§ [SECOND NIGHT.]
§ 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.
§ SIR HENRY JAMES (Bury, Lancashire)
Sir, I trust the House will not think it unreasonable that I should wish to take some part, however unimportant, in this debate. I do not desire to do so for the purpose of making any explanations, or of giving any assurance to the House, as to the course which I have thought it right to take in relation to this great question. I feel that there is only one Member of this House to whom any such assurances are due; and I hope that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will believe that the judgment I have exercised on this subject has been unaffected by any influences and any motives except the desire to arrive at a right and just conclusion. I hope that my right hon. Friend, too, will feel assured that I have arrived at that conclusion with regret. I have ever acknowledged the obligation of Party ties, and especially I entertain some feeling, call it loyalty or call it what you will, which makes me think that the man whoSpared to lift his hand against that kingWho made him knightacted with no very remarkable degree of chivalry, but only as an ordinary mortal would. It is with some such feeling as this, standing as I do almost amidst my former Colleagues and my 913 present Friends, that will make me endeavour, in the part I take in this discussion, to remove from the habits and methods of Party debate the observations I have to address to the House. I have but one object, Sir, in taking part in this discussion. It is to accept the suggestion of my right hon. Friend that we should come to close quarters with this question. I wish to grapple with it practically, and especially with the principles contained in this measure. But before doing so there are a few general subjects connected with the government of Ireland which I wish to clear away. For instance, throughout the debate on this Bill many Members, and notably my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, have dwelt much upon the wrongs endured by Ireland in past times, upon the injustice displayed towards her by the Parliament of Great Britain and by the Parliament of Ireland itself, and have told the House of the penalties which Irishmen suffered and the grievances which they sustained through the legislation of past days. Well, so be it. With such statements I have no fault to find. I believe them to be true; I believe that Ireland has been misgoverned; and I believe England herself also has been misgoverned in times past. I recollect years ago being struck by an observation of Mr. Grattan, when he said that the student of the law who sought to trace the legislation of Ireland, and used his index for that purpose, might search with equal benefit under the head of "Ireland," or under the head of "penalty;" for you could trace the legislation of Ireland as you track a wounded man through the crowd by the blood that dropped from him. I agree with all that is so said; but what inference are we to draw from such statements? Then was then, and now is now; and we are here discussing this question in a Parliament singularly democratic in its character—we are discussing it among men who are now admitted to have the strongest feeling and desire to do justice towards Ireland; and we are discussing it in a Parliament which is led by the Minister who has shown the clearest possible intention to act in that spirit. Sir, you cannot recompense a past generation for the wrongs it sustained by inflicting injustice upon the present. We must 914 deal with matters as we find them around us now. When I hear arguments attempted to be drawn from the fact that the Union of the two countries was obtained by means of corruption, I admit that fact to be true, and nothing can be worse than the history which can be so easily read, of an English Minister being as willing to corrupt an Irish Parliament as an Irish Parliament was willing to be corrupted by an English Minister. But what then? The Union was effected and has existed; and it would be as idle to say that arguments that were good for preventing an improvident marriage are, 80 years after the marriage has taken place, equally sound and good for obtaining a divorce, as to say that the Union between England and Ireland ought to be put an end to because it was originally obtained by corruption and bribery. It has also been remarked in this debate—and I concur with the statement—that the time for recrimination and angry observation has passed, and that we ought to accord an amnesty in reference to all that has been said in former years. Sir, I agree with that; and I will not even wait to inquire who ought to grant that amnesty and who ought to seek it. But I would suggest that it would be unwise to carry that amnesty so far into effect as to prevent our gaining the advantage of past experience. You cannot shut out of view the past; you must be guided by it. You cannot shut out the sayings and doings of men, but must have regard to them to such an extent at least as may be necessary to enable you to adapt your policy to facts, to know under what conditions you are legislating, and to whom and to what your legislation is to be applied. With this reservation, I agree that the amnesty should take full effect with regard to personal and recriminatory matters. I prefer to make no reference in this debate to the broad and general question of the benefits of the Union or of Home Rule. I will deal with this measure on the very grounds on which the Government have placed it. I will assume, hypothetically, for the purposes of this debate only, that there was reason for introducing some such measure; I will now only deal with this Bill itself, and with the conditions upon which it is admitted by its authors it ought to have been introduced, and in accord- 915 ance with which conditions alone it can come into operation. Five main conditions, which I think may be reduced to three, have been attached to the carrying out of any measure that gives autonomy to Ireland. I understand my right hon. Friend to state, first, that any measure so introduced must be subject to the condition that the unity of the Empire should be preserved; secondly—though probably this second condition is only a portion of the first—that the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament should be maintained; further, that provision should be made for the preservation of social order, and also for the protection of the rights of property and for the protection of the minority—probably these two can be treated as one; and, lastly, that the measure so carried into effect shall be a real settlement in the sense of being a final settlement of the Irish Question. I will call the attention of the House — and, with great deference to my right hon. Friend's judgment, I will especially ask leave to call his attention—to the fact that this measure, if it passes into law, will not fulfil one of these conditions. I hope that I am not too presumptuous in making that statement. I have some little hope that I shall be able almost to convince my right hon. Friend himself that this Bill, as it is drawn, does not carry out the intention that he has in his mind, and does not fulfil the conditions on which he has always stated that he would alone bring in such a Bill. I take the first and second conditions—the unity of the Empire and the supremacy of Parliament — which, for reasons I shall give, substantially, for the purposes of this discussion, amount to one. I will quote a statement of my right hon. Friend, not with the object of entering into controversy upon the matter, but only to give a definition which I believe is more correct and complete than I could give as to the necessity of fulfilling those conditions. Speaking on this question at Dalkeith, my right hon. Friend said—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 in these Three Kingdoms. And nothing that creates a doubt upon that supremacy can be tolerated by any intelligent and patriotic man.Now, I ask the House to consider what 916 is the meaning of the unity of the Empire. In relation to the subject before us, and in that sense alone am I speaking, by the unity of the Empire, of course, is meant, when so applied, the unity of Great Britain and Ireland. What does that unity mean, and from what source does it come? Unity, by virtue alone of one Crown being paramount over the Three Kingdoms, is substantially no unity. There was not much unity between Hanover and England before 1837, when the Crown of the Two Kingdoms was on one head. So weak was the Union effected by virtue of the joint crownship that the divergence of the laws of the two countries in respect to succession caused such Union as there was between the two Kingdoms entirely to disappear. The real unity of a Kingdom must depend upon the unity of its laws. I do not mean by that that there must be an identity of laws. We have different laws now in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales; and if the efforts of some of my hon. Friends around me should succeed, we shall have different laws in every county in England, at least with respect to one social subject. But what I mean is that there must be a power which can make identical laws for a Kingdom supposed to be united. It is not the identity of manufacture; it is the identity of the manufacturing power that makes the unity of a Kingdom. Therefore, when we speak of the unity of the Empire, as applied to the United Kingdom, that unity is not maintained by virtue of there being the one Crown paramount over England and Ireland. There was that junction of the Crown before the Act of Union, yet Great Britain and Ireland did not form the United Kingdom. The real Union of the Empire, as it now exists, was effected by the junction of the two Parliaments. There was no United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland before the Act of Union. That Act was the bond which made these Kingdoms united Kingdoms. That Act consisted of six Articles. There were five of them which did not create and did not effect a Union of the United Kingdoms. The First Article is declaratory, that they shall be united, without saying how they were to be united. The Second Article declares that the succession to the Crown shall remain as it is. The Fourth refers to the Irish Peerage. 917 The Fifth Article unites the Churches, and that Article no longer exists. The Sixth Article deals with trade and navigation only; but the Third Article remains:—That it be the Third Article that the said United Kingdom be represented by one and the same Parliament, to be styled the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.As long as that Parliament exists we shall have the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. If that United Parliament is taken away, the Parliament which joined these two Kingdoms will be taken away. The Prime Minister has said that he does not seek to repeal, but only to modify, the Act of Union. My right hon. Friend is perfectly accurate in saying that he does not seek to deal with the remaining clauses of the Act of Union; but the draftsman who has to deal with this Bill must sooner or later schedule the 3rd clause of the Act of Union as one that is to be repealed by this measure. We are not asked to modify, but to repeal that clause, and to say that there is not to be any longer a United Parliament for England and Ireland. The moment that is done, that which constitutes the real Union between the two countries will be removed. What does the supremacy of Parliament mean? Of course, the supremacy means the power of making laws over the whole of the Dominions that can be affected by the Parliament's jurisdiction. And I now wish to ask whether it is the intention of the Government, if this Bill passes into law, that the Parliament, which will not be the Imperial Parliament as now existing, but will be the British Parliament, or, as my right hon. Friend terms it, the Parliament on this side of the water—whether that Parliament will have the power of making laws for Ireland? I must confess, when I read this Bill, I had no doubt upon the question. I, of course, thought it was intended to give the exclusive power of legislating for their home affairs to the Irish Parliament; but some words which fell from the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, whilst my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale was speaking on Monday, raises some doubt on the question. By the 2nd clause of this Bill power is given to the Irish Legislative Body to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Ireland, 918 and by any such law to alter and repeal any law in Ireland. That is the whole pith of the Bill; and by law in Ireland must be meant not only any existing present law, but any law enacted in the future. If the British Parliament, which will cease to be the present Imperial Parliament, is to have a superior power over the Irish Parliament, and can repeal the laws made by the Irish Parliament, where will be the value of this Bill to Irish Members? The Government can, in one sentence, tell the House whether the meaning of the Bill is that the Irish Parliament is to be controlled by the British Parliament, or is to have an independent power of legislation. Is the Irish Parliament to have the power of altering every law in Ireland; and, if so, are we to have this spectacle—namely, that the Irish Parliament is to pass a law which the British Parliament will repeal, and that the Irish Parliament will repeal that repeal, and so on, so that we shall go on playing the ball over the net backward and forward for all time? From the words which are contained in the 37th clause of the Bill I should certainly draw the inference that the right to legislate over the excepted subjects only was reserved to the British Parliament. But if the British Parliament is to have a superior power over the Irish Parliament in that respect, what will be the value of this Bill to the Irish Members? But it is useless for me to discuss the exact meaning of what is in this Bill. It is not as though we were discussing the meaning of an Act of Parliament. This is only a Bill not yet carried. Cannot a Secretary of State or the Attorney General tell us whether it is intended by the Bill that the British Parliament shall have control over the Irish Parliament or not? If it is intended to retain the supremacy of the British Parliament it must be so declared in the Bill, and the matter ought not to be left in doubt. The same point arises in relation to the Colonies, in which case the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament has always been reserved. By the Colonial Act of 1865 it was enacted that any Colonial law repugnant to the provisions of any Act of Parliament extending to any Colony should be read subject to such Act, and that to the extent of such repugnancy the Colonial Act should remain absolutely void and in- 919 operative. There is, in effect, a similar provision with regard to India in the Act of 1861. That is the course, therefore, that will have to be taken with regard to this Bill if it is intended to reserve the same right of control by the British Parliament over the Irish Parliament. For the absence of such now usual express reservation will raise the presumption that no reservation is intended. It will be useful to know what will be the effect upon the Irish Members if the Government were to state that it is their intention to allow them to make such laws as they may think right, but that the power will be reserved to the Members of the British Parliament to repeal those laws according to their will. The result would be, of course, that there would be no one in the British Parliament to defend the views of the Irish electors. That, therefore, is a condition to which, I believe, the Irish Members will never submit. By the silence of those who can correct me if I am wrong, I presume that it is the intention of the Government that this supremacy of the British over the Irish Parliament shall not exist, and that the Irish Parliament shall have free power to govern their country in relation to their own affairs. That being so, we shall have no power of governing or making laws for Ireland, and Ireland will be the only portion of Her Majesty's Dominions over which the British Parliament will have no complete legislative control. [Cries of "No!"] Of course, I am not speaking of the power which the British Parliament is to retain of legislating on certain subjects. Supremacy of Parliament means complete supremacy. A man does not maintain a roof over his house if he only covers half of it; and so we are not maintaining the supremacy of the British Parliament if we do not give it the power of making such laws as are deemed necessary on all subjects for the government of Ireland. Therefore, if we give up this power of complete legislation for Ireland—I repeat it—we shall have taken away the power of the British Parliament—call it Imperial if you will—which exists in relation to every other portion of the Queen's Dominions to impose laws upon the Queen's subjects. What is the effect of so doing? I think my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the 920 Exchequer will agree with me that if once we do that we, in one sense, render that country, in respect of which we cannot legislate, a foreign and independent State. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER dissented.] I gather that my right hon. Friend differs from me. I admit that my right hon. Friend is much more likely to be right than I am. Of course, I may have made a mistake; but will my right hon. Friend allow me to give him my authority? I know of no difference between right of legislation and abstract right of legislation. A right is a right whether you exercise it or not. But the authority which I will read to the House says—As a matter of abstract right, the Mother Country has never parted with the claim of ultimate supreme authority for the Imperial Legislature. If it did so it would dissolve the Imperial tie, and convert the Colonies into foreign and independent States.That was written, it is true, by an anonymous writer, and, of course, I will not say that my right hon. Friend is bound by it; but that anonymous writer signed himself "Historicus." This quotation is from a letter which appeared on the 1st of June, 1876; and I have always understood that it was an authority to which I could look with the greatest confidence. But my right hon. Friend now states that he differs from the proposition I made.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT) (Derby)
I beg my right hon. and learned Friend's pardon. I do not differ in the least from his proposition. What I said to him was—"Do you say that at the time of Grattan's Parliament Ireland was a foreign State?"
§ SIR HENRY JAMES
The point is not worth a moment's controversy; but I thought he said—"I entirely differ." I say, Sir, that I am content to take my stand upon the dictum that if you give up the abstract right—and I make no distinction between abstract right and right—of legislation, the country over which you give it up becomes, in one sense, an independent and foreign State—at least so "Historicus" says. There is no difference between abstract right of legislation and right of legislation; and you must exercise the right if you have it, and that gives you the supremacy which you dare not 921 state in this Bill you possess. This right you possess, and expressly reserve, in regard to the Colonies; and I ask Irish Members to consider this—are they going to leave this British Parliament with this right in it, so that it might be exercised at any moment to annul the Acts of the Irish Parliament? It does not occur that the right is constantly exercised in the case of the Colonies, because they are friendly and are far distant; but Ireland is in a very different position. Can we suppose that the minority in that country will not bring their grievances here and ask for redress? I hold in my hand a statement made by the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. W. O'Brien) not long ago, which will illustrate the state of things that would occur. He said—If our struggle is severe, the rewards and the prizes are very great — prairie value of land for the farmer, and less than prairie value for the labourer.
§ SIR HENRY JAMES
It appeared so reported in United Ireland, which I believe is edited by the hon. Member. I only use it for the purpose of showing from a good authority what is likely to happen if an Irish Parliament is carried into effect. Whatever Land Law we pass can be repealed the next day by the Irish Parliament? If the Land Bill of the Government were to be passed here the Irish Parliament could repeal it as soon as that Parliament comes into existence. Will one of my hon. Friends allow me to refer to his position for a moment. Suppose some land in Galway is taken at prairie value? Do you not think the hon. Member for Glasgow would come to that House and say — "Here, within the Queen's Dominions, over a portion of the Empire in which the supremacy of your Parliament is maintained, it appears to me, and probably to you, that an act of injustice and spoliation has been committed; you have the power to remedy it, and to restore to the owner the value of his property, and I ask you to exercise such authority?" What would then become of the abstract right? We should have a right, and it would be our duty, if we had the right, to exercise it. There would be nothing to prevent similar appeals being brought here day after day from Ireland. The objection that this would be a mere 922 abstract right is of no avail, as it would be impossible for us to avoid listening to complaints made to us to exercise our superior power. It ought to be stated in this Bill whether this power exists or not. If you allow this power to remain, then I say that the result will be that collisions of the most dangerous character with the Irish Parliament will occur. But if the right is claimed it should be stated in the Bill, and if given up that should be stated. If it is given up, then, says the anonymous writer whom I have quoted, Ireland would be placed in the position of a foreign and independent State. On this ground alone, if this Bill remains as it is, the supremacy of Parliament is gone. I turn to another phase of the supremacy of Parliament—I mean of the sovereignty of Parliament. I hope I shall not be thought pedantic when I say that the sovereignty of Parliaments is said to depend upon many conditions; but I think they can be reduced to two. A Sovereign Parliament, or, as the foreign expression is, a Constituent Parliament, must be subject to two conditions. Such a Parliament must always have the right to alter its own fundamental existence—that is, it must be able to alter and remodel its own constitution. Secondly, it must be subject to the control or decision of no man or body, so as to enable such man or body to say that the authority of Parliament has been exceeded. Those two conditions must exist in an Imperial Parliament such as we now have, with no written constitution; but, having, as a writer on the Government Benches has said, a flexible constitution, it can alter the term of its own existence. That power now exists, and we are at present exercising it. It is not sufficient to make a Parliament a Sovereign Parliament that it should possess powers of legislation. It is not unusual for Railway Companies to have powers to pass laws for the management of their own internal affairs; but they have no power to alter their constitution. So the Parliament of Ireland, if it comes into effect, will be, in that sense, not a Sovereign Parliament, for it will have no power to alter its own constitution. There is also another point. There must be, as I have said, no body—no Judge or Judicial Body, which can ever say to a Sovereign Parliament—"You have exceeded your jurisdiction and are acting 923 unconstitutionally." I will give an instance. If this Parliament was to pass a law that no wills made in France should be valid unless attested by four witnesses, however absurd it might be to attempt to legislate for French subjects in France, the Judges here would have to obey and administer that law, and would do their best to carry the judgment of the Legislature into effect. Of course, in France we should see the way in which the French Judges would treat so absurd an Act. But the Act would be good here, and the Judges here could not say that the enactment was beyond the power of Parliament to effect. That exemption from review does not exist in relation to a subordinate Parliament. The question whether a subordinate Parliament has or has not exceeded its jurisdiction is one to be decided by a judicial tribunal. I maintain, even if the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament shall be held to remain with the British Parliament, that when this Bill comes into effect you will be giving up sovereignty in this respect—that the British Parliament will be unable of itself to alter its own constitution. If hon. Members look to Clause 39 of the Bill they will find that the so-called Imperial Parliament will be the British Parliament, but that in order to exercise its full sovereign right it will have to call back a certain number of its Members, and so become a different Body. Now, Sir, comes the proposition, which I venture with great deference to call the attention of the House to, that the British Parliament cannot alter its own constitution if this Bill becomes law without recalling the Irish Members. The British Parliament alone would be powerless to alter its constitution. I submit that if that is done there is no man who will say here that there is power for the British Parliament to act in the absence of these Irish Members. If it be contended that the Irish Members are to have this Act repealed in their absence, and their right to a separate Parliament taken away without their consent, I think I can give good reason why that cannot be so. This Bill has been called a Treaty of Peace. Well, in one sense it is a Treaty. But, dealing with it from a legal point of view, we may more properly call it a legislative contract. We have constant examples of contracts in the Statute Book, especially in relation to private 924 Acts of Parliament. The Irish Members say they are willing to leave this Parliament. At present they are joint tenants of the Chamber, but are willing to give up their estate in this House. They go away on the terms that they shall legislate for themselves in Ireland, and that if ever we should wish to take that power away from them we shall recall them here. Therefore, we shall not have the power to alter the constitution of our Chamber, so far as it is affected by this Bill, without calling these Irish Members back. I will concede rather than argue the question that, technically, if the British Parliament acted without the Irish Members its legislative acts could not be questioned in England. Whatever we do, a Judge sitting in England or Scotland would have to obey us. But if we took that course the effect of it, from the mere legal aspect of the case, would probably have to be determined in Ireland by an Irish Judge who would not be answerable to this Parliament, but only to Ireland, and would say—"You have unconstitutionally repealed the Act which constituted the Irish Parliament; the Irish Parliament is passing good laws for Ireland; I will obey those laws, and you have no right to take away the powers of the Irish Parliament in the absence of their Members." Then we should have an actual conflict, and I see much reason for contending that the Irish Judge would be in the right and that we should be in the wrong. But I prefer to deal with the question constitutionally from a moral aspect. Dare we, in the face of the Irish nation, or in the face of our own people, break this contract, and, having said that the Irish Parliament shall exist till the Irish Members come back to the British Parliament and have their rights taken away from them, depart from the terms of that contract? It would be so unconstitutional in the sense of being immoral, and so immoral in the sense of being unconstitutional, that we should have got into a region where physical force would be a better weapon than dealing with the subject so basely. Therefore, I submit to the gravest consideration of hon. Members whether, if we pass this 39th clause, we do not give up fundamentally the power of reconstituting the Parliament, as it exists, without recalling the Irish Members, and that, cones- 925 quently, the British Parliament will cease to be a Sovereign Parliament? I have endeavoured to point out how you may become subject to the decision of Judges of another tribunal, who would at least assume power to determine that what we have done is outside our power; and this would bring us into the condition of being treated and considered as an inferior and a statutory Parliament instead of a Sovereign and supreme Parliament. Having pointed out these facts, I now ask the Government to consider, after they have obtained the guidance of legal assistance, whether it is not the fact that the supremacy of Parliament over Ireland would be gone, and that the sovereignty of Parliament would depart from us if we accept this Bill? I ask my right hon. Friend to consider whether this first condition which he has imposed upon himself does not fail, and whether there must not be a reconsideration of this measure? I now pass to the second condition imposed upon this measure by the Prime Minister. He has undertaken to provide for the safety of those who would remain in Ireland—to provide for social order, and also to protect the minority and place them in a position of security. I know of no subject which ought more seriously to engage the attention of hon. Members. Has due provision been made for the protection of the minority in Ireland? Sir, that minority is entitled to our especial care. Whoever they may be, whatever position they may be placed in, they are there by virtue of our protection, and of our legislation which planted them there. That places upon us the obligation of not deserting them. The Prime Minister will forgive me if I remind him that we have also directly of late tended to produce the position they now occupy. It was not so very long ago they were chided and reproved for not having more conspicuously, actively, and physically ranged themselves upon the side of law and order. I say they ought to be within this Parliament, and, before the mischief is done, the subject of our special care. I venture to speak very freely whether I please men or not, and I say that we ought, every one of us, to condemn those foolish, those wicked, rumours and statements which are made about Ulster—that the minority in Ireland will find resort in arms, and that they will be right in so doing. Unre- 926 servedly I declare that any man who by word or act encourages such an idea is half a traitor. We have seen action taken against unconstitutional Monarchs, and when such action has been successful we have applauded it; but the proposition now, as I understand it, which these misguided men are using in Ulster, is that if this House should agree to a legislative measure, and if the House of Lords should assent to it, and the Queen should will it, that measure should be resisted by force of arms. It is said that such physical force would be used by loyal men, and in one sense so it might be; but is it not apparent to everyone that to use arms against a Constitutional Sovereign acting in accordance with the will of Parliament, and to whom you say you are loyal, is to make treason doubly dyed? Here, in this House, in anticipation, every man ought to endeavour to protest against a possibility of such an outbreak. One word I may, perhaps, be allowed to say on the other side of this question. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland used words unintentionally, no doubt, and not expressing his real meaning, but which grated upon the ears of many of us when he told us that these provisions or some such provisions should be accepted lest we should reap the consequences, because the dynamiters and assassins would be disappointed and would take to their work if they did not get this Bill.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. JOHN MORLEY) (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
What I said was exactly the contrary. I said the dynamiters and assassins will be delighted if you reject the Bill.
