceives that there must be some more immediate measure. He referred to the "Truce of God," as he called it. Well, that "Truce of God," in his view, is the cessation from outrage and crime which he attributed to the action of the National League. But is he quite certain that "Truce of God" will survive the rejection of this Bill? ["Oh, oh!"] Yes; because the consequence of the rejection of this Bill will be the resumption of the policy announced by the late Government, which was to suppress the National League. If the "Truce of God" is dependent upon the National League, surely the suppression of the National League will terminate, at least, that form of truce. But, as a substitution, and for the sake of making another truce, which is to go, I suppose, 1445 by a different name, my right hon. Friend has a plan. What is that plan? He is going to stay evictions by Act of Parliament. Now, the first question I ask upon that is, "Who has agreed to that proposition?" Has he got the adhesion of the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale upon that point? Has he secured the approval of the right hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen) to the staying of evictions? Has he obtained the consent of the right hon. Baronet and the noble Lord on the Front Opposition Bench? If he has not, I should like to know how this is a practicable policy. He says that, having suspended evictions, he willLay on the Government the duty of lending to the landlords who may have need of it such a proportion of their rents as will save them from necessity and privation.He has made an estimate of the amount, which will be £4,000,000 for six months. Meanwhile, he says, there is to be a Committee or a Commission, which is to be composed of all Parties and of both sections of Irish Members, who are to settle the Irish Land Question; and I presume the hon. and gallant Member for Armagh (Major Saunderson) and the hon. and learned Member for South Londonderry (Mr. Healy) will sit together on that Commission, which is to settle the Irish Land Question in six months. I am a little doubtful as to the Chancellor of the Exchequer finding £4,000,000 every six months; it is a subject which causes me some anxiety. I do not know whether any Irish landlords would be upon that Commission; all I can say is that if I were an Irish landlord and were upon that Commission, and if there were an Act of Parliament taking money from so excellent a milch cow as the English Exchequer at the rate of £4,000,000 in six months to pay me my rent, I should seek every opportunity for prolonging their deliberations. I am sorry to say I cannot promise my right hon. Friend that in the approaching Budget we have made a provision of £4,000,000 to pay the rents of the Irish landlords who may desire that we should do so. This is what my right hon. Friend has offered as an alternative solution of the Irish Question to the Bill of the Government. I am afraid that that does not appear to us to be a practicable solution, or one that is likely to 1446 settle the Irish difficulty. I now pass to the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington). He knows well, greatly as he is esteemed and respected by every man in this House, and in this country, there is no man who thinks of him with higher and deeper respect than I do, who have served so long under him and with him. I am quite sure there is nothing that the House and the country look to with more anxiety than to know what are the views of my noble Friend upon this question. I have listened to and examined his opinions, with which I have been long acquainted, and which he has stated in this House. He is not favourable even to the local bodies recommended by the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs. He says in his speech—I have never concealed my own opinion that the extension to Ireland of any considerable changes in what we understand as local self-government might be fraught with considerable difficulty, and might add considerably to the difficulties of Ireland.So far from thinking that the extension of local self-government in Ireland would remove such difficulties, his opinion is that it would considerably increase them. He has not spoken with the absolute condemnation he did a short time ago; he has now spoken with more moderation, but still in a manner which indicates that this is not the solution which he thinks would remove the difficulties of Ireland. That is his judgment on the plan suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs. But what does he think of the scheme of federation recommended by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain)? My noble Friend will not hear of federation. He says—It is impossible we can establish anything resembling the federation in America in the remotest degree without a dual Constitution"—that is perfectly true—and the reconstruction of the whole Constitution of this country; and no one thinks of that for a moment.My noble Friend says that immediately after it has been recommended by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. Then, so far as we have got with the alternative proposals, the alternative of my right hon. Friend the Member for 1447 the Border Burghs is rejected by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, and the alternatives of both are rejected by my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale. That does not help us very much in the solution of the Irish difficulty. What does my noble Friend think might and ought to be done? He says—and this is most important—"He did not admit the impossibility of governing Ireland by a mingled system of remedial and repressive legislation." He justly eulogizes, in my opinion, the administration of Lord Spencer. It is to that which he evidently looks as the model upon which the government of Ireland ought to be restored. I think my noble Friend will admit that I am stating the case fairly when I say that what he looks to is, in diplomatic phrase, the restoration of the status quo ante Carnarvon. My noble Friend said—and the passage is remarkable—I believe that if that law"—that is, the Crimes Act—"instead of terminating as it did at the close of last Session, had been a permanent Act"—mark the "if"—"to be maintained as long as the necessity continued, and if at the same time the change of government last year had not occurred, the Prime Minister would not have declared that the future government of Ireland on the same lines as the past was impossible.It has been said that there is great virtue in an "if;" but history is full of such morals. If many things had not happened, all things would not be as they are. I remember an old nursery jingle in my childhood—If 'ifs' and 'ands' were pots and pans,There'd be no need for tinker's hands.Oh, but there are a great many tinkers, and before you have got rid of those "ifs" there will be a great many more. Well, Sir, my noble Friend said, and said very truly—Whatever the fate of this measure, its mere introduction by a responsible Government will have done much that can never be recalled.That is perfectly true; but it is equally true of the events of last June. The consequences of those events never can be recalled. The noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) stated the other night that this was a matter to which I had attached considerable importance. That is perfectly true. In my mind, those events entirely changed the whole aspect of the Irish Question. ["Oh, oh!"] I was convinced at the time—I 1448 am more convinced now—that those events and the course then taken by the Conservative Party made Home Rule inevitable. Well, Sir, I do not desire to speak of these matters in any spirit of Party recrimination. I am stating the facts, and I wish to state them, as facts. This debate has been free from the spirit of Party recrimination. I am not stating that the course then taken was a right or a wrong course; all I say is that it has had certain results, and those results cannot be recalled. Now, what was the character of that act? It was unquestionably a condemnation of the policy which Lord Spencer had pursued. No one can doubt that; that was involved in the very nature of the transaction. The noble Lord stated—I am not reproaching him for that—that he had no confidence in Lord Spencer, but that he had confidence in Lord Carnarvon, and that the policy which he recommended would be successful just in proportion as it was opposed to the policy of Lord Spencer. That is a statement of fact, and I am applying it to the view of my noble Friend that you can return to the policy of Lord Spencer. Then it was not merely that the Crimes Act was allowed to expire. I cannot agree with the noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill) that the case is at all analogous to the expiration of the Peace Preservation Act in 1880; because all the events—the great and the terrible events—which had occurred between 1880 and 1885 had in the interval entirely altered the whole Irish situation. It was not merely that the late Government determined to allow the Crimes Act to expire; but the whole of the General Election was fought out upon these lines. I say, then, that that conduct made such a complete change in the attitude of the Conservative Party with reference to the former system of government in Ireland and in the whole aspect of affairs, that I venture to say to my noble Friend that the idea of returning to the system of government as administered in Ireland by Lord Spencer is impracticable. It showed that it was impossible to count upon a stability or continuity in such a policy even in the Conservative Party, and that at the first temptation of Party advantage they would cast it to the winds. No one knows better than my noble Friend that Lord Spencer himself is of that opinion. That is a very grave fact in this problem. 1449 It will have great weight in this House; it will have great weight in the country. Sir, when my noble Friend thinks of reverting to the system of government under Lord Spencer, where will he find a better man to carry out that policy than Lord Spencer? But is it only Lord Spencer who is of that opinion? We have had many Ministerial explanations lately; but there is one Ministerial resignation of which we have had no explanation—the Ministerial explanation of the resignation of Lord Carnarvon. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL here whispered something across the Table to the hon. Gentleman.] Oh, yes; we saw the letters, and he was to resign in fix months. He resigned in such a hurry and at such a critical moment that you were obliged to have a hypothetical Queen's Speech. The Government might have made arrangements by which that resignation, so long meditated, might have taken place at a time which would have permitted you to put a positive policy in the Queen's Speech; but that resignation took place at that critical moment, and we have not yet heard from Lord Carnarvon a statement of his views with reference to the future government of Ireland. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentlemen who sit upon the Bench opposite are willing to declare that they adhere to the policy of my noble Friend to return to the policy of Lord Spencer for the future government of Ireland. If they do so, all I can say is that it will be a splendid example of political repentance. My noble Friend said that he was in favour of a policy of mixed repressive and remedial measures. We know what the repressive measures are, because he referred to them; but what are the remedial measures which my noble Friend is ready to support? I have shown how he is not in favour of the extension of local government to any great extent in Ireland; and I do not know what, therefore, is the particular policy of remedial measures that he recommends. Sir, I find no greater help for the settlement of Ireland in the alternatives of my noble Friend than I do in those of my two right hon. Friends to whom I have previously referred. We have one hope left, and that is in my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen) who is to follow me in this debate. I would 1450 intreat him to give us some satisfaction. Among the eminent persons who unfortunately differ from us, and who are scattered about these Benches, it would, indeed, be a satisfaction if we could at last find that there was one of them who agreed with any of the others upon the same lines. I should like to hear from my right hon. Friend whether he agrees with my right hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs in the policy of a Central Body in Ireland. I should like to hear whether he is in favour of the suspension of evictions with £4,000,000 of rental to the landlords—he is a great financier—and whether he is in favour of federation. I should like to know whether the "skeleton at the feast" has settled the bill of fare with mine host of "the unauthorized programme;" and whether Rip Van Winkle will be of the party. We should like to hear these things from my right hon. Friend, and then, perhaps, we shall have a collective view of the alternatives of Irish policy. But there remains one thing, and it is a very important thing to ask—What is the policy of the Benches opposite? The noble Lord the Member for Padding-ton made a very able speech last night. He desired an amnesty of the past.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I do not wish to quarrel with the noble Lord; there is no man in this House who has more occasion to desire that the waters of Lethe should roll over his successive Irish policies, not one of which is consistent with another, than he. I will not disturb the harmony of that amnesty. I am only thinking of what the noble Lord's opinions were 24 hours ago. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) observed in his weighty speech, and very truly observed, there is nothing in that speech which committed the noble Lord to anything else but an absolute condemnation of this particular scheme—there is nothing to preclude him from going in for Home Rule on a much larger scale——
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman would not wish to misunderstand me. Both the hon. Member for Bedford and the right hon. Gentleman himself are completely in error. If the right hon. Gentleman will take the trouble in his 1451 spare moments, if he has any, to look at what I said last night and on former quite recent occasions, and in my Election address to the constituency of Birmingham, he will certainly find that I have pronounced over and over again against repeal in any shape or form.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I admit that it is difficult enough to explain the past of the noble Lord; but to forecast his future is beyond the reach of prophecy, and therefore I shall not pursue that theme. But I must say—I may be mistaken, but I did think that, like his great master the late Lord Beacons-field, whom I remember denouncing the terrible effects of a £5 franchise just at the moment when he was intending to carry household suffrage, he was perhaps exercising some of that politic reserve which is practised by the wise and prudent. For the moment, then, taking as I do most sincerely the disclaimer of the noble Lord, I ask what is the policy of Gentlemen opposite on this question? The noble Lord in his remarks, when asked what his policy was at the beginning of the Session, gave a definite answer. We know what that was. It was declared somewhat late. It was put hypothetically in the Queen's Speech and definitely on the 26th of January, and it was partly a negative and partly a positive policy. As regards the negative policy, this is what the noble Lord said on the 26th of January—The present state of Ireland is not, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, one which would be favourable to the consideration of any measures for extending local government to Ireland.But as to repressive measures, on March 4th the noble Lord said—If I were in power to-morrow, I would no more think of renewing the Crimes Act for that purpose than of flying."—(3 Hansard,  1993.)Well, but is the noble Lord going to fly? And if not, how is he going to settle matters with my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale? The positive policy of the late Government was to suppress the National League. Very well; but, as I have already remarked, that would put an end to the "Truce of God" described by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham. But if it is so easy to put an end to the National League, why did not the late Govern- 1452 ment do it? They had some weeks in which they might have set to work at the end of the last Session of Parliament. They condemned Lord Spencer and the previous Government for not having done it. Why did not they do it themselves last July and August? Why was not the suppression of the National League part of the programme of the Conservative Party at the last Election? Why was not the suppression of the National League put into the Queen's Speech? At that mysterious time when Lord Carnarvon disappeared in significant silence, did he recommend the suppression of the National League? Were all the Cabinet agreed on the suppression of the National League? If so, why did they not put it in the Queen's Speech? [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL was understood to intimate that it was.] I venture to say that it was not in the Queen's Speech. But if you are to suppress the National League you will have to resort to measures of coercion such as you never yet have employed. I know enough of the Government of Ireland to state that much. Well, the noble Lord opposite is ready, perhaps, to assent to that. My noble Friend the Member for Rossendale may be ready for that. I do not know whether he is or not; but there is one person that I should like to ask whether he is ready for it, and that is my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham is looked up to, and deservedly so, by the Radical Party as one of those men who greatly added to its strength and authority; and I ask him if his plan of giving £4,000,000 to the Irish landlords for six months—if his plans of federation do not succeed—if he comes to the "end of his Latin," whether he is prepared to recommend the policy of coercion that will then become necessary? Will he accept the measures of the Party opposite, who, rejecting as they do the extension of local government to Ireland, call for the suppression of the National League? Is he ready to accept the measures which will be necessary for that purpose? That is a very important question. If he is, then I cannot understand why the noble Lord opposite (Lord Randolph Churchill) should, not yet become one of the Seven Champions of Birmingham. The more you look at all these alternatives and the more you 1453 examine them, the more certain in my opinion it becomes that there is no alternative—none that has yet been suggested—to the plan of the Government, except the coercion of Ireland. That I think is the net result of the examination of all the plans that have been submitted. Now, coercion is a policy. I admit that. But in order to carry out that policy, you must have certain conditions. You must have a strong Government—a Government determined and persistent and in harmony with itself; and you must have a Government that is supported by an overwhelming majority in this House and in the country. I think that is a fair description of the necessary conditions of a Government of coercion. My noble Friend in the peroration—I may callit the noble peroration—of the speech that he addressed to the House on Friday pictured the state of things in which there should be a truce to Party spirit and a suspension of Party organization in this House. Sir, that is an idea which has been the dream of some good men, and it has been the scheme also of some bad men. The idea that you could dispense with Party government and Party organization in this country was, if I remember rightly, first broached by Lord Bolingbroke, as a means of overthrowing the Whig Party, who supported the Revolution Settlement. It was inherited by Lord Bute; and by him taught to George III., and it was the great cause of the evils and disasters of the early years of that Monarch's Reign. The man who most loudly and most wisely protested against such attempts was the great political teacher of the historical Party of which my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale is the illustrious Leader and ornament. Anybody who remembers the language in which Mr. Burke, in his famous tract on The Causes of the Present Discontent, dilates on the dangers and mischiefs in Parliamentary government of such an attempt, will, I think, agree with me in the opinion that I have formed of schemes of this description. The experiment was tried by a great man, perhaps the greatest figure in English politics—I mean Lord Chatham. Mr. Burke in his great speech on conciliation with America described the Administration of Lord Chatham—that Administration, I mean, in his latter years which tarnished the glories of his earlier life— 1454 in a well-known passage which I venture to recall to the recollection of the House. It may be useful at the present juncture. It runs thus—For a wise man he seemed to me at that time to be governed too much by general maxims. One or two of these maxims led him into measures that were greatly mischievous to himself, and for that reason among others perhaps fatal to his country; measures the effects of which I am afraid are for ever incurable.Then he describes an Administration formed out of the fragments of Parties without any regard to Party organization. I recommend the words to the attention of my noble Friend—He made an Administration so checkered and speckled; he put together a piece of joinery so crossly indented and whimsically dovetailed; a cabinet so variously inlaid; such a piece of diversified mosaic; such a tesselated pavement without cement; here a bit of black stone and there a bit of white; patriots and courtiers; King's friends and Republicans; Whigs and Tories; treacherous friends and open enemies found themselves they know not how pigging together heads and points in the same trucklebed. It was indeed a very curious show; but utterly unsafe to touch and unsure to stand on.Had Edmund Burke been living to-day I should have thought from that passage that he might have been a newspaper reporter describing a patriotic meeting at an Opera-house. Let my noble Friend beware—where Lord Chatham failed even he might not succeed. I may be reminded that Burke in his larer years proved unfaithful to the principles he then tanght. He became the leader of a great secession, most disastrously in my opinion to the history of this country. You may think differently, but permit us who cherish the traditions of the Whig Party to think so. Yes, the secession of the Portland Whigs was the potent cause of most of the disasters which attended the close of the last and commencement of the present century. It was a bad thing for the Liberal Party—it was a bad thing for the Tory cause—and led them into excesses into which they never would have been betrayed but for that secession of the Whigs. There remained, however, still faithful to their principles and their Party a small but illustrious band of statesmen who in those dark and stormy times kept alive the sacred fire and preserved the ark of the Liberal Party, men who were faithful and not afraid, and among that band there were no names 1455 more famous than those of Cavendish and of Grey. You say that you want a strong Government; but to make a strong Government you do not only want eminent men, you want a continuous policy and you want solidity of action. There are many eminent men who may form a Government at the present moment—that I do not deny for a moment. There is Lord Salisbury, and there is the noble Lord opposite (Lord Randolph Churchill). I heard it said the other day that the great thing the country wanted was a Government of moderate men. I said—"I am glad to hear it, because I am a moderate man myself." I asked who were the moderate men, and it was replied—"There is the noble Lord the Member for Paddington and there is the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham." [Opposition cheers and laughter.] Oh, I am going on with the enumeration. There is the noble Lord before me and there is the noble Marquess behind me (the Marquess of Hartington), there is the right hon. and learned Gentleman behind me (Sir Henry James), there is the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, there is the right hon. Member for Birmingham, and there is the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs. They are all very eminentmen, and they can say—"Weare seven." They remind me of a tragedy of classical antiquity, and they may become known in the future history as "the Seven against Ireland." No, it is not by breaking up Parties that you will constitute a strong Government. When a planet explodes you may have coruscations of shooting stars; they are brilliant but they are evanescent, and they no longer constitute a planetary system. Therefore, Sir, I cannot join the noble Lord in his dreams of the Millennium, in which "the calf and the young lion and the fatling will lie down together" with a little child (perhaps from Paddington) to lead them. There has been a great deal of aristocratic secession. For one, I am sorry for them. I think that they are a bad thing for the country, and especially for the aristocracy, for of this we may be sure, that if the aristocracy of England is going to range itself with the party of ascendancy in Ireland, the democracy of England will side with the Irish people. [Home Rule cheers and cries of "Shame!"] 1456 I do not know why you should cry "Shame!" There are two sides to every question. You have taken one; why should not we take the other? No; if you want a policy of coercion, you want the statesmanship of a Cromwell or a Strafford to carry it into effect; if you have a policy of coercion you must look forward to a policy of "Thorough," and you will not carry out such a policy by means of an omnium gatherum Government patched up out of the broken fragments of shattered Parties. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham in part of his speech—a part in which I thought I discovered an unwonted Orange flavour—said that Ulster would resist, and that she would not be coerced. That would be, of course, if the Bill passed; but if the Bill does not pass, what of the rest of Ireland? Will not they resist? The views of the right hon. Gentleman are based upon coercion, and you may depend upon it that this policy of coercion is like strong drink—the more you take of it the more you will want of it. That you may have a policy of coercion popular in this country I do not deny—the war against your American Colonies was once popular in this country. It was by an appeal to the pride and the passions of the people that that war was maintained; but before long the people became sick of it. Can the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain)—can even the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands)—promise and vow on behalf of the Radical Party that they will never become sick of coercion—a coercion which, I venture to say, to be successful will have to go to the length of suspending all the elementary rights of Englishmen. There is a great objection raised on the part of hon. Members opposite to the Irish Members leaving this House, and leaving this House, as I understand, voluntarily. Hon. Members opposite say—"Oh, that is a repeal of the Union." Are they quite sure that one of the results of a policy of coercion will not be that they will have to compel the Members for Ireland to leave this House against their will; and then, with your own hands and of your own motion, you will repeal the Union by force? You may try coercion and you may fail, and if you do that will be of all disasters the greatest that can befal this nation. You may, after all, have to 1457 come back to a policy which you rejected, but you will come back to it discredited and dismayed. It will then not be giving a concession; it will be a capitulation. Now, Sir, my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Whit-bread) spoke last night upon one point to which I must refer, though I feel the necessity of speaking on it with great reserve—I mean on the subject of the Irish nation which lives in the United States. I entirely concur with the noble Lord in what he said—that this House and this country would never be influenced for one moment in their course upon this or any other question by the action of dastardly assassins. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) referred to Ford and others. I have had occasion to know a good deal about this question; but this I know, that as regards the Irish nation in America, as numerous, I believe, as the Irish in Ireland, having the same sympathies as Irishmen at home, they have not generally been parties to the action of dynamitards. The action of those men has received the universal condemnation of the great body of the people of the United States, and I have no doubt such conduct will always be repudiated by the body of the people in America. But if you reject this Bill, then I believe there will be a condemnation and a disapprobation on the part of the right-thinking people both of Irish and American blood, of your refusal of this concession to the Irish people. This is a consideration which, in my opinion, you cannot afford to neglect. Do you think they will not say to themselves, and justly say—"There was an offer to the Irish people by the foremost statesman of his age; the offer was confirmed by Lord Spencer, who had a great knowledge of the condition of Ireland; and yet the English Parliament refused it?" Nor will that sentiment be confined to America alone. Do you think that if you reject this Bill, if you have to come, as I fear you will have to come, to measures which every man will deeply regret, there will not be a voice in many an English home which will say—"Could these things not have been prevented?" Will they not say—"If you had taken the advice of Spencer and of Gladstone we should never have come to this pass?" And then they will curse the counsellors who diverted them 1458 from the paths of peace. That is a contingency, in my opinion, you are bound to carry in your minds. You may reject this Bill, but its record will remain. The history of England and Ireland can never be as if this offer had never been made. You may kill it now, but its ghost will ever haunt your festivals of coercion. Well, Sir, I may be asked, and I have often asked myself—"Have you no misgivings? Are you sure, are you confident, that there is no danger in the gift of these great powers to the Irish people?" If I am to answer that question honestly, I cannot say so. "Nescia mens hominum cŖcique futuri." I cannot predict the future; I am sensible of the possibility of the dangers that may arise. I am not presumptuous enough to say that I feel sure. I listened to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for South Londonderry (Mr. Healy), and in the striking conclusion of that speech, breathing the language of reconciliation, I thought I heard the tones of conviction, not only of the intellect, but of the heart. It is enough for me to hope that this measure may, at least, bring peace and good-will between England find Ireland—peace and good-will not resting upon a Statute, but upon the spirit of the people. That is a blessing, which is worth purchasing at some risk. But if these hopes are deceived, if these powers are abused, if dangers to the Empire arise, we are not without resource. The Irish are under 5,000,000; we are over 30,000,000. If they prove themselves unfit for the trust we have confided to them, if the safety of the Empire demand it, we can, and we shall, resume the grant. We shall do so with the feeling that we have exhausted the last chance of conciliation. We shall then have with us not only the overwhelming forces of physical superiority, we shall have a force greater still—we shall have with us the unanimous voice of a united people, and the consenting conscience of the civilized world. That force, if you reject this Bill, you cannot, and you will not, have for your policy of coercion. I cannot accept the responsibility of entering upon a policy of force now which I believe will fail. It is for that reason that I have stood, and that I still stand, by the great enter-prize of my right hon. Friend.
