§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
In moving the Resolution that stands in my name let me say at once that that Resolution 69 does not mean separation. I have no desire to repeal the Union between England and Scotland, and I think that Union has been mutually beneficial—a good thing for Scotland, but a better thing for England. Since the Union our great Colonial Empire has been developed, and that Empire has been as much built up by Scottish blood and treasure as by English. More than that I, knowing something of our Colonies, have no hesitation in saying the present prosperity is to a large extent due to the industry and intelligence of Scotchmen in the Colonies. All I want is that we should keep all the benefits we have under the Union without any of its disadvantages, and I think we can attain this without affecting the Union in any way whatever. I frankly admit that, although my Motion is based mainly on practical considerations, there is a sentimental basis for the growing Home Rule movement in Scotland. We Scotchmen are all proud of our country and of our country's history. We do not think we have anything to be ashamed of, and even an English historian, anti-Home Rule Mr. Froude, gives praise to Scotland such as a Scotchman probably would not, when he coupled her name with Judea and Greece. An attempt is made here to ignore Scotch nationality. We hear of the English Government, and the Minister is not called to order for the expression. Why, only the other day the Secretary for War spoke of the English troops he was sending to Egypt, the Scottish Borderers. I notice the hon. Member for East Renfrew has an Amendment to my Resolution. I saw a report of a speech made last year to his constituents; and in that speech he speaks of Scotch Members feeling insulted by the way their nationality is ignored or treated with contempt. I only wish he would call some of his leaders to order when they so insult his nationality; and if he used here strong language similar to that he used when he addressed his constituents, then perhaps the attempts to ignore our old nationality would stop. I for one feel that there is no incongruity in the possession of these strong national feelings, with broad cosmopolitan sympathies. The main practical ground on which I urge this Motion is that Scotch business is neglected. In support of that conten- 70 tion I may cite the Education Question. Scotland had to wait until England had a national system of education before she could get her educational system revised, and then it was revised on English lines. In adjusting the local burdens it is the landlord who gets the advantage. Another important measure is the Public Health and Police Bill. We have confusion, anarchy, and chaos in mingled jurisdiction in Scotland, owing to the disgraceful state of our Public Health Law, but the House has never had time to deal with this subject, and so anarchy continues. There are thousands of preventible deaths every year in Scotland in consequence of our disgraceful Public Health Act. The Scotch Universities Bill, too, has been brought in last year for the sixth time, but not passed. No doubt hon. Members may say it might have been passed; but when? Between the stages of the Appropriation Bill, and on the terms that all the burning questions connected with it should be referred to a Commission altogether out of harmony with Scotch feeling on the subject. Not only has Scotland to complain of neglect of her business in that House, but she has also to complain that Scotch opinion is overwhelmed by uneducated English opinion. Hon. Members vote at the bidding of the Whips on Scotch questions when they know as much of Scotch politics as they do of the politics of the moon. Take another question which stands first on the Orders of the Day, and which probably will not be considered this Session, and upon which we have been unable to get a decision for five years. My hon. Friend in charge of the Liquor Traffic Veto Bill attempted to get a vote upon it, but it was blocked by an English Member. Probably, even if we had a discussion, the settlement would be upon English lines, our views on the Scotch Liquor Question being overridden. Another question is that of Church Disestablishment. Whenever this comes up, as it does in the form of abstract Resolution, we find Scotch opinion in its favour represented by 38 to 18—such were the figures last year, but we are overwhelmed by the votes of English Members, who vote for the continuance of what they, as Episcopalians, must consider a schismatic Church. There are many such instances, but an affection of the throat from which I am 71 suffering prevents me doing justice to the subject. But I must say a word on the financial relations between England and Scotland. Here we have been treated very badly. We cannot complain of being taxed more per head than Englishmen, because that is due to the high tax on our whisky; but on that point, too, we are unfairly dealt with, for while Scotch whisky is taxed 10s. on the alcoholic gallon, English whisky is taxed 2s. 6d. only. We have not the advantages Ireland has, we have no camps and no docks in Scotland, although we could build ships in half the time and at half the cost on the Clyde. Nor is there any arsenal, although I believe there is to be one established near Stirling. The sums voted for local purposes, the sums paid to officials are on a lower scale than in England, though we are going to have some redress on this point at last, and the Lord Advocate is going to devote the money he receives from the Probate Grant to Free Education; but if Scotland received from the State for local purposes as much proportionately as England and Ireland got, Scotland could give Free Education, and would have money to spare for other purposes. But I want the House to look at this question from a broader standpoint. Supposing we had no grievance at all, supposing that instead of being treated unfairly, we had been treated on equitable terms, what is our position? It must be admitted that the House does its work very badly and inadequately, and that something is required to be done to enable Parliament to discharge its duty to the whole country. Every year more work is thrown upon Parliament, and the probability is that the aggregate amount of the work that ought to be done will go on increasing. Everybody, even old Tories on the other side, must admit that some change is necessary. Then what is the remedy to be? It must, I think, take the form of devolution. The Government themselves propose some devolution in their Local Government Bill, referring Private Bill legislation inquiries to a local Commission. For my own part I think that is a bad system, and I do not think it will save the time of the House. It is possible even that more time will be occupied, for probably the Committee discussions 72 would be resumed in this House on the Report stage of Private Bills. I think the only solution of the present state of affairs in this House is to have devolution upon lines of nationality, to devolve on each of the national elements of which this great Empire is composed, its own local or national business. This devolution should be two-fold. First legislative. Give to your National. Parliaments, or your National Councils—I do not care what you call them—give to these bodies, not an indefinite something, but something well defined by an Act of this House, the Imperial Parliament still remaining the High Court of Final Appeal in all matters concerning the Empire. But devolve on these National Bodies the powers and functions parallel to those you are going to devolve on County Bodies, and such as you have long devolved on Municipal bodies — powers to act in their own business and with a free hand. If those bodies attempt to go beyond this, the Imperial Parliament can veto the proceedings, but, so far as their powers are conferred, they should have a free hand. As to what these powers shall be, I think we must come to the conclusion that they should consist of the powers which are now possessed by the Scotch Secretary, others that are possessed by the Board of Trade and others by the Board of Works. But, in addition to that, you must give executive responsibilities to these bodies, or you will have this condition of affairs, that the men carrying out the laws passed by these bodies would be under the control of the Imperial Parliament. Now I think, this question of the executive is made a bugbear in the minds of some; but I see no reason why it should be. We do not want an elaborate Executive. I think the Scotch Secretary, supported by the Scotch people, would be sufficient, and the Lord Advocate might be left to devote more time to his practice at the Bar. There must be a Board of Supervision, a Board of Trade and Agriculture, an Education Board, and heads of these departments of course. I think this would be sufficient for carrying on the national work. This seems to me the only solution of our present difficulty—you should do it on the lines of Nationality. The Scotch are a separate nation; we have our separate laws, our 73 separate methods of jurisprudence and administration, and our special technical language, which English lawyers cannot understand. Now, is it not far better that our business should be transacted by a body which has some knowledge of these matters than by others who frankly admit they have no knowledge at all on the subject? You have passed special Bills for Ireland, and the claims of Wales cannot be long neglected. The Welsh people will make their demand before long, and you will be no longer able to settle their affairs on English lines. This question of Home Rule can be settled in one of two ways, on the principle of dualism, or by the method of federalism. I have no hesitation in saying that dualism as a basis can never be carried through, and I hope no attempt will be made in that direction. The only solution is that which Mr. Butt proposed many years ago, and it was that proposal which converted me to his Home Rule views in 1874. I am strongly of opinion that the solution of our difficulty lies in the adoption of Mr. Butt's lines. There are several questions that have to be considered in relation to this Home Rule question. The country will never consent to Irish Members being driven out of this House as a consequence of Irish Home Rule, but at the same time I do not think the country would submit to Irish Members, while settling their own National affairs, having a finger in the Scotch and English pie. So under the circumstances it seems to me that we are logically bound, and I have long held this view to have Home Rule all round, and a Federal Parliament representing every section of the Empire. I know Home Rule in Scotland is growing and will grow, though many people try to retard it, and some of our Scotch friends think that pushing forward Scotch Home Rule will retard Irish Home Rule. But I would keep back Home Rule in Scotland for half a-century rather than put off Home Rule in Ireland for a year. Ireland has much more need of it, she has suffered more, and the Irish evil is a national evil to be averted. At the same time, with a growing feeling in Scotland, we can flash the movement. A great number of hon. Members opposite will only look at the Irish Question through their prejudices, but without flatter- 74 ing Members, I think I may say they would consider our claim from an intellectual standpoint with less prejudice and more reason. The Home Rule feeling is growing strongly in Scotland as it is in Wales and Ireland, and I hope the time is not far distant when this Parliament will be freed from the discussion of such questions as whether a Scotch Railway Company should have an hotel in Edinburgh, or Belfast have a system of drainage. Other great and Imperial questions will then have a chance of discussion. We have an immense responsibility. We are responsible for the government of a third of the human race—three hundred millions of people look to the House of Commons for guidance. I trust that in the consideration of Home Rule propositions we shall still preserve intact the great Anglo-Saxon Union that has done so much for civilization, that has so much still to do.
Motion made, and Question proposedThat, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that arrangements be made for giving to the people of Scotland, by their representatives in a National Parliament, the management and control of Scottish affairs."—(Dr Clark.)
