§ [THIRD NIGHT.]
§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment [6th April] proposed to Question [6th April], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ And which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Sir Michael Hicks Beach.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. PAUL (Edinburgh, S.)
, resuming his speech which on Friday night was interrupted by the Twelve o'clock 1824 Rule, said, he did not propose to intervene long between the House and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. During the visit of the Leader of the Opposition to Belfast, a number of his followers burnt the Bill, an act which appeared to afford the right hon. Gentleman considerable amusement. Well, if that act amused the right hon. Gentleman, it hurt nobody else. The Bill which these intelligent students of Constitutional jurisprudence committed to the flames was redolent, he might go farther and say it reeked, of the supremacy of Parliament. It was not merely the British as distinguished from the Irish veto of the Lord Lieutenant, not merely the form and manner in which the restrictions on the power of the Irish Legislature were imposed, not merely the authority given to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. No; the supremacy of Parliament permeated and pervaded every section and every division of this measure Granted that principle and this Bill, with the exception of the Financial Clauses, which were naturally drawn in technical language, could be understood by any educated person. Take away that principle and the Bill became obscure, unintelligible, and practically meaningless. He-would apply two tests to that assertion. They often heard about the reserved powers under this Bill. There were no reserved powers under this Bill, or to speak more accurately, every power was reserved by the Bill. If the Bill were to become law Parliament would possess every power which it possessed at the present moment. The Bill said that upon certain questions the Irish Legislature should not pass laws at all. He would apply another test. Take the position which was given under the Bill to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The Judicial Committee was placed in a position analogous to that of the Supreme Court of the United States, which had the power to decide that any law passed by a State Legislature was void. But it had another power; it had the power of saying that a law passed by the Federal Congress was void. Did anybody pretend that under that Bill the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council could decide that a law passed by Parliament was void? It was absolute nonsense, not only to say that this Bill did 1825 not recognise the supremacy of Parliament, but to say that it was not founded and did not depend upon the supremacy of Parliament. There was a great institution in Ireland of which he believed all Irishmen were proud—namely, Trinity College, Dublin. He had seen it stated that under this Bill Trinity College would be placed at the mercy of the Legislative Assembly with a Catholic majority. That was not the fact. Under that Bill Trinity College was placed first under the protection of the British Government, and secondly under the protection of the Legislative Council, the representative of the minority in Ireland, which for this purpose could not be out-voted by the Legislative Assembly. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition in his speech at Belfast trod upon delicate ground. He uttered what was in form a prayer, but what was in substance a hint. He said that the Protestants of Ulster had in times past fought for their liberties and he prayed that they might never have to fight for their liberties again. The right hon. Gentleman was perfectly safe in making that statement, but he was not quite sure that he would have been so safe if the Coercion Act had been in force. If a Nationalist Member—say the hon. Member for East Mayo or the hon. Member for Cork City —had gone to the estate of an Irish landlord, of Mr. Ponsonby or the hon. Member for South Huntingdonshire, had assumed a devotional attitude, and had put up a pious supplication, that the tenants on the estate might not be led to enter into the Plan of Campaign, of which he had then proceeded to explain the worldly and carnal advantages, he was not sure that a couple of resident Magistrates, assisted by the hon. and learned Gentleman the junior Member for Dublin University, would have allowed the author of that very palpable suggestion to escape in the garb of a suppliant. Happily, however, Ireland was now subject to the ordinary law, and to the ordinary law alone, and under the mild and equitable rule of the present Chief Secretary, people in Ireland, like people in Scotland and England, could say what they pleased. He was aware that some years ago the right hon. and learned Member for Bury made some very strong statements about the kind of menaces 1826 which had lately reached them from Ulster. He referred to men who declared they would not obey the law passed by both Houses of Parliament and sanctioned by the Queen, and he said, by a curious progress of logic and arithmetic, which he was never able accurately to unravel, that the man who made such declarations was half a traitor, because his treason was doubly dyed. He (Mr. Paul) respectfully submitted to the right hon. and learned Gentleman and to the House, that there was no such offence known to the law as the crime of contingent treason. Every man had a right to say he would not obey a law which was not yet passed. Those who said so incurred no risk, they accepted no responsibility. Such language was rhetoric, employed for political purposes, and if they were to make rhetoric criminal on the other side of St. George's Channel they would be confronted by a United Ireland indeed. They had heard and read in the course of this discussion a good many treatises on the ethics of rebellion. He did not see how any Liberal could deny the abstract right of rebellion. It had been said that rebellions were only justified by success. He repudiated that brutal and cynical doctrine. He thought many unsuccessful rebellions were worthy of sympathy and admiration. The fact was, it was not much use arguing about rebellion, because if people wished to rebel, and thought they could, they would not be influenced by abstract argument. He should have thought if it were possible to draw a line in such a delicate subject it would be this; that there was no right of rebellion against a power in which those desiring to rebel were constitutionally represented, and under this Bill every Ulster Protestant would be represented, first in that House, secondly in the Legislative Assembly, and thirdly, as regarded most of them, in the Legislative Council. He would make this admission to hon. Gentlemen who represented the Tories of Ulster: that if the Irish Legislature were to be foolish enough and wicked enough to oppress the Protestants of Ulster; if Parliament-were to be mean enough and cowardly enough to allow them to do so, the Protestants of Ulster would be justified in resisting. He need hardly say 1827 that if he regarded either of these things as at all probable or the combination of them as practically possible nothing on earth would induce him to vote for this Bill. The Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce) had been very severely criticised because he said that some of the Representatives of Ulster had been guilty of bluster. Was there any part of the United Kingdom whose Representatives had never practised bluster? Was there any hon. Gentleman who had ever gone through a contested election— he did not say without blustering himself, but without being strongly convinced that his opponent had resorted to the practice? The right hon. Member for West Birmingham described the language of his right hon. Friend as insolent. He did not know what epithet the right hon. Gentleman would apply to this language—What shall I say of these self-styled loyalists who with fulsome professions of their devotion to the Crown, insult and defy the representatives of the Crown in Ireland, and who break the law themselves, while they pretend to defend it? I believe at this moment, if there is any danger to the peace in Ireland, it lies in the proceedings of a certain section of the population of Ulster, led by men of rank and by men of education, who seem to have been stimulated into an outburst of unreasoning ferocity by the mild eloquence of the Leader of the Opposition.That was the language of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham in the year 1884, and it showed the accuracy of his prophetic vision. The Leader of the Opposition then was Sir Stafford Northcote. The eloquence of the present Loader of the Opposition was certainly not mild in the sense of being feeble, but it was mild indeed when compared with the double dose of not very original vituperation which the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington bestowed upon the Tories of Liverpool, which be endeavoured to administer to some Liberals of Liverpool, but which they, with great determination, declined to swallow. He should be sorry to say one word which would offend or annoy any Ulster Representative or any inhabitant of Ulster, but when the Liberals were accused of legislating against the opinion of one-fifth of the inhabitants of Ireland, they could not but remember that the late Government did not hesitate to legislate against the opinions of four-fifths by means of a Bill imposing pains and penalties, and there were no pains and penalties imposed by 1828 this Bill. The Prime Minister had challenged the production of an independent foreign judgment in favour of the treatment of Ireland by England. He did not think that challenge had been met except by the hon. Member for Antrim (Mr. Macartney), who cited as a witness M. Hamel, who had written an article in The Nouvelle Bevue; but, as far as he could gather, the praise bestowed upon this country by M. Hamel was due to the Irish legislation of the present Prime Minister. He did not think we ought to be too much influenced by foreign opinion, and when he was told we ought to stand on a level with other countries in our treatment of Ireland, he should like to know how long we had been content to stand on a level with foreigners? He thought it had been part of our history to set an ex-ample to other nations, and to give and not take lessons in Government. He invited hon. Members to study what foreigners had written about our government of other countries, not Ireland— our government of India, about our treatment of our Colonies, and about our administration of Egypt, and what would they find there? Jealousy sometimes, envy often, admiration always. He thought it would be an additional pride for Great Britain when we could say that the judgment of the civilised world upon the conduct of this country in regard to Ireland was raised to the same level and expressed in the same terms as their judgment upon our treatment of almost every other country with which we had been brought into connection. The Liberals were taunted with sudden conversion. They were told that in 1886 they were, in the language of the historian, baptised in battalions and converted in platoons. He thought if they were baptised in 1886—and a fiery baptism it was for some of them—they were confirmed in 1892. Had there been no other instances of sudden conversion in the relations between Great Britain and Ireland? There was a remark attributed—he did not know whether accurately or not—to the Duke of Devonshire, but in any case a most interesting and suggestive remark, that from the point of view of maintaining the present legislative Union between Great, Britain and Ireland in its present condition every concession made to 1829 the Irish people from Catholic Emancipation downwards had been a mistake. How was Catholic Emancipation carried through that House? It was carried by a great and illustrious statesman whose fame and achievements were household words in this country. Let any hon. Member read those fascinating letters of Sir Robert Peel, published a year or two ago by Mr. Charles Parker, and he would be amazed at the intellectual revolution which immediately succeeded them. When Sir Rober Peel pronounced himself in favour of the Emancipation of the Catholics, he was compared with Judas Iscariot, and with the vilest characters in literature, both sacred and profane. He was told he would stand in the pillory of history to all time as the author of the great betrayal. Who would not stand in the pillory with Sir Robert Peel? Who did not admire and revere his memory, because he preferred the principled of justice to the ties of Party; because he sacrificed on the altar of his country the idol of his own personal consistency? He sometimes thought that consistency was not the least overrated of political virtues. Show him the man who never changed his mind, and he would show them a man who had no mind to change. He did not know whether even consistency required that they should remain of the same opinion when the circumstances had altered. The right hon. gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square, was reported to have said at Newcastle that many of them on that (the Liberal) side of the House prayed in their hearts that the House of Lords would kick out this Bill. The right hon. gentleman might talk slang in his prayers—that was his own affair, but when he attributed to a political Party the most impious blasphemy and the most shameless dishonesty, he thought it perhaps not altogether unfair to remind him of that fine saying of Tennyson "Every man imputes himself." The Liberal Party had adopted this principle of Home Rule, and in good fortune and ill fortune they should adhere to it. They were told before this measure was introduced that it would be rejected in another place. It might be rejected in another place, and it might be sent up again. The controversy might be a long one, some of them might go down in it. No principle had ever been adopted by 1830 the Liberal Party in this country which had not succeeded in the long run. The Liberals of Great Britain had often seen their principles adopted and curried by their opponents; they bad seen them defeated, but abandoned never. He earnestly hoped for the sake of Scotland and of England that the Home Rule Bill which would ultimately pass might not be less wisely conceived than this; not less cautious, not less comprehensive, not less moderate, not less conducive to the peace, the order, the prosperity and the good government of this United Kingdom.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
Mr. Speaker, it would be presumptuous, and I think it would be impossible, to attempt anything like an exhaustive criticism of this measure in the course of a single speech. The measure proposes to amend the government of Ireland, and at the same time it alters vitally in the most important way the government of Great Britain. The Bill is to create a new nation. It is to establish a brand new Constitution, differing materially from any Constitution which has ever yet been established for any country in the history of the world, and at the same time it is to destroy the ancient Constitution under which we have been governed. I say it would be impossible to consider even one-tenth of the questions, not, of detail merely, but of serious and important principle, which a Bill of this kind necessarily brings into view. I am forced to make a selection, and I shall be guided in my choice by an expression which fell from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in moving the Second Reading on Thursday. I regret very much that circumstances beyond my own control prevented me from having the pleasure of hearing my right hon. Friend. I am very sure that it was a loss not merely to myself, but to many of the hon. Members of this House who were similarly situated, and I am sorry that the shortening of the holidays which imposed this loss upon us is very unlikely to be accompanied by any compensation in the progress of Public Business. The expression which struck me was in the form of a question. My right hon. Friend stated, "How, and when, and where is this great controversy to end, and in what wav is the Irish Question 1831 to be solved otherwise than by this Bill?" If my right hon. Friend will permit me, I would put his question in the shape of two propositions, one of them a negative proposition, and the other an affirmative proposition. The negative proposition is this, "There is no way of settling the Irish Question, no plan, no policy, other than that which I have proposed." The affirmative proposition is this, "The Bill which I have proposed will settle the Irish Question," will give us what, in a previous speech, my right hon. Friend called "a permanent and a continuing settlement." Now, the House will see that of these two propositions the second is of by far the greater importance. If a man is ill, if he is suffering from chronic disease, even though he sees no immediate prospect of amendment, knows of no remedy for his case, still it would be admitted that he would be very foolish to accept of a new and a dangerous remedy offered to him for the first time if he had not some assurance, amounting almost to absolute certainty, that that new remedy would be successful. Therefore I say that in this great argument the onus of proof is upon the authors of the measure. They have to show that their Bill will produce the effects which they claim for it, and they have no right to put aside the question and to divert the argument by calling upon us to propose any alternative. That, I think, cannot be denied. At the same time, I am not going to pass without protest the assertion of my right hon. Friend that if this Bill be rejected, if this policy be not adopted, the condition of affairs in Ireland is desperate. Let us see how my right hon. Friend attempted to prove his case. He stated in effect that since the Union no progress has been made towards a complete reconciliation of the two countries, and he said, further, that in recent times the movement has even been in a contrary direction. He gave us in proof of that a brief—all too brief—but a very interesting abstract of the history of the relations between the two countries since the Union. He told us that for the first 29 years the Union was maintained by force, and he might have said by force applied with a violence to which we, at all events, are strangers, and it was only in the year 1829 that Catholic Emancipation was, not granted by the English Government, but extorted 1832 from the fears of the Duke of Wellington; and under these circumstances he points out that no progress was made towards reconciliation. But does not his account of the history of the country in the course of that time give us the explanation? It has been the belief of Liberal writers and Liberal statesmen down, I think, to the present day that if Mr. Pitt had been able to carry out his original and beneficent intention, if he had been able to give Catholic Emancipation to the majority of the Irish people; if he had been able to give the advantages of Catholic Emancipation as a free gift, not as a concession to be extorted by force from him, that in that case this would have appeared to the Irish people to be the first fruits of the Union, and approval of the Union might, have been deeply rooted in the minds of the Irish people. Unfortunately that was not done. [Mr. MAC NEILL: Pitt cheated us.] Let me notice in passing that interruption. Now, forsooth, the "union of hearts" is about to be established between the two countries, and the hon. Member opposite, in reference to a. history which I admit to be deplorable, says "You" (that is the English nation) "cheated us."
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I accept the correction of the hon. Member, which is at the expense of historical accuracy. Nothing is more certain so far as Mr. Pitt is concerned than that he did everything, and practically risked everything —["No, no!"]—well, I express my opinion—in order to secure what he believed would have been a blessing and advantage to Ireland. But this interruption of the hon. Member does not in the least touch the point of my argument. Grant that for 29 years a boon to which Ireland was entitled was withheld from the majority of the Irish people. I say that explains why during those 29 years. no approach was made towards reconciliation. But my right hon. Friend goes on to say that 43 years later you had the Devon Commission; and it is put upon record by the Devon Commission, which 1833 was appointed 43 years after the Union, that there were at that time 2,500,000 of Irish people bordering on starvation. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend meant us to understand that that was due to the misconduct of the English Government, or whether it was a consequence of the Union, or whether he would admit that it was due to economical causes which were independent of Government. But in any case the fact remains, and if it be a fact that in 1843 2,500,000 of the Irish people were in a condition bordering on starvation, is it surprising that the people of Ireland were dissatisfied and discontented, and that the Union had not produced the reconciliation which was desired? My right hon. Friend goes a step further. He says that, in spite of the Report of the Devon Commission, for nearly 30 years no effective effort was made by the Government of England to alter or improve the condition of things in Ireland; so that for 70 years nearly from the time of the Union——
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
But, as I understood my right hon. Friend, no effective attempt was made to deal with the state of things disclosed by the Devon Commission. Again I say that may be true—I am not questioning the historical account of my right hon. Friend—but if it be true you have at the same time that you have this terrible fact—you have the explanation of that want of a better feeling between the two countries, and you may infer from that that if a different course had been adopted different results would have followed. Why, Sir, what is the argument of my right hon. Friend? It is that until 1869, when the great series of reforms which he himself has been mainly instrumental in carrying out were begun, we had done nothing to merit the love and affection of the Irish people. In 1869 these reforms began with the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. In 1870 this reform was followed by the first Land Act. In 1881, there was another Laud Act, not to speak of Bills innumerable, all of which, at all events, have been kindly intended. But, Sir, how much time elapsed since the commencement of this new policy of conciliation before the first Home Rule Bill? Sixteen years from the Disestablish- 1834 ment of the Church, five years from the second Laud Act. We say that 16 years, and still more five years, are a very short time in the history of a nation. We say that my right hon. Friend was in too great a hurry—that he was too impatient in 1886, when he diverted the current which was flowing in the right direction. I have said that I do not wish to dispute the historical accuracy of my right hon. Friend, but at the same time I confess I think his account was very incomplete, to say the least of it. I rather gather from the interruption he just now made that he intended his observations to apply entirely to the action of the British Government with regard to the land question; but as I read his speech it applied to the actions of the British Government as a whole—and he said that the action justified the harsh judgment which has been passed on the conduct of Great Britain by the civilised world. Sir, that statement is incomplete, and I would appeal to my right hon. Friend himself to correct his later impressions. My right hon. Friend did not always think that the action of Great Britain had been uniformly harsh and unkind to Ireland. Speaking in 1866, that is to say, 66 years after this brutal conduct on the part of Great Britain towards Ireland, which justified the harsh judgment of the civilised world—speaking in this House, he said—My firm belief is that the influence of Great Britain in every Irish difficulty is not a domineering and tyrannising, but a softening and mitigating influence, and that were Ireland detached from her political connection with this country and left to her own unaided agencies, it might be that the strife of Parties would then burst forth in a form calculated to strike horror through the land.That was his view in 1866. Five years later, speaking at Aberdeen, before these great reforms had been carried out—[Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: No.]—before the later Land Bill; it was immediately after the Church Act and the first Land Act, he said that for his part he knew of no inequality between Ireland, and England, and Scotland, except perhaps that England and Scotland paid some taxes which were not paid by the people of Ireland. My argument, therefore, is this, that taking the very worst view of the course and conduct of Great Britain towards Ireland during the years from 1800 to 1870, you have it that during all that 1835 time no serious effort was made to get to the root of Irish discontent. It does no follow that when a serious attempt has been made—has been persistently continued—to get to the root of Irish discontent that good results will not follow, and in any case the term of 16 years is altogether too short to undo the consequences of 70 years of misrule, which themselves followed upon what my right hon. Friend sometimes calls six centuries of oppression. I say, in these circumstances, that my right hon. Friend is not justified in ridiculing the demand of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin for patience and persistence in well-doing. I confess I am at a loss to understand the present attitude of the Prime Minister. In 1869, in 1870, and in 1881—on all those occasions he hopefully presented those great reforms for which he was responsible to the House and to the country as bearing in their train the hope of complete reconciliation. On all those occasions there was a promise of the union of hearts. Now, does he tell us that those great reforms have done nothing to bring about that reconciliation? Does he tell us that his past policy has been an utter failure; that his promises were not justified; and that his predictions were a mistake? If that is so he discredits his own character as a prophet, and we have a right to look with some hesitation at the promises which he makes to us now. But if he does not take that view, if he says that the policy of conciliation has produced great results, I ask why he does not wait a little longer? Why could he not see if by a continuance in this policy still greater results might not be secured? Does any one in this House doubt that there has teen a marvellous improvement in the condition of Ireland—aye, and in the relations between Ireland and this country —during the last 20, 30, or 50 years? [An hon. MEMBER: Seven years.] I do not care how short you make the time; but I did not take the last seven years, because, though I could show that there had been an improvement in the last seven years, you would consider that you were justified in saying that the improvement was only due to the expectation of Home Rule. But I will take the time up to the last seven years, and I say 1836 that, by comparison with any previous period, Ireland, at the beginning of that seven years, was in a greater state of prosperity than she had ever enjoyed before. That is true, however you may test it. You may test it by the usual methods adopted in such cases—by the amount of trade and revenue, by the savings of the people, by the modes of life of the people. In every case, and tested by every one of these tests, you will find a very marked improvement. Again, what was the state of the relations between Ireland and this country? Was the virulence of international feeling as great as it had been in previous times? Why, the enlistments in the Army and in the Constabulary Force were popular. There was no difficulty whatever in obtaining as many men as were required for the Imperial Forces, and the fear of an armed rising in Ireland had altogether died out. No sensible man took it any longer into his calculation; and all these changes had been made in a brief period and after only a very brief experience of anything in the nature of reform. Well, I say upon this part of the case that my right hon. Friend has not proved his negative assertion. He has not proved that, even if this Bill had never been introduced, the condition of Ireland was not an improving condition, or that it was so desperate that desperate remedies were required. I come now to the much more important proposition which I wish to examine; because I am quite prepared to admit that whatever progress may have been made in Ireland it is not as great as we could wish, and if you could show a specific, instantaneous, and complete, in its operation, which will bring about at once and as by a flash the state of things we desire to see in existence, then, of course we should all be prepared to welcome it; and I do not hesitate to say that the belief in the assurances which my right hon. Friend has given upon this point has been the strongest argument to bring over to his side that minority in Great Britain which now supports his policy. The people of Great Britain, I have no doubt, are sick of the Irish question. I have no doubt they would be glad to be rid of it, and if you can show that this Bill will rid them of the Irish question I believe they will be perfectly ready to accept it. But is that statement justified? 1837 I suppose my right hon. Friend will admit that the first condition of success, the first condition of this reconciliation and union of hearts, the first condition for a settlement of the Irish controversy, must be that the Irish people are contented. He has said himself that he would not bring in a Bill unless he was certain beforehand that it would have the warm and cordial assent of the Representatives of the majority of the Irish people. I put my first proposition—that the Irish people must be contented. I think I must admit that generally it is the majority of the Irish people to which my right hon. Friend has been referring. He is willing, generally, to ignore the minority altogether. He does not seem to care to receive their representatives. When he receives them he will not pay any attention to them. And yet, Sir, this minority is not altogether unimportant. What are its numbers? You may take any figure you please, but I think-most men will agree that recent events have shown that it is even more numerous and more influential than we had supposed. But take it to be anything between one-third and one-half You cannot put it at less than one-third. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE dissented.] My right hon. Friend shakes his head. I shall be obliged to give him a few figures on the subject. We have got a Return of the marriages in Ireland. I have not got the figures before me, but I know them well enough to be confident that I shall not deceive the House in what I am going to say. There were altogether between 20,000 and 21,000 marriages in Ireland, and of these 14,000 some hundreds were celebrated in Roman Catholic places of worship, the remainder, almost exactly one-third, were celebrated in Protestant places of worship. Therefore I think you have good reason to believe that the Protestants of Ireland constitute one-third of the population of Ireland. Now, as to the Protestant population, they are practically unanimous against this measure. The exceptions can almost be counted on your hand. Certainly the exceptions of those persons who have the slightest influence or importance. But, in addition to the Protestants of Ireland, you have, by the admission of the right hon. Gentleman himself, nearly the whole of the propertied classes, whatever religion they belong. The minority 1838 in Ireland, so constituted of the Protestant and propertied classes, must be more than one-third, and, as I have said, I do not put it at anything more than half. But whether you take the smaller of these fractions or some fraction between the two, in any case a minority of one-third is not a contemptible minority, and especially when you know that that minority does resent and will resist your measure to the very utmost of its power. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether in his historical inquiries he has ever known of any State which has succeeded or whose Government has lasted when that Government has been opposed by the vast majority of the propertied classes and the great majority of the educated classes. I think the mere fact that there is a majority of this kind against the Bill is very ominous as to the ultimate fate of the Bill. But put them aside, as the right hon. Gentleman is wont to do, and let us go to the Nationalist majority in Ireland. Have they accepted this Bill; has my right hon. Friend got any assurances from them? He has said that without such assurances he would feel it to be madness to propose a measure of this kind. If he has got any assurances, of what value are these assurances? I was in this House when the last Bill was introduced. I heard Mr. Parnell declare in his place in this House his acceptance of that Bill as a close to this great controversy between the two countries, but we know perfectly well that only a short time afterwards Mr. Parnell himself, in the presence of all his colleagues, declared he had accepted it, with their knowledge, pro tanto; that it was a Parliamentary bid, and that he looked to make further amendments to it in the future. Mr. Parnell is gone; but I will take the present Leader of the Irish Party, the hon. Member for North Longford (Mr. Justin McCarthy), whom I see opposite. What does he say about assurances of finality in regard to legislation of this kind? I take my extract from a little book of his—I forget the exact title now —about incidents in political history. The hon. Member is referring to the argument of Sir Robert Peel that the Irish Catholics wore precluded by the pledges they had given at the time of Emancipation—and, curiously enough, the 1839 hon. Gentleman calls attention to the fact that they had also given pledges in the Preambles of Bills—not to ask for any measure that would effect the establishment of the Irish Church, and upon that this is the comment of the hon. Gentleman—It seems marvellous how such a man could have relied on such an argument, or could have assumed that it was in the power of one generation of men to bind their successors to a surrender of any fair and legitimate claims.[Cheers]. Hon. Members are cheering this statement. I entirely agree with it. I admire the sound sense which has dictated it, but I shall make a comment upon it directly. The hon. Member goes on to say—Of course, when a generation of men are seeking some right which they greatly desire to have, they are ready enough to undertake that if they get this they will ask for no more. The mere fact that such a promise is made is more discreditable to those who accept it than to those who make it. It can hardly be serious in the mouths of those who make it or of those who receive it.That is, as I have said, perfect common sense, but then let the House understand that no assurance put forward by my right hon. Friend, no assurance given by hon. Members opposite, is worth anything in this matter as an assurance of finality. They are bound, according to the hon. Member, if they desire a thing very much, to say, if necessary, that they will not ask for anything more; but they are bound, all the same, to ask for it at a later time, when a convenient opportunity presents itself. But I put aside the question of assurances. After all, what I should value much more than assurances would be evidence that this Bill inherently contained within itself conditions which made it certain that it would be accepted by all parties as a final settlement. Now just let us test it by one or two of its most important provisions. Let us take, for instance, the provision by which it is sought to maintain the veto of the Crown, acting upon the advice of the British Ministry, and the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. The Bill, we have been told, reeks with supremacy. Very well. I have never doubted what was the meaning and the intention of the Government in regard to this matter. Their pledges have been so precise and so continuous that I should be ashamed for a moment 1840 to doubt their good faith. I quoted on a previous occasion the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, who said that the supremacy was to be absolute and unqualified over all matters and over all persons in Ireland both local and Imperial. That is as complete and satisfactory a definition as you could wish; but I will confirm the statement of my right hon. Friend by reading a few words from a speech which was made in 1887 by the present Chief Secretary for Ireland. He said—If the Parliament at Dublin passes unjust, tyrannical, vindictive, and oppressive measures against any section of the Irish population, the Parliament at Westminster shall be free promptly by some means or other, direct or indirect, to overrule and forbid such a law. We should not interfere to prevent mere unwisdom, but we should interfere, I suppose and hope, to prevent injustice and wrong.I take it that that correctly and accurately represents the views with which hon. Members on this side of the House support the Bill. That is the view with which the Government introduced the Bill, and with which it is accepted by hon. Members on this (the Liberal) side of the House. Is it accepted by hon. Members opposite? Can it be so accepted by them? Remember what it is, "Whenever the Irish Parliament does injustice or wrong;" those are the words. Who is to decide whether the Irish Parliament does "injustice or wrong?" Who is to decide whether the British Parliament does injustice or wrong? The majority of the British Parliament—not the present majority — but the majority which in a few months will take its place. And when again you have a Tory majority—or, as you call it, a Unionist majority—in this House, it will be in the power, it will be the duty, of that majority to decide whether, in its opinion, the Irish Parliament, if it should then be in existence, has done injustice or wrong, and in all such cases, according to my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland, the British Parliament is promptly to interfere and prevent it. Is that the view of Irish Members opposite? If they are going to speak to-night it would doubtless be a great satisfaction to their friends here, who would not deny that they are accepting the Bill in this view, if they heard, at all events at present, that that was also the view 1841 of their Irish allies. They cannot say it; they dare not say it. Some of them have said exactly the opposite. The hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond), who has always been clear on this point, has said, both in this House and in Ireland, that they would accept no supremacy of the British Parliament in affairs which are strictly Irish.