§ MR. GOSCHEN (Edinburgh, E.)
Mr. Speaker, I know that the task which is 1459 placed upon me, in having to speak after my right hon. Friend, is not an easy one. We have heard, I will not say the opinions, but the language of the latest convert to Home Rule. It will not be in my power, and I would not attempt if I could, to follow his example in this debate, in endeavouring to amuse the House, as he most successfully amused it, by the most pleasant banter over a Bill which so deeply concerns the fate of the Empire. We wanted to hear arguments in favour of the Bill; and, instead of that, my right hon. Friend will not deny that the greater part of his speech was taken up with amusing personalities and recriminations. [Cries of "No, no!"] I think that hon. Members opposite will not deny that the personalities were amusing, and that they were personalities. I do not mean for one moment to convey the impression that they were not good natured; but they led the House away from the most important issue which is now before us. I confess that, wishing to grapple with some of the points, wishing to bring some of the most salient points of it before the House, I feel that it may possibly be difficult to secure the attention of the House to matters certainly not so amusing as the speech of my right hon. Friend, but far more important. That speech was festive in one way, but it was melancholy in another. It seemed to reveal the impotence of the Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland to deal with a most important crisis. My right hon. Friend is not the first Cabinet Minister who has held language to the effect that consequences which may convulse Ireland and convulse this House will ensue from the rejection of this Bill. And I may say, I hope without offence, that we are almost being terrorized, when I recall the speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and when I recall the speech of the hon. Member for Bedford. What is the upshot of those speeches? The upshot of those speeches is that we must pass this Bill, and that there is no other course open. You are landed at this point—that there is no longer sufficient power, spirit, or consistent policy in this country to deal with this great crisis unless we pass this Bill. The argument is such a melancholy one that I do not wish to overstate it. But did hon. Members listen to the speech of the Chief Secretary upon this point? What are 1460 those constant references to Irish-Americans beyond the sea? Sir, we must deal with this Bill on its merits; and with regard to its merits what single word fell from my right hon. Friend? The criticism upon the Bill has not been slight. Some people think that the Bill has been torn almost into shreds. ["No!"] That is the opinion of some people; and I think that if we remember what questions have been asked—questions with regard to the veto, with regard to the two Orders sitting together, with regard to finance—surely this House, we who sit upon this side of the House, might have been entitled to some answer from my right hon. Friend. But my right hon. Friend did bring forward one argument in favour of the Bill. He rested the Bill upon one point, and that was an anonymous and disowned quotation from "the Radical Programme." That was the one single argument in favour of the Bill, except that there was no other alternative, and that therefore the Bill must be passed, and he pointed to the consequences of rejecting it. But is this responsible government? Is this Bill to be put before the House without its being shown that it is a workable plan? Are we not entitled to know whether it will do two things which it claims to do, whether it will be a final settlement, and whether it will work? I think the Prime Minister argued that this was one of its chief claims to our acceptance—that it would be a final settlement. Now, I hope the House will permit me, and that hon. Members from Ireland will permit me, to examine the Bill from that point of view. But before I proceed to do so I should wish to say something with regard to the argument that the Irish Members have determined that there is to be Home Rule, and that, therefore, according to the system of representative government, Home Rule must be granted, or we should be refusing the wish of the Irish people. Now, I want to know, supposing these 86 Members had gone somewhat further, and had asked for this Bill without the checks which have been put into it by my right hon. Friend, should we then have been equally bound to listen to the voice of those 86 Members? Suppose they had demanded separation, should we have been bound to listen to their voice? Is the Imperial Parliament bound to 1461 listen to the voice of the majority of any particular portion of the Empire, and to come to a conclusion in accordance with that voice? Suppose Wales were to ask for a separation by a majority of its Representatives—suppose Scotland were to ask for it—in what position should we be? Should we be bound to accept this doctrine, that we must listen to the voice of that portion of the Empire?—because I refuse to say that it is the voice of a separate nation which we now hear. Again, I ask what would, under this system, become of the voice of Ulster? Ulster has not decided. [An hon. MEMBER: 17 to 16.] Yes; and on that majority, would it be right to hand over Ulster to the new Parliament? Remember it is not this majority of one which has been urged as an argument; it is that of 86 against a smaller number. It is upon the great balance of opinion expressed. I say that this argument with regard to what will happen unless the voice of 86 Members is listened to is an argument most dangerous for this country. But it is also said, What will these 86 Representatives from Ireland do if we refuse this Bill? Well, that lies in their own breasts. But I trust I may assume that they will continue Constitutional courses, because, if my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister thinks he has to deal with a body of men who, if they cannot get their demands granted in the form they ask, will then cease from Constitutional courses, he shows that he has not that trust in them which he ought to have in those who are, in his view, to be the future Governors of Ireland under the Bill. Let me put this before the House; and I entreat full consideration. What will be the freedom of the great majority, not only of England and Scotland, but of England, Ireland, and Scotland together, if we acknowledge that our Constitution has come to this point, that whenever 86 determined men in this House say they will have some particular measure, that measure must be granted? I see the enormous difficulty that will ensue from the rejection of this measure, if it is rejected. No man can be blind to it, and, therefore, everyone must speak with a great sense of responsibility; but I say you cannot admit this argument, that there are no means of dealing with a determined minority of this House except by acceding to its demands. If that ar- 1462 gument holds good we should be at the mercy of every discontented section of the country and every discontented class. Let us, therefore, look at this Bill on its merits and see whether it is likely to be a final settlement—whether it is likely to meet the case—and let us put aside from us these arguments, impressively as they are put before us, that if we do not grant what is asked we shall be met with difficulties which the Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland cannot overcome. We have heard much in this debate with regard to the foreign garb in which laws are placed before the Irish people. The Prime Minister has put this in the forefront—I think he called it "the whole basis of the mischief"—that laws were presented to the Irish people in a foreign aspect and a foreign garb. But I want to know, is it only the foreign aspect of these laws which is distasteful to the Irish people, and would they be satisfied with these identical laws if they had come to them in a native dress? ["No, no!"] No; I entirely agree that they would have been dissatisfied with these laws even if they had come in a native dress. And I ask the House to give especial attention to this point, because in this whole debate Ministers and the Friends of the Bill have mainly, if not exclusively, dealt with the national sentiment. The case has been put before us in this form—there is this overwhelming national sentiment, and we are bound, if we can, to give effect to it. All the analogies, historical and contemporary, are upon the national ground. But is this only a national and half a sentimental difficulty with which we have to deal? ["No, no!"] Members from Ireland say "No!" They know too well, and we all know too well, that that is not the case, and that side by side with this sentimental difficulty—I call it sentimental in the best sense—we have a fearful agrarian difficulty, which through tens and tens of years has baffled the efforts of statesmen? The difficulty is agrarian as well as national, and therefore it is not enough to say that the whole basis of the mischief is that the laws have a foreign garb. The basis of the mischief largely consists in this, that the views of the majority of the Irish people with regard to some of the chief principles of legislation are different from those of the inhabitants of Scotland and Eng- 1463 land. I speak not only of what I may call Saxon laws, but of the laws which prevail in every civilized country. [Cries of "No, no!"] Hon. Members differ from me. I trust I may pursue this argument without interruption. I maintain, and it cannot be denied, that Irish views are in marked contrast to all the economical literature of the Continent. I do not now make it, and I do not intend to make it, a ground of blame; but I say that the attitude of the Irish, people, partly from history, partly from traditions, perhaps partly from the misgovernment of their country, for which we are paying so heavy a price, towards laws which are recognized in other countries is a hostile attitude and different from the attitude of most of the nations of Europe. ["No, no!"] In what country of Europe would a No-Rent Manifesto be issued? [Mr. W. O'BRIEN: It was necessary.] It was necessary is the answer. Yes, that is just one of those views which are hostile to the views of most European societies. The hon. Member has supplied me with the very illustration I want. I hold this—and I believe there are few who doubt it, but I do not wish to press it beyond what is right and due—that hon. Members opposite have been contending for what they would themselves not object to hear called revolutionary changes in many of the laws that regulate society. It is because the laws which they wish to have are so totally different from the laws which govern most civilized countries that they denounce the laws, under which they at present live, as foreign. I have studied their views upon the land, with, regard to contracts and fair rents, and the whole of that great item of their policy which consists in having rents and other matters fixed by the State, and I say they are opposed to the laws of almost all other States. ["No!"] Hon. Members opposite will, at all events, not deny that besides the national difficulty there is the agrarian difficulty, and besides the agrarian difficulty there are many views with, regard to property and contracts which have not yet been accepted generally in other countries. ["No!"] It is untrue, therefore, to say that the whole mischief is due to the foreign garb of the law. It is the substance of the law which is objected to. Then I want 1464 to know why the Prime Minister excepts a certain number of contracts from this Bill? My right hon. Friend has placed on record that in the Bill which he proposes a certain number of contracts are to be excepted. I think it is a natural inference that my right hon. Friend thinks contracts presented to the Celtic population of Ireland in a Saxon garb are not quite so likely to be regarded and respected as might be wished, otherwise I fail to see why this clause has been introduced into the Bill. Now, I wish to draw the attention of the House to this point—that in all the analogies which have been drawn, historical analogies and contemporary analogies, you have assumed only the existence of the national sentiment as the cause of trouble; and the influence of the great social and economical difficulties has been overlooked. You cannot overlook these social difficulties. My hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) pointed out the stupendous tasks which would rest on the future Government of the Irish people if they had Home Rule. Stupendous tasks they would be indeed, for the Prime Minister has admitted again and again that the social condition in Ireland is different from, that of other countries, and it is different on account of those great difficulties through which we have laboured for many years. A great many hon. Members have said that they would not deal with ancient history; but they generally ended by dealing with it after all. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spoke of the five centuries during which the union of the countries had not been impaired by the existence of separate Parliaments. Well, those Parliaments were Parliaments of the Colony, Parliaments of the Pale; but they were not, I think the Prime Minister will admit, Parliaments representing the Irish people. As for the Parliaments during the 18th century, up to 1782, I think it may be said that they were entirely controlled by the Crown, and through very forcible measures, and that after they were controlled to a great extent by the most deplorable fraud. I do not know to what extent hon. Members are influenced by either the historical argument, or by the argument of other countries, or by the argument of the Colonies. I do not wish to detain the House by one unnecessary argument; 1465 but I cannot believe there are many Members who think that any analogy can be drawn from the Protestant Parliaments of Ireland, from the Parliament of Grattan, or from any of the Parliaments of the ascendancy time. They cannot be quoted as throwing any light upon the present situation, and no conclusions can be drawn from such an analogy. Then we come to contemporary analogies. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has spoken of Sweden and Norway and Austria-Hungary. I do not know whether it may not be considered that these analogies have already been shown to be totally inapplicable; but if any hon. Members attach any importance to thorn, I wish them to remember—and it is really one of the cardinal points in this matter, for it affects the whole of this Bill—the difference between other Legislatures and the Parliament of a great Empire such as ours, with a number of subject races placed under our control, with India and the Colonies to govern. I say that our position is totally different in that respect, and that we must consider that difference when we are giving an independent or a semi-independent Parliament to Ireland, especially when we consider its geographical situation. Now, as regards Austria-Hungary. That Empire is bound together by the power of the Crown and by the authority of the three Common Ministers, who are responsible to no Parliament at all. Other differences have been brought forward; but what I contend for is this—that no argument that either of these Unions has been successful can be quoted to us unless you can prove that there is some resemblance in the circumstances of the case. The great difficulty in this proposal which we shall meet at every turn will be this, that British affairs are at the same time Imperial and local, and this applies to us in far greater measure than to the other countries with which analogies have been drawn. Let me ask, again, with regard to the Colonies, can it be said that because we have given the Colonies independence, therefore the same policy is likely to succeed in Ireland—likely to succeed as regards Ireland or as regards the Empire at large—that whole which my right hon. Friend said we must take care not to sacrifice for the prosperity of parts? Remember- 1466 ing that the agrarian difficulty plays some part in this matter, we must take into consideration that in the Colonies there is boundless land, with none of those special difficulties to overcome which have overtaxed our statesmen in the case of Ireland. The new Colony of Ireland—if it is to be a Colony—will find itself confronted with totally different conditions, with totally different difficulties, from any with which our Colonial Empire has had to deal. So far as regards the position of Ireland itself; but as regards England, I wish the House and the country to remember in all the debates on this Bill that our interests, English, Scotch, and Irish, are all interlaced in a manner totally different from what is the case between Britain and her Colonies. Look at the number of Irishmen who come over as labourers, and in many other capacities, to England. Look at the number of English who go to Ireland. Look at the English capital which flows to Ireland. Look at the assistance which is rendered to England's food supplies by Ireland. The interests are so interlaced that separation is impossible. You will I not know what are English and what are Irish affairs, and when you come to your finance you will often find it a difficult thing to say whether the income to be taxed is Irish income or English income, and throughout in individual matters, in public matters, in municipal matters, you will not find it so easy to draw this line and to settle what are Irish affairs as you can in the case of the Colonies say what are Colonial affairs. The interests cannot be dissociated, and I wish it to be shown not only that this is a generous offer—not only that this offer is made to the Irish people in the best spirit, but that it is workable—that it will not lead to intolerable friction—friction so intolerable that it might afterwards land us either in civil war or in separation. And now, if I might venture to say a word or two with regard to the Bill itself, I would ask the House to consider, in the first place, the position—to which allusion has so often been made—of the Irish Members of this House. A Local, an Irish National Legislature is to be established in Dublin, and it is proposed in the Bill, or I may say it was proposed, that Irish Members should not sit in 1467 this House. The Prime Minister gave us reasons which he correctly stated, in my opinion, to be absolutely conclusive—why it was impossible to allow Irish Members to vote in London upon Imperial affairs. I think that the arguments of my right hon. Friend were absolutely conclusive on that point, and for this reason—that Imperial and local affairs are so inextricably bound up together. You cannot, therefore, have the Irish Members in London partly as Members of this House and partly as non-Members. They cannot be here simply to take part in some of our debates. But if that be so, would it be right and would it be safe to change the Bill in this respect and to admit a portion of the Irish Members to this House to vote upon all possible questions, and, after having given the Irish Members freedom to manage their own affairs, to admit a large contingent of them into this House in order to assist in the management of English and Scotch affairs? The Attorney General (Sir Charles Russell) stated yesterday that if the Bill had contained a provision retaining the Irish in this House, it would have been, as much opposed as the clause which enacts their removal. I think it is highly probable, and for this reason, that it would be an absolute anomaly, and a point which hon. Members opposite themselves could not and would not claim. They would not claim that they should be here to vote on Irish and Scotch affairs while we had got no voice in the management of Irish affairs. No hostility to Irish Members is involved in this argument; but the difficulty lies in the essence of the case. It is, in fact, a difficulty which will prove to be absolutely insuperable. You cannot treat Ireland differently from England and Scotland without involving yourself in innumerable anomalies and injustices. The only logical conclusion, if you give a National Parliament to Ireland, is to give National Parliaments to England and Scotland as well. You may beat about the bush, and endeavour to devise all kinds of plans, but you will not succeed, because you will be attempting the impossible task of establishing a separate National Government for a portion of that which is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. But as the proposal of restoring some 1468 Irish Members to this House is one to which the Government appear to be open, will the House lend me its attention if I point out an argument or two against it, apart from the general anomaly and injustice? There are certain checks put in this Bill, and arrangements made for the protection of minorities. Supposing that after the Bill is passed there should be a contingent of 30 or 40 Irish Members in this House—delegates, perhaps, from their own National Assembly, or elected in some other mode—will they not be as much masters of the situation as arbiters between the English Parties as they are at the present time? [Cheers mid cries of "No!"] I am glad to hear a cheer from my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because, from the Attorney General's speech yesterday, this appeared to be an open question. Now, I warn hon. Members with regard to this open question. No doubt it is a misfortune that a portion of the Empire should not be represented in this House; but this misfortune is the result of attempting to give a National Parliament to Ireland. It would be most unjust if, in order to meet that difficulty, you were to place English and Scottish affairs at the mercy of a body of Irish Representatives. And remember this point—I do not think it has been often put, and it is one of great importance. Remember the Irish voters in the English constituencies who will still have a considerable amount of power in this country. In this respect, again, mark how different the case of Ireland is from that of the Colonies. What Colony is there which has a large number of its people dwelling amongst us sufficient to determine the fate of political candidates in many constituencies? I am glad to see Irishmen in numbers amongst us if Ireland is to remain an integral portion of the Empire; but I do not wish to see their power increased if they are to be a separate nation planted on our flanks. I say, therefore, that the retention of the Irish Members in this House would appear to me to be fatal to this scheme. With regard to the checks upon the new Parliament, I may say that we know nothing about the two Orders—a point recently very pleasantly and humorously treated by the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), 1469 to which I observe no answer whatever has been given by any Minister who has spoken. We are in this position, that we only know the general principle of the Bill; but as for the veto and the position in which the different Orders are to stand to each other, we are left still entirely in the dark. As to the two Orders, I wonder how many years would elapse before we should see our old friend the Bill for the reduction of the county franchise again introduced. And, again, the elections are to be made dependent upon rental. But what rent? The judicial rent! We all know the rental in Ireland is in a very precarious position, and to found a second Order upon rental in these days, and under these circumstances, is a device which will not long resist the stress of time. With regard to the veto, I know nothing, and, therefore, can say nothing. I can only ask—Is this Parliament to have any veto at all, or is it not? That is a cardinal point. But we are in the dark with regard to it. I observe that the veto is covered by the words "Prerogatives of the Crown;" but there are Calonies where, if I am not mistaken, the exercise of the veto depends upon Parliamentary law, and Parliament has arranged how the veto shall be exercised. I wish to know in the case before us whether this Parliament is to retain the veto or not? It is essential that we should know that, because, if it is to retain it, we should have this Parliament occupied with Irish affairs in the absence of the Irish Members, and a constant friction kept up which this Bill is introduced to avoid. I will not press the point of veto, because I confess I am entirely at sea with regard to it; we know nothing about it. ["Hear, hear!"] An hon. Member says "Hear, hear!" but ought we to be in that position? What is the view that the Irish Party will take of veto? That is a matter of great importance. There is another point to which perhaps sufficient importance has scarcely been attached, and that is the entire change in the Executive which is to accompany the change in the Legislature. We are asked continually to give Ireland a native Legislature; but it is not only a native Legislature, but a native Executive which is given by this Bill. And what does this involve? It is not a question only be- 1470 tween Celt and Saxon, but you are going to change at one blow practically almost every institution in Ireland. You are going to change the Judges, you are going to give power to change the magistrates, and to change the Civil Service from top to bottom. There have been many political and dynastic revolutions; but in very few of these cases, if I except the French Revolution, has there been an entire change of the whole administrative system side by side with an entire change in the whole legislative and political system. What does this mean? You are going to plant Ireland throughout with a totally new and, from the very nature of the case, inexperienced Body in place of the old Judges, magistrates, and Civil Service. It may be right to intrust the whole administration of the Criminal Law to a new Executive and to new Judges; but do not let us disguise from ourselves the momentous character of the change. It is as gigantic a change as ever was made after any revolution which had lasted for years and years. It is not only a political revolution, it is an administrative and social revolution. And mark the position created by the existence of this independent Executive if you have a veto in England, or in the case of the reserved laws which are to remain in the sole competence of the Imperial Parliament. We may make laws on these points, but the execution of those laws will be intrusted to this revolutionized Civil Service. What security shall we have that the decisions of this Parliament will then be executed? Then, again, we are going to be responsible to foreign countries for the conduct of Ireland. That is, if Ireland commits any breach of neutrality or any neglect of International Law by which she inflicts damage on other countries, we shall have the war on our hands, while Ireland will not contribute one penny towards the additional expenses caused by that war. See how the case may work in a special instance. Take the case of the Alabama. If the Alabama escaped from an Irish port, Great Britain would be responsible to foreign countries; but it would rest with Irish Executive officers in the ports to take securities that the Alabama did not escape; we should have no power whatever. We must not shut our eyes to the risk we should run. 1471 Then, again, there is the case of foreign enlistment. What is to prevent Ireland from raising a force for foreign countries with that martial ardour which we know characterizes the Irish? In 1870 it was extremely difficult to restrain Irishmen from taking the part of France, and if there was a great war in which a Roman Catholic country was being pressed, thousands of Irishmen would wish to flock to their standards. On our side, while we should be responsible for the conduct of Ireland, we should be without any power whatever to enforce our will. With regard to outlaws and conspirators, can we be sure, after the connection which has existed between—I will not say the Irish National Leaders, because I wish to say nothing which can cause pain, but between many persons in Ireland and those who have contributed to funds for what they call the emancipation of Ireland—can we be sure that the new Irish Executive will not have a very