§ VISCOUNT CURZON
(who wore the uniform of a Yeomanry officer) said: Mr. Speaker, in rising to move the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech from the Throne, I trust that I may obtain the forbearance and the indulgence that are invariably granted to a new Member who endeavours to dis- 88 charge the honourable duty which has fallen to my lot this day.
In the course of the Speech which has just been read to the House, it will be noticed that the early paragraphs of it contain reference to foreign affairs. In the first place, I feel sure that hon. Members will be pleased to hear that the great differences which divided the Governments of England and Russia for some time have been settled, and that an adjustment of these differences has been arrived at, through the honourable concession by Russia of certain territory on the boundary of Afghanistan, important to the Ameer, but which was at that time in the occupation of Russian troops, and the possession of which had been guaranteed to the Ameer by the late Government. At the same time, I would draw attention to the firmness of the Marquess of Salisbury in pressing for what was right and fair, and for what he thought this country had a just claim to. The Marquess of Salisbury, when he took Office, was bound to recognize everything in regard to which the word of England was pledged. He loyally accepted the situation, and made the best out of it that he could. Since that time it is highly satisfactory to know that the demarcation of the frontier had been proceeded with in a friendly spirit until winter stopped all operations for a time. The most cordial relations have existed between the English and the Russian Commissioners, and I feel convinced that the House will willingly re-echo Her Majesty's hopes that the peace which has been established in Asia will be long continued.
Secondly, with regard to Eastern Roumelia, the features of the rising there, as hon. Members will recollect, were, primarily, its unanimity, and, secondly, that no bloodshed attended it. It appears to have been practically the unanimous expression of a desire on the part of the people of that country to incorporate their Kingdom with that of Bulgaria. I need not remind hon. Members that circumstances have very much changed since the Treaty of Berlin. There seems to have been a unanimous desire on the part of the inhabitants of Eastern Roumelia that the arrangements made by that Treaty affecting them should be re-opened. After the outbreak of last October, it will be 89 understood, I think, that it would have been perfectly impossible, even if anyone had desired it, to return to the status quo ante without the use of force, which must have led to great disturbance and bloodshed, and possibly to grave embarrassment. I think that we must all lament the attack—nay, more, the fratricidal struggle—initiated by Servia on Bulgaria, and I feel equally confident that we must deprecate any similar wanton proceeding on the part of Greece. The fate of the Servian attack will, I trust, act as a warning to that nationality, which has ever had a large share of English sympathy. May I also be permitted to add that I am glad Her Majesty's Government have recognized the necessity of maintaining the rights of the Sultan. So far from the integrity of the Ottoman Empire being an exploded doctrine, I very humbly submit to the House that there is a general and growing opinion amongst nearly all the Great Powers of Europe that on the maintenance of that integrity rests the best chance of the peace of Europe being secured.
The House will observe with satisfaction that a very considerable amount of success has attended the Mission of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff to Constantinople and Egypt. I feel sure it must be a matter of regret to many hon. Members on both sides that the House has not the advantage of his presence. It will, however, be no matter of surprise to these who are well acquainted with his intimate knowledge of the East, and his experience of diplomacy, to know that he has been able to secure the effective co-operation of the Sultan in the difficult task of restoring order in Egypt, where for the last four years there has been so much disorder and so much anxiety, financial and otherwise. In connection with this matter the House will probably be justified in commencing to entertain reasonable hopes that in the course of time England may look forward to being relieved of the burden and responsibility which are now entailed on her by her occupation of that country.
With regard to the paragraph in the Gracious Speech of Her Majesty announcing the Burmese War and the annexation of that country to the British Empire, I feel that very probably it would be well that the House should 90 defer any discussion upon the subject until hon. Members have had time to read the somewhat bulky Blue Book which has been placed on the Table of the House to-day. In parting with the subject I would merely draw attention to the fact that the conduct of Her Majesty's Government has been patient and tolerant to the last degree towards the King of Burmah ever since his accession. Although it cannot possibly be a matter for unmixed congratulation that the cares and anxieties of the Indian Government should be still further added to, nevertheless the duty of the Government in protecting the lives and property of British subjects and the honour and credit of the Empire, have been so systematically violated by the Burmese Government, that, in my opinion, Her Majesty's Government were left no choice other than the action which they have taken. I feel certain, Sir, that the House and the country generally will willingly and heartily re-echo the gracious sentiments expressed by Her Majesty the Queen with regard to the valour of the troops in Burmah. Once more the soldiers of the Queen have shown what they can do; and I feel that the gallantry and effectiveness displayed by all ranks of the Army in Burmah are worthy of the unanimous approbation of the House and the country.
Passing on to the consideration of Home affairs, it will be noticed that the reform of Local Government occupies a prominent place in the Royal Speech. Representing, as I do, one of the divisions of an ancient and historic county, I am the more sensible that the time has now come when considerable changes are desired in the method of transacting county business by a great majority of the people. I feel that until thoroughly representative Local Bodies are formed in the localities it will be useless to expect that any sound and satisfactory reforms can take place in the incidence of local taxation.
With regard to the announcement of the Government that it is their intention to deal with the system of the transfer of land, I am very glad indeed that Her Majesty's Ministers have fulfilled their promises; because I cannot but think that an easy and cheap transfer of land would largely increase the number of freeholders, and relieve the owners of land from many charges which now fall 91 upon them for conveyancing. I have every confidence that the measure, when introduced, will be a sound and satisfactory one, imbued, as it probably will be, with the principles and ideas of the late Earl Cairns, who, among many distinguished lawyers, was the only conspicuous Land Law reformer of the present day.
Mention has been made of the intention of the Government to invite the House of Commons to reconsider its Procedure. I feel that it would, indeed, be presumptuous of me if I were to do more than offer a parting remark upon a question of so much difficulty.
In regard to the passages in Her Majesty's Speech which deal with the affairs and condition of Ireland, the Irish Question, naturally enough, excites at the present time a great deal of interest and attention in the minds of the inhabitants of Great Britain. Now, for myself, I think that a fair and a proper view to take of this matter is not to judge Ireland by any abstract standard of peace and order; but she must be judged by the various circumstances connected with her history and race, and the position of her inhabitants, and not judged too harshly. Although there is much going on in that country that we must all most sincerely deplore, I may add a very earnest hope that there will soon be a sound and a satisfactory change. There is nothing, so far as I know—at all events, until Her Majesty's Government have spoken—which can compare with the events that took place in 1881 and 1882, or which shows proof of a weaker administration on the part of the Irish Executive. That, however, is, of course, no justification for the present state of things. There is that going on in Ireland which must be put an end to. The preservation of life and property, a due regard for legal obligations, and the free exercise of private rights should be the primary considerations of the Government. In the determination to insure a proper regard for these considerations, I feel, from the prompt and effective language of the Royal Speech, that we may place every confidence in Her Majesty's present Government. May I venture to express a hope that the House will give to the state of things that may be laid before it a fair and impartial consideration. I feel that it is the unanimous 92 desire of all Parties to promote in every way the happiness and the prosperity of Ireland. Equally convinced am I that there is a growing and overwhelming consensus of opinion in favour of the maintenance of the Parliamentary Union between Great Britain and Ireland; and I cannot help thinking that the House will hail with the very deepest satisfaction the clear and ringing terms of the Queen's Speech. I am convinced that it is only under the peaceful protection of the Union that the strength and safety of the Empire, the progress of the two peoples, and the real happiness of Ireland can be secured.
And now, Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, while I beg leave to read the Address to the House, let me take this opportunity of thanking the House for the generous attention and kindness with which it has listened to the remarks I have felt it my duty to make—a kindness and an attention which I appreciate all the more as being one of the highest marks of regard the House of Commons can confer upon one of its Members. I now beg leave, Sir, to read the Address in answer to the Royal Speech. The noble Viscount then concluded by moving—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to thank Her Majesty for the Most Gracious Speech which Her Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that Her Majesty's relations with other Powers continue to be of a friendly character:To thank Her Majesty for informing us that the difference which existed, when Her Majesty last addressed us, between Her Majesty's Government and that of Russia, on the subject of the boundaries of Afghanistan, has been satisfactorily adjusted, and that in pursuance of a Convention which will be laid before us, the English and Russian Commissioners, with the full concurrence of Her Majesty's ally, the Amir of Afghanistan, have been engaged in demarcating the frontier of that country. To assure Her Majesty that we learn with satisfaction that Her Majesty trusts that their work may tend to secure the continuance of peace in Central Asia:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that a rising in Eastern Roumelia has given expression to the desire of the inhabitants for a change in the political arrangements under which they were placed by the Treaty of Berlin, and that Her Majesty's object, in the 93 negotiations which have followed, has been to bring them, according to their wish, under the rule of the Prince of Bulgaria, while maintaining unimpaired the essential rights of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan:To thank Her Majesty for informing us that under a Convention, concluded with the Ottoman Porto, Commissioners have been appointed on behalf of England and Turkey to confer with His Highness the Khedive, and to report upon the measures required for securing the defence of Egypt and the stability and efficiency of the Government in that country:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that greatly to Her regret, Her Majesty was compelled in the month of November to declare war against Theebaw the King of Ava; that acts of hostility on his part against Her Majesty's subjects and the interests of Her Majesty's Empire had, since his accession, been deliberate and continuous; that these had necessitated the withdrawal of Her Majesty's Representative from his Court; and that Her Majesty's demands for redress were systematically evaded and disregarded. To thank Her Majesty for informing us that an attempt to confiscate the property of Her Majesty's subjects trading under agreement in his dominions, and a refusal to settle the dispute by arbitration, convinced Her Majesty that the protection of British life and property, and the cessation of dangerous anarchy in Upper Burmah, could only be effected by force of arms. To assure Her Majesty that we learn with satisfaction that the gallantry of Her Majesty's European and Indian Forces under Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Prendergast, rapidly brought the country under Her Majesty's power. And humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that Her Majesty has decided that the most certain method of ensuring peace and order in these regions is to be found in the permanent incorporation of the Kingdom of Ava with Her Majesty's Empire:To thank Her Majesty for informing us that the time which has elapsed since Her Majesty assumed the direct Government of India makes it desirable that the operation of the Statutes, by which that change was effected, should be carefully investigated, and for commending this important matter to our earnest attention:To assure Her Majesty that we learn with satisfaction that a protracted negotiation respecting the rights of the Republic of France on the coasts of Newfoundland under the Treaty of Utrecht has been brought to a satisfactory conclusion by an Agreement which will be laid 94 before us and before the Legislature of Newfoundland as soon as it assembles, and that an Agreement has also been made with Spain, securing to this Country all commercial rights granted to Germany in the Caroline Islands:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that our consent will be asked to Legislative Measures rendered necessary by a Convention on the subject of International Copyright, to which Her Majesty has agreed:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that the Estimates for the Expenditure of the ensuing year, which have been framed with a due regard of efficiency and economy, will be submitted to us:To assure Her Majesty that we learn with regret that no material improvement can be noted in the condition of Trade or Agriculture and to thank Her Majesty for informing us that Her Majesty feels the deepest sympathy for the great number of persons, in many vocations of life, who are suffering under a pressure which Her Majesty trusts will prove to be transient:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that Her Majesty has seen with deep sorrow the renewal, since Her Majesty last addressed us, of the attempt to excite the People of Ireland to hostility against the Legislative Union between that Country and Great Britain: that Her Majesty is resolutely opposed to any disturbance of that fundamental Law, and that in resisting it Her Majesty is convinced that Her Majesty will be heartily supported by Her Parliament and Her People:To thank Her Majesty for informing us that the social no less than the material condition of that Country engages Her anxious attention; that, although there has been during the last year no marked increase of serious crime, there is in many places a concerted resistance to the enforcement of legal obligations; and that Her Majesty regrets that the practice of organised intimidation continues to exist. Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that Her Majesty has caused every exertion to be used for the detection and punishment of these crimes; that no effort will be spared on the part of Her Majesty's Government to protect Her Irish subjects in the exorcise of their legal rights, and the enjoyment of individual liberty, and that if, as Her Majesty's information leads Her to apprehend, the existing provisions of the Law should prove to be inadequate to cope with these growing evils, Her Majesty looks with confidence to our willingness to invest Her Majesty's Government with all necessary powers:95Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that Bills will be submitted for transferring to Representative Councils in the Counties of Great Britain local business which is now transacted by the Courts of Quarter Session and other authorities. That a measure for the Reform of County Government in Ireland is also in preparation. That these Measures will involve the consideration of the present incidence of local burdens:Humbly to thank Her Majesty that a Bill for facilitating the sale of Glebe Lands, in a manner adapted to the wants of the rural population, will also be submitted to us; as also Bills for removing the difficulties which prevent the easy and cheap transfer of Land; for mitigating the distressed condition of the poorer classes in the Western Highlands and Islands of Scotland; for the more effectual prevention of Accidents in Mines; for extending the powers of the Railway Commission in respect of the Regulation of Rates; and for the codification of the Criminal Law:To assure Her Majesty that we join with Her Majesty in trusting that results beneficial to the cause of education may issue from a Royal Commission which Her Majesty has appointed to inquire into the working of the Education Acts:Humbly to assure Her Majesty that our careful consideration shall be given to the subjects which Her Majesty has recommended to our attention, and to the measures which may be submitted to us, and that we earnestly trust that with regard to these and all other matters pertaining to our functions the keeping and guidance of Almighty God may be vouchsafed to us."—(Viscount Curzon.)
§ MR. HOULDSWORTH
(who wore a) said: Mr. Speaker — I rise, Sir, to second the Motion which has been made by the noble Viscount who sits near me (Viscount Curzon); and, in attempting to discharge the honourable and, at the same time, responsible duty which has been imposed upon me, I feel very sincerely that I need, and I trust I may rely upon, the generous consideration of the House.
The circumstances under which we meet are in many respects peculiar; some of them I think I may venture to describe as grave. The new House of Commons not only contains a greater number of Members than any of its Predecessors; but, what is more important, it represents a larger proportion of the nation than it has ever before done—in fact, I may 96 say that, practically, it represents the whole of the nation. The basis of political power has thus been considerably broadened; while, at the same time, by the sub-divisions which have taken place in counties, and in the larger boroughs, the responsibility of each elector has been intensified, or, at any rate, it has been brought closer home to him. It is, I think, a matter of sincere congratulation that though there has never, perhaps, been an Election so exciting as that which we have just passed through, or one in which the excitement has been so wide-spread, there has never probably been one in which bitter partisan spirit has been less exhibited, in which there has been a greater maintenance of law and order, and in which the results have been received with more equanimity, or treated as more conclusive.
I shall not venture to trouble the House by referring to the whole of the diverse subjects which are mentioned in Her Majesty's Speech—most of them, if not all, having been already referred to by the noble Viscount. I may, however, be allowed in one sentence to say with regard to that subject which appears most prominently in Her Majesty's Speech—namely, that of Ireland, that I thoroughly agree with the noble Viscount who has just spoken. It is a subject which is causing at the present moment considerable pain to the people throughout the country generally. I believe that there is no class of politicians and no class of people in the country who do not sincerely wish to see Ireland both prosperous and contented. At the same time, I believe that there is a very general, if not an universal, conviction, in the United Kingdom at any rate, that that prosperity and contentment can only be attained by the preservation of the connection between this country and Ireland, and the maintenance of law and order.
There is a subject which has not been referred to by the noble Viscount, on which I would ask the House to permit me to say a word. I am very glad indeed to see that a Commission is to be issued for an examination into the operation of the Education Acts, and especially of the Education Act of 1870. I do not exaggerate when I say that there is in many parts of the country, especially in the Metropolis and in the larger Northern towns, a very profound 97 dissatisfaction, not with the Education Act of 1870 itself, but with the way in which that Act has been worked. There are these upon the school beards, especially in the larger towns, who openly and ostentatiously tell us that they seek not to supplement, but to supplant, the voluntary schools; and the Act as it stands at present is such that they are only too well able to carry out their intention. A process of crushing and starving out the voluntary schools has been going on to a very great extent even by these school beards where the majority are not of the character I have described. The fact is that these Acts, as they stand at present, do give an immense power to the school beards, which has worked very prejudicially towards the voluntary schools; and I feel very strongly indeed that if the Acts in question are allowed to be worked and used as they have been, our voluntary system will in a very short time be destroyed—a great injury being thereby inflicted on the ratepayers, and a great injustice done to the people of this country.
Sir, I would very respectfully congratulate Her Majesty's Government upon having effected a settlement of some important questions which were pending when the last Parliament closed. I congratulate them upon what they have been able to do in Egypt. A loan has been effected which is of very great importance, financially speaking, to the country; and I think we may hope that in the Convention which has been made with Turkey as the Suzerain there is every prospect of a permanent Government being established in Egypt, and that trade will prosper there to the benefit of the people of both countries. I may say that we have very great interests in Egypt; probably more than many hon. Members suppose. Especially I speak of the interests which Lancashire has in Egypt, drawing as it does from her a great part of its supply of raw materials in the shape of cotton. It is of the utmost importance that that country should have, if possible, a good and settled Government, that it may be enabled to develop its resources by the assistance of British capital and British energy.
I also congratulate Her Majesty's Government upon having settled a difficulty which I believe has existed for 150 years 98 connected with the French right of fishing on the Coast of Newfoundland, as well as another important matter connected with commerce—we having had secured for us all the commercial rights granted to Germany in the Caroline Islands.
I now come to what I feel is the most important question I shall touch upon. It is one in which the constituency I represent takes the greatest interest. I refer to the annexation of Burmah. I believe this is an act which, under the circumstances, has received already the approval and the support of all commercial and industrial communities in the country. There are these, I am aware, who deprecate annexations of this kind because they entail fresh responsibilities; but I do not believe that the industrial and commercial classes will be found to be of that number. They are not opposed to the extension of responsibility when justice, the interests of trade, and the advancement of civilization seem to demand it; and it very often happens, in matters of this kind, that a forward step courageously taken in the interests of right and justice, instead of increasing, really lessens, responsibility. I would venture to urge upon the Government that the responsibilities which they have in connection with trade are very great. I do not want it to be supposed that I advocate annexations simply from a desire of conquest, or for the purpose of enriching ourselves at the expense of others. I would not defend them either on the lower ground of commercial advantage, or on the higher ground of the extension of civilization, unless there were other grounds on which they were found to be justifiable and necessary. But the extension of commerce is a legitimate object; and in the pursuit of that object, if injustice is perpetrated, if the rights of British traders are interfered with, and if contracts solemnly entered into are broken, then, I hold, the Government of the day are bound to interfere, and if they interfere at all they ought to do so effectively. I am quite aware that that is not a doctrine universally accepted. A distinguished Member of this House—the right hon. Gentleman whom I see opposite, the Member for the East Division of Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen)—said the other day that Government Departments in this country wore apt to look upon the 99 commercial classes as only a set of troublesome traders who went about the world creating diplomatic difficulties, whom it was a duty rather to repress than encourage. But I am glad that the present Government have not adopted that view in respect of Burmah. The facts of the case are very simple. A most unjust demand was made by the Government of Burmah on a British trading company which held leases under a solemn contract from that Government; that demand was supported, to some extent, by a Foreign Power; arbitration was proposed by our Viceroy in India; that was rejected, and it appears to me that no other course remained to the Government but to defend the rights of British subjects that had been so seriously infringed. Now, what are the probable results which will take place in consequence of this act of annexation, which may be criticized, but which I think is thoroughly defensible? I think we may gather some idea of what the probable results will be if we look at the progress which British Burmah has made. It is practically the same country, a line only dividing it on the map. There is no more prosperous Province under British rule than British Burmah. I will in a few words indicate what its progress has been during the last 30 years. The richest part of it was annexed in 1852. Since 1856 the population has increased four-fold—from 1,000,000 to 4,000,000—principally by emigration from Independent Burmah, which has now been annexed. Since 1861 the imports into British Burmah have increased eight-fold—from £550,000 to £4,000,000. The exports have increased more than four-fold, being now £1,500,000, whereas, in 1854, they were only £450,000. The Revenue, which was in 1854 £250,000, had increased in 1884 to nearly £3,000,000; and the total surplus Revenue which has been paid into the Indian Treasury in eight years from this Province has been, after paying all the expenses of administration, no less than £6,000,000, or at the rate of nearly £1,000,000 per annum. Now I believe similar results will follow in Upper Burmah from the action of Her Majesty's Government in that country, while the possibilities of trade with the Shan States and Siam and China are simply enormous.