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
I beg to second the Resolution. There is no question of a political character which has made such extraordinary and rapid progress as this question of Home Rule for Scotland. On August 20, 1886, I think the question of Home Rule for Scotland was raised for the first time, and somewhat casually, in the debate on the Address; but it is remarkable that since then there has been nothing of a sustained agitation in its support by public meetings or in the Press. It has been rather out of sympathy with the general tone of Radical movement, and yet it has an amount of public opinion in its favour that would astound those who have not had the opportunity of ascertaining this. Sir, having made up my mind that Home Rule for Scotland would be beneficial to the country, I decided next to explain my views to my constituency in Aberdeen. I had not the remotest idea how they would receive it, but I discovered very quickly that the constituency was ahead of myself, and that the mass of the people had been tending in the direction of Home Rule to an extent which I should not have thought pos- 75 sible. Indeed, I believe that we shall not have 10 Members returned for Scotland at the next General Election unless they are pledged to Home Rule for Scotland. I do not expect hon. Members opposite to agree with me in that, because the idea is one not altogether pleasant to them. But let me point to the fact that some of the acutest intellects in Scotland at the time of the Act of Union pointed out the great dangers likely to arise from the incorporation with England, and now we are experiencing these dangers and evils. Those who have studied the history of representative institutions—those who have considered the evils and dangers incident to democratic government—must, I think, have come to the conclusion that the Federal form of Union is the one which gives the greatest hopes of obtaining the objects of representative institutions in the future, and also of avoiding the perils of democratic government. Nothing can be more remote from the Radical idea of government than the idea of the disintegration of the United Kingdom; and so far are we from desiring the disintegration of the United Kingdom that we, the friends of Home Rule, look forward to the day when England herself shall be merged in a higher unity, and when, although we may not live to see it, there will be established that which would be the greatest blessing to the world—namely, the United States of Europe. That is the direction of our ideas and aspirations. But, Sir, the point of view from which Scotchmen look at the question of Home Rule is that which has been stated by the Mover of this Resolution. It is not so much one of national sentiment, it is not merely a gratification of that, but it is a conviction which is being borne in upon Scotchmen more and more every day that the business of Scotland could be better managed in Scotland, and the business of the Empire could be better managed in London, if there were separate Parliaments for the two countries. It is for the better management of Scotch business, and of the business of the United Kingdom, that we advocate the establishment of a Legislative Assembly in Scotland. Now, Sir, the people are hardly aware of the prodigious increase which there has been 76 during the present century in the work of this Imperial Parliament. Anyone who takes a glance at the Statute Book, and marks the progress of legislation before the year 1832, between 1832 and 1867, and from 1867 to the present time, can fail to observe the enormous increase, not only in the volume of legislation, but in the diversity of the subjects dealt with, and in the importance of the subjects. In fact, the work of the Imperial Parliament of the present century has increased several fold, and in addition - during the same period there has been an enormous increase in the British Empire—I cannot say by how many thousand square miles, but anyone who compares the map of the Empire in 1801 with one for the present year would be startled to find what a steady and continuous and prodigious increase of area there has been—an increase which devolves upon this House large additions to its present responsibilities. In 1858 there was added the enormous territory and population of India. I cannot say that the House well discharges its duties and responsibilities in respect of India; but certainly those responsibilities add to the labour of this House. But that is not all. In the work of administration, the introduction of the household suffrage has completely revolutionized the condition of Government in former days; and now, compared with 40 or 50 years ago, there is an enormous increase in the demands of constituencies upon Members, with a. corresponding demand by Members on the time of this House. Now, Sir, let us look for one moment at the work which has to be done in a somewhat similar Assembly—I mean the Congress of the United States of America. That Congress has little idle time on its hands; and yet it has been relieved. of all that kind of work which it is now proposed that the House of Commons should be relieved from by the establishment of Home Rule and the creation of Legislative Assemblies in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Remember, also, the Foreign and Colonial questions which this House has to deal with from time to time, and that vast amount of work is outside the scope of the Congress of America. Then, with regard to the details of administration, here is no comparison between the American Congress and this House so 77 far as regards the minute supervision of the duties of Government Departments. Again, while we have unlimited powers of legislation, the Congress is limited within certain bounds as to the nature of the legislation it may undertake. Yet, although Congress is relieved of much of the work which devolves on this House, it finds, with all its cleverness, that it has as much work to do as any Legislative Assembly can fairly undertake. Now, Sir, why is it that Scotch business is so badly attended to in the House of Commons? It is that the majority of the Members of that House have a want of knowledge of Scotch affairs, and, naturally enough, do not take an interest in them. When a Scotch question is under discussion the English Members leave the House to seek more interesting places of retreat, and when the division bell rings they come in, and without having heard a word of the debate, and often without knowing what is the question on which they are going to vote, they overrule the Scotch Members. When I first entered the House I understood that an arrangement existed by which, as regarded Scotch measures, English Members practically left us to manage our own affairs, so that we had virtually, though not formally, the substance of Home Rule; but before I had been here long my experience disabused me of that delusion. The superstition was cleared away after a few months experience. Certainly since 1886 the reverse has been the ease. The Crofters Act of 1886, which was brought in by a Liberal Government, was cut down so as to conform to the requirements of English prejudice. This, be it remembered, was a measure brought in by a Liberal Government. Still it was not a measure up to the standard of Scotch opinion, and it was cut down; and although the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian has always found that the Scotch Liberals are among his most loyal supporters, we, nevertheless, time after time found that we had a majority against us in the Lobby on questions raised in Committee—time after time the Scotch Members were in one Lobby, and the majority of the House in another. Since then another Government has come in, and these occasions, which were rare under a Liberal Government, are now of fre- 78 quent occurrence—indeed, they are almost uniform. I have taken some pains to examine the votes of Members of this House, and it is remarkable how rarely it happens that the majority of the Scotch Members are found in the same Lobby as the majority of the Members of this House. We had instances only in the month of December last. There was a question raised as to whether the Secretary for Scotland should be a Member of the House of Commons. On that question 37 Scotch Members voted against the Government, and 15 with it. A few days later there was a debate on another subject of great interest to Scotland—and that was with regard to the conduct of certain Crown officials. On that occasion there were 28 Scotch Members on one side and 11 on the other. In the Division on the Vote on Account of Scotch Prisons there were 33 on one side and nine on the other; and in all these cases, without exception, Scotch opinion was overruled by the obedient majority which the Whips are able to bring into the Lobby when they desire. There can be no question that the separation of Scotch Executive work from English Executive work has led to some very good results; but the value of the office of the Secretary for Scotland is very much impaired by the fact that the holder of the office does not sit in the House of Commons. An overwhelming majority of Scotch Members have declared in favour of his having a seat in this House, and the Government can find but few Members, to express a contrary opinion. If it had been an English question the Government would have been bound to act on the opinion of English Members but they set aside and despised the views of the Scotch majority. I thank the Government for the concessions which they made last night, and I believe they will thereby gain credit and popularity, for allowing the appropriation of the Probate Duty to the abolition of School Fees. But we must bear in mind that 55 out of 72 Scotch Members were pledged to support this appropriation, and if the Government had refused it and challenged a division, I do not believe they would have been supported in the Lobby by five Scotch Numbers. I do not propose to trouble the House with any details of our Home 79 Rule proposals. I do not believe that there are any other means than Home Rule by which Scottish opinion can be given the control of Scottish business. But I am not bigoted in my opinion. If anyone can point out another scheme which would have such an advantage I will support it. As long as the ends are attained the means are of secondary importance. One advantage which will be gained by a Scottish Legislative Assembly will be the improvement in the personnel of the Scottish representatives. At present Scotland is to a large extent represented by hon. Members who have no abiding home in Scotland; and local Scottish candidates cannot be readily obtained because there are in Scotland very few of the idle rich class, of those who can afford the time and money to spend six months of the year in London. We have many men of moderate wealth, and some with large fortunes, but those who have fortunes are generally immersed in business of their own, and very few men in business find it possible to sacrifice their business and break the threads of it in order to spend six months in London in the Imperial Parliament. Now, the leading merchants and manufacturers in Scotland would form the best material for dealing with local affairs of Scotland, and they are a class of men sparingly represented in this House. Yet they are precisely the men you would have sent to a Legislative Assembly in Scotland. I believe the whole business of the legislative administration of Scotland—if we might judge from the experience of other States—could be easily accomplished in the space of eight weeks with sittings, say, on four days a week. Therefore, we should have a great improvement in the personnel of representatives of Scotland, and I believe we should easily enough find members to represent Scotland, not only in the Imperial Parliament but in the Scottish Assembly, and in the case of the latter body you would bring into public life a valuable class of men who have an intimate knowledge of the wants of the country. And, now as to the alternative for Home Rule. There has been witnessed during the last few years a continuous diminution of the liberties of Members and of Parliament itself. There was a time when the word closure was heard with horror by Members of this House; now, like 80 vice, we have become familiar with it, and it forms our daily bread. In another direction we have witnessed most extraordinary innovation and destruction of the liberties of Parliament in the way of passing Bills through the House without the House having an opportunity of dealing with every clause in Committee. This is a novel principle in the constitutional history of this country, and one very dangerous and far reaching in is effects, because if you may stop a discussion on a Bill at its third clause why not stop it on the first clause, or why have any second reading debate? It is a principle which must prove fatal to the integrity and the dignity of the House of Commons, and it is but one of the effects of Parliament attempting to do work beyond its power. It requires no prophet to foretell that if the House of Commons continues to exercise all the powers hitherto exercised by it a further curtailment of the privileges of the House is inevitable, and the House will be converted from an assembly for discussing the affairs of the nation into a mere registering machine of the will of the Government of the day. I entirely share the opinion of my hon. Friend that those who support the Motion before the House are throwing no obstacles in the way of Home Rule for Ireland. Home Rule for Scotland can well afford to wait until the other scheme is out of the way, if there is any real inconsistency between the two. If that satisfaction were given which the people of Scotland earnestly desired, it would be possible to frame a scheme of Home Rule equal for all four divisions of the United Kingdom while maintaining absolute the sovereignty of Parliament. By a purely historical accident Parliament is really sovereign, and so a very large devolution of powers could safely be made, while the best division for such devolution will be found in following national lines. I believe that Home Rule would work more smoothly in Scotland with her peculiar and independent system, and laws and institutions than in either England or Ireland. Although we do not expect a majority of the House on this Motion, we have nevertheless opened up a question of great interest to the mass of the people, and one which at no distant d ay will be ripe for treatment by Parlia- 81 ment. I beg, therefore, to second the Motion.
§ *MR. SHAW STEWART (Renfrew)
Sir, as to the Motion brought forward by the hon. Member for Caithness, there can, I think, at any rate on this side of the House, be only one feeling, that of satisfaction at having an opportunity of hearing his proposal discussed, and of ascertaining how much or little merit there is in it. I confess that hitherto I have regarded the question of Home Rule for Scotland as somewhat hazy and mysterious, and the speeches of the hon. Members for Caithness and Aberdeen have not done much to dispel that haze and mystery. The hon. Member who seconded confessed there was no sign of a desire on the platform or in the Press for Home Rule, but he said there was an astounding desire for it in Aberdeen. The hon. Member who submitted this Motion disclaimed any intention of bringing about a repeal of the Union between England and Scotland; and I have no doubt that he is sincere in that, but it is somewhat remarkable that his arguments to-night were exactly the arguments used when there was a proposal for separation brought forward in the Scottish Parliament in 1703. During the debate on the Act of Security, which as hon. Members well know was practically an act of separation, the arguments were that the interests of Scotland were uniformly sacrificed, and that if the Scottish Parliament was neither obstructed nor interrupted by the English Council, the grievances of the Nation would be redressed by the execution of its own laws. The hon. Member for Aberdeen distinctly said that he would utterly decline to discuss any details of the measure of Home Rule for Scotland, and he then went on to say that it was difficult to get good candidates for Parliament at the present time. Sir, it is quite possible that intelligent Scotchmen are not so easily found to adopt the principles of hon. Members who sit on the opposite side of the House, and that they may be obliged to come to seek for candidates among English gentlemen about whom the Mover of the Motion said something not very complimentary in respect of their want of education. I do not think, on the Unionist side of politics, it is difficult to find intelligent Scotchmen who are willing to come forward in support 82 of the Union. But if it is difficult to get Scotchmen to come forward to represent constituencies in the present Parliament, how will they find it easier to get candidates to come forward to represent them in the Imperial Parliament which they still wish to retain in the future? The Mover of the Motion alluded to the Liquor Question as one of those questions on which they were continually over-ruled by the action of English Members. But what happened last year with regard to this very question of the Liquor Bill? There was ample opportunity for discussion of that measure, but for some reason best known to themselves hon. Members opposite chose to pass the Second Reading of the Bill without any discussion whatever. The hon. Member also alluded to financial questions, and he argued that they would be treated with greater dispatch and more effectiveness in a Parliament in Edinburgh than here. But surely if a Parliament in Edinburgh is not to deal with Imperial matters, I fail to see how they can deal with finances which certainly are matters of Imperial interest, both to this country and to the whole of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Then the hon. Member made the astounding assertions that the Bill brought in by my right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate n respect to Private Bill legislation would add to the work which this House would have to do. He brought forward very little in support of that assertion and I still think that hon. Members must be of opinion that if some of the work in connection with Private Bills is taken out of this House its labours must of necessity be lightened. The proposals of the hon. Member have not been put before us in any detail, but he proposes to set up a Parliament in Edinburgh.
