§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [10th May]. "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ And which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(The Marquess of Hartington.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
Mr. Speaker, in resuming the debate upon this measure, I shall endeavour, as far as possible, to avoid any barren repetition of arguments with which the House is already familiar. I hope it may not be necessary for me to occupy the time of the House at any very great length; and I must ask those hon. Members who in the course of the discussion have devoted a considerable portion of their speeches to personal references to myself to excuse me if upon this occasion, at all events, I do not reply to them. Those personal references—some of them humorous, as in the case of my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), and some of them very bitter—may tend to relieve the monotony of the debate; but I think they are below the level of the great Constitutional discussion in which we are called upon to take part—for, Sir, it is a great controversy in which we are now engaged. It has been admitted by the Government that their proposals are the gravest and the most startling that have been presented to Parliament during the life of the present generation. On the one hand, we have the Government honestly and sincerely believing that these pro- 676 posals will bring about a final and friendly settlement of the difficulties which have existed for centuries between Ireland and Great Britain, and which have acted so injuriously to the interests of both countries alike. That is a settlement which may well evoke passionate enthusiasm, and to accomplish which effectually would be the crowning glory of an illustrious career. On the other hand, those who oppose this measure believe with equal honesty and with equal conviction that they form an irretrievable and fatal step, which will lead to animosities more dangerous than any with which we have hitherto had to deal, which will destroy the influence and power of the United Kingdom, which have been so often exerted to promote the freedom and civilization of the world, and which will postpone indefinitely measures of domestic reform and progress if the complications which we anticipate should unfortunately result from this legislation. I do not say now which of these alternative hopes and fears have the better foundation. All I ask my hon. Friends to admit is that at least the decision which we are called upon to take is one of momentous importance, and that no man can rid himself of his responsibility in this matter to form and to act upon an independent judgment altogether without reference to any personal considerations. There has been in some quarters a desire to minimize the importance of the decision which we have to take. We have been told that the Bill is dead, and almost in the words of Shakespeare we have been asked to—Vex not his ghost; O, let him pass! he hates him muchThat would upon the rack of this tough world Stretch him out of longer.We are advised that under these circumstances to vote for this dead Bill will be only a matter of form; and that it may be treated either as a Vote of Confidence in the Government or as a vote upon an abstract Resolution, defining and accepting the principle of the Bill, but not committing us in the slightest degree in our actions upon any other measure which may hereafter be presented. Well, Sir, I do not think that the Government—I do not believe that the Prime Minister—would accept a vote upon that understanding or upon these conditions. The Government have had two courses before 677 them. They might, if they had seen fit, have withdrawn this Bill altogether, and they might have submitted a Resolution affirming the principle, in the language of the Prime Minister. If they had done that I should have voted for the Resolution without hesitation. But, at the same time, I have to point out that, although for the time it might have united the Party, still the result would hardly have been satisfactory. What is the principle of the Bill which we should have voted for by such a Resolution, as it has been defined by the Prime Minister? It is the establishment of a Legislative Authority in Ireland to deal with exclusively Irish affairs. Well, Sir, that is, as I have said, a principle which I could cordially accept; but it seems to me that that is very vague and indefinite, and would leave us all a very large discretion. A Resolution of that kind would be consistent, for instance, with the establishment of a Parliament like Grattan's Parliament, with a separate Exchequer, with separate Customs and Excise, and practically an independent and a co-ordinate Legislative Authority. On the other hand, it would equally, in my judgment, be consistent with the establishment of some system of National Councils, purely subordinate in their character, and with very limited and strictly defined powers of legislation. I say that a Resolution of the kind I have named would be consistent with either hypothesis; and, as I have mentioned a National Council, may I say one word in reference to the speech which was made late last night by the hon. Member for Dublin City (Mr. Dwyer Gray)? I do not see him in his place; but he was on that occasion very severe on what he called my proposals for National Councils as they appeared in an article in The Fortnightly Review, which, in the first instance, he attributed to me. Sir, the hon. Member knows a good deal about that article. He knows who wrote it, and he knows that I did not. He knows that although I committed myself unhesitatingly to the principle of National Councils, yet the details of the scheme were supplied to me from an Irish source, and the hon. Member knows well what that source was. At the time the article appeared the hon. Member wrote articles in The Freeman's Journal, which he was good enough to send to me, and in those arti- 678 cles he gave to those proposals a much more cordial reception than he vouchsafed to them last night. And the hon. Member, I believe, knows—and if he does not I will tell him—that I have irrefutable and incontrovertible evidence that those proposals at the time they were made received the approval and support of distinguished members of the Nationalist Party. [Mr. T. M. HEALY: O'Shea.] I have pointed out that such an abstract Resolution as has sometimes been suggested would be capable of this diverse interpretation. But the second course which the Government have before them is the course which they have actually taken. They have asked us, in the words of the Prime Minister himself, to give a vote which he has always placed in contrast to an abstract Resolution, and which must, therefore, be assumed to have more meaning than an abstract Resolution would have—to give a vote in reference to a Bill before the House, from the principle and the purpose and the main outlines of which the Government have stated that they cannot possibly depart. Well, Sir, after the meeting at the Foreign Office the other day, some of us hoped that the Bill was dead; and not only that it was dead, but that it would never be revived again in its present shape. We hoped that advantage would be taken of the interval which we expected would be given to recast and remodel this measure. We hoped that that might be done, in view of the discussion which has taken place, and with the desire which I, for my part, believe the Prime Minister sincerely has to meet the wishes of many of his supporters and the objections which they have taken. If this had been the case we might have abstained, at all events, from active opposition. We should have felt that we were absolutely uncommitted to consider a new measure when it was brought before us; and if there was any reason to anticipate in October that we should be all once more in agreement, then we might have taken upon ourselves the responsibility—and it would have been a grave responsibility—of leaving this question in abeyance, in spite of the danger to public order and the destruction of all public thought and business which such a Bill would be likely to cause in Ireland. But if ever we entertained such a hope, that 679 hope has vanished. The Prime Minister has just stated that he sees no inconsistency between the speech which he made in the House on Friday and the speech which he delivered at the Foreign Office. I listened to one of these speeches. I have read them both again and again, and I entirely agree that, to my mind, they both express precisely the same ideas, and almost in the same language. Possibly, there may be a little development in the speech of Friday; but there is nothing in the slightest degree inconsistent with the speech on Thursday. And this is what I gather from those two speeches. In the first place, the Bill is not to be remodelled and is not to be reconstructed. In the second place, the Bill is not dead; it is in a state of suspended animation, and it is to be reintroduced in October. In the third place, no changes will be accepted by the Government in the Bill which are inconsistent with the scope and purpose and main lines of the Bill. And, in the last place, while the Bill itself is not to be reconstructed or remodelled, only certain clauses are to be reconstructed, especially the 24th clause, and that exclusively with reference to one point in the Bill—namely, the maintenance of the Irish representation. I believe I have stated almost the exact words of the Prime Minister. It is clear to my mind that anyone who now votes for the second reading of this Bill will be logically and honourably committed to vote for the second reading of a similar Bill, or of the same Bill if it should be reintroduced in October next. And not only so, but he is committed to something more than the principle of the Bill as it has been defined by the Prime Minister. He is committed to the main lines—that is to say, the general plan of the Bill. [Mr. GIADSTONE dissented; and cries of "No, no!"] Well, this is the view I take. I cannot understand what the "main lines" of a Bill mean if they do not mean what I stated. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said at the Foreign Office—Of course, we should have the advantage of considering any other method which might appear useful, and it is very possible that that might aid in carrying out the principle and the purpose of the Bill and its main outlines, from which I cannot hold out any expectation of our departing.[Mr. GLADSTONE: Outlines.] I see I have made a slight mistake; but I think 680 the alteration will go far to confirm the I impression which I have already stated. I said "main lines;" it should have been "outlines;" but the word "outlines" still more clearly defines, in my mind, what I think the Prime Minister had in his mind—namely, that if you commit yourselves to the second reading of this Bill you are committed to the general scope and plan of the Bill. It does not mean that you are committed to all the details of the Bill, or to all the clauses; but the Bill affords a method of carrying out the principle, and you are committed to the outlines of that method by voting for the second reading. If that is the state of the case, what is our position? We have to consider—I hope I have considered with a due sense of the responsibility attaching to every hon. Member who has to vote on this question—whether the alterations which the Prime Minister has offered to us to meet our objections in regard to this one point of the Bill do cover those objections. Those alterations have entire reference to the question of the maintenance of Irish representation in this House. And here I must just turn aside for a moment to notice a remark which was made in the very able, eloquent, and interesting speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General (Sir Charles Russell). I listened to that speech with a great deal of delight and interest; but there was one point in it to which I take exception. He accused me of inconsistency in this matter, because he said that, in 1874, I advocated the exclusion of Irish Members from this Assembly—[Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR: So you did.]—whereas now I am urging their retention. Well, Sir, that is an entire mistake. I never in 1874, nor at any other time, advocated the exclusion of Irish Members from Westminster; and I will tell my hon. and learned Friend how this mistake has arisen. I was then engaged in the General Election at Sheffield. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Mundella) stood against Home Rule, I in favour of it. He won the seat, and I lost it. Well, Sir, in the course of that campaign I had to make, I think, about 30 speeches, and I had to answer, as the custom is at Sheffield, hundreds and hundreds of questions; and it is upon a misreported answer to one of these hundreds of questions that the 681 misapprehension of my hon. and learned Friend has been founded. But anyone who cares to go back to this ancient history will find the whole tenour and gist of all my speeches were in favour of the federal system on the lines—though not committing myself to the detail—of Mr. Butt's proposal; and, as everybody knows, Mr. Butt was a strenuous advocate of the full and complete representation of Ireland in the Imperial Parliament. The mistake was merely the report of an answer to a question, not a speech, and how the mistake arose I cannot say at this distance of time; but I am absolutely certain I never said anything of the kind. I hope that will clear me of any charge of personal inconsistency, although really it is a very small matter. I do not think it is necessarily political virtue that a statesman should be absolutely consistent, because I should admit—I mean to say it is very often the duty of a statesman to alter his opinions in altered circumstances; but, as a matter of fact, my record is clear in this matter. I have always held the same language on this Irish question that I hold to-day; and it does seem to me a strange thing that some of my hon. Friends should be so anxious to convict me of inconsistency, and of having changed an opinion which I expressed 12 years ago, when there is hardly one of them to-day who holds the opinions which he entertained less than 12 weeks ago. Well, Sir, why do we lay so much stress on this point of the representation of Ireland? It is not a merely technical point—it is not even the delight we take in the society of hon. Gentlemen opposite. We have always laid stress upon this, because we have said the effect of the Bill was that it not only created a Parliament in Dublin, but would also destroy the Imperial Parliament at Westminster. We have said and maintain that the retention of the Imperial Parliament in its present form and authority is necessary for the unity of the Empire, and that without the representation of Ireland you cannot have a Parliament at Westminster which will exercise anything like an effective or authoritative supremacy. We are anxious for the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. I put this to hon. Gentlemen opposite. I do not think they agree with me; but let them bear in mind that this is the issue raised by 682 this Bill. If they do not want the Imperial Parliament to be supreme they are right in voting for it. If they do want it to be supreme they will fail in their purpose. I want to read a passage from the speech of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I am not going to impute to him the slightest inconsistency. I believe he has never wavered the least himself in reference to the language I am going to quote; and I believe he would speak now in exactly the same words. I only quote them because they express in better language than I could command the idea I wish to convey. This is an extract from a speech of my right hon. Friend delivered at Dalkeith in December, 1879. The right hon. Gentleman says—One limit, and one limit only, I know to the extension of local government. It is this. Nothing can be done, in my opinion, by any wise statesman or right-minded Briton to weaken or compromise the authority of the Imperial Parliament, because the Imperial Parliament must be supreme within these three Kingdoms, and nothing that creates a doubt upon that supremacy can be tolerated by any intelligent and patriotic man.That exactly expresses the opinion which I hold and which I want to impress upon the House. But is there any man here who can maintain that this Bill does not weaken the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament—that does not throw doubt upon it? [Cries of "No, no!"] I hear some hon. Gentlemen opposite say "No!" Well, I challenge them to get up in this House or in Ireland and say they are in favour of the continued existence of the real supremacy of the Imperial Parliament as it exists at present. [Cries of "No, no!"] Ah! now the House sees what hon. Members want. They are not in favour of the supremacy as it exists at present. But what my right hon. Friend said was that he would not weaken that supremacy—that he would not throw doubt upon it. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] But they want to weaken it and to throw a doubt upon it, and they only support this Bill because they believe it does these things. I read very carefully the very able speech of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Bryce). I imagine that he put the Constitutional question as well as it was possible to put it; and even to the un-instructed mind of a layman his doctrine seemed to be perfectly clear and conclu- 683 sive. If the Prime Minister had said that he did not wish to abolish the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, the answer of my hon. Friend would be complete, for the supremacy is not abolished. It still remains—what shall I say?—as a Constitutional figment. But we want it to be a real and effective supremacy. We do not want the supremacy of the British Parliament to descend to the level of the suzerainty of the Porte over Cyprus. The Under Secretary told us that the supremacy of Parliament existed over Colonial Legislatures. Yes, Sir; but dare we exercise it? Dare we exercise it, say, upon the criminal, agrarian, religious, or educational matters of any self-governing Colony? We know that, if we did so, that Colony would at once throw off its allegiance. Are we, then, going to reduce Ireland to the position of a self-governing Colony, subject to a Constitutional supremacy which becomes a sham, and which we dare not exercise? That is the question which lies at the root of our desire that Irish Members should be retained at Westminster. Under these circumstances, I am not surprised that hon. Members opposite should object to it. Well, now, Sir, do the Amendments which my right hon. Friend has indicated meet this view? My right hon. Friend has not put before us his plan; but he has indicated sufficiently for our purpose the nature of that plan. He said at the Foreign Office that he had already promised the House that on questions of taxation Irish Members would be invited to take their part in our deliberations. The word was "invited." Afterwards he said that, with regard to Imperial affairs, and the subjects which are known as reserved subjects, he would apply the same principle as in the case of taxation. Very well, now I shall be corrected if I have mis-stated the intention of the right hon. Gentleman; but what I understand is that the idea of the Prime Minister was that, in some way or other, more or less formal, Irish Members are to be invited to debates in which they take an interest, and to be allowed to come here and share our discussions. If that is the proposal, all I can say is, that it seems to me an unsatisfactory one. It would make of the Imperial Parliament a periodic and spasmodic Body. It would have no continuous existence, and I can- 684 not see how the Irish people can be asked to take their share in Imperial obligations if the attendance of their Representatives was governed by any plan of this kind. Let us judge it by our own experience. First, let me take one or two examples. Many Members will recollect all the circumstances attending the debate on the Vote of Credit in connection with the Russian difficulty in the East. I take it that, if such a proposal in similar circumstances should again be made, the Irish Members would be invited here to help us to pay the bill. But that is not enough. They would have the right, if they are to pay any share of the expenses, to have their part in the discussion of every question which might by any possibility arise with reference to this matter, which might help to develop the policy which in turn might make the expenditure necessary. Take the question of Egypt, which occupied a great deal too much of our time during the last Parliament. The Irish Members frequently took part in our debates. The question of Egypt was always with us; and how could Irish Members take their fair share in discussing such a policy unless they were continuously and permanently present? Under these circumstances, how could we preserve the supremacy to which I attach so much importance? The Imperial Parliament would be a fluctuating Body with a large section of its Members imperfectly informed on the subjects which they were called upon to decide; and, at the same time, they would have no adequate authority to deal with the general business of the United Kingdom. The fact is that there are two conditions necessary for maintaining, without weakening or throwing doubt upon it, the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. The first is that Irish Members shall have their full, complete, and continuous representation in this House. The second is that the local Legislative Body or Bodies to be created shall be admittedly from the first subordinate bodies. If they are co-ordinate and equal, you cannot have supremacy. Equality denies supremacy by the etymological meaning of the word. Local Bodies must be, therefore, distinctly subordinate. What is the opinion in Ireland on this subject? I have here an extract from United Ireland, which I believe is edited by the hon. Member 685 for South Tyrone (Mr. W. O'Brien). It is a very interesting paper, although its language is occasionally rather strong. But in an article headed "No Surrender" the writer says—The proposal to withdraw the Bill either before or after the second reading is absolutely out of the question. It would be a defeat more disastrous than could by any possibility be sustained in the Lobbies. The proposal to strike out the clause excluding the Irish Members from the Westminster Parliament is no less inadmissible. We are ourselves firmly persuaded that when, the question is thrashed out in Committee, and when Englishmen really understand how the duplex Irish Parliamentary power would work in practice, they will marvel how any Englishman could be insane enough to propose to keep Irishmen omnipotent at Westminster as well as at Dublin, and to place in their paths all sorts of temptations to use their omnipotence vexatiously.I quite understand the candid statement of the writer of that article; but what we want to prevent, and will not allow if we can help it, is that Irishmen should be omnipotent either at Westminster or at Dublin. Now, I come to another question of great and cardinal importance. That is the question of Ulster. I say this is a question of cardinal importance for this reason. Irish Members have said they would rather have no Bill at all than a Bill which did not give them power to subject Ulster—[Cries of "No, no!"]—to the domination—
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must ask the hon. and learned Member for South Londonderry (Mr. T. M. Healy) not to interrupt. Gentlemen from that quarter were listened to with great patience, and every Member of this House is entitled to be received with courtesy and forbearance.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
Which did not place Ulster under the power of the dominant majority at Dublin, and which did not give the Dublin Parliament power to tax Ulster. I can quite understand that. I can quite understand that a Dublin Parliament, without the power to tax Ulster, might find itself in financial difficulties. But the question is whether it is fair to Ulster. I am not going to say anything about the armed resistance which has been threatened in Ulster. I know nothing about it. We have heard that these threats have been made before, and that they have not been followed by anything dangerous; and very likely it will be the same thing again. The other day 686 the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) actually got up in the House and accused me of incitement to assassination and outrage. No charge could possibly be more absurd or ridiculous. I have not said a word, either in speech or writing, about physical violence in connection with this measure. I only notice the statement of the hon. Member for Cork to express the satisfaction with which I find him denouncing even the most shadowy and imaginary incitements to violence and outrage. Well, Sir, what I want to ask the House is this—if the resistance of Ulster is expressed in the usual Constitutional way, or if the resistance of a portion—and an important portion—of Ulster is expressed in the same way to any proposal for submitting them to a Dublin Parliament, will you override it, will you ignore it? I say you ought not. Now, I listened the other night to the speech of my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Stansfeld), and really there have been so many good speeches made from the Treasury Bench in this debate that I do not know to which to give the palm. I admired his speech very much, although there was one passage in it, the interpretation placed upon which I think he should regret. I will read the exact words of my right hon. Friend. He said—I regard it as about the most weighty and condemnatory testimony that could be borne against us, that our former rule of Ireland has led now, at this moment, to the existence of a portion of the Irish people so divided from the rest, so hostile, so unsympathetic, so unbelieving, that no spark of Irish patriotism, as it would appear, is kindled in their breasts by the prospect of being enabled, under this system of autonomy, to contribute thus directly to the prosperity and progress of their country."—(3 Hansard,  1185.)Sir, why are the Protestants of Ulster stigmatized by my right hon. Friend as unpatriotic and unsympathetic? Why, because they are proud to belong to a greater country; because they take their share in the autonomy of the United Kingdom in which they have a part; because they cling to the traditions and the history of the United Kingdom, which is just as much their possession and heritage as it is ours; because they refuse to be cast adrift and cut away from the hopes and associations which they have hitherto cherished. I suppose if my right hon. Friend had been a Frenchman he would have denounced 687 the people of Alsace and Lorraine as unsympathetic and unpatriotic when they refused to be re-united to Germany, and when their hearts turned towards the great country from which they were forcibly separated. I suppose if he had been an Italian he would have denounced those members of the Savoyard community who did their utmost to prevent the transfer of their country to France; and loyalty must indeed be at a discount when a passionate allegiance to the unity of the Kingdom is made a moral offence and crime by a Minister of the Crown. Sir, I was told the other night by my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General that I had been fanning the flame of religious bigotry. Well, if it can be shown to me that I have done that, I should say that I am heartily ashamed of it. [An hon. MEMBER: So you ought to be.] But what is the ground of this accusation? It is that in a letter which I wrote I said that the Ulster people feared, and I thought with much reason, that their material and religious interests would suffer if they were subjected to the dominance of a Parliament in Dublin.
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
That will do just as well. I daresay I used both expressions; but if they were subjected to a dominant Parliament in Dublin, perhaps it comes to the same thing as the more allegorical expression "being handed over, bound hand and foot;" and I should have thought that a writer so practised as the hon. Member for Tyrone would have known that there is not much practical distinction between the two. That is the ground of the accusation. Now, is it a fact that the Ulster Protestants do fear for their material and their religious interests? There is no doubt whatever about it in the mind of any man who reads the papers, or attends public meetings, or knows anything at all about the state and condition of Protestant Ulster. But was I right to say they had some reason for it? Well, I belong to an extreme section of the Liberal Party, and have all my political life joined with those who would destroy every shred of religious ascendancy, by whatever sect it may be claimed. But then I think that gives me and those who think with me the 688 right to protest against the substitution of one form of religious ascendancy for another; and I say that the Catholic Church, by its tenets and by its faith, is bound not to be content with equality, but to demand predominance. [Cries of "No, no!"] Hon. Members from Ireland think not. I will give them an authority for it. Here is a pamphlet written by the Prime Minister in 1875 on Vaticanism. The Prime Minister said then—It is true—it is absolutely true—that to secure rights has been, and is, the aim of Christian civilization: to destroy them, and to establish the resistless, domineering action of a purely central power is the aim of the Roman policy.That is true, and if it were worth while to carry the argument further I could quote the statements of Catholic Bishops recently made and to the same effect. [Cries of "Quote!"] The House will appreciate the interruptions which come from a certain quarter of the House, and which do not augur very well for the peace and order of the Dublin Parliament. I say, then, that as far as concerns their religious interest the Protestants of Ulster have a right to fear a Parliament in which Catholics will be in a majority, and in which, if they are true to their creed and faith, they will endeavour to establish Catholic supremacy. But have they any ground to fear for their material interests? Well, I saw the other day that Mr. Davitt had been interviewed by the reporter of an evening newspaper. Mr. Davitt was asked upon this question of Ulster, and this is what he is reported to have said—Just leave them alone to us, and we will make short work of these gentry. They are not Irish, but only English and Scotch who have settled among us, and it is preposterous that they should be allowed to dictate to Irishmen how Irishmen should be governed.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to do injustice to Mr. Davitt, and I would ask him whether he is aware that Mr. Davitt has absolutely and publicly contradicted that statement and repudiated it, and stated in the same newspaper that he never said one word of it?