difficult task to prevent the conspirators, dynamiters, and Nihilists from flocking into Ireland? I say this without wishing to make the slightest charge against any Irish Member; but it is one of the difficulties with which we have to deal—I say it will be a difficult task for those whose movement has succeeded, if it does succeed, through the subscriptions which have come to it from Irish Americans, it will be a difficult task for the new Executive to close the doors in Dublin on their allies from the other side of the water. I trust, if the Bill passes, there will be sufficient power in the Executive in Dublin to deal with this danger. I trust to Heaven it will be so; but it is a danger to which we are perfectly entitled to call the attention of the House and the country. With regard to finance, too, a great deal will depend on the conduct of the new Executive. It will lie with it to assist or hinder the collection of these duties of Customs and Excise, which, while they will be imposed by Great Britain, will be spent, to a large extent, by the Irish Executive. I must confess I am deeply disappointed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave no answer whatever with regard to Customs and Excise. That is a very difficult question. I should like for one moment to call attention to the new Budget of Ireland. That Budget will contain £8,000,000 of Revenue and an 1472 Expenditure of £7,900,000. Of that £8,000,000, £6,000,000, or three-quarters, is to be controlled by the Imperial Department. Let me ask this question—Shall we not create an Irish grievance every time that we raise the Duties, if we ever raise the Duties, upon whisky and upon tea? Will that not be regarded as a grievance by the Irish consumers? And if we reduce them, shall we not upset the whole Irish Budget, and so raise a grievance amongst the taxpayers of Ireland? I do not see how this plan can work. It must lead to intolerable dissension; and I think it was the noble Lord the Member for Paddington who pointed out that in this matter it would either hamper the hands of Great Britain in raising taxation, or it would create an intolerable and real grievance in Ireland. I do not know how the difficulty can be overcome. I believe that that will be a difficulty which, like that of the Irish Members, is insoluble, and it is another instance of the difficulty of separation, now that there is so much union as there is between England and Ireland. Here is another point. You are to depend, not only upon the £6,000,000 raised in Ireland under the control of Great Britain, but also upon a certain amount to be raised by way of Income Tax; and here I should like the attention of the Prime Minister, and I should like to have his answer if he can give it this evening. How about the Income Tax raised in England and Ireland? The Income Tax is to be left entirely, as I understand, to the management of the Irish, so far as their portion is concerned. They might reduce the Income Tax—I do not think they would, for reasons which I should like to explain—but they might either raise it above the English level or lower it below the English level. Well, then, of that capital which flows to and fro between England and Ireland—where are the dividends of that capital to be paid? It would be paid and arranged to be paid where the Income Tax is lowest, and then, I think, it would tax the ingenuity of my right hon. Friend, or of any Chancellor of the Exchequer, when the interests are so mixed up as they are between England and Ireland in this matter, to make the necessary separation. Well, with regard to taxation, there is another point on which I 1473 wish to ask the view of the Government. I want to know whether the financial situation would not be materially influenced by the exclusion of Ulster from this legislation? I believe that the whole financial equilibrium will break down if Ulster be excluded. I will read to the House some very extraordinary figures bearing upon this point. They are the figures of five years ago; but they hold good practically for the present time. The total return for all Ireland, under Schedule D, was £9,900,000. Excluding Dublin, which was £4,300,000, the total return was £5,600,000. Of course, Dublin is more what we may call national than local, because the income from railways, banks, and many other sources are received and assessed in Dublin. Of the £5,584,000, no less than £2,520,000, or 45 per cent, came from Ulster. But in Ulster itself the contrast between the industrial condition of separate districts—I will call them for the moment the Loyalist and the Nationalist districts—is very striking. Out of the nine counties of Ulster four are predominantly loyal—namely, Antrim, Armagh, Down, and Londonderry. These counties, which returned to Parliament 15 Loyalists and four Parnellites, show a return of £2,220,000 under Schedule D. The remaining five counties—namely, Cavan, Donegal, Monaghan, Fermanagh, and Tyrone, which are predominantly Nationalist, and which returned to Parliament 13 Nationalists and only one Loyalist, show a return under Schedule D of only £300,000. [MR. GRAY: Will the right hon. Gentleman exclude Belfast?] Hon. Members can provide themselves with the figures for Belfast. Do they think I am prepared with any possible combination of figures? There is no reason why Belfast should be excluded. Dublin is excluded because it is the Metropolis. I am showing hon. Members where they will get their future taxable Revenue from, and in the Income Tax, Schedule D, Ulster is an extremely important element in the case. [An hon. MEMBER: You include Belfast?] Yes; Belfast is in Ulster, and Belfast will be excluded if Ulster is excluded from the scheme of the Government. I am content if hon. Members doubt my figures; but I am correct when I say Belfast is excluded if Ulster is excluded. [An hon. MEMBER: It is not.] Well, but it is left open for 1474 Committee. It is, I think, a monstrous thing that it should be so left open. Anything more startling than the statement that the inclusion of Ulster was not a vital point in the Bill I never heard. The proportion contributed by Loyal Ulster is 88 per cent, and that by Nationalist Ulster is 12 per cent. Having seen these figures, I thought it my duty to present them to the House to show how large a portion of the taxable income of Ireland under Schedule D belongs to loyal Ulster. I also want to know what will be the future of Ulster industries under Home Rule, and what will be the conduct of the Nationalists in relation to those industries? In The Belfast Morning News, the paper owned by an hon. Member opposite, I have found some expressions with regard to the industry of Ulster, which seemed to me so extraordinary that they would be worth quoting in this connection. It stated—The linen trade has been a scourge, and not a blessing, to Ulster. But for the linen trade Ulster would never have been rack-rented as it was, and continues to be.["Hear, hear!"] Those hon. Members who say "Hear, hear!" will attack the linen industry when it is in their power to do so? The article goes on to say—But for the stone of flax, the hank of yarn, the web of linen, the grinding landlord exactions which have kept Ulster poor could not have been put in force.… That is the reward Ulster gained by her unswerving blind devotion to linen, loyalty, and landlordism. The trio are incidental—for the linen trade of Ulster is solidly Orange. As an interest, and a powerful interest, it is the worst and most formidable enemy of the Irish people.That is not an encouraging extract for the future of the linen industry of Ulster, and this shows again the difficulty we have to contend with in Ireland through its connection with America, and also partly through that revolution in all views as regards contracts which have taken place. The article went on—To Northern public opinion the 'linenites' are case-hardened.… To Southern and Western public opinion they may be more amenable—more especially if South and West resolve to do for linen what they did for land—if South, and West rise up and establish a Flax and Linen League.… But, above and beyond all, American public opinion may be relied on as most effective with the unteachable 'linenites.' … A casual visitor said that Ulster linen was not Irish, but Orange linen, and that when he went back to America he would preach a cru- 1475 sade over the length and breadth of the States against the use of an article, the sustainment of which and whose widespread vogue were equivalent to the perpetuation of Ulster's slavery and servility.Such views do not bode much good to the linen industry of Ulster. These are the views of people in the Province, regarding which we do not yet know whether it is to be handed over to be governed by the Dublin Executive or not. I think that this attitude towards the linenites is not one that ought to escape attention. But what will be the future advantage to Ireland of this Home Rule apart from the satisfaction of her national sentiment? Remember what we are going to do. We are not going to cast loose a rich country, but one which, unfortunately, is poor, and cast it off from its richer neighbours. Do you think that when Ireland has obtained that separate Government, with her finances in the position in which they are likely to be, without much trade, that she will be able to afford money for those material developments for which she is so anxious, and which might increase the prosperity of her people? Do hon. Members opposite believe that her credit will be so great as to attract capital to fertilize the country? They may be able to get subscriptions from America for purposes of war; but I think they will want English capital for purposes of peace. Whatever may be the result, I do not think that the war on capital which the hon. Member opposite has sometimes preached will tend to the enrichment of Ireland. Then, again, there is the question of pauperism. Are you going to revolutionize your principles in regard to pauperism as you will probably revolutionize other great administrative experiments? I see great danger to the prosperity of Ireland in these directions. I hope that hon. Gentlemen opposite will not say that these are the words of one who is an enemy of Ireland. [Home Rule cheers.] Those cheers are not equitable—they are not fair. I hope that hon. Members opposite do not believe that those who are opposed to this Bill are the enemies of Ireland. That would not be fair. There are many of us who have done our best in past days to assist Irish legislation. [Ironical laughter.] Yes; before most of the hon. Members who are jeering sat in this House—in 1869, at the time of 1476 the Disestablishment of the Irish Church, at the time of the foundation of the National University of Ireland, and when some Liberals opposed those measures who are now prepared to make a complete assignment of the whole education of Ireland to Dr. Walsh. Are Irish Members not prepared then to hand over the management of education to the Roman Catholic Bishops, who would be the majority in the Irish Parliament? [Mr. W. O'BRIEN: Certainly not.] Well, Liberal Members are prepared who support this Bill. ["No, no!"] There is nothing whatever in the Bill to prevent it.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT) (Derby)
How do you know that?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I will tell my right hon. Friend how I know it; because it is the desire and opinion of the Prime Minister that Irishmen should manage their own affairs, and if there is anything which I would wish to manage for myself it would be the education of my children. The right hon. Gentleman could not carry his Bill if he put a clause into it which would hamper the Irish Parliament in dealing with education. I say this in no spirit of hostility, for I have contended, and I am prepared to contend now, that greater power ought to be given to Ireland to deal with education than she at present possesses. This is one of the inconsistencies of some hon. Members that they should now be prepared to hand over the whole management of Irish affairs to an Irish Parliament after struggling, and I think struggling a great deal too much, against giving her more power in regard to education. I trust that we shall not be called the enemies of Ireland because we stand by the Loyalists of Ireland. I do not know whether it is right that we should speak of the abandonment of the Loyalists; but it seems to me to be something very like it. There have been cases of countries who, after the humiliation of defeat, have seen torn from their side subjects who had relied on them for support; but that has always been after a disastrous defeat in the field. But for a nation in the plenitude of its power to hand over men who have relied on its honour and its power is what has never before been recorded in the annals of history. If it is done it will be done by this country for the first time. We have been told to-night by the Chancellor of the 1477 Exchequer that we should look at the opinion of foreign countries on this matter. The hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) last night said—"Have you thought of the effect of the refusal of this measure on English-speaking communities abroad?" Yes; I have thought of it. And I have also thought of the effect of surrender upon all parts of the Empire. I have thought what would be the result if, in obedience to 86 Members, or in obedience to the Irish Americans, or in obedience to our Parliamentary incapacity, we yielded an Irish Parliament. I have thought what would be the result, and I know what would be the result. The result would be that every subject race, that India, that Europe, would know that we were no longer able to cope with resistance, if resistance were offered. If this Irish Parliament were granted on the speech of the Prime Minister that would be a different thing. He rested it on the "foreign garb" argument, and the foreign garb argument alone; but the other Ministers who have spoken have told us and warned us of the fearful consequences that would ensue upon a refusal. What is that but a confession of impotence—that we are now driven to bay, and we surrender? My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland reminded me the other night of my opposition to the county franchise; but why he should attempt to answer an hon. Member who had not yet spoken, rather than those who had, was somewhat remarkable. But the Prime Minister, speaking with regard to what he, for brevity, called coercion, said that the history of the last few years in regard to coercion was a history of vacillation; and that with regard to the future, if we were an autocracy, then possibly we might be able to deal with this question by effective coercion, but that it was not possible in a democracy. I want to know, is this not a charge against the democracy which we have enfranchised? Will they be less capable of dealing with emergencies of this kind? Are we to tell the new recruits, the new voters, that there is no other alternative but capitulation?—because there is no other word for it. That does not seem to me to be one of the best modes of summoning them to their new duties. The Attorney General last night said that, at all events, the constituencies had given 1478 no mandate for coercion. Is it necessary for the country to give a mandate to an Executive Government that it shall maintain the law? When you speak of coercion you mean the repression of crime. At this moment, when we are asked to give a National Parliament to Ireland, we are told that if we do not there will be a great outbreak of crime; if that be so, does that show a state of things in Ireland which enables you to proceed with that steady legislation, and those gradual reforms that may be demanded? We are asked for alternatives. It would be a good Parliamentary answer, though it is not one that I am about to make; but we might say—"We do not yet know what is your plan; we only know part of it." [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] I do not quite understand why the Prime Minister says "Hear, hear!" But though we do not know the exact plan of the Government, I condemn the principle of a separate National Parliament in Ireland on the ground which I have placed before the House, irrespective of any other measure that can possibly be introduced. The dangers with regard to municipal action, the distress of the finances, and the intolerable friction and danger, the evil result of surrender, all condemn the enterprize. These are circumstances which are sufficient in themselves to condemn this Bill, whether the Government proceed with their Land Bill or not. We know this plan. If we only knew half of it, we should know that it was a plan for separating England and Ireland, and practically for repealing the Union. Therefore, the interruption of the Prime Minister was not to the point, that I had spoken with out knowing his plan. [Mr. W.E. GLADSTONE: I did not say a word as to that.] My right hon. Friend said "Hear, hear!" in a manner that, I think, justified me in interpreting his meaning in that sense. I am sorry I should have been betrayed into any warmth on this matter; but when challenged to produce our plans, I say it would be a fair an swer to reply that we do not yet know the Government plan. But I will not make it. Before I refer to alternative plans, however, I should like to know under what circumstances will that plan be produced? Will the Irish Members in this House follow any Constitutional course? Will the state of Ireland be such that it will be possible to propose 1479 any measures for any species of reformed government? Before knowing that, it is extremely difficult to say what the alternative is. Do hon. Members think that one can begin to recast the Constitution while the soil is quivering with revolution? Do hon. Members think we can begin to recast the Constitution when we are threatened with all these tremendous consequences? [An Irish MEMBER: We have not used threats.] I will apologize if hon. Members have made no threats, and I will say that the threats and terrorizing have mainly been confined to the Treasury Bench. I accept with pleasure the declaration of hon. Members opposite, and I only hope that the declaration is prospective as well as historical; that it is not only that they have made no threats, but that they will make no threats; and that we may dismiss as mere arguments put forward to endeavour to put pressure upon us those fearful consequences which have been predicted by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I confess that he spoke as if he meant them. He did not give me the impression of a man who was using arguments merely to induce us to vote. I thought he was profoundly impressed with the danger of refusing this measure, not only on account of discontent, but of crime and an outburst of outrage in the country such as has not been witnessed before. Such has been the talk. I am glad that it has been disavowed. I am glad to think that we can proceed fairly, and that we need not think, and that the country will no more be told, when Irish Members are not present that we must look forward to such convulsions as have seldom been seen in the history of the country. If we should be able to approach this matter and these problems in a spirit of peace, then I do not see why alternative schemes should not be proposed. But one cardinal point which ought to lie at the basis of these schemes is that they should be applicable to Ireland, Scotland, and England. Remedial legislation is always spoken of. Does that remedial legislation mean that we are to grant Home Rule? What is meant by remedial legislation? If it means that we are to go further than the Land Act, I confess I believe that the Land Act has landed Ireland in such a difficulty, that the knot has been tied in such an inextricable way, that it may be 1480 necessary to take remedial measures to relieve an intolerable situation. But what are the other remedial measures? I do not call Home Rule a remedial measure. I should call remedial measures increasing that which the Attorney General calls parochial—increasing the powers of local government in Ireland on a large and not a parochial scale. But it appears to me that that which hon. Members from Ireland, chiefly desire—namely, the establishment of a central political Body in Dublin—and I commend this to my hon. Friends around me—will sap the foundation of local life in Ireland, because it will be overruled by this central political Body. For all local reformers know that it is from the centre that comes all the influence that prevents the development of local life. I would far sooner build up in Ireland throughout the localities local and Municipal Bodies than, in the first place, have a Central Body which must be political from the very circumstances of the case. In that direction and in the direction of the land much requires to be done; and, for my part, I say that if we can go further and place education on a footing more satisfactory to the Irish people, I would wish that very much also. But it may be said, I know, that these are not heroic measures. We have had heroic legislation, as it was called; but it appears to me to have been legislation not of heroism, but of fear. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spoke of the constant vacillation that had taken place in the management of Irish affairs. What is wanted in the management of Irish affairs is clearly that this vacillation should cease, and that there should be some belief that England sometimes pronounces a last word. We have constantly been impatient. We have passed the Land Act, and two years afterwards it has had to be amended, and it has been amended upon pressure. We have passed the Land Purchase Act, and why does it not succeed? Because no time has been given to it; and we are again called upon to interfere. If this goes on, of course it is impossible to hope for anything, except that the Irish will demand more and more; and how, then, can we think that this would be a final settlement? We shall give way now, as we have given way before, and check after check will vanish, until the Irish 1481 have done that which they desire to do—established Ireland as a separate nation. That is their desire; and if the Irish, people find that it is possible for England to be firm, firmness is called coercion. It is considered something fearful to coerce evil-doers. They say—What remedy have you but a policy of repression? But there will be no repression unless there is crime. Therefore, I say I will not foresee this crime, and I will not believe that it would be necessary at once to pass an Act of repression. We were told by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread), in impressive language last night, that we were to look to the example and to the opinion of America. The United States had their difficulties 20 years ago. All Europe advised the North that it could not manage its difficulty with the South. That was the opinion of Europe, as it is said that now the opinion of America is against us. The Northerners did not listen to the advice that was tendered to them either by Europe or England; and it was fortunate for themselves that they did not. They thought that it was better not to listen to the voice of Europe upon that occasion; and if they had listened to it there would have been two nations on the Continent of America instead of one. So now, if we were to listen to the voice of America—and it is a voice that is not unanimous, for I know there are Americans of eminence who think it would be madness for us to grant this measure—if we were to listen to that voice, if we do not take care we shall see there will be two nations instead of one here. I prefer the description, though it is in stronger words than I would use myself, given by one of the foremost Liberal statesmen of his day, the maker of Italy, Count Cavour, who, speaking on the Repeal, said that the disruption of the bond which ties the British Islands together would be a hateful and a criminal enterprize. We have heard of responsibility. The responsibility of rejecting this Bill has often been put before us. With those who follow the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister on this occasion will lie the responsibility of weakening the bonds which tie the British Islands together; and with us, who resist it, lie the responsibility on our side. We shall not shrink from that responsibility. Those who vote 1482 with my right hon. Friend will show that they have no confidence in the capacity of the English people to deal with a great danger; that they believe there is no longer sufficient patriotism left to sink Party in this matter, and to endeavour to approach together the solution of this difficulty. But those who resist this Bill will do so in the belief that we have our duty to perform to the whole of this Empire; that if we give way now we shall be loosening the confidence of all those who look up to us, and who trust to our honour and our might; and, holding these views, I trust that all who hold them will close up their ranks, and, shoulder to shoulder, will resist this Bill to the last.
§ MR. ARCH (Norfolk, N.W.)
said, that the fears that had been expressed that something fearful would happen unless justice were done to the Sister Country were to him a great surprise. If the English Parliament with the English Government was afraid to do justice to any portion of its subjects, then he declared it was not worthy of the confidence of the people. Where did the danger lie? The greatest danger lay in withholding justice, not in giving it. It had been his lot to work with men from Ireland, and he had always found them as genial, as honest, and as law-abiding as himself and those others with whom he worked. It was said that great danger would follow the passing of the Bill; but then had there not been given great cause for danger when the senses and the rights of the people had been trampled upon, and their feelings outraged, and their rights completely buried? In some instances crime might have sprung from the love of crime; but he believed in the wise policy laid down by one of their great writers—"Remove the cause and the effect will cease"—and he was prepared, as the spokesman of thousands of hard-working men in this country, to challenge any Conservative Member, or any Gentleman on the Liberal side of the House, that if he travelled through the rural districts with him, and asked the working men of the counties how they would like Ireland treated, whether with repression, coercion, or with justice, he ventured to forfeit his existence if he did not carry 90 per cent of those men on the lines of I justice. The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Major Saunderson) 1483 last night asked the question why bankers and landlords did not sit in the House to represent the Irish people? The question was easily answered. The Irish people had no confidence in them. The Conservatives might ask him why it was that so many Liberals were returned from the counties at the last Election? He would tell them that it was simply because the labourers had no confidence in the Tories. He had made up his mind on this question, and although some of the Liberal Representatives of the county divisions might feel a little timidity, he had no fear. Should Gentlemen like the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down kill this Bill, and there should be an appeal to the constituencies, he would record his vote in favour of the Bill, and would then go back to his constituents and tell them why he had done so. And he did not doubt that they would show their high satisfaction with what he had done by again returning him to that House. They might rest assured that with the increasing intelligence of this country, and with the enfranchisement of the people, that justice would be done. Five years ago he could not have been found there pleading for justice for Ireland, and why? Because at that time the working men of the counties had not had justice conceded to them by that extension, of the franchise which, thanks to the Premier and to the Liberal Party, they had now obtained. He was there, and he believed a host of others were there, to do what was just and right and fair for Ireland, and having done that they would not be afraid to meet their constituents.