§ *MR. SHAW STEWART
I apologize to the hon. Member, but at any rate he must mean that a Parliament is to be instituted somewhere in Scotland—I think it ought to be Glasgow if anywhere. This Parliament would entail offices, appointments, and departments, and a considerable expenditure in salaries. Now, I think that is rather a startling proposal to come from the quarter of the House in which the hon. 83 Member sits. Will he persuade Members who sit round him to vote increased supplies to meet those salaries? I think he offers a rather large camel to be swallowed by those whose business in life it is to strain at every gnat they can discover in the Estimates. The hon. Member for Caithness may, by his eloquence, persuade hon. Members around him to vote those supplies, but I do not think he would persuade the people of Scotland that a National Parliament would he of the slightest benefit to them. They know that a Parliament established in Edinburgh or anywhere else in Scotland, would absorb the functions of local life, and instead of stimulating would kill it. It would be centralization in its very worst form, because either the Parliament must be so limited as to deal with purely local matters, and so deprive local communities of the management of their own affairs, or else it would have larger powers and so trench upon matters of Imperial interest. I will not go into the question whether the people in the West of Scotland would approve of a Parliament in Edinburgh, because it has not yet been settled by hon. Gentlemen where this Parliament is to be established; but I would venture to remark that if it were in the West, the people of the East of Scotland would be dissatisfied, or if in the East, the people of the West would be discontented. I cannot deny that there are demands from Scotland which ought to be satisfied—grievances, if you like, which ought to be redressed. There is, first, the demand for the extension of local self-government; second, the demand in respect of Private Bill legislation—demands which I believe will be amply satisfied by the proposals of my right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate; and the third demand is that the Secretary for Scotland should be in the Cabinet. In my opinion that is a question which we should continue to press upon the Government. I dare say the measures of my right hon. Friend will not satisfy hon. Gentlemen opposite. But would anything satisfy them? It is a point of honour with my hon. Friends below the Gangway to be satisfied with nothing. I think that the spirit which animates my hon. Friends is embodied in the advice given by an old Scotch Radical to a young man about to enter 84 Parliament—"Be aye asking, and when ye get onything, be aye complaining that ye canna' get mair." My contention is that the measures of the Government, which are bold and comprehensive,. will satisfy the Scottish people, and that they will prefer them to a second rate Parliament, limited in its scope and feeble in its powers, such as that which has been shadowed forth, and only shadowed forth in the proposal of the hon. Member opposite.
§ *MR. A. ELLIOT (Roxburgh)
What the House of Commons is now asked to do is to set up in Scotland a National Parliament. After listening to the speeches of the hon. Members who moved and seconded this Resolution, I am astounded at the weakness of the peg on which they have suspended so enormously serious a proposal. When we are asked to set up a National Parliament in Scotland, are we to be so invited because there is something wrong in the calculation of the Medical Vote, however much that matter may be of special interest to the Mover of this Motion? Why, Sir, we should make ourselves the laughing-stock of the country if we were to allow such two-penny-halfpenny considerations to weigh with us in discussing a proposal to destroy the Union. The hon. Member who followed the Mover of the Motion soared to considerable heights in the language he employed, and even spoke of the "United States of Europe." We are acquainted with the poet's dream of the time to come when we are to see "the Parliament of man, the federation of the world;" but it is new for the House of Commons to be asked seriously to debate a proposal to reconstruct the British Constitution with respect to such a very distant state of things. I look upon this question as a. deeply serious one, and I look on it not so much as a mere Unionist, nor as a Liberal belonging to one of the great Parties of the State, but as a Scotch-man. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the frankness of the terms of his Motion. We know we are asked to vote "for giving to the people of Scotland by their Representatives in a National Parliament the management and control of Scottish affairs," I cannot conceive that there will be any one who, on such a question, will not be able to make up his mind. I cannot conceive that Gentlemen representing 85 Scottish constituencies do not know whether they wish Great Britain to be governed by one, two, three, or even four Parliaments. At all events, what we are asked to vote about is plain and clear. But if the proposal is a clear one, I am bound to say the hon. Gentleman's speech in moving it was not so frank as I could have wished it, and he tried to minimize its importance. It is, at any rate, a proposal to set up a separate Executive for Scotland; and I would ask what must that Executive be? Not, as the hon. Member suggested, some mere re-arrangement of the functions of the Scotch Secretary. It is fortunate that I have made myself acquainted with some of the previous utterances of the hon. Member, and it will not be wasting time if I lay before you the proposals of the Scottish Home Rule Association, of which the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) is President. There are six Members of Parliament who are office bearers and vice-presidents of the Association, and I will ask, is it the case that they merely mean to set up a re-arrangement of the office of Chief Secretary? The rules of the Association are published in the names of the hon. Members for Caithness, East Aberdeenshire (Mr. P. Esslemont), Dundee (Mr. J. B. Firth), North West Lanarkshire (Mr. R. Cuninghame Graham), East Perthshire (Sir John Kinloch), and Ross and Cromarty shires (Dr. Macdonald). These proposals are therefore worthy of serious consideration coming from such a source. I have often heard it said outside the House by those who follow the lead of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian (Mr. Gladstone), that there is hardly a sensible man in Scotland who would like to establish in Scotland a Scottish Parliament and Executive Government; but let them then stand up here and say so now that the present proposal is made. These are three of the Rules. The first is—To promote the establishment of a Legislature in Scotland, with full control over purely Scotch qnestions, and with an Executive Government responsible to it and the Crown.The second is—To secure to the Government of Scotland, in the same degree as at present possessed by the Imperial Government, control of the Civil Service, Judges, and other officials, except in the Military, Naval and Diplomatic Services, and in collecting the Imperial Revenue.86 And the third is—To maintain and protect the integrity of the Empire, and insure that the voice of Scotland should he heard in the Imperial Parliament as fully as at present when discussing Imperial questions.These Rules involve five distinct propositions. In the first place a distinct Legislature; secondly, a separate Executive Government dependent upon that Legislature; thirdly, a distinct Civil Service for Scotland; fourthly, apparently a separate Treasury; and, last of all, they contain an admission that Scotland shall henceforth have no voice in the Imperial Parliament, except upon what they are pleased to define as Imperial questions. Perhaps the hon. Members to whom I have referred may be said not to have had any very great experience of this House, but there are others, and among them, I am sorry to say, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers', who has given a very uncertain sound on this question. It was with astonishment I read the other day knowing that these are the views being promulgated in Scotland, and that the right hon. Gentleman must have been aware of them, a letter from the right hon. Gentleman, who, on being appealed to on the subject, wrote a letter, in which he declared that "at all events Scotland was entitled to claim a legislative body." Not a word of repudiation of these ideas that are floating about. The mere terms in which this declaration is expressed show that although the right hon. Gentleman is a Scotch Member he is not a Scotchman. He says "Scotland is entitled to claim." Scotchmen do not claim any favour from England; our claim is that we are part and parcel of the United Kingdom and have joined the Union on equal terms. There is no way in which we can maintain equality with England except on the terms of the Union; we must choose between equality by means of a Legislative Union, or something like the position of a dependent State. What does my right hon. Friend mean when he says we are entitled to claim a legislative body? Does he mean a body to make laws—not mere regulations or bye-laws, but laws which will bind persons and property, laws which will deal with the rights of persons and the rights of things? For the first time since the 87 Union it is proposed that this great change should be made—that instead of having one engine for making the laws of the Kingdom we are to have two, and that henceforth laws are to be passed not by the Imperial Parliament, but by different local Legislatures. Well, Sir, I presume my right hon. Friend contemplates that this Legislature shall be elected on a very democratic franchise. Does he imagine that in that case it will be possible to keep separate from it all sorts of executive authority and power? You must, if you have a legislative body at all of that kind, give it control over some portion, at all events, of the executive functions of Government. I put this forward to show that, if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh is willing to grant a legislative body for Scotland, he cannot expect it to stop short of acquiring some executive authority. Well. Sir, I think I have pointed out already that this demand is a somewhat peculiar one. I have said that it is a demand for the repeal of the Union. I do not think anyone will deny that. Article 3 of the Treaty of Union of 1707 runs as follows:—That the United Kingdom of Great Britain shall be represented by one and the same Parliament, to be styled 'The Parliament of Great Britain.'Whether hon. Gentlemen who bring forward this Motion are Unionists in heart or not I do not know, but I say that they are in terms proposing to repeal the principal section of the Treaty of Union. The Act of Union has been and can be amended, but to attempt to destroy the good work of those statesmen who passed the Act, which has been so beneficial to Scotland as well as to England, upon the case shown to us by hon. Members is to make the House of Commons ridiculous. Why, after all, is this demand made? What are the reasons for it? One of the reasons advanced is the delay which exists in the passing of Scottish business in this House, and special reference is made to the Scottish Universities Bill. I read what was said by my hon. Friend the Mover of the Resolution the other day in Edinburgh — that the Scotch Universities Bill had not become law because, forsooth, Parliament was full of English Members who did not take an interest in the matter. Do you not know why the Scotch Universities Bill did not 88 pass? Do you not know that it wag because it was opposed by those very Scotch Members who bring forward and support this Resolution, some of whom actually went down to Edinburgh and there declared that it was the fault of the English Members? Another ground which has been advanced is, that the Scottish Members are outvoted in the Lobbies. Well, I am very glad to have an opportunity of saying a word on that point to Scotch Members. The same thing never occurs, I suppose, to other nationalities! Are the English, the Irish, or Welsh Members never outvoted? Has it never happened that the Government of the day are solely dependent on a majority composed largely of Scotch and Irish Members? And does not the character of the laws passed mainly depend on the Party to which the Government belong? If you have a Union at all there must be some outvoting, and, I think, perhaps one great object of the House of Commons is to discover and outvote minorities. I do not know whether the Member for Carlisle was present, but no more striking case can be found than that in connection with the prohibitory measures in the Liquor Laws. We had Sunday Closing in Scotland under the Forbes-Mackenzie Act 30 years ago, and we had it not because it was thought right by the English, Irish, and Welsh Members, but because it was thought right by the Scotch Members. That was done in deference to Scotch opinion. But I would point out what occurred a few weeks ago. There was an English Sunday Closing Bill. It did not deal with Ireland, Wales, or Scotland, but were the English Members allowed to decide it by a majority? I will give the figures, which are, I think; a little striking. For the Bill there were 179 votes, and against it 157, or a majority of 22 for the Bill. But deducting the Scotch, Irish, and Welsh votes, which numbered 77, I find that 102 English Members voted in favour of the Bill, while deducting the 13 Scotch, Welsh, and Irish votes on the other side there were 144 against the Bill, or in the result a majority of 42 English Members against the Second Reading of a purely English Bill which, however, was carried, as it was quite right it should be, by a majority of Members 89 of the United Kingdom. Now, that is worth consideration, for it shows that English Members are outvoted on occasion by the Scotch and Irish votes. It is right that it should be so. I am standing up for the Union, and for our right to take part in the work of Parliament. I have no wish to exclude any part of the United Kingdom from taking part in Scotch business. Well, Sir, we are given as another reason that Parliament cannot find time for Scotch business. I say that that is not an argument which Scotch Members should admit. I would point out to the Scotch Members that the grievance of which they complain is equally applicable to other portions of the Kingdom. The way in which the time of this House is wasted astonishes everyone. I may refer to yesterday by way of illustration, when some hours were spent in a debate on the hiring of oil lamps for the use of Members — a matter which, if raised in a club, would have been settled by some small committee. The right way to deal with the House is to try to keep it to its proper business, to try and prevent the waste of time, not to admit that there was no time to attend to legislation for Scotland, on questions which are perhaps of enormous importance to the Scottish people. I have always maintained that equality can only be obtained through the Union. We have had experience of various sorts of government in Scotland. Scotland was originally a separate nation, not only in our own eyes, but in the eyes of the world. Afterwards the Crowns were united, but we retained our separate Legislature, and I must say that was the time Scotland showed at its worst. We had less sense of national dignity, we had no actual separate existence, and we had not that equality which we afterwards got from the Union. As Burton, the latest and one of the best historians of the Scottish Union said—The great security for Scotland consisted in that community of interest which divided the Scottish into the same political divisions with the English representatives, and made Members vote as Whig and Tory and not as Scotch and Englishmen.Neither the Mover nor the Seconder have pointed out in what way a Scottish Parliament is to legislate better than this Parliament? Can they show 90 that it would be more wise, more just than the Parliament of the United Kingdom? But they do not and they cannot show what is more important still—that the Scottish Parliament would be as powerful, or nearly