§ [SIXTH 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. STOREY (Sunderland)
said, in order to facilitate discussion, not being able to conclude his speech on the previous evening, he begged to state that he would not trouble the House further.
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
The question which has just been put by the hon. Member for Northampton shows that a feeling of tyranny appears to be enshrined in the heart almost of every Radical in the country. I observed something of the kind also in the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down, for, having yesterday addressed the House at considerable length, he took upon himself to threaten the House of Commons that if this Debate was to be continued much longer hon. Members should begin to consider whether the Closure ought not to be applied.
§ MR. STOREY
Will the right hon. Gentleman pardon me? I never suggested the Closure; I never voted for it in my life, and I do not believe I ever will.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
Then I have misunderstood the hon. Member, though I think if he refers to the reports of his speech this morning he will find that I am not mistaken. We are, however, indebted to the Prime Minister for relieving us of all apprehensions that there is to be any undue limitation of this Debate. Everyone of us, I think, must agree that no question of greater magnitude than the repeal of the legislative Union between Ireland and England, or one more pregnant, with results either for good or evil to the future of the Constitution, has ever been submitted to the judgment of the House of Commons. What we should naturally have expected was to have had before us from the Government some reasons of the most conclusive, convincing, and overwhelming character for the change. The exhaustive and prolonged discussion on this subject, either in the House of Commons or in the country, has lasted almost without intermission for something like six years. No one has contributed more freely to the Debate by writing and speech than the Prime Minister himself; and I have heard or road with studious attention every word that has fallen from him on the subject. Yet I solemnly declare that I have never been able to discover, either with regard to the experience of the past or the circumstances of the present or the prospects of the future, anything whatever in the nature of reasons which appear to me to be adequate or sufficient for the vast and startling changes in the Constitution which he proposes by this Bill. The hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. M. Davitt), in the able speech delivered by him on Tuesday evening, gave a most deplorable description of the fruits of the Union as regards the material prosperity of a large portion of Ireland, especially in the West and in the congested districts of the country. I was under the impression that no English Minister had ever done more for the congested districts of Ireland than my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. A. J. Balfour). I also thought, and still think, that his efforts 214 to promote their welfare and happiness had been warmly and gratefully recognised by the peasantry of the West. I also believe that if the hon. Member for East Cork were able to go among the people, not in pursuit of political agitation, but seeking after truth, he would find that the memory of my right hon. Friend still lingers in the hearts of a generous and warm-hearted people, who regard him among all English statesmen as, perhaps, one of the greatest and best benefactors they have had. The hon. Member tried to show the abnormal amount of relief given by the workhouses and required by the people; the vast number of miserable mud cabins which he describes as being scattered throughout the country, and the unhappy and unfortunate increase of lunatics in Ireland. The hon. Member then ox-claims, "These are the fruits of the Union between Ireland and England; and yet you complain that we have given you no reasons for this Hill." I have had no means of examining the figures of the hon. Member, but I am content to set against the statements which he made another and a very different description of that country. A very distinguished man spoke on Ireland as follows not many years ago:—I do not believe there is a labouring population in all Europe.. which in the course of the last 20 years has made a progress equal to the labouring population of Ireland. Let me look at the fanning class which constitute the great body of the nation. Forty years ago the deposits in the Irish banks, indications of their savings, were £5,000,000. Fifteen years later they had risen to £11,000,000 or £12,000,000. There are now of deposits, which represent almost wholly the honest savings of Irish farmers, £30,000,000. If I am to speak of moral progress in Ireland, I say it has been remarkable. There is one painful exception— agrarian offences. But even with that, where there were 14.000 offences committed 50 years ago, the recorded numbers had fallen from 14,000 to 3.000.…I invite the attention of the House to this point, for it is the whole case—These are indications of real progress, about which there can be no mistake. They are encouragements to persevere, to fall back upon that stock of resolution and of patience by which it is that a nation grows great, and when it has grown great keeps its greatness.When was that statement made, and who made it? It was made at Leeds in 1891 by the present Prime Minister. It shows three things: In the first place, 215 the very great and remarkable discrepancy between the statements of the hon. Member for North-East Cork; in the second place, it shows that the right hon. Gentleman's great and recent conversion can no longer be traced to those ancient causes which he has recently endeavoured so often to put before us and the country, but that it must be due to something else, because not 12 years have elapsed since he gave his glowing description of the fruits of the Union in Ireland. Whether it has been due to an immensely increased majority of the followers of Mr. Parnell in this House, or to what other cause, I must leave hon. Members to decide. I cannot help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman was not unconscious himself the other night of the poverty of the reasons which have been given in support of this Bill, when on the Second Reading of the measure he offered some suggestions which, I suppose, were intended to do duty as reasons for the Bill. The first was that the government of Ireland is wasteful and extravagant. So it may be; but retrenchment has always been a battle cry in one or other of the Political Parties in this country since I can recollect. Certainly, however, it has never hitherto been held to warrant a change, a complete revolution, in the Constitution such as that which the right hon. Gentleman proposes. I understand that even on the facts upon which the right hon. Gentleman has based his accusantion he is entirely in error. It was pointed out by my right hon. Friend the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen), in a speech at Glasgow, that a Treasury Minute, published within the last month, discloses this fact—that instead of the civil government of Ireland costing £1 per head of the population while in England the cost is 10s., the civil government in England costs 17s. per head, while in Ireland the cost is 22s. I cannot understand how the right hon. Gentleman could have been guilty of so gross an error, unless it be due to the recklessness which induces him to jump at anything and everything which gives him a reason for his Bill. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Irish Question was the curse of the House of Commons. It is not very flattering to the Irish Representatives, but I am not prepared 216 to say that it has been entirely devoid of all foundation. The cause of the Irish Question being so constantly before the House is the presence of a great number of Irish Members in this Assembly; and as I understand from the right hon. Gentleman that he is determined to retain the Irish Members in this House, why it seems to me that the second reason he has given for his Bill disappears at once. But then he gave us a third reason, which, I am bound to say, was more remarkable than either of the others. The right hon. Gentleman says he cannot find an author who denies the impolicy, the injustice, and the scandal of the management of Ireland by the predominating power of this country. I really can hardly believe that the right hon. Gentleman was serious when I heard him make that statement, which is exactly the opposite of the truth. ["Oh!"] I can find him almost any number. I do not want to weary the House, but when these statements of the right hon. Gentleman go forth to the country they are naturally believed by the English public unless the contradiction is made to go forth at the same time. I take the case of Mr. Lecky.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE,) Edinburgh, Midlothian
I spoke of foreign authors.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I am glad the right hon. Gentleman has abandoned that position. I thought he meant English authors.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I am afraid the position of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to foreigners has very little in it. I will pass over the statements of the authors to whom I was about to refer. But let us take foreigners; and I will take Count Beust, than whom there is no foreigner better acquainted with this country. What does he say? In his opinion—The concession of a separate Parliament would be a mistake which England would have to expiate dearly.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
My remarks were not made with respect to Count Beust's opinion on the Home Rule Bill, but with regard to the universal consensus of foreign opinion indicated by 217 foreign literature upon the past conduct of England to Ireland as a whole.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
Well, I take the right hon. Gentleman on that ground. I will quote the opinion of a foreigner, for whom he, I think, will show respect. I will give him the opinion of a very distinguished statesman—Count Cavour. He said—Putting aside the appreciation of the conduct and the merits of those who took part in the Act of Union, let us examine this measure in itself, and let us see if in fact it has been unjust and iniquitous towards Ireland, and if it deserves all the hatred which it excites even at this day, and all the vituperation which O'Connell and the orators of the day have lavished upon it without, ceasing. For myself, I declare frankly that I do not think so.… It appears at once as regards the civil and economic relations of the two Kingdoms the Act of Union is irreproachable.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
It is in a little book written by Count Cavour, which I was only reading this morning. I will send the right hon. Gentleman the precise reference. But, as he is so anxious for the opinions of other distinguished foreigners, I will take the opinion of Dr. Geffcken, writing in The British Empire, 1889—So far as his home policy is concerned, he has in Ireland committed a fatal blunder. I am convinced that his Irish policy will be so regarded by the future historian of England.I have another distinguished authority which I will give him.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Will the right hon. Gentleman in all cases give me the reference, and will he say who is "he"?
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I was referring to the policy of the right hon. Gentleman himself, and I can assure him that with great satisfaction I will give him the strict reference in every case I have quoted. I think I might, perhaps, quote the opinion of another foreigner, M. De Molinari, who, I understand, is a distinguished Belgian. He said a few years ago—Those which are most vaunted are not only inefficacious but positively mischievous. In this category I would at the outset put Home Rule, whether it be taken to mean the complete separation of Ireland from England or the reestablishment of an Irish Parliament.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton):
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's 218 pardon. I did not catch the name. Was it Mr. Apollinaris?
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I am ready to give the right hon. Gentleman all these references in full; and if I had understood that his allusion was to foreign authors alone, I could have produced him almost any number that he desired. But I am bound to say, Sir, now that I understand what the right hon. Gentleman means, that if it comes to this—that the Prime Minister of England is to take his principles of government from foreign authors, who not seldom are amongst the bitterest of our foes, then I think I am entitled to say this, with all due respect, that the time has come when the right hon. Gentleman would do well to relinquish the cares of this Empire, in the interests of the Empire and of all whom it concerns. I pass from that subject, and one admission I will make to the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the reasons which have been given for this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman often points to what he calls the rooted desire of Ireland and of the Irish people for Home Rule, a desire, moreover, which has been expressed through the Constitutional medium of the vast majority of the Representatives of the people. If it were a good and sound belief I should admit at once that it was a serious matter for our consideration. But here I am at once confronted with another difficulty, and that is the question of Ulster. And surely, Mr. Speaker, it is idle and farfetched to speak of the rooted desire of a nation with 500,000 people in the streets of Belfast the other day, every one of whom was consumed with a burning hatred of your Bill, and boasted of their intention to resist it to the end, and, if it were necessary, by force. I have always had, I own, very considerable doubts as to the genuine and spontaneous character of this demand for Home Rule, and it would be very interesting if it were possible to ascertain how much of this desire is due to other causes altogether— to priestly influence, for instance, to the number of illiterate voters —and they are a large number in the community of Ireland—to intimidation and causes of that kind, and, above all, to the hope and the expectation of agrarian plunder. The right hon. Gentleman, I am sure, will not deny that the passionate desire to obtain possession of the land, 219 the hope of getting it under an Irish Parliament on infinitely easier terms, perhaps for nothing or for next to nothing, from its present owners, has always been the cardinal and dominant factor in the demand of a portion of the people for Home Rule. After the reminders which he has had from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and others, the right hon. Gentleman, I am sure, will not forget his own expressions, used upon a memorable occasion—If you go forth upon a mission to demoralise the people by teaching them to make the property of their neighbours the object of their covetous desire, it does not require superhuman gifts to find a number of followers and adherents for a doctrine such as that.Yes, Sir, these are sentiments in which in the House of Commons I apprehend we shall all of us agree, but they apply today quite as much as they applied at the time when they were spoken, and they strengthen and confirm the doubts and suspicions I have always entertained as to the genuine and spontaneous character of this demand. But supposing that I am wrong, and supposing that in what he said on that memorable occasion the right hon. Gentleman himself traduced the Irish people—supposing there is a patriotic and real desire, quite apart from sordid motives and from sinister influences, for autonomy in Ireland, is that a reason in itself for acceding to that demand? I doubt if there is any Member in this House who would venture to say so. We can try it by a very simple test. Supposing that the demand, instead of for Home Rule, had been for separation, would you have thought it necessary and right in such a case to accede to that demand? No, Sir; you would have done nothing of the kind. You have always most positively declared that any demand for separation, however Constitutionally expressed, however large the number of Members who desired it, you would resist at all costs to the bitter end, and neither, therefore, can it be accepted in itself as a valid and sufficient reason for the concession of Home Rule. There was a reason, I admit, in 1886, which was given, of a very different character, at that time; and if it had been a true reason, and if the right hon. Gentleman had been right in his forecast and opinion, then I acknowledge it would have been very difficult to 220 answer it. The right hon. Gentleman said that the change in 1886 was proposed, not on grounds of general expediency, or with a view to its abstract importance alone—no, it was something much more serious than that. It was proposed, the right hon. Gentleman said, in order to meet the very first necessities of civilised society in Ireland, and because, he said, there was a general and universal opinion that the question required imperatively to be dealt with. That was the specific reason which the right hon. Gentleman gave in 1886 as the reason for the necessity of his heroic remedy of Home Rule. But what is the position in 1893, after seven years' experience, and although we have not had Home Rule at all from that day to this? Under the firm and courageous administration of my right hon. Friend (Mr. A. J. Balfour) the necessity for Home Rule, as far as social order is concerned, has proved to be nothing but a bugbear—nothing but moonshine. The right hon. Gentleman has been shown, not by any means for the first time in his Irish policy, to have been absolutely wrong. I remember quite well contesting his statement at the time, and pointing out—which I am afraid was rude, although undoubtedly it was true—that if we could only succeed in gelling rid of the right hon. Gentleman from the conduct of affairs, we should very shortly see the re-establishment of social order in Ireland. My words were prophetic, for not only did we very shortly afterwards get rid of the right hon. Gentleman, but his own Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. J. Morley) shall be my witness as to the effect of his resignation upon the social condition of this country. On the first night of this Session we were told that rents were never better paid than they were without the Crimes Act. The same speaker also said:—I hear from those who have the best means of knowing, that the feeling between the police and the people has never been better since 1879;and even Clare, that most troublous portion of Her Majesty's dominions, came in for a good word from the right hon. Gentleman, for he said this:—The state of Clare is satisfactory. Few of those responsible for the government of Ireland have been able to say that the condition of that county is satisfactory.221 I ask hon. Members, on both sides of the House, can there be, or could there be, a more crushing refutation of the idle and baseless dream pressed upon us in 1886, that Home Rule was imperatively called for in order to meet the first necessities of civilised society in Ireland? The plea of social order having broken down, having been altogether exposed, and proved by experience to be utterly worthless, the right hon. Gentleman in 1893 falls back upon the parrot cry, repeated a hundred times in all parts of the country before the constituencies in order to win votes at the last General Election, that, unless we concede autonomy to Ireland, we have no possible alternative except coercion. I must say that I have never yet been able to appreciate that argument, which appears to me to be nothing but a tissue of nonsense and of fallacies from beginning to end. Coercion, in the first place—or what you call coercion— touches no one, affects no one, injures no one, except those who are dishonest, and who are breakers of the law, but it does give to the peaceable, the honest, the industrious, and law-abiding subjects of the Queen the protection which in past days I grieve to say was very sorely needed by many of the people of this country. If it be true, as I admit it is, that the exercise of exceptional powers was necessary for a time under the rule of my right hon. Friend the reason is that the supporters of the Government openly boasted that they would make the government of Ireland impossible without it. I wish to put to the House this question: supposing we conceded autonomy to Ireland to-morrow, do not let hon. Gentlemen run away with the idea that they are going to get rid of coercion. Coercion and autonomy are not alternative proposals, and by no possibility could they in any way be accurately described as such. Look at what happened when you had autonomy in Ireland. If history has taught us anything, it has taught us that coercion and autonomy have always gone hand in hand in Ireland in the past, and there is every reason to believe that if you conceded autonomy exactly the same state of things would happen in the future. My authority for that statement is a man whose knowledge of Ireland and Irish affairs no Member of the House of Commons will question or attempt to deny. 222 Mr. Parnell, who, whatever we may have thought of the latest incidents of his career, was undoubtedly the foremost statesmen and the Leader of the greatest foresight that Ireland has produced for many a long day, always said that the Land question in Ireland must be solved concurrently with the question of the establishment of an Irish Parliament, or must be left to that Parliament to solve.I do not much care" (he said) "which of those alternatives you take, but one of them must be adopted. Otherwise it will be impossible for any settled Government in existence in Ireland, whether English or Irish, whether dependent on the English Parliament or the Irish Parliament, to do without the use of stringent and strong coercion.But this Government have done neither. They have left the Land question open —a course which I observe they generally adopt when they are confronted with a difficulty. They have postponed the evil day for a period of three years, and I entirely agree with Mr. Parnell that, in such circumstances, even though you concede autonomy to Ireland to-day severe coercion will inevitably be necessary to-morrow. Well, Sir, if so, it will only be a case of history which repeats itself. Grattan's Parliament was conspicuous for the number of Coercion Acts it passed; and although the right hon. Gentleman said, across the Table, to my right hon. Friend the other night, that it was only during the last five years of that Parliament, the right hon. Gentleman was absolutely and entirely wrong, as wrong as when he said upon the introduction of the Bill, that it was only since 1886 that coercion for the first time had taken its place as a permanent institution. Grattan's Parliament, which was established in 1782, commenced in 1783 by passing two Coercion Acts. It is quite true that the three following years—1784–1786—were free from legislation of that kind; but, with the exception of those years, there never was a single year during the whole of the existence of Grattan's Parliament in which either one or more Coercion Acts were not introduced and carried into effect; and of those no fewer than three were made absolutely permanent, and five were made continuous for a period of seven years. When I hear hon. Gentlemen opposite talk so glibly of establishing a Parliament in Ireland, and 223 forecasting the excellent results which are to follow, I ask, why do not they consult the records of the history of Irish Parliaments in the past? Many people talk as if the period of Grattan's Parliament was a period of unmixed prosperity in Ireland, but that it was not was conclusively shown, I think, by the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) the other evening. The Prime Minister himself fell into the serious error when he was speaking to two deputations the other day, and, as has already been pointed out in this Debate, he cited Lord Clare in support of that assertion. When I road the speech of the right hon. Gentleman I wondered where on earth he got it, until I came across a little book on English Interference with Irish Districts, by the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Donegal; and there the hon. Member quotes an isolated passage from Lord Clare, delivered in his speech in 1798, to the following effect:—There is not a nation on the face of the habitable