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
No, Sir; I am not. I am much obliged to the hon. Member. I had not seen any contradiction, else I need not say I should not have quoted those words. 689 At the same time—well, I will not say it—I accept the contradiction. I pass on to another point. I have myself seen articles in a Nationalist newspaper which attacked the linen industry. Last night the hon. Member for South Dublin (Sir Thomas Esmonde) spoke of the linen industry in pathetic terms as an industry suffering great depression. He ought to have rejoiced, because the Nationalist papers are denouncing the linen industry of Belfast as the curse of the country. [Cries of "No, no!"] I have seen a series of articles in which those words are used—and in which the linenites are denounced as the curse of the country—and the linen industry of Belfast is described as an Orange industry. All I can say is that as long as these articles are written and these views expressed I am not surprised that the people of Ulster look with some dread to the anticipation of a Parliament in which their interests will be so subjected. But, after all, the question is not whether these fears are well founded or the reverse. They exist, and the question is, are you going to give effect to them? What did the Prime Minister say upon that subject? It is rather a long quotation, but the importance of it justifies me reading it to the House. In his speech on the introduction of the Bill my right hon. Friend said—Various schemes, short of refusing the demand of Ireland at large, have been proposed on behalf of Ulster. One scheme is, that Ulster itself, or, perhaps, with more appearance of reason, a portion of Ulster"—I just stop here to say that I have been accused of using the words "Protestant" Ulster, and it appears to have been thought that I intended to convey that the whole of Ulster was Protestant. What I meant was, to limit my remarks to a portion of Ulster—to that portion which is chiefly entitled to consideration, as being inhabited generally by a Protestant population, and the Prime Minister seems to have the same idea—A portion of Ulster should be excluded from the operation of the Bill we are about to introduce. Another scheme is, that a separate autonomy should be provided for Ulster, or for a portion of Ulster. Another scheme is, that certain rights with regard to certain subjects—such, for example, as education and some other subjects—should be reserved and should be placed, to a certain extent, under the control of Provincial Councils. These, I think, are the suggestions which have reached me in different shapes: there may be others. But what I wish 690 to say of them is this—there is no one of them which has appeared to us to be so completely justified, either upon its merits or by the weight of opinion supporting and recommending it, as to warrant our including it in the Bill, and proposing it to Parliament upon our responsibility. What we think is, that such suggestions deserve careful and unprejudiced consideration. It may be that that free discussion, which I have no doubt will largely take place after a Bill such as we propose shall have been laid on the Table of the House, may give to one of these proposals, or to some other proposals, a practicable form, and that some such plan may be found to be recommended by a general or predominating approval. If it should be so, it will, at our hands, have the most favourable consideration, with every disposition to do what equity may appear to recommend."—(3 Hansard,  1053–4.)Sir, that statement was perfectly satisfactory to me. I always thought the question of Ulster an open question, and I have never made the question of Ulster a question that should decide my vote on the second reading. But I think the time has come when the Government may give us some further information. I should like to ask them whether or not they have convinced themselves that there is in Ulster, or any portion of Ulster, inhabited by an intelligent and energetic population, such a predominating sentiment as deserves separate consideration; and whether in that case they have devised, or will devise, a plan for giving that favourable consideration which the Prime Minister has promised. I pass on to some other points which I shall deal with very briefly, but which raise a rather important question—I mean the points connected with the financial proposals of the Bill, and also those clauses which deal with the protection of minorities. Now, I have criticized those clauses on a previous occasion, and I have laid myself open to the very fair remark of the Prime Minister, that in doing so I am more Irish than the Irish themselves, since I complain of what they approve, or, at all events, do not oppose. I want, however, to point out this—that I have directed attention to this matter, not because I have the slightest desire to relieve hon. Gentlemen opposite of provisions to which they are indifferent, but because, unless we can be certain that this scheme will be satisfactory to the Irish people—not merely to those Representatives who may be here to-day, but to the Irish I people—there is no hope of that finality which we are promised in connection 691 with this legislation. Now, surely that is a very important point. To my mind it is of superlative importance, and I really think much as I dislike this Bill, if I could have honestly convinced myself that it was to be accepted as a final settlement—I do not mean absolutely a final settlement, but practically a final settlement for our time—I believe I should have voted for the Bill, bad as I think it to be. But I do not think there is any finality about it. Now, on what grounds can the House be expected to believe that this measure is a final measure? Only on two grounds. The first would be that the provisions of the Bill are so favourable that the more the Irish people know of them—the greater their practical acquaintance with them—the more they would like them, and the less likely would they be to change them. That is the first. The second ground would be that although the provisions of the Bill were not altogether satisfactory, yet, having been loyally accepted by the Representatives of Ireland, the people of Ireland would consider themselves bound by the decision of their Representatives. Now, is that so? Let us see as to the first ground. Are the terms so satisfactory to the Irish people that they would become more and more enamoured of them as time goes on? I was much struck with the remarks in the speech of the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Finlay)—a most wonderfully well-reasoned speech if I may venture to say so. One paragraph caught my attention particularly. It was when he said if this Bill were offered to the people of Scotland they would reject it. ["Hear, hear!" and murmurs.] Is there any Scottish Member who will get up and deny that? I do not believe that this Bill would be looked at in Scotland as a settlement of the national opinion in that country; and that is a very remarkable thing, because when we are told that this Bill is a concession to national sentiment, remember that the national sentiment lasts more strongly and in a more intense form—national patriotism—in Scotland than in any other part of the United Kingdom; and—if I may say so without offence to the Irish Members—I would say with greater reason, because Scotland has been an independent country, separate and homogeneous, well able to take care of itself for centuries, while Ireland was 692 a dependent Province divided among themselves. Well, the national sentiment of Scotland would not be conciliated by this Bill. The people of Scotland did not wish to dissociate themselves from the policy, obligations, and responsibilities of the Empire; but the people of Scotland would be content—their national sentiment would be satisfied—this intense feeling, which is as strong as any possessed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, would be satisfied by concessions much less extravagant—if I may use the word—than those contained in this Bill, which would give a local autonomy to Scotland, and, at the same time, preserve unquestioned and undoubted the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. The second point is—Have the Irish Members loyally accepted the provisions of this Bill? [An hon. MEMBER: Yes.] Well, I am not certain. I am not certain they have accepted all the provisions of this Bill. I think they have objected to some very important reservations. But suppose, in order to obtain the greater object, they yield on these matters; suppose they come down here and tell us—which they have not done yet—that they accept this Bill as a final settlement, and that then they found the people of Ireland are not satisfied. I ask the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell)—Can he bind the people of Ireland to accept his Leadership if he accepts this as a final settlement of the question between Ireland and Great Britain? I am now going to quote the hon. Member for Cork; and I must say that hon. Members from Ireland opposite are the most unfortunate people in the world, in that they always seem to be badly reported. But on this occasion I have furnished myself, not only with the words, but the place, the time, and the paper which is the authority for the report; and I hope the hon. Member will find that I am quoting him correctly. He was speaking at Cork on January 21 of last year, and he is reported in The Freeman's Journal, which I suppose is a friendly newspaper. He said—We cannot ask for less than restitution of Grattan's Parliament with its important privileges and wide and far-reaching Constitution. We cannot, under the British Constitution, ask for more than the restitution of Grattan's Parliament; but no man has the right to fix the boundary to the march of a nation. No man has a right to say to his country, 'Thus far 693 shalt thou go and no farther,' and we have never attempted to fix the ne plus ultra to the progress of Ireland's nationhood, and we never shall. But, gentlemen, while we leave those things to time and circumstances and the future, we must each one of us resolve in our own hearts that we shall at all times do everything that within us lies to obtain for Ireland the fullest measure of her own rights.These are very eloquent words, and they do credit to the head and heart of the hon. Member; but what hope is there of finality in these words? Is this Bill Grattan's Parliament? Remember Grattan's Parliament is the minimum for which the hon. Member thought he was entitled to ask in January, 1885. This is not Grattan's Parliament, and it is nothing like it; and the hon. Member, unless he gets up now and denies that that is his opinion, is precluded by that speech from pretending that this Bill is a final measure in any sense. Well, there is another speech. This was delivered on November 3 at Mayo, and it is reported in United Ireland. He said—Speaking for myself, and I believe for the Irish people and for all my Colleagues, I have to declare that we will never accept, either expressly or implied, anything but the full and complete right to arrange our own affairs and make our land a nation, to secure for her, free from outside control, the right to direct her own course among the people of the world.Again I say, very eloquent. It may be very right, but it is not in this Bill. This is not a final measure, under those circumstances, if the hope of finality is to be grounded upon the statements of the hon. Member opposite. I have one other quotation which I commend to the notice of some of my Liberal Friends near me. This was a speech delivered at Wicklow on October 5, 1885. I am sorry I could not get an Irish report; but I take the report from The Times. It is a verbatim report; and, unless The Times reports him much worse than it does me, I do not think he has much cause to complain. He says—I claim this for Ireland, that if the Irish Parliament of the future considers that there are certain industries in Ireland which can be benefited by Protection, which can be nursed by Protection, and which can be placed in such a position as to enable them to compete with similar industries in other countries by a course of Protection extending over a few years, that Parliament ought to have power to carry out that policy. It is not for me to predict the extent to which that power should be used; but I tell English Radicals and English Liberals that it is useless for them to talk of their desire 694 to do justice to Ireland when with motives of selfishness they refuse to repair that most manifest injustice of all—namely, the destruction of our manufactures by England in times past—when they refuse to repair that injustice by giving us the power which we think would be sufficient to enable us to build up those comparatively few industries which Ireland is adapted by her circumstances to excel in.Now, Sir, what is that? So far as the hon. Member for Cork is concerned, unless he has changed his opinion, it is perfectly useless for English Radicals and English Liberals to give him this Bill, unless they are prepared to go further and give him the control of Customs and Excise, to enable him to build up special industries by protective duties. Upon this question of finality I want to say a word upon a matter which has been referred to very often in this debate, and which I think is most important and interesting as an illustration. I refer to the case of Canada. It is curious that in the case of Canada you can find a precedent for almost every point which has been raised in the course of this debate. The Prime Minister referred to the case of Canada; and I think I state his argument correctly when I say that he considered the condition of Canada in 1838, before the Rebellion, might be looked to as analogous to the condition of Ireland now; it was a condition of great discontent, and of agitation, which culminated in actual rebellion. Then I thought he went on to show that the reforms which were subsequently granted to Canada on the Report of Lord Durham produced the pacification of the country; and I think, in his mind at all events, he compared the reforms advocated by Lord Durham with the present Bill, and he argued that the present Bill would do for Ireland what Lord Durham's reforms had done for Canada. Now, that, I think, was the position of the Prime Minister. But I confess—having read very carefully the history of that time by more than one authority—that I think it points to a totally different conclusion. My view I will state in a sentence. My view is that Lower Canada—I will not deal with Upper Canada, which is another matter and altogether different—was really, in 1838, in very much the same condition as Ireland will be if this Bill is passed; and that the reforms of Lord Durham are the further reforms which we shall have 695 to grant after this Bill is passed, in order to secure the pacification of Ireland. Let me follow that out. What was the position of Lower Canada? It was a country inhabited by two peoples—two races—of two religions. The great majority of the population were French Catholics; and there was a very energetic, strenuous minority of British settlers who were Protestants. There was a Constitution under which Canada contributed nothing to the Imperial Expenditure, and had no part in Imperial policy. There was a Constitution which gave to Canada, in the first place, a Legislative Assembly, which was returned by the majority, who were the dominant Party in it; and, in the second place, there was a Legislative Council, which really was curiously analogous, not exactly in detail, but in its effect, to the first Order which is proposed in this Bill, and which was a nominated Council, nominated in order to secure the representation of the Protestant minority, and to give them an effective veto over the proceedings of the popular and Legislative Chamber. Now, that was the state of things, and that is curiously like what the state of things would be in Ireland under this Bill. But what happened? In the first place, the French Canadians—but I am omitting one point, the curious case of the Revenues of Canada. The Revenues of Canada were of three kinds. There were the taxes which had been levied in Canada previous to 1774; there were the taxes which had been levied by the Canadian Parliament after 1774; and there were the hereditary Revenues of the Crown. Canada had only power over the taxes which had been levied since 1774; and the first complaint made, as it would be the first complaint under this Bill, was that the Canadian Legislature was not intrusted with the control of its own finances. A demand was made to the British Parliament that they should give up to the control of the Lieutenant Governor all taxes which had been levied previous to 1774. That demand was extorted from the British Parliament under the threat of rebellion and agitation. But the concession of that demand did not stop the agitation. The Canadians went on demanding the control of the hereditary Revenue, and, in fact, the full control of the whole Revenues of the Provinces, and they asked for 696 more—they asked that the Legislative Council should be done away with; that it should be made elective, and elected practically under the same conditions as a popular body; and, in fact, that all the arrangements for the protection of the minority should be done away with. Now, that is exactly parallel to what I anticipate under this Bill. You will have to give to Ireland all the reforms granted after Lord Durham's Act; you will have to give them their practical independence, because there is no use denying the fact that, at this moment, the self-governing Colony of Canada is practically independent. The Dominion Parliament has only to pass a Resolution desiring to cast off its allegiance, and there is not a man in this House who will hold up his hand against it. Therefore, we see, first, inadequate concessions, then a demand for greater concessions, then entire separation. It is a fatal decline. There is no finality in this Bill, and until you come to separation you cannot possibly stop or pacify the demands represented by those hon. Members on the Benches opposite. I have one other word to say about Canada. It has been made a constant demand upon us that we should produce a plan. Yes; hon. Members from Ireland opposite are very anxious indeed about the details of our plan. I paid attention to the demand made in this connection by the Prime Minister; and I endeavoured, with great submission, to suggest the alternative lines on which it seemed to me that we should have proceeded. The result was not very encouraging. Our attempt to meet the wish which was expressed has been hailed with ridicule; we have been told that our plan is "Popkin's plan," and we are described as "puny whipsters" by the hon. and learned Member for South Londonderry (Mr. Healy). It is all very well for the hon. and learned Member, with his magnificent physique, to stigmatize as "puny whipsters" men not gifted by Providence with his great personal gifts; but it is very hard upon us that we should be accused of arrogance, and presumption, and self-conceit, because we did not volunteer information, but because we endeavoured honestly to meet the demand made upon us by the Prime Minister for an alternative scheme. But now I will give you an alternative scheme in even greater de- 697 tail, though it will not add much to your information. You may find—I will not say the details—but the lines of such a plan in the present Constitution of Canada; not, however, in the relations between Canada and this country—those are the wrong lines, and lines against which I protest, and which mean separation, but in the relations inter se of the Provinces of Canada and the Dominion Parliament. Those are the relations which I, for one, am perfectly prepared to establish to-morrow between this country and Ireland. Let us see what the differences are. In the first place, there is that question of Ulster. Someone—I forget who it was—in the course of this debate referred to the Constitution of 1840, which united the two Provinces of Canada. Yes; but the Union did not answer; it led to quarrels, to agitation, to irritation, and even violence; and in 1865 the Constitution was changed, and these two Provinces were separated. Now, they have each their separate autonomy, under the authority of the Dominion Parliament. In that way you might have Provincial Assemblies in Ireland, under the authority of the Imperial Parliament. Then, again, in the Dominion Parliament there is complete and continuous representation of every part of the Dominion. They are represented proportionately according to their numbers; they are represented continuously and fully. In the third place, there is absolute and effective supremacy of the Dominion Parliament over the Provincial Legislatures. There is a veto which can be, and is, used; there is a right of concurrent legislation which can be, and is, used; and the Provincial Assemblies are subordinate bodies, with distinctly defined rights of legislation expressly given to them by Statute. Those are great differences, but there is another difference—one of detail, but not of small importance—the legislation as to Criminal Law and procedure. Where does it rest in Canada? Not with the Local Assemblies, but with the Dominion Parliament. And the Judges of the land, by whom are they appointed, and to whom are they responsible? They are appointed by the Governor General, and paid by the Dominion Parliament. In that way the Judges of Canada are independent, and are not likely to be affected by local influences, 698 which might prevail in smaller and subordinate bodies. Well, Sir, I think I have occupied the time of the House long enough—longer than I intended; but I hope that, at all events, I have made my position clear. I do not want to be in the least degree mistaken by hon. Members from Ireland on the Benches opposite, or by anyone else, as to the opinions I hold, and which are identical with those which I have written and expressed before on many occasions. It will appear to the House that my objections to the Bill, as it stands, are unchanged. I cannot see that the Amendments which have been suggested by the Prime Minister would meet those objections in any considerable measure; therefore, I feel it my duty to vote against the second reading. We are threatened with a Dissolution; a Dissolution has no terrors for me. Of one thing I am confident—and I know something about the matter—that the Unionist majority in this House will be strengthened. I am very sorry that this Parliament, from which so much was expected, should have had but a brief and barren existence; but I am glad that this great issue, having been raised, is to be submitted to the only tribunal whose decision we can all accept, and which is competent to pronounce it. We also appeal to Cæsar. I was told the other night by the hon. Member for the Irish Ward in Liverpool—[Cries of "Division!"]—I beg pardon, the Irish Division (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) that the British democracy were going to give a unanimous vote in favour of this Bill. I do not recognize the hon. Member as any authority on the British democracy; he may be an authority on the Irish democracy—although I do not think that he resides very much in that country himself—but for the British democracy he is not entitled to speak. There is one admission I will make. Two things have become clear during the controversy which has taken place in the country; one is that the British democracy has a passionate devotion to the Prime Minister—a devotion earned and deserved by 50 years of public service, and that sentiment is as honourable to him as it is to those who feel and express it. But there is another thing which has also come out—that is, the sentiment—the universality and completeness of which, I daresay, has taken many 699 of us by surprise—in favour of some form of Home Rule to Ireland, which will give to the Irish people some greater control over their own affairs. On these two things I believe the British democracy is practically unanimous; but they are not unanimous as to the methods by which it has been sought to establish this principle. Anyone who will look to the Resolutions of Liberal Associations—anyone who will read the speeches of prominent Radicals and Liberals—will see that there is the greatest difference of opinion as to the particular provisions of this Bill, and hardly anyone approves of it unreservedly. Most of them take the same objections which I have been urging. It is upon the method and plan of the Bill that we are going to the country, and not upon its principle. I have said before, and I say it again—"Give me the principle without the Bill and I will vote for it." But I will not vote for the method by which it is sought to establish the principle. But we are going to the country, and I hope that we shall go in a more amiable temper than has recently been displayed in some quarters. I have been myself assailed with extraordinary bitterness because I have exercised an independent judgment in a matter which I believe to be vital to the interests of the country. I have been told that I am animated by personal spite and private spleen. Yes; I do not complain of hon. Members from Ireland taking that view and expressing it—it is their habit of controversy. No one has ever been opposed to them in politics but he has been covered with virulent abuse and misrepresentation, and none more conspicuously than Earl Spencer and the Prime Minister, whom they are now loading with fulsome adulation. But I address myself to my hon. Friends around me, from whom I have the misfortune to differ. I ask them to consider whether it is really necessary to impute the basest motives to public men at a time when there are on the surface reasons—perfectly honourable reasons—which may sufficiently account for their conduct? Do you say—do you dare to say—that my right hon. Friend and Colleague in the representation of Birmingham (Mr. Bright) is animated by personal spleen and spite? He takes the same course as I do; he is going into the Lobby against this Bill and against the friend, the 700 associate, and the Leader whom he has followed with loyal devotion for many years of his life. My right hon. Friend and Colleague has done as great services, he has lived almost as long in public life, as the Prime Minister himself, and no one has doubted his honour. But you say that I am in a different position. And why do you say that? What I am saying now I expressed in public—it is in print—before the General Election, before I was a Member of the Government, before I had the slightest conception that any idea of this kind was fermenting then—if it was fermenting—in the mind of the Prime Minister. I spoke at Warrington in September, 1885, and I referred to the demands of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), and I said then that if there was any party or any man that was willing to yield to those demands in order to purchase his support I would have no part in the competition. And then many of my hon. Friends, whom I see around me, thanked me in public for what they thought that plain, frank, and courageous declaration; and now, forsooth, for having made the same declaration some three months later, when the occasion has arisen, they accuse me of personal and unworthy motives. Sir, the charge is unjust and the charge is ridiculous. For there is not a man here who does not know that every personal and political interest would lead me to cast in my lot with the Prime Minister. Why, Sir, not a day passes in which I do not receive dozens or scores of letters urging and beseeching me for my own sake to vote for the Bill, and to "dish the Whigs." Well, Sir, the temptation is no doubt a great one; but, after all, I am not base enough to serve my personal ambition by betraying my country; and I am convinced that when the heat of this discussion is passed and over, Liberals will not judge harshly those who have pursued what they honestly believed to be the path of duty, even although it may lead to the disruption of Party ties, and to the loss of the influence and power which it is the legitimate ambition of every man to seek among his political friends and associates.
§ MR. SEXTON (Sligo, S.)