§ SIR HENRY JAMES
I have no wish to misquote my right hon. Friend; but I think the impression generally produced by his words was that we were told to prepare for the consequences. I think I am right in stating that my right hon. Friend has always said that we have, at least, consolation in the reflection that if we should be giving too great power or freedom to the National Party in Ireland, we have always the strength of England with its Army and its Navy behind us. I would ask my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to consider whether it is not dangerous to ask Members of this 927 House to be careless in the exercise of their legislative functions, because if they make an error they may fall back upon force of arms? It is possible that recourse to arms may cause the employment of the Forces of the Queen against her most loyal subjects. Is it not possible that that may be so when we hear of a rising against the Queen's authority? Never would there be a greater calamity to a country, and a greater disaster to statesmen, than that which would occur if the Queen's troops should have to fight against the most loyal of her subjects in Ireland. Sir, I say that this view ought to make us very careful to afford the true answer to such possibilities by making a strong legislative enactment here for the protection of these minorities. What will be the protection of this measure? We listened to the eloquent words of the Prime Minister, who predicted a future when a minority representing wealth, landed interest, position, intelligence, with peace restored in Ireland, would return to their occupations, and exercise again the social influences they had previously possessed. Let us hope that will be the result. But what stability would such influences possess? Suppose some man prominent among his fellows should affect the imagination, so easily affected, of the Irish people, should earn their gratitude, and gain their confidence, and should then appeal to the masses of the people against those who represent the social position and power and intelligence of the country—[An HOME RULE MEMBER: Say in England.]—re-presenting them as having been oppressors and opponents of every true reform, what would then become of those social influences? They would be swept away as easily as the acrobat sweeps away the flimsy paper from before the hoop through which he jumps. What defence is given by this Bill—is it legislative defence—for these minorities? Why, Sir, the only defence we can find lies in the composition of the two Bodies. But I know not any guarantee that the minority will procure a majority in the second Body, when the landlords have been bought out, or those who have not been bought out have left the country. I am not sure that the national influence is not so great that it would command a majority in both Orders. Even if not, there will only be 928 a three years' veto. At the end of three years there will be no protection by virtue of the second Order having the veto power. Well, Sir, what protection do we get by virtue of the Executive? The Executive is to be, no doubt, still the Lord Lieutenant primarily; but he will be guided by the Ministry of the majority; the Army that you are leaving in Ireland for the purposes of protection will, unless there be a rebellion, always act under the control of the Executive. The police will actually be in the hands of the Executive too. If you turn to the Bill you will see that, with the exception of two years, in the case of the Dublin Police, the Constabulary from the very moment the appointed day arrives will, no doubt, be managed by the Lord Lieutenant—[Mr. PARNELL: Aided by this House.]—but still with the advice of the Executive; and that Constabulary need not exist for one day after this Act comes into operation. There is every inducement given under the Bill for boroughs and other localities to have their own police. Therefore, you leave the police, if they remain at all, to be governed by the Executive. The Judges, too, will have to administer the law, and they may be made elective at once. They might exist under any conditions that this new Parliament chose to impose. Therefore, in the use you can make of the military, in the action of the Judges and the police, there will be but one power alone, and that the power of the majority, represented and controlled by the Executive. I ask the House to consider do they find here any protection whatever for the Loyal minority? Sir, I feel that we ought almost to plead their cause, and demand that they should not be deserted and left to their fate. We ought not to incur the risk of having to appeal to military force; and we ought now, before this Bill leaves the House, to ascertain where those substantial safeguards can be found, without which we shall not be doing justice to these loyal men in Ulster and elsewhere. We cannot forget that we have been their friends and they have been our friends, and we ought to protect them now. I now come to the consideration whether this measure can be regarded as a final measure—I mean in the sense of a real settlement. Hon. Members from Ireland have stated that they accept it as a final measure, I read this morning that 929 a conspicuous Liberal Member of the House has stated that the Leader of the Party opposite is willing to accept anything; but we have to ask whether, even if the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) is willing to accept anything, the Irish nation is equally willing to accept anything? I hope, for its own sake, it is not. We have heard it said that there should be an amnesty for the past. But there is none of us who has not read, not only the statements of every prominent Member of the Nationalist Party in this House, but the statements of eloquent men who are dead and gone, and who made one claim for Ireland, which was that she should be a nation.
§ SIR HENRY JAMES
If she be a nation, what is wanted more? I understood that the claim was that Ireland should be an independent nation with its own Flag, and that the Flag she wished to fight under—
§ SIR HENRY JAMES
I always understood that that Flag was to be some other than the Flag of England. Will the hon. Member for Cork forgive me, as he says Ireland is a nation, if I ask him whether this is the nation which Irishmen have meant, when under this Bill her Legislature will be brought lower than that of any Province of any Colony of the Crown, when Ireland will have no Flag, no Army, no Navy, when she cannot deal with her foreign affairs, or with her trade and commerce, or even protect her Coast? I cannot believe that the Irish nation will accept this as a final settlement. That this will be most useful to them as a vantage ground from which they can wage their warfare must be admitted. That the powers that lie beneath the hon. Member for Cork, the powers that are stronger than he, the powers that, may be, will rule Ireland will accept this measure as a final one I cannot for one moment believe. I believe that the echoes of the voices of the dead would mingle with the voices of the living in protesting against this Bill being treated as the final result of the aspirations of Irishmen to form one of the nations of the earth. It may meet the opportunism of the day for certain purposes, but can never satisfy the 930 wishes of a generous people. We hear words of gratitude for this measure; we heard words applied to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in which I most sincerely concurred, when hon. Members opposite said he was a statesman who had acted beneficently to Ireland, and that he would crown a public life of 50 years of acts of justice by giving this great measure to Ireland. Well, those 50 years were nearly run last November. But up to that time hon. Members from Ireland never used one word of gratitude to him. They certainly never expressed the confidence in the Liberal Party which they profess now. There was a statement signed on November 23, on behalf of the hon. Member for Cork, in which there was an expressed request that no votes might be given to the followers of the right hon. Gentleman, except to those of them who had given proof that they did not belong to the most servile and venal herd who ever answered to the Whip of the Minister or to the mandate of the Caucus. Probably hon. Members will now think that the herd was not so servile as they thought last November, and that the mandate does not command such obedience as they expected. I must confess that I would, if I could, accept the faith in which I am told I ought to walk. But, unfortunately, when I call for that faith it will not come. I look upon the sayings of men who have been dead many years as if they were the sayings of to-day; and I do believe their object and aim—and not unreasonably—was to obtain far more than this measure represents—to obtain, in fact, total separation. We shall give unintentionally an opportunity of securing that separation if we now pass this Bill. Everyone is met with an argument against which I protest. It is an argument that, whether this plan be a bad one, we who object to it ought to say what is the plan which we would substitute. That throws an unfair responsibility upon each and every Member in this House that he ought not to bear. Speaking to the extent to which a person ought to speak, I would say that there is much hope yet for Ireland within the House in its present mood and with its present sense of justice for Ireland. Under the new conditions under which we exist, with the new power exercised 931 by the Irish Members here, I would still hope that without this great departure there might come results for the better government of Ireland. But against this argument of what is your alternative plan I will venture to refer to what occurred some 200 years ago. I quote this incident for the purpose of showing that the argument is an old one, and has been tested before. The incident arose out of a discussion as to how the Army of the King should be maintained without calling Parliament together. Clarendon describes what occurred as follows:—The old argument 'that there could be no other way found out' was renewed, and urged with more earnestness and confidence, and that they who were against it might be obliged to offer their advice what other course should be taken; and this was often demanded in a manner not usual in that place, as a reproach to the persons. His Majesty himself, with some quickness, was pleased to ask the Chancellor what he did advise, to which he replied, 'that if in truth what was proposed was in the nature of it not practicable, or, being practised, could not attain the effects proposed, it ought to be laid aside that men might unbiassedly apply their thoughts to find out some other expedient.'That was the saying of Clarendon; and I ask now if, under the circumstances, this Bill haying been introduced into this House, necessarily under great pressure and, perhaps, with not quite that consideration that ought to have been given to it, and if the Bill should be found impracticable, or if carried into effect would not attain the object sought, would it not be wise to "lay it aside that men might unbiassedly apply their thoughts to find out some other expedient?" I have now said what I have to say at this stage of the Bill. I have purposely avoided dealing with many details by which I might have shown that the measure was unworkable. I am aware that it has now become a trite saying—everyone says it—that we have come to a parting of the ways, and must make our choice. So far as I am concerned, there were two paths open to me. There was one which offered many attractions for me. My old Colleagues had gathered upon it, and although their language has somewhat changed since the days of our association, yet I think I could have recognized their voices, and it is possible a word or two of welcome may have fallen upon my ear. I should, too, have had the privilege—to me the great privilege—of fol- 932 lowing—with, however, an unequal step—a Leader whose later triumphs, if I am not permitted to say I have shared, at least I have been allowed to witness. But I had to look beyond these inducements. I had to look to what this path leads, and, as far as my erring perception goes, I can discover that it leads to nothing except confusion and chaos—Red ruin, and the breaking up of laws.So, Sir, I have turned to another path, dark and uncertain, I admit, and rendered more dangerous and difficult by the acts of men who ought to have guarded it more carefully. Yet I declare that, through the shadow that envelops it, men who have venerated our Constitution may trace landmarks sufficient to guide us to ends and results which will strengthen yet the power of a people and maintain untouched the Empire of our Queen.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN)&c.) (Stirling,
It is not an easy task for anyone to undertake to follow my right hon. and learned Friend, whose lucid style and charm of manner have riveted the attention of the House; and I feel that, as I am unable to vie with him in eloquence, so I am unable to deal with the first part of the arguments which he addressed to the House. I am but an uninstructed layman, and unqualified therefore to analyze the elaborate Constitutional argument to which we have listened. But there were one or two things in the course of his speech which were, at any rate, within the scope of my comprehension, and which startled me not a little. My right hon. and learned Friend, speaking of the unity of the Empire, laid down the principle that unity of law was essential to the unity of Empire; and then he went on to state this as a fact, to which he demanded our assent—that there was no united Empire till 1800, when the Act of Union was passed.
§ MR. CAMPBELL - BANNERMAN
Oh, no; my right hon. and learned Friend was speaking entirely of a united Empire. If, however, he said, or meant to say, United Kingdom, then he admits that there was a united Empire with separate Parliaments. I do not know 933 whether he means us to believe that Ireland in 1782 was a foreign country. Then my right hon. and learned Friend went on to speak of the supremacy of Parliament, and I was not a little puzzled when towards the end of his speech I saw the other side of the shield. He said that if the Bill becomes law the British Parliament will part with many of its powers, will be shorn of its dignity, and will no longer have that commanding authority which it now has. These powers, in that case, we may assume, will have gone to somebody; but when the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) interrupted and said—"Ireland is a nation," my right hon. and learned Friend said—"Are you content to take this poor, shrivelled, and degraded Parliament?" There is a quart of wine somewhere, and it is going to be put into two bottles, and in the two bottles there must be all that there was in the original bottle. My right hon. and learned Friend asked us to seek the assistance of high, legal minds upon the Subject. I am able to reassure him upon this point. We have had the best legal advice we could obtain since we lost the advantage of getting the advice of my right hon. and learned Friend; and we are assured that the supremacy of Parliament is adequately maintained by this Bill. Then my right hon. and learned Friend spoke of the terrible future awaiting the minority in Ireland. He conjured up a frightful picture, showing that all the lower classes would rise against the minority and sweep them from the country. But why should that not happen in England? On a point like this it is impossible for me to meet my right hon. and learned Friend on equal terms, because we are not proceeding on the same foundation at all. I decline to proceed, and we have never professed that we have proceeded, in this legislation on the expectation that the Irish people will exhibit none of the virtues and all the vices of the human race. We do not believe that the moment they are left to themselves they will be guilty of all those enormities to which reference has been made. If, unfortunately, there exists in that country hostility and jealousy between different classes and creeds, I venture to say that that is due, not to the Irish people, but to the system under which they have been governed. 934 My right hon. and learned Friend has not departed in a great part of his speech from that which has been a peculiarity in all these debates. It is this. Little or nothing has been said by the opponents of the Bill against its main object and principle. The youngest Member of the House knows what are the different stages of a Bill. The Motion for introduction only raises the question whether the Bill is deserving of the consideration of the House; the second reading deals with the principle of the Bill; and in Committee the particular method in which the principle is to be applied is decided. But in the present instance this order has been inverted from the first. On the Motion for leave to introduce the Bill, we had a debate turning wholly on the provisions contained in particular clauses; and, therefore, it is not surprising now we have come near to the legitimate time for discussing details that the same course should be pursued. While this is true, there never was a case in which the transcendant importance of the main object of a Bill so completely absorbed the details as in this case. It is not too much to say that the fact that the responsible Government of the Queen has proposed to Parliament the establishment of a statutory Parliament in Ireland, with full control of Irish affairs, is the gravest and most startling event in the political life of any man among us. [A laugh.] There is an hon. Gentleman opposite who laughs. Does he think it is with a light heart and in a wanton spirit this thing has been undertaken? Why, Sir, it is a totally new departure, the supreme importance of which I should be the last man in the world to underrate. But could it have been imagined or conceived that when it came to be proposed it would be met, not on the ground that it is not the right thing to do, but because it is done under wrong conditions and in a wrong way? I am, of course, aware—I do not ignore the fact—that there are many Members in the House, and on this side of the House, who object to any large extension of Home Rule to Ireland. They constitute the first class of opponents to the Bill. A second class are those who are opposed to this scheme because they have rival schemes of their own. And a third class are those who are ready to approve the main purpose and intention of the Bill, but who yet object strongly 935 to certain points in it which they find to be contrary to some necessary principle in politics. What I wish to point out is that the first two classes are fighting almost exclusively under the shield and with the weapons of the third. We hear little even from the Benches opposite of irreconcilable hostility to Home Rule; we have not heard a syllable to that effect from any authoritative source on that side. The rival schemes, so far as they were disclosed, have been summarily withdrawn from our notice; and it is the details of this scheme which engage all the ingenuity and, in some cases, the animosity of those who object to our proposal. What a testimony is this, as it seems to me, to the essential soundness of its basis, and to the extent to which the conscience and instincts of the nation have been moved by the demands of the Irish people! But my noble Friend behind me, in moving the rejection of the Bill, justified his dwelling upon details. He said that the essence of this question—whether it is wise and politic to grant a Legislative Body to Ireland—lies in those details; and in illustration he dwelt upon the difficulties attending the retention or non-retention of Irish Members in this House. I should prefer to invert the practice followed by the noble Lord, and, instead of arguing from the question of the exclusion or inclusion of Irish Members down to the wants of Ireland, I will endeavour to argue from the condition and wants of Ireland and the necessities of Irish government up to such questions as the inclusion or exclusion of Irish Members, the difficulties of which, of course, I admit. I would not commence to build from the details down to the foundation; but I should prefer to lay the foundation, and on that to build upwards to the details. I make bold to say that if this course is followed, if we consider the real condition of Ireland and of Irish opinion, and start from a few deductions immediately drawn from those considerations, we shall be brought inevitably and without escape to the conclusion which is embodied in the Bill. I do not found myself on my experience as Chief Secretary for Ireland, because it lasted too short a time to enable me to speak with direct personal authority of any weight; but at least the knowledge I gained enables me to judge of 936 the value of subsequent events. I may be allowed to say that while I was at the Irish Office things were sufficiently critical and anxious to let me see the real dangers and difficulties of our position, while, at the same time, there was not such an extent of disorder as to disturb my impartiality or equanimity. In this House, during the time I was Chief Secretary, although there was occasionally an outburst of extreme intensity of spirit on the part of hon. Members opposite, yet they treated both the House and myself at that time with comparative forbearance. But between June last, when our responsibility ceased, and the end of the year, two events of great importance occurred which go completely to the root of this matter. The first of these was the course taken by the late Government in renouncing any intention of renewing any part of the Crimes Act or furnishing any substitute for it. I admit at once that that step would have been justified, and amply justified, if it had been part of an intelligent and consistent policy. In that case it would have been the expression of their conviction of the futility of all the efforts we had been making for a great number of years to check by penal restrictions the growth of national feeling in Ireland. But if that had been their motive, and if it had been on that account that they departed from the old course of policy, of course they would have gone further, and they would have done that which we are now endeavouring to do—they, too, would have endeavoured by satisfying the demands of Irishmen to enlist them on the side of order and of the good government of Ireland, and on the side of concord and amity between the peoples of the two Islands. But they did nothing of the kind. They allowed things to drift until at last our rule in Ireland, which had been disliked, came to be despised as well as disliked, and the government of the country got altogether out of hand. There is another respect in which the action of the late Government last summer has had an influence upon this matter. Not only did they disturb, without resettling, the ordinary course of government, but by their conduct they really made it well-nigh impossible, even if it were desirable, at any time to re-enter upon a course of coercion. It has been urged in reply to such a statement—and I was 937 astonished to hear the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) use the argument in the previous debate—that this must be sheer nonsense, because in 1880 a Liberal Government allowed a Coercion Act to lapse, and since then we have had two Coercion Bills passed into law. A good deal might be said as to the circumstances of each case and the nature of the individual Acts; but I need not enter upon the merits of the cases, because this argument implies a total inability or failure to appreciate the real significance of what occurred. The real significance of what occurred rested, not upon the nature of the Acts which were allowed to lapse, but upon the persons and the Party who allowed them to lapse. We, the Liberals, are often accused of not acting consistently with our principles, and sometimes even we are told we are not sincere in our professions. At least, there is no doubt what those principles and those professions are. Their very basis is this, that we recognize to the fullest degree individual rights, the rights of free discussion and of a free Press, and every time we are parties to the bringing in of a Coercion Bill we appreciate the fact, however much we may justify ourselves, that we are infringing our political principles; and it is naturally to be expected that when opportunity offers we should seize it to return to our natural course and to abandon that which is most exceptional. But in this case it was not the Party on this side of the House; it was the Party of order, the Party most opposed to licence, the Party of property, the landlords' Party, the Party of the so-called Loyalists in Ireland—I do not admit their exclusive right to any one of these designations, I merely use them because they assume them to themselves — it was they who, without hesitation, who, without time for inquiry, on the eve of a General Election, ostentatiously abandoned and effusively denounced certain measures of coercion which had been enacted and maintained for the purpose of securing the very interests they professed to regard as most sacred. This is what constituted the significance of what occurred. I venture to say that after these circumstances it will be very difficult to persuade Members on this side of the House to listen again to the protests that come to them of the necessity 938 for coercive legislation. I said that there was a second event in the course of last year which materially affected this whole matter—I refer to the issue of the General Election. It had the effect of clinching and completing and ratifying, by the seal of the national judgment, the evidence which had been furnished during many months, in a more scattered and less direct way, of a growing spirit of hostility to our rule in Ireland. For many months before that time all those sources to which we look for information as to popular feeling—elective bodies, great and small, representative of popular feeling—had been becoming in an increased degree national in sentiment, and determinedly in favour of intrusting government in Irish matters exclusively to Irishmen in Ireland. I can find nothing in our political principles on this side of the House, or even on that side of the House, where hon. Members are often liberal without knowing it in these matters, to justify our disregard of such an expression of opinion as this. I know it is said that the result of the General Election was largely due to intimidation. Well, no doubt there was intimidation in some cases; but surely the argument falls to the ground when we find that the results in parts of the country where there is no question of intimidation—in large cities and in counties—correspond almost exactly with those which were obtained in the districts in which it is said intimidation was used. Now, Sir, I have said that there is and has been this popular feeling in Ireland extending gradually and steadily against our rule; and it is this spirit which constitutes the difficulty of government in Ireland. Let not the House think that it has anything whatever to do with crime and disorder. Crime and disorder you can deal with, not so easily now as a few months ago. Conceivably, you can deal with it by strengthening the law; but no strengthening of legal powers, no exercise of law, whether exceptional or ordinary, can operate in check of a growing national feeling such as this. If you try to check it you will probably do nothing but exasperate it and make it stronger. And when, in addition to all this, on looking closely into what the object of this national sentiment is, we find that there is nothing in it mischievous or unreasonable, and 939 that the object it has in view—which is the self-government of Ireland—is one which is in conformity with equity, reason, and common sense, I say we are called upon to go a step further, and, when we find our difficulty arising from this source, we ought to try whether by yielding to the wishes of the Irish people we may not take the shortest way to bring quiet and good government to that country. When, after the events to which I have referred, we had to undertake the duty of governing Ireland there were, practically, two courses we might have followed. We might, on the one hand, have adopted the latest policy of our Predecessors and suppressed the National League. Well, on that I have one homely observation to make, and it is this—that the suppression of the National League is easier said than done. I have my doubts whether the late Government had any definite idea of how they would carry out this policy of suppression. It is not of much consequence, because they knew very well that they would never be called upon to do it. At the time the announcement was made the shears of destiny in the hands of Mr. Jesse Collings were ready, and they knew that those shears in a day or two would slit their thin - spun political life. But has the House considered what is meant by the undertaking to suppress the National League? It means that you are to go a step far in advance of anything you have recently done in the way of penal legislatien. Under the late Liberal Government two Coercion Bills, so called, were passed into law. The first was directed against the perpetrators of outrages; we were told that if a few evilly-disposed persons in certain localities were imprisoned, outrages would cease. The second was aimed against secret societies which fomented and planned crime, and it gave facilities for the detection and punishment of criminals. I need not inquire whether either of those laws succeeded in the object for which they were designed; all I wish to point out is that both were intended to deal with crime and with crime alone. But when you undertake to suppress the National League you leave crime and you attack political opinion. I am no friend, or admirer, or apologist of the National League. No one more than I has condemned what has been said 940 and done in its name, and by its members. But whatever may be its faults, and even supposing it is associated with that great system of intimidation which at times has reached such fearful development—even granting all that, it is in its essence a political association. And if you undertake to enter on this course you must first of all break up this great political association, and then the smaller political societies which, no doubt, will succeed it. You must suppress political newspapers; and I know nothing so likely to be done or so necessary to be done if this course is followed. You must stifle as far as you can political discussion; and when this is the result of the course you are invited to enter upon, I ask the House, not whether it is a good, a safe, or a sound policy, but whether it is a practicable policy? Let me add that if we once undertake it, of this at least I am certain—and I can quote my Irish experience here—that it will not do for us to look forward to two or three years as the limit of it. It will be of no use even for its own miserable purpose unless you sustain it without break or wavering or hesitation over a long period of years. I do not say whether that is a good thing to do. I simply ask whether it is a practicable thing to do; and if it was ever practicable before is it practicable now, with a new House of Commons which is more thoroughly imbued, because more directly inspired, by the democratic element? As I dismiss this policy as impracticable, I naturally turn to the alternative, and that is that we must give to the Irish people, in one form or another, the self-government they desire. I admit that in view of the immense responsibilities of such a change of attitude and the dangers and difficulties that attend it—I admit that there is great room for hesitation and even for vacillation of opinion. I am not ashamed to confess that my opinion on the subject has fluctuated. I would go further, and say that I have nothing but surprise, verging on pity, for any man tolerably well informed of the difficulties of Irish Government who was ready comfortably to settle himself down at once to a conclusion on this matter without having gone through many changes and modifications of opinion according as one side of this question or another pre- 941 sented itself most forcibly to his view. For myself, I clung long to the idea that even if a domestic Government on a large scale for Ireland must ultimately be given—and I have long been of that opinion—for the present, at least, we should content ourselves with laying a solid substructure in the shape of a thoroughly comprehensive system of local representative government. But this and all the intermediate ideas of District and Provincial Councils have been swept away. We cannot wait for them. They fail to satisfy and meet the first requirement of the case, which is that whatever you do you must satisfy the national sentiment of Ireland. Nothing short of a Central Council of some sort can satisfy that national sentiment; and until you have satisfied it, the creation of any smaller Boards, such as I spoke of, would only furnish new scenes and new instruments for further Nationalist effort and agitation. Besides, I wish to point out this—because some people are enamoured of these ideas—that such smaller Bodies would actually involve greater danger to the rights of minorities than a larger Body in Dublin. I will take at once the most ticklish question of all—the religious question. Fears have been expressed, with which I have no sympathy, that under the operation of this Bill, if it becomes law, the Protestant minority will be at the mercy of the Roman Catholic majority, which, of course, means that the Roman Catholic majority are going to oppress the Protestant minority. I do not believe it. I refuse to believe that Ireland is to be the one exception to all the free nations of Europe in which minorities of one religion enjoy perfect toleration and undisturbed freedom of action side by side with rival majorities. There is no instance that I know of comparable with that which is conjured up in Ireland, where we are expected to believe that alone in the whole of Europe two great sections of the Christian Church will be unable to deal on equal terms with the administration of their common affairs. I need not answer those fears; but if I admit, for the sake of argument, that the fears are well grounded, there is one question above all others to which they apply, and that is the question of education. Yet the first subject which by common consent is included in every scheme I have seen 942 for Provincial, District, or similar Administrative Bodies is that of education, which is absolutely handed over to their disposal. Now, I would ask the House, supposing there is this danger to the religious minority, whether the Pretestant minority, say, in the Province of Munster, would be safer as regards its rights in connection with education if they were handed over bodily to a Munster Council than they would be if they were dealt with by a great statutory Parliament sitting in Dublin representing all the parts and all the interests of Ireland in due proportion, acting under the eye of the world, acting also under a sense of direct responsibility, and, I will add, of the dignity attached to a great national Body? Then the question arises as to a Central Body, is it to be purely administrative or must it be legislative as well? In my opinion, undoubtedly, it must be both, and I will adduce only two reasons which might be urged in support of that contention. If the functions were administrative only, I fail to see how that could be a practical solution of the difficulty, because let us consider for a moment what the ordinary course of our affairs is. This Parliament enacts a law affecting some local question—the question of local government, for instance. But when we have passed a law conferring certain powers on Local Authorities, we do not turn our back on the whole subject and show no interest in it. We set up a Government Department to see that the Local Authorities do their duty, and that the intentions of Parliament are properly carried out, and also to keep us informed with regard to any changes that may be required. That Government Department has a Representative in this House, so that it is directly responsible to the very Body that legislates on the subject with which it deals. Now, it is supposed that we are still to legislate on Irish subjects, that the Castle and all the Offices are to be swept away, that the administration of the Acts of Parliament which we have passed here is to be intrusted to an elective Representative Body on the other side, over which we should have no control