§ MR. J. REDMOND
I must ask the right hon. Gentleman to quote my words. I have always in my speeches in this House and in Ireland, explained, as far as I understood it, that the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament was absolutely Inalienable by that Parliament, and was not questioned by us.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I should be sorry to misrepresent the hon. Member, but the words I have used are, I believe, verbatim, the words which appear in an article by him in the Nineteenth Century, and they are not in the least inconsistent with the statement which he has just now made. Of course, the supremacy of the British Parliament is inalienable, and, of course, the hon. Gentleman recognises that, because he cannot help himself—he cannot deprive us of a thing of which we cannot deprive ourselves. But he says, while he recognises it as inalienable, his assent to it is dependent upon its not being exercised. The hon. Member has said in Ireland that he will have no veto by British Ministers, but will only have the veto of Irish Ministers. And so said the late Mr. Parnell. I do not want to speak with certainty on the subject—I would rather that Irish Members would speak for themselves—but I believe that the other section of the Nationalist Party have accepted his view of the position. After all, this is rather a serious matter. Here we are at the outset discussing the principle of the Bill. I hope I have accurately stated the principle of the Bill, as it is understood by the Government, and as it, is accepted by the majority of the House; and I challenge the Party representing the Nationalists in Ireland to say that they accept that principle in the sense in which it is accepted here. You are proposing to heal this great controversy. You are leaving the whole subject of controversy still open. You are opening now subjects of controversy. From the moment the 1842 Irish Parliament comes into existence you have got this one great question unsettled, upon which the two Parties hold different opinions, and upon which there will be continual discussion, irritation, and friction in this House and between the two countries. Take the question of trade. The Irish Parliament is to be prohibited from dealing with external trade. Do the Irish Members accept that? Is it their present view that that arrangement will be a final settlement of the great controversy between England and Ireland; because, if not, cadit quœstio—your whole position falls to the ground. You assure us that you have to offer us a specific which would be complete; and yet, if there be a division of opinion on this important matter your specific will be of no avail whatsoever. What is the state of the case? No doubt, one of the main reasons why the Irish majority desire to have Home Rule is because they believe that, under Home Rule, they will be able to develop their local industries? How are they going to develop their local industries? It is not, I suppose, by frightening away the propertied classes, or driving capital out of the country. They are going to develop local industries, and they have said so, either by tariffs or by bounties. Both of them would do it. I suppose that under the Bill they could give bounties. They are not permitted to establish a tariff. But bear in mind that there is an objection to bounties in this Irish Constitution which would make it very difficult for an Irish Parliament to give them. Whore are the bounties to come from? They have got to come from increased additional taxation, and it must be direct taxation, because all the indirect taxation will be under the control of the Imperial Parliament. Therefore the Irish Parliament will be in this position, that if they desire to develop industries by bounties, they will be called upon to do a thing which no other self-governing Body has found it possible to do—i.e., to levy largo sums by direct taxation. Consequently, if they are to do anything, they must fall back upon the hope and intention of a Protective tariff. What did Mr. Parnell say upon that subject? He said it was no use pretending to make a settlement between England and Ireland if you do not at the same time give to Ireland 1843 the right of protecting its own industries.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I am prepared for the hon. Member. I have had some experience of interruptions in this House, and I never quote anything without having the words with me.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
The speech was made at Wicklow, on the 5th October, 1885. These are the words——
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member says it was when Mr. Parnell was in treaty with the Tory Party.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I do not accept the last interruption, but I do accept that of the hon. Member for Waterford, and take it for granted that at that time Mr. Parnell was making a treaty, which was to be, as this Bill is to be, a final settlement of the controversy between England and Ireland. Let us see what he said about the necessary conditions of any such treaty. I do not suppose that the conditions of a treaty depend upon the political opinions of the people who make it. I imagine that what is a final settlement with Liberals would also be a final settlement with Tories, and vice versa. Mr. Parnell said—I claim this for Ireland: that, if the Irish Parliament of the future consider that there are certain industries in Ireland which can be benefited and nursed by Protection, and placed in such a position as to enable them to compete with similar industries in other countries by a course of protection extending over a few years, that Parliament ought, to have the power to carry out that policy, and I tell English Radicals and English Liberals that it is useless for them"—that does not appear to be addressed to the Tory Party, and is it not a curious thing that when Mr. Parnell is said to have been in treaty with the Tory Party he addresses his warnings to English Radicals and Liberals?—I tell English Radicals and English Liberals that it is useless for them to talk of their desire to do justice to Ireland when, with motives of selfishness, they refuse to repair that most manifest injustice of all, the destruction of out manufactures by England in times past.1844 Let the House see what the position is. By this Bill—remember a final settlement of the Irish controversy—you refuse to Ireland the right to protect her own industries, and you have been warned that until that right is conceded there cannot he a final settlement. How can you expect that a Bill of this kind, leaving so many questions of controversy open, is going to settle the Irish. Question? There is another indispensable condition of a final settlement, and that, is an amnesty of the political prisoners. I suppose that, under the Bill, the Irish Parliament would be able to let loose all those criminals in Ireland who have not been freed already by the Chief Secretary. But that is not enough apparently. The Irish people are not concerned merely for criminals in Irish gaols, but they are concerned for Daly and his fellows in English gaols. The Home Secretary has told us that, so long as he holds his office, he will not grant an amnesty to them; and I do not suppose that anyone who succeeds the right hon. Gentleman is likely to grant such an amnesty. What do the Irish Party say about that? I have a quotation from the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. W. O'Brien), who, as reported on, February 6 last, says—We have a Government now in power which has made a National Parliament for Ireland the first promise in the Queen's Speech and the first and supreme object of the Session. We have them pledged to Home Rule. We have them pledged up to the lips to reinstate the evicted tenants of Ireland. We have them pledged also to a policy of clemency and amnesty as an indispensable condition, in the words of the Resolution, of any 'final reconciliation' between these two countries. We have never guaranteed, and we do not guarantee now, that the Liberal Government will be true to their promises to Ireland. But what we do guarantee is that we have the power, and we have the determination, without one moment's compunction, to turn them out of Office in the morning the instant it becomes evident to us that they do not intend to carry out their promises to Ireland loyally, fully, and to the letter, and with reasonable expedition besides.',Now, I think the hon. Member for Cork is in a rather peculiar position. He was under the impression, and evidently mistaken, that the Government were pledged to amnesty. We have been told now that it is not pledged to anything of the sort, and that they will not grant it. He threatened in these circumstances to turn them out next morning. I am sure we 1845 shall all wait with great interest and satisfaction for the fulfilment of his promise. But what I want to point out to the House is that it is not what the hon. Member for Cork will do, but it is that he represents the opinion of the majority in Ireland. The majority in Ireland have made amnesty an indispensable condition, and now, in what you tell us is to be a final settlement of this question, you leave this sore open as it was before. I pass on quickly. I will not say anything about diplomatic relations, which are reserved; although in the case of Canada even that reservation it has been found impossible to sustain, and we have now a colony of Canada claiming to be represented directly in all negotiations in which she is concerned. I will not say anything about the restrictions with regard to the Church and education, although he must be—what shall I say —a sanguine man who thinks that Catholic ecclesiastics in Ireland—men like Archbishop Walsh and Bishop Nulty— will rest satisfied and accept as a final settlement of the Irish Question a Bill which goes against their religious convictions and prevents them in any way connecting their Church with the State. I will not say anything about the land, although really land is the crux of the whole question. I will not dwell upon the fact that Members of the Front Bench, my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary prominent amongst them, have declared that it would be unfair to the Irish Parliament to leave this great subject of controversy open when you give Ireland self-government. You are going to leave it open, and you know perfectly well that the differences of opinion which exist between this country and Ireland as to what is right and proper with regard to the land will be certain to provoke friction in the future. But I pass from this subject, which would take almost a speech to itself, and I propose now, if the House will allow me, to say something on the question—the important question—of finance. I think the question of finance has become rather complicated, and perhaps it has been made more complicated by some of the explanations that have been given to us. I do not know whether I shall be more fortunate in endeavouring to remove a little of that obscurity; but I shall confine myself to 1846 one or two very broad statements and issues. I ask the House first to consider what it is that Ireland now pays to this country; then we shall be in a better position to consider what the effect of this Bill will be. What does Ireland now pay? According to my right hon. Friend, Ireland now pays in the proportion of 1 to ll½, I will say l–12th, of the total Revenue of the United Kingdom. But she only pays 1–25th or 1–26th towards the Imperial Expenditure. I do not know whether the House sees how that comes about. The reason is this: that of the whole Expenditure made by the Imperial Exchequer, a great part goes back to the several countries for their local services, and under the existing state of things a larger proportion goes back to Ireland than goes back to England or to Scotland: and although Ireland pays 1–12th of the whole sum, she gets so much back that what remains of her contribution to the Imperial Exchequer is only l-25th. Very well, that is the state of things now, and upon that state of things I make this remark: It is, to my mind, a perfectly fair and justifiable state of things. It is a state of things in which the Imperial Exchequer, dealing with the contributions of the whole of the Throe Kingdoms, is generous to the poorer Kingdom. ["No, no!"] I am dealing only now with the Returns, not with the original contribution, which hon. Members opposite think too high. The case is exactly the same as that of the consolidated rate in London. That rate is collected by the Central Authority, and distributed not in proportion to the contributions of the different parishes, but in proportion to their necessities, and the consequence is, that the richer parishes in London pay for the poorer parishes. There are many people, and I am one of the number, who think that that principle might be carried further. I say it is a perfectly just and right principle to act upon so long as we are a United Kingdom, and as long as Ireland is an integral part of the British Empire; but if you are going to make Ireland independent and self-governing, surely the claim for this exceptional consideration falls to the ground. Surely, then, you ought to find out what the fair proportion is; and she should pay that, and get none of it back. Therefore, if the 1847 1–12th she pays now is a fair proportion, 1–12th is what she ought to pay, and not l–25th. But my right hon. Friend says l–12th is not a fair contribution. I am going to take his figures entirely, as far as I can, for everything he says, and am not going to contest them. My right hon. Friend, in the discussion on the first Home Rule Bill, said the proportion of 1 to 11½ was the proportion, hut he wished to consider what would be the fair proportion, and he told us then that the taxable capacity of Ireland, as tested by the Income Tax, was l–18th; as tested by the valuation, one-third; and as tested by the Death Duties, which, he said, he considered a much more equitable test than any of the others, it would be l–14th. In these circumstances, he said that a contribution of 1–15th would be an equitable and generous arrangement for England to make. Now I am going to proceed on that argument. The 1–15th would be fair and generous.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
My right hon. Friend has made no reference to what was an essential part of the case— namely, the large sum paid in Ireland, which it was proposed to leave to Ireland, although included now in the English account.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
That is quite true; but my right hon. Friend will see that that has nothing to do with my argument. I will first follow his idea. It is quite true that, having decided l–15th to be a fair contribution under the old Bill, my right hon. Friend in that Bill of 1886 proposed to give to Ireland as a free gift £1,400,000, being the contribution received in Ireland, but properly due to the Customs and Excise in England. That was a consequence of his free liberality. My contention is, that when once you have agreed that Ireland shall be independent, you ought to set her up on her own feet, and you ought not to be called upon to make these eleemosynary grants. If Ireland's taxable capacity is 1–14th as my right hon. Friend says according to the Death Duties, she ought to pay 1–14th of the Imperial Expenditure by which she is to benefit equally with the other portions of the United Kingdom. Therefore, according to my right hon. Friend's own contention, l–15th 1848 is what is fair. Generosity comes in as a later consideration. My right hon. Friend now says that £59,000,000 is the amount of the Imperial Expenditure. I again accept his figures, although I do not see why he has reduced it from £62,000,000, which he stated in 1886; but taking £59,000,000, 1–15th amounts to £3,900,000, and that is just £1,500,000 more than the Bill is going to make Ireland pay. Consequently, under the Bill Great Britain is going to continue to give Ireland the advantages which she has enjoyed during the Union, and when Ireland is independent she is going to have £1,500,000 more than she ought to have. That is by no means the worst of it. That is the state of things in time of peace, with a normal expenditure. Now, consider what is going to happen in time of war. My right hon. Friend said that if we were, unfortunately, engaged in a great war, we might have to raise £40,000,000 of additional taxation. Of that £40,000,000 under the existing system Ireland would pay l–12th— that is, three and one-third millions; if she paid 1–l5th, what my right hon. Friend said was fair, she would pay two and two-third millions; but if she paid l–25th, as is proposed under the Bill, she would only pay one million and three-fifths. In other words, Ireland in case of war would pay £1,700,000 less than she would pay now, and £1,050,000 less than my right hon. Friend says she ought to pay. This Bill, therefore, puts Great Britain to a disadvantage compared with Ireland to the extent of £1,500,000 in time of peace, and of £2,500,000 in time of war. In saying this I have taken no notice of the contribution to the Constabulary, which my right hon. Friend calls a vanishing sum, though I have great doubts whether it would vanish quickly. I have said nothing about any means of securing the interest we should have to pay on loans that would have to be raised in time of war. Neither have I said anything about the probability that under these circumstances smuggling in Ireland would rise to a very considerable extent, and that if the Excise in Ireland were raised as my right hon. Friend suggested it might be raised to 13s., it would be very difficult for the Irish Parliament, even if it wished, to control illicit distilla- 1849 tion. I will assume that everything will work smoothly—that the Irish are willing to pay the contribution my right hon. Friend proposes to exact from them. Still, I say that you are putting this country at an enormous disadvantage. But now I wish to ask my right hon. Friend—and perhaps this is more important from the point of view to which I have been directing the whole of my argument —does his scheme satisfy the Irish people? Is there any Irish Member who will get up and say that he accepts the scheme in the Bill—bad as we say it is for England —that he accepts it as a final and satisfactory settlement for Ireland? hon. Members opposite have been making calculations to show that in time of peace they ought not to pay more than l–35th, and some say l–50th, of the Imperial Expenditure: and, as for war, I saw an article in United Ireland in which it was said that Ireland would have no interest in any war entered into by Great Britain, and that she ought not to be called upon to pay anything towards it. Surely that is a pretty lookout for the union of hearts. We are to be fined £2,500,000 a year to settle the great Irish controversy, and then the Irish are to be so dissatisfied that on the first opportunity they are to ask us to sacrifice £2,500,000 more. There is one other feature of the financial policy of this Bill on which it is certain to break down, with what consequences to the harmony between the two countries the House can understand. The House will perceive that these Customs are to be controlled and collected by this country—by the Imperial Parliament. The Excise is to be fixed by this country and collected by the Irish Parliament. The postal rates are to be fixed by this country, and collected and administered by the Irish Parliament. The other small items, such as Crown Lands and Miscellaneous Revenue, are not items over which the Irish Parliament can have any effective control; they cannot increase them, and probably they cannot diminish them. The only free revenue in this Bill on which the Irish Parliament will be able to lay its hands is the revenue from direct taxation—Income Tax and Stamps; and on that, and that alone, it will have to seek to lay the foundations of its prosperity. Will the Irish Parliament want money? They have a large task before them. 1850 They have to fill many hungry mouths; they have to develop industries; to promote the prosperity of Ireland; to combat the inevitable conditions of climate and of soil; all this will cost money, and they can only raise the money by direct taxation. If they attempt to tax capital what will happen?. Capital will leave the country. I have had some very curious information afforded me lately, which goes to show that businesses which now contribute very largely to the Revenue in Ireland can be, without injury to their possessors, and will be, transferred to this country. Surely it would be wise of hon. Gentlemen who will have to administer the finances of Ireland at least to consider the possibility of this. I do not believe there is the slightest reason why certain businesses which I will not name could not be transferred from Belfast or Dublin to England. But there is another point; I do not know whether hon. Members have seen it. Under the Bill a person having a residence! in both countries may, it appears, make his return for the Income Tax wherever he likes. Would he not be certain to make; it in the country where the' Income Tax is lowest? In every case of a business having two offices, one in Dublin and one in London, I say, with some commercial knowledge on the subject, that it would be perfectly possible for them so to manipulate their books. [Ironical cheers.] Hon. Members opposite are so keen over anything illegitimate that they suspect something illicit where nothing e>f the kind exists. By manipulating I do not mean in any evil sense, but in a perfectly legitimate way. It will be possible for them so to arrange their books that the profits will be made chiefly in England. I will tell the House how that will happen. In the case of most of these businesses having two house's, one of the houses is a buying house and the other is a selling and distributing house. It is very difficult to say, and it would puzzle even hon. Members opposite, with all their intense interest in legitimate dealing, to say to which of the two parts of the business the' profit properly belongs. It may belong to the buying branch or to the selling branch; it probably belongs to both. But when the parties who keep the hooks have a distinct interest in showing that profit in the buying house, 1851 I think it is probable that that profit will increase at the expense of the selling house. That would be perfectly legal. Now, therefore, what I want to point out is that under these circumstances the Irish Parliament will be very unwise if, when it wants increased funds, it levies any great taxation on personal property. If it does so it will undoubtedly defeat its own object, and these profits will be taken out of Ireland. What follows? It follows that the only other source of taxation from which all the money is to come is the land, and as undoubtedly a system of small landowners will ultimately take the place of the existing landlords, it is from the small landowners that the future Budget of Ireland is to be raised. All I say is that I do not wonder how it is that the Irish, although this Bill proposes to give them great advantages, still feel that it is not a sufficient inducement, while those who will be responsible for the conduct of the Irish Government do not feel happy when they think that one of their first duties will be to levy a largely-increased tax on the tenant farmers and small holders of Ireland. I say that on all these grounds, tested by these different provisions in the Bill, there is nothing absolutely final about it. As soon as you have completed your work, and have set a Local Parliament in Dublin going, you will have to begin to patch it up all over again. If anybody under these circumstances believes that this Parliament is going to find itself relieved of the duty of considering Irish questions he must be a very sanguine man. I have dealt at present only with what I may call an appeal to our selfishness. This appeal is made to us—the electors of this country, and the Members of this House—"If you will only pass this Bill you will never hear of Ireland again;" and, as I have said, the temptation has been very strong in many cases. But although this appeal is deceptive, and I think I have shown conclusively that there must of necessity continue to be great friction between the two countries and the two Houses, it is not by any means the worst or most serious objection to this Bill. Then, after all, it might be said, "At least you will be no worse off than you are at present." But there is a more serious aspect of the question, to which I desire to call atten- 1852 tion, which involves not mere friction, not mere discomfort, but danger to the honour and to the existence of this country. Now, I suppose all will admit that the honour of this country is bound absolutely to secure satisfactory guarantees to the lives and the property, to the civil and religious liberty, of the loyal minority in Ireland. That is admitted. It is admitted by the safeguards in the Bill. But does anybody believe that these safeguards would be of the slightest value if the Irish majority were determined to disregard and ignore them? You could enforce them, it is true, by civil war; but short of civil war, with this Bill passed, you cannot enforce any one of these safeguards against the majority in Ireland. Therefore, your true safeguard is your belief in the good feeling and generosity of hon. Members opposite, and those whom they represent. If you were logical, and had the courage of your convictions, you would sweep away every one of those safeguards, not one of which is worth the paper it is written on, unless it is accompanied by the goodwill of the Party opposite. Everything depends upon that. The hope of the Government is—their belief is, they tell us—that when this great power is entrusted to hon. Members opposite, they will not abuse it. Sir, we are unable to share their confidence, and thereupon we are blamed, and severely blamed, for lack of faith. My right hon. Friend the other night did me the honour to refer to an article I had written in The Nineteenth Century, and he did so in terms so extraordinary that I must venture to quote them verbatim. He referred to certain propositions, and he said—These propositions, I say. in the strictest sense constitute the entire foundation of the argument against the concession of Home Rule. They are the foundations of a very able article by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham in the last number of The Nineteenth Century, and if you deny these propositions you annihilate the argument.Then he proceeded to read out the propositions. As I understand, he read them from a paper, so that anyone would imagine that they were verbatim extracts. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE dissented.] Then I understand it was only because my right hon. Friend was so anxious not to do me the slightest injustice that he had prepared himself by putting them 1853 actually in writing, so that, in the hurry of the moment, he should make no mistake about what he says were the foundations of my argument. Well, what were they?—The Irish, except in Ulster, have nothing human about them except the form. All principle they trample under foot. All power that they get into their hands they will abuse. They have no sympathy with us, and they have not any operative or commanding sense of justice.Now, Sir, I say that is not to be found in my article. There is not a shadow of a shade of foundation for saying that it is the basis of anything to be found in my article. I say it is a monstrous travesty. I have never brought any charge against the Irish people out of Ulster. I have brought charges against some of their leaders. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes, but does not the right hon. Gentleman think that that is a different tiling? When my right hon. Friend brought charges against hon. Gentlemen opposite what would he have said if he had been accused of drawing an indictment against a nation? There is all the difference in the world. We are asked to place the government of Ireland, the government of the Irish people, in the hands of hon. Gentlemen opposite. ["No, no!"] Oh, no; of course they would be too self-denying and too disinterested to accept paid office in the Irish Government. But in the hands of the loaders of the majority of the Irish people we are going to put the government of the whole, including the minority. Well, we hesitate to do that. Are we to blame? We hesitate to place this government in the hands of men who, we are told by my right hon. Friend, preached the gospel of plunder.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
My words are quite inaccurately quoted. I made at Leeds a very heavy charge against the late Mr. Parnell at a moment when I believed he was working to destroy the influence of the Irish Land Act.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Quite so, Sir. I am perfectly well aware that the speech was made at Leeds, and that the statement which I have quoted was made of Mr. Parnell and of the Body who were supporting him.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
My right hon. Friend said, "Mr. Parnell I take as an example." An example of 1854 whom? An example, of course, of others who were supporting him. I have never said—I do not want my right hon. Friend to misunderstand me—I have never supposed that he applied that indiscriminately to every Irish leader. He may explain himself to which of the leaders who now sit on that Bench he applied it. He may tell us at the same time who it was who were "marching through rapine to the dismemberment of the Empire."