Sir, I trust that the physique of hon. Members of this House will not be held to have a 701 very practical bearing on these great issues before us; and whatever may be contributed in the debates on these great questions, hon. Members will agree with me that in the matter of physique the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. J. Chamberlain) has very little to boast of as compared with my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Healy). The right hon. Gentleman has stated that a Dissolution has no terrors for him. Why should it? The right hon. Gentleman will go the country masquerading as a Unionist Liberal, but depending on the regular Tory vote. The right hon. Gentleman has already found a very good godfather in the shape of Lord Brabourne. Lord Brabourne has appealed to the Tory electors of West Birmingham to save the right hon. Gentleman from political extinction. Did ever misfortune make an ex-Radical Liberal acquainted with a stranger bedfellow than Lord Brabourne? The right hon. Gentleman has made a very misleading allusion to the case of Canada. The analogy between Canada and Ireland rests not on details but on principles. The principles of resemblance are that Canada was discontented and rebellious till she got what she wanted, and when she obtained what she wanted she became contented and loyal. The difference between Canada and Ireland is this—that Canada is 3,000 miles away, whilst Ireland is three hours' sail of this country. When Canada got what she wanted she became loyal and contented, and the substance of what we want is contained in the pages of this Bill; and if that Bill passed into law the settlement arrived at in the case of Canada will be precisely and absolutely reproduced in the case of Ireland. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman has been welcome to us in one respect. It has cleared away the smoke from the field of battle. It has defined the opposing hosts. It has enabled Ireland to see at last, beyond the possibility of a doubt, who are her enemies and who are her friends. It has enabled her to distinguish between the true friends and the false ones, and I promise the right hon. Gentleman that so long as this generation of men lasts on the face of the earth Ireland will never forget this day. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman for weeks past has been fighting under cover. At last we have got him in the open, and we mean, until this question 702 is finally settled, not to let him get back into the bush. He has been fighting under cover by means of a series of mysterious paragraphs and dubious and suggestive little lists, and he has been creating a certain effect by secret meetings of a small but not homogeneous body of hon. Members of this House, who have produced excellent stage effects under the guidance of an adjutant in the shape of the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Caine) by a series of rapid and interesting evolutions. It requires an effort of memory to recall the fact that the right hon. Gentleman was but lately a Radical Leader. The Radicals of Britain looked to him to maintain the rights and to assert the principles of the working population of this country against monopoly and exclusive class privilege. The working men of England looked to him to mould the policy of the Liberal Party, and influence the mind of the Prime Minister and the Government for their advantage; but the right hon. Gentleman, who might be powerful as a coadjutor, is fated to be impotent as a rebel. In what character does the right hon. Gentleman address the House to-day? It is as the ally of Tories, as the confederate of Whigs, as the deserter of his Party, as one who contrives the downfall of the Prime Minister, the break-up of the Liberal Party, the destruction of that Party—the destruction of that Party as a weapon and an instrument of progress. He appears as one who, whatever the purpose of his conduct may be—and I do not feel called upon to analyze it—whatever his purpose is—the effect of it, if he was successful, could not be other than this—to give over the working men of England to the advocates and champions of class privileges and monopoly. He appears to consider the people of unfortunate Ireland—who have had given to them by the Prime Minister a Bill which affords a glimpse of freedom—he appears to consider those unfortunate people worthy only to be handed over and consigned to the double policy of Lord Salisbury—namely, the enforced emigration or expatriation of 1,000,000 of Irish people, and a firm and unflinching repression of 20 years' stern coercion. We hear a great deal about "one man government;" but probe the question to the bottom, and, in my opinion, in all ques- 703 tions of the kind it will always be, and continue to be, a question between one man and another. The question for the Liberal Party is, which one man will it have? The Prime Minister occupied a place in the Government of this country when the right hon. Gentleman opposite occupied a perambulator, or some similar unpretending structure. The Prime Minister directed the policy of this country, guided its Government, guarded its interests, protected its structure, and developed its resources at a time when the respectable, but not dazzling, talents of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. J. Chamberlain) found an occupation in the respectable, if not dazzling, sphere of Mayor of Birmingham. Nature intended the right hon. Gentleman to be a Mayor. He is intellectually a Mayor still. I think that when the question between one man and another comes before the electors of Great Britain, the Liberal electors of Great Britain will not reject the experience and genius or the insight of the Prime Minister, by universal confession the foremost statesman and first reformer of the generation—they will not desert him and turn for aid to the ex-Mayor of Birmingham as their guide, philosopher, and friend. I cannot congratulate the right hon. Member upon the cheerfulness of his manner in speaking to-day. His voice, it appeared to me, had a hollow and sepulchral sound, as if it came from out of a cave. I believe the right hon. Gentleman does not like to have it called a cave; he prefers it being called a chasm. Well, I accept the amendment, for if you go into a cave you can come out of it when you like, even if you have to crawl out on your hands and knees—a posture to which, as far as I can learn, the right hon. Gentleman has no marked repugnance. But if you get into a chasm the chances are that will stay there; and I certainly think that the chasm, which is the result and the handiwork of the right hon. Gentleman, will prove to be the last political resting place of himself and his ingenuous adherents. The most ingenuous I take to be the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands), who cheered him so heartily during his speech; but the difference between the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentleman is that the right hon. Gentleman got afraid sitting above the Gangway, and the hon. Gentleman got afraid sit- 704 ting below the Gangway. Even great political struggles have their comic and laughter-moving elements, and these are to a certain extent supplied by the hon. Member for Burnley, who reminds one of the boy in chase of the rainbow—the rainbow being an imaginary Chancellorship of the Exchequer in an impossible coalition. The chasm of the right hon. Gentleman was constructed on the Calais-Douvres principle; it had two bottoms, the second being the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) and his Friends. Neither the people of Ireland nor their friends had had any cause to regret that the Motion for the rejection of the Bill had proceeded from the noble Marquess. The Prime Minister had justly said—and the country in the depths of its intelligence has found the absolute truth of the saying—that the spirit and power of class formed the main body of the host in opposition to the Bill. It is well that the issues should be frankly laid before the country; and if the spirit and power of class do typify, as I believe they do, the opposition to the Bill, they could not find a more adequate Representative than in the person of the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale. I have treated, and always shall treat, the noble Marquess with the respect which no Irishman ever fails to give to a frank and manly enemy. The noble Marquess has not gone about the country since last Session with a programme of his own, and he has not declared with many brave words that he would never join a Government unless his programme was adopted, and then accepted Office. He has not gone with the Government in order to chose a most suitable moment for ruining the Irish and Liberal measures. The noble Marquess is not moved—and certainly no one suspects him of being actuated—by any sentiments of vanity or spleen. He does not consider that his merits have not been sufficiently appreciated, neither is he burning with secret rage at the preferment of any other man. The noble Marquess is a frank and manful enemy of Home Rule for Ireland. He refused to enter into the Cabinet, although the Prime Minister had laid it down that any settlement of the Home Rule Question must be consistent with the supremacy of the Crown, with the integrity of the Empire, and 705 the Sovereignty of the Imperial Parliament. Notwithstanding this ample accumulation of guarantees the noble Marquess refused to enter the Cabinet, because he would not tolerate the principle of Home Rule in any form. Therefore it does not devolve upon me to argue the principle of the Bill with him, as he will not accept it on any terms. I apprehend that the noble Marquess in his opposition is thinking more of Great Britain than he is of Ireland. He knows that though the Irish Party is only a small Party in the House, still it is the pioneer of great social and political reforms. He knows that their example has been fruitful in the mind of Great Britain. He apprehends that a Legislature of her own, freely enacting laws with a single mind for the good of the Irish people, would set an example that would be speedily fruitful in Great Britain, that would not be to the interest of the pretensions and powers and privileges of his class. That may be an excellent reason for the noble Marquess to oppose this Bill, but, Sir, it is a conclusive reason why the people of Great Britain should support it. The noble Marquess has offered us some mouldy crumbs of local self-government—such crumbs as may fall from the table of the Dives, and be given to the beggar at the gate. Ireland does not stand here as a beggar. Ireland asks her right, and I have never heard that the meagre benefaction that was given to Lazarus had any effect upon the rich man's ultimate destination. The noble Marquess talks vaguely of the reform of Dublin Castle; but if he had learned the alphabet of government he would know that to reform the administration of the law and leave the system of law untouched is to begin at the wrong end of the reform. If you reform the administration of the law and leave the system still untouched you do not gain more acceptance for the system of law, you only ruin the administration of it. The only way—the only permanent way—to meet the demands is to make both the law and the administration of the law accepted by the people, because they spring from their own native authority. I tell the noble Marquess that while he concerns himself with the administration of the law and leaves the fundamental system untouched he is wasting time, just as a sailor scrubbing the deck when 706 a leak had sprung in the hold. It seemed at one time probable that the noble Marquess and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) harboured the hope of forming a Government of their own. We are told that they had a negative policy and a positive policy. In effect the negative policy was to throw out the Prime Minister, and their positive policy was to step into his place. Well, Sir, it would have been almost worth while—if such vast interests were not involved—to the cynical student of human affairs, to see how the Head of the territorial Whigs and the deposed First Consul of the Caucus would manage to get along together—how the heir of the Dukedom of Devonshire, and the patrimony belonging thereto, and the author of the doctrine of "ransom" would have agreed on a common policy. What measures would they propose—what measures of coercion or conciliation? How even they could get re-elected by their constituents—in short, how long and in what manner they would conduct the work of government with a Party not extending far beyond the limits of the Treasury Bench, with two Oppositions sitting on that side of the House and one Opposition on the other, with mediocracy supporting them, and the country brooding over the instructive spectacle of the mean talents and the limited experience of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) consigned to a back Bench below the Gangway. But, Sir, whatever may be the question for the Liberal Party, the question for the country is not between the noble Marquess or the right hon. Member for Birmingham and the Prime Minister. The question for the country is between the Prime Minister and the Marquess of Salisbury. The noble Marquess is the only alternative to the Prime Minister—the only alternative to the policy of Home Rule and conciliation, is a policy of forced emigration and of 20 years of coercion. We have not learned that from what the Tories say in this House. Here the Tory Leaders are very silent. I say the Tory Leaders, because I cannot recognize as a Tory Leader yet the American Gentleman the hon. Member for Eccleshall (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett), who addressed this House as an officer of Militia. The Tory Leaders are silent here, but they are not silent everywhere. Indeed, 707 I can find some reason for their silence, because it must be distressing for so astute a gentleman and so very profound a strategist as the noble Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) to be condemned to serve under a Leader who just at the wrong moment showed that he had the temper of the leader of a herd of buffaloes. The policy of the Marquess of Salisbury is plain. His alternative is, that if money is to be spent in Ireland, it is to be spent, not in buying out his friends the landlords from the hands of the Jews, but it is to be spent in carrying out the forced emigration of the Irish people. But a question precedent to the carrying out of that policy is, Will the Irish people emigrate? The Irish people never willingly leave their native land. They only leave it as a last resource, and when they are without hope of getting a living in it. But are they without hope now? The Prime Minister has told them that their claim is expedient—that their demand for self-government is just and right, and that it ought to be acceded to. That declaration is adopted by the bulk of the Liberal Party. It has been enthusiastically affirmed by great assemblies of Englishmen, and with that moral and physical strength on their side the Irish people shall never be driven from the land that they are destined to rule. Why, Sir, if you emigrate 1,000,000, and turn discontented men at home into bitter enemies abroad, those who remain will become more troublesome. You will have to emigrate a second 1,000,000, and a third, and when the majority are disposed of, and only the "Loyal minority" remains, the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Major Saunderson) will make an irresistible demand upon the British House of Commons for a separate Irish Parliament in the name of a really united Ireland. The hon. and gallant Member will, of course, then be older, though I apprehend he will never be very much wiser, and, I have no doubt, in him the Government would find a much more troublesome and turbulent neighbour than my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork. But emigration or no emigration, we are to have 20 years of coercion. [Cries of "No, no!"] Did not the Marquess of Salisbury say that we were to have 20 years of firm and un- 708 flinching repressive government? But he also said that at the end of 20 years you might then consider whether Ireland would be in a condition fit to repeal it. How could you repeal a thing if it was not in existence? Not only did the noble Marquess say that, but his whole speech from beginning to end was consistent with no other interpretation. He compared us to Hottentots in our unfitness for Home Rule. Well, tastes may differ, but I would rather be an average Hottentot, a fair average Hottentot—with such a feeling of modified spasmodic honesty and respect for his word as an average Hottentot may be supposed to possess—than be the British political Leader who crawled into Office last year by repudiating coercion, who tried to hold Office by coquetting with Home Rule, and who now had the audacity to endeavour to regain Office by favouring that which he formerly denounced, and by discrediting that which he had embraced, and who did all this in the face of the world in the lapse of one single year. The Marquess of Salisbury on May 10 told the country that the Irish people—not a section of them, but the whole Irish people—had acquired the bad habit of using knives and slugs. He also said that the Irish people—not a certain number of criminals, but the whole Irish people—had used no other weapon of political controversy than the murder of agents and landlords and the mutilation of cattle. Well, I tell the noble Marquess that if we had used no other weapon of political controversy than he stated he would not have been in power last year. He says that our Church—the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland—is a tremendous and grievously misused weapon. I say, in the face of the world, that the Church of the people of Ireland, in the face of unexampled difficulties, has merited the admiration of all honest men by the vigour, courage, and success with which it has endeavoured in times past of terrible trial, and under bitter provocation, and has also acted in preventing the people from indulgence in excess and in reprisals. What did he say to the Irish Members? He said the Representatives of the Irish people will swear what you like. I say nothing about "swearing;" we "said" what he liked last June, but we refused to "say" what he liked last January, and hence all this recrimination. Not 709 only does the noble Marquess deny us his confidence now, but he says he can never ask his countrymen to feel confidence in the Irish Representatives and the Irish people. If you can never feel confidence it follows necessarily that you can never give them Home Rule, and you must always coerce them. What did great experts say upon the subject of coercion? Lord Carnarvon said last year that coercion had become practically impossible. He said no sane man would propose to continue it. Did Lord Carnarvon cause a Commission of Inquiry to inquire into the sanity of his Leader? Lord Spencer also, one of the most competent living witnesses on the subject, has testified that you can no longer rely upon the coercion system of the past to rule Ireland. Does any hon. Gentleman here suppose himself as competent a witness as Lord Spencer? Is any hon. Gentleman here quite certain that if he had been placed in Lord Spencer's position he would have administered the drastic and terrible powers confided to him with the same pertinacity and courage as Lord Spencer? Sir, if I were an Englishman Lord Spencer's verdict would be final with me. I should regard him as the most competent witness, the only competent witness alive. And yet in the faces of these two Noblemen who last held the position of Viceroy of the Crown in Ireland the Marquess of Salisbury is prepared to resort to 20 years of coercion. Well, what kind of coercion must that be? Lord Canarvon told you last summer that summary powers of magistrates, secret inquisitions, changes of venue, and packed juries had not served their purpose; coercion at that time was played out. What must your new coercion be? You must go back to the time of Cromwell, and having gone back to him you must keep his company for at least a generation; and when the generation is over, will you be any nearer to success than you are at the present moment? No, Sir, because now you are near success. A plain way is opened to you by the guiding genius of the Prime Minister, and if you pursue it the end of trouble and the certainty of peace is at hand. The passion of nationality, the sentiment of race, the determination one day or another to control the internal affairs of Ireland, maintained through 700 years of suffering 710 and struggling, unparalleled in the history of the world, has become the Irishman's second nature. Law may satisfy it, but law can never expel it. Well, now, Sir, I come for a minute to the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). He has exposed on this and previous occasions what I may style his superficial knowledge of the subject under discussion by the remarks which he has made upon the mode of legislation in the Colonies as opposed to a system of federation. Perhaps if the right hon. Gentleman had obtained at the beginning of the Session the post which he is said to have desired—that is, Secretary of State for the Colonies—he might have learned a little more about the subject. He objects to the settlement proposed by the Prime Minister, because he says it proceeds on the lines of Colonial independence. How does it proceed on the lines of Colonial independence? Are the legislative powers of the Colonies specifically restricted? Have you in the case of any Colonial Legislature laid down the power of resumption? You have not. There is no comparison in principle between the settlement proposed for Ireland and the legislative system of, say, Cape Colony. The right hon. Gentleman favours a federal settlement. I do not know how far the public mind of Britain has advanced towards the goal. I do not know how far hon. Gentleman on this side of the House have reconciled themselves, for instance, to the establishment of six Legislatures in this country. Some people think that certain words of Mr. Burke are applicable to the argument used in a certain quarter of the House on this subject of federation—Hypocrisy delights in sublime speculations, for as it never intends to go beyond speculation it costs nothing to make it sublime.Well, whether the adoption of federation be a near or distant date, I say that the effectuation of this settlement will not be a bar but will hasten rather than retard this settlement of the Irish Question. It may be a stepping stone to ultimate federation, because you can only enter into federation on the basis either of independent States or existing Local Legislatures. When the day comes that you desire Imperial Federation, then Ireland, by reason of her existing Local Legislature, will be 711 prepared to take her place as a member of such Federation. The right hon. Gentleman has returned to-day to the question of the retention of Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament. He has stated that the Irish Members are unfortunate in being misreported. But it was a very wonderful misreporting of his Sheffield speech. The passage which he says was misreported was distinguished by that felicity of metaphor which marks the style of the right hon. Gentleman. He said the pace of Parliament was not quick enough for him. He desired to see that pace accelerated for British Business, and said that the pace would never be accelerated so long as the Irish Members remained. The right hon. Gentleman, with that inaccuracy of mind which pervades the whole of his argument, misunderstood the point of Mr. Butt's scheme. Mr. Butt proposed to retain the Irish Members in this House. The right hon. Gentleman understood him to propose to exclude them, and on that basis the right hon. Gentleman argued that exclusion of the Irish Members was necessary in order to facilitate Business in this House. If the pace of Parliament was slow in 1874, what had it become since? It was at that time comparatively a dashing gallop. Since then it has slackened to a shuffling trot, and now, as regards English Business, it is almost at a complete standstill. Is the right hon. Gentleman opposite certain that if the Prime Minister had proposed to retain the Irish Members here, he would not have opposed this Bill upon that very ground—that the pace af Parliament required to be accelerated by the exclusion of Irish Members—and would have delivered a magnificent argument? In what plenitude of materials he would have revelled. He could point to the programmes of legislation of 1874 and 1880. He could call the attention of the country to the violent scenes and the all-night Sittings in this House, to the coup d'état of Mr. Speaker Brand, to the censures and suspensions and expulsions of the Irish Members, to the abortive Rules of the Parliament of 1874, to the abortive Rules upon which you wasted an Autumn Session in 1882, to the current proceedings of the Select Committee on Procedure. He could have pointed to all this, and the right hon. Gentleman could have maintained—and I state my candid opi- 712 nion that he would have maintained—that the Bill of the Prime Minister was a fatal Bill, because it proposed to retain the Irish Members at Westminster. Sir, our position upon this question is reasonable and clear and plain. Our country has been so long misgoverned, she bas been so steadily and sadly neglected, her interests are so dislocated, her people so urgently require any skill that we can give, any industry and energy that we can apply, that we know that in an Irish Legislature our utmost energies for years to come should be devoted to the interests of our country. Till we get our own Parliament into something like good condition we cannot undertake further share in the management of your great estate of Great Britain. But, Sir, while we say this, we are willing to consider in a fair and candid spirit any proposal that can be made when the proper stage is reached for the retention of the Irish Members, and their due share in the transaction of Imperial affairs. But, Sir, I suspect the more than brotherly love of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham when he complained that if we were not to be retained in this House, it would be scandalous if we were taxed without being represented. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister knows as much about taxation as anybody, and I think he will confirm me when I say that the representation of Ireland in this House, so far as taxation has been concerned, has been very much more nominal and technical than real representation. The presence of Irish Members here has never within my memory, except on one occasion, affected to the extent of 1d. the taxation of their country; and, therefore, when urgent interests call us home, can it be wondered that we attach no great importance to the principle of taxation with representation? The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to say we had a right to be heard upon questions affecting Imperial interests. But there is a difficulty in separating Imperial from British interests. Again, there is the difficulty—pointed out by the Prime Minister himself—to a Prime Minister having the confidence of Britain upon domestic questions and being thrown out by Irish votes upon an Imperial question. We see these difficulties. We do not at present see how to solve them. The Prime Minister has told us he will 713 present a plan, and we can only say on behalf of our people that we are prepared to give that plan the most fair and unprejudiced consideration; and I think when all is over it will be found that we have put no unreasonable obstacle in the way. But what was the true motive of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Chamberlain)? It was not to save us from being taxed without being represented. It was not to secure us our share in Imperial concerns. The real object of him who told us that if we accept this Bill it will degrade our country was to give us, not a Parliament, but a mock Assembly, the consideration of which would be an insult to the self-respect and a degradation of the Irish people. We accept the principle of this Bill, and I state most frankly that we ask to have one Body, and not more than one, for all Ireland, and not two Bodies for different parts of it. We ask to have a Legislature, not a Committee. We ask to have a lawmaking Body subject to the prerogatives of the Crown and the interpretation of the Constitutional tribunals—subject, under certain conditions, to the authority of this Parliament. But we are not willing and will never accept any Assembly in Ireland which will be liable by system and as a matter of rule to have its proceedings reviewed and its will annulled by any other Legislature. We have heard a great deal about the abstract right of legislating for the Colonies. Well, Sir, I am not a Constitutional lawyer, or a lawyer of any kind. Indeed, although the lawyers who have spoken in favour of the Bill have been as numerous and as eminent as those who have spoken against it, I think the question before us is far more a question of common sense applied to practical life than of subtlety applied to law, and I think this House would have lost nothing if all the lawyers had been suspended from the service of the House till after the second reading. An abstract right, an inherent right, is one thing—a specific provision is another. By this Bill certain powers are delegated to the Legislative Body in Ireland, and the method is defined by which at any moment the Imperial Parliament may resume them. Do not these two facts tell their own story? In my opinion, the case is made complete. To sum up the whole matter in 714 one word, I think the supremacy resides where power resides. If you insert a specific provision, what would be the consequences? If you say in the Bill, in a set form, that the Imperial Parliament shall or may interfere at any point with the proceedings of the Irish Parliament, you do not increase your inherent power by one jot or tittle. But what do you do? You do two things fatal to the Bill. In the minds of some persons you will preserve, in the minds of others you will cancel, the moral obligation which you admit to rest upon you not to interfere with the Irish Parliament without good and sufficient cause. It would be a different thing if Ireland were 3,000 miles away. If you insert a specific provision of this kind the effect will be that you will not satisfy Ireland; that you will not rid this Parliament of the endless trouble of the Irish Question; and you will have reached the last and most desperate stage of political combativeness—the fighting of the Irish battles over again. The minority will come over from Ireland perhaps before they have exercised their veto, and ask Parliament to reverse the decision of the Irish House. The majority, of course, will follow them, and the majority and minority will fight their battles over again here, aided by amateurs and volunteers from both the British Parties. I beg to state, with every confidence, that the last state of the British Parliament will be worse than the first. Will any hon. Member, any practical man who has considered this question in the spirit of the politician and not of the theorist—will any man tell me that the practical supremacy of this Parliament is not abundantly and sufficiently safeguarded? In the first place, you reserve to this Parliament any question connected with the Crown or the Empire; and no one has suggested that the long list of exceptions and reservations in this Bill requires to be extended. In the second place, if any Bill which has passed the Irish House, or any provision in any Act, appears to raise a Constitutional question, the Lord Lieutenant, in the case of a Bill: in the case of an Act, the Secretary of State, or any suitor or other person concerned; in the case of a section of a Bill, or provision of any Act, may bring that Bill or provision under the consideration of a body of English Judges or the Judicial Committee of 715 the Privy Council. Does anyone suggest that those Judges are likely to tamper with the Constitution? It would be a fantastic suggestion. But these Judges are themselves removable by an Address to the Crown, and thereby the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament is secured. But, then, it is said the Irish Judges may hold the Act to be right, and the English Judges that it is wrong. But in that case the decision of the Irish Judges would be liable to review in the Court of Appeal, and afterwards in the British House of Lords; and there, again, the supremacy of the British Parliament is safeguarded. Finally, Sir, if the Irish Legislature, even without exceeding its powers, passed an Act which in your opinion was contrary to public policy, what would happen? The minority could exercise its power and veto against the measure; and I must say on this point that never were a minority more tenderly dealt with than this minority of Ireland by the Prime Minister. You have one-twelfth of the elected Members, the 28 Irish Peers who may be reckoned to go solid against any popular demand, and these, with 24 other Members to fight with them, can stop the passage of any Bill for three years. Dean Swift once said that no man in his shirt could fight 11 men armed to the teeth; but one man in the Irish Parliament elected on the select franchise can defeat the will of 11 men elected by the people. I do not know what protection to minorities the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Chamberlain) proposes in his scheme for National Councils. In the article of last year it was proposed that they should be one-third. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister makes just the same proposal. There are the 28 Peers and the Ulster Members, besides which they will have the light, the intelligence, and the education of Ireland altogether on their side in the case of the fancy franchise, so that it is evident that in the Irish Assembly the minority will have one-third of the House. How such a minority can be said to be "bound hand and foot" to the majority I cannot understand, unless the Tory Party, which is one-third of the House, can be said to be "bound hand and foot" to the chariot of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. Well, this veto will stay the measure for three years, within 716 which it is possible for the Imperial Parliament to summon the Members of the Irish Parliament to Westminster for the purpose of altering or repealing the Act; and if the summons is not obeyed, the House at Westminster will have power to repeal the Act, or any of the Acts passed by the Irish Legislature. So that, whether the Irish Members come or go, you will have power to alter or repeal the Bill, and, of course, any acts done in virtue of the organic powers which have been performed. A more perfect, a more absolute, and more ingenious protection and preservation of the rights and interests of Great Britain than the Prime Minister has devised I cannot imagine. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has not been afraid again to refer to the case of Ulster, with all the familiar epithets attached to it—prosperous Ulster, Protestant Ulster, loyal Ulster. As to the first epithet, prosperous, I suppose he was misled by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen), in whose opposition to this Bill I may say we rejoice. The right hon. Gentleman has always been the enemy of any measure for extending popular liberties in England as well as in Ireland; and it appears to me that the right hon. Gentleman is under the impression that Providence has permitted the common class of people to increase and multiply in order to provide a sphere for the exercise of the political talent of gentlemen of assured gentility and elegant education. I rejoice for two reasons that he has been found opposing this Bill—in the first place, because everything he opposes is bound to win; and, in the second place, if he were unfortunately found in the attitude of supporting the Bill I should find myself under the painful necessity of considering whether I ought not to oppose it. The right hon. Gentleman took four counties, including the great town of Belfast and other towns, and referred to Schedule D of the Income Tax, dealing with the profits of trades, professions, and urban pursuits, and compared that with the half of Ulster which has none. He made out that Loyal Ulster was several times more wealthy than Nationalist Ulster. Well, Loyal Ulster bears in income to National Ulster the proportion of three to two. No doubt, what is 717 called Loyal Ulster is more prosperous than the other parts of that Province, but the fact is not owing to its loyalty, but to its being on the Eastern side of the country, which is throughout the most fertile and consequently the richest. That relation is not peculiar to Ulster, because all round the rest of Ireland you will find the East is better than the West, the soil being more productive and the natural advantages greater. But Ulster upon the Income Tax assessment per head is but little more than half of Leinster upon the rateable value of property per head, and is far under Leinster. In each of these respects it is only superior to Connaught, the poorest and most neglected Province. It has the largest number of poor cabins; and Munster largely exceeds it in houses of the better class. Judged by the test of emigration, and ignorance, too, it is incredible that any claim should be put forward on behalf of Ulster. Unexpected results are disclosed by Ulster, for during the last few years the emigration has been greatest from that Province, and the ignorance is densest. If a part of Ulster is prosperous, to what is it due? Not to any cause of political history, not to any cause of race or creed, but to the fact that it was the policy of England to protect Ulster by giving Ulster custom; while you crushed out of existence manufacturing industry of Ireland in every other place, you fostered it and nourished it in Ulster. Since the passing of the Land Act that superiority has gone, and the other Provinces are gaining on the Northern one. Nor is the claim to what is called "loyalty" less unfounded. The Representatives of Ulster in that House show that the majority of the people of that Province are not loyal, or, as I prefer to term it, disloyal to the national cause. We hear of Protestant Ulster. Ulster is no more Protestant than the rest of Ireland. Leave out Belfast and at the date of the last Census the Catholics had a majority of 100,000 over the whole Province. Even including the city of Belfast the Protestants have only a majority of 70,000. Well, since the date of the last Census the emigration of Catholics from Ulster has fallen off because of the security afforded by the Land Act, whilst the emigration of the Protestants has greatly increased, especially to British North America; 718 and if the Census could be taken tomorrow I venture to say it would be found that the Catholics are in an absolute majority. Then, what is the meaning of this talk about Protestant Ulster? We are told that it is Loyal Ulster. I say that if loyal means opposed to the national classes of Ireland Ulster is not loyal. The majority of the Members from the Province of Ulster sit below and not above the Gangway, and in proportion as you increase the Members for Ulster so in proportion you increase the national majority. What comfort would it be to the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Major Saunderson) to find himself a Member of an Ulster Assembly in which the place and power of the Prime Minister were held by my hon. Friend the Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar)? The Ulster Tory Members do not want a separate Parliament for Ulster. The hon. and gallant Member has never asked for it, for very good reasons. In the first place, he and his Party would be in a minority in it. And the plan of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham would certainly place the Protestant minority of Ulster in a very disadvantageous position. The small Provincial Assembly would be uninfluenced by any national feeling. It would be uncontrolled by the presence of men trained to toleration by the experience of a wider sphere, and power would be placed in the hands of men who would be sure to use it harshly. The second reason is that the hon. and gallant Gentleman would be denounced by the whole of the civilized world as a dastard if he desorted the 300,000 Protestants scattered throughout the South and West of Ireland. These 300,000 are in the midst of a Catholic population of 3,000,000. They would never exercise a vote, they would never have a single Member in Parliament, they could not form a constituency anywhere, they would be absolutely dumb in the hands of the Legislature. Is that the protection of the minority which the right hon. Member for West Birmingham is so anxious for? Why, Sir, I will follow him as far as he likes. Take the most limited district of Ulster. In the Western part the Catholics are as 3 to 1, in the central region they are in an absolute majority. The only part in which the Protestants are in the majority is the part which 719 comprises the county of Antrim and certain portions of Armagh and Down. Would the House consent to break up an English settlement for the sake of a district comprising Northumberland, Durham, and the North Riding of Yorkshire? Even within that limited district is there no minority? Why, Sir, there are 500,000 Protestants and 200,000 Catholics, so that if the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Chamberlain)—who, if he had carried out his contemplated visit to Ireland last autumn would have known a little more about it—proposes this way of protecting minorities, I must tell him that the Prime Minister is much more considerate than he is, and the minorities themselves would very soon acknowledge it. If the plan of the right hon. Gentleman was carried out you would have not one but two oppressed minorities. You would have the 200,000 Catholics and the 500,000 Protestants in the North of Ireland, and the 3,000,000 Catholics and the 300,000 Protestants in the other Provinces, so that in order to please 500,000 people, or the men who are supposed to represent them, you will outrage the feelings of 200,000 Catholics and 300,000 Protestants. If you care to pursue the fantastic theory of the right hon. Gentleman down to the point of Parish Parliament, you would not solve the question, because the Catholic population so interpenetrates every portion of Ulster that even if you had a Parliament in every parish you would still have a minority in each. There is no safe standing ground except to treat Ireland as a unit, and the demand of Ireland as the demand of the people of Ireland. I cannot too solemnly protest against the language of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the Catholic Church. The spirit of aggression is as foreign to the genius of the Catholic Church as it is to the principles of modern enlightenment. Can the right hon. Gentleman point to any country in the world where Catholics are in the majority and where they oppress, persecute, or disturb in any way whatever the freedom of religion of their Protestant fellow-subjects? It is not done in France, it is not done in Italy? [An hon. MEMBER: How about Spain?] No, nor in Spain. The Protestants are as free in the City of Rome as in any city of the world. Is it done in the South 720 American Republics? There the Governments are the least stable, and the condition of society is the most precarious, and yet there the civil and religious liberties of Protestants are unquestioned. There was a time when the Catholics of Ireland might, if they wished, have oppressed the Protestants—that was a time when the principles of toleration did not prevail as they do now; and yet I challenge any hon. Member of this House to look through the records of that Parliament of James II., formed as it was of Irish Catholic Gentlemen, and who had suffered long and grievously at the hands of Protestants, and find a single act or a single word in reference to the doctrine of toleration and equality of creeds which might not be now adopted to the honour of any of the most enlightened communities of to-day. I cast back, therefore, upon the right hon. Gentleman the imputation he has made, and I say that what I know to be true of myself, and believe to be true of my countrymen—what I know to be true of myself I solemnly declare is this—that so far from having felt the feeling of religious bigotry, I have never been able even to understand it. I believe that every peasant in Ireland has for that base and detestable sentiment the same strong feeling; and when intriguing politicians talk to us about the danger of establishing the Roman Catholic Church, although there are ample precautions against ecclesiastical supremacy in the Bill, still, if there were no precautions, I say that the Catholic Church in Ireland rests, and will rest, as all other Churches rest, on the moral strength which belong to it by the value of its work and the preciousness of its ministrations to the people. I would invite the right hon. Gentleman to look to our Protestant Leader. When he was attacked in high ecclesiastical quarters, and when an effort was made by base and disreputable intrigues to level against him the supreme authority of the Catholic Church, and when it appeared for a moment as if that supreme authority were about to be exercised in his case, history records that the Catholic people of Ireland, devoted to their Church and devoted to their country, and the Catholic priests of Ireland, devoted to their Church and to their country, but having in their 721 mind a clear and fixed distinction between the spheres of religious duty and that of political liberty, never in one moment wavered their devotion to their Protestant Leader. Well, Sir, we have to deal not only with the critics of this measure, but with the prophets of evil. The former have attributed to the voluntary establishment of a mode of union between the two countries all the follies and all the calamities that could follow from the most bloody revolution. On the other hand, the prophets of evil have declared that the future Irish Parliament will be guilty of all the follies that could be attributed to men who are a compound of knaves and lunatics—I will not say lunatics, because if you admit a lunatic's premises you will generally find that his conclusions are just. I will rather say imbecile, for he is wrong and silly all through. It is said that this Bill leads to separation. A shell might almost be thrown from Holyhead to Kingstown; a telegram would bring troops and ships to the cities of Ireland in a day; your barracks, your forts, and your magazines are already in the country. When I hear this argument from Englishmen, I confess that, as an Irishman, I can only feel wonderment; but if I were an Englishman, conscious—proudly conscious—of what the energy of my race had done in making this Island one of the foremost nations in the world, in carrying its commerce and flag to the uttermost ends of the earth, and in maintaining up to this moment the commercial empire of the seas—if, I say, I was an Englishman conscious of the qualities of my race, I should resent as an injury and an insult the offering of any such argument to the British nation. No; the Irish people have suffered too bitterly and too long to play any idle tricks, and the House may rest assured that when they obtain their Parliament they will choose the most competent men in Ireland for the conduct of its affairs, and that those affairs will be conducted with wisdom, dignity, and good faith. There are guarantees in the Bill, and there are guarantees out of it. The two real guarantees for the maintenance of the Empire are physical force and the free consent of the people. The possession of physical force will remain with England. The free consent of the people of Ireland rests upon their 722 interest and their affections. Their interest will be bound to you by this measure of political freedom, and their affection is sure to follow. I say, therefore, that with regard to the two permanent bases of the security of the Empire that one of them remains in undiminished force and the other will be increased. Talk about the Viceroy and the Crown. Two years ago I saw Lord Spencer pass my window in the City of Dublin. He galloped by, casting frightened glances from side to side, surrounded by a body of Guards with drawn swords in their hands. He galloped through like a General in an enemy's country. I mentioned the name of Lord Spencer, and I say there never was an Administration that will be spoken of with such bated breath by the fireside of every man in Ireland as his. But the Irish people know how to forgive and to forget. I say a light has been shed upon the character of Lord Spencer by his magnanimous conduct on this question. His conduct sheds honour upon the name of Englishmen. The Irish people perceive his constancy in trying one course, and, finding that failed, adopting another. If Lord Spencer returned to Ireland to-morrow his bodyguard would be, not the Dragoons of the British Army, but the cheering multitude of the Loyal majority of Ireland. [Cheers.] The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh cheers that statement. [Major SAUNDERSON: No, no!] I thought I distinguished a disapproving sound from the vicinity of the hon. and gallant Member. I am willing to say that I think the disloyal minority would keep away. The other day Lord Aberdeen made a progress through the South of Ireland. He went as the Viceroy of the Queen and as the Colleague of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. He was met at Kenmare by a Protestant rector and by a Catholic priest, and each of them presented an address on behalf of his congregation, and each of those addresses testified to the full belief of the people that the settlement proposed by the right hon. Gentleman would not only be accepted by the people of Ireland, but that it would be found to work out hereafter the pacification and contentment of that country. The National League band went to the railway station and met Lord Aberdeen; and what airs do you 723 think they played? They played "God Save the Queen" and then they played "God Save Ireland;" and His Excellency very aptly and very justly remarked that he rejoiced at the new and promising combination between nationality and loyalty. I am bound to say that I read in the papers that they played "God Save the Queen" rather badly; it was an air at which they had had not much particular practice; and, in fact, there is a report that these energetic musicians stayed up all night in order to learn it. We can scarcely wonder at it, for the last time "God Save the King" was heard in Kenmare was in the year 1795, and the coincidence is instructive, for in that year Lord Fitzwilliam, a former messenger of peace to Ireland—a former messenger, whose mission, by unfortunate and miserable intrigues and by base passions, proved abortive—paid his visit to Kenmare. I hope the present mission may prove more successful. Before I sit down I must protest with all my force against the insinuation which has been made that we have put our case before the people of Britain accompanied by any threats or by any menaces. We have stood out of this controversy; we have allowed it to be freely discussed between the British people and their Leaders. If we intervene even at the present stage it is because it is no longer possible for us to be silent—it is because it is now essential that our views and opinions should be known. The people of Ireland have suffered bitterly in the past. They are now passing through a time of terrible trial, and I claim from men of all Parties in this House the admission that the Irish people are behaving with the most remarkable patience. The threats do not come from us. The threats come from the "Loyal minority." The threats come from those who have never been loyal to you—from those who have never been loyal to anything but to their own selfish interest and their own sordid gain. They now threaten to be disloyal to you and traitors to the Throne unless you allow them to keep their feet where their feet have been for so long—upon the necks of the Irish people. I do not know where the right hon. Member for West Birmingham found the growing determination on the part of Ulster to resist this Bill. Did he find it in the form of the Protestant Home Rule Association 724 of Belfast? Did he find it in the address of 500 leading Protestants of Ulster recently presented to the Prime Minister congratulating him on his policy and hoping for its success? Did he find it in advertisements in the Press informing the police where they could find the Snider rifles, or did he find it in the Orange triumvirate above the Gangway? With regard to the hon. and gallant Member for North Down (Colonel Waring), with his threat of war, there seems to be a tone of Don Quixote in his character something more pathetic than formidable. I do not apprehend any danger from the hon. and gallant Gentleman, nor from the hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. Johnston). The hon. Member for South Belfast rushed from a meeting of his supporters the other day with the exclamation—"I am going to London to stop Mr. Morley's Arms Bill?" Well, he came to London, he saw the Bill, and he was conquered, and he has since been denounced for his recreancy by the Tory organ in Ulster, because, instead of defeating the right hon. Gentleman's Bill, he walked into the Lobby with the Government as neatly as ever a ewe followed a bellwether through a hedge. The hon. Member seems to be under the impression that the British Army will not fight him. I never heard that the British Army—especially the 30,000 Catholic soldiers in the ranks—had transferred their allegiance from Her Majesty Queen Victoria to King William of Ballykilbeg. That Monarch may be excellent in many respects, but he labours under two disqualifications—he has no commissariat and he has no exchequer. Without these two qualifications it is quite impossible to keep any army in the field. The hon. Gentleman threatens that he will go through the land with the Bible in one hand and the sword in the other. [An hon. MEMBER: The rifle]—yes; with the Bible in one hand and the rifle in the other. That is an old tableau—it has not the merit of novelty—and I must say that, aware as I am that the hon. Gentleman has devoted the vigour of his career to peaceful piscatorial pursuits, I fear that he may do some harm to others with his Bible and some injury to himself with his rifle. But seriously, Sir, I think that the hon. Gentleman at his time of life would do well to consider whether even the enthu- 725 siastic sons of King William, when he makes his heroic speeches, are not thinking in their own secret hearts that he would fill an arm-chair much better than line a ditch. Probably, Sir, most of them suspect that a night-cap would come more readily to his hand than the rifle. But the chief of the triumvirate is the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Major Saunderson). He differs a good deal from the hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. Johnston), who is the dupe of his own imagination. The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh sees through himself quite clearly, and it is not this kind of a Paladin that the British Army would be afraid of. What he relies on is the credulity of the British people. I can shed some light on the method of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, for lately in a speech in Ireland he said—I have had an opportunity of speaking at Chester and at Plymouth, and I have spoken in other places. I invariably saw this—that there was nothing which elicited their enthusiasm so much as when I told them that the Ulster men were ready to strike at the proper time for their defence. I intend to repeat that again and again. I said distinctly in the House of Commons that our right arms shall shrivel before we consent to be ruled by Parnell. The rest will follow as a matter of course.I should be sorry to see anything occur to mar the statuesque appearance and martial vigour of the hon. and gallant Gentleman; but I cannot help thinking that perhaps in view of such a contingency the best service his right arm could fulfil would be to shrivel, as otherwise he may be compelled to break his word or else get himself into serious trouble. But the hon. and gallant Gentleman conducts his operations on a system, and he has explained to his friends how he does it. He has told them that if he attacked his opponents directly, you, Sir, would call him to Order. "There are Parliamentary objections," he said, "to calling a spade a spade." And then with some ingenuity I discovered the method of what may be called vicarious vituperation. Well, Sir, we are thankful to the hon. and gallant Gentleman for the hint. I know some quotations which would greatly entertain the House, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman says—I am happy to say you may call a man anything if it is only in a quotation.I have no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that you 726 will feel yourself indebted to me for enabling you to appreciate the spirit of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's speeches in future debates in this House. But the point of my revelation of the system of the hon. and gallant Gentleman is this—that an hon. and gallant Gentleman, who, when he desires to attack his fellow-Members, does not do it on his own responsibility, but throws a shield of inverted commas between himself and the epithet, is not in my opinion the kind of man who in any emergency would face the British or any other Army. The only importance these threats have acquired has been derived from the patronage which they have received. The local inciters to disorder in Ulster are what an able journal opposed to this Bill described them—"mere fire eaters and feather heads," with this exception, that while the fire they consume is imaginary the feathers in their head are real. The noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) tells Ulster men that "by Heavens, their privileges are worth fighting for." When he asks them whether they are as good men as their forefathers in 1798 he awakens all the memories of horror and outrage and ruin inflicted upon a helpless and defenceless people, and in urging Ulster to charge with all its chivalry revives memories which set men's blood in flame. It is then that the conduct of hon. Gentlemen who are playing a game of "bluff," and of dependence upon the credulity of the people, acquires a seriousness not its own. Lord Salisbury, when the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Major Saunderson) at St. James's Hall repeated the dire threats about the shrivelling of his right arm, was so struck with the conclusiveness of the argument that he said to attempt to add force to it would be like trying to paint the lily. Lord Salisbury does not stick at a trifle, but he will not try to paint the Orange lily. He does not know this particular lily as well as we do. This particular lily stands in no need of painting. It is able to change colour of itself. It was buff once; it is orange now, and some day or other it will be green. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has placed himself in alliance with the Heads of the Tory Party in inciting a certain section of the Protestants of Ulster to the resistance of the law. He 727 has told them that if they are "really in earnest" they are certain to have their way. What does he mean by being "really in earnest?" I think the terms are plain enough. He used these threats at a time when threats were hurtling through the air, and we heard of armed bodies of Orangemen and of the despatch of Snider rifles. Does the right hon. Gentleman expect us to believe that when he asks an excited body of factionaries in Ulster to prove that they are really in earnest he means anything else than that the will of this Parliament and the authority of the Crown should be defied by force of arms? What otherwise can he mean? The will of the men of Ulster upon this Irish question will not be traversed until the Irish Parliament comes into existence and endeavours to assert its authority; and if the men of Ulster at that stage accept the advice of the right hon. Gentleman, they will be in the position of manifest traitors to the Crown, and I do not see what can save them and the Heads of the Tory Party from the taint of constructive treason. I think, Sir, it is time that the Oath of a Privy Councillor should be read at the Table of this House. I think it is time that this House should consider the advisability of presenting an Address to the Crown inviting Her Gracious Majesty to revise the list of Privy Councillors. They talk of threats if you pass this Bill. Sir, if you pass this Bill you will have overruled these threats of the turbulent and violent minority, devoid of political power and influence in Ireland. If you fail to pass this Bill, you will have yielded to the threats of that minority. Ireland will hold it so. The Irish people all over the world will believe it, and I beg the House to remember how fatal a lesson it would be to leave it on record that, after having used the scaffold and the penal cell from generation to generation, Irishmen who merely asked the right that you now say should be conceded were refused the concession of that national right, because a faction of the people of Ireland—who were never loyal to anything except their own passions and selfishness—threatened to rise against you. Sir, guarantees have been spoken of—the guarantee that this House has for the future of Ireland is one that cannot be questioned—the 728 great guarantee is the gratitude of the people of Ireland to the Prime Minister. He has not yet succeeded; but we are grateful to him for the intention and the desire as if success were already in his hands. Moreover, that we are grateful to him—deeply grateful to him—for having in the presence of mean and unworthy attacks upon ourselves and our people declared in the face of England and the world his confidence in us and in them. We shall never abuse that confidence. It is not a half-confidence that we in return offer the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. We appreciate the difficulties that surround him. We estimate the forces by which he is beset. We had hoped that it might have been possible for him a few days ago to have pressed forward the Bill this Session; but, reviewing in my own mind all the forces opposed to him and the character of the tactics sure to be pursued with reference to the matter, I thought and believed that after carefully reviewing the three courses indicated by him at the Foreign Office, that he announced the course most likely to defeat obstructive tactics, and accomplish a generous policy for Ireland. He has told us that he will press on this Bill, and that he anticipates at present no material amendment except with regard to that portion referring to the retention of Irish Members. For my own part, I am not sorry that the enmity to the Prime Minister and his Bill at the present moment has unequivocally expressed itself. The grievance of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham is not against the Prime Minister and his Bill; his grievance is that he is not Prime Minister of England at the present moment. He is the victim of a precocious ambition. He sat for some time on the box of the Liberal coach; not like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen), who was tied behind it, and who has made his progress in that reluctant manner, kicking and shouting every inch of the way. No, Sir. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham sat on the box, but he made a slight mistake as to his position there. Now, while he did not drive the coach, but only sat on the box beside the driver, still sometimes he wished to take the reins, to apply the whip, to put on the drag, sometimes to pull up, sometimes 729 to turn aside, sometimes to regulate the pace. But, the driver, on the other hand, who had made several journeys, and had never had any serious mishap, naturally desired to regulate the pace himself. I have no doubt that the country will agree that the driver was perfectly right in his determination to do so. The right hon. Member for Birmingham not being able to regulate the pace, he wished to upset the coach. Well, the coach may be upset, but it can be set up again, and what then will become of the worthy who pulled out the lynch-pin? I think it is no evil, if the struggle is to come, that the fight shall begin at the first barricade, and the sooner the fight begins the sooner it will be ended. Sir, we have confidence in this House. This House is the firstborn of the Democracy of Great Britain. I have always believed—and I still refuse to believe the contrary—that the House will be true to its origin. If it should not be so there is, happily, an appeal. We look with confidence to the appeal from this House to the country, if it is necessary. The people of England were never responsible for the shame and the guilt of misgovernment of Ireland. It was the national shame, but it never was their shame. They were misled and misinformed by a cunning Government class and by an unscrupulous Press. Now, for the first time, the people of England know the truth, and they have been told that truth with an eloquence, and a comprehensiveness, and a force that no other living man could approach. At the time of the Union only a fraction of the people had been within the pale of the Constitution; but now for the first time they know the truth, for the first time they have the power, and although the right hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen), and his kind would have kept millions of Englishmen out of the franchise if they could, though they appeal to the country against the Prime Minisster, I believe the appeal to England, to the men to whom the Prime Minister gave political force, will result in their using that political force in the name of justice, and that the right hon. Gentleman will be supported by a force that will be irresistible. Sir, this is a struggle between a giant and a throng of liliputians. The time is against the pigmies. They may press in upon that 730 point, they may beset him sore, but he can call out his reserves. The liliputians succeeded in binding a countryman of the right hon. Gentleman—one named Gulliver—they bound him with very slender pack thread, but they did it because they caught him asleep. Now, I have observed the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister for some years, and I have noticed that in the course of a long Sitting he has sometimes appeared to slumber in his place; but if any hon. Gentleman tries—no matter how obscure the Member—to refer to Bulgaria or Mid Lothian, or even Kilmainham, the right hon. Gentleman immediately opened one of his eyes, keeping the other, I presume, in reserve for emergencies. From that I gather that to catch the right hon. Gentleman asleep in public matters is not by any means easy. All the right hon. Gentleman has to do in this struggle is to keep wide awake—the Bill will be secure, and England will enable him to win. The noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale said that the Bill was dead. Sir, the Bill is not dead. The Bill is alive, and it will live; it will thrive in the hands of a living Irish nation. But I will tell the noble Marquess what is dead—his Party is dead. His Party is one of husks shed by the Liberal Party, and these husks are represented by territorial Whigs and sham Radicals. The Marquess of Salisbury took upon himself to state that in a few days this Bill would be a matter of history—it will be a matter of history, but it will be a history of one chapter closed and another opened—it will be a history of a chapter that records the end of a chapter which lasted 700 years—a chapter unequalled in misery and in shame, a chapter of tyranny, retaliation, and of persecution. It will mark the opening of a better and a happier chapter—of a chapter to last, I hope, through the ages yet to come—a chapter of justice and of mutual kindliness—a chapter of prosperity and peace. Sir, I believe that in the Hall of the Irish Legislative Chamber—opposite the statue of Charles James Fox—that one great Englishman, before our time, who had the wisdom and the greatness to appreciate the justice of the Irish cause, will stand the statue of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. We who will have remembered him in his greatness—we who have seen him and heard him—will know how he 731 feared nothing, how he dared everything where his head and conscience led him to champion the Irish cause. His memory will be a beneficent influence to the future time. History, the impartial justifier of right, will, when the passions of this struggle are stilled, when everyone of us is lying quiet in our grave, cherish his memory as one who brought to an end the woful and bitter fight between two nobly-gifted nations—the struggle between the English and the Irish people—and generations of Englishmen and of Irishmen yet unborn will bless his memory as that of him who initiated and achieved between Great Britain and Ireland a settlement sought for by this Empire, beneficial to Great Britain, satisfying to Ireland, and honourable to both our nations.