§ MR. DE COBAIN (Belfast, E.)
said, that if he had consulted his personal feelings he would have been content to give a silent vote; but he felt bound, as far as he could, to give effect to the voice of the loyal minority on a question so gravely affecting its interests and the future of Ireland. Five months ago, before the opinion of the enlarged constituencies had been elicited, not a single statesman of any authority had expressed himself in such a manner as to lead to the idea that the unbroken consensus of opinion of Ministers of either Party in the State would be departed from on this question. But the Prime Minister had become a convert to Home Rule in spite of his strongly expressed 1484 previous opinions, not by any means for the first time in his long, brilliant, but by no means consistent career. All the representative men of both Parties, and those who were likely to become representative men, had spoken of this measure as tending to the disintegration of the Empire. In his speech the other night the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had spoken of the term dismemberment of the Empire as a misnomer; but it was a term which had frequently been used by the right hon. Gentleman himself, as when he had spoken of the hon. Member for Cork and his Colleagues as "marching through rapine to the dismemberment of the Empire." The right hon. Gentleman occasionally forgot the previous expressions of his opinion. In early political life the right hon. Gentleman had written a book upon the union between Church and State; but he had introduced a policy right in the face of the opinions expressed in that book. The Irish Church had been sacrificed to a sentiment; its Disestablishment had been a concession to the claims of race, and it was the natural result of the policy of Disendowment and Disestablishment that they were brought face to face with the disastrous and destructive scheme which now confronted them. That policy had destroyed the influence of an enlightened and sympathetic clergy, and left the easily excited peasantry to become the prey of political incendiaries; and it was in the hate of these misguided masses to what they were taught to believe was Saxon tyranny that the formidable power of the hon. Member for Cork solely rested. But the worst of all was that it had led to the vicious doctrine that Imperial matters were to be subservient to the conflicting claims of nationality. The Prime Minister had said, when introducing his Franchise Act, that it was his purpose to have a uniform law for a united Empire. If the right hon. Gentleman had adopted that maxim a little earlier the Bill for the Disestablishment of the Irish Church would never have been introduced, nor the Irish Land Act. They had since had the Crofters Bill and other legislation, the principles of which had been largely drawn from Irish sources. The recognition of the separable claims of race had been the most fatal blunder of modern legisla- 1485 tion, and if persisted in would lead to the dismemberment of the Empire. Why should not Wales and Scotland advance similar claims, and ask for separate Parliaments in Edinburgh and Carnarvon? Was it because the latter had not associated their demands with hideous agrarian outrages, or superseded the Queen's law and the exercise of every social right and liberty by the persecutions of "Boycotting," the ghastly appeal to infernal machines, assassinations, and dynamite explosives? Looking to the fact that both Scotland and the Principality of Wales were thoroughly loyal, after conceding the claims of Ireland to be considered upon a separate footing from the rest of the Kingdom, was he to suppose that the right hon. Gentleman or the Party which he led would care to refuse to a loyal and orderly population a concession of this kind, when he had lowered his flag before the advancing forces of anarchy and revolution? Had the right hon. Gentleman forgotten the charge brought by the illustrious statesman whose remains rested for too short a time in the great minster of our glorious dead? Had he forgotten that in that short career of exceptional peril, which was equally distinguished by the inscrutable Providence that shielded it, that statesman saw and fathomed the terrible nature of that conspiracy from which Ire-laud and the Empire had suffered so long? Had he forgotten the grave and tremendous impeachment tabled by him against the hon. Member for Cork and his coadjutors—"that they either connived at outrages and murders, or that when warned by facts they determined to remain in ignorance"—and yet by those charged with this grave accusation by a great, honest, and deservedly respected Leader of the Liberal Party the only reply that was made was the scurrility and abuse freely flung at the noble life that had escaped the bullet of the assassin. And yet to such as these the right hon. Gentleman wished to relegate the management of Irish affairs. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to be alone accessible to the mere argument of brute numbers, and the influence of that argument was not weakened because it was stained with crime. The Prime Minister had appealed to the case of Norway and Sweden, and Austria and Hungary; but the circumstances 1486 were not paralel. In those countries there were the elements of order, industry, and enterprise, wealth, intelligence, and loyalty. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to pay some consideration to the views of the really responsible and influential Bodies of the Irish people. The Presbyterian Church, representing over 500,000 persons, and the Episcopal Church, with its 600,000 followers, and the Methodist Body, representing 60,000 persons, making a total of 1,250,000 of Irish Protestants, had, in spite of their various religious opinions, found a common ground for agreement and protest against this scheme. In fact, every Religious Body but the one which was governed by the Vatican's decrees had protested against it. Moreover, every Judge of eminence had declared how intolerable the lawless and seditious conspiracy was to which this claim was conceded. The Grand Juries, representing the administrative element, and, properly, the Chambers of Commerce, respresenting the trade and enterprize of the country, and, more than that, the great political Party, which one might assume from the reasoning of the right hon. Gentleman had no political existence—for it had no representation in Parliament—yet it comprised at least 500,000 of the Irish people—had declared against it. The noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale knew how intelligent and loyal in their convictions they were to the principles of the Liberal Party, as he visited Belfast some months since, where, after his noble and patriotic and convincing speech the other night, he (Mr. De Cobain) assured him he would receive a hundredfold more enthusiastic welcome if he favoured their great Northern Metropolis with a visit again, and yet all these expressions of opinion appeared to have gone for nothing. The elements of order and stability were not those which had the power of convincing the right hon. Gentleman; their firm and intelligent remonstrance were as nothing compared with the cry of those who were accustomed to rejoice at the seeming success of Britain's enemies, who cheered the Mahdi, welcomed Russian encroachment, refused to exhibit their municipal emblems in honour of the visit of the Heir to the Throne, and received the National Anthem and the sentiment of the Queen with an attitude of envenomed disloyalty, and a spirit which was not inaptly described by a 1487 Member of the present Government in a previous Parliament as "steeped to the lips in treason." Did the Prime Minister imagine that the Irish Party wanted an Irish Parliament as a mere concession to sentiment; that they would be satisfied with the empty boast that they were a self-governed people; and that with an independent Parliament they would suddenly become pacific and friendly; that their hatred to all other classes would at once die out with the expropriation of the landlords; and that no indemnity would be passed for rebels and assassins? Did he think that criminal conspiracies and "Boycotting" would cease, and that the National League, having obtained these concessions, would not make fresh attacks upon property in towns and other rights of owners; that the cowardly outrages upon defenceless women and unresisting animals would not go on until the race of truer Irishmen, who had furnished that splendid example of courage, industry, and capacity would be driven to seek a new asylum for the exercise of their faith and freedom? He warned the right hon. Gentleman that, by the policy in which he had embarked, he had risked not only the loss of his constituency, but of his great political character, and that of the Party of which he had been for so long the distinguished and successful Leader. To use the happy figure furnished by his Colleague the Chief Secretary for Ireland, he had been sailing on the insidious current which imperceptibly but swiftly carried him nearer to the rapids which lay before. One after another the strong arms which guided the barque of statecraft had been withdrawn. The right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary for Scotland, to whose grave and dignified explanation the House listened with such pleasure the other evening; the brilliant and capable Gentleman who was the chosen Representative of Young England, and whose splendid speech appealed with such eloquence and force to the Loyalists who represented Ulster in that House; the noble Marquess, whose recent visit evoked such sympathy among the citizens of the loyal town he (Mr. De Cobain) had the honour to represent—all were gone, and many others as well, and the barque freighted with the fate and fortunes of the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues was nearing the unknown and 1488 fateful chasm. Let him pass this measure, and he would find how wild and unfortunate was the step he had taken. The sympathy of those whose attitude was disloyal and whose claims were destructive would be but a poor consolation for the fact that in his unreflecting haste the right hon. Gentleman, with the fate and fortunes of his Party, was hopelessly engulfed in dark waters below. They were reminded in what was meant to be a great defence of the Ministerial policy the other night of what was strangely termed "contingent sedition in Ulster." The force of the argument went to show that those who offered resistance to the enforcement of any measure, however rash and revolutionary, were guilty of sedition. By parity of reasoning, if a majority of Deputies had been returned by the Arrondissements in sympathy with the Commune, Paris should have been abandoned to pillage, and France handed over to the domination of a mob; or if the followers of those who a short time back visited Regent Street and other parts of the Metropolis, in the fury of an excited attack upon property and person, could but command a majority of sympathizers in this House, the British Empire should become the prey and sport of Socialist conspiracy, and the free institutions of a great people should be abandoned to the remorseless sweep of a revolutionary wave. He opposed the policy of this measure, because it put a premium upon lawless agitation and made concessions to crime. He opposed it because it established precedents which, if followed up, must lead to disintegration and decay. He opposed it because it said to those who kept the law, "You must suffer;" but to those who broke it with defiance, "Ask and you shall receive." He opposed it because he considered it to be an outrage upon humanity, an abnegation and wanton abandonment of the most sacred obligations of Government, and because it inflicted an indelible stain and blemish upon the fame of a great and ancient Empire.
§ MR. EDWARD RUSSELL (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
said, the remedial measure which the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. De Cobain) seemed to take most interest in was a measure to put down anarchy and sedition; but both the hon. Member and the hon. and 1489 gallant Member who spoke on Monday night (Major Saunderson) made a great mistake on that point. If this Bill was carried there would be no prospect of their putting down anarchy and sedition; because the only prospect of anarchy and sedition which was likely to arise would be their own revolt against what would then be the Constitution of their country. The hon. Member made a distinct protest against the exceptional land legislation which had been adopted for Ireland; but he must know that that exceptional legislation had had the effect of giving other parts of Ireland the advantage of that system of tenant right which for generations had been the pride and glory and the secret of the prosperity of Ulster. He (Mr. Russell) was desirous to say that he, for one, went heart and soul for the measure which was now before the House. It had been urged in several quarters that there had been a remarkable silence below the Gangway on that side, and when such speeches were delivered, as on Monday night were made with remarkable potency by the hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. Burt) and others, it had been said that those speeches were tardy. That was a very modest quarter of the House. That part of the House had a great respect for distinguished Parliamentary reputations; it had a great respect for those who had to establish and make clear their position before the country; and he believed there were several hon. Members of the House who they felt had very great need to effect that operation; but he ventured to say there was something which was even more conspicuous than any speech could be, and that was the silence—the favourable silence—of many hon. Members upon points on which they looked with regret. It was a hard matter for Gentlemen sitting near him to go for a measure which introduced into a part of these Kingdoms most undemocratic provisions. The Legislature of the new Irish Constitution, it had been said, would be the most Conservative Assembly in Europe. That was a prospect which they could not be expected to regard with much satisfaction. But their business was to take a generous view of the susceptibilities and wishes and aspirations of hon. Gentlemen from Ireland. If those Gentlemen were prepared to work their 1490 Constitution upon comparatively Conservative principles—as they protested they were—Radicals were prepared to hand it over to them; and were all the more ready to do so, because, on those very lines, the Constitution ought to have a better chance with hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway opposite and with Members of the old Whig Party. As to the exclusion of the Irish Members, he had heard with, very great satisfaction the observations which were made on Monday night by his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General. He thought they were in an excellent spirit. There were undoubtedly many Members of the Liberal Party who felt considerable difficulty in agreeing to the removal of the Irish Members from the House. His hon. and learned Friend gained an easy victory over many of those who had opposed this. He said very justly that their affection for the Irish Members was new-born and spurious. The affection, on the other hand, which many hon. Members in that part of the House cherished for the Representatives of nationality and patriotism was not new-born but consistent. However, if it should be stated by the Head of the Government that it still passed the wit of man to introduce a system whereby they could combine the Imperial representation of Ireland in that House with local self-government, he, for one, should not think of wrecking the Bill on such a point. The feeling he had towards this business had been best expressed in a passage—one of the finest passages—in the noble speech of the Premier in introducing this Bill, when he said he trusted it was not the less of two evils that he was proposing, but that he was proposing a measure that was thoroughly good in itself. That doctrine was commended to them by every Liberal principle; and he felt that it was one of the greatest shocks that any of them had experienced in the course of political life to find the principle suddenly rejected, especially by his right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), to whom they had looked up for some time past as a great Leader of their Party, and one probably who would take a great share in the shaping of its future destinies. He (Mr. Russell) confessed himself utterly unable to imagine the process of reasoning by which his 1491 right hon. Friend had departed—he would not say from his own previous expressions—but from doctrines which had, undoubtedly under his authority and with his influence, been distributed in the constituencies. He ventured to say that if, before the curious events of last November, The Radical Programme had been denounced by the opposite side on this point, the right hon. Gentleman would not have shrunk from its defence. What had led to the extraordinary change in the tone of some right hon. Gentlemen, and especially his right hon. Friend (Mr. Chamberlain) upon this subject? His right hon. Friend had abandoned the arrangements which he formerly proposed for the local government of Ireland. He was very indignant last year that those arrangements were rejected by certain Members of the Cabinet. He, no doubt, considered that their rejection of them was a mark of backwardness and reaction on their part. He (Mr. Russell) thought they were entitled to say that they held more statesmanlike views. He believed it was admitted by hon. Gentlemen from Ireland that it would not be safe, from au English point of view, to give very strong local government throughout the country, unless they pacified, and satisfied, and appeased the sense of wrong, the sense of injustice, the sense of disunion, and the sense of distrust which had hitherto existed. What hon. Members had to be convinced of was that the union of the Empire was sufficiently protected. His right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen), who said that night that they were going for separation, had several times in the course of his speech rather juggled or trifled with words. They proposed this because it would make for union, not because it would produce disunion. Again, his right hon. Friend spoke of coercion as if there was no distinction between one mode of bringing the law to bear upon evil-doers and another. But coercion meant not merely the repression of evil-doers—it meant the repression of evil-doers by means which civilized countries constitutionally abandoned, and which they only brought in as a last resort. That was the sort of coercion which was objected to. He thought still more that his right hon. Friend confused language in a most extraordinary manner, and in a manner 1492 conveying a great personal slight, when he made his distinction between courage and timidity, and when he chose to take courage to himself, forsooth, and those who held his views, and alleged that it was timidity which actuated others. If there was anything like heroism in politics, if there was heroism in the framing of measures and in taking the responsibility of them, that heroism had been shown by the Premier, and, he believed, would be shown by him to the end. Referring for a moment to an incidental point, he observed that the House was not a little impressed by the comments which his right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh made upon certain observations which had appeared in an Ulster newspaper on "Linen, Loyalty, and Landlordism." It was rather new to interpose, as a reason for taking this or that course on a great Constitutional question like this, the observations of newspapers on such a disputed and disputable point; but one great reason why the Ministry of the Liberal Party introduced this measure, and hoped to carry it, was that they wished to get rid of the spirit in which such articles as those quoted were written. Their Irish fellow-subjects had a command of language and a literary facility which they could not boast. Sometimes, under the influence of political heat, they allowed those powers of theirs to run away with them into extravagance. When they were weighted with self-governing responsibilities, a great and salutary change might be hoped for. The hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread), in a speech of remarkable power and wisdom, made a sketch of a most interesting kind of the probable future duties of the Government which was about to be established. He thought the best tribute to the accuracy of that forecast and the most encouraging circumstance in this whole business was that there was scarcely a word in what the hon. Member for Bedford had said that he (Mr. Russell) had not heard over and over again from Irish Members when, in casual conversation in the Lobby, they had been discussing their future Government. It was significant that they had only made two serious points of objection. They had raised a difficulty as to the money contribution, and they had raised a doubt as to the arrangements in case 1493 of conflict between the two Orders. These were both points—and especially the fiscal point—which would not be raised by hon. Gentlemen opposite if they were not intending to work the Constitution honestly. He expressed his very deep sorrow that the policy now proposed, and which he believed a large proportion of the Liberal Party had long been desiring, was confronted with difficulties in the ranks of that Party. His right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham objected very strongly to inquiry by one man. He (Mr. Russell) was indifferent who made the inquiry, so that the inquiry was a sound one, so that the intention was honest and the mind competent which made the inquiry. His right hon. Friend seemed, in some strange way, to resent the colossal intelligence of the Premier. They looked round in vain among the statesmen of the day for any mind so great, or any intellect so fair and just. When they had those qualities in combination, it seemed to him that, whether the result came from one mind or from more, they should welcome it, although it was utterly unfair to say that the Cabinet had not been acquainted with the general principles of the measure, because they were perfectly certain that the right hon. Gentleman did submit to his Colleagues the results of his personal inquiry, and they knew also that, on discussion, some of those points were modified. It had been shown, ad nauseam in the debate, how utterly unworthy were some of the counter propositions. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington), to whom they all looked with such respect, and who made such a remarkable and courageous speech the other night, proposed the alternative of coercion, plus the perpetual ex-elusion of the Tories from Office. He (Mr. Russell) should scarcely think that was a platform upon which the noble Marquess could obtain the concurrence of the Tories, even upon the stage of Her Majesty's Theatre. He believed the true ideal was found in the speech of the hon. Member for Bedford, the great-grandson of a great friend of Ireland, the great-grandson of a great Whig, the inheritor of the noble principles of one of the noblest Parties that ever existed in any country—a Party that was more maligned by the inconsistencies 1494 of its own degenerate descendants than it could possibly be by the declamation of opponents opposite, or by the grudging recognition that its merits sometimes received from Radical Members. If he (Mr. Russell) were a mere controversialist in this matter of Home Rule he should fear nothing; because he should be certain that the doctrine of self-government for Ireland would very shortly be carried into effect. They all knew that it must come. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Goschen) seemed to have an admiration for that spurious sort of courage which consisted in rushing full tilt upon insurmountable obstacles and unconquerable adversaries. Statesmanship should take into account everything that was likely to affect the future; and nothing could more affect the future of this question than the probabilities of disaster and misery which he believed were almost certain to come if this Bill was rejected. But was the fear of seeming-afraid any reason why Liberals should stand back from the enterprize in which the Premier had engaged? On the contrary, it was a principle of Liberal policy that, wherever extraordinary outrages and evils and atrocities existed in a country, there lay underneath them, as their origin and cause, social and political evils which ought to be removed; and when he was told that all these evils and terrible occurrences would come if they did not keep up the fetish of a discredited Union, and a system which had produced every ill which diabolical ingenuity could produce, he did not welcome them, or suggest them, or advise them, or wish for them—God forbid that—but he should expect them as the necessary consequence of political evil; and he considered there was no political evil much worse than shutting their eyes to what was immediately before them, and going blind for a principle which it was high time to abandon. If he were, then, a mere controversialist on this subject, he should not fear the result of what they might look for; but he feared many things which were likely to attend the protracted discussion of this question if a settlement of it could not be arrived at, especially among the Members of the Liberal Party. He was sensible of the irony of the situation, when his right hon. Friend, who usually sat where he was now standing, was found lagging behind upon this one question, which 1495 was the question of the time. He asked himself how the ordinary Business of Liberal politics was to be transacted under such circumstances, if his right hon. Friend was to occupy anything like the position he had hitherto taken? His right hon. Friend (Mr. Chamberlain) had not been half-an-hour on that Bench before he voted with the Radicals on the Crofters Bill, upon a question going to the basis of Land Reform, and they were glad to welcome him, because he was free; but what had they to say when they advanced to the graver difficulties of the political situation, which must demand from everyone on that side the utmost exertion of all their talents, and found that his right hon. Friend was to desert them, and that in any combination of Parties they must be deprived of his assistance, with Heaven knew what results of cleavage and disorder and disaster? The first time he ever heard the voice of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government was in the year 1851, when he was resisting, with all the force of his eloquence, the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, afterwards acknowledged to be an opprobrium of our legislation; and he remembered very well the peroration of that speech, in which the right hon. Gentleman said that he, for one, would follow the bright star of justice beaming from the heavens, whithersoever it might lead him. He (Mr. Russell) thought, as a lad, that he had never heard such music. The right hon. Gentleman had been true to that star; and they had believed, till now, that his right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham had his eyes as truly fixed upon it. If it was to be otherwise, even in an exceptional instance—if his right hon. Friend was going to make the loadstar of his policy in this case an evil or misleading one, or if he was going to close his eyes as he steered his barque, and to make the key of his policy distrust and despair in reference to the Irish nation, then he (Mr. Russell) prayed Heaven that the right hon. Gentleman might not be allowed to run their ship upon the rocks.