globe which has advanced in cultivation and in manufactures with the same rapidity, and in the same period, as Ireland.Yes, Sir, that may be true, but I would ask the House to remember why it was. The commercial restraints and restrictions which had pressed so heavily upon the industries of Ireland had been removed prior to the establishment of Grattan's Parliament. Consequently a great improvement in their position had undoubtedly already begun. With the aid of the bounties which were given at the same time, undoubtedly there was, to all appearance, for a time a period of prosperity and advancement in Ireland. But that period unhappily did not last. If the Prime Minister would go to the fountain head himself for his information, I would beg to point out to him that this is how Lord Clare continues, and how then the isolated passage in the little book would read—But her progress is now retarded" (that, is under Grattan's Parliament) "and that is a heartbreaking spectacle to every man who loves the country to see it arrested only by perversity and factions of the population, stimulated and encouraged by disappointed statesmen, English and Irish as well.The rest of Lord Clare's description of Ireland in those days of Grattan's Parliament is almost too horrible to read. I 224 will only give one passage as a sample of the rest. He said—I hold in my hand the dark and bloody catalogue; but I will not proclaim to the civilised world the state of cannibal barbarism to which my country has been brought by pestilent and cowardly traitors.Yet, the Prime Minister, quoting Lord Clare, represents the period of Grattan's Parliament as one of great advancement and prosperity. If the right hon. Gentleman wants to know the truth about that period and about the period which followed. I will tell him where to get it, Let him study a speech made in 1834 by the then Secretary to the Treasury, Mr. Spring Rice— a speech which Sir Robert Peel said took six hours to deliver—a speech which is an absolute mine of information on the subject, and in which he proved to absolute demonstration that it was after the Union was established and not during the period of Grattan's Parliament that the great period of improvement in the condition of Ireland's industries occurred. I hope I have done something to show the real nature of the grounds on which this Bill has been recommended to us; but if the reasons in its favour are few, the objections to the Bill are very numerous and varied. Can the Government deny it? If they can, why do not they endeavour to meet and refute them? They cannot say that the arguments against this. Bill have not been presented with sufficient clearness, although they are not only without answer, but practically unnoticed by the Government up to now. Let me summarise a few of them. In the first place, it is charged against your Bill that it fulfils not one of the main conditions you have yourselves laid down. I take the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, not the speech made on the Second. Reading, but the one he made on the introduction of the Bill, perhaps the most powerful, effective, and damaging speech against any measure we have had delivered within these walls for many years. I cannot recapitulate his arguments. It would be neither fitting nor desirable for me to do so, but I think the right hon. Gentleman showed conclusively, in the first place, that so far from this measure being anything approaching to finality, you had only sowed the seeds of future demands, which were certain 225 to be made on you in the future. In the second place, he proved that you have not secured Imperial unity when Imperial unity is of the greatest value—namely, in the time of war, but that that would be the very moment the Irish Party would select to insist upon the completion of their unsatisfied demands. In the third place, he showed that Imperial supremacy as regards persons is a myth, and as regards matters, and especially legislation, is impossible of exercise, and that the application of the veto, if you ever tried to use it, would inevitably paralyse the whole machinery of government in Ireland, and was a weapon which would break in your hands. As to your boasted safeguards to minorities, the right hon. Gentleman simply tore them into shreds. Yet all these objections, which were so powerfully urged and argued, as I am sure the Government will admit, by a man of great, distinction in this House and of no less distinction in the country, have remained to this very hour, not only entirely unanswered by any Member of the Government, but they have passed them by as if literally they were undeserving of notice. It is of no use for the Chief Secretary to say, as he did say in reply, "I admit that the whole of those arguments were based upon the assumption that Ireland was the constant, perpetual, and irreconcilable enemy of England," and to tell us, as he did tell us, that he had a great many friends in Ireland belonging to both Parties, and that he was assured there was no nation in the world more ready to profit by free Parliamentary government than the Irish. I am very glad he thinks so. I am delighted to hear he has got so many friends in Ireland, and I am sure I hope he will keep them for many years to the mutual advantage of both; but unfortunately this has absolutely nothing whatever to do with the question before us. The question he has to meet is, are the objections of my right hon. Friend and of many others based on a solid and substantial ground or are they not? If they are not, let some Member of the Government get up and meet them like a man. If they are, let the right hon. Gentleman tell the people of the country as well as Parliament in what respect they are unsound. I must say that I do not understand the attitude of the Government. 226 I have never before known in a great Debate, about, perhaps, the most important question we have ever had before us, Ministers deliberately refuse to meet the issues placed before them. It bodes ill indeed for the future of our public life if Ministers are to rely, not on argument and reason, but on the brute force of the majority behind them. Now, I want to come for a few moments to close quarters with the Chief Secretary, or the Prime Minister, or the Home Secretary, or one and all of them if they please, with regard to these safeguards for minorities. I am going to take the case of the Irish landlords. I wish to supplement by a few words what fell the other day from the right hon. Baronet the Member for Bristol. I take the case of the Irish landlords, who, I suppose the Chief Secretary will admit, are included in what he calls the Irish people. Are they going to profit by free government in Ireland? If so, I should very much like to know how. Suppose in the future there should be some difficulties between their tenants and themselves. It is hardly possible, I suppose, to hope that there will not be. Suppose, for instance, that the Plan or Campaign should be revived; the Irish landlords will have to go to the Executive for protection and redress in the just assertion of their rights. Of whom would the Executive be composed? I do not know whether I should be justified in making any forecast on the subject, but probably I should not be very far wrong if I were to suggest that it would include such men as the Members for Louth, East Mayo, Cork, North Kerry, and, after the speech he made the other night, it would be impossible to omit the Member for East Cork, and others whom it would not be difficult to mention. We know something of the sentiments and views of some of these gentlemen in regard to land and as to the proper method of treating the landlords. It may not be out of place to recall them to the memory of the Government, and especially to the memory of the right hon. Gentleman, who always professes, what I honestly think he believes, a great love for justice. I hope I may establish in. his mind some spark of sympathy in regard to the probable future of the Irish landlords under the Bill now before the House. I will take, in the first 227 instance, the utterances of the hon. Gentleman whom the right hon. Gentleman excepted the other night from the condemnations which he lavished on Mr. Parnell and the Land League—the Member for Mayo. On the 15th of August, 1880, at Kildare—and I take this from what I believe to be a reliable source—namely, the Report of the Special Commission—the hon. Gentleman said—In the county of Mayo, where the organisation is pretty strong, we have many a farm lying idle, from which no rent can be drawn, and there they shall lie, and if the landlord shall put cattle on them the cattle won't prosper very much.Does the right hon. Gentleman, does the House know what that refers to? I am doing no injustice to the hon. Gentleman when I say that he points to some of those brutal mutilations of dumb animals which have filled the English people with so much horror in the past. I take the opinions of the hon. Member for Cork City. In September, 1884, he said—If they must have hunting at all, let them keep their hands in practice by hunting landlords. [Loud cheers.] Hunt landlordism up hill and down dale, until landlords are as scarce as the foxes.Take the Member for North Louth. He was speaking of landlords generally and Lord Granard in particular, and he said on the 9th October—I would feel no more compunction in seeking my own rights than I would in driving a rat out of a haystack. I look upon them exactly in the same light…. Very soon I hope to see the College of Maynooth squeezing him (Lord Granard) out, as you would squeeze out a lemon or an orange, and when they throw away the skin I hope to see you give it a kick and send it to its proper place.Now, take one more—the speech of the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool made in America in 1882, and reported in United Ireland—I want you to understand that the reduction of rent we require is not a small, or a petty, or a legal reduction, but the total abolition of rent…. Gladstone wants a fixed rent; the Land League wants to abolish rent.These hon. Gentlemen, whom the Prime Minister would not identify the other night, were members of the Land League, and adopted the doctrines which it held. And these hon. Gentlemen are amongst those who issued the no-rent manifesto. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that under all those circumstances, and 228 seeing that he shut up these hon. Gentlemen in prison in addition to Mr. Parnell because they were conspiring to prevent the payment of all rent—does he still think that an Irish Executive composed of men such as these will be a fair or a just tribunal for the Irish landlords to go before? What sort of justice do you suppose Irish landlords are likely to get from them? Would any single landlord in England be satisfied with that position? Would the right hon. Gentleman be satisfied with it himself? Suppose the Hawardon estate, instead of being in England —as happily it is for him—was situated in Ireland, would the right hon. Gentleman be able to contemplate his handiwork with that serene complacency with which he apparently views it now? No, Sir; to be sure he would do nothing of the kind; and if he would not, why are we to mete out to our brother landlords in that country a measure of justice and of fairness which we should not be willing for a single moment to accept ourselves? The Prime Minister is perfectly well aware, or if he is not, his Colleagues are perfectly well aware, of the fate which awaits the Irish landlords under the Bill which is now before the House, for nobody has described it more vividly than the Chancellor of the Duchy himself. I wish the Chancellor of the Duchy were here to be reminded, not of his words, but of what he has deliberately written in a Review—The power of dealing with the land is the very power which the Irish most desire…. But every one knows how such a power would be used. With police under elective Boards the landlord might whistle for his rent. He would be lucky if he kept a whole skin. His property would be gone without need of confiscatory legislation…. The honour of England is pledged to their rights. At no cost can we abandon them. We could not look other nations in the face were we to throw over men whose property we confirmed so lately as 1881.I beg to remind the Chief Secretary for Ireland that statements were made in his presence at Newcastle on a celebrated occasion by another distinguished Colleague of the Prime Minister. I am referring now to the statements made by Lord Spencer, whom it has been my privilege to know personally and intimately for many years, and a man whom I have always looked upon as the embodiment of the most high and most honourable principles. He said— 229The whole force of agitation at one time was against the Irish landlords. I do not for a moment think it would be just or honest in the British Parliament to leave unprotected and uncared for the Irish landlords. We have at different times curtailed their right by Acts of Parliament, and it would be a mean and treacherous thing if we did not defend their just rights.The Prime Minister himself has said that the two questions—namely, the Laud question and Home Rule—are inseparable.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
What does it matter? Questions of honour and questions of principle do not vary and do not change between 1886 and 1893. I am amazed and astounded to hear such a supposition from the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The right hon. Gentleman is astounded at my correcting his historical inaccuracy. In 1886, at that period, strictly confining myself to the circumstances of that juncture, I did think it an obligation of honour upon us to make these proposals on behalf of the landlords.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I do not think Lord Spencer will be willing to admit that that which is a question of honour and principle in 1886 ceases to be so in 1893. The honour of England is pledged. We should be "treacherous and mean "if we did not defend them? Admirable sentiments! Truly most noble and high-minded men! But how are they going to do it? I grant you that on paper your Bill is literally loaded with safeguards and restrictions, but who is going to enforce them? Are we to rely upon the Irish Executive? "No," says the Chancellor of the Duchy, "we know how that power will be used." Then how are you going to do it? I must press you upon this point, because questions of honour, as you yourselves have described them, are not to be lightly set aside. I hope and I believe that even yet the Government are going to fulfil them, for if they refuse them we shall be entitled to declare, and we shall declare and say, that you must he content from henceforth for ever to take your place in a category which it would not be Parliamentary to mention. [Cries of" Divide!"] I pass on from the question of the landlords, and I wish to point out that there is another and vital objection to your 230 Bill. It is the most impracticable, and probable the most unworkable, measure that has ever been laid upon this Table, and, what is most curious and remarkable, you seem to know it perfectly yourselves. I am not speaking of the question of finance; although that is a matter in itself which it seems to me, so far as I am able to judge, very far from being unlikely to bring about the break up and destruction of your Bill. Nor am I referring to the loss and injury which will be inflicted on a great number of people in Ireland—small farmers and others who may desire to purchase laud or to borrow money upon easy terms, which they are able to do under the present connection with this country. Nor am I alluding to the numerous administrative questions which inevitably must arise, and which appear to mo to be destined to land you in endless and impossible conclusions. I am referring now to the proposed retention of the Irish Members in this House. It was this proposal in your Bill which I must say I heard with the most unbounded amazement, not only with regard to the matter, but, I am also compelled to add, with regard to the manner in which it was done. I am bound to say that after what was done in 1886 it really was impossible for anybody who heard the statements then made to understand the proposal. I thought myself that the most impudent thing I ever witnessed since I have been in Parliament was the spectacle of a Minister standing at that Table and unfolding on a great historic occasion as part of an organic scheme for the government of Ireland a plan which he had already proved to demonstration on a previous occasion to be hopelessly impossible, and with regard to which, so far as I was able to understand, he spent three-quarters of an hour in explaining that he remained of the same opinion still. [Cries of "Divide!"] I hope I am entitled to the courtesy of the House— courtesy which has been extended in the Debate to every other Member. I have not much to say upon this subject, but let me glance at the general effects of the Bill. In the first place, you make the Irish Members the sole and supreme authority in the management of the affairs of a Parliament in Dublin, but in the second place, you make them also the dominant and controlling power 231 in the affairs of a Parliament in England. While we are to have no voice with regard to Irish affairs, they are to be the arbiters, and ultimately to decide upon the conduct of affairs in the Parliament of this country. How many Governments are we likely to have in the future of England whose existence will not depend upon the attitude of the Irish Party in this House? How often are we likely to see a political Party in this country in the future whose existence will not depend upon the Irish votes? Look at your own position to-day. Without the Irish Members you would be in a large minority to-morrow, and this Bill which we are now discussing is the price which you are compelled to pay for their support. But this is only the commencement of the system which is to be made perpetual hereafter, and what a vista of danger and damnable intrigue it opens up for us in the time to come. I declare if this Bill were carried I should absolutely despair for the future of our public life in England, and this is the legacy which the right hon. Gentleman (the Prime Minister), in the closing years of his life, has prepared for the generations which are yet to come. It takes a long time, I admit, to bring political information down to the depths of the knowledge of the masses of our people, but sooner or later it will reach them, and the moment that they learn that the future of their Government and their country is to be under the control of Irish Members in this House, while they are not to have a word to say with regard to the affairs of Ireland, I believe you will raise such a storm of opposition, such a whirlwind of indignation, that it will sweep you and your Bill to destruction in a week. Often and often, Mr. Speaker, have we asked for information upon this subject in the years which have elapsed since 1886. I am reminded by hon. Members that it was while I was trying to seek information on this very question on the last day of the Parliament that preceded the General Election that the whole Radical Party did their best to howl me down, and tried their utmost, with a chivalry which I think, thank God, is peculiar to them, to prevent my being heard, although I was speaking in defence of a Government which was on its trial, and a 232 Government which the Leaders of the Party opposite had assailed. I think I begin to understand now what it meant, and I think we all begin to understand the meaning of the mystery and concealment which have been practised on this subject for six years. And now I think I can understand what Mr. Parnell meant when he disclosed, after his breach with the Prime Minister, something of the confidences which were given to him, when he said he was told at Hawarden that the Prime Minister and his Colleagues were entirely agreed, pending the General Election, that silence should be absolutely preserved on the question of the retention of the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament. I do not think you are likely to make much of your concealment. Indeed, the Prime Minister himself, in the introduction of the Bill, said he was not certain what view the House of Commons would take upon this question; but, perhaps, if I remind him of what actually occurred in 1886, it may help him to come to a sound conclusion. I am not going to make a long quotation. The question he asked in 1886 was this—Is it practicable for Irish Representatives to come here for the settlement, not of English and Scotch, but of Imperial affairs?And this was his replyI arrive at the conclusion that Irish Peers and Irish Members cannot, if a domestic Legislature be given to Ireland, justly retain a seat in the Parliament at Westminster.That reply was made after an able, exhaustive, and elaborate demonstration of its absolute, hopeless impossibility. The right hon. Gentleman, I must admit, generally leaves for himself a loophole of escape on occasions of this kind, but in this case there was none; and it is therefore clear that he was either fooling the House in 1886, or he is fooling us to-day; but he cynically avowed on the introduction of the Bill that he was afraid of opening the doors to wholesale and dangerous political intrigue. When I think of the consequences that it may bring both to Ireland and to England; when I recollect what you deliberately said and recommended in 1886, and the levity with which you recommend to the House exactly the opposite to-day all the time against your own convictions, I hope the House will throw back again the pro- 233 posal of the Prime Minister as an insult to common sense, as a wanton indignity to England, and as a gross affront to the intelligence of the British House of Commons. Now, I have only one more word to say. We have been asked, if this Bill should be rejected, where and how and when is this controversy to end? Yes; but the question has two sides. Supposing the Bill were carried, what is to be the answer to the question then? It is certain that it cannot end with the measure which is now before the House. The logical and sure result was foreshadowed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sunderland, who spoke before mo in this Debate—four Local Parliaments in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, and one Imperial Parliament for the whole? That is to say, we are to have five separate Parliaments in a disunited Kingdom. And thus it is deliberately proposed to the greatest nation in the world to fritter away the fruits of the Empire she has won.Quem Deus vult perdere, prius dementat."Repeal the Union! Restore the Heptarchy!" said Mr. Canning; and if, unhappily, it is true that this nation is afflicted with a sudden madness, then, indeed, we may begin to restore the Heptarchy without delay. But at least let me remind you of the counsels of a statesman who in former days was held in veneration even greater than, certainly as great as, that which you feel, I have no doubt honestly, for your chief, and of a statesman at whose feet, if I remember right, in former days the right hon. Gentleman was proud to sit—The conviction in favour of the Legislative Union springs from every source from which conviction in the human mind can come. Consult your senses, consult your feelings, consult reason, history, and experience; they all concur in enforcing the same truth—opposuit natura. There is a physical necessity which forbids Repeal.Ah! Mr. Speaker, who that has ever read it, can forget the lofty and impassioned and stately eloquence of your great progenitor, when he put forth all his strength and brought his magnificent resources to maintain the legislative union when a not dissimilar proposal was made in former years to that to which we now offer our utmost resistance? With that great statesman on the one side and with the present Prime Minister on the 234 other we have come indeed to a parting of the ways. It is for Parliament to decide which path the English people shall take. But beware how you embark for the second time upon a great and a, dangerous experiment which has been already tried and has failed disastrously before. Beware, I entreat you, before you undertake, with presumptuous confidence, to disturb and to unsettle the relations for 500 years between the peoples and the races dwelling in these isles, to whom nature has decreed, and Providence has ordained, the most close and intimate connection. Together, and united by a legislative compact, they have borne the burden and they have built up the Empire of to-day. Together and united they are destined, I still believe, to share the great and glorious heritage which awaits them in the ages that are yet to come.