§ MR. CRAIG SELLAR (Lanarkshire, Partick)
said, he had listened, as he was sure hon. Gentlemen generally had listened, to the last speech with admiration and interest. It was rare that they heard a speech of greater brilliancy or humour. He thought the existence of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) was in itself an argument against the exclusion of the Irish Members. The House would be poorer if it wanted the power and eloquence and humour of the hon. Member. He wished, however, to bring the discussion back from the higher flights to which the hon. Member had raised it, and to deal with the subject in a more prosaic way, in order to bring some of the statements that had been made to the plain test of facts. He wished to say a few words upon a single aspect—and it might be a small aspect—of this great question which had not been touched on in this debate. It was one of very great importance, and one which went so deep into the social fabric of the Protestant community in Ireland, and might be so far-reaching in its effects for generations of Irishmen yet unborn, that he must direct attention to it. He alluded to the effect which this Bill, if it were passed into law, must inevitably have on the future of the education of the youth of Ireland. A few weeks ago he was present, in a Committee Room upstairs, at a meeting of Scottish Members, when they were addressed by three illustrious members of the Presbyterian Church in Ire- 732 land—the Moderator of the General Assembly and two of his reverend brethren. These gentlemen spoke to them in earnest, simple language, with no bitterness or sectarian animosity, but they spoke the language of conviction. They told them that though heretofore they had lived on terms of friendship and brotherhood with the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church, they looked with alarm and dismay on the proposals which they were now discussing. They told them how the Catholic clergy were active workers on the National League, and how they were working for the ascendancy of the Catholic Church. They told them what their main object was. It was to get the supreme control over the education of the youth of Ireland. What they said, and the manner in which they said it, with no bitterness or animosity, but with a settled and a painful conviction, made a deep impression on his mind, and, he thought, on the minds of all who heard it. With that impression on his mind, the question he wished to ask was this—Was this Presbyterian deputation right or was it wrong, when the members of it told them that the control of the education of the youth of Ireland was the goal at which the Roman Catholic hierarchy and priesthood of Ireland were aiming, and which they must reach if this Bill were allowed to pass? As he desired to confine his remarks to a corner of this subject, so he would confine them to the case of the Protestant minority in Ireland. There could be no objection to the Catholic majority conducting their educational system and their educational methods in whatever way seemed best to them. If they preferred a denominational to a national system where the Catholic population was alone affected, no one could take exception. In Scotland they preferred a national system, and they had a national system, but they safeguarded the rights of the Catholic and Episcopalian minority; and if he felt that they could trust the Irish Parliament and the Irish Executive to safeguard the rights of the Protestant minorities throughout Ireland, he should feel, on this point, less reluctant than he did to support the scheme of the Government. But, in looking at the scheme of the Government, he found the Government did not themselves trust the Irish Parliament or the Irish Executive in matters of edu- 733 cation and religion. The Bill contained no less than five distinct limitations in the powers of the Irish Legislature on these subjects. They prohibited the Irish Legislature from making any laws (1) for the establishment or endowment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; (2) for imposing any disability or conferring any privilege on account of religious belief; (3) from abrogating or derogating from the right to establish or maintain any place of denominational education, or any denominational institution or charity; (4) prejudicially affecting the right of any child to attend a school receiving public money without attending the religious instruction of that school; (5) impairing without leave the rights, property, or privileges of any existing Corporation. When he read these limitations and restrictions, whether he believed in their efficacy or not, he saw by them that the Government did not trust the Irish Legislature to safeguard the rights of the minorities; and if the Government did not trust it, he asked himself what will this Irish Parliament and this Irish Executive necessarily be? He asked that question, and he answered it in the words of the Nationalist Party themselves. The answer was to be found in The United Ireland of April 10, and this was the organ of the Nationalist Party. The editor was one of the most conspicuous Members of the National Party, and this was what that paper said only a few weeks ago upon this subject—A National Parliament controlling Irish affairs from College Green would not be a revolutionary novelty. It would be only regularizing a system of government which is already obeyed from Donegal to Cork. The National League has already proved itself the most beneficent and capable Government with which Ireland has been for centuries endowed.That, Sir, is a plain answer to the plain question, What will the Irish Parliament and the Irish Executive necessarily be? When he considered this, he understood how it was that the Government would not trust this Irish Legislature which it proposed to set up, and why all these limitations and restrictions were introduced into the Bill—well, what hope would there be that the rights of the Protestant minority would be safeguarded when the National League had become supreme? Would not the priests look for their reward when the League 734 was supreme? Of course they would; and what would their reward be? That reward would be the control of the education of the youth of Ireland. There was no manner of doubt that control of the education of Ireland in all its branches—University, middle, and elementary—was what the priests had struggled for for many a year, and which, when the League was supreme, they meant to have. This was admitted by the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy). But if the House required any proof of this he could supply it. Ireland, as everyone knew, had had a national system of education since 1833, and the basis of that system was united secular and separate religious instruction. Until the other night he had understood that this system was a good system. In the old days, if he mistook not, his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council (Sir Lyon Playfair) considered the system was a good system, though the results were hardly adequate. But these were in the old days—the pre-salvation days.—the days before his right hon. Friend had gone to Leeds and had become a Home Ruler. Now, he told them they had been on the wrong track. We gave education to Ireland according to English ideas. "We only gave"—he quoted his right hon. Friend's words—"the sort of education which fitted people to go to prison." Surely his right hon. Friend's conversion to these Nationality doctrines of education must have been of very recent growth. Why, Sir, it will be in the recollection of the House—at any rate, it was well in the recollection of Scottish Members—that only a few months ago, when the Scottish Members, speaking for their constituents, were desirous of having education in Scotland according to Scottish ideas under a Scottish Secretary, exactly as Irish education was under an Irish Secretary, his right hon. Friend, almost alone among the Scottish Members, opposed it. He got a Select Committee formed to report against Scottish education being managed by the Scottish Secretary in this House, and out of it he preached the gospel against it—he even resigned his Scottish seat as a protest against it—and now he was a convert, at least as far as Ireland went; he was for giving education according to Irish ideas, because education according to 735 English ideas only fitted Irishmen to go to prison. He (Mr. Craig Sellar) supposed the right hon. Gentleman was now for giving education to the Scotch according to Scotch ideas. He hoped it might be so, and perhaps they should have him back among them as a Scottish Member reconciled. As to whether the priests and the Bishops in Ireland were working to secure the control of Irish education, the hon. Member pointed to the action of these clergy with regard to the "model schools" to show that, so far as elementary education goes, they are working to that end. These schools had always been the objects of their hostility. Although they had turned out some of the best teachers in Ireland, they were regarded as "intrinsically evil" by the Bishops. Parents were forbidden, under the severest ecclesiastical penalties, from sendiug their children to these schools; and clerical managers, of whom there were a great many in Ireland, were interdicted from employing teachers who were trained there. The reason of this hostility was well explained by one of the most distinguished of the Irish Commissioners—Sir Robert Kane—who said that the interdict had been carried out with the object of putting education in the hands of the Church authorities and establishing the Christian Brothers in place of the present schools. There could be no doubt in the mind of any man that throughout the whole of Ireland, Catholic and Protestant, the object of the Catholic hierarchy was to get control over the elementary education. With regard to higher education, he would not weary the House with argument. He would only quote The Dublin Review, a paper originally started by Cardinal Wiseman, and which was the authorized exponent of the views of the clergy. Every article in the paper was submitted to three censors, who examined its bearings on faith, morals, and other matters; and it might be therefore regarded as the true exponent of the views of the hierarchy with regard to middle education. That paper, while admitting that higher education opened a larger avenue to Catholic youth, expressed a preference that Catholic youth should be uninstructed rather than that they should be tempted to doubt the truth of their religion. In other words, it said that ignorance was the best protection for 736 Catholic youth against infidelity. That quotation, he thought, was sufficient to show the animus of the clergy towards middle education. The third point he wished to bring forward was with respect to Trinity College, Dublin. The relations of Trinity College and the Catholic hierarchy had often been the subject of discussion in that House. Some time ago the present Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir William Harcourt), speaking on the matter, said that if he thought the Bill which he was then speaking on would not do justice to Trinity College he would vote against it. He said that Trinity College was the "intellectual eye" of Ireland, and to hand it over to the Roman Catholics would be like permitting Ultramontane wreckers to put out all the lights on the coast of Galway. Archbishop Walsh had declared that so long as the central fortress of education in Ireland, which was not Catholic, was allowed to stand so long would it be impossible for any statesman, English or Irish, to deal with the question of education in Ireland. The hon. Member for the City of Dublin (Mr. Sullivan) had also declared that Trinity College was part of the machinery for the subjugation of Ireland, that it was a branch of English arrangements and institutions in Ireland, and was simply an English fortress. How far would they be able to attain their ends if this Bill became law? Trinity College was open to all religions, on equal terms, and without distinction. Students of any denomination, and student of every denomination and every religion, were free, as he understood it, to compete for every prize and every scholarship, and the Governing Body were subject to no religious tests. It was freer than any of our Colleges in Oxford or Cambridge, and yet, because it was a "non-Catholic"—not an "anti-Catholic"—institution, it came under the denunciation of the hierarchy. Now, what might be its fate under this Bill? Its endowments might be confiscated by taxation, and this taxation might be appropriated to any purpose which the Irish Legislature—namely, the National Legislature—might think fit, subject to the assent of the Queen in Council. Out of these revenues, therefore, another and exclusively Catholic University could be endowed, and the "intellectual eye of Ireland" would be 737 put out, the lighthouse on the coast of ignorance and bigotry would be destroyed at the bidding of the "Ultramontane wreckers." But the same object could be effected by indirect means under this Bill. The rights of existing Corporations might be set aside by the Queen in Council on an Address presented by the Legislative Body of Ireland. As he said before, the priests had been active workers on the League. The Irish Legislature would simply be the National League. The priests had helped the League to "come to its own," as the Jacobite song said; the priests were to have their reward, and the first share of the spoils of victory which the priests would have would be that the constitution of Trinity College should be abolished in favour of a Body of a different religious complexion, and that the curriculum should be remodelled in accordance with Ultramontane ideas. The "gagging clauses" of the discarded and discredited University Bill of 1873 would be passed and put in force, and the study of history and of philosophy would be excluded from the curriculum. His right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council argued with much eloquence against this proposal in 1873. But that was in the days in which he was a Scottish Representative, and before he found salvation in his formulary about educating Ireland according to Irish ideas. But even if those subjects were retained in the curriculum, the study of history would be confined to these fragmentary extracts and one-sided text-books, which the Church approved, and the study of philosophy to formal logic and mediæval theology. The whole spirit of free inquiry would henceforth be stifled and extinguished, and a University which for centuries had been the home of unfettered science and speculation would become a mere training school of Catholic orthodoxy. But even without applying to the Queen in Council the majority in the Irish Legislature could transform the character of Trinity College. Great powers were vested in the Crown—that is, the Lord Lieutenant—under the Caroline Statutes for recasting the internal arrangements in the College. Hitherto these powers had not been used, except on the motion of the College itself. But there was nothing to prevent a Lord Lieutenant, acting on the advice of respon- 738 sible Ministers, from carrying out all the changes which the Bishops demanded. A Parliament hostile to secular education could, without infringing a clause in the Bill, establish Catholic ascendancy inside the University. In short, Trinity College would be at the mercy of the Irish Executive for the time being, and the influences which it represented. Similarly the Irish Executive would have entire control over the appointments to the Queen's College, and even the great Presbyterian College at Belfast, in the very centre of Ulster Protestantism, could, by judicious appointments, be so manipulated that none but Catholics could attend it. He should not go down the scale from University to middle, and from middle to elementary education; but the same reasoning applied all through. Appointments on the Examining Body and on the National Board would, of course, be in the hands of a Catholic Executive, supported by a Catholic Parliament, and acting upon a Catholic Lord Lieutenant. The appointment of Inspectors would lie in the Executive, the power of granting and withholding grants, the appointment of teachers—all these would be in the hands of the Legislature—that is, of the National League. The truth was, the word "religion" need never be mentioned in the Irish Legislature, nor the words "religious endowment," or "religious disqualification," and yet elementary education could be placed under the absolute control of the Catholic Church. All that was required was a good working majority on the National Board. Then, such Inspectors and teachers as did not fall in with the views of the Board would be dismissed, grants would be withheld from heretical and nonconforming schools, and in every school throughout Ireland religion could be, and would be, according to the logical and consistent theory of Catholic education, mixed up with secular learning. Even if a Conscience Clause were introduced it would avail nothing. The stamp and impress of Catholicism would still be effectually placed upon secular education. The Catholic religion would be established and endowed in everything except in name. That was quite right in Catholic Ireland if it was only provided that the scattered Protestants in the South and West were safeguarded. He did not ask for ascendancy, but only 739 fair play. But they would not get fair play under this Bill. The Protestant community in the South and West would find itself, even in the non-Catholic part of Ulster, obliged to choose between two alternatives—that of accepting a system of so-called national education, guided and controlled by the Catholic hierarchy, or providing schools for itself out of resources which would be hopelessly inadequate to the task. He did not think this latter alternative was possible in the present state of trade. What the Protestants of Ireland would have to face, if this Bill were allowed to pass, would be the establishment and endowment by indirect means of a single denomination—the denomination, he admitted, of the majority, but without the shadow even of protection for the consciences and claims of the minority. This was only one aspect—one corner of this question. But this aspect, this corner alone, was enough to make him and he thought the great majority of his countrymen look with anything but favour on the provisions of this Bill. Allusion had been made in the debate to "Home Rule for Scotland," and the Prime Minister, in his recent Manifesto, put on this gaudy fly, and threw it over the people both of Scotland and of Wales to see if those nationalities would rise to it. He had no right to speak for the people of Wales. But from what he knew of them he had very much doubt if the Welsh people would be moved even by such skilful angling as that. But he had watched Scottish opinion pretty closely, and he was bound to say that, so far as his reading of Scottish opinion went, there was no demand for anything of the kind in the sense given to it in this Bill. There was a demand, and a very legitimate demand, for extended and amended local government in Scotland to manage affairs in counties and burghs on a representative instead of a nomination system. They fought the elections upon this, and they expected that before now they should have had a measure on the subject. There was a demand for this, and that demand went some way. It maintained, and rightly maintained, that there were many matters of local government—such as gas and water works, railways, bridges, harbours, tramways, and such things as were the subjects of private legislation—that these things 740 could be done much better and much more satisfactorily in Scotland than in London; that industrial undertakings of that nature were warped and cramped and prohibited by the necessity of coming to the Imperial Parliament. To that extent there was a strong, reasonable, practical, and legitimate demand for Home Rule in Scotland—if they liked to christen it by such a name—and that was a demand which, in his opinion, ought to be granted. For the fulfilment of that demand he had worked, and should continue to work, either outside or inside Parliament, as hard as any man. But if, without presumption, he might venture to say a few words to his Colleagues from Scotland, he would ask them—Would they, or any man among them, look at such a proposal as this Irish scheme if it were offered to Scotland? Let him mention a case or two. Would they consent to be excluded from the Imperial Parliament, from all participation in the consideration of Foreign and Colonial and Imperial affairs, even at the price of a Statutory Parliament in Edinburgh? Would they consent to allow the whole Imperial policy with regard to our Indian Dependencies, which, to a large extent, had been made, and consolidated, and governed by Scotsmen, to be moulded and directed by England without their having a voice in the direction? Would they consent to have their Colonial policy, which might affect for weal or woe the lives of thousands of Scotsmen in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, to be guided exclusively by Englishmen, and the Scottish Members not to be allowed to say a word or raise a finger in the matter? Would they consent to hand over the Imperial Army and Navy, with the glorious deeds of which the names of so many illustrious Scotsmen were honourably associated—would they consent to hand over the Army and Navy of the Empire to the exclusive control of Englishmen assembled in that Parliament from which they were excluded? Scotland and Scotsmen had borne no humble part in the development of trade and navigation in the British Empire. But Scotland and Scotsmen would, if such a Bill were to be passed for Scotland, be excluded from passing any law or taking part in the discussion of any law affecting the trade and navigation of the Empire. Would any of his Col- 741 leagues consent to that? He might go through the whole list of these distinctions of limitation, and he might ask his Colleagues if they would accept any one of them, and he was perfectly certain they would not. Nay, he went further. If, last November, the Liberal Representatives for Scotland had gone to their constituencies with nothing to offer them—no reform in Procedure, no reform in the Land Laws, no reform in Local Government—nothing but this barren and impracticable measure to be offered to Ireland or to Scotland—if they had gone before the people of Scotland with nothing but this, would 60 of them have been returned? Would 30? Would the Prime Minister himself have been returned for Mid Lothian? No, Sir. We and our fantastic projects of Home Rule would have been scouted from one end of Scotland to the other. And yet that was what the Bill proposed to do for Ireland, and hon. Members on that side of the House told them that they would gladly accept these degrading conditions when applied to Ireland, and they adulated the Ministry and licked the hand of the Minister who offered them. He did not doubt the sincerity of their acceptance, nor the sincerity of their adulation, though he could not but remember the execration with which the Ministry, and that Member of the Ministry who more perhaps than any other Minister was responsible for the Bill—he meant Earl Spencer, because without Earl Spencer's co-operation the Prime Minister could not have formed his Administration—he could not but remember the execrations which only a few months ago were heaped upon this Ministry and upon that Minister by those who now adulated them. He did not doubt the sincerity of this adulation. But he did doubt if their acceptance now and their adulation were the true measure of the acceptance of this Bill in Ireland. Their professions bound themselves; they did not bind the Irish nation. They bound themselves; they did not bind their successors in Irish agitation—The evil that men do lives after them,The good is oft interred with their bones.He did not believe that the pledges and promises of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) had any binding effect. He believed that the acceptance of this measure, however genuine it may be for 742 the moment, would not survive a single Dublin Parliament. It would be regarded as a mere stepping-stone to further demands—demands which would be pressed on every candidate for a seat in the Dublin Parliament. Majorities would be returned and Ministries formed upon these demands, and these demands, coming from a Statutory Parliament duly elected in Dublin, would be regarded as the Constitutional expression of Irish opinion, and which, in the end, perhaps, alter a bitter Parliamentary struggle in which great historical Parties might again be rent asunder and broken to pieces, would be granted by what remained of the Imperial Parliament. It was because he saw no finality in this project, because he saw in it nothing but material for fresh agitation in Ireland, that he strenuously opposed it. The President of the Local Government Board told them the other day that he had "a message of peace on his lips, and an olive branch in his hand." This was not the first olive branch that had been sent to Ireland of late years from the Imperial Parliament. The Act for the Disestablishment of the Irish Church was an olive branch; the Land Act of 1873 was an olive branch; the Land Act of 1881 was an olive branch; and the extension of the Franchise was an olive branch. The Liberal Party was persuaded to pass those olive branches on the promise given on each occasion that it was a message of peace and a final settlement. But every one of these olive branches brought forth nothing but Dead Sea apples—beautiful to look at, but with nothing but dust inside them. And after all these messages of peace they were no nearer the settlement than they were. The more they gave the more was demanded. The demands got larger and larger; a land agitation had grown to a national agitation, and a national agitation had grown to a separatist agitation. He said there was no finality to these demands; and it was because he saw no finality in this measure—only an infinity of mischief—that with great regret and great reluctance he had come to the determination that he could not support the second reading.