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I ask the House whether the statement that "they" in the plural "were marching through rapine to the dismemberment of the Empire" does not refer to an army and not to a single man? Sir, I say that these accusations were brought, and as I think justly brought, against some of the men who were at that time leaders of the majority of the Irish people, and who will be, I do not for a moment doubt, leaders in the Irish Parliament if it is ever formed. Of others of them, or of one at least of them, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir W. Harcourt) said in this House that he had been "expounding the doctrines of treason and assassination." I see the hon. Member in his place, and he will remember the language of his former opponent and present ally. Then there is the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce). He said in an article in the same Nineteenth Century that—If you put the police in Ireland in the hands of an Elective Body, the landlords may whistle for their rents, and they will be lucky if they escape with a whole skin.There is the Secretary for Scotland (Sir G. Trevelyan). I see in the papers that he is likely to speak to-night. I am sure we shall all await with great interest the explanation which he will no doubt give us of how it comes to pass that he, who in 1886 said he would sooner remain a private citizen for the rest of his life than hand over the lives and liberties of the law-abiding population in Ireland to a Parliament in which, as he believed, Sheridan and Egan would find seats, is now a Cabinet Minister in a Government which proposes to establish such a Parliament? I quote him now because he said that thelaxity of the attitude of the Nationalist leaders1855 —he did not confine himself to one—towards crime has not established any title which justifies us in handing over the lives and the property of the law-abiding citizens of Ireland.The right hon. Gentleman has forgotten, or would willingly forget, these utterances; but we have not forgotten them, and I think it is a strong thing indeed that we should be blamed and accused of denying to the whole of the Irish people "anything human but the form" because, forsooth, we are now feebly repeating statements about the Irish leaders which the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues made themselves.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Yes, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Parnell is dead, but it appears that there are still some of his friends and followers who will defend him if it be necessary. Sir, I have one last point which I want to put before the House. In the article to which my right hon. Friend referred I endeavoured to show that in the case of a war in which this country was engaged, the majority in Ireland had special cause for sympathy with, at any rate, three of the great nations of the world, and I showed that if in consequence of that sympathy they were opposed to the war, under this Bill they would have it practically in their power to refuse contributions, to refuse to allow enlistments, and in the last resort they might create a diversion by armed force. I did not say they would do this; I said they might do it, and that if they did and we had a foreign war upon our hands, it would hardly be possible for us to undertake a civil war at the same time. I also showed that these difficulties and dangers, whether they were great or small, at all events did not arise under the present system, and that they arose only under a system in which you placed the whole Executive administration of the country in the hands of a Parliament which might be opposed to you. What answer has been made to that contention? It is a possibility—I think it is a probability, but at all events it is a great danger. The only answer is the answer of my right hon. Friend, that to suppose the Irish leaders would do these things—that they would take advantage of their 1856 position to injure Great Britain if this Bill is passed—is to deny to the Irish race "anything human but the form." It is just because I believe that the Irish people are human that I say they would be actuated in given circumstances by ordinary human motives. In the case I have put, from their standpoint their sympathy, their gratitude, and their interest would all be on the side of our opponents. Why should you suppose, under those circumstances, they would take our side in preference? It is not I, Sir, who am attributing to the Irish people a double dose of original sin, but it is my right hon. Friend who insists on promoting this Bill, and gifting the Irish people with a double dose of what I must call very original virtue indeed. He supposes that under these conditions the Irish people would sacrifice considerations of history, religion, and race; that they would give all the aid in their power to those whom they have been taught for 600 years to consider their oppressors; that they would fight against those whom for many years past they have been accustomed to consider their friends, and that they would do more than this—they, a poor country, would actually pay out of their own pockets for those wars in which they had no interest, or in which their interest was on the opposite side. Sir, to expect this of the Irish people is to attribute to them superhuman magnanimity and superhuman disinterestedness, for, as I have pointed out, their interest would be to take advantage of such a situation. Here is a Bill which as to its important points not one of those hon. Gentlemen opposite will tell you is satisfactory to him, and not one of them will tell you it is a final settlement, and yet you suppose that when this country is in some great difficulty and danger, and pressure would enable the Irish people to got all they want, they will not use that pressure. If we were in their place we should do it. It seems to me monstrous to suppose that under the circumstances named they would not take that advantage. I must say I admire the almost boundless faith which my right hon. Friend has in the Irish leaders. He tells us in these conditions that for the defence of the property and the lives of the loyal population we are to trust to their good intentions; that for assistance in time of dire necessity we are to trust to their 1857 gratitude; that we are, in the words of Vivien, to—Trust them all in all, or not at all.Yes, but in the poem I think we learn that the great enchanter when he yielded to the temptress brought about his own annihilation. We are asked to stake the dignity, the influence, the honour, and the life of the nation upon this cast. We are asked to do it because we are told we ought to have faith and trust in hon. Members opposite. We are to do it on the assurance that my right hon. Friend gives us that a miracle will be wrought in our favour to change the hearts of men and alter the springs of human action. Sir, I say—and this is the last word I shall utter—the possible danger is too great and the possible gain is too small. If this Bill were passed, and if we escaped by a good fortune, which would be as unexampled us it would be undeserved, from disaster and disgrace which we should have rashly provoked, you have not been able to give us even a plausible expectation of any advantage corresponding to the risk you wish us to incur.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I ask permission of the House to explain, because I am afraid that the expressions which it was necessary for me to use inflicted pain upon an hon. Gentleman opposite who is deeply attached to the memory of Mr. Parnell. I did not quote my words in any sense in the way of justifying or discussing those words. I quoted them to the best of my memory— which may, of course, have been deceptive—as a mere matter of history. As the hon. Member was deeply hurt, perhaps he may allow me to state the facts. I was under the impression—it was my firm conviction—at the time, upon the facts before me, that Mr. Parnell, previously to his imprisonment, was endeavouring to frustrate the effect of the Land Bill. I may have been right or wrong, but it was under that impression that I made that very heavy charge. When Mr. Parnell came out of Kilmainham I was under the impression that his mind had undergone a great change with respect to the Land Bill. From that date forward no hard word and no word of censure in any speech of mine respecting Mr. Parnell is to be found. On the 1858 contrary, I made a communication to Mr. Parnell, through a friend of his, that from me he would receive no difficulty in pursuing the purposes he had in view, which from that period I believed to be purposes beneficial to Ireland.
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Clare, E.)
As a personal matter, I may perhaps be allowed to thank the right hon. Gentleman very much for the explanation which he has been kind enough to give. I confess that at the moment I thought an attempt was, unwittingly perhaps, being made to put blame upon Mr. Parnell for action which I do not think any Members who served under him at the time would wish to dissociate themselves from.
§ MR. JUSTIN MCCARTHY (Longford, N.)
I am very glad, indeed, to hear the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, an explanation worthy of him, and I am sure satisfactory to all of us. I have listened with some satisfaction to the long and eloquent speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, because his speeches are always clever, eloquent, and attractive, and on that account well worth hearing. But I listened to this last speech with satisfaction for reasons different from those with which I generally hear him, because I felt glad that that was all the right hon. Gentleman had to say against the present measure. Now I suppose we have heard the very best that can be said from the ranks of the Opposition against the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian. I suppose they have put forward to-night their most dexterous, most clever, and at the present moment, at all events, their most convinced debater, and what had he to say against the policy of the measure? Nothing but to breathe out once more those now familiar prophecies of subtle treachery and terrible danger. He could give us nothing but what was prophetic. He complained very much of the meaning put on a certain article of his in The Nineteenth Century by the right hon. Member for Midlothian. He said it altogether falsified the purpose of his meaning and of his words. Now I want to know whether the speech of the right hon. Gentleman delivered to-night does not bear out in substance, if not literally, the construction put upon the article by the right hon. Gentleman the Member 1859 for Midlothian? What did he tell us tonight, practically in so many words, but that the Irish are human only in form? He said towards the close of his speech that they were only too human. That was perhaps dragging down the whole human race to a lower level than the right hon. Gentleman intended. Again and again he distinctly told us that no trust was to be placed in any bargain made either with the leaders of the Irish people or with the Irish people themselves, and he said that the opponents of Home Rule in Ireland itself are at least a third, and probably one-half, of the whole population. I thought when he made that statement that he, like Lord Clive, must have been astonished at his own moderation. Why did not he claim three-fourths when he was going in for it? He made a calculation by which at church and chapel doors it was proposed to get at the numbers; he counted up the number of marriages in Protestant and Roman Catholic churches, and by that process of calculation he established a certain proportion which pleased himself. But why did not he go to the returns of the Census—We want nothing fuller and nothing more precise. He need not have gone to the records of the churches and chapels for the number of marriages on which to found his curious calculations. The right hon. Gentleman with all his prophecies of danger, and all his various quotations—if I might give one suggestion to him I would say that too many quotations spoil a speech —tells us that this Bill will destroy the Empire, that it will not bring peace but the sword, not prosperity but bankruptcy to both countries, and disgrace to the whole Empire. One serious fault the right hon. Gentleman found with the Prime Minister for bringing in this Bill was that the right hon. Gentleman was rather too much in a hurry to deal with this question. He asked why did not the Prime Minister wait a few years longer and sec whether the legislation that was coming on might not tend to withdraw any necessity for Home Rule at all. The right hon. Gentleman forgot that there was one consideration that a statesman like the Prime Minister must take into account, and that was the evidence of growing and of rising feeling in Ireland. I may tell the right hon. Gentleman that if he 1860 studies Irish history he will find that never since the Act of Union was passed have the Irish people failed, in one form or another, to protest against the Act of Union. I should myself be willing to give up to him the whole ease for this Irish Government Bill if he could show me and the House that for one single year, month, week, or day, since the Act of Union was passed, the Irish people had ever ceased to raise their protest against it. It was done in various ways—by peaceful ways, constitutional ways, and also by unconstitutional agitation. Men in armed rebellion protested against the Act of Union; men in peaceful agitation protested against it. At no period has the protest ceased, but at no time was that protest more nearly unanimous on the part of the Irish people than when the right hon. Gentleman began to undertake his Home Rule legislation. I say the right hon. Gentleman was bound as a statesman to notice that fact. He did notice it; he saw it; he saw that no remedial legislation, however beneficent in itself, and however welcome to the population of Ireland, could by any possibility win away the hearts and the intellects of the vast majority of the Irish people from their devotion to the idea of national self-government. I remember telling the late Mr. W. E. Forster many years ago in this House, when talking to him on that very question, and when arguing with him against the then cherished belief of his that by passing good Land Laws for Ireland you would get the Irish people to think no more of Home Rule—I ventured then to tell him in the friendliest fashion, for we were then friends, that if Mr. Parnell, who was then at the height of his well-deserved power and popularity, were to go over to Ireland and say that the English Government would give to the Irish people a Laud Act drafted by Mr. Parnell's own hand, and in consideration of that perfect measure of land reform he had promised to give up all thoughts of Home Rule, Mr. Parnell would that moment be the most unpopular man in Ireland. No man, no administration, no set of remedial measures, can over win the Irish people from their desire for national self-government. That was the one reason for the right hon. Gentleman bringing in his measure of 1861 Homo Rule, because he saw that with nothing else would the Irish people be contented. He has reason now to believe that with such a measure the Irish people most certainly would be content. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham, going back to controversies in past days, brought out the charge, no doubt fully believed in then, that the Irish people were pursuing a course that would lead to trouble and rapine, and he seemed now to back up and maintain those charges; but if he does, I should like to know when that great change in his convictions took place? Is it, or is it not, the fact that years after those words of the Prime Minister were spoken the right hon. Member for West Birmingham declared himself willing to hand over to the Irish people the whole land question, the whole education question, without any reference to any controlling power on the part of the Imperial Parliament? I have not the right hon. Gentleman's exact words, but I do not think that he or anybody else would deny that he made such an offer to the Irish people, to the Irish leaders, and that that offer was rejected by the Irish leaders and people. If the right hon. Gentleman always thought so harshly of the Irish leaders, always regarded them as being so wanting in faith, trust, and honour, why did he take part in arranging a certain famous negotiation known by the name of the Kilmainham Treaty? Did he not himself take part in the negotiations for that treaty? I should be glad to hear somebody contradict my assertion in order to give me a chance of proving it. He then appealed to the Irish leaders, and through them to the Irish people, to enter into an agreement with him and his colleagues by which they might work together for the common interest of the Empire and of Ireland. If he had such distrust in us then, why did he seek to enter into honourable negotiations with us? I am not concerned to follow the right hon. Gentleman through the various arguments he used about Home Rule. My intention rather is to say something on my own part, and on behalf of the Nationalist Party, as to the position we are taking up in regard to the present Bill. I am not going to enter into any discussion of the principle of the Bill at length, because 1862 that principle has been fully discussed; but I frankly say that there are points of amendment which we shall have to strive to carry when the Bill goes into Committee. I could not possibly say that we are satisfied with the Financial Clauses of the Bill as they now stand, but I am not going to argue that question. I am not going to follow the right hon. Gentleman through financial statistics. I leave that to others; but I do say that, taking the principle of the Bill, accepting it for what it proclaims itself to be—one for the better government of Ireland by the power and judgment of the Irish people—my friends and I do accept that Bill as an honest attempt at a settlement of the whole National question. We have heard some talk about finality in politics, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has quoted from some writings of mine about the attitude of the Roman Catholics of Ireland at the time that Roman Catholic Emancipation was granted. I am sorry to say that as I have written a good many books in my time, I do not remember from what particular writings of mine the quotation is taken, but I have no doubt the quotation is correct, and I entirely endorse all I said there, both as to Catholic Emancipation and Sir Robert Peel. I say again Sir Robert. Peel as a statesman could never have supposed that the Catholics of that time could bind their posterity— for example, not to vote against the Established Church in Ireland. Catholic emancipation was extorted, and was given as a measure of compromise. Some of the leading Catholics of those days were willing, as far as they were concerned, to give every promise that was asked, but anybody looking forward must have foreseen that the time would come, as the time did come, when some statesman would arise and attempt to disestablish the State Church in Ireland, and that the people of Ireland would give him their cordial support. The condition of things is different in this measure before us; we have one thing that we especially want, and that is the right to make our local legislation for ourselves. As I understand, this measure will give us that right subject only to those reasonable precautions and checks and guarantees which the Bill contains, and which we are perfectly willing to accept. Although no 1863 generation can pretend to bind all future generations—for the time may come when the whole Constitution of these countries may be changed—all we say is this, that so far as our foresight will enable us to look into the future, we do believe that the measure when duly improved in Committee will be, for at all events our time, a final settlement of the Irish Question. That, I am cure, is the conviction of every Irishman who thinks for himself. We shall welcome this Bill, and we shall welcome it as a statesmanlike—as far as our eyes, and judgment, and oven our imagination can see—and as a final settlement between Great Britain and Ireland. To make this statement was really my chief motive for intervening in the Debate to-night, and I am sure I have expressed the feelings of our whole Party in this House. I will only say that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian, if he carries this measure, as he will carry it, will not only have crowned his fame, but will have done something much better than anything that has to do with fame—he will have won the undying gratitude of millions of men.