§ LORD ERNEST HAMILTON (Tyrone, N.)
said, it would be presumption on his part to attempt to go into the details of the Bill; but there were some points which seemed to him, as an Irishman, to be of peculiar, if not considerable, 1496 importance. On the Bill, generally, he had no criticisms or objections to offer; but he would say that, while it possibly might work admirably in the cases quoted to them of Norway or of Hungary, if they applied it to Ireland he would venture to predict for it a most speedy and disastrous failure. When the Prime Minister pointed to Hungary as a precedent for the proposal, he (Lord Ernest Hamilton) doubted whether he was serious, for he contended there was no analogy between the cases of Hungary and Ireland. In Hungary there was a genuine national movement. There they saw the noble and the peasant, the Roman Catholic priest and the Protestant clergyman marching side by side in the ranks of the national army, and demanding that those just rights of theirs which were denied should be granted to them; but in the case of Ireland they saw it was composed, as regarded the people, exclusively of one class, and almost entirely of one religion, not struggling to maintain their just rights, but to possess themselves of the property of another class, and actuated by undying hatred of that class, because it happened to be largely composed of persons of English and Scotch descent. He thought even the most sanguine supporters and admirers of the Prime Minister, or even that right hon. Gentleman himself, could hardly expect that the Bill would permanently satisfy the Irish. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), it was true, had been graciously pleased to say he would accept the Bill for what it was worth. No doubt he would have accepted any Bill the Prime Minister brought forward; but he (Lord Ernest Hamilton) had noticed that the cheers of hon. Members below the Gangway—his supporters—were scarcely so long or so loud when the Prime Minister sat down as when he rose; indeed, when the right Gentleman was describing some of the chief principles of his Bill there was a dead silence in that usually noisy quarter of the House. The hon. Member for the City of Cork would accept the Bill, because he knew that by so doing his name would be handed down to posterity as that of the man who obtained national independence for Ireland, and because he knew that what England had given as a free gift she would never be able to withdraw, and that the same means which 1497 had made the English Government give so much would, in the future, if applied, coerce that Government into giving still more. He (Lord Ernest Hamilton) knew the character of the Irish people. [Laughter.] At all events, he knew the character of those who justly called themselves the majority of that people; and anyone who had that personal knowledge, with the exception of those he did not wish or expect to agree with him, knew that the Irish character was devoid of all sense of gratitude, and that it was also devoid of that fine delicacy of feeling which usually prevented the recipients of some great boon, for which they had asked on the one day, from immediately clamouring for some other gift on the next day. ["Oh, oh!"] Yes; for what was more common in Ireland than this illogical argument—"Sure yer honour will not refuse what I ask, because ye gave me what I wanted last year?" The Bill, if passed, would not permanently satisfy hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, because their demand was not so much for an independent Parliament as for an ultimate and absolute repeal of the Union. It might, however, at the outside, satisfy them for two years. Before the Prime Minister sat down it must have occurred to many hon. Members that the scheme contained all the elements for future agitation. The proposed fiscal and financial arrangements, as concerned the relations of the two countries, were such as to leave Ireland, even on the showing of the Prime Minister himself, in a far worse position than she was in at that present moment; and it could easily be understood how the complicated financial arrangements between the two countries would be distorted by each hon. Member below the Gangway, and made fresh cause of grievance against the oppression and extortion of hated English interference. ["Oh, oh!"] No one could for a moment imagine that the Bill would extinguish the undying, uncalculating, and irreconcilable hatred which existed in Ireland towards England. Without reading extracts, he could recall declarations made by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway—declarations that were not the ebullitions of juvenile or excited brains. They were not speeches even made aften dinner; but solemn declarations of Leaders of the Party, in which 1498 it was said the passion of Ireland for England was undying hate—not that feeling attaching to a sense of a grievance. Would that be removed by the doubtful benefits of the measure? It might possibly satisfy the Irish people, but not the Irish politicians and agitators. In dealing with hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, the House was dealing with men who were utterly irreconcilable, the bitterness of whose enmity no measure they could pass as a peace-offering could satisfy. ["Oh, oh!"] A well-known expression of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell)—one that he had solemnly declared—was that he would never rest until he had severed the last link that bound Ireland to England. Experience showed that that hon. Member did not speak lightly, or without meaning what he said, although it might now suit him and his Friends to repudiate some of their former utterances. If passed, would this measure be that of severance? No; it opened up a prospect of a renewal of all the old difficulties and disturbances, aggravated by the knowledge that the agitators would have in the Bill a vantage ground for greater strength. Irishmen of the future would remember that the English Parliament yielded the first step to reprisals and intimidation they were too timid to check, though the deeds were a disgrace to civilization and humanity, and would follow the same course to attain their end then. If they did so, he would not blame them half so much, as the English nation, which had been their tutors and schoolmasters. Much nonsense had been talked about the chances of civil war in Ireland; but he could assure the hon. Member who spoke about the feeling in the North being all brag and bluster that he did not appreciate the situation. In the North-East of Ulster he believed they were more bellicose than in some other districts, or in the district where he (Lord Ernest Hamilton) himself resided; but he had made himself acquainted with the feelings of the farmers and labourers among whom he lived, and he said that the notion that immediately on the formation of an independent Irish Parliament there would be a rising of the entire Protestant population en masse was, of course, absurd and childish nonsense. The danger lay not so much in an independent Parliament itself as in 1499 the measures that were likely to result from that independent Parliament. The whole danger lay in a possible attempt to reverse the effects of the Plantation of Ulster of 1645. Whether the Plantation of Ulster was an act of justice or injustice it was not for him to say. That it was an act of policy no one could doubt. The peaceful and prosperous condition of the Province of Ulster, as compared with the rest of Ireland, fully exemplified it. Certain it was, however, that the descendants of those whose lands were confiscated on the flight of O'Neill looked back upon it as an act of the grossest injustice, and one that ought to be redressed; and many of these men lived in sight of the particular property or holdings which their ancestors had once possessed, and to which they considered themselves entitled. There were many Irish Roman Catholics who were as loyal as the Protestants; but there was not the shadow of a doubt that the Roman Catholics were under the impression, or rather the delusion, that on the formation of an independent Irish Parliament they would be reinstated in the lands that were taken from their progenitors. ["Oh, oh!"] He did not know whether the independent Parliament would encourage such a transaction; but it would find it very difficult to maintain peace between the opposing Parties. English Members could not understand the bitterness of the feeling between the two classes; but those who knew the bitterness and ill-feeling excited by Party tunes and Orange and Green flags would know that civil war was not a very remote contingency. ["Oh, oh!"] It was not a rising of Protestants that was feared, but arising of Roman Catholics; and knowing, as he did, of the open boastings of the Nationalists in his part of the country, that the moment they got an independent Parliament they would do what they liked, and rid the country of every Protestant, and knowing, also, as he did, the determination of the Protestant farmers and others to resist any attempt to drive them out, he did not think the danger was one so entirely imaginary as some hon. Members would have it supposed. ["Oh, oh!"] It was the fashion for some Gentlemen to spend a few months in Ireland to solve the Irish difficulty.[Cries of "Smith!"] No; that right hon. Gentleman's visit was 1500 not so long. These Gentlemen came back Home Rulers, forgetting that they had been dealing with the greatest masters of blarney and humbug in the world. They all knew that the Irish were a genial, pleasant race, until you asked them to pay rent. There was a great deal of difference between their reception of a stranger who went to Ireland and a landlord who asked them for rent. The Prime Minister said that the Irish people were as loyal as anyone. That might be; but how could people be expected to be loyal, peaceable, or contented when the country was filled from coast to coast with political firebrands, who were always holding out to the people all kinds of promises which they knew could never be fulfilled? The Imperial Parliament might give a separate Parliament to Ireland; they might do what they would; but they would never restore peace and contentment to the country until those political firebrands were extinguished. He disbelieved altogether in the Prime Minister's assertion that the only alternative to this Bill was stringent and drastic coercion. Had there, he would ask, been anything so peculiarly terrible in the sketch which the Chief Secretary for Ireland drew of the measures which would have to be adopted, if the policy recommended by the Prime Minister were not adopted? It included the suppression of meetings and of newspapers, and the locking up of priests. Well, the suppression of disloyal meetings was a simple affair. There would not be much difficulty about that. He thought the country would also survive the loss of two or three newspapers. No doubt, however, that would be a serious loss to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, because they would lose the only means by which they were able to bolster up each other's failings by mutual admiration. Then, as to parish priests, the great majority of the older ones were good and honest men; and if some of the younger ones chose to disgrace their cloth and to openly infringe the law they had no right to complain if they were treated as other criminals were, and were locked up. The fact, however, was that these extreme measures would never have to be adopted. The Prime Minister had admitted that coercion had failed, because it was not stringent enough; and that, he (Lord Ernest Hamilton) thought, was the truth. 1501 He believed that if it were once brought home to the Irish people that the Government were resolute and determined to enforce the law at all costs and hazards these dangers would vanish. The moment the people saw, and the country saw, that the Government were in earnest, the country would settle down in quietness; and they would do so the sooner, because there was now no real cause of grievance in Ireland, as there was when Protestant ascendancy still prevailed, and there was, besides, the tithe grievance. [Laughter.] The truth was that there was no real grievance on the part of the Irish people that remained to be redressed. [Cries of "Oh!" from the Home Rule Benches.] If there was any grievance, in Heaven's name let hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway name it; and there was no one in the House who would oppose its removal. [An Irish MEMBER: How many did your father evict?] He thought that hon. Member would shortly be evicted from that House if he interrupted in that way. He was very much struck by an extract which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer read from a book called The Radical Programme. It began something like this—"That in the beginning of this century there had been many distinct and tangible grievances in Ireland, and those engendered discontent; but that during the century the grievances had been removed, but the discontent still remained." That was the exact truth. The grievances had been removed; but discontent did prevail in Ireland, and would remain till the end of time, whatever was done. The fact of the matter came to this—that when this experimental measure had been tried and failed, the Government would have to try force to amend the mischief they had done; but then it would be too late for any but extreme measures. The crisis would then be of such a nature that it could only be dealt with by military force. They were not asked to consider the Bill on its merits. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had tried to work on their fears by picturing what evils and dangers they would have to encounter if it was not passed; but he did not tell the House that if they passed the Bill in obedience to such warnings it would encourage the enemies of England everywhere, 1502 for it would be a most abject surrender to foreign dynamitards on the part of Britons, who boasted that they never would be slaves.
§ MR. BICKERSTETH (Shropshire, Newport)
I should hardly feel justified in rising to take part in a discussion in which the House has listened to so many right hon. and hon. Gentlemen whose utterances carry a weight and authority which I neither pretend nor seek to emulate, were it not that I am anxious as a new Member, however insignificant, to say how cordially I subscribe to every word which has fallen in the course of this debate from the noble Marquess the Member for the Rossendale Division of Lancashire (the Marquess of Hartington), with regard to the responsibilities under which we lie on this question to the constituencies who sent us to Parliament. I am sure I speak not only for myself, but for many hon. Members who sit on these Benches, when I say that the work for which we asked the constituencies to return us to Parliament was the accomplishment of the programme to which the noble Marquess alluded, that fourfold Mid Lothian programme, which was accepted with such singular unanimity, not only by the Liberal Party but by the country at large; for I think I am within the mark if I say that the greater part of it was, in principle at least, accepted by hon. Gentlemen opposite. I do not mean that the difficulties of the Government of Ireland were unforeseen. On the contrary, those difficulties, great as they were before, had been, in our opinion, enormously aggravated by the policy of allowing Ireland to drift, which had been adopted by the Party to which hon. Gentlemen opposite belong. But, in view of those difficulties, what was the course which we advocated, and which we urged the constituencies to adopt? Why, Sir, if there was one point more than another upon which we most strongly insisted, it was the paramount necessity of returning to power the Liberal Party, and, above all, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, in a position which should be perfectly independent of any combination which might be contrived by the Tory Party and those who follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). In making that appeal we had high encourage- 1503 ment; we had the example of the right hon. Gentleman himself, who warned his constituents that there was hardly any prospect so much to be deprecated as the possibility of the Liberal Party being obliged to approach the solution of the Irish problem in a position that was not absolutely independent. If words meant anything at all, the country was cautioned that if the Liberal Party were returned to Parliament in no greater strength than sufficed to secure a majority by the help of the Parnellite vote the temptation would be enormous—would be well-nigh irresistible—to be unduly swayed by that vote. The proverb says that to be forewarned is to be forearmed; and these very circumstances having arisen, this very prospect which seemed so alarming being now realized, I must say that the last thing we were prepared to witness was the spectacle of the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues throwing to the winds—I will not say their principles, but every principle with which they were credited by the country on this Irish Question, and making haste to fall into the very temptation which the Prime Minister so clearly foresaw, and from which, with an earnestness that has acquired a most painful pathos from his subsequent action, he entreated the country to save him. Two or three nights ago the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant (Mr. John Morley) objected, if I understood him rightly, to this line of argument, on the ground that this raking up of inconsistencies was very idle and very childish. Now I am far from saying that consistency is a plea which would avail you, if you determined to adhere to a course which you knew or discovered to be wrong, simply because you were pledged to it by previous utterances; but there are two views in which consistency may be regarded. You may be perfectly consistent even when you change your line of conduct, provided that you do so by the application of fixed principles to changed or altered circumstances; but I say you are justly chargeable with inconsistency when, to circumstances precisely similar or clearly foreseen, you apply principles diametrically opposed to those which you have hitherto led people to believe you would support; you are justly chargeable with inconsistency when you make light of 1504 consistency, in order to find an excuse for doing violence to scruples and to axioms which have never been proved to be erroneous, but which you find to be inconvenient impedimentæ in making an entirely new departure. If hon. Members think I am not justified in these remarks by anything that has occurred, I can only ask them, in all honesty, to tell me how many of us Liberal Members do they suppose would now be sitting on these Benches if the constituencies had imagined for one instant that we were asking them to return the right hon. Gentleman to power, not in order that he might carry out the valuable if unexciting programme upon which we were all agreed, but in order that he might, by the help of the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his followers, carry out this gigantic scheme for the dissolution of the Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland? ["Oh, oh!"] We certainly have not been without indications that we should be invited to engage in some such enterprize. In the formation of the Government we saw the significant admission into the Cabinet of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. We had one indication of the place to which social order was likely to be relegated under the new régime, in the amazing announcement of the Chief Secretary, that he intended to constitute himself the judge how far, and in what cases, the lawful decisions of Her Majesty's Courts in Ireland should be enforced. We had another indication, a most unwelcome one, pointing in the same direction, when we heard the same right hon. Gentleman, in this House, describe one of the most brutal murders that have disgraced the annals of Ireland in recent times, as an "unfortunate death," and when—I can but speak from the impression made on my own mind by the incident—the word "murder" was apparently only wrung from him by the scarcely suppressed indignation of the House. All this time we were advised, in the language of the Prime Minister, to cultivate a wholesome incredulity. The horse was being walked up and down; but we were adjured to pay no attention to those irresponsible persons, who assured us that this most unlikely looking animal was really the one on which we were expected to stake our money, Well, Sir, the scheme is now before us, 1505 and the time has come when we must ask ourselves, in sober earnest, why it is that we are called upon to take this tremendous step? In my opinion, not an argument has been advanced for this measure which has not been ably and conclusively dealt with, either on this or on the opposite side of the House; but there are one or two upon which I should like to say a few words. Much has been said in certain quarters of the original flaw in the mode by which the Union between Great Britain and Ireland was brought about. I have not a word to say in defence of the jobbery and corruption by which the passage of that measure was secured; but whoever uses arguments of that nature in support of a policy of reversal, I am sure we shall hear nothing of the kind from the Prime Minister. I need only refer the House to the words used by the right hon. Gentleman in this House in the course of the Burmah debate, on the 22nd of last February, when he quoted the annexation of Scinde under the Government of Sir Robert Peel, as a case in which, though the step met with the hearty disapproval of every Member of the then existing Cabinet, "Yet"—I quote The Times report of the right hon. Gentleman's words—there was not a single man there who thought that any step ought to be taken for the purpose of reversing the policy. The question is not for the original justice of the annexation, but whether you will do more good or evil by proceeding to a reversal.Nor can it be urged that we are asked to take this step in response to the appeal of an united nation. I acknowledge that this measure would be accepted by the great majority of the Irish Representatives as a step in the direction of those ultimate objects which they have at heart; but on the other hand you have a powerful minority, representing by far the greater part of the property, the education, and the intelligence of the country, representing, in short, all those elements which make for the stability and progress of a civilized community, who are resolutely opposed to this change. Is it then that the supporters of this policy are persuaded that the change is inevitable, that it must come sooner or later, and that we had better concede at once what we shall be forced to yield at last? Sir, I hold that this argument is an insult to the 1506 spirit and patriotism of the British people. Such a catastrophe as the disruption of the Union can only be inevitable if the British people are too lazy or too unpatriotic to prevent it; and happily we have not the slightest warrant for any supposition of the kind. But are we urged to pass the measure because it will bring peace and contentment to Ireland? Unfortunately this is not the first time similar arguments have been advanced in support of legislation for the Sister Island. Within recent years you have disestablished the Irish Church; you have revolutionised the system of land tenure in Ireland; and without for a moment disputing the wisdom and justice of your policy in either case, it is impossible to forget that each of these measures in turn was advocated as a sure panacea for all the discontent and disaffection of Ireland; and in each case experience has shown that these optimist anticipations were destined to be completely falsified. And in this connection, it is impossible to be blind to the fact, of which we were so forcibly reminded the other night by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain)—that the Minister who urges us to adopt this policy is the same statesman who so strangely misread the probable issue of the great struggle waged by the Northern States of America for the maintenance of their Union. As he then miscalculated the fund of patriotism and backbone in those sturdy Northerners, who were determined that their Union should not be dismembered, so I believe does he now miscalculate the determination of the people of Great Britain and of the loyal population of Ireland that, come what may, the integrity of this United Kingdom shall be maintained against all enemies, be they within or without our borders. And if that is the kind of argument upon which I the advocates of this measure rely, what are we to think of the announcement, at the very outset, that an inseparable part of the scheme is a vast project of land purchase by which the landlords, the most prominent portion of the loyal population, are to be bought out? I will not attempt to tread upon forbidden ground by entering now upon the merits or demerits of any measure of this kind; but we are entitled, at least, to ask why it is an inseparable part of 1507 the scheme which the Prime Minister now wishes us to adopt? The only conceivable answer to that question—at least the only answer I have ever heard, and if there is another I trust some hon. Member will favour us with it—is that the landlords must in equity be bought out, because you are going to set up a Parliament in Dublin under which their rights and interests would not be treated with common justice. But that answer condemns the whole scheme. If the Parliament you are about to establish cannot be trusted to govern justly, why in the world should you set it up? And, again, it is very well to buy out the landlords; but though they are the most prominent, they are but a small portion of the loyal population of Ireland. What is to become of the rest—the non-landlord portion of the loyal population—when, by buying out the landlords, you have removed the one class on whom they might rely to protect them? Are they, the Loyalists, belonging to the professional, middle, and lower classes, scattered here and there throughout the length and breadth of Ireland, to be abandoned to this Dublin Parliament, to which it would, on your own showing, be unsafe to confide the interests of the landlords? I hold that such a course is impossible. We cannot divest ourselves of our responsibility to the loyal population of Ireland. In the earlier part of this debate the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) reminded the House that, in the course of the debates on the Franchise Bill in 1884, the Prime Minister endeavoured to allay the apprehensions of the Loyalist population of Ireland, in view of the lowering of the franchise in that country, by assuring them that in the new Parliament no measure adverse to their interests could be carried without the consent of a majority of the Representatives of England and of Scotland. I hold that now is the time to redeem that pledge. Can anybody suppose that the Loyalists of Ireland will be reassured by the fantastic and empirical checks which the Prime Minister proposes to introduce into the Parliamentary system which he wishes to create? No, Sir, that is not the pledge which the Loyalists have a right to demand from this Parliament. They have a right to know that their interests are in safer keeping 1508 than that of a statutory Parliament in Dublin. They have a right to know that this Imperial Parliament will not surrender to any such Body those whose only crime is loyalty to their Sovereign and attachment to the Constitution under which they live. I do not propose, in the course of these remarks, to enter into any detailed criticism of the provisions of this measure; but there are two points to which I beg to invite the particular attention of the House. The first is the fiscal unity which it is proposed to preserve between Great Britain and Ireland. Now, Sir, I am not so presumptuous as to attribute any confusion of ideas to the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister; but I confess I am at a loss to understand what is meant by the fiscal unity of the Empire, if the word Empire is understood in its large and general sense as including the Indian and Colonial Dependencies of the Crown. If the Prime Minister intends the word "Empire" to include our great self-governing Colonies, then there is no such thing as the "fiscal unity of the Empire;" but if we are to understand the expression as meaning the fiscal unity of the United Kingdom, then I say that fiscal unity, as part and parcel of the essential unity and integrity of the United Kingdom, is an excellent thing; but if you destroy all or most of the other essentials of unity, then in trying to keep up a fiscal unity—and the difficulty, I might say the impossibility, of such an endeavour has been expounded to demonstration by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen) in his masterly speech this evening—then, I say, in trying to keep up a fiscal unity you are attempting to maintain the very tie which so exasperated our North American Colonies in the last century that it led to the War of Independence and the separation of the United States from the British Crown. Again, it is proposed with one hand to place Ireland to all practical intents and purposes in the position of a self-governing Colony, while with the other hand you impose on her a disability to which no self-governing Colony would submit for a moment. Which of your great self-governing Colonies would remain loyal for six months, if it had to pay a yearly tribute to the Imperial Exchequer similar in proportion to that which it is pro- 1509 posed to exact from Ireland, without the slightest voice in the appropriation or expenditure of that tribute? And do you suppose for one moment that the Irish Parliament would remain silent if it saw the policy of this country, to whose Exchequer Ireland was making so substantial a contribution, being shaped for ends of which the Irish people disapproved? Is it not certain that the Irish Parliament would instantly overstep its functions and attempt to exercise some control over the policy of the Imperial Government? This notion of the Irish Parliament overstepping its functions and acting ultra vires has been scouted as a hypothetical risk. Well, Sir, all risks may be called hypothetical; but I maintain that this is a risk which our own recent experience teaches us is most likely to occur. I am sure it will be within the recollection of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister that not four years ago the Senate and Commons of Canada forwarded, through the Viceroy, to be laid at the foot of the Throne, an important Address to Her Majesty, containing six paragraphs, in one of which a request was made that some form of Federal Government might be conceded to Ireland; and in another it was asked that the Irish political prisoners might be released. It is needless to say that these requests met with a sharp rebuke from the noble Lord who was at the time Secretary of State for the Colonies, in the Government of which the present Prime Minister was the Head; but there you have a case, a recent case, in which so loyal and orderly a Body as the Legislature of Canada could not resist the temptation to interfere in matters beyond its province; and how can anybody suppose that the Irish Parliament, with the real and substantial excuse which the payment of the proposed tribute would afford, would not, on the very first occasion which presented itself, attempt to exercise some control over the policy in which Ireland would have such a vital interest? The inevitable result would be a conflict between the Imperial Government and the Parliament of Dublin, with consequences that are so obvious that I need waste no words upon them. There is, in short, no finality in this measure; it is a half-way house on the road to entire separation, and only provides the most powerful 1510 leverage for those who wish to destroy the last link which binds the two countries together. Regarding it, as I do, in this light, I appeal to the House to recall the forcible words which the Prime Minister himself used in this House on the 24th of last February, when we had under discussion the Bill relating to the tenure of houses in Ireland, of which the hon. Member for North Mayo (Mr. Crilly) had moved the second reading. With reference to that measure, the Prime Minister's words were—My hon. Friend said he wished to bring in the thin end of the wedge. To bring in the thin end of the wedge might be quite right upon certain occasions; but I think it is a sound principle that you should never bring in the thin end of the wedge unless you are also prepared for the thick end of the wedge."—(3 Hansard, , 1151.)I heartily concur in that principle; and, in the question now before us, I ask the House to remember that though the thin end of the wedge which the Prime Minister is endeavouring to drive into the Constitution maybe but the dismemberment of the United Kingdom, the thick end is the disruption of the Empire. I will not encroach further on the patience with which the House has been good enough to listen to these remarks; but I cannot forbear from saying that it is with no satisfaction—on the contrary, it is with sincere pain—that I find myself on this great question in antagonism to one whom I honour so much as the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. There are, however, higher considerations than that of allegiance to any single statesman, however honoured, however illustrious; and I can only say that nothing would have induced me to take the course which I have adopted on this subject but the sincere belief that the measure which the Prime Minister is now proposing is one fraught with ruin to the true interests of Ireland, and with every prospect of disaster to the Empire.