as powerful, as the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It might be wise and just, but it must have power at the back of it, and to suppose that a Parliament sitting in Edinburgh would have the same strength at the back of its decisions as attaches to the Imperial Parliament in which sit Members coming from the length and breadth of the Kingdom is a proposition which cannot be maintained. No wonder, then, that hon. Members did not try to sustain it. Again, if you have different Executive Governments and separate Parliaments you will probably have different political Parties prevailing in the two countries, and you must expect that the legislation of each will tend to diverge, and that the legislation fostered and promoted by one Party in Scotland will necessarily tend more and more to differ from legislation promoted and fostered by a Government belonging to another Party in England. And when you once start a system which produces this divergence it becomes a very serious business, Looking at the question from the Scottish point of view, I think the utter fallacy of these Home Rule proposals lies in the suggestion that Scotchmen ought to have no influence over English legislation, and, in short, that it does not matter to Scotchmen how England is governed, or what legislation is passed for that large portion of our Island. Are the people on the Borders to be told that it does not matter to them what kind of legislation is in force between the Cheviots and Land's End? I say that is an absurd proposition. Local considerations are not everything, and Scotchmen live under a Union to which they mean to stick. They are determined to assert themselves not only as Scotchmen, but as citizens of the United Kingdom. The whole proposal is, in fact, based upon entire fallacy; and we will not consent to be told that English matters are of merely local interest, for England, after all, is three-fourths of Great Britain. We Scotchmen are proud of our nationality. We have reason to be proud of our ancestors, who for long years defended 91 their liberty and independence. But are we to consider that we ceased to be Scotchmen in the year 1707. Why since the Union we have also done much to be proud of as Scotch-men, and have maintained our nationality in the way in which it ought to be preserved. But we must not sacrifice the substance for a shadow or false sentiment which has no basis in reason or fact. It is time for right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen to speak out. We are asked to vote for or against a Scottish Parliament. The term Parliament implies the performance of important functions, and no body which cannot levy a tax or make laws, or choose and control the Executive, can be called by that name. We have a simple question before us, and no hon. Member should hesitate to express his opinion by his vote. I will refer once more to the Borders, with which I am intimately connected. I know the extraordinary benefits which the Borders have received from the Union. That district, which was formerly placed between two hostile and jarring nations, became by the Union the centre of a large and peaceful Kingdom. The period when under one King there were two Legislatures was the period of least independence and least good government, and it should be a warning to Scotland not to recur to such a horribly unsatisfactory state of things. By all means let Scotch opinion have due weight in all Scotch business; let us have the same respect for English opinion in England, Irish opinion in Ireland, and Welsh opinion in Wales, but let us never weaken, by dividing into fractions, the legislative authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Let us rather maintain the unity of Parliament and let us maintain also unimpaired the control of our National Executive over the length and breadth of the land.
§ *MR. DONALD CRAWFORD (Lanarkshire, N.E.)
The proposal of my hon. Friend is to establish a National Parliament in Scotland, and we have been challenged by my hon. Friend the Member for Roxburgh to express a definite opinion upon the issue which has thus been raised. I think that the challenge is a fair one, and, for my part, although I hold that the discussion to-night is by no means a convenient 92 one, I shall certainly not shrink from expressing my opinion upon the question before the House. Now, I confess I cannot support the proposal for a National Parliament. My hon. Friends the Member for Roxburgh and the Member for East Renfrewshire, in the speeches in which they supported the two Amendments which were to have been proposed, showed a very inadequate appreciation of the strength of the case which has been made by my hon. Friends the Mover and Seconder of this Motion. Not only was the Motion before the House recommended—if I may take the liberty of saying so—in speeches of very great ability; but it was also supported by arguments of very great weight, and those arguments, I think, have not received the due attention which should have been paid to them. There is no doubt that two or three years ago it would have been wholly unnecessary for any Member sitting on this, or the other side of the House, to give reasons why he was unable to support a Motion of this kind. But the state of things has very greatly changed. There is no doubt that my hon. Friends have in no degree over-stated the case when they said that there was a very strong feeling in favour of a greater measure of self-government for Scotland—something in the nature of what is called Home Rule, though, in my opinion, it is unhappily and infelicitously called Home Rule. This movement is a growing and powerful one in Scotland, and it is one with which the Government will have to reckon in my opinion, sooner or later; and they will not only have to reckon with it, but also satisfy it. But, Sir, this is a very different thing from proposing a National Parliament for Scotland; and, in passing, I may say that no such proposal has been made in the case of Ireland. The word Parliament" has never been used in the case of Ireland; it has been most carefully avoided, and it was avoided in what was called the Home Rule Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. Now, Sir, when I say that there is a very strong feeling growing up in Scotland in favour of a proposal of this kind. I seek for the reason why there is this great change in a comparatively short space of time, and I do not think it is difficult to find that reason, because the business of Scotland has been entirely 93 neglected by this House. I do not care whether this neglect is due to contempt or merely to impotence on the part of the Government to deal with Scotch business under existing conditions, but let us take last Session as a specimen of our complaint, when we had two great measures before the House—the University Bill and the Burgh Police Bill. The Burgh Police Bill was a measure with an unpretending name, dealing with an ordinary subject, but involving very great labour and results of great importance to the country. A strong Scotch Committee, consisting of more than 20 Members, was appointed, and it spent over two months last summer in the consideration of the Bill. I venture to say that if a Member of the Government connected with England had sat on the Committee, he would have taken care that some effect was given to their deliberations; or if the Secretary for Ireland, who has a very free hand in the disposal of the business of the House, had had anything to do with the Bill, we might have been sure that the Government would have made a point of dealing with it when it again reached the House. But, because it was a Scotch Bill, we were allowed to amuse ourselves with it, and when it was returned to the House it was dropped, as a matter of no importance whatever. And the same was the case with regard to the Universities Bill. That was a Bill which concerned the highest educational interests of Scotland, and we know that Scotland is a country in which education is thought very much of. The Universities of Scotland had for years been making arrangements and entering into negotiations with regard to this Bill, and we thought the time had come when the matter was ripe for legislation. But then, because, forsooth, we did not agree to pass the Bill without discussion through the House, we were refused any time for considering it, and we were told that either we must take the Bill as it stood or it must be dropped, as there was no time for discussing it. The history of these two Bills is only a specimen of what occurs in relation to many Scotch subjects which are ripe for legislation. There is for instance, the Licensing question. We cannot induce the Government to give any attention to this subject; and 94 even when a Local Government Bill is introduced we find that the licensing question is entirely left out of it. When Scotch opinion is so nearly unanimous, as it is on this matter, I think it is very inconvenient that the Government should neglect to deal with it. But, while we must not allow Scotch legislation thus to be neglected, I must say I cannot, as at present advised, come to the conclusion that the remedy proposed by the hon. Member who has introduced this most inconvenient discussion is the right way of meeting the growing and deep dissatisfaction in Scotland with the existing state of things. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite are in the habit of representing the Scotch and the Irish case as identical, and they say that what you do for Scotland you must do for Ireland. I submit that it should be regarded as a fundamental principle in dealing with this question, that there is no presumption whatever that Scotland is to be treated in the same way as Ireland. I demur to the proposition that the cases of Scotland and Ireland stand on all fours. There are the plainest historical reasons, and the plainest reasons of fact why that is not so. It is true that Scotland of late years has not got those measures which she desires, though I believe that in former times she was not nearly so badly off, and that she got many of the measures she desired. But the complaint is not, as in the case of Ireland, that those measures are forced upon her which she abhors and detests. That is the historical case of Ireland, and it is a case which requires entirely different treatment from that of a country which has never been oppressed or insulted in the same way, but which has merely, owing to the neglect of Parliament, not got as much legislation as she requires. I think that we not only require to give Ireland a measure which shall secure that her business is done by the Irish people, but I certainly go the length of saying that some measure of pacification should be passed, which should pay a tribute of atonement to the injured nationality of Ireland. In Scotland no such question arises. The time may come, undoubtedly, when we may require to make special provision for the transaction of affairs in Scotland, but we shall only require to look for a business 95 assembly, and there is no necessity for making any complaint that the nationality of Scotland has been insulted, because our national spirit has always been able to take care of itself. My hon. Friend below me asked that the Liberal Members should speak out on this question, and I say I do not think that is an unfair challenge. The constituencies of the country are now established on a very democratic basis, and I have never disguised from myself that occasions might arise from time to time in which there would be a temptation for Liberal Members to take up and follow a popular cry, when it would rather be their duty to point out the difficulties that lie in the course that is suggested for the moment. I consider that this is an occasion of that kind. My own constituents have never urged me upon this point; but I am well aware that if I were to vote to-night for the establishment of a National Parliament in Scotland, I should go down to them with no fear of incurring any reprobation for my vote. On the other hand, it is not unlikely that in one quarter or another I may meet with some criticism for stating my objections to the proposal in the extreme form in which it is made. But now that the drag has been taken off the Liberal Party by the withdrawal from its ranks of the Party to which the hon. Member for Roxburgh (Mr. A. Elliot) belongs, it is all the more incumbent upon the Members of the Liberal Party to discuss with extreme frankness the difficulties that attend any course which for the moment may be favoured by a popular cry. I think we must sooner or later come to an arrangement for the transaction of Scotch business—it may be as little as a Grand Committee of Scotch Members, or as great as an assembly for business purposes in Scotland itself—but there are some special difficulties attaching to the proposal before the House. I should like to ask my hon. Friend (Dr. Clark) whether he proposes that if a National Parliament be established in Scotland the Scotch Members are to sit in this House or not? I suppose my hon. Friend does mean Scotch Members to sit here. If so, is this House to continue to transact the business not only of the whole Empire, but of England also? I take 96 leave to say that if Scotch Members are only to be introduced into this Assembly for the transaction of exclusively Imperial business, they will be placed in a position of inferiority. I have never disguised from myself or from my constituents that the important and just demand which Ireland makes implies some sacrifice, as well as some advantage, to this country. In return for the autonomy which it is proposed that Ireland is to receive, she gives up something, and it is her interest to give up something with such a history as she has. But she would not, in my opinion, have the same influence in the Councils of the Empire as she has on paper at this moment. On paper she gives up something, but in reality she gives up nothing, because her Representatives have been treated as pariahs, and no attention has been given to their voices. That is not the case with regard to the Scotch Members, who have exercised a just and fair influence in the deliberations of this Assembly. They and their country would, in my opinion, be placed in a position of inferiority if they were to be elected to this Assembly for the special purpose of deliberating and voting on Imperial questions. If you say that this objection is a just one, and that you will have a separate Parliament for English affairs, my answer is that that is a very large proposition. We, as Scotch Members, have no right to assume that England will consent to it. If a general system of devolution—and I think that something of the kind may very likely have to be adopted—were carried out, and. England were divided into North and. South England, that would be a question of an entirely different kind. I also quite recognize the possibility of a larger Imperial federal scheme one day coming into the horizon of politics, but that is a distant thing, and I would warn my friends in Scotland that the very great inequality in size between the two countries would make the federal bond one that they ought to look at with considerable jealousy. England is seven or eight times as large as Scotland, and London is, under conditions which we cannot alter, not only the political. but the commercial capital of the country. The bounds of Scotland are too narrow for Scotchmen. She sends thousands of 97 her sons into all parts of England, and I should like very narrowly to inquire into the conditions of any federal bond between the two countries, for fear that Scotland would suffer by the arrangement. It is certainly in no hostile spirit to the powerful growing feeling that the conduct of Scotch business in this House has fostered and reared and brought to a vigorous height within a short time a movement in favour of a more direct and practical manner of doing our own public business—it is in no hostile spirit that I have ventured to point out what appears to me the insuperable difficulties against accepting the Motion in the form in which it has been presented, bearing in mind in particular that in proposing a National Parliament for Scotland my hon. Friend has proposed something which no one yet has ever proposed even for Ireland.