§ MR. INCE (Islington, E.)
said, he had listened with the respect due to his hon. Friend who had just sat down (Mr. Craig Sellar), whose abilities and exertions on behalf of the Liberal 743 cause they all recognized, and he had endeavoured to ascertain from him what he had endeavoured to ascertain from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain)—namely, what on earth the question of what might be good or desirable or what might be wanted for Scotland had got to do with this Bill. The Scottish Members, faithfully representing their constituents, no doubt did not want Home Rule; did it follow from that that the Irish people should not have it? The difference between the two cases was that the Irish people desired a thing which the Scottish people did not desire. His hon. Friend might as well complain that a pigmy declined to purchase the clothes of a giant. He had listened with profound astonishment and great regret to the speech of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. He confessed that he did not understand the right hon. Gentleman's attitude. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to be perfectly satisfied with the principle of the Bill, and was anxious that it should be known that he was in favour of Home Rule. They were all very anxious just now to let their opinions be known to everybody. The only thing displeasing to the right hon. Gentleman was the form of the Bill. But he thought they had got rid of the form of the Bill. If there was one thing which had been made clear, it was that in voting for the second reading they were simply voting for the principle of the Bill, which was Home Rule for Ireland. He could understand and appreciate the attitude of the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale, who was altogether opposed to Home Rule, and was in favour of doing nothing for Ireland. But the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, who avowed that he was a Home Ruler when most of them were thinking of other things, and who had not changed his opinions, was adopting what to him appeared an utterly unintelligible course. If the right hon. Gentleman had attended the meeting at the Foreign Office—as he might well have done—he would probably have been satisfied with the explanations of the Prime Minister, which went far to meet the objections which he had raised to the Bill. And he must say this of the objections of the right hon. Gentleman—that the Government had undertaken to make al- 744 terations tending to meet the views he had contended for, and to make those alterations before the Bill was again presented to the House. But even as the Bill stood, with the alterations proposed by the Government, he could not see that the Bill failed to fall in with the object which the right hon. Gentleman seemed to have so much at heart—namely, that the supremacy of Parliament should be maintained, and that the Irish Members should be retained at Westminster. The doctrine of the supremacy of Parliament was, of course, a question of Constitutional law, the answer to which must be gathered from the opinions of Constitutional lawyers. In support of this doctrine he quoted from a book written in the early portion of the 17th century, entitled "Privileges and Practice of the Parliaments in England, collected out of the Common Laws of this land," in which it was laid down that all Acts and Statutes in England were made "by the consent of the whole Realm." In other words, the House of Commons, in the eye of the law, was not a House of Delegates—it was "the Commons of England," and, with the Crown and the other Estates (the Lords Spiritual and Temporal), made up "the whole Realm"—a Body competent to do whatsoever it saw fit. That doctrine, laid down in 1640, was not then new—a little book in black letter, written by Lord Chief Justice Fortescue, in the time of Henry VI., contained precisely the same statement of the law. This doctrine of the absolute supremacy of an Act of the English Legislature did not rest on mere dicta—it had been put in execution within the present Reign. In 1833 slavery was, by general Act of the Imperial Parliament, abolished throughout the whole of the British Dominions. Some of the Colonies did not take kindly to the Act abolishing slavery, and among these the Colonies of the West Indies. Jamaica failed to take the proper steps to give effect to this alteration of the law. Jamaica at that time had a local Legislature; but the Imperial Parliament, on Jamaica's failure in duty, in the first year of the present Reign, passed an Act in which, over the head of the local Legislature, it directed that proper means should be taken for effectuating the release of the slaves. The matter did not stop there. The Legislative Assembly at Jamaica took umbrage at 745 what Parliament had done, and refused to vote Supplies. Thereupon the Imperial Parliament passed a further Act, enabling, in need, the Governor of Jamaica, with the advice of his Council, and notwithstanding the dissent of the Assembly, to raise the moneys necessary for carrying on the Government of the Colony. Thus the House would see that, notwithstanding the existence of a local Legislature in Jamaica, the House of that day had found no difficulty in the way of asserting its supremacy. He would avow that he was by no means pleased to see a Bill of this kind introduced into the House, and he should have been very glad if the necessity for its introduction had not existed. But he could not shut his eyes to the fact that the condition of Ireland was such as demanded redress at the hands of that Assembly. It was said by some opponents of the measure that there were two races in Ireland, and in support of that assertion stress was laid on the fact that Ireland was the home of two distinctly separate religions. Those who argued in that way might say equally well that Brighton contained a separate nation because there were so many Jews there. Difference of religion did not constitute difference of race. As to the allegation that the people of Ulster would be overborne by the adherents of hon. Members below the Gangway, he thought that if there was any danger it was rather the other way, for the Gentlemen of Ulster had the sinews of war. Much as he should like to see things go on as they had gone on hitherto, in view of the state to which Ireland had been reduced by the incompetency of the English Government and of the English garrison at Dublin Castle, he could not refuse his assent to a measure which, if not absolutely final, would at any rate hold good for a considerable time, and would bring peace and quiet to the people of Ireland.
§ MR. DAWSON (Leeds, E.)
said, that he could not support this measure, because he believed it was neither in the interests of Great Britain nor of Ireland; but if he believed there was no alternative to it but 20 years' coercion, he would have supported it, although he did not approve of it. But he believed that the Marquess of Salisbury's policy had been wrongly described as 20 years' coercion. 746 The objections and doubts which he had in reference to the Bill had, in the first place, been instilled into his mind by the conduct of those who had brought the Bill into the House. It had been described as a Bill of unparalleled gravity; but instead of being, as might have been imagined, the outcome of prolonged contemplation, it was the production of a Government which, with the exception of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, was composed of Members who had previously denounced such a measure. The Under Secretary for the Local Government Board (Mr. Borlase), in his Election address, said that "Home Rule had been rendered impossible by the action of those who supported it." The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir William Harcourt), at Lowestoft, denounced a fancied alliance of the Tories and Parnellites; and remembering his declarations on the subject of Home Rule, and comparing them with his present views, he (Mr. Dawson) felt he might say—Quantum mutatus ab illo, Hectore. Then there was the Secretary of State for War (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman), who, at Culross, in November, 1885, after denouncing as a political hotchpotch any plan of National Councils for England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, said that a separate Parliament and Government for Ireland would cause great difficulties, and that heDid not think it would be likely to be consented to by Whig or Tory, because it would not be consistent with the maintenance of the integrity of the Empire and the duty to the Crown.Hon. Members were told that because a Bill brought forward in such haste as this had been laid before them by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister they were bound to pass it because Home Rule had thereby been made inevitable. Death was doubtless inevitable, but that was no reason why people should be invited to cut their own throats. Nothing was easier than to use this word "inevitable" as an argument. For instance, in 1862 the Prime Minister, in a celebrated speech that he then made, had advised the Northern States to cast loose the Southern States, because, he said—Just as in business transactions you could not keep in partnership a partner who was determined to leave you;and he then said that such separation 747 was "inevitable." But the Northern States refused that advice, and separation did not and never would take place. It was desirable that the House should know exactly what they were discussing. This measure could scarcely be characterized as a Bill, because it was avowedly never intended to become law; and it was not an abstract Resolution, because it condescended to details which could not be included in an abstract Resolution, and which had been modified from time to time in obedience to the dictation of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. Therefore, they seemed to be discussing a sort of hermaphrodite. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Ince) had said he could not understand the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham on the question of the alterations to be made in the Bill. They were told that by reading this Bill a second time they would be merely affirming a general principle; and yet they were informed by the Prime Minister that this measure had been his daily and nightly thought for months, and he had occupied three hours and a-half in explaining the various details of the measure, the general principle of which he might have stated in a few minutes. But by reading the Bill a second time would the House of Commons, in fact, be merely approving a general principle? The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the only alterations that would be made when the measure was reintroduced would be in Clauses 24 and 39; and when the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) suggested that the Bill was to be "reconstructed," the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister emphatically cried "Never, never!" while he had pointedly referred to the new Bill which was to be introduced in the Autumn Session as "the Bill." They were told that a second reading only affirmed the central principle of a Bill and not its details. But this Bill contained details, each of which was of importance, superior to an ordinary Bill, and they could not be left out of consideration in voting on the second reading. For instance, there was the point of the constitution of the Irish Parliament. They were asked to establish an Upper Order with property qualifications. He thought this was an old 748 exploded Tory principle. The democracy of England seemed to be appealed to by every hon. Member below the Gangway on both sides of the House, and the democracy of England was asked by the Government to go back to a Tory principle 150 years ago, and so produce complication. That was a very important thing to be asked to go back to 150 or 200 years ago. Then, as to the financial condition of Ireland, that was not permitted to be discussed. But what about England's security for Ireland's tribute? Here he protested against Ireland being called upon to pay a tribute. He wished to point out what had been said by the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), who gave the House to understand that he would not have the Irish Parliament controlled. This was a most striking part of the hon. Gentleman's speech, who said he protested against the Irish Legislature being controlled by the English House of Commons. And yet this most important point was not to be raised on the second reading, but was to be relegated to Committee. In that case, the English Parliament were not to be permitted to consider the question of Irish landlords which might arise under the land scheme, and this similarly was to be referred to the Committee stage. There was one reason why he thought the House ought to consider these important particulars before passing the second reading of this Bill. If the House consented to read the Bill a second time the opponents would be met by this difficulty, that while they might disapprove of the Bill, they might also be divided on some points of detail, and they would find that in Committee, being divided among themselves, they would be overwhelmed by the Government. They were told that foreign opinions were in favour of this Bill. He could not forget that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister was deserted by some of his former Colleagues. He was deserted by the right hon. Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), by the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan), and by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), and he did not know how many more; and, deserted by his former Colleagues, the Prime Minister was forced to fly for solace to some American senator. Why 749 should the English House of Commons be asked to pass a Bill like this? Why should the opinion of foreign countries be brought to bear upon the opinion of the House of Commons? Let every country manage its own affairs. The Prime Minister had referred to what he called analogous cases. The House had been asked to look at the case of Norway and Sweden; and the Government, he believed, had been asked to lay upon the Table something of a statement regarding those two countries, but they were told that there was something of a delicate nature in those statements, and that they could not be produced. Then the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Bryce) laid great stress on the case of Denmark and Iceland; but the next day he found there was a grave difficulty there—a grave Constitutional question; and in Austria and Hungary a Constitutional crisis was now proceeding. These examples were not such as to allay suspicion regarding the satisfactory and peaceful working of this Bill. One great reason why he opposed the Bill was that the Government were already pursuing that policy of judicious mixture which the Prime Minister had condemned—that policy of coercion and conciliation. [Cries of "No!"] Yes; they had brought in and passed a measure to prevent Irishmen carrying arms. If the people of Ireland had not a right to carry arms—and if this did not partake of the character of coercion he did not know what coercion was—they had no right to govern themselves. For himself, he took no part in the Arms Bill, and he should always find it very difficult to give coercion. Here they were offered a Constitution, but they could not be trusted with a gun. Was not this irrational and inconsistent? If they could not be trusted with arms, that was an argument against their being allowed Home Rule. What were the reasons for bringing in the Arms Bill? The Government had justified the Arms Bill not in view of the present condition of Ireland, but on account of what the condition of Ireland might be if this Bill was passed. What a comment was this on the Bill itself. They were told that if civil war arose from the passing of this Bill it would be unjustifiable; but it seemed to him that if the Governing Body were to break its part of the contract those who had entered into the 750 contract with it would be released from performing their part. If the right hon. Gentleman feared the circumstances out of which it arose, he was right in bringing in that Arms Bill; but how serious was the position of affairs, and how grave was the position of the Government which brought it in. They had been told there would be civil war; but this he was not going to argue. The mere fact that the possibility of such a thing could be discussed to his mind condemned the measure which made it possible. The President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Stansfeld) the other night derided the idea of there being two nations in Ulster; but the hon. Member for Sligo had said that, at any rate, in Down and Antrim there were only Englishmen and Scotchmen. [Cries of "No!"] Well, he did not want to look upon any body of his fellow-countrymen as foreigners, nor did he wish to look upon any laws which might be made by them as coming in a foreign garb; but he did protest against a Bill which dealt with them as the present measure proposed to do. Then, with regard to the safeguards in the Bill, they would be better out of it altogether, and simply for the reason that as long as there remained a single safeguard for the rights of the minorities in Ireland, so long they would place a blot on the Bill and an argument against it which they could never take away. What was the only kind of Assembly that ought to govern any country? Ought it not to be an Assembly which they could trust to deal out equal laws for everybody—to give to the rich man the same laws as were to be given to the poor man? Every single safeguard that was placed on the Bill was a confession that the Irish Legislature would not be a Body of that character. If such a degrading insinuation was placed on that Body, how could they expect that the Unionist minority should view its policy with any confidence? Now, he could not believe that this Bill would be a final settlement of the Irish Question. It fell far short of the views expressed by the Irish Members. It seemed to him that that was a difficult dilemma for the Government to get over. The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. W. O'Brien) had been reported in his own newspaper as having said, in a speech made on the 23rd of August last year— 751When the complete programme of the Land League was accomplished, landlordism would vanish from the country, and the soil of Ireland would be free and its people with no master but the Almighty, and no friend but the green flag of the independent Irish nation.There had been several other speeches made by Irish Members of a similar character, though some of them had been denied as being inaccurately reported. The words of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) as to the last link between England and Ireland had been reported in a verbatim report in The Irish World. The hon. Member for South Londonderry (Mr. T. M. Healy), speaking on April 20, a fortnight after that measure was introduced, was reported in The Freeman's Journal to have said—Let that Bill perish or let it succeed, the cause of Ireland would continue. The Irish race would pursue their mission, and would never cease until they had made their country a land free and glorious in the civilized world.What was the mission of the Irish race there referred to? It was that the separation movement should go on until the green flag of Ireland floated over Dublin. That work was to be continued whether that Bill succeeded or not; and he asked whether, in the face of that statement from a distinguished Leader of the Party below the Gangway, the House could be deluded into expecting that Bill to be a final settlement of the Irish Question? The Government said if the Bill failed it could be repealed; but did hon. Gentlemen who were going to support the Bill think that after it became law it could be repealed by a simple Act of Parliament in that House? Would not the Irish people struggle hard to prevent its repeal? And though the struggle might be futile, still any Bill, the repeal of which would have to be carried out by force, the House surely ought to pause long before it passed. He confessed frankly that if he did believe it was to be a final settlement of the question—if he believed that by a measure of that kind they would ever attain a final settlement of the question—if he thought that the Bill would bring peace and prosperity to Ireland, to bring about a real union of affection and mutual interest between the two countries, to strengthen and not to impair the strength and integrity of the Empire, he declared solemnly that he 752 would vote for it; but if he could not believe this—if he believed it would impair the strength and integrity of the Empire, that it would bring upon Ireland a long series of intestine disturbances, commotions, and troubles; that it would disturb the foundations of property, not of landed property, but in all securities—he appealed to hon. Members for Ireland whether he would not be false to his country if he voted in favour of the Bill? They would never get a final settlement of the Irish Question until they got a Bill which would deal out fair and equal justice to all persons alike in Ireland, and that the present Bill would not do. He did not share the views of those who said that there would be religious persecution if the Bill were passed; but he feared it might be the cause of religious intolerance and religious animosity being superadded to terrible political discussions, and if it passed into law there would come a day for many in Ireland and for many in this country when they would look back on the passing of the measure with grief. He felt himself bound to vote against the second reading.