§ MR. BRODRICK (Surrey, Guilford)
said, he felt sure that the House had listened with satisfaction to the fearless criticism passed upon the Bill by the hon. Member who had just sat down. But, undoubtedly, the most interesting speech of the evening was that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; for he was the only Member of the Government who had spoken from any previous adminis- 1511 trative experience with regard to Ireland. Throughout the last two Parliaments the right hon. Gentleman had been the most strenuous advocate of coercive legislation. How was it possible to reconcile the right hon. Gentleman's utterances on the present occasion with the previous conduct of the Prime Minister? If that right hon. Gentleman had any conception that, as a sequel to the legislation which he had himself previously carried, it would be found necessary to introduce such a Bill as the present, it was a case of simple wickedness to the people of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the government of Ireland would be impossible, if this Bill were thrown out. But he could not see that matters had so much changed since last July, when the Government proposed to renew repressive legislation. It was impossible to avoid the conclusion that many hon. Members were following the Prime Minister, rather than their own convictions, in the vain hope that the right hon. Gentleman had at last discovered the philosopher's stone with regard to Ireland. It had been claimed for the Prime Minister that he had discovered, on many previous occasions, the one mode by which law and order might be maintained in Ireland without coercive measures. What had the right hon. Gentleman asked of that House which the House had not granted to him? Everything he had asked for had been granted to him for many years past. Under the right hon. Gentleman's influence, we had legalized confiscation, made compromises with crime, and condoned high treason. At the instance of the Prime Minister, we had destroyed a Church, driven capital out of the country, and shaken property to its foundation. The result of all his measures was that, coming in "a foreign garb," as the right hon. Gentleman now told them, they were not accepted by the people of Ireland. Considering the facts as to the material prosperity of the country, was there anything that justified the Prime Minister in asking them to take a step which many hon. Members believed would shake the Empire to its base? The Protestants of Ireland were to be handed over to a Government which would be Ultramontane in the sense demanded by the priests, and Jacobin in the sense demanded by the anarchists. They were about to hand over the coun- 1512 try to the care of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) and his followers. The question was, whether, in so doing, they would not hand over the country and the lives of their fellow-subjects to the American Fenians? [Laughter.] He thought the House ought to know whether there was not a distinct relation between the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his Colleagues and the American Fenians. He was not going to give expression to any opinions which he could not sustain; but he wished to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to explain some remarks he made in that House five years ago. He (Mr. Brodrick) might remind hon. Gentlemen who were not in the last Parliament that a very extraordinary speech was made on the first Coercion Bill by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. John Dillon), who was then Member for Tipperary. The hon. Member stated to the House that, if he were an Irish farmer, and men came to turn him out of his house and land, he would shoot as many of them as he could. [Mr. DILLON said, he had not used such words.] He took them from Hansard. The right hon. Gentleman the present Chancellor of the Exchequer remarked that the doctrine of the Land League, as expounded by the hon. Member, was the doctrine of treason and assassination; and he added that the Land League was conducted by notorious Fenians, some of whom had been convicted. That was a deliberate statement by the right hon. Gentleman, that there was at that time a connection between the American Fenians and the Land League. He (Mr. Brodrick) should like to know from the right hon. Gentleman whether he could assure them that he now believed that those who now represented the Irish Party were no longer connected with American Fenians? The object of the Fenian conspiracy was to separate Ireland from England, and to take Ireland from the Dominions of the Crown of England; yet the right hon. Gentleman, as one of Her Majesty's Advisers, was prepared to hand over the lives and property of the Queen's subjects to an Organization, having for its object the severance of Ireland from Great Britain. No denial of those being their objects had been made by hon. Members who now spoke for the National Party. It was all very well for Irish Members now 1513 to make turtle-dove speeches, interlarded with Scriptural quotations; but those who were in the last Parliament had heard them declare their hatred and undying spirit of hostility to the British dominion in Ireland. The hon. Member for the City of Cork probably thought that, because he had won, he might be generous—he had induced the Prime Minister to adopt the feelings and language of those who had expressed their undying hatred to British domination; but although the hon. Member might be able to change the tone of his language and that of his Followers, yet he would not be able to change the feeling of the people of Ireland. That feeling was for complete separation; a spirit had been aroused in Ireland which would not be allayed, because hon. Members saw place and power within their reach. The Prime Minister thought he had cut down the Irish Upas tree; but only the branches were in Ireland, the roots were in America, and it was only by cutting the branches from the root that they would rot, wither, and decay. With respect to guarantees, they were necessary in order to induce the people of England to pass this Bill; but he (Mr. Brodrick) attached no importance whatever to them. Should the Bill pass, in a few months the Prime Minister would again be there in full song, telling them the unity of the Empire required their abrogation. The hon. Member for the City of Cork had told the House plainly that he could not give guarantees, and had advised English statesmen to trust the Irish people altogether, or not to trust them at all. What hope was there that any guarantees would be maintained? They knew with regard to Grattan's Parliament, which was mainly a Protestant and a landlord Parliament, that they found it impossible to get on with the Parliament of England; and was it likely that the new Parliament, suffering under a feeling of injustice at having been deprived of the power which might have accrued to it, would be long before it came into conflict with that of England? These guarantees were put forward merely to delude the people of England—they might be honestly intended, but their effect would be to restrain revolution by a thread. How could they take a hopeful view of the matter, when the Prime Minister showed no confidence in the 1514 measure himself? The right hon. Gentleman spoke of giving the people their own Government, and letting classes live at peace with each other; but could they hope that a nation like the Irish, which for centuries had been guided by sentiment and prejudice, would have any regard to the nice observance of economic principles, or much respect for the laws of this country? Their experience of Irish Local Bodies had, at present, been far from encouraging; they had simply been hotbeds of rowdyism, sedition, and jobbery. It had been said that the Legislature could not refuse to grant the demands of 86 Irish Members; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer appeared to share that view. He should like to remind the right hon. Gentleman that, in 1852, he wrote to the late Lord Derby a letter containing the following words:—A new doctrine has been started that the policy of the Administration is not to be regulated by their own conviction of the national advantage, but by the accident of the poll and the present fancies of the constituencies.The right hon. Gentleman added—That politics in such a case become a scramble for the most adroit and most unscrupulous.If the right hon. Gentleman now really meant to urge that the vote of the Irish Members could commit the House to the stupendous change proposed by the Prime Minister, his own reasoning in earlier years was absolutely against him. He believed that most of the Members on his side of the House, and many on the other, were prepared to lay aside all considerations of Party in dealing with this subject, and were ready to act with any Minister who would refuse to justify the great surrender involved in the proposals before the House. The whole legislation of the last few years had been in the direction of protecting the rights of the many against the privileges of the few. But now they were confronted with a scheme which would sacrifice the interests of 32,000,000 in this country, in order to confer a most doubtful advantage upon 4,000,000 of their fellow-subjects. He ridiculed the idea that the guarantees about which so much had been said would be sustained, and if they were now accepted, it was only to lubricate the passage of the Bill. They might depend upon it that the minority in Ireland would morally become the 1515 majority to uphold the law and to maintain in its entirety the connection between England and the Sister Country. They were now face to face with 4,000,000 of people against 32,000,000 of the English population, and he felt justified, in the name of good government, and in the name of British citizenship, in giving his strongest resistance to this ill-fated and ill-omened measure.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
I hope I shall be more merciful to the House than any one of the three hon. Members who have spoken last, who have all spoken against the Bill, and one of whom—the noble Lord who spoke first of the three (Lord Ernest Hamilton)—certainly did not succeed in raising the tone of the debate. [Laughter.] I will try myself, in spite of what fell from the noble Lord and the jeering laughter with which hon. Members opposite receive my remarks, to regain the higher level at which it had proceeded until the noble Lord rose. My object in rising now is simply to endorse the effective protest which has been made by my hon. Friend the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Mr. E. R. Russell), against any imputation which might be cast against Scotch opinion upon this question, in consequence of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen). The right hon. Gentleman referred to what had been stated by the Prime Minister about the opinion of certain English boroughs at the late Election. The Prime Minister said that certain English boroughs had spoken with an Irish accent. Applying the same figure of speech to the oration of the right hon. Member for East Edinburgh, I would say that the City of Edinburgh has spoken this evening, not with a Caledonian, but with a Cockney accent. I have said that I was going to be more merciful than the noble Lord and the two hon. Members who last addressed the House. I am now going to abandon altogether the remarks which I had intended to make to-night, and to leave them over for another occasion. I will only give hon. Gentlemen opposite the benefit of one extract from it. I was going to call attention to a singular statement made by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) as to one of the main provisions of the Bill. Speaking of the proposal of two Orders sit- 1516 ting in the same House, but voting separately on certain occasions, the noble Lord said that he had consulted every authority, ancient and modern, and that he could not find a precedent for such a proposal. I congratulate the noble Lord on the serious turn his studies have taken; but I beg to say that he has committed a mistake often committed by beginners, in consulting authorities which are somewhat difficult to understand. He ought to have gone to some elementary text-book, and, if he had, he would not have made the mistake he had made last night. If he had gone to the Clerk at the Table he would have found out his mistake. Sir Thomas Erskine May has written a book on Parliamentary Practice, a short extract from which I will venture to read to the House. It is in regard to the manner of taking the poll in Parliament, and Sir Thomas Erskine May says, in page 18, that "The ancient treatise De modo tenendi Parliamentum—
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
It means "of the manner of holding Parliament."The ancient treatise De modo tenendi Parliamentum, if of unquestioned authority, would be conclusive of the fact that the three estates"—meaning the three estates of which one is represented by this House—ordinarily sat together; but that, whenever any difficult and doubtful case of peace or war arose, each estate sat separately by direction of the King.[An hon. MEMBER: When?] I cannot continue the historical studies of the noble Lord at this hour, and indeed it is enough for me to refer the hon. Member to Sir Erskine May's authorities. I think I may almost venture to say that Lord Macaulay's school-boy, whom, in my own mind, I have always identified with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan), would be able to supply the hon. Member with the information he wants. ["Oh, oh!"] Allow me to set hon. Members right. Lord Macaulay's school-boy was a prodigy of learning, and that is the reason why I identified him with the right hon. Gentleman. As I said before, my object is simply, in the name of Scotland, and as a Scotch Member and a Scotchman, to protest against any deduction being drawn as to Scotch opinion from the speech which 1517 has been made by the right hon. Member for East Edinburgh. I believe that Scotland, on this question, as on the questions which were raised in the General Election, will be faithful in the future, as in the present, to the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. I do not however, support this Bill without reservations. I believe we may make important alterations in it, and when the proper time comes I shall be prepared to lay some of them before the House. But I cannot understand why noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen should occupy the time of the House at this stage in making speeches, every one of which is more fit for Committee than even for the second reading of the Bill. If I may venture to appeal to some of our influential Leaders, or, rather, former Leaders, of our Party upon this question, I would say to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) that his argument, as far as it has been heard—certainly, his tale has as yet only been half-told—that his argument showed, no doubt, good reasons for his leaving the Cabinet, but no grounds for refusing a first or second reading to this Bill. I would respectfully remind the right hon. Gentleman of the awful future which he is preparing for himself. He is condemning himself to a life-long political companionship with the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington. I would venture also to appeal to hon. Members who belong to another section of the Liberal Party to take a similar lesson on this occasion. I know that it has always been the traditional policy of the Whigs, and I suppose it will always be, to take the line of the least responsibility; but I would appeal to them whether, on this occasion, the line of the least responsibility is not the line of this Bill. They have to face the possibility of seeing the most tremendous coercive measures applied to Ireland that have ever been tried. They say, on the other side, that there is a possibility of resorting to coercive measures if this Bill passes; but they admit that such measures will be absolutely necessary if the Bill does not pass. Then, I say that they will be incurring serious responsibility, in the event of their not succeeding in preventing the passing of the Bill, even by reducing the majority by which it shall pass. It is almost as important that the 1518 Bill should pass by a large majority in this House as that it should pass at all. Then, I think that right hon. Gentlemen who have been Leaders of the Liberal Party are incurring a very heavy responsibility in bringing about a disruption of the Liberal Party. I will only say, and I say it from my heart, that whatever the effect of this Bill may be, it will always be a source of satisfaction to me, within the first few months of my Membership of the House of Commons, to have raised my voice and given my vote in favour of a measure which I believe is honestly intended to bring to an end the oldest, the longest, the most bitter, and the most unnecessary feud that ever divided two branches of the British people.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH (Bristol, W.)
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am not quite sure that I am able to congratulate the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down upon the success of his laudable effort to raise the tone of this debate. As far as I could understand him, he informed us that the educated opinion of Scotland is in favour of supporting the Prime Minister without any regard to the provisions of this Bill. If I have not been able to catch the precise language of the hon. Member, I am unfortunate; but I hope that I am unfortunate, because I trust that the educated opinion of Scotland, as well as that of other parts of the United Kingdom, will regard this Bill on its merits, and not merely on the authority of the Prime Minister. Sir, this debate has been singularly prolonged for a debate upon the introduction of a Bill; but I think the House will be universally of opinion that, looking at the momentous issues for good or for evil with which the proposal of Her Majesty's Government is fraught, it has been by no means too prolonged. I wish that some one of the three Members of Her Majesty's Government who have followed the remarkable speech of the Prime Minister, which necessarily could not completely explain all the provisions of this great measure, had endeavoured to imitate his example, and to answer some of the criticisms which have been so ably addressed to the House during the course of the debate on the provisions of the Bill. It is no light matter, Sir, that at a time when all other coun- 1519 tries in the world are consolidating their resources, when our most remote Colonies are endeavouring to draw together in closer union with the Mother Country, we should be asked to take the first step in splitting up the very kernel around which our great Empire is formed, and dividing, for legislative and administrative purposes, the two Islands that have been so closely associated hitherto. That is a step backward in the history of this country. It is contrary to the policy which has been pursued by the Rulers of England for generations—the policy which, in the early part of this century, was completed by Statesmen perhaps the most famous in the history of England, and which since that time has been defended and maintained by all their Successors, including the right hon. Gentleman himself. Why, Sir, are we asked to take this step? There is no change that can be alleged in the social and industrial relations between Great Britain and Ireland which would warrant such a policy. On the contrary, since the Union, steam and electricity have annihilated time and distance, and the commercial and industrial relations of the two countries have every year become more closely entwined. Is it, Sir, the wish of the inhabitants of Great Britain that this change should be made? I do not believe that in any part of Great Britain there is a vestige of popular sentiment in its favour. The very constituents of the right hon. Gentleman himself, his most enthusiastic admirers at Edinburgh, presented to him only a few weeks ago a strong protest in favour of maintaining this Legislative Union. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented."] I believe it would be utterly impossible to collect together in any part of Great Britain an English or Scotch audience which would vote in favour of Home Rule. [Cries of "Yes!"] I know what hon. Gentlemen mean. They mean this—that this proposal now comes before the country recommended by the great authority and eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman, and that, like the hon. Member who has just sat down, many an audience in England, unfortunately, will support anything that is proposed with the weight of that authority. Well, Sir, I must say that it seems to me difficult on the face of it to understand why the right hon. Gentleman himself has so 1520 far enlarged the proposals which he has hitherto made with reference to local self-government in Ireland; why he has gone so far beyond any ideas which up to December last his nearest and most trusted political associates believed him to entertain; why he has deprived himself of the invaluable advantage of their support, and taken in exchange the cheers and the votes of hon. Members below the Gangway. Sir, there is a feeling, of course, in Ireland in favour of this measure, and a very strong feeling on the part of those who have returned 85 Home Rule Members to this House. But, Sir, when the Attorney General, last night, described the antipathy in Ireland to the establishment of the Union with Great Britain, I noticed that he spoke of the protests of the Peers of Ireland, of the Irish Bar, of the Professions, of the Orangemen themselves, and of all the un bribed intellect of Ireland against the establishment of that Union; but he failed to quote any similar opposition now existing to the maintenance of the Union between Great Britain and Ireland. Sir, why is it that the right hon. Gentleman has made this proposal, which, to borrow a phrase from his own Chief Seretary for Ireland, has "pulverized" the Liberal Party? He has told us that it is because he entertains the strongest conviction of the gravity and urgency of the Irish problem, and finds in this scheme the only way to restore to Ireland the first conditions of civilized life. Well, Sir, in my humble opinion, the right hon. Gentleman has taken a most extraordinary means, on his own showing, of restoring social order to Ireland. He has borrowed the policy which was proposed by the Chief Secretary for Ireland before he was a Member of the Government. That right hon. Gentleman then recommended the Government of the day to capture the Leaders of the Irish Revolutionary Party and to give them power in order to make them responsible. This policy is nothing less than giving up the enforcement of the law in despair. It is, to use the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a capitulation to those who have successfully defied the authority of the Executive and the law of the Imperial Parliament, in the belief that those very persons and their successors will ever here- 1521 after humbly submit to the supremacy which they have successfully defied. Now, Sir, I must say that, looking to the past, it is a most extraordinary proposition to come from Her Majesty's Government. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us this evening that the National League, to which undoubtedly the power in Ireland will be handed over by this Bill, was in apostolic succession to the Land League. Now, Sir, what is the history of the Land League, and what was the opinion of the Members of Her Majesty's present Government of the Land League and its leaders? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as my hon. Friend behind me has already reminded the House, told Parliament, when occupying the responsible Office of Home Secretary, that the doctrines of the Land League were doctrines of assassination and treason. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, speaking at Knowsley, in October, 1881, after he had imprisoned the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), spoke of the conflict between his own Government and the followers of the hon. Member. And what did he say? He said—It is a great issue, a conflict for the very first and elementary principles upon which civil society is constituted. It is idle to talk of law, liberty, religion, or civilization, if those gentlemen"—who are now his allies—"are to carry through the reckless and chaotic schemes they have devised. How are those schemes to be carried into effect? By intimidation in three forms—danger to life, destruction to property, and ruin through the withdrawal of capital.Now, Sir, this National League and its leaders, in apostolic succession to the Land Leaguers, thus denounced by the right hon. Gentleman, are intrusted by him with the restoration of social order in Ireland; and in the most innocent and childlike confidence the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) assures the House that, in his opinion, these Gentlemen who have been thus described by the Prime Minister will undo all the evils they have themselves brought about—that they will attract back to Ireland the capital that they themselves have driven away; and that, if in the government of Ireland they should make some little mistake, they will be at once amenable to English criticism, perhaps in the shape of an article in The Times or The Daily News, and make up their minds to do what is right, according 1522 to English opinion. What I should like to know is, whether the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister with regard to the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) and his associates has changed since 1881; and, if so, what are the reasons for that change of opinion? Because, if no reasons can be given, I will venture to say that this policy which he has recommended to Parliament is nothing but a policy of blackmail—a policy which has often been the resource of weak Executives and of decaying nations, but which, so far as I know, has never been successfully pursued. But, Sir, we are told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that this Bill is not, in his opinion, so much a good in itself as a choice of evils, and that the only alternative is coercion. Very well. That is a point on which I differ entirely from the right hon. Gentleman; because, to my mind, this Bill is no alternative proposal. If an alternative could be proposed for coercion in Ireland, no one would welcome it more cordially than I would. I believe that every Member of this House would desire to see the inhabitants of Ireland prosperous and contented; and if the Prime Minister, or anyone else, could drive away from Ireland by his scheme the evil and misery entailed upon all classes of the population in that country by years of continued political agitation, and remove that great weakness to the British Empire which Irish disaffection undoubtedly causes, why, then, the right hon. Gentleman would be worthy even of the fulsome praise lavished upon him by hon. Members below the Gangway. But, Sir, this Bill can be no alternative for coercion unless it is a real settlement of this question. If it should prove not to be so, I think that even Her Majesty's Government themselves must admit that nothing can exceed the evil that has been done even by the proposal to introduce it. Now, is it likely to be a real settlement of the question? The prophecies of peace of the hon. Member for the City of Cork and the hon. and learned Member for South Londonderry (Mr. T. M. Healy) are not quite sufficient warrant that it is so. Anyone who looks back to Irish history will see that similar prophecies were made before Catholic Emancipation, and before the Disestablishment and Disendowment of 1523 the Irish Church; and we know, to our cost, that those prophecies have not been fulfilled. But I turn rather to see how far the provisions of this measure, as they have been explained to us, satisfy that which has been repeatedly declared to be the object of the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his Followers below the Gangway. I think I am not misrepresenting those hon. Members when I say that they have repeatedly declared the object of their Party to be the national independence of Ireland. [Mr. T. M. HEALY: Legislative independence.] Well, I could quote a good many extracts, only that I do not like to take up the time of the House, in support of what I say. These were the words of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) at Castlebar—Speaking for myself, and I believe for the rest of the Irish people and all my Colleagues, I have to declare that we will never accept, either expressly or implied, anything but the full and complete right to arrange our own affairs, to make our land a nation, to secure for her, free from outside control, the right to direct her own course among the peoples of the world.Is not that national independence? And how far is it carried into effect by the proposal which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has made to the House? Now, I might have gone further; I might have alluded to the opinions of certain Members of Her Majesty's Government as to what the demands of hon. Members for Ireland really were. I might have quoted the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself. I remember a speech which he made in Devonshire last autumn, which, I may observe, was really spoken by himself and not by anybody else, in which he used these words—Since the declaration of Mr. Parnell there can be no doubt what is the policy which he and his Party have adopted. It is the policy of the absolute separation of the two countries.And then the right hon. Gentleman went on to ask—How has that declaration been met? Two speakers eminently entitled to represent the Liberal Party, Lord Hartington and Mr. Chamberlain, have spoken on this matter, and they have spoken in a manner worthy of their position and of the Party to which they belong.Well, Sir, the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) have consistently maintained the position which they 1524 then occupied. But what of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer? He went on, of course, to find fault with my noble Friend the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) who had made a speech about the same time, because my noble Friend did not make a similar protest against the doctrines of the Member for the City of Cork, and he attributed to him all those schemes for an alliance with the Irish Nationalists which the Leaders of the Liberal Party were accustomed to attribute to him at that time. But at that time the right hon. Gentleman had not come to so very strong an opinion as he expressed tonight about the enormous change in the situation made by our refusal to renew the provisions of the Crimes Act; because, in that very speech, he twitted us with not enforcing law and order in Ireland. Nor, on the other hand, had he made up his mind to be sponsor in the House of Commons for a Home Rule measure. I must say that I think the position which the right hon. Gentleman now occupies could not be better described than in some words which he applied in the same speech to the Members of the late Government. He said that—To conduct the Government of this country, when the condition is that you should conciliate the support of men whose principles are foreign to your own, that you should conduct it by carrying out a policy which you have just been denouncing as dangerous and mischievous to the country, that seems to me of all occupations in life the least desirable, nay, I was going to call it ignominious.I do not grudge the right hon. Gentleman his position as Chancellor of the Exchequer. I would far rather sit on this side of the House than take the course which has been so accurately described by him. I revert now to what I proved to be the demand of the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his Followers—a demand which is nothing less than the national independence of Ireland. Now, what I should like to know is, how those hon. Members can for a moment suppose that the national independence of Ireland is secured by the provisions of this measure? Ireland is to have no power whatever over the Succession to the Crown. She is to have nothing to do with the Army and Navy of the Empire. She is to have no control over Foreign or Colonial affairs. 