§ *MR. JOHNE REDMOND (Waterford City)
There was one statement in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman with which I most cordially agree. He described this as a great occasion, and spoke of the gravity of the issue at stake. But, Sir, I venture to say that no right hon. Gentleman occupying the position of ex-Cabinet Minister ever made upon a great and historic occasion upon the discussion of a great issue a speech so absolutely flat, stale, and unprofitable. That speech scarcely touched upon the great issue at stake. That issue is whether this Parliament will confer upon Ireland the management of her own affairs, whether it will entrust to the people of Ireland representative institutions— and in a speech occupying the time of the House for an hour and a half the right hon. Gentleman never did more than read stale quotations from the opinion of others on the abstract question. The right hon. Gentleman is a type of the English governors of Ireland—the men who have made Ireland disaffected, and who have made the concession of Home Rule absolutely inevitable. Was there from beginning to end of the speech a single statement to show that the right hon. Gentleman was acquainted with the government, or with the history of the country whose right to self-government he ventured to discuss? Was there one generous thought, or one spark or glimmer of hope for Ireland? The right hon. 235 Gentleman opposes the concession of Home Rule to Ireland; but what is his alternative? It is simply a continuance of the principles of government that have made the name of England a by-word and a reproach among the nations of the world. I do not desire to pursue the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I did hope that it would not be necessary for me, in the fulfilment of a duty to myself and to those whom I represent, to take part in the Debate at this stage of the Bill. The speeches that have been made in the course of the Debate have been of two distinct classes. We have had on the one hand those who have criticised those details of the Bill which could be more properly discussed in Committee, and on the other we have those who discussed the broad principle of the Bill. This latter class of speakers have been hampered by the consideration that they have been merely repeating for the hundredth time every argument with which the country has been ringing for the last seven years. I do not desire in the observations I have to make to anticipate the Committee stage of the Bill, nor do I desire to delay the progress of the Bill by delivering a Debating Society speech on the broad principle of self-government, and I should have been content to remain silent but for the duty cast upon me by statements made in this House and out of it, misrepresenting the views of my friends and myself. It is said that we have refused to accept this measure, that we dispute the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, that we will make no compromise between what we consider the full measure of right that we are entitled to, and the concession which one of the great Parties of the State is willing to make to us. Now, Sir, that is a complete misrepresentation. Of course this Bill does not concede to Ire-land all that we ask or all that we believe we are entitled to. This Bill is a compromise between the full demands Ireland has made in the past and that which you are willing to concede to us. This Bill is offered as a compromise, and is accepted as a compromise. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham complains that we do not say this is a final and immutable Constitution. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman what right this House or what right England has to ask any such 236 guarantee from us? I say candidly that I do not believe that this measure, if passed into law, will be absolutely final or immutable, because I agree with the view expressed by the Member for West Birmingham in 1885 that a final solution of this question is to be found in the direction of Federalism. I believe this Constitution will be a success, and because I believe it will be a success I believe that it will develop. In the future, in the working of this Constitution the bonds of freedom will be made wider still for Ireland, and that with the consent of all parties in England, as a direct result of the reasonable exercise of the powers obtained under it. If Ireland shows, as she will show, a real capacity for self-government, this Constitution must develop. He would be a rash man indeed who would say that the written Constitution which you now seek to confer is for all time or is to remain a final and immutable Constitution. Let me test this matter. Suppose you put a clause into the Bill saying that it is to be a final and immutable settlement, it would not be worth the paper it would be written upon. The very fact that this Imperial Parliament is and will continue to be supreme makes it utterly impossible for any law that it may make to be a final and immutable law. And, again, suppose that every Irishman alive were to join in giving an undertaking that he would regard the Constitution as final—of what value would that guarantee be? No; we cannot bind the future—the future with its new interests, its wider needs, and its higher aspirations in the generations that are to come. In that sense I absolutely decline to give any such guarantee as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham thinks necessary from those who commend this Bill to the consideration of the country. But that was not what the right hon. Gentleman meant. He meant that we, in saying that we will accept this Bill, will do so in bad faith, and with no desire to find in the working of the measure a solution of the Irish question, and that we only accept it for the purpose of furthering designs hostile to the English connection and the Empire. That is what he means. For my part, I disclaim any such intention. It is true we decline to pledge ourselves that this must remain a final settlement. 237 It is true we regard this as a compromise and not as a full concession of all we are entitled to obtain; but we wish to accept the measure in a fair, honest, and candid spirit, and to work it for all it is worth in the hope and belief that it may put an end to the miserable chapter of English oppression and Irish resistance. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham says there is the question of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. It is not necessary for me to dwell a moment longer upon that point. I challenge anyone in this House to quote a statement of mine or of any of those associated with me, that so long as we remain partners in the Empire at all the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament is to be, or ought to be, abrogated. We have maintained that the concession of free institutions in Ireland means that you shall have put trust in the Irish people; and that constant or even frequent interference by this Parliament in the working of those institutions would be absolutely inconsistent. Representative institutions exist in other portions of the Empire. How many of them would exist for six months if this House took into its head to exercise its undoubted right as a supreme Legislature to constantly or frequently interfere? The concession of representative institutions to Ireland means that you have made up your minds to let us manage our own affairs free from the interference of the Imperial Parliament. It is true that hon. Gentlemen anticipate that the necessity for interference by this Parliament will arise. That may be. I think it will not be, for I am one of those who agree with Mr. Parnell's opinion that the Irish people under Home Rule will be shrewd enough to know that any violation of the Constitution or oppression proceeding in the Irish Parliament will be so many nails driven into the coffin of the Constitution, and I do not, therefore, think that the occasion for interference will arise. If it does arise, nothing we can say, nothing we can do, nothing you can put in an Act of Parliament now can deprive you of the right to prevent in the Irish Parliament, as you can prevent in the Australian and Canadian Parliaments, acts of oppression and injustice. I do not intend to dwell even for a moment on the question of finance. I have nothing 238 to add—I have not been able to add to my sources of information, and therefore I have nothing to add to what I said on the First Reading of the Bill on this point. But the longer these financial clauses have been studied the more they have been distrusted. It is right we should be perfectly candid in a matter of this kind. I have met no member of any political Party whatever in Ireland who has been able to tell me that the government of Ireland could be successfully worked under the financial clauses of the Bill as they now stand; and I would add that if the clauses are to remain in their present form the Government and their supporters in this House will have to recognise the fact that it will be a terrible responsibility for any Irish Representative to accept this Bill as a settlement unless the Bill contains in the financial portion provisions to enable the Government of Ireland to be successfully carried on. Leaving details on this head aside for discussion in Committee, I pass on to what I take to be the real issue at stake. The real issue is whether you will make up your mind to confer upon Ireland representative government—that is, government in accordance with the constitutionally expressed will of the people, by a Parliament and an Executive constitutionally responsible to those whom they rule. There are two ways in which this great and vital principle may be looked at. There is the Irish way, and then there is the English way. We look upon the principle as one we are entitled to have conceded to us as of right. We do not entirely or mainly rest our claim for free representative institutions on grievances. We rest our claim on right. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham thinks that if Mr. Pitt had been able to carry Catholic Emanacipation the Union would have been popular, and that the earlier passage of remedial measures would have had the effect of cementing the Irish and English peoples. We look at it from a different standpoint. We do not rest; our claim solely or mainly on grievances. If the government of my country by Englishmen were the best that could be devised by the wit of man I would be as strong a Home Ruler as I am to-day. Without exaggeration, I believe that Irish Nationalists would 239 rather be badly governed by their own countrymen than live under the best English Government you could give them. We say that Ireland is a distinct and separate nationality, and that in point of historic title her right stands as high as that of England. Ireland was a centre of civilisation and learning, in the far away ages of the past, when England was but a barbarous province of the Roman Empire. For 600 years Ireland had her own Parliament, although it is true that it was at different times more or less subject to England, and it is true also that it was only partially representative of the great mass of the Irish people; but during all those centuries Ireland had a Parliament, a distinct Parliament of her own, and, more than that, a Parliament which whenever the opportunity arose, claimed to have the exclusive right to legislate for the Irish people. That Parliament was robbed from Ireland by violence and corruption, and was taken from her against the will of the Irish people. In 1799 the Government of the day proposed the Union; but that proposal was defeated, and had that Parliament been dissolved the Union would never have been carried. The Catholics, who had the franchise conferred upon them in 1793, were never allowed to exercise it, and, in the words of Mr. Lecky, the Union was carried against the entire of the unbribed intellect of Ireland. From that day to this the claim of Ireland to a Parliament of its own as a right has never been waived. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said the other night that Ireland was advancing, although slowly, to acquiescence in British rule. The right hon. Gentleman also said that no sane man now feared armed insurrection against the English Government. Well, Sir, I am bound to admit that with the advance of science armed insurrection against British rule in Ireland has become practically impossible. But if the right hon. Gentleman means that the spirit of insurrection in Ireland is extinct he is but a superficial observer, because there can be no question but that the spirit of resistance by every honourable means against the Union, and a desire to rule in Irish affairs, is as much alive to-day as it was at any period during the last century. My most earnest prayer is that 240 that spirit may not be driven into action by the hasty and ill-considered rejection of all proposals for conciliation, or by unworthy taunts like those which have been uttered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. So much for the Irish view of this subject. The next question is, what is the English view of it? There can be no doubt that the English view is not taken from the point whether Home Rule is desired by the Irish people, but whether it would be expedient for us to have it in the general interests of the Empire. What are the facts? Side by side you have two countries, closely related geographically and socially, with many connecting ties and associations, both speaking the same language, belonging to the same Empire, and composed to a certain extent of a mixture of the same races, but distinct in historical traditions, in national instincts, and in national character—too closely allied for separation, too distinct ever to be merged into one country and one people. In 1866 the present Prime Minister, long before he adopted the principle which underlies this measure, spoke these pregnant words, which seemed to me to show that as far back as that date he had the consciousness in his mind of the direction which a wise policy for Ireland must take:—We are, it is true, a United Kingdom made up of three nations, made up necessarily with many distinctions of law, usages, character, history, and religion There are common questions which must be administered on principles common to the Empire, where the interests of the whole must overbear the interests of a part; but there are other questions where the interests are purely English, or Scotch, or Irish respectively, which ought not to be administered on common principles.It has been found possible in almost every age of the world in the case of countries so united to combine Imperial union and strength with national freedom. That being so, what has been the record of the relations between England and Ireland? No one will deny that, wherever the responsibility might rest, it is a record full of shame for every man who shared the responsibility for it. It is a record of bloodshed, wasted treasure, and national dishonour. Has the English treatment of Ireland succeeded? The English Government has refused to deal with. Ireland upon the principles which have been applied to other countries 241 similarly situated. How has your government of Ireland succeeded? I will not go back further than the Act of Union. Since that Act Ireland has suffered from half-a-dozen partial or entire famines; since then there have been four more or less armed insurrections; and, more than all, during the century England has been obliged to keep in Ireland a standing Army as large as that which she had in the Crimea. During the whole of that century you have had a Coercion Act for every year. The right hon. Gentleman who addressed the House to-night spoke lightly of coercion. But coercion means the abrogation more or loss at different times of the full benefits of the British Constitution. It, therefore, means that during your 93 years' rule of Ireland you have had 80 Coercion Acts, each one of them abrogating more or less the full rights of the British Constitution. Ireland's population has diminished; her national prosperity has disappeared; your government of Ireland has become a byword amongst the nations, and finally at the end of this 19th century which has seen the blessings of liberty slowly but surely reaching every subject race in the world, at the end of that century a great English Party has been obliged to declare that the Union can only be preserved by the permanent suspension of those rights of the Constitution—such as the right of trial Injury, which it is your boast that you desire to see extended to even the Eastern races under your sway. It seems to me that all this goes to show conclusively that the old system has been tried and has failed; that it has hampered and almost destroyed this Parliament; that the whole world has called "shame on it," and whether by this Bill and by this Government, or by another Bill and another Government, I know not, but I think every far-seeing man must admit in his heart that the day is almost dawning when that system will be replaced by a system based on the affections, the will, and the confidence of the governed. I notice, Sir, that the opponents of the Bill have kept themselves clear from broad considerations and principles such as these. They have taken up rather a policy of fastening on particular difficulties, magnifying them enormously in order to frighten public opinion; but 242 they forget that if all the difficulties, probable or imaginary, which may follow Home Rule were increased a hundredfold they could not by any possibility create as bad a state of things as exist in the relations between the two countries at the present moment. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham fears that after Home Rule Ireland will be disaffected. Does he believe that Ireland is well affected now? He believes that England's difficulty will be Ireland's opportunity after Homo Rule. Does he not know that if you reject this measure of concession it will be the darling object of every Irishman to use all your difficulties as opportunities for advancing the national cause? He fears what may happen if this Bill passes. Has he over considered what will happen if this Bill is rejected? Heaven forbid that I should indulge in what might be construed by our enemies into threats and menaces! But can any man contemplate with equanimity what consequences may follow if you reject the hope of conciliation which has kept Ireland tranquil and crimeless for seven years? We are told that if this Bill passes there will be disturbances in Ulster. Can hon. Gentlemen consider the possibility of disturbances in other parts of Ireland if this Bill is rejected? Reject this Bill, wreck the hopes upon which the Irish people have been relying, reimpose coercion, and which of you will undertake the government of Ireland by any form of Constitutional Government whatever? The alternative to the policy represented by this Bill is not merely a Coercion Act, but it would inevitably be the disfranchisement of Ireland and the establishment of a military despotism. Sir, the argument about Ulster is false and misleading. The very name of the Ulster question itself is a falsehood. There is no Ulster question. [Opposition laughter.] I will explain what I moan, and we will then see that those who laugh last laugh best. There may be a Belfast question—there may be a question of a small corner of Ulster, but it is false to speak of this question as an Ulster question. The present population of Ulster, including Belfast, contains 46 per cent. of Catholics. If you take Ulster out— [Opposition laughter.] I do not want 243 to take Ulster out. I am one of those who believe, like Mr. Parnell, that Ireland cannot afford to lose a single son; but surely the intelligence of hon. Members who laughed is keen enough to follow the simple line of reasoning I was putting before the House. I said the population of Ulster, including Belfast, shows a Catholic proportion of 46 per cent. Leaving out Belfast it shows a fair majority of Catholics over Protestants. I deny altogether that every Protestant is an anti-Nationalist. I know something of the means that are used in Ireland to keep up this agitation against Home Rule. You talk of boycotting in the time of the Land League. I say that boycotting has been brought to a fine art by the Unionists of Ireland against any Protestant who is independent enough to declare himself on our side. There are in Ulster, including even Belfast, 46 per cent. of Catholics, and admittedly the Ulster Catholics are Home Rulers, and, with a margin of Protestants in favour of the Bill, I am convinced that at least one-half of the entire population of Ulster is favourable to this Bill. But suppose that there are only 46 per cent. of the population of Ulster favourable to the Bill, how false to speak of this as an Ulster question. Besides that, Ulster is not the only prosperous province in Ireland. I wish Ulster were as prosperous as Unionist Members endeavour to depict her. Belfast is prosperous, and long live her prosperity; but as Belfast has grown in prosperity Ulster has declined. There are nine counties in Ulster, and within the last 50 years, whilst the population of Belfast has increased, the population of these nine counties has diminished by 1,000,000 of people. In face of that fact, can it be pretended that the population of Ulster is the only prosperous population in Ireland? That diminution of the population of Ulster is greater than the diminution in some of the other Provinces, and the strange thing is that the decrease in the population is not greatest where the people are thriftless Catholic Nationalists—it has diminished less in the Catholic County of Donegal than in those counties which contain a large proportion of prosperous Protestants who are said to be opposed to this Bill. I say, Sir, that this agitation against the Bill is promoted by a small minority of 244 the Protestants of Ireland. Large masses of the Protestants are, no doubt, frightened by this Bill. I do not wonder at it. They have had in their hands for generations an absolute monopoly of all power and place and patronage. To be born a child of this favoured race in Ireland is to be provided for by some place or position from one's cradle. No wonder, then, that large masses of them are against a system which would distribute this patronage, power, and influence amongst the people. But whilst these feelings are prevalent amongst Protestants generally, the men who have fomented and instigated this bitter and violent agitation in Ireland against Home Rule are not the general body, but a small section comprising the Orange Society. I would recall to the House the recollection of the origin of this Society. It sprang into existence in 1795—a fateful and terrible year for Ireland. At that time the Protestant Parliament of Ireland had commenced the work of Catholic Emancipation—commenced it 30 years before your enlightened English Parliament carried it out. That Protestant Parliament of Ireland had at its back in support of Catholic Emancipation the far larger part of the Protestants of the country. Lord Fitzwilliam has declared that at the time of his recall the Protestants of Ireland generally were favourable to Emancipation. But the minority—the unreasoning and fanatical minority amongst the Protestants used their influence with England, and the beneficent policy of Lord Fitzwilliam was reversed. Lord Fitzwilliam was withdrawn. This unreasoning minority of Protestants at once formed themselves into the Orange Society, and then by their excesses, their fanaticism, they drove the Irish people to arms. I have here abundant proof of my statement. Lord Cornwallis, writing to the Duke of Portland in July, 1798, said—The principal persons are in general adverse to all acts of clemency, and, although they do not express it, and perhaps are too much heated to see the ultimate effects which their violence must produce, would pursue measures that could only terminate in the extirpation of the greater number of the inhabitants, and in the utter destruction of the country.In the same year Lord Cornwallis also wrote—The principal personages, who have long been in the habit of directing the Councils of 245 the Lord Lieutenants, are blinded by their passions and prejudices, talk of nothing but strong measures… Religious animosities increase, and I am sorry to say are encouraged by the foolish violence of all the principal persons who have been in the habit of governing these islands.I say there are abundant proofs of my statement that this unreasoning minority, comprising the Orange Society drove the people into insurrection. Mr. Goldwin Smith, who is now a Unionist, and whose voice is received as the voice of a prophet, wrote in his Irish History and Irish Character—The peasantry, although undoubtedly in a disturbed state, might have been kept quiet by lenity, but they were gratuitously scourged and tortured into open rebellion. These were the crimes, not of individual ruffians, but of a faction—a faction which must take its place in history beside that of Robespierre, Couthon, and Carrier. The murders by the Jacobins may have excited more indignation and pity, because the victims were of high rank; but in the use of torture the Orangemen seem to have reached a pitch of fiendish cruelty which was scarcely attained by the Jacobins…. The dreadful civil war of 1798 was the crime, as a candid student of its history will prove, not of the Irish people, but of the Orange terrorists, who literally goaded the people into insurrection.This is the faction who in Ireland today are the instigators and the promoters of the more violent and unreasoning features of the Protestant agitation against Home Rule. That faction instigated religious difference?