§ *MR. CUNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, North-West)
I wish in a very few words to support the Motion of the hon. Member for Caithness, but I wish to do it on vastly different grounds and reasons from any of those which have been urged by hon. Members who have spoken to-night. I do not wish to support this proposal specially on national grounds. I thoroughly agree with an observation that fell from the hon. Member for Caithness when he said that though there is a great and growing feeling in favour of Home Rule in Scotland it runs on other lines than those of the Radical programme. I do not wonder at that, because, personally, I never could find out what were the lines of the Radical programme. I believe, Sir, that there is a great and growing demand for Home Rule in Scotland, but it comes, in my opinion, from no sentimental grounds whatever, but from the extreme misery of a certain section of the Scottish population, and they wish to have their own Members under their own hands, in order to extort legislation from them suitable to relieve that misery. That may seem an extreme proposition to' state in this House. Hon. Members from Scotland are often fond of representing Scotland as a sort of Arcadia, but I think that, in face of the misery existing in -the Highlands and Islands, that we have women in Aberdeen to-day toiling 98 for 6s. or 7s. a week; that we have 30,000 people in Glasgow who herd together in one room; and in face of the fact that we have a Socialistic agitation on foot in the East and West of Scotland, I must say I do not think the condition of the poor in that country is one very much to be envied. I think it will be found that the same reasons which impel a certain section of the Scottish people to be dissatisfied with the legislation served out to them from this Parliament are not the reasons which have been alleged by other hon. Members. On many public questions public opinion is far riper for legislation than in this country. Not one Member who has spoken—although it must be patent to all hon. Members—has referred to the rising opinion in favour of land legislation in Scotland. I should like to ask the hon. Member for Roxburghshire whether he could go down to his constituency and speak to the free and independent electors there, and say much against the theories of Henry George, for example? And I would like, furthermore, to point out to the House that on the question of labour legislation in Scotland we are much farther advanced as a country than in England, especially on the eight hours' question. In the matter of free education and many other questions, the people of Scotland are greatly in advance of those of England, and it is for these reasons, and not for sentimental or national ones, that I think this House will soon be called on to face the demand for a Legislature for Scotland. We have an absolute detestation in Scotland of all propositions dealing with the solution of the land question by means of emigration. It would not, I fancy, tend to enhance the popularity of any hon. Member in Scotland to go down to his constituency and propose to emigrate the crofters en masse. He would soon be met by the suggestion that some of the landlords and capitalists of the country could be emigrated with much greater benefit to the country. It has been said that in the event of the institution of a Scottish Legislature we should largely be represented by the merchants of the country. To that statement I say, God forbid! I believe I speak the feelings of a large section 99 of the Scotch people when I emphatically state that, were such a Legislature ver created, we should find the working classes much more represented than is the case here. Thus, I think that, taking into account the large expression of opinion that has undoubtedly been given to-day by the Scottish Members, and taking into consideration the great pressure that will soon be brought to bear from social causes upon this House from the electorate of Scotland, we have not come here with an absolutely futile or fatuous proposition when we have, for the first time, endeavoured to press the cause of Scottish Home Rule upon the House of Commons.
MR. GLADSTONE (Mid Lothian)
I am sorry that the Government has not as yet found itself in a condition to state to the House what is their view of the Motion before the House. But in the absence of any guidance from that quarter, which I really think we were entitled to look for before the debate reached its present stage, I feel it to be my duty in the double character of a Scotch Member, and likewise of one who acts on behalf of the Liberal Opposition—so far as I presume myself to possess their confidence—I feel it right that I should no longer delay stating what occurs to me upon this interesting and important and also difficult question When I read the Notice Paper of to-day I felt that we possessed this advantage, that we were sure to have, or likely to have, before us the subject of debate in each of its main aspects. My hon. Friend the Mover of the Motion pronounces in the most emphatic and perhaps in the largest terms that have ever been used on the question of Home Rule, his views in this House on the question of a Parliament in Scotland and the management and control of Scotch affairs. No one can complain that he does not raise broadly and clearly the principle involved in his Motion. The hon. Member opposite gave notice of a restraining Motion intended to supplant the principal proposal, and which practically bad very much the character of "the previous question." Irrespective of the particular reasons given in the Amendment, the practical effect of it was not to condemn outright and in principle the proposal of a Legislature for Scotland as a 100 thing that would under no circumstances be entertained, but stating that under present circumstances it was not ripe for consideration. Unfortunately, the hon. Member had not the courage of his opinions—though the field was open to him — sufficiently to propose his Amendment. But he opened the field for my hon. Friend behind me, the Member for Roxburghshire, who framed an Amendment embodying, as might be expected, I think, from him, the minimum of concession and the maximum of reservation. He was so full of courage and chivalry that he would not accept the mode of escape offered to him by the Amendment that was to have been moved from the Opposition Benches. He was not content to say that this was not the time for entering upon the question; but he denounced the principle of Home Rule under any circumstances or conditions for Scotland, and he exhibited his zeal in this debate by formulating an Amendment that appears to me to be a literary curiosity. I have heard much said of the necessity in questions of Home Rule of contemplating the general transfer of the affairs of one of the portions of the United Kingdom to a local legislature, and we have heard much of the necessity of maintaining the authority of the Imperial Parliament. I do not recollect that the Lord Advocate, in the excellent speech which he made yesterday on the subject of local government, made any reservations at all for the authority of Parliament. It did not appear to him that the authority of the Imperial Parliament was brought into question by his proposals, and I confess I entirely agreed with him. But my hon. Friend behind me is so jealous of the authority of the Imperial Parliament that I suppose if he gave a charter to a burgh he would give it in terms which would imply that the unity of the Empire was to be maintained, and possibly when he came to the consideration of Parochial. Boards in Scotland he would say, "Oh, yes, let us have Parochial Boards by all means, but let us take a jealous care that those Boards do not interfere with the authority of Parliament or break up the unity of the Empire." He goes further still than this, and he sniffs danger even in legislation on. Scottish Private Bills. He is willing to 101 give some facilities for the conduct of Scottish Private Bills, but he will only allow Private Bills to receive additional and local facilities provided they are not permitted to impair the effective control over the whole United Kingdom of the Imperial Parliament. His jealous care for the authority of Parliament, which is an admirable thing to observe in its proper place, is carried very nearly, indeed, if not quite, to the borders of the ridiculous. However, my hon. Friend, whilst valiant in his speech, has not proposed the Amendment of which he has given notice, therefore we have only the exposition of his opinions. I must frankly own for myself that, while I am very much tantalized by the withdrawal of those interesting Amendments from any practical issue before us, I am in the same condition as was so well described for himself by my hon. Friend the Member for East Lanarkshire, that I do not feel myself to be in a condition to deal with the question at the present moment definitely and on its merits. [Ironical Cheers.] I presume that all those who cheer opposite have no difficulty at all of that kind, they are prepared to be very decisive in the expression of an opinion, but I think those hon. Members almost to a man are not Scotch Members, or the Scotch Members are very poor indeed. I make the observation almost to a man, because I know that it is a Scotch Member on the other side who has given notice of an Amendment which in no manner touches the principle of the question, and in so far as it has any principle at all, adopts the position I have indicated when I say I do not think that we have yet reached the situation when the circumstances are ripe for an ultimate and final consideration of this question on its merits. The principles applicable to the solution of this question are, however, by no means obscure or difficult to understand. I hold that Scotland and Ireland are precisely equal in the face of England with respect to their moral and political right to urge on the Imperial Parliament such claims as they may consider arise out of the interests and demands of those respective countries. They are precisely equal in this right, so that if I am to suppose a case in which Scotland unanimously, or 102 by a clearly preponderating voice, were to make the demand on the United Parliament to be treated, not only on the same principle, but in the same manner as Ireland, I could not deny the title of Scotland to urge such a claim. Moreover, I am bound to say that I have a perfectly sound conviction that if such a claim were made in the manner I have described as the clear and deliberate declaration of Scottish opinion, Parliament would accede to it. It is quite true that the country in 1886 denied that right on the part of Ireland, and the Parliament elected in 1886, what-ever the opinion of the country may now [...]a subject into which I shall not now enter—still continues to deny the claim of Ireland. But a similar claim coming from Scotland never would be denied. The English are a very brave nation, but they also possess that prudence which is the better part of valour, and which would prevent them from placing themselves in conflict with the deliberate and thoroughly formed Scotch opinion upon a case of this kind. As far as I may venture to form an opinion, in point of abstract right, Scotland and Ireland are upon a precisely equal footing, but the cases from a practical point of view are exceedingly different, as has been well shown by my hon. and learned Friend behind me. The mere physical difference, the mere fact of geographical continuity in the one case and not in the other is fraught with very large consequences. But the political and historical differences between the two cases are enormous. It would take hours to unfold these differences, and I will not now attempt to do so. As to the Union between England and Scotland, and that between England and Ireland, which are sometimes superficially imagined to correspond together in substance, there is this one difference, if no others, that the Union of Scotland and England was not forced by England upon Scotland—whether the Scottish Parliament in assenting to the Union followed Scottish opinion or not, it at any rate was not by English force or fraud that the Scottish Union was carried, whereas in the case of Ireland it was the English Executive which, by a combination of fraud and force, and tyranny and cruelty, hardly 103 to be equalled in the pages of any Christian history ["Oh!"], forced the Union upon Ireland. I hope that hon. Gentlemen who interrupt me with cries of dissent will not tempt me to occupy the time of the House by proving at length the truth of what I have said. Should I do so, the penalty would be that I should detain them much longer than I have any intention of doing. I say that, though there are immense differences between the cases of Scotland and of Ireland, which, as I believe, will weigh very powerfully with the people of Scotland in determining what their final claims shall be on England, still, whatever claim is made by the people of Scotland—providing it is consistent with the supremacy of Parliament and the integrity of the Empire—will he admitted, in my opinion, without cavil or ill blood between the countries. And now let me make a confession to my hon. Friend who moved the Resolution, a Resolution which it will be gathered from what I have said I am not prepared to support. I admit that a sentiment as yet vague and unformed, in embryo, but really of considerable extent, has grown up in Scotland of late years with very considerable rapidity in favour of something that in a shadowy manner is represented to the minds of those who consider it by the name of Home Rule for Scotland. I think the main cause of the growth and extent of this feeling has been correctly described by the hon. Member for North East Lanark (Mr. Crawford), that the Scotch people are not satisfied with the present arrangements for the conduct of Scotch business, and see no hope of bettering it. They