§ [SIXTH NIGHT.]41
§ 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.
§ VISCOUNT LYMINGTON (Devon, South Molton)
said, that the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy), and the other Members who had spoken in support of the Bill, had avoided any defence of the provisions in the Bill, and had asked the House to agree to pass this measure not upon the merits of the Bill, and not upon the question as to whether the Bill would practically be a working measure, but to accept the Bill, and, in accepting it, to accept its principle. The hon. Member for Longford said that the Irish Members accepted this Bill because it was a measure for the self-government of Ireland, and his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) wished that the verdict of the House could be given on the question of autonomy. He was bound to say, however, that his right hon. Friend was very vague and indefinite as to what autonomy meant, as he went on to speak of the inclusion of Ulster and the protection of the minority as matters of detail. For his own part, he could not discover in the Bill any intelligible principle at all. Was it local self-government? Why, they knew that hon. Members opposite laughed at and derided any remedy in the direction of County Boards and local self-government. Was it Home Rule? Well, it was not Home Rule in the sense in which Home Rule had been applied to, and existed in, any of our responsible self-governing Colonies. The Secretary of State for War it was, he believed, who had spoken of the great change which had taken place in the Colonies since the grant to them of autonomy—how they had been converted from disloyalty to loyally. He (Viscount Lymington) had travelled in the Colonies, and he had found that there was nothing to which 42 the Colonists attached more importance than the power to manage their own commercial concerns. That was a power which by the Bill was deliberately and most remarkably refused to Ireland. Much had been said of the effect of the measure on the Empire; but he desired to deal with the question as it affected the social condition of the Irish people. The hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread), to whose support the Prime Minister attached so much importance, advocated the passing of the Bill, if he rightly interpreted his speech, because it was desired and supported by the vast majority of the Irish Representatives; but if they were to press this argument to its logical result, if they were to pass this measure because the majority of the Irish Members of the day wished for it, they would, upon precisely the same grounds, have to support any further measure which went for absolute separation. The hon. Member for Bedford and the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Stansfeld) asked them to accept this Bill because they believed it would be likely to lead to a settlement of the Irish Question. Why, we had been settling the Irish Question for the last 30 years. Every piece of land legislation had been introduced in the hope and upon the assurance of its being final. Upon that plea, as a justification and as a supreme reason, the Land Act of 1870 had been accepted; but within 11 years of the passing of that Act social order had been convulsed, and under the pressure of the most violent agrarian agitation Parliament had been forced in 1881 to re-open the whole question of the land. They heard in the debates from 1870 to 1881 most eloquent speeches—and if eloquence and sanguine prophecies could make a country prosperous how prosperous would Ireland be—from Irish Members and from the Prime Minister, putting before the House the view that these measures would bring peace, goodwill, and contentment to the Irish people, and would make Ireland a prosperous country. He himself had been earnestly in favour of that legislation, and he believed it had conferred great benefits on Ireland. But whatever merits or benefits that legislation possessed the experience of the Land Acts did not encourage them to believe that this measure would be a final settlement; and it was a 43 dangerous course to deal with a great political question on trivial grounds, with the probability of having to reconsider the whole relations of the Irish to the English people in a few years' time. The Bill was so far from possessing the elements of permanence that it bristled with opportunities for future irritation between the two countries. First of all, there was the question of the two Orders; and hon. Members who sat below the Gangway, and those who were the mainstay of the Prime Minister with regard to this Bill, spoke, he might say, in terms of derision of this proposal for the two Orders. Eloquent speeches had been made in support of the right of the Irish people to autonomy. If they conceded that right, why had they not given them autonomy? This Bill did not give them autonomy. It surrounded the so-called autonomy which it gave with innumerable restrictions. There was not a single responsible Colony that would accept such a Constitution at our hands. It would be scouted by Australia and New Zealand. There was nothing so much prized by Victoria and Canada as the liberty which they possessed of framing their own commercial system. Then the question of finance had not as yet been adequately discussed. We imposed a tribute on Ireland of £4,500,000 without having previously ascertained whether Ireland was in debt to Great Britain, or Great Britain to Ireland. In 1853 the present Prime Minister laid an Income Tax on Ireland. That policy was opposed at the time not only by Irish Members, but also by English Members of high standing, among whom was Sir Francis Baring, who, on the 28th of May, 1853, stated that whereas England had received a relief of £1,040,000 she was imposing upon Ireland an additional impost of £413,000. They had heard at various times many complaints from the Irish Members of the manner in which Ireland contributed an unfair proportion to Imperial taxation. He was not going into the question as to whether Ireland contributed more than she ought, or whether Ireland was over-taxed; but he said it was absolutely necessary, before fixing Ireland's contribution to the Revenues of the two Kingdoms, that we should know precisely how we stood in this matter. There had been no sufficient investigation of the poverty of the 44 country. The hon. Member for Longford had shown with considerable force the deplorable industrial condition of his country. What were the facts? He had taken the years before the commencement of the present agitation, which had not been affected by an exceptional state of things, and he found that between 1861 and 1881 the population had diminished by more than 600,000—from 5,798,000 to 5,159,000 During the time specified the only increase had been in the agricultural class, and that increase had been chiefly in the congested districts. The industrial class had decreased over 129,000; in this industrial class the great decrease had been in persons dealing with textile fabrics; and in this section the decrease had been over 106,000. He was afraid that this state of things was not likely to improve under the conditions of the Bill. He had heard on absolutely reliable authority that two large houses of business in Belfast had made arrangements to move to Scotland. [Cries of "Name!"] It was not necessary to give the names; but he should be willing to communicate privately with any hon. Member who challenged the accuracy of the statement. The number of persons engaged in the woollen trade had steadily decreased. Take the years 1841 to 1871. They had decreased from 78,000 to 20,000. Those figures were an index, and an eloquent index, to the deplorable condition of the country. True, this decline had occurred under the Union; but the figures showed that what Ireland and the Irish people wanted were not political but social remedies. The hon. Member for Longford rightly urged the importance of developing technical education. Ireland required to have its industries revived, and railways made to develop the industries, and especially to develop the fishing industry. But under this Bill the Irish people would not be able to undertake the social regeneration of their country, for, according to the Prime Minister, the estimated balance of the Irish Parliament would be only a little over £400,000. It was not surprising that the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), during the course of this debate, said on this point—Of course, I understand that he (Mr. Gladstone) was anxious to make the best bargain he could for England;. … but he should also remember that Ireland is a very poor country, and that, with such a small balance as he 45 showed on the Budget of £400,000 a-year, it will be impossible for Ireland to have any credit for floating loans. Irish landlords now can borrow money … for the improvement of their estates; Irish tenants can borrow money for improving their farms; local bodies can borrow money for sanitary purposes within their jurisdiction. All these are very important matters. But we shall have to surrender all these under the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman."—(3 Hansard,  1131.)What security would the Irish Government, which this Bill purported to create, have to raise money upon? They would have no security upon which to raise money except by the rating of real property. If they attempted to do this, he ventured to say they would be encountered by very great difficulties. Irish constituencies would put pressure upon their Members probably for a large measure of outdoor relief; at all events, one of the first considerations that would be forced upon the Irish Parliament would be the poverty of the country. Then the Irish Government would be confronted by the religious difficulty. Although the Irish people were so poor, they entirely supported their own Church. Such a voluntary rate came to be practically an obligatory rate; and if the Government put a heavy rate on real property they would provoke the resistance of a very powerful interest—the Catholic Church. In other countries local self-government had produced difficulties of taxation, and State after State in the American Union had been induced to place the strongest limitations upon borrowing and rating powers. Ireland, unlike the Colonies, had not got unlimited land or unlimited capabilities. Irish Members might be quite honest in saying that Ireland would not rush into wild excesses; but he ventured to say the Irish Parliament would have to resist very considerable pressure. They had seen it in that House, where the Government of the day, whether Liberal or Conservative, were subject to very considerable pressure by Gentlemen below the Gangway, who wanted to make considerable demands on the public purse. He ventured to say the Irish Government would have to resist, without the same force of resistance, very heavy attacks upon its public purse. If real property were recklessly encroached upon in order to meet demands for local purposes, what would become of the revenue reserved for the police—[An hon. MEMBER: Do 46 without them.]—poor relief, and education? An hon. Member said they could do without police; but even supposing that the passing of this Bill removed agrarian crimes, it could not alter human nature, and there existed no Government in the world which could dispense with the primary and indispensable means of maintaining the authority of law and order. But upon whose shoulders would fall the burden of that insolvency which must result from this Bill? If the Irish Government became bankrupt English and Scotch taxpayers would again be called upon for money. They did not, under this Bill, relieve themselves of the responsibility. They abandoned the power, but they retained the responsibility; and he said that if under this measure they were to create an Irish Parliament and an Irish Executive, without the means to carry on the Government, they would find the English taxpayer and the Scotch taxpayer would again be called upon to subscribe the money. The Prime Minister was mistaken in his diagnosis of the disease. The great difficulty in Ireland was not political, but social. At the root of the difficulties were the soil, the climate, and the habits of the people. No political movement since Catholic Emancipation had excited any degree of enthusiasm in Ireland. The movement of Smith O'Brien in 1848 was only part of the general movement against the state of things created in 1815. So social was the impulse that led to that movement that he did not believe the abortive battle of Slievenagamon would have been fought but for the distress in Skibbereen. Mr. O'Leary, who, although he had undergone a sentence for treasonfelony, he (Viscount Lymington) believed to be an honest man, who certainly was the only conspicuous figure in that movement, was firmly of opinion that the political measures which they were now discussing were not the remedies which Ireland required. The abortive attempt to capture Chester 20 years ago was hardly a political movement. Mr. Davitt was the leader of a Socialist rather than a political movement. Whatever enthusiasm was created by the Disestablishment of the Irish Church was religious. It was due to the fact that the Act put an end to the supremacy of one section of the Irish people over an- 47 other section. At present, and in consequence of the Liberal policy in the past, there exists in Ireland absolute religious equality. The Bill would destroy this great work of the Liberal Party. The 4th clause of the Bill provided that the Irish Legislature should not make any law respecting the establishment or the endowment of religion, for prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or conferring any privilege upon any denomination; but he found that Clause 19, Section 2, placed the subject at the mercy of the Catholic majority in the Catholic Parliament, who, notwithstanding that the Irish Legislature was prohibited by this Bill from making laws relating to certain subjects, might, with the assent of Her Majesty in Council first obtained, appropriate any amount of the Irish public Revenue, or any tax or duty imposed by such Legislature for the purpose, or in connection with such subjects. ["No, no!"] Well, the Bill said so. The point was that "the assent of Her Majesty in Council" should be given. Who was Her Majesty in Council? If hon. Members referred to Clause 7 they would find that the power vested in Her Majesty was to be carried out by the Lord Lieutenant. But Clause 27 provided that the Lord Lieutenant might be a Catholic; and who were the Council? He found no definition of the Council, or, if there were one, it was in Clause 2, where it said that with the exception of the restrictions mentioned in the Bill it should be lawful for Her Majesty, by and with the advice of the Irish Legislative Body, to make laws. Under this Bill, Clause IV., which was introduced into the measure with the apparent intention of preventing the Catholic Parliament from establishing and endowing the Catholic Church, was entirely controverted and set at nought by the clause which decreed that the Lord Lieutenant, whom the Bill expressly enabled to be a Roman Catholic, acting with the Irish Ministry, who would be the creatures of a Roman Catholic Parliament, was able to override and practically to make what laws in these matters he pleased. He should be glad if his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General would clear up these points. They had no definition of what the Council was to be, and he should like to have the question he had 48 put answered. He looked at the Bill as it stood, and it seemed to him that under it the protection and the rights of the Protestants of Ulster were entirely destroyed. The hon. Member for Longford said that if the Bill passed the Irish Parliament would not be a Parliament of politicians. He did not know what the hon. Member for Longford meant by that; he supposed that he meant it would be a Parliament of Irishmen; and in that sense he thought it was very likely that it would be a Parliament the objects of which would not be political; but he was convinced that it would be a Parliament of men who would use their political machinery for social objects. Where would hon. Members be but for the Land Question? Where would the hon. Member for Monaghan be but for the Healy Clause? The National League was not only the successor, but it was the Land League with an altered name. The Nationalist seats in Ulster were carried, not by the cry of Home Rule, but by the cry of the land. The Bill did not attempt to deal with the social question. There was no reference in it to the 200,000 small holdings in Ireland which represented so much woe, misery, and poverty. The idea of home in the mind of the cottagers in the South and West of Ireland, of those who formed the majority of the Nationalist Party, was not Ireland, but the plot of ground on which they were born and lived. Their patriotism was not the patriotism of Ireland, but the patriotism of the church steeple. The Bill could not settle the main root of the Irish Question. That had always been—that was to-day—agrarian. That fearful difficulty could only be met and dealt with by the Imperial Parliament; and whatever might be the ultimate future relation of classes in Ireland, it could not allow this agrarian question, or expect this question to be satisfactorily settled by the Irish Parliament. Then there was the question of finance. The British taxpayers were making great sacrifices, and he believed the English and Scotch taxpayers would make great sacrifices to settle the Irish Question; but they must feel they had some real security for their money. Such security they could not get under any scheme for the social regeneration of Ireland, un- 49 less they retained the purse strings and the power in the hands of the Imperial Parliament. The real causes of the distress in Ireland were world-wide. They were neither of exclusively Irish, nor even of exclusively British origin. Ireland was essentially an agricultural country; and the depression in the prices of agricultural produce, which was at the bottom of all the honest inability to pay rent in Ireland, was felt as strongly and as cruelly in many parts of the Continent and in many parts of Britain as it was in Ireland. Doubtless there were in Ireland dishonest combinations to prevent the payment of rent; but there were great numbers of honest Irish farmers who had not been able to get their lawful rent out of the ground; and this not through their fault or through the fault of the ground so much as from the fact, which people refused to recognize, that the agricultural interest throughout Europe was swamped by an enormous increase of cheaper supplies from the outlying countries of the world. How to meet this great and growing tide, which threatened to drown out the agricultural industries of Europe, was a question requiring the most extensive knowledge of commerce and finance, the widest experience, and the highest impartiality. What could be more absurd than to confide such a problem to a local vestry under a Bill which forbade it any control over the Customs, over the currency, over trade, navigation, and finance? The Bill forbade the mock Parliament it pretended to create from dealing, either wisely or unwisely, with a single one of the great essential elements of a country's prosperity. The hon. Member (Mr. Dillon) said—An enormous responsibility rested on the shoulders of any man who would send them back to the suffering people of Ireland with the winter approaching, and empty-handed.Empty-handed! Why, this Bill would send them back to Ireland, not only empty-handed, but with their empty hands tied behind their backs. They were threatened with a Dissolution. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) had threatened many hon. Members with the loss of their seats. That was a threat which he was able to bear with perfect complacency. He appreciated and valued highly the honour of a seat in the House; he valued the 50 support and the sympathy of his constituents—and he believed that he had their support in the line he was now taking; but he ventured to say that he would rather lose his seat in the House than accept it upon the terms which some hon. Members wished to impose. It had been said that a great responsibility rested on the shoulders of those who opposed the Bill. Great as that responsibility, no doubt, was, it was trifling as compared with that of those who had altered their opinions and yet had not changed their convictions. If some of those who opposed the Bill lost their seats, they would prefer to do so rather than become the humble and blind adherents of a policy which he was convinced was bad for Ireland, certain to lead to impossible relations between it and this country, fatal to the supremacy of Parliament, and to the efficiency and authority of the British Empire.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir CHARLES RUSSELL) (Hackney, S.)