1525 Irish Members are to be absolutely deprived of all that in which certainly they have taken hitherto a very intelligent and powerful interest, and to which, I must say, they seem to me to have quite as much right as the inhabitants of any other part of the United Kingdom. In return for that, they are to receive less than the local liberties which are granted to the smallest self-governing Colony, and are to pay, what a Colony does not pay, an annual tribute of no inconsiderrable amount to the Imperial Exchequer. Now, is it possible that Members from Ireland can be satisfied, or, if they are satisfied, that their Successors will be satisfied, with such a position as that? I should like to quote an authority upon this matter. A letter was written to The Times on the 17th of December last by a very high authority—the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). What did he say?—To tax Ireland for Imperial purposes and give Ireland no voice in Imperial affairs would be taxation without representation in a very aggravated form, and would be calculated to make the Empire odious instead of dear to the Irish people.Well, but then, what is the alternative? The Prime Minister made an unanswerable argument as to the practical impossibility of permitting Irish Members to take part in Imperial affairs in this House, and excluding them from the consideration of English and Scotch affairs. I suppose it will be agreed that it would be an intolerable injustice, and contrary to their own wishes, that Irish Members, if they are to have a Parliament of their own in Dublin—which I hope they never will have—should also come here to interfere with English and Scotch affairs. But the Prime Minister stated that it passes the wit of man to draw a distinction between Imperial and English and Scotch affairs; and that, therefore, the Irish Members and Irish Peers cannot, if a domestic Legislature be given to Ireland, justly retain a seat in the Parliament at Westminster. But that appears now to be an open question with Her Majesty's Government. I am not quite sure whether certain inarticulate utterances of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not intimate to us that he, at any rate, strongly adhered to the view originally expressed by the Prime Minister; 1526 but, as yesterday, the question was still open, I wish to refer the House again to the views of the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool. He has expressed his opinion as to what would be the result of the adoption of such a proposal. He says—If the system of self-government given to Ireland were deemed by the Irish people insufficient, it is probable that the Irish Members would act in the now Imperial Parliament as they do in the present. Imperial questions would be looked at by them, not from the Imperial standpoint, but as affording weapons to be employed between the two English Parties for purely Irish purposes. You might then have, what you have now, a distracting element in your Imperial Councils, judging things not on their intrinsic and Imperial merits, but on their bearing to Irish national aspirations.The importance of that is that it is a statement of the opinion of a leading Member of the Irish Party as to what would be the result of the retention of Irish Members in this House before he knew what were the proposals of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Either way, it is not a very pleasant prospect. Whether you exclude the Irish Members, or whether you include them, you are landed in a difficulty, which is a very plain proof of the utterly unworkable nature of any scheme of Home Rule for Ireland. What I would ask is this—Bearing in mind the aspirations of the Irish Members, will this system of self-government, as the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool calls it, that is proposed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, be deemed sufficient by the Irish Members? I will not go into details, but will merely take this one question of Customs and Excise. That is one of the vital propositions and essential parts of the foundation of this Bill, to quote the Prime Minister's words. [Mr. GLADSTONE: No, no!] I took the words down from the report of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. He said that the Irish Customs and Excise were to be under the Imperial Parliament. Does he contradict that? [Mr. GLADSTONE: The right hon. Gentleman has made a mistake.] I have no doubt that the Prime Minister will explain to us further what are the vital propositions of the Bill. I must say that if this is not a vital proposition, I think it ought to be, for I cannot conceive anything worse for the interests of Great Britain and Ireland than this—that the Customs 1527 and Excise should be partly under the Parliament at Westminster, and partly under the Parliament at Dublin. But what does the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool say to this suggestion? He says—No settlement ought to be entertained, either by Irish or English statesmanship, which does not make Irishmen masters of all the affairs within the shores of Ireland.An authority even greater than the hon. Member—I mean Mr. Michael Davitt—has distinctly demanded for the Irish Parliament the control of her Customs and Excise. And the hon. Member for the City of Cork has asked for power for the Irish Parliament to protect the Irish manufactures if the Irish Parliament wished to do so, and has said that no Parliamentary Assembly can prove satisfactory which has not the power to raise revenue for the purposes of Government in Ireland as might seem fit and best to that Assembly. We heard last night from the Attorney General a glowing and, as I think, a most fictitious picture of the commercial and industrial advantages to Ireland which were secured by Grattan's Parliament. Is it not perfectly clear that one of the main reasons which induce so many Irishmen to desire a Parliament in Dublin is the hope that that picture may be realized in practice? If it should prove, as I think it certainly would, that the statutory Parliament which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to set up is utterly incapable of realizing this hope, is it not certain that the people would be at once told, if Customs and Excise were reserved, to the Imperial Parliament, that no Irish Parliament can do its duty to Irish industries unless it has the control of the Customs and the Excise; that this would at once be made a grievance; and that this final settlement, as the Prime Minister hopes it may be, will be pressed forward for revision by the Irish Parliament within six months of the unfortunate day on which it might become law? Of course I may be told, in reply to all this, that the Irish Members of this House, at least by tacit assent, have accepted the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman. But why have they accepted his proposals? It is perfectly clear that they do not fulfil the object of national independence. Will any Irish Members who are followers of the hon. Member 1528 for the City of Cork stand up in this House and say that they will be content with these proposals as a final settlement of this question between the two nations? [Mr. W. O'BRIEN: Everyman of them."] If that interruption means that those hon. Members are prepared to do so, I wonder that they have not taken part in this debate. [Mr. DILLON: I beg to say that I have risen several times to address the House.] One thing is perfectly clear—that neither the hon. Member for the City of Cork, nor the hon. Member for South Londonderry, who have spoken in this debate, have expressed the opinion that these proposals will be a final settlement. They have accepted them as far as they go, but they have expressed their strong desire that they should be very materially amended; they have accepted them, in fact, as an instalment, as a weapon by which, if not they, certainly others, will take very good care to secure that national independence which is the object of their desires. It seems to me as absolutely certain as any thing in the future can be, that if you were to institute the Assembly which the right hon. Gentleman proposes, it would be powerless for good to Ireland, but would be powerful for mischief between Great Britain and Ireland. From the very first, I believe, it would be struggling to increase its authority; and how is that authority to be defined? How is the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman seeks to introduce to be interpreted in this respect as between the powers of the Imperial Parliament and those of the Irish Parliament? Why, the Chief Secretary told us on Friday night that any question of this nature is to be decided by the Judicial Committee of the English Privy Council. Is it possible to conceive a tribunal which would be less likely to give satisfaction to the people of Ireland? And if it could not give satisfaction, how would its decisions be enforced? This is not the only question. In approaching this matter I would say, with all humility, that not a few hon. Members seem to me entirely to ignore the forces that are at work, and that have always been at work, in Ireland. Her Majesty's Government have not ignored them, because, in proposing to constitute this statutory Parliament, they have known very well, as the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary said a little 1529 time ago, that they have to take into account the animosities and the hatred of generations; and, therefore, as a protection to the minority, they have accompanied the institution of this Parliament with certain safeguards which have already formed the topic of more than one speech in this debate. They have shown their mistrust of the Parliament they are about to create; and why? The right hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen) drew attention this evening to the statement of the Prime Minister, that the laws made by the Imperial Parliament were not popular in Ireland, because of their foreign garb, and he added—and I quite agree with him—that the question was not one of the garb in which the laws came, but of the nature of the laws themselves. That argument was not open to the Prime Minister, because he is more responsible for the legislation of this Parliament with respect to Ireland during the last 17 years than any Member who has sat in the House of Commons. Take the Land Law, for instance. In his opinion, expressed in 1881, the Land Law, as it now stands, is purged from defects and from every taint of injustice; and last September he told his constituents that the grievances of the cultivator of the soil in Ireland have been happily removed. It was rather hard for the Attorney General last night to inform the right hon. Gentleman that the Act of 1881 had been absolutely marred, because, in passing it, the Irish Members were not consulted, and it was not brought into that complete harmony with their real wants and wishes which would have made it in every way satisfactory. It was still harder of the Chancellor of the Exchequer this evening to compare—as I thought somewhat impertinently—the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, to a tinker in legislation. ["No, no!"] lam afraid it is too true. I should not have ventured to make such a suggestion; but I could not gather anything else from the quotation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen) that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has brought the Land Law of Ireland into a condition which cannot be maintained. What does he propose? He proposes a great measure 1530 of Land Purchase to be passed as inseparable from this Home Rule scheme by the Imperial Parliament. He will not trust the new statutory Parliament in Ireland with the property of the Irish landlords. Again, on the principles of religious equality, the right hon. Gentleman disestablished and disendowed the Irish Church. But he trusts the new Irish Parliament so little to maintain that principle, that he expressly prohibits it from establishing and endowing another church. Well, then, in these matters, the right hon. Gentleman distinctly showed his distrust of the instrument he is about to create. More than that, he has suggested those provisions for the protection of the minority, by the institution of a Special Order of Members returned on a special franchise, and for a special term of years, which I venture to say would have very little chance of surviving any real discussion in the House of Commons. But supposing such a check on the popular majority were instituted, what would it mean? Why, it would mean this—that whereas in past years the Imperial Parliament had felt it its duty, on those principles of right and wrong, which seemed advisable to English and Scotch minds, to protect the minority in Ireland, and on this account the laws passed by the Imperial Parliament had not met with the approval of the popular majority in Ireland, that now the right hon. Gentleman, while abolishing this power on the part of the Imperial Parliament, is going to substitute a provision to protect the minority of landlords, of Protestants, and of those having English connection, against whom the Home Rule movement is specially directed, which will be infinitely more galling to the Irish popular majority than could be the interference of the Imperial Parliament. I will venture to say, Sir, that if it were possible for this part of the measure to become law, a very short time indeed would elapse before the veto of this Order would be abolished, for the feeling of the popular majority in Ireland would swell so high against such a control, that they would come here with the almost unanswerable demand for the repeal of this security. Why, Sir, what do all these securities amount to? Just to this—that the history of the Transvaal Convention is about to be repeated. What was that Transvaal Convention? [An hon. MEMBER: Justice.] An hon. Mem- 1531 ber says it was justice; but it included certain, safeguards and limitations for the benefit of English interests, of the minority of Loyalists in the Transvaal, and of our allies outside the Transvaal, with which the Convention was clothed, in order that it might be presented to Parliament. But as soon as it was put in operation, those safeguards and limitations proved to be almost valueless, except for this purpose—that they deceived the people of Great Britain and Ireland into accepting a proposal which they never would have agreed to if it had been presented to them in its naked ugliness. And so it is with all these safeguards. I do not believe for a moment that they can last. And why? Because, after all, the protection of the minority in Ireland is not a question so much of legislation as of administration. In the old times, in Grattan's Parliament, the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary for Ireland, as is well known, were not responsible to the Irish Parliament; they were English Administrators in Ireland. But what is to be the future administration in Ireland? The right hon. Gentleman said that "the principle of responsible government is freely and fully conceded by this measure." Well, then, I suppose the Viceroy of Ireland, like the Governor of a Colony, will have to act on the advice of his Ministers. They will be responsible to the Irish Parliament. On their advice he will have to decide upon the movement of the Military and Naval Forces of the Crown in Ireland. By their advice he will have to veto or give his assent to Bills passed by the Legislature in Ireland. On their advice he will have to appoint the Judges and the Magistrates of Ireland, from whose decision, so far as I know, there is to be no appeal to the Court here. And, again, in whose hands will the Constabulary be? "It is to be under the same authority as at present," said the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. What is that authority? Why, that of the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary. The Constabulary of Ireland, nominally reserved to the Imperial power, must then, I suppose, be really under the authority of Ministers responsible to the Irish Parliament. What does that mean? It means that we are asked to hand over to the majority of 1532 their fellow countrymen in Ireland that minority whose great crime in the eyes of the majority is their faithfulness to the connection with England. I do not know—hon. Members do not know—whether Ulster is to be included in this Bill. [An hon. MEMBER: It is included.] I do not see how it could be excluded with a statutory Parliament established for Ireland. But if it were, what would that mean? I am afraid that it would mean the most terrible oppression of the small minority in the three Provinces of Ireland. ["No, no!"] I fear that, if Ulster were included, it would mean resistance to the authority of the Irish Government in Ulster. The Irish Government might not be squeamish in attemping to deal with that resistance; because, when the Attorney General enumerated last night all the Coercion Acts that had been passed for Ireland, he somehow forgot to remind the House that Grattan's Parliament, in the 18 years of its existence, passed no fewer than 22 Coercion Acts. But of this I am quite sure—that if the minority in the other three Provinces were subjected to oppression, or if there were armed resistance in Ulster, a feeling of sympathy would be awakened in Great Britain which would be irresistible. We should be asked again to assume our old and unpopular character of moderators between implacable enemies in Ireland, and the appeal for such assistance could not be refused without the gravest dereliction of our duty, or without assenting to that separation, which, as the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant has properly said, would be a disgrace to Great Britain and a disaster to Ireland. But what would it mean if Great Britain did intervene? It would mean that very employment of force that you will not have now; it would mean the employment of force against a hostile Irish Government, hostile Irish officials, and a hostile Irish police; it would mean interference in the affairs of a people, the majority of whom would despise us for the surrender we are now asked to make, and the minority of whom would distrust us for having deserted them. And what would this force be? The force would not be what you now call coercion, but it would be civil war. That is why I believe that this Bill would in no way be a final or real settlement of the question between Eng- 1533 land and Ireland. I feel that it is no real alternative to the policy of coercion which the Chancellor of the Exchequer declines to adopt. Coercion will come some day. ["No!"] Yes, it must, unless Ireland is to be separated from England. But when it does come, if it comes after the passing of such a measure as this, it will come in a shape that will by no means cause the future patriotic historian of Ireland to bless the right hon. Gentleman as the national benefactor that the hon. Member for the City of Cork now proclaims him to be. I am bound, Sir, to say that, as far as we are concerned, we adhere to the declaration which we placed in the mouth of Her Majesty in the most solemn way in our power at the beginning of the Session. We will not, at any time, or for any reason, disturb what, in spite of the dissent of the right hon. Gentleman, we believe to be a fundamental law of our Constitution—namely, the Legislative Union between England and Ireland. If it be necessary—as, I am sorry to say, it is too necessary in the present state of Ireland—to enforce the law and the authority of the Queen's Government, the law and the authority of the Queen's Government ought to be enforced at any cost. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant said it would be a very serious matter. It would have been a very serious matter even in January. It has not become less serious by the lapse of time, or by the Motion which the right hon. Gentleman has made for the introduction of this measure. But, Sir, such things have been done before, and done successfully, in Ireland. The National League is, undoubtedly, a dangerous and formidable Organization; but it is not more dangerous or formidable than was the Catholic Association for the Repeal of the Union in the time of Mr. O'Connell. Firmness and patience have conquered agaitation before, and they could do it again. There is nothing in the present or in any possible condition of Ireland that can warrant the step which the right hon. Gentleman asks us this evening to take, which I can only describe in words which he has himself used, almost with prophetic foresight, when he referred to Mr. Butt's proposals as the disintegration of the great capital institutions of the country for the purpose of making ourselves ridiculous in 1534 the eyes of all mankind, and crippling any power we possess for the purpose of conferring benefits by legislation on the country to which we belong.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE) (Mid Lothian)
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I will make at the outset one or two very brief remarks upon the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach). He has quoted words from me with an extension given to them that they do not carry in the original document. The argument which I made upon the proposal of 1871 was this—that no case had at that time been made to justify any radical change in any of the institutions of the country generally, or any interference with the constitution of the Imperial Parliament; and I own that at that time, after the Church Act of 1869 and after the Land Act of 1870, I did cherish the hope that we might be able, by legislation from this House, to meet the wants and the wishes of Ireland. I cherished that hope at that time; but at that time, if the right hon. Gentleman, has done me the justice to make himself completely acquainted with my sentiments expressed in that speech, he will find that it contains none of the apprehensions with which the minds of hon. Members opposite are filled, and that, on the contrary, I then stated in the most explicit manner that I had heard with joy, and accepted with the utmost satisfaction, the assurance that the demand which was beginning to be made by Mr. Butt for Home Rule did not involve in any way the disintegration of the Empire. But I certainly will not enter into a discussion of the Transvaal Convention, with regard to which I may make the observation that I think that the topics we have to deal with relevant to the matter are sufficient, and I do not consider that any observation from me is wanted on an act which I believe has been recognized by this country as a great act of justice, and as the undoing—perhaps that is the more accurate description of it—of the great act of injustice which stains the memory of our legislation on this subject.
The right hon. Gentleman says that I have shown mistrust of the Irish Legislature by providing safeguards for minorities. I have already stated, in the most distinct terms, that the safeguards provided, as far as I am concerned, are 1535 not in consequence of mistrust entertained by me, but they are in consequence of mistrust entertained by others. They are reasonable precautions, by way of contribution on our part, to disarm honest, though unfounded, jealousy, and however little it may appear that they are likely to attain their end, yet I cannot regret that we have made them. One more observation with respect to the foreign garb of English laws. The right hon. Gentleman must understand that I have used those words, not with respect to the beneficial Acts which have been done on many occasions by this Parliament for the purpose of meeting the wants of Ireland, but I used them with regard to the ordinary operations of the Criminal Law in that country, especially in association, as it has constantly been, with the provisions of special repressive or coercive legislation.
Lastly, I must express the astonishment with which I heard the right hon. Gentleman refer to the Roman Catholic Association. He spoke of the disappearance of that Association from the scene as a great triumph obtained by the vigour and firmness of the Government and the Parliament over unruly elements in Ireland. Why, Sir, on the contrary, the disappearance of the Roman Catholic Association was due entirely to the introduction of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, as, unhappily, the introduction of that Relief Bill was due, as the Duke of Wellington himself declared, to his apprehension of civil war, and as the alternative to prevent it. The right hon. Gentleman could not have afforded a more unhappy instance of that which has been a too common feature of the relations of this House to Ireland, and of those combinations the recurrence of which we are striving to avoid. I was told by my noble Friend the Member for the Rossendale Division of Lancashire (the Marquess of Hartington) that I had not a formulated demand from Ireland. No, Sir, but the Duke of Wellington had a pretty well formulated demand; and he knew, as we now know—and I am glad that the observations of the right hon. Gentleman gave the Irish Members below the Gangway an opportunity of bearing testimony—we now know in substance what is demanded by Ireland through her Constitutionally-chosen Re- 1536 presentatives, and therefore I say, if it be a just and reasonable demand, we cannot hasten too soon to meet it; and we will not wait until the day of disaster, the day of difficulty, and I will add the day of dishonour, to yield, as we have so often yielded, to necessity that which we were unwilling to yield to justice.
Sir, I desire to avoid details in this stage of the debate, and at this hour of the night, and I will endeavour to make this sacrifice, at any rate, that I will neither defend myself nor censure anybody else; but I will deal as far as I can with some of the arguments that have recently been laid before us.
One detail I must notice which has been largely introduced into this debate, and in so striking a manner by many Members of the House—it is that which relates to the presence of Irish Members, or the cessation of that presence, at Westminster. Sir, when I spoke on Thursday last I laid down—and now I am going to answer an appeal of the right hon. Gentleman who asked me what were the essential conditions of this Bill—I laid down, I say, five essential conditions, from which it appeared to me we could, under no circumstances depart, and under which the grant of a domestic Legislature to Ireland would be justifiable and wise. These were the essential conditions under which, in our opinion, the granting of a domestic Legislature to Ireland would be justifiable and wise—first, that it must be consistent with Imperial unity; secondly, that it must be founded upon the political equality of the three nations; thirdly, that there must be an equitable distribution of Imperial burdens; fourthly, that there should be safeguards for the minority; and, fifthly, that it should be in the nature of a settlement, and not of a mere provocation to the revival of fresh demands. I stated that these were the only conditions.
I find that I have been reported as having stated that the retention of Customs and Excise by this country, and the absence of Irish Members from this House, were likewise vital and essential conditions. I do not think I used those epithets. If I did, it was probably an in advertance, for which I apologize; and, unquestionably, it was in entire contradiction to what I had just stated before, when I laid down the only essential 1537 conditions. Sir, what I think with regard to the Irish Members—although the question is much too large for me to attempt to enter fully into it at present—what I thought clear with regard to the Irish Members was, in the first place, this—that the 103 Irish Members could not possibly continue, as now, to come here and vote upon all matters—English, Scotch, Irish, and Imperial alike. That I conceived to be wholly indisputable. I stated that I had hoped—that I had long tried to find—some practicable means of distinction between Imperial and British matters, and that my efforts had entirely failed, nor could I see my way to such a distinction. I also stated that, in my opinion, it was impossible for England, and that no doubt England would never desire or dream of inflicting or forcing upon Ireland taxation without representation; that if Irish Members were to disappear either permanently or for a time—I do not say I used these epithets—if they were to disappear from this House, it must be by the consent of Ireland herself.