100 And I must tell the House it is of the utmost importance that there should be an extension of the area of British trade. Whatever may be the results of the Commission which is now sitting to consider the Depression of Trade, one fact will be abundantly proved, and that is that the productive power of the world is in excess of its consumptive power, and that in this country the producing power is in advance of the distributing power. There is an immense increase of capital in this country derived, to a great extent, from the working classes who have been enjoying good wages, and whose increased thrift and temperance have, I am glad to say, enabled them to put by considerable savings. On the other hand, we have an increasing population. Our old markets are becoming closed to us. Our merchants, therefore, have to go forward to new Gelds of enterprize, and these new fields have to be found amongst barbarous or semi-civilized people. Now, the very first essentials of trade, protection of life and property, and the establishment of some kind of law and order, have to be set up in these places. Barbarism resents the inroads of civilization; consequently a civilized system of Government, to some extent at any rate, is required. We are then face to face with these alternatives—either the Government of this country must support British trade in its development throughout the world, or the extension and development of trade which is so necessary for the prosperity of the country and its increasing population will have to be abandoned.
I must apologize to the House for having devoted so much time to one special subject. But my position as the Representative of a large commercial city, itself the centre of a large industrial district, is my excuse. At the same time, I feel that in saying what I have said I have not been speaking wholly or mainly in the interest of a class; I have been speaking on behalf of the interests of the nation. Sir, I beg to second the Motion of the noble viscount.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That, &c."—[See page 92.]
Mr. Speaker, I rise, Sir, in conformity with the usage that I have invariably observed when 101 occupying the seat in this House that I have now the honour to do; for it has been not only my opinion, but I think I may say the traditional opinion of this House, that the convenience of this House was best promoted, and the despatch of Business was likewise best served, by the practice under which the person occupying the place of the Leader of the Opposition rises immediately after the Mover and Seconder of the Address to make such observations as it may appear the Speech from the Throne and the Address called for. There are, Sir, two views of a Speech and an Address which are in conflict with one another, and to one of which I very decidedly adhere. For, I think, not less than 40 years it has been the object of successive Governments— almost, I believe invariably almost, without exception—to present the Speech and the Address to the House as a kind of mapping-out of the Business of the Session, which collects the principal parts of it in one view, and which it is eminently advantageous to the House to have presented to them at once. Governments have felt that, from the very nature and magnitude and multitude of the matters thus presented to the House, it is almost impossible to have, in a debate upon the Address, a satisfactory discussion of the particular questions that are raised. That I think, Sir, to be a sound view of the Queen's Speech and of the Address; and, with that view, it has been the custom to draw the Address in such a manner as not to commit the House on the particular questions that are contained in the Speech. As far as I have been able to observe, I believe that the Address which we are now asked to adopt has been drawn in strict conformity with the custom which has been established upon that view of the case. On the other hand, we cannot be surprised that Gentlemen who are deeply and conscientiously interested in many of these subjects—knowing how difficult it is to find an opportunity of bringing them forward, and having offered to them upon the Address some peg upon which they can hang a discussion of a particular matter in which they are specially interested—that they should have a leaning contrary to that view of the Address in reply to the Speech, and a disposition to raise debates of very con- 102 siderable length in the form either of simple speeches or of Amendments to the Address. In consequence, Sir, it has happened for several years past that either a fortnight or more has been occupied in disposing of the Address. I must draw a distinction here. In certain cases whore there is ft very important question raised—such, I may say, as that important Maamtrasna case —in a case of that kind I do not complain; although the intervention is inconvenient, I do not complain; but I wish to say that, so far as is possible, and so far as I may venture to recommend a practice which I believe to be to the advantage of the House, I do believe it is best, as far as we can, that we should be content to recognize the Speech from the Throne, and the Address moved in consequence of it, as presenting to us an outline of what we have to do, rather than a convenient occasion for the discussion of the several parts of it in detail. Therefore, Sir, I confine myself to such parts of it as appear to me to be important. First, it is a duty, which I think is always performed with satisfaction where it can be conscientiously performed, to acknowledge the manner in which the duty— the difficult duty—of the Mover and the Seconder of the Address has been performed. The Seconder of the Address is an old Member, with whoso capacity and competency in such matters we are already well acquainted. The Mover of the Address has informed us that he has made this day the first presentation of himself to the House; and without professing to adopt absolutely every opinion in his speech, yet I do venture to offer him very heartily my congratulations in general, both upon the manner and matter of his speech. I will say, in particular, that it gave me great satisfaction to hear the noble Viscount state, in one of his references to Ireland, that, in his view, it was not possible to judge of the case of Ireland simply by an abstract standard; but that careful regard should be had to the circumstances and the history of the country, and to the race and the religion of the people. Now, Sir, I will make some remarks upon the principal matters of foreign policy to which allusion is made in the Speech. These remarks will be made briefly, and made with reserve; because in all these cases it is well 103 understood that at the commencement of a Session we have not usually the means of any thorough discussion of these points, and that we await the presentation of Papers which have been promised in one or more cases—and which, I have no doubt, will be made— with regard to all, or nearly all, the principal subjects of foreign policy. Subject, Sir, to that general observation, I cordially join in the congratulations which are offered to the Government, and offered to the country, upon the adjustment of the question with regard to the Zulfikar Pass—the remaining question of difficulty, as it was six months ago, in respect to the border of Afghanistan. I, upon quitting Office, took the very earliest opportunity of endeavouring to give such support as it was in my power to Her Majesty's Government in the prosecution of these negotiations. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: Hear, hear!] I must own I cannot look back with satisfaction upon some part of the proceedings of the Russian Government during the course of last year with reference to this subject; but it would be invidious to enter upon that topic now, when they have freely arrived at a conclusion satisfactory to us. I heartily hope, both that the particular measure may tend to the maintenance of a lasting peace in Central Asia, and that, by removing out of the way a possible cause of disagreement between England and Russia, it may conduce to good, and heartily good, relations between two great Empires—both of them Empires likely to have an enormous influence upon the future both of the civilized and the uncivilized world. In the same way, and in the same spirit, I can refer to the case of Eastern Roumelia; nor will I mix with that reference a single remark that could in any manner tend to introduce disagreeable or hurtful recollections. I have not, of course, been minutely informed of the transactions of the Prime Minister and of the Government; but so far as I have been informed of them, and with regard to the principal outline of these transactions, so far as I have been able to understand them, I have pleasure in repeating here, what I have more than once stated elsewhere—that the conduct of the Marquess of Salisbury appears to me to have done him honour, and to be worthy of the name and the credit of 104 this country. I entertain a hope on this subject, and I give an assurance. The hope I entertain is that he may be enabled, and that Her Majesty's Government may be enabled, to work through this important question to its conclusion in a manner thoroughly congenial to British feeling; and I give them the assurance that—aware as I am of the great difficulties under which he has to labour for this end in the Councils of; Europe, with much variety necessarily; of interest, of view, and of purpose—so far as I am concerned—and I believe I may say so far as these around me are concerned—he will have every fair and favourable consideration. There will be no disposition to precipitate demands upon him, as it may be most injurious that they should be prematurely answered, but every disposition to give a favourable construction to his acts and words. Nor do I give this grudgingly; but, on the contrary, I yield a free and willing assent to the judicious language in which it is stated that, while endeavouring to meet the desires of the population, there will also be a maintenance unimpaired of the essential rights of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan. I believe that these essential rights may be, so far as I comprehend the matter, perfectly well maintained without in any way interfering with these views which we may, I think, most justly express on the part of the population of Eastern Reumelia; nor can I think that the security of the Turkish Empire—which was supposed at one time to be so essentially connected with the division of Eastern Roumelia from Bulgaria—I cannot think, and I do not think, that security will suffer in consequence of the adoption of measures which may do much to reconcile the population of the two Provinces, when united, to endure with patience and without dissatisfaction a sovereignty which will have ceased, as I hope, to press upon them in the direction of any particular difficulty or grievance. I must be a little more reserved in regard to the next two subjects which I have to mention. Reference is made to the Convention with Turkey, under which a Turkish Commissioner is now placed in Egypt to assist in the consideration of the measures which may be requisite for the welfare of that country in connection with the occupation by 105 British troops, and in connection with the termination of that occupation. I cannot say with a good conscience that I am as yet aware of any proof of evidence which has been afforded to us—though I will not state any adverse conclusion—I am not aware of any evidence or indication which has yet been afforded to us that the presence of a Turkish Commissioner in Egypt — in Cairo — amidst all the circumstances of Cairo, is likely to diminish the difficulties of Her Majesty's Government, or to advance the true interests of Egypt, and the termination of the present anomalous state of things. I will not go any further into that matter, having satisfied myself, if I may so speak, with the reservations I have made. With regard to Burmah, I am bound to say I must hold similar language, and make a similar reservation. I cannot profess myself altogether satisfied with the argument of the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Address. It is very possible that I may not have interpreted him correctly. I do not question his great knowledge and competency to deal with this subject; but I thought the doctrine he laid down came rather too near a doctrine which, if it were applied as he stated, I should conceive to be both dangerous in point of policy and questionable in point of morality—the doctrine, namely, that extension of trade is, in the main, to be hoped for in the future that lies before us through the application from time to lime of physical force I must say in this instance there is a reason why we must specially reserve our opinions upon the subject of the war with and the annexation of Burmah; for the hon. Gentleman might freely admit that the prospects of commercial advantage and the prospects of the extension of civilization did not of themselves avail to justify the proceedings unless we had other legitimate causes for going to war. Now, I do not pronounce any final interpretation on this passage in the Speech—An attempt to confiscate the property of my subjects trading under agreement in his (that is, the King of Burmah's) dominions, and a refusal to settle the dispute by arbitration, convinced me that the protection of British life and property, and the cessation of dangerous anarchy in Upper Burmah, could only be effected by force of arms.The inference which may be conveyed 106 by that sentence is, that wherever a civil wrong has been done to a British subject by a foreign Government, that civil wrong may legitimately and wisely be made the ground of a demand for arbitration, with a resort to arms as the alternative in the case of a refusal. That is a proposition of very great importance and gravity, and one regarding which, undoubtedly, we ought to exercise much circumspection and much jealousy before accepting it. Upon this ground, Sir, there are many Powers in the world with respect to whom we should have had the most undoubted right to place before them this alternative of arbitration or war. Do not let it be supposed that I object to the interpolation of arbitration. The objection I take—because I am realty only suggesting the matter for consideration when the time comes—my doubt is, whether the general principle justifying a resort to war in such cases can safely be adopted. Of course, we must bear in mind that cases of repudiation of public debt, partial or total, have abounded over the surface of the globe. It is impossible to conceive a more distinct case of civil wrong done to those who are interested than the violation of public and solemn contracts, originally formed under a sovereign authority. But Lord Palmerston, who was not supposed to be slow in vindicating the rights of British subjects, invariably declined to recognize a title on the part of British subjects to call on him to hold language to Foreign Powers who were in that unfortunate position, contemplating or involving the alternative of war. I pass on from this matter. I do not intend to give any positive opinion about it; but when I see anything that has an apparent relationship to a principle that I think unsafe, I wish to indicate the ground as dangerous ground, and to say that we should consider carefully and deeply before we commit ourselves to it. The next word I wish to say is a word of unmixed pleasure; it has relation to the Committee about to be appointed as to the working of the Indian Government Act. I think the only question is whether that Committee has not been too long delayed. I am of opinion that Her Majesty's Government are eminently right in asking the House to appoint this Committee. I trust that it will be a carefully-selected Committee; 107 that it will be efficient in proportion to the greatness of the subject; and that it will devote itself to that subject with a zeal and a diligence such as we have known in former years and former generations; but such as undoubtedly it has become more difficult to secure in our Select Committees since the general Business of the House of Commons has so enormously increased. In passing, I will say also that I do not see anything to object to in the Commission to examine into the working of the Education Acts, which have now been in operation for 14 or 15 years; and there, again, I hope the Commission will be made a strong Commission, and that the competing—I will not say conflicting—interests of the various descriptions of schools and superintending authorities will all of them be carefully and efficiently represented in the choice of the Commission. One word only I wish to say on the subject of the Treaty on International Copyright. I was in my youth a zealous follower of Mr. Serjeant Talfourd in his attempts to extend the range of copyright privilege. I must own, however, that reflection and experience in some degree as an author of a very humble character have led mo to entertain serious doubts as to the particular form in which au author is to be secured that to which he has the best possible claim—namely, a reasonable share of the fruits of his intellectual labours. All I have to say at present is that the question is of enormous importance, especially in consequence of the almost immeasurable market which America offers for the sale of English books, and the rapid extension of that market through the growth of population, and of the importance of having our Copyright Law on such a basis as to make it possible for the American Government to give us the benefit of something like a community of market in that vast country for our literary productions. My only reason for referring to this subject at the present moment is to express the hope that when the International Copyright Treaty is concluded it may not be in any manner bound down to one particular form of Copyright Law now existing in this country; but that it may be left free, as far as possible, for Parliament to consider, when the proper time and opportunity arrive, the basis of that Copyright Law, and whether the nature of the protection and benefit given to 108 the author can with advantage be modified. I now pass to the paragraph which relates to the condition of trade and agriculture. We are assured of Her Majesty's sympathy with the classes especially connected with those industries. It is gracious on the part of Her Majesty to express that sympathy; but the danger of its expression is that vigilant critics begin to desire still further particularity; and it not unnaturally occurs to many Gentlemen on the present occasion, when for the first time the agricultural labourers of this country have so large a share in determining the composition of the present House of Commons, and are so directly represented in it, it will not unnaturally occur to many to regret that there should not have been some more distinct and considerable reference to them and their interests, and to the possibility of promoting them, than the very limited one contained in the mention of a Bill for selling glebe lands. At the same time, without raising any question as to the particular provisions of that Bill, I am bound to say that, from my own experience in connection with ecclesiastical patronage, nothing can be stronger than the case for enabling the rural clergy, and these under whose superintendence they act, to take some measures for relieving them of the burden of landed property under which they labour. I do not think I need detain the House upon the particular propositions in the Address with respect to Bills which it is proposed to introduce. Others, no doubt, will make commentaries upon them; and, for my own part, I do not feel called upon to enter on the subject, excepting to observe that I do not think that the description of the crofter question is a very happy one, so far as the language is concerned. It is something more than the mitigation of distress; it is not entirely an eleemosynary task we are asked to undertake. There are in it some elements of a vindication of forgotten and neglected rights. I do hope that that Bill is prepared, and that it will be proceeded with as early as Her Majesty's Government can practically make arrangements for it. When I come to the subject of Ireland I feel bound, after all that has been said and written during the last three or four weeks—and I hope the House will excuse me—to preface my comments upon 109 the paragraph in the Speech by a few words descriptive of my own position with regard to the very great questions of Irish interests, Irish happiness, and Irish peace that are now impending over us. At the time when I, although naturally desirous of yielding to a long-cherished intention of repose, determined to become a candidate for Mid Lothian, and to ask, after 53 years of public service, again to enter Parliament, I was governed by a few important considerations. The main one among them undoubtedly was a slight, but yet a real hope that it might be possible—I hardly thought it probable—that I might be able to make some peaceful contribution towards dealing with the legislative case as well as the social condition of Ireland. I felt very strongly that a new situation had arisen; and in consequence of that sentiment, exercising in a great degree my own private judgment, and necessarily, from the nature of the case, not possessing all these opportunities of communication which we have when we are concentrated together in London, I entered rather largely upon this subject at the date of September 17, in an Address to my constituents, which perhaps I, having recently been at the head of the Government, may say without vanity was, in some degree, an address to the country, I will venture to read one passage only of that address, which sums up the main features of the position as I viewed them. I said—In my opinion, not now for the first time delivered, the limit is clear within which any desires of Ireland constitutionally ascertained may, and beyond which they cannot, receive the assent of Parliament. To maintain the supremacy of the Crown, the unity of the Empire, and all the authority of Parliament necessary for the conservation of that unity, is the first duty of every Representative of the people, subject to this governing principle— every grant to portions of the Empire of enlarged powers for the management of their own affairs is, in my view, not a source of danger, hut a means of averting it, and is in the nature of a now guarantee for increased cohesion, happiness, and strength.This was not my view only in September last, but it was one which, on various occasions during the last 14 or 15 years, I have expressed both in this House and in other places, without exciting general alarm, though undoubtedly laying myself open to more or less of animadversion from particular critics. Well, Sir, I maintain that, rightly or wrongly, 110 I experienced some satisfaction, after having made that declaration, in observing that it was nowhere made, so far as I know, the subject of animadversion by the leading Members of the Party opposite. I speak subject to correction, to which I would submit readily if it be afforded me; but, so far as my observation went, that is the case. Indeed, perhaps under the influence of a sanguine mind, I was even led to think from the speeches of the Marquess of Salisbury, to which I gave the attention due to his eminent position, that ho was not very far from being of the same opinion as myself. In speaking at Newport I think he used the expression that ho had not up to the present seen his way to a measure—I do not think he gave a distinct expression to it—of any considerable legislative measure in the direction of Home Rule. On Lord Mayor's Day, on the very eve of the elections, on an occasion when, as is well known, the utterances of the Prime Minister are most deliberate, and are as public and official, I will venture to say, as when they are delivered from his place in either House of Parliament—I find a passage, which I quote from an excellent verbatim report in The Scotsman. It contains these words, to which 1 think I can give my unreserved adhesion—The integrity of the Empire is more precious to us than any possession we can have. We are hound by motives, not only of expediency, not only by legal principle, but by motives of honour, to protect the minority, if such exists, who have fallen into unpopularity and danger because they have followed, or been the instruments of, the policy which England has deliberately elected to pursue; but within these lines every English Government—and I would say the present Government—is bound to do all that it possibly can to give prosperity, contentment, and happiness to the Irish people.Within the lines of the unity and the integrity of the Empire and the obligations of honour to the minority in Ireland. I am not referring to this passage for a controversial purpose; but precisely the reverse. I am referring to it to justify the remark I made that it was a great consolation to me to be able to cherish the hope that there was some sympathy between the Marquess of Salisbury in his distinguished position and myself upon this great and vital question. For, Sir, I am under the deep and solemn conviction that nothing but the gentle and conciliatory handling 111 of this matter by all persons concerned, be they who they may, can by any possibility neutralize the dangers, or give the hope of attaining the benefits that may be in store for us, m the prosecution of the questions relating to the condition and the government of Ireland. And, therefore, from the first my highest ambition has been, and it continues to be—and I rebuke myself by anticipation if I deviate by a hairbreadth from the principle—not to say one word of any man mingling in this question that can bring the elements of wrath and passion into a debate and a consideration which nothing but patience, nothing but self-restraint, nothing but the casting aside of much prejudice and