HC Deb 06 August 1890 vol 348 cc46-50

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1.

Amendment again proposed, in page 1, line 27, after the word "esquire," to insert the words "Chistopher Thomas Redington, esquire."—(Mr. Sexton.)

Question proposed, "That the words 'Christopher Thomas Redington, esquire,' be there inserted."

(4.38.) THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN, St. George's, Hanover Square)

The hon. Gentleman has raised the question whether it is desirable that there should be on the Commission some Representative of Ireland, and proposes to move to add the name before the Committee and another name, against which, in the abstract, I do not wish to say a word. But I wish to put it to the hon. Gentleman that it would be entirely against all precedent to move in the House of Commons any addition or substitution in the names of the Commissioners. They are an entirely non-political body, serving on purely honorary terms, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not press his Motion. We are quite prepared to recognise the sentiment expressed by the hon. Gentleman that Ireland should be represented on the Board; but I put it to the hon. Member strongly that he should not make the addition of names the subject of a Motion in this House. The name the hon. Member has moved is that of a highly respected Irish representative gentleman, but who has not, I believe, that special financial knowledge which is the qualification of every other gentleman whose name is on the Commission. The other name of which the hon. Member has given notice (Mr. A. O'Connor) is that of a Member of this House, who, undoubtedly, has taken considerable part in the discussion of financial questions in this House, and is quite competent to give an opinion on such matters; but it is the name of one whom I may say, without disrespect, that he is distinctly a politician, and his nomination by the vote of this House would be introducing a novelty into the constitution of this Board I should be anxious to deprecate. If the nomination were agreed to, it would lead to other Political Parties nominating their particular Representatives; and I earnestly appeal to the hon. Gentleman to leave the matter in the hands of the Government, when I will undertake to propose a name of a non-political connection which will completely satisfy Irishmen on both sides of the House. I do not wish to cast the slightest reflection on the gentlemen nominated by the hon. Member. I approach this matter from an entirely business point of view, and I hope that the matter will be withdrawn from Parliamentary contest.

(4.41.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

The right hon. Gentleman is acute enough to know that he has not given me the slightest satisfaction. The right hon. Gentleman has had ample time to consider the question since Mr. Redington's name was first proposed, and he has not yet suggested the name of which he speaks so vaguely as one that will be generally acceptable. When I moved this name some time ago, the Chancellor of the Eechequer could not resist it except on the ground that he had had no time for consideration and consultation. He has had that time since, and now what is his position? Let me remind the Committee of the circumstances. I found this Board of 16 gentlemen engaged in distributing, by way or loans, money from the Imperial Exchequer, to which Ireland contributes her share; and yet the Board does not contain a single Irishman. This is under a Unionist Government, who profess the desire and the wish that Ireland should take her share in the transaction of Imperial business. The Board, I say, does not contain the name of a single gentleman representing or connected with Ireland. What is the use of talking about objection to the introduction of politics? Three Members of Parliament—two of them supporters of the Government—are on the Board, so that politicians are only to be tabooed when they happen to be Irish. Ireland is interested in these financial matters, and yet from this Board and from the Board in Ireland Irish representation is completely shut out. The right hon. Gentleman makes an appeal to me, but does he realise the position in which I am placed in regard to these names? He does not contest my principle. The principle that Ireland ought to have a representative on the Board cannot be contested, and no exception can be taken to the names I propose. The right hon. Gentleman can only object to the name of Mr. Redington that he is a country gentleman and not a financier, and then he objects to the name of my hon. Friend the Member for East Donegal because, being a financier, he is not a country gentleman, but engaged in politics. It is enough to suggest something that a man is not when we show positive qualifications. Mr. Redington's qualifications are undoubted; he enjoys the favour of the Crown, inasmuch as he has been appointed to the position of Deputy Lieutenant of his county; he has served on the Grand Jury for several years; he has served on a Royal Commission, and assuredly I shall not subject that gentleman to the affront of withdrawing his name after I have put it forward to give effect to the principle for which I contend, and which the right hon. Gentleman does not resist. As for Mr. A. O'Connor, the Government are often enough glad to make use of him. My hon. Friend is on the Chairman's panel, a body of Members against whom no exception can be taken; they occupy a distinguished position in the confidence of the House; and this year he has been at the head of the Standing Committee on Trade, where he has acquitted himself so well that a Cabinet Minister went out of his way to pay my hon. Friend a special compliment, regretting that the Forms of Procedure did not allow the passing of a vote of thanks by the Committee. Amid the wreck and ruin of the legislative work of the Session, such success as the Government have had with their Bills has been largely due to the efficient direction of the proceedings of the Standing Committee on Trade by my hon. Friend. That is all I have to say. You call us the Separatist Party, and in the name of the Separatist Party to-day I ask you to give some manifestation of the faith you claim to have in Unionist principles when I submit to you these two representative names for the Board engaged in the administration of revenue to which Ireland contributes a considerable share. I shall submit both names to the Committee, and the discredit and dishonour of rejecting them, if they are rejected, will rest on the majority supporting the Government. I shall desire on election platforms no more conclusive proof of the sham, the hollowness, of Unionist professions of equal treatment of the two countries. I shall take a Division on the name of Mr. Redington.

(4.47.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 93; Noes 112.—(Div. List, No. 238.)


If the hon. Member will permit me, I may make a proposal that may be satisfactory to him. Fully acknowledging as we do the ability of the hon. Member for East Donegal and his competence to deal with financial questions, we should, with even greater reluctance than we did just now, vote against the nomination of the hon. Member. We were unable to accept the two names proposed; but I now make this suggestion to the hon. Member, that, in recognition of the claims of Ireland to representation on the Board, we accept the name of the hon. Member for East Donegal, adding thereto the name of Sir Edward Guinness. This is a name I hope will be accepted by hon. Members opposite.


I am perfectly satisfied.

Amendment proposed, in page 1, after line 27, to add "Arthur O'Connor, esquire, M. P."—(Mr. Sexton.)

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment proposed, after the name last inserted, to add "Sir Edward Cecil Guinness, Baronet."—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.

Remaining Clauses agreed to.


The new clauses on the Paper are not in order.

(5.0.) Bill reported; as amended to be considered to-morrow.