§ (7.5.) DR. CLARK (Caithness)
This I think is an opportune time to ask the House to consider the present system of administration and legislation for the different parts of the Empire, and to consider, not in a Party spirit, a possible solution of the problem of devolution. I think the subject ought to be considered and might be considered outside the spirit of Party, and in that view I find the leaders of different Parties agree. The noble Lord the leader of the Tory Party especially I may mention. He, in his speech at Newport five years ago, claimed that it had always been the contention of the Tory Party that people in their own localities should govern themselves, and that they should be encouraged to take an active interest in the administration of their own affairs. He pointed out that there might be weaknesses in the Local Authorities, but the wisdom of a largo Central Authority would correct the failures and mistakes of each. It was the sort of speech we might expect from an advocate of federalism. Three years ago the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (Lord Hartington) spoke upon the subject, and said that in addition to County Boards perhaps some larger authorities—perhaps National Local Authorities—should be erected for England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) proposed a scheme at the same time very much on the same lines. I think under these circumstances, since all parties in the House have expressed themselves more or less favourably towards the 441 principle of Home Rule, we might be able to consider the question on its merits and quite apart from Party feeling. I will try to do so, and more from the standpoint of Scotland and Ireland, because there it may be said to be a burning question, and the people are not satisfied with things as they are. There may be satisfaction in England or not, but here it depends upon the English representatives themselves. Out of some 670 members there are only about 200 representatives from outside England, so that England has more than two-thirds of the entire representation in the House, and any particular question can be determined by English Members. That there is discontent in Ireland I suppose everyone will admit. You have Ireland governed and administered from Dublin Castle, and the great bulk of the people of Ireland detest Dublin Castle rule. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham at the time when he proposed his scheme of Home Rule all round talked of the administration of Dublin Castle as similar to the rule of the Austrians in Italy, or the Russians in Poland; but I will not go so far as that, I will content myself with saying that the great bulk of the Irish people detest the kind of administration they get from Dublin Castle. In Scotland we are, perhaps, the most democratic nation in Europe. Thanks to John Knox we have had national education for centuries, and our Presbyterian form of religion tends to democracy, yet in this democratic country we are governed by Boards continually, and by the irresponsibility of Parliament House. Now, I think the Scottish people are tired of Parliament House and this administration by Boards. I hope, from what I have heard from the First Lord of the Treasury, that we shall be saved from the crowning indignity of not only having our administration conducted by these Boards, but our Local Legislation proceeding from them also. There is not much feeling in favour of Parliament House, it has ceased to be popular—from being Presbyterian it has become Episcopalian; it used to be Liberal, it has now become Unionist and Tory. I think the Scottish people are no more in favour of Parliament House administration than the Irish people are in favour of the rule of 442 Dublin Castle. The discontent in Ireland is of old standing, but the Scottish discontent is a thing of yesterday. There has been discontent for the last 20 years to my knowledge, and a disposition towards Home Rule for the purpose of compelling the Imperial Parliament to consider Scottish matters, and seeing that time is given for proper attention to Scottish business. There was a time when Scottish Members thought if they had a Secretary for Scotland to take charge of Scottish business, as the Home Secretary has charge of English internal matters, and the Irish Secretary of Irish affairs, they might have more attention paid to the claims of Scotland. The agitation was then for a Secretary of State for Scotland, and now that we have such a Minister, and after experience of some four or five—some in the Cabinet and some outside, some in this House and some in the House of Lords—we find that things are just as bad as when we had to depend upon the Lord Advocate; and those who thought they would be content with that small reform are now compelled by the facts of the case to go much further in the direction of Home Rule. Both in Scotland and Ireland legislation is very much in sympathy with administration. The voice of Scotland and Ireland as expressed by the great bulk of the people is not considered by the Government in this House, and not considered by the great English majority by whose assistance measures are thrust upon Scotland and Ireland against the public opinion in those countries. So you have a condition of affairs that should make even right hon. Gentlemen opposite reconsider their position. With a democracy the only sound basis of law and administration is the will of the people, but where you have laws passed and administered contrary to the desires of the people, there you have a condition of things tending either to the development of anarchy, or returning to an autocratic form of Government. It is a condition of affairs utterly incompatible with democracy. But apart from any questions of this kind, in this House you have a state of congestion in public business, and we are unable to carry through the business we take upon ourselves. It is physically impossible, without sitting all the year 443 round, for Members to find an opportunity to invite the attention of the House to subjects of the deepest interest to their constituents. Out of 200 or more notices of Private Members at the beginning of the Session some dozen find an opportunity for Second Readings on Wednesdays, and these are determined, not by their relative importance, but by the accident of the ballot, and some of the