see, on the contrary, taking the matter not as merely of a given time in a given Session, but judging for a period passing on from Parliament to Parliament, that their case is getting not better, but worse. The arrear of legislation, owing to no fault of anyone in particular, is becoming heavier and heavier, and as it becomes heavier and heavier the more is the truth of the homely phrase being exemplified, that "the weakest goes to the wall." The hon. Member for Roxburghshire has pointed out that if English Members influence Scotch legislation, the Scotch Members have the same influence over English legislation. Does he mean that 70 Members from Scotland will exercise 104 as much influence on the determination of English business, or are as likely to determine English questions in a sense adverse to English opinion, as the 400 odd Members from England are likely to exercise on Scotch questions, and in determining Scotch questions against Scotch opinion? Such is not according to my arithmetic. I see a very serious difference, though to my hon. Friend it seems but slight, between the sums of 70 Members and 470 Members. I hold gravely—I hope my hon. Friend will not consider it altogether an absurd opinion—that the 470 Members have rather more influence upon the operations of the 70 than the 70 have upon the operations of the 470. Without asking him to commit himself to that proposition, I put it forward for my hon. Friend's reflection. My hon. and learned Friends are right in holding that Scotch business is neglected. I am not prepared to lay the fault upon anybody in particular, or on this or any other Government; but the case is bad, it is growing worse, and it requires a remedy. But I am bound to say that, in my opinion, we are indebted to hon. Gentlemen opposite and to their allies, and more than allies, on this side, for creating, or rather presenting, this development of manifestations in favour of Home Rule for Scotland. It was not the proposal of Home Rule for Scotland, but the very vigorous opposition, and for the time the successful resistance they have made to that proposal, which has made the question enter more deeply into the minds of the people of Scotland, that for the first time brought home to the perception of the people of Scotland the breadth and importance of the subject. If I were in the place of the Mover of this Motion I should thank Her Majesty's Government and the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale and their followers for having matured public opinion in Scotland in favour of Home Rule. Undoubtedly there are many signs of the progress the question is making in Scotland. I am not prepared to take upon myself the responsibility of either dictating or indicating to Scotland what it should do in a matter of such gravity. I take my stand broadly upon this proposition—the mind of Scotland has not been declared in respect of the ultimate claims it may 105 have to make upon the United Parliament in regard to the management of Scotch affairs. My hon. and learned Friend has said the demands may he larger or smaller—and I cannot undertake to prognosticate whether they will be larger or smaller—but in one thing I differ vitally from hon. Gentlemen opposite who scoffed when I said I was not prepared to pronounce on the merits of this question. I understand that they are prepared to pronounce and to trample upon Scotland in this matter. ["No, no."] Well, then, I should like to know what the meaning of the ambiguous utterance was. Some day they will have to deal with the question; and the boldest of them will not look Scotland in the face with a denial when she makes her final well-considered and deliberate demand, with due regard to the authority of Parliament and the unity of the Empire. They will not look Scotland in the face and say "No" to the demand. Therefore, they are a little premature if they think they are now going to dispose definitely of this question, although at this time we do not know what the mind of Scotland is. The declaration made does not amount to a national and Constitutional declaration; it will become one when it has taken effect in the return of a large majority of Scotch Members. But as yet that declaration is not made, and I am not prepared to go in advance of it. I adopt the same attitude as the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale did when he was in charge of the Leadership of the Liberal Party with regard to the question of Disestablishment, which, he said, must be decided by the views of the people of Scotland. A like doctrine is equally sound with respect to a measure of Home Rule for Scotland, which must satisfy one paramount, overruling condition—that it does not endanger the supremacy of this Parliament and the unity of the Empire. When I speak of not endangering the supremacy of Parliament and the unity of the Empire, I differ entirely from my bon. Friend the Member for Roxburgh, who thinks that devolution of authority tends to weaken Parliament. That, I understand, was the effect of his speech. He feared that parting with any of the authority of Parliament weakens that 106 force which, I agree with him, is absolutely necessary to the efficiency of its discussions, and to give weight to its authority in the form of law. I do not think that judicious devolution weakens Parliament; I say it strengthens it. Are you going to weaken the authority of Parliament by passing the measures the Lord Advocate has introduced? On the contrary, you will confirm it. Do not suppose I am pledging myself to the Bills as they stand; they may be made more comprehensive and more worthy of the ability of the speech by which they were introduced. I hold that all judicious devolution which hands over to subordinate bodies duties for which they are better qualified by local knowledge, and which at the same time sets free the hands of Parliament for the pursuit of its proper business, does not weaken it but strengthens it, gives vitality to it, and makes the people more than ever disposed to support the supremacy of Parliament. I believe, though I am not quite certain, that this is the first occasion on which the proposal of Home Rule for Scotland has been submitted to Parliament in a form so broad and so comprehensive. The effect of passing this Motion would be to place Home Rule in the van of all Scottish questions in the House of Commons. If the Liberal Party—I will not say the House of Commons in which we are a small, though a growing minority—were to vote in favour of the Motion of my hon. Friend it would, in my opinion, have the effect of throwing into arrear and into the shade every other Scotch question on which the national opinion of Scotland is entitled to bear sway. I am not disposed to run that risk without seeing what the result would be. Take the question of licensing in Scotland. The moment we declare for Home Rule in Scotland we are open to the observation that such a question as that of licensing ought to stand over for the consideration of a Scottish Legislature. I take another question which is rather more burning—that of Scotch Disestablishment. It will not, I think, be denied that at this moment the question of Disestablishment in Scotland has made considerable progress towards maturity for Parliamentary decision; and I own that I am not prepared to give any vote on Home Rule or on any 107 other subject that would have the effect of thrusting that question aside, and of enabling it to be cast in our teeth that by setting forth as ripe for decision the question as to a Scottish Legislature we have pointed out that a Scottish Legislature would be the proper organ for disposing of the subject of Disestablishment. There is another objection that I take to a Motion of this kind. I am not casting the smallest reflection on my hon. Friend who made the Motion. I have not the least doubt that he and his Seconder and those who have supported him have in their minds perfect earnestness on this subject, and desire to carry forward with all practical speed the proposition which they announce in an abstract form, and to make it a practical resolution, not an abstract Resolution which there is no prospect of carrying into a practical measure. It may be an antiquated Parliamentary idea of mine, but I am not fond of these abstract Resolutions. They mean teaching the people to live, not on our performances, but on our promises; and my desire is that they should live, not on our promises, but on our performances. A proposal in an abstract form of some kind or another is an exceedingly popular thing. It may be supported either for the sake of popularity out of doors or for the convenience of a Party indoors. I may quote an example which I am afraid few of those who sit here have in their own personal recollection, but of which I have a lively remembrance. There was the case of the paper duty, Great credit was gained by the Tory Party in supporting, about the year 1858, an abstract Resolution declaring that the paper duty ought to be abolished. In 1860 a Liberal Government, the Government of Lord Palmerston, proposed a Bill for the abolition of the paper duty, but the fiercest antagonists of that measure were the Tory Party. It was not carried without a great struggle, and even, I think, after a conflict between the two Houses. The position of Scotland in regard to the important question of a domestic legislature for the transaction of Scotch business is, in my opinion, a thoroughly healthy and thoroughly favourable position. Scotland will never make any 108 demand except one that is consistent with the unity of the Empire, and tending to consolidate and strengthen the fabric of the Empire and the authority of the Imperial Parliament. Subject to that limitation, Scotland may rest assured, and I believe will rest assured, that her demands will be considered in a favourable spirit when they are clearly ascertained and fully brought forward. On the other hand, this subject is one which, as we know from the Irish case, involves large and numerous matters of detail. I doubt whether the mind of the House of Commons or even of the country sufficiently realizes the multitude of various and complicated details that are associated with this question. But Scotland will have the advantage—and in my opinion the inestimable advantage—of seeing the question, according to the expressive old phrase, bolted to the bran; and the whole subject will be worked through and through on the Irish points. Scotland will reap the advantage of that; so that if there be some delay, as there must be, both for her to make up her mind and for Parliament to approach the question, Scotland will be richly rewarded by the increased facilities she will have in advancing her claim. Under these circumstances I feel no shame in saying, but, on the contrary, I freely admit, in the face of my kind, indulgent, and generous constituency, that I do not think that this question is ripe for our decision; and, until it is ripe for our decision, I should forfeit any title I may have to the favourable attention and kindness of the House and the confidence of my constituency were I to support the proposal which is now brought before the House.
§ *THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, East
The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by making some complaints against Her Majesty's Government for not giving any clear and definite utterance upon what he describes as the important and difficult question which is now before the House; and he went on to criticize the action of those Members of the House who had put down Amendments to the Motion of the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark), because they had withdrawn their Amendments and had not had 109 the courage to put before the House the Resolutions which they had upon the Paper. The right hon. Gentleman forgets, or perhaps he was not aware, that the hon. Member for Caithness has materially altered the form of his Motion since it first appeared on the Paper. He has stiffened and strengthened it until it is too difficult even for the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends to swallow. Amendments that might have been, and probably were, appropriate to the original and weak form in which the Motion of the hon. Member for Caithness originally appeared on the Paper became in the opinion of the intending Movers, and certainly in mine, wholly superfluous, where we had to deal with a definite proposal to establish a Scotch Parliament. I am glad that the hon. Members have withdrawn their Amendments; for I desire the House should have the opportunity of voting definitely "Aye" or "No" on the question. And I, at all events, speaking for my right hon. Friends on this Bench, and, I believe, for the whole of the Party behind me, am prepared to give a clear and definite reply to the challenge thrown down by the hon. Member for Caithness, without any of the ingenious qualifications with which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) is himself going to modify the effects of the vote he is to give to night. 'The right hon. Gentleman has told us that the sentiment in favour of Home Rule is growing rapidly in Scotland. I doubt that fact. I entirely admit that you cannot have a discussion like that with regard to Home Rule in Ireland—the one solitary topic of political controversy on every platform— without raising some pale reflection of the controversy with regard to Scotland. But I do not believe that in the minds and hearts of the Scottish people there is anything in the nature of a sentiment growing up in favour of the scheme which is known as Home Rule, and which it is proposed to apply to Ireland. And if there be in the minds of any small section of the Scottish people a feeling of that kind, who is their spokesman? The right hon. Gentleman followed to-night in debate the hon. Member for Lanark (Mr. Graham). Oddly 110 enough, he did not make one single allusion, however distant, to the speech preceding his own.