The noble Lord, with his usual ability, has gone through many of the topics that have been referred to by previous speakers; but I am sorry to say that he has marred, to some extent, the effect of his speech by claiming for himself that he was acting in the course which he was now taking on high principles and honest convictions, while at the same time he did not acknowledge that those who differed from him were actuated equally with himself by high motives. I confess I am a little puzzled to know what the noble Lord means when he speaks of men changing their opinions without changing their convictions, because I thought a man's convictions depended upon his opinions; and if he changed his convictions, that he must necessarily change his opinions. The noble Lord said that he was unable to discover what the principle of this Bill is. I will endeavour, in the course of a few minutes, to enlighten him on this point. He said that the Parliament of this country has been for very many years trying to settle the Irish Question. As an Irishman, I gratefully admit that this Parliament has devoted much time to the consideration of the Irish Question; and I think that a great part of the Members of this House have approached this question with a desire to deal with Ireland in a just and even a generous 51 spirit. But what have been the characteristics of the legislation which has in the main been passed? It has been marked by two faults. The fault is that, as a rule, it came too late; and the second fault, and the more serious one, is that the benefits which you have offered to Ireland in the way of legislation are not what the Irish people wanted, not what their Representatives wanted, but what you, the majority of Representatives in this House from England and Scotland, thought they ought to want. But while the noble Lord has made a speech of some interest on this matter, I confess that he has left me in doubt as to what are the real grounds of his objection to the Bill. Like a great many speeches which have been addressed to the House, the noble Lord has left me in doubt whether his objection to the Bill was not that it gave too little power to the Irish Legislative Body; because it has been a curious characteristic of a great many speakers that, having dwelt in one part of their speeches on the powers given to the Legislative Assembly in Ireland in order to base upon it the argument—the futile argument, as I believe—that the supremacy of this House was invaded, they have immediately turned round, and, with the view of exciting a spirit of discontent among the Irish Members, they have maintained that, after all, it was a miserable semblance of self-government that was being given to Ireland, so "cribbed, cabined, and confined" was it. Again, I am at a loss to understand whether the noble Lord is objecting, as regards the financial view of this question, that the amount of tribute which Ireland is to pay is too much or too little. In a great portion of his speech the noble Lord dwelt on the poverty—I am afraid it is too true, speaking of a large portion of the community—of the Irish people, and the noble Lord's conclusions seemed to point in the direction that the tribute was fixed at too high a figure. But the noble Lord will assist the Irish Members if he succeeds in inducing the House and the Government to take that view, and I have no doubt the Irish Members will be grateful to him if he does so. The only other point which the noble Lord referred to was the conflict, as he thought, which exists between Clause 4 and Clause 19 of the Bill; and the noble Lord came to the 52 conclusion, by a reference which was not accurate to other parts of the Bill, that Her Majesty in Council, in Clause 19, referred to the Irish Council. The noble Lord will, I hope, take my assurance that this is not so. I will give this further assurance to the noble Lord—that if those two clauses as they stand confer a power on the Irish Legislative Body, contrary to Clause 4, to endow any religion in Ireland, Her Majesty's Government will be glad of the assistance of the noble Lord to remove all uncertainty on the point. I now turn from the speech of the noble Lord to make some general observations. I recollect in the debate on the introduction of the measure that, following the example set me in other parts of the House, I made in truth a second-reading speech. I will not go over the ground which I then trod. I would prefer, without repeating those general arguments with which I then endeavoured to justify to the House the necessity for dealing with this question, and the necessity for such a Bill as this, to come as speedily as I may to the objections made in various quarters to the Bill. Before I do that it will be necessary on my part to classify the objections, because such classification is essential to the right understanding of this question. I should also wish to put before the House with precision what I conceive to be the cardinal and the essential principle of the Bill, upon the rejection or the acceptance of which on the part of the House must depend the question whether the vote is to be "Aye" or "No" on the second reading. What, then, is the cardinal principle of this Bill? The cardinal principle of this Bill, as I conceive it to be, is that it seeks to establish a Legislative Body in Ireland which shall have legislative and administrative functions, and to which the Irish Executive shall be responsible. I admit that as regards all Members of this House who are opposed to the granting of legislative powers to Ireland in any shape, or under any conditions and subject to any safeguards, the Government can say nothing to induce them to vote for this measure. But that is the dividing line. And equally I claim from all who are in favour, under safeguards and under conditions, of granting a legislative power to a Legislative Assembly in Ireland their vote on the second reading of the Bill, even though 53 it be that their support at the later stages of this Bill may depend on the adequacy and character of the safeguards and the conditions by which this legislative power is to be accompanied. It is obvious that in this I say nothing that is new. I am merely relating what has been said by the Prime Minister, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and the Secretary of State for War. Now, I come to the classification of the objectors. First, there are hon. Gentlemen representing the great Party opposite. There is no doubt about their opposition, and I make no pretence to claim their vote in favour of the second reading. But the air is a good deal clearer in regard to this matter. We now know what is the view and what is the policy of the Party opposite. We know now that, in addition to the famous declaration of policy of the 26th of January, which meant suppression of the National League—[Opposition cheers]—we have the supplementary or the complementary policy of 20 years of "resolute" administration of the law. I observe that that observation has not been so loudly applauded by hon. Gentlemen opposite as that regarding the suppression of the National League. I must not for one moment describe that policy as an announcement of a coercive policy. It would be to offend the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury), who gave expression to it; but he seems to have since recoiled from that interpretation of his policy as if affrightedAt the sound himself had made.The second class of objectors are those led by my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) and by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen). I have tried; but I have found myself at last compelled to admit that it is exceedingly difficult to draw any very clear line of demarcation between their position and the position of at least a great many hon. Members belonging to the Party opposite. I find that the noble Marquess, in a speech at Bradford the other day, said that he had always felt strong objections to even making the attempt to give Ireland the management of her own affairs. It results from further declarations of the noble Marquess that the greatest concession he finds himself able—acting, as we all know, from the highest and most 54 conscientious motives—to make to the demands of this occasion and to the desire of Ireland for national self-government is what I must describe as a series of homœopathic doses of local government to be administered at intervals of good behaviour. I admit that that is perfectly consistent with the noble Marquess's attitude on this question. But I come to another class of objectors, who I confess perplex me much. I mean those who may be said to be represented by my right hon. Friends the Members for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) and the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan). I have some difficulty in realizing exactly what are the grounds of their objections to the principle of this Bill, if I am right in stating what that principle is. I have stated its principle to be the concession of a Legislative Assembly in Ireland with legislative and administrative functions; and I find that the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale, referring to the distinction—the broad and grave distinction—between his own position and theirs, said the other day that both of those right hon. Gentlemen were in favour—I am quoting his words—of conceding to Ireland a large measure of autonomy. We have not yet been informed what those right hon. Gentlemen mean by this concession to Ireland of a large measure of autonomy. I will not stop to discuss—it would be impertinent to do so—the etymological meaning of autonomy. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Inverness (Mr. Finlay), who the other night made a very able speech, said that autonomy might mean anything, from power to deal with a Gas Bill up to power of absolute self-government, ending, it might be, in separation. I want to know in what sense, or in which of these various senses, the word autonomy was there used? The word is commonly understood and generally accepted among politicians as meaning powers of self-government; and the time has come, I think, when we should have some authoritative statement from those two right hon. Gentlemen as to the meaning they attach to this term. I would remind the House that as far back as the year 1874 my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham expressed himself strongly—the word was not then autonomy—in favour of Home Rule for Ireland, and that he coupled that state- 55 ment with the further statement that one advantage that he would expect to derive from it would be this—that proceedings in this Parliament would move at a quicker pace; that they then moved only at the rate of what he called the Parliamentary train—that was not quick enough for him; and that he expected the pace to be increased in the absence of the Irish Members. I think we have a right to know whether my right hon. Friend has changed his views on that point, and his grounds for changing them. We know that since that time, in 1885, the right hon. Gentleman put before the country a scheme which might be shortly described as a scheme for County Boards, plus Provincial or National Councils; but we also know that that scheme is confessed by its author to be now behind the exigencies of the occasion, because the House will remember that on the occasion of the explanation given by my right hon. Friend of the reasons why he left the Cabinet he used this remarkable language—Those National Councils I, for one, am not likely to put forward again. I no longer regard that scheme as a solution.And he went on to say that after the proposals of the Government—It is only a very large proposal which can, at any future time, be accepted as a solution of this vast question. I shall look for the solution in the direction of federation."—(3 Hansard,  1207–8.)It has been again and again pointed out that federation presupposes Legislative Assemblies to federate; and I would point out to my right hon. Friend two things—first, that if he thinks the time is ripe for any such scheme of federation, or may be in the course of a few years ripe for it, this Bill, if it becomes law, will be no bar, but rather an aid, to its adoption. I am pronouncing no opinion on that scheme of federation, if the country should see fit to adopt it. But my right hon. Friend is a practical politician, and I want to point out to him that things are in this condition as regards Legislative Assemblies to be federated, or as regards the state of opinion in the Colonies and in England and Scotland on the question—that it is impossible to hold out the least prospect that within any reasonable time a scheme of federation will be ripe for practical 56 application. And I want to ask, is this question of Irish government, of Irish social order, of doing something to satisfy the national demand so long persisted in, and now so urgent, to stand over to any such remote period? And if it is not, I have to ask my two right hon. Friends, both of them eminent politicians, both of them practical men, what is the practical scheme which they suggest for dealing at this time and in the necessity of the case with this urgent question? Well, one great point that has been urged by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham is the question of the exclusion of the Irish Members from this House. I want the House to allow me to follow out the idea of the argument based on the exclusion of the Irish Members. In the first instance, let me draw the attention of those who are impressed with this point to the fact that the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale has gone the length of declaring that the grafting on this Bill of a provision for the inclusion of the Irish Members would make the Bill, in his judgment, infinitely worse than it is. This was made a little clearer the other night; and I want to ask those who look for light and leading from the right hon. Gentlemen the Members for West Birmingham and the Border Burghs, have they noticed this declaration? My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Inverness, the other night, made this still more clear, because he said, in effect—"Graft on this Bill a provision for the inclusion of the Irish Members, and that provision, with the consequential alterations, will make it such a Bill as to be universally acceptable on this side of the House." Now, I want to know this—had my hon. Friend warrant for that statement? Or did it mean—what it must have meant—that if it satisfied the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale, who was against all legislative authority being given to an Assembly in Ireland—if it satisfied the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh, who is dead against any power to a Legislative Body in Ireland—it would have been the abandonment and destruction of the vital and cardinal principle of the Bill. [Mr. GOSCHEN: Hear, hear!] The right hon. Member for East Edinburgh, I observe, cheers that as being a correct statement of the case. Again, I make 57 my appeal to those hon. Members who desire to see effect given, with the safeguards which they consider adequate, to the principle of a Legislative Assembly in Ireland; I want them to note the fact that the only concession which would conciliate the opposition to which I have adverted is a concession that would destroy the Bill, Well, but my difficulty in this matter does not even end here; because what have we learnt through the ordinary sources of information? As I have pointed out, the views of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham and the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs are widely divergent from those of the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale and the right hon. Member for East Edinburgh. Yet we were informed that on the occasion of the sealing and signing of the Devonshire House compact they were in "substantial accord." The hon. Baronet the Member for the Brigg Division of Lincolnshire (Sir Henry Meysey-Thompson), in the diversity of opinion that appeared to have prevailed, is reported to have asked the question whether the noble Lord and the right hon. Member for West Birmingham had agreed on an alternative policy; and the answer that was given, according to the published accounts in the newspapers—first by the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale, and afterwards assented to by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham—was, "Yes; we are in substantial accord." I want to know what is the basis of the settlement?
§ SIR HENRY MEYSEY-THOMPSON (Lincolnshire, Brigg)
I may, perhaps, be allowed to say that that is not quite a correct account of what took place. I did not ask whether an agreement had been arrived at, but whether it was not time that some agreement should be thought of; and, as far as I remember, the answer of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham was that the question was premature.
§ SIR CHARLES RUSSELL
The hon. Gentleman's statement throws a very curious light upon what was passing. For my own part, I have no knowledge of the matter except that which appears in the newspapers. But does the right hon. Member for West Birmingham mean that the only basis of action and of concert between himself 58 and the noble Lord is the desire to wreck the fortunes of this Bill? Does that concert and that action rest upon that hoped-for wreck as their main support and prop; and does the right hon. Member mean that the object of those who oppose this Bill is with that wreck to drive this Government from power in order to allow the advent to power of the Party opposite, or of a Government which shall be supported by that Party? Do the opponents of this measure prefer the homoeopathic policy of the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale, or do they prefer the more robust policy of the noble Marquess who leads the Conservative Party? These are questions which it is desirable to have answered. Now, I will turn from these objectors to an entirely different class of objectors—I mean to those who desire to give legislative powers, under what they consider to be the proper safeguards and conditions, to a Legislative Assembly in Ireland—in other words, to a class of objectors who do not base their objections on matters of detail in order to hide and to cloak their objections to the principle of the Bill, but who are honestly criticizing the Bill, to the principle of which they are favourable. To such objectors let me in a few words endeavour to state plainly how this Bill, if it becomes law, will be likely to work as a practical measure. And, in doing this, let me assure the House that I will not condescend to argue this question as though the Irish nation were to be treated as a nation of fools or of criminals. I claim, in forecasting their probable course of action, the right of the Irish nation to be regarded as a people having a fair share of natural acuteness, and of such intelligence as will enable them to deal with their own interests and concerns in a practical and business-like manner. With reference to the proposal for having two Orders in the Irish Parliament, I do not defend that as a very symmetrical or logical arrangement; but I look upon it as an arrangement not suggested by the judgment of the Prime Minister, but rather proposed as a concession to the fears, which I believe to be ill-founded, of hon. Members which have found expression in this House. I should like to point to the alternative way—or perhaps I should say the contradictory way—in which the question of safe- 59 guards and conditions has been presented to the House. There is one class of men who say that this measure will create an Irish Parliament with absolute power which will lead to the disruption of the Empire and the separation of the Kingdoms, and that, therefore, the power of the Imperial Parliament will vanish into air. On the other hand, there is a class of men who say that the safeguards which have been introduced into this Bill show a great distrust on the part of the Government of the new Body they are about to create. Hit high or hit low, it is impossible to please. The truth is that they do not want to be pleased. If we show them that the Irish Parliament will not be a co-ordinate Parliament with the Imperial Parliament, but subordinate to it, they say that we shall not satisfy Ireland; and if we show them that we have given Ireland in such subordinate Legislative Assembly full practical scope, they say that we are about to do that which is fatal to the integrity of the Empire and the supremacy of this Parliament. With regard to the veto to be exercised by the Lord Lieutenant, it is true that it is to be exercised constitutionally by the Lord Lieutenant on the advice of his Irish Ministers; but he is appointed by the Crown, and may refer to the Advisers of the Crown, at whose instance he is appointed. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Inverness appears to think that great difficulties will arise with reference to a possible conflict of judicial decisions upon the Acts that might be passed by the Irish Legislative Body. These questions will ultimately be decided by Her Majesty's Privy Council sitting in London. My hon. and learned Friend appears to think that it is a strange thing that the exercise of authority by a Legislative Body should be subject to judicial interpretation; but that must always be the case where there is either a written Constitution or a subordinate statutory Parliament. I listened with pleasure to the graceful periods of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bury (Sir Henry James); but I must confess that I was more pleased with the grace and eloquence of his remarks than I was impressed by his legal argument. My right hon. and learned Friend said— 60The real unity of a Kingdom must depend upon the unity of its laws. I do not mean by that that there must be identity of laws. … It is not the identity of manufacture; it is the identity of the manufacturing power that makes the unity of a Kingdom."—(3 Hansard,  916.)I should wish to ask my right hon. and learned Friend whether there is any distinction between a united Kingdom and a united Empire? There is none except that in the one case there is a King or a Queen, and in the other an Emperor or an Empress as the Executive Head. It will be sufficient for my purpose to point out that in this Empire there are something like 30 distinct Legislative Bodies, which are practically absolute within their own limits and within their own constitution. But my right hon. and learned Friend went on to say that if this Bill passes the unity of the Kingdom would be gone, because there would be two co-equal Legislative Bodies. But it follows from the very creation of a subordinate Legislative Assembly that the Parliament which creates such Assembly—the Parliament which sits at Westminster—will still have paramount control on all questions, and exclusive control on Imperial questions, while that in Ireland will merely have power to deal strictly with Irish questions. In other words, let me ask whether, if at the time of the Union it had been decided that the Imperial Parliament should have power over Imperial concerns, and that the Irish Parliament should have power over Irish affairs, we should have had a less united Kingdom than we shall have if this Bill passes? I cannot but help hearing the observation which has just been made by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Randolph Churchill), although I do not think that it was intended to reach my ears. The noble Lord says that this is a mere point of special pleading. I can assure the noble Lord that nothing was further from my intention than to offer to the House a point of special pleading. In my opinion, my argument does not involve, but disposes of a point of special pleading. Now I come to another point, and that is the great contention of the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir Henry James), and of the hon. and learned Member for Inverness (Mr. Finlay), that this Parliament ceases to be a paramount Parliament, and that the authority vested in the new Parlia- 61 ment to be created makes it a co-ordinate Parliament. The suggestion my right hon. and learned Friend makes fails to have very much practical weight for two reasons. First of all, because my right hon. and learned Friend and my hon. and learned Friend did not commit themselves as a matter of legal opinion to the fact that it was so, and I should indeed be surprised if they had; and, in the next place, my right hon. and learned Friend and my hon. and learned Friend go on to say, almost in the same breath, that even if their suggestion is not well founded, that if, as a fact, this Parliament retains the paramount authority, their objection holds equally strong, for it is not intended that the paramount authority should constantly intervene. The noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) made this very clear. He said—It does not, in my opinion, matter whether from the point of view of Constitutional lawyers Parliament will still have the power to legislate on Irish matters or not.That coming from the noble Lord is intelligible and perfectly consistent with the noble Lord's general attitude, and means nothing else but that the noble Lord is against the principle of any concession of legislative power to Ireland. The Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. John Morley) said, and with my hon. and learned Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Bryce) has made it clear what was the intention of the framers of this Bill. From what they have said, there can be no doubt remaining as to what those intentions are. What is meant is this—that this Bill is the expression of what, for want of a better phrase, may be called a Parliamentary compact, by which it is intended that the Irish people shall have the exclusive right to deal with matters that concern themselves, and that Parliamentary compact, solemnly made and solemnly entered into, is to be as solemnly observed. But there remains inherent in this Parliament a paramount authority, of which it cannot, if it would, divest itself—are serve force not intended to be used, but which exists for use in any grave emergency. I may observe in passing that this Bill leaves untouched all the six reasons upon which Mr. Pitt based his arguments for the necessity of the Union. 