whatever, which would have no Representative here—necessarily no official Representative—and, in fact, the whole matter would pass entirely out of our hands. Thus in an administrative 943 point of view, the proposal seems to stand condemned. Then I turn to the other point of view. What would be the position of the Executive? The Executive in Ireland would be appointed as other Ministers are from this Parliament; it would have no relations with, it would not be responsible in any way to, the Administrative Body in Dublin. You would have this great Administrative Body in Dublin claiming, and most justly, to speak in the name of the Irish people, and, side by side with it, you would have the shivering Executive responsible for law and order and the administration of justice, and all the thorny, critical subjects that would be likely to arise. You would, in fact, have two Authorities, the one the Executive that would be distrusted by the Irish people, the other which would attract the confidence of the Irish people, and you would invite the first to govern the country in presence of the second. Then the Irish Secretary would have to come here and meet the Irish Members. In the days when I held the post now filled by my right hon. Friend (Mr. John Morley) and had to answer the questions raised by any Irish Member in this House, the task was difficult enough; but, at all events, an Irish Member could speak only in the name of his constituents; but henceforward they would come to speak in the name of this great National Council, which might have passed a Resolution on that very subject. I do not hesitate to say that such a state of things would be impossible, that the position would be intolerable; and therefore I come to the conclusion that, both in the interests of administration and of the responsibility of the Legislative Body, and also from the point of view of the Executive, the Assembly in Dublin must have legislative as well as administrative powers, that it must appoint the Executive in Ireland, and that the Executive in Ireland must be responsible to it. That is the way—the plain and unvarnished way—in which I build up my scaffolding, on which the proposal contained in this Bill rests. I cannot myself see any escape from the arguments which I have addressed to the House. [Laughter from the Opposition.] Of course, hon. Members opposite do not agree in that; but knowing something, after all, of 944 the subject, I cannot see how you can escape from the irresistible and irrefragable line of argument that leads you to the establishment of a statutory Parliament with all these powers in Dublin. Hitherto my observations, whatever may have been their shortcomings, have had at least one merit—that I have made a genuine second reading speech, and therefore I have not committed the error that I have attributed to others; but I am now obliged to notice one point which is regarded by many persons as of the utmost importance—I mean the question of the retention or non-retention of the Irish Members in this House. Let me, however, in order to be quite clear, say again that what I have enunciated is the cardinal principle of the Bill—namely, the policy of establishing a Legislative Body in Ireland which shall have legislative as well as administrative functions, and on which the Irish Executive shall rest. That, I think, is a pretty accurate definition of the cardinal principle of the Bill, and any arrangement that may be made as to Irish representation here must be consistent with that principle. Now, my belief is that the main proposal of the Bill has the cordial support of the great majority of the House. It has now come, not to be a mere vague idea of something in the nature of Home Rule or self-government, but I think that the definite proposal which I have described has attracted to itself the support of the great majority of the Members of this House. ["No!" from the Opposition."] Well, on this side of the House. There may be one quarter of the House in which it does not. Well, if that be so. I would ask the House—and I would especially ask those behind me—this question. Can anything be conceived so deplorable, reaching almost to the dimensions of a public calamity, as a failure to give legislative effect to the principle, seeing that we have come to that state of agreement upon it, simply because we cannot in some way or other arrange this question of Irish representation? Let such an expression as I have used in regard to its being a public calamity be taken as the measure of the desire of the Government to meet, in the most friendly spirit, the views on that point of all the most earnest friends of this general principle. The provision 945 in the Bill as it stands is that Irish Members should cease to come here, except in the case of a proposal, and then only in the case of a contested proposal, to alter the Statute creating the Irish Legislature, and then for the purpose of discussion on that proposal they would be reinstated in this House. Now, speaking on Monday in the House, my right hon. Friend laid down this as the first condition to be observed in this matter—that the Parliamentary traditions of this House should not be broken up or confusion introduced into its working. I must say at once that, as far as I can see, this condition is hardly reconcilable with one of the proposals sometimes made, that all Irish Members should obtain full representation, both in point of numbers and in other respects. If my observations on this matter should be somewhat obvious and elementary, as I am afraid they may be, let me offer as my excuse that it often happens that anything that is very obvious is lost sight of altogether. I put aside at present the question of the numbers in which the Irish Members should come, because I conceive there would be a great difficulty in the way of any diminution of the number. If Ireland had a claim to be heard on any subject she would have a claim to be heard with a full voice; and it seems, to say the least, to be an odd arrangement to say that because half the subjects brought before the House do not concern them they are only to have half their proper weight upon those which do concern them. Even if the numbers were reduced, the difficulty which I am going to state would arise. Let it be remembered, also, that the House of Commons is not a mere place for making speeches, or carrying on discussions, or passing laws. This is a House on the support of a majority of which depends the Government of this country. That man in this country is Prime Minister who is supported by the majority of votes in the House of Commons. Be it good or bad, that is our system of government. It is different in some other countries. There are countries in which the Head of the Executive is appointed for a term of years, choosing his own Colleagues, and being during his term of Office independent of the Representative House. But here the Minister of the day lives and moves and has his being by the support 946 of the House of Commons. Now, if the Irish Members, having their own domestic affairs settled at home, are to come to this House, obviously they must vote on all subjects or only on Imperial subjects. I will first take the supposition that they vote on all subjects. Then they sit here for the exercise of their functions; a purely English question arises, which has, perhaps, disturbed this country from one end to the other, and the issue and settlement of that question rests upon the votes of Irish Members, who have the full disposal of similar questions for themselves at home; and not only will they settle that question, but also the question of making and unmaking a Government. On the other hand, if they are to vote on Imperial questions only, and not on domestic questions, we have an almost greater difficulty, because when they are here, on one subject, the Ministry might have a majority or a minority; and when they are absent, on other subjects, his majority might become a minority, or his minority a majority. And I should like to know which majority is to determine the fate of Ministers? These are elementary statements of fact; but the more we bear them in mind the more apparent it will be that my right hon. Friend's first condition, that we ought not to introduce confusion into our Parliamentary system and Business, is difficult to be reconciled with the idea of the constant presence of Irish Members on all questions, and even on all Imperial questions. Well, I can only repeat what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in opening this debate. We are ready to consider, with the most friendly mind, all suggestions which may be made for Irish Members taking part in the proceedings of this House. My right hon. Friend mentioned on that occasion one or two suggestions which we could not accept, partly because we could not adopt any proposal as to which we do not see our way to a practicable plan, and partly also because they did not seem to meet the scruples of friendly objectors. Since then, however, other suggestions have been made; and if, before the Committee stage, they, or any of them, assume such a form that they can be definitely judged, we shall consider them not only with an open mind—[Ironical Opposition cheers and counter cheers]—I can quite 947 imagine that that characteristic which I ascribe to ourselves meets no favour from hon. Gentlemen opposite. An open mind is the last thing we should expect to find among them; but we have an open mind upon these subjects, and, further, not only an open mind, but a mind anxious to find means for reconciling the main object of the Bill with the views which some of our Friends have expressed. There is, however, one subject in respect to which we have made a definite promise of an Amendment which we will ourselves introduce. The provisions of the Bill as they at present stand are reasonably open, we admit, to the objection that they involve an infringement of the sound principle that the power of taxation on the one hand should be associated with the right of representation on the other. In mitigation of this objection I might, indeed, urge that the contribution from Ireland to the British Exchequer under this Bill would have a fixed and stereotyped limit, and that to this limit we shall by hypothesis receive the assent of the Irish Members in this House before the Bill passes, and also that any additional taxation that might be imposed or raised in Ireland would ultimately go, not into the British, but into the Irish Exchequer. I say that in modification of the general principle that taxation and representation should go together; but I admit that the criticism is valid in principle, and we promise to amend the Bill in this respect. To do this is made the more easy by the fact that this question stands on a footing somewhat different from that of any other Parliamentary question, in this respect—that it is only on the Motion of a Minister of the Crown that a new tax is created or an old tax increased. It is true that a private Member can move to repeal or reduce a tax; but such Motions are extremely rare, and my impression is that their success is still rarer, and if such a Motion of a private Member succeeds, or is even likely to succeed, it is then taken up by the Government. We shall propose, therefore, as my right hon. Friend stated the other night, that before any Motion is made to create or increase a tax the Irish Members shall be summoned and restored to their full position in this House. This is the proposal by which we are ready to remove the particular 948 disqualification which the Bill has been shown to throw upon Ireland in regard to representation. This was a definite and tangible blot, for which a practical remedy is proposed; and in regard to other blots, where any practical plan is shown to us, we shall consider them with an earnest disposition by any means in our power to remove or mitigate any objections of detail which may be pointed out. I will not detain the House longer. I will only say that this Bill covers ground so fresh, and embodies ideas so new, and is fraught with such vast possibilities for good or evil to the Kingdom, that no one can approach its consideration with a light heart. It has, not unnaturally, aroused the deepest apprehensions, on the one hand, of those who dread that the new powers granted to the Irish people may be employed as an instrument of injury to the British Empire; and, on the other hand, of those who anticipate the further embitterment of sectional and sectarian strife. We have done our best. We have embodied in the Bill such guarantees as were possible against both of these dangers. But far better, more forcible, and far more efficacious than any written or statutory guarantees will be the growth of a better feeling both in Ireland itself and between the peoples of the two Islands. I am a firm believer in the sobering effect of direct responsibility, and I am an equally firm believer in the healing effect of joint co-operation in public life between men of all creeds and classes. I advocate the adoption of the policy contained in this Bill, not only because I believe that it will facilitate the good government of Ireland, but because I believe it to be in the end the surest and shortest way of promoting concord within her shores, and restoring friendship and good feeling between the three parts of the United Kingdom.
§ MR. EDWARD CLARKE (Plymouth)
said, the House had listened with expectant interest to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. No one could expect from him that he should make a formal answer to the elaborate argument of the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir Henry James). That argument dealt with questions of Constitutional Law, which undoubtedly required very careful examination and consideration. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War 949 had been looked forward to because of the peculiar character of the interests which at present centred in this Bill. The Government knew perfectly well that even of their own Party they had scarcely a bare majority that would pledge itself to support the enactment of this Bill as it was laid before Parliament; and they knew perfectly well that outside of Parliament the educated and the intelligent opinion of the country, as the Prime Minister himself had confessed, had pronounced a definite judgment against the Bill; and so definite and distinct was this judgment that the right hon. Gentleman had made a sort of appeal to all those who were not included in the classes of the Professions, of wealth, of influence, and of education—to those masses who could be more easily moved by passion and prejudice, because they had less knowledge of the past and less power of judging as to the probabilities of the future, and who, as they were more easily moved by prejudice and by passion, were so much the more easily manipulated by the machinists of a particular Party. The real interest in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman to which they had just listened was due to the fact that it was expected that some sop might be offered to the defaulters of the Liberal Party, that some expedient might be found by which the support of all sections of the Party might be brought together in aid of the Ministry; and, undoubtedly, rumours had been put forth that the right hon. Gentleman was going to make a statement that would reconcile the Prime Minister with some of his defaulting followers. But what did that speech amount to? It came to this ingenuous confession of an "open mind." The mind was indeed so open that it had nothing in it at all. It had no constructive capacity, it received no help or instruction from anyone else, and was unable to contribute any single suggestion to the improvement of this Bill. The only thing that the House was told was that the Government had come to a definite conclusion that whenever it was proposed to impose a new or increased tax upon Ireland the Irish Representatives should be invited to attend Parliament in order to resist it. What would be their commission when they came from Ireland on such occasions? They would, of course, resist such a tax, and their resistance would 950 necessitate its abandonment, and confusion would become worse confounded. One listened with interest to the delivery of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman to notice whether there was any reproduction of those suggestions made by the Prime Minister on Monday about the Joint Commission, and he supposed they had finally disappeared, because the right hon. Gentleman had said that the Government was not prepared to adopt any proposal which it was not in a condition itself to put into a definite shape. He had put into shape one proposal; but with regard to the others, he said that if anyone would be good enough to put them into definite shape for the Government before the time of the Committee stage then the open mind would be perfectly ready to consider them. Well, perhaps those suggestion about the Joint Commission had become matters of historic curiosity. Certainly they were very curious. To establish a Joint Commission which was to decide whether Irishmen were to be invited to the House to take part in certain debates was surely one of the oddest suggestions that ever occurred to a Minister. Who was to nominate the Commission? He presumed the Prime Minister would have considerable voice in the selection of the Representatives. The result would be that if the Ministry found itself in difficulties and in want of 103 votes, the Commission would be called together to invite the Irish Members over to its assistance, and the Commission would become a piece of machinery by which a falling Minister might attempt to save himself. It had been said in the course of the debate that those who opposed this Bill indulged too much in discussing its details instead of its main principle, and the right hon. Gentleman had stated that the main principle was that a Legislative Body should be established in Ireland upon which the Irish Executive should rest. The country had examined and considered and had decisively rejected that principle. The principle of this measure was to be found in its 1st clause, which was to the effect that on and after an appointed day the Legislature of Ireland should consist of Her Majesty the Queen and an Irish Legislative Body. That was the proposal of the Bill, and he hoped and believed that it would be rejected by a decisive majority in that House. They had heard 951 from the right hon. Gentleman some observations in support of the principle. He began by a very curious confession—namely, that this Bill had been introduced because the Government had not felt themselves strong enough to defeat the National League; and because the Government of the Queen could not put down the National League, or hesitated to put down the crime that had followed the action of that Body, they, therefore, calmly proposed to surrender the Government of the Queen in Ireland in favour of the National League. The National League must be accepted as having put down the Government of the Queen, and must be installed in Dublin under the title of the Legislative Council, the composition of which they could already foresee. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Bill had been introduced with the object of satisfying the national sentiment of Ireland. There was this to be said upon that point—that nothing that was consistent with the interests, with the honour, and with the sentiment of England, would satisfy the national sentiment of Ireland. But surely to talk of satisfying a national sentiment as an imperative rule for legislation, was to mistake the object and the purposes of legislation altogether. They had to deal with the good government of Ireland and the security and good government of all portions of that people, and all sections of that community. It might be, and he thought it was, a fact that the indulgence and satisfaction of that national sentiment would lead, not to good government, but bad government of the most important parts of that country, and if they found that the national sentiment could not be satisfied by that Bill, and that the enacting of the measure would lead almost of necessity to disorder and disunion instead of good government, surely the plea of national sentiment was the least substantial claim the measure could have upon the House. The right hon. Gentleman asked the House to assent to a great experiment which was put forward in this form for the first time. The right hon. Gentleman had said that Ireland had had a Parliament before Grattan's time; but before 1782 Ireland never had a Parliament worthy of the name, the Assembly being a mere creature of the Executive Government of this country, it having no 952 power to originate Bills, while the measures it did pass had to be sent over here for the English Attorney General to determine whether or not they should be allowed to become law. There had, however, been a Parliament in Ireland after 1782, and had the right hon. Gentleman desired to satisfy the national sentiment of Ireland, he would have attempted to restore to her something like that Parliament. But the Parliament, as defined and limited by the Bill before the House, was altogether unlike the Parliament of Grattan, and he would show the House in a few minutes, by statements of Mr. Grattan himself, that that was so. Even the Parliament of Grattan had proved a dismal and disastrous failure. It was a surrender to Ireland, as Grattan himself boasted. It had been conceded to Ireland because at that time the armed Volunteers of Ireland were so numerous that the Home Government was afraid to face them. But that very Parliament, so conceded, checked very materially the prosperity of Ireland. [Cries of "No!"] Hon. Members below the Gangway might cry "No!" but they could not alter the history of their country as it was recorded by facts and figures. During the existence of that Parliament not only was the material prosperity of Ireland checked, but the relations between the two countries became of so anxious, so delicate, and so dangerous a character that it was with the concurrence of all the statesmen of this country that the union of the two countries was resolved upon. It had been said over and over again in that House that the abolition of that Parliament had been brought about by deplorable and by shameful means. But there were two sides to the question. Sir George Cornewall Lewis had pointed out that what was done in the way of buying seats in the Irish Parliament made that Parliament more, and not less, the popular Assembly. The seats that were bought by money voted in open Parliament for the purpose were the seats of the borough-mongers of Ireland, and the purchase of those seats made the Irish Parliament at the time it accepted the Union more—and not less—representative of the people than before the purchase was effected. In the next place, there was nothing underhand about the transaction; but 953 the bargain was made in Parliament in the open day, and there was this absolute justification—so plain that if the operation had to take place over again it would be the duty of the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues to do it in the way it was done by Lord Cornwall is—that there was only one alternative which would have been more terrible, and that was the reconquest of Ireland by force. Since the abolition of Grattan's Parliament and the union of the two countries Ireland had prospered. During late years she had gone on prospering, and he wished to know what was the object for which this new Parliament was to granted to her? There was no legislation that the National Party could show would be for the benefit of Ireland that would not be eagerly carried out in that House. What was it that it was suggested that a National Parliament would do for Ireland that the Imperial Parliament would refuse to do? Was there one Member of that Body which called itself the representative body of the Nationalist Party, who would get up and state what was desirable for the advantage of the people of Ireland, and which he had no hope of getting from that Parliament? They knew perfectly well they could not mention one such legislative proposal in that House. They knew perfectly well that if any one spokesman from among them were to get up and state to the House some definite proposal to which legislative form could be given, and which he could show would be beneficial to the people of Ireland, there would not only be willingness, but eager competition amongst all English Parties in that House to have an opportunity of testifying to its goodwill towards Ireland. Let the Irish Party state for what purpose they desired a Parliament in Dublin, and what it was they wanted to create that Parliament for, and he ventured to say that if their demand had anything of sound and abiding principle in it, dictated by justice—and whether in the English Parliament or in the Irish Parliament those were the limitations within which useful legislation must travel—let them only mention a measure having these characteristics, and there would be a cordial acceptance of that measure and a desire to give it prompt effect. The Legislature shadowed in the Govern- 954 ment Bill was not the Parliament which had been asked for and demanded by the Irish people or the Irish Leaders, and it differed from Grattan's Parliament in some very important particulars. Mr. Grattan, speaking in the Parliament which his genius had done so much to win for his countrymen, said—What is your claim of right? That you are the only Body competent to make law for this Realm in any case whatsoever.That was Grattan's claim. How did it compare with the miserable stinted sort of Parliament created by the Bill and limited in its functions, and from whose operations and whose judgment the most important matters of legislative activity were entirely excluded; a Parliament which was to be kept in check at every turn by the English Privy Council, if it presumed to travel beyond the limits of the Statute. Here, again, he would quote Grattan's words—Thus have you sealed the treaty with Great Britain. On the one side the restoration of the final Judicature, the extinction of the legislative claim of her Privy Council, of her Perpetual Mutiny Bill, the repeal of the Act of Legislative Supremacy; on your side satisfaction; and thus are the two nations compacted for ever in freedom and peace.There was not one of these items, of which Mr. Grattan spoke, which was given to the Irish people by the Bills. Take the restoration of the final Judicature. There was a special clause which provided that nothing was to interfere with the ultimate jurisdiction of the House of Lords. Then, there was the extinction of the legislative claim of the Privy Council. The Bill expressly provided that the Irish Parliament was to be subject to the check of the Privy Council. It was true, they might get rid of their Judges; but these Judges on being turned away from their offices were to receive full compensation, and were able to become members of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, whose duty it was to decide whether Irish measures were within the scope of the legislative powers of the Irish Parliament. Further, the Perpetual Mutiny Bill would not be abolished; but the Army and Navy would be entirely independent of the Irish Parliament. [Home Rule cheers, and "Hear hear!" from Mr. Gladstone.] He was glad to hear so much cheerful satisfaction at the difference between 955 Grattan's Parliament and that which was now given by the Bill, and he did not wonder that the Prime Minister made vocal his delight at the way in which that satisfaction had been expressed. But if the question were put, whether this concession was likely to be a final measure or not, he did not think that there would be quite so much satisfaction shown. Were the Irish people going to accept anything much smaller than Grattan's Parliament? They had heard about passing an Act of Amnesty. By all means. But not an Act of Oblivion. Let them deal kindly, let them deal generously with those who might have spoken strongly, or those who had acted violently in past times; but if they were going to embark on a great political experiment, it was absolutely essential they should see what they had said, at whose request they were going to make it, and how far they were likely to be satisfied. He wished to call attention first to what had fallen from the Leader of the Irish Party. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) had spoken several times upon the question of the limits of the concessions which he was willing to make to the English people. Speaking at Mayo, on the 3rd of November last year, he had said—Speaking for myself, and I believe for the people of Ireland and all my Colleagues, I have to declare that we will never accept, either expressly or impliedly, anything but the full and complete right to arrange our own affairs, and to make our land a nation, and to secure for Ireland, free from outside control, the right to direct her own course among the peoples of the earth.He would read a few words more. Speaking at Cork, on the 21st of January, 1885, the hon. Member for Cork had said—We cannot ask for less than the restitution of Grattan's Parliament, with its important privileges and far-reaching constitution.He had just shown that every one of the points which had been the principal ones given to the Irish House of Commons in the Charter of that Parliament by the Act of 1782 this Bill denied to the Irish people. Speaking at Clonmel, on the 9th of January, 1885, the hon. Member for Cork had said—We claim for Ireland, and for the masses of the people of Ireland, the restitution of her Parliament—her independent Parliament—of which she was cheated and deprived towards the close of last century.956 He would add the words of one of the youngest Members of the Nationalist Party, the hon. Member for Newry (Mr. Justin Huntly M'Carthy), who had said—We will have no contemptible National Council, no small Local Boards, such as Mr. Chamberlain suggested, to govern us, we will have Grattan's complete Parliament, and we will have more than Grattan's Parliament; we will be as free as a State in the great American Union is free, free to make our own laws for our own people in our own way.[Home Rule cheers.] Those expressions were received with cheers from below the Gangway, and the Representatives of the Nationalist Party just reinforced by their Deputy Leader, and they accepted those as the statements of what they desired. Did they abide by those declarations now? If so, they flung to the winds the statement of the Prime Minister that this was to be a final measure. One of two things must be the case; either hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway were now contented to use mild and pacificatory language to conceal what would be dangerous to this Bill to avow, in order to get it passed, or else they had not meant all those fine things which they had told the people of Ireland as to the restitution of Grattan's Parliament. Now, he thought better of them than to suppose that they were going to run away from all these declarations; he would not hear their enemies say it, and he would not take their word for it. They had made these declarations and had meant them; but of this he was sure, that if they were to try to back out of these declarations there would be a power behind them which would make short work of them; either as Members of that Parliament or of any Irish Parliament. They would not be allowed to betray the hopes which they had raised, and falsify the promises they had made. There had been an interesting little incident at the beginning of Grattan's Parliament which it would not be useless to recall to the recollection of the House. The first thing that that Parliament had done was to vote £50,000 to Henry Grattan, and no doubt that proceeding remained on record as a great encouragement to pure-minded patriots. But, within three months of that Vote, Mr. Flood was denouncing Mr. Grattan in the Irish House of Commons as a mendicant patriot, who had sold his country for 957 prompt payment. Hon. Members below the Gangway would be told now that they had betrayed the interests of the Irish people, and had accepted at the hands of the Prime Minister a measure which would not satisfy either their needs or their desires. The Irish people, in his judgment, would be worthy of contempt if they quietly accepted this Bill, and then asked for no more. To call this a Legislative Body, to have the opportunity of passing measures which could only come into force by the approval of the Crown—which approval would be given under the advice of the English Prime Minister—to have no authority over the great national forces of the Army and Navy; to have no part in foreign affairs, or in Treaties of Commerce; to find itself a simply limited Assembly in Dublin, with only the precious privilege of appointing a few ornanamental personages, such as Secretaries and Under Secretaries, with no real power, who would furnish forth the appearance of a Legislative Assembly—the Irish people were far too high-spirited to sit content under such a state of things as that. They would make the claim to this country either to give them real independence or to let them come back to that House with all their privileges. That claim would be irresistible. It had been said that it was undesirable to put down the National League, because it was better to have to do with a public body acting in the light of day than to have to do with secret societies. He, for one, did not think so. A secret society was not nearly so formidable as one which in its career of intimidation added to the authority which it naturally gained from the unstinted publicity of its proceedings the fact that the Legislature did not interfere with what it did. He believed that the Police Authorities would know how to deal with a secret society; but it was essential that the police should have authority to deal with such a question. If this Parliament were established it was clear that it would be only a starting-place for further agitation and further claim. It had been said that matters had been altered by the course pursued by the Conservative Government last year in allowing the Crimes Act to lapse. He thought that a much larger explanation had been given of the determination of the Conservative Government than that 958 determination had really required or justified. The real fact was that at the time it had been an absolute impossibility for either a Liberal Government or a Conservative Government to renew that Act. That impossibility had been created by two Members of that House. One was the Prime Minister and the other the present Chief Secretary for Ireland. The Prime Minister had from time to time postponed the announcement of what parts of that Act he was proposing to re-enact. He had told them nothing except a few words about some of the most equitable clauses of the Act being renewed, and had refused to specify what he intended to renew. Then had come the evening when the right hon. Gentleman had told them that the Government were willing to renew some of the clauses of that Act, and an hour after that announcement the right hon. Gentleman now Chief Secretary for Ireland had risen below the Gangway and read out an Amendment which he had prepared in that interval to the effect that the then condition of Ireland did not call for any such measures. The resolute resistance to the proposal threatened by the present Chief Secretary for Ireland made it absolutely impossible for either a Liberal or a Conservative Government to re-enact the Crimes Act at that time. How far the consequences had been serious only those who had been intimately acquainted with the affairs of the Irish Government were able to judge. But those transactions pledged neither Party at the present time, and bound no Party to any policy in times such as they were now in. It was entirely open to the Conservative Party to deal with the state of things now existing in Ireland undeterred by any memories of what happened six months ago. It was stated over and over again by the right hon. Gentleman who spoke just before him that the proposal—the mere proposal—of this Bill had had very serious consequences. With the most candid accuracy he described it as having been the most startling event which had happened in the political memory of anybody in this House. This was a strong description; but it was perfectly true that the Prime Minister had produced this Bill, which they knew from revelations that had been made was his own Bill.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE) (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
You know nothing of the kind.