§ *MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I failed to catch it, and I do not think it can have gone beyond some empty compliment to the hon. Gentleman in question. Because, what was the argument of the hon. Gentleman? He said in the clearest language—he does not deal, like right hon. Gentleman, in circumlocution and ambiguities—what he wanted, and why he wanted it. The hon. Member for Lanark, speaking in the name of his constituents, told us that he wants Home Rule for Scotland because be wants Socialism in Scotland. ["Hear, hear," from Mr. GRAHAM.] He admits, therefore, that I have not misrepresented or exaggerated his sentiments.
§ *MR. A. J. BALFOUR
He wants Home Rule because he wants Socialism. I want to know whether, when the right hon. Gentleman talks of the growing feeling in Scotland in favour of Home Rule, he is alluding to the sentiment which the hon. Member for Lanark so courageously represents? That sentiment may, I admit, be growing in certain parts of Scotland. I believe that much of this Irish agitation is a Socialistic agitation. I believe that the reflection of the Irish agitation is also a Socialistic agitation. And I should have desired that we should have had some utterance from the right hon. Gentleman as to whether he observes with satisfaction the growing sentiment in Scotland not merely in favour of Home Rule, but in favour of these Socialistic opinions which we have been told by the hon. Member for Lanark are the real basis and root of the Home Rule cry in Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman told us that, in his opinion, Scotland and Ireland stood on a perfect equality on this matter in principle; and whatever Ireland asks for in principle, Scotland has the right to ask for in principle. I accept that entirely. And whatever Ireland has a right to ask for in principle, Middlesex has a right to ask for in principle. And what- 111 ever Middlesex asks for, Yorkshire has a right to ask for. That I entirely grant. And by the cheers of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Morley) I presume that he accepts that statement.
§ *MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Then I should be glad to know on what basis a distinction is drawn between Yorkshire and Middlesex on the one hand, and Ireland and Scotland on the other. Take the case of the Highlands of Scotland. We are accustomed rightly to regard Scotland as in some respects a great unity. But I venture to say that the Highlands of Scotland are more unlike the Lowlands of Scotland in every essential particular than the Lowlands are unlike the North of England. Linguistically, ethnologically, in the character of the people, in the social habits, in every single thing of essential moment, I boldly state that the line of division is not the division between England and Scotland, but some line to be drawn far north of that. I want to know, therefore, if the Highlands, conscious as they are of being separate from the Lowlands in race and in social habits, traditions, and history, and conscious, as they also are, that they have been separated from the Lowlands by centuries of warfare—if the Highlands were to ask for Home Rule for the Highlands, are they to be regarded as on an equality with Ireland? This is a question which ought to be presented to the mind of every man discussing this question, and I hope it will be presented to the minds of the people of Scotland by this debate and others which will probably follow it. But the right hon. Gentleman, while he is good enough to say that Scotland is on an equality with Ireland in principle in this matter, says that there are two broad distinctions between the cases. The first is founded on geographical considerations. It appears that Home Rule may be safely deferred in the case of Scotland, because it is not separated from England by St. George's Channel. I never travelled over to Ireland without entertaining a strong feeling of gratitude that I have not, when going home, to cross four hours of tempestuous ocean. But I never knew 112 before how much I had to be grateful for. I never knew that it was owing to the fact that Ireland was an island that Home Rule was to be conferred on Ireland, but that this blessing may be indefinitely withheld in the case of Scotland, because Scotland is not an island. That is the geographical reason of the right hon. Gentleman. He then came to the historical reason. The right hon. Gentleman told us that the Union with Ireland was the result of force, fraud, brutality, and bloodshed. Apparently he thinks that the Union with Scotland was constructed by methods which every statesman may look back upon with pride and satisfaction. The right hon. Gentleman is always bringing bad history to the rescue of bad politics. I think he has greatly, grossly exaggerated the historical incidents, many of them unhappy, many of them regrettable, which accompanied the Union between England and Ireland, and that he has minimized and disguised the incidents which were associated with the Union between England and Scotland. Is it not perfectly notorious, is it not the commonplace of English and Scottish history that there never was a more unpopular measure in Scotland than that which united the fate of Scotland, as I hope for all time, with England? Is it not the commonplace of history that it was only after long experience had convinced the people of Scotland that all their highest interests, material, moral, and political, were bound up with the great Act of Union that they became what, I believe, they have ever since remained, firmly attached to the Union with the larger country? Then the right hon. Gentleman said the boldest among us would not dare to look Scotchmen in the face when Scotland makes a deliberate claim for Home Rule, subject, as he said, to Imperial control. I grant if that should ever occur it would be a phenomenon of the most serious character, which no man can regard with indifference or equanimity; but supposing Scotland, supposing Ireland, were to ask for a Parliament not subject to the control of the Imperial Parliament, what is the boldest going to do then? That is a question of vital importance. When Scotland has developed her views on this question, if no one, according to 113 the right hon. Gentleman, is to have the courage to resist the claim to a Scotch Parliament subject to the Imperial Parliament, what is the boldest going to do when the inevitable demand is made for a Parliament which will not be so subject? The right hon. Gentleman then said that if you pass this abstract Resolution you will throw into the background all those great and important questions upon which Scotland has set its heart.
§ *MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Well, throw into the background the questions concerning Scotland which are now in the foreground. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned particularly Licensing and Disestablishment. I wonder the right hon. Gentleman could use this argument without a smile, because it amounts to this—that Scotland is to wait until all the important Scottish questions are settled before she is to have a separate Parliament in order to settle them. Does he not see that if all those interesting questions are before the Scottish people, now is the time to give Scotland Home Rule, and the sooner the better? Then Scotland will, indeed, have a chance of having the Licensing and Disestablishment Questions settled. "Not at all," says the right hon. Gentleman, "we in the Imperial Parliament, we in this overworked and overloaded and incompetent Parliament, are to settle Disestablishment and Licensing, and when those difficult questions are disposed of then give Scotland Home Rule if she wants it." I cannot help thinking that when the right hon. Gentleman was occupied in the difficult task of at once making a speech which will satisfy the national aspirations for Home Rule in Scotland, and which will give sufficient reason why he is going to vote against a Resolution to give Home Rule to Scotland, he used an argument he had better have left alone. I think I have now gone through all the topics mentioned 114 in the right hon. Gentleman's speech. I will only say, in conclusion, that surely we should be mad if at the time when every nation in America and in Europe is drawing closer the bonds which unite separate parts, we were to scatter and divide. Should we not be especially mad if we engaged in this task with regard to Scotland, about which it can be conclusively proved that the fruits of the Union have been an unmitigated blessing, as I believe, to both countries, and especially to Scotland? The Union found Scotland poor, despised, and oppressed among the nations of Europe. Great as has been the progress in England since 1707, it has been absolutely insignificant, trivial, and contemptible compared with the improvement that Scotland has made in everything which makes a nation great. Are you really going to lay sacrilegious hands on institutions which work so well? I speak, as I have a right to speak on this question, as a Scotsman, and I say that if I found, or believed, that the Union between England and Scotland had destroyed anything which is valuable or characteristic in our national life, I should feel sorely tempted to vote with the hon. Member. But it has not been so, and the whole history of Scotland proves that it has not been so. We have not been overshadowed by the larger nation. We have not had our national life crushed by the life of England. We have not suffered in any essential particular of our civilization from its being attached to the civilization of the neighbouring country. We have, on the contrary, gained the inestimable privilege of feeling ourselves citizens of one great community, and of taking our full share in the management of this great Empire. I will not be a party, and those who sit near me will never be parties, to anything which can, even in the smallest degree, tend to diminish the great heritage which has been handed down to us.
§ MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries, &c.)
I am not going to occupy much of the time of the House, but I must say it is somewhat characteristic of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, the chief champion of the Union in the House, 115 not to be aware of the date with which his own country entered into that Union I cannot congratulate the right hon Gentleman on his historical accuracy. But I desire to express my entire concurrence with the right hon. Gentleman in one thing which he said—namely, that if this Motion tended in the smallest degree to withdraw Scotland or Scotch business from its full share in the proceedings of this House and the Imperial Parliament, I for one would readily vote against it. I do not believe that any of my countrymen would tolerate for a single instant the withdrawal from this Parliament of any portion of Scotch influence here, but that is not the question raised here to-night. We are dealing with a practical grievance which must be acknowledged to exist, and that is the habitual neglect of all Scotch business. Is there a Member on the Tory Benches who can deny that proposition? Is it not the case that during the past few years Scotch Members have been habitually out-voted on questions thoroughly affecting Scotland by English Members? We have no hostility to English Members, but we do most deliberately object to being obliged to come hat in hand to the English Members to ask them to give us an opportunity for considering our Scotch Bills which are required in the interest of our people. I will only give one illustration. Who knows Scotland and does not know that it is scourged with the evil of drink? Who does not know that many, even Conservative Members, are anxious to see that evil removed? But anyone who watches the proceedings of this House knows thoroughly well that we have no chance whatever of dealing with the matter. Now, what is remarkable about the speech of the Chief Secretary is this, that he does not offer, on behalf of the Government, the smallest hope to Scotland or the Scotch Members of ameliora- 116 tion in this matter. He has heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and he has heard the speeches of the other Scotch Members, and yet he does not deny the allegation. He admits the grievance, and holds out no prospect whatever of any remedy. These are serious facts which are under the consideration of the House. The hon. Member for Caithness has been cruel in placing many Scotch Members in a dilemma; but for myself I have no hesitation as to how I am going to vote. I am going to vote for the Resolution. If I believed it meant what was described by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, I should not support, it but I consider that it means that Scotch business ought to be managed by Scotchmen, and in Scotland, without interfering in any sense with this Parliament, or indeed with our presence here as we are. It is in that sense and that sense alone, that I will support the proposal of my hon. Friend. I go further, and say that even if I were not prepared to accept the full words, and the full extent of the Resolution, I think the grievances are so great, and the hopelessness of a remedy, after the speech of the Chief Secretary, has become so marked, that I should be disposed to stretch a point a little in order to indicate by my vote on this occasion the supreme resentment I feel—and it has been expressed by men of both Parties in my constituency—at the neglect, the habitual and scandalous neglect, of Scotch business in this House.