62 I want to make it clear that not one of the reasons which Mr. Pitt gave as a necessity for the Act of Union is touched. They are all reserved for this Parliament, and none of them can be dealt with by the Legislative Assembly in Ireland. But the exclusion of Irish Members from this House is compained of. Sir, if those who so complain mean that they require their presence here in their present numbers at all times and for all purposes—if they insist upon that, then it is because they object to the concession of any legislative power to Ireland. No one has suggested that it is practicable or right to give the Irish Members in their full strength power to deal with affairs that concern them in Ireland, and also to give them the right to meddle with the affairs of Englishmen and Scotchmen. The Prime Minister has made this clear, and I could not hope to make it clearer. I can only say that if any practicable scheme could be suggested which would not bring confusion upon this Parliament, and by which the presence of some at least of the Irish Members could be secured, the Prime Minister has said—and it has been repeated by other Members of the Cabinet—that the Government are anxious and desirous to favour such a scheme. I now come to the question of Ulster, which, as I am an Ulster man myself, I should like to say a word or two upon. I believe that the objections that come from Ulster are in part objections by persons who really entertain, as I believe, utterly unfounded fear; but I believe that by far the greater volume of noise and protest that comes from Ulster is a manufactured thing. It consists of a good deal of bluster and a good deal of bunkum; but this House need not be very much frightened when it recalls to its recollection that at least as strong opinions were expressed, and as violent sentiments uttered, in 1868, when Parliament was proposing to deal with the Irish Church. My right hon. and learned Friend the senior Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket), of whom I desire to speak in terms of the greatest personal respect, used language on that occasion which, coming from a man like my right hon. and learned Friend, and viewed in the light of what has since happened, sounds absurd and ridiculous. 63 The right hon. and learned Gentleman said—I appeal to our brother Protestants in England, Scotland, and Wales to stand by us in this the last awful hour of our fortune. And we call upon them not to drive us again to that old kind of material physical resistance which accompanied the first protest of our fathers three centuries ago, which accompanied the second protest in this Kingdom of our fathers 200 years ago, which accompanied the glorious struggle for liberty and Protestantism of our predecessors, and whose protest, by act and word, they were willing to seal with their blood in martyrdom and battle.It was not only a gentleman of high character and attainment like my right hon. and learned Friend who used that language, but just as there now are the Rev. Mr. Hanna and the Rev. Mr. Kane, so in 1867 there were clerics, preaching, forsooth! a gospel of peace, who indulged; in anticipations similar to those I have quoted. The Rev. Mr. Ferrers and the Rev. Mr. Ellis then used language like that of the hon. Member for Ballykilbeg—I beg his pardon—for Belfast (Mr. Johnston), who is not exactly cast in a martial mould, but whose language breathes blood and thunder. In 1868 Mr. Ferrers, speaking at Rathmines, said—If the Church Establishment be destroyed in Ireland, there must not—there shall not—be peace in Ireland. If they think that the Protestants of Ireland will succumb without a struggle they know not the men with whom they have to deal. If they want us to die as martyrs we will die as soldiers first.The Rev. Thomas Ellis, of New Bliss, speaking at the same time, also insisted upon dying. He said—We will fight as men alone can fight who have the Bible in one hand and the sword in the other; we will fight—nay, if needs be, we will die as our fathers died before us, die as our sons will die who succeed us—yes, we will die if needs be, and this will be our dying cry, echoed and re-echoed from earth to Heaven and from one end of Ulster to the other, 'No Popery, no surrender.'It seems to me that a great many of these Orange orators who were so loud-voiced about their Protestantism and about their loyalty had certainly a mistaken and a strange view of loyalty, and had allowed their so-called Protestantism and loyalty entirely to eclipse their Christianity. I have no word of abuse to utter of the rank and file of the Orange Party. Although I lived in Ulster for many years, I never uttered 64 against them one word of abuse. I thought them misguided—greatly misguided—but I thought they were but creatures in the hands of others—of men who used them for selfish and personal ends. No words are too strong for those who fan the flame of religious rancour, and who divide, while they plunder, the farmers of Ulster. I speak of the landlords, or some at least of the landlords of Ulster, who have been grossly rack-renting their tenants; aye, their Orange tenants. In point of fact, Ulster is the most rack-rented Province in Ireland. But as far as Ulster is concerned, it appears to me that the case stands thus. The Orangemen are opposed to this Bill, and a considerable and powerful section of the Liberals are also opposed to the Bill. [An hon. MEMBER: All] No; not all. A considerable and, as I believe, a growing number among the Protestant Liberals in Ulster are in favour of this measure. ["No!"] The hon. Member for the county of Down says "No;" but I say on the information I have received, "Yes;" and I say that this question of religious persecution is a bogey and a bugbear to affright the people of Ulster. In those subjects which concern the general good no class of Irishmen desires to draw a distinction based upon religion. I have before me an account of some of the opinions of leading Protestants in Ireland with reference to this Bill. I will only cite the opinion of Mr. Charles Eason, a gentleman who has for 30 years represented in Ireland the important commercial firm with which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division (Mr. W. H. Smith) is connected, and I think that opinion speaks volumes. Mr. Eason said—I have lived in Ireland for more than 30 years, and have had the control of a large and ever-increasing business with branches all over Ireland. I have never known an instance of Catholic intolerance towards me, nor towards the business which I have governed, nor does memory recall any cases of intolerance from Catholics coming under my knowledge at any time. I should not have the slightest fear to in trust my own liberties and those of my family to the control of an Irish Home Rule Parliament in connection with the Bill of Mr. Gladstone.I cannot but regret that the noble Lord opposite could have lent the sanction of his name, and that my right hon. Friend the 65 Member for West Birmingham should I have lent the sanction of his name, not merely to the expression of fears, but to the statement that the Ulster Protestants have good reason to fear what might happen if this Bill should pass. The Catholics of Ireland have not justified, as far as I know, any such statement. We are not going back, I hope, to the days of religious intolerance. It is true to say, to the discredit of all religions, that among their so-called professors there has been at one time or other of their histories the stain and the disgrace of persecution. What religion is there whose so-called professors are free from it? It is time that the hateful record was closed, and that we should judge men by the circumstances, not of the past, but of the present time. One word more with reference to Ulster and I have done with this branch of the subject. The fatal consequences which have followed upon our system of government in Ireland have in part caused, and in part accentuated, the division of classes and religious differences. The minority in Ireland generally had all the dignities and the powers of government in the country. You have taught them not to conform to Irish opinion, but to look to opinion beyond Ireland. Now, in every sound system of representative government the governors ought to be accountable to those whom they govern. In Ireland, however, it is not so. The governors care, as they have been taught to care, but little for Irish opinion; and this state of things has prevented that steady growth of local public opinion which, when it is wisely directed, is one of the most potent instruments in shaping the government of a people. We ought to endeavour to create an Irish public opinion, and to make it racy of the soil. I now desire to point out the wonderful parallel of Ireland with the case of Canada. There, as in the case of Ireland, a protest was made by a minority. In Canada there were really two nations speaking different languages; but ultimately a means was found of uniting them in one Legislative Assembly, and practically reconciling their differences. Then, as now, we had appeals which might be used to-day by the opponents of this Bill to save the minority of British settlers from the tyranny of the majority of French descent and professing the Catholic faith. History has shown 66 how groundless were the fears then expressed. But I cannot dwell upon that subject. Then it is said that wealth and intellect are arrayed against this Bill. Well, wealth is a very good thing, and intellect is probably a better thing. But I do not admit that wealth and intellect are arrayed against this Bill. They may be, if the phrase is used, to signify that the aristocracy and the plutocracy are arrayed against it. Have they been very successful allies in the past? Wealth and intellect, I think it may truly be said, counselled Louis XVI. when he refused to make concessions and reforms which might have saved the French Monarchy and avoided the French Revolution. Certainly it could be said that wealth and intellect were the counsellors of George III. in his insane policy with reference to the American Colonies. Wealth and intellect certainly opposed, until the eve of a revolution, the granting of Catholic Emancipation. And it is hardly too much to say that, in the sense in which hon. Members opposite use these words, wealth and intellect have opposed all great concessions to the extension of popular rights. They have opposed the broadening and the laying down firmly of that enduring foundation upon which the great institutions of this country now securely rest. So much, Sir, for wealth, and so much for intelligence in the sense in which they are called upon to advocate opposition to this Bill. There may be in details objections to the Bill, no doubt; but was there ever any Bill on any such subject which might not be open to objection, particularly on a subject so difficult and so complex as this? I ask those who are favourable to the principle of the Bill to do the best they can to assist the Government in overcoming the objections. I ask nothing from hon. Gentlemen opposite. You say that we are advocating a policy of separation, and that we are Separatists. No, Sir; it is not true. We are advocating a policy which we believe will remove the cause which keeps two peoples asunder. You say we are anti-Unionists. No, Sir; it is not true. We seek to substitute for an unreal and a paper Union a Union founded upon mutual goodwill. You say we are the enemies of the interests of the Empire. Sir, in the view we take of the interests of the Empire, we are doing our best to con- 67 serve them. We believe that we belong to the Party that has done the most—we believe that we are led by the Minister who has done the most—to give a voice to the peoples of the Empire, and to make the blessings of that Empire the free inheritance of all its members. I ask the House to approach this question in a spirit of some trust in Irishmen. I ask it not to condemn the Irish people as a criminal nation, because of the faults of many individuals among them, faults which we deplore, but faults and crimes committed in times of great national pressure, almost of national revolution. We believe—I ask the House to believe—that there are in the Irish people solid qualities, solid virtues, which, given fair play, will assert themselves in the world. A former distinguished Member of this House—Chief Justice Whiteside—once, as I believe truly, said—The hand of Omnipotence, at whose touch that island started into existence, implanted in its people noble qualities of the intellect and the heart, and directed to the wise purposes for which Heaven designed them they will yet redeem, regenerate, and exalt their country.
§ MR. WESTLAKE (Essex, Romford)
We are constantly told that, on the second reading, we have only to consider the principle of this Bill, and not its details. I admit that character of a second reading vote; but I claim to find the principle which I am asked to affirm in the Bill itself, and not in any statement of any person, however eminent. Such statements are fleeting; they are apt to be forgotten after a short lapse of time; and they are sometimes made under the pressure of circumstances, and when that pressure departs they are shaped differently. That which remains, by which we shall be bound in history—for which, in fact, we vote—is the text of the Bill. And in seeking the principle in that text, I will not lose myself in the Serbonian bog of autonomy and independence, sovereignty, semi-sovereignty, and supremacy, for these are terms mostly drawn from International Law, a science of which the arguments are negotiations and the arbitrament the sword, and which is, therefore, of evil augury for the present debate. Nor are those terms very clear; because they have not been, and cannot have been, made definite by the decisions of Courts of Justice, like the terms of our 68 own Municipal Law. I will ask the House to look at the state of things which the Bill proposes to create, and say, without reference to any such terms, whether it is a tolerable state? Now, I will not say the only principle, but that which strikes me as the most important, and which arrested my attention from the first, although, perhaps, it has not had so much attention given it as some other points of the measure, is the principle involved in the creation of an independent Irish Executive. The 7th section lays down that the Executive Government of Ireland is to continue vested in Her Majesty, and to be carried on by the Lord Lieutenant on behalf of Her Majesty, with the aid of such officers and such Council as to Her Majesty may from time to time seem fit. The plain English of this is, as was stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister in his great speech on introducing the Bill, that—The capital article of that (the Irish) Legislative Body will be that it should have the control of the Executive Government of Ireland, as well as of legislative business.It would even seem that this independent Irish Executive was the cardinal purpose which was sought in the provisions as to the Legislature; for, in moving the second reading of the Bill, the Prime Minister spoke of its being impossibleTo reconstruct the Irish Government without touching the legislative principle, from which administrative government derives its life.That being so, I ask the House to consider in what position this country will be placed, and in what position Ireland will be placed, if we consent to the establishment of an independent Irish Executive, to the principle that, in the ordinary course of law, the Executive authority in Ireland shall be entirely in Irish hands? I say, in the ordinary course of law, in order to exclude the contingency of the Act being repealed by the British Parliament, under that power which I agree with the hon. and learned Member for the Inverness Burghs (Mr. Finlay) is not now reserved by the Bill, but which, we are told, may be added in Committee. For it is clear that that power of repeal, if it is to exist, will never be used until the dissatisfaction with the working of the Act has reached such a point as to place the two countries of England and Ireland at considerable 69 variance; and its exercise would, therefore, practically amount to a reconquest of Ireland. Now, it will be of little use in this Bill to reserve any subjects for the exclusive legislation of the British Parliament, if no authority on this side of St. George's Channel is to have any authority for the purpose of giving adequate effect to such legislation, the carrying it into effect being entirely intrusted to the Irish Executive. It is idle to remind us that the Island will be garrisoned by our Military Forces, and perhaps, for a time, by our police. It is the daily administration of the law to which we must look. For example, there is the Department of Customs and Excise, which the Bill proposes to leave to the Imperial Parliament; and power is given to the Exchequer Judges to appoint their own officers to enforce their judgments, if they are not duly enforced by the Sheriff. This would apply to Revenue cases, and, I presume, would also include the enforcing of a judgment against the tenant who is to be turned into a landowner, for any instalment of principal and interest that may be due from him.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE) (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
The intention is, that the authority given on behalf of the British Treasury—I am not now speaking of Customs and Excise, but of the land—shall never, on any occasion, be brought into contact with the Irish taxpayer, but simply with the Receiver of the Revenue in Ireland. The judgments of the Court of Exchequer will apply against those Receivers.
§ MR. WESTLAKE
In that case the security for the land loan will be less than I had thought. It still remains, with respect to the Customs and Excise, that the Exchequer Judges may appoint their own officers to enforce their judgments. But how are those officers to be supported? Clearly, they must rely for support on the Irish Executive. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] I know it is not so stated in the Bill; but there is nothing in the Bill to the contrary.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. JOHN MORLEY) (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
I would refer the hon. and learned Gentleman to Section 20, Subsection (4).
§ MR. WESTLAKE
That is the very provision I have been referring to, and 70 I ask how the officers appointed under it will be able to do what the Court orders them to do? Suppose a crowd assembles to resist the execution of a judgment, how is authority in such a case to be vindicated, except by a reference to the Irish Executive? It may be said that there are the troops; but, as has been pointed out by Sir Fitzjames Stephen in The Times on the 1st of May, 1886—How would the troops be set in motion? No military officer would act on his own responsibility. The Irish magistrates, answerable to the Irish Legislative Body, would not call upon the troops to act against the orders of that Body, though they might be compelled to act in obedience to it.I will take another instance. It is well known that there have been occasions when the sentiments of the majority of the Irish people, with regard to foreign affairs, have been very different from those of the people of England and Scotland. It will be in the remembrance of many hon. Members that, at the time when this country was giving great encouragement to those Italians who were engaged in building up Italian unity, great offence was taken by a large portion of our Irish fellow-subjects, because it tended to the deprivation of the Pope's temporal sovereignty. Suppose a case occurred again in which, from whatever motive, a part of our foreign policy was strongly objected to by a large number of persons in Ireland. What power shall we have to enforce our Neutrality Laws in Ireland, if the Irish choose to infringe those laws for the purpose of giving assistance to any cause with which they may sympathize? Parliament will have power to make laws for preserving our neutrality; but it is the Irish Executive that will have to enforce them, and there may be enlistments in Ireland on behalf of some foreign cause which may be thoroughly unpopular in this country. In the ordinary course of law, no person and no body on this side of the St. George's Channel will be able to exercise authority in Ireland, and we shall be practically at the mercy of the Irish Executive, over which we shall have no sort of control. Now, I would ask hon. Members to consider, without reference to such words as sovereignty or supremacy, whether that would be a state of things which this country can put up with? It is not necessary, as my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney 71 General has said that we seem to do, to attribute to the majority of the Irish people any extra dose of crime or folly. It is sufficient to refer to the differences which arise in affairs in the ordinary course of human nature. A close historical parallel to the condition which the Bill proposes to establish is to be found in the Confederation, or earlier Constitution, which was framed in 1781 by the United States. Among the defects which were proved by experience to exist in that Confederation, none appeared more important to the people of the United States than this defect—that the central power had no Executive authority, so that it could only recommend laws, not enforce them. It could recommend, but not act. The result was that the United States were rapidly falling into anarchy, to avoid which they adopted their present Constitution, which came into operation in 1789, and in which the central power possessed an Executive. This is what is said by that eminent authority, Chief Justice Story, in his work on The Constitution of the United States—The leading defects of the Confederation may be enumerated under the following heads. In the first place, there was an utter want of all coercive authority to carry into effect its own Constitutional measures. … There were no National Courts, having original or appellate jurisdiction over cases regarding the powers of the Union.This, I know, would not be quite so under the present Government scheme; but mark what follows—And if there had been, the relief would have been but of a very partial nature, since, without some Act of State legislation, many of those powers could not be brought into life. …. The exercise of the power of appeal," (in prize causes) "was resisted by the State Courts, notwithstanding its immense importance to the preservation of the rights of independent neutral nations. The Confederation gave, in express terms, this right of appeal. The decrees of the Courts of Appeal were equally resisted, and, in fact, they remained a dead letter until they were enforced by the Courts of the United States under the present Constitution. … There was in the Confederation no. … authority to exercise force. … The consequence naturally was that the resolutions of Congress were disregarded, not only by States, but by individuals."—(Sections 248, 249, 250, 252.)It will be again observed that it is not necessary to impute to the Irish any particular ill-feeling towards England in order to apprehend similar consequences, and that the judgments of the Courts 72 of Appeal, reserved by this Bill, will remain unexecuted. The Colonies, converted into States, had just been comrades in a successful war, and were filled with sentiments as fraternal as can ever be expected from countries not united under a common Executive. But the Government of the Confederation, says Chief Justice Marshall, in his Life of Washington—Depending on 13 distinct sovereignties … could only be rescued from ignominy and contempt by finding those sovereignties administered by men exempt from the passions incident to human nature."—(Vol. 5, p. 31.)The remedy was pointed to by Mr. Madison, afterwards President of the United States, in words which those will do well to lay to heart who comfort themselves by the thought that the British Parliament could repeal the Act we are now asked to pass, forgetting that the occasion for its doing so pre-supposes that Ireland at large had concurred in making that Act unworkable—To use force against a State is more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment, and would be considered by the party attacked a dissolution of all previous contracts. I therefore hope that a national system, with full power to deal directly with individuals, will be framed, and the resource be thus rendered unnecessary."—(Quoted in Bancroft's History of the Formation of the Constitution of the United States of America.