§ MR. EDWARD CLARKE
said, although, under restrictions severely enforced, a former Minister had had an opportunity of telling the House what had occurred. He had stated that until March 13 the Cabinet had no idea what sort of proposal was going to be laid before them, and this ex-Minister declared that he understood, when he joined the Cabinet, that the inquiry which was to take place into Irish affairs was to be conducted by the Cabinet; and it was a disappointment to him to find that the inquiry was not to be conducted by the Cabinet, but by the right hon. Gentleman himself only. He further said that, so far as he knew, the assistance of the Cabinet was not asked until the matter was laid before them on March 13. That struck the right hon. Gentleman with surprise, and he immediately tendered his resignation. He (Mr. E. Clarke) quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War that the mere proposal of this Bill had been a great event; but the rejection of the Bill would be a most useful event, and one which would not easily be forgotten. Where the Prime Minister had failed, no Leader of the Liberal Party in the future was likely to be in a hurry to make a similar proposal. They knew perfectly well that from the Tory Party no such proposal would come. [An hon. MEMBER: We do not know it.] He did not believe there was one man now sitting on the Front Opposition Bench who would ever commit himself to such a proposal; and if he did so, he would shatter the Party in exactly the same way as the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had cloven and shattered the Liberal Party. They had the great satisfaction of knowing that, this Bill once defeated on a second reading, it was not in the least likely that for many years to come another leader of public opinion in this country would embark on the dangerous enterprize of trying to conciliate—he would almost add to dupe—the Representatives of the Irish Nationalist Party in this House. But if Parliament asserted itself and distinctly refused to embarkon such a course as this, if it would devote itself to other tasks which, 960 though they might be slow and though they might be painful, and though they might involve, as the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) said, the rise and fall of several Ministers and the weakening of Party ties—which he believed had done much in their operation in Parliamentary life to preserve and purify public life, and provide men capable of serving Her Majesty in various Departments of the State—then Parliament would have the satisfaction of knowing that it was on the right course, and that it was doing the thing which was right. They had no right to shatter the Empire. They had no right to call upon the people of Ulster to submit to an authority which was not a part of our Constitution as they knew it and prized it; but it was their right and bounden duty, however painful that duty might be, by all the means that occurred to them, by all means that might be devised by the experience and wisdom of statesmen, to go forward with patient faith in the resolute determination that Parliament should sacrifice its ease and convenience in order to fulfil its duties of good government for the whole of the United Kingdom. If this course was consistently pursued, they could not fail of ultimate success.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Wexford, N.)
said, he thought the House would not have failed to note the difference between the arguments advanced by the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. E. Clarke) and those which were urged by the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir Henry James). The right hon. and learned Member for Bury argued that the Bill was so far-reaching that it would be dangerous to pass it, and his argument was based on profound distrust of the Irish people. The hon. and learned Member for Plymouth, on the contrary, contended that the Bill provided so flimsy and worthless a scheme that if the Irish people had any self-respect they would not accept it. Perhaps the Irish people might be allowed to judge for themselves, and to speak for themseves, in this matter. He trusted the House would accept with readiness the statement of the Representatives of the Irish people that, on the whole, they were satisfied with this Bill, and that, so far as their judgment went, it provided a final settlement of the question. No one could 961 have failed to note the bent given to the discussion now and on the first reading by the enemies of this Bill. They had exhaustively criticized its details, but had said nothing about its vital principle. He should prefer to take a course more suitable to the present stage and to argue on the general principle of the measure. What was its essential principle? No dissent was expressed when the right hon. Gentleman who had spoken from the Government Bench (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) described that principle as the establishment of a Parliament in Ireland with certain well-defined powers for the legislative and administrative control of Irish affairs. Arguing the subject from the standpoint of an Irishman and a Nationalist, the first thing he asked the House to consider was whether that principle was one which Ireland had a right to have conceded to her. He was aware this argument of right might not appeal with much force to some classes of English Members; but it would appeal with force to the English masses, who were a justice-loving people, and also, he hoped, to their Representatives in this House. Grattan, who, in addition to being an ardent Irish Nationalist, was also a devoted adherent of the Imperial greatness of England, had argued thus upon this topic of right—Before Ireland goes into her title, let us hear the title of England, for it is not a question whether Ireland has a right to be free, but whether Great Britain has a right to enslave her. When the latter country asks what right have the Irish to make laws for themselves, Ireland will not answer, but demands what right has England to make laws for Ireland. From nature she has none. Mature has not given one nation a right over another. She has not that right from covenant. Let her show the covenant; in what history is it recorded?Those who now argued againt this Bill pointed to the Act of Union as a covenant. The answer of the Irish Representatives to that argument was to point to the character of the Act of Union, and, above all, to the means by which it was passed. If the Act of Union was to be held to be a bar to Ireland's right to self-government, then those who so held must regard that Act as a Treaty freely accepted by both nations. Those were the grounds on which Mr. Pitt recommended the Act of Union in his great speech on January 31st, 1799. He said it would be a 962Union by free consent on just and equal terms—the free and voluntary association of two great countries, which join for their common benefit in one Empire, where each will retain its proportional weight and importance under the security of equal laws and reciprocal affection.And he quoted the lines—Non ego nee Teucris Italos parere jubebo,Nee nova regna peto; paribus se legibus ambæ;Invictæ gentes æterna in fœdera mittant.Was that a correct description of what the Act of Union had proved to be? "Equal laws!" Why, the whole history of Ireland since the Act of Union had been one of exceptional legislation. "Voluntary association of two great countries!" Every historian acknowledged there had not been free consent by the Irish people. The Union was carried in opposition to the will of almost the whole nation; as the Premier had said, the entire of the unbribed intellect of Ireland was against it. Mr. Grey (afterwards Lord Grey) spoke on the matter of Ireland's consent in this House, and he said—There are in the Irish Parliament 300 Members; 120 of these strenuously opposed the Union; 162 Members voted in favour of the Union, and of these 116 were placemen.William Cunningham Plunkett also spoke on this point, and his testimony was exactly the same; and while he did not desire to trouble the House by reading a number of quotations to enforce a point which he thought noboby could deny—not even the hon. and learned Gentleman who had last spoken—he would read, for the benefit of some of his new friends of the Loyal and Patriotic Union, a few words by Mr. Lecky. In Vol. 2 of his History, Mr. Lecky wrote—The years between 1779 and 1798 were probably the most prosperous in Irish history, and the generation which followed the Union was one of the most miserable. The sacrifice of nationality was extorted by the most enormous corruption in the history of representative institutions. It was demanded by no considerable portion of the Irish people; it was accompanied by no signal political or material benefit that could mitigate or counteract its unpopularity; and it was effected without a dissolution in opposition to the immense majority of the Representatives of the counties and considerable towns, and to the innumerable addresses from every part of the country. Whatever may be thought of the abstract merits of the Act of Union as it was carried, it was a crime of the deepest turpitude, which, by imposing with every circumstance of infamy a new form of government on a reluctant and protesting 963 nation, has vitiated the whole course of Irish opinion.On this question of right the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) appeared to be divided from the Irish Representatives by a wide gulf. Last autumn he made a speech which attracted much attention and gave no little offence in Ireland. He controverted Ireland's right to self-government by the extraordinary statement that 5,000,000 Irishmen in Ireland had no more right to govern themselves than 5,000,000 Englishmen in London. That was regarded in Ireland as a very feeble and a very insulting misrepresentation of her case. If he could have shown that London was a country distinct from England, with distinct historic traditions and distinct national characteristics; that London had possessed, as Ireland had, distinct Parliamentary institutions of her own for 600 years; that those Parliamentary institutions had been robbed from London by means such as he (Mr. J. Redmond) had described against the will of the people, and that an overwhelming majority of the people to-day demanded their restoration, then indeed he would have some title to institute a comparison between the cases of London and Ireland. But no such analogy existed. The fault at the bottom of the right hon. Gentleman's argument was that he pre-supposed a perfect identity between Ireland and England. Was there any such identity? There was not geographical identity—the countries were divided by 60 miles of water. There was not historical identity—no two nations in Europe had histories more dissimilar. There was not identity of character—it was actually part of the argument of their opponents that there were deep and ineradicable differences of character between the two peoples. There was not identity of condition—England was rich, Ireland was poor. England was a manufacturing country, Ireland was an agricultural one. What identity was there? The identity imparted by the Act of Union! The only argument in support of this idea of identity must depend upon that Act, and some Gentlemen went so far as to say that the Act of Union was a fundamental and unalterable law. Many hon. Members would remember Sydney Smith's remark, that "the man who talks about 964 an unalterable law proves himself to be an unalterable fool." Lord Beaconsfield, at any rate, did not come within that sweeping statement, for in a speech made by him in the House in 1868, on the Irish Church Disestablishment Bill, he said—I take no exaggerated view of even the Articles of Union. I have not for a moment pretended that the Articles of Union between the two nations are irreversible. I have not for a moment pretended that the Articles of Union and the great Acts of Parliament which were passed to carry them into effect cannot by the consent of the Soverign and of the Estates of the Realm be changed or modified."—(3 Hansard,  898.)Shortly after this speech the Act of Union was modified. All the Prime Minister now proposed, and all the Irish Representatives asked, was that the process of readjustment, which was commenced in 1869, should be carried to its logical conclusion, so that the Government of Ireland should be brought into sympathy with the will of the governed, and into harmony with the ideas and conditions of this period of the 19th century. So much on the argument of right. He came now to a lower, but, perhaps, a more potent argument—namely, that of expediency. Apart altogether from Ireland's inherent right, let him ask, was it not manifestly expedient that this concession should be made? What was the history of England's effort to rule Ireland from Westminster? No Englishman, who loved the fair fame of his country, could contemplate without shame the miserable record of 85 years of coercion, disaffection, and ever-increasing poverty. How stood the record? Eighty-five years of English legislation for Ireland had resulted in Acts that spoke volumes. In evidence of promised contentment, order, and peace, there had been 12 Acts for the suspension of Habeas Corpus; 19 Peace Preservation Acts, whether so-called or otherwise; 19 Acts for limiting and controlling the possession of arms and gunpowder; 17 for the prevention of resistance to the law by means of outrages against persons and property; 26 against unlawful and dangerous societies, combinations, and assemblies, and processions; 11 for the suppression of rebellions, insurrections, and disturbances; and two for curtailing the freedom of the Press—or a Coercion Act of some sort or other for every year since 965 that in which the Act of Union was passed. In evidence of the anticipated prosperity, there had been 11 Acts for the direct relief, otherwise than by the ordinary Poor Law, of exceptionally extreme poverty, and consequent distress; 10 for the indirect relief of poverty by means of advancing money for public works; four for giving the extremely poor employment at the public expense; four for contending with famine fever; four for saving from perishing by starvation the thousands of children deserted through the abject poverty of their parents; three for the relief and assistance of Railway Companies otherwise unable to proceed with their works; four for the artificial assistance of banks, and for sustaining commercial credit; and four for the rescue of encumbered estates from hopeless insolvency—making in all 43 Acts in acknowledgment of the ruin and despair that had haunted all sorts and conditions of men. He had listened with surprise to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last (Mr. E. Clarke). He spoke of the Parliament of Grattan having checked the commercial development of Ireland. The hon. and learned Member was a high authority, no doubt, but he believed even he would himself admit that Lord Clare was quite as high an authority, and he was in direct conflict with him on this point. He would not pursue that further, but would quote a few figures to show how the development of Irish industries had been affected since the Union. He found that in Dublin, in the year 1800, there were 90 master woollen manufacturers, employing 4,918 hands; and in the year 1840 the industry was practically dead. There were in 1800, 30 master wool-combers in Dublin, employing 230 hands; while in 1834 the industry was practically dead. There were 13 carpet manufacturers in Dublin, in 1800, employing 230 hands; and in 1841 there were none. In the town of Kilkenny there were to be found in 1800 56 blanket manufacturers, employing 3,000 hands; and in the year 1822 the industry was dead. Then, again, he found that in Dublin, in the year 1800, there were 2,500 silk-loom weavers at work; and in 1840 the industry was gone. In the year 1799 there were 2,500 calico looms at work in Balbriggan; in 1841 there were but 228. In Wicklow, in 966 1800, there were 1,000 hand-looms at work; in 1841 there were none. In the City of Cork there were at work in the year 1800 the following industries, which had since declined:—1,000 braid weavers, of whom only 49 remained in 1834; 2,000 worsted weavers, of whom only 90 remained in 1834; 3,000 hosiers, of whom only 28 remained in 1834. There were also 700 wool-combers, 2,000 cotton weavers, and 600 linen check weavers, each of which industries was dead in 1834. They had, therefore, the fact that all these industries which had been in existence at the time of the Union had either totally disappeared or had been partially destroyed before the year 1841. Now, he would ask the House did they seriously believe that it had been to the advantage of England or of the Empire that all these industries in Ireland had died out, and that the entire population had been compelled to fall back upon agriculture as its only means of living? The answer was to be found in the agrarian troubles that had occupied so much of the time of Parliament, and baffled all the efforts of their ablest statesmen to cope with or remedy. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham had another argument, and it was this—that the Bill would lead to separation. He said that the Bill would change Ireland into a "foreign and hostile country," and the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir Henry James) followed with the same argument. It would be well for them, however, to consider whether they could make this country more "foreign" and "hostile" than it admittedly was at present. But in almost the same breath in which he spoke of this Bill making Ireland a "foreign" country, he said it would put her in the position of Canada. Was Canada, then, a "foreign" country? The idea was almost preposterous. But why should not Ireland be put in the position of Canada? "Because," replied the right hon. Gentleman, "Canada is friendly to the Empire, and Ireland is not." But was Canada always friendly? The right hon. Member for West Birmingham had quoted from certain passages in the speeches of Mr. Butt on the subject. He (Mr. J. Redmond) would, however, quote another passage from a speech of Mr. Butt, in which, speaking of Canada, he said—In 1839 Canada was with difficulty held by force of arms for the British Crown. Canada 967 was in open rebellion. Canada was at a distance from England—close to a great Republic, which was certainly not unwilling to incorporate the Canadian Provinces with their States. The experiment was tried of giving Canada Home Rule. It has not disintegrated the Empire.But it was argued the cases were different because in Ireland there were two nations. Well, he might say, by way of parenthesis, that they (the Nationalists) detested the idea of there being two nations in Ireland. There had been too much bitterness between Irishmen, and they had always looked forward with hope and some confidence to the day when these bitter feelings would cease, and men of all creeds in Ireland would be able to join in a common effort for the elevation of their common country. But were there no two nations in Canada? On the contrary. Canada had two Provinces differing in race, in religion, in language, and in law. Lower Canada contained a great French population hostile to England, alienated from her by the memories of recent conquest, and Catholic in their religion. Upper Canada was chiefly peopled by English Protestant settlers—by Puritans from Scotland, and Irish Orangemen from the Bann. Home Rule was granted to Canada. The two Provinces were united under one Parliament. With all these elements of distraction, and disaffection, and danger, was the Empire disintegrated? Had Canada flung herself into the arms of the United States? Was Canada torn by domestic dissensions? Canada, instead of being, as it was in 1839, the most disaffected and rebellious Dependency of Britain, was now the most attached to English connection, the most loyal in its allegiance to the British Crown. Provinces that seemed arrayed against each other in hopeless antagonism and discord, were now united together. With the differences, and the passions, and the Party strifes that agitated all Constitutional Governments—the French Catholics of Lower Canada, and the English Puritans, and the Irish Orangemen of Upper Canada, met in one Parliament to serve the interests of that common country, attachment to which was no longer at variance with a true allegiance to the British Crown. The right hon. Gentleman said Canada was only held by a "voluntary tie." But did the right hon. Gentle- 968 man, who was regarded as a Leader of Democratic thought in this country, mean to say he preferred an Union based upon force, as the present Union with Ireland, to an Union which rested upon the will of the people? Edmund Burke said—"A voluntary tie is a more secure link of connection than subordination borne with grudging and discontent." So said they, and so also they believed would say the Democracy of England, even though some of its so-called Leaders refused to trust the people of Ireland. But the argument of the right hon. Gentleman might be met in another way. He utterly denied that this Bill would put Ireland in the position of Canada. No Colony paid any portion of the National Debt. Ireland, under this Bill, would pay a portion of the National Debt. No Colony paid any portion of Imperial taxation, while Ireland would do so. No Colony paid Custom duties imposed by the Imperial Parliament, Ireland would do so. The Colonies fixed their own electoral law, but the electoral law for Ireland was to be fixed by the Imperial Parliament. Then the Colonies could have an Army and Navy of their own, but Ireland would not have either an Army or Navy of her own. But they were told, because Irish Members were to be withdrawn from Westminster, Ireland would become a Colony. On this much-vexed question he had a word or two to say. As what was called an "Extreme Nationalist," he would say he did not regard as entirely palatable the idea that for ever and a day Ireland's voice should be excluded from the Councils of an Empire which the genius and valour of her sons had done so much to build up, and of which she was to remain a part. He conceived, however, that, even in the Bill as it stood, permanent exclusion of Irish Members was not contemplated; and the Premier, by one of the modifications which he had announced, had provided that by Address the Irish Parliament could obtain the right of being heard at Westminster whenever it desired. Beyond this, at present, they did not desire to go. They looked at this matter as practical men. If they got their Irish Assembly, Heaven knew they would have a task heavy and weighty enough in the effort to bind together the disunited fragments of the nation, and to repair the shattered fortunes of their 969 unfortunate country—a task which would tax all the resources, all the talent, and all the industry of Irishmen. He did believe that if that work was to be satisfactorily performed, they could not stand the additional drain rendered necessary by representation in that House. Further than this, he did not see how such representation was, under present conditions, practicable. The federal idea he understood and sympathized with. He looked forward to the day when it would be applied to England, Scotland, and Wales, as well as Ireland. Then the character of the so-called Imperial Parliament would be changed. It would be then only an Imperial Parliament, and all the Kingdoms, having their own National Parliaments, might be represented in it. But if Ireland alone had a Parliament of her own, he did not see how she could be permanently represented in what was not only the Imperial Parliament, but the Legislature of England and of Scotland. If such representation were admitted, they should either allow Irishmen who had sole control of Irish affairs to interfere in and probably decide purely English and Scotch affairs—an obvious injustice—or else they must do what the Premier declared it surpassed the wit of man to accomplish—namely, make a definite and permanent distinction between Imperial and local affairs. The hon. and learned Member who last spoke had said he believed that the concession of autonomy to Ireland would lead to separation. If he professed to believe that Ireland would be disaffected under the Bill, he would ask how Ireland was held now?