§ *MR. HOZIER (Lanarkshire, South)
If this were the first Parliament summoned under the original Act of Union between Scotland and England, I can well imagine that the hon. Member for Caithness would have a very substantial ground of complaint; for, according to that original Act of Union, Bute and Caithness had only the right to send a Member to Parliament alternately, and Bute had the first turn. If that arrangement were still in force, the Member for Caithness would at this moment be gnashing his teeth in outer 117 darkness, and panting for the opportunity of pouring forth his winning words to a listening and delighted Senate. But he would n it hive the only, or the chief ground of complaint, for the vast majority of the Members of this House would also have a very just ground of complaint. We should all be looking forward with dismay to the prospect of having in the next Parliament to exchange the magnificent eloquence of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bute (the Lord Advocate) for the sort of oratory with which the hon. Member for Caithness is so very fond of favouring us. Happily this double grievance, like many other grievances, has been removed, and for many many years Scotland has, under the Act of Union, thriven and prospered exceedingly. Let us look for a moment at the real meaning of the present Motion. It is brought forward by the hon. Member for Caithness as the spokesman of the Home Rule Association of Scotland, and it ought to be remembered that the Scottish Home Rule Association emphatically decline to accept any Local Government Bill such as is ordinarily meant by the term. In a letter of the 5th of December last to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, they say they decline to accept any Local Government Bill, on the ground that it ought to be preceded by Home Rule legislation, and we are therefore led to the conclusion that what is meant is some such scheme as that which was introduced in the case of Ireland. On this point I am certain that no Scotchman would accept any scheme that would exclude the Scotch Members from the Imperial Parliament; and if you once admit the Scotch Members there, then arises the difficulty of distinguishing between Imperial and Scottish business, which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian distinctly said, when speaking of Ireland, was a difficulty which it passes the wit of man to overcome. But, even if any such distinction could be made, we must remember that in the vast majority of Bills it would 118 be absolutely necessary that there should be uniformity between the two countries. Take such cases as the Factory Acts and Mining Acts. I believe I am more advanced on Labour questions than almost any hon. Member on this side of the House, and probably more than most of those on the Opposition Benches, but there is no one who can appreciate more distinctly the great difficulty and danger that would he caused by any distinction between Scotland and England in such cases. Further, I should like to ask the hon. Member for Caithness, whether, among the powers he proposes to give the Scottish Parliament he would include power to deal with such questions as those relating to Church Establishments and Religious Endowments. I understand the hon. Member to say "Yes." Then I say that he goes far further than did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian with regard to Ireland, because in the Bill of 1886 such questions were specially taken away from the Irish Parliament. But if so, why? Does he mean that he is quite willing and even very anxious to trust the Protestants of Scotland, but that he declines to trust the Roman Catholics of Ireland? The hon. Gentleman professes to be an advocate of what he calls religious equality. Is that the hon. Gentleman's idea of religious equality? We know that among those who at present profess Home Rule principles there are many waverers. The hon. Member for the Luton division of Bedford (Mr. Cyril Flower) who won a race on Saturday that some of us had the pleasure of witnessing, is not the first Member of the House who has brought two horses to the start, one called "Home Rule," and the other called "Sultan," or something else. He is not the only man who has hesitated up to the last moment which of the two horses he should ride. He is not the first, and he will not be the last, to finally reject the horse called "Home Rule," and to ride and win on the other. And then calls the horse "Home Rule" after all! I have noticed that most of these waverers have a way of following the lead of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and the right hon. Gentleman has given them the advice 119 contained in two lines of a comic opera—Let us see how things may goThat isn't quite yes and isn't quite no.So we know exactly the spirited course which they will pursue. For my part I will venture to take this opportunity of saying that I most cordially welcome the measures of Local Government which were last night introduced by the Lord Advocate with so much credit to himself and with so much prospective advantage to Scotland. I trust the people. I believe in the people. And I have far too great confidence in the good sense and wisdom of the people of Scotland to imagine them capable of being led astray to break down the Union which, whatever may be said, has done, and is doing, an enormous amount of good, not to England only, not to England chiefly—but both to Scotland and to England combined and united.
§ *MR. WALLACE (Edinburgh)
I regret that I have to rise, even at this late hour, for the purpose of proposing an Amendment to the Resolution of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness. That Amendment is to add to the Resolution of my hon. Friend the words, "at such time and of such a character as may be desired by the Scottish people," so that, if my Amendment be carried along with the Resolution, the Resolution would read as follows:—That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that arrangements be made for giving to the people of Scotland, by their Representatives in a National Parliament the management and control of Scottish affairs, at such time and of such a character as may be desired by the Scottish people.I have said I regret to move an Amendment of this kind, because until to-day I was perfectly satisfied with the form of his Motion, which I regarded as meeting a necessity such as in my opinion does exist for giving expression to the profound and constantly growing dissatisfaction of the Scottish people at the apparently incurable neglect of their 120 business by the Imperial Parliament, and their increasing conviction that there must be some decisive and radical change. But on coming down to the House, I found to my surprise that my hon. Friend's Resolution had assumed an entirely different form by which it would commit me to a precise and definite plan, with respect to which I do not understand that the Representatives of Scotland at the present moment hold any mandate from their constituencies. To my mind, it would be as fatal to our democratic principle to force Home Rule in the shape of a National Parliament on an unwilling people as it would be to refuse it to them when they desired it; and having no authority from my constituents, and knowing none from my country, to support my hon. Friend's Motion, I feel bound, for my own protection, to interpose an Amendment which will make my duty to the Scottish people plain to them and to this House, and to my own mind. I feel satisfied that if the time should come when the people of Scotland, having maturely reflected. on the matter, desire anything in the nature of a domestic Government such as is shadowed forth in this Resolution, it will be a reasonable and proper demand, and one which may be safely conceded by Parliament; but until they have given their voice in the matter I do not feel myself authorized to take up the position which my hon. Friend and his Seconder consider themselves justified in. taking to-night. I believe that the attitude of the people of Scotland in regard to the question of Home Rule is in a state of formation. I agree with what has been stated as to the condition of the mind of Scotland with regard to the way in which its affairs are treated, or maltreated here; but whatever may be the conception of the remedy which exists in the Scottish mind, I wish to impress on the House this fact, that the attitude of Scotland towards the question of Home Rule within its own borders is determined at the present 121 moment by its attitude towards the question of Irish Home Rule; and that the simple reason why there is not greater excitement manifested in the shape of Petitions to this House, and of enthusiastic and crowded public meetings in Scotland on the question of Scotch Home Rule, is to be found in the circumstance that they consider it a national duty to devote -their strength in the meantime to the promotion of Home Rule for Ireland. I know it would be out of order to enter on the question of Irish Home Rule on this Motion, but in order to indicate the attitude of the Scottish mind on its own Home Rule question I must be permitted briefly to state what is the attitude of the Scottish mind towards the question of Irish Home Rule. The mind of Scotland is, as a whole, fully made up on this question. The Scotch people regard the demand for Irish Home Rule as sincere, and also as safe and certain to be fulfilled. They regard it as sincere. They do not look on the excitement in Ireland on this matter as some do, as merely a factitious demand created by agitators. They regard the question of Irish Home Rule as perfectly safe. They are not disposed to accept the teaching of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, who comes down to their first seat of national learning and seeks to teach that national organization is equivalent to Imperial disintegration. And they are not disposed to believe that nations are moved by irrational and insane considerations, and, therefore, they believe that Ireland, even if she had the power to separate herself from the British Empire, would not, apart from lunacy, seek a separation from which she would have nothing to gain. Once more, I say that the Scotch people are of opinion that Irish Home Rule is certain to come. They do not believe that the policy of Her Majesty's Government can be successful, even if persevered in. They do not believe, taught by the traditions of their own country, that mere force can suppress a novel force like national aspiration, or that it can be even touched by physical violence, unless resort is had to those bloody methods of extermination, which I do not believe even Her Majesty's Govern- 122 ment would attempt in the present day. They do not believe that plank beds are a refutation of political truths or of historical facts. Accordingly, they are content to await what they believe to be a certain victory, when this matter comes to the point. But they, at the same time, know that victory will not be obtained except through a struggle, and they do not object to a hard struggle, either in this or in any other matter, because when their blood is up they are rather fond of a fight than otherwise. At the same time they know that it will be a hard struggle. They think that to carry Irish Home Rule is not unlike pulling a camel through the eye of a needle. They know that is a difficult operation, although they also believe that, with a long pull and a strong pull and a pull all together, it can be done. But they have sense enough to see that the pulling of two camels simultaneously through the eye of the needle could be done by nothing short of a miracle. And, therefore, they do not expect to be able to carry Irish Home Rule and Scotch Home Rule simultaneously and successfully through. So they have at once the wisdom and generosity to be content that their own question shall for a time stand by until, with their help, and with the help of the friends of the cause, the question of Irish Home Rule shall be settled in that successful way in which it is certain to be settled eventually, both because they believe that the necessity of Ireland is greater than their own, and also because they recognize the fact that Ireland was first in the field. Therefore it is, Sir, that I am not able, without the words of the Amendment which I have suggested, to agree with the Motion of my hon. Friend. I may further say that I am not quite certain that, in the condition of mind of the Scotch people now, they will regard with entire satisfaction the language of the Resolution, because it is worded so as to exclude a Scottish Executive, of which he makes no mention whatever. I rather suspect that the Scottish people will regard that as possibly an unintended but not the less a decided smack in the face to Ireland; because if, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian has said, national aspirations are equal in their rights all over the world, it may be in- 123 ferred that, as Scotland is equally a nationality with Ireland, Ireland can do without an Executive if Scotland can. Therefore, I rather suspect that this Motion in that respect will not meet with favour in Scotland; and it would have met with a different reception had it been otherwise worded. And I think that in another respect this Motion will nut meet with the complete approbation of the Scottish people in the frame of mind which they now maintain towards the Irish people, because it speaks in the most vague and undefined way of the nature of the legislative power which is to have control of Scottish affairs.
§ SIR C. DALRYMPLE
rose in his place and claimed to move "That the question be now put;" but Mr. Deputy Speaker withheld his assent and declined then to put that question.
§ *MR. WALLACE
resumed: You know it is the fact that it uses the word "Parliament," and I venture to submit that the word "Parliament," or even the phrase "National Parliament," is not definite. It may mean a Council of any description, with undefined powers, and it is not necessarily identical in character with the Imperial Parliament. It simply means an assembly for the purpose of legislative discussion. If that be so, the Scottish people do not know what sort of a Council, or National Council it is that my hon. Friend is driving at. For anything we know, it may be akin to one of those numerous Councils which are springing from time to time from the incessantly parturient brain of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham—a Council which may have possibly to report its proceedings as if it were in the nature of a subordinate Committee to the Imperial Parliament, and not anything in the nature of an independent Parliament. I know very well that the offer of such an assembly, call it by what name you please, till not create any enthusiasm in the Scottish mind. I do not think 124 I shall be performing my duty as a representative of the Scottish people if I were to give my support to the Motion of my hon. Friend. But while this is so, I know that there is the utmost dissatisfaction in Scotland with respect to the condition of its business in this Parliament, and that being so, without going over the ground travelled by other Members, I desire to submit to the House the Amendment which I now propose to add to the Motion of my hon. Friend the words "At such time and of such a character as may be desired by the Scottish people."
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
I rise for the purpose of seconding the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh. I do so because it correctly expresses the views which I hold on the question now before the House.
rose in his place and claimed to move "That the Question be now put."
Question, "That the question be now put," put, and agreed to.
Question put accordingly.
The House divided:—Ayes 79; Noes 200.—(Div. List, No. 70.)
It being after One of the clock, Mr. Deputy Speaker adjourned the House without question put.