prepossession, and nothing but a determined disposition to look alone at what candour and justice demand will afford us the smallest hope of solving. I wish to assure the House that since the declaration of the 17th of September I have not said one word or done one act in extension of that declaration. What I have said and what I have done, little as it is, except as to private study—and I do not deny that the subject has been my daily and my nightly theught—has been, in the first place, to show where responsibility lay. Responsibility lies where the means of action lie. In my opinion, there could be no greater public calamity then to bring this question within the lines of Party conflict; and if, unhappily, that shall be done—I trust it will not be done of determined purpose by anyone—but if, unhappily, that shall be done, I will, so far as in me lies, take care I will not be the doer. It is the Government alone who can act in such a matter. In my opinion, the action of a person in the position I have the honour to hold not only is unnecessary, but would not be warrantable, and would be in the highest degree injurious and mischievous; and I will do nothing, as I have said, that can tend, by making proposals—if I were prepared with proposals—from this Bench, to be a challenge to others to bring this question into the category of Party controversies. I am bound to say, without expressing a final opinion, that the little I have said has not only been to show how entirely I was separated from all ideas of personal action or Party action in the matter; but I have also felt, as the season passed on, that a new difficulty might be coming into view. 112 I have no means of knowing what the social state of Ireland really is. Even as regards crime, I am without particular information. So, also, I am without information as to the important questions of the fulfilment of contracts and the enjoyment of personal liberty in all transactions to which reference has been made in the Speech from the Throne. But I admit I have felt that topics and considerations of that kind might yet come to have importance such as to require that they should be taken into view, either in connection with, or prior to—I will not venture to say which, for I have no knowledge to justify me in the assertion—either in connection with, or prior to, any consideration of the question of what measures were to be taken for the extension of local government in Ireland. That, Sir, I have said, and the consequence is necessarily this. My duty was to await the plans of the Government; and, having awaited these plans, I am bound, to say that, though I shall listen with great attention to all they propose, I intend to reserve my own freedom of action. And I do not intend, so far as lies within my power, to have it determined for me by others at what time and in what manner I shall make any addition to the declaration I laid before the country in the month of September last. I stand here as a Member of a House where there are many who have taken their seats for the first time upon these Benches, and where there may be some to whom, possibly, I may avail myself of the privilege of old age to offer a recommendation. I would tell them of my own intention to keep my counsel, and reserve my own freedom, until I see the moment and the occasion when there may be a prospect of public benefit in endeavouring to make a movement forward, and I will venture to recommend them, as an old Parliamentary hand, to do the same. Now, Sir, I have said so much on my own position. I think the House will feel that it was right that I should endeavour to remove misunderstanding by most explicit statements, for which, of course, I am liable to be called to account if they be inaccurate. They will forgive me—under the circumstances of a certain amount of misapprehension which has gone abroad —they will forgive me if I have endeavoured to clear my own position before I presume to take upon rue to act 113 as a critic upon the action of Her Majesty's Government. Sir, there are in the Speech two paragraphs relating to Ireland, and likewise a reference to the measures which are in preparation. The first paragraph is that which refers to the Legislative Union as a fundamental law, and in which Tier Majesty's Government have expressed, undoubtedly very strongly, the view they take of that important Act of Parliament. I am not here to find fault with Her Majesty's Government for having so done. They feel, evidently, that it would not be right without notice—and the terms of the Address very often cannot be heard by all the Members of the House—to ask the opinion of Parliament. They have given a strong opinion themselves, a strong opinion in certain terms. If I am to consider that opinion as a declaration on their part to maintain at all hazards, and under all circumstances, and at all costs, the unity and the integrity of the British Empire, there is no man who sits behind them who will more cordially applaud their intentions and support their action. I venture still to express the hope that there is not a man in this House who will rise in his place and disavow that sentiment. With respect to the particular terms in which they have convoyed it, I own that it appears tome that criticism might be made upon them in certain respects. The Queen's Speech is a very formal document, and I do not hold that the phrase "fundamental law" is known to the British Constitution. I understand that law is of the greatest moment and importance. I am not disparaging that law; but the importation of the phrase, I think for the first time, is a matter upon which there might be either a legal or another argument; and it is also, of course, open to remark that it is stated there can be no change of that law; whereas the fact of the case really is that Her Majesty's Government mean to make this a strong declaration of their determination to maintain our unity rather than they wish to be judged by a minute criticism. Of course, it is obvious that fundamental law is not infrequently altered in minor points, and has been altered, mainly in 1869, in the case then of the Established Protestant Church in Ireland, when the Act of Union declared that it was essential and fundamental to the Union. I do not enter upon these minute criticisms. 114 I look upon it as a declaration by Her Majesty's Government in favour of Imperial unity and integrity; and I will only make two very brief observations. I have disclaimed Party feeling in this speech, and I hope thus far I have kept tolerably close to my promise at the outset. I cannot help saying that, looking at the exact terms of this paragraph as compared with the terms of the Ministerial speeches made before the elections, I see a considerable difference, and cannot help asking whether it is intended or not to make that difference the subject of Ministerial exposition? Sir, one other remark I have to make which is not contentious at all. I hope and I feel assured that there is no intention at all on the part of Her Majesty's Government, or, I hope, of any person in this House, whatever his political opinions may be, to interpose any obstacle in the way of preliminary judgment as a bar to the fullest exposition by Irish Members of whatever they may think it right to urge on behalf of their countrymen. It would be a sad error in point of prudence, it would be a violation, in my opinion, of Parliamentary and public decency, were we not, at any rate, to admit this fact—that though we know nothing of what is going to be asked—and certainly we know nothing that would justify us in saying that it will be easily conceded—yet, whatever it is, if it be true that five-sixths of the Irish Representatives— claiming, of course, the same liberty for the other sixth—have come hero to make representations and pleas in the name of their country, armed with the authority that their constituents have been legally empowered to give them—our duty is to accord to them freely a patient, a respectful, and a candid hearing. I think, Sir, I may only say this by way of reserve. I feel sure that that sentiment will receive the universal assent of the House. Well, Sir, I go on to the second paragraph, which I confess has very considerably disappointed mo. It is the paragraph with regard to the social state of Ireland. I had hoped that we should obtain from Her Majesty's Government, after the experience they have had, some more conclusive statement of their views upon that subject. There is a difference in the situation in which Members of the House are placed with regard to a sub- 115 ject of this kind from the position they occupy with regard to matters of legislation or matters of public principle. On matters of legislation and on matters of public principle the Party in Opposition are generally of opinion that they can judge quite as well as, and perhaps a little better than, the Party in power; but with regard to the social state of Ireland, it is impossible, in my opinion, for us to form a conclusive judgment. The information in our possession is not sufficient. It requires an outlook so large, and, at the same time, so minute and particular, that we are dependent entirely upon the judgment delivered to us by Her Majesty's Government; and certainly, Sir, if we form our impressions from what takes place at meetings, and at deputations, and from the articles of journals supposed to be more or less in the confidence of Her Majesty's Government, I believe that the whole House, so far as I know, have expected that the language of the Speech with regard to the social state of Ireland would be clear and intelligible. Well, Sir, what does this paragraph tell us? It tells us that Her Majesty has used every exertion to maintain the law. It tells us that she has failed in maintaining it, because the information she receives leads her to apprehend that she may hereafter have proposals to make. It tells us that she has more than failed, because the evils with which she is endeavouring to deal are, in the language of the Speech, "these growing evils." Well, Sir, I certainly had hoped that we should have received more light on this question of the state of Ireland from the Queen's Speech than is actually before us. In the summer we had reached a certain condition of things. Many Gentlemen who sit here condemned the administration of Earl Spencer as warmly as—I trust they will forgive me for saying it—I from my heart, with all the knowledge I possess, support it. At that period there was a certain state of things in Ireland with regard to the critical subjects—first of crime, and secondly of contracts. It was a state of things which led us then in the Government to think that we could part at once with what we considered to be the stringent and coercive clauses of the Crimes Act; and that all that remained for us to do was to maintain, either in the shape of a positive 116 enactment, or in the shape of discretionary powers under proclamation, district by district, certain of its provisions, which provisions we did not consider to involve interference with liberty. Had the Government so clear a view of the condition of Ireland? Although they were completely new to Office, with a decision which they do-scribed as most formal and most do-liberate, made upon due examination of the case, they arrived at the conclusion that the Act might be allowed to lapse. I think they are aware that the news of the lapsing of that Act was not received on this side of the House in a grudging spirit. It was our desire, our hearty desire, that the boldness then shown—boldness exhibited by their being willing to incur a very great responsibility, a great and heavy stake upon their success or failure in Ireland—we heartily desired the success of their experiment, and did not interject so much as an observation to detract from the grace which, undoubtedly in the face of the people of Ireland, had surrounded their proceedings. They must feel it is right that at the earliest moment they should give us their impressions of that experiment, and whether that experiment, in their judgment, has succeeded, or has failed. For a long time—I refer again to the speeches of the Marquess of Salisbury —undoubtedly the impression was that, upon the whole, it was a success. As to crime, there was a decided decrease; and as to "Boycotting," I think it was described as the result of action essentially feverish and temporary, and likely to pass away, and almost certain to disappear. That came down to the month of November. Is the position to be reversed, or is it not? I am sure that when the Government remember that we are looking out for means and material for judgment in regard to Ireland, and in this particular are entirely dependent upon what they can tell us, yet not able to cast aside altogether the intelligence that reaches us from this quarter and from that, it will be felt that it would be cruel to withhold from us distinct information, and a distinct announcement of their intention any longer than is absolutely necessary. Having said that, I will only add that I do not wish to use any strong language, or to make any severe charge upon the 117 conduct of Her Majesty's Government; but I wish to say that a great obligation rests upon them, and strong expectations may be. reasonably entertained as to their conduct in Ireland. Then, thirdly, with respect to Ireland, we are told that a County Government Bill— not so described, but a Bill rather for transferring to other hands the functions which now belong to county government —is about to be introduced. "It will be submitted to you;" and then comes this sentence—A measure for the reform of county government in Ireland is also in preparation.It appears to mo that, all circumstances considered, it is evident that the Government have received a severe shock on the subject of this measure of county government in Ireland. It is right to state that not only the intention to have a plan, but the main particulars of that plan, were made known to the Irish public some weeks ago. I am not sure how long ago—perhaps a fortnight or three weeks—but it appeared in a newspaper, known to be of great weight and importance in Ireland. [Ironical Parnellite cheers.] Is there any question that The Dublin Express is a most important newspaper?
I did not say the organ of the Government. I may have said it was an organ, but not that it was the organ of the Government. In this newspaper, to which it would appear that communications are sometimes made, there is a communication which I will not read to the House—first of all, that a Committee of the Cabinet had, with great care, prepared a plan of local government for Ireland; secondly, that this plan, having gone through the ordeal of the Committee, passed on to that which may be considered the final ordeal—namely, examination by the Cabinet itself, and that by the Cabinet itself it had been very considerably altered, showing it had been the subject of most important and definite consideration, and it sets out what were to be the principal conditions of this plan. It set out, on the one hand, that there were to be circles of Governments—wheels within wheels—and that while these county governments wore to be behind county governments in England 118 in respect of not having control of police, they were to be before them in regard to their having apparently the supreme control of the great and vital, and, for Ireland, most important subject of primary education. I do not complain of Her Majesty's Government at this moment because their plans for Ireland may not happen to be precisely these which I should think ample and adequate for their purpose; but what I complain of is that I consider this plan to be a move backwards instead of forwards. There appears, from a source to which we have a right to ascribe importance, that early in January a plan is substantially prepared. ["No, no!"] If hon. Gentlemen would like to road this article, by all means let them do so. But I must say that, reading it and putting upon it the best interpretation I can, what I cannot but infer from it is this—that although the intention of bringing in a plan of local government, small or great, for Ireland has existed. yet it has receded into the shade. Using a phrase that has of late been rather popular, it has been gradually moving towards "the dim and distant future." What I would venture to say, and to press upon Her Majesty's Government, is this—that whatever is to be done for Ireland, whether you take Conservative organs, or whether you take Liberal or Nationalist organs—whatever is to be done for Ireland should be done with all the promptitude that the nature of the case demands. Besides the fact that the County Government Bill for Ireland is in the rear of the Representative Councils Bill for England, the right hon. Gentleman opposite has also informed us to-night that ho proposes to proceed at once with the question of procedure. I myself have a very deep sense of the importance of the question; and I am almost prepared to say that I think considerable sacrifices might properly be made by this House for the purpose of dealing with procedure as a claim anterior to that of ordinary legislation. There remains behind the question whether the case of Ireland, as it now exists, is a question of ordinary legislation. The right hon. Gentleman will recollect, no doubt, that it cost us from 30 to 40 days of hard work to obtain the limited amount of reform in our procedure that we obtained in 1882. Is the right hon. Gen- 119 tleman sanguine as to the prospect of making more rapid progress with that question than we made? One conclusion I most deliberately arrived at, and I give it him for what it may be worth. That was, that it is almost vain to hope to make serious progress, except with the command of the whole time of the House. We got command of the whole time of; the House; but we got it in the month of October, and a pretty severe penalty we paid for it. I myself felt the fruits of it in the necessity for going abroad a couple of months after. But it is one thing to ask for the whole time of the House after the regular Business of the Session; it is another thing to ask for it when the Business of the Session is commencing. Do what he will, the right hon. Gentleman must make frequent interruptions of procedure in order to bring on his Estimates; and, above all, in order to got through the Supplementary Estimates, that portentous labour which of late years has added to the burdens of the House. All, however, that I now wish to say on the matter is, that I am afraid this is a further serious postponement of all attempts at legislation for Ireland. I do not ask the Government to study in my sense what the legislation for Ireland may be, or ought to be, even if my mind were made up on the subject; but I do not possess the means of making the inquiries that are necessary to any sound legislation. But I do ask Her Majesty's Government if they intend to give to Ireland the benefit of legislation, to let it be promptly known, and to give effect to it at the earliest possible moment. I wish I could have dealt with this question exactly as with the question of foreign policy, and have congratulated the Government on the discharge of its arduous duties. I am compelled, however, to say that I am unable, regarding these paragraphs as a whole, to say that they are so entirely sufficient and satisfactory. It is an excellent thing to say that you will maintain the unity of the Empire. In Heaven's name do maintain it with all your might! But we have been maintaining it for 85 years; and not only for 85 years since the Union, but for 600 years before. Something more is requisite. Whatever you think is adequate to the case, be it for social order, be it for local government, let us know, and let us know promptly, 120 what it is. The obligations which I have described as incumbent on every Member in this great cause would compel us, even if we wore more reluctant than we are, to entertain favourably the proposals which you may conscientiously recommend. What is here you cannot yourselves pretend to be altogether satisfactory. Our duty will not allow us to proceed to deal in any circumstances with the case of Ireland. It still remains our duty to listen to what others have to say, and to judge and to try it under the strictest and heaviest responsibility that ever lay on a Representative Assembly. You have most properly wound up your Speech by advising the Queen to express her confidence in a protection and a guidance for our acts better than any which our own unassisted faculties can supply. Let us remember the high and solemn appeal we have made to that guidance, and as in the face of Almighty God, to whose keeping we have been commended, so by taking care to observe all the laws and all the qualities by which, in any difficult and controverted matter, truth may sometimes be attained and benefits sometimes realized. Let us not deviate from that path of temper and self-command; but, forgetful of every prejudice, let us strive to do justice to the great, the varied, and the gigantic interests committed to our care.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH)
Sir, I desire, as my first duty, to congratulate my noble Friend (Viscount Curzon) the Mover and my hon. Friend (Mr. Houldsworth) the Seconder of the Address in reply to the Most Gracious Speech from the Throne, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, for the manner in which they have both fulfilled the task entrusted to them to-night. I was glad to hear these encouraging words which fell from the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone) on this matter. I feel sure by what he has done to-night my noble Friend the Member for Southern Buckinghamshire has earned the right not only to rely on the indulgence, but on the desire of the House to hear him whenever he may take part in our debates; and my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Manchester, who is a comparatively old and tried Member among us, has, with his usual good sense and practical know- 121 ledge, placed before the House to-night the wants and wishes of the great commercial community which ho represents. I wish, in the nest place, to express our gratitude to the right hon. Gentleman opposite for the manner in which he has referred to the loading paragraphs of Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech. We acknowledged last summer the assistance which he rendered to the Government of the day by his remarks on the negotiations with Russia on the subject of the Zulfikar Pass; and I would venture again to thank him to-night for his reference to that matter, and to the action of Lord Salisbury in regard to the negotia-tions respecting Eastern Roumelia. I have no cause to complain either of the reference which the right hon. Gentleman made to the position of affairs in Egypt. He certainly expressed some doubt whether there was any evidence that the presence of a Turkish Commissioner in Cairo was likely to advance the interests of the country, or the settlement of the great questions pending there. Well, Sir, it is premature to discuss that subject in the absence of fuller information; but I think that we shall be able to show, not only that the association with us of the Suzerain Power of Egypt in the work to be done there, and the full recognition afforded by the presence of the Commissioner of the Porte of the right of England to do that work, is having a material effect for good, but also that, by the concerted action of the two Commissioners, matters of the greatest importance with reference to the frontier defences of that country are in active process of settlement. The right hon. Gentleman referred shortly to the paragraph in the Speech dealing with Burmah, and he questioned some general principles which he appeared to find in that paragraph. I can only say that, in framing that paragraph, it was not our object to lay down any general principle at all. It has reference simply to the circumstances of that particular case; and when, not long hence, my noble Friend fulfils the duty incumbent upon him of proposing, within a month of the meeting of Parliament, a Resolution authorizing the payment out of the Indian Revenues of the expenses of the Burmese War, and when the Papers on this subject are fully in the possession of the House, I think these two things will 122 be clear—first, that we had absolutely no choice as to the annexation of Upper Burmah; and, secondly, that if that annexation had been delayed, there would have been the gravest risk of serious injury to the political and commercial interests of this country in the East. The right hon. Gentleman further complained of the absence of special reference to any measure, except in the paragraph relating to the Glebe Lands Bill, for promoting the interests of the agricultural labourer, and also found some fault with the sentence relating to the Crofters Bill. I will only say, in reply to these remarks, that it is absolutely impossible to place before the House, in the compass of a paragraph in the Queen's Speech, any real information as to the contents of any Bills which it is our intention to introduce. If the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Jesse Collings), who has given Notice this evening of his intention to move an Amendment to the Address upon the subject of agricultural allotments, will wait for the measures which we have promised, I think he will find that if his wishes are not met, that will, at any rate, be a more convenient opportunity for raising this question than can be afforded by a discussion upon a paragraph in the Queen's Speech. The most important part of the speech, however, which the right hon. Gentleman has just delivered, is unquestionably that relating to Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman referred to a sentence in the Address which he put forth to his constituents in September last, as expressing his opinion upon this great question. He reminded the House that he had, in that Address, dwelt strongly upon the necessity of granting enlarged powers of self-government to Ireland, but subject to the maintenance of the supremacy of the Crown, the unity of the Empire, and all the authority of Parliament necessary for the conservation of that unity; and he rather complained that this part of his address had not been animadvertod upon by any of the principal speakers on our side.