MR. MAGNIAC (Bedford, N., Biggleswade)
said, he had been struck with the observation made by the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) in his remarkable speech to the effect that at last the English people were beginning to learn the truth about Ireland. Some of the speeches which they had heard that night, and certainly some which they had heard yesterday and on Friday last, had shown that they had much to learn about that country. What they were now learning would, he hoped, reach the heart of the English people. He believed it would, although he confessed to some disappointment that more than one hon. Member on the other side of the House had frequently made the inquiry why that measure had been brought forward. There was, he thought, one reason, and a commanding reason, why it was brought forward. They had spent many long and anxious nights in the last Parliament in passing the Franchise Bill. That Franchise Bill was carried by great majorities, and its main object was to give electoral rights to the people of this country and also to the people of Scotland and of Ireland. If any confirmation were required as to 753 the social change which had been effected by the passing of the Franchise Bill, he thought that the eloquent terms in which that change was described by his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. A. Morley) would leave no doubt in the mind of anyone as to what had occurred. There was a passage spoken by the Leader of the Opposition (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) which showed that he held the same opinion with regard to the magnitude of the change effected. He said—Parliament has granted to Ireland complete political freedom in Parliamentary election by the ballot and the extension of the franchise, and it is absolutely inconsistent with that complete political freedom to continue permanently the old practice of governing Ireland by a system of coercion.He thought this was a striking proof of the change which had been effected, and it constituted a sufficient answer to hon. Members who had asked why this Bill had been brought in. The Bill introduced by the Prime Minister was founded on the basis of free and representative institutions. That seemed to him to comprise a very large part, if not the whole, of the case. In dealing at some length with the financial part of the question, the hon. Member (Mr. A. Morley) showed that the present Expenditure in Ireland was £9,000,000. This amount was derived from money collected from the Irish taxpayers, £7,000,000; and from the English taxpayers, £2,000,000. The proposal of the Bill was that there should be expended in Ireland £6,000,000, instead of £9,000,000, the result being that there would be a flow of 1,000,000 Irish sovereigns from Ireland into England annually. He thought that this was a financial condition of affairs which might lead to grave trouble and grave commercial disaster. Besides this there would be withdrawals of an expenditure of £2,000,000 of English money, resulting in a difference of expenditure in Ireland of £3,000,000. It was impossible to believe that the withdrawal of such a sum as that from the currency of the country would not have a very serious effect on the Irish Revenue. It was further possible that the sum of £50,000,000, spoken of in reference to the Land Question, would in the long run reach £100,000,000. This would lead to an additional drain upon Ireland of between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000 for Interest and Sinking Fund, a charge which no coun- 754 try could stand. It would be equivalent to £1,200,000,000 or £1,300,000,000 National Debt in England, or a payment annually of £40,000,000 or £50,000,000. He thought one great advantage of the Bill would be that it would lead the English people to see at what an enormous cost they were governing, or misgoverning, Ireland, and he thought it would also show Ireland that there was no disposition to deal with her in a niggardly spirit. He did not believe the Irish Members were by any means irreconcilable. It had not been any more pleasant to them than to him to sit up all night; but, with arrangements for them to give more attention to Irish Business, the old obstruction would disappear, or it ought to be put down with the strong hand. If proper arrangements were not made for the conduct of Irish Business, the House of Commons had itself to blame. The Irish Members had no right to barter away the claim of those who might come after them to take part in the deliberations of the Imperial Parliament. Those who did not accept the Bill ought to ask what were the alternatives presented to them. That of Local Boards was not accepted as the required remedy. Then there was the alternative scheme of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), which he had no hesitation in saying he did not understand. It had been put before them in so crude a manner that it was no shame to say that until they knew more about it they would have nothing to do with it. The Leader of the Tory Party (the Marquess of Salisbury) had also put forward a plan in these words—My alternative policy is that Parliament should enable the Government of England to govern Ireland.What they wanted was not that England should govern Ireland, but that Ireland should govern Ireland. The Marquess of Salisbury's was the most impossible scheme that had yet been put forward, for the only way of carrying it out would be for Parliament at once to repeal that part of the Franchise Act which related to Ireland. He did not think they were prepared to accept such a responsibility as that. He did not believe in any specific for Ireland. He believed they would have to work out the salvation of Ireland by much 755 trouble and much labour; it could not be done by a stroke of the pen, nor by the passing of any measure in that House; but they would have to apply many minds and much thought and labour to the question. The Prime Minister had said that the history of Ireland was one long series of internal controversies. Two Parties were contending in Ireland, and it was their aim and desire to reconcile those differences. That was the task that was set before them, and that was the task to which the House had to apply itself. Hon. Members opposite asked what proof there was that anything was required to be done in Ireland. There was the agrarian difficulty arising from two causes, an artificial and a natural cause; there was the finance question and the representation of Ireland; and there was Ireland itself divided into two camps. Those were the difficulties which they had to deal with, and he was not aware that any other remedies had yet been applied but coercion and corruption. There was one alternative, and one only, which had not yet been tried, and that was to throw the responsibility for the government of Ireland upon Ireland itself. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham disliked the measure and the plan proposed by the Bill, though approving of the principle, and therefore proposed to vote against it. They had been told that they ought to prefer their country to their Party and vote against this Bill. That argument was a very old friend indeed; but he invariably found when it came to be examined that it was the Liberal Party which it was proposed to set aside. Believing that the Liberal Party and the welfare of his country were synonymous, he should disregard the advice and vote for the principle of the Bill—namely, self-government for Ireland in her domestic affairs, subject to the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT) (Derby)
The thing that has struck me very much in the discussion on the general principle of this measure is, that the great mass of the opponents of the Bill attack those who have promoted it not so much because it is in itself inexpedient or inopportune, but because, in their view, to propose a separate Parliament for Ireland is a thing which is, in some sense 756 or other, inconsistent with the principle of the British Constitution, that it is ruinous to this Empire, and that it is an idea which it is almost treason to entertain. A view of that kind coming from ignorant persons might perhaps be understood, but that anybody should advance such a view in this House is a thing which to me is entirely inexplicable. One would suppose that Ireland never had a separate Parliament of its own, to listen to the language we sometimes hear; but, in this House, those who have had to do with the construction of the edifice in which we are now collected have certainly taken pains to remind all those hon. Members of the history of our Parliamentary Institutions, their different features, and their gradual growth. In St. Stephen's Hall, leading up from the Halls of the Plantagents to this Chamber, there are statues of the worthies who were the founders of the English Constitution. You see there the statues of Falkland, Clarendon, Chatham, Walpole, Pitt, and Fox; in the very vestibule of the building are two statues at the entrance to St. Stephen's Chapel which represent two illustrious Irish statesmen. One of them is Edmund Burke, and the other is Henry Grattan. Burke's work in English politics is known to all; but the fame of Henry Grattan rests upon one great work which he performed in Ireland and for Ireland, and the title of Grattan to this place in the Walhalla of the English Constitution rests upon the achievement of establishing a separate Parliament in Ireland, and upon his success in obtaining the consent of English statesmen and of the English Parliament to the Declaration of Irish Rights. Now, when we are told that to establish a separate Parliament in Ireland is something destructive of the British Constitution, let me remind the House what were the words of the Declaration of Rights as drawn by Grattan. They were—To assure His Majesty that by our fundamental laws and franchises—laws and franchises which we on the part of the nation do claim as her birthright—the subjects of this Kingdom cannot be bound, affected, or obliged by any legislation, save only by the King, Lords, and Commons of this His Majesty's realm of Ireland, nor is there any other body of of men who have power or authority to make laws for the same. To assure His Majesty that His Majesty's subjects of Ireland conceive that in this privilege is contained the very essence 757 of their liberty, and that they tender it as they do their lives, and have with one voice declared and protested against the interposition of any other Parliament in the legislation of this country.It is upon that Declaration of Rights that the fame of Henry Grattan rests, and it is because of that Declaration of Rights that his statue stands in St. Stephen's Hall. Well, that was no new doctrine at that time. Grattan, by his genius and eloquence, established it, and gave Parliamentary effect to it; but it had been declared many years before by the greatest writer of the Tory Party, and the man who had the greatest influence, perhaps, until the time of Grattan, over the Irish people of any man among them—I mean Dean Swift. In a perfectly well-known passage in The Drapier Letters in that great controversy, in which Swift proved himself to be more than a match for Walpole, he says—It is true, indeed, that within the memory of man the Parliaments of England have sometimes assumed the power of binding this Kingdom by laws enacted there, wherein they were at first openly opposed—as far as truth, reason, and justice are capable of opposing—by the famous Mr. Molineux, an English gentleman born here, as well as by several of the greatest patriots and best Whigs in England; but the love and torrent of power prevailed. Indeed, the arguments on both sides were invincible. For, in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery; but, in fact, 11 men, well armed, will certainly subdue one single man in his shirt. But I have done; for those who have used to cramp liberty have gone so far as to resent even the liberty of complaining, although a man upon the rack was never known to be refused the liberty of roaring as loud as he thought fit.That was the view of the great Tory writer of the last century. Well, now, when the Declaration of Rights was made by Grattan, how was it received in England? Was it received with the horror and indignation which now meets the claim for an Irish Parliament? I will endeavour to bring before the House how the matter was then dealt with. It arose at a very critical period in the history of the English Constitution. The liberties of Ireland were asserted at the moment when the liberties of America were established. It was part of that great controversy at a time certainly when the principles of the relations of the Mother Country to the Dependencies were as much discussed and as well understood 758 as they were at any time, I suppose, of our Constitution. There were giants, it was said, in those days—great statesmen who discussed the principles upon which the Constitution rested, especially in regard to those relations; and certainly it might be said, in the words of a famous quotation of Pitt, that—"Liberty dawned upon Ireland from the West," for it was precisely at the time of the fall of the Administration of Lord North that the Declaration of Rights made by Grattan was accepted by the Parliament of England. Now, it is a very curious coincidence that at the time when Grattan made that Declaration of Rights a Tory Government was in power, and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was Lord Carlisle, a direct ancestor of my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), and he wrote to the Secretary of State in England a despatch in these words—Your Lordships cannot be ignorant that the actual exercise of the authority of the British Parliament in Ireland was utterly and literally impracticable long before I arrived in that Kingdom. There was not a magistrate or Revenue officer there attached to or dependent on the British Government who could venture to enforce an English law. The attempt would have been madness, as it was certain to receive a great and decided resistance. There was not a jury in the Kingdom who would find a verdict under a British Act.And again he writes—It is beyond a doubt that the practicability of governing Ireland by English laws is become utterly visionary. (That was in the old days of Protestant ascendancy.) It is with me equally beyond a doubt that Ireland may be well and happily governed by its own laws. It is, however, by no means so clear that if the present moment is neglected, this country will not be driven into a state of confusion, the end of which no man can foresee or limit.That was the language of the Tory Lord Lieutenant under the Government of Lord North in 1782, and I rather suspect, if we could see the secret despatches of last year, we should find that not very different language was held by the last Tory Lord Lieutenant. I have challenged right hon. Gentlemen opposite with regard to the expression of opinion of Lord Carnarvon, and we have never had that expression of opinion given to us. Well, there is another very curious thing about the establishment of the independent Parliament of Ireland. The Irish Secretary at that time was a man of great ability, but rather a shifty politician—Mr. Eden, 759 afterwards Lord Auckland—hurried over to England, just as the new Administration was being formed, in order that he might anticipate that Administration by declaring in favour of the policy of Grattan. He came to the British Parliament, in post haste, to propose the Repeal of the Act of George I. Well, Sir, the Government was formed; the Duke of Portland—and the noble Marquess will have respect for his memory and authority, for he also was, later on, the Leader of a Whig secession—went over to Ireland, and from there he wrote thus—If you delay or refuse, the Liberal Government cannot exist here in its present form, and the sooner you recall your Lieutenant and renounce all claim to the country, the better. But, on the contrary, if you can bring your minds to concede largely and handsomely, I am persuaded you may make any use of this people, or anything that they are worth, that you can want.Oh, what "fools and cowards and traitors" were the statesmen of those days! Referring to the advice of the Whig Lord Lieutenant on that subject, Fox said—Unwilling subjects are little better than enemies; it would be better not to have subjects at all than to have such as would be continually on the watch to seize the opportunity of making themselves free. If this country should attempt to coerce Ireland, and succeed in the attempt, the consequence would be that at the breaking out of any war with any foreign Power the first step must be to send troops over to secure Ireland, instead of calling upon her to give a willing support to the common cause.Has not that been the case with Ireland ever since the Union? ["No, no!"] All I can say is, that if I have read history aright, it has been the case since the Union to an extent which was not the case before. I will give you some facts—I am coming to that. This, then, was the view that was taken of the state of Ireland by those statesmen; and when people are told not to be intimidated, I would say that there were then hundreds and thousands of Volunteers, mostly Protestants, with arms in their hands. How did the British Parliament, directed by the Tory Lord Lieutenant and the Whig Lord Lieutenant, receive the Declaration of Rights made by Grattan? How did George III., who was not regarded generally as a coward, or a fool, or a traitor, receive it? He directed the Whig Lord Lieutenant (the Duke of Portland) to answer the Declaration of 760 Rights made by Grattan, and these are the words of the Duke of Portland on the subject—By the magnanimity of the King and the wisdom of the Parliament of Great Britain, I have to assure you that immediate attention has been paid to your representations. These benevolent intentions of His Majesty, and the willingness of his Parliament of Great Britain to second his gracious purposes, are unaccompanied by any stipulation or condition whatever.So, by the unanimous voice of both Parties in the State, that Declaration of Grattan was accepted and acted upon. Now, what was done upon it? The Act which restrained the liberties of the Parliament of Ireland was the Act of George I.; and let me remind the House what was that Parliamentary record. It was—That the said Kingdom of Ireland hath been, and is of right and ought to be, subordinate unto and dependent upon the Imperial Crown of Great Britain, as being inseparably united and annexed thereto, and that the King's Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, hath of right, and ought to have, full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the two Kingdoms and the Kingdom of Ireland.That was the Statute of George I. But what did Parliament do in the year 1782 with that Statute? They repealed it, and they substituted for it this Declaration—That the said right claimed by the people of Ireland, to be bound only by laws enacted by His Majesty and the Parliament of that Kingdom in all cases whatever, shall be, and it is hereby declared to be, established and ascertained for ever, and shall at no time hereafter be questioned or questionable.That Declaration is as explicit, and declared itself to be as final, as any declaration to be found in the Act of Union itself. Well, Sir, but I said it was unanimous. Well, it was very nearly unanimous. There was not a voice raised against it. There was not a vote given against it, either in the House of Commons, or in the House of Lords. But I am wrong in saying it was absolutely unanimous. There was one person whose mind was disturbed, and it was disturbed on the question of the supremacy of Parliament. That was a great Prerogative lawyer (Lord Loughborough)—the man who made the memorable attack upon Franklin in the 761 Privy Council. This Perogative lawyer was somewhat disturbed as to the effect which Grattan's Parliament might have upon the supremacy of the English Legislature. But there was a lawyer in those days who declined to argue questions of this kind upon demurrer, who looked at the great political aspects of the question, and that was the great legal adviser and light of the Whig Party, Lord Camden; and in answer to the technical argument on the supremacy of the English Parliament in the House of Lords, Lord Camden said—The possession of a right never to be asserted was, in his opinion, of no value to any man or any State. Why, then, should the learned Lord object to the repeal of an Act declaring such an empty right? Would the learned Lord say distinctly what he meant to grant to Ireland?That is a question which, I think, I might address to some of my legal Friends. Lord Camden continues—How far would he resist their claims? If not, to object to what was proposed without marking out any line of conduct was no satisfactory information to the House, nor agreeable to the learned Lord's understanding, which was by no means indecisive.If I may venture to borrow the language of Lord Camden, I may address that question to my learned Friends who are so much disturbed and exercised on the subject of the supremacy. Now, we have had an appeal to the wisdom of our forefathers. They have appealed to Cæsar; let them go to Cæsar. I have endeavoured to lay before the House what was the view of the wisdom of our forefathers on this question. Do you think that records of that description can be erased and forgotten as if they had never been? Do you suppose it is not the recollection of these things which live in the memory of the Irish nation, and that they look back to them, and have looked back to them, for generations, as the Jews by the waters of Babylon looked back to the times when they were better off? It may be, and has been, said—"Oh, but Grattan's Parliament, which was then established, was a mistake; it did not answer; the arrangements which were then made broke down altogether." And here I come to a point at which the noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton) seemed to challenge what I said just now. I said at that time that Ireland, under the 762 Parliament of Grattan, had become a source of strength, and not of weakness, to the Empire, as it had been before. There is very remarkable testimony upon this point. The noble Lord the Member for East Leicestershire (Lord John Manners) made, the other night, an attack, which I believed to be quite unfounded, on the history of Grattan's Parliament. He said that that Parliament had totally failed. Now, Mr. Burke, who knew something of the question, and who had always been, and was in 1782, an enthusiastic supporter of the independence of the Irish Parliament, towards the close of his days, when he had become a Whig seceder, bore his testimony to the success of the Irish Parliament. In one of his letters, when he was invoking and stimulating Pitt to continue the Great War, and pointing out the great resources that England possessed at that time for carrying on the war, he contrasted the condition of Ireland then with the condition of Ireland as it had been at former periods during the great wars of Marlborough. And this is what Burke says in his letter on "A Regicide Peace" in the year 1796, when Grattan's Parliament had been in operation for 14 years—Ireland, now so large a source of the common opulence and power, and which wisely managed might be made much more beneficial and much more effective, was then the heaviest of burdens. An army not much less than 40,000 men was drawn from the general effort to keep that Kingdom in a poor, unfruitful, and resourceless subjection.Mr. Lecky, who is an historical authority, and is now a member of the Patriotic Union, wrote a few years ago that, at that time, the whole military establishment of Ireland was 12,000 men, and that in the event of a foreign war it would have been possible to have withdrawn a considerable portion of that force for the general defence of the Empire, there being no serious or general disaffection prevailing among the Irish people. I am not quite sure that he is speaking there of the exact period of Grattan's Parliament, but, at all events, he is speaking of Ireland before the Union. Could that be said of Ireland at any time since the Union? Is there any time since the Union of which you could say that the whole military establishment of Ireland was 12,000 men, and that in the event of war it would have 763 been possible to have withdrawn a considerable portion of them?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
The noble Lord says "under Lord Beaconsfield's Government," a Government which closed its reign in Ireland by the declaration that Ireland was in a state of veiled rebellion. We all recollect very well the letter which was addressed to the Duke of Marlborough. We all know what was the cause of the Rebellion of 1798—it was the extraordinary and abominably bad faith which was shown to the Irish people. Our pledges then made to the Catholics were not fulfilled, and it was that which brought about the state of things which ended in the Rebellion, and the Rebellion brought about the attempt to establish the Union. If I am not detaining the House too long, I should like to read a sentence or two of what Mr. Lecky says about the Union. He says—Theorists may argue that it would be better for Ireland to become in every respect a mere Province of England. They may contend that a union of Legislature, accompanied by a corresponding fusion of characters and identification of hopes, interests, and desires, would strengthen the Empire; but, as a matter of fact, this was not what was effected in 1800. The measure of Pitt centralized, but it did not unite, or rather by uniting the Legislatures it divided the nations. In a country where the sentiment of nationality was as intense as in any part of Europe it destroyed the National Legislature contrary to the manifest wish of the people, and by means so corrupt, treacherous, and shameful that they are never likely to be forgotten. …. More than 70 years have passed since the boasted measure of Pitt, and it is unfortunately incontestable that the lower orders in Ireland are as hostile to the system of government under which they live as the Hungarian people have ever been to Austrian or the Roman people to Papal rule; that Irish disloyalty is multiplying enemies of England wherever the English tongue is spoken; and that the national sentiment runs so strongly that multitudes of Irish Catholics look back with deep affection to the Irish Parliament, although no Catholic could sit within its walls, and although it was only during the last seven years of its independent existence that Catholics could vote for its Members. Among the opponents of the Union were many of the most loyal as well as nearly all the ablest men in Ireland; and Lord Charlemont, who died shortly before the measure was consummated, summed up the feelings of many in the emphatic sentence with which he protested against it. 'It would more than any other measure,' he said, 'contribute to the separation of the two countries, the perpetual connection of which is one of the warmest 764 wishes of my heart.' In fact, the Union of 1800 was not only a great crime, but was also, like most crimes, a great blunder. The manner in which it was carried was not only morally scandalous, it also entirely vitiated it as a work of statesmanship. …. Carried as it was prematurely, in defiance of the national sentiment of the people, and of the protests of the unbribed talent of the country, it has deranged the whole course of political development, driven a large portion of the people into sullen disloyalty, and almost destroyed healthy public opinion.Well, Sir, I do not subscribe to the view that Mr. Lecky takes of the conduct of Pitt in that matter. He thinks that Mr. Pitt deliberately brought about, as I understand it, the Rebellion by refusing the rights of the Catholics, and that he refused reform because he wanted to carry the Union. However, I will not enter into that controversy; but the question is, was the statement true? Has the condition of things between England and Ireland been better since the Union than before? I confess, as far as I can judge from observation and reading, it seems to me to have become worse and to be growing worse every day. If that be so, what are the objections to reverting to a policy not identical, but in many respects similar, to that which our ancestors adopted under similar circumstances, which I have tried to depict? It is said—"Oh, but if you give Ireland a Parliament you will destroy the unity of the Empire." Well, Ireland had a Parliament, an independent Parliament, far more independent than any proposed in this Bill. Was there, then, no unity in the British Empire during the great Administration of Mr. Pitt from 1782 to 1800, a period of which the Tory Party are more proud than of any period of their political history? Is there no unity of the Empire now in relation to the Colonies? My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) says the Colonies are absolutely independent; but are we not talking about the "unity of an Empire" of which the Colonies are most important portions? Therefore, to say that the establishment of an independent Parliament affects the question of the unity of the Empire, is, I venture to say, to use phrases which are inappropriate. But there is another objection—the objection as to the supremacy of Parliament. That is a different thing altogether from the unity of the Empire; and it is said that the establishment of a 765 separate Parliament necessarily affects the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. Why, of course, it does. If you delegate part of your authority to another person, you do, to a certain degree, reduce your own authority. Now, on this subject of the supremacy of Parliament, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bury (Sir Henry James) asserted this proposition, that if you establish a Parliament for any purpose or to any extent with an independent authority of its own, the country becomes a foreign country; and, having challenged me to agree to that proposition, I asked him a question to which he did not give an answer—Was Ireland a foreign country under Grattan's Parliament? Now, that is a test question. My right hon. and learned Friend never attempted to answer it; but he escaped the urgency of my question by taking refuge in a resource at which I was astonished. He quoted an anonymous writer; and he thought under cover of the authority of an anonymous writer to establish his position. Now, I have no objection to my right hon. and learned Friend studying anonymous writers; there are some anonymous writers for whom I have a great respect. But I would recommend my right hon. and learned Friend, if he takes to studying anonymous writers, to take the pains to read their letters, and not to satisfy himself with single sentences which he may pick up out of the pages of a text-book. With some trouble I obtained a copy of the letter of the anonymous writer to whom my right hon. and learned Friend alluded, and, to my great edification and satisfaction, I found that, by a singular prescience of anticipation, that anonymous writer had laid down the very principles of this Bill as the proper principles that ought to govern the relations of Imperial and subordinate Parliaments. I would not have referred to it unless my right hon. and learned Friend had challenged me; but it appears that the letter was written with reference to the question of the right of the Imperial Parliament to deal with matters in Canada, and it arose out of the Merchant Shipping Act. There were persons ignorant enough to assert that the Imperial Parliament could not legislate with reference to merchant shipping in Canada, and this letter 766 seems to have been written to discuss the question of the relations of the Imperial Parliament to the Dominion Parliament. It said—The whole question of the relations of the Imperial authority to the Representative Colonies is one of great delicacy. It requires consummate prudence and statesmanship to reconcile the Metropolitan supremacy with the worthy spirit of Colonial independence. As a matter of abstract right, the Mother Country has never parted with the claim to supreme authority of the Imperial Legislature. If it did so, it would dissolve the Imperial tie and convert the Colonies into foreign and independent States. The principle on which the Mother Country has acted has been to concede, in the largest measure, local independence, and to assert its authority only when Imperial interests are substantially involved. To this principle the Colonies have cheerfully adhered. In all matters in which the Imperial Legislature does not expressly, or by necessary implication, interfere, the Colonial Legislature is independent. The principle, as I understand it, is this—the Constitutional supremacy of the Imperial Legislature is of right universal, but in practice it is never exercised in local as distinguished from Imperial interests, or in any case where its application would not be generally recognized as just and reasonable. What those cases are must be determined by practical statesmanship. The real problem of politics is to distinguish between that which you have a right to do and that which it is right you should do.I do not know that if I were to endeavour to explain what I understood to be the doctrine of the supremacy of Parliament, as laid down in this Bill, I should do it in different words from those which I have quoted. The situation with reference to the Colonies and that with reference to Ireland, according to this Bill, are really the same, although the end is attained in a different way. In the case of the Colonies, there is in the Act of 1865 an express reservation of universal power; but, as is pointed out in the passage to which I have referred, that power is not, and ought not, to be exercised in the matters of local interest which have been conceded to the Colony. The proper phrase to employ is, that it would be unconstitutional to exercise such a power. Now, by this Bill the power of the Imperial Parliament is not taken away. It is nowhere taken away. But there is given in local affairs a concurrent right to the Irish Parliament; and there, again, I say it would be most unconstitutional for the English Parliament to interfere with that concurrent right. But this Bill does what is not done in the case of the Colonies, 767 it particularly the Imperial matters on which the Imperial Parliament has an exclusive authority. That is what I have to say in answer to the challenge of my right hon. and learned Friend. But I must call attention to the most extraordinary statement made to-night by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham. He says—and this is the head and front of our offending—Your Bill impairs, if it does not destroy, the supremacy of Parliament.He says—What I contend for is that there shall be a Parliament which shall be supreme in every particular over the Parliament of Ireland.And he explained that he meant not merely supremacy of right, but a supremacy that would be habitually exercised. Well, if that is so, what is the use of having any Parliament at all? It would be merely establishing a squabble. If you are to have one Parliament constantly exercised in fighting another Parliament on the same matters, you had better have no such Parliament at all. And, therefore, how he can say he is in favour of the principle of this Bill I cannot understand. Amongst his plans—he has many, but they do not last long, they inevitably disappear—is federalism. But he shrinks from federalism, because he has pointed out that terrible consequences would ensue, for it would endanger the House of Lords, and might destroy the Monarchy. But to-night he has a new plan. He is not going to the country on the principle of this Bill, he is going on the method. That is the great issue before the country; not whether there is to be an Irish Parliament; not whether there is to be Home Rule—that is the principle of the Bill, and he agrees with that—but he is going to the country, because he does not believe we have adopted the proper method. He says that the proper method ought to be to rely on the Canadian example—the relation not of the Dominion Parliament to the Imperial Parliament, but of the Dominion Parliament of Canada to the Provincial Parliaments of Canada. That is his last plan. What are these relations? Is the Dominion Parliament of Canada supreme over all affairs? ["No!"] Most distinctly it is not. In the 91st section of the Canadian Act you 768 will find the exclusive powers of the Dominion Parliament, and in the next section the exclusive powers of the Provincial Parliaments. But that is not all. What are the matters as to which the powers are exclusive? The Provincial Parliaments have, in the first place, authority to amend the constitution of the Provinces. This is the brand new plan of my right hon. Friend which we are to adopt. What is the next thing upon which the Provincial Parliaments are to be our model? The Provincial Legislature—Shall have exclusive authority over direct taxation within the Province, the establishments, and tenure of Provincial offices,—that is to say, command of the Executive; but this is not all—hear this, men of Ulster, and tremble—and over the property and civil rights in the Province.These are the exclusive rights of these Parliaments which my right hon. Friend suggests as the model for the Irish Parliament. But even that is not all. There is another exclusive right which my right hon. Friend's plan will give to the Parliament of Ireland. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) is here, but I believe he is a great advocate for the rejection of the second reading, on the ground of the interference by this Bill with the administration of justice in Ireland; and it may interest him to learn that the Provincial Parliament, which is to be the model for the Irish Parliament, has exclusive authorityover—The administration of justice in the Province, including the constitution, maintenance, and organization of Provincial Courts, both of Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction.This is the plan with which my right hon. Friend is going to destroy the Government. This is his last patent plan.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Then, my right hon. Friend insisted very much on the power which he said the Dominion Parliament had of making all the laws of the various Provinces the same—of assimilating the laws of the various Provinces.