important matters are never submitted for consideration. For nine years my hon. Friend has attempted to secure some sort of right of way to the health resorts of our country, our mountains, and moors. These mountains and moors during the last 15 years have become more precious in the eyes of proprietors than arable land; they would prefer to have their crops destroyed rather than have their game disturbed. It is eight or nine years since we have tried to get a decision upon a Permissive Bill for Scotland. I do not wish to multiply illustrations; I only wish to indicate the difficulties. Irish Members have the habit of urging their claims with a persistency that has hitherto secured them an advantage as between Scotland and Ireland, and altogether the state of affairs is such that Members of all Parties are coming round to the opinion that there must be some system of devolution of business into the hands of people who know how to carry it out. We are trying Grand Committees, and there are some who are prepared to go further and establish National Committees; but I think we are practically all agreed there should be some system of devolution of business. On this side we are prepared to support a measure of Home Rule for Ireland, and I am in favour of the proposal. But the question is, what kind of Home Rule is to be given? and this is a question that right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench should consider, and then say something that will shed a little more light on their proposals. We have had a Bill before us, but this the country has rejected. We hear of a modified proposal, but I think we ought to know more about it, and how the difficulties are proposed to be met. I do not think any measure for Ireland will be considered, unless those responsible for the preparation make 444 everything clear. This vis inertiœ will never carry through any system of devolution. Upon this question of Home Rule for Ireland I think that the country has determined that, so far as it may be granted, it will not be on the lines of the 24th clause of the Home Rule Bill; that whatever may be done, Irish Members, or a portion of them, will require to remain here to take part in Imperial work. If that is the case—if they have the control of their own domestic affairs—the question naturally arises, shall they have a voice in the control of ours? If so, then probably, being a Celtic race, they will keep together and sell their vote to either side for what they can get for it; and I think nobody can object, under the circumstances, to their doing anything of the kind. We may be able to modify this; but, so far, I have not yet heard from either side any scheme that would not be anomalous. But we are not anxious about anomalies. If an anomaly is of old standing and works well, we keep it in existence; but I do not think we can create new ones. Even Conservatives will not go so far as that, although they support old anomalies. Some hon. Gentlemen say they are not prepared to put the Constitution into the melting pot; but it seems to me we are doing that; we are melting down this old Parliament and re-casting it; and the only question is, what form are we going to give to the new castings? You must see that they are suitable to the State machinery. We are told that Scotland ought not to stand in the way; that we ought to do all we can to get the Bill passed for Ireland granting Irish Home Rule; and that then it will be far easier, for the first step will be taken, to give Home Rule to Scotland. But I think it would be much easier to give Home Rule all round than to proceed by different Bills for one fraction after another. The difficulties you have to meet are such that they may be more readily met by devolving local privileges to each section of the country. So far as Scotland is concerned the difficulties are greater to English Members, for they do not understand our laws and our administration. In England and Wales you have English laws and English modes of administra- 445 tion; in Scotland we retain our old laws, our old methods of administration, and our old terminology is much more foreign to Englishmen than is the case of Wales or Ireland. They cannot understand these things, so they run away and only return when the Whip calls them to vote against our desires. Now the question is, are we to have a form of Federal Home Rule or of Colonial Home Rule? Shall the tendency be towards federation rather than dualism, and will Ireland accept it? So far as I understand the conditions laid down Ireland would accept it. Ireland wants the control of her own domestic affairs, and I think she can get that as well under the Federal tie as under the dual system. Leading Irishmen, too, have been in favour of federalism as against the dual system. The father of the popular movement, Daniel O'Connell, began as a repealer, and fought the battle of repeal for many long years, but he died a Federalist. In one of the last letters of his published correspondence, and dated October 12, 1844, he balanced the advantages of repeal and federation. He wrote—Simple repealers are of opinion that a reconstituted Irish Parliament should have precisely the same power and authority as the former Irish Parliament had. Federalists, on the contrary, appear to me to require more for Ireland than simple repealers do, for besides a local Parliament having full practical local authority, Federalists require that for the consideration of Imperial questions, colonial, military, and naval questions, and the lines of foreign policy in a Federal Parliament, Ireland should have a fair share of representative power. It is but right and just to confess that in that respect Federalists would give Ireland more weight and importance in Imperial concerns than would be acquired by a policy of simple repeal. For my own part I own"—and this is from the father of the Repeal movement—that since I have come to contemplate the specific differences, such as they are, between simple repeal and Federalism, I do at present feel a preference for the Federal plan, as tending more to the utility of the Irish connection with England than simple repeal.O'Connell, then, was a Federalist. Isaac Butt, who succeeded him, was a Federalist, and the living leaders are Federalists. Mr. Parnell is a Federalist, or else he got £10,000 from Mr. Rhodes under false pretences.