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The right hon. Gentleman expressed satisfaction that this part of his address had not been unfavourably 123 commented upon by any leading supporters of Her Majesty's Government. If I may speak for myself on that matter, I will frankly say that I abstained from commenting upon that part of the right hon. Gentleman's address, because I could not understand precisely what it was that the right hon. Gentleman meant by it. He has talked again tonight of the unity of the Empire; but evidently, in his mind, the "unity of the Empire" is consistent with the existence of a Parliament here and of another Parliament in Dublin; because he reminded us that the unity of the Empire had existed, not only for the last 85 years, but for 600 years before. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to refer to the speeches made by Lord Salisbury. I think that it was scarcely fair, when Lord Salisbury at Newport distinctly stated his own opinion that no scheme of federation of which he had ever heard was applicable to the circumstances of England and Ireland—I think it was hardly fair to suggest that Lord Salisbury referred to that proposal as a possible solution of the matter. The right hon. Gentleman quoted from the speech made by Lord Salisbury at the Mansion House; and he referred to the opinion then expressed by his Lordship on the importance of preserving the integrity of the Empire, and of protecting the rights of minorities in Ireland. But the right hon. Gentleman, in the address which he quotes to this House to-night as the definite expression of his opinion on that subject, said nothing about protecting the rights of the minorities in Ireland. I welcome his adhesion to that doctrine to-night; but I should have welcomed it more if he had agreed with us in believing that for the due preservation of the integrity of the Empire, and for the protection of the rights of the minority in Ireland, it is essential that the fundamental law of the Legislative Union between the two countries should be maintained. The right hon. Gentleman deprecated any further declaration with regard to this subject on his own part —he even said that any such declaration would be injurious. Sir, it seems to me that in this matter there is something more to be considered than the tactics of an old Parliamentary hand. I could not overrate the value to these persons in England, and much 124 more in Ireland, who are in favour of maintaining the Legislative Union between the two countries, of an outspoken and a frank declaration by the right hon. Gentleman, similar to that which has fallen from the noble Marquess the Member for North-East Lancashire (the Marquess of Hartington), of his intention to maintain that Legislative Union, about which the right hon. Gentleman turned and twisted to-night, but with regard to which he said no definite word. We have thought it not only right, but necessary, in this most formal and solemn way, to express our determination as a Government upon this great question. That determination will not be welcome to hon. Members who follow the lead of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). They have a perfect right and sufficient ability to bring before this House their opinions with relation to this subject; and when the right hon. Gentleman suggested that, by advising the introduction of this paragraph in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech, we were attempting to preclude the fair consideration of it by the House of Commons, he made a suggestion which is absolutely without foundation. We have thought it right to say what we think—it is for others, if they disagree with us, to bring forward their views here in that definite state which hitherto they have never assumed, and then we shall say what we think of them. The right hon. Gentleman must have had some trouble to convince himself that there was no necessity for a declaration from him on this question. I have referred to the greatest necessity of all; but was there no necessity for such a declaration, even from an old Parliamentary hand, for the guidance and comfort of his own Party? We all know to what the right hon. Gentleman referred to-night—to these rumours which have been in the air, these "unauthorized communications" made by unknown persons to irresponsible newspapers. What was it that induced the noble Marquess the Member for North-East Lancashire, in concert with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen), who sits near him, to write a formal letter to the public Press, to the effect that the noble Marquess saw no reason to depart in any degree from the declarations which he had made upon 125 this subject? Why have we seen these impassioned utterances from pillars of the Liberal Party in the persons of two noble Dukes? Why was it necessary for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), when addressing a meeting the other evening, to go out of his way to say that, although no one was willing to make greater sacrifices than he was to secure the unity of the Liberal Party, there was one thing that ho would not sacrifice, and that was the unity and the integrity of the Empire. I want to know what is to be the policy of the great Party opposite upon this important question? We have raised this matter plainly before the House and the country, in advising this paragraph in the Speech from the Throne; if they do not agree with us, lot them move an Amendment to that effect. If they do agree with us, let them, through the mouth of someone who is authorized to speak on their behalf—if the right hon. Gentleman with all his authority will not do it—let them make a declaration of assent to our views. The right hon. Gentleman has charged us with hesitation in producing a measure dealing with county government in Ireland, and he referred to the most extraordinary myth which I think could ever have deceived any hon. Member of this House. The right hon. Gentleman really seems to believe that a statement of the kind which he quoted from The Dublin Express appearing in a newspaper of these days, especially in Ireland, was likely to be based upon the authority of Her Majesty's Government. Well, Sir, I have characterized that statement as a myth, and I can find no other description for it. If hon. Members agree with us in believing that it is necessary to maintain the Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland, I think they will also be of opinion that no enlargement of the powers of local government in Ireland should be given which could be used as a lever to weaken and destroy that Legislative Union, or which would enable a majority—a political or social majority—to tyrannize over the minority of the people. If this he so, surely they will feel that the extent to which the reform of local government in Ireland should be granted, and the time at which it could be undertaken, must depend very largely indeed upon the con- 126 dition of Ireland and the feeling of the people. Now, what is the present condition of Ireland? I do not wish to give to the House an alarmist view of the matter. Experience has taught mo that, in describing the condition of Ireland, Irishmen are apt to exaggerate and Englishmen to generalize very hastily from particular circumstances. But when, the right hon. Gentleman charges us with having changed our policy towards Ireland since November last, I would venture to remind him of a speech of my own which I know he did me the honour to read, because he wrote to mo upon it, in which, on September 30, I distinctly stated that it would be necessary for nor Majesty's Government, if the powers of the ordinary law were not sufficient to cope with the crime of "Boycotting," to apply to Parliament for further powers. Well, after that statement I think the right hon. Gentleman will feel that it is hardly fair to taunt us with having held our tongues for the sake of securing the support of the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his Friends until the General Election, which did not take place till the end of November, and then changing our policy to that indicated in this paragraph. The tone of the right hon. Gentleman, when referring to the failure of our attempt to dispense with exceptional powers, was, I thought, somewhat ungenerous. He spoke very differently when he addressed the House on this subject in July last. I acknowledged then the manner in which he referred to this important matter. If that attempt had failed, I, for one, should still be glad we had made it; because I feel strongly, as I then stated to the House, that the Government should do its best with the powers of the ordinary law, and should never resort to exceptional legislation without being abundantly satisfied of its necessity. But I contest the assertion that the course which we took in July last has been a complete failure.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
It has been asserted, and I thought the right hon. Gentleman said so.
No; I did not say so. I derived it from the newspapers, and I believed it to be the common impression.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
There are two points which I feel bound to bring under the notice of the House. In the first place, we have advised Her Majesty to state, in this Speech, that there has been during the last year no marked increase of serious crime. That, Sir, is the case, in spite of the cessation of the Crimes Act during the last six months of the year, and in spite, also, of exceptional commercial and agricultural depression in Ireland. The facts with regard to agrarian crime and outrage are these:—In the last six months of 1885 there were 543 cases of agrarian crime and outrage in Ireland, as against 374 in the corresponding six months of 1884. But of these 543 cases, as many as 270 were cases of threatening letters and notices, which, as the right hon. Gentleman knows very well, have not hitherto been considered of great importance, and many others were by no means cases of serious crime. There was, taking the whole number of cases, a greater proportion of minor crime in the last six months of last year than in the last six months of 1884. But another very important fact, which is not mentioned in the Speech, ought to be stated, that the House may have the statistics of crime fairly before it. Offenders have been punished in Ireland during the last six months even in cases of "Moonlighting," and cases of the sort in which it has always been difficult to secure convictions in Ireland—even in these cases convictions have been obtained: and at the Winter Assizes there was not, so far as I know, a single important case in which there was a failure of justice; and these convictions were obtained through ordinary juries, although one of the proposals of the Crimes Act, which I believe it had been intended to renew, was the power to obtain special juries in these cases. I have felt it right to put these points fairly before the House, as affecting the social and material condition of Ireland; but I am bound to say that this is by no means—I wish it were—a complete picture of the state of the country. As we have advised Her Majesty to state in Her Speech—There is in many places a concerted resistance to the enforcement of legal obligations,by no means confined to matters affecting landlords and tenants, and— 128The practice of organized intimidation continues to exist.I have always believed that neither of these could have been stopped, or would have been materially diminished, by the mere renewal of any parts of the Crimes Act, and for this simple reason—that both had grown up while the Crimes Act was in operation. We may be asked—and fairly asked—what measures have been taken by Her Majesty's Government in Ireland to deal with these serious offences? Well, Sir, where intimidation has manifested itself in language, action, or in any form of turbulence, prosecutions have been instituted. In the nine weeks ending January 2,408 individuals were proceeded against at Petty Sessions for offences not amounting to actual outrage connected with "Boycotting." Of these 139 were summarily convicted, 110 were returned for trial, and 76 were adjourned for lengthened periods to test the promises of good behaviour in the future made by the persons charged. Therefore, the House will see that Her Majesty's Government have not been slack to enforce the ordinary law as far as it is possible against crimes of this description; but, notwithstanding this, as we are compelled to state in this paragraph, these evils are growing—and seriously growing—and, in our judgment, it is a matter of primary and urgent necessity for the welfare of Ireland that they should be put down. Whether it is possible to deal with them by any further application of the powers of the ordinary law, or whether it is necessary for the Government to ask Parliament to confer upon the Executive additional powers, are questions which will receive the immediate and earnest attention of my right hon. Friend the Member for the Strand Division of Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith), who has, I think, with great patriotism and self-sacrifice, accepted a difficult and an anxious task at a very dangerous time. The right hon. Gentleman opposite twitted us with what he calls the "inconsequent conclusion" of the last sentence of this paragraph. I was surprised at such a taunt from the right hon. Gentleman; because, in 1870, when he was himself Prime Minister, he advised Her Majesty to express herself in similar language. He advised her to inform Parliament that the recent extension of agrarian crimes in several 129 parts of Ireland had filled Her Majesty with painful concern; that although the number of offences within that class of crimes had been by no means so great as at some former periods, the indisposition to give evidence in the administration of justice had been alike remarkable and injurious; and then he concluded by advising Her Majesty to state that she would not hesitate to recommend the adoption of special provisions should such a policy appear during the course of the Session to be required in the permanent interests of peace and order. The right hon. Gentleman at that time was accused of ambiguity of utterance and of postponing the protection of life and property to an attempt to deal with the law of land tenure, and what was his reply? His reply was, I think, not only sufficient, but complete. The right hon. Gentleman said—In the intention announced by the Government…so far as that intention imposes a careful daily regard to the condition of Ireland, and their duty to propose everything which that condition requires, there is nothing ambiguous or contingent."—(3 Hansard,  93.)Well, Sir, that is my answer now. That is the duty which Her Majesty's Government feel it incumbent upon them to perform; but it is a duty which I will venture to remind the House we are called upon to perform in the face of no common difficulties. If it be true, as the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) some time ago pithily stated, that the result of the General Election has not been to place the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian in the position that he desired, it is no less true that the result of the General Election was not satisfactory to Her Majesty's present Advisers. Sir, the verdict of the nation was uncertain. ["No, no!" and "Yes, yes!"] If it was not uncertain, move a Vote of Want of Confidence as an Amendment to the Address. I repeat, that the verdict of the nation was uncertain; and so we were compelled, not merely by a feeling of duty, but by Constitutional usage, to remain at our posts in a crisis of the gravest difficulty to the Empire. Well, Sir, we may not be strong in our own strength; but there is one opinion which I believe will receive the assent of every hon. Member of this House 130 —that nothing could be worse for our common country than that her affairs should be administered by a Government which is daily struggling for a precarious and doubtful existence. If the majority of this House dislikes our policy, if it distrusts our actions, let it say so as soon as may be, not for our sakes, but for the sake of the country. We shall know how to act. But if, on the other hand, it be the will of the majority of this House that we should remain in Office, then I would venture humbly, but most earnestly, to ask hon. Members, irrespective of Party divisions, whether, having come to that decision, they ought not to give to us that priceless strength which alone, by the sense of a free and independent support in the House of Commons, can enable any Ministers successfully to carry on the affairs of our country.
§ SIR JOHN KENNAWAY
said, it was well, at the outset of the debate, that they should reflect that the present Parliament was the consummation of one of the greatest revolutions which the Constitution had witnessed. It was a revolution brought about by the action of both political Parties. He was within the bounds of moderation when he held that scarcely ever in the history of Parliament had a Session been opened which excited more interest than the present. Having listened to the Speech from the Throne, and to these of the Leader of the Opposition and of the Leader of the House, he thought they must all come to the conclusion that the attitude of the two Parties in the State towards the great question of the hour showed that they were, as yet, only on the threshold of the Irish Question; and they had learned little of what would be the policy to which Her Majesty's Government had made up their minds, or that to which the Leader of the Opposition was coming, and to which he would direct his Party. They lived under a Constitution for which they had shed their blood, and to which they might look back with satisfaction. The revolution which had taken place now had been a silent and quiet one, there had been no tearing down of park railings, and yet nearly 3,000,000 voters had been added to the electoral roll of the country. The Reform Bill of 1832 had transferred political power from the aristocracy to the middle class; and a 131 further change had been made in 1886 in the direction of giving a vote to the working classes. Now, although he might deplore that many parts of his own county had departed from the old Constitutional attitude which they had maintained under a more restricted franchise, at the same time many on the other side of the House would regret that a large amount of the new voters in the South-East of England had proclaimed their adherence to Constitutional principles. They did not know what would be the definite result of the revolution in the future; but one thing had been satisfactorily proved—namely, that the agricultural labourer was not the degraded and unhappy being whom hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House had been so fond of depicting. He thought that they might congratulate themselves that there had been so few spoilt papers in the elections. A time would come when the agricultural labourer would find out that the Government of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone) had not been altogether perfect, or altogether successful, and would find out that the interests of employer and employed were more closely united than they now considered. The result of the late change had been that they had broadened the basis on which the Constitution rested. With regard to education, much would be done by the fact of the labourer being entrusted with a vote, and being called upon to discriminate between the two Parties in the State, and by feeling that he was no longer outside the pale of the Constitution. The result of this change, if it was to be worth anything, must be that fuller expression would be given to the general feeling of the country. In the present, the labourer had, at all events, exercised his vote independently, and he hoped that the labourers' wants and desires would receive careful consideration at the hands of the House. No one, however, would say that the Parliaments of the last 50 years had done nothing for the benefit of the working classes. They had passed Factory Acts, Acts for the better Housing of the Working Classes, and for removing the disabilities under which working men laboured. The relation of labour to capital had been greatly improved, and the late Sir Robert Peel 132 had greatly benefited the working classes by removing taxes on industry and by freeing the importation of corn. Still, there was no doubt that the effect of the recent change would be that the wishes of this class would be more closely attended to. It was, perhaps, difficult to ascertain the precise wishes of the rural population; but the three acres and a cow, of which they had heard so much, were really the expression of a desire on the part of the agricultural labourer to have more share in the land on which he lived. There could be no doubt that the consolidation of farms had divorced the labourer from the soil to a very large extent; but by the action of individual proprietors, and of local authorities, ho hoped that allotments might be more easily granted than before. With regard to education, he hoped that nothing would be done which would tend to diminish the self-reliance of the labourer, and that the Commission would look carefully into this matter before they gave him free education. As to local taxation, the producer should have that relief given to him which Parliament had again and again said it was right that he should have. He was glad to see that the Procedure of the House had been put in the forefront of matters to be dealt with, since great impatience had lately been shown at the inability of Parliament to deal with the questions submitted to it. He trusted the result of the proposals of the Government with regard to Procedure would be to increase the efficiency and popularity of the House of Commons. In this connection they had to look to the change in the composition of Parties of the House of Commons, and especially to the growth and policy of the Irish Party, whose aim it was to gain entire control for Irishmen over Irish affairs, and practically to loosen all connection of Ireland with England. ["No, no!"] The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) had, at all events, avowed such a programme. ["Never!"] It was something to get that denial; because such a programme would mean a hostile country at our doors and the reduction of England to the position of a second or third-rate Power. They had certainly heard with dismay that the hon. Member for Leeds, a relative of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid 133 Lothian, had openly announced that if five-sixths of the Members for Ireland desired a local Parliament they certainly ought to have one. Then it was announced, with the semblance of authority, that the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to endorse the sentiments of his son on this subject. ["No, no!"] It certainly, was announced with the semblance of authority. ["No, no!"] He must say, from what they had seen and heard of the sentiments of the right hon. Gentleman in regard to other matters, it was not very difficult for them to believe that he was prepared to take this step; and in saying that he did not at all accuse the right hon. Gentleman of sympathy with revolution. He (Sir John Kennaway) hoped the two great Parties in the State would put away recrimination and mutual charges of misgovernment of Ireland, and that they would rather admit that they had both committed inconceivable folly in allowing Ireland to be the battle-field of Party politics. Let whichever Party could best carry out what was right in this matter carry it out, and receive the support of both sides of the House, recognizing, in view of a crisis like the present, that however good and useful service Party government had done, there were occasions when duty to the country rose above Party. He trusted they would endeavour to do what was right in dealing with Ireland. They should carry out the spirit of the motto, "Be just and fear not." Let them be just to the minority of the Irish people, who needed the protection of the Government. Let them be just to the landlords, who had purchased their lands under the sanction of Imperial title. If the law was not strong enough for that purpose, it might be strengthened; only if it was to be strengthened, let it become more general in its application, so as to reflect as little as possible upon the Irish people. Let them give to Ireland, as they had given to Scotland, control over educational questions. Let them make effective the Land Purchase Act of last year, and let them not hesitate to make use of Imperial resources to enable tenants to become owners of the land. If they approached the subject with an earnest desire to do what was right they might leave the result to a higher power.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