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said, he thanked the noble Lord for the word. It was now held by force; but did the present Bill propose to take away that force, which, he presumed, meant the English Army and Navy and the Police? No; it still left these forces under Imperial control. But in addition to physical force, they would have working on the side of connection and against separation the moral force springing from justice conceded, which the English Government of Ireland had never yet had upon its side. He now came to what, after all, seemed to be the chief objection to Home Rule in the minds of most 970 Englishmen, and which might be summed up in the word "Ulster." Ulster, they said, was a Protestant and anti-Nationalist Province, and could not be put under the dominion of a Nationalist Parliament in Dublin. But let him ask, was Ulster either Protestant or anti-Nationalist? First, was Ulster Protestant? Last year a Return was issued by Parliament giving the religious denominations of the population of Ulster. From that it appeared that 48 per cent of the whole population was Catholic, and remaining 52 per cent was made up of all other creeds, and, leaving Belfast out, the Catholics were to-day 55 per cent of the whole population. But their case was stronger even than that. It had recently been pointed out that Ulster might well be divided into two distinct portions—one portion consisting of Antrim and portions of Down and Armagh, containing a majority of Protestants, they being three-fourths of the population; the other portion, consisting of Donegal, Tyrone, Derry, Fermanagh, Cavan, Monaghan, and portions of Down and Armagh, containing a majority of Catholics, they being two-thirds of the population. The exact figures were—in the first portion, Catholics 188,289, Protestants 542,862; in the second portion, Catholics 645,279, and Protestants 316,647. In the face of these facts, could Ulster truthfully be termed a Protestant Province? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham spoke of the necessity of a separate Parliament for Ulster. His object was to protect the Protestants. But surely if any Protestants wanted protection, they were not those in Ulster, but those in the South and West who were in such a miserable minority. But would a Parliament in Ulster fulfil his object even in that Province? Why, Sir, unless the entire basis of representation be changed, such a Parliament must inevitably contain a majority of Catholics. Now, let him ask, was Ulster anti-National? The answer was supplied by the returns at the last elections. Out of the nine counties of Ulster, only one—namely, Antrim—went solid against Home Rule, and if his hon. Friend the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had secured 38 more votes, not even one solitary county in Ulster or in Ireland would have declared against Home Rule. Four entire 971 counties—Donegal, Fermanagh, Cavan, and Monaghan—went solid for Home Rule. The remaining four counties—namely, Derry, Tyrone, Armagh, and Down—were so divided that the net result was to give the Nationalists a clear majority of the Ulster seats, while Belfast and Derry were only lost by 37 and 27 votes. In the face of these facts, it was the utmost folly to speak of Ulster as anti-National. There was one some what frivolous matter to which he would wish to refer—the warlike intentions of a certain Party in Ireland. He held in his hand an interesting statement from a well-known gentleman in Ireland. Writing on this subject, he said—If the men of Ulster fight at all it will not be with the rest of Ireland, but with each other. The men of Antrim, Down, and Armagh, before conquering Leinster, Connaught, and Munster, will have to take in hand the subjugation of the six other Ulster counties. Ditches will have to be lined, not merely North of the Boyne, but West of the Bann—not merely from Belfast to Dublin, but from Belfast to Donegal, and from Armagh to Derry. In short, the idea of the Protestant portion of Ulster conquering the Catholic portion is as absurd as the contention that Lancashire could conquer the Northern counties of England. Although there are Orangemen and Protestants in every one of the nine Ulster counties, it is only in Antrim, Down, and Armagh that they could assemble in sufficient strength to overawe the local Catholics. However, although it is the wildest nonsense to imagine anything of the kind, let it be understood that the Orangemen in the North-East of Ulster have taken up arms under the command of Major Saunderson and Mr. Johnson, of Ballykilbeg, with a view to the reduction and occupation of the remainder of the Province as the result of the Repeal of the Union. To begin with, on entering Monaghan, the Orange army, or rather mob, would find itself in a county inhabited by 27,000 Protestants and 76,000 Catholics. On pushing forward into Cavan, the Orangemen would be amongst 25,000 Protestants and 105,000 Catholics. In Fermanagh, their task of subjugation would be comparatively light, as the Catholics in that county are only 56 per cent; but in Donegal, the Orange army or mob, or rather what remained of it, would be simply swallowed up, for in that wildly remote and extensive and inhospitable region, possessing admirable facilities for a defensive warfare, the Protestants are only 48,000 in number, the Catholics being 158,000.He (Mr. J. Redmond) ought to apologize for even alluding shortly to this matter; but he had done so for the purpose of enlivening the somewhat tedious character of his remarks. He deeply regretted having to speak of Protestants and Catholics in connection with the matter 972 at all. Theirs was not a sectarian but a national movement. If Home Rule were granted, the Protestant minority would have equal rights and liberties with their Catholic fellow-countrymen. The truth was the Catholics of Ireland entertained feelings of deep respect and affection for their Protestant fellow-countrymen. Protestants had led the national movements of Ireland for generations. A Protestant Parliament in 1793 struck the first blow at the Penal Code and commenced the work of Catholic Emancipation; Protestant patriots had shed their blood on the scaffold and in the field in defence of the liberties of their Catholic countrymen; and there was not a single one of the Catholic Leaders of the people to-day who would not reject with scorn and derision any settlement of the National Question which did not secure for the Protestants of Ireland full civil and religious liberty. Some hon. Members in this House—Radicals in principle—objected to the first Order which was proposed in this Bill as being contrary to Democratic ideas. Did they think that we were less Democratic than they were, and did they wonder why we accepted such provisions? He would tell them. It was because, although they knew the fears of their Protestant fellow-countrymen were unworthy and unfounded fears, at the same time they recognized those fears, and they desired by every means in their power to give guarantees to every section and every creed amongst their countrymen, that their sole object in this movement was to build up a united and a prosperous Irish nation. On the details he would not speak further than he had done, and he had only a few more words to say in conclusion. A passing allusion was made by the Prime Minister in his great speech in introducing this great measure to the historic mission of Lord Fitzwilliam to Ireland in 1795. It seemed to him (Mr. J. Redmond) that there were many circumstances connected with the present situation similar to the circumstances which attended the mission of Lord Fitzwilliam. At that time the Irish Parliament had commenced the work of Catholic Emancipation, and at last Edmund Burke and some others had induced the English Cabinet to adopt a policy of conciliation and emancipation, and Lord Fitzwilliam was the bearer of a message of peace to 973 Ireland, as the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was the bearer of a message of peace to Ireland the other day. The hopes of the Irish people were raised high, and it would be difficult indeed for any man to say how entirely different the whole course of Irish history might have been if Lord Fitzwilliam had been allowed to carry his policy into effect; but evil counsels prevailed in England; the policy of conciliation—that policy which had since been acknowledged as a policy of justice—was wrecked. The policy of justice was reversed. Lord Fitzwilliam was withdrawn, and a return was made to the old, old policy of repression. Then followed the rebellion of 1798, and the many disasters which had marked the connection of the two countries. He did not wish to be a prophet of evil. He did not believe that similar results would follow from the wrecking of this Bill; but remember the words of Henry Grattan when he said—Lord Fitzwilliam is offering to the Umpire the affection of millions of hearts.He asked them, was the offering of the affection of millions of hearts which the Prime Minister was to-day making to the Empire to be rejected as was the offering of Lord Fitzwilliam? One thing English politicians must make up their minds about, and that was that this question must be settled, and every moment of delay increased the difficulties and dangers of that position. Every speech conceived in a bitter spirit, by either Irishmen or Englishmen, must tend to increase the evils and dangers of the moment. The spirit in which the Prime Minister had addressed himself to the question, the spirit of large-heartedness and justice which he exhibited, had called forth a responsive feeling in the breasts of the Irish people right round the world. If that be the spirit in which Englishmen addressed themselves to the consideration of this question, then he had some hope for the near future of Ireland. But if passion and prejudice, if forgetfulness of the history of Ireland, and impatience at her faults were allowed once again to sway the public mind and to influence Parliament, he confessed he could not look forward to the near future without the gravest apprehension. Should calamity follow an unwise and hasty rejection of this Bill, they, at any rate, would not be 974 responsible, for they would allow no act or word of theirs to intensify the dangers and difficulties of the situation. They made their appeal to-day to the newly-enfranchised Democracy of England. Eternal would be its honour through all the ages, and priceless would be its recompense, if its first great work, after achieving its own enfranchisement, should be to fill up the gulf of hatred and distrust which for so long a time had divided the two nations, by a just and a wise concession to that national sentiment in Ireland, which, however much some Englishmen might affect to deride it, had yet dominated Irish character for seven centuries, and must be recognized and respected, if Ireland was ever to become—as he fervently prayed she might become—a peaceful, free, and loyal portion of their Empire.
MR. BOYD-KINNEAR (Fife, E.)
said, that if he desired, with very great diffidence, to say a few words upon this momentous question, it was for two reasons—first, because he belonged to a nationality which still claimed to be a nation; and, secondly, because he had been for a great many years endeavouring to urge the claims of Ireland to that which they had now come to recognize as simple justice—namely, a greater extent of self-government than that which she had hitherto been allowed to exercise. It was a matter for the most sincere rejoicing that the country had now apparently come to recognize and sympathize with that desire to do fuller justice to Ireland; and he thought that this was the real meaning and explanation of the meetings which had taken place during the Recess. Those meetings had almost with unanimity declared their approval of the principle involved in the Bills now before the House; but they had, at the same time, declared with equal unanimity that their approval was limited to the principle of looking upon the Bills as a basis for some legislation, while, at the same time, they had carefully refrained from expressing any approval of the precise legislation which was laid before the House. This circumstance pointed out a most material difference between the approval of the country on this matter and the approval that it had been in the habit of giving to other legislative proposals. When a question had been thoroughly considered by the country, and when a great 975 Minister had brought forward his scheme for carrying into effect the wishes of the country, it was usual to see that that scheme embraced not merely in its general principle but in all its details, down sometimes to the most minute particulars; and the demand of the country was that it should be carried into effect in the shape in which it was laid before the House of Commons. We were accustomed to the words, "The Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill;" but with regard to this measure such a sentiment had not been heard in any portion of the country. On the contrary, what the country wanted was the principle of the Bill—not the whole Bill—and something not in the Bill besides. What the country really desired was that there should be given to Ireland exactly the same amount of equality in our legislation as was enjoyed by England and Scotland. That was the desire, and the principle of the new democracy, the sentiment, was one of brotherhood, that all should be equal from whatever part of the Kingdom they came. But, at the same time, the country had a very distinct perception of the difficulty in carrying this into effect. If, then, some had dissented from the way in which this measure was framed, it was scarcely just to declare that the sentiments and instincts of the people were on one side and the criticism of class on the other. Those opposed to this Bill had no interest in opposing it; they had the same feelings and motives as those who supported it. But what they did feel from their education and their habits of investigation was that the Bill was inadequate to carry out the desires which, to a certain extent, it embodied. That was the reason why they found, on the one hand, the country almost unanimously expressing a desire for something which was vaguely expressed as Home Rule, but expressing, at the same time, a distinct disapprobation of the particular details by which this Bill proposed to carry it out. Thus the mass of the people left to the educated classes the duty of discussing the details of the Bill, of pointing out its errors and mistakes, and of finding some way of carrying its principles into effect without subjecting them to the effect and the consequences of those mistakes. Now, in undertaking so serious a task as that of creating a new Constitution not merely for Ireland, but for 976 England and Scotland at the same time, we naturally looked round for examples and precedents from which to gain some information and guidance. We were referred by the Prime Minister to certain unions of States and federal arrangements in existence in Europe and America. But in every system of federation there was one absolutely essential condition, and that was that there should be equality between the States federated. Where only two States were federated, such as Austria and Hungary, though differing in the proportion of three to two in population and wealth, whenever they came to discuss Imperial questions, they did so on the footing of absolute equality. The Delegations which were to decide on Imperial affairs were composed of an exactly equal number of Representatives of the two States; and so strongly was that principle of equality maintained that if from any cause one Member was absent the consultation was not held that day. In cases where a large number of States were federated, such as Switzerland, the United States, and Canada, the basis of union was that the Provinces, while having autonomy within their own borders upon their local affairs, should assemble in Congress to settle affairs which concerned the whole on a footing of perfect equality. But all these conditions which experience had prescribed and reason had approved were violated in the Constitution now proposed to be conferred on Ireland. The people of Ireland were to be excluded—unless the wit of man could devise some method which we were told the wit of man could not devise—from any participation in Imperial affairs. They were to be excluded from any concern with the Foreign and Colonial affairs of the Empire, of which they still formed a part; from any share in the control of the Army or Navy, to the maintenance of which they were still to contribute; from the right of participating in the discussion of Treaties, or of any question of general taxation, unless there was a necessity of changing the proportion of taxation between the two countries. While thus shut out from the common interests of the nation, they were even in Dublin to be forbidden to deal with the chief interests of their own country. They were not to be allowed to consider the affairs of the Church of their own country; they were going to 977 have a Land Act passed for them by that House, which he presumed they were not entitled to alter; they were to be forbidden to make laws for their own trade, or navigation, or currency; and they were to be subject to a tribute, which was to be collected without their having any power to object. More than that, let them look at their position when it was said they were to have control of the Executive, and a Ministry of their own. Under what conditions would they exercise authority over the Executive? By control over taxation and refusing supplies? They would have no such power, for the chief Executive officers would be paid out of the tribute, which they could not refuse. Then the Irish Parliament was going to be divided into Orders, and to consist of a rich class and a poor class, and it was not to have the power to change the functions and relations of those two Orders. Thus all the rights of self-government which belonged to the humblest of our Colonies were to be denied to Ireland. There was yet another point. A veto was to be reserved to the Sovereign authority with regard to the Acts of the Irish Parliament. In this country the Queen had a veto, but for 150 years it had not been exercised. They might as well say that the Divine right of the Sovereign would be resuscitated. The one was as great an anachronism as the other; but they were told by the Chief Secretary at Glasgow that they were not to regard the veto in the case of Ireland as a paper veto. If it was to be an active veto who would advise the Sovereign, who though Sovereign of Ireland was Sovereign of Great Britain also, to exercise it? Would it not be the British Ministry which was under the control of the Imperial Parliament, and which would still appoint the Viceroy? Then was not that the subjection of Ireland still to the authority of the inhabitants of Great Britain? What a mockery of self-government was this! Their Irish Friends said they were willing to accept that Constitution. But the Liberals of this country could not make themselves a party to a Constitution which violated in all essential particulars the principles of liberty for which they had contended for so many centuries. He ventured also to say that the Representatives of Ireland in this Parliament had no right to accept the Constitution offered 978 them by the Bill. He knew the Irish Members claimed to represent five-sixths of the people of Ireland, and as regards their own numbers that was perhaps true; but when they looked at the number of the electors it was scarcely true. He had made a calculation on the subject, and as nearly as he could make out, and allowing for all uncontested elections, the Nationalist Members had been elected by, in round numbers, 400,000 out of a total of 700,000 electors. So great a change ought not to be made on the demand of what was, after all, not much more than a bare majority of the nation. If that were the case, must they not also add to the difficulties he had enumerated that further and most serious difficulty which was comprised in the word—which he used not geographically, but merely as a word of general description—Ulster? There was a portion of the Irish population which lived in that Province which was capable of definition, and which was decidedly opposed to being placed under the proposed Constitution. Therefore, on the very same principle on which the Nationalist Party were entitled to say they accepted this Constitution for the people they represented, those who represented that portion of Ulster were entitled to say they did not want it, and did not desire to come under it. If the Nationalists were perfectly prepared to let them go, that would simplify the matter very much, and would commend itself to justice; but if not, neither were the people of England and Scotland justified in placing them under this Constitution, if they desired to remain united with us. This was a serious difficulty which would have to be encountered and solved. Having presented these difficulties on behalf of the plan proposed, he knew he should be met with the question, "What is your plan?" A private Member who had no Ministerial responsibility was not precluded from suggesting an alternative plan; and his alternative was that of simple justice to Ireland on the same footing as justice was claimed for Scotland and for England and Wales. If he was asked, how was that justice to be obtained, sitting in a House such as this, where the Irish were in a minority, he would invite them to look at the way in which justice was obtained, not, he admitted, to a perfect degree, but still in a sufficiently 979 practical way, by Scotland and England and Wales. Scotland was as much a nation, and its national feeling was as strong as it was in Ireland. It was a nation as proud of its past history. It still insisted on being treated as an independent people. It still maintained its laws and institutions, and had its laws modified according to its own opinion and ideas. Scotland did obtain justice to a considerable and nearly to a sufficient extent by the recognition, on the part of Parliament, that it was entitled to be treated in that way, and that where there was anything approaching unanimity on the part of its Representatives upon any subject, it was a thing that Englishmen were bound to grant. He knew they had occasionally reason to complain, as, for instance, in the case of the Crofters Bill, where the Government refused the Amendments brought forward by Scottish Members. That, however, was the fault of the Government, and not of the Constitution of the country; and what he was arguing for was that the Constitution should be preserved, and the ways of the Government altered. In the past so-called remedial legislation for Ireland, even when conducted by a Liberal Government, the Bills did not emanate from Ireland, or from Irish Members; but they emanated from the Treasury Bench, and, as a rule, the suggestions of Irish Members were not accepted. This was why such a striking want of success had attended the "judicious mixtures" of the past. The measures were proposed by Englishmen and administered by Englishmen. They ought to have been proposed by Irishmen and administered by them. The anomalies of Private Bill legislation in London for Ireland should have been remedied by inquiries carried on by Commission in Ireland. The dissatisfaction with the administration of Dublin Castle could easily be got rid of. The Representatives of Ireland might themselves propose measures to remedy the defects of the Land Act and to stop unfair evictions; and such measures would be welcomed on all sides of the House, accepted by the people of this country, and carried into effect without difficulty, under the new impulse which had been given to that House by the democratic feeling. If there was to be a Constitution for Ireland, let it come 980 from Ireland, proposed by Irishmen, and then let Englishmen judge whether it was or was not consonant with their own ideas; but do not let them have it proposed from the Treasury Bench, and combined, as it was at the present moment, with an Arms Bill, which was to be imposed upon Ireland for two years, without any power to Irishmen to repeal it. There was the simple and obvious plan by which, without any violation of the Constitution, without any enactment of new methods, without any stoppage of the business of Ireland, England, or Scotland, they might have the same measure of justice done to all parts of the United Kingdom, by the United Legislature, and by which beneficial measures might be passed in sympathy with the desire of the Members of the three nations. This was the offer which the people of this country made to Ireland. He did not profess to be the mouthpiece of the new democracy of this country; but, at all events, he asked Irishmen to look to the sentiment which had been expressed by the new democracy, and judge whether it was not certain that whatever measures were proposed for the good of Ireland they would support. And he hoped that, thus working together in mutual sympathy and assistance, they would be able to maintain a real and lasting Union.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON (Middlesex, Ealing)
I am sorry to stand between the House and any other Members whom individual sections of the House may wish to hear. The question before the House is of such magnitude that I can quite understand there should be considerable competition to obtain a hearing. The House listened with great interest to the speech of the Secretary of State for War (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) in the early part of the evening—first, because he is the only right hon. Gentleman who had held the Office of Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant who supports this Bill; and, secondly, because it had been intimated that he would convey to the House some further development of the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and of the concessions which they are disposed to make to those who are not prepared to support the Bill in its present shape. The right hon. Gentleman made a very strong assertion when he said that we are all agreed as to the principle contained in 981 the Bill. My strong impression is, after having listened to the debate throughout, that the great majority of the Members of this House are opposed to the principle of the Bill; and it is because they are so opposed to it that the Government are endeavouring to whittle it down and surround it with a number of proper safeguards, which will prevent the House and the public from seeing its full proportions, or the machinery, or motive power, which is behind it to set it in motion. What, Sir, is the principle of this Bill? If the House will allow me, I will point out the position in which I and my near Relatives will be placed if this measure is passed. My three Brothers and I happen to be Irishmen, who have the honour of holding seats in the present Parliament. If this Bill passes, all of us, who now have equal rights, will be divided into equal classes. Certain of us will be called upon to take part in Imperial matters, and to give up our control over Irish affairs, while others, who have some control over the latter, will not be allowed to participate in any way in Imperial legislation. It is to that principle that the House objects, because they see that in that principle is contained what must result in the disruption of this Empire. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War made use of a most unhappy illustration. He said—"After all, what is it but taking wine out of one large bottle and dividing it among smaller ones; the quantity would remain the same." Now, Sir, if the right hon. Gentleman had been as great a connoisseur in wine as the right hon. and learned Gentleman whom he followed is a legal scientist, he would know that to subdivide wine in one large bottle, and to put it into a number of small bottles, deprives it, not only of its potency, but of most of its flavour. Sir, I will divide the principle of this Bill into three bottles, and I will assume that there is a Parliament for Ireland, which has power to legislate for Irish affairs, but has no control over Imperial affairs; and there is a Parliament in England which has exclusive control over English affairs, but none in Imperial; and a Parliament in Scotland similarly situated. Where is your Imperial Parliament? Disguise it as you like, this Bill asks you to take the first step down the incline, the result of which will lead to the 982 annihilation of the Imperial Parliament itself. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War went on to express a hope that if this Bill is adopted, social order and respect for law may be established in Ireland. He gave us two reasons for his change of opinion, for, on November 12 last, the last occasion on which he spoke on this subject before accepting Office, he said there would be great difficulty in giving Ireland a separate Parliament, because it would not be consistent with the maintenance of the integrity of the Empire and of duty to the Crown.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN)&c.) (Stirling,
Perhaps my noble Friend will allow me to say that, in the first place, that was not the last occasion on which I spoke on this subject; and also that he now quotes a single sentence extracted from a newspaper report of a speech of considerable length which I made at a meeting. If he will refer to the whole of the speech, he will see that in its general gist and purport it is not at all inconsistent with my present views.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
Well, Sir, I hope that at least one good result will follow from the incidents of this debate, and that the Members of Her Majesty's Government will take care in future to be accurately reported. At present, it is a remarkable circumstance that, no matter what journal we quote, it somehow or other happens that the reporter is not accurate.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