§ DR. CLARK
Mr. Davitt is undoubtedly a Federalist. This is a question that depends as much upon Irish opinion in America as upon Irish opinion at home. I think that all the active members of the Irish Party, all the prominent leaders in America, are quite satisfied that Federalism is the proper solution of the Irish difficulty. In the States recently I saw some of the extreme men, and I have known some of them for the last 20 years. I met them during the Fenian times, and among those of the extreme men I met in America last year, and who have been Fenians, there was not one who would not be content with a Federal system for Ireland, that country having the management of her own affairs in a manner similar to that enjoyed by each State under the American Union. I take it, then, that a form of Federal devolution would be acceptable to Ireland, while the Imperial Parliament would be relieved to give attention to important Imperial concerns. Undoubtedly any Government that takes this question in hand will meet with strong support from Irishmen. There will be a strong Irish agitation in the next Parliament, and if there are fewer Home Rule Members returned for Ireland there will be more Scotch Home Rule Members. We can get rid of agitation if we proceed to dispassionately consider a system of devolution. I have put my Resolution in a somewhat vague form advisedly. It may be that the Welsh people do not require what the Scotch and Irish people require. Scotland and Ireland have had Parliaments in the past, but the Welsh difficulty may be solved by means of a Grand Committee. There are some English Members who think that the Imperial Parliament should remain as at present, and that Scotch and Irish Members should devote themselves to local matters in their own countries, while English Members occupy the first part of the 447 Session here with English matters, all subsequently meeting for Imperial work. I have no objection to such a system being tried, but I think the only method of meeting our difficulties is to devolve a portion of our work upon National Assemblies, Parliaments, or Councils, such as the States of America have, or as different parts of the Canadian Dominion have, with an Imperial Parliament for Imperial purposes only. I think we are coming to that. Any other system may be tried, but the only system that will give us what we want—time to consider our domestic affairs, and the time we ought to give to Imperial matters—will be by devolving these powers upon National Assemblies. We have three-quarters of the population of the globe, more or less, under Imperial control, and a quarter of the whole territory. Within the Empire young nationalities are growing up, and we have to consider how we may bind all these together with a Federal tie in a really Imperial Parliament, where all parts of the Empire shall have representation. We have not got that now. I think right hon. Gentlemen on the other side should carefully weigh what is taking place in Canada and Australia. In Canada you have a Party in some of the Provinces actually agitating for secession, for separation from the Empire, in order to be united to the great American Republic. There is a strong agitation going on in Nova Scotia in favour of union with the United States, and throughout Canada there is a Party asking for a fiscal tie with the United States. Such a tie would soon be followed by another and still closer tie. It has been said that Canada must either have representation in Westminster or in Washington. You have representatives sitting in Australia for the purpose of discussing the binding together of the various colonies in an Australian Dominion with an Army, a Navy, and a Supreme Court, and they are considering whether they will permit the Privy Council to be a final Court of Appeal. In Canada the Queen has more Subjects than in Ireland, and more in Australia than in Scotland, and those rising nationalities have a much greater future than either Scotland or Ireland possibly can have. I think the Party opposite, who are doing nothing to solve 448 this problem, are the real separationists, and may bring about the separation of the various portions of the British Empire. The first step necessary to prevent this is for the House to devolve its purely local affairs, and be an Imperial Parliament in reality. How supremely ridiculous it is that this Imperial Parliament should have to decide whether Belfast shall have a main drain, or a monument shall be erected in a certain street in Dublin, or Edinburgh shall have an hotel at the Railway Station, or Glasgow shall have a special bridge or dock! The remedy of federation has been a success wherever it has been tried. Canada has tried it for nearly a score of years; America for a century, and Switzerland for 500 years, whilst Germany has given it a trial and it has been successful. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) is going about objecting to any right of veto to the Imperial Parliament, but, in my opinion, that is one of the best things possible. The Supreme Court has been one of the evils of the Federal system, as it has occasionally declared some Act which has been in force for some time in a particular State to be contrary to the Constitution. The only Supreme Court in our case would be Parliament, which would determine whether the Local Bodies had gone beyond their powers I am glad to have had the opportunity of bringing this question again before the House, and giving an opportunity for its discussion. I think opinion is moving in favour of the Federal system, and that it is the only system by which we can keep together this great and mighty Empire, and bring to pass the state of things foreshowed by the Poet Laureate——the war-drum throbb'd no longer, and the battle flags were furled.In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.There the common sense of most shall hold a fretiul realm in awe,And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, in order to increase the efficiency of the Imperial Parliament to deal with Imperial affairs and in order to give speedier and fuller effect to the special