§ MR. PLUNKET (Dublin University)
I do not so much rise to reply to the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down as to make some observations upon several aspects of the Bill which have not as yet been much brought under discussion. I do not profess to reply to the hon. Member, because I think, from one point of view, it is one of the most remarkable speeches that this House has ever listened to. I am not speaking now of his statement as to the chances of finality, on which I shall ask leave to say a word or two before I sit. down, but I suppose this is the first time in the history of the House of Commons when, after a great controversy has been going on for many years as to what should or what should not be, or what might or might not be, the terms of a great revolutionary measure—the first time that the Leader of the Party to whom that measure is submitted for acceptance has risen to speak upon the Second Reading of the Bill and has sat down without having pronounced any opinion on any of the leading controversies which have been so long before the country in connection with that question. It is most remarkable how this 1864 policy of reticence and silence has been carried out. The whole principle of that policy seems to be to advance the Bill one stage and to say as little as possible, then, when the Government have got to that stage, to advance a little further and to reserve all their explanations to the last moment, and then to rush the Bill upon the country and snatch their opinion. I desire, however, to speak entirely from one point of view—namely, that of those whom I have the honour to represent in this House. The point of view from which I wish to address a few words to the House is that of the Unionist minority in Ireland, more especially of that part of it which is outside of Ulster. I know that I shall be unable to adequately convey to the House the intense feeling of indignation and dismay which has been produced amongst those men even by the shadow of the approach of this measure. Those men are by their education and ability fully able to discuss and to form a sound judgment with regard to it. Among them are to be found the leading representatives of commerce and trade, members of the learned professions, the landed proprietors, and many others of all classes and of all creeds. And it is a most remarkable thing that this measure has called out a protest from, I may say, all those politicians in Ireland, whether Protestants or Catholics, who were heretofore the most firm and warm supporters and adherents of the right hon. Gentleman who has introduced this Bill. What these men believe is that if this measure now proposed should, by any possibility, become law, its enforcement would at once be followed by civil tumult and bloodshed, and very probably of civil war in one part at least of Ireland. They believe that if this Bill were carried it would launch the Irish Government of the future weighted with a financial deficit on a career of chronic bankruptcy, and would produce the financial ruin and paralysis of the material prosperity of Ireland; and they foresee that at some future time, when want and famine might again fall upon the land, Ireland would find the want of the strong arm of English credit which has so often supported her in times of difficulty, as an integral part of the United Kingdom. For all these reasons, and for many others into which I will not now enter, those for whom I am now 1865 speaking regard with alarm and dismay the possibility of such a Bill as this being carried into law. But what fills them with indignation is that they believe and know that this great surrender has been made in compliance with the demands and the violence of those men whom at no distant date they were called upon at all hazards to resist, and were called upon by none more strongly than by the Prime Minister himself at the time that he was in close and severe conflict with the Party who are now his allies. Sir, what I desire to do this evening is to refer briefly to one or two of the practical aspects of this Bill which have not, I think, yet been placed before the House as fully as they deserve. And the first point to which I wish to draw the attention of the House is this—that as far as I can understand the provisions of the Bill, they must involve for the representation of the Unionist minority of the South and West of Ireland its absolute extinction in the Imperial Parliament of the future, and its practical extinction —its extinction to an extent which would leave it perfectly helpless and hopeless in the Legislature which the Bill proposes to set up in Ireland. To ascertain the rights of this minority to representation in the Imperial Parliament and in the Irish Legislature I will give some figures, but they shall be few. It appears by the last Census that the number of Protestants outside the Province of Ulster were, in round numbers, 280,000. If we take the area outside the six Protestant counties of Ulster which now return Unionist Members to this House, the number of Protestants is about 370,000. There are, besides, as every one knows, a large and growing number of Catholics in Ireland who are as determinedly opposed to this policy of Home Rule as any Protestant in the land. There are also, undoubtedly, a certain number of Protestant Home Rulers, but they are really—I do not say it with the smallest disrespect to them—a mere handful of men. However, speaking roughly, I am satisfied to take the number of Protestants in Ireland as corresponding with the number of Unionists, though such an hypothesis is not a fair one certainly from my own point of view. According to ordinary calculations in matters of representation, the 370,000 Protestants 1866 outside the six Ulster counties ought to have seven Members representing them in the Imperial Parliament. But they are so thinly scattered among the overwhelming numbers of their opponents that they cannot make their influence felt at the polling booths. In the last Parliament there were, outside the six Protestant counties of Ulster, only two Members who could be called Representatives of the minority, and even they did not represent them directly—I mean the two Members for Dublin University. But at the last General Election the Unionist cause had so prospered that two other Unionist Members were added— the hon. Member for the St. Stephen's Green Division of the City of Dublin, and the hon. Member for the Southern Division of the County of Dublin. As to the St. Stephen's Green Division, I have heard that the Nationalists claim that they will recover that seat at the next Election, if the split in their Party should in the meantime be accommodated. In that hope, however, I expect that they will be entirely disappointed, because I have good reason to believe that the supporters of my hon. and learned Friend who so ably represents that Division have so greatly increased that he could, if an election took place to-morrow, defeat the combined forces of both sections of the Nationalist Party. I only wish to point out in regard to that seat that the Nationalists expect to win it at the next Election, and that it is not in any way meddled with by this Bill. But as to the other Unionist seats, the House is aware that by Section 5 of this Bill, after the day of doom, Dublin University is to cease to return any Members to this House. I need not tell the House that I heard that announcement with feelings which were not very agreeable. It is not, however, on my own account individually that I call the attention of the House to this matter; but I want to know, why is Dublin University to be despatched in this way? None of the other Universities have been deprived of their representation; and whenever resolutions have been brought forward to disfranchise the Universities in this House they have hitherto always been defeated. I ask this House, should it not have occurred to any fair-minded man in constructing this Bill—if he 1867 wished to give effect to the loud proclamations of a desire to safeguard the minority—that he should not dispense with this means of giving even indirectly some representation to the minority in the Imperial Parliament? But it appears to be the purpose of this Bill to stamp out any possibility of Unionist representation from Ireland in the Imperial Parliament. Now I wish to say a word or two about the seat for South Dublin County. There is a remarkable fact about that seat to which the attention of the House has not hitherto been directed. It will be found that Sub-section 2 of Clause 9 states—The existing divisions of the constituencies shall, save as provided in the Schedule, be abolished.We have not heard any explanation of the grounds on which that change is made, though it would appear to be in direct contravention to the policy of the last Redistribution Bill. What will be the effect of that provision? There are two Divisions of the County of Dublin, North and South. My hon. Friend who sits for the Southern Division defeated at the last Election both his opponents by a number of votes exceeding their combined poll by 758—a substantive majority— and there is no doubt that, if there were an election to-morrow, he would be returned again, probably by a larger majority. But in the other Division of the county the Nationalist candidate had a majority of some thousands, and the immediate result of putting the two Divisions together would be that two Nationalist Members would certainly be returned. Therefore, it comes to this— that, while the Nationalists claim the reversion of the St. Stephen's Green Division, and while Dublin University is absolutely effaced without any reason given, the only remaining Unionist seat in the South and West of Ireland is gerrymandered out of existence! Now, as to the representation of the Unionists in the proposed Legislatures in Ireland. As to the Legislative Assembly or Lower House, I suppose that as long as existing constituencies remain as they are we might expect three or four seats for these 370,000 Protestants outside of Ulster. But I must remark here that at the end of six years the Irish Legislature is to have the power of dealing with those 1868 constituencies; and I have read in the report of a speech recently delivered in Dublin by the hon. Member for North Kerry, who will, no doubt, have an important influence in all such matters, that he looks forward to that time as an opportunity when probably manhood suffrage will be introduced. The Legislative Council, or Upper House, it is said, has been devised for us as a protection. The Prime Minister said that it was in order to redeem the pledge and to meet the expectations which he had held out to the minority that a fair, full, and liberal consideration of their views should be secured. But how has this pledge been redeemed? I pray the attention of the House while I show what an utter sham this Legislative Council is as a protection of the Unionist minority or to the holders of property in Ireland. First, let me say that there is a great change in this Bill from the corresponding provision which was made in the Bill of 1886. Then the Irish Peers were to remain in the Upper Chamber, and there was a property qualification of £200 a year, or of £4,000 for the Members who were to be elected to that Council. There was also a rating qualification for voters of £25 and upwards. But in this Bill the Irish Peers have vanished; there is no property qualification for Members, and the rating qualification for electors is reduced to upwards of £20 a year. What does the rating of upwards of £20 mean? It must be remembered that Ireland is an agricultural country, and that the overwhelming majority of those Members elected by such a rating qualification voters would be returned for agricultural districts. Of course, it will be understood that a £20 rating in Ireland does not mean having a house rated at £20. Probably in many cases the house would be rated at £1 or £2, and the balance will be represented by the value of the holding. In point of fact, almost all these voters would be small tenant-farmers. Now, I am able to explain to the House what degree of intelligence and independence a £20 qualification really represents. I will do so by a short reference to what happened when a similar qualification was applied to common jurors. By an Act passed in 1871 by a Government led by the present Prime Minister, 1869 £20 rating was chosen as the qualification for the common juror in Ireland; but in a short time the Act entirely broke down, and it became necessary to appoint a Committee for the purpose of considering the question. Evidence was produced before that Committee showing the absurd and ridiculous actions of those £20 common jurors, and the Committee unanimously stated in their Report that the Act had been the means of placing on the Jury List the names of persons who were certainly not qualified in point of intelligence to serve as common jurors. Accordingly a temporary Bill was passed to raise the qualification of £30 rating, and that still produced very unsatisfactory results. A year or two afterwards the rating of the common juror was raised to £40, the figure at which it at present stands: and the experience we have recently had of common jurors in criminal cases, and the observations which have been made upon them by the Judges, do not lead us to suppose that even this rating has generally produced men of intelligence as common jurors. Any Irish lawyer will tell you that when any considerable property is at stake in a civil case it is necessary to obtain a special jury. At present, as I have said, the qualification for a common juror is £40, and therefore those who are to be provided with the franchise for the election of a Second Chamber, which is to protect the interests and property of the minority, will have a qualification far lower than that which is now required for a common juryman in Ireland. The effect of this qualification will really be to produce as voters a class of small tenant-farmers differing only by a small degree from those who exercise the present franchise, and they will be just of that class of tenant-farmers who are most entirely under the influence of the Roman Catholic clergy, so that the House thus elected would, in point of fact, be a priests' House. That, I believe, will be the general result of this franchise, and it is perfectly absurd to suppose that in any question affecting property, or in any question in which there might be undue clerical interference, this Legislative Council would be the smallest protection to any threatened interest of the minority. The minority in Ireland have been often asked why they are not. willing to trust themselves to their 1870 fellow-countrymen, even though we might find ourselves in a very small minority in these Assemblies, and we are also asked whether we believe the majority have had a double dose of original sin, or that they are human only in form. No, Sir, I do not hold any such absurd opinions. I am myself an Irishman born and bred, and I am as proud of my countrymen as any Irishman in this House. I know well their many brilliant and generous qualities. But I say the course of events in the past has produced in Ireland a state of society which makes the Irish people, with all their brilliant and generous qualities, the least suited for this special purpose—the uncontrolled exercise of such powers as this Bill proposes to confer upon them. Will the House consider for a moment what is the state of Irish society at the present time? The Irish are a poor people, though, thank God, in recent years they have been steadily advancing in prosperity. But they are still a poor people. Among them is a small upper class composed of merchants, landowners, and professional men. As regards the landowning class and those dependent upon them, they have been lately nearly ruined, but they still possess just enough property to make them the object of envy and an easy mark for the agitator to mark down for destruction. Between this small upper class and the enormous masses beneath them there is almost a total absence of that middle class which in more favoured countries gives stability to society, is the true basis of self-government, and its protection against the excesses of unbridled democratic power. Such, then, is the unfortunate state of society which has been produced by the unfortunate events of the past in Ireland. But these unfortunate historical events have done worse than that. Those chasms in the social state, and those sharp differences between the various classes, have been accentuated and made doubly dangerous by unhappy class controversies and religious animosities. I ask hon. Members would they be satisfied to have all their dearest interests confided to the protection and the care of a Legislature such as is sure to be elected by the class of voters whom I have described and under the social conditions to which I have been calling attention? And such as 1871 the electors are, such surely will be the Representatives who will be returned by them, and such must be the politicians who in future would form the Executive Government of Ireland if this Bill ever becomes law. I heard in the Debate on the First Reading of the Bill a very able and moderate speech by the hon. Member for Waterford, who said that quite a new class of Representatives, or politicians, would enter the new Irish Legislature. With all respect to the hon. Member, I must say that I do not believe a word of it. I do not believe it is possible for the Nationalist classes in Ireland to send from amongst themselves either to this or to any other Legislature abler and better Representatives than they have sent to this House. I have often listened with admiration to the eloquence and ability they have displayed. But, at the same time, I must remind the House that those hon. Members are seen here under the influence of the traditions of this ancient Assembly, and in the companionship of hon. Members from England and Scotland. But what has been their record, sometimes within this House and always outside its walls? I need not go back to the earlier times of the Land League. I need refer, only to the proceedings that took place in a famous Committee Room upstairs and to what afterwards happened in Ireland, and I could, if I were disposed to do so, occupy an hour in reading the furious mutual recriminations which these hon. Gentlemen have indulged in towards one another. I will quote only one sentence. It is all summed up in the despairing declaration of Archbishop Croke, when he exclaimed about a year ago, "I am afraid the cause is lost! Are we really fit for Home Rule? Do we deserve it?" and when he quoted the opinion expressed, as he said, by some staunch and intelligent Irishman that: "The Irish Members had given both friends and foes reason to believe that they were at present utterly unfit for freedom." Yes, and when we are asked why we do not commit ourselves with full trust to our fellow - countrymen—to those who might form the Legislature and the Executive which it is proposed to set up in Ireland—I must tell the House that there are many among the minority, many among my own constituents, who have recollections that 1872 make it impossible for them to be willing to intrust their liberties and their interests to politicians of whom they have had sad experience in Ireland—men and women who have lived through the terrible days of the Land League and the National League when the law of the League was the law of the land, when the police of the League—word of sinister meaning!— asserted their authority through the remote South and West of Ireland—men and women who through all that time carried their lives in their hands, living often under police protection, and who had to submit to the mean and cowardly oppressions and persecutions attendant on boycotting. These things they can never forget, and you cannot expect them now to trust their fortunes and their liberties to a Legislature and an Executive which would undoubtedly be controlled by those who were the leaders of the Land League and the National League. It is all very well to talk of the new heaven and the new earth that are to be brought in by the passing of this Bill, and of the wonders that will be worked by magic of autonomy and self-government. But when you strip away these eloquent phrases, this is the sinister figure which will be revealed standing behind them. There is one special interest which will be affected by this Bill to which I am sure the House will allow me to refer, and point out what the probable effect will be on the University of Dublin were the measure to become law. We have been told that special provision has been made in the Bill which will entirely protect the interests in the future of the University of Dublin. I am not now going to make a speech in praise of my own constituency, but I will say that Dublin University holds a very peculiar place in the hearts and the affections, I believe, of men of all creeds who are capable of forming an opinion on questions relating to Universities. So far as I am concerned, I should not fear for the fate of Trinity College if its fate depended only on the will and the action of Irish laymen left to themselves. But, unfortunately, it is a fact which no one can deny that Dublin University has been for many years a special mark for the attacks of ecclesiastics of the Roman Catholic Church, and, as I have shown, there is no protection against the influence they will exercise in the future Legislature of Ireland, whether in the Legislative Assembly or 1873 the Legislative Council. Now, let me inquire whether there is any protection in this Bill for such an institution as Dublin University. In Clause 4, Section 6, it is laid down that the power of the Irish Parliament shall not extend to the making of any law—Whereby any existing corporation incorporated by Royal Charter, or by any local or general Act of Parliament, may, unless it consents, or the leave of Her Majesty is first obtained on Address from the two Houses of the Irish Legislature, be deprived of its rights, privileges, or property without due process of law.I will not deal at this moment with the question of the proposed consent of the Dublin University, but. I will call attention to the other alternative, and consider whether any share of protection is given under it by this section. In the Bill of 1886 there was a corresponding clause. By that clause the Irish Legislature was forbidden "to impair," by this Bill it must only not "deprive" a corporation of its existing rights, privileges, or property. But what is still more important, in the Bill of 1886 the words were that the Irish Legislature should not have power to deprive a Corporation of its rights, privileges, or property unless the leave of Her Majesty in Council was first obtained. In this Bill the words "in Council" have been loft out, and, as I understand, the effect will be to enable the Lord Lieutenant to exercise this prerogative upon the recommendation of the Irish Executive. I am assured by the highest legal authority that that will be the effect of the Bill.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
That is contrary to our intention, and we do not admit the accuracy of the interpretation.
§ MR. PLUNKET
If what I have said is contrary to the intentions of the framers of the Bill I will not press that matter further at present. But there is one word more I desire to say as to the consequences of the Bill, not only on the minority in Ireland, but on the fate and the future of this Assembly. What chance is there that this Bill, if it should be passed into law, will be found to be a really final settlement of the Irish question? What chance is there that it will be accepted not only now, but hereafter, in full and abiding satisfaction of Irish aspirations? I will suppose that you have passed this Bill, that 1874 you have overcome the opposition of Ulster, and that you have induced the men of Ulster and the other Unionists to submit to an authority which they protest that they distrust and abhor. I will suppose that they have sat down sullenly to be taxed and, as they believe, to be plundered and oppressed by this new Legislature. If that be so you can imagine with what feelings they will regard those who have thrust them out. But let that pass; and I ask what security can you have that this hastily patched up arrangement will be accepted in full satisfaction of the patriotic aspirations of the Irish people? You have nothing but the assurances given this evening by the hon. Member for North Longford (Mr. Justin McCarthy), and by others, who happen at the present moment to represent the majority of the Irish people in this House. Believe me, these Irish aspirations are not to be played with or trifled with. They have a history. They have, indeed, in recent years, under the predatory teaching of the National League and the Laud League, been applied to sufficiently mean and sordid objects; but in former years they have had other, and, I will say, loftier purposes. The right hon. Gentleman says he has no fear, that he is joyfully amazed, as well he may be, at the moderation of the Irish Members at the present moment. But I ask any man of calm judgment and common sense how long does he believe that the national aspirations of Ireland will be satisfied with this suspected, tributary, dependent, mongrel Legislature? What have been the national aspirations of Ireland in the past? They have always been that Ireland as a nation should take her place among the nations of the earth. What, was the plan of Wolfe Tone and of Lord Edward Fitzgerald? It was that Ireland as a nation should take her place among the nations of the earth. What was the passion of Young Ireland in 1848? Aye, what was the pledge by which Mr. Parnell drew to his side the Fenians, and obtained the help and dollars of the Clan-na-Gael? It was that Ireland as a nation should take her place among the nations of the earth; that however he might be obliged to shape his agitation within the limits of the Constitution, he 1875 would set no limits to the onward march of the Irish people. And since his death the many leaders who have sought to succeed him have had again and again to declare that their ultimate objects and aims were the same as those which had actuated the men of '98, of '48, and of '67. These gentlemen do not take much interest in the share you offer them in this Imperial Parliament. They accept it with a kind of contemptuous indifference. They will come to this Parliament just when it suits their own convenience. They will come, no doubt, as occasions may offer, by the strength and weight of their solid phalanx to prize off and wrench away the restrictions which by this paper Constitution you seek to place upon the freedom of their National Assembly in Ireland. But it is to the House in Dublin that they will look as the home and school in which to encourage and develop the Nationality of Ireland until the day arrives when Ireland as a nation is prepared to take her place among the nations of the earth. I say this is inevitable if there be any substance or truth in the promises, pledges, and prophecies of the past 100 years. It is not difficult to foretell the spirit and temper in which at no distant day the Irish Parliament will come to consider its dependent and provincial condition, when it shall have fulfilled its primary mission of social revolution and the plunder of the rich, when there are no more capitalists and landowners to be placed under further contribution, when the ever-increasing burdens of taxation fall more heavily upon the occupiers of the land, and the others remaining in Ireland. Is it not certain that under these circumstances the Irish Parliament will be compelled to flatter and further encourage the development of the national aspirations of Ireland? So long, indeed, as the restrictions in this Bill remain, it will not be possible for them by legislation to raise Ireland from the position of a province; it will not be possible for them to raise an Army or man a Fleet, but there is nothing to prevent them from enlisting a Police Force of any dimensions they please to stand side by side with a Militia which, though under the control of the Imperial Government, will in a great portion of Ireland be imbued by extreme Nationalist sentiments. And so, when the Executive and 1876 all the Civil offices have been filled by sympathisers, when rival sections in the Legislature are bidding against each other in the market of national aspirations, when the young manhood of Ire-land has been drilled and organised, then will come to pass the saying of the leaders of the Clau-na - Gael, which, declared that—While our objects lie far beyond what may be obtained by agitation, a National Parliament is an object which we are bound to obtain by any means offered. The achievement of a National Parliament gives us a footing on Irish soil, it gives us the agencies and the instrumentalities of a Government de facto at the very commencement of the Irish struggle. It places the Government in the hands of our friends and brothers. It removes the Castle ling and gives-us what we may well express as the plant of an armed revolution. From this standpoint the restitution of Parliament is part of our programme.Can anyone who has read the history of this question, and has watched the modern developments of Irish national aspirations, doubt that that declaration is almost certain to be fulfilled? There are, indeed, as I believe, but two true and lofty types of Irish patriotism at the present day; but two ultimate goals at which the aspirations of Irish nationality may find its fulfilment and its rest. There is that old school of Irish nationality which imagined a really independent Ireland, with its own soldiers, its own sailors, its own green flag; who claimed an independent Parliament, a sovereign Parliament, a Parliament not controlled by any other power whatever; and in past days poetry and passion and real self-sacrifice have been identified with that romantic, but unpractical and, as I believe, disastrous ideal. But there is another true and lofty type of Irish patriotism, and I long for the day when all Irishmen may adopt it, a patriotism which is not less devoted to its own country and its own people, which desires to see them pre-eminent and successful beyond all others within the limits of an Empire which they have through many generations done much to build up and maintain, which believes that within the Empire and this Imperial Assembly all the real rights and liberties of Ireland can be safeguarded and her real interests promoted—a patriotism which feels no shame in submitting to a Parliament and 1877 an Imperial power of which it is itself an integral element, and in whose greatness it has played a glorious part.