said, that the last speaker had not done anything to meet the objection taken that the House had not sufficient information to deal with the questions raised. Special prominence had been given in the Speech of Her Majesty to the change that had taken place in Ireland recently with regard to crime. It was a very strange fact that every Government which undertook the control of Ireland was able at any time it suited them to make the statistics of crime suit the policy it wished to adopt. When it suited the Government to represent to the English and Irish people that exceptional powers of legislation outside the ordinary law wore not necessary the statistics of crime in the country wore regulated accordingly, and it was represented that there was a diminution of crime, and that Ireland was progressing in peace if not in prosperity; but so soon as the General Election was over, and so soon as the party of prejudice and disorder, and the party which had encouraged and sown the seeds of crime in Ireland, found it necessary, not in defence of good government or the integrity of the Empire as they pretended, but to defend their own narrow interests, they had endeavoured to prejudice the Government by lies and misrepresentation of the foulest character. He was not going to deny that there was a certain amount of turbulence and crime in some parts of the country, which must be deplored by every man who loved his country; but he maintained that during the past five or six months there had been less crime in Ireland than there had been at any period during the last five or six years. Even the most disordered portions of Ireland would compare favourably with the best and most moral portions of England or Scotland. It was true that attention had been directed to the relations of landlord and tenant; but it was not because of "Boycotting," but rather on account of the conspiracy got up by the advisers of the Government, who did not hesitate, for the sake of their own selfish interests, to endanger the safety of the Empire and the welfare of both countries. When they asked Englishmen to support the integrity of the Empire they aimed at the continuance of a system which would place a whip in the hands of Irish landlords. In England and Scotland enormous reductions of rent had 135 been assented to, and there was nothing in Ireland that would enable the tenant farmer to meet his obligations more easily than the English farmer. The House was asked to lend its sanction to a conspiracy got up by the Irish landlords to turn the people of Ireland out of their homes, and to cast them adrift on the world. In support of the alleged divisions in the Liberal Party the noble Marquess, one of the Leaders of the Opposition, was pointed to as having made a speech in favour of what was called the unity and integrity of the Empire in opposition to the demand for Home Rule; but it was well-known that a relation of the noble Marquess was a President of a so-called Loyal and Patriotic Union which was one of the conspiracies got up for the purpose of driving the Irish people from their homes. The Marquess of Salisbury had declared that the ordinary law was unable to cope with "Boycotting," and it had grown up under the Crimes Act. It was not unknown in London—in the City of London—in connection with the Primrose League. But none of the specific cases of alleged "Boycotting" in Ireland which had been mentioned by the recent deputations to the Marquess of Salisbury would bear the test of examination; one by one every statement made had been flatly contradicted. Lawlessness and disorder were to be found in the Loyalist Unions and Emergency Associations, whose object was to drive people from their homes; and a noble Lord who stood high in the estimation of Ministers, who thought it his special rôle to patronize them and suggest their Irish policy, had declared that it was the duty of himself and of his followers not to leave a Roman Catholic in the Province of Ulster. [Mr. JOHNSTON: Name, name! Cries of "Order!" and "Cole!"] He (Mr. Harrington) was utterly surprised to find hon. Gentlemen opposite interrupt him by calling out "Name!" These Gentlemen, who so carefully read the speeches of the various National League meetings, seemed not to pay any attention whatever to the observations of men like Lord Cole. If, therefore, hon. Gentlemen were ignorant on the subject of such speeches having been made he would read the speech of Lord Cole, made in Fermanagh. In that speech he said— 136It is not the Roman Catholic himself that I object to as a neighbour or friend, but it is to the Roman Catholics as a body.That was certainly very gratifying—his Lordship did not care about the extermination of one Roman Catholic, for it would not effect his purpose.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
This noble Lord did not object to one Roman Catholic; but if all Roman Catholics had only one head his Lordship would be glad to cut it off and dispose of them all. His Lordship continued—Because when a body of men deliver themselves over to one man, and show themselves to be so mean-spirited, low-minded, and weak, that they have no opinions of their own, but rely on the opinion of one man, and that man their priest, it is my opinion that they ought not to be allowed to have the power in their own hands in this great country.The noble Lord had also made other similar observations, and proceeded to say—For that reason do I preach this crusade against Catholics;and further,I say, therefore, to you farmers, employ more Protestants, and don't employ Roman Catholics.They had heard a great deal about "Boycotting." The Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke of the growth and extent of "Boycotting." If exceptional powers were given to the Government, would they use them impartially, and would they prosecute Lord Cole for this inflammatory speech? He challenged the Government to show on the popular side during recent agitation any speech approaching to that of Lord Cole in cowardliness, violence, meanness, and lawlessness. They had no objection that the best safeguards should be devised for the protection of the minority; but he was of opinion that if it were not for their own selfish class interests, for the belief that their privileges might be curtailed, and that the patronage they enjoyed as the humble followers of one Government or another in this country might be taken away, gentlemen of the character of Lord Cole would rather trust themselves to a Government of the 137 majority of their fellow-countrymen than to a Government of this country. The language which had been used by Lord Cole was only the plain expression of a feeling which had been entertained by the landlords of Ireland during the past six months. They had seen an organized system of eviction going on throughout the country; but instead of attention being directed to the laud-lords, the poor peasantry had received the exclusive attention of the Government, notwithstanding the fact that in these hard times it was impossible for the tenants to pay the rents which they had hitherto paid. That fact had been forced on the attention of the landlords in England; but the landlords of Ireland, instead of meeting the tenants in the same spirit as the English landlords, had been allowed to form themselves into a conspiracy to evict the people from their holdings. The landlord, of course, in pursuing such a policy was held to be carrying out the law; but the unfortunate people who found themselves totally unable to meet their obligations were described in the English journals as lawless mobs. He contended that the unfortunate people of Ireland were as ready now as they had been in the past to fulfil their engagements if they had an opportunity of doing so. He regretted to say that so far from there being any doubt about this the misfortunes of the people had been brought about, to a great extent, by their readiness to meet the demands of the landlords. While it was possible to borrow money from the money-lender or banker, or while their credit lasted, they had been giving their all to the most unjust and most merciless class on God's earth. If the House thought that exceptional powers given to the Government would wring out of the life-blood of the unfortunate peasantry of Ireland more than they were able to pay, if they believed that by coercion they would make the land of Ireland more productive than it was at the present time, by all means let the Government attempt the task. But he, as having some knowledge of the country, as having been through a period of trial and of difficulty at the head of the organization which had been attacked, knew different. The efforts of this organization had been directed towards the repression of disorder. ["Oh, oh!"] 138 He challenged any hon. Member to point to one letter which he had written or a speech which he had made which might be regarded as an incentive to crime or outrage. He maintained that the best efforts of the organization had been directed to keep the people peaceable and orderly; and ho told the Government that so far from any policy of repression contributing to the peace of the country, instead of diminishing crime or abolishing "Boycotting," crime would be increased five-fold. He urged the Government not to be led away by the false and malicious representations which had been made to them. They might render the situation difficult to Irish Members; they might drive them from the country; but the Government must not lose sight of this fact, that it was not with the Irish Members, but with the country behind them that they had to deal.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said, he thought the speech they had heard showed the House what was the commentary to be made on the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and the condition to which the three Provinces of Ireland had been reduced under a policy of conciliation. The hon. Member who spoke last referred to the Province of Ulster, and called in question the language of a noble Lord lately a Member of that House, and whose language he represented as having been of a character to incite the people of that country almost to bloodshed. He wished the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian had been present to have seen by practical and ascertained facts what was likely to be the condition of Ireland should the policy which he practically hinted at that evening be adopted by the House. It should be known once for all that the solution of the Home Rule problem did not consist solely in a certain amount of concession to the views of hon. Members opposite, but in bringing one portion of the people of Ireland into direct conflict with three other portions. He recollected a speech made by a Gentleman who held a high position in the organizations which had been referred to. The hon. Member for East Galway (Mr. Harris) made a speech which he (Mr. Brodrick) thought proper to bring before the notice of the Government of that I day. The speech was delivered in 1881. 139 The hon. Gentleman then declared that if the landlords were shot down like partridges in September he would say nothing against it. As to the assertion that there was a conspiracy on the part of the landlords, and from that the outrages and the difficulties with which the Government had to contend resulted, was it not the fact that if the landlords had the power of eviction the tenants had the power of obtaining a judicial rent and also large damages for disturbance? There had, he said, been intimidation by the National League at every polling-booth in Ireland. In many cases the people were brought up to the poll by their priests, and they had to deliver their votes openly before a member of the League who was in the polling-booth. The majority by which Irish Members sat on the Benches opposite was a cooked majority. The number who claimed the privilege of voting as illiterate electors was actually in excess of the number of illiterate electors returned in the Census. The hon. Member for East Kerry (Mr. Sheehan), in a speech delivered a fortnight or three weeks ago, advised the tenants to insist on getting 30 per cont off their rent then, or to get 50 per cent off next March; and by the next rent day after that there would be no rent at all. It was perfectly well-known that not one-tenth of the outrages committed in Ireland ever reached the ears of the police. When an appeal to the constituted authorities involved persecution against which the law failed to protect a man, there must be a large proportion of outrages which were never brought to the knowledge of the police. He regretted that the Government had used language last July which tended to encourage the National League in the belief that they were not about to vindicate the law. He did not say that the Government had failed in their duty in the last six months, so far as the ordinary law was concerned; but the convictions showed that it was not the will of the Government but the power of the law that was deficient. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian had declared that the paragraph in the Queen's Speech in which the Government stated their intentions as regarded Ireland was not altogether as clear as the House might desire; but he asked—was the late Prime Minister's own speech that 140 night clear to any Member of the House? The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House had made a straightforward and outspoken speech; but was not the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite a "contingent and shilly-shally speech?" It was impossible to tell what the right hon. Gentleman would do. He withheld his counsel and invited hon. Members opposite from Ireland to state their demands. He laid down limits that appeared to be dubious as to his own power of concession. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman of what were some of the demands of Irish Members opposite. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), addressing the Irish Volunteers in America, in 1882, said—Oh, that I could carry these arms to Ireland! Well, but it may come to t0hat some day. None of us will he satisfied till we have destroyed the last link that keeps Ireland bound to England.Was not that a sufficiently definite assurance of what the policy of the hon. Gentleman would be? Did the right hon. Gentleman opposite think that 0'Donovan Rossa and James Stephens would give their dollars to sustain a Parliament that would be friendly to England? Did the right hon. Gentleman opposite think that the policy which he refused distinctly to discard would be acceptable to an English Parliament? Whatever the policy of Irish Members opposite might be, it was certainly not a backward policy, but an advancing one, and one of its objects had been plainly avowed to be to get the ownership of the land for the people of Ireland. The irresistible conclusion to be drawn from the language of the right hon. Gentleman opposite was that he was undergoing one of these processes of conversion which he invariably underwent when the newness of his last concession was gone. In the magnificent peroration ho had given them that night Democratic sentiment, Communism, and Conservatism were all mingled. They all knew what almost invariably followed on such declarations from the right hon. Gentleman. They knew that he had incubated if the egg was not hatched; and they would soon see the result. The right hon. Gentleman said that 15 years ago he held language similar to that he used at present as to local government in Ireland. 141 That remark conflicted entirely with the right hon. Gentleman's own statement in 1878, when he appealed to the House to pass a University Bill on the ground that it would remove the last social grievance to he found in Ireland. Each of the right hon. Gentleman's great measures had been introduced with the solemn promise that it would he the last one required to secure complete contentedness in Ireland; whereas each of them had left that country more dissatisfied and nearer to revolution than before. What then, it might be asked, were the prospects that any measure of local government for Ireland which the right hon. Gentleman might be willing to support was likely to be final? The result of all the healing Irish measures that the right hon. Gentleman opposite had induced Parliament to pass was that at the recent General Election not a single Liberal candidate had been elected for Ireland. He warned the House against embarking in the fruitless chase of seeking to produce contentment in Ireland by moans of concession. When the right hon. Gentleman opposite talked of maintaining the supremacy of the Crown, the unity of the Empire, and the authority of Parliament, did he mean that that was consistent with establishing a Parliament on College Green? The right hon. Gentleman was scarcely justified in twitting Her Majesty's Government with a paragraph which had appeared in an Irish newspaper when ho had himself failed to disavow the policy which had been attributed to him in a London newspaper, and which had struck terror into the hearts of his political Friends. The fact was that the right hon. Gentleman was sitting on the rail, willing to be knocked over on either side, and waiting to see whether the Members of his Party would accompany him. The right hon. Gentleman in the action he was pursuing might be paving the way for the disruption of the Liberal Party. When the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had charged the Liberal Party with having no policy, the right hon. Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) had laughed and sneered and scoffed. But they all knew what was the policy of the right hon. Member for Derby. He always waited to see which way the wheel turned, and had been aptly described as "the High Priest of 142 the Jumping Cat," whose shrine was the only one at which the right hon. Gentleman had ever yet been known to worship. He did not believe that this system of waiting upon opportunity would recommend itself to the English people. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his speech that evening had taken up the strong ground that Her Majesty's Government would not consent to remain in Office unless the powers necessary for the proper government of Ireland were conferred upon them, and the country was waiting to hear what was the policy of these who were anxious to take their place. The Irish Party in that House were strong; but no Government could exist for a moment which was prepared to purchase their support. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was certainly not responsible for the interpretations which it suited some hon. Members opposite to put upon the action of the Irish voters in this country during the recent elections, inasmuch as before the Dissolution of the late Parliament his speeches had shown that he was not prepared to take any share in the government of Ireland unless the necessary powers were conferred upon the Government to enable them to maintain law and order in that country, He hoped that both Parties iii that House in dealing with this question would be influenced by considerations of right and justice, and would not permit themselves to be swayed by any hope of securing the votes of the Irish Members. The country, however, would be enabled to judge by the speeches which had been made that night from both Benches on which side of the House it was most likely that weakness on this question would be shown. He trusted and believed that Her Majesty's Government would pursue the line of policy with regard to Ireland which they had laid down, and would so deserve and receive the support of Parliament and of the country.
§ MR. ALBERT GREY
remarked that he had been much disappointed at the speeches which had been delivered by the right hon. Gentlemen the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Leader of the Opposition. They had met at the opening of a new Parliament to confront a great national crisis, and they had to take into consideration two great facts, 143 the first being that in three-fourths of Ireland the government of the League was supreme and the Queen's writ did not run; and the second being that an overwhelming proportion of the Irish Representatives had openly declared that they were resolved not to relax their efforts until they had secured the legislative independence of their country. What were the steps taken by Her Majesty's Government in face of a crisis such as that? They had introduced into the Queen's Speech an ambiguous sentence, and they seemed to have no other recourse than to send the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) to Ireland to see the state of the country for himself, and to make a Report to them. This was an exceedingly feeble line of action for the Government to take. The very moment they wanted the Report they sent the Reporter; and what an insult it was to their own officers in Ireland! What were Lord Ashbourne and Mr. Plunket doing? Could not the Government trust their Reports? Were they determined to rule Ireland entirely through English eyes that they must send the right hon. Gentleman to report? Was it not a condemnation on themselves that they should be obliged to wait until the right hon. Gentleman had prepared his Report before they could decide what steps they would take for the enforcement of the law in the disturbed parts of Ireland? As to Home Rule, he was glad that the Queen's Speech rang with no uncertain note—namely, an unalterable and determined resolve to maintain the Legislative Union. On this point he could find no fault with Her Majesty's Government; but he objected to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, because it contained no distinct announcement of a determination on his part that he also was resolved to uphold the Legislative Union. The right hon. Gentleman had said that he would not have his hand forced. The crisis was so great that the hand of every Member of that House ought to be forced, so that the country should know who was or who was not in favour of Home Rule. Having listened attentively to his speech, he was afraid that if the closed hand of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian were to be forced, there would be found in it a Parliament on 144 College Green. He was surprised that so old a Parliamentary hand as the right hon. Gentleman, while inviting the Irish Members to give full expression to their views, should have sought, by his advice, to put a muzzle upon the mouths of the Liberal Party upon this question, Why should the Representatives from Ireland be invited to speak, and the Representatives from Great Britain be urged to keep silent? He trusted that they would hear from the other Leaders of the Liberal Party a clear and distinct statement of their views upon this question. He hoped the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) would get up and announce their determination to uphold, by every means in their power, the Legislative Union. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian expressed a hope that in their debates they would not allow any hot or angry feelings to disturb the calm consideration of the great questions at issue. He earnestly hoped that such would be the case. But what did the country expect at this crisis? It expected the absence of Party recrimination; that there should be an indifference on the part of Members as to what set of men might enjoy the sweets of Office; and that they should approach this great crisis with an absolute and unalterable determination to uphold the Legislative Union, and to restore Ireland to the authority of the Queen.
§ MR. JOHNS
said, he rose with a great deal of diffidence to dissent entirely from the doctrine which had just been enunciated by the last speaker. He was one of these who thought that it was not for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) to open his hand or to raise his voice; but it was for the Chancellor of the Exchequer and right hon. Gentlemen who sat on the opposite Benches to say what was to be done for Ireland. It was no part of the duty of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) to say what course ought to be pursued. As a young Member of the House he (Mr. Johns) had listened with a good deal of respect to much which had fallen from hon. Members in the course of the debate; but he must certainly confess that he had been somewhat astonished at the remarks which had been made by the 145 hon. Member for the Guildford Division of Surrey (Mr. Brodrick). If they were to take the language of the hon. Member as the standard upon which they were to prosecute their debates in that House, he was afraid that their deliberations would deteriorate very materially from these which had taken place in previous years. He certainly did not understand, politically, what "a jumping cat" meant. Possibly the hon. Member did; but, if so, he ought to have acquainted the House with what his exact meaning was. He (Mr. Johns) thought that all that had fallen from the hon. Member for the Guildford Division was a condemnation of the Queen's Speech. He did not know whether the remarks of the hon. Member were intended to be delivered in support of Her Majesty's Ministers; but most assuredly they wore as strong a condemnation of the Queen's Speech as could have been uttered, although the hon. Gentleman dealt only with the paragraphs which related to Irish matters. Allusion had been made to the political utterances of Viscount Cole in Ireland. If his (Mr. Johns') memory served him, Lord Cole had never been looked upon as a very discreet man, and could scarcely be regarded as a shining political light. A good deal had been said as to "Boycotting." He happened to hail from an agricultural constituency, and he was sorry to say that in the centre of England a good deal of "Boycotting" was going on at present. He regretted to add that the whole of it emanated from the Party who sided with hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Tories were in full swing in North Warwickshire, "Boycotting" all who had supported him. He hoped that hon. Members opposite would communicate with their friends and supporters in that district and intimate to them that "Boycotting" was as undesirable a process in England as in Ireland, and that it ought to be terminated as speedily as possible. If exceptional legislation had to be adopted in reference to Ireland upon this particular question of "Boycotting," he, for one, asked that it should be extended to the whole of the United Kingdom as well as to Ireland. He did not believe in exceptional legislation for Ireland so long as "Boycotting" was allowed to remain a marked feature in the Midland Counties of England. He 146 thanked the House for having permitted him to offer these brief observations.