There were two reasons given for the introduction of this Bill. The first was, that there were 85 Members of Parliament returned from Ireland in favour of a Parliamentary recognition of their nationality. Why, Sir, we told the Government that last year. That was no surprise; and when we pointed out to the Prime Minister and the Government that, under the Reform Bill, the Loyalist and the Unionist populations in Ireland would be under-represented, in consequence of the manner in which they were distributed throughout Ireland, the reply of the Prime Minister was to the effect that it might not be possible to give them adequate representation, but they must 983 trust and rely upon the Scotch and English Members. Now, because our prediction is true, and the 85 Nationalist Members have been returned, the safeguard with which the House was induced to assent to the Reform Bill vanishes, and because the Loyalists are under-represented, they are to be deprived of their safeguard and protection? That is a perfect specimen of the Prime Minister's safeguards. What is the second reason? That Her Majesty's late Government declined to renew the Crimes Act; and we have been told time after time, because we declined to ask the House to assent to coercion last year, that therefore a Parliament must be established in Dublin. What are the circumstances under which we refused to ask Parliament for a renewal of the Crimes Act? We found ourselves in circumstances in which I am confident that any Government would have arrived at the same conclusion as we did. Now, Sir, what was the position in which we found ourselves? An enormous political concession had just been made to Ireland, almost as great as that which the Government are now proposing. There was little crime then. The days of the late Parliament were numbered. We said, in the circumstances, that we would trust the Leaders of the National League, and we would rely upon them to stop the system of intimidation which existed in certain parts of Ireland. The Leaders of the National League either could not, or would not, stop that intimidation; and because that intimidation has increased fourfold, the Prime Minister now says that those Gentlemen who could not, or would not, stop intimidation shall be trusted with the entire legislative and administrative authority in Ireland. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] I say that because the system of intimidation has increased you bring in this Bill. If hon. Members below the Gangway had been able to stop intimidation and the law had been obeyed, this Bill would not have been brought in. It is because the law is not obeyed that you have brought the Bill in. It, therefore, amounts to this—that because a certain number of Gentlemen have so managed their Organization as to successfully defy the law, they are to be made hereafter the Authority which is to make and administer the law. I agree that there is little sympathy in many parts of Ireland with the laws 984 passed by this House; but when the Prime Minister says it is our duty to bring the law in sympathy with the Irish population, what is meant? Is the objection to the law that it is passed by this House, or is it from an inherent dislike to the law itself? If the Parliament in Ireland attempts to enforce those laws which we believe to be just, and which are now in existence, they will have as much difficulty as the Parliament here. What they are to do is to alter the law; and what is the law which is most unpopular? The law which stops intimidation; and, therefore, if you are to bring your law in sympathy with the popular wishes, you must abolish the law which stops intimidation and legalize it; and that is the method which the Prime Minister proposes in order to re-establish social order in Ireland. Now, Sir, if the House will allow me, I will ask them to go back with me a step in English history. We have had a great many authorities quoted as to the means by which the Union was carried, and as to the consequences which repealing that Legislative Union entailed upon the country. It is a remarkable fact that there has been but one Prime Minister of England who has ever had any practical experience of an independent Parliament in Ireland, and that was Mr. Pitt. Mr. Pitt took Office in December, 1783, and the last Act passed by this House which gave entire independence to the Irish Parliament was passed in the middle of that year. Let us see what were Mr. Pitt's motives in bringing the Union forward. He had had experience of an independent Parliament in Ireland. He was most anxious to establish complete freedom of commercial relations between this country and Ireland. He had been thwarted in his desires by intrigues in this and in the other House of Parliament. Mr. Pitt was most anxious to emancipate the Roman Catholics; but when the attempt was made intrigue and faction played their part, and Lord Fitzwilliam, who, I must say, seems to have shown very little discretion, was recalled; but it was not by Mr. Pitt's wish.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE) (Mid Lothian)
Mr. Pitt was Prime Minister.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
If the Prime Minister wishes to go back to 985 that period he will find that the men who were instrumental in obtaining the recall of Lord Fitzwilliam were most opposed to the Union. Mr. Pitt was compelled, in spite of himself, to recall Lord Fitzwilliam. The two great objects stated in Mr. Pitt's speech in introducing the Bill for the Union were to establish perfect freedom of commerce and trade in Ireland, and to abolish religious disabilities. Will any man say, if we repeal the Union, that there is not a danger of Ireland going back to the same condition as in 1783? Mr. Pitt was engaged in a great war. The conduct of that war was to him a source of anxiety scarcely less than the existence of an independent Parliament in Ireland. There was a terrible revolt in Ireland, which, I believe, would never have occurred except for the existence of an Irish Parliament. That revolt was put down with great severity, and the very men who were most opposed to clemency were the men most opposed to the Union. Therefore, Mr. Pitt, in proposing the Union between the two countries, was not asking the House to legislate on hypothetical assumptions, but was asking them to legislate upon the terrible experience of the past 15 or 20 years, and that experience brought home to him and all his Cabinet the fact that unless the Union was made Constitutional all government must either be suspended in Ireland or separation between the two countries must ensue. Now, what are the circumstances in which this Bill is brought forward? The enterprize of the Prime Minister involves tremendous risk in the future; but he will not share that risk. Whatever popularity accrues from this Bill will be monopolized by the right hon. Gentleman; younger men will have to face the danger of its failure. Much as we admire the ability of the right hon. Gentleman, we must recollect that, although successful in many of his political ventures, his past Irish legislation has failed. [Cries of "No!"] It has failed in this sense—that it has not finished its work. I recollect that on every occasion the ground on which we were asked to adopt it was that it would be final; and we are now again asked to adopt this legislation because it is to be final; but in a very few years we shall be told that it has not finished its work, because it has not touched the goal of 986 Irish National independence. The reason why Mr. Pitt used his best efforts and all his influence to carry the Union was because he realized the fact that the Irish nation was not homogeneous. The history of Ireland has been the history of perpetual internecine strife between different sections of the people—[Mr. W. O'BRIEN (Tyrone, S.): Who made it so?]—and the unpleasant part of her history is this, that whatever faction has had the upper hand has made an unfair use of its power; but of all the parties who have ever exercised this power, none has made a more remorseless and brutal use of it than the Land League and National League. There are many Members who object to anything savouring of coercion. Are they sure this Bill is not a Coercion Bill? If a misuse is made of the provisions of this measure, and if the Loyalist minority are ill-treated, you will have deprived yourselves of the power of interference. Under the Bill a large portion of the population may be reduced to a position of perpetual servitude, and be treated as aliens in the land with which their families have been connected for centuries. ["No!"] This House is to be the Parliament of a foreign country, and the laws passed in Ireland only are to be national laws. In this country, according to the Prime Minister, there is to be a foreign Parliament, while the Parliament of Ireland is to be a National Parliament. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: I never said so.] I should like the House to consider with me who, and how many, are the Unionists and Loyalists who object to this Bill? What proportion do they form of the people of Ireland? Hon. Members below the Gangway have with great skill absorbed five-sixths of the representation of Ireland, but they do not represent five-sixths of the people. I am going to state one or two facts. There are 103 Members from Ireland. There were 24 uncontested seats at the last Election, of which 20 are held by Nationalists and four by Conservatives. That gives the former a balance of 16 on the uncontested seats. There were 79 contested elections. The Nationalists polled 293,952 votes, or 66 per cent—[An Irish MEMBER: Much more than that.] Pardon me, these figures are taken from official Returns—and the Unionists 144,826, or 34 per cent; yet we hold only 14 seats instead of 26, 987 which is the number we ought to hold, and they hold 65 instead of 52; and while every Nationalist Member represents 4,591 voters, each Unionist Member represents 10,355. Hon. Members are very proud of the tactics by which they secured a majority of the representation of the Province of Ulster. They were very adroit. The question of the Union was never brought forward; no addresses were issued, and the question of the land was alone kept in the foreground. The question of Union or Separation was kept entirely in the back ground. In the counties of Ulster the Nationalists hold 16 seats, and the Loyalists 11. Three were uncontested, of which two are held by Unionists, and one is filled by a Nationalist. The followers of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) polled 62,694 votes, or 4,822 for every Member; while the Unionists polled 91,563, or 10,173 for every Member. If you will look at these figures you will see what I have always maintained—that if you take the Unionists throughout Ireland they number one-third of the population. Let me take the next test. Are these men who have returned the Friends of the hon. Member for the City of Cork ignorant and illiterate, or are they capable citizens? I have statistics here of the voters in every county of Ulster. Two counties returned four Members. The representation of Donegal is monopolized by the Nationalists, the representation of Antrim by the Unionists. In the latter county the percentage of illiterate voters in the different divisions is less than 3 per cent; but in North Donegal the percentage is 42, in East Donegal 38.6, and in South Donegal 52.2. In Belfast, out of four seats, three were uncontested by Nationalists. The average number of illiterate voters in these was 3 per cent. In the one division where a contest took place the number was 13 per cent. In Down, which has four seats, two were uncontested, and are held by Unionists. In North Down, two Unionists went to the poll, and the number of illiterate voters was 2 per cent; in South Down, where a Nationalist was successful, 22 per cent of the voters were illiterates. Having looked through these figures I may say that about one-third of all the Nationalist votes polled in Ireland were given by persons who can neither read nor write. 988 Therefore, not merely are the Loyalists of Ireland one-third of the population; but I say unhesitatingly that if you take any of the criteria by which you judge who are capable citizens—intelligence, thrift, freedom from crime, absence of pauperism, capacity for work, success in industrial occupation, or improved methods of agriculture—if you take any one of these tests you will find more capable citizens among the Unionists than among the Nationalists. And when you go to the statistics of crime the facts are more remarkable still—particularly in Ulster, as compared with the South and West. In all parts where the influence of the new legislation is supreme, crime, disorder, and ignorance are in the ascendancy. I ask, then, is it right, under these circumstances, to pass a measure which is likely to be terribly detrimental to the interests of men who have done all they can to promote the prosperity of the country to which they belong? The Prime Minister was good enough some years ago, not only to describe the course of action and the qualifications of the new Prime Minister for Ireland, but he also gave us, in that eloquent phraseology of which he is so great a master, an exact description of that system of government to which we shall hereafter be subjected. Speaking at the Guildhall, on October 13, 1881, of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), the Prime Minister used the following language:—Within the last few moments I have been informed that the first step towards the vindication of law, of order, of the rights of property, of the freedom of the land, of the first elements of political life and civilization—that the first step has been taken in the arrest of the man who, unhappily, from motives which I do not challenge, which I cannot examine, with which I have nothing to do—who, unhappily, has made himself beyond all others prominent in the attempt to destroy the authority of the law, to substitute what could end in being nothing more or less than anarchial oppression exercised upon the people of Ireland.I believe that that is a very accurate description of what will occur in Ireland if this Bill passes; and does it not exhibit an extraordinary amount of confidence in hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway to assume that you may safely hand over the administration and execution of the law in Ireland, and place in power in Ireland, and intrust with supreme authority in that country, the Leaders of the Association which, not 989 so very long ago, issued the "No Rent Manifesto," and that you can trust them to act for 49 years as rent collectors and process servers for an alien Parliament? On what grounds does the Prime Minister assume that the mere attainment of supreme power by the Nationalist Leader, whom the right hon. Gentleman described in the terms to which I have referred, will work a miraculous transformation in his opinions and his objects, and that the hon. Gentleman and his Friends will completely forget everything they have ever said and done?—as the right hon. Gentleman himself appears to have done since his recent conversion. But supposing the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his Friends do not change their opinions—and here I am bound to express the pleasure with which I listened to the speeches made in this debate by the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. W. O'Brien) and the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. J. Redmond), and the kindly welcome they gave us to join them and heartily to co-operate with them. Yes, but that was not the language which those hon. Members used when carrying on their agitation. When Mr. Lecky said that any man who supposed that this measure would tend to establish law and order in Ireland, and to promote the unity of the Empire, must be either a fool or a traitor, he had in view the kind of writing which had distinguished United Ireland, and which he said he had read for the last three years. I give hon. Members below the Gangway all credit for the skill and energy with which they have worked; but if they were once installed in Office the revolution which they have promoted would pass into its second phase—I mean the phase through which every revolution passes—namely, that of devouring its own children. Sir, it is not in their power to pledge the Irish Parliament. You have placed in this Bill a number of limitations on the power of the future Parliament. If the future Government of Ireland loyally resisted these changes, every one of them would be stepping stones to the Leader of the Opposition to obtain Office. If you plant the germ of nationality and surround it with such organisms as are proposed to be set up here, you must be prepared for the natural and inevitable result. Hon. Members below the Gangway have, in the 990 course of the last few years, attacked every single link in the administration of justice in Ireland. They cannot therefore, in self-respect, agree to continue the existing system; they must revolutionize it; and when your safeguards disappear what will be the protection afforded to the Loyal minority in Ireland? None. Therefore, Sir, what I hope the House will understand is that this is not a Bill merely to transfer certain Executive or Legislative powers from London to Dublin, but the mere act of transfer involves a complete transformation of the body to which it is to be transferred, and a complete revolution of the uses to which it is to be put. An hon. Member was good enough the other night to be candid on this point. He said that the National League was the apostolic successor of the Land League, and that the National League would be abolished as soon as you constitute the future Irish Parliament. There is a name not very popular with hon. Members below the Gangway, but the name of a great Irishman—Lord Clare—and I wish to quote a short passage from the speech of Lord Clare on the Union. That distinguished man said—If we are to live in a perpetual storm here (in Ireland); if it is to remain at the discretion of every adventurer, of feeble and ostentatious talents, ungoverned by a particle of judgment or discretion, to dress up fictitious grievances for popular delusions, and let loose a savage and barbarous people upon the property and respect of the Irish nation; what gentleman who has the means of living out of this country will be induced to remain in it? I do most solemnly declare that no earthly consideration short of a strong sense of duty should have induced me to remain an eye-witness of the scenes of folly and madness and horrors of every description in which I have lived for some years back; and that I had rather give up every prospect which remains to me in this country and begin a new course in my old age than submit it to the same misery and disgust for the remnant of my life. If you wish to stop emigration you must enable sober and rational men to live in peace at home.Well now, Sir, it is perfectly clear that this Bill cannot restore social order in Ireland. That it may promote disunion and would deprive Parliament of many functions which it previously possessed has been proved beyond dispute by speeches made earlier in this debate. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, who spoke to-night, made a proposal with a view to conciliate opponents of this Bill; but, unfortunately, 991 in a very succinct and able argument, he destroyed it before he suggested it to the House. He proposed that Members from Ireland should come back here whenever any question relating to the Customs or Excise in Ireland was raised, and should take part in the deliberations of this House. But the right hon. Gentleman had pointed out, with great force, that this is not a mere Legislative Assembly, but that whoever obtains a majority here has the control of the Executive of the Empire. More Governments have changed on financial questions than on any other. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: No, no.] Take the case which only occurred last year. If I am not mistaken, I believe that the right hon. Gentleman commenced his career as a Liberal by putting out a Conservative Government on a financial question in 1852. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: NO.] Therefore, let us see what the condition of the Government in future might be. It would be quite possible that a Government having a working majority of 80 would, upon the summoning of the Irish Members who would number 103 to decide on some question of taxation, find itself in a minority of 23. One of two things would happen—either that this House would lose all control over indirect taxation, or else the Government would have to resign. But, Sir, any system that would involve the exclusion of the Irish Members from the control of the Customs and Excise, would involve the greatest injustice to the Loyalist Party in Ireland, for if one drew a line from the centre of Donegal to the centre of Cork, one would find nine-tenths of the poverty to the West of that line, and nine-tenths of the wealth to the East of it. The poor people living in the West have, undoubtedly, been led to believe that all sorts of benefits will be obtained for them by Home Rule. But they cannot be taxed themselves, as they are so poor that no scheme of direct taxation could be devised which would affect them. The consequence is that any benefit conferred upon them would have to be paid for by the propertied class, and how small this class is may be judged from the fact that an 8d. Income Tax in Ireland only produces £500,000 sterling. The great mass of the propertied class are Loyalists, and whenever a collision between the two Parliaments occurred, the whole of 992 Ireland would be united in claiming control over the Irish Customs and Excise, and then there would be an end to your fiscal unity. If this Parliament were established in Dublin, no human power could prevent it passing a Resolution like that of Grattan's Parliament, that the only authority that could make laws for the taxation of Ireland was the Sovereign and Parliament of Ireland; and it is a curious fact that one of the main recommendations of this Bill, in the eyes of its American supporters, is that it would put the Irish Parliament in such a position in future that it could extract anything it chose from the Imperial Parliament. In a great meeting, held the other day at Washington, a gentleman, Mr. Senator Riddleberger—[An hon. MEMBER: A German]—whose reputation well corresponds with his name, made an extraordinary speech. This gentleman is the Senator for Virginia, which repudiated some time ago its public debts, and he had been chiefly instrumental in effecting this, and of successfully defying the rest of the United States. [No, no!"] Well, if hon. Gentlemen will take over some of the bonds I bought a few years ago, they will know all about this repudiation, and I will be very much obliged to them. What does this expert in the art of defining local legislation say? Senator Riddleberger suggests that after the Parliament in Dublin is established, agitation should be started to remove the Viceroy of Ireland and for other purposes, and he advises the Irish people to "keep their muskets loaded for other operations." I must apologize to the House for having occupied its attention so long. If hon. Members will be kind enough to give me their attention for one or two minutes more, before concluding, I desire to say a few words on behalf of a section of Irishmen in whom I am deeply interested. I have lived a great part of my life among the people of the North of Ireland, and I assert that no more meritorious people are to be found on the whole face of the earth than the Protestant people of Ulster. They are men who have fulfilled, to the very letter, every contract and every obligation placed upon them. They have turned the poorest part of Ireland into the richest, and at a time when all other towns are decreasing in population and trade, they have elevated Belfast into one 993 of the commercial emporiums of the Empire. They have expelled crime and outrage, and, at the instigation of the Prime Minister himself, have shown themselves the supporters of law and order. If the relations between landlord and tenant in the North of Ireland are happier than elsewhere—["No, no!"]—I say they are happier, is it not as much due to forbearance on the part of the landlords, as to the strenuous efforts of the people to fulfil their contracts? And when hon. Gentlemen allude to the fidelity with which those who purchased the Church lands have fulfilled their obligations, it should be remembered that almost all those purchasers reside in Ulster. Now, Sir, there is no disorder in Ulster; the foundations of social order are, I thank God, sound; life and property are secure. But it is not so outside of Ulster. Ulster men know perfectly well that life and property are in danger in other parts of Ireland—["No, no!"]—and many quiet and respectable men who have not hitherto taken any prominent part in politics, whose political views are opposed to my own, honestly believe that if this Bill passes into law all that makes life worth living, in a civilized community, will pass away. The House may deprecate strong language; but one must make some allowance for brave men. [A laugh.] Hon. Gentlemen laugh; but they must be aware that a movement in Ireland was never dangerous unless there was a Protestant at its head. If a movement is dangerous which is merely headed by a Protestant, what will be the danger of a movement in which not only the leaders, but the whole rank and file, are composed of Protestants? The House must not be surprised if brave men are seriously considering whether or not it will be better for them to risk their lives in the open rather than quietly acquiesce in a system which may render their future existence one of constant terror, or which will subject them to abject servitude. I do not deny the legal power of Parliament to place these men in such a position as that, if it thinks fit to do so; but I assert that, from amoral point of view, this House has no right to take that step, and to place these men in the power of an Association which has been denounced by the Prime Minister himself and dissolved by the Imperial Government within the last four 994 or five years as a treasonable and a criminal Association, or else to compel them to expatriate themselves or have recourse to civil war. But, putting the matter on the lowest and meanest ground, I contend that the policy of the abandonment of our allies does not pay in the long run. The late Parliament tried that method twice. They abandoned our allies in South Africa, and they left General Gordon to perish in the Soudan. But, in both instances, although the nation lost reputation, we did not save our money, and we did not save the lives of our soldiers; while the very difficulties we sought to escape, when we embarked upon that course, have more tightly entangled themselves around us. Such were the acts of the late Parliament. But this is a new Parliament, and it represents to a greater extent than any previous one the manhood of this country. Will it inaugurate its legislative career by giving its assent to a course which would be a discredit to the puniest nation in the last hours of its existence? Those who oppose this Bill do so because they believe that it will not restore social order in Ireland, but that it may endanger the integrity of the Empire. We oppose it on still higher grounds. We are conscious of the difficulties in the way of the Government of Ireland, and we are aware of our responsibility for any vote which we may give on this question; but we hold that, no matter what may be the difficulties which may encircle the affairs of a free and honourable people, no temporary respite, and, still less, no permanent relief from them, will be found in turpitude and political blindness.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I can well recollect the time when, some years ago, I used to take part in the debates of this House that we were accustomed to be taunted and represented as the Party of disorder and rebellion; but after having listened for some time patiently to the speeches delivered by my fellow-countrymen who sit above the Gangway, I think the time has come, or will come, when the title will be transferred to the English Members in another part of the House, particularly if speeches continue to be delivered in the tone of the one we have just heard from the noble Lord. Now, there are a few points in the speech of the noble Lord to which I would like to direct the attention of the 995 House for a few minutes before I enter upon the general question. First of all the noble Lord, shortly before he sat down, made a reference which I consider to be a particularly unhappy reference. In the first place he quoted, as has been very much the habit of our opponents, language—violent language—used on an American platform; and you may be perfectly certain that when he was obliged to fall back on a German Senator for language wherewith to accuse the Irish race in America of a determination not to accept this Bill as a settlement of their demands he was very hard pressed indeed. There are 10,000,000 of Irishmen in America, and the only speech the noble Lord could find to quote was a speech of Senator Riddleberger—a German—who may be a very important man; but it certainly seemed to be a very unhappy illustration of the possible future delinquencies of the Irish Parliament when the noble Lord spoke of the repudiation of a debt by Virginia. Does not every man in the House know that if there is a State in the whole length and breadth of America where the Irish race has no influence that State is Virginia? I know Virginia. I may say that I have travelled through every State in the Northern States of America; and, as I and every hon. Member who has travelled there know, not in the North or the South will you find any State where the Irish have so small a representation as in Virginia. Why, Sir, that State is the Old Dominion; every family there boasts and traces its descent from ancestors in England. The next time the noble Lord wants to cast a reproach on the Irish people, and to say that our people are disposed to repudiate their debts, he had better go elsewhere than to the Old Dominion of Virginia. The noble Lord made an excursion into Irish history. I do not propose to follow him into that excursion; but I will only say this—that as I listened to these debates I was struck—and anybody who has lived in Ireland and gained a thorough knowledge of its history must have been struck also—with wonder, amazement, and admiration at the marvellous mastery of the history of Ireland which the Prime Minister has acquired and displayed. Hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway, if they take my advice—which I do not expect they will—will avoid the history of the 996 Union, and devote themselves to the circumstances of the present day, for I assure them they will inevitably be tripped up by the Prime Minister. The noble Lord made a statement which we feel a reproach—namely, that of the voters for National candidates one-third were illiterate voters. I do not believe that statement. The figures do not cover the whole ground, and are very great exaggerations. But if it were so, is it not a condemnation of the Government that ruled in Ireland for 80 years? Will any Member of the House stand up and declare that it is not? I do not care whether he is an Irish Tory, or an English Tory, or a Liberal, if he has travelled in Ireland he must admit that he has never met on the face of the earth a people more eager to acquire knowledge. Irish Tories will not deny that if they know the country. No doubt, there are a great many of the people who are illiterate—a great many more than we would like to confess—but that is a reproach, not to the people, but to the Government, who, until 20 years ago, stood between the Irish people and education. The little education they did get was only obtained by the most desperate exertions. I can only say on that point that I contested the Northern Division of Tyrone against a brother of the noble Lord who spoke last—one of those divisions where the Nationalists and Imperialists ran very close. I was only beaten by 429 votes; and as I attended at the polling booth on the day of election, I can only say that, as far as my observation went, there were fully as many illiterates on the other side as upon ours. I heard the men come up to the polling booth and vote. Now, there has been a statement made very frequently in the course of this debate to the effect that this concession, as they call it, is not what the Irish people ask for, and is more or less forced on the acceptance of the Irish people. Furthermore, the statement is repeated that we should go on, if we got this concession, to use it as a means of obtaining more. Now, the noble Lord made a statement which I take the liberty to contradict in reference to this very point. He said that in all the previous great measures proposed by the Prime Minister for Ireland the great argument put forward in favour of passing them was that they were final. But I ask 997 who told him they were to be final? I defy any examination of the pages of Hansard to discover any speech coming from a Representative of Ireland declaring that these measures were final.