§ MR. J. A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)
said, he had not found in the speeches which had been delivered by the Opposition in this Debate, and also during the First Reading of this Bill, any argument which on its merits, might be calculated to change the decision of those electors who recently returned a majority to the House to support a Home Rule Government, or any reason which would now justify Home Rule Members in hesitating to record their votes in favour of the measure now under discussion. It has, however, been alleged that they had no mandate from the constituences to pass this Bill. He believed he was not inaccurate in stating that on no occasion in the history of our country has any question ever been more thoroughly discussed on public platforms, or the views of the electors more plainly challenged, by both Parties, than during the last seven years on this question of granting self-government to Ireland, and were they to be now induced to submit to the approval of the country the particular words and clauses of the Bill, they should be adopting a course contrary to all practice, and they should be creating a most undesirable precedent. The Bill accurately gives effect to the policy and principles which had been prominently placed before the electors, and in the support of which they gave their adherence by returning the present Ministry into power. It had, however, been suggested, that votes were recorded for the Liberals in some constituences in consequence of promises that were made to support other measures. Whilst this might be partly true, yet he thought it must be conceded that in every constituency returning a Liberal Representative or supporter of the present Government, the principle that "the people in any locality should be given a reasonable control over all their exclusively internal affairs" was accepted, and upon that principle support was given by the electors to Home Rule, whether in the form of Parish Councils for the country districts, or by representative Local Government for London, as in all other towns, or by an Irish Legislature for Ireland. And had it not been for the fact that the late Government secured 1878 credit for passing the Local Government Act, which was based upon this very principle, many of the votes the Tory candidates received at the polls would have been diverted to support that same principle which the Liberals now advocate in the interest of Ireland and of English parishes, but in the place of which the Opposition-had had nothing better to offer than coercion in one case and a circus in the other. Many also on that side of the House believe that only by acting on this same principle could the real lasting unity of the Empire be attained under a scheme of Federation. There was no desire among the electors to have the question again reopened; it would undoubtedly receive the support of the majority of the people's Representatives in this House, and if it should ultimately be rejected in a another place, and thus, to the delight of hon. Members opposite, further postpone the legislation Liberals believe to be needed in other directions, then the responsibility for a reconstitution of, or total abolition of the second Chamber would rest else where. He did not hesitate to say that the rejection of this measure in the present mind of the electorate, would be provocative of an agitation for the total anihilation of the Upper House, at any rate in the Industrial constituences of the north, which he believed was not realised by the Peers themselves, or by hon. Members opposite. The country desired that this Irish question should be dealt, with forthwith by granting Home Rule, and rather than have the matter again brought before the country the electors would, he believed, be satisfied with any Bill that makes reasonable provisions for the unity of the Empire in the supremacy of an Imperial Parliament; and the protection of the minority opposed to Irish self - government. Since the Bill was introduced there had been no sign that the provisions of the Bill are other than eminently satisfactory to the large majority of the electors in the United Kingdom. He believed the Party to which he belonged did not rely upon the Preamble to secure the supremacy of Parliament; for, firstly, they could not divest the Imperial Parliament of the supremacy which was inherent to its very existence, and, secondly, such reservations appeared in the Bill as to place beyond cavil all 1879 question as to the supreme character of the powers retained, including the power of veto and legislative interference. Full provision was also made for the unity of the Empire by the continued enjoyment of one Throne, one Army, one Navy, one set of Ambassadors and Consuls, one commercial system; but, above all, they relied upon the Bill producing one feeling of friendship and common interest between the masses of the two countries, and thus create a real union in the place of one of a mere documentary character. For the protection of the minority, they relied upon the establishment of a Government for Ireland based upon popular opinion and controlled by the voice of the people, who had always been opposed to methods of oppression, and they believed that, in the event of a Roman Catholic majority being in power in Ireland, that responsible Ministers would disregard their own particular religious views in their legislation, and in the administration of the law deal fairly with every one of their fellow-subjects. In spite of the Protestant ascendency in Ireland throughout this century, the Irish Roman Catholics had shown themselves even anxious to secure Protestant Representatives, and Protestant leaders for their Parliamentary Party. From Lord Edward Fitzgerald down to Mr. Parnell, with the exception of O'Connell, all the great Nationalist Leaders belonged to the Protestant faith. In 1832, Catholic constituencies returned 43 Protestants; in 1848, 40; in 1868, 33; in 1874, 28. And even with the extension of the franchise, 13 Protestants now represented Irish Catholic constituencies. Representatives belonging to the Protestant religion had been elected even in preference to Catholics whenever their political views had been in accord with that of the majority of their fellow-countrymen. As one of many illustrations of this fact, he cited the case of the election of Mr. Abraham to the chairmanship of the Limerick Board of Guardians in preference to Lord Emly, who was a Catholic convert. If any intolerance had been exhibited it had been on the part of Protestant Ulster. The utterance of Lord Ennis-killen, when addressing the farmers of Fermanagh at Florence Court in 1886, denoted the spirit of the Ulster Protest- 1880 ants, and was a sample of many similar speeches. He said—It is not the Roman Catholic I object to as a neighbour, and as a friend, but it is to Roman Catholics as a body I object; in my opinion they ought not to have the power in this or in any other country. For that reason, and for that reason alone, do I preach this crusade against Roman Catholics, and I say it is for you to do a great deal to strengthen our hands in this matter. I say to you farmers, many of whom I see around me, employ more Protestants, and don't employ Roman Catholics. Roman Catholics must live, and they must go elsewhere to live, and joy be with them. I say if you don't feed them they will have to be fed in some other country, and they will leave Fermanagh, and that is all we wish.It was the spirit thus indicated, and he as a Protestant was ashamed to admit it, was the only source of danger in Ireland. The Protestant minority seemed to anticipate after the passing of this measure that undue influence would be used by the priests, and that the people would fail to have any real control over their own destiny. If it was in the power of the priests to exercise undue influence, and that, as it was asserted, this power had been increasing, must it not at any rate be partly due to the system of government under which it had developed? Was it not also due to the fact that the upper classes in the possession of the land had failed to show that protection and friendship in times of difficulty to their tenantry? The people in their down - trodden condition had been driven more and more to rely for help and advice in Civil matters on their religious instructors, who to their credit be it said, had proved to be true and sympathising friends to the members of their flocks in times of distress and difficulty. He believed the responsibility of Government would produce an independence of thought on the part of the Roman Catholics of Ireland. The Prime Minister once said—The possession of liberty increases the appreciation of liberty, and that when liberty is more appreciated it is more jealously guarded, and the exercise of it is kept in the hands of of those who possess it.He believed the effect of Home Rule in Ireland would render the Catholics, in secular affairs, practically independent of the priests. In Italy, France, and other Roman Catholic countries, there was no such clerical domination as it was alleged existed in Ireland, and there was every reason to believe 1881 from past historical experience that, under the altered circumstances produced by Home Rule, it would not continue. The Opposition declared that they ought not to hand over the loyal portion of the Irish people to the control of a less loyal majority. He denied that they were going to do anything of the sort. When the late Prime Minister himself incited the minority to rebellion, as he did in May last when addressing the Primrose League; when the Leader of the Opposition boasts he does not preach passive obedience or non-resistance, and in urging the Irish to rebel, shelters himself under an academic proposition; when the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington reiterated his directions, as he did the other night, "that Ulster should fight and would be right;" when Lord Londonderry stated that—The word 'surrender' was not known in the Ulstermen's vocabulary, and Ulstermen, if all else failed, would not hesitate for a moment to resort to physical force.When the Member for North Armagh said—Nothing under Heaven will make us recognise this Parliament or obey its laws, so long as we have right arms to strike with.He asked himself which was the disloyal Party? Was it that Party who denied their countrymen the rights of self-government, and refused to abide by the laws of the realm, sanctioned by the Queen, or was it that Party who, in effect, said, we will forget the way England has made the law repugnant to us in the past, and we will for the future co-operate with her in all Imperial matters, if only she will concede to us the making of those laws which exclusively affect ourselves. Of these two Parties the Conservatives had at any rate the least claim to be considered loyal. There was not, in his view, the slightest chance of their carrying to a successful issue the rebellion their words were calculated to promote. If, however, blood was shed, assuredly the responsibility would not rest so much on the citizens of Belfast and Derry, and those poor tenant farmers or the farm labourers of Ulster who had been and were incited to rise, but upon those who, from the positions they occupied as ex-Ministers of the Crown and Members of Parliament, had promoted war and the death of their fellow-men. He did not 1882 think it opportune until the Committee stage was reached to dwell at great length on the question of the retention of the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament, but he could not agree with the right hon. Member for West Birmingham that "their presence here was an essential condition for the maintenance of the Empire." For if that view was correct obviously the absence of Colonial Representatives in the Imperial Parliament was a symptom of the absence of a unity which in his opinion did exist. It was somewhat interesting to find that the Members of the Opposition were today in favour of the exclusion of these Irish Members from the Imperial Parliament. For instance, the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth said, when addressing the House on February 13—If this plan be not adopted, if the right hon. Member should yield to the objections that are made, as he must and should agree that the Irish Members should not come here, there goes at one swoop the financial portion of the Bill.And the right hon. Member for East Manchester, addressing the House on the following night, used these words, "Of two impossibilities, he has put into the Bill the most impossible is the one embodied in his proposal," and he gave as his reason for objecting to their presence that the Governments would be formed not by those who were interested in the legislation, but by those who were not. He found, however, by reference to the speeches delivered in 1886, they took a diametrically opposite view of this matter. He took, as a fair sample of their utterances, an extract from a speech delivered by Lord Cross on May 17, 1886, when speaking on behalf of the Government of that, day—What we contend for is the supremacy and the government of the Imperial Parliament Why we want to retain the Irish Members within the walls of tins House is that because without them we shall cease to be an Imperial Parliament.Thus, in 1886, it was alleged that they were going to break up the Imperial Parliament by the exclusion of the Irish Members, and on that account they were dubbed Separatists; consequently, if they now advocate the exclusion, they were either by their own showing "Separatists" themselves, or they made in 1886 an unjustifiable charge, which for seven years they had maintained, and out of which they bad made, or tried to make, 1883 enormous political capital, and for which they ought now in all honour to make such restitution as was in their power by a full, ample, and unreserved public apology. But whilst the Conservatives occupied this unenviable position, and were on the horns of this dilemma to-day, the self-styled Unionists were equally inconsistent in the character of their opposition. For their Leader asserted in 1886 the ground of his opposition to the Home Rule Bill then was—(1) it proposed to terminate the representation of the Irish Members at Westminster; (2) it renounced the right of Imperial taxation in Ireland, including Customs and Excise; (3) it surrendered the appointment of the Judges and the Magistrates; lastly, it proposed to make the new authority supreme in all matters that were not specially excluded. Nearly every one of these objections had been met, if not absolutely, at any rate to a largo extent, in the present Bill; and the right hon. Member had now no other consistent ground for opposing this Bill. He now, however, endeavoured to wreck the Bill, and defeat the Ministry by falling back upon imaginary difficulties, and by attempting to prove the scheme proposed was impracticable. However, he and his Party had not made one move to indicate that they could produce a better one, for they knew that this scheme had already secured those two all-important recommendations; viz.: that it had received, subject only to reasonable amendment in Committee, the acceptance of four-fifths of the Irish Representatives; and it further fulfilled all those conditions which the majority of the House deemed essential in granting a Legislature for Ireland. The practicability of a measure depended partly upon the spirit in which the Bill was drawn, but to a greater extent upon the way the Bill, when it had become an Act of Parliament, was accepted and administered. But members were not sent here to represent the people and to create difficulties. They were sent here to overcome difficulties, and if the right hon. Member was in favour of Home Rule as he was in 1885, he should endeavour rather to show how Home Rule should be granted to the Irish people in a better way than was now proposed by the present Government. He was no advocate of consistency, but he submitted to the House that the 1884 right hon. Member for West Birmingham was absolutely inconsistent in his present opposition to Home Rule, but had not the fairness to admit any change in his own view. But the real question was, not what were the difficulties of the Bill, or how they could be met, but were they altogether to be compared for one moment to the intolerable present system of endeavouring to govern a country against the wishes of the large majority of her own people. They were Home Rulers, among other reasons, because history, in their opinion, afforded ample evidence of the fact that to govern a country by the consent of her people is a prudent and valuable principle. For illustrations of this they need not go to foreign countries; we need only look at the Australian Colonies, Canada, the Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands, where autonomy obtains. These countries all possessed Legislatures, differing one from another according to the varying special circumstances in each case, yet they were all to-day loyal to the Mother Country. If, then, loyalty had been promoted by this means in cases where our own race have been concerned, surely there could be no exception in the case of Ireland, for, on the one hand, she was neither so large or so far off as Australia and Canada, nor yet so small or near as the Isle of Man or Channel Islands, and there must be some safety in the application of the same principle to all portions of the Empire. Ireland was certainly equally entitled to develop her own resources, and he believed, under Home Rule, she would do so with credit and advantage to herself, and that we ourselves would derive no small benefit from her increasing contentment and prosperity. Ireland thrown upon her own resources would, as of yore, study her own capabilities, with the result that enterprise would be promoted, the labour market would be relieved here by the gradual absorption of the Irish race, and work at home might be found for the unemployed, and the condition of our workmen materially improved. Lord Salisbury, when once addressing this House, said—What is the reason that a people with so bounteous a soil as the Irish lag so far behind the English race? Some say it is to be found in the character of the Celtic race; but I look to France, and I see a Celtic race there going 1885 forward with most rapid strides. Some people say it is to be found in the Roman Catholic religion; but I look to Belgium, and there I see a people second to none in Europe, except the English, for industry—distinguished for the earnestness of their Roman Catholic belief. An hon. Member says it arises from listening to demagogues; but when I look to the Northern States of America I see a people who listen to demagogues, and show no want of prosperity. What then is it? I am afraid that the one thing that has been peculiar to Ireland has been the Government of it by England.We had now the chance to amend our ways and allow her to govern herself. We shall clear the way then for making progress with our own legislation, and whilst some of the Opposition honestly opposed them in regard to Home Rule, yet they knew there were many of the Party opposite who undoubtedly rejoiced that this question occupied the position it did to the exclusion of other matters which they did not desire to see made the subject of law. The alternative course the Opposition alleged to be in 1886 was not one of coercion, but one of county government or something akin to it. The electors gave the late Government six years to try their policy, with the result that perpetual coercion was introduced in defiance of the pledges given at the polls, and though in their last Session they did bring in a Local Government Bill, which they carried by a majority of 92 on the occasion of its Second Heading, they took good care not to proceed with it. Lord Londondery, speaking in 1889, after his return from Ireland, said—To ensure good government of Ireland it would be necessary to secure from Parliament extraordinary powers, and my experience during the past three years in Ireland has strengthened my conviction, that it is utterly futile and hopeless to ever attempt to govern Ireland except by extraordinary powers.The alternative policy had, therefore, been proved from the experience of the last few years to be one of coercion. During the last seven years the Party which was now in power had advocated a different method. The anticipated results of that very advocacy had already had an almost miraculous effect upon the population, and in the expectation that the law of the land would shortly be administered by those in whom the people had confidence, had enabled the present Government to conduct the affairs of the country without recourse to the use of exceptional powers. And, as a sign of the increasing 1886 confidence of Irishmen in the future of their country under Home Rule, it was only necessary to refer to the fact that the population of Ireland increased during the quarter ending December last, and this too by her sons remaining in their own country in a way unprecedented during the last 50 years. If, however, we now failed to make the reasonable concession demanded by Ireland, and for which she has worked and suffered the wide world over, there was every prospect, nay, almost a certainty, that once again the Government would be called upon to re-administer another drastic but useless Coercion Act. Were the Opposition prepared to face that inevitable contingency? If they were, he was certain that the working classes and those dependents of Tory employers upon whom the Party opposite relied for their support did not approve of the system of coercing a people to obey laws over which they had little control, and in consequence no sympathy. The denial to Irishmen the right to manage their own exclusive affairs would assuredly not only fan into flame those embers of hostility to England which existed in every quarter of the globe into which the Irish race had been driven, which during the last seven years had been gradually dying out under a happier prospect, but it would create an impetus hardly at present capable of realisation to conspiracy and to the formation of secret societies, which he feared might tend to undermine all efforts at satisfactory Government. A recrudescence of those terrible crimes, the character of which had in the past been so graphically depicted for Party purposes by such Members as the Member for South Tyrone, upon the platforms of the country, may be prevented by the acceptance of this Bill now before the House. Those who voted against the Bill must be prepared to take the responsibility of the events that would inevitably follow as a result of their action were it successful in securing its defeat. He failed to see how the most cynical opponent or the hardest heart could justify their adoption of a course productive of such terrible evil. Home Rule might not at once produce the state of affairs they had good reason to believe would ultimately ensue, but under such a system as they now proposed they would at once be relieved here, the country of Ireland would gradually 1887 become developed, whilst the responsibilities of self-government would be an educational process which would in turn assuredly produce increased devotion to the laws possessed by a free people. And thus that discontent would be removed which made a permanent good Government under the present system an impossibility, and would inevitably unite in a closer bond of sympathy the Irish nation with Great Britain, both of whose interests are, and whose interests must always remain, identical.
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. A. H. SMITH (Christchurch)
said, the House would have listened with a good deal of pleasure to the speech delivered by the hon. Member for the Tyneside Division (Mr. J. A. Pease), but he (Mr. Smith) could not help remarking that the hon. Member's speech, like those of many hon. Members on the Ministerial side of the House, was made up of a great deal of assertion and very little argument. Much was said about the abstract principles of justice, and very few arguments were advanced in favour of the Bill. The hon. Member had said he thought the electors would be content with any Bill. He (Mr. Smith) thought the hon. Member was going to say any Bill introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, but he found the hon. Member meant any Bill which provided protection for the minority and for the supremacy of Parliament. Well, that was the very reason why they on the Opposition side of the House objected to the present Bill—because it would not do those things. It was for that reason that they felt it their duty to offer to the Bill the most stubborn resistance. The hon. Member had asked which was the loyal Party in Ireland, and he referred to events which had taken place during the past few days in that country. It would be generally agreed that those men who had expressed, in such a very clear and unmistakeable manner, their anxiety that their country should remain an integral part of the United Kingdom, and that they should not be cut adrift or cease to be a part of this great Empire, were the loyal Party. The hon. Member had referred to other 1888 matters which he thought were pressing for the attention of the House, but had to be postponed owing to the action of the Opposition. Well, for his own part, he (Mr. Smith) thought it was the introduction of the Home Rule Bill which was putting off legislation which Members on the Opposition side of the House were quite as anxious to see brought in and passed as any hon. Member opposite. The question seemed to him to be whether there was the remotest chance of this Bill proving a final settlement of the great Irish question. The Prime Minister had made many attempts to settle it. He had disestablished the Irish Church; he had passed measures relating to the land; and when these remedial measures had failed, he had brought in the most drastic Coercion Bill which had ever been applied by any Party in the House to the people of Ireland. He (Mr. Smith) had always thought that when the right hon. Gentleman adopted his great change of policy in 1886, it was a policy of despair, and he could not help thinking that the same policy had dictated the measure now before the House. He had never been able to ac-count for the sudden change of view of the right hon. Gentleman unless it was that, feeling the resources of civilisation exhausted, they adopted this method of satisfying the aspirations of the Nationalist Party. That Party had never hesitated to state in the clearest manner what their wishes were. They would never rest until they had severed the last link that bound Ireland to Great Britain they would never rest until Ireland was an independent nation. How did the provisions of the Bill agree with that view. Would not the 80 Irish Members who were to continue in the House be a fairly substantial and obvious link between the two countries? The Nationalist Party would only regard the measure as payment on account, and would await a favourable opportunity when a weak Ministry was in office to demand payment of the balance due. No doubt the Home Rule which both sections desired was that kind of Home Rule which was described by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer some time ago as "Fenian Home Rule"—a kind of Home Rule 1889 which that right hon. Gentleman was not willing to give. It was impossible by this Bill or by any other Bill to make Ireland a nation, for there was no single nationality within her shores, the people being sharply divided, not only by religious, but by social and political ideas into two camps bitterly opposed to each other. No Bill could reconcile them, and this Bill would have the opposite effect. One section which, in spite of the speech of the Member for West Islington, he still looked on as the most loyal, and most wealthy, and most devoted to the Union, offered the most stubborn resistance to the Bill. They believed that their wealth and industry would be at the mercy of those whom they regarded as their hereditary foes. The hon. Member for South Longford (Mr. Blake) whom they bad all been glad to welcome to the House, made a remarkable speech the other day. He was an orator, and perhaps there was such a thing as oratorical licence as well as poetic licence. The hon. Member, at any rate, had said—Oppression was a thing of the past. What they wanted was equality and security of the rights of individuals.There was no country in the world where the minority was so absolutely safe, and in addition, they were protected by restrictions which really laid down the fundamental chapter of the people's liberty.But what were the sentiments of his colleagues? Take the words of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), for instance. On the 5th December, 1886, he had said—When we come out of the struggle we will remember who were the people's friends and who were the people's enemies, and deal out our reward to one, and our punishment to the other.Again, on the 20th September, 1887, at Limerick, he had said—alluding to the struggle going on between the Nationalists and the loyal minority—I say that a man who stands aside is a dastard and a coward, and he and his children after him will be remembered in the days that are near at hand, when Ireland will be a free nation, and when every man and every man's children who have suffered imprisonment or been struck at in the cause of Ireland will find it to be a mark of honour in those days of our prosperity.How could the hon. Member for South Longford reconcile those speeches with his own? The opponents of the Bill, therefore, said that protection to loyalists 1890 could only be given, and equal justice could only be administered to all parties, by the strong arm of Imperial Government. The Prime Minister had said that there was no more degrading spectacle than the spectacle of oppression. He (Mr. Smith) quite agreed with that, but he maintained that if the Bill passed there would be in Ireland a spectacle of the most horrible and degrading oppression which had ever been seen there. It was true that the Bill contained some reputed safeguards. There was to be a Legislative Council, but considering that the Nationalist Party, even if the Legislative Council were wholly Unionist, would have a clear majority in the two Houses when united, and all the Executive in their hands, where would be the safeguard? Light was thrown on the value of the Second Chamber by the speech of the hon. Member for West Islington, who had stated that there were more £20 ratepayers in Catholic than in Protestant districts of Ireland. He did not doubt the accuracy of the hon. Member's statistics, but they seemed to prove that there would be a considerable number of Nationalists in the Legislative Council. Another safeguard was that the Irish Legislature was to be controlled by the veto, which was to be exercised by the Viceroy on the advice of the Irish Cabinet, "subject nevertheless to instructions given by Her Majesty." What he wanted to know was when, and in what cases, would the British Cabinet be justified in advising Her Majesty to withhold consent. They were able to discover how much value the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) set. upon the veto. The hon. Gentleman said the "veto could not permanently stop any act, of the Irish Legislature because Irish Members in this House would be more in evidence than before, and that justice would be done." They knew what kind of justice the Nationalist Party in Ireland had been accustomed during past years to deal out to their opponents. He supposed that was a Parliamentary way of hinting that the Irish Members, upon whom the Liberal Party depended for their majority, would be able to coerce the Imperial Government into consenting to extreme, unjust, and tyrannical measures passed by the Irish Legislature.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he did not refer to the Liberal Party particularly. The Irish Members had found the Tory Party as pliant as any other, and would no doubt find them so again.
§ MR. A. H. SMITH
said, he would not enter into a contest with the hon. Member in regard to the negotiations that were alleged to have taken place between his Party and the Conservative Party in past years. He now came to the most fantastic and impossible part of the Bill. The Representatives of England, Scotland, and Wales, even after making this great sacrifice, were not to be allowed to manage the affairs of the Empire in the House. Irish Members were to come from time to time to interfere. The Prime Minister said that this was not an "essential principle" of the Bill, but only an "organic detail"; but whatever the right hon. Gentleman might call it, it was one of the most important parts of the Bill, and a part which would lead to a great deal of discussion. It would create two classes of Members, and would be a grave constitutional change which was quite uncalled for. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister in 1886 said "it would be a mutilation of all our ideas about the absolute equality of Members in the House." That was the opinion of the Opposition still. They had a right to ask the Government what position they took up with regard to this clause. They had a right to know whether the Government would consent to its omission, because it seemed to him that if it was omitted the whole Bill would fall to pieces. That remark would apply especially to the financial clauses, which would break down, if they had not already done so under the able criticisms of the hon. Member for Guildford and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. It seemed to him that if this provision became law it would be utterly impossible for the Business of the House to be carried on at all. Hon. Members lamented the slow progress of business, but if this clause became law no business would be done at all. The Prime Minister had said the other day that the opinion of England was moving in the direction of "a qualifying opinion" with regard to Home Rule. But after seven years of consideration, and agitation and argument, the 1892 people of England had returned an overwhelming majority pledged to oppose Home Rule, and he believed that if this Bill had been before the country the majority would have been as great as in 1886. He confidently predicted that when the measure was submitted, as submitted it must be, to the constituents, it would share the same fate—the ignominious fate—of its predecessor.