—one of the greatest crimes that men could be guilty of; they invoked religious hatreds in order to destroy the Parliament of Ireland, and to-day precisely the same agencies are at work. Religious fears and differences are availed of in support of the Union by the men whose fathers' bigotry and intolerance brought about the Union. Sir, it has been said that Grattan's Parliament was a failure. I deny it. Grattan's Parliament, in 1793, admitted the Catholics to the franchise, to serve on juries, to the professions and to the Universities, and it was not till 30 years afterwards that this Imperial Parliament completed the work of Emancipation. That Protestant Parliament was willing to extend liberty to their Catholic fellow-countrymen, and it was the band of England that interposed between that Protestant Parliament and the masses of their countrymen. The minority of Protestants who opposed Catholic Emancipation in 1793; who got Lord Fitzwilliam recalled in 1795, 246 and whose bigotry and fanaticism drove the people into arms in 1798, and who sold their country in 1800—these are the men whose lineal descendants to-day are the promoters of this unreasoning and violent agitation against Home Rule. These are the men of whom Mr. John Bright, speaking in this House, used these words—These Ulstermen have stood in the way of improvement in the franchise, in the Church, and in the Land Question. They have purchased Protestant ascendency, and the price they have paid for it is the ruin and degradation of their country.What, I ask, is the meaning of this Belfast scare? Do hon. Gentlemen really think that the Irish Parliament will at once set itself to the task of destroying Belfast? Why, it is too absurd to argue. Do they really think that the Catholic majority of the Parliament will at once set about persecuting the Protestant minority? A more insulting and humiliating charge was never brought against a people. We are entitled, when the charge is made, to ask our opponents to point to a single period of Irish history when the Irish Catholics were guilty of those acts of oppression which English Catholics were undoubtedly guilty of. There were periods when the Catholics of Ireland had in their hands the power to oppress their Protestant fellow-countrymen, but these periods were marked by a spirit of tolerance displayed by the Catholics towards the Protestants. The reign of Mary was marked by the oppression of Protestants by Catholics in England—including the burning of Protestants at the stake; but we have it on the authority of the Protestant historians, Leland and Taylor, that in the reign of Mary the Dublin Corporation rented 74 houses for the shelter of refugees from the persecution of Protestants in England. Taylor said in his History of the Civil Wars, that the Catholics of Ireland—Had suffered persecution and learned mercy, as they showed in the reign of Mary, in the wars from 1641 to 1648, and during the brief triumph of James II.The Secretary for Scotland, in his speech the other night, told us that some very horrible woodcuts by George Cruickshank, depicting horrible occurrences in Ireland, were being circulated throughout England. 247 The same policy was adopted in 1886. The most atrocious falsehoods and calumnies against the people of Ireland, pictoral and otherwise, were circulated throughout the country. I hold in my hand a publication issued by a Tory candidate and a Tory Association, and I will read an extract from it to show the kind of calumny that is being palmed off on the people of England. It is in the form of a catechism with question and answer—Have the Irish ever had Home Rule, and how did they behave? They murdered every Englishman and Protestant they could lay their hands on in 1641. They were set on by the priests, who said that the Protestants were devils, and served the devil, and that the killing of them was a meritorious act. Altogether they killed in that year 150,000 Protestants-men, women, and children.That is the kind of calumny that is spread by our opponents throughout English constituencies. But what does Mr. Lecky say on this question of Catholic oppression, and surely hon. Members will listen to Mr. Lecky's words, as the words of an impartial witness. He writes—Irish history contains its full share of violence and massacre, but whoever will examine these episodes with impartiality may easily convince himself that their connection with religion has been most superficial. Religious cries have been sometimes raised, religious enthusiasm has been often appealed to in the agony of a great struggle; but the real causes have usually been the conflicts of races and classes, the struggle of nationality against annihilation. … It is a memorable fact that, not a single Protestant suffered for his religion in Ireland during all the period of the Marian persecution in England.I am conscious that all this might be met by our opponents saying, "That is not the kind of persecution that we fear. We do not fear that we shall be burned at the stake, but we do fear that there will be a Catholic clerical ascendency." The House will understand me when I say that I am likely to give impartial testimony on that matter. It is true in the public life of Ireland the Catholic priesthood wield an enormous preponderating power, but they wield it largely because of the character of the struggle the people are waging. Still, I am as convinced as I am of my own existence that the political power-the political supremacy if you like-of the Catholic clergy will not, if it is tried to be used, be successful under a free Parliament of the 248 Irish people. Surely the events of the past couple of years in Ireland, instead of giving alarm to Protestants, should give them some encouragement. The hon. Member for Londonderry said in his speech on the First Reading that I ought to be the last man in the House to say a word upon this subject. I say there is no man in this House who has a better right to speak on it. I and my comrades sit in this House as the result of defeating the unanimous opposition of the priests and bishops of Ireland. There is not one of us who was not opposed, as I was, determinedly, consistently, and unanimously by the entire priesthood of Ireland. Only a few of us have been returned, but I ask when in the past history of Ireland—even when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was thinking of giving over education without any restriction to the people of Ireland—when, I ask, was such a spectacle afforded as 70,000 Catholic votes being recorded against the open opposition of the whole body of the priesthood of Ireland? I say that it is in that spirit of independence of clerical interference in political matters the Protestants will find in the future their best guarantee and safeguard. To the Protestants of Ireland generally I will say this—if I believed that Home Rule would mean for the Protestants of Ireland, not the oppression at the stake which, as you say, is unlikely and impossible, but if I thought it meant the abrogation of one whit of their just civil and religious liberties I would, as an Irish Nationalist, oppose Home Rule and would quit my country whose people had not learned the first elements of liberty. We Catholic Nationalists owe too much in our past history to our Protestant fellow-countrymen ever to be guilty of the baseness of betrayal. We do not forget the history of Ireland. We do not forget that it was Protestants who won the Parliament of 1782; that it was Protestants who organised the Society of United Irishmen both before and after it had become a revolutionary organisation. We do not forget that it was Protestants who gave the franchise to Catholics in 1793, that Protestants led the rebel army in '98, that Protestants gallantly but vainly defended Irish liberty in 1800, and we do not forget that every day that has passed since has witnessed 249 the efforts of Protestants to defend and promote the civil and religions liberty and the national life of Ireland. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham laid great stress upon his distrust of the present Irish Leaders. [Mr. T. W. RUSSELL: Hear, hear!] It was unnecessary for the hon. Gentleman to cheer that statement, because everybody who knew him knew that be distrusted every man in the country of his adoption. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham resented an accusation of that kind. He said he did not distrust the people of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman resented as a false accusation the statement that he had reproached the Irish people with having little of humanity except its form. No, it was not the people of Ireland the right hon. Gentleman distrusted, but their Leaders. But if be distrusted the Leaders he must distrust the people who followed them. If he distrusted the people, then he bad a right to oppose this Bill, but he asked how long was it since the right hon. Gentleman learned this distrust of the Irish Leaders? He had abstained from arguments of a tu quoque character, which had been too frequent in that Debate, but the temptation was irresistible to remind the right hon. Gentleman of some incidents in his own past career. One of the reasons for the right hon. Gentleman distrusting the Irish Leaders was that they had been denounced as marching through rapine to plunder by the Prime Minister. But in the year 1885, long-after the Prime Minister had denounced them as marching through rapine to dismemberment—long sifter the right hon. Gentleman had made himself perfectly acquainted with them, and at a time when, as a matter of fact, the right hon. Gentleman was in the closest and most confidential relations with some of these Irish Leaders, there was published an article in The Fortnightly Review, which the right hon. Gentleman admitted, when challenged in that House, that, though he had not written it, had been published with his sanction and approval, and the main lines of it could be regarded as his. In that article he said—What is the root of Irish discontent? Every one recognises the existence of the great grievances which distinguished the Government of Ireland at the commencement of the century. 250 But many of them have been removed. The tithes have been abolished; Catholic Emancipation has been granted; religious disabilities have been removed; the Irish Church has been disestablished, and last and most important, the Lund Laws have been reformed. In addition, there has been a large use of Imperial funds and credit.And now he would call the recollection of the House to the statement of the Member for West Birmingham that Ireland was improving under remedial legislation, and if only the Prime Minister had let the improvement go on and had not been in a hurry in 1885, the improvement would sooner or later have resulted in contentment. But what did the right hon. Gentleman say in 1885? The article proceeded—The Irish people are discontented still and probably there is more deep-seated disaffection with the English connection at the present time than at any previous period since the Union. These reforms have all been late. They have been the result of compulsion, not of justice; they have been proposed and carried by a Foreign Government. What is needed in Ireland is that Irish legislation should be domestic and not foreign Austria and Hungary,''—the right hon. Gentleman scoffed at Austria and Hungary as a precedent now—Austria and Hungary have long since settled their differences; yet England persists still in misgoverning Ireland, and has failed to endow her with a Constitution that will command the loyalty and affection of the people.With what a face did the right hon. Gentleman, after declarations of that kind, come down to the House and declare that the remedial legislation between 1869 and 1885 was gradually weaning the people away from disaffection, and only for the wicked meddler, the Prime Minister, in 1885, by this time he supposed the Irish Channel would have disappeared, or, at any rate, that England and Ireland as two nations would have merged into one harmonious whole. In conclusion, he would earnestly impress just one other consideration upon the House. The malady from which Ireland was admittedly suffering was a deadly malady, and the case was urgent. It was not a case that would brook of delay. While doctors woe differing the patient was dying. The very life-blood of Ireland was day by day ebbing away from her. Every specific had been tried for the cure of this malady—every specific had been tried except one, and that was that they should allow the Irish people to make an attempt, at 251 any rate, to cure themselves. Her disease was a disease alike of the mind and the body. He remembered when a very young lad listening in the Gallery of that House to a speech on this subject in the year 1876, and he remembered Mr. Isaac Butt, whose name he in common with large masses of the Irish people would ever recall with reverence and affection, he remembered Mr. Isaac Butt quoting to the House those noble words in Macbeth when "Macbeth" asks the physician—Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased;Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow;Raze out the written troubles of the brain,And with some sweet, oblivious antidote,Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuffWhich weighs upon the heart?And he remembered well the effect produced upon that House when Mr. Butt went, further, and recalled the answer of the physician, who said—Therein the patient must minister to herself.That was their case for Home Rule. They said that Ireland herself must minister to herself. Her malady had baffled the most skilful political physicians of this country; had baffled England's ablest administrators, her wisest legislators, her sagest counsellors and statesmen. They (the Irish Members) said that Ireland's solo remaining hope was in herself. Ireland herself must minister to herself. She must bind up her own wounds and cure her own diseases. Those who said, as Lord Salisbury said, that the Irish people, because they were mostly of the Celtic race, were unfitted for the use of representative institutions and for the enjoyment of freedom made a declaration foreign to the whole experience and history of their Empire. In the creation of the Empire, in the Government of the Empire, in the Councils of the Empire, in the exercise of those virtues and talents which were necessary for the practice of the arts of Government, be said that Irishmen had proved themselves the equal of the best of Englishmen, or Scotchmen, or Welshmen. Go round the Empire, on which they boasted the sun never set, and he defied them to find one spot where Irishmen had not made an exhibition of those talents and those virtues, except one spot—that spot being the land of their own birth and affections. He would say to the House these great 252 qualities and virtues were not yet extinct in the Irish race. Give them free scope in Ireland; throw upon Irish shoulders the sobering influence of responsibility. Give Irishmen free scope in their own land; give them the bracing influences of a free Constitution, and he was as convinced as that they were assembled in that Parliament to-day that the Irish Question, which for 100 years had been the torture and the disgrace of this united Imperial Parliament, would in a few short years trouble them no more, and Ireland—poor, depopulated, scourged, and rightly disaffected Ireland—would be transformed from what she was to-day, alike England's weakness and her shame, into a portion of the Empire which, if not as prosperous and rich as happy England, would at least be as contented, as peaceful, and as free.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
ventured to intrude in this Debate for one reason only, and that was that there were thousands and thousands of voters and electors of the United Kingdom who had no channel of communication with that House and who had no chance of making their views known to the House unless through some Member like himself, whose duty it was to express the views of those he was sent there to represent. They had heard much about, nationalities in that Debate. He would like to glance for a moment at the different nationalities who were supposed to be mixed up in the settlement of this question. There was first the nationality of Wales. They had not had the advantage of any interference in the Debate from any Member representing a Welsh constituency. It would ill become him, as a near neighbour, to say one harsh word of the Representatives of the Principality; but they seemed to be setting so extreme a value on the Disestablishment or Suspensory Bill that they were not inclined to attach sufficient weight to the importance of Home Rule or the setting up of an Irish Government. If that were so, it was hardly quite creditable to the Members from Wales that they should be willing to make such a compact, and it was hardly creditable to the Leader of the Ministry that he should care to accept their service on such terms. But he would refer for a moment to the 253 Scotch nationality, and he confessed it was to him a matter of extreme difficultly to understand how a nation with the characteristics of the Scotch could conceive that it was right to assist in conferring a separate Parliament on Ireland. The Scotch themselves, he should have thought, had benefited too much by their close union with England to sever another portion of the United Kingdom from that which must always remain its centre and its heart. They had next to consider what the Irish nationality had to say on the subject, and they should remember they had in that House one section of Irish Members which, if not numerically the strongest, represented a very important section of the Irish nation who were resolutely opposed to this Bill or anything connected with it. Again, they should remember that that section of the Irish Representatives who opposed Home Rule had been absolutely reinforced in its strength by the results of the late General Election, and apparently just in proportion as Home Rule might be supposed to be creeping nearer the opposition in Ireland to that very measure seemed to be growing. There then remained two other sections in the Irish representation, the Nationalist sections, and as far as he could gather from the speeches of Members of both sections, there was hardly one of them who was contented with the measure as it stood. Nearly every one of them who had spoken had taken shelter under the announcement that when the Hill went into Committee he would reserve his right of action as to one or other of the more important salient points. He thought they had a right to look at the credentials which these hon. Members brought to see whether they were entitled to have that measure of trust and confidence which they demanded from the House. He would refer for the character of these hon. Members, not to their speeches, but to their deeds and actions. If the present Bill passed the Irish Nationalist Members would be those who would become Members of the Irish Government, and who would be entrusted with the rights and liberties of the whole Irish people. He would ask British Members to look rather carefully into the past history and actions of those Representatives, and to see whether it entitled them to this large and far-reach- 254 ing trusteeship? They could not forget that the Members of this Party had lately been before a tribunal absolutely competent to judge thorn, and that that tribunal had put upon record the opinion it entertained not upon words or scattered speeches, but upon the actual accomplished deeds and actions of those who now demanded this vast trusteeship at their hands. It was of these very men —or, at all events, of the Party they represented—that the Special Commission reported that they had compensated people who were injured in committing crime; that they had accepted money from a known advocate of crime and dynamite; that they were concerned in a conspiracy to expel the "English garrison": that they disseminated papers inciting to sedition; that they incited to intimidation, of which the consequence was crime and outrage were committed by the persons whom they so incited; and that they persisted in that intimidation with a knowledge of its effects. He did not think that that past had been completely condoned or these crimes yet sufficiently purged. He was willing to admit