—Vol. 2, p. 19.)It was done as Madison hoped, and under their present Constitution the President of the United States has an Executive authority co-extensive with the Federal legislative power. So far as I am concerned, I have no difficulty in stating what is the principle on which I believe the House should deal with the Irish Question; and I am unable to perceive that my principle is in any way at variance with the statements either of the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), or with those of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). The principle is, in fact, in the air, and I believe it is universally felt to be the one adopted by those who, without desiring to follow in the old ruts with regard to the government of Ireland, yet feel themselves unable to support the Bill now before the House. We must, at all hazards, maintain one supreme Executive Government for the United Kingdom. It is quite true that there is not one Executive Government for this country and the Colo- 73 nies; but there is an essential difference between the position of the Colonies and that of Ireland. We have long made up our minds that if ever the Colonies should desire to separate from the Mother Country, though we should be very sorry to lose them, yet we should not make any effort to retain them, by force. But the case of Ireland is different. Englishmen cannot make up their minds to submit with resignation to the separation of Ireland from the United Kingdom. On the contrary, I believe it is the determination of all Englishmen and Scotchmen to maintain the connection of Ireland with Great Britain. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain one supreme Executive and one supreme Legislature as the Constitutional basis of that Executive. But I hold that, while maintaining this, it is possible to give the Irish people an extended measure of self-government. However, even in any such measure of self-government, I have a strong objection to uniting East Ulster, forcibly and against its will, with the rest of Ireland. We are told that it is of no use to argue with the Irish about national sentiment, and prove to them that they ought not to feel foreign to us; that we must take sentiment as it is. And then the same persons, with great inconsistency, argue that East Ulster ought to be united in national sentiment with the rest of Ireland, and not with England and Scotland. It is true that you cannot argue on à priori grounds as to different people being willing to act amicably together. "The wind bloweth where it listeth." There is not, as a fact, that unity of feeling between East Ulster and the rest of Ireland which would enable one National Government for the whole of Ireland to be successful. The example of Austria and Hungary has been quoted; but I am old enough to remember the struggle between those countries in 1848 and 1849, and those who took an interest in it, as I did, will remember that the greatest difficulty which Hungary had to contend with came from within and not from without. It was due to her claiming to hold Croatia within Hungarian bonds, refusing to Croatia that national recognition which the Hungarians claimed for themselves as against Austria—a case quite parallel to that of the Nationalist Party in Ireland refusing to East Ulster that separate- 74 ness from them which they claim for themselves as against Great Britain. Then there is the Canadian precedent, so often cited, but without an accurate appreciation of its real point. After the Rebellion of 1837–8, responsible government was given to Canada in 1840, on the terms of uniting in one Legislature what was then known as Upper Canada, now the Province of Ontario, inhabited by English and Scotch Protestants, and what was then known as Lower Canada, now the Province of Quebec, inhabited by French and Irish Catholics. This experiment, to which the union of Eastern Ulster with the rest of Ireland in one Legislature without other partners would be precisely parallel, completely broke down; and its breakdown was one of the main arguments used in the Canadian Legislature in favour of again separating the Upper and Lower Provinces, and only uniting them in the Dominion, together with the other British North American Colonies. Mr. (now Sir) John A. Macdonald, moving, on behalf of the Government, the Address to the Crown for federation in the Legislative Assembly of Canada on the 6th of February, 1865, after mentioning "the opposition between the two sections of the Province," said—None are more impressed by this momentous state of affairs, and the grave apprehensions that exist of a state of anarchy destroying our credit, destroying our prosperity, destroying our progress, than are the Members of this present House; and the loading statesmen on both sides seem to have come to the common conclusion that some step must be taken to relieve the country from the deadlock and impending anarchy that hang over us.And Sir Etienne Pascal Taché, moving the similar Address on behalf of the Government in the Legislative Council on the 3rd of February, 1865, said—But there are other motives and other reasons which should induce us to agree to this scheme. Every hon. Gentleman in the House knows the political position of the country, and is acquainted with the feelings of irritation which have prevailed for many years. We know it, happily not by our experience in this House, but by the tone of the public Press, and by the discussions in "another place," where taunts and menaces are freely flung across the floor by contending Parties. We know what human passions are, and how, when bitter feelings continue for a long time, the distance between exasperation and actual conflict is not very great.That those were not idle exaggerations is proved by the fact that the Parlia- 75 ment House at Montreal had been burnt in a formidable riot arising out of the feeling between the jealous sections of the population compulsorily united in 1840. It was the federation of the North American Colonies in the Dominion, and not the mere giving of responsible government to Canada, which proved a success. We have, in this House, taunts and menaces freely flung across the Gangway, like those to which Sir Etienne Taché referred; and the true lesson to be learnt from the Canadian example is that, where such difficulties exist, you will not cure them by attempting to force a common responsibility on those who do not possess in common the moral and social conditions for bearing that responsibility worthily. There is yet another condition to be made with regard to that self-government which may be granted to Ireland, subject to the unity of the supreme Executive and Legislature. We must not shift on other shoulders burdens which, by the terms of our own measures, we admit that they are not to be fully trusted to bear. An heroic measure with regard to the Land Question is in contemplation to follow the Home Rule Bill; but the Irish land difficulty has been, in great measure, created by the misgovernment of our forefathers, and it is our duty to solve the question ourselves, and not shirk our responsibilities. I would now ask the Irish Nationalist Members why they should object to continued union with Great Britain, on the principles which I have laid down? They themselves admit that they do not desire complete separation, and nature, which has placed Ireland in such close proximity to Britain, forbids it. But such a Constitution as this Bill proposes could only lead to separation or reconquest. Why, then, should they not be content with that which the geographical conditions admit, and continue to share, in such a Union with Great Britain as I have indicated, the prosperity, the power, and the glory of this great Empire, in which Englishmen and Scotchmen are glad to recognize them as partners? It has been truly said in the course of the debate that Irishmen have largely helped to make the British Empire, and are now largely helping to govern it in every quarter of the world. We have also heard that millions of the sons of 76 Ireland, unable to find employment in their own country, are crowding the workshops of England. Then I would ask why Irishmen should not be as proud of their helping to maintain the industrial greatness of the Empire as of sharing in its victories and its glories? Why can they not feel that Manchester and Birmingham are as much theirs as Trafalgar and Waterloo? But Irishmen may claim even more than that. If they will be content to remain in the Legislative Union, with a large measure of self-government subject to it, they may claim the glory of having contributed to the completion and perfection of that very system of local self-government of which England is peculiarly proud, by carrying it on to a larger measure of development, which we should never have thought of but for them. These appear to me to be the true Liberal principles, and in advocating them I cannot admit that I am separating myself in any respect from the traditional policy of the Liberal Party. The principles of the Liberal Party are not of yesterday—they were the same a year ago as to-day—but a year ago it was foreseen that the Irish representation in the House of Commons would be as it is now. Lord Spencer had foretold, within one man, the number of Nationalists who would be returned; and if such a result was to lead on Liberal principles to the measure now before the House, I submit that it was the duty of the Leaders of the Party to place that view of the matter before the country, while there was time for the country to express an opinion on it. But that was not done. The result is that the Liberal Party has been divided in a manner which I hope is only temporary, but which is, nevertheless, to be very much regretted. I admit that the Liberal Associations throughout the country have, to a large extent, thrown their weight and influence on one side of the controversy, and I have done much to assist in the establishment of Liberal Associations, and recognize their right to speak. But on this occasion the view which impresses itself on me most strongly, and which I should wish to impress on them, is that they and we are but two links in one great chain of representation. For all ordinary purposes the Association may be the organ between the Member 77 and the constituency which he represents; but the Association represents the Party, and the Party represents to the nation one of the great principles on the conservation and just balance of which its national life depends. Nor does the chain end here. For even the whole existing generation represents a national life which has been handed down to us by our ancestors, and which it is our duty to hand down unimpaired to the generations yet to come.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
said, he gave his cordial support to the Bill, which he regarded as a generous recognition of the demand of the Irish people for self-government. He did not propose to follow the line of argument indulged in during the course of this most important debate, or to examine all the fallacies brought forward, and trotted out ad nauseam. All he wished to draw attention to was a few salient features of the case, and a few strong arguments were brought forward as part of the just case for local self-government. They—the Irish—looked on it as a happy augury that, for the first time since the Act of Union was passed, the Irish demand for National autonomy was likely to receive a favourable hearing in that House, for they recognized the fact that the Irish Representatives, for the first time, were face to face with the Representatives of the English democracy. They possessed their soul in patience at this crisis of their country's history, for they had every confidence that this new element in the British Constitution was disposed to give full consideration to the demand for Irish self-government. The Irish demand for self-government would not depend on one set of circumstances—on a few instances that might be crowded into the history of the last few years. They rested their claim to National autonomy upon the historical right of the Irish people, and also on grounds of expediency. They said that the Act of Union was brought about by fraud and corruption of the most abominable character, and had failed to fulfil, even in one respect, the hopes and the intentions of those English statesmen who had brought about the measure of 85 years ago. The claim of the Irish people to a separate Parliament of their own went back very early into English and into Irish history. The claim to an Irish Parliament dated from the Reign of King 78 John. It was certainly not then a Parliament of the Irish people. Nothing of the kind. Instead of a Parliament of the Irish people, what was then established was a Parliament of the English Pale. But in the times of James I. there was an Irish Parliament representative of the people; for the student who would turn over the pages of history would find Ireland divided into shires and boroughs, and Representatives sent from each to that Parliament in the Reign of James I. It would weary the House, and would not tend much to further the arguments of the Irish Party, if he delayed the House by historical references. He would go no further than to say that even although the Act 6 Geo. I. abrogated the rights of the Irish Parliament in making it dependent on that of Great Britain, yet the Irish nation never acquiesced in that Act, and continual remonstrances year after year went up from the Irish Parliament against that Act of 6 Geo. I. Indeed, that Act implied that the Irish people had a right to their own Parliament, for it acknowledged that there was pre-existent right in the Irish people to representation. The Parliament of 1782 could not possibly have succeeded in fulfilling its mission in legislating for Ireland—could not fulfil the functions of a legislative and deliberative Assembly—simply because of the adverse influence of the Castle. All the executive authority was in the hands of a British Minister; the Irish Parliament was thwarted at every step, and the dreadful scenes of 1798 came upon the unfortunate country, because the Castle stood in the way, blocking every effort of the Irish Parliament, destroying its authority as a Legislative Assembly, and bringing things to such a desperate condition that Mr. Pitt was forced to consider some way of ending the turmoil, trouble, and bloodshed, and brought about the Union. He commended to the attention of hon. Gentlemen who desired to look into this question the words used by Mr. Fox in Committee of the Whole House on the Address from the Irish Parliament—It is not my intention to pursue the footsteps of my Predecessors, and therefore I will agree to the demands of the Irish relative to the repeal of 6 Geo. I., not because I am intimidated and afraid to oppose those demands, but because I believe them to be founded in justice. The man must be a shallow politician indeed who could not find means of distressing 79 Ireland and making her keep the weight of calamity. The resources of the country are amply sufficient for the purpose of devastation, but he must be a shallow politician who must resort to such means to enforce obedience to laws which were opposed by those whom they were meant to bind.Later on in the same speech Mr. Fox said—Notwithstanding that this country is parting with what she has held and exercised, still I cannot look upon this as a day of humiliation to her. She is giving up what it is just she should give up, and in doing so is offering a sacrifice to justice. Policy and justice combine to induce her to offer it. I should be sorry an idea should prevail that she is giving to fear that which she would deny to justice. I entertain no doubts on this respecting Ireland, and I have no doubt she will be satisfied by the manner in which England is about to comply with her demand, and that in affection, as well as in interest, they will be but one people, England renouncing all claim to legislate for Ireland, and cordially supporting her as a friend whom she loved. If, on the contrary, this country must pursue a course of making laws for Ireland, she will make an enemy, for where there is no unity of interest, and no mutual regard for those interests, there the party whose interests are sacrificed becomes an enemy.Undoubtedly there were many points of friction between the British Parliament and Grattan's Parliament; but hon. Members would do well to notice that by this Bill every one of those points had been removed from the cognizance of the proposed Irish Legislature. It was impossible that Grattan's Parliament could have done its work. He had already explained the reason. It was further explained by the language of Mr. Fox, which he would quote, as it had some bearing upon affairs at present. Mr. Fox said regarding the recall of Earl Fitzwilliam—The conduct of Earl Fitzwilliam was certainly very dangerous, but to whom was it dangerous—to the people of Ireland? By no means. It was dangerous only to the few individuals whose plan it was to govern Ireland by corruption. It was dangerous to those who held the interests and the sentiments of the people of the country in contempt. The noble Lord is, I believe, the only person who had the good fortune to obtain the praise of all the Catholics and Dissenters in Ireland—the only person who, since the accession of the House of Brunswick, had been able to unite all parties in the Kingdom. To please every man was impossible, but Earl Fitzwilliam had pleased the House of Lords of Ireland and the House of Commons, who has granted during his administration supplies that were unparalleled in extent. He had pleased the Catholics of Ireland and the Protestants of Ireland—the noble Earl had, in short, pleased the masses of the people in Ireland, but he had displeased Mr. Beresford and two or three more. 80 Thus, when the people of Ireland were put into one scale and Mr. Beresford and a few more individuals into the other, the people with all their weight flew up, and Mr. Beresford and a few other individuals predominated.It had been asserted that Ireland had prospered since the Union. He supposed one of the first fruits of prosperity would be an increase of population. At the Union the population of Ireland was over 5,000,000, or one-third of the entire population of the United Kingdom. In 1821 it was less than one-third. Twenty years afterwards it was still somewhat below one-third. In 1861 it was one-fifth, and in 1861 it had fallen to one-seventh. Upon the fate of this measure possibly depended whether Ireland should obtain a fairly numerous and prosperous population. The best ability of Ireland had been leaving the country since the Union. Demands for the restoration of the Irish Parliament had been unceasing. Ten years after the accomplishment of the Union the Dublin Corporation, which was entirely Protestant, unanimously passed a resolution demanding repeal of the Union, which it declared to be detrimental to the best interests of Ireland, and laid special stress upon the fact that the material interests of the country were suffering. In the same year the freemen and freeholders of Dublin, also Protestants, in mass meeting assembled, passed a similar resolution. The demands for autonomy had been continuous from the Union down to the present time. Mr. Butt proposed Home Rule on the lines of federation; but he was met with the objection that England could not be expected to change her institutions for the sake of Ireland. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) on that occasion voted against the Motion. But now, when a scheme was submitted which was free from the objections made to Mr. Butt's proposals, the right hon. Member for West Birmingham proposed to adopt as an alternative those very lines of federation which the House scouted 12 years ago. He found it hard to account for that inconsistency. The House must be pretty well tired of the objection regarding Ulster. He assured the House, however, though a Nationalist and the Representative of a Roman Catholic constituency, that if he believed any measure of Home Rule for Ireland con- 81 tained a single provision that would militate against the religious or civil interests of any section of his fellow-countrymen he would not support it. But he regretted to hear the bitter old religious cry raised in an enlightened House of Commons towards the end of the 19th century in order to prejudice the chances of the passing of that Bill. The right hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen) had laid great stress in his opposition to the measure on the case of Ulster; but he wanted to know what Ulster the right hon. Gentleman meant? If that Bill became law and a separate Legislature was demanded for Ulster, he asked whether it was demanded for the five counties of that Province which, according to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen), were predominantly Nationalist, or for the four which were predominantly Loyalist? Moreover, many of the Protestants in Ulster were Dissenters, who were strongly in favour of that Bill, and they were now coming to the front. The right hon. Member for East Edinburgh had spoken of Ulster as being exceptionally prosperous and wealthy. That might be so, but it did not make Irishmen content to see the rest of their country remain in poverty of an ever-deepening character; and when the exceptional prosperity of Ulster was dwelt upon, it should be remembered that Ulster had long enjoyed exceptional advantages over the rest of the Island from two important circumstances—first, that ever since the Plantation under King James I., tenant right had prevailed there; and, secondly, that the linen trade of Ulster had been nurtured and fostered by English legislation, while the woollen manufacture and other industries in other parts of Ireland had been systematically depressed and discouraged. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh said that Ulster contributed 45 per cent of the Income Tax of Ireland. But he should like to know why the right hon. Gentleman gave the Income Tax under Schedule D only? To his (Mr. Flynn's) mind, it was a part and parcel of the conspiracy of suppression, and the argument used by the right hon. Gentleman was unworthy of a man of his standing in the financial world. He held in his hand a Return which was brought forward in the year 1882. That Return showed that 82 the Income Tax assessment for Ulster was £9,950,000, and for Leinster £ 13,270,000. This latter Province had a population of 400,000 less than Ulster. The population of Munster, a "poor and degraded Province," was 400,000 less than Ulster, and yet the Income Tax assessment amounted to £7,980,000. The Income Tax assessment for the whole of Ireland was £34,200,000, out of which £9,950,000 represented the Income Tax assessment of Ulster. Taking it from the point of view of population, the assessment was £10 6s. 9d. per head in Leinster, £6 in Munster, and £5 14s. in Ulster. Those figures, he thought, proved that the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh went for nothing. Another Return, which had upon it the name of the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan), and was dated May 18, 1884, showed that the value of rateable property in all Ireland was £13,856,000. In Leinster it was £4,711,000, in Ulster £4,348,000, and in the "poor" Province of Munster £3,500,000. When right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who had been connected with Departments of the Legislature brought forward cooked statistics for obvious purposes he thought he was quite justified in quoting those figures. He had striven to show that Ulster had enjoyed an exceptional prosperity as compared with the rest of Ireland, and that it had been the direct result of legislation in that House. They rejoiced that that was so; but it was a great hardship that that fact should be brought against the argument for the second reading of a Bill which he hoped would bring prosperity to the whole of Ireland. One of the arguments that had been frequently used against the passing of this measure was, that if it became law it would be merely used by Irish Members as a stepping-stone for obtaining other measures, and ultimately to procure complete separation. Were those arguments used merely for controversial purposes, or were they used with any amount of honesty by the Members who employed them? There was one class whom it was utterly hopeless to try to convince, and there was another class who had used those arguments with malice aforethought.
§ MR. SPEAKER
, interposing, said, that the hon. Gentleman was not entitled 83 to apply the words malice aforethought to any hon. Gentleman in that House, and must withdraw them.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that he must not accuse any body of Members of doing anything with malice aforethought.
§ MR. FLYNN
said, he would withdraw the expression with pleasure. He would only add, in conclusion, that the argument about finality had been used by those who had systematically denied the smallest concession to Irish demands. He asked hon. Members to note the change of tone and temper which, the Bill had produced amongst the Irish race. That was an evidence that if the Bill should pass through Committee containing the principle of autonomy which the Irish Members now recognized in it. The Irish people would give every pledge that was necessary for them to give that it would not be looked upon as a stepping-stone to separation, but as a fair settlement of the case. No Englishman could desire to see the present relations which existed between the two countries continued permanently. The Irish people were willing to loyally abide by the conditions contained in the Bill, which would result in a union between the two countries which would be more enduring than could be secured by anything written upon parchment, or contained within the four corners of an Act of Parliament.
§ MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
said, he thought he might be permitted, as the first Member who had spoken in favour of the Bill since they had listened to the Attorney General, to entirely deny the charge, so far as he himself was concerned, that had been repeatedly stated on both sides of the House, and again repeated by the noble Lord that evening (Viscount Lymington), that those who felt disposed to support the measure were blindly led by the genius, the ability, and the vast successes of the Prime Minister. He would tell the House briefly why he was influenced in the support he had given the Bill. First of all, long before he had a seat in that House, or, indeed, before he had the remotest idea that he ever should obtain 84 a seat there, he was disposed to look on himself as a believer in what was known as Home Rule. He was willing to admit that he found great differences existing as to what was really meant by that term; but in order that no misunderstanding should arise at any time between himself and those whom he sought to represent in that House, he stated in his address in November last that, short of actual separation, he was anxious that Ireland should receive the fullest measure of self-government. Believing, as he did, that by the provisions of this Bill the way to separation was most effectually barred, while they would afford the largest measure of self-government to Ireland, he should give the second reading of the measure his most cordial sympathy and support. Another reason which had induced him to support the second reading of the Bill—and let him tell hon. Members that it was a consideration to which he attached considerable importance—it was this—that he had every reason to believe that in doing so he should be fulfilling the honest desire of his constituents. Apart from his declarations before the Election—sufficiently expressive in themselves to justify any support he might give to such a proposal as this—he felt himself doubly bound to do so from the resolutions which had reached him as the result of meetings of many of his constituents. Of all the great questions which had come before them in recent years it was remarkable that at all those meetings, which were attended by several thousands of electors, not one present raised his voice against those measures when the vote was taken. Since that time public meetings continued to be held, and resolutions continued to reach him in favour of the Government, and asking that he should give these proposals his fullest sympathy and support. Thus, either as a matter of personal conviction, or from an honest desire to reflect by his voting and speech the opinions of those whom he had the honour to represent, he felt he was most fully exonerated from the charge that had been so repeatedly put forward by hon. Members on the Liberal side of the House. He was at a loss to understand the attitude which had been taken up by hon. Members sitting on that side of the House above the Gangway who 85 opposed the Bill. They had been told a short time ago by the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale that the measure had been sprung upon the country without proper warning and without due time for consideration. He observed, when the declaration was made, that hon. Gentlemen who had assumed an attitude of hostility to the Bill throughout the debate cheered the utterances of the noble Lord—as much as to say that because they found themselves in Parliament without a mandate from their constituents that was sufficient to justify their opposition to the measure. Well, he was free to say that if a division had taken place upon the first reading of the Bill those hon. Members might have been fully justified in making such a remark; but what had occurred since? He found that many of the constituencies, taking the hint thrown out to them by the noble Lord, and by the significant cheer given by hon. Members above the Gangway, put themselves to considerable trouble by means of conferences, of public meetings, and of open air demonstrations, to give their Representatives a mandate on the question. Notwithstanding that they had been put in possession of such a mandate they still maintained an attitude of hostility to the measure. They refused to be considered as delegates; but they failed to see that in the attitude they had taken up they were not Representatives. There had been much discussion, which, in his humble opinion, was more applicable to the Committee stage of the Bill than to the second reading. The time of the House had been taken up with lawyer-like criticism of details rather than statesmanlike examination of principles. He freely admitted that he was not sufficiently versed in the technicalities of law to warrant him in setting up his opinion on matters of detail against the opinions of hon. and learned Gentlemen who had preceded him. He would reserve his judgment on matters of detail for the time when the Bill went into Committee. [Ironical Opposition cheers.] He quite understood the significance of that cheer. It meant that in all probability the Bill would never see the Committee stage. He entertained no such opinion, nor had he ever done so. He preferred to hold with the right hon. Member for West Birmingham Mr. Chamberlain), 86 whom he was sorry not to see in his place—he was now quoting from a speech made by the right hon. Gentleman at Swansea in 1883—that "though English Radicals may occasionally be unreasonable, they are never irreconcilable." And he could assure hon. Gentlemen who had derisively cheered him, when he referred to the Committee stage of the Bill, that though he and some of his Friends considered some English Radicals unreasonable, they did not regard them as irreconcilable, and he hoped with their assistance that they would carry the second reading of the Bill. The noble eulogy which the right hon. Member for West Birmingham made on the character and enterprize of the people of Ulster left nothing to be said which it was desirable to say by way of compliment to them; but he could not help wondering, when the right hon. Gentleman put forth his claim for the exemption of Ulster from the provisions of the Bill, how he proposed to reconcile the terms of that speech in relation to the minority in Ireland with the terms employed by him in another speech in reference to minorities not merely in Ireland, but in England and Scotland as well. He had a distinct remembrance of a speech which the right hon. Gentleman delivered in November, 1883, a great portion of which was taken up in denouncing what the right hon. Gentleman considered a "fad" of the Chairman of Committees (Mr. Courtney) and of his hon. Friend the Member for the Tyneside Division of Northumberland (Mr. Albert Grey) with reference to proportional representation. He had the curiosity to turn to that speech, and under the head of "Downtrodden majorities" he found these words—he was quoting from the authorized version—What we have to deal with, the evil against which we are protesting, is the inordinate influence and power which minorities have obtained in our system of representation. It is time that someone should stand up and say a word for the downtrodden majority. I believe that what these Gentlemen are trying to solve is a problem for which no solution can possibly be found. When men differ either the majority must give way to the minority, or the minority must give way to the majority. There is no other way out of the difficulty, and if there is any hardship in the surrender, surely it is much less when the operation is performed by the less numerous party.But the right hon. Gentleman was not 87 satisfied with that. He told them most emphatically that all the minority had a right to ask for was that they should have a fair opportunity for the discussion of their views, and a fair field and no favour in the attempt to convert the majority. He was disposed to regard that as sound doctrine. He was not aware that anyone in or out of the House desired anything else than that Ulster should have the fullest opportunity for the discussion of her opinions and for the ventilation of her ideas, and it was certain that by the provisions of the Bill fair play would be guaranteed to the people of Ulster. A great deal had been said about alternative schemes; but nothing had so startled the House as the alternative proposed by the hon. Member for the City of Oxford (Mr. A. W. Hall), who said that the alternative of this scheme was one of civil war in Ireland and war with the United States of America. He could only hope that hon. Members would choose the scheme of the Prime Minister before such alternatives. The present measure, as he understood it, was intended by the Government as a message of peace to Ireland. In that sense he believed it was hailed by hon. Gentlemen opposite. In that spirit he believed it to be welcomed by the great majority of Irishmen in Ireland, in England, and in the United States of America. That was a prospect created by the introduction of this measure which he hailed with delight—a prospect which promised fair to bind the hearts of the people of Ireland with the people of Great Britain in a real, happy, and indissoluble union. And he trusted that hon. Members would consider well the responsibility they were taking upon themselves before they were led into the opposite Lobby, and by their vote, it might be, throw out the measure. If he might give a word of advice to the Government, it was "Stand firm to the position which you have taken up, whether your policy be denounced by hon. Gentlemen opposite, or whether it be shunned by some hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, for it has the sympathy of, and it will ultimately receive emphatic endorsement by, the great and growing democracy of this country."
MR. TREVELYAN&c.) (Hawick,
Sir, I consider myself particularly fortunate that you have selected me to 88 follow a much respected and esteemed county Member. My hon. Friend has strong opinions on the subject of constituents; but now he shall hear what one, at any rate, of his constituents thinks about him. I can assure him that however much he may differ from me in opinion yet even in these times I shall always be glad to go by the name of his constituent. But he must forgive me for saying that I cannot accept altogether his views as to the duty of a Representative. He says that since the last General Election a great many constituencies have provided their Members with a mandate. I should just like to know what he and those who, in the excitement of the moment and charmed by his native eloquence, cheered him—what these hon. Gentlemen would wish a Member of Parliament to do, who, having strong opinions against a measure, gets a mandate from his constituents to support it? ["Resign!"] Does he seriously think that the mandate ought to make any difference in the views which the hon. Member takes of that particular question! Hon. Members opposite say "Resign;" but, Sir, are we to resign on every occasion when we differ from our constituents? When, we ought to resign is when a General Election is held, and some great public question is before the electorate. Then if a Member changes the views he held at the time he was elected—then I say that a Member who finds himself occupying such a position ought justly to feel himself called upon to resign. But that is not the case here. Nothing could be more decided than the views which I expressed to my constituents on this very question, and nothing could be more enthusiastic and apparently more unanimous than the manner in which they received those views at the time of the General Election. I do not blame them, or any of them, if they have changed their views. If they have changed their views, and now hold different opinions, then at the next General Election they will turn me out. I should then cease to be their Member; but if whenever I receive any new mandate I was to hold different views to what I had previously held, they would justly consider me unworthy to be their Representative, and I should think so myself. Likewise, Sir, I think myself very fortunate in having the opportunity 89 of following so closely my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General. It was, indeed, a great pleasure to listen to him, for he surpassed himself, which is no easy task. The pleasure of listening to him was, however, in may case, somewhat dashed, because I felt myself bound to follow him. I find that it is now or never with me, and that he has me at a terrible disadvantage. First of all, he is an Irishman, descanting in eloquent terms upon his countrymen, while I am an Englishman. I am willing to attribute to Irishmen all those high qualities which they do possess—I can attribute to them those superhuman qualities which would enable them to work side by side with us Englishmen under the scheme of this Bill, and which I believe no nation with any national character at all would be able to work under. [Interruption.] I trust that hon. Members who interrupt will bear in mind the manner in which the speech of my hon. and learned Friend was listened to, and will imitate the courtesy which was shown to him. My hon. and learned Friend has another advantage, in that he is a Member of the Government, which is responsible for the safety of the Empire and of Ireland, and which is pronouncing the new depositories of power to be worthy of the power which they are going to confer, while I, as only an individual speaking against the Government, and doubting whether the new depositories are in all respects worthy of the power, am at a great disadvantage. But in one respect we are on equal terms. He is a consistent Home Ruler, who has never said or thought anything in the least contrary to what he has said from the Treasury Bench to-night, while I, on the other hand, although admitting that the action of the Prime Minister makes it necessary to give more—and much more—than was thought wise and safe six months ago, am bound to say that in all essential respects what I said 12 months ago or two years ago from the Treasury Bench are words which appear to me to have been well founded, and are words to which I keep at the present day. Necessarily I had a great disadvantage to contend against, and my hon. and learned Friend has made great use of it. He had a full opportunity of stating what we who oppose this measure are precluded—and rightly precluded—from 90 stating. He is a supporter of the Bill, and he can classify us as he likes. My hon. and learned Friend made out four classes of us, in the first of which he placed me, and he said that he was unable to understand why I was likely to vote against this measure. Sir, I answer that the reason why I cannot vote for this measure is that I have certain grave objections which have been stated in the course of this debate, and which have never been answered from the Treasury Bench. These objections were stated with very great force by a Scotch Member, whose speech made all of us Scotch Members very proud—the hon. and learned Member for the Inverness Burghs (Mr. Finlay), and likewise in the careful, argumentative, and thoughtful speech of the hon. Member for Carnarvonshire (Mr. Rathbone). They were answered by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department in a speech about Mr. Pitt and the motives of Grattan's Parliament in the last century; but that speech did not contain one word giving to his hearers the least idea that that very evening there had been made two great speeches containing reasons drawn from the experience of this century, which had to be answered before any of us could vote for this Bill. Those are the reasons which influenced the opponents of the Bill, and instead of having those reasons answered we are told that we must vote for this measure, if we are in favour of autonomy for Ireland, without being told what the autonomy is to be. That I think was the gist of the speech of my right hon. Friend, although his eloquence was such that we perhaps, at times, lost sight of it. We were told that all those who are in favour of granting, under proper safeguards, a Legislative Assembly to Ireland should vote for the second reading of this Bill. That contention was urged still more definitely by an important private Member, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), who in his speech said—The principle is clear and distinct; it is that of autonomy for Ireland; that Ireland should have the right to legislate for itself, and administer its own separate affairs, but that Imperial matters and common affairs should be reserved for the Imperial Parliament, and should not be dealt with by the Local Legislature. Everything beyond that remains open, I understand. Whether the Irish Members 91 shall continue to sit in this House as now, whether they shall sit on Imperial questions, whether Ulster shall be treated exceptionally in any way, or what the constitution of the new Irish Legislature shall be, are important points for future consideration; but they are subordinate questions for the moment, and may be postponed with advantage. But until the main principle is settled nothing can be done."—(3 Hansard,  132.)That is exactly what my hon. Friend the Member for the Wansbeck Division of Northumberland (Mr. Fenwick) said when he told us that we were turning the debate on the second reading into a debate in Committee. There might have been some justice in that criticism when the first reading only of the Bill was before the House, and it might have been said, with some force, that the debate was turned into one in Committee; but it has been attempted to make the debate upon the second reading a debate upon a mere abstract Resolution. That was not the intention of the Prime Minister when this Bill was first introduced. The Prime Minister on that occasion used these words—What I wish is that we should no longer fence and skirmish with this question, but that we should come to close quarters with it; that we should get, if we can, at the root; that we should take measures not merely intended for the wants of to-day and of to-morrow, but, if possible, that we should look into a more distant future; that we should endeavour to anticipate and realize that future by the force of reflection.That is exactly what I shall address myself to. I quite allow that this Bill may meet present wants. What are the wants of to-day? They are, in the first place, to avoid the necessity of having recourse to coercion and to occupy Irish Members with Irish legislation; and, as we are told in a hundred speeches, to give us time to carry out Scotch and English legislation. Undoubtedly, the Bill may fulfil those wants; but there are many grave questions as to the future which must be answered before many of us can with satisfaction vote for this Bill. First of all comes the financial difficulty. What will be the relative positions of Great Britain and Ireland financially, looked at from a practical point of view? The gross Revenue of Ireland will be £8,350,000. From this we must deduct £830,000 a-year for the expenses of collection, leaving a net Revenue of £7,500,000. Out of this every year will be paid into the British Treasury £4,600,000—that is to say, out of a Revenue of £7,500,000 Ireland is 92 making a bargain by which she will pay £4,500,000 into the Treasury, whose relations to Ireland I will describe in a word later on. That is the Revenue of Ireland, and that is the contribution she will make; is it heavier than she can bear? Now, we want the opinion of British authorities on this point just now, because it is British authority that is required to make the bargain; but it is the Irish authorities who will have to keep it; and what is the opinion of the Irish authorities? We have had a debate this year, when the hon. Member for Monaghan (Sir Joseph M'Kenna), who opened the debate, told us that between 1851 and 1871——
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Londonderry, S.)
I rise to Order. I wish to know whether the right hon. Gentleman is in Order in quoting words used in a debate in the House during the present Session?