§ MR. DILLON
The strength of the point remains the same. What I ask is, who said they would be final? The Prime Minister said that he thought they would be final, or, rather, he confessed that he clung to the supposition that by legislating for Ireland according to his own ideas of justice—and, no doubt, he has given great benefits to Ireland—that he would succeed in disarming the National spirit of Ireland. He has never said, for a moment, that he had it in his mind that the National spirit would go on increasing in strength; but he did say that his experience led him, step by step, to the conviction that he was undertaking an impossible task; and, however good his intention and vast his power, all this remedial legislation would not succeed in removing disaffection and in disarming the National sentiment, which has waxed stronger day by day. We never, in a single instance, sought to deceive this House about the finality of previous measures. We state to this House, and to the English people outside this House, who will finally decide the question, that with the modifications suggested by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) we are honest, in dealing with the Bill, in our intentions to accept the measure loyally as a settlement of the Irish Question. My hon. Friend stated when it was introduced what were the blots which would make it unworkable. We pledge ourselves to use our utmost influence and whatever popularity we possess to make the Bill acceptable to the Irish people, and to make it work honestly, not for the purpose of plundering our fellow-countrymen, not for the purpose of injuring the Protestants of Ireland, but, on the contrary, we pledge ourselves that whatever power we have with the Irish people shall be used to get this Bill accepted, not alone in its letter, but in its spirit, as a means to unite our people and to govern the country with a view to its future prosperity. When I say this it recalls to my mind a singular thing. There seems 998 to be rooted in the minds of some men, perfectly honest in their opinions on other subjects, the belief that every Nationalist in Ireland is a fool. Do hon. Members of this House suppose we will be fools enough, when we have got a Constitution which we value, and which gives our people power, to plunge into mad excesses which would inevitably lead to the ruin of our country? What have we ever done in this House to induce hon. Members to believe that we are such fools? I think you will find, if we get our Parliament—and I believe we shall get it—that we will endeavour to work it in a spirit of friendliness, even to those who now threaten to use arms against us. The noble Lord talks about revolutions swallowing their own children. Of course there is a possibility of that kind; but the noble Lord must remember that if there is a revolution—which I do not in the least anticipate—we are the men who, according to his theory, have got to lose by the transaction more than anybody else. Now, with regard to the question which has been raised about the retention of the Irish Members in this House, I must confess this has seemed to me one of the most singular debates I ever listened to; because, early in the Session, it seemed to be agreed without a single dissentient voice, either in this House or in the country, that the one thing on which everyone was agreed was that something touching social order and the existence of society in Ireland needed to be done, and to be done at once. I heard no voice raised against that proposition. Great pressure was brought to bear on the Government to bring forward their measure; and the Government, using their utmost endeavour, came forward with a great measure, laying down a policy of enormous magnitude, and having for its object the restoration of social order in Ireland. I can understand the opposition which that policy meets from some hon. Gentlemen here, and from the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) as the Representative of his class; but there are Gentlemen whose position I have failed to understand, and to them I may say a few words by way of appeal. They have pursued a line of criticism which does not affect the principle of the Bill in the least degree; but they want certain things done, and up to 999 the present moment we have no statement of what these things are. At this stage of the debate I think we are entitled to ask those Gentlemen to tell us what they want, in view of the awful responsibility which will rest upon the shoulders of any man who defeats this Bill and sends us back to the suffering people of Ireland with the winter before us and our hands empty. We have heard it said that at present there exists a "truce of God." The introduction of this Bill is largely accountable for that truce of God; and I earnestly appeal to those men that they will, at least, consider it their duty to formulate to the House a detailed plan of what it is they want. They will find us, I venture to say, as reasonable as men can be. We have stated our views frankly. We do not want at present a representation in this House. We prefer the proposition of the Prime Minister; but we would go a long way rather than wreck this Bill. While I am convinced it would be better for Ireland, and for England also, that the Irish Members should be allowed, at least for a time, to attend to their business in Dublin, still I do think that this question ought to be discussed in a friendly spirit and with a sense of responsibility, and, if at all possible, that some road ought to be discovered by which this Bill will be read a second time, and by which the exasperation, soreness, and uncertain vista which will be opened out to us in Ireland if this Bill be rejected should be avoided. Having made that earnest appeal, I will leave the question, hoping that some hon. Gentlemen will stand up and explain to us what it is they want. Sir, there is another question—the question of Protestantism in Ulster. I regret to see in the papers to-day a letter signed by a name so illustrious in England and so powerful in English politics as that of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). I cannot but think that he is acting in ignorance of the affairs of Ireland; but I am satisfied that his letter will do great mischief in Ulster. The right hon. Gentleman says there are two nations in Ireland. I do not know what the right hon. Member for West Birmingham means to convey; but I know well the meaning which the Orangemen of Ulster will draw from it. It is this — "Stand to your arms and resist, and you will have the English 1000 Protestants at your back." The language, though cautious, will be plain to the Irish Protestants. It means—"If you show yourselves really in earnest, do not fear but that the English Protestants will support you." [Opposition cheers.] I find that my interpretation of that language is correct; but I say that any man who, from his great position and influence in this country, recklessly inflames passion in Ulster, is doing one of the most horrible and monstrous deeds possible. But, Sir, are there two nations in Ireland? ["Yes."] We have heard from the hon. and gallant Gentleman who leads the Conservative Party in Ireland—the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Major Saunderson) — constant references to what "our fathers did 200 years ago." It is very strange I have never heard him and his supporters refer to what their fathers did 100 years ago. True it is that, 200 years ago, the Protestants and Catholics of Ireland were for nearly a whole century engaged in the noble game of exterminating each other. This is the part of Irish history to which the hon. and gallant Member refers with the greatest pleasure. But another era dawned, when that Parliament, which is so offensive to some hon. Gentlemen, sat in Dublin; and let us always remember that even in that Parliament, cramped and wretched as it was, representing a miserable fraction of the population, and confined not only to Protestants, but to Episcopalian Protestants, so great was the kindly influence of sitting amongst their own people in Dublin, so irresistible were the softening and kindly influences, that even that Protestant Parliament actually gave way, and would have emancipated the Catholics had it not been for the machinations of Englishmen. We are told to-day that there are two nations in Ireland. I should like to know where the second nation is. I never met a Protestant Ulsterman who did not call himself an Irishman. Let me read a short extract from the reports of two meetings that took place in Ulster last week. Both were called for the purpose of denouncing the Prime Minister. The first was addressed by a man famous in Ulster, who is, I believe, the Grand Master of the Orangemen in Belfast—the Rev. Dr. Kane—and this will give you an idea of the strength of his words. He said— 1001Mr. Morley now thought himself the idol of the Irish nation. Well, he might be induced to take a tour of Ireland, where he was so much esteemed; he might spend his Easter holidays in the most important of the four Provinces of Ireland, and ventilate some of his unwritten articles for the magazines; but if he got away with a whole skin he might talk for the rest of his life without fear of contradiction of the admiration which the Irish nation felt for him.These are the law and order gentlemen of Ulster. Dr. Kane is the Grand Master of the Orangemen of Belfast, and he threatens to annihilate the Irish Secretary if he dares to cross the Boyne. Then he went on to speak of 1792. He said—He had with him a flag of the time of which he spoke"—(the speaker held up a silken flag of the Irish Volunteers)—a time of which, as an Irish Protestant, he was proud; when Irish Protestants showed that they were true to the soil that nourished them; when they showed that Irish Protestants were Irish patriots, and compelled England to do our country justice. Irish Protestants were patriots by compelling Englishmen with arms in their hands to grant the Constitution of 1792.Here is a meeting at Dungannon—an anti-Home Rule demonstration—which was attended by Lord Ranfurly and a large number of magistrates, and was presided over by Mr. Stephenson, J.P. What did Mr. Stephenson say? He said—It is only a century since the streets of Dungannon resounded to the tread of the Irish Volunteers. That assembly was called together for the purpose of asserting the rights of Irishmen, and the words they uttered would assist, in no small degree, in producing the desired effect on English statesmen.Remember that it was a chairman presiding over the "other nation" that uttered those words. The meeting was only held last week; it was presided over by a J. P.; and, after hearing the words uttered at that meeting, will any hon. Member have the audacity to get up and speak of "another nation?" Now, what did these Volunteers do? They resolved—That the claims of any body to make laws for Ireland save the King, Lords, and Commons of the Kingdom is unconstitutional, illegal, and a grievance.It makes one feel almost as if one was in a dream to see the Loyal men of Ulster boasting that their streets are resounding with the tramp of armed men simply because, after long suffering, the people have turned and are content to 1002 take a lesson. Strange are the vicissitudes of Irish politics. Indeed, I would not be surprised if the men who are now blocking an Arms Act, for which, up to this, they have always been clamouring—I would be surprised if these men, before the game is played out, yet turned round and denounced us for having sold the rights of the Irish people by accepting this Bill. Sir, we have been told by the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), who ought to have known better than make the statement, that he respected the Irish Parliament because it was a Protestant and a landlords' Parliament. That brings me to the question—Did the Irish Parliament wish to remain a Protestant and a landlord Parliament? No, Sir. In the very first year after they asserted their liberty—in the very first year after they passed a Declaration of Rights—the Leaders of the Irish Parliament—the patriots of the day—declared their desire to grant liberty to millions of their Catholic fellow-countrymen. No, Sir; they did not wish to remain a Protestant and a landlord Parliament; but they desired to be a Parliament of a united Irish nation. This induces me to say a word upon the Catholic and Protestant question. Sir, it is a very singular thing that all through the 18th century, although there was a most horrible Code of penal laws against the Catholics, yet there were no riots between Catholics and Protestants until the foundation of the Orange Society, in 1795. There is no more remarkable fact in history than this—that during the whole of that period, while the Catholics were groaning under penal laws, there was not a single collision between Catholics and Protestants. It is a remarkable fact in history that, although the Protestants inflicted the most horrible persecution upon Catholics, so tremendous was the influence of the gentry living amongst the people that, although the title of these men to their properties was founded on the confiscations of 1641 and 1688, still there was no disturbance between the Catholics and Protestants; and gradually the Parliament of Ireland, with no pressure from without, and with very little agitation from within, step by step began to undo the Penal Code, and had they been left alone they would have swept it all away.
§ MR. DILLON
Most certainly not. If the noble Lord can prove that, I will be very happy to listen to him; but I am perfectly certain that he cannot. I am perfectly ready to admit that the English Government protected the Catholics in the beginning of the century. I hope the noble Lord will listen to this, because it affords a convincing proof to the contrary of what the noble Lord has stated. In the Irish Parliament, under the influence of Irish patriotism, the Protestants of Ulster, and the Protestant landlords of Ulster, who assembled at Dungannon, in a series of resolutions passed by them, declared—That we hold the right of private judgment in the matter of religion to be equally sacred in others as well as in ourselves; therefore, as men, as Irishmen, and as Christians we rejoice in the relaxation of the laws against Roman Catholics.Almost before any of the disabilities were removed from the Roman Catholics, after the Declaration of Rights, a second Bill was brought forward to restore some of the rights of the Catholics; and in the course of that debate Grattan made one of the noblest of the many noble speeches he delivered on behalf of the Irish Catholics. Nobody can doubt that if it had been left to Grattan, before long the Irish Catholics would have been sitting side by side with their Protestant fellow-countrymen. He said—The question now is whether you are content to remain a Protestant Settlement or become an Irish nation? So long as the Penal Code remains we can never be a great nation. The Penal Code is the shell in which the Parliament has been hatched; now it must burst the shell, or we must perish in it.Grattan declared that as the question was whether they were to be a Protestant Settlement or an Irish nation he was in favour of making Ireland a great nation; but the English Government thought they could best rule Ireland by keeping it as a Protestant Settlement, and that is what it has been ever since the Union. They to-day are declaring for a Protestant Settlement in Ireland, 1004 backed up by the bayonets of the military, which England may send over to protect them; whereas their Nationalist fellow-countrymen are inviting them to go and form a part of the Irish nation, where, if they accept the invitation, they would occupy—[A laugh.]—hon. Members above the Gangway may laugh at the statement, but I say it and mean it—they would occupy a far more honourable position than they occupy now. I have often heard persons speak disparagingly of the dignity of being a Member of the House of Commons that is to be, and I believe will be. The principle I hold is this—that no man ought to be ashamed of serving his own country first. This is, I freely admit, a great and a proud Parliament, and it takes a great part in the affairs of the world. The Irish Parliament will be a small Parliament, and will not aspire to take such a part. It will be content to occupy a much humbler sphere. Does this House suppose that any one of us who has lived in Ireland, or been brought up there, can ever reconcile himself to stay in this Parliament to take a share in the affairs of all the world, when the affairs of his own country, which gave him birth, and in which he has spent the best part of his life, are going to rack and ruin? It may be that the time may come when the Irish Members may very properly desire to take part in Imperial affairs; but that must be when they have, first of all, succeeded, or tried to succeed, in raising their own country from the position of reproach in which she now stands. I want now to say a word on the question of the alleged want of prosperity of Ireland under the Irish Parliament, and of the improvement which has been brought about through the Union. That statement has been falsely made in this House more than once. I do not wish to trouble the House with many statistics; but there are a few figures which I will quote which I believe to be of importance. The first point which will strike those who examine the subject is that which relates to the population. In 1706 the population of Ireland was 1,500,000, and at the end of the century in 1796 it was 4,500,000, so that it had increased threefold. The population of Ireland is now exactly what it was at the end of last century. The population of England, since the end of the 1005 last century, has increased threefold, while the Irish population has remained exactly as it was. But take the capitals of the two countries as a comparison; and I do not think, in a rough and general way, I could give a more striking example of the condition of the respective countries and their relative prosperity. In 1688 the population of Dublin was 64,000, while in 1798 it was 185,000, so that it had increased threefold. In 1881 the population of Dublin was 249,000, showing that since the Union it had only increased 10 per cent. Thus, during the century of the unhappy Irish Parliament, the population of Dublin trebled. It is most remarkable to see that, during the first of these periods, the population of London only increased from 550,000 to 864,000. On the other hand, during the 18th century, the population of London has increased fourfold, while the population of Dublin has only increased 10 per cent. This increase, I am bound to say, is a very poor one, and does not look like an increase of prosperity during the Union. [Major SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.): What about Belfast?] Belfast, I am bound to say, has increased, and I am proud of it. But I would point out to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that it is a hard thing to say that every other town in Ireland shall be forced to decrease and go down to beggary for the simple reason that Belfast has prospered. The hon. and gallant Member has mentioned Belfast. Do not let him suppose for one moment that I have the least animosity against Belfast. I am proud of the increase of Belfast, and I hope it will continue. Take the one great trade of Belfast—the linen trade. We know they talk about danger to the linen trade under an Irish Parliament. To suppose that any danger would arise to the linen trade from an Irish Parliament, or to suppose that we would interfere with the linen trade, is the old story of supposing that we are all idiots. In regard to the linen trade, let me point out what its course was under an Irish Parliament. In 1706 the exports of Irish linen were worth £23,750, while in 1796, after 90 years of an Irish Parliament——
§ MR. DILLON
May I advise the hon. and learned Gentleman, before he makes again such strange assertions, to make a more profound study of Irish history? I was saying that in 1706 our exports of Irish linen amounted to £23,750; whereas in 1796, after 90 years of an Irish Parliament, they were £3,113,789. In that same period another striking fact is that, while the linen trade of Scotland only increased in the proportion of 1 to 23, that of Ireland increased in the proportion of 1 to 88. In considering the comparative prosperity of England and Scotland to-day, you must bear in mind that during the last century in Ireland every branch of trade has advanced much more rapidly than in Scotland. That was under the Irish Parliament, and it is not a bad result to show for the Irish linen trade. Yet hon. Members who make such a profound study of Irish history come to this House and declare, over and over again, that Irish manufactures and trade have decreased and withered away under the Irish Parliament. Do they know more than the traders and bankers of Dublin in 1798? Lord Plunket, whose name is more honoured in Irish history than that of his descendant is ever likely to be, declared, speaking of the Irish Parliament, that—Laws were well arranged and administered, and the Constitution well established. Her revenues and trades were thriving, and she afforded a happy example of prosperity more rapid than existed in any other country.Listen also to these words, and recollect that they were spoken by an Irishman in a debate in the Irish Parliament. Lord Plunket went on to say that—There was no complaint of any deficiency in any of those respects, but that Ireland enjoyed and acknowledged her own prosperity.Can anyone use like language of the period since the Union? Turn to the pages of Hansard for any single year, and you will find every page defaced by inquiries into the relief of the poor in Ireland. Can it be wondered at that we look back with longing to the days when Ireland enjoyed and acknowledged her prosperity, and that we should desire to try the experiment again of an Irish Parliament under similar conditions? If you are not content with the evidence of Lord Plunket, take that 1007 of Lord Clare, the favourite authority on this side of the House. In 1798 he stated that there was no nation on the habitable globe which had advanced in cultivation, commerce, agriculture, and manufactures as Ireland had during the period from 1792 to 1800. What did Secretary Cooke, who published a pamphlet in 1799, say? He said—It is universally admitted that no other country ever made such a rapid advance as Ireland in population, in agriculture, in wealth, and in commerce.After these extracts, will any hon. Member say that Ireland did not advance in prosperity under the Irish Parliament? I think I have proved my case beyond all contradiction. When we turn to the other side of the picture, and consider what has been the course of commerce, of population, of trade, of agriculture, and of wealth in Ireland, who can stand up and say that there has been any real progress? We have been accustomed to hear successive Lords Lieutenant since the Union speak of the improvement in her agriculture, trade, and produce, and the increase in her exports and imports; but an inquiry into the exports and imports of the country only tells a tale of ruin not to be paralleled, because the exports consisted wholly of food, with the exception of linen in the North, which was the one bright spot. Ireland exported a great deal more than she imported. Just one word more in connection with trade, and it is in reference to the cotton manufactures of Ireland. Probably many Members are not aware that Ireland ever had cotton manufactures. That trade flourished from 1760 to the time of the Union, and in 1800 there were 20,000 operatives employed — 10,000 in Ulster, and 10,000 in the other Provinces of Ireland. No less than 200,000 yards of cotton cloth were made every week, and not less than from 100,000 to 200,000 persons were supported thereby. The manufacture was encouraged by Lord de Vesci, Sir John Parnell, and other men whose names are illustrious in Irish history. There is only one other subject—the protection of the Loyal minority. Over and over again we have heard appeals to the House and the country for protection to the Loyal minority. It almost seems to me a worse condemnation than any other circumstance. Were ever such appeals 1008 heard when there was an Irish Parliament? How is it that this minority have made themselves so obnoxious to their fellow-countrymen? When there was an Irish Parliament, did they ever appeal to you for protection? During the whole of the 18th century you had an Irish Parliament; but did you ever hear anything of the disintegration of the Empire? Did not the century pass over without a rebellion of any kind? There was no rebellion between 1790 and 1798; no rising against English rule; and the Loyal minority never had to appeal to you for aid. What has been the result of the Union? To-day you have the Tories, to whom you gave the government of the country, piteously appealing to you for protection against their Catholic fellow-countrymen. In 1782, when the Volunteers were enrolled in Ireland, it is notorious that, although the Catholics were forbidden to carry arms, the Protestant landlords armed their Catholic tenants, because, although they were the "Loyal minority," they still were not afraid of the people they lived amongst. What have you done since with your system of Union in Ireland? Why, Sir, I make bold to say that there are not upon the face of the earth any body of men in a more humiliated and a more disgraceful position than the Irish landlords to-day. They tell you they have ruled Ireland for 86 years; but the result of their rule is that they are afraid of their own people over whom they rule—afraid to trust themselves in that country without having a great army at their back. The way in which that has been brought about is very easy to understand by anybody who has read the history of this century. The absenteeism of the landlords, and the miserable government in Ireland which they have been compelled to uphold, have swept away all the popularity which they used to enjoy with their own people. Lord Cloncurry, one of the most intelligent men of his class, has said, in a book full of admirable information about Irish affairs, and which he wrote in 1806, that class hatred was growing up in Ireland, and, he added, that it would end in disastrous consequences if the Union were not repealed, and the landlords did not come back to live amongst their own people. They talk about peace and prosperity in Ire- 1009 land from a continuance of this system of government, and of the great danger which will result from setting up an Irish Parliament. They seem to forget what occurred at the time of the Union. Have they ever read the speeches of Lord Castlereagh and Mr. Pitt, who said, in bringing in the Act, that if the Union were carried peace and prosperity would ensue? Who would go so far as to say that their prophecies have been realized? It would have been an extraordinary thing if they could have been realized, seeing that this Parliament, since the Union, has had to pass no less than 86 Coercion Acts. What I say now is this. Hon. Gentlemen who seek to defeat this Bill, and who prophesy evils as likely to result from it, either insist upon shutting their eyes to the future, in the event of its not being passed, or they indulge in the same optimistic prophecy as was indulged in by Pitt and Lord Castlereagh, and which the experience of 86 years has completely falsified. I would now appeal to hon. Gentlemen who are friendly to the principle of this Bill not to do two things. I would appeal to them not to wreck the Bill on account of some detail, and not to take all the frightful responsibility that they would incur by so wrecking it. It is true that there is a truce of God in Ireland at the present time; but how long will it last? It is true that the tone and temper of this House are different now from what they used to be four or five years ago; but how long will that condition of things last? I would further urge upon hon. Members who talk about delay as if they desire time in which to arrange their differences to remember that there is a "tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune," and that, if they do not take advantage of this truce of God in Ireland, and this truce of God in the House, it is impossible for the wisest man to say I that they may not find themselves next year in the middle of a Coercion Act instead of a Government of Ireland Bill.