that a great advance had been made, but he said that, as honest, fair-going Members of the British Parliament, they were not entitled to hand over to the men with such a past this enormous and possibly all-important trust. Perhaps one of the ablest speeches in that Debate was the speech of the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. Davitt), who, by that speech and by his great ability, would be marked out for very high office in an Irish Parliament. Yet what did they find said of that hon. Member by this same competent tribunal pronouncing after patient investigation? They had reported that Mr. Davitt was a member of the Fenian organisation, and convicted as such; that he received money from a fund contributed for the purpose of outrage and crime—namely, the Skirmishing Fund; that he was in close and intimate association with the Party of violence in America for the purpose of bringing about, and was mainly instrumental in bringing about, an alliance between that Party and the Parnellite and Home Rule Party in America. Yet they wore asked by this measure to put in a position of possible power and authority—to put into the hands of an hon. Gentleman with that record—that which might mean the difference between 255 the liberty and the life of our fellow-subjects in Ireland. He could not take that responsibility, and however much he might admire the courage with which the hon. Member's career was marked, and recognising as he did that the Special Commission stated that Mr. Davitt expressed a bona âfide disapproval of crime, still he said that the hon. Member's past was marked and stained by the very crimes which should dissociate men for ever from any power of Government, and ho could not be a party to allowing such a man to have any part in the government of those subjects of the Queen in Ireland who ought to be equally well protected with ourselves. In this matter they had not only to consider the Irish Representatives in that House, but they had also to consider the Irish in Ireland. As regarded the question of Ulster, he did not know of anything that struck him more in the speech of the Prime Minister than the fact that he did not think it worth while to make any reference to that great demonstration in Ulster which, whatever else it might mean, at any rate must mean the fixed resolve and ardent desire of no inconsiderable or despicable portion of the Irish race. But supposing they were to substract Ulster altogether from Ireland, it was not possible to forget that in the other Provinces of Leinster, Minister, and Connaught there was evidence of an increasing hatred and abhorrence towards this measure, which they were told that the rest of Ireland had so unanimously accepted. In the same spirit as the Nationalist Members, Her Majesty's Government were perfectly entitled to quote and rely upon and argue upon the many proofs they received from Ireland of the desire for this Bill; but in common justice and fair play its opponents were also entitled to cite and bring forth the many proofs of dislike to the Bill that were becoming more manifest every day. The argument of quantity was a very valuable one in all matters affecting representation, and he granted at once that the argument of quantity was on the side of Her Majesty's Government, on the side of the majority of the Representatives from Ireland, but, although that ought to have full weight, at the same time he thought that on the other side some little importance should be attached to quality. That there was 256 matter for fair consideration here the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. John Morley) would admit, for he believed that the right hon. Gentleman wished this to be a just measure, and one that should honestly be for the good of Ireland. What did they find? They found the Irish majority in this House represented the vast mass of the want of education in Ireland; it represented the vast proportion of those who, inasmuch as they could neither read nor write, could hardly be regarded as the best judges of that which would be the best for the future government of their country; they found that majority represented in a great degree the illiterate portion of Ireland. In this connection he would bring another curious fact to the memory of the House. There was only one Irish Member, he believed, returned for any English constituency, and that Irish Member represented one of the Divisions of the great City of Liverpool, and he found that one in every 11 of that hon. Member's constituents could neither read nor write at the last General Election—that was to say that one out of every 11 voters was illiterate, whereas in the whole of the rest of Liverpool only one in 165 was unable to read or write. He had no wish to deny the right of the poor man to a vote because he had not had the benefit of education, but in considering a matter of such importance as this Bill they ought to attach a little weight to the quality as well as the quantity of the decision given by the voting power in Ireland. There was another point he wished to urge in connection with the Irish in Ireland. They were often told—and to him it seemed a very fair and rather weighty argument— they were told that the Irish people had been peaceable and contented and loyal during these past years because they saw before them the attainment of their hopes, that they were nearing the attainment of that great measure upon which their hearts were set. But, if that were so, how was it that Irishmen were now leaving Ireland faster than in any one of the years when Ireland was under the control of the right hon. Gentleman who now led the Opposition (Mr. A. J. Balfour)? At the present time the emigration from Ireland was very large, and much in excess of what it had been for some time past. If this was not the 257 fact then his argument fell to the ground, but if he was correct it was very curious that the, time when, according to the dictation of those who represented the majority in Ireland, and according to Her Majesty's Government, the people were nearing the attainment of their hopes, that this time should be taken by an increasing number of Irishmen to leave the country. Surely if the thing was good this should be the time when Irishmen would be coming back to share in the prosperity that was promised them under this measure. They heard something, rather too much, of the possibility of violent discussion and the possibility of civil war in Ireland if this measure was pressed to an issue. They had heard it in statements made from both sides, and it was considered possible from an Ulster point of view, and they had been warned to-night by the hon. Member who spoke before him of the result that might follow the refusal of this measure. He only echoed the desire of every individual that nothing of that sort should ever stain their record. But suppose it did— and it was the part of statesmen to consider every contingency—what did they consider would be the position, of Her Majesty's Forces if, unfortunately, any need arose to put them in action against the Loyalist portion of Ireland? He had no longer the honour of holding an active commission under Her Majesty; but, if so honoured, he confessed that he should assuredly have felt himself in a difficult position. He thought they must remember this—that whereas they had received loyally from Ulster the echo of their own loyalty in their difficulties, in their wars and contests, in other parts of Ireland they had unfortunately heard a very different voice. It was in his remembrance, as it was in that of the House, that there had hardly been one of the wars of latter days in which the expression of opinion from certain portions of Ireland had not been in favour of the enemies of the Queen and against the soldiers who were fighting their country's battle. In the case of the Zulu War they knew of the cheers that were raised for the Zulu King. In the case of the terrible Boer War and Majuba Hill, when our own soldiers were massacred, there went up cheers in Ireland for the enemies of our country, and when there was a contingency of war with Russia 258 they found in the speeches and the wretched doggerel of the poetasters all sorts of ill-feeling to England, and hopes, more or less accurately expressed, that her enemies might triumph. It was the same in the war with the Mahdi, and with the expedition that went too late to rescue Gordon. If our Forces were set free against the Loyalists, if they were set in action on behalf of those who did their utmost to express their haired for them, and against those who did their utmost to display their comradeship and fellow-loyalty, it would put a terribly severe strain on the loyalty, the obedience, and discipline of Her Majesty's Forces. So much he had ventured to say with reference to the Irish nationality as represented in Ireland. He had ventured to refer briefly to Wales, briefly to Scotland, and more fully to the Irish nationality, but there was another nationality which, apparently, was left out of account in this Debate, and that was the English nationality. The English nationality was in an enormous majority against Home Rule. He would press this argument upon the right hon. Gentleman: the Union when granted was the outcome of the Treaty between the people of England and the people of Ireland, and he would ask how they were going to do away with it without some similar Treaty? Seeing that the original Union was the outcome of the Treaty between the two nationalities, they were not now justified in altering it by following the opinion of only one of the two. He might be told that in equity they ought to account for the fact that the English Unionists were not now in such large numbers as they were in 1886. It was a perfectly fair line of argument, and he met it in this way. In 1886, when the opinion of England was registered, they knew what they were voting about; they had a chance of understanding what were the provisions of the Bill the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) asked them to accept; and they said, having studied the measure, having made themselves acquainted with the provisions of it, that they did not think it would do, and they therefore rejected it. The case now was entirely different. When the present Parliament was returned they knew nothing of the provisions that were going to be introduced into the Bill. 259 He freely granted there existed throughout this country a well-deserved admiration of the statesmanship and great ability of the Prime Minister, and there was unquestionably a widespread belief that somehow or other the right hon. Gentleman would evolve a scheme of Home Rule that might he freed from the objections they took to it, and which would satisfy them as to its practicability, fairness, and safety, so that consent might be given to him to carry it through Parliament. But he would undertake to say that at this moment, if they could appeal to the constituencies of England and Great Britain, the majority against Home Rule would be largely and enormously increased. That, he thought, was a fair answer to the perfectly fair contention that they ought to account somehow for the diminished numbers of the Unionist Party in England. What was the English attitude, generally speaking, towards Ireland over this matter, and this again was a point in regard to which he thought the English Members deserved some blame for not having made it more absolutely clear and conspicuous? There seemed a sort of assumption on the other side that English Members and the constituencies were actuated by motives of jealousy of Ireland, and by mean and unworthy motives in their refusal to concede this Home Rule measure. He must not speak for other people, but for his own constituency and himself he most positively asserted their idea and wish for Ireland was simply to make it exactly the same as themselves—that the Local Government that satisfied them should be extended to Ireland, that there should be as little difference as possible between the circumstances under which an Irishman lived in Clare and an Englishman lived in Shropshire, but there must precede that an equality of obedience to the law and an equality of loyalty to the Queen. Ho thought it unfair to taunt them with any Harrow and unworthy attitude towards their Irish brethren, because the feeling of England towards Ireland was cordial and sincere. He believed that a measure such as that which was expected from the present Government would have disarmed hostility, and would have been infinitely better, both for Ireland and for England. They saw in these proposals of the 260 Government a great deal that they could not, as Englishmen, possibly do with. They necessarily saw a large increase in taxation; a large increase in the competition in the labour market; they would suffer from a dislocation of trade; they saw danger to civil liberty and to themselves. Because starting from the premiss that they could not accept the assurances of the Representatives from Ireland quite in the full spirit in which they seemed willing to give them, starting from that premiss they saw the possibility of considerable danger to themselves in the difficulties and troubles that might arise. And they saw, as it seemed to them, one inevitable outcome of this measure, that this Parliament, with which they often found fault but which they thoroughly believed in, that this Parliament of ours would be mutilated and its efficiency be considerably degraded, and they found in that considerable reason for refusing their support and their assent to the measures that wore proposed to them. They not only felt a national objection, but they felt an Imperial objection to it; they felt it would cripple them in many ways. It would cripple their power of promoting civilisation, it would expose them to the charge that they had showed a weakness which would be the opportunity of their enemies, and these various reasons and objections, which in all brevity he had tried to urge, ought to have some weight with English Members in making up their minds as to the opinion they would register when the time came for the Division. He considered that England was not getting fair play in this matter, that English opinion deserved at the hands of the Prime Minister more generosity and fair treatment than the right hon. Gentleman seemed prepared to accord her. They found in this measure much that was dangerous to their national greatness, menacing to their Imperial supremacy, and much that was repugnant to their deep-rooted convictions of what was justice and fair play. These surely were sufficient reasons why English Members should oppose to the uttermost this measure which was fraught with so much danger and trouble. They might be slow as a nation to assert their rights. They might have been willing to merge the separate nationality of England in 261 the United Kingdom, but now they were slowly awakening to the fact that the principles they cherished so much were challenged by this Bill, and that unless they asserted the right of England to her fair share of consideration in this measure they might be inflicting a blow that it would take many a century to recover from. He did not wish to say one word which would give offence—he was too proud of the unity of the three countries to do that—to any one; but England, in consequence of her position and her history, must be considered more or less Cæsar on this question, and to Caesar they must and should appeal.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW (Hawick, &c.)
said, the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just addressed the House desired to have some information with regard to the attitude of Scotland on this plain and Constitutional question, and before his remarks came to a close he hoped to give the answer to the inquiry of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. Although upon one part of this Bill he felt very strongly that a mistake had been made—he referred to the provision in Section 9, which excluded from the retained Members of the Imperial Parliament certain functions—he was free to confess that upon those broad and general grounds which, in his judgment, were those alone which should weigh with any hon. Member in regard to the SECOND READING of the measure, he was strongly and ardently in favour of it. He heard with great gratification the observations of his hon. and learned Friend the late Solicitor General for Scotland (Mr. Graham Murray), most especially that part of them in which he dealt with the question from a Scotch point of view. His hon. and learned Friend certainly found himself in a considerable difficulty in accounting for the Scotch vote at the last General Election. He stated that it was partially owing to the great admiration which the Scotch people cherished for the Prime Minister. It would be perfectly presumptuous in him to say anything upon that topic, except that he entirely agreed with his hon. and learned Friend. But, in the second place, he admitted that Scotland at this moment was, and hoped to remain, an integral part of the British Empire. He asked the House to bear in mind what was the remarkable result of that confession. 262 Scotland by an enormous majority had declared for Home Rule for Ireland, and his hon. and learned Friend said that Scotland hoped for something of the nature of Home Rule as a consequence of the granting of this measure to Ireland. On the one hand, Scotland hoped for Home Rule bye-and-by for itself; on the other, Scotland approved of the Home Rule for Ireland; and, above both those considerations, Scotland hoped to remain an integral part of the British Empire. Was not the result simply this—that they had a nation hoping for the same for Ireland which it would receive bye-and-by for itself—a nation not lacking in the qualities of prudence, sagacity, and caution, and that nation saw none of those things to fear with regard to disintegration and dismemberment which were deduced by hon. Gentlemen opposite for the policy of a measure of Home Rule for Ireland. He would like the House to consider what had been the nature of the appeal made to Scotland since this Bill was introduced. He was not quite sure that this new development of an appeal to Scotland and Scotland's prejudices was not begun by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill.) After the First Reading of the Bill, the noble Lord declared that England, and England alone, was the country upon whose opinion he depended for a satisfactory answer to the question whether or not Home Rule should be granted to Ireland. In fact, the noble Lord put on the one hand Ulster, or part of Ulster, against Ireland, and England, or part of England, against the United Kingdom. Therefore, he dared to say, Scotch Unionists and people in Ireland were stung to the quick, and the Easter campaign or manæuvres were held in Scotland and Ireland. Scotland had declared for Home Rule to Ireland by a majority of 50 Members against 22, and Ireland by 80 against 23, or combined 130 against 45. Scotland had declared for Home Rule as a political issue. How was the judgment of Scotland to be thwarted? There had been an appeal made in these circumstances. The minority of the Irish population was Protestant and Presbyterian; the majority of the Scotch population was Protestant and Presbyterian. And, forsooth, that device had been to appeal to the common sympathies 263 of Presbyterianism, and so by those common sympathies, or rather by a certain prejudice which was supposed to be associated with them, to defeat the verdict of Scotland on a pure political issue. As a Presbyterian he was ashamed to see the way in which Presbyterianism in Ireland had associated itself politically with Orangemen pure and simple. It was the first time he had felt ashamed of his co-religionists. The hon. Member for South Tyrone said he feared the power of the priests. The history of Scotland threw some light upon the subject, for it showed that the power of the ministers there was greatest when they were associated with the Scottish as against the domination of the English forces and the English nation. So in Ireland the power of the priests could be historically explained, for no such body of men could pass through the period of Catholic disabilities on the side of the people as against those who tyrannized over them without obtaining a large hold, in all the circumstances of life, over that people. But, just as in Scotland the power of the priests had waned as the Scottish Constitution developed on lines of political freedom, so he hoped and believed it would be in Ireland; and with the waning power of the priests there would be a still greater development of personal liberty among the whole Irish people. They had had deputations from Ulster asking them to sympathise as Scotchmen with the people of that Province. Ulster, they were told, was going to fight. For what? Human ingenuity would be very strongly strained to find anything that could further protect the susceptibilities of the people of Ulster than Sections 3 and 4 of the Bill. Having regard to the safeguards in the Bill he thought Ulster had no just ground for fear. She had been in the enjoyment of ascendency from time immemorial, and what she now feared was not the coming of ascendency, but the going of ascendency. When a whole nation rose for freedom as against a foreign domination it could only end in a victory such as that of Bannockburn; but when a section only of the nation rose to overturn the settled judgment of the people as a whole that could only end in the hunt and havoc of Culloden, and when this petty Culloden occurred in Ireland those who, like the right hon. 264 Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition at Belfast, darkly hinted at rebellion now would wash their hands of all responsibility for its folly and shame. Speaking for himself, and he believed for nine-tenths of the Scottish Representatives— [An hon. MEMBER: No.] He (Mr. Shaw) was sure he could speak for them, and, doing so, he did not see his way to give any support to Subsection 3 of Section 9 of the Bill, which dealt with the powers of the retained Irish Members.
§ MR. SHAW
said, it was. He was not going to discuss it now. He would reserve his right to deal with the subject in Committee. The way out of the difficulty was not to have Members of the Imperial Parliament who were not competent to transact any business which it was competent for the Imperial Parliament to deal with, but to wisely and generously delegate Parliamentary business to Ireland and also to Scotland. Therefore, as a Scotch Member hoping for Home Rule for Scotland, he could not support the measure in its present form—but that was a matter of detail. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister that there was a strong feeling on the subject in Scotland. He was opposed to the partial disfranchisement of the Irish Members; because he considered that that course was opposed to the enfranchisement of Greater Britain, and as a Federationist he looked forward to the time when the Imperial Parliament would be so, not in name only, but in reality.