§ MR. SPEAKER
It would not be in Order for the right hon. Gentleman to refer to a past debate in this Session which was not upon the present Bill.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
Then I will refer generally to the debate, and say that hon. Members opposite objected to the fact that Ireland was very much overtaxed, and that she had to pay £2,300,000 a-year into the British Exchequer. Now, instead of paying £2,300,000 a-year into the English Exchequer, she will henceforward have to pay £4,600,000 a-year into an Exchequer which will be a great deal more an English Exchequer than ever. Hon. Members have complained on frequent occasions in this House that the local rates of Ireland are so high that the people can not only not pay the rates, but cannot even pay the taxes. The hon. Members who make these complaints are loyal followers of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), and I have no doubt that when the time comes they will vote for this Bill. They will accept the bargain which has been offered to them; but some of those hon. Members are very young men indeed—men whose age many of us who have been returned from the Sister Island envy exceedingly, seeing them so early in political life; and the day may come when these Members will be Irish Ministers; and it will be diffi- 93 cult to blame them if, some 30 years hence, they should do their best to get rid of a payment to the British Exchequer that they considered to be monstrous and extortionate because a long while ago, in a great national crisis, they were silent parties, perhaps, to accepting that bargain. When we consider what loud complaints are made in this Parliament, in which five-sixths of the Members are English and Scotch, on the manner in which Ireland is overtaxed and over-mulcted, just imagine what will be the effect of these complaints when addressed to a purely Irish Parliament; just imagine what will be the case a good many years hence when Ireland is told that her taxation is kept up to a point which is tyrannical and oppressive in order that two-thirds of her entire Revenue should be handed over to a Treasury across the Channel. Again, it is not only in Ireland that this is felt; but the same feelings are entertained by Irishmen on the other side of the Atlantic. I read, and I have for a long time past read, The Irish World.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
I hope the hon. and learned Member will allow me to finish my sentence. I have read it, not for the sake of picking out the bitter things said against England, but for the purpose of reading principally the different speeches which have been made by Irish-Americans, in order that I might really know what the Irish-American opinion was.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
I see, in the last number of The Irish World, that at a meeting at Pittsburg, attended by 10,000 people, the principal orator, General Megley, said—At this moment there are 900,000 men, women, and children in destitution in Ireland. Although England is by far the richest country, her people pay the least tax. Ireland is the poorest and the weakest, and she is most heavily taxed.And yet this Bill does not diminish the taxation of Ireland by a single halfpenny, but stereotypes it at the point at which it stands at present. Now, it is quite impossible for anyone who has been Irish Secretary not to see that there has been an opinion very widely 94 held in Ireland that Home Rule will lead to the development of the resources of the country. It is plain that that development cannot come from what hon. Members have favoured from time to time—namely, differential duties, because that is impossible under the conditions of this scheme. It can only come from loans, grants, possibly from bounties, and especially, and above all, from public works which the new Government may propose to execute. But all this requires money; and where is the money to come from? If Ireland is taxed and rated up to the very last point, either the people who expect to have the resources of Ireland developed by the new Government will be terribly disappointed, or else the new Government will have to borrow money at an extravagant rate of interest, which they will be quite unable to pay when we have taken such a large slice out of the surplus. It is said that the Irish Members are the best judges of the bargain they are to make for Ireland. That is very true; and my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General says that the great evil in dealing with Ireland has been that we have not thought of what their Representatives hold, but only of what the English and Scotch Representatives hold. But I maintain that this is an English and Scotch question as well as an Irish question, and that it will be a very great disadvantage for England and Scotland financially, and in much more serious ways, if Ireland has a great financial grievance of this nature. The Prime Minister expresses my opinion on this matter with very great force, as he always does. He says—To place the State and the Treasury of this country in the position of creditorship is like placing a bastard premium on every attempt to disturb the relations between England and Ireland."—(3 Hansard,  453–4.)That speech of the Prime Minister was made not with regard to this Bill, but it was made with regard to the Land Bill. It was made in 1883 about the land scheme of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton). But if it is a bastard premium on ill-feeling between this country and Ireland to place the State and the Treasury of Great Britain in that position of creditorship, how much more is the premium if you place the State and 95 the Treasury in such a position, and in such a grinding and an exacting position with regard to the whole collective taxpayers of the United Kingdom? Then we come to the question of what the relation between the two Governments is. We have had from the Treasury Bench every possible parallel as to the future relations between Ireland and this country; but I think not one of them justifies us in thinking that things will run smoothly between the Treasuries of the two countries. The Prime Minister, in a remarkable passage, referred to the remarks of Sir Gavan Duffy about Canada. Canada has been a favourite subject of comparison, and was descanted upon last by the Attorney General. But if we are to compare the future relations of Ireland to England with Canada, we must compare them all round. What would be our relations with Canada if, out of £6,000,000 of Revenue, Canada had to pay £4,000,000 a-year to the British Treasury? My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary spoke of Victoria. Well. I suppose that the leading Colonies of Australia have, by means partly of their land sales, about the same Revenues as Ireland; but I should like to know what would be the feeling of those Colonies towards us if they had to pay us £4,000,000 a-year? But we need not draw on our imagination as to the difficulty of exacting money from the Colonies. We are told that the Union between Great Britain and Ireland has been so close in the past, and Ireland has gained so much by her military and Imperial connection, that she will, out of gratitude, go on paying for our debt and our military expenditure. Now, if there ever was a country which owed a great deal for military exertions on her behalf by others it was the American Colonies in the last century. It was the two great wars that England fought under Chatham and Wolfe which first gave security, and afterwards predominance, to America; and yet, when a British Minister came on the floor of the House and proposed that America should pay not a sum of £4,000,000, or of £1,000,000, but £100,000 a-year towards the military expenditure of this country, it raised a storm which only ended in the separation of the two communities. Let us go on now to another relation than that of the Colonial re- 96 lations. It is said that Ireland is not a Colony, but that it is a nation. I think I may say that that was the gist of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister in introducing this Bill. That was certainly the meaning of that most remarkable interpolation which the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) threw into the speech of the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir Henry James)—an exclamation which had as great an oratorical success as any speech delivered in the debate; and this idea was put into shape, with his usual skill, by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He said that the Prime Minister had made nations in Italy, Greece, and Bulgaria, and now he was going to make a nation of Ireland. Well, Sir, I agree with my right hon. Friend that the conduct of the Prime Minister in these cases was worthy of the right hon. Gentleman's greatest glories; but what sort of relations would Italy have had with Austria if out of the £55,000,000 she had to pay £33,000,000 to Austria? How would it be if Greece had to pay tribute to Turkey? And when the right hon. Gentleman quotes Bulgaria what an example does he give us? [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] Oh, if the right hon. Gentleman forgets the reference of the Chief Secretary for Ireland nobody else does. Bulgaria proper is bound to pay a tribute; but I believe—I am not certain of it—that the amount of that tribute has not yet been fixed, much less paid. But in the case of Eastern Roumelia she was bound to pay £200,000 a-year, and she paid it for some six years, and then, finding it very irksome, she got rid of Turkey and the tribute together. The fact is, from one end of Europe to the other, there is no instance of a nation with a separate Parliament and separate Executive paying the predominant part of its Revenue into the Exchequer of another nation. My hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General said that under the British Empire there were 30 separate Parliaments, which worked very well with the Imperial Parliament. There is not one of the 30 which pays us a halfpenny; and yet we are asked to give a second reading to this Bill as a declaration in favour of a separate Parliament and a separate Executive for Ireland, in the expectation that Ireland will in the long run do that 97 which no nation, high-spirited or low-spirited, has ever yet done for a continuance of years, or ever will. But I am going too far afield to look for examples, I was tempted by the example of my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Bryce), who went 1,100 miles across the sea to Iceland. He had to go all that distance in order to find a country that would bear out his argument; and the day after he made that speech the Parliament of Iceland behaved in such a turbulent manner towards the country with which it was connected that it had to be suspended.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
The liberties of Iceland were taken away by the same tyrant King who took away the liberties of Denmark.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
I prefer to go back to Ireland itself, and to the period regarded as the Golden Age of the relations between the two countries. In 1785, in the full swing of Grattan's Parliament, it was proposed that in the case of the hereditary Revenue exceeding a certain sum the excess should be applied to the maintenance of the Imperial Fleet. It was a very moderate proposal, compared with the proposal in this Bill, because it is proposed by the Bill that some £600,000 or £700,000 should be devoted to the Imperial Fleet; but in what way was it received?—The Member for Armagh in Grattan's Parliament declared that he could hardly contain his indignation while the hon. Member who proposed the scheme was speaking. He was astonished at his hardihood in making Ireland a tributary nation to Great Britain. The same terms were made out to America and rejected, and Ireland would reject them. It was well the hon. Member lived in a country remarkable for its humanity.Now, Grattan endorsed every word of this; and this was in a Parliament of landlords and Protestants, who were dependent on Great Britain for their safety and their property, and who agreed in general, although, no doubt, there were exceptions, with the main outlines of her foreign policy. But what would be the case in a Parliament which in all probability would not very much like our interference, who would not thank us possibly for our protection, and who I cannot think, from the views I know to be held by leading Irishmen in regard to foreign affairs, would always sympa- 98 thize with us in any great military or diplomatic crisis either in America or Europe? If you refer to that Ireland on the other side of the Atlantic, whose public opinion we are told this Bill is intended to conciliate—it is not in one leading article or another, or in one speech or another, but the gist and tone and current of American thought all goes in the same direction. I was looking at the report of a great gathering in New York on Robert Emmett's day.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
No; long after. I will read the passage, and the hon. and learned Member may judge for himself. Mr. Finnerty, speaking to these 10,000 people, said—Mr. Parnell has made no pledge of which Emmett might be ashamed. He has not said if Home Rule is granted the Irish quarrel is closed. I believe Irish ambition will not rest satisfied with the control of the Irish police. If there is an Irish Parliament there must be an Irish Army to protect that Parliament. If there be Irish commerce Ireland must have a Navy to protect that commerce. These are the properties of a free nation. It would seem to me very strange as an Irish legislator, if I were an Irish legislator, to have my seat in the old House on College Green, and looking out of the window to see patrolling before it English soldiers with rifles, bayonets, and plenty of ammunition ready to veto the Acts of that Parliament if England did not like them.I should never have read that passage if it stood alone.
§ MR. PARNELL (Cork, City)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. Finnerty is strongly in favour of dynamite?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
Well, I do not know about that; but I know this—that he was the chosen orator on a very great occasion, and that he addressed a multitude of his fellow-countrymen who are quoted at 10,000 people; and I am bound to say that I do not see anything very dishonourable in what Mr. Finnerty said on that occasion. I think it is exceedingly like the language—which I also think far from dishonourable—which the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) is reported to have used himself, when he said— 99None of us in Ireland or America will be satisfied until we have destroyed the last link which keeps Ireland bound to England.
§ MR. PARNELL
This is not the first time that this calumny has been uttered against me in this House; and as I contradicted the statement the first time it was ever made, some two or three years ago, in this House by the Gentleman who is at present Lord Ashbourne, I think I am entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman to give the authority for his quotation, the date of the speech, and the place where I am alleged to have made it.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
The place was Cincinnati. I do not remember the date; but if the hon. Member considers the words I have read to be calumnious, I withdraw them with regret. [Laughter.] I do not quite understand that laugh. I will put what I was going to say in another form. If the hon. Member states that he did not utter the words, I withdraw them at once; and if he considers them derogatory to him in any sense, I not only withdraw them, but express my regret for having used them. For my part, I do not consider them disgraceful. I will, however, withdraw them altogether.
§ MR. PARNELL
Mr. Speaker, with your permission, Sir, I think it necessary to ask the right hon. Gentleman for the date, and the place, and the name of the newspaper in which I was reported to have uttered these words. The right hon. Gentleman has not given me the date; he has given me the place—namely, Cincinnati. Perhaps the House will allow me to say that I have only been once in Cincinnati in all my life, and I have by me a verbatim report of both of the speeches which I made at Cincinnati on the day in question, five years ago, and no such words or any one of the words quoted by the right hon. Gentleman appears in those speeches. I may also further state that I have carefully looked over the reports of my speeches in other parts of America, in 1879 and in 1880. Of course, one cannot absolutely depend upon memory at such a long distance of time; but I cannot find in any one of the reports of those speeches which I brought with me from America any word or words such as those quoted by the right hon. Gentleman. With his permission, I will send the right hon. Gentleman, to- 100 morrow, the newspaper which I brought back, five years ago, containing the original report of my speech at Cincinnati.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
I am always ready to accept a denial of words reported to have been used. I find that the date of the speech was the 23rd of February, 1880, and the paper from which I quoted it is The Irish World. I am certainly speaking under great disadvantage, in consequence of these interruptions, for which, however, I do not blame anyone, as they have undoubtedly a somewhat embarrassing effect upon a speaker in the midst of his observations. I can assure hon. Gentlemen, on the word of a man whose word has never been disputed, that I have read The Irish World very regularly for a long while past, and that the general tone of the speakers and articles is all in the sense which I have described—not the speeches of hon. Members in this House, but of those orators who address their Irish countrymen in America on stated and ceremonious occasions. The Prime Minister, in his Manifesto, says that the opponents of this Bill "fail to express confidence in the permanent success of their opposition." It would certainly be sanguine to express confidence in the success of an opposition to any measure introduced by the Prime Minister as the Head of the Liberal Party; but I must own that I feel little confidence as to the permanent success of the Ministerial proposals. I think they contain within them seeds of friction and collision; and I do not agree with the hon. Member for Wansbeck (Mr. Fenwick) that they do not contain seeds of an ultimate possible separation. Before I sit down I desire to come to that question which prevents me, above all others, from voting for this Bill in its present state—though I believe it could very easily be put into the shape in which I could vote for it—and that is the connection between this Bill and the Land Purchase Bill. You, Sir, have carefully laid down the degree to which the Land Purchase Bill may be alluded to in this debate, and I am not going to transgress your ruling. This is not a debate on the Land Purchase Bill, nor is it a debate on a Coercion Bill, yet every speaker who has supported this Bill from the Government side, has felt him- 101 self bound to say that he would vote for the second reading, because he would not vote for a Coercion Bill. I may, therefore, in the same way, be justified in saying that I believe this Bill will bring on the Land Purchase Bill as certainly as the supporters of the Bill think its rejection would bring on a Coercion Bill; and as I am every bit as much opposed to that Bill as they can possibly be to a Coercion Bill, I am justified, therefore, in voting against this Bill. I will only make one remark on the merits of the Land Purchase Bill in answer to the observations of the President of the Local Goverment Board. He said it was—Better and fairer for the Irish people, as well as for the landowning class, that we in this Imperial Parliament, together with the Irish Members, should settle the question and get it out of the way.I say that this Land Purchase Bill would not settle the question, that it would not get it out of the way; that all it would do would be to make the British taxpayers the ultimate landlords, and to transfer to them and the British Treasury all the odium and unpopularity that has gathered round the landlord class. There I will cease even to tread on the fringe of the forbidden ground. I come now to what I have undoubtedly a right to say, and that is that the Land Purchase Bill is very unpopular below the Gangway on this side of the House. I like it as little as any hon. Member can, and I intend to give it a rigid and strict resistance; but I think that they will not, for they intend to vote for the second reading of this Government of Ireland Bill, and in voting for that, as sure as the sun shines in heaven, they will vote for the second reading of the Land Purchase Bill. ["No, no!"] Some will do so willingly; others with regret; some in full faith in the great financial and administrative capacity of the Prime Minister; but a good many most reluctantly. Every day I see in the papers resolutions from Liberal Associations calling upon their Members to vote for the second reading of the Irish Government Bill, and at the same time expressing dislike and distrust of the Land Purchase Bill. Now, Sir, there never were men so deceived as the members of these Liberal Associations, and I say this the more willingly because it is a case of self-deception. The Govern- 102 ment in this matter has been as fair and out-spoken as any Government could be. The Prime Minister, Earl Spencer, and my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary, and all the leading Members of the Government on this special question have all emphatically declared that the two Bills are inseparable, and from the nature of the case they must be inseparable. If the Home Rule Bill passes, not only will the Government feel itself bound to use its great and enormous influence to pass the Land Bill, not only will my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) and his Friends vote for it, and of course hon. Members opposite, but I know of not a few quiet-going Radicals who have told me in private that if this Home Rule scheme be adopted they will vote for the Land Purchase Bill in justice to the Irish landlords. Knowing this, we who are opposed to the Land Bill, not in word only, but in deed and in truth—we who intend to vote against it, not because we are Radicals, or think our names ought to appear in such a division, but because we think it a bad Bill and one ruinous to the country—we oppose it here and now. The land policy of the Government is, among other things, to my mind to a great extent the condemnation of their Irish Government policy. If the nation, at the instance of the Government, deliberately sets up a particular system of administration and legislation, that system should be applied to all classes alike. A Government which is good enough for the manufacturer and the professional man and the shopkeeper, is good enough for the landlord, and the Land Purchase Bill is a confession that the Ministry dare not trust the new Government of Ireland—[Mr. GLADSTONE: No.] In justice to those who agree or disagree with me I hope I may be allowed to finish the sentence. The Land Purchase Bill is a confession that the Ministry dare not trust the new Government so far as to carry out the Land Act of 1881—the Land Act which in 1883 and towards the close of that year the Prime Minister described, and, as my experience as Irish Secretary tells me, described most truly, as having saved and rescued the security of landed property in Ireland. But there are other indications in this Bill that the Government are a little uneasy about their new 103 policy. The Civil servants, the Resident Magistrates, and the humbler ministers of the law might have felt a certain confidence that the Government would have ventured to trust them and theirs to the new order of things, if it had not been for the extraordinary precautions taken for the safety of the Judges. My hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General says that we must not yield to fears that are ill-founded. If the fears of the Judges were ill-founded, Her Majesty's Government ought not to have yielded to them; if they were well-founded, I think the fact is a serious condemnation of the Bill. The Judges, we are told, if they have any misgivings about the future are to be allowed to abdicate their functions. But how about the Resident Magistrates and the Crown Solicitors and the Civil servants who have done their duty by this country? I think the House has not in this debate, except from the hon. Member for Carnarvon (Mr. Rathbone), heard what ought to be said about the fate in store for them. They are to be forced to go on serving a party of gentlemen with whom, like the Judges, they have been placed in relations more or less uneasy. They are forced to go on serving their new masters for two years, unless the Ministers of that Party choose to dismiss them. Now, I do not want to attribute any improper conduct to the future rulers of Ireland; but I do feel that the position of those Civil servants, after all that has been said about them in this House, and in the Press of Ireland, will be a very painful and anxious one. Hon. Gentleman opposite, speaking in all good faith, have denounced the Civil servants on charges general and particular with great vehemence, and those hon. Gentleman will now be their masters. Having made those charges they will be almost bound to get rid of a good many of them. Those Civil servants, like the Judges, will not get full pensions, but the well-known terms given on abolition of office. Everyone acquainted with Public Departments knows what that means. It is the system by which, when the staff of an Office has been reduced, the opportunity is taken to get rid of the least efficient members of the Service on retiring pensions. That is the ordinary operation; but here the very men who are most faithful to their duties, and who most efficiently carried out that system 104 of government which was the system of the present Cabinet and of Earl Spencer, will be the very men who will most probably be sent about their business on those terms of abolition of office, which are meant to be given only to men who are bad bargains. Now, these difficulties and dangers, and others to which I might have referred, all come from the Imperial Government, as being on the eve, I suppose, of surrendering very quickly, and without calculating the result, all real and effective control of the country. I will not enter into the question whether the Imperial Parliament retains a real control, because I consider that has been given up by the most eloquent and subtle of those who have contended that that control was maintained. If any hon. Member doubts that assertion, I would refer him to the words in which the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs spoke in his argument of this control being one which would only be exercised on very special occasions indeed. The words used by my hon. Friend were that it is because the right of control by the Imperial Parliament has been abandoned that we have been landed in all this difficulty, from which we are asked to extricate ourselves by means of the Laud Bill, and which is the real reason of all our differences upon the North of Ireland Question. A great deal of ridicule has been thrown on the North of Ireland Question by the Attorney General, who spoke of it with great ability and with great humour. The hon. and learned Gentleman observed that strong things had been said with regard to that question in 1869, at the time of the abolition of the Irish Church. I allow, as fully as he does, that there have been very foolish men in all times. But I may observe in reference to that time, that although strong things were said then we were not afraid of them; and what many people who have had experience of Ireland are afraid of now is not any strong things that may be said, but the very disastrous things that may be done. The Irish Church Abolition was carried out by an arrangement between the Imperial Parliament and all Ireland; whereas, in the present case, the dispute will lie between a Nationalist Parliament and a Nationalist Government and the minority of the North. I know very well that much that has been said upon this sub- 105 ject has been in the very worst taste, But that knowledge does not conceal from me the fact—which my experience of Ireland teaches me, and which has been stated over and over again in public by Earl Spencer—that there was great danger at one time of a collision occurring between the two Parties in the North of Ireland, and that had it not been that there was a strong Central Government, supported not only by the Army, but by the Resident Magistrates and the police, disturbances would have arisen which might have assumed the dignity as well as the horrors of a serious civil war. If these dangers were to be apprehended in 1883 and 1884, I see no reason why there should not be the same danger in 1886. It is because we propose to give up our hold upon law and order in Ireland that such dangers as these arise. It is for that reason that all persons who have offended the dominant Party in Ireland, in the country districts, are living in such a state of painful agitation. It is because we have given up our hold upon law and order that we cannot protect the Judges and the landlords, and that we have been obliged to bring in the Land Purchase Bill in order to shield them. Now, Sir, let me ask why cannot the Government alter this Bill in such a way as to obviate what appears to some of its most faithful and devoted followers to be very grave defects? I know that the concessions which I suggest may be said to be very large. It is a very large concession to the Imperial Parliament that the Government should keep the hold my right hon. Friend wishes to have upon law and order; but at the same time such a concession would leave still remaining an enormous benefit and boon to Ireland. I cannot believe that it will read well in history that a Liberal Government threw away the support of a good many Liberals because they would not keep a proper hold upon law and order—at all events, until this new system had been fairly tried. Now, Sir, I have done. The noble Viscount the Member for South Somerset (Viscount Kilcoursie), expressing what I hope were not in all things the sentiments of the Government, said that in the approaching division there would be found in the one Lobby those who were desirous that friendly and peaceful relations should subsist between Great Britain and Ireland—a matter which I do not at all dispute— 106 and in the other Lobby the supporters of the Marquess of Salisbury. And then the noble Viscount went on to talk of a Dissolution having terrors for others, but perhaps none for him. If the noble Viscount had been 20 years in this House he would have known that there were Liberals as good as he—Liberals but for whose exertions in the cause of reform neither he nor any other Liberal like him would ever have sat in this House for South Somerset—who take a different view of the situation from him. As to the Dissolution, all I can say is that if my constituents think, as I believe they will not think, that in acting according to my conscientious belief on such a question as this I am unfit to be their Representative—then I fancy many besides me will think that the future conditions of holding a seat in Parliament are such as render it not worth the holding.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Londonderry, S.)