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said, the explanation the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had made this afternoon in regard to his reference to Mr. Parnell was in his (Mr. Redmond's) opinion an explanation that ought to have been made, because whatever blame might attach to the late Mr. Parnell must be shared to the fullest extent by everyone of the hon. Members on the Irish Benches. It would be impossible to put all the blame upon Mr. Parnell, when it was remembered that they as well as Mr. Parnell had been put in prison. The statements of the Prime Minister that he was referring to Mr. Parnell was obviously one that was not correct. At the time of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke Mr. Parnell's views were shared by all his colleagues—by all the hon. Members now in the House who followed him then. There was not a man now in the House who followed Mr. Parnell at that time who would venture to get up and dissociate himself from that action of Mr. Parnell to which the Prime Minister had taken exception. There were few men in Ireland who did not feel proud to associate themselves with all the actions of Mr. Parnell at the period to which the Prime Minister referred. With regard to the measure before the House, he (Mr. Redmond) had only a few words to say. For the past seven years the Home Rule Bill had practically been having a Second Reading. For the last seven years it had been discussed everywhere and at all times, and the people of the country and the Members of the House had made up their minds with regard to it long ago. What they really wanted now was not speech making, but a Division, in order that effect might be given to the wishes of the nation. Under those circumstances, he only proposed to say a very few words, and even those few words he should have refrained from saying, under the circumstances, had not 1893 so much been said by the opponents of the measure with regard to what was called the Ulster argument. Ulster, he ventured to say, was the one argument which had been seriously used against the Bill. If the Ulster argument was out of the way, there would be no substance whatever in the opposition to the Government proposal. That the Government of Ireland under the existing system had been a failure everybody admitted. It was equally admitted on all hands that in every portion, not only of this Empire, but of the world, where Home Rule or self-governments had been bestowed on the people, the result had been satisfactory in the highest degree; and when he heard hon. Members speaking as the last hon. Member spoke of the inconvenience of having Irish Members come to the House under the provisions of the Government Bill, he should like to ask them what they had to say about the inconvenience of Irish Members coining to the House under the present system without a Home Rule Bill? Unless this Bill was passed Irish Members would continue to come to the House. They would continue to prevent the business of this House and this country being done. The only difference was this, that whereas under the Home Rule Bill the Irish Members would come merely for the purpose of taking part in stated subjects, at the present time they came to interfere, and would continue to interfere, in all the Business of the House, Imperial and otherwise, so long as the House insisted on refusing to the Irish people the right to govern themselves. They had been told that under this Bill the Government would depend on the Irish vote; but the present Government knew very well and the late Government knew very well that under the present system the Government depended on the Irish vote. The late Mr. Parnell had succeeded by his tactics in first of all putting the Conservative Party into power, and then putting them out of power and in putting the Liberal Party into power and then putting them out. He (Mr. Redmond) held that the opponents of the Bill, when they spoke of the inconvenience of the present system of getting the Irish Members to come to the House, were bound to suggest some alternative to the proposal of the Bill. There was really no alternative to the 1894 Bill. The Bill was wise, necessary, and just, and the only argument that could seriously be urged against it was the argument of Ulster. He knew something about that province, having represented an Ulster constituency for seven years. Tory Members such as the hon. Member for North Armagh were fond of sneering on every available occasion at the Irish people in the three provinces outside Ulster. Now, he desired to say, knowing the prejudices of the Ulster people as well as anybody—knowing how bitterly they were opposed to him on this Home Rule question—that he would not follow the method of the hon. Member for North Armagh and sneer at Ulstermen as the hon. Member sneered at the people of the South and West. He knew that the Ulster people had their faults and prejudices like other people, and in discussing Home Rule he could not forget the fact that 100 years ago Ulster was the cradle of Irish liberty, and that in the days of Wolfe Tone and Thomas Russell, and men like them, the flame of Irish nationality was kept burning principally in the province of Ulster; and when they were told of the fears for the Protestant minority in Ireland they must remember that if Ulster had anything to fear owing to the existence of a national sentiment to-day that sentiment was due to their own forefathers, for it was not in Dublin but in Belfast that the United Irishmen Party was established, and it was there that the strongest advocates of Irish liberty were to be found. But he could not get over the fact that a portion of Ulster was against Home Rule—a portion not exceeding half of the people of Ulster. He was satisfied, however, that that opposition would vanish as soon as the Ulster people found out that no injustice whatever would be done to them by an Irish Parliament. He saw the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Arnold-Forster) opposite and other hon. Gentlemen representing Ulster constituencies present night after night and day after day, and he sometimes marvelled how they could try seriously to make the House believe that there was anything to fear from an Irish Parliament because the majority might be Catholic He asked the hon. Member (Mr. Arnold Forster) whether he for a single moment believed that if an Irish Parliament were 1895 established to-morrow, and he (Mr. Redmond) and his friends were Members of that Parliament, they would tolerate the slightest injustice being done to him because of his religion or for any other reason. The hon. Member and his friends did not in their hearts believe that they would do them injustice in an Irish Parliament any more than he (Mr. Redmond) believed the hon. Member would, under similar circumstances, interfere with him because of his religion. With regard to the question of resistance to Home Rule, he (Mr. Redmond) had always said he believed there were no people in the world who could fight better than the Ulstermen if they once made up their minds to it; but he was convinced that there would be no fighting, no disturbance of any kind, and nothing in the shape of civil war when the Ulster people found that the Irish Parliament would protect their civil and religious liberties. No Irish Catholic desired to interfere with the religion of any man in Ireland, and if so base an idea as that of interference with any one's religion were entertained, there was no probability of an Irish Parliament sanctioning an interference which would disgrace Ireland before the whole world. Within 24 hours of the delivery of any speech menacing religious liberty the whole world would condemn the Irish Parliament, and any such speech would not only be the death warrant of that Parliament, but would justify its suppression. He himself represented, in the County of Clare, the men who won Catholic Emancipation by their sturdy conduct, and he wished to say, on behalf of his Catholic constituents, that if in an Irish Parliament to-morrow there was even a whisper of interference with any man because of his religious belief, he himself would fight, and he believed his constituents would fight, shoulder to shoulder with the Irish Protestants to protect the right to worship at whatever altar might seem fit to anybody. If there were any rioting or bloodshed in Belfast it would be the result, not of the introduction of this Bill, but of the introduction of English political agitators into Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. A. J. Balfour) made a speech in Leinster Hall, in Dublin, the other day in which he said he had no fault to find with the men 1896 of 1848 who sought to take the field and fight with arms in their hands. The right hon. Gentleman also said he had no fault to find with the Fenian Party of 1865 and 1867, and all his condemnation was launched against the Party who, in these latter days, had tried to win liberty for Ireland. The effect of such a speech was simply to induce young men to take to physical force again, and if, unfortunately, there should be any attempt at insurrection in Ireland at any time in the future, it would be directly traceable to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. Nothing could be more heartbreaking to Irishmen who, like himself, desired nothing so much as to live at peace with their countrymen, than to read speeches like that of the right hon. Gentleman and his friends in Ireland—speeches which contained direct incitement to violence, and which sought to stir up Catholics and Protestants against each other. It was very hard to follow the arguments used by the opponents of this Bill. Two lines of arguments were adopted. First it was said that the Bill was so iniquitous and so ruinous that if it were placed on the Statute Book the power of the British people would crumble away. In the second place it was contended that the measure was of so wretched, miserable, and paltry a character that it was not worth the acceptance of the Irish people, and that it was a travesty upon self-government. Which of these two arguments did hon. Gentlemen opposite pin their faith to? He was going to vote for the Second Reading. At the same time, he said perfectly plainly that he did not believe if the measure passed in its present form he could vote for its Third Reading, although, of course, circumstances might change his intention. He believed, anxious as he was for the settlement of the question, that no settlement would be produced by the passage of the Bill in its present shape. He should, however, vote for the Second Reading, because he wanted to see the Bill amended. The financial portion of the Bill and other parts of it would require alteration, but he was confident that these parts of the measure might be amended in Committee. He believed the Bill would be received with general satisfaction by the Irish people, who would regard it as a message of peace 1897 from England, and would look upon it, above and beyond anything else, as a legitimate proof of the effects of the labours of the late Mr. Parnell.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
said, he thought the hon. Member who had just sat down had slightly misconstrued recent events. The hon. Member had spoken of the late Mr. Parnell having discovered the method of controlling the action of the House of Commons. He would remind the hon. Member that during the six years a Conservative Government held power they did not depend upon the support of Mr. Parnell or his friends. Under these circumstances be (Mr. Forster) could hardly accept the prospect the hon. Member bad held out of perpetual and entire control of the House of Commons by any Irish Party. The hon. Member had said the Second Reading of this Bill had been proceeding for seven years past in the country. Here, again, the hon. Member was in error, because if he had consulted the newspapers which represented the Ministerial Party he would have discovered that at the very last moment before the introduction of the Bill such expressions were used as "to-morrow the great secret will be revealed," and "to-morrow the secret which all men have been trying to guess will be made public property by the Prime Minister." The intention which he (Mr. Forster) had in intervening in the Debate was to put before the House the view of a class whose opinions he did not think had yet found definite expression in that House. He referred to the industrial and manufacturing class of the Province of Ulster. He had never been able to understand the frame of mind of hon. Gentlemen on the Government side of the House with reference to Ulster and its people. He could understand them speaking of the Unionists of Ulster in terms of regret, and saying they had made a mistake; but he could not understand why they should have had uniformly applied to them the language of contumely and scorn. He made an honourable exception with regard to the hon. Member who had just sat down. Whatever failings Ulster had, they were not failings which should have obtained for her terms of reprobation and scorn, which alone the Government and its supporters had thought fit to use with 1898 respect to them. Over and over again he had heard the Representatives of Ulster spoken of in terms of contumely and contempt, and referred to in language of studied discourtesy. For instance, his hon. Friend, the Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) had been described as a hypocrite and a Pharisee by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, because he had brought under the notice of the House the condition of one of the most unfortunate counties in Ireland. His hon. Friend was the last Member who should have been taunted in that way. To the Member for South Tyrone no less than to himself (Mr. A. Forster) the condition of County Clare was a desperate reality. He had seen the sorrows of the South of Ireland face to face. He had seen men wounded, and dying, and hunted, and miserable, and these facts dwelt in his memory The right hon. Gentleman had no business to taunt a man who had suffered much, borne much, and laboured much in the cause of Ireland for having put such a question before the House. The Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce) had spoken with contumely and contempt of the province which, to use a mild term, he had deserted. The Prime Minister had received a deputation the other day consisting of the flower of the City of Belfast. No one in the House of Commons had more respect or admiration for public service or ability than he (Mr. Forster) had, but he did say that the welfare and honour of the country were of far more importance than the personality of any Prime Minister who had ever affluted or adorned it, and that if the allocution addressed by the right hon. Gentleman to the deputation from Belfast had been spoken by any other Member of the House, it would have been called childish and an impertinent waste of time. It would not be becoming on his part to apply such words to the Prime Minister, but he did say that the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman had constituted a lamentable waste of time. The language used by the right hon. Gentleman he had mentioned, and by other Members of the Government Party, could only have one result, and that was to aggravate and irritate the opponents of the Bill. That was not the way in which to solve the question. The 1899 Government got further from its solution every time they failed to recognised that Ulster must be fairly and honourably dealt with in the matter. They were told that Ulster did not know her own mind; that she ought to see things in a very different light; that she ought to like the prospect of Home Rule; and that if she did not like it she must lump it. He would like to give some reasons which presented themselves to the minds of the Representatives of Ulster why she did not like it, and why she should not be made to lump it. He desired to present the matter to the House from the point of view, not of the ardent politician, but of the working class community of the City of Belfast. They were told that they ought to bury the dead past; but, unfortunately, the past was not dead. They were told that they ought to have confidence in the future; but confidence was a plant of slow growth, which sprang only from the root of experience. What was the experience of the people of Ulster? They were told that if this Bill were passed a great change would come over the people of Ireland; that prosperity would increase; that property would be safe; and that toleration would extend throughout the length and breadth of Ireland. These were great promises, but let them test this by the experience of things which had come within the memory and observation of some of them. What had happened in the South and West of Ireland within the memory of many men and women now living? They were told that justice would be done. That was a brilliant and happy promise for the future, but what did they know at present? They had seen justice assailed and violated in every branch of its administration; they had seen a witness shot down and left to die by the roadside; they had seen a juryman assaulted outside his own door because he was supposed to have offended one of the supporters of Her Majesty's Government. They had heard jurymen told it was right for them to perjure themselves; they had seen Judges of the land dogged by assassins in the streets. All these things had, too, been seen contemplated, if not with approval, with absolute indifference by hon. Members who supported the Government. They were asked to believe that life would be 1900 safe. A few months ago a man was shot in the high road; he was horribly and cruelly mutilated; he died three days afterwards. His horse was shot dead at the same time, so that the man might be murdered, not merely mutilated. And why? Because on this subject a certain lesson had been taught the people. They had seen a constable battered almost to death in the discharge of his duty. He would draw the attention of the House to the case of a policeman who was battered, and now lay a miserable cripple. His spine was injured, and all the happiness and joy of life taken away from him. The Member for North Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) took the trouble to go down to the place where the policeman nearly lost his life, and the hon. Member gave an exposition of the law to the electors at Mitchelstown. The Grand Jury had awarded £1,000 to the policeman by way of compensation. The hon. Member said, as reported in his own paper—Of all the impudent things that he ever heard it was the proposal to put a thousand pounds on the head of this policeman. (Cheers.) Why, his mother would sell a dozen sons like him for half the money. (Laughter and cheers.) He joined the police for 18 pence per day, and what was it would give him his value now? The crack of a blackthorn. (Laughter.) While he was in good health he was worth 22s. 6d. to Her Gracious Majesty, but, suddenly, when his spine became damaged, he stood the ratepayers of that district at the rate of a thousand pounds. But who was it fixed that extraordinary price on the tiling that was covered with this young man's helmet? (Laughter.) The Grand Jury of the County of Cork. ('Oh,' and groans.) The curious thing was that if Mr. Leahy had been killed outright it would have cost the ratepayers nothing at all. Sturdy British laws were queer. You understand that if you kill a policeman it would cost you nothing, they would charge you nothing for it; but pare the nail of his little finger, and it is a thousand pounds to pay.Would any hon. Member rise in his place and say that that was not a vile and brutal utterance? It was no less brutal because it was uttered by the hon. Member for North Louth, one of the supporters of Her Majesty's Government. Why were they to have confidence in a Government of which the hon. Member for North Louth would be a prominent Member? Another case that he might refer to was that of a man in County Clare. He went to see him the other day. At the gate he found two constables with loaded rifles; at the 1901 door of the house he saw two mastiffs, and six policemen were in an armoured hut with bullet-proof shutters to every window, and in the house was an old, stooping, grey-headed man wearing out a desolate life. They were told this question in Ireland was purely an agrarian difficulty. What was this man's offence? It was not agrarian. He had been an engineer on one of the great English railways, and, because of his diligence and industry, got an appointment at Queen's College, Galway. In an unhappy moment a relative left him a small property in Clare. He lived on it; he provided upon it a house of an old hanger-on. That hanger-on had a son who was what was known in the County Clare as a "bad boy;" he was said to have been concerned in two murders, and was in gaol on suspicion of murdering his daughter; the Englishman declined to allow him to live with his father; the latter rebelled, and preferred to give up his home; then the landlord was fired at several times; he had to get a police protection, and now he dared not go down his garden unless accompanied by two armed policemen. He was willing to assume that the hon. Member for East Clare was ignorant of the details of this matter; but if that were so, he was about the only man in the county who did not perfectly well know who the people were by whom the man in question was being dogged and intimidated. There was not a county or borough in England where such an intolerable and scandalous state of things would be allowed to go on, yet they did not find the parish priest or the County Member doing or saying anything to alter this state of affairs. Let the hon. Member go at once to Clare and put an end to this, and then they might begin to believe some of the promises that were held out. As to the security of property which they were promised, he would refer the House to the words of the present Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, which were these:—The power of dealing with the land is the very power which the Irish most desire. What object is there in a grant from which this power is reserved.' But everybody knows how such a power would be used. Most Nationalists own that they would give a merely nominal compensation to the landlords, whom they regard as robbers. Some talk of rive years' purchase, some of prairie value…. With the 1902 police under the orders of an elective Board the landlord might whistle for his rent. He would be lucky if he kept a whole skin. His property would be gone without any need for confiscatory legislation.These were the opinions of a Member of Her Majesty's Government. They might well say that the honour of the Kingdom was involved in protecting the people of Ireland from such a fate. Everybody knew how the power of settling the question of the land in Ireland would be used by the Irish Parliament, because the Chancellor of the Duchy had told them that a mere nominal sum of purchase-money, some five years' purchase, would be given to the landlords, who might whistle for their rents, and who might think themselves lucky if they escaped with a whole skin. It was asserted that if this Bill became law there would be great prosperity in Ireland. He was well acquainted with the condition of both Limerick and Belfast. Limerick under Nationalist rule was physically rotting into decay, such as he only wished that the deputation of English working men that they had been able to take over to Ulster could have witnessed. He wished that hon. Members would go over to Limerick themselves and see what the Nationalists have made of it. Half its houses were empty. [An hon. MEMBER: What you have made of it.] He wished that hon. Members would see for themselves and compare the miserable state of Limerick with the prosperous condition of Belfast, where they saw the White Star steamers in 23 feet of water in a basin every foot of which had been dug out by the industry of the people of Ulster. Then they were told that toleration would extend. He would not waste time in discussing the question of the toleration that the Protestants of Ulster were likely to receive if this Bill became law. They need only go back to what had occurred at the Meath election to ascertain what sort of toleration they would have to expect. It was absurd to talk of it. They were being brought within measurable distance of the state of things that existed prior to the time of Henry II. What were the Government asking Ulster to give up? Every form of enterprise, all educational, temperance, and philanthropic movements in Ireland had their origin in 1903 Ulster; and if this Bill passed, all such movements would fall dead or fade away. The men and women of Ulster were in deadly earnest about this Bill. They were the men and women such as those of the great manufacturing northern towns of England and of Scotland, and they felt and believed that the proposals embodied in this Bill were matters of life and death to them. With regard to the subject of menace, he was too much of an Englishman not to believe that if this country chose it could crush Ulster; but if it did so what would be the gain and what would be the cost of such an action? The Attorney General was good enough to lecture him the other day on the abuse of the word "loyalty." If loyalty meant to be true to one's country, to honour its laws and institutions, and to make personal sacrifices for the continuity of its national life, then he claimed that Ulster was loyal. The Government could crush the Loyalists of Ulster. A fool could destroy, but it took a wise man to build up. The Prime Minister had spoken of the Loyalists in Ireland as the English garrison, and he had been the first Englishman to discover that the only use of a British garrison was to betray it. If England chose to crush Ulster the Government of the day might obtain the support of the Nationalist Party as long as it suited that Party to give them that support; but this country would incur the undying hatred of those worst of enemies—men who had been our friends in the past, who were now our friends, and who earnestly desired to be such in the future, but who never would forgive us if we scorned, despised, rejected, and deserted them in their time of trial. In the name of thousands of our loyal and earnest fellow-subjects, he entreated the House not recklessly to cast away the treasure we possessed in the feeling they now entertained for us. The people of Ulster had made up their minds that in no circumstances would they accept this measure. Hon. Members below the Gangway said that if once the Bill became law the whole matter of the government of Ulster would be easy enough. But it would not be quite so easy as they assumed. It had taken the Imperial Treasury more than five years to unsuccessfully endeavour to recover £5,000 from the Corporation of Limerick. 1904 Only last week a member of the Corporation of Limerick said—The Board (of Trade) ought to have known that the Corporation do not care a pinch of snuff for their orders. Any order that would cost money to obey must, of course, be absurd, and they will always snap their fingers at such orders.If that had been the case in the matter of so small a sum as £5,000, which had not yet been recovered, what chance would Lord Chancellor Healy, supported by a posse of police, have of executing a writ of fi. fa. for £500,000 in hostile Belfast. He hoped that that House would not heedlessly pass this Bill, and thereby commit a great crime against the loyal inhabitants of that prosperous part of the United Kingdom.
§ THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Sir G. TREVELYAN, Glasgow, Bridgeton)
I think the hon. Member could not have been one of those who protested against the Prime Minister's description of the arguments used against this Bill as imputing to Irishmen a want of human qualities. Anyone who listened to the first 20 minutes of the speech of the hon. Member who had just sat down might have believed that the great majority of Irishmen have no mercy, no decency, and no honesty, and that they are not only not fit for self-government, but are not fit for the most dependent position among the community of nations. The fact is, that the speech of the hon. Member is some six years behind its time. We are not now discussing a Crimes Act, but a great Constitutional change which has been discussed up to this point in a manner worthy of the issues which are involved. Without dwelling further upon the utterances of the hon. Member, I shall venture at once to proceed to deal with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to assume that the demand for Home Rule is a new one, now raised for the first time after Great Britain has made great concessions to Ireland, and that, therefore, Irishmen were to some extent guilty of ingratitude. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Church Act and the first Laud Act were passed before Home Rule was ever heard of; but he appears to forget that Home Rule in the form of Repeal has always been not only asked for, but fought for, 1905 by the Irish people. That, however, is not the question before us. The Irish Church Act and the Irish Land Act were passed for the purpose of meeting certain definite grievances, and self-government for Ireland is asked for in order to meet grievances quite as honest and as definite. What are those grievances? First, that Irish laws are made in a House of Commons where in many Parliaments Irish Members are outvoted, and in a House of Lords where they have no power at all; and, secondly, the grievance that the great majority of Irishmen have little or no influence over the administration of their country. Now, is that no grievance? The hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) himself described them in those terms:—I do not believe that the majority of Englishmen have the slightest conception of the system under which this free nation attempts to rule the Sister Country. It is a system as completely centralized and bureaucratic as that with which Russia governs Poland, or as that which was common in Venice under Austrian rule. An Irishman cannot move a step, cannot lift a finger in any parochial, municipal, or educational work without being interfered with and controlled by an English official, appointed by a foreign Government, without a shadow or a shade of representative authority.That is not my description: it is the description of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. How many are the people who are in this condition? The right hon. Gentleman to-day gave us some remarkable figures. He made a calculation about marriages—a strange calculation—with the object of showing that the Protestants of Ireland bear a large proportion to the number of Roman Catholics, and then he said the Protestants of Ireland were almost all opposed to Home Rule. That may be or it may not; but I have hoard a very different story. But what is this about 20,000 marriages a year? There are 613,000 married couples in Ireland; how will you get the number at the rate of 20,000 a year? We do not need to go to the marriages to calculate the proportion between Catholics and Protestants. The right hon. Gentleman makes the Protestants more than one-third and less than one-half of the population. In 1891 a religious census of the country was taken. There are 3,547,000 Catholics, and there are 1,156,000 of all other denominations. That is very much less than one-third, and of these Protestants and mem- 1906 bers of other denominations very many are in favour of Irish self-government.