SIR WILLIAM HAR COURT
Then I withdraw that; but there is such a power given to the Dominion Parliament to assimilate the law of the various Provinces. It is not unnatural that such a power should be possessed by the supreme Parliament. But under what conditions is the power given?—That any Act of Parliament of Canada making provision for such uniformity shall not have effect in any Province unless and until it is adopted and enacted into law by the Legislature.All I can say is that our plan leaves the Parliament at Westminster much more supreme than it would be according to the plan of my right hon. Friend. Then there is the great question of the protection of minorities. I confess I am a little astonished at the quarter from which that claim for protection comes. When the Union took place, what protection was there for the Catholic majority in Ireland? What protection was there for the men who had to wait a whole generation before securing their civil rights? From Grattan's Parliament they had some chance; but when that was abolished, and they were left at the mercy of the Protestant Parliament at Westminster, what protection were they given? There was no attempt made at all to protect them. Then we are told that if we do not take care we shall have war made upon us by the Orangemen. Well, I am not disposed myself to take these things very seriously. I do not think they will frighten sensible men; and I thought that the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) treated that matter this evening very much as it deserved. If we are going to have the Oriflamme raised in Ballykilbeg, and if the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Major Saunderson) is going to assail us with bombs, and if, as I think the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), when challenged, said that he would do, he is going to render his personal assistance, then, of course, that makes the thing very formidable. But if we are to have terrible dangers of this description, I think we must invoke the melodramatic valour of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen)—we must send for our family solicitor, and make our wills and do our 770 duty. We have heard a great deal about menaces on this occasion; but the menaces come, I think, from the loyal and patriotic minority. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Armagh says that if Russia had corrupted a certain amount of Members of this House to get a Bill passed, and the Bill was passed by a majority consisting of the men so bribed, would we not be justified in employing all the powers we possess to resist such a measure? Will the Orange Members apply that doctrine to the Act of Union? If resistance is justified under these circumstances, there is no insurrection and no rebellion that has taken place in Ireland in this century which, according to the doctrine of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh, was not entirely justifiable. If, again, the doctrine contended for by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington be true, that if an Act establishing an independent Parliament in Ireland may be properly resisted by force by the minority, I want to know is not that a justification for resistance; is it not an entire justification for the majority in Ireland against the Act of Union? I do not know whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) is here; but this is what the Mr. Plunket of that period said—I say, circumstanced as you are, pass this Act and it will be a more nullity, and no man in Ireland will be bound to obey it. I make this assertion deliberately; I repeat it, and I call upon anyone to take down my words. Yourselves you can extinguish, but Parliament you cannot extinguish; it is enthroned in the hearts of the Irish people and enshrined in the Constitution.That is a statement in regard to the doing away with an independent Parliament at that time. And there was a great Tory lawyer, Mr. Saurin, who said that if thatLegislative Union should be forced upon the country against the will of its inhabitants it would be a nullity, and resistance to it would be a struggle against usurpation—not a resistance against law.Well, he held the doctrine of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington. He said—You may make it binding as a law, but you cannot make it obligatory on conscience. It will be obeyed as long as England is strong; but resistance to it will be a duty, and the ex- 771 hibition of that resistance will be a mere question of prudence.You will thus see that two can play at that game; and if one set of men are to use this kind of language another set would be equally entitled to use it; but, in my opinion, it is equally unjustifiable whichever side may employ it. I say, then, that, so far as I can observe, the Act of Union has not united the two people. We propose a plan falling far short of Grattan's Parliament—a plan which we believe will satisfy the aspirations and the national demands of the Irish people, and we have reason to think so. Well, that is a policy of conciliation to Ireland. Now, I ask what other policy is there? I do not ask my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh, because I do not remember that within the last 10 years he has ever supported any policy of the Liberal Party, or that at a critical moment he has ever failed to give a Tory vote. And therefore he is acting in his right and according to his custom on this question. I do not ask my right hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs, because he says that a very little alteration in the Bill would make it suit him; and, therefore, he entreats everybody to vote against its second reading. We asked before for a plan, and we have now got a plan—a plan from a very important quarter—namely, from the regular Opposition. My right hon. Friend at the head of the Government said, a few weeks ago, that his plan had many enemies, but had no rival. But, Sir, it has a rival now, and it is between these two rival plans that the people of this country will be called upon to decide. What is that plan? Lord Salisbury defined it perfectly accurately in his speech to the Union of Conservative Associations. He said—"Our policy to-day is the traditional policy of the Tory Party." That is the policy which my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale and my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham are going to support. We know what is the traditional policy of the Tory Party towards Ireland. The sacred traditions of the Liberal Party—above all, those of the Whig Party—have been to oppose the traditional policy of the Tory Party towards Ireland. Our policy is, no doubt, a policy of confidence in the Irish nation. [Laughter.] Oh, yes, 772 you laugh; and it is because you adopt the opposite policy that we take issue with you. Now, let us hear what is Lord Salisbury's definition. I say our policy is a policy of confidence in the Irish nation. The policy of Lord Salisbury is a policy of defiance and distrust. As Lord Salisbury seems to complain very much that his sentiments are misrepresented, I will be careful to quote his actual words. He says—We are asked to have confidence in the Irish people. Confidence depends upon the people in whom you are to confide. You would not confide representative institutions to Hottentots.That is a pleasant conciliatory style of language, which is likely to remove the irritation and the troubles of Ireland! Depend upon it, Sir, it is this insolent spirit which makes British rule hated in Ireland, which makes the Irish people ungovernable; and no people with any spirit could be governed in a spirit of this kind. But let us go on. Lord Salisbury said—When you come to narrow it down, you will find that what is called self-government, but what is really government by the majority, works admirably when it is confided to a people of the Teutonic race, but that it does not work so well when people of other races are called upon to join them.Self-government, then, is the exclusive privilege of the Teutonic race. If that is so, the reason given by the noble Marquess is an eternal and ineradicable incapacity on the part of the Irish people for self-government. Now, having tabooed the Irish people on the ground of their race, Lord Salisbury goes on to the question of religion. He says—In Ireland, owing to the character of the people and the history of the country, the Roman Catholics have been singularly exposed to the temptation to misuse for political purposes an organization meant for high spiritual ends.I think I know, in this country, too, an organization meant for high spiritual ends which is greatly misused for political purposes. Well, then, he goes on—Your confidence is seriously diminished, because this tremendous, this grievously misused weapon, the Catholic Church, is in the hands of their opponents.That is, the opponents of the minority. So we are not to give self-government to the Irish because they are not Teu- 773 tonic, and we are not to give self-government to Ireland because the majority of Irishmen are Roman Catholics. That is the traditional policy of the Tory Party. That is the rival policy, and it is well the country should know it. I am delighted—no, I am not delighted, I am sorry—that the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) adopts these principles of hatred of race. But he is a young man, and I hope he will live to improve the Tory Party. Let me go on to Lord Salisbury's panacea for the conciliation of Ireland. He says—Covering all these considerations, there is one ground why, for this purpose, I can never advise my countrymen to place confidence in the inhabitants of Ireland. That is, because they are a deeply divided people, and confidence is only fitly reposed upon a homogeneous people.That is an astounding doctrine—that where people are divided they are not fit for representative institutions. I should have thought that, on matters of religion, people in this country are at least as much divided as people in Ireland. These, then, are the disqualifications for representative institutions, and therefore, says Lord Salisbury, advising the Conservative organizations—Repel with indignation and contempt anyone who asks, because we have confided in the British people, that therefore we should confide in a people who differ from them in every respect, who differ from them above all in this—that they are deeply divided among themselves.Therefore this doctrine of indignation and contempt allows no confidence to be placed in a people because they differ from you in race and religion. That is the traditional policy of the Tory Party. Well, but what is the result of such a policy as that? It must be eternal and unquenchable hatred. No people can accept the government of any race upon terms such as these, expressed in language of contumelious insult. Then Lord Salisbury says—My alternative policy is, that the Government of England should be enabled to govern Ireland. Apply that recipe honestly, consistently, and resolutely for 20 years.We are asked for a policy of finality; this is a policy of 20 years, a sort of 20 years' penal servitude, which is expected to reform the culprit, and then, after 20 years of Lord Salisbury's plank bed— 774 possibly a ticket of leave at the end of that time—you will find that Ireland will be fit to accept any gifts in the way of local government—they are not to have local government for 20 years—and any repeal of the Coercion Laws you may think fit to give them.Well, you have applied that "tradition" for four times 20 years since the Union, and what good have you done? Is Ireland now fit, in the opinion of Lord Salisbury, to receive local self-government, or the repeal of the Coercion Laws? Lord Salisbury had a perfect right to appeal to the Tory Party in defence and support of such principles as these; but how can the Liberal Party be appealed to to support principles which are foreign to everything they profess, and to everything they have done? I should have thought that even the right hon. Member for East Edinburgh would have shrunk from a policy founded upon disqualifications of race and of religion. Is the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale, in the name of Whig principles, going to support, either from the inside or from the outside, this policy? We are accustomed to new forms of Radicalism; but is the new Radicalism of Birmingham founded upon disqualifications of race and of religion? Next to the policy of Lord Salisbury, the most important thing to know is, what is the view of my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale? He went two days after this speech was made—after this declaration of war upon Ireland, for I can call it nothing else, from Lord Salisbury—he went to Bradford to make, as he always does make, a most able and effective speech; but in that speech there was not a single word of disclaimer of those principles, which declaration followed almost immediately after he had stood side by side with Lord Salisbury upon the platform of the Opera House. We have a right to know from the noble Lord and those who act with him whether those are the principles of the Whig Party? At Bradford my noble Friend criticized our Bill; he said very little of his own views, and it is a remarkable circumstance, considering the manner in which they have been acting 775 together, that he did not say a word of disclaimer on this reference of Lord Salisbury to Ireland. All that he did was to say he felt great, if not insuperable, difficulty in attempting to create for Ireland a separate Legislature. He said that coming straight from the meeting at Devonshire House, of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said that he and the noble Marquess were in substantial accord. Now, here is a declaration by my noble Friend that he is against any separate Legislature for Ireland, and a declaration by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham, who is in substantial accord with him, that he is in favour of the principle of this Bill. I think the country will want to know something of the relations of this combination which has met together to destroy this Bill and this Government. They will like to know how far my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale, and how far my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham are going to support the programme, the principles, and the language of Lord Salisbury. Why, Sir, do not let my noble Friend imagine that he can disengage himself from the responsibility for the programme of Lord Salisbury. If he should defeat this Government, and find himself in possession of a Parliamentary majority, one of two things must happen—either he must support Lord Salisbury, or Lord Salisbury must support him. I will take both events, and I will consider them. Lord Salisbury has given the noble Marquess very fair warning as to what his situation will be. In the same speech Lord Salisbury said—Do not let all that has taken place make you (that is, the Conservative Associations) forget that you are the most powerful Party in this matter; that it will be the Conservative Party that will furnish far the larger part of the votes in the Lobby to which the coming victory will be due—it will be mainly your power and your action which will secure the victory. Accept assistance if it is given to you, but trust to your own right arm.Trust to your own right arm to carry out the traditional policy of the Tory Party. My noble Friend and my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham are to be the catspaws to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for the Tory Leader. Why, Sir, if my noble Friend has the conduct of affairs with 776 the support of this most numerous Party in the Lobby, it must be on the terms of accepting their principles and carrying out their policy. If, on the other hand, he has to support Lord Salisbury and his Government, it can only be by supporting the same principles and carrying out the traditional policy of the Tory Party. Now, Sir, it is very well that the country should understand exactly the position in which we are placed. ["Hear, hear!"] Oh, yes; your Party in the country will understand it thoroughly; all I want is that our Party in the country should understand it too, and that they should see exactly what is the meaning of these combinations and manœuvres. I am afraid I have detained the House too long already; but I must say I do not believe that these combinations to overthrow this Bill, and to overthrow its author, will receive the sanction of the majority of the people of this country. It was singular testimony which was borne by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham, who said that the democracy of England is enthusiastically in favour of Home Rule. He said so; but I think that passage of his speech was not cheered by Gentlemen opposite. I think my right hon. Friend is quite right; but if the democracy of England is in favour of Home Rule, and if my right hon. Friend is in favour of the principle of this Bill, why is he trying to destroy the Bill—why is he trying, by going upon method and detail, to throw this Party into confusion, and to bring about results which I am sure he ought, and which I think he will, deplore? Sir, if he is in favour of Home Rule, and of the principle of this Bill, why is he going to act with my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale? I understand my noble Friend to say, honestly and straightforwardly, he is against the principle of the Bill. He finds the greatest difficulty in accepting, in any shape or form, the doctrine of a separate Legislature for Ireland. Well, Sir, I believe that whether these combinations wreck this Bill or not, they cannot destroy the principle of this Bill. My noble Friend the Member for Rossendale said, in one of his speeches, that a policy adopted by the Liberal Party always in the end succeeds. Well, my noble Friend will, I am sure, admit that he and his Friends do not represent, on 777 this question, the majority of the Liberal Party. Even with the combination of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham and his supporters, they do not amount to a third of the Members of the Liberal Party in this House, and one-half of them say they are in favour of the principle of this Bill. Well, then, the principle of this Bill is adopted by the Liberal Party in the House of Commons, and it will be sanctioned by the Liberal Party throughout the country. Therefore, you may destroy the Bill for to-day; you may destroy the Government that sits upon these Benches; but you will not destroy the principle upon which this Bill is founded. It will be taken up, and it will be pursued, and it will be carried on by the Liberal Party until it is finally accomplished. I know the great object is to overthrow the author of this Bill. That is the true principle and feeling which binds all the sections of the Opposition together. [Mr. RADCLIFFE COOKE (Newington, W.): No.] An hon. Gentleman says he does not wish to overthrow the author of the Bill; then I hope he will give us his vote—that is a point on which the Liberals of the country have yet to pronounce an opinion. This I will tell hon. Gentlemen opposite—that, whether we are in a majority or in a minority, either in this House or in the country, there is one thing to which we will pledge ourselves; and that is, whether in Office or out of Office, we will offer a constant and determined resistance to the traditional principles of the Tory Party, and to the policy which Lord Salisbury has declared.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. T. P. O'Connor.)
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH (Bristol, W.)
On this Motion I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister a question with regard to the probable termination of the debate. It has been pretty freely stated outside the House that, in all probability, the division could be taken on Thursday. [Cries of "No, no!" and "Monday!"] I do not know what the views of Her Majesty's Government may be; but it certainly would be convenient to the House that some definite time should be fixed. I hope that if it 778 is impossible to take the division on Thursday, at any rate the right hon. Gentleman will be able to fix it for Friday.
§ MR. PARNELL (Cork)
I merely wish to point out, before the Prime Minister answers the question put to him, that several prominent Members—very prominent Members—on the Conservative side of the House have not yet spoken, although the debate has now lasted several weeks. I think it will be found, on examination, to have been usually the custom in this House for the supporters of a Motion directed against the second reading of a Bill to speak first, and to allow those who are in favour of the second reading to follow them. In view of the abstention—the marked abstention—of prominent Conservative Leaders from this debate, I think the Prime Minister ought to consider whether he ought to consent to do that which would practically amount to putting the clôture on the present debate until we have seen what use the prominent Members of the Front Opposition Bench are going to make of the opportunity for debate which has been so abundantly afforded them; otherwise we shall probably have this result—that those right hon. Gentlemen who, apparently, have deliberately held themselves back until the last moment will rise in the last few hours and shut out several supporters of the Bill from being heard.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
Before the Prime Minister replies I desire to make an appeal to him and to the House on the special ground of the position in which we find ourselves. In my recollection there never was an occasion on which there was so much peculiarity about a debate as there is about the present. There are no less than three corners to the opposition to this measure. I do not hesitate to say that hon. Members on this side of the House who are opposed to the Bill have, in proportion to their numbers, absorbed the greater share of the time devoted to the consideration of the measure, though not at all against the wish and desire of those who support the Bill. But I think the privilege that these right hon. and hon. Gentlemen have exercised does carry along with it some claim upon the part of many of the supporters of the Bill to be heard before the debate is 779 closed. Sir, there was a desire, a week ago, on the part of the opponents of the Bill, that the debate should be closed. I appeal to the House whether it would have been fair to the country, in the emergency in which this question was found, that it should have been left in the dark as to the discussion which has been going on during the past week; and now I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman that he should at least give us until Monday in next week, in order that the question may be fairly thrashed out. We have been given to understand that very shortly we shall go before the constituencies. Surely, Sir, nothing can be more fitting than that this question should be fully stated from all sides and in all particulars by Members of Parliament before they go to the constituencies, in order that the country should be well advised and well informed upon the merits of this great controversy. I venture, with some confidence, to make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister not unduly to close this debate, but to give further opportunities to hon. Members on this side of the House, as well as to the Members of the Opposition and Nationalist Party, who have a disposition to make still further contributions to the discussion.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
Before the right hon. Gentleman gives any pledge as the closing of the debate, I also wish to make an appeal to him, on behalf of myself and other Radicals who have not yet been heard, and who do want to express our views on this Bill—views which we believe have the sanction of the constituencies of the country—not to close the debate until we have been heard.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON (Middlesex, Ealing)
As the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) has stated that few Members of the Front Opposition Bench—[Mr. PARNELL: Prominent Members.]—that few prominent Members of the Front Opposition Bench have spoken, and that, at the last moment, a considerable number of other Members who wish to speak may be crushed out by the prominent Members of the Front Opposition Bench, I wish to observe that three Members of the late Cabinet, the Attorney General of the late Government, and two other Members of the late Government, making six 780 in all, have spoken. I believe that, although they may not be, in the opinion of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, prominent Members, that is a considerable contribution numerically from any one quarter of the House. So far as the prolongation of the debate is concerned, we on this side of the House are tolerably satisfied with the expression of opinion which has already been made; and I believe I may say that, with the exception of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), who may wish to address the House, there is no likelihood of the debate being unduly prolonged by any other Member on this side of the House addressing the House. Under these circumstances, the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork will see there is no likelihood of any prominent Member of his Party being precluded from addressing the House by the action of the Members of the Front Opposition Bench.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE)) (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian
It was unfortunate that last week this question of the prolongation of the debate came to be mixed up with different controversial matter. I think that, to a considerable extent, that controversial matter has now passed out of view; and I believe, as far as I am aware, that the Representatives of the different sections of the House who usually communicate upon subjects of this kind have addressed themselves to the consideration of the question without any reference to motive in the prolongation of the debate. I am glad of that. Now, Sir, it is only a very limited share that the Government can take in attempting to regulate the length of a debate of this description; plainly, we must have regard to the number of factions and sections into which the House is divided upon this subject. As I stated on a former occasion, we cannot undertake to exercise too great pressure. As far as the Government are concerned, we should be extremely well pleased if the debate could terminate on Friday night; that is what we should prefer; but I cannot undertake to say more. I cannot venture to interfere with the liberties of Members of the House.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till Thursday.