We all admire the great and statesmanlike qualities, the intellectual gifts, and the very high capacity of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. We must all agree that if it were possible to govern Ireland upon the existing system, and if anybody could have achieved success as its Governor, the right hon. Gentleman was just the man. But I do not think that even he will claim, when he writes his own biography, as he has written those of other distinguished men, that his administration of Ireland was a very great success. Therefore, when we find a right hon. Gentleman with such high attainments and so many very sympathetic qualities having made such a failure in Ireland asking the House to reject this Bill, I ask with what authority can he presume to speak on the measure of the Prime Minister? What qualities has he to entitle him to pronounce as a judge in this debate? As to his past experience, it is founded on failure—an experience, in point of fact, of failure and desertion. We are told that what Ireland wants is a firm Government—a Government of resolute action—to maintain the law with vigour and persistency. If it is impossible to find those qualities in the right hon. Gentleman opposite—the biographer of Fox—where are you to look for them? After two years of Office the right hon. Gentleman sickened of the task he had undertaken. Where is his Successor? In which of the 107 ranks of the Liberal dissidents will he seek for a man to carry out Lord Salisbury's policy of coercion for 20 years, or is he prepared to give up the comforts of his own fireside and the pleasure of his literary studies for the sake of carrying out a policy of repression in Ireland for a period of 20 years? I have the utmost respect for the right hon. Gentleman, and it is because I have so high a respect for him that I despair of seeing any English Gentleman bringing to the solution of this Irish Question, under the present situation, greater qualities of head and heart than he has done. I would ask any hon. Gentleman who opposes this Bill to point to any other right hon. Gentleman better qualified than the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) to give effect to the existing system of the government of Ireland. And when such men as he have broken down, who are you going to get to carry on Castle government on the basis of the status quo? In this melancholy business we are confronted by the fact that while the right hon. Gentleman opposes this measure, it is very strongly supported by another statesman—Earl Spencer—who was connected with him in the government of Ireland. It is remarkable, that while the right hon. Gentleman served only two years in Ireland, and comes back from there so "cocksure," Earl Spencer, who differs from him so greatly on this question, passed the entire period of his Viceroyalty of 1868 in that country, and was again there as Viceroy from 1882 down to the time of the fall of his Government. Nor did Earl Spencer desert Ireland before that event. I think it would have been highly instructive if the right hon. Gentleman had given the House some explanation of his reasons for leaving the side of Earl Spencer in Ireland. When we see that Nobleman, with his large experience of Ireland, supporting the Prime Minister, what weight are we to attach to the opposition of the right hon. Gentleman, whose experience is so much less, and whose opposition is on such unsatisfactory lines? I did expect to hear more fully from the right hon. Gentleman what the ground of his opposition really is. He said that very little alteration and modification would make the Bill acceptable to him. I fully expected, when he said so, that 108 he would have told the House exactly what alteration he advocates. What is his plan? I admit, of course, that it is very easy to oppose any particular measure. Let me, however, take a different question by way of comparison. Let me take the question of religion. I belong to a particular religion, and the right hon. Gentleman belongs to a different one. It is easy to say—"Make a little alteration in your religion and it will be acceptable to me." Which of the Seven Sacraments are we to leave out? Which of the Ten Commandments must we re-edit? What are the precise alterations the right hon. Gentleman desires to make? I must say that after having entertained the House for a considerable period—and we always listen to him with attention and gratification—it would have been much more satisfactory if he had not sat down without giving an inkling of what his plan is. At present it is absolutely bottomless—precisely in the same condition as that in which the plan of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) has been left. Take, again, the question of religious distinction. The right hon. Gentleman says that a very little alteration would make this scheme acceptable to him. Now, there is a scheme before us. Members of different religions, who differ in controversial matters, do not hesitate to say what are the blots they hit upon in any particular religion, and what are the particular doctrines they themselves recommend in contrast. If the right hon. Gentleman is so very sure of his scheme in comparison with that of the Prime Minister, what are the doctrines and what are the dogmas he recommends? While a man may with great certainty recommend a particular religion as a vehicle of salvation, is there not any religion against which he could not take the most extraordinary and apparently the most logical objections? We can object to anything; but at present we have a scheme before us logical, consistent, and complete to a very great extent, which, if we destroy it, will result in negation. What are you going to put in its place? The right hon. Gentleman has put nothing in its place. Let the Liberal dissident Members going into the Lobby to record their vote on this Bill remember that they have a living scheme on the one side and the 109 ghost of a scheme on the other. Will they vote for a ghost in one Lobby, or for a thing of flesh and blood in the other? Why is it that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who have satisfied themselves of the difficulties and the imperfections of the scheme of the Prime Minister, and who feel so strongly on the matter, cannot put forward a better scheme of their own? The right hon. Gentleman began his speech, as usual, by a series of quotations gathered from a distance of 3,000 or 4,000 miles. He quoted the authority of The Irish World. It is a singular thing that no Irish newspaper is ever quoted; and I will tell the right hon. Gentleman that if The Irish World is to be continually quoted against the Nationalist Party as a text-book, it would be at least more honest on his part if he had allowed us the privilege of reading that newspaper during the last three years. I do not know anything that can be supposed to degrade the art of government more than to put an official of high principles, of great honour, and of stainless character into a public position in Ireland and to compel him to open and read my letters and newspapers, and those of my friends.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
The last sentence uttered by the hon. and learned Member appears to cast a serious imputation on me. I had The Irish World sent to me, or I took it in. As to the rest of the hon. and learned Member's observations, I may say that I never read anybody's newspapers and I never opened anybody's letters in my life.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I had The Irish World sent to me also; but so long as the right hon. Gentleman was in Office I never got it. But as soon as the right hon. Gentleman left Office I received the newspaper once more. Even the Tory Government were ashamed to enter into this miserable business of the Grahamization of letters or newspapers. Not that there was anything in my letters which might not have been posted up at Charing Cross. I do not for a moment allege that the right hon. Gentleman did this himself; but if he did not do it, certainly he got someone to do it for him. What English Members have to consider is this—that if they reject this scheme, the alternative programme which is offered to them is that of high-minded Ministers like the right hon. Gentleman opposite going over to Ireland and 110 getting low-minded officials to do their dirty work. The right hon. Gentleman has, I observe, adopted a tone very different from that with which he used to address the House when he was a Member of the Government. He does not charge us now with writing and editing articles which are as much part of the machinery of assassination as the dagger and the revolver. That was the declaration made by the right hon. Gentleman, not in this House, where we could answer him, and where we never scrupled to answer him, but where he was not so very fond of answering us. It was down at Hawick among his constituents, by whom he is always well received, that the right hon. Gentleman declared that the newspapers edited by my hon. Friend, and the articles written by myself, were as much part of the machinery of murder as the dagger and revolver. Why does not the right hon. Gentleman quote from the same paper now? Why does he go to The Irish World, if United Ireland was good enough for him to quote from during his term of Office? If The Freeman, The Nation, and other Irish papers provided him with sufficient matter to justify him in indicting them and us before his constituents, why does he now go away 4,000 miles to The Irish World? It is because for years The Irish World has never ceased to attack us—has been our enemy. He has tonight quoted a statement which my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) is alleged to have made in Cincinnati, and another by Mr. Finnerty—both taken from The Irish World. Let me tell him this. We are sometimes taunted with being the recipients of American money. Any money I have received I should be happy to have acknowledged in public or in private. I spoke in Chicago, in December, 1881, at a meeting that followed a Convention attended by thousands of the representatives of the Irish race in America, and I told them that the policy of the Irish Leaders here "was no more to be influenced by American dollars than it was by English gold." That statement was cheered to the echo by the thousands who attended the meeting; but that sentence of the speech was mutilated in the report in The Irish World. It did not suit the book of that organ. It is idle to suppose for a moment that the millions of the Irish 111 race, powerful, intellectual, and brave men, who are backing the people of Ireland, accept that newspaper as their only mouthpiece. Why, it was denounced by eight Bishops sitting in solemn conclave in Cincinnati so far back as 1880. I repudiate altogether the insinuation that we are advised or controlled by The Irish World. We are told that we have received money through it. It is quite true that we have received money through The Irish World. Let me say, that while I differ from many of the views of Mr. Patrick Ford, he is a man of unselfish aims and unquestionable motives. He never makes his appearance in public; he is an absolute recluse; he lives in a little house in Brooklyn, and does not go over to even his office in New York, and he is absolutely a writer in a closet. The Irish World, of course, was used by branches of the Land League as a medium for the acknowledgment of subscriptions. But the bulk of the subscriptions would be received all the same if The Irish World had never existed, as that paper was but their channel and not their cause. My hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) reminds me that the National League has never received any subscriptions from The Irish World; so that the state of things I am referring to existed four or five years ago. The right hon. Gentleman has quoted a statement of Mr. Finnerty's. Mr. Finnerty edits a newspaper in Chicago, and represented a district of Chicago in Congress. It is said that he made a speech on Emmett's day, but the right hon. Gentleman did not fix the day. This Bill was brought in on the 8th of April, and Emmett's day, as well as I remember, was on the 4th of March, and yet the right hon. Gentleman stated absolutely as a fact that the speech was made long after the Bill of the Prime Minister was brought in. It is perplexing when such statements are made by Gentlemen of the highest integrity, stainless character, and loftiest position, and it only shows in what a haphazard manner Irish questions are dealt with by right hon. Gentlemen who are not fully acquainted with Irish history. Now, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, while it gives us no foothold on which to decide the merits of this Bill, went into a number of points that appear to me might very well have been re- 112 served for the Committee stage. The right hon. Gentleman especially went strongly against the financial part of the Bill. Will the right hon. Gentleman support us when we come to claim that a lower tribute be exacted from the Irish people? Because we have stated—my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork has stated most distinctly—that we claim a reconsideration of the financial provisions of the Bill. That being so, surely the question at issue is one of principle, and not of pounds, shillings, and pence, because I never will believe that the English people, who have paid so many millions for the liberation of the West Indian slaves, and who lavished their treasure and their blood like water in the Crimean War—perhaps for a mere idea—will, when they come to consider a question of peace with Ireland, reduce the issue to a matter of 6s. 8d. The peace of Ireland is worth more than £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 a-year. We are told that the Canadian people, the Australian people, and the people at the Cape pay nothing to England, and that the Irish people will be dissatisfied if they are not treated in a similar way. But the Cape, and Canada, and Australia do not have the British Army spending their money among them; I presume that the British Army alone spend something like £2,000,000 a-year in Ireland; and we have in addition, not only the British Navy, but a ready market for our produce. Supposing that the tribute is too high, and. I feel that it is too high, I say—knowing to some extent the English people, and having watched the spirit in which they have treated this Bill—I say that when the amount of the tribute comes to be considered, for the sake of making a lasting and durable peace, the English people will evince no desire to drive a hard bargain so far as mere pounds, shillings, and pence are concerned. Let me tell hon. Members why. It is because you have a great Empire which is vulnerable at many points, and you have in that little Island across the water as martial a people as ever trod the surface of the globe. Their support to you in time of battle is worth a good deal more than could be purchased for £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 a-year. If you really cement the union of these two nations, and make the Irish people contented, and if 113 ever a time of danger arises, and you call on Ireland for 100,000 men, while £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 might sometimes, perhaps, be got with friction, there would be little difficulty, in a pacified and prosperous Ireland, in finding brave men and strong arms to protect the Empire, and defend it in any strait in which it may be placed. This is not a question to be treated as it has been—treated as a mere mathematical or arithmetical question to be decided by rule of thumb. That would be the most monstrous proposition that has ever been placed before this House. You are dealing not with pounds, shillings, and pence, but with flesh and blood—with a people who have been accused of being a sentimental people, but who are, at any rate, a warm-hearted and a sympathetic people. I venture to think that nobody could have believed—certainly I could not—that such a change could be wrought upon the minds and consciences of an entire nation as has been wrought by the speech of the Prime Minister on the 8th April last. I have myself fought the Government in this House as hard as anybody. I have not been afraid or ashamed, either here, or in Ireland, or in America, to express my sentiments. But I will go back to the Chicago Convention, or to any Convention that may be called in Dublin tomorrow; and though we are told by the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs that we are young men, who in 30 years' time may be Ministers, and that being young we might rashly pledge our people, I say we should be able from any Convention of the Irish race at home or abroad to obtain the acceptance of this Bill. The Irish race has manifested in a thousand ways that it supports us in our acceptance of this measure. That being so, no deductions that may have been drawn from the past speeches of hon. Members in this House, or of the Irish people at home or abroad, are in point in the consideration of this measure. When Irish Members fought in this House in former times, they felt as it were that they were addressing a Government whose ears were stuffed with lead. But we have now found out the difference. For my own part, I do not hesitate to say that I have been deeply touched and moved, not only by the public and private utterances of hon. and right hon. 114 Gentlemen, but by the private sympathy shown to us by English gentlemen in this House and out of it. And an extraordinary change has come over many of the English newspapers. In past times the difficulty was to gain the ear of the English people. "England had the ear of the world," John Mitchel said, and it could pour into it what calumnies it pleased. But now, through the most powerful newspapers such as The Manchester Guardian, The Manchester Examiner, The Newcastle Chronicle, The Birmingham Daily Post, and other leading Provincial journals, a different tone is running. The speeches and declarations of the Irish Members were misquoted and misrepresented; but now some of your country organs are copying our speeches direct from the Irish National newspapers. To give an idea of the way in which the Irish Members have been misrepresented in the Press by a gang of conspirators in Dublin, who purvey news to England, I may say that it was telegraphed to The Newcastle Chronicle, on the day on which Earl Spencer made his speech in Newcastle, that I had declared that I had never withdrawn, and never would withdraw, anything that I had said with regard to Earl Spencer. Now, what were the facts? I really spoke in the opposite sense, and I said that I should withdraw nothing till the contrary was proved; but I went on to draw a comparison between Earl Spencer's action and the magnanimity of his conduct and character, and that of some other right hon. Gentlemen who were acting very much like the right hon. Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan). But all the context was omitted, and the whole tone and purpose of my remarks deliberately and shamefully misrepresented. But I will assume that the Irish Members are a thoroughly bad lot, that they are thoroughly unregenerate, and that they have made speeches which no Englishman would approve. I will take the estimate of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Major Saunderson), who quotes our speeches, and says—"Will you place Ireland under the rule of men like these?" I admit that I and my hon. Friend the Member for South Tyrone (Mr. W. O'Brien) have made speeches which are objectionable from an English point of view. Men who have been months in gaol without 115 trial are not generally very amiable; but are we to live for ever, and is Ireland for all eternity to be condemned to slavery for speeches made in a passing moment by some of her ephemeral Representatives? At the very most the Irish Members now in the House of Commons cannot control the destinies of Ireland for more than a generation. Are the toiling peasants who have been rack-rented and crushed, are the fishermen who have been deprived of the means of carrying on their industry, and are the artizans who are poverty-stricken to be deprived of their rights, because their Representatives in times of crimes and passion have made speeches a little stronger than usual in English controversies? The thing is absurd. Are the speeches of a particular set of Irish Members, which are quoted at the present time, any ground for refusing to the nation at large its Magna Charta? It is precisely as just as if King John had quoted the speeches of the Barons, before they wrung Magna Charta from him, and asked if he was called upon to forget the views of such wicked and turbulent nobles. When Irishmen were treated unjustly, they spoke one way; when justly, another. There is no inconsistency in their attitude, when your attitude is also changed. I think we may claim for the Irish people the same qualities as other people possess. I think that, taking them as a whole, we may claim for this Party—a Party coming here at a great distance from their farms, their workshops, counting-houses, and professions—that it represents as much intelligence, and, perhaps, although I should not say so, as much righteousness and conscientiousness as any other Party in this House. Let hon. Members compare them with the Loyal minority. I say, do they not show as much worth as the claimants of a monopoly of the intelligence, culture, and wealth of Ireland? We cannot admit North-East Ulster's modest claim to all the talents and all the virtues. When England wanted statesmen, she did not care from what part of Ireland she got them; she did not ask whether Burke was a Cork man or an Ulster man, or whether or not Lord Wolseley was a Northerner; and whenever the question was asked, the Duke of Wellington's capacity was allowed, although he was born near Dublin. Having had these 116 products from Ireland in the past, having had the privilege of giving you Irish Premiers, and the leadership of Irish Generals, I venture to think that the people of Ireland are just as capable of carrying out a moderate and sober system of self-government as any people on the globe. The right hon. Gentleman says that a terrible state of things will arise in Ireland if this Bill is passed. I should like to ask him what state of things will arise if it does not pass? Has the right hon. Gentleman considered that point at all? Will he, like Olivier, with a light heart go into the Division Lobby against the Prime Minister's Bill? Is he quite sure that the effect of not passing this Bill will not be greater than the evils of not passing it? We know the evils of the present system; but we know nothing of the mischiefs of the future system, except from the prophecies of the right hon. Gentleman. Grattan well said—"You cannot argue with a prophet; you can only disbelieve him." And that being so, I ask English Gentlemen, who are