§ SIR RICHARD TEMPLE
Mr. Speaker, there is one subject in respect to which I can contribute something towards this debate. It is a subject which has received some prominence in the Queen's Speech, and has been repeatedly mentioned by hon. Members this evening. It is the annexation of Burmah. I have listened with the utmost respect to all that fell this evening from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone). I shall not presume to follow him into the abstract principles which he adduced, nor attempt to argue as to how far a civil wrong may constitute a casus belli, nor whether the desire of mercantile expansion would justify a certain degree of aggressiveness. I shall rather try to apply specifically these principles to practical politics, and to present the actual case as it occurred for the judgment of this House. I was Lord Canning's Special Commissioner, in 1860, for the formation and constitution of the Province now known as British Burmah, and for that purpose I travelled over the country. I have subsequently governed Bengal Provinces adjacent to Burmah. Therefore, I have personal knowledge of the subject upon which I am about to address the House briefly. Looking over the 25 years—a quarter of a century has elapsed since the establishment of British Burmah in 1860—and considering all that has happened in that space, I know—as all India knows, as everyone experienced in the East knows also—that the recent annexation of the Kingdom of Ava, or Burmese Proper, to the British Dominions was just, timely, and expedient. The Burmese King of Ava was bound to us by peculiar bonds of political obligation. His relations with us wore of an intimate character, unlike any relations which he had, or possibly could have, with any other Power. He was not exactly under our protectorate; but he was, since the several wars which his Predecessors had with us, peculiarly situated both as regards the alliance he could give us, or the support which we could afford to him. In that special situation he, and some of his Predecessors too, pursued a course of consistent hostility; at first, petty hostility indeed, but, by degrees, assuming graver and graver proportions, 147 till it was about to burst out into a flame, when the British Government was obliged to extinguish it forcibly. The Resident at his Court, the accredited Agent of the British Government, was so slighted that he had to be withdrawn. British subjects were maltreated; British steamers were detained by violence in Burmese rivers; Hill tribes under British control were claimed as Burmese subjects; brigandage was suffered to break out in troublesome vicinity to British territory. Shocking massacres of portions of the King's own family were perpetrated by his own orders. The humane world began to say that these horrors were preventable, and to ask how long England would stand by and see such atrocities committed without any attempt at prevention? Even these events, taken by themselves, might not have necessitated armed intervention; but they were accompanied by a long series of intrigues with Foreign Powers in Europe, conducted under cover of Commercial Conventions. As loyal and patriotic Englishmen, we may hesitate to allude to these transactions with much of particularity; and there is always a need for caution and reserve in touching on relations of some delicacy with Foreign Powers. But we are informed that a Blue Book containing a mass of official Correspondence relating to Burmah will be shortly presented to this House. How far these Papers will explain or illustrate these transactions we cannot yet say, till we shall have studied the Blue Book. But there is sure to be shown quite enough to indicate to these who can read between the lines that, for several years, the Burmese Sovereign, or the Court of Ava, had been endeavouring to set up indirectly some foreign European Ally within Burmah Proper which could be used as a fulcrum against the long-established British influence in that Kingdom, or the Upper Valley of the Irawaddy, and as a lever ultimately for expelling the British from British Burmah, or the Lower Valley of the Irawaddy. Perhaps these sinister endeavours may have, in some degree, been thwarted by the action—loyal to us—of the European Powers thus appealed to. Partly, also, English diplomatic pressure in Europe may have been of some avail. Still, the Burmese King persisted in introducing foreign European agency on a large scale into his Dominions, evi- 148 dently with the view of enlisting the European Governments, of which these Agents were the subjects, on the Burmese side as against the British. These measures were fast maturing into accomplished facts had it not been for the prompt intervention by force of the British Government. During last autumn the matter had become so urgent that there was hardly a day to be lost. In Burmah, too—as we have but too often found elsewhere—the season for military operations is very short. This much, I am confident, will be perceived by this House as soon as the Blue Book shall be read. As a climax, there was the affair of the Bombay and Burmah Trading Company. No doubt, that was a grave civil wrong. Though it was no ordinary case, though its magnitude was wide, extending over a large area of country, affecting the staple of Burmese production—teak timber—theugh it was closely connected with the Burmese Sovereign himself, still it alone might not have rendered necessary a recourse to arms. It was the connection which this case had with our political relations that brought about the necessity of war. The case, indeed, was as a link in a long drawn chain of injury and insult to the British nation, or as a spark igniting a mass that had been rendered combustible by provocation. Military operations, then, were the only means of settling affairs which, remaining unsettled, would have involved us in inextricable complications with Foreign Powers. Sir, besides the justice and reasonableness of our action there is the expediency. Such expediency relates to the interests of the Burmese population. That portion of this population which inhabits British Burmah, or the Lower Irawaddy, is benefited by the freedom and security of the trade with the Upper Irawaddy, on which national interests depend, and which was constantly interrupted by anarchy at Ava. That portion which inhabits the Upper Irawaddy, or Burmah Proper, is benefited by the substitution of British administration for the cruel and inefficient rule of the Burmese King. The hon. Member for North-West Manchester (Mr. Houldsworth), who this evening seconded the Address in reply to the Queen's Speech, showed, by statistics, the amazing improvement wrought in British Burmah within the last 20 years. By that summary this 149 House can measure the progress which will take place in Burmah Proper, recently annexed. Under Providence, the annexation will be fraught with blessing to a Burmese population already considerable, and capable, under our just rule, of multiplying, to replenish a fertile area now half-waste through misrule. These advantages will be secured to them at a slight sacrifice to us. A comparatively small force will suffice for garrisoning the country. Such a force would cause no perceptible drain on the military resources of India. We shall, indeed, have one more wild and mountainous frontier in our Eastern Empire. But who that has witnessed the triumphs of British management on the Trans-Indus Borders, in the Himalayan States, in Assam, on the Lushai Hills, can doubt that we shall easily settle the new border between Burmah and China? That which has been so well done in the upper regions of the Indus, the Ganges, and the Brahmaputra, we may now do in the upper regions of the Irawaddy, This frontier, too, will touch China, becoming the first point of contact between the British-Indian Empire and China Proper. With the capacity and potentiality of China, who shall venture to estimate the vastness of the commercial result that may arise hereafter from such a contact? There will also be Chinese immigration into Upper Burmah; and we know what that will be from our experience of what that immigration has been, and is, in Lower Burmah. The emigration of the Chinese from China towards the United States has been checked—that towards Australia is likely to be checked also. It will now have an unchecked flow into Burmah; and there it will have free play for development. All this will happen as among the consequences of a just and necessary war, rapidly, easily, and cheaply conducted. While entirely deprecating aggressiveness for the sake of any advantage, however precious, yet if the justice and necessity be indisputable, as they are in this case, I am not ashamed to express my joy at finding that in these days of profitless trade something considerable has occurred in Burmah that may help to lift our commerce out of the slough of depression. Sir, before I sit down I will allude to one more passage in the 150 Gracious Speech from the Throne. I rejoice to see that the noble Lord the Secretary of State for India (Lord Randolph Churchill) proposes an inquiry by this House as to the results of the Indian administration since the Crown assumed the government of India, nearly 30 years ago. This inquiry implies no disparagement whatever to the noble progress which has been attained in India during that time. But it does imply that we may still direct this progress into higher walks of social or political advancement, and towards movements of a character affecting the self education of the Indian people in the best and loftiest sense. It is true, on the one hand, that, as responsible for the defence of the country, we must keep in our own hands the supreme direction of affairs. In that we can admit of no participation; and, therefore, we must have Europeans in these posts which demand British-born capacity. But short of this, on the other hand, we should try to promote Natives more and more in the Public Service, always without prejudice to the rights of the European officers actually in that Service. We should improve the salary, furlough, and pension rules for Native officials. We should raise the Natives of India more and more to positions in which they will feel responsible for evincing energy, self-reliance, and promptitude. This is, indeed, that practical education which lasts through life. But, further, we should impart national education to them as forming a nation. Such education consists in teaching them the art of self-government in local affairs, in inducing them to take a lively interest in the management of their Provincial concerns, in causing them to perform these many honorary duties which are performed by municipal magnates in our British towns at home, and by the country gentlemen in our counties—in cautiously introducing among them the municipal franchise primarily, and afterwards that elective or electoral system which is the life of our body politic. In guiding aright the legitimate aspirations which they now have, and in inspiring them with an ambition yet nobler than any which they now possess, we shall imbue them with a real loyalty, of which we had an earnest the other day, when hostilities with Russia were threatened; and we shall render them, 151 as a mighty mass, a source of strength to the British Empire at large.
§ MR. PARNELL
I do not intend to add to the heat which the hon. Member for the Guildford Division of Surrey (Mr. Brodrick) imported into the debate a short while ago. In dealing with his speech I will only say that I do not think that the hon. Member was either fair or accurate in the references he made to some of my Friends and also to myself. The hon. Gentleman was certainly not fair to the hon. Member for the Eastern Division of Galway (Mr. Harris) when, in reading from a speech alleged to have been made by him a great many years ago, in support of the accusations brought so freely by the hon. Member for the Guildford Division of Surrey in his speech to-night, that hon. Member omitted to tell the House a fact which, I think, must have been within his cognizance—namely, that the hon. Member for East Galway apologized for, and withdrew, every word of the speech complained of, on the first opportunity he could find, afterwards. I think it was not fair to my hon. Friend that, under these circumstances, this old speech should have been brought up in judgment against him and against the Irish Members to-night without the additional information being afforded by the hon. Member which, I submit, it was both in the hon. Member's power to afford, and which it was equally his duty, under the circumstances, in dealing with the grave situation of affairs in Ireland, to have vouchsafed to the House. Neither was the hon. Member correct in his reference to me. He was both inaccurate and vague. He tells us that it was stated in the English newspapers that I was reported in an American newspaper to have made a speech in America in 1882. The hon. Member will forgive me for reminding him that I was not in America in 1882. [Mr. BRODRICK: In 1881.] Nor in 1881. I was in America neither in 1881 nor in 1882, for I had the misfortune to be in a rather different place, and I certainly was not in a position to make the speech of which the hon. Member complains. I will only say, in leaving the hon. Member, that when the hon. Member goes back to rake up speeches which he alleges to have been reported in certain newspapers he might, perhaps, occupy a little of his time in making perfectly certain as to 152 his facts and as to his dates. I prefer, Sir, rather to imitate the spirit displayed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) in dealing with this question; and I desire to acknowledge to the fullest extent that that right hon. Gentleman has approached the question to-night in a manner worthy of the traditions which attach to his name and to the great power he possesses. The right hon. Gentleman has invited me, at some future time, to state the demands which are made by more than five-sixths of the Representatives of Ireland in regard to the government of their country, and I have no doubt that such an opportunity would be found at the proper moment. For the present, I can only say I have little doubt that if the House at large, or even a majority, approach the question of the government of Ireland, or the alterations to be made in it, in the same spirit and with the same largeness of views as have characterized the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, such a solution would be found as would enable Ireland to be entrusted with the right of self-government, and secure those guarantees, regarding the integrity of the Empire, the supremacy of the Crown, and the protection of the minority—of what is called the loyal minority—in Ireland which have been required by the Leaders of both the political Parties in the House. I have always believed that if we could come to a discussion—if we could agree upon the principle that the Irish people are entitled to some self-government, that Parliament has to a very large extent failed to impose conditions for governing Ireland during the 85 years that have elapsed since the Union—wo should not find the details so very formidable, or such great difficulties in the way of securing the Empire against the chances of separation, which seem to oppress the public mind in England at the present moment. My own candid opinion is this—that so far from increasing the chances of separation the concession of autonomy to Ireland would undoubtedly very largely diminish them. I believe that the feeling in this country upon the matter—a feeling which I believe to be a genuine one and really to exist—the feeling that the entrusting of Ireland with self-government might re- 153 suit in danger to the Empire, simply arises from the want of knowledge, which must befall Englishmen, with reference to any Irish question; and from the very industrious attempts which have been set on foot by some gentlemen, who assume to represent the landlords of Ireland, with the view of throwing the public opinion of this country on the wrong scent, and diverting attention from the real issue to a question about danger to the integrity of the Empire, with reference to which I believe there is really no apprehension at all. Indeed, the very persons who are loudest in their talk about the risk run by the loyal minority in Ireland, and the integrity of the Empire, secretly and in their own hearts know perfectly well that the statement has no foundation. No, Mr. Speaker; this question is really a question of the amount of rent which the landlords of Ireland shall receive; and when hon. Members, representing the landowners of the country, talk about the integrity of the Empire they are thinking rather about the integrity of their breeches pockets. The Land Question is, undoubtedly, a very difficult question, and to my mind presents the real point of difficulty in arriving at a solution of the question of Irish autonomy; and the House will find that if that question be once settled on a basis satisfactory to the Irish landlords and tenants, if such a basis could be arrived at, you would hear nothing more from Irish Representatives on the opposite Benches about the integrity of the Empire and the risk of separation. We have been spoken to to-night about the necessity of protecting the loyal minority. Now, I myself was born a Protestant; I have always lived a Protestant, and I hope to die a Protestant; and if in the future, after the concession of the Irish claims, any danger were to arise to my Protestant fellow-countrymen, I would be the first to stand up for liberty of speech, liberty of conscience, and liberty to live and thrive for every section of the community, whether they be Protestants or whether they be Catholics; and perhaps I might be a more effectual aid, in times of real danger, than some of those hon. Gentlemen who talk so loudly and who boast so much. But I have no such apprehension. I am convinced that the Catholics of Ireland would not attempt to oppress their fellow-country- 154 men. They would desire, and it would be their object, in view of the history of the past, to give the Protestants of Ireland more than fair play; they would endeavour to bring them to the front, and give them the fullest share in the government of Ireland. Look at the considerable proportion of Protestants which the Irish national constituencies have willingly and freely returned. If they have not returned more Protestants it is not on account of any prejudice against their creed, but because it has been difficult to find more from that class with the necessary leisure and with a desire sufficient to induce them to come to Westminster in order to represent Irish constituencies. No, Sir; I have no belief at all in the talk either of the danger of separation or the danger to the Protestant minority. The allegation is brought forward for interested motives by the landlord class in Ireland in order that they may, for a few years longer, retain the power of exacting from their tenants exorbitant rents which the soil has not produced. If there was no Land Question in Ireland there would be no opposition from any influential or considerable section in the country to the concession of a full measure of autonomy for Ireland. But in any case the Catholics of Ireland are perfectly willing that any guarantees that the ingenuity of man can frame for the protection of the minority shall be framed and shall be put in force; and it would be found that the Catholics would treat much more justly and much more generously the 1,000,000 Protestants of Ireland in regard to their future representation in the Irish Parliament than the Protestants of England and Scotland have treated the 2,000,000 of Catholics in regard to their just representation in this Imperial Parliament. Allusion, Sir, has been made in the Queen's Speech, and also by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer—I admit a most moderate allusion has been made by him—to the difficulties in connection with what is called "Boycotting," and also the difficulties iii the way of obtaining of rents. The right hon. Gentleman certainly did not appear to me, speaking from his point of view, to attempt to magnify these difficulties. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that convictions had been obtained in almost every instance under the ordinary law, 155 and that more serious crime had not increased since the Government allowed the more stringent provisions of the Coercion Act to drop. He also admitted that while, what he terms, and justly terms, minor offences, such as threatening letters, have somewhat increased, yet, in regard to "Boycotting" offences, the Government have obtained about 150 convictions out of 400 prosecutions, and that in other cases prosecutions are still pending and have yet to come off. I regard that testimony as most important, for it shows that at the termination of the Crimes Act there was not that relapse into serious crime which many people had apprehended; and it is a somewhat remarkable result in the case of a people of such an elastic nature as that which unhappily belongs to the Irish. It is much to their credit that they should have abstained from crime, and set their faces resolutely against crime as they have done. I think it is a matter which ought to be better known and admitted more by the public feeling in England than it appears to be. Nevertheless, I admit that, unhappily, in regard to the question of land, affairs in Ireland are at present very serious. That result is one which I myself have deprecated very much. Neither the organization of which I am the head in Ireland nor I myself can charge ourselves with having done anything to foment that state of things. On the contrary, so far as my influence and that of my friends has been available it has distinctly been used to prevent "Boycotting" in as many cases as we could possibly interfere; and it has also been distinctly used in the direction of repressing and restraining the movement which sprung up in a spontaneous manner among the people themselves. These matters are on record, and, of course, it will not be denied that these have been the efforts of nearly all of the important leaders of the National Party in Ireland. I do not deny that some extravagant speeches have been made by one or two gentlemen—speeches which I have been the first to deprecate—but we all know that it is very difficult at times to put an old head on young shoulders, and young men are sometimes very much carried away when making speeches into saying things which in their sober moments they would undoubtedly regret. But as re- 156 gards the movement itself, it is a very remarkable and a noteworthy fact that the present movement was a spontaneous one, and in that it differs from the Land League movement of 1879. Upon that movement £250,000 sterling was spent in organizing the tenantry and in persuading them to resist the payment of rents which were admittedly, at the time, rack rents. That movement resulted in the passing of the Land Act of 1881. But upon the present movement not one single penny has been spent. In addition to the repressing and restraining influences we have exercised, we have refrained from making any expenditure whatever in aid of the movement for the reduction of rents, to which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has referred. Therefore, it cannot be said that it has been a movement which has been encouraged and fomented by the National League. I think the spontaneous character of the movement is a matter well worthy the attention and consideration of the House and of the Government. The Irish tenantry have, for a very great number of years, paid large sums of money in the shape of rent. They are represented as persons desirous of evading their obligations. That is not my experience. My experience, on the contrary, has been that they have been rather too willing to pay excessive body and soul together, even at the risk rents; and so long as they could keep of starvation to their families and themselves, they have attempted to keep the roofs over their heads at any cost. But now their condition is so desperate, and brought as it has been to its present pitch by such a reduction in the prices of agricultural produce as we have not had any experience of for 30 years—in the prices of all the agricultural produce which their farms yield—that they have been forced into the present movement in order to claim from certain landlords—not all landlords, because I believe the majority of the Irish landlords at the present moment are giving fair reductions, and are, in that way, preventing the tenants from going to extremities, and also saving the remains of their own property—but in the case of a minority of the Irish landlords who have stubbornly refused all reduction of rent there does unhappily exist on a certain number of estates in Ireland a combina- 157 tion for the purpose of obtaining a reduction of these rack rents. If the matter be inquired into, I think it will be found that that is the whole dimension to which the complaint is capable of being stretched. The House, composed, as it is, largely of Representatives from agricultural districts, must know that that agricultural depression does exist, and has sprung up since rents were fixed under the Land Act of 1881. The rents were then fixed for a term of 15 years; but owing to the depreciation in the prices of agricultural produce, amounting to 50 per cent, it has now become in many cases absolutely impossible to collect these rents. I think that it is no discredit to the exertions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) to say that the rents fixed under his Act, owing to this great fall in the prices of agricultural produce, have become impossible rents, and that the purpose of that Act has been defeated. There are many examples which I might give of the action of landowners in Ireland in proof of my contention as to the exorbitancy of rents. Take a case which happened the other day in my own county of Wicklow—a county which has always been remarkably free from crime and outrage, having been without a single case of outrage during the whole of the Land League agitation. I will take the case of an estate of a nobleman on which the rents have been fully 20 per cent lower than those of the poorer landed gentry—namely, the estate of Lord Fitzwilliam, a large property worth fully £50,000 a-year. The other day Lord Fitzwilliam voluntarily and of his own accord gave a reduction of 50 per cent on the half-year to all his tenants—those who had obtained reductions under the Land Act, tenants from year to year, and leaseholders. Lord Fitzwilliam gave them all round a reduction of 50 per cent. I know that this has been denied. I have seen a letter from the agent, Mr. Duncan McNeill, who states that it was a reduction for the whole year, and therefore was only a reduction of 25 per cent. Practically speaking, it was a reduction of 50 per cent upon the half-year; because, as a tenant upon that estate, I had paid my rent in full for the preceding half-year, and I myself received back from Mr. Duncan McNeill an abatement of 50 per 158 cent upon the amount which I owed to Lord Fitzwilliam in respect of a tenancy upon which a judicial rent has been fixed. This is a conclusive proof that there is great agricultural depression in Ireland, and that agricultural depression is recognized, not only by the tenants, but also by the landlords. The rents on Lord Fitzwilliam's estate have been so moderate that many of his tenants have never gone into the Land Court at all; and notwithstanding that fact he has given this large reduction to the tenants to save them from extermination. What, then, must be the fate of poor tenants in a county like Kerry, under an agent like Mr. Hussey, where every concession is refused, and the only answer to the tenant is a visit from an army of policemen and soldiers to drive away any poor stock the tenants may have? We were told just now that the Queen's writ does not run in Ireland. The only answer the tenant gets to an application for a reduction of rent is, as I have said, a visit from an army of policemen and soldiers, to drive away the stock he has on the holding, or a shower of writs. Queen's writs not only run, but fly. They come in clouds; they come in storms. Well, Sir, the situation is undoubtedly a serious one; but if the Government step in and support that small minority of landlords who are refusing all reasonable concessions to their tenants, like that which I have cited, the result will be that these landowners and many others will be strengthened in their unjust demands, and great suffering and misery would befall the unfortunate and wretched people. The weight of authority and power which must always exist will weigh down the scale unjustly and cruelly towards the tenant. I shall be glad if some proposition can be made for dealing with the land difficulty in Ireland, because I look upon it as the real difficulty in that country, which overshadows every other. I do not think that there is any real disposition on the part of the Irish tenants to refuse just and fair concessions; and I am sure the great majority of the people are most anxious that the landlords should receive such fair terms and fair treatment as the extremity of the times renders at all possible. Some scheme of purchase might be devised on some such lines as those which are understood to have been put forward by 159 the eminent statistician, Mr. Giffen, in a recent letter which has attracted a good deal of attention. I do not pledge myself to details; but as to the general idea contained in that letter, it is one under which the bulk of the land in the occupation of agricultural tenants might be purchased. It must be recollected that this is a limited question; and I am very much disposed to believe—of course, I have not accurate information in my possession, but I am disposed to believe—that the land of Ireland in the possession of agricultural tenants, within the meaning of the Land Act, including bonâ fide leaseholders, and leaving out of the question mesne lands, does not amount to the value of more than £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 at the outside; and taking that valuation as the basis—and certainly we could not take a higher—I think it would be fair to arrange to purchase at such a number of years purchase as would fairly compensate the landlords and extricate them from the dangerous and difficult position they occupy now. The depreciation of prices which now exists makes it difficult for the tenant to pay any large amount of money; indeed, it is impossible for him to pay the judicial rents. The question demands the careful attention of the House and the Government; and I believe, and all those who are not influenced by Party motives in Ireland are of opinion, that there should be some fair settlement, and if such fair settlement were arrived at and agreed upon by all parties, and if it were really a fair one, I am convinced that the payments would be made by the Irish tenants to the last penny. I hope, Sir, that we may have a further opportunity of reverting to this matter. We are bound to stand by our people. When it comes to be a struggle between the Irish landowners, aided by the Government, and the Irish tenants, whom I and my Friends represent, and the Irish labourers, we can have no doubt as to which side we should cast our lot with. But we wish that the "still small voice of reason" should prevail. We do not desire to go into any contest. We see in the present position a desire and a wish on the part of Englishmen to study and understand, with a view to its final settlement, this great Irish question; and we are resolved that no extravagance on our part of action or language shall mar 160 the chance which we believe our country possesses now for the first time in her history.