§ SIR G. TREVELYAN
Yes, less than one-fourth of the country. Now, Sir, I do not wonder that the right hon. Gentleman, with his knowledge of Ireland and of politics, approaches this subject in a sternly argumentative manner. We have had in this Debate two weighty and important speeches—the admirable speech of the right hon. Baronet the Member for West Bristol (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) and that of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). Both these right hon. Gentlemen approached this question like men who considered that Irish self-government had a great deal in it, and that if only a good system of government can be discovered the House and the country ought to adopt it. The right hon. Baronet said—If I could see in this Bill a certain lasting bond of unity and concord between Great Britain and Ireland, no private friendship, no Party ties, would induce me to stand here to move its rejection.What did he wish to see in this Bill? He said there was one main requirement which ought to be satisfied—That it should visibly and effectually maintain over the Irish Legislature and Government the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament.The right hon. Member for West Birmingham, in the Debate on the First Reading, said substantially the same thing. He said—The Prime Minister laid down that it is the duty of this country to grant to Ireland the widest possible extension of Local Government consistent with the unity of the Empire, the supremacy of Parliament, and the protection of minorities. Now, for myself, this is a formula which, considered as an abstract proposition and a declaration of policy, I have never been able to resist.So, Sir, the two most weighty speakers against this Bill have both said that if it contained a guarantee of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament they would accept it. We have had the question of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament argued from this side of the House by a lawyer and a statesman, the hon. Member for Haddingtonshire (Mr. Haldane); but this is not the first time it has been argued in this House. In the year 1886 lawyers and statesmen who were opposed to the Bill thoroughly threshed out the 1907 question of the supremacy of this Parliament. What was the doctrine laid down in 1886? It was that the Bid of 1886, whatever might he the intentions of its framers, whatever might he the provisions of the Bill, could not maintain the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament as long as the Irish Members did not sit at Westminster. On these points the great pundits of the Opposition spoke in words which cannot be misconstrued. I will read a sentence from the speech of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham on the Irish Laud Bill. He said—The retention of the Irish Members I regard as a matter of the first and cardinal importance. It is a matter to which I have always attached the greatest possible weight, because if the Irish Members are retained at Westminster the Imperial Parliament remains the Imperial Parliament, and its supremacy will then be an established fact.I should have been glad to read a passage from the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir H. James), but it is somewhat lengthy, and would require very careful examination. I prefer to read what he said on the Second Reading of the Bill. He said—The supremacy of the Imperial Parliament still remains a Constitutional figment, and we want it to be a real and effective supremacy. We do not want the supremacy of the British Parliament to descend to the level of the suzerainty of the Porte over Cyprus. The Under Secretary told us that the supremacy of Parliament existed over the Colonial Legislatures. Yes, Sir; but dare we exercise it on agrarian, or religious, or educational matters in the case of any self-governing Colony? We know that if we did that Colony would throw off its allegiance. Are we, then, going to reduce Ireland to the position of a self-governing Colony, subject to a Constitutional supremacy which becomes a sham, which we dare not exercise? That is the question which lies at the root of our desire that the Irish Members should be retained at Westminster.That was the doctrine which was laid down in 1886. It was argued, I think with perfect justice, that the Irish Members would never acquiesce in laws that were made over their heads by a Parliament in which they did not sit. It was argued, and justly so, that if taxes were voted without their concurrence, those taxes would be looked on as tribute, and not as a contribution to a Common Fund. Now, this cardinal point has been conceded. All the guarantees of supremacy 1908 that can be devised have been placed in this Bill. I think it is not too much to say that if any other guarantees can be suggested by hon. Members who are at present opposed to the Bill they would be inserted; but in addition to all this we have what in 1886 was pronounced to be the one governing guarantee— namely, the retention of the Irish Members. But now comes the strange thing —the fact that the Irish Members are to sit in the Parliament at Westminster is now put forward as the reason that the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament will be destroyed. We are told that 80 Irish Members will hold the balance in the Imperial Parliament, and that there can be no interference with Irish affairs if those 80 Members are opposed to it. I should like, to know how often in past Parliaments there has been interference with Irish affairs, though 100 Members sat here; how many Irish reforms would have been passed; how many laws which Irishmen did not desire would have been rejected if the 100 Irish Members had been able to do in this Parliament what it is said the 80 Irish Members are going to do in the Parliament that is going to be created? The doctrine of 1886 was the right one, and the true and only guarantee of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament consists in the retention of the Irish Members at Westminster, and it was because the Bill of 1886 did not provide for this that there was such a strong feeling against it. That was the Constitutional objection to the Bill of 1886. But neither then, nor I think now, is that the vital difference which is at the bottom of the controversy. It is idle to contend, and in me it would be in a high degree uncandid and dishonest to contend, that it was only Constitutional difficulties—or Constitutional difficulties mainly—that there were at the bottom of the opposition to the Bill of 1886. What those difficulties were may be realised by those who remember the state of feeling which about that time —say in 1884 or 1885—was almost universal in Great Britain, and especially on these Benches. In the course of the long struggle which the Nationalists have made, first to form an Irish Party in this House, and then to pass the land legislation which has now become law, things had happened and words had been spoken which had alienated the British 1909 and the Irish people. To put the matter quite plainly, there were many men who then thought that Irishmen could not safely be trusted with the self-government of Ireland. It was thought that controversies had been so hot that they had produced a disastrous effect on the temper of Irish public men, and that if there was a Parliament in Ireland that Parliament would be the scene of controversy of the same kind that had gone on within these walls when Irishmen were endeavouring to wring legislation from the British Parliament, which the British Parliament was determined not to give them, but which it had since granted. Therefore it was that at that time there was great distrust between the English and Irish, especially within the walls of Parliament, and with good reason, for it was the men who sat in Parliament who had been exposed to all the inconvenience of that terribly long years' struggle, and who had been the witnesses and the shavers of all its bitterness. That was so then; it is not so now. There are many millions of men in this country who have learned that the Prime Minister was right when he said that those difficulties were in the situation more than in the men, and that when you treated Irishmen with confidence, when you gave them the hope of winning from the justice of Great Britain what could not be won from her fears, then they would be very different colleagues from what they were when their only hope of getting any concession for their country was by wearying and worrying Parliament into making that concession. The two charges that were brought against the Nationalist Members were that they were—I believe I am stating the whole case—obstructive in the House of Commons, that they indulged too frequently in unseemly and irregular conduct there, and that in Ireland they used violent language, and showed sympathy with violent action. Sir, there are speeches now made in this House from the Nationalist Benches, speeches not too long or too many, which in Parliamentary propriety—— ["Oh, oh!"] Does anyone pretend that the speeches of the hon. Member for South Longford (Mr. Edward Blake) are not marked with the greatest Parliamentary propriety, and are not great additions to the Debates of this House? 1910 Does anyone who has hoard the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton), and who has sat in this House with him, seriously say that he is not an ornament and a valuable addition to the House? On the other hand, who can name to mo obstructive speeches—speeches degrading the dignity of the House—which have been made during this Session from those Benches? That is one of the charges, and it is a thing of the past. With regard to the charges of violence in Ireland, if at this moment there are threats of violence, or incitements to violence, it is not from the Nationalist Members that they come. With great patience, with great forbearance, they have set themselves to tread in a constitutional path towards their objects. The argument against Home Rule which was founded on distrust of Irishmen is a thing of the past with those among whom it was once the governing consideration. For my own part, I can only say that to be free from that distrust and to have changed it for another sentiment, is to me not a matter of shame or of self-reproach, but of infinite thankfulness and satisfaction. That was a hateful and a hopeless state of fooling which was bringing the relations between the two countries from bad to worse. It is to me a matter of congratulation that Irishmen, having accepted the condition of the supremacy of this Parliament, are prepared to administer those Irish affairs, which they alone understand, with justice to their brother Irishmen and with goodwill and loyalty towards the Parliament of this country. The hon. and learned Gentleman whom I see opposite, in that very brilliant reply which he made to the Prime Minister on the Motion for the First Heading of the Bill, a reply which roused the admiration of everyone who heard him, said that the experience of the last seven years—an experience to which no doubt the hon. and learned Gentleman would be desirous to revert—the happy experience of those years affords an argument unfavourable to any great change in our relations with Ireland—an argument which has not been answered, which was unanswerable, and which could not be resisted. But what were those years? They were years in which the Debates of this House ran upon topics such as were never heard in it before, and which I hope 1911 we shall never hear in it again—Debates on the Parnell Commission and on the Crimes Bill, which was forced through this House under such conditions that all the most vital clauses were not discussed at all. I am not speaking of whose fault it was when one out of four of the Irish Members was imprisoned in the course of a single Parliament, when colleagues of our own were arrested at the door of this House and had warrants or summonses—I forget which—served upon them in the very precincts of the House, and when the relations between the two Parties within its walls were as hostile as they could be made. I can quite understand the hon. and learned Gentleman asking "Who is responsible?" but I cannot understand that anyone should look back to such a state of things with satisfaction. So much for the security, but how about the effect of the Irish Question on the usefulness of this House? In this Session, and not in this Session alone, but in every Session since 1878, the general business of the country has been done under circumstances quite intolerable. On a Wednesday Bills which Ireland wants but cannot get come forward and take the place of Bills which Great Britain wants and would get but for them. Session after Session the entire Government time is taken up by Irish measures, important enough indeed, but passed, after all, for the benefit of only one-seventh or one-eighth of the people whoso interests this Parliament has to take care of. Motions of Adjournment night after night, moved sometimes by hon. Members who have Nationalist opinions, sometimes by Irish Members who hold precisely the opposite views. And so far as the rest of the country is concerned, large measures of construction which would have been passed half a generation ago but for the Irish Question, are waiting still; and, what is worse, the country is getting sick of it. A very dangerous feeling—["Hear, hear!"] I quite agree with you—it is a very dangerous feeling which is growing up, that Parliament is impotent—and no more dangerous feeling can be conceived —that it is a good place for making speeches and a very bad place for doing business. The post which I hold at present has caused me to regard the state of Scotch Business—large Bills and small, contentious Bills and non- 1912 contentious Bills—and I flan Only say the state of Scotch Business now is in ft position which a sensible and rational people will not very much longer tolerate. But it will be said, and it has been said, this will not be amended by thin Bill. The Leader of the Opposition has told us that the Irish Question, which has occupied three-fourths of the time of the House, will henceforward occupy the whole of it. Now, I note with interest the admission of the right hon. Gentleman that Irish Business has occupied three-fourths of the time of the House, but I utterly disbelieve his prophecy. Irish Business, if this Bill were law, would not occupy one-fourth or one-twentieth part of the time. How could it do so when Irish Bills would be passed in Ireland, and Irish administration carried on in Ireland? The fillies of the House would prevent it, and, what is stronger than the Rules of the House, the common-sense of mankind. My own belief is that when once this Bill was law, Parliament will trouble itself little about Irish affairs. Except in case of some great act of injustice, which I do not believe will happen, or some overstepping of the limitations of Irish legislation Which may happen, I do not believe Parliament will occupy itself upon Irish affairs more than it occupies itself now with the decisions of the Town Councils of Glasgow and Manchester. Well, Sir, I now go for a few moments to another question. The good fortune Of this Bill is that the arguments brought against it are mutually destructive. The right hon. Member for West Bristol says that the supremacy of this House will not be established, and the Leader of the Opposition says that this House will do nothing but interfere with the affairs of Ireland. There is just the same case with regard to that very important part of the Bill to which the right hon. Member for West Birmingham devoted much of his time, that relating to finance. Now, the right hon. Member for West Birmingham took the objection to the finance of the Bill that the scheme was founded on the present proportions of taxation and expenditure existing between Great Britain and Ireland.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I never said anything of the kind. My argument was founded on nothing of the kind; 1913 that, so far from being founded on the present relations, even in time of peace, it would be £ 1,500,000 worse.
§ SIR G. TREVELYAN
The right hon. Member said that at the present moment Ireland contributed a certain proportion to the taxation of the country, but that it received a great deal more from the taxation of the country. The right hon. Gentleman approved of that state of things. He said it was proper to give Ireland extra money, because she was a poor country attached to a rich country; but he added that though this was quite proper when both nations had the same Parliament, he for his part would not be content to continue that system when the two Parliaments were separate. Now, I do not think that argument is tenable. At the present moment we give more money to Ireland than is Ireland's share in order that we may keep her a prosperous member of the United Kingdom, and a healthy member of the Body Corporate. Ireland, if this Bill is passed, will still be a member of the United Kingdom, and will still have exactly the same reason to see that she gets that share of the taxation which is proper for her to receive now. She will still be a member of the Body Corporate, and it will be as important to us then as now that she should be a flourishing and healthy member of it. The criticisms made against the finance of the Bill are, again, mutually destructive. We are told that the Bill will be a bad bargain both for England and for Ireland. Now, that is absolutely impossible, except under a condition which I will discuss. And here I will pay a tribute to the hon. Member for Guildford for the assistance he has given us in this discussion, he being, as I believe, the first Member who has seriously alluded to this branch of the subject. The condition under which this may be a bad scheme for Ireland and for England too, is that there are new sources of expenditure in consequence of the separation of the two Parliaments, and the two Executives, and that is the point the hon. Member for Guildford has worked out. Now, how much will be the outside of this new expenditure? In the first place, there will be the up-keep of the Parliament House, which the hon. Member puts at £50,000 a year. Now, the difference between a House of 670 Mem- 1914 bers and one of 100 Members is very great. I have seen the Parliament House of Holland, where good business is done under circumstances of dignity and comfort, but the idea that 600,000 florins were spent upon it yearly would never occur to anyone. I do not know whether the hon. Member has seen the Dutch Parliament House; when he has, I think he will have more moderate ideas as to the possible equipment of the Irish Parliament. I come to the Irish Ministry, which the hon. Member puts at £30,000 a year. Has Ireland no Ministry now? Her Prime Minister, the Chief Secretary, has a salary which is already included in the Civil expenditure. The Public Offices have permanent Civil servants with very large salaries. For instance, in the Department of Public Works there is a Chairman with £1,500 a year, and two Commissioners with £1,200 a year apiece. Why, in the Public Department of Great Britain, which manages the Public Works of the whole of Great Britain, there is only one permanent Civil servant with £1,500 a year. And now, in the Ministry of the Parliament House, I have enumerated all the necessary new expenditure with the exception of the pensions which will be required for those people who refuse to keep office under the new Parliament. The hon. Member puts down the Judges at £40,000. I do not quite understand that; it is an addition to the regular pensions of £17,000, and, as far as I can make out, it would pension the whole judicial staff. Now, does anyone pretend to believe that all the Judges of Ireland will consent to have their income docked by at least one-third—that they will give up their profession, and live in idleness, while in the full possession of their faculties, just in order to give point to the arguments of hon. Members opposite? The Civil Service the hon. Member puts at £125,000 a year. I know the Civil servants of Ireland, and I know they are Irishmen who love Ireland, and will serve her under the new circumstances. But whether the Judges do retire or not, those charges are all temporary and provisional when compared with the life of a nation. They will diminish year by year, and at length they will die out; but, meanwhile, there will be very large economies made, and I can tell you 1915 that there is plenty of room for them. Let me compare Scotland and Ireland. Scotland has over 4,000,000 of people, and Ireland has less than 4,750,000. The Scotch Secretary's office costs £11,000 a year and the Irish Secretary 's costs £21,000. The Central Local Government Board in Scotland costs £9,000 a year, and in Ireland costs £28,000 a year. The Registrar General's Office in Scotland costs £ 10,000 a year, and in Ireland £17,000 a year. Then I come to a Department in which Scotland is not a model of economy—the Judicial Department. In Scotland the pensions and salaries of the Judges are £58,000 a year, and in Ireland £88,000 a year. When we come to the Law Charges Vote, in Scotland it amounts to £127,000 a year, and in Ireland to £180,000 a year. There is everywhere a field for economy, which will endure long after these temporary pensions have passed away. Before I sit down I wish to say one word on the question to which every speaker has referred. An attempt is being made to turn the House of Commons from what it would otherwise think its duty by the declaration that the Protestants of Ireland—for this has been turned into a religions question—will fight either against the Bill or against the Act being put into operation. I saw the other day that a rev. gentleman said, at Coleraine, "We shall resist, even unto blood, the enemies of our faith and freedom"; and he was backed up by another rev. gentleman, who announced that he should stand behind the walls of Derry. I must say that it would be rather a mixed garrison in Derry, considering that last Parliament the City returned a Nationalist, and is likely to do so again in the next Parliament. We do not expect sense from clergymen when they take to the trade of incendiaries and warriors. It is curious to reflect what their favourite hero would have thought of them. If William III., great man that he was, in whose name much has been done of which he would have sorely disapproved, and would have sternly repressed—if he had one pet aversion more than another it was a fighting parson. But we do expect forethought and caution from statesmen, and I am sorry to say that palliations of civil war, suggestions of civil war, and prospective justifications of civil war have come from lips from which I am sorry they should have fallen. Of the 1916 intention of those speeches I will say nothing. I would gladly have read what the hon. and learned Member for Bury said of them in 1886, but I fancy that there sits behind me my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, and after the very exhaustive remarks which he made about that speech I will not venture to refer to it. But I do not share the sanguine ideas of my hon. Friend behind me. I think the warning which the hon. and learned Member for Bury raised is needed, but not because I am not afraid of civil war in the least; there will be no civil war. Some people may have spouted and shouted themselves into the idea that they are prepared to do all that civil war means—to make immense contributions, to put their fortunes on the stake, to provide an enormous military and financial machinery, and most certainly to give up to devastation and ruin, whatever the event, the homes of themselves and of others more innocent than they. But the sort of speeches to which I refer, and the sort of passions which they arouse, are not dangerous in respect of civil war. These spouters in the North will not turn out and fight. The danger is not civil war, but it is a very serious danger. These sort of speeches have led before, and, I am afraid, will lead again, to cruelty and violence on a smaller scale, to the expulsion of Catholics from docks and factories, to violence to Catholics who are in a small minority, to the sacking of Catholic public-houses, and to collisions between the rival mobs. [Laughter.] Let any hon. Member who laughs read the Report on the riots at Belfast in 1886. It is the Report of a Commission not packed in favour of the Catholics. It was a Commission appointed by the late Government. The four members who signed that Report were Mr. Justice Day, Major General Buller, Mr. Poer Trench, and Mr. Adams. One member of the Commission did not sign the Report, I conclude, because he thought it was not enough in favour of the Catholics. Let any hon. Member read that Report and say whether it makes him any more in love with this sort of denunciation, and the crimes and misery which spring from them. There is another thing to be said about these speeches. [Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR: The Leader of the Opposition is the 1917 worst of them.] They are directed against what I believe to be a perfectly imaginary evil. This question, as far as the great mass of the Irish people are concerned, is a political and not a religious question. The hon. Member for Accrington the other day gave us some admirable statistics about the manner in which in Catholic counties Catholics are deprived of posts of patronage by Grand Juries, which are now pretty unanimously petitioning against this Bill. I hope he will get another set of statistics to show how the Municipal Bodies in the South and West of Ireland, with enormous Catholic majorities, elect Protestant Town Councillors, Protestant Mayors, and what a very great share—in the cases of Dublin and Cork an overwhelming share—of municipal salaries are given to officers who are Protestants. Over much the greatest part of Ireland Irishmen, I believe, always desire to get the man who will truly serve the country, parish, or the town, as the case may be, whether he be Protestant or Catholic; and they are perfectly prepared to, and actually do, live with each other as neighbours and fellow-countrymen. I observed, with very great regret, a certain parcel of literature and pictures sent to me the other day, by a Conservative agency I think it was. I observed it with very great regret, because they have called with considerable care and skill to what they imagine to be their assistance the talent of a very great man, George Cruickshank. There are seven pictures of certain horrors which took place in Wexford in 1798, with which Cruickshank illustrated Maxwell's History of the Irish Rebellion. I observe no picture of the horrors on the other side which preceded that rebellion and the more dreadful cruelties by which it was succeeded. But, such as it was, it was an attempt to show what Wexford in 1798 was and what it was to be again. Now, that was to be the caricature; what is the reality? I received only three weeks ago a letter from a traveller to Wexford, written from Enniscorthy, which was the immortal centre of all the horrible scenes. He says—We were taken at night to see a club of shopkeepers and working men which the clergy"—that is, the Catholic clergy—had been chiefly instrumental in starting 1918 where billiards were being played, and where there was an excellent reading-room and concert hall. Men of all persuasions met there-Catholics and Protestants, Unionists and Parnellites, police and priests. So much for the prospect of religious persecution. That is how Irishmen now live together whore Vinegar Hill throws its shadow in the early morning.This is the real Ireland, not the caricature Ireland put forward for political purposes and political prejudices. I have done, and there is only one observation which I still would make. We are told that it would require a larger majority than 40 in order to give Ireland self-government. That may be so; but how large a, majority will be required to induce Ireland to acquiesce in the refusal of self-government? How large a majority will be required in order that you may continue to administer Ireland and go on administering Ireland as she was administered during the last six years? The prospect of the relations between the two islands returning to what they were before the General Election and remaining there is as impossible as it would be disastrous to the highest interests of the country, and every year that passes before this question is settled is a year lost; lost in an attempt to postpone or avert a measure which, under whatever Government, cannot fail to pass through Parliament, as Catholic Emancipation, Free Trade, and Household Suffrage, under the guidance of Governments which did not love them, all have passed before it.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