only opposed to some of the details of the Bill, to consider whether they are prepared to take the tremendous risks of opposing the Bill, and plunging Ireland into all the disastrous consequences which I venture to think will ensue—consequences tenfold worse than anything which has arisen out of the previous system of government there. There is another reason why the present time should be chosen for passing the Bill. For the first time in modern history the Irish people have shown a receptive temper. For the first time in your history a statesman has brought forward a great measure for Ireland, when not under the threat of civil war, under no pressure of foreign complications, nor because any prison has been blown down at home, but simply on the dictates of his own experience. It is this, I say, which recommends the scheme of the Prime Minister to the Irish people, and has produced a softness of heart towards him—that they observe the right hon. Gentleman bringing in the Bill under the circumstances I have described. Is it, then, desirable to allow this acceptable moment to pass away? Is it desirable to thwart, to battle with, and to obstruct one whom every hon. Gentleman opposite, however he may differ from him, must recognize as the first English statesman of the 117 century? And, if he cannot settle this great question at the present moment, which of your puny whipsters is going to settle it hereafter? When we were only about 40 in number, and about 20 in effective strength, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs was not so fond of standing up against us at that Table. He told his constituents at Hawick that sometimes he would rather face a pitched battle than that little handful of 20 men. Would he, after the Irish people have been angered, and this Party trebled in strength, like to be the Minister to carry through this House some petty scheme for County Boards? Instead of facing a pitched battle, I think he would rather stand a siege than do anything of the kind. But, in dealing with this measure, hon. Gentlemen address themselves to difficulties with which all are familiar; they address themselves to points of detail, and not to principles; and I say that is the advantage we have in this scheme being brought forward by a statesman who has had all these difficulties of detail presented to him, in the Canadian Settlement, the Australian Settlement, the Cape Settlement, and others. We are told that this scheme will lead to separation; that it will lead to the dismemberment of the Empire; that it will lead to the oppression of the Loyal minority; that it will set class against class; that the Civil Service will be ruined, and that every class which has supported the Empire through thick and thin will be constrained, despoiled, and isolated. Is there one of these prophecies from which the Prime Minister, 50 years ago, has not learned his ABC? I take the speech of Lord Derby, then Lord Stanley, on the Canadian Settlement in 1837. He said—and anyone would imagine it was the Member for the Border Burghs speaking—What would be the consequence of granting the Canadian demand? The establishment of a French Republic in Lower Canada. The concession of legislative independence will remove the only check to the tyrannical power of the dominant majority.That is the West Birmingham style. Lord Stanley continued—A majority in numbers only, for in wealth, in education, and in enterprize it is greatly inferior to the minority of settlers of British descent.Now we have the hon. and gallant Mem- 118 ber for North Armagh (Major Saunderson), for Lord Stanley went on—If these settlers find themselves deprived of British protection, they will protect themselves; measures to this effect will be taken within six months after the concession is made.The hon. Member for South Belfast—I will not call him gallant—said, at a meeting of the Royal Black Hobahs in Dublin last December, that the very first day after the introduction of this measure there would be the signal for civil war in Ireland. Lord Stanley added—Numerically the English settlers were in a minority, but that assistance would not be withheld from them by their comrades in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, or, if need be, in Great Britain. They were British subjects claiming protection against a tyrannical majority, and only asking to be left in the enjoyment of their liberties as British subjects.I presume that the Prime Minister, 50 years ago, heard all that; I presume at the time he was greatly alarmed; but apparently he has since been able to recover from his fears. The stuff about civil war now talked he has heard a dozen times over generations ago. We have, then, a scheme brought forward by a Minister who remembers similar controversies before most of us were born, who is aware of the threats and thunderbolts that were hurled against former schemes of legislation, and who pledges his success and his reputation in the evening of his days, when his career is not only dear to his fellow-countrymen, but to himself, and when he must be anxious to hand down to posterity the record of a successful and glorious life—we have him now coming forward with this Bill; and is it likely that, with an experience greater than all of ours, he would bring in any Bill likely to make his name in future generations hateful to Englishmen? We hear hon. Gentlemen talk of their duty, their constituents, and of their desire to preserve the British Empire untarnished in its lustre; but are they more patriotic than the Prime Minister? Have they contributed more than he has to the greatness of the Empire, or given to the Throne a firmer foundation in the hearts of Her Majesty's subjects, than the Minister who, with his hoary experience, pledges his past and future fame to the success of this measure? Sir, I say, then, that for the passing of this measure, this is the ac- 119 ceptable time. This is not a closed, a secret Assembly. Every word which is spoken here is telegraphed wheresoever the English language is spoken; and Members like the late Irish Secretary should be cautious what language they hold, lest anyone should be able to point to the words of men like him as a proof that this Bill was grudgingly given, and, therefore, that there should be no gratitude for it, and no generous recognition of the sympathetic attitude of the English people. No room should be given by such speeches for enemies to misrepresent that attitude; and I say, if we are able to pass this measure in the spirit in which it is conceived, it can never be said that it was granted in sullenness and distrust, and that the Irish people will, therefore, not accept it, merely to wrest further advantages from the English people, and to separate the two countries. But I fear lest those arguments are likely to be used if the Bill is thrown out, and if the whole question is again plunged, as it were, into a seething cauldron. We hear a great deal about the Irish people being cursed by Party spirit, and of the miseries which have been brought on the country by this being made a Party question. Treat it, then, as an International question between two peoples, and the union between the two Democracies will not long be delayed; and I say let every man be heedful of the consequences of stopping in between them. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General quoted from a remarkable speech addressed to the House in 1869 upon the question of the Irish Church Act, and perhaps it may be of some interest to hon. Members to know what was the exact position taken up in the past times by the Orange Society, of which we hear so much, and of its determination to resist this measure to the death. Will the House be surprised to hear that this Orange Society, after the passing of the Irish Church Act, passed a very remarkable resolution? One of the chief Articles of the Society is that its members are pledged on oath to maintain the Union. I am speaking in the presence of some distinguished members of that Organization, and I ask what happened when the Irish Church Act passed? This resolution was proposed by the Chairman, Brother Edward Waller, Deputy Grand Master— 120That all statements and provisions in the objects, rules, and formularies of the Orange Institution which impose any obligation on its members to maintain the Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland, be expunged therefrom.That resolution was carried by a majority of 22 to 18. Lord Enniskillen, the Grand Master, in a letter to a Dublin newspaper dated February 5, 1871, denied that such a resolution had been carried; adding that if it had been, he and other members of the Institution would have withdrawn from it immediately. The truth, however, is that the resolution was carried by the majority of 22 to 18 votes; but in order to carry any resolution to change the constitution of the Orange Order, a two-thirds majority is required. Who started the Home Rule movement in Ireland? It was the Protestants and the Orange Society.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Great latitude must be allowed to the hon. Member for Belfast here. When we meet him in the field, in the contest with which he threatens us, perhaps we may have to take stronger measures. I say that the Home Rule movement in Ireland was started by the Protestants and by the Orange Society. Nearly every man who met Isaac Butt at the meeting on May 17th, 1870, after the passing of the Irish Church Act, was a Protestant, and many of them were Orangemen. Who acted as Secretary to the great Home Rule Convention of 1873? It was a gentleman of the name of Colonel King-Harman. These men raised the flag of Home Rule, and we nailed it to the mast; and so much was this the case that no less a person than Cardinal Cullen, who being a staunch Churchman, and perhaps somewhat doubtful as to the proceedings of the new Protestant Nationalists, took alarm at the idea of the country getting into the hands of those Orange and Protestant Nationalists, whom he considered to be acting in pique at the Disestablishment of the Irish Church, and without any serious intention to permanently stand by their country. And so it proved, for when the Conservative Government came into Office and were able to give away dignities and offices, the support of Loyalists and others melted rapidly away. But let us consider some of the resolutions passed by those gentlemen at that time. 121 On July the 9th, 1870, a resolution was passed denouncing the Party Processions Act of Mr. Chichester Fortescue as—Inconsistent with the rights of freemen and one to which we shall never submit, and which forces upon us the conclusion that England can no longer be permitted to legislate for this country, and we hereby declare that Irishmen shall no longer be slaves in their own land, and we call upon all classes of Irishmen by every legal means to assist our Organization in gaining their freedom.I appeal to the hon. Members for South Belfast (Mr. Johnston), East Belfast (Mr. De Cobain), and North Armagh (Major Saunderson)—even supposing that we are wrong in the view we take of Irish liberation, I say, you, at least, are the minority; we are the majority. You have for the last 500 or 600 years been in the possession of the good things, while we have been left out in the cold; you have occupied high places, while we have been in prison. You have been in Office, and we have been in exile; you have been landlords, we have been the evicted. You see the Irish people like a captive bird beating out its heart against the bars; would it not be worth your while to say we will make some sacrifice in the interests of common humanity for the sake of the enormous majority of the Irish people? Can you not say that you view with pity the fact that thousands of Irishmen in each generation find their way to prison; that millions have been driven across the Atlantic; that you view their sorrows with regret, and that you will see if a change cannot be effected, some better system devised—in short, that you will grant to Ireland a measure of local government such as that which is proposed by the Prime Minister? I say that would be the attitude of statesmen and of patriots; it would be the attitude of Gentlemen seriously desirous for the good, not of a particular class or of a particular religion, but of the country at large; and I maintain that no knot or section of the people in a corner of the land has the right to obstruct the path to peace and freedom of the masses of the nation. I claim from them, if they are really the Representatives of the wealth, education, and intelligence of the country, as they allege, that they should make a sacrifice and resign themselves to the working out of a plan which their fellow-countrymen feel convinced that the prosperity of our 122 common country requires. We are told they are the cream of the population and its heaviest taxpayers. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East; Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen) was good enough to say the other day that Ulster paid the greater part of the taxes of Ireland. Sir, I think it a monstrous thing that a Gentleman occupying the position of the Member for Edinburgh should make a declaration of that kind, and lend the authority of his financial reputation to a deceitful and inaccurate piece of figure-cooking. The right hon. Gentleman arrived at his conclusion by simply taking Schedule D, which relates to Income Tax from trades and professions alone, and omitting Dublin from the calculation. The taxes paid by the agricultural population are not included in that Schedule at all. As nearly all Ireland lives by farming, I think it would have been more decent if the right hon. Gentleman had presented a more candid statement to the House. Although the right hon. Gentleman said that Ulster was the richest portion of Ireland, the fact is that there are 14 counties in Leinster and Munster richer than any county of Ulster, and these 14 counties pay more money in the shape of taxes than any Ulster county. Dublin pays in Income Tax three times more than Belfast, and Waterford, with the same population, three times more than Derry. As to the allegation that Ulster is superior in point of education, I will content myself with pointing out that in Dublin, where the population exceeds that of Belfast by 50,000, there were at the last Election only 869 illiterate voters, while in Belfast the number was 1,559. Even the people in Munster are more literate than in Ulster—turn it as you will, in wealth and intelligence, experience shows that Ulster is below both Leinster and Munster. I read with great regret the other day a speech delivered by the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartiugton). The noble Marquess has been a bitter opponent of this Bill; he has made many straightforward and honest attacks upon it, and has not attempted to get rid of it by a side-wind. He has not attempted to stab the Prime Minister with a blade lubricated with compliment. He has attacked him in front and not behind, though he has made some statements regarding the Irish Mem- 123 bers which he might very well have left unsaid. He says now that he is willing that certain changes should be made in the government of Ireland, though three years ago he declared that it would be madness to grant Ireland anything in the way of local self-government until Irish Members had given guarantees that they would not use it as a weapon for obtaining separation. The Irish Members are now prepared to give guarantees, but the noble Marquess will not accept them. Whatever course we take an excuse is invented to thwart us. Now it is our sincerity that is impugned, and the meanest motives for our acceptance of the Bill are attributed. Because, forsooth, some of us may, if it passes, become salaried Ministers, it is insinuated our mouths are being sealed with prospective hush-money. I must say that in regard to men who have fought the battle as we have fought it—many of whom have faced gaol and exile, hardships and ignominies, in a cause we were proud to suffer for—he might have spared us the reflection that we regarded the Bill in the light of a gigantic personal bribe. I can draw no other conclusion from this portion of the speech of the noble Marquess at Bradford, in which he says that these leaders and teachers of the Irish people have every reason to be satisfied with the prospect which is now opening before them. He says that for us there is opening a prospect of political power and influence within our own country—to us is opening a prospect of the spoils of political victory; but that the people to whom our teaching has been addressed will, but to a small and limited extent, be sharers in our joys and satisfaction. To tell us, who have been willing to face every risk that men could face to bring this question to the point it has now reached, and who would not hesitate, if victory seemed once more as far off as it but so lately did, to fight the battle all over again, that we are now accepting this Bill because of the spoils and satisfactions, is, perhaps, the greatest insult that could be addressed by one Member of this House to another. True, it is not, perhaps, a greater insult than was addressed by the chief supporter of the noble Marquess—namely, The Times newspaper—to his own followers, when it reminded the noble Marquess that, once in power, 124 and once the master of patronage, on the defeat of this Bill, he would have very little difficulty in filling up the minor Offices of a Government with Gentlemen of flexible consciences. Perhaps a perusal of that suggestion in The Times infected the minds of the noble Lord in regard to men of whose action his present political acquaintances supply no standard. Sir, we Irish Members have filled offices in Ireland, but they were offices in the cells of Kilmainham and Richmond Gaols. We did not hesitate to face odium and obloquy in this House when we could have won its favour in past times; and to tell us, as the noble Marquess has told us, that we are agreeing to these things for the sake of some paltry remuneration which an Irish State can give, is about, perhaps, as contemptible a form of argument as ever entered the head of even a British aristocrat. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Goschen) tells us that the passing of this Bill will drive wealth out of Ireland. Well, Sir, we may drive wealth out of Ireland if we act like some other people who have had the management of a system of government in the East—I believe that some English Gentlemen have had the government of Egypt in their hands, and have managed, to some extent, to drive wealth out of that country. They have not hesitated, in that poor country, to dabble in its Stocks and in its Loans; and though, perhaps, our credit in Ireland may not be very high, I venture to think that some Gentlemen who are now doing their best to defeat this Bill will not be backward in encouraging us to issue loans. I venture to say that an Irish State will not be established three years before its Stocks will have been bulled and beared by some such firm as Goschen and Frühling. When all these prophecies of corruption are indulged in, and all these imputations of mercenary motives are made, I wonder what it is we have done to deserve them. The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Major Saunderson) taunted my hon. Friend the Member for South Tyrone (Mr. W. O'Brien) with being in receipt of American money. I am almost ashamed in my hon. Friend's presence to mention a fact to which I will ven- 125 ture to allude. A fund was raised six months ago for my hon. Friend, to defend him against the persecution of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan). A sum of over £1,000 was left as a balance of that fund, which was freely given by my hon. Friend, who signed a cheque for the amount, and sent it to his poor fellow-townsmen of the town of Mallow, and that irrespective of creed or class. But why are we to be taunted in this manner? Are we Irishmen, I might almost say, as was asked of the Jew, not men like yourselves? What is it that has driven the Irish Representatives into the position they have taken up? What is it that has compelled them to speak words of anger and of ferocity, I might almost say, and of defiance in this House? You drove them to do it; and just as they have been driven to exhibit these human feelings by one line of conduct, may they not by the adoption of another line be made to exhibit quite an opposite set of feelings? I believe, Sir, in the alchemy of justice, in its efficacy and permanent effects. I believe the Irish people are deeply touched and deeply moved by the present attitude of this country towards them. Englishmen have seen with joy and satisfaction the efforts of the men who have fought for liberty in Greece, in Bulgaria, Poland, and Italy. The same Englishmen will consider the object of this Bill, and will see that the difficulties and tyrannies we have suffered under have been far worse than those they have assisted to put an end to in other countries. They will see that the people who are labouring under these evils, though perhaps not so picturesque, are in the main as worthy of their sympathy; that they have human hearts and human souls; that, at any rate, they are Her Majesty's subjects; and Englishmen will feel that while they did no wrong to the Poles, the Italians, the Bulgarians, and the Greeks, they have done wrong to us. They will do us some reparation, make some attempt to banish our woes, our poverty, and our sufferings. We have heard no note of sympathy or pity in any of the speeches which have come from Liberal Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House against this Bill. Tory Gentlemen, who were bound to oppose it, have felt themselves compelled to utter some 126 friendly words of sympathy with the Irish people. Nearly every Tory Member who has spoken has declared that it is with regret that he feels himself bound to offer opposition to the measure. Is it the Liberal dissidents alone who have their hearts hardened? I ask them not to be led away by difficulties. There are blots on the sun, and though there I may be blots on the Bill of the right I hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, those blots are small indeed compared with the blots you would create on the hearts of the Irish people by its rejection. You have resisted and prevented every Irish reform for centuries. I appeal to you now to give us this boon with a free and generous hand; and if you do I can promise that the Irish people will be willing to join you in every endeavour to make this Realm what we all desire it should be made—an Empire of which every citizen may be proud, and against which no reproach can be brought by reason of the sorrows or the wrongs of any race within its ample boundaries.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Rigby.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till Thursday.