§ *COLONEL BRIDGEMAN (Bolton)
said the House had listened to a great many speeches on this subject, and he was bound to admit that some of them had been of abnormal length. He did not intend himself to trespass in that direction, and the remarks he should have to make would be very brief; but at the same time he was anxious not to give a silent vote on a question of such vital and fundamental importance—of such vital importance to hundreds of thousands of Her Majesty's subjects as affecting their property, and in some possible contingencies even their lives. He thought it was the duty of every Member to express his views upon a Bill of such magnitude so that they might be recorded 265 in Hansard. So far as he had been able to discover, his constituents were very strongly averse to this measure. Of course, they were not unanimous, but so far as he knew, they had presented no Petition, held no meetings, and felt no enthusiasm in its favour. He held that there had been during the Debate no attempt made on the Ministerial side of the House to grapple with the main arguments that had been directed against the Bill—either with the question of Ulster, the difficulties surrounding the retention of the Irish Members, or the difficulties which surrounded the clauses which dealt with finance. He did not propose to touch on the question of Ulster. It was a question which lent itself to declamation, no doubt, and Ulster had given a very interesting object lesson in the absolutely unique reception it recently gave to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour); but he could safely leave the question of Ulster to hon. Members who represented loyalist constituencies in Ireland, therefore ho would not deal with that point, and would pass to the two others he had mentioned. The hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) had spoken of these questions as mere details, which ought to be left to the Committee stage, but, if they were able to show that the retention of the Irish Members would bring our Parliamentary system into chaos, and that the Financial Clauses of the Bill were so unsatisfactory that they might bring our finances into chaos, then principle was affected, and the question should be discussed on the Second Reading. From the speeches of the hon. Member for Sunderland and the hon. Member for the Border Burghs, it would seem that they were of opinion that the outcome of the Bill would be the establishment of a Federal system of Government. Those hon. Members were not afraid of that system of Government. Well, that was an enormous question, and he was entitled to ask what they were discussing. He could conceive it possible that in the future we should have a Federal Government—the Imperial Parliament very much as it was at present, and four subordinate bodies, glorified County Councils, which would probably do very little harm, and practically would not have Executive powers at their command. But if that was what they were discussing, he would submit to 266 the hon. Members to whom he had referred that they should vote against this Bill, because it was going dead against a system of Federation. He could not conceive any plan that was more unlikely to bring about Federation than the system proposed in the Bill, for it would have amongst its strongest opponents the Irish Members, who would not, like to descend to a glorified County Council after having had an Executive Government of their own. But as no responsible statesman and no Member of greater importance than the hon. Member for Sunderland seemed inclined to take up this question, it might be dismissed as a matter outside the sphere of practical politics. They had expected that the Prime Minister, when he moved the Second Reading of the Bill, would have dealt with the question of the retention of the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament. It was only natural to suppose that someone whose name was on the back of the Bill would try to deal with this difficult question. Hut they had done nothing of the kind. If they took the House as now constituted, there was an English majority against the Government, and an Imperial majority in its favour. After an Irish Parliament had been granted, as the chief Bills before Parliament were British measures, how would it be possible for the Government to remain in power when it would be liable to have every one of its Bills beaten on a Party Division? It was very unsatisfactory when he wanted an answer to the question to see the Government Bench empty, and he did not think it was very respectful to the House, when they were discussing a measure of such importance, that there should be no Member of the Government present. He would not move the Adjournment of the Debate, for he did not know whether Mr. Speaker would put the Motion to the House even if he proposed it. To give an example as to the difficulties which would be encountered in deciding whether a question was a British or an Imperial one, he would instance the case of the "Ewelme Scandal" sonic 20 years ago the Prime Minister presented to an English living a gentleman who it was supposed was not qualified. The qualification was called in question in the House. Obviously it would not be competent for Irish Members to vote 267 on the question of a presentation to an English living, and yet, in the instance to which he referred, a good deal of excitement prevailed, and if the opposition had been pressed it might have caused the downfall of the Ministry. He passed from the question of the retention of the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament, and came to the financial clauses of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham the other day in an able speech, to which as yet no answer had been given, entered into the question of the amount which would be paid by the Irish Exchequer to the Imperial Exchequer, and he said that the amount proposed by the Bill—namely, l–26th, was too small, and that the proper amount would be near l–15th. But that was a question for Committee, and in the meantime he would accept the figures of the Prime Minister—l–26th. That was about 4 per cent, of the expenditure. Well, a question he should like to ask the Prime Minister was how it was that, if 4 per cent. was the proper contribution from Ireland to the Imperial Exchequer, she was to be permitted to send to the Imperial Parliament 12 per cent, of its Members—and the 80 Irish Members would form 12 per cent, of the total number? He conceived that his constituents would have a great grievance if they were called upon to pay their proportion of all but 4 per cent. of the Imperial Revenue, whilst the Irish Members had 12 per cent. of the voice in deciding how the money was to be spent. It must be recollected that it would be chiefly upon questions of Imperial expenditure that Irish Members would vote—on questions affecting war, the Diplomatic Service, and foreign and colonial subjects. The English people would ask why Ireland should have three times as much representation as its taxation gave it a right to claim. There happened to exist a little bit of curious corroborative evidence to show that this idea must have entered into the mind of the Prime Minister, because Mr. Parnell, in his Manifesto issued at the end of 1890, said—Upon the subject of the retention of the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament, Mr. Gladstone told me that the opinion, and the unanimous opinion, of his Colleagues and himself, recently arrived at after the most mature consideration of alternative proposals, 268 was that, in order to conciliate English public opinion, it would be necessary to reduce the Irish representation from 103 to 32.It was interesting to picture the interview between these two distinguished statesmen—the pure Scotchman and the pure Irishman—when this statement was made, Mr. Parnell urging that the Irish contribution was too large, and the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister urging as a quid pro quo for reducing it that there must be a corresponding diminution in the Irish representation. At that time the right hon. Gentleman was "in a position of greater freedom and less responsibility." Since then the General Election had taken place, and had, apparently, altered the whole of the circumstances. It had resulted in a smaller majority than the right hon. Gentleman had expected. The right hon. Gentleman found himself in the uncomfortable position of being dependent for his seat on the Treasury Bench on the Irish vote. He was, therefore, in the hands of the Irish Leaders, and it was not difficult to imagine that they should require a larger representation than 32, and that after a certain amount of talk the right hon. Gentleman should agree that the number should be 80. He did not like these arrangements between the pure Scotchman and the pure Irishman, for he was very much afraid that between them the pure Englishman was likely to go to the wall. He entirely agreed with the words used by the Prime Minister in 1871, when he said that no rational man, no sensible man could suppose that at this time of day, and in this condition of the world, we were going to disintegrate the great capital institutions of our country in order to make ourselves ridiculous in the sight of all mankind, and cripple any power we possessed to render benefits through legislation to the country to which we belonged. The views the Prime Minister held in 1871 wore held by the Opposition now, and they were just as unwilling to make, themselves ridiculous in the sight of all mankind in 1893 as the right hon. Gentleman was 22 years ago.
§ MR. R, WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)
said, he had no desire to argue the general question of Home Rule, as he was past being further convinced with regard to it. The only point he desired to put to himself was simply whether the Bill was 269 sufficiently well-adapted for the purpose of carrying out Irish Home Rule. The test he applied was that such a Bill should give to Ireland the management of its own affairs, of the whole of its own affairs, and of nothing but its own affairs. As he found that, upon the whole these objects were sufficiently provided for in the Bill in such a way that with a little amendment in Committee it might be brought as near perfection as such a Bill could well be, he intended to vote for the Second Reading. He had listened with great satisfaction to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) upon the introduction of the Bill. Although since the right hon. Gentleman's melancholy fall from political eminence he had always been compelled to listen to him with a certain amount of caution, he always derived great pleasure from the easy lucidity and grace with which the right hon. Gentleman invariably set forth his deplorable ideas. The right hon. Gentleman had taken great pains to show that the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, which was, no doubt, by Constitutional necessity in posse in the Bill, would amount in practice to little or nothing. On that point the right hon. Gentleman was, no doubt, substantially right. It would, no doubt, be a matter of such supreme difficulty for the Imperial Parliament to interfere with the Irish Legislature, that in practice it would be found, except when it came to be a case of absolute red ruin and the breaking up of laws, that the Imperial Parliament would not attempt, to interfere with the Irish Legislature. In short, the Irish Parliament would, to quote the words of the Prime Minister, be practically a separate and independent Legislature. The main difference between the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Chamberlain) and himself on this point was that, while the right hon. Gentleman deplored this prospective state of things, he rejoiced in it, and the reason for the difference between them was that he (Mr. Wallace) believed in the principle of democracy and the right hon. Gentleman now did not believe in it. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman would say he did, and no doubt he believed he did, but it was evident that he had been given up to blindness on account of his political iniquities. He (Mr. Wallace) desired to see 270 the Irish Parliament have the freest hand possible in directing the destinies of their native country, because he knew that in no undertaking could any success be obtained unless a free hand were given to capable men. If the House of Commons were to take it into its head to direct an epic poem to be produced by Mr. Swinburne, or Mr. Morris, or Mr. Meredith, or Mr. Watson, under, say, the daily and direct superintendence of the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Mundella), or the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. H. H. Fowler), with the assistance in emergency of the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), he had no doubt that the poem would not be likely to go very far towards procuring immortality for its author. In the same way, if the hon. Members for North Longford (Mr. Justin McCarthy), Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond), South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell), and North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) and their Colleagues, in their joint management of the Irish Parliament were not given as nearly as possible a perfectly free baud, they could not be expected to do very much for the best interests of their country. He would have confidence in entrusting them with the great powers which this Bill would put into their hands, because he was a believer in the principle of democracy. He believed that while the individual might be and too often was a fool, or a lunatic, or a scoundrel, the nation, on the other hand, with the knowledge that its best interests were bound up in the observance of public prudence and the enactment of public justice, would, in its collective capacity, behave sanely, honestly, and sensibly. Accordingly, he had no hesitation in believing that the last thing the Irish Parliament would seek to do would be to quarrel with this country or attempt to separate from it, because it would know that its interests would always lie in a totally opposite direction. It would aim at justice, because injustice would bring it before the civilized world with a slain upon the honour of a nation which was almost abnormally sensitive upon the point of national honour, and because it would know that justice was in the long run the shortest and cheapest road to national honour. It would, he was sure, have too much good sense ever to allow 271 theology to spoil business. To talk about the priests manipulating the politicians seemed to him to be merely reversing the probable relations. His impression was that it was the politician who, in these days, manipulated and used the priests. Men of the cloister were not able, at the present time, to use as their tools men of the world. As for Ulster, Ulster would not fight. He was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but he ventured to make this prediction. At the worst, as the Ulster Convention some two years ago concluded that the resistance they should give should be a passive resistance, he believed that Ulster would here and there refuse to pay its taxes—that was to say, would elect to pay them in the roundabout way of having execution put in against its furniture. Every sensible man knew that a battle of sideboards and table-spoons could not be long maintained. Ulster would fight in the proper place—on the floor of its own House. As to bloodshed, whilst it might and no doubt would shed millions of cubic yards of Parliamentary and platform gas, it would not shed a single drop of human blood, especially its own. He did not understand why Irish land was for three years to be kept out of the hands of the Irish people. The Home Secretary (Mr. Asquith), two years ago at Manchester, said, in speaking on this subject—As to the land, I cannot understand how any Home Ruler could presume to deny to an Irish Legislature the power of dealing with the very question which lies at the root of all the social prosperity or distress of Ireland.He (Mr. Wallace) entirely agreed with the language of the Home Secretary, and he should very much like some Member of the Government to tell the House why Ministers presumed, as the Home Secretary put it, to keep back from Ireland the right of dealing with its own land. Why was Ireland going to block the way for three years after they should have professed to have cleared the line? The land of Ireland was, in a very literal sense, Ireland. Ireland was simply a name for a large piece of laud lying westward of St. George's Channel, and Home Rule for Ireland with a part of Ireland missed out did not seem to be a proposal of very great promise. Not only did he require, in a proper Bill of 272 Home Rule, that Ireland should manage her own affairs, but he also thought that she should manage nothing but her own affairs. He found that the professed purpose of the Bill on this matter was also satisfactory. Ireland was to have her own share in dealing with Imperial matters in this Parliament, and if that was in every way practicable and consistent with other requirements he said that was only reasonable and right. But if the Bill had been constructed on other lines; if it had arranged that while Ireland managed her own affairs in Dublin she should also come across and manage British affairs, in which she would no longer have any true interest, and with which she would, in fact, have as little to do as America or France—affairs for which her Representatives could not possibly have been chosen, and in respect of which the people directly interested could have no voice in the election of those Representatives— in such a case he would have been placed in a very painful dilemma, and would have had difficulty in determining whether he should support a Bill containing a proposal so anomalous, so unjust, and, in his opinion, so dangerous. This had been called an organic detail of the Bill. He did not know to what extent that phrase might extend, but he thought it often came near to what was culled a vital principle, at all events sufficient to justfy discussion on a Second Reading upon it. An article in The Westminster Gazette, entitled "Please Push Me, "was interpreted by some hon. Members as indicating that the Premier was prepared to go a step further with this portion of the Bill. Those sentiments, spoken in the name of many Liberals, had occasioned him considerable misgivings, and possibly the House would excuse him for dwelling a little longer upon the topic. He was, of course, glad that at the present moment no such proposal, but the very opposite, stood in the Bill. The Irish Members were to vote on Imperial matters, with which they were undoubtedly concerned, but they were not to vote upon British matters, with which as undoubtedly they were not concerned. He was perfectly aware of the difficulties connected with the proposed arrangement. But what he said was, that they were not more startling in their nature than the startling and initial difficulty of Home Rule itself; and as he 273 was not afraid to face the one, he was not afraid to face the other. His hon. Friend the Member for Northampton had published a plan limiting to a certain extent the proposed Imperial powers of the Irish Members here. It would be perfectly feasible for a British Ministry with a British majority to always maintain its natural position in that Parliament. The plan he referred to would limit the powers of Irish Members in proposed Votes of Confidence by refusing to give them voting power except where the Vote of Confidence concerned Imperial matters. But when that Vote of Confidence was on an exclusively British matter, or was really upon a mixed matter; and since Ireland was in the relation of 5,000,000 to 30,000,000, it would be fair that the rights of the minority should give way to the convenience and the rights of the majority. Before looking seriously at the compromise of the Member for Northampton lie-desired to consider what the Bill could say for itself, and whether it could not show it was able enough to do its own work. A certain amount of rudimentary amusement had been extracted by some of the cap-and-bell minions of the Party opposite out of the "Pop in and out" clause of the Bill, as it had been called. The expression seemed to have tickled certain intelligences. If it bad gone no further no great harm would have been done; but some faint-hearted Members of his own Party had taken a most serious view of the matter. To them "Popping in and out," had seemed a masterly and unanswerable sarcasm, and they had taken to whimpering, "Oh, dear, this will never do." Before taking on so, he would ask them to consider how the matter really stood. In the first place, "popping in and out," was no novelty of the law or the public business of this country. In the County Councils, by express provision, when certain questions were raised, certain members of the Council had to stand out, and only returned when the question had been settled. ["No, no!"] He believed he was speaking in the presence of members of the London County Council who had popped in and out many times, and still survived to tell the tale. What would be the ultimate practical result of the limitation of the Irish power of voting in turning what would be an 274 Imperial majority to-day into a British minority to-morrow? He had no doubt that a British Ministry, with the power of veto in its hands, might do a good deal to reduce the Irish Members to reason if they required to be subjected to that operation. But still he feared in the end the Irish power over the Imperial Estimates might possibly prove too strong for them. But, if that wore so, he believed the majority would find a way of carrying out its will. How it could be done was a question of detail. It might, undoubtedly, create great changes—a perfect revolution it might be in their present methods. But those who were engaged in bold undertakings must not shrink from the mere number of the bold undertakings in which they were engaged, and if it involved a revolutionary change in their method of procedure was that necessarily an evil? Was there any divine right of Cabinets? Was it necessary that Her Majesty's Ministers should be always the Leaders of the majority of the House? Was it necessary that Her Majesty's Ministers should be in that House at all? Was it not possible to conceive some method of the legislative element of the Constitution communicating with the Executive in an entirely different way from the present, and yet in a way not less but possibly a great deal more advantageous? If they insisted that the Executive should always be in that House, was it necessary that they should all be of one mind upon all subjects? If there were two majorities in the House, why might there not be two organs for carrying out the will of the majorities? Why might there not be an Imperial Executive and a British Executive? If the will of that House were carried out, he, for one, did not care by what instrumentality it was carried out, provided that the will of the Legislative Assembly was given effect to. The existing Front Bench system, in his opinion, was very far from being perfect. For the sake of a sound home policy, they had often been dragged into and made responsible before the country for a very unsound foreign policy. The present Front Bench system—and he was speaking of both sides of that system—fostered parasitism — cliquism, log-rolling— and the more or less indirect forms of nepotism and other political vices that were most detrimental to the best interests of the 275 public. The House was getting more and more paralysed and strangled by its own officialism, and by the too-growing power of Her Majesty's Ministers; and he would contemplate with a very chastened equanimity, rather, he might say, with a hopeful anticipation, the advent of a Parliamentary millennium, in which