§ MAJOR SAUNDERSON
In rising to reply to the speech of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), I wish to say that I did not hear his opening sentences; but since I came into the House the hon. Member has spoken upon the Land Question, but I do not find that he has mentioned any of those burning questions which are now exciting public attention in Ireland and all over the Empire. In Ireland the hon. Member has declared, in the first place, that he has taken off his coat and that he stands on a single plank. It would now appear that the hon. Member is engaged to-night in removing some other portion of his garments, or that he is increasing his platform. We have heard not one word about the single plank on which he has informed the country he and his supporters intend to stand. According to the speech of the hon. Member, so far as I can understand it is now a simple question of the land. It is simply the further development of that Land Question with the settlement of which, in former times, he and his Friends professed themselves so entirely satisfied. [Cries of "No!"] Now it seems that all that is required to settle the Irish Question is to buy out the landlords at a few years purchase, and then peace and happiness—nothing was said about loyalty—and prosperity will return to Ireland. No doubt before the debate closes the hon. Member for the City of Cork will move an Amendment to the Address. To his supporters in Ireland he has stated most distinctly and repeatedly that he has now but one object. It is no longer the land; but his object—I am quoting his own words—is "to secure a separate Parliament for Ireland, free from outside control." Those are words made use of by the hon. Member in a speech delivered at Castlebar, and repeated elsewhere. Now, I want to know what attitude the hon. Member takes on the question at issue at present—whether England is to remain connected with Ireland, or to be separated? The hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Harrington) referred to a speech made in the North of Ireland by Viscount Cole; and he tried to fasten that speech upon the Party to which I have the honour to belong. I am not in the 161 least ashamed of it; but the hon. Member wishes to fasten on the Party to which I have the honour to belong the exclusive right of using violent language. Lot me point out to the House that there are other Members who use violent language. Allow me to quote words made use of by the hon. Member for Fermanagh (Mr. W. Redmond) in Dublin the other day, and then let me ask hon. Members to compare the words of Lord Cole—who I do not believe was over much gifted with the power of oratory—with the words made use of by the hon. Member for Fermanagh, notoriously one of the most polished rhetoricians below the Gangway. These are the words made use of by the hon. Member for Fermanagh, four days ago—He did not think it was worth while to discuss the matter, for the experience of the past had shown that the [more coercion they got, the more clearly they would see the necessity for driving from their midst the Government from which coercion came. The English people knew they had enemies in every quarter of the world. They knew that the very moment they struck at the Irish people they would give the signal which would stir the Indian Princes to a greater and still more successful mutiny, and which would, perhaps, lead the Russians into London to stable their horses in the House of Commons.Now, Sir, that is the class of eloquence which is habitually employed by hon. Gentlemen opposite in speaking to their constituents in Ireland; and the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), although he says that he has deplored the employment of language of this kind, and adds that it is impossible to place old head a on young shoulders, never raised his voice in Ireland to denounce it. This language, to any civilized assembly, is beneath contempt; but when addressed to the sympathizing oars of the ignorant multitude, it must have the effect of hounding on their ignorant dupes in Ireland to the perpetration of crimes and outrages which their leaders have not the determination or courage to perform. In regard to the measures which the Government propose to introduce for Ireland, perhaps I may be permitted to say a word. We, in Ireland, have boon asking ourselves the question—and it is a very serious question—what is the use of a Government at all, when we see the law evaded, broken, and defied with impunity; when we see the citizens in any part of Her 162 Majesty's Empire deprived of their civil rights, when they cannot buy and sell in any market in the South unless they can show the mark of the beast in the shape of the National League ticket—an organization which meets now all over the country with all the paraphernalia of justice and the Law Courts, which tries its unhappy victims as they would be tried before a Court of Law, and, what is more, enforces with unvarying severity its unwritten law; when we see these things we ask, what is the use of a Government? This is not the first time that the Government—I do not say Her Majesty's present Government, but other Governments—have shown a certain amount of laxity in dealing with Irish crime. We saw it in 1881 and 1882, when so unfavourable a shadow was cast over Irish history; and when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) to-night accuses the Government of vacillation in dealing with the Irish Question, I could not help recalling those years in the history of the late Parliament when outrage and murder stalked abroad in Ireland, and when no hand was raised—at all events, not the hands of a paralyzed Government—to arrest its evil course, and the first blow at the organization, of which the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) was the head, was not struck by Her Majesty's Government, but by a few Orangemen on the shores of Lough Mask. We believe that the first duty of any Government is to cause the law to be respected and to be observed. When the present Government took Office they undertook to give up the exceptional legislation which up to that time had been deemed necessary. It was an experiment. I am sure that everybody who cares for Ireland desires, from his heart, that no more coercion should be necessary; but, in my opinion, as an Irishman, and as a magistrate, I have certainly come to the conclusion that that experiment has proved a failure, and I gather from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the Government have come pretty nearly to the same conclusion. But there is this of value in the experiment—that it has shown conclusively that no conciliation, by whatever Party, can gain the adhesion of hon. Gentlemen opposite and those they represent. The hon. Member for 163 the City of Cork and his Friends have declared over and over again that they will be satisfied with no concession short of separation. [Cries of "No!" and "Quote!"] If hon. Members dislike the word "separation," I would say a Parliament in College Green entirely without any outside control; and if that is not separation I leave it to any hon. Gentleman in this House to describe otherwise the distinction between a Parliament sitting in College Green without outside control and complete separation. The experiment tried by Her Majesty's Government has proved a failure. I do not attempt to say that crime and outrage have assumed the proportions it did from 1880 to 1882. Why have they not done so? It has been because there was no more necessity for crime and outrage in Ireland. What is the meaning of those crimes which have stained the pages of our Irish history with blood? The object was to subjugate the will of the Irish people until the hon. Member for the City of Cork could erect a platform and then stand without his coat on the top of it. Hon. Members opposite frequently say that the landlords are in favour of coercion, because coercion is an Act simply to protect landlords. [Cheers from the Irish Members.] I am glad that I have elicited that cheer. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite ever go into the statistics of crime caused by outrage in Ireland. The truth is that out of 57 murders that took place in two years, only seven landlords were murdered—so that the landlords had rather a good time of it—three were agents, and the rest were miserable tenants and caretakers on the wild mountains of Kerry, Cork, and the West, who refused to bow to the iron yoke which the hon. Member for the City of Cork sought to weld round their throats. When the hon. Member comes forward as the Representative of Irish grievances, he does not represent that class, at all events, whom he tries to exterminate and stamp out. As far as we, as landlords, are concerned, we come off better than the victims in the South and West. At that time we had the Land League. Well, the Land League was proclaimed, and what had we then? There is a habit among criminals, when a place is made too hot for them, to adopt an alias, and in this 164 case the Land League adopted an alias, and called themselves the National League. The Land League was resuscitated as the National League, and, winked at by Her Majesty's Government, with the same machinery, the same objects, and the same leader and agents, has ever since been carrying on its fell work of intimidation and disloyalty to the Crown in Ireland. Therefore, I consider that Her Majesty's Government would be absolutely wanting in the first functions that a Government owes to the country it rules if it did not accompany any Act of a remedial character with another crushing-out of this organization, which is now the curse of the country. Hon. Members below the Gangway pride themselves on their strength, and are inclined to laugh at the weakness of the Conservative contingent from Ireland. They are 85; we are 16. But now let me observe to the House that it is impossible to gauge the ratio between loyalty and disloyalty in Ireland by the number of Members who sit below the Gangway opposite. A very able letter was written not long ago by a very honest man, although I entirely disagree with him, but whoso honesty I respect. I refer to Mr. Davitt. Mr. Davitt wrote a letter to The Times, in answer to a letter from Lord Cowper, in which he said—"Lord Cowper, when he confronts these figures, I think, will admit himself defeated." Lord Cowper denied that the majority of the Irish people were in favour of Home Rule. Mr. Davitt said, in his letter—Let us suppose, by way of illustration, that an election had taken place in England, that this election had returned to Parliament 447 Members in favour of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone), and 120 Members who were in favour of Lord Salisbury, 'Could Lord Cowper,' said Mr. Davitt, 'in confronting these figures, maintain that England had not distinctly decided on the side of Mr. Gladstone? 'Mr. Davitt thought that was a very conclusive argument. In my opinion, however, it is defective, and the analogy breaks down. In order that the analogy should be perfect, we must conceive, as exists in Ireland, an electors' intimidation society. We must, furthermore, conceive that the 447 Gladstonian Members were not chosen by their own constituents, but by the head of the electors' intimidation society. And to further 165 establish the analogy between England and Ireland, we must conceive that the power of the intimidation society is backed up by the whole influence of a powerful priesthood— a priesthood possessing unbounded influence over the minds and consciences of the electors—an influence not circumscribed by any earthly horizon. If such a condition of things could exist in England the analogy would be perfect; but I do not think any sane man can imagine that such an intimidation society would be suffered to exist for a week in this country. The analogy, therefore, breaks down. How are hon. Gentlemen who sit below the Gangway opposite chosen? They are not chosen by their own constituents; they have no voice in the matter. Hon. Members opposite may be admirable masters of political tactics; but they have been chosen by a Council of three. [Cries of "Name!"] The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. T. Harrington), who has spoken this evening, and the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon). That Council of three chose every single Member who sits opposite to me at the present moment below the Gangway. I will give the House an instance to prove exactly what I mean. There was one constituency in Ireland—
§ MR. DILLON
I rise to Order. I beg to say that the hon. and gallant Member has made a false statement. [Cries of" Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not entitled to interrupt. When the hon. and gallant Gentleman who is in possession of the House has concluded his speech it will be quite competent for the hon. Member to reply.
§ MAJOR SAUNDERSON
I am quite ready to receive correction. I am not certain as to the Council of three, for I was not present at any meeting of it; but I have been informed, on the best authority, that what I state is correct. I will now give the instance I was about to refer to. There was one constituency in Ireland which had a will of its own, and which thought it had a right in the 19th century, and in a free country, to choose its Representative. That was the constituency of North Louth. The choice of the constituency of North Louth fell upon a Gentleman who will probably be well remembered in this 166 House—I refer to Mr. Philip Callan. The hon. Member for the City of Cork absolutely refused to sanction the choice of the electors of North Louth. [Cries of "No; he was never chosen!"from Irish Members.] A Convention, or whatever it was called, was summoned, and various accusations were brought against Mr. Callan, which afterwards were dropped. One of thorn was that he fell asleep in the House of Commons. Many years ago I myself was a Member of this House, and I can only say that there were few Members who through the whole Session escaped that feeling of sleepiness. I have repeatedly seen right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Benches nodding through a Scotch debate. But when the hon. Member for the City of Cork went to North Louth he did not say one single word about this somnolent habit of Mr. Callan's; but he said that Mr. Callan was unmanageable, because he spoke when he was told to hold his tongue. And, therefore, poor Mr. Callan, who had offered involuntary sacrifice to Moreus in the House of Commons, was supplanted by the High Priest of the Temple of the Muses at Liverpool. I do not wish to express any opinion of the choice that was made, but what I want to show is this, that the hon. Member for the City of Cork used the influence which he undoubtedly possesses in Ireland as the head of this great intimidation society, and went down to North Louth with hired mobs in special trains, and interfered in the choice of the constituency. [Cries of "No! "] I defy contradiction as to the special trains, because I know who paid for them.
MR. T. M. HEALY
I rise to Order. I wish to ask whether a Member is entitled to make a charge against another Member of taking a hired mob to a particular constituency during an election, which would be an offence under the Corrupt Practices Act, and would render that Member legally incapacitated from sitting in this House? Besides, I may remind you, Sir, that there is an Election Petition on the subject pending at the present time.
§ MR. SPEAKER
There is nothing in the form of the words used to bring the hon. and gallant Member under any remark from the Chair; but it certainly is a very grave charge to make against an hon. Member, espe- 167 cially in a case in which. I understand the hon. and learned Member (Mr. T. M. Healy) to say there is a Petition pending.
§ MR. PARNELL
Perhaps I may be allowed to explain that there is not the slightest foundation for the statement which has been made by the hon. and gallant Member.
§ MAJOR SAUNDERSON
resumed, amid cries of ""Withdraw." He said: If it will please hon. Members opposite I am quite ready to withdraw the word "hired;" but I will not withdraw the statement of the fact that special trains brought men from Cavan and Monaghan; and the hon. Member for the City of Cork cannot deny that £60 was paid to the Great Northern Railway Company of Ireland for the hire of those trains. I am not saying that it was an illegal act; I am only stating what took place. I will only add that the hon. Member for the City of Cork is the political father of all the hon. Gentlemen sitting opposite. Now, Sir, we object to a House of Commons so made up; and I think that the interruptions I have elicited from hon. Gentlemen opposite afford a standing proof to the House of what chance the 15 loyal Members would have had of being returned, being, as they are, men who would not do as they were told by the hon. Member for the City of Cork, and who would not sit on those Benches at his beck and call, like so many political bagpipes with hats on. It is right to look with the gravest apprehension at a Parliament so composed and so guided; and I humbly trust that Her Majesty's Government will deal firmly but justly with Ireland. The hon. Member for the City of Cork cannot accuse me of being an exterminating landlord, because in this House I supported the Land Act of 1870. I did so because I believed that Irish tenants required protection. The misfortune of all concessions yet extorted by Ireland has been that they have been snatched from an unwilling hand, and not accepted as gifts. The opportunity has now arrived for turning over a new leaf and starting on a better course. There is no nation in the world, with all her faults, that better understands justice than Ireland; but now, when there is an opportunity of turning over a new leaf and starting on a better course, if England is found coming with gifts in one hand and with weakness and vacil- 168 lation in the other, the Irish people would not believe that Parliament are giving of their own free accord, but would think they are only conceding to fear what they refused to concede to justice. I believe that if England would now deal fairly, justly, and rightly with Ireland, we might have at last that finality without which we can never have peace. When the Irish people have forgotten the lesson that by crime and outrage they can extort concessions from England, and when they learn that the law must be maintained, then the darkness and the clouds that have so long overshadowed the country will flee away before the dawn of brighter and better days.
MR. T. M. HEALY
The hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down has spoken with some pomp in the course of his speech of being a magistrate. I think the speech which the House has just listened to is a very happy example of the judicial tone and temper with which gentlemen of his class administer justice in Ireland, and of the way in which, under a Coercion Act, impoverished and distressed tenants would Be dealt with when handed over to their landlords. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has boasted that he is not an exterminating landlord, because he supported the Land Act of 1870; but I should like some better and more independent evidence upon that point than that of the hon. and gallant Member. I should like to examine the records of the Land Commission before I could satisfy myself upon any evidence which he can give. The hon. and gallant Member says that he supported the Land Act of 1870. I congratulate him upon having done so; but at that time, unfortunately, the hon. Member for North Armagh (Major Saunderson) was not a Tory, nor was he an Orangeman. The hon. Member did not become a Tory, nor did he become an Orangeman, until he was kicked out of Cavan by the Liberals.