desires and wants of the respective nationalities constituting the United Kingdom, it is desirable to devolve upon the representatives of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales respectively the management and control of their domestic affairs,"—(Dr. Clark,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ *(7.35.) MR. S. T. EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)
I beg to second the Amendment. My hon. Friend has referred in his speech more particularly to Ireland and Scotland; he has not made many references to Wales, and, indeed he was not very happy in those he has made—thereby it seems to me adding an argument to the many he has used in favour of the principle of the Amendment. The Principality is the smallest of the nationalities mentioned in the Resolution, but I do not think it is the least interesting, and I do not think it is less capable of self-government than England, Scotland, or Ireland. Whatever will tend to increase the efficiency and vigour of Parliament ought to commend itself to every Member of this House. There seems to be a consensus of opinion that the Parliamentary machine is clogged with the arrears of legislation we have to deal with. There are many small questions coming before this House which ought not to come before it all. It is not a dignified thing for an Imperial Parliament to have to trouble itself with small questions similar to those mentioned by my hon. Friend. The second part of the Amendment deals with the principle of devolution. I do not see any danger at all in that principle, and I venture to join my hon. Friend in the appeal he has made that the discussion should not be carried on in a Party spirit, but with the object of seeing what can be done to increase the efficiency of this House by devolving upon the different nationalities the management of their own affairs. There has been a great access of national feeling in Wales during the last few years. I think everyone will admit that the comparatively greater attention paid to Welsh matters in this House is due 450 to the fact that there has been an increase in the strength of the feeling of Welsh nationality. Up to a short time ago it would have been quite unnecessary and superfluous to argue the question that the Welsh had a separate nationality; but the Welsh oracle of the Government, the Postmaster General (Mr. Raikes), said the other night that the Welsh people were not a nation at all, that we had no right to say we had any national feeling, and that we were only a small and obscure population pursuing a pseudonational chimera. I fear it would not be in accordance with Parliamentary usage to describe the right hon. Gentleman a "malignant censurer," but that is what other traducers of our nation were called in Henry VIII.'s time. I was interested the other day with the Petition of the Welsh people to Henry VIII., in whom the Welsh people took some interest because he had Welsh blood in his veins. They said—So that we crave pardon, Sir, if we say it was fit for the honour of your dominions, that some part of it should never be conquered.… To your Highness, therefore, we offer all obedience, desiring only that we may be defended against the insults of our malignant censurers. For we are not the offspring of the runaway Britains (as they term us), but natives of a country, which, besides defending itself, received all those who came to us for succour.… As for our language, though it stems harsh, it is that yet which was spoken anciently, not only in this island, but in France. Some dialects whereof remain still amongst the Bas-Bretons there, and here in Cornwall. Nor shall it be a disparagement (we hope) that it is spoken so much in the throat, since the Florentine and Spaniard affect this kind of pronounciation, as believing words that sound so deep proceed from the heart.… We doubt not, but as in all countries the mountains have afforded as eminent wits and spirits as any other part, so ours, also, by your Highness's good favour and employment may receive that esteem.That may be said to be somewhat an ancient authority, but there is one authority which may be regarded as the highest by the Postmaster General. Lord Salisbury, the head of Her Majesty's Government, speaking at Carnarvon in 1888, and speaking as the head of Her Majesty's Government, used these very striking words—If ever there was a people who were a separate nationality, it is the Welsh. They 451 are a people of very ancient extraction, they have their own language. They have up to a certain point a separate history: and yet there is no people, I believe, who are more firmly convinced that their own political, commercial, and industrial, security depends upon their close political union with the larger country by whose side they live.Although the Postmaster General has a summer house in Wales, I think that on this matter the Prime Minister is a better authority than the Postmaster General; and, therefore, as Wales is one of the nationalities, the question arises whether the claims and interests of the Principality, and her separate desires and aspirations, have been sufficiently attended to by the Imperial Parliament. I should like to call attention to the words used the other day by the greatest authority on all sides of the House as to the way in which the business of the House has been conducted for a great many years past. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, on Tuesday evening, spoke as follows with regard to the Principality:—And, as to Wales, what attention was ever given to any Welsh question or interest in this House by this mass of English Representatives until within the last five or six years?He also said—In Welsh, Irish, and Scotch questions—in matters where they are entitled to decide for themselves—the other partners are borne down, overruled, and cast out of the precincts of this House by the enormous preponderance of the English vote.That is absolutely and strictly true, if I may venture to say so, and we had an illustration of it only a few days ago. I have taken the trouble to analyze the vote on the majority side upon the Motion for Disestablishing the English Church in Wales, and I find—and this will show how Welsh opinion is weighed down by the opinion of English Representatives—that out of 235 Members there were only 2 Welsh Members who voted in that majority; 12 Irish Members were to be found in it, 15 Scotch Members, a good number of them being Unionists, and 206 English Members, If I may be allowed to put it the other way, of the Welsh Members you 452 had only 1 out of 14 voting against the disestablishment of the Church; of the Irish Members you had 1 out of 8, of the Scotch Members you had 1 out of 5, and of English Members you had 1 out of every 2 voting against it. That shows the consideration given to Welsh desires in this House. It is an attention which we would rather not have, which does away with the effect our voices ought to have in Parliament in regard to our domestic legislation. Another circumstance illustrating the neglect of Welsh interests in the House occurred during the last Session, when the Welsh Members, after repeated appeals and great effort, and although the Motion for a Committee was kept standing on the Order Book of the House for weeks, were refused the request that the Financial Relations Committee should inquire whether the Principality was or was not unnecessarily oppressed by an unfair incidence of taxation. This is not the time for discussing that question, but it could easily be proved that Wales is suffering from considerable injustice in this respect. I simply mention the matter to illustrate my point, that we do not have the attention paid to exclusively Welsh affairs in this House that we ought to have. It may be asked by the Government or by our opponents what plan we have for applying and carrying out the principle we advocate. My hon. Friend did not produce a plan. I do not know that it is necessary to lay down a plan in dealing with an abstract principle of this kind. The principle involved is clear enough, and if the House agrees to it, it is for the Government of the day, who have all the necessary materials at hand, to find out a way to deal with the matter. My hon. Friend said that we do not want self-government so much in Wales as they do in Scotland, or as they do in Ireland. But in regard to this matter, it does not seem to me to be necessary to give identical powers to every part of the United Kingdom. So long as Wales has an assembly to govern her own affairs, it will matter very little whether it is called a Parliament, a National Council, or anything else. We are not at all wedded to the Norman name "Parliament." Wales, as far back as the time of Henry VIII., 453 had a National Council of her own, which was abolished in the reign of William and Mary; and I may point out that there is already a kernel for such a Council in the provisions of the Local Government Act recently passed, for by the 81st section of that Act it is provided that the County Councils of several counties may combine together for one purpose. They may so combine, but there is no reason why they should until you increase the powers of the body. There is no reason why that Act might not be so enlarged as to enable the people to deal with their own local affairs to a very extended degree. But what do we propose? There is the matter of Private Bill legislation. The Government have already prepared a plan for dealing locally with Scotch Private Bill legislation; why should they not apply the same principle to Wales? I see there are now 183 Private Bills on the Orders of the House, and 16 of them are Welsh. The proportion of the Welsh Representatives in the House is 1 out of 24; but the number of Welsh Private Bills is 1 out of 12, all of them relating to local matters, which could be much better dealt with, and at much less expense and inconvenience, in Wales than in this House. On inquiry the other day, I ascertained that for one of the public undertakings in South Wales the immense sum of £88,388 0s. 4d. has been spent in getting Acts of Parliament up to December last. Then there is the question of administration, and in this work the English people have not been very happy; they have made many errors, and none greater than in the policy of repressing the Welsh language. By the 27th of Henry VIII., Act 26, after enacting that all Courts should be held, and all evidence given, in the English tongue, it was provided by Section 2:—And also that from henceforth no person or persons that use the Welsh speech or language shall have or enjoy any manner office or fees within this Realm of England, Wales, or other the King's dominion, upon pain of forfeiting the same offices or fees, unless he or they use and exercise the English speech or language.It may be said that that is an old enactment, but it is now in force, and, moreover, it is the keynote of the 454 administration of affairs by the English Government in Wales. ["No, no!"] Oh! but it is. I did not intend to pursue that matter