the Front Bench withered and the House grew more and more. He was not advocating the coming about of this state of things as a desirable state of things. He was not even insisting on trying to demonstrate that it was a necessary or inevitable state of things. He was only saying that if there was a proper working of this Irish Homo Rule problem so as to do justice at once to Irish and British interests, and that if that should demand their facing such a conjuncture, he, for one, would not be filled with absolutely frantic terror at the prospect. His hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Shaw) made a statement which rather surprised him. He said that nine-tenths of the people of Scotland were in favour of having their interests overridden by irresponsible Irish Members. He must say that was news to him. But if the hon. Member was frightened by such a prospect as that, he wished to ask him and his Liberal friends who sought to reverse the provisions of the Bill in this matter how they proposed to surmount the difficulty which the hon. Member had pointed out? His hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs had said that the true way to do it was by enabling Irish Members to vote upon British business; and then he supposed that that would get clear of all the confusion. But getting clear of confusion might sometimes be too dearly purchased. If a man presented a pistol at his head and demanded his money or his life, probably he might avoid confusion by giving up his money; but, for his own part, he should prefer to grapple a little with the confusion before he parted with his money. It was said that the difficulty of having two majorities would be cured by enabling Irish Members to vote, not merely upon Imperial affairs, but upon British affairs also. In that case, if the Irish vote put the British Ministry in danger that would not matter, because they would have the Irish vote still with them to support the 276 Imperial Ministry. But what security would they have that the Irish vote, which put a Ministry into power on a British question, would be with them on Imperial questions? What would be the dominating influence in the minds of the Irish Representatives? He did not wish to speak with disrespect of the Irish Members, of whom he had always spoken with respect, and something approaching affection for them. He did not admit, however, that any Irishman was either a better or a worse man than himself. He did not admit he was better, and he hoped he was not worse. For his own part, he contended that an Irishman would act upon the principles on which he would act him self in the same situation—that was to say, he would do the best in the circumstances for the interests he was sent to represent. It might be cast in his teeth that he had already expressed great confidence in the action of the Irish Members in Dublin, and why, then, should he cast suspicion on them acting in British matters here? In Dublin Irish Members managing Irish affairs would be in a true position. Under this Bill, Irish Members acting in Westminster in British affairs would be in a false position, and while he had no lack of confidence in a good man in his true position he might say that even a good man in a false position was not a very calculable quantity. He said the Irish Members would simply be guided by Irish interests. The Member for North Kerry said in his hearing two nights ago that he had found the Tory Party as pliant in his hand as the Liberal Party, and that he might find them so again; so that the hon. Member was looking forward to opportunities of experimenting on the pliancy of the Tory Party. It seemed to him that all they would gain, if they gained anything, by bringing the Irish Members there to vote on British matters would simply be to enable them to wring from the Imperial Parliament new concessions in the interests of their country, and the next vote they would require their assistance on would give them an excellent opportunity of giving that concession. In short, the plan they proposed would simply be that of giving, not only a second, but a tenth, or even a twentieth string to the Irish bow, and their last state would be worse than their first. He would ask was it fair to the 277 British majority that their interests should be sacrificed by the action of what would really be the representation of a Foreign Power? It was said they were doing so now, but he denied altogether the identity of the present with the new position. At present, Ireland, as far as her domestic affairs were concerned, was not a Foreign Power. All their affairs at present were thrown into hotchpotch, and Ireland had a finger in the pie. Every hon. Member from Ireland was a British-Irish Member chosen by an Irish constituency, for British-Irish purposes. That House of Commons was not a confederacy of separate constituencies; it was one large membership of one great constituency, and the different localities in choosing individual members were simply acting as agents of the aggregate constituency. He was not a Scotch Member—there was no such thing properly speaking. He was a United Kingdom Member combined with the typographical peculiarities of his race. On the Liberal platforms at the last Election the cry was Home Rule plus the Newcastle Programme, and in Great Britain it was the Newcastle Programme plus Home Rule. The items were differently arranged, the totals were the same. But under this Bill this domestic unity would be entirely broken up, unless, indeed, they were going to try to set up the nominal against the real, the shadow against the substance and the sham against the fact. He repeated that under the Bill this domestic unity would be substantially and totally broken up. Irish Members when they came to Westminster, as far as domestic affairs were concerned, would be regarded as the Representatives of a Foreign Power. They would not have been elected by a constituency in whose affairs they were qualified or instructed to meddle. Their position of acting in British affairs would be essentially anti-democratic and substantially tyrannical. They would be taxing and ruling a people by whom they had not been chosen or authorised to act. They had heard of the equality that ought to prevail amongst Members of Parliament. But in the proposed state of things the Irish Members would be outrageous sinners against the principle of equality, because their interest in British affairs would be purely academic. Omnes omnia would require to be 278 changed to Omnes Hiberni omnia or Omnes Britanni nihil. At present there was a mutual system of check between British and Irish interests. British interests were, so to speak, given in pawn to Ireland as security for British fidelity in Irish matters, and Irish matters were given in pawn to Britain an security for Irish fidelity in British matters, Under this Bill all this would be gone, for while Britain would still be under recognisance to Ireland, there would be no Irish securities in British possession. Ireland would be irresponsible, under no chock, under no pledge, under no recognisances. He wished to deal with one other argument, which was possibly the strongest argument with some of his Liberal friends, who look a view different from the view he took of the Bill. They said—"If we could secure Irish votes for British purposes, it would help us to carry a great many Liberal measures, such as Welsh Disestablishment, Scotch Disestablishment, payment of Members"—in short, all the political delicacies of the season. Again, he asked what security was there that Irish Members, under the new system, would always vote for what were called Liberal measures? During the Recess the hon. Member for South Longford went to Edinburgh to demonstrate to the people there that Irish representation in a few years, under the new system, would be to a large extent Tory. He thought the hon. Member was right, because a nation of small landlords was likely to be a nation of great Tories. At all events, Irish Members would still be animated by the leading principles of what might be best for Irish interests. In the last Parliament an Irish Representative spoke with great glee and cynical satisfaction of the negotiations between the Irish Members and the Tory Party, and stated that at the time they were as thick as thieves, and might be so again. In that connection he would read an extract from his matutinal guide, The Daily News, seven years ago, who said—Great Britain desires to govern herself, and not to see her affairs conducted at the caprice of men who openly avow, as Mr. T. P. O'Connor did at Liverpool, that when they are voting about Egypt they were thinking about Ireland.279 That was true; and he wanted to ask further—If you were to secure that the Irish vote should always be Liberal"—he was asking that, not of the Party opposite, but of his own nominal friends—what right have you, as Democratic Liberals, to invite such votes? What you want to do is really to rule and tax your own people by persons who have not been chosen by your own people for that purpose; and yet you call yourselves Democratic laterals, and profess to speak of governing the people by the people. Do you tell me that if you get good votes for a good cause you do not care a straw how you get them? I say that is exactly the spirit of the briber and the corrupter against whom the Liberal Party have carried a Corrupt Practices Act. What he says is, If I can get good votes for a good cause by half-crowns and free been, why should not I do it.' That is precisely your position.It was enough for him that the proposal was condemned by decency, by national sentiment, and, he was glad to say, by the existing Statutory Law. He was not afraid to claim votes upon principles he could defend in the open day, but he declined to descend to the level of the political pickpocket and to seize even upon useful Parliamentary chattels by fraudulent and larcenous devices. He asked the House to imagine the proposed plan in actual operation. Imagine him busy in this Parliament at his own British business, and every day, and possibly every hour, foreign gentlemen from Ireland came and poked their foreign noses into his business without his invitation, and, as often as not, decided it entirely against his will. The prospect was intolerable, and whenever he thought of it it made his blood boil in a Parliamentary sense. He did not know how this would be stood in England; but in Scotland, as it gradually dawned on the apprehension of the people, they would not stand it. They were a slow and patient people, taking a good many kicks for a very few concomitant ha'pence; but there came a point when they took fire, and when they did they blazed like Pandemonium. Their emblem was a thistle, and their motto was Nemo me impune lacessit. If Parliament was resolved to saddle them with an Irish incubus—and even an Irishman out of place was an incubus—they would quickly grow very prickly indeed. There might be some of his compatriots 280 who did not altogether sympathise with his view of the matter. He could only account for it by supposing Nature must have qualified them eating rather than for understanding the thistle. He would only further say to his Liberal friends that, if they would insist upon having the Irish Members in that House both for Imperial matters and for managing British affairs, they would simply drive men like him to demand the exclusion of the Irish Members altogether, and to revert to the original lines of the Home Rule Bill of 1886. He was very much mistaken if in reality that was not the genuine belief of some of not the least prominent of the occupants of the Treasury Bench in this matter. They had had some talk about Federation. He was not a theoretical Federationist. If it was the demand of the people of Scotland and Ireland, then as a Democrat he would give in to the demand. But Federation—or, as it should be called, decentralisation—for Federation was not possible by breaking up a unity— Federation was a voluntary synthesis of a number of previously separated parts. But he would not quarrel about a phrase. If they were to have Federation it should be simultaneous—all at once, and if they wore to antedate the right of Ireland to her share in the Federal arrangement, then we should require her to pay for that anticipation. He said the whole three Nations should be decentralised at once, but Scotland was not ripe for it and England was dead against it, and if Ireland was to get Home Rule much sooner than the others required it, she should have to pay discount in the shape of a temporary exclusion of her Members, and England would have discount in losing the advantage of their labours in the management of Imperial matters. For himself he should not be unwillingly driven to that conclusion. It was said that it would be inconsistent with the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, but the Prime Minister disposed of that objection in one sentence of his speech in moving the Second Reading of the Bill when he pointed to the Colonial Legislatures and reminded the House that, though the Colonies had no Imperial representation, yet Imperial supremacy over them was complete. The argument that there must be a visible symbol of this unity and supremacy was a silly one, 281 fit only for that class of mind that could not understand how our public school children could be taught to love their country unless they were deluged with a regular supply of Union Jacks. Besides, the argument was not true to fact. It was a well-known optical fact that truncation was often a contribution to visibility, and that the part struck the eye more readily than the complete structure. He would take an illustration from the Business of the House. A one-legged Secretary of State would, especially on State occasions, be a far more noticeable spectacle than the bi-legged and inconspicuous individual who now discharged those functions. As to other parts of the Bill, of which so many of its supporters disapproved, he had done his best to defend them. His opinion was that the presence of the Irish Members at Westminster to take part in British, business would be a danger and a disaster to the country. He therefore trusted that the Government would not give way to any of the attempts that might be placed in their road to make changes in the Bill in this respect. Believing that the Bill as it now stood, with certain Amendments in Committee, would be a satisfactory measure, he should vote for the SECOND READING.
§ *MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
Mr. Speaker, I felt considerable difficulty in following the hon. Member for East Edinburgh while he was speaking, and I still feel considerable difficulty in doing so, even now that he has ceased. I have certainly been puzzled by some parts of the amusing speech of the hon. Member, and I think the friends of the Bill must have been a little astonished when he said he had been doing his best to defend it. I understand, however, that the hon. Member protested against any change in the Bill in the way of giving Irish Members control over all questions submitted to this Assembly in future, and I also understood him to say that he was quite ready to welcome an alteration in the structure of the Bill which would exclude the Irish Members altogether. That is a question we shall have to consider by-and-bye, if we ever get so far, and I am glad to say we shall have strong arguments in favour of that procedure, but we have not got to that question yet. In the short time I shall occupy the attention of the House, and 282 I am afraid it will not be so short, I desire rather to go into the fundamental questions which I believe to be at issue in considering how this Bill should he received. The hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) said that after long hesitation he had accepted the principle of Home Rule, and that even now he was not persuaded that, under certain conditions, the acceptance of Home Rule might not be avoided. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax spoke of this Bill as involving a revolution, in his view a necessary revolution, but still a revolution. That being the case, I need not apologise if I occupy the attention of the House for some time. The impatience manifested in one or two quarters seems to me to imply a very inadequate sense of the gravity of this question. I think it will be acknowledged readily by some, if not all, the Members on the Treasury Bench that this is the greatest proposal submitted to the House of Commons during this century. There may be a suggestion that the alterations proposed in 1832 were commensurate with it: but, except those proposals, I know of no question which can be considered approaching in gravity to this Bill. And that being the measure of its importance, I take leave to protest respectfully against any attempt to curtail its legitimate discussion. Now, Sir, what is it we are really asked to do by this Bill? We are asked to remove the affairs of Ireland from the control and the sense of justice and the equity of the Imperial Parliament, and to subject them to the control and the sense of justice and the equity of an Irish Parliament. That change may be for better or worse. The justice dealt out under it may be greater or it may be less, but the change involve this proposition—that we take away Irish affairs from the control of this Imperial Parliament and subject them to an Assembly that will meet in Dublin elected by and representative of purely Irish electors. It may be said that the supremacy of this Parliament will be maintained. It was said by the hon. Member for Waterford, who made an able and eloquent speech early in the evening, that that supremacy was inalienable. That is a question of great technical difficulty. In passing, I will venture to express a doubt upon the matter, but I will not stop to examine it 283 now. Inasmuch as this Assembly is the product of the fusion of two Assemblies, each by hypothesis equal and co-ordinate, I do not see anything to prevent its resolving itself again into two independent and co-ordinate Assemblies, neither subject to the other. But the Bill does not involve that suggestion, and we need not entertain this technical matter. But I will take the liberty to refer, in passing, to one contention that has been raised in reference to it. Here we have the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament theoretically maintained. The hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. It. Wallace) in the early part of his speech said that the Irish Parliament would, indeed, be theoretically subordinate; but having regard to the conditions of the future Government of Ireland, and to the fact that there would be Ministers responsible to the Irish Legislature created by the Bill, and vested with the administration of the affairs of Ireland, the supremacy would be purely theoretical. I entirely agree with that proposition. It will be purely theoretical even were the Irish Members still retained here; but if, as the hon. Member desires, and as I think ought to be the case if the Bill is passed, they are not retained here, it would become absolutely theoretical. We have got experience enough besides the arguments deduced from the nature of the case to know that within the sphere of action assigned to the new Legislature it would be impossible for Parliament to interfere with Ministers possessing the confidence of the Irish Legislature either by exercising a veto or by passing an overruling Bill. It is vain to think that we have any protection against the action of the Irish Legislature in the power theoretically vested in us once this measure becomes operative in Ireland. The hon. Member for Waterford explained with great lucidity that as long as the Parliament which is about to be created existed, so long the veto of the Imperial Parliament must exist, that it cannot be given away, but that it must remain inactive. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham clearly apprehended the position of the hon. Member for Waterford. He made no mistake about it, nor did he venture to suggest that the hon. Member or his Colleagues had any sinister motive or contemplated any sinister action in their 284 relation to the Government. The Bill, as proposed, did not give the hon. Member for Waterford all he asked, or all he thought himself entitled to. But the Bill, as proposed, would in its operation develop into something more. That was all his right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham said or wished to insist on. This is not, and cannot be, a final measure, because it does not of itself concede all that is asked for, though hon. Members believe it will develop, and naturally develop, into something to which they think they are at present entitled, but which they will not immediately obtain. The position taken up by the hon. Member fortifies our view of the situation. He claims for the Irish Parliament proposed to be set up that it would not be founded on the establishment of grievances, but on the existence of a right— the right of a separate nationality. On the thesis of a separate nationality, how imperfect is the scheme! If that is the basis of the Irish demand Irishmen have not been satisfied, and could not be satisfied; they must honestly go on using the opportunities given them for the attainment of that which they regard as the complete satisfaction of their desire. The hon. Member does not, however, stop with the assertion of a right; he affirms that the united Parliament has failed in its action in relation to the affairs of Ireland, that the situation is such that it imperatively demands a change; that this Parliament is an evil Parliament, and that the result is injustice to the Irish people. That is the judgment of the hon. Member and some of those who sit around him, but I should prefer the judgment of other Irishmen at least as well able and competent to consider the state of their country, at least as full of patriotism, and at least as well qualified from the study they have given, not only of their own country, but of the course of government in other lands, to pronounce a verdict, in establishing, a different conclusion. A friend of mine, who was prematurely lost to his generation, but whose memory is still dear and honoured by all who knew him—I refer to the late Professor Cairnes—published in 1873 some Fragments on Ireland, which were written as far back as 1866. Those Fragments express in no halting way the writer's sense of the defects of the 285 Irish Government. They express, in language which the hon. Member for North-East Cork might adopt, his strong detestation of the action of too many Irish landlords after the great famine. He refers to the memory of wrongs then suffered as embittering Irishmen of the present day in many lauds, and he says it is not to be wondered at that there should be this memory of wrong, making those Irishmen scattered abroad so bitter in their judgment of the conduct and results of the government of the Imperial Parliament. But what is the estimate of my late friend on that Parliament after all?When we turn," he said, "to the recent legislation affecting Ireland. What is the scene it unfolds?'This was written before the disestablishment of the Irish Church, before the first agrarian Act of my right hon. Friend, and àa fortiori before the second agrarian Act.A long series of measures extending over half a century, moving steadily in the direction of liberty, equal justice, intellectual and moral cultivation, and industrial development.What nobler description could you get than that? And then he proceeds to make a record of the legislation which did, even up to 1866, dignify and justify the legislation of this country with respect to Ireland. Continuing, he remarks that he did not say that these Acts proved that Ireland was now well governed; his position rather was that further legislation of a radical character was imperatively required, and the legislation to which he was