§ MR. LEATHAM (Huddersfield)
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Dillon) has treated this question as an Irish question only. I desire to treat it chiefly as an English question, and an English question of the first magnitude. I do not, therefore, propose 1010 to reply in detail to the arguments of the hon. Member for East Mayo, although I shall make an incidental reference to them. The House has listened with especial interest to the speeches of noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen who have themselves made great sacrifices in their resistance to the principle of this Bill. I think it ought also to listen to those who, although they occupy much humbler positions in the House, are equally ready to make what may appear to them to be almost equal sacrifices in defence of the same views. There are some of us who have long had the honour of a seat in this House who are well aware that by the speeches which we are about to make, and the votes which we are about to give, we shall, in all probability, insure our own exclusion from Parliament—not because we are unable to carry with us the bulk of the Party in the constituencies, but because our majorities are not such as to allow of any serious difference of opinion, any split, any lukewarmness on the part of those whom we have the honour of regarding as our supporters. I think that this consideration should add some little weight to what we say; because the man who is speaking in the teeth of his own personal interest is, to my mind, always better worth listening to, even though he be a poor rhetorician, than the man who waxes ever so eloquent in defence of opinions, the successful advocacy of which will secure his return to this House, or a continuance of his occupancy of that Bench. And it is just because the principles which are involved in the rejection of this Bill are of such infinitely greater importance, not only than any personal triumph, but even than the triumph of the great Minister whom we have been so proud to follow, and even than the triumph of the great Party to which we are so proud to belong, that we must throw to the winds, if need be, not only all personal considerations—that is a trifle—but what I find it much harder to renounce—an allegiance to the right hon. Gentleman of 27 years' duration in this House, and a devotion to Party interests which has lasted all my life. Nor is the wrench any less painful when we reflect that, by the exercise of the ordinary prudence which has hitherto marked the relations between the Liberal Party and its Chiefs, much, if not all, this mischief and havoc 1011 might have been avoided. I never remember the time when a great measure of Party policy has been launched before, without the Party having first been taken into confidence. Ministers have always felt their way. Their policy has been much more an emanation from the Party than an inspiration of their own. It has been the province of Ministers, no doubt, to shape and formulate the policy of the Party, to give it point and cohesion, and to carry it to a successful issue; but it has been the province of the Party to conceive the policy itself. It has been through this tacit arrangement that the Liberal Party has been able to combine great force in action with great independence of individual opinion; and without independence of individual opinion I venture to think that the Liberal Party is doomed. Now, if this had been the course followed upon this occasion, we should, at all events, have escaped this catastrophe; we should not have had to witness the spectacle of all the great Leaders in whom we have trusted, every man with his sword against his fellow, and beating down one another in full view of the common enemy, just like the Philistines of old. And now I am going to say a strong thing: if it be too strong, I must ask the House to forgive me, and the right hon. Gentleman to forgive me. It is this—that if the worst enemy of the Liberal Party had set himself to devise a scheme for the disintegration and disruption of that Party, he could hardly have hit upon anything so formidable or so fatal as the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman, in the plenitude of his experience and the maturity of his wisdom, has flung like an apple of discord in our midst. For the Bill before the House seems to me to affront, one after another, almost every great principle to which the Liberal Party has been attached. For example, upon what principle has the Party laid so much stress as upon this—that it is the right and duty of every intelligent and independent man to take part through his Representative in the government of the whole; to make himself a party to the laws which he obeys, to the policy towards which he contributes, to the taxation which he shares, and to bear upon his own shoulders his full responsibility as an elector to the Imperial Parliament—a responsibility which is so 1012 great and sacred a thing that the man who dares to tamper with it, or to interfere with its free exercise, is visited by penalties almost as great as those which hedge in property and life? This great principle of the Liberal Party — that every capable citizen should take part in the government of the whole—has only just received its final recognition. The Parliament which is now sitting is the monument of that recognition; and yet the ink is scarcely dry upon the Reform Act before we are asked to undo what we have done, to strike off at a blow many thousands of our fellow-electors from the Imperial Register, to divorce taxation from representation, and to deprive every Irishman in Ireland of his just share in the making of Imperial laws and the consideration of Imperial policy. Nay, to such lengths is this "fad" of seclusion carried, that even in war time, when the resources of the Empire may be taxed to the utmost, and when hostile Fleets will infest the Irish Coasts, the defence of Ireland is to be taken out of Irish hands and to be removed from Irish pockets, and the whole contribution of Ireland to the war fund is to be limited to the stereotyped Estimates of peace. Is this your recipe for infusing a common loyalty and a common patriotism, for knitting together the hearts of two peoples, for teaching the lesson that whatever may be the differences of race and creed, in times of peril and perplexity this is nothing compared with the vital obligation to share the same tasks, the same burdens, the same sacrifices in defence of the same country? Once admit that Irishmen are our fellow-countrymen and our fellow-citizens, and by what chicane of casuistry can you deprive them of precisely those rights and privileges which are the most significant of political equality, and the enjoyment of which is absolutely essential if we are to regard one another as fellow-citizens and fellow-countrymen at all? I know that the right hon. Gentleman, in his speech the other night, professed his willingness to consider a number of proposals, which I am quite sure were not his own—gimcrack proposals under which Irish Members are to sneak back into the House on certain very special occasions. I have heard the gloss of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) on the text 1013 of the right hon. Gentleman, and I do not find the gloss of my right hon. Friend a whit more intelligible than the original text. What we desire is, that the Irish Members shall never leave this House; that they shall be here in undiminished numbers on terms of absolute equality with ourselves; and unless this is conceded we maintain that this Bill will go to its second reading in violent discord with the great principles of English government. But the hon. Member for East Mayo tells us that it is absurd for us to protest against an arrangement which Irish Members regard as satisfactory. Sir, I think that the way in which Irish Members have received this Bill proves that it ought not to pass. Depend upon it, no Irishman has accepted the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman in the sense of the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) accepts it; but does he accept it as a final settlement of Irish claims? [Cries of "Yes!"] Then I failed to understand the speech of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. Does he accept it as that which is to cement still more closely the union between England and Ireland? Or does he accept it as an impregnable platform, from which to prosecute a future, a fruitful, and perhaps a final agitation? The hon. Member for the City of Cork has never made a secret of his ambition—whether it be in Ireland or in America that he has raised his powerful voice, he has told us that his ambition was to make Ireland a nation. He has told us, further, that the journey to that end is comprised in three stages. What marks the first stage? What the hon. Gentleman calls the emigration of the landlords. What marks the second stage? The election of a Parliament in Dublin. What marks the third stage? "The severance of the last link," and the declaration of Irish Independence. With a hop, a skip, and a jump the hon. Gentleman, in anticipation, traverses the whole space. The right hon. Gentleman takes the hop and the skip along with the hon. Member for the City of Cork. When they are taken, shall we see an end of the alliance of the hon. Member and the right hon. Gentleman, or shall we see them still standing hand in hand contemplating the last spring, and perhaps concocting, with juvenile 1014 emulation, the last jump? Sir, I refuse to go two-thirds of the way with the hon. Member and the right hon. Gentleman. I spoke a moment ago of the Liberal principles to which this Bill is an affront. Another of these which the Bill practically offends is that every man must be protected, not only in the exercise of his public liberties, but also of those individual liberties upon which public liberty is founded—the privilege of doing what is right in his own eyes, so long as he keeps within the law, however small may be the minority in which he finds himself, however unpopular may be his opinions, however complete the isolation of the individual may be. This is what we call liberty. It is the highest product of political civilization. It is the rare and splendid treasure of communities in which the law is absolutely just as between man and man, and in which the law is absolutely supreme. Such communities are entitled to autonomy. But a community in which a system of terrorism has usurped the place of law is not entitled to antonomy. To give it complete autonomy is to perpetuate the trampling under foot of individual liberty. This cannot exist in communities in which faction reigns, in which religious intolerance has got the upper hand, in which the memory of past injustice is allowed to become a potent factor in legislation. In such communities as that, you must have a law which is absolutely just as between man and man; but which is above all Parties, all factions, and all creeds, with which none of them can tamper, and before which all of them must quail. Just such a law it has been our endeavour to set up in Ireland. It will be the proudest distinction which will surround the name of the right hon. Gentleman hereafter that he laboured hard and long to set up such a law. He was on the high road to success. A little more courage, a little more firmness, a little more faith in his own great measures, a little more determination to stamp out every combination against individual liberty, and Ireland might have become a country in which the law reigned, and in which it had been made absolutely just as between man and man. Unfortunately, the right hon. Gentleman has preferred to bring in a Bill which will give faction its fling, which will give an intolerant priesthood 1015 the upper hand, and which will place the minority under the heel of a majority who have everything to avenge, and whose proceedings of late only lend too much colour to the belief that they will avenge everything. This Bill is so notoriously the shipwreck of certain great classes in Ireland that it has been found necessary to introduce another Bill, in order to provide those classes with boats in which to escape; but, as in the case of other shipwrecks of which I have read, the boats ostentatiously provided are far too small to carry off the passengers and crew. When the right hon. Gentleman brought in the twin measure—and these measures are not only twins, but Siamese twins—you cannot destroy the one without killing the other—he gave as one reason for doing so, that it was not fair to throw the task of dealing with the Land Question upon the infant Legislature in Dublin. Was that all? Did not the right hon. Gentleman know that the infant Legislature in Dublin was not to be trusted to deal with the Land Question? And did he not know that without that other Bill the people of this country would never consent to hand over their Protestant fellow-countrymen, and all they possessed, to the tender mercies of the men who would then rule Ireland? The existence of the twin Bill stamps injustice and unfairness all over the Bill which is now before the House; and the treasure of the country is to be poured forth like water, lest the saviours of Ireland in Parliament assembled should make short work of £200,000,000 of British property on the other side of the Channel. Now, Radicals pride themselves upon being, in an especial manner, the guardians of the public purse. We make many speeches and take many divisions in order to save a few thousands here and there to the people. With what face can we go down to them and ask them to embark upon an expenditure of public money, the very first instalment of which will load the National Debt with an incubus as great as the whole incubus of the Russian War?
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
I rise to Order. I wish to ask you, Sir, whether the hon. Gentleman is justified in discussing on the Government of Ireland Bill the Land Purchase Scheme?
§ MR. SPEAKER
It will not be in Order to go into the details of a measure not now immediately before the House; but a casual reference to it would be in Order.
§ MR. LEATHAM
Well, Sir, I will respect the sensitiveness of the hon. Gentleman, and pass away from the subject. The Secretary of State for War has told us that we must be prepared with an alternative scheme if we succeeded in rejecting the measures of the Government. But how has the necessity arisen? It certainly has not arisen because 86 Home Rule Members have been returned to Parliament, for everybody knew that after the Reform Act had come into force some 80 or 90 Home Rulers would be returned. The right hon. Gentleman courted the return of these 86 Home Rulers; but he entirely omitted to tell us that the granting of an extended franchise to Ireland was tantamount to the granting of Home Rule. Whence, then, springs the necessity for this proposal? Is it possible that it has arisen out of what are supposed to be the Parliamentary exigencies of the Party? Remember it was not until the elections were very far advanced, it was not until it was clear that the hon. Member for the City of Cork would hold the balance between the two great Parties in the State, and could give the victory to whomsoever he would, that the country heard a word about the concession of Home Rule. The first whisper came delicately and tremblingly, as though it were ashamed to be heard. It was gainsaid, contradicted, and denied. Then it was re-affirmed and not denied. I mean the whisper that we were to have another Treaty of Kilmainham, but that this time the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member had changed places; that it was not the hon. Member for the City of Cork who was the prisoner of the right hon. Gentleman, but the right hon. Gentleman who was the prisoner of the hon. Member for the City of Cork—yes, Sir; that the greatest Parliamentary general of modern times had gone to surrender himself and his whole army to the Irish camp. It has been my good fortune to watch for many years the skill of the right hon. Gentleman as a great Party Leader. I have admired, as few have admired, his matchless eloquence and his boundless ingenuity—the play of his keen and 1017 subtle genius over every question which came within his reach; the grasp—I had almost said the grip—which the possession of these great gifts has given him over the minds, and even the consciences, of millions of his fellow-subjects; but the thing which I have envied more than anything else, afar off, is the sovereign faculty which the right hon. Gentleman possesses, in his own mind and conscience, and with perfect candour and honesty, of clothing Parliamentary expediency with all the splendid attributes of right. The right hon. Gentleman has trumped the Conservative card, but he has trumped it with a card which cannot be recalled without misery and mischief. This is why we are told that we must be ready with an alternative proposal. Now we did not create the situation, and I do not know that we are bound to find an issue out of it; but if we do, I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that it shall not be an issue of cowardice and panic. It so happens that we are ready with an alternative. It is a very simple one, and requires no extraordinary exercise of virtue. It is that we should dare to be men. The hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) threatens us with Irish obstruction if this Bill is thrown out. We know the worst of Irish obstruction. If obstruction be a crime, where is the Party in this House which is without this sin? If obstruction be a crime, and it be only the guiltless who are to throw the first stone, and all the rest retire, I think that we should have something very like an adjournment of the whole House, and the right hon. Gentleman would be left standing alone with the hon. Member for the City of Cork. But I should like very much to know what great measure of progress Irish Members have obstructed? Where is the blank which they have left in the Statute Book? There are some people who think that failure is written upon everything because the reforming energy of generations cannot be compressed into a single lifetime, and because when we have done our best we must still leave a future and a raison d'être before the Liberal Party. Now, I have been a Reformer all my life; some of my hon. Friends who are sitting opposite me have sometimes called me an ardent Reformer; but, ardent Reformer though I am, I had rather that every reform 1018 should be hung up for the remainder of my lifetime than that we should establish by this Bill an abuse and a grievance upon which the reforming zeal of a generation may expend itself in vain. But the hon. Member for Mayo tells us that if these Bills do not pass we have no alternative but coercion. What does he mean by coercion? It is not coercion to make a man pay his just debts, or keep his hands off his neighbour. That is not coercion. That is government; and it is because this House has shrunk from governing Ireland, as it has never shrunk from governing England and Scotland; because it has shrunk from the duty of making the law respected, making the Queen's writ run everywhere, making life and property safe—yes, at the cost, if need be, of any exercise of force—it is because this House has shrunk from the duty of governing Ireland that we are confronted by the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman. First show that you can rule, and then come down to the House with any number of Bills you please. But the mischief is that the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman, if passed, will not supersede coercion. The meaning of this Bill is that the Government have made their choice between two coercions, and that the coercion which they have chosen is not the coercion of those who defy the law—not the coercion of those who maim and murder by moonlight, but the coercion of those whose only fault is that they are, perhaps, too blindly attached to the laws and liberties and Constitution of their country. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary spoke rather lightly the other day about the Arms Bill, and its possible application to the Loyalists of Ulster.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. JOHN MORLEY) (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
I never said a word about Loyalists or about Ulster.
§ MR. LEATHAM
I should be very sorry to misrepresent my right hon. Friend, but I am in the recollection of the House. The remarks of the right hon. Gentleman were made in answer to a Question. I certainly understood the right hon. Gentleman to refer to the North of Ireland.
§ MR. LEATHAM
The North of Ireland and elsewhere. It is because the 1019 right hon. Gentleman called special attention to the North of Ireland that I ventured to make the observation; and I venture to tell the right hon. Gentleman that the first shot which is fired by the Government with bloodshed against the Loyalists of Ulster will be echoed by an explosion of public opinion over here which will sweep my right hon. Friend and all his Colleagues from that Bench. Sir, I think I know pretty well the feeling of the masses in the great counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire. I think it a happy thing, with the news which we have had from time to time from Ireland, that that feeling has hitherto been restrained. I can imagine news from Ireland which would set that feeling free. I can imagine news from Ireland which would be followed by excesses which we should all deplore, but which none of us could prevent. Now, Sir, we have all read history, and we all know that there is hardly a great nation which has ever existed which has not had to pass, once and again, perhaps, through a crisis which historians are fond of calling the crisis of its fate. What they mean is that upon the way in which that nation has passed through that crisis has depended its future place among the nations of the earth. The great nation upon the other side of the Atlantic, which is bone of our bone, and whose experience and example for a single hour more nearly concern us than everything which ever happened in Austria and Hungary—than anything which ever could happen in Norway and Sweden—that great nation, within the memory of all of us, saw just such a crisis approaching and passed, through it. They did not meet it by bringing in a Bill for the erection of a separate Congress in the Confederate States. They met it by proclaiming upon a hundred battlefields that the law must be upheld. The forces which are arrayed against the unity of the United Kingdom are paltry compared with those which threatened the unity of the United States. For very shame, if from no nobler motive, let us, too, take our stand upon the Union, and say, that for us there can only be one England, one Law, one Parliament, and one Throne.
§ MR. COLERIDGE (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Sir, with great hesitation I rise at this hour for the first time to address 1020 the House. But I think it is high time that someone who sits below the Gangway should assert that he is ready to put in practice those principles in which he professes to believe. There have been too many wandering sheep, and I think there should come from this quarter of the House, at any rate, a short and decisive expression of hearty concurrence with the Bill now before us. Sir, we have been led astray in various ways throughout the debate; but I think we are here met to decide one thing, and one thing only, and that is whether Ireland should be governed as we think she ought to be governed, or whether Ireland should be governed as she thinks she ought to be governed. I venture to think that the only principle that we are met to-night to assert is the one broad principle that Ireland should have an Irish Parliament elected by the Irish people for the purpose of managing Irish affairs. Sir, we have been met to-night by two main arguments. The first argument is that we are destroying the unity of the Empire; the second argument is that the Irish people are not fit to govern themselves. With regard to destroying the unity of the Empire, the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale, who opposes this Bill, states his objection in these words—that he was afraid we might have "different laws administered in a different spirit and on different principles." Sir, when I look around the United Kingdom I see that we have laws founded upon different principles, and I venture to think administered in a different spirit. I call attention to the fact that in this Bill we have but one Monarchy, one Army, and one Navy, one National Debt to which Ireland contributes her share, and fiscal unity for postage and other purposes. You can hardly say that that means disintegration of the Empire. To confound union with law, and unity with the principles on which law is administered, constitutes no argument against this measure. We find the law of landlord and tenant administered upon an entirely different principle in Ireland and in England and Scotland. And when it is desired to assimilate the status of the Scotch tenant to that of the Irish tenant, I point out that hon. Members above the Gangway opposite who talk so loudly of unity of law and Empire have used 1021 every effort at their command to prevent those aspirations being realized. What can be more essential in principle than the connection between Church and State? According to this majestic theory of unity of law, I say that for appearance sake hon. Members opposite should support a scheme for the liberation of religion from State patronage and control in England, Scotland, and Wales. Again, the Marriage Law is entirely different in England and in Scotland; there are crimes in Scotland which are not crimes in England; and there are customs even in some of the English counties which have the force of law, but which have no such force in other counties. No, Sir; laws of countries should be the product of the circumstances, characteristics, and the habits of the people who live in them, and no laws which have not that indigenous quality will be guarded or respected. Something has been said to-night about Irish history, and with regard to the law being administered in a different spirit in England and Ireland. I would ask whether, under the most close Executive Union between the two countries, it has not been administered in a totally different spirit? Before Grattan's Parliament the Legislative Union was absent; but the spirit of the English Executive penetrated to the furthest quarters of the country, and in those times we enacted penal laws which we should have been ashamed to transfer to this country. Grattan said—That the way of safety lay in making the people feel that they were not oppressed in the interests of Protestants and landlords. This the statesmen of that day would not do.In fact, the danger lay in trying to force upon Catholics of Ireland the ascendancy of England by force, fraud, and corruption. Unity of Empire is, no doubt, a high-sounding phrase; but I ask hon. Gentlemen who talk so much about it to consider one point. Year by year thousands of Irishmen are quitting the shores of Ireland and settling in our Colonies, carrying with them hatred of the country which they think has driven them forth. What would be the effect upon Irish Colonial feeling if the aspirations of Ireland for self-government were now to be disappointed? With regard to the argument that the Irish people are not fit to govern themselves, that has been sufficiently disposed of by 1022 the hon. Member who spoke below the Gangway, the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon), who told us that the Irish Members, even if they were Loyalists, were not fools, and that in a matter on which the safety and welfare of their country depended we might rely that the choice of the Irish people would be for the good of the Irish nation. No, Sir; all these fears about the maintenance of law and order are simply the fear of the landlords that rents will go down in Ireland. Go down they must. So long as rents bear no proportion to prices, and so long as landlords think it to their interests to reduce the number of their tenants, so long, apart from the question of Union, must the cup of agrarian bitterness in Ireland be filled to overflowing. To come to first principles, what makes a nation? Its capacity for self-government. The exercise of self-government demands those very qualities which self-government produces; those duties which responsibility involves are the very duties which experience of responsibility dictates. I do not doubt that once you give Ireland the legitimate control of her own affairs, and allow her to choose her own rulers, that those rulers will be the salt of the Irish race. You must consider this one point—that it is with these rulers under the Bill that the British Government will in future have to deal. And, I ask, is it credulous to suppose that they will wish to maintain the benefits of this legislation? Do you suppose that they will abandon all the benefits which have been conferred upon them? No, Sir; I venture to think that we need have no fear of that. Some of our opponents seem to me to undertake a very great responsibility in resisting this measure. There is an argument used by some who say that Irish Members should come here in their full proportion; but my view is that, unless we have control over Irish affairs, I do not see why they should have any control over ours. The second argument is simply a non possumus. This is a just and generous boon to the Irish people—it is a boon offered to the Irish Democracy by the Democracy of England. But if this contest should be prolonged, if it should be embittered, if our debate here should degenerate from argument to disputation, and from disputation to strife, if the contest should 1023 be fruitless, and the measure be postponed, brought in again, proposed and discussed with increasing bitterness, and finally demanded with menace, and yielded with despair and without grace, both nations will feel for long the consequences of such obstinacy and such folly.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Sir R. Assheton Cross.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till Monday next.