closely, but I could give instances to prove my contention. By this policy you have destroyed your Church in Wales. You have always appointed English Bishops there until the last few years. You do not do so now, perhaps, because of the strong national feeling that has arisen; but I say that administration in this spirit has practically destroyed the influence of your Church in the Principality. I doubt if there is more than one Lord Lieutenant in any county in Wales who understands the Welsh language. They are all, I am afraid, members of the Tory class, save one, who has become degraded from Liberalism to Liberal Unionism. Nearly all the Justices are English-speaking people, and, speaking broadly, most offices in the Principality are filled in that way. Next as to domestic legislation. There are already instances of separate domestic legislation for Wales in the matters of Sunday closing and intermediate education. But if Wales had had an Assembly of its own it would have settled those questions, including the subject of higher education, much more satisfactorily than at present. The Welsh people are nothing if not educational. They are great lovers of education. There is a strong feeling among the people that there ought to be a degree-conferring University in the Principality, and those especially are matters which the Welsh people wish to settle, and could well settle, for themselves. Again, take the question of burials, and the Act passed through the exertions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Denbigh (Mr. Osborne Morgan). At present that Act is worthless. We have endeavoured to amend it, but have found it impossible to do so. Without going into details many domestic questions of a local or 455 national character might be dealt with much more satisfactorily by an Assembly of our own than in this Parliament. As to public works, some friends of mine think that important works in the Principality ought not to be decided upon by a local tribunal; but however that may be, I think that many of the public works that are dealt with in Private Bill Committees might be dealt with in the Principality. It may be asked whether Wales is capable of wise self-government. Well, I do not want to flatter the Welsh, but I think Wales is quite as capable of governing itself as the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, both of which have separate legislative powers. The latter has gone in advance of England by extending the suffrage to women. It is an interesting fact that the oldest code of laws existing in a living language is a code prepared by the Welshman, Howell the Good. These laws were changed at the time of the Union in the reign of Henry VIII. You improved these laws in some particulars, but in others you did not. For instance, under the law of Howell the Good we had no primogeniture. Land in the Principality, according to the old Welsh laws, descended equally upon all the children of the family, and I think it was not an improvement to do away with that law. If you had had the same law in England, and had allowed us to retain ours, we should not be suffering now from the evils of the feudal system. But if we are capable of self-government, are we fit to be entrusted with it? An argument used against giving self-government to Ireland is this: "You are a parcel of people unfit to be entrusted with Government; we are afraid to entrust the interests of the Irish people into the hands of the class who would be in power in Ireland if the Home Rule Bill were carried." Can that be said of Wales? No one can say that the Welsh are a criminal people, or disloyal, or anything of that kind. Mr. Justice Wright, on the North Wales Circuit the other day, said he had gone through three counties and had only had four prisoners to try. Mr. Justice Vaughan Williams, who is going the South Wales Circuit, has had white gloves presented to him in three counties and in two county boroughs. 456 If we are capable of governing ourselves, then we ought to be entrusted with self-government. Experience shows in all quarters of the globe that the more people are entrusted with responsible self-Government the more they prove equal to the demands made upon them. By granting Home Rule to the Welsh people you would not be weakening the Empire. The Welsh people are proud of belonging to the great British Empire. Our loyalty would not be weakened, but our attachment would be strengthened; and assuredly, the day will be a happy one for the great British Empire when we shall have a domestic Legislature for each of the four Nationalities which constitute the United Kingdom. (8.2.)
§ *(8.31.) MR. SOMERVELL (Ayr, &c.)
It appears to me that the sting of the Motion now before the House is in its tail. There has been some discussion as to who is responsible for the alteration from its original form, but I think I can trace in it the hand of the hon. Member for Hanley. The Motion says—It is desirable to devolve upon the Representatives of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales respectively the management and control of their domestic affairs.Well, Sir, since the day our first Mother, with the assistance of the Serpent, got the better of Adam that has been the problem which has puzzled mankind, and if Parliamentary Representatives are only to be elected because they undertake to manage and control their domestic affairs, I fear that not many men will be found to possess the qualification, and that the restriction as to sin will have to be abolished. Passing from the amended and expurgated edition to the original Motion, I find—
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present,
§ House adjourned at thirty-five minutes after Eight o'clock till Monday next.