MR. T. M. HEALY
I am delighted that they executed so much justice. But en being so dealt with and turned out of Cavan by the Liberals or Home Rulers the hon. and gallant Member changed his coat. He went to 169 North Armagh, and what was his conduct there? I appeal to English Conservatives to judge of Ireland by the conduct of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. The hon. and gallant Gentleman poses before the English Conservatives as a loyal supporter of Lord Salisbury, and of right hon. Gentlemen who sit opposite. It is not for me to say a word about the conduct of the Government opposite. I am willing to confess that, in times of difficulty and distress, Her Majesty's Government have endeavoured to the best of their ability to carry out the powers entrusted to them; and I do not intend to say a harsh word of them, although I do not agree with some of the things they have done. But the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh poses before English Conservatives as a loyal Member of the Party, whereas the hon. and gallant Member got his seat as a turncoat Liberal. And who was the Conservative candidate for North Armagh? It was the Solicitor General for Ireland, Mr. John Monroe, now Judge Monroe. These are the loyal Conservatives who appeal for support to English landlords and to the English Conservative people on the ground of their great loyalty to the Tory Party. The hon. and gallant Gentleman and Mr. Justice Monroe were both put up for the constituency, Mr. Monroe being sent down as the Representative of Lord Salisbury, to whom the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Major Saunderson) went yesterday with his begging petition. Having gone to Lord Salisbury in his distress and danger, I wonder that the noble Marquess did not ask him why he did not allow Justice Monroe to become the Member for North Armagh. The hon. and gallant Gentleman speaks of hired mobs; but who, I would ask, broke up the meetings of Judge Monroe in Portadown—who smashed the head of Mr. Thomas Dickson, the late Member for Tyrone? Why, the loyal Conservatives of North Armagh. When the hon. and gallant Gentleman speaks about hired mobs and special trains, the Irish Members have not the advantage which he possesses of access to the books of the Great Northern Railway. I observe that the gentleman who is President of the Great Northern Railway was included in the deputation to Lord Salisbury, and I hope the people of Ireland will take note of the proved fact that private mat- 170 ters of this kind can be communicated in such a manner to private individuals. If the secrets of the Great Northern Railway could be exposed we should be able to know something more about hired mobs. We should be able to know who paid for the tickets to Dromore and Rosslea, where hired demonstrationists at 7s. 6d. had to be brought. We have been told that there are mobs in Ireland; but it is well known that there are mobs and mobs—there are mobs, I believe, that do not require to be paid for at the rate of 7s. 6d. per head. There are mobs imbued with some ideas of patriotism; but they are composed of very common people, who have to work at the plough from morning till night, and who send Gentlemen like the hon. and gallant Member to this House. These are mobs which go of their own accord to elections, and do not require to be hired. But will the hon. and gallant Member reveal the cost of the mobs for his hired demonstrations? No doubt, these are scarcely arguments to be addressed to a deliberative Assembly, and I would not have spoken were it not for the extraordinary gyrations and gesticulations of the hon. and gallant Member. I and my hon. Friends have been told that we are intolerable, that we are difficult to get on with, and that Gentlemen of the class to which the hon. and gallant Member belongs would have no chance in an Irish Parliament; but I should say that in the English Parliament the hon. and gallant Gentleman has no chance if many of his speeches are constructed on the same gigantic, I may say mountainous, scale as that we have just listened to. I believe the hon. and gallant Member will find that in a House intended for debate it would be difficult to get up a discussion on the scale which he has initiated. I do not think that it was the scale of the hon. and gallant Gentleman when he was Member for Cavan, but that it is only since he has been branded by the Orangemen of North Armagh that he has attempted anything of the kind. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has quoted the hon. Member for North Fermanagh (Mr. W. Redmond) as a Gentleman who speaks with one voice in Ireland and another voice in the House of Commons, and whose words on one occasion have received no rebuke from the hon. Mem- 171 ber for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). The hon. and gallant Gentleman, I will say, is the last person in the world who should attempt to condemn heated speeches; and the position he has taken up with regard to that matter reminds me very much of Satan's reproof of sin. Not two months ago the hon. and gallant Member, in defiance of the Corrupt Practices Act, surrounded by his excited friends, declared at a meeting in the North of Ireland that if the Nationalists dared to announce a meeting in Fermanagh—he did not say he would come to murder them; but he said—"Give us notice when you are coming, and we will see what we will see." That is one instance of the style of the hon, and gallant Gentleman. Then there is the remark about a bullet, which, if uttered by Joe Brady, or individuals who, like him, had been convicted of crime in Ireland, would be very terrible. But this magistrate—this holder of the Queen's Commission—who gets up in this House to reprove the Nationalists for their language—told the population in the North of Ireland, never notorious for peacefulness, that if the Nationalists had won certain elections, "it was not by the ballot, but by the bullet, that Orangemen would be put down." The hon. and gallant Gentleman seems quite proud of that statement; but why did he not get up in this House and make a speech of the same kind? Instead of reproving the hon. Member for North Fermanagh, why did he not trot out some of his own elegiacs, or give the House a small taste of the invinciblism of the Orange Lodges? Let it be understood that those Gentlemen who attack Irish Members for heated language and unfortunate demeanour can coo in this House as gently as a sucking dove, but that when they are addressing men in whose belts are revolvers their language is such as I have described. It is such language as this that leads to violence. Viscount Cole, who lately had a seat in that House, said— "It is time to preach a crusade against Catholics;" not against Nationalists, let it be borne in mind, nor against Parnellites, or Absolutists, but against those who believe in the Seven Sacraments as expounded by the See of St. Peter. He said—You ought not to employ Catholics. Dismiss your Catholics, and employ only Protestants in their stead.172 Hon. Gentlemen enjoying the confidence of the Ulster Conservatives have very simple machinery ready at their hands; they have the entire English Press at their disposal; and the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh was not ashamed, when attending the deputation which waited on Lord Salisbury the other day, to make a statement which was untrue, and which he might have found out to be untrue, if he had taken the least trouble to ascertain the fact. The hon. and gallant Gentleman then stated that the Newbridge Board of Guardians, or that the National League of Newbridge, had passed a resolution ordering the Board of Guardians, the members of the National League being themselves the majority of the Board, not to give labourers' cottages to men who wore not members of the League. Lord Salisbury had naturally asked whether that resolution had been actually passed, whereupon the hon. and gallant Gentleman said he believed it had been. Would the House believe that there is not a single tittle of foundation in truth for that statement? It is absolutely and actually a figment, and is as false as the announcement which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has just made, that the Irish Members have attacked Mr. Callan for having fallen asleep in the House. There is not a particle of truth in that statement. Other statements have been made about Mr. Callan. It has been said that Mr. Callan has been drunk in the House of Commons. Thus, on the one hand, the Irish Party are to be charged. with being debauched, and now, because they have attempted to purge the Party of a man whom they feel to be a disgrace to it, and whose conduct in the House of Commons must very frequently have given rise amongst English Members to the feeling that at least Irishmen might return creditable persons to represent them there, the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh gets up and says that they attacked Mr. Callan because he fell asleep in the House of Commons. But falling asleep might be Orange for getting drunk, just as in the little placards sent out last year the Orangemen had invited those who attended their meetings to bring "copies of Moody and Sankey's hymn-books" with them— another name for revolvers—and to bring their "sweethearts" with them, 173 by which was meant some other lethal weapon. This was the Party to which the hon., gallant, and truthful Member for North Armagh belonged.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is now reflecting on a Member of this House in a manner which is un-Parliamentary.
MR. T. M. HEALY
I will at once withdraw the word "truthful" if it is regarded as offensive. I shall be very-sorry in any way to contravene the Rules of the House in addressing hon. Gentlemen, and I trust that I shall in no way trespass en any ruling of the (Speaker. In conclusion, I heartily adopt the statement of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, that if those gentlemen who are now so ferocious in Ireland once have the Land Question settled and hade the money for their estates in their pockets they will care very little more about the Irish people. At the present moment they do not live in the country; most of them spend their money and time in England. It is quite true that many of the Orange Brotherhood live in Ireland, and are very creditable and respectable members of the community. They pay for their halls, they sustain their chapels, they pay for their railway tickets to and from demonstrations; but subtract from the Orange organization the landlord party and it would fall like a house of cards, and great would be the fail thereof.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL)
Sir, like the general body of the House, I have not been able to prevent myself taking a very close and deep interest in the encounter which has just taken place between the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh, who so naturally enjoys the confidence of the electors of Ulster, and the hon. Gentleman who has just resumed his seat. The language of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh has greatly impressed the House. [Laughter.] I say that with all seriousness, because it is evident that an hon. Member like himself, who represents a great Party and a great interest, and who represents a Party, moreover, labouring, and rightly labouring, under the strongest possible impression as to the critical nature of their situation—the hon. and gallant Gentleman, speaking, as he did, under such circumstances, with such fire, and such 174 true eloquence, must have impressed a large portion of the House. Moreover, I do not scruple to say that I could not help listening with an amount of pleasure—such as I have experienced before on more than one occasion—to the not un-genial or ill-natured, though sometimes bitter, humour of the hon. Member for South Derry (Mr. Healy). It has occurred to me within the last hour and a half or two hours that there are considerations which might possibly influence the House of Commons to consider favourably whether it might not be in the interest of all Parties, and in the interest of the country generally, that the general debate on the Address in answer to the Speech from the Throne should come to a close to-night. [" Hear, hear!" and cries of "Oh!"] I am alluding to what I may venture to call the general sense of hon. Members; and although the remark may seem at first rather a strong one, I think I can suggest one or two reasons which may have weight with the House. A great deal has taken place since 2 o'clock this afternoon. There has been an enormous amount of popular excitement attending the meeting of the House of Commons. There have been some features in the political situation tending to give rise to considerable uncertainty as to the political future, whether of the Government, the Opposition, or the Irish Party. All that, Sir, culminated at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. The House is now in possession of the Speech from the Throne, and also the House has listened to speeches of great interest and great importance from three Leaders of public opinion. I am extremely anxious to say, if I may do so without presumption, that the tone in which this great debate, so long looked forward to by the country, was begun, has not in any way degenerated. The House was almost unanimously of opinion that the Mover and Seconder of the Address discharged their traditional duty in a manner which reflected the highest honour upon them. But after them came a speech from the Leader of the Opposition, perhaps one of the most remarkable orations that the House has ever listened to from him. I do not intend now to argue on that oration. As I listened to it there was much with which I thought I should like to express my agreement, and much also from which it would have given me 175 great pleasure to express my strongest possible disagreement; but it was a speech which, like the Speech from the Throne, requires consideration. Then my right hon. Friend who sits near mo (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) explained, in terms which were certainly not ambiguous, in terms which I think were very forcible, the views, and the policy, and the position of the Government. I venture to think that, coming after the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, it was a speech which also requires consideration. Then, after that, again, came the speech of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). Now, all the speeches I have mentioned have been, more or less, surprises to the public. The Speech from the Throne contained, I think, passages for which the public were hardly prepared. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone) certainly surprised the House; for we must recollect that he is at the head of a great Party, which is numerically more powerful than the Party supporting the Government. It must also be recollected that much has been done recently that was calculated to enlist the sympathies, if not to obtain the support, of hon. Members below the Gangway opposite. Under those circumstances, the public were certainly prepared to receive Notice from the right hon. Gentleman of a hostile Amendment, which, if it had boon carried, would have placed him on this side of the House. But nothing of the kind. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was pleased to express unstinted approbation of the general foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government. He was most generous and unmeasured in the praise which he poured upon Lord Salisbury's Eastern Roumelian policy; and not only that, but even, as it were, showing that he did not contemplate making a hostile movement against the Government, he expressed what was evidently a sincere and earnest wish on his part, that the present Government might be fortunate enough to go through their policy in Eastern Roumelia, and to carry it to a successful conclusion; and in that task he promised them his cordial and warm support. I have some slight knowledge of the Eastern Roumelian question; and I am of opinion that if the present Government is to remain in Office till that 176 question is brought to a satisfactory and permanent conclusion, the present Government will possibly successfully weather more than one Session of Parliament. I have said that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was certainly a surprise; but the greatest surprise of all was the speech of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. I made no doubt in my own mind—from what knowledge I happen to possess in regard to the Irish political movement I made sure—that there was a passage in the Speech of so indubitable a meaning and so clear a form, that the hon. Gentleman, heading, as he does, a strong numerical Party, and representing, as he apparently does, a large portion of the Irish people, would have had no choice but to meet that paragraph with a direct negative. The hon. Gentleman will not be surprised—he will not be disposed to blame me for having come to the conclusion—when he recollects that the incidents of the late Election were still fresh in my mind, and the speeches which he and his supporters made both before and after the Election—that no doubt could be left on the mind of any human being as to the issues which he would bring before the House of Commons as soon as Parliament met. Moreover, I felt assured that the hon. Member, being at the head of a Party relatively and absolutely stronger than the Party led by O'Connell, would have adopted the course adopted by O'Connell, and would have directly placed before the House, in a manner which would have enabled the House to come to a clear decision, the views, as he understands them, of the Irish people on the question of the government of Ireland. The hon. Member, for reasons which are best known to himself, and which I do not impugn, has not taken that course. All I say is, that the speech of the hon. Member to-night has been a surprise to the House of Commons, and will be a surprise to the public. That being so, and it being evident, from the attitude of the Front Bench opposite—I may say the condition of the Front Bench—and from the pensive attitude of the Liberal Party, and from the waiting, watching, and cautious attitude of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, that neither the Front Bench opposite, nor the Liberal Party, 177 nor the Irish Party think the present occasion a fitting one for raising a decisive issue as to the fate of the Government, or as to the future government of Ireland, am I not justified in recommending the House quietly to consider whether it might not be well to close the general debate on the Address? We can then proceed to discuss Amendments. There are some Amendments which have been given Notice of tonight. There is one which has been given Notice of in regard to the annexation of Burmah and the war in that country. On that point I shall be only too glad that the war and the causes of the annexation should be discussed without delay; but I know that the whole Burmese Question is a most complicated one—that it is a question involving a large amount of matter of detail, and requiring a considerable amount of study to those interested in it. A Blue Book, containing as much detail as the Government have it in their power to produce, has been laid upon the Table to-night; and I cannot help thinking that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hunter), who has given Notice of the Motion, and who takes great interest in the subject, will, at a future time, be in a better position to bring his views before the House of Commons than he can possibly be at the present moment. He may have exceptional facilities for obtaining information on the subject; but, unfortunately, the House at large is not in the same fortunate position; and, therefore, if he wishes this subject to be fairly discussed in the House of Commons, I would ask him whether he would not do bettor, in the interests of the question itself, to defer the debate until the time when it will be my duty to make a formal Motion on the subject in this House? There is another Amendment of which Notice has been given by a Member well known to the House of Commons, the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings), and which, as I understand it, is intended to raise the condition of the agricultural labourer. That is a subject with which the Government will not find fault. On the contrary, it is a subject which, considering the change which has taken place in the electorate, and the vast number of the agricultural body now represented, eminently and pre-eminently deserves, I believe, the consideration of 178 the House of Commons, and I have no doubt the hon. Member would find little difficulty in obtaining an opportunity of bringing it forward at a more fitting time. But, with the exception of these two Amendments, I do not know that there is any special subject which the House is asked to consider. [An hon. MEMBER: The crofters.] Of course, there are the crofters; but they are rather a portion of the agricultural population; and when I refer to the agricultural population I do not refer only to the agricultural population of England. But, after all, would it not be better that this new Parliament, from which the country expects such great things—which is the result of a larger measure of Parliamentary Reform than this country has ever known—would it not be well for this Parliament to consider whether it might not adopt a wise and prudent course by reverting to the, perhaps, bettor practice of former times, and shorten the proceedings on the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne? That was, undoubtedly, the practice of earlier Parliaments, and was the practice until the last few years. I am only anxious myself that the House of Commons, from which so much is expected, should be enabled, by the general co-operation of all Parties in the House, to get as rapidly as possible through the transaction of the vital Business of the country. There is the question of Ireland, which will, undoubtedly, have to be considered separately, either on a Motion by the hon. Member for the City of Cork or some one of his followers. There is also the question which the Government has given Notice of to-night—the question of reforming—no, not reforming; that is, perhaps, not the right word to use—the question of improving still further the Procedure under which this House conducts its Business. I want the House—I want clearly to explain to the House, as I view it, and as, I believe, my Colleagues view it, the position of Her Majesty's Government. We are perfectly aware—it does not require any great wisdom or knowledge to be aware of it—that we do not command a majority of pledged supporters in this House; but, at the same time, what we are not aware of is, that there is any other set of Members in the House who are in a position to say that 179 they do command a majority of pledged supporters in the House of Commons. That being so—I say it with no Party feeling—we have considered it to be our duty to meet Parliament, and to endeavour, to the best of our ability, to carry on the Business of the country, and to place before Parliament the measures which we think Parliament would do well to adopt. But the position is not one that can be a grateful or a pleasant position for Her Majesty's Government. We remain here, Sir, not for the pleasure of retaining Office, nor for the mere pleasure of governing, but for the purpose of fulfilling our duty. As long as that duty can be discharged by us on reasonably honourable terms—[Laughter]—I am afraid that hon. Gentlemen opposite who laugh have not been accustomed to follow a Government who conducted the Business of the country on those terms, and they appear to think the position Quixotic. However, we have, unfortunately, a prejudice in favour of conducting the Business of the country on reasonably honourable terms, and on those terms only; and the moment we see the slightest indication of j any desire on the part of any considerable section of the Members of this House to take up the Government or the country, that moment we will take every imaginable step to bring the question to an immediate and rapid issue. I do not know that there is much more on which I need detain the House, unless I revert for one minute to the matter which has been so effectually and indefinitely, though a little confusedly, put before the House by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. To go back, I refer, if I am not trespassing too much upon the attention of the House, to the question of Irish government, as that question wa3 raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone), when he alluded very scornfully to the terms in which the Local Government Bill for Ireland is alluded to in the Speech from the Throne. It appears to me that in all the right hon. Gentleman's remarks he, for some reason best known to himself, mixed up the question of local government, as we should consider the meaning of the term, with local government in Ireland as hon. Members opposite would consider the meaning of the term. I And he seemed to imagine that it was 180 never in the power, or that it was ever in the mind, or that it had ever been in the dreams of any Member of the Tory Party to propose to the House of Commons any measure that, by any possibility, could be considered to contain any germ of any institution which might in time possibly develop into an Irish Parliament. It may be possible hon. Members may think us wrong in that conclusion; but that, I venture to say, is the unanimous and united conclusion of the Tory Party. Therefore, I do not wish Irish Members, nor Members of the Liberal Party opposite, to imagine that, even if other circumstances were favourable for the purpose, any Local Government Bill for Ireland which the Government might wish to introduce and carry would contain anything which would come within any measurable distance of that which I believe to be the object of the hon. Member for the City of Cork—the institution of an Irish Parliament, on which the Irish people and Party are supposed to have set their hearts. It would be the wish of the Government, as I believe I may say it would be the ambition of the Government, to be able to introduce into Ireland—if only peace and order prevailed in that country, and the same state of law and general acceptance of obligations that prevails in England—a local government as similar as possible to any institution of the kind introduced into, this country, believing that the great principle of the Legislative Union is similarity of institutions in England and Ireland. That, at any rate, I take to be the view of the matter taken by the Tory Party. Circumstances may prevent that similarity from being attained as rapidly as could be wished; but similarity of institutions and equal laws is the foundation of the Union which we intend absolutely to maintain. I do not know whether, in the course of time, change may come over Ireland which may possibly encourage the Government to press forward upon the attention of Parliament a measure such I have described; but this I will say—that the present state of Ireland is not, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, one which would be favourable for the consideration of a measure for establishing local government. A measure is under consideration—many of its leading features may have been determined 181 —but the time for the introduction of that measure has not yet come, and I do not know whether it will come; but I hope that it may, and I believe that the introduction of a measure of local government for Ireland by the present Ministry will, when it comes, be a conspicuous sign that peace and order prevail in that country. That, Sir, is the view we take of the position of affairs in Ireland. We cannot conceal from ourselves that the state of things is not such as to justify the Government in beginning immediately to discuss the question of local government. The Union between the two countries which the Government intend to do their best to maintain, whether in Opposition or in power, is not a vague phrase, such as is used by hon. Gentleman opposite, when they talk about the "unity and integrity of the Empire," and their burning and intense desire to maintain that Union equally with ourselves. But when we talk of maintaining the Union between England and Ireland, we mean the maintenance of the Parliamentary Union as established by the Act of 1800, and nothing short of that. It is possible that these words may produce feelings of anger or of hostility amongst the Representatives of Radical feeling in this country and amongst Representatives of Irish feeling over the Channel; but they are words which must be said. They are not said with any malice; they are not said, I can say from my heart, from any other feeling than that of the truest friendship for Ireland, and the most earnest and intense desire to promote her prosperity. But they are words which represent the unshaken, the immovable conviction of the whole body of the Tory Party throughout the length and breadth of England; and I firmly believe myself that they are words which will before long unite the vast majority of the people of the United Kingdom.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Mr. Sexton,)—put, and agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at ten minutes after One o'clock.