said the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was an excellent illustration of the truth of the old maxim that the zeal of the pervert was of the most burning and boundless character. The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by a taunt at the hon. Member for West Belfast, that his speech had been made six years too late. That taunt was not surprising from the lips of the right hon. Gentleman, for exactly seven years ago, in this House, he made use of these words:—The contention that the Liberal Party is a Home Rule Party is one which until every faculty I have is strained to the uttermost, and every Constitutional method, inside and out of this House has been exhausted, I for one will never consent to.And on the same occasion he added these words:—That any responsible body of Ministers 1919 should put the keeping of the police, the enforcement of civil obligations, and the safety, and the property of our fellow-citizens through-out Ireland in the hands of an elective Irish Parliament I could not believe.Times have changed with the right hon. Gentleman, though the conditions of politics have not practically changed. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the happy state of affairs which now prevails between men of different religious in Ireland, and he mentioned the town of Enniscorthy. If in that town, above all others, where there might be an excuse for religious animosity and anger, such a happy state of things prevails under the existing régime, why not allow the existing state of things to continue? The right hon. Gentleman has just told us that the principal reasons for the Home Rule Bill are that the Irish Members in the House of Commons have been outvoted, and that the majority of Irishmen have no influence over the administration of their country. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman what change there is with regard to these facts—if they were facts—since the year 1886, when his view of affairs was entirely different? The right hon. Gentleman now agrees with the Prime Minister that the difficulties of 1886 occurred in the situation rather than in the men. What did he say about the men in 1886?The idea of making members of the Land League land agents in Ireland of the British Treasury, is the wildest that ever entered into the brain of man.The right hon. Gentleman said they were asked to set up a separate Executive, and they knew this Executive would be composed of men of the Land League, who had been teaching that rent was robbery. The men, to whom you propose now to hand over Ireland, are precisely the same. How, then, has the situation changed, and what force is there in the right hon. Gentleman's statement that in 1886 the difficulty lay in the situation and not in the men? But the right hon. Gentleman went on to talk about the time occupied in the passage of the Crimes Bill of 1887, and he spoke of a certain number of Irish Nationalist Members having been imprisoned under the Criminal Law and Procedure Act. has the right hon. Gentleman forgotten that he was the Minister for Ireland that carried 1920 into effect the Crimes Act of 1882, an Act infinitely more drastic and coercive than the Act of 1887? Has he forgotten how the Prime Minister, whom he now follows, imprisoned 1,200 Nationalist Irishmen in 1881 without even the form of trial, and merely on his own ipse dixit or the ipse dixit of his Chief Secretary? Has he forgotten the time occupied in the passage of the Crimes Bill of 1882? The right hon. Gentleman's views of history are exceedingly one-sided. He has spoken with some indifference and appearance of slight of the loyalists of Ireland. He spoke of them as numbering less than a third. The right hon. Gentleman did an injustice to the Member for West Birmingham, whose statement was not that the Protestants of Ireland, but that the loyalists numbered a third of the Irish population. Of that there can be no doubt, because the best part of the Catholic population, as well as practically the whole of the Protestants, are loyalists. The right hon. Gentleman has asked how Irish business under the Bill could occupy the time of the House. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that if in the past we have had the Irish Question occupy a great part of the time of Parliament, in the future, under this Bill, the whole of the time will be occupied with Irish questions. The Bill is so ingeniously arranged that, however much the British majority may seek to have their way, and may, for a moment, have their way on purely British subjects in the Imperial Parliament, there will be openings and opportunities for a re-discussion, and a re-vote involving the fate of the Ministry, which will enable the 80 Irish Members to intervene, and to exercise not merely a harrassing but a controlling influence over all the Debates. When we remembered that under the Bill all the questions which most intimately interest a National Parliament, questions connected with Religion, with Education, with Trade, with the Army, the Navy, the Militia, and the Volunteers, are carefully excluded from the purview of the Irish Parliament, there can be no doubt that there would be an infinite number of openings for the intervention of the Irish Members in our Debates, and for their control over political Parties in this House. I will now 1921 pass to the remarkable speech of the Prime Minister on Thursday last. The Prime Minister begun by the confession that there was an enormous majority in England in 1886 against his then Bill, and he seemed somewhat surprised that the majority of the English vote should then have rejected his Home Rule scheme. Why did England in 1886 reject the Home Rule scheme of the right hon. Gentleman? The answer is simple. The majority of the English electorate rejected the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman because the issue of Union or Separation was then put plainly and clearly before them. The principles and the details of the plan of the Prime Minister were then put clearly before the English electorate, and the English electorate rejected the Bill then by a majority of nearly three to one. The English vote was given on that occasion, as the English vote always has been given in great crises of English history, in favour of the cause of national unity and of Imperial greatness. It is idle for the Prime Minister to state that this measure has been before the country for seven years. For six years and six months after July, 1886, there was no Home Rule Bill, no plan, no outline even of the scheme, before the people of this country. The right hon. Gentleman told the country, after his defeat in 1886, that his former plan was dead. For over six years wild horses could not drag from him the smallest detail as to his new measure. The present Bill has been seven weeks, not seven years, before the country; and the country is already disgusted with it. The last General Election was not fought upon "Home Rule." No such scheme was before the electorate; and, indeed, in most constituencies every effort was made by the Radical candidates to keep "Home Rule" in the background. The one great aim of the Radical electioneerers was, to quote a transatlantic phrase, to "bull-doze" the electors with the Newcastle Programme and with lavish promises of the most reckless kind. Every device was employed, and in too many cases, I grieve to say, with success, to keep the real issues of Union or Separation from the consideration of the electorate. Yet withal, England returned a majority of 71 Members against Home Rule even when the Bill was wrapped up 1922 in the gilded coating of Parish Councils, One Man One Vote, and Local Option. The same effort is being repeated now by the Government; they have ostentatiously paraded before the country the First Readings of all their Newcastle Programme, though they never expected to pass them this Session, in order to be able if possible again to conceal from the electors at the next Election the real issue of separation amid the cloud of electioneering bribes, which constitute their British programme. They will find the electors next time, however, a little more wide awake as to this electioneering by programme than they were in July last. They knew that the Prime Minister, who describes himself as "a pure Scotchman," thinks very little of English opinion, and lately, when writing in praise of an anti-English book, expressed his conviction that—No race stands in need of greater discipline in every form, and among other forms that which is administered by criticism vigorously directed to canvassing their character and claims.Nor is this view surprising, for though the right hon. Gentleman has been four times Prime Minister, he has never had a majority in England, and he (the speaker) is confident that he never will have. The Prime Minister inquired anxiously in his speech last Thursday, "When will this question end?" The answer is simple: When agitators ceased to find agitation profitable, and when Liberal statesmen realise, as the Prime Minister himself said in November, 1885, that "it is not safe for the Liberal Party to enter on the consideration of a policy in respect to which it is in the power of a Party coming from Ireland to say unless you do this, and unless you do that, we will turn you out to-morrow." The present Bill is a wanton and needless disturbance of the excellent arrangements which prevailed between Ireland and England when the right hon. Gentleman took office last July. There is no cause for the Bill. Ireland, judged by every practical test, is peaceful and prosperous. Agarian crime has sunk to a minimum. Boycotting has been wiped out. There are fewer evictions than for many years before. Even the artful and predatory Plan of Campaign is on its last legs. There were only three 1923 persons in gaol under what hon. Gentlemen opposite miscall the Coercion Act, and that Act itself was in operation when the late Government left Office only in the single County of Clare. The material benefit of the Irish people has been promoted by a series of most useful Acts— Relief Acts, Light Railway Acts, Drainage Acts, and Land Purchase Acts. Never more will similar Acts be passed for Ireland if this Bill becomes law. The Irish people had progressed in every way. Their deposits in the savings banks had greatly increased. Their general wages were higher. The whole temper and morale of the people had improved. The splendid welcome given to the late Chief Secretary by the poorer Roman Catholic peasants of the South and West of Ireland, in spite of the hostile incitements of the Leaders of the Nationalist Party, was almost as remarkable as the matchless welcome which he has just received from the entire loyalist and Protestant population of Ulster. There is no real demand for this Bill in Ireland. There is very little excitement in its favour even now. The loyalists, numbering at least 1,750,000, are against it to a man, and out of the remaining 2,900,000 I do not believe, if a plébiscite were taken by ballot, that 1,500,000 would vote for it. It has always been the fate of the Prime Minister to foment and create the disturbance and disorder which he afterwards uses as an excuse for some grievous surrender to revolution and to lawlessness. Let me refer briefly to recent Irish history. The period from 1850 to 1866 was a period of immense progress in Ireland. Old animosities were dying out, race and religious rancour were disappearing. The right hon. Gentleman was so terrified by the Fenian movement, by the Clerkenwell explosion, and by the Manchester murder, that he at once capitulated and began his famous career of surrender to the enemies of England, which was not yet completed. The Fenian movement of 1867 was a very factitious one. It had little real root in Ireland, and was but an outgrowth of the American Civil War, which left a large number of young and active Irish Celts, who were trained and experienced in war, without occupation and anxious to continue in arms. A second time, in 1880, the right hon. Gen- 1924 tleman found Ireland peaceful and free from serious crime. He himself bore evidence in March, 1880, tothe general sense of comfort and satisfaction such as is unknown in the history of Ireland.That was most true, for in April, 1880, there were only 67 agrarian crimes in Ireland and for the whole year 1879 only 863 agrarian crimes. The present Prime Minister, however, who took office in April, 1880, immediately gave the reins to the outrage monger and law breaker. After eight months of his régime there were no less than 866 agrarian crimes in December, 1880, and 4,439 agrarian crimes in 1881—an increase on 1879 of over 500 per cent. Once more the right hon. Gentleman is giving the reins to crime in Ireland. Once more he has, for purely political objects, in order to bribe the Irish vote, abandoned the simple and just powers which he possesses for restraining crime, just as he abandoned them in 1880, and with precisely the same result. The odd thing is that the Prime Minister is absolutely un-teachable from experience. The more he fails the more sanguine he is of success. The greater advantage the party of disorder and revolution in Ireland take of his genius for surrender, the more childlike and absolute is his confidence in the men whose policy and practice he has described as "reckless and chaotic," and of whom he had said that "rapine is their first object," and thatit is idle to talk of either law, or order, or liberty, or religion, or civilisation if they are to carry through the chaotic schemes they have devised.The Prime Minister has concluded both his speeches on this Bill with very eloquent perorations of a highly sentimental kind, based on that delightful figment, the union of hearts. It is instructive to consider what the no less confident predictions of the Prime Minister have been before in various stages of his Irish policy. Of his Land Bill of 1870 he spoke asa manifold effort to close up and seal for ever the great question which so intimately concerns the welfare and happiness of the people of Ireland.And again he stated that it was his confident expectation thatthis effort will be crowned with success.1925 Of that most mischievous and disturbing Laud Act of 1881, which set up the fatal principle of dual ownership throughout Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman said itwill give peace to the country, peace which is not the object of these men. It is a foundation of good, and t feel sure that the greater solidity of the social state which these changes are bringing about will well repay the landlords for everything they are called on to surrender.Fond delusion! Those were the days in which the Prime Minister thought 20 years' value a fair purchase price for Irish land, and when he said of Irish landlords, "They have stood their trial, and have, as a rule, been acquitted." Now he is about to throw them to the wolves after a very doubtful period of three years' grace. I specially call attention to the Prime Minister's phrase in 1881, "Peace is not the object of these men." Those were the words used by the Prime Minister in 1881 of the hon. Gentlemen who now sat below the Gangway (the Irish Members), who constitute his majority, who dictate his policy, and who could, if they would, turn him out to-morrow. These are the men of whom it is literally true that with them he was now "marching through rapine to the dismemberment of the Empire." There is only one other remark in the right hon. Gentleman's latest speech with which I shall now deal—that in which he spoke of "the Irish question having reduced Parliament to a state of comparative inefficiency." I dispute this statement altogether. It was quite true that the Irish Nationalist Party from 1886 to 1892 did their utmost to reduce the last Parliament to a state of inefficiency, and that they were generally helped in that amiable effort by the bulk of the British followers of the right hon. Gentleman. But they did not succeed. It is an abuse of language to say that a Parliament which passed such splendid and beneficent measures as the Mines Act, the Allotments Acts, the Merchandise Marks Act, the Conversion Act, the Factories Act, the Free Education Act, the Small Holdings Act, and a vast amount of favouring legislation for Ireland, including the Great Land Purchase Act, was even comparatively inefficient. The Prime Minister in introducing his Bill, laid down five conditions as essential to such a measure as that which he proposes for the separate government of Ireland. The first condition was that the 1926 Imperial unity of the country and the supremacy of Parliament should he maintained. The second condition was that there should be equality between the three Kingdoms. The third was the equitable re-partition of finance; the fourth that there should be every practical protection of minorities; and the fifth that the measure should contain the principles of a real and continuous settlement. I venture to say that in the measure now before the House not a single one of the conditions which the Prime Minister laid down is fulfilled. I affirm that the Bill would destroy the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament and that it would deal a deadly, perhaps a fatal, blow at our Imperial unity. The Bill does not contain even the beginning of a pretence of any equality between the Three Kingdoms. It is proposed to set up a separate Legislature for Ireland which should deal with Irish affairs and at the same time it leaves to the Irish Members the power of constant interference, harassing, and in most cases control, over the course of Imperial legislation and Imperial policy. I say that this measure means Repeal of the Union. What was the main feature of the Act of Union? It was the establishment of a single and common Legislature for the two countries. The unity of the Crown was not established in 1800. It had existed for centuries before that. The essential feature of the Act of Union was that it established one Parliament for Great Britain and Ireland. That Parliament was established because of the disastrous failure of a separate Irish Parliament, which had existed from 1782, and under which Ireland had in many ways declined and had been brought to a condition of revolution and anarchy. The South and the West of Ireland were in open rebellion. Horrible and inhuman atrocities had been perpetrated by the ignorant and infuriated Roman Catholic rebels upon the scattered Protestant people living among them. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen laugh, but do they deny that this was the case? Men, women, and children have been massacred wholesale under circumstances of most atrocious cruelty.
SIR E. A. BARTLETT
No, first of all by the rebel Irish. This rebellion culminated in the importation of a French Republican Army to assist the Irish rebels against Great Britain. A French force did actually land upon Irish soil, though fortunately it was, by the intervention of the elements, but a small portion of the expedition that had been fitted out. As in the case of the Spanish Armada, a hundred years before, so in the case of General Hoche's expedition of 1798, the winds and the waves proved to be the best friends of England. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) is very familiar with this French expedition, for he has referred to it in terms of pleasure on more than one occasion, and has drawn graphic pictures of the dangers that would arise to England if the hot-headed Celtic youth of Tipperary and Limerick had only the rallying-point of a French army to mass and drill them against England. The only distinct reference to Imperial unity is in the Preamble to the Bill, in which it is mentioned in general terms. This assertion in the Preamble has a purely sentimental value. The test of Imperial unity is, to quote the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, that the central authority should have full "control of all the forces and all the resources of the country to which that supremacy applies." At present the Imperial Parliament had that control over Ireland, as over England and Scotland. It can levy any taxes, it can raise any troops it sees fit for defence or offence. All the Irish officials, both in Dublin and throughout the country—police, taxation, administrative— are under the direct control of the Imperial Cabinet. There need be no delay; there would be no difficulty in carrying out the orders of the supreme Imperial Parliament and Cabinet. But the Government propose to create a separate Irish Parliament with a quasi-independent Viceroy, who holds office for six years, and who may be a Roman Catholic. Under that separate Parliament will be placed the whole administrative, judicial, police, and agrarian authorities of Ireland. The Imperial supremacy will be reduced to a mere name. The Imperial Ministry or Parliament might issue orders, indeed; but they would not be obeyed if not agreeable to the dominant Irish faction. The whole administration of Ireland 1928 would have been transferred from loyal to disloyal hands. The men who have constantly laid down that "Ireland should be free, owning no flag but the green flag of an independent Irish nation," are not likely to allow any practical supremacy to remain in the bauds of the Imperial Parliament. Even if the Viceroy was willing to carry out the orders of the Imperial Cabinet or the decrees of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, he would be perfectly powerless to enforce those orders upon an unwilling Irish Cabinet, or an unwilling Irish Parliament. The supremacy of the Imperial Authority would be a dead letter unless enforced by arms, and that would mean civil war. And there is another great danger abroad arising from this lessening of Imperial unity. Hitherto the anti-English action of American politicians has been of a platonic and more or less harmless character. They have, indeed, possessed no pied-a-terre for open interference. Ireland has been an integral part of the United Kingdom. The Irish, and all their affairs, have been under the direct sovereignty of the Imperial Parliament and the Monarch of the British Empire. It would be impossible, therefore, for any American politician, without absolutely reversing all the principles upon which international law is based, and without affirming a most monstrous and unheard of right of interference in the internal affairs of a foreign country, to deny the right of the Imperial Parliament to deal as it pleases with its Irish subjects. But once give Ireland a separate Parliament and deprive Irishmen of all control over Imperial affairs, and the whole situation would be reversed. Ireland would then be regarded, certainly by the Trish in the States, as an independent, or, at all events, as a quasi-independent nation. Every dispute—and disputes are certain to be legion—which arises between the Imperial and the Irish Parliament will be treated by the Irish wire pullers in the States as a grievance and a cause for agitation. The National League, or its equivalent, would oppose the payment of the tribute of £2,370,000 as arranged in Mr. Gladstone's Home Rule Bill, or any other contribution to the Imperial Exchequer, or would demand for the Irish Parliament the collection of the Customs, 1929 or the right to establish the Roman Church, or the right of interference in some Foreign question. Then the whole pack of agitators in the United States would be started in full cry against Great Britain, and with very menacing results. A "Home Rule" Act would give the Irish conspirators in America the very ground and basis for interference which they now lack. They would claim for Ireland the position of a separate nation. They would demand for the Irish Parliament all the powers and privileges of a sovereign Legislature. There is too much danger that ambitious politicians In the United States may be tempted to enter upon a course of interference between this country and Ireland which they cannot possibly attempt at present. As to the equality between the Three Kingdoms, which was the Prime Minister's second point, there is not the slightest sign of it in the present Bill. The Irish are to have a separate Parliament of their own to deal with Irish affairs. They are to have their contributions to the Imperial Exchequer lowered; they are only to bear l–25th of the total Imperial charges, and yet they are to send 80 members— that is nearly one-eighth—to the Imperial Parliament. These 80 Members will be practical masters of British policy. They will make and unmake British Ministries. So far from getting rid of the Irish question and from Irish interference, we shall have Ireland and Irish Members with us in tenfold greater intensity and with more harassing and disturbing power than ever before. There would be a great influx of Irishmen into this country. Life would be made intolerable in the South and West of Ireland under the provisions of this Bill. There are great businesses now carried on in parts of Ireland under the control of the loyal minority. If this Bill passed, those who are responsible for these businesses are satisfied that they could not be carried on, and would have to be transferred to British soil. The workmen at present employed in Ireland would also have to come over. The financial proposals of this Bill are most confusing. There were three grave inaccuracies in the Prime Minister's reference to finance last Thursday. He stated that an extra duty of one-quarter, or 2s. 6d. a gallon, 1930 on spirits consumed in Ireland would produce £800,000. But the average yield of Irish Excise during the past three years has been only £2,420,000, consequently an increased duty of 2s. 6d. would" only produce £600,000. The second inaccuracy was when the Prime Minister assumed that an addition of 2s. 6d. to the duty on spirits consumed in Great Britain would raise £20,000,000. But the average yield of the Spirit Duty in Great Britain at 10s. a gallon for the last three years has been only £12,325,000. Consequently, the increase of 2s. 6d. a gallon would only produce £3,081,000. Again, the right hon. Gentleman is wrong in assuming that Ireland's gross contribution to the Imperial Revenue is 12 per cent., as shown by the recent Treasury Return. It is only 8 per cent. These are very serious errors for the framer of this Bill to make; and they require explanation. The Irish contribution of £2,370,000 to Imperial charges will be but 1–25th of the total charges. So that great Britain is to pay 24 times as much as Ireland, while Ireland is to have nearly an eighth of the total representation in the Imperial Parliament. In other words, the people of England and Scotland are to pay about £1 12s. per head towards Imperial charges, while Ireland only pays about 10s. per head towards the same charges. Yet, withal, Ireland is to have three times as large a representation in the Imperial Parliament, in proportion to her Imperial taxation, as England and Scotland are to have. Notwithstanding this remarkable discrepancy, the Irish followers of the Prime Minister, to whom this scheme is to offer a real and continuous settlement, already denounce his financial proposals as not sufficiently favourable to Ireland. We know what will happen to that £2,370,000 of Customs Duties when the Nationalist friends of the Prime Minister are masters of Ireland and of all its administrations. These duties are to be collected by "alien" officials and paid into an "alien" exchequer. At. present the main detectors and punishers of smuggling are the Royal Irish Constabulary, which splendid force is to be abolished as fast as the Irish agitators and the promoters of disorder, whom the constabulary have so long kept in check, can get rid of them. What 1931 chance will the unprotected "alien" Saxon collector have of getting his hated duties from a keen-witted and jealous people? That Irish-contribution, which is now only l–25th will soon dwindle away to vanishing point. Again, what is to happen if the Customs Duties are altered or reduced? or what is to happen if a great national crisis should arise, and more money is wanted for national or Imperial defence? Supposing this country to be involved in difficulties with the United States, with the French Republic, or on the side of free Italy and against the Papacy, Great Britain is, forsooth, to trust to the generosity of the Irish Parliament, led by the men who have trafficked with the Boers, cheered the Mahdi, and be praised the Czar and the Russian attacks on English power. Moreover, for Ireland itself, this is a Whisky Budget. The Customs—that is, the Tea and Tobacco Duties—are to be paid to the Imperial Exchequer. The Excise—that is, the Whisky Duty—is to go to the Irish Exchequer. Consequently, when the Irish consume tea and tobacco they will be paying tribute to England. When they drink whisky they will be supporting the national finances. What will the Temperance Party have to say to an Irish Budget constructed in this way? The surplus depends entirely upon the Excise. If less whisky should be drunk than at the present rate of about 10s. a head, the £500,000 would disappear. Even in the year 1890 the Excise produced £368,000 less than last year, thus reducing the surplus to a little over £130,000. The 4,700,000 people in Ireland now drink 4,500,000 gallons of whisky a year, and pay duty £2,250,000—that is, nearly 10s. per head. What would happen to the Irish surplus if the Irish were only to drink 7s. 6d. per head? There would be a, deficit of over £60,000 a year, instead of a surplus of £500,000; and what would happen if the Local Veto Bill were passed by the Irish Parliament, and widely adopted throughout the country? The Members of the new Legislature and Ministry are not likely to remain without a salary. Their pay will represent at least £100,000 a year. The United Ireland estimates that within two years there will be a pension list of between £100,000 and £150,000 a year, to be paid out of the Irish Exchequer. 1932 Moreover, there are certain to be large demands upon the Irish Exchequer in time of distress and for public works. These, which have hitherto been met by loans or Relief Acts, and paid out of the Imperial Exchequer, will in future have to be found out of the Irish balance. Even if the Irish Government is able to borrow money at all, which is not likely, they are certain to have to pay a much higher rate of interest for it than the Imperial Government. What will be the condition of the Irish people, the poorer and loss prosperous people, deprived, as they will be for the future, of all the assistance and the grants they have received from the Imperial Parliament? No more Relief Acts, no more Drainage Acts, no more seed potato grants, no more Light Railway Acts, all paid for out of British money, will be their good fortune in the future. Since 1850 £10,000,000 have been practically given to Ireland. Ireland will have to relieve itself, and the Irish people provide themselves for their own necessities if this Bill becomes law.
§ It being Midnight, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed To-morrow.