pointing was the legislation supplied in 1870 and 1881. The review thus given by Professor Cairnes counsels the exercise of patience in dealing with the case of Ireland. I know well that to speak of patience does not suit all impetuous minds. In my absence last week my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury referred to what I had said in the recent Debate as to the necessity of patience in the treatment of this problem, and although probably my right hon. Friend did not intend to excite derision by that reference, it apparently provoked that feeling among some of his hearers. For myself, I am not afraid of the imputation of patience in such a problem. When my right hon. Friend went on to suggest his rule-of-three calculation that if it took so many years to bring the middle classes of the two 286 islands into communion and unity with one another, how long would it take to bring the whole people, I think he scarcely took a serious view of the situation. It is not by such arithmetical means that the processes of national Federation and consolidation can be gauged. In mentioning patience, I was unconsciously, but not less truly, acting under the influence of the excellent teaching which I received. On April 7, 1881, in introducing the Irish Laud Bill into the House, the Prime Minister said—it is said that our legislation has failed in Ireland. I do not admit the failure. I admit the success to be incomplete. I am now asked how it is to be made complete. I say by patient perseverance in well-doing, by steady adherence to the work of justice.I have given some reason for thinking that the work of justice was being persevered with before the introduction of this Bill; and I have quoted something leading to that conclusion. If that conclusion does not recommend itself to every one in the House now, at least it recommended itself to the Prime Minister in 1881. The right hon. Gentleman continued—We shall not depend upon the results of a moment. It will not be what to-day may say or what to-morrow may say. It will be rather what fruits we shall reap in the long future of a nation's existence. In dealing with that we proceed upon a reckoning which cannot fail. Justice, Sir, is to be our guide. As it has been said that love is stronger than death, even so justice is stronger than popular excitement, stronger than the passions of men, stronger even than the grudges, resentments, and traditions of the past. Every step that we take upon our road is a step that brings us nearer to the goal, and every obstacle, even though for a moment it may seem insurmountable, only for a little while retards, and can never defeat the final triumph.That quotation is a most eloquent defence of patience, if the road of justice were being pursued. That that road was being pursued was the opinion of the Prime Minister when he made that declaration, long before he conceived the necessity or the prudence or the policy of taking up the Home Rule question. I next proceed to inquire whether the transfer of the control of Irish affairs from the present Parliament to an Irish Parliament is a progress in the way of justice. That question is at the bottom of the present controversy. On this question of the necessity of transfer I will turn to another observation of the 287 Prime Minister. In the same speech from which I have already quoted my right hon. Friend made the extraordinary statement that the Union was most nearly being accepted at the time immediately following the Act of Union down to 1829. If that were true the dismal conclusion would be left that the feeling of union had since been dying instead of growing, that we had been going backwards instead of forwards. But how is it possible to say it? At the time to which my right hon. Friend refers there was no representation of the mass of the Irish people. They had not even the right to petition Parliament. They were absolutely dead in political life; they bad no political power or functions. To speak of such a time as betokening a growth of feeling for the Union is only possible on the hypothesis that where there is on the surface no appearance of discontent, the existence of complete content must be supposed. De non existentibus et non apparentibus endem est ratio. The right hon. Gentleman supposes, because there was no manifestation of organised opposition to the Union, that therefore it was in good favour. Such a position requires some comment, because it reveals what I conceive to be an extraordinary characteristic of my right hon. Friend in dealing with the Irish Question. From the beginning to the end my right hon. Friend has refused to look below the Parliamentary representation of Ireland in order to examine and ascertain what are the real facts of Irish history and Irish life. If in the House of Commons, as was the case up to 1829, there was no representation of Irish popular opinion, then, according to the Prime Minister, Irish popular opinion could be said not to exist. And it has been so at different epochs in the consideration of the Irish problem. The right hon. Gentleman has always taken the character of the Irish representation as a final guide and absolute criterion as to the condition of Ireland. I was immensely struck by a declaration made by the Prime Minister on another occasion as far back as 1866, when he first led the House of Commons. In 1866, when Parliament met, there was the sad necessity of applying to it to pass a Bill to suspend the habeas corpus writ in Ireland, and the Prime Minister had to support the measure. Mr. Bright, 288 who was in the House, took occasion to appeal to the Prime Minister and the Leaders of the Opposition, not indeed to abstain from passing the Bill, the necessity of which he recognised, but to take the government of Ireland seriously in hand, to realise its defects, and to agree together to make their first care the undertaking of some means of amending those defects. Mr. Bright's zeal for Ireland is well known; and his knowledge was not inferior to his zeal. In answer to Mr. Bright, the Prime Minister said that some of his remarks were true, but that with others he quarrelled, and that even those that were true were uttered at the wrong time. And as to the condition of Ireland itself, the disaffection there, and the necessity of taking in hand the consideration of the political situation, the right hon. Gentleman made this extraordinary statement. The right hon. Gentleman said that Her Majesty made an appeal to the well-tried loyalty of the Parliament which was English as it was Scotch and also Irish. The Irish portion, he said, was not less freely elected than the English and the Scotch. It was elected by the voice of the people of Ireland.And," he went on, "for my part I decline to recognise that people or accept any interpretation of their real feelings other than that which is conveyed through the months of Representatives lawfully chosen to sit in this House.So that at that time my right hon. Friend refused to recognise any representation of the opinions of Ireland other than that expressed by the months of its Representatives in that House. [Cheers]. Do those who cheer that statement recollect that it was made in 1866, when the franchise was a high one, when the number of electors was limited, and when there was no Ballot; and yet my right hon. Friend refused to recognise any other manifestation of the opinion of the people of Ireland. A more limited appreciation of the Irish problem I cannot conceive. My right hon. Friend recognised only Members elected under a restricted franchise without the defence of the Ballot, and then he said—This, gentlemen, and this alone, I accept as the expression of the opinion of Ireland.I beg humbly to suggest that my right hon. Friend fell into the same error when in 1885 he was confronted with the representation of 289 Ireland, and fancied that the proportion of the 103 Members returned to vote for Home Rule corresponded with the political divisions among the Irish people. Again there was the refusal to penetrate below the surface—to inspect the facts, which might show that there had been a misleading expression of the real opinion of the minds of the people. I venture to say there is the same refusal to look below the surface in the singular contentment with which my right hon. Friend proposes to set up his Irish Legislature. He seems to think that if we set up the Legislature all will go on as before. It is unnecessary to inquire whether there would be any change in the spirit of the laws, any change in the spirit of the administration. A formal change you would make, but not a real change. Is it not right that we should inquire what would be the character of the legislation we might expect from that Parliament? Be it good or be it bad, we should not be able to influence it. It would not be under our control. It might pass better legislation than that passed by this House. I am trying to go below the surface in order to see what it would be. The Bill proposes to set up the 103 gentlemen whom we know in this House in the Legislature in Dublin. ["No!"] Perhaps not the same persons; but the composition would be the same, the policy would be the same, the proposals would be the same. They would be the same electors and the same constituencies; and therefore the Dublin Parliament would be composed of persons holding the same views as the gentlemen whom we know here. The hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. Davitt) frankly said that the Parliament in Dublin would represent the tenant-farmers, and that Parliament would undertake to deal with the social questions of Ireland as public opinion required them to be undertaken. Is there any promise that the 103 gentlemen whom you propose to transfer from Westminster to Dublin would legislate better for Ireland than the Imperial Parliament. It is a very delicate question, and I hope I do not hurt the susceptibilities of hon. Gentlemen opposite—with whom I have always enjoyed friendly relations—when I say there are serious doubts whether the new Parliament would be as just as the present. As I have said, 290 we are told that the new Parliament will represent the tenant-farmers. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ire-land told us some time since that we had been doing a great deal to prevent the Irish landlords doing injustice to their tenantry, and we must now take care to prevent Irish tenants from doing injustice to landlords. Are we now going to set up a Parliament which will leave it in the power of the tenants to do injustice to the landlords? One of the Members of the Administration will be the author of the Plan of Campaign, and it is just possible he will lean a little more to the tenant than to the landlord. To prevent such injustice a material step was proposed in the Bill of 1886. What step is taken in this Bill? What kind of comfort will the landlord—for whom I desire fair treatment—have in looking upon the Parliament about to be set up in Ireland? For three years that Parliament is to be disabled from legislating, but the language used in reference to this subject is rather vague; and I am not sure that it would prove such a bar as most people imagine. It is not to do anything generally in connection with the Land Law. It might be possible for the Parliament to do a. great deal without coming under the prohibition contained in the Bill. Of course, in the matter of the administration of the Land Laws, in the matter of carrying out evictions, and in the matter of giving protection to the Sheriffs' officers in directing seizures for rent, the House already knows how much power the Administration could have if they desired to exercise it, and I know of nothing in the Bill to prevent an Administration in Dublin from going a great deal further and refusing to the officers of the law the full support they desire. I venture to say that the possible postponement for three years of the full power of legislating on this subject is but a very slight consolation to the landlords of Ireland. It has been pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for South Tyrone that the end of the three years corresponds with the efflux ion of the judicial rents fixed in 1881. At the end of that period all protection will be discarded, and there will be a free hand in dealing with a great many relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland; and, if my memory serves me aright, the hon. Member for 291 North Kerry has said that the fact that at the end of the three years the landlords will be exposed to action without any protection will lead them to come very rapidly to make agreements in the interval which otherwise they might refuse. In fact, at the end of three years the landlords will be subject to whatever legislation the Assembly, representing the tenant farmers, may choose to approve. My right hon. Friend has said that although errors of judgment might be passed over, acts of injustice would not be passed over. Yes; but my right hon. Friend knows perfectly well that often the greatest acts of injustice are due to errors of judgment. Even in regard to the Plan of Campaign, I am perfectly sure that the hon. Members who set it in motion are persuaded that they had the highest morality to support them in their defence of it. Will my right hon. Friend act upon his own apprehension as to resulting injustice, or will he look into the mind of the Legislature itself to discover what is the kind of motive which produced the result on the part of the Legislature? He will do neither the one nor the other. If he is in power he will simply acquiesce in what may be done. He will know the impossibility of interfering, however much any proposal may be open to judgment. If you had, for instance, such an action as the passing of a Bill which might commend itself to the right hon. Member for Sleaford (Mr. Chaplin), and which certainly would commend itself to the Archbishop of Dublin, to the effect that, "whereas since 1873 there has been an appreciation of gold to the extent of 30 per cent., be it enacted that, on all rents reserved under agreements made before that date, there should be a corresponding reduction," would that be an error of judgment, or would it be an injustice? And would there or would there not be an interference? I am inclined to think the matter would be left for the Parliament alone to deal with. If my right hon. Friend really wished to protect the people from injustice, he might be advised to adopt a simple proposal. The united wisdom of the Government, aided, I suspect, by the Chancellor of the Duchy, has put in the Bill a provision drawn from the United States, a provision which by the way, as the 292 Chancellor of the Duchy knows very well, is not perfectly effectual in practice. There is an excellent principle involved in it; but it is a moral principle which in the Southern States is very often a dead letter. If you are going to be on your guard against the possibility of injustice, why, when you were about it, did you not produce two other clauses from the United States Constitution which really would have been operative? The first is that there should be no ex post facto law. That is a valuable provision. And then there is another which is respected from end to end of the Union, which is woven into the mind and the conscience of every citizen of the Union, which the Courts continually assert, and all attempts to circumvent which have been in vain— that no State shall pass any law to impair the obligation of contract. Put that clause in your Bill, and you have a very effectual protection against such dangers as I have suggested. But you have not put that into your Bill. You have scarcely passed it over by inadvertence, because you have been studying the United States Constitution. Therefore you have deliberately left the provision out of this Bill in order that the new Legislature should have the power to pass such laws. [Mr. J. MORLEY: No, no!] Why, then, was it deliberately left out?
*MR. J. MORLEY
I must ask my right hon. Friend, if he wants to know, to wait until we have a chance of telling him. My right hon. Friend truly says that this provision was not left out by inadvertence. It was thoroughly considered; and I think we shall be able to give him a thoroughly good reason for leaving it out.
§ MR. COURTNEY
I have no doubt we shall have an answer, whether it is a satisfactory one or not, as to why this provision was deliberately left out.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
was understood to say that this clause had led to the establishment of all the railway monopolies in the United States.
§ MR. COURTNEY
The hon. Member for the Scotland Ward Division of Liverpool has given a reason why it should be left out. It has been conceded, however, that it has been deliberately left out. I pass from that danger—which I think is a danger—to other considerations affecting the policy which might be 293 expected to be pursued by the now Legislature. We have to consider the characteristics of hon. Gentlemen opposite. It is a delicate subject, and I do not know whether I shall command agreement on the point. I doubt whether there is a single Free Trader among hon. Members opposite. There may be one exception. I am not certain about the hon. Member for Kerry. That hon. Member may be a convinced Free Trader, but I have heard so many other hon. Members talking on cognate subjects and expressing opinions with great freedom that I am induced to express doubt as to whether there is a single Free Trader among the hon. Gentleman's Colleagues; and Free Trade is not a creed of a large portion of the tenant farmers of Ireland. Many years ago, in expressing my view on this question, I put this forward. I said that if an Irish Parliament was set up, and if it was determined that the power of imposing a tariff should be conceded to Irishmen, they would pass Protective duties. But the Government say that, this power has been refused to them. I believe, however, that is only temporary. If you are compelled to agree to an Irish Parliament I should not limit such a body in this way. If your apprehension is such that you believe it to be necessary to concede self-government with reference to Irish affairs to an Irish Parliament elected for that purpose, I believe that you will be bound to go on and give to that Parliament the power to exercise this liberty. I should prefer to give it at once instead of waiting to have it wrung from you. You have not given power for the exercise of that power at present, but you have not prevented the exercise of a bounty system. What is one of the chief industries of Ireland, especially in the South? The production of butler. What is to prevent the grant of bounties in respect of the manufacture of butter? Those who favoured such a step would be able to cite the example of some of our Australian Colonies that have given bounties for the production of butter, which is sent here and which enters into competition with the butter of our English, Scotch, and Irish dailies. There is nothing in this Bill to prevent the adoption of a similar policy in Ireland, and so our farmers might find their butter exposed to competition with bounty-fed butter from Ireland. So, again, with the 294 fishing industry. I remember the late Mr. Parnell saying that if an Irish Parliament existed it would do everything it could to aid the development of the Irish fisheries. Nothing is easier than to give bounties on the curing of fish. The French do it. There is a good deal to be said for such a policy, and Mr. Parnell's declaration corresponded, I presume, with the feeling of the people whom he represented, when he claimed that the Irish Parliament should have the power of imposing tariffs of its own and adopting a protective policy. The other night the hon. Member for Waterford and the hon. Member for North-East Cork said that when Mr. Parnell claimed the control of the tariff he was coquetting with the Tory Government. [Mr. MACNEILL: Hear, hear!] The hon. Member for South Donegal says he was. [Mr. MACNEILL: Hear, hear.] What is the relevancy of that remark? It is as irrelevant as it would be to say that there are milestones on the Dover road. How could it matter with whom Mr. Parnell was in alliance at the time, or with whom he was negotiating? Is it suggested that the late Lord Carnarvon insisted that the reluctant Mr. Parnell should adopt this programme of Protection. Mr. Parnell, in this respect, distinctly represented the opinion of the majority of the Irish Members, and what he demanded was Protection. He demanded the power of imposing tariffs. I am going to two other topics of great interest concerning the well-being of the. Irish people in the future. This Parliament, if it has the power, will probably undertake to do something in connection with the Poor Law. The Chief Secretary has had some experience of the Poor Law in Ireland, and probably remembers a certain transaction connected with a little loan, which resulted in the granting of very profuse relief. Under a Parliament in Dublin what would be the prospect which those who paid the poor rates would have to face? In the congested districts the poor rates are paid by comparatively few persons, and they may well dread the burdens they may be made to bear under a liberal and popular Administration. Then there is another subject—education. A good deal has been said about that, but I will not say a word upon it now. But when we recall all these possible and probable actions of the Local Parliament 295 in Ireland, in regard to the relations between landlord and tenant, in regard to trade, industry, the Poor Law, and education, is there not some ground for the apprehensions that have been expressed by the minority who appeal to this House for protection, and who believe most strongly that the imposition of an Irish Parliament instead of a united Parliament would be the substitution of injustice for justice? I do not say that the present Parliament is perfect, but, taking branch by branch of administration, taking subject by subject of legislation, comparing what is with what might be, I say you have a full justification for the apprehension that the House would be passing from justice to injustice in substituting an Irish Parliament for an English one. All the matters to which I have referred would involve money. Bounties require money, and money is wanted if you indulge in any increased expenditure for the purposes of the Poor Law, or for education. Where is the money to come from? Hon. Members below the Gangway say, and say truly from their point of view, that the financial proposals of the Government are perfectly inadequate. They have no margin to allow them to pursue the policy which would be expected of them. The Prime Minister is satisfied they have got enough. They have, he thinks, a plethora of money, or would have if they exercised economy. Magnum vectigal est parsimonia. Unfortunately that is not a policy which is popular in Ireland. Irishmen would prefer a free hand in the matter of money rather than a too narrow examination of what you spend. All these things involve money, and your margin is not large. How are you to get more? Here is another consequence which I assert will arise if this scheme comes into operation. The only resource really left you in this scheme would be a Property Tax. Three-quarters of your revenue would be derived from the Excise, and the only resource that would be under the control of the Irish Parliament would be the Property Tax. That is so unproductive that, whereas 1d. produces £2,000,000 in Great Britain, it would not produce £100,000 in Ireland. I can understand many other devices being resorted to by way of indirect taxation, but hon. Members 296 below the Gangway opposite know usages of Ireland which are not yet the law of Ireland. The priests derive a great deal of their revenue from a Hearth Tax. It is possible that that might be resorted to, but it would not be a popular tax.
§ MR. COURTNEY
Has the hon. Member never heard of such a thing