Since that time a variety of suggestions have been made in many speeches, which have shown how much interest is felt in this question. It has been suggested that Irish Members might come here with limited powers. But I have certainly failed to discover the means of drawing the line. It has been stated that they might come in limited numbers; and it has been suggested, in a wise and weighty speech delivered by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) last night—that an interval of absence from this House was eminently desirable, and perhaps almost of vital necessity for Ireland herself, with a view to her own purposes. Then, says my hon. Friend, if I understood him right, after such an interval of years has passed, during which, God knows, there will be enough to do for any Parliament—any Representative Body that Ireland can be supplied with—after such an interval, if it is desired that Irish Members in any number, or any pro portion, or under any conditions, should re-appear in this House, that is a problem which, however difficult, British statesmanship may be found adequate to solve. There was great force in what my hon. Friend said. I cannot, however, bind myself with regard to these 1538 observations, or to any of the propositions which I have just cited. I cannot bind myself, still less any of my Colleagues; but I think, bearing in mind the importance of the subject and the vast and immeasurable importance of the purposes we have in view, I do not think we should be right—it would be even presumptuous—were we to take upon ourselves, in the face of the House, at this early stage of the discussion on the Bill, entirely to close the door against any consideration of this kind.
The position, therefore, remains exactly as it was; but I have thought that that reference which I have made to that portion of the speech of my hon. Friend is no more than that, and other portions of that speech, eminently deserve.
Now, Sir, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen) has addressed the House very fully to-night, and has raised a great number of questions connected with this Bill. My right hon. Friend is terribly alarmed at the argument drawn from the presence of 86 Nationalist Members, 85 of them from Ireland, in this Parliament. He is perfectly alarmed at this argument. I do not know whether he did me the honour to refer to my view of it. If he did, he is entirely mistaken. He treated it as if a statement had been made by me to the effect that, because there are 85 Nationalist Members in this House, you must do whatever they demand; and, treating it in that way and having created this phantom, it is easy enough to show that it is a most formidable proposition. He spent a long time in showing the most portentous consequences to which it would lead. Yes, Sir; but that is not the argument so far as I used it; it was not the argument so far as I have heard it. What I ventured to say was this—that the deliberate and Constitutional expression of the wishes of Ireland through the vast majority of her Members entails upon this House the duty and the obligation of a respectful and a favourable consideration of every wish that Ireland may entertain, consistently with the interests and the integrity of the Empire. My right hon. Friend said there was a parity in principle between Ireland and Scotland. I entirely agree with him. His experience as a Scotch Member is short. If the vast majority of Scotchmen demand something on the 1539 ground that Scotch feeling and opinion show that it is essentially required in order to satisfy the just wishes of Scotland, I would advise my right hon. Friend, if he wishes to be consistent with regard to the integrity of the Empire, not to put himself in conflict with those expressions of opinion.
Then, Sir, my right hon. Friend said that no analogy could be drawn—and so said my noble Friend the Member for the Rossendale Division of Lancashire (the Marquess of Hartington)—from the proceedings of the Protestant Parliament of Grattan. What was the meaning of all this? I have been arguing, and others have argued, that Grattan's Parliament showed no tendency and no disposition towards a separation of the Kingdoms, and that Grattan himself looked upon the separation of the Parliaments as a means of uniting the hearts of the people. That has been met by the statement now that that Parliament was a Protestant Parliament and a landlords' Parliament. Sir, if that is the way to make a Parliament safe and sound, if to re-introduce religious disabilities, if to narrow the franchise, if to centre power in the hands of the landlords, or if you are to go further, and fill more than half the Benches of Parliament with pensioners and placemen, then, if these are the elements of safety in a Parliament, in what gross and woeful error have we been in this Parliament for half a century. We have been breaking down the exclusive power of class; we have been widening the franchise over the whole Kingdom, and effacing from the Statute Book one by one—until the very last, perhaps, is contained in this Bill—every vestige of religious disability. There is no faith in the people with those who make these declarations. Their faith seems to be in shutting out the people, and in regarding popular influence as a source of danger. In this happy country we have found it a source of strength; and the enterprize we are now engaged in is to see whether we cannot also find security for it in Ireland, that it shall be to her a similar source of strength under circumstances happier than those of her history heretofore.
My right hon. Friend seems to sum up the misdeeds of the Irish people in an emphatic question—"In what country, except Ireland, would a 'No Rent' 1540 Manifesto have been produced?" That is the inquiry which he puts. My first observation upon it is this—in what country, except Ireland, can you show so lamentable, so deplorable, a history—a history so disgraceful to those who had any hand in bringing it about—and relations so deplorable between those pied it? The speech of my right hon. who owned the land and those who occu-Friend appeared to proceed upon the assumption that there were ineradicable and incurable vices in Irishmen, which placed them in a category different from the people of other nations—that they had a sort of double dose of original sin. Is it to be wondered at that the notions of Irishmen should, to some extent, be gone awry upon the subject of land and the relations connected with it when you bear in mind that the Devon Commission, appointed by a Tory Government, reported that the agricultural population of Ireland were called upon to bear, and that they did bear, with admirable and exemplary patience, sufferings greater than those which fell to the lot of any other people in Europe? Are you so ignorant as to suppose, when these sufferings had been borne for generations, I may say for centuries, as disclosed to the world on the highest authority, and when attempt after attempt to apply something like a remedy to the miseries that existed from the operation of the Land Laws in Ireland had failed through the narrow jealousy and selfishness of a class—that these things could pass without leaving a mark in history? Does my right hon. Friend think that these things can pass and set their mark upon history, and yet leave no mark in the nature and disposition and habits of men who have been sufferers under such abominations?
My right hon. Friend thinks my analogy with foreign countries is bad; that Austria and Hungary, Norway and Sweden have nothing to do with these things. But my statement has been entirely misapprehended. I will recall the terms of it for the benefit of the right hon. Gentleman. I never said that the analogy was exact, that the circumstances were exactly parallel. What I said was that the circumstances were such as would show that we are called upon in this country to do, with infinitely greater advantages, what they have done in the face of infinitely 1541 greater difficulties. My right hon. Friend appears to think it a difficulty in our way that we have got an Imperial Parliament and a greater number of subordinate local Parliaments related to the British Empire. My point is that there is not in Sweden a supremacy of the Swedish Parliament over Norway; that there is not in Austria a supremacy of the Austrian Parliament over Hungary; and that, even without the advantage of such supremacy, the problem has in those countries been solved in substance; and that, in the case of Norway and Sweden particularly, by the adoption of the simple expedient of granting a domestic Legislature and practical local independence, the union of the two countries, which at one time seemed hopeless and impossible, has become close, and is growing closer from day to day. Then, how is it that these illustrations have no bearing upon the great problem that we have before us?
Again, my right hon. Friend states, as a difficulty, that our interests are so interlaced with Ireland. I am astonished to hear that observation called upon to pass muster and do duty among the arguments against this Bill. Why, if our interests are so interlaced—and I thank God it is true that they are so interlaced—is not that, in itself, a strong presumption of the extreme unlikelihood that Irishmen will overlook that interlacing, and proceed as if we were perfectly independent, as if they had nothing to do with us, no benefit to derive from us, and no injury to suffer from injury to us? No; the truth is this. It is assumed—and this is the basis of the speech of my right hon. Friend—that the Irishman will do wrong, and that there is no way of making him listen to the dictates of prudence, of kindness, of justice, of good sense, except by taking into your own hands the reins by which you can govern him and teaching him how he shall walk. On that principle it is that my right hon. Friend went over all the different classes of subjects, and described the dreadful changes that everything was to undergo. Legislation was to be changed, administration was to be changed, the Civil Service was to be changed, the face of nature itself was to be changed. Such is the terrible picture. And why? Is there no common sense among that portion of our fellow-countrymen?
1542 The speech of my right hon. Friend recalled to my memory a striking sentence of Lord Russell's, 50 years ago, which implanted itself deeply on my memory at the time, which I have never forgotten, and I hope never shall forget. It was at the time when, under the Administration of the Melbourne Government, Mr. Thomas Drummond was Under Secretary for Ireland, and when, with singular success, he was endeavouring to conduct the Irish Administration, so far as he could, in sympathy with the feelings of the people. His misdeeds, as I suppose I must call them, found their climax in the utterance of the portentous doctrine which shocked Conservatism from Land's End to John o' Groats—he had the audacity to say that "property had its duties as well as its rights." The corresponding misdeeds of Mr. Drummond, and in some sense of the Lord Lieutenant, caused many debates in this House, in which I am thankful to say I took no part, but to which I was an attentive listener. Every sort of objection and accusation was brought forward against the proceedings of the Irish Government of that day; and Lord Russell, in his quiet way, rising to take part in a debate, said—"It appears to me that all these objections, all these difficulties, and all these accusations"—I may not be quoting every word accurately, but I am very near the mark—"may be summed up in one single sentence. It comes, Sir, to this—that as England is inhabited by Englishmen and Scotland by Scotchmen, so Ireland is inhabited by Irishmen." Lord Russell knew very well that Irishmen did not come here to conquer us 700 years ago, but that we went to Ireland to conquer—we favoured Irishmen with our company; we have been all along the stronger party of the two; and it is one of the uniform and unfailing rules that guide human judgment, if not of the moment, yet of history, that when a long relation has existed between a nation of superior strength and one of inferior strength, and when that relation has gone wrong, the responsibility and the guilt rests, in the main, upon the strong rather than upon the weak.
My right hon. Friend asked me questions as to the provisions of this Bill; and I must confess my surprise at some 1543 of them, coming, as they do, from one who is an old official hand. They were questions most proper to be asked—perhaps on the second reading of a Bill—certainly in Committee; but I have never heard of such questions upon the Motion for leave to introduce a Bill. If questions of that kind are to be asked, why, Sir, this House ought to alter its Rules, and give an hon. Member applying for leave to introduce a Bill the power of laying it upon the Table of the House before it is read a first time. For example, my right hon. Friend asked a question about the veto. Well, Sir, we have stated with regard to that point that there is no limitation to the veto in the Bill; and if the right hon. Gentleman asks my opinion, my opinion is the principle upon which the veto is now worked—if the right hon. Gentleman will take the trouble to read the valuable work of Professor Dicey, to which I have before referred, he will find a most careful and interesting elucidation of the subject—the principle upon which the veto is now worked in the great Colonial Dependencies of this country, though I do not admit that Ireland will be reduced to the status of a Colony, I believe that principle to be applicable, for all practical purposes, to Ireland with a domestic Legislature.
Then my right hon. Friend asked a question about the levying of the income tax. He did not seem to have even a very elementary idea of what the Irish income tax would be, and he asked where the dividends would be payable—whether they would be payable in London or in Dublin? Why, Sir, no such questions can possibly arise under this Bill as the Bill stands. The Irish income tax will be just as distinct from the income tax of England and Scotland as if it were a French income tax. Well, I will give you another illustration—as if it were an Indian income tax. From time to time they have in India the blessing of an income tax; but in India the whole machinery and incidence of the tax, the liability to pay it, are all as totally distinct from the tax in this country as if the income tax there were laid in another planet.
My right hon. Friend finally laid very much stress on the case of the United States of America. He pointed out that insidious advisers recommended the Northern States not to insist upon 1544 the maintenance of the Union, but that they did insist on the maintenance of the Union, and carried their point. Why, true, Sir; but, having carried their point, what did they do? Having the Southern States at their feet, being in a position in which they were entitled to treat them as conquered countries, they invested every one of them with that full autonomy, a measure of which we are now asking for Ireland. I say a measure of which autonomy, because I believe that their autonomy is much fuller than that for which we are now asking for Ireland.
Well, Sir, I may say some words more. My right hon. Friend said—I am not quite sure whether my right hon. Friend said so, but certainly my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) did—that these enactments, if carried, would lead to further demands from Ireland. That is a favourite objection. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) has been extremely cautious in this matter, and he has promised Ireland—I hope I am not misrepresenting him—almost nothing, except a reasonable allowance of repressive criminal legislation. The phantom of local government and a little control over education and public works, and such things, find no place whatever in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition; but they find a place in the speech of my right hon. Friend behind me, and of my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale. Well, Sir, we are going to give to the Irish people, if we are permitted, that which we believe to be in substantial accordance with their full, possible, and reasonable demands. In our opinion, that is the way to stop further demands.
I should like to quote Mr. Burke—and I hope we shall hear much of Mr. Burke in the course of this discussion—for the writings of Mr. Burke upon Ireland, and still more upon America, are a mine of gold for the political wisdom with which they are charged, applicable to the circumstances of to-day, and full of the deepest and most valuable lessons to guide the policy of a country. He was speaking for conciliation with America, and those to whom he was preaching in vain met him with this idle cavil—that his conciliation would tend to further demands. They refused this conciliation; but further demands came, and they were 1545 granted—with hands dyed in blood, and after hundreds of millions had been added to our National Debt, and when disparagement, at the very least, of England's fame went through the length and breadth of the world in connection with that wretched consummation—were granted, leaving behind them in America an inheritance, not of goodwill or affection such as now prevails, but of rancour and resentment which for generations were not effaced, and which were the happy consequences of a courageous resistance. I am not afraid, Sir, of the same consequences in the same form. There is no question of war with Ireland; but it is a question of what I care for more than anything else—the character, the honour, and the fair fame of my country; it is a question of humanity, of justice, and of a desire to make atonement for a long—a too long—series of former, and not yet wholly forgotten, wrongs. Now, Sir, what did Mr. Burke say on that occasion when he was advocating conciliation with America? He said that the more and the better state of liberty any people possessed, the less would they hazard in the vain attempt to make it more.
What are the proposals of my noble Friend? They are—First, a little dose of coercion, and next a grudging gift to Ireland of such a self-government as England and Scotland may be pleased to choose for themselves. Now, I deny the justice of the principle that self-government in Ireland is necessarily to be limited by the wishes of England and Scotland for themselves. Upon what basis of justice does that argument rest? Why may not Ireland have specialities in her case which England and Scotland may not have? We have no right to say that what England wants and Scotland wants Ireland may have, but nothing else. You must show that what Ireland wants is mischievous before you are justified in refusing her. I am speaking now of the favourite topic of "further demands." Was there ever a device more certain to prolong all the troubles of Parliament; was there ever a system of policy less hopeful of attaining any solid or permanent standing ground than this proposal to dole out to Ireland from year to year, with grudging and misgiving, and with the frank statement that it is a dangerous business, that which she does not want, and which, if 1546 she accepts at all, she will only accept for the purpose of making further demands? It was denied, in very clear language by the Irish Representatives, that they sought to press forward from this measure to other measures. They claim—and very fairly and reasonably claim—because no Member of Parliament can divest himself of the right—to examine in Committee the provisions of the Bill, and to demand this or that Amendment. But they have expressly disclaimed the intention to make what my noble Friend calls "further demands." Let him put to them the same question, and ask them for the same assurances as to the proposals made in this debate by a most distinguished person—one who, unfortunately, I know only three years ago declared that there should be no extension of local government until the Irish Members made a total change in their methods of speech and action. No doubt measures doled out in the shape of Municipal Corporations here and there would be certain to be used for the purpose of making further demands. I commend the consistency and caution of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, because he fairly told us at the commencement of the Session, when he was asked what boons would be given to Ireland in the way of local government, that no enlargement of the powers of local government should be given which might be used as a lever to weaken and destroy the Legislative Union, or—as he went on to say—enable the political majority to tyrannize over the minority. A very sensible, a very consistent course. If you grant some small modicum of local government, it would simply be a device securing perpetual disturbance of this Parliament from year to year by Irish Members, and they would strengthen the leverage with which they would use those demands and advance them to their natural consummation.
My noble Friend complains that this is a question which has not been referred to the people. I should like to know what is the upshot of that observation? What does it mean? I think it can hardly mean anything else than this—that the Government had committed a fault in bringing forward this question at the present time, because it had not been brought the matter 1547 under public consideration at the General Election. It seems to me that that is an extraordinary doctrine. I want to know where it is to be found laid down by any Constitutional authority? My hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General (Sir Charles Russell) asked whether there was any mandate for coercion? No, Sir. There was no mandate for coercion, and you cannot want a mandate for any measures necessary to maintain the law. Very well, Sir; but if you do not want a mandate for measures of force and repression, intended to maintain the law, much less do you want a mandate for measures intended to maintain and strengthen the law by laying hold of the hearts of the people, and which aim at no force and no repression, but at an union far closer and more durable than that which now exists on the Statute Book.
I do not know whether my noble Friend has given much attention to the case of the Reform Act; but it is a rather curious one from this point of view. The Election of 1830 was conducted almost entirely without reference to the subject of Reform. At that time the Election extended over very many weeks, and it was only just before it had quite finished—and the Yorkshire Election, if I recollect rightly, was about the last—that those great events occurred in Paris which produced a sympathetic effect here, and roused a cry for Reform in England; but, in the main, the Parliament was elected without the least reference to Reform. Yes, Sir; but when that Parliament met, and when it was found that the wants of the country required Reform, although it was denounced as revolution—and I can assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that all their invectives are weak and ineffective in comparison—Parliament set about its work manfully; the Government proposed to Parliament, and Parliament entertained, the great proposal then laid before it. It would be a very different thing indeed if my Colleagues who have spoken in the debate had evaded the real issue, or had declared that the question was unfit to come before us. I never uttered an opinion, nor shall I utter an opinion, that it is a subject unfit to come before the people. I think we who propose this Bill should be the last persons who should be jealous of any reference to the people.
1548 Coming now to the proposals of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), in the first place let me say that I accord at once to him—what, however, he cannot want according from me—that is, his perfect and entire good faith in the representations that he made, upon which a misapprehension prevailed between us, as to his title to enter upon certain matters. If anything further is required upon that point, it certainly can keep until Friday next, when the Bill on the Land Question is brought farward. Quite irrespective of the Land Law, my right hon. Friend stated four points, any one of which was an ample justification of the step which he felt himself called upon to take. But he, at any rate, gave no countenance to coercive legislation. He looks into the future, and he sees how light and trivial is the talk about coercive legislation. But my right hon. Friend went a great deal further, and suggested a Royal Commission or Committee, to be formed of all Parties, to deal with this subject. I will not criticize that proposal. I venture the opinion that no solution of the question will ever proceed from a Royal Commission or a Committee composed of all Parties, much less pass through Parliament. Then my right hon. Friend spoke of federation. If you are to have federation, there must be somebody to federate, and there will be nobody except a Legislative Body entitled to act for the people. It appears to me that my right hon. Friend goes further than we do, because he is in favour of not only giving a domestic Legislature, but of appending to it that rather formidable postscript of some arrangement under which this Parliament is to part with some of its powers, and throw them into the common stock along with powers coming from other portions of the Empire. I cannot say, therefore, that he has remained behind us in this matter.
What is really material to observe is the mutual relations of harmony and concord subsisting between the plans of those who think they ought to sink differences, and unite together for the purpose of finding a solution for the Irish problem. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir William Harcourt), in his masterly statement, exhibited in full detail the relations actually subsisting among those 1549 most distinguished Gentlemen and great Parliamentary authorities. He has shown that the Border Burghs does not agree with Birmingham; that Birmingham does not agree with Rossendale; that Rossendale does not agree with Paddington; and that Edinburgh, again, is distinct in shade from them all. There is a decided want of common feature, common action, common purpose, common principle. There is no united basis of action except the basis of hostility to this Bill.
Well, Sir, when I speak of this plan I speak of it as a plan in its essence, and not in its detail. It may derive much advantage from the wisdom of Parliament. It has been produced and brought to light under a degree of pressure such as, I believe, never was applied by circumstances to any Government, such, at least I will venture to say, as there is no case of in the half-century to which my recollection extends. It may be improved by the wisdom of this House; but, speaking of it as a plan, I say it holds the field. It has many enemies; it has not a single rival. No one has been bold enough to propose an intelligible system of what, in my opening statement, I called effectual coercion—the only kind of coercion that can be adequate to the end you have in view. And, Sir, as the plan holds the field, the subject holds the field. Never, I think, have I witnessed such signs of public absorption in this House and out of this House and, Sir, it is safe to prophesy that the subject will continue to hold the field. Many who are here advocate important reforms, many think—and I am one of them—that legislation is in arrear. The demands upon your time and thought are beyond your capacity, even with your best exertions to meet. But, Sir, you may dismiss all these subjects from your mind until this matter is disposed of, until the Irish problem is solved. I am not speaking of what Gentlemen opposite may threaten or may say; I am looking at the nature of the case; I am looking at the profound interest of the whole English and Scotch people, aye, and of the whole civilized world. Until this problem is solved it is idle to think of making real progress with the Business of this country in respect to the important subjects which are perfectly ripe for the handling of Parliament. We have come, Sir, to the time for 1550 decisive action; we have come to the time for throwing aside, not only private interests and partial affections, but private devices and partial remedies. We have come to the time for looking at the whole breadth of this subject and endeavouring to compass it in our minds. We have come to the time when we must answer this question—whether we will make one bold attempt to free Parliament for its great and necessary work, and to establish harmony by Irish laws for Ireland; or whether we will, on the other hand, continue to struggle on as we have done before, living from hand to mouth, leaving England and Scotland to a famine of needful and useful legislation, and Ireland to a continuance of social disease, the depth of which we have never understated, of social disease that you do not know how to deal with, and of angry discord with Great Britain which you make no attempt to cure.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. GLADSTONE, Mr. Secretary CHILDERS, Mr. JOHN MORLEY, and Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL.
§ Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 181.]
§ MR. GLADSTONE
I assume, Sir, that we shall meet again, after the Easter Recess, upon Monday, the 3rd of May, and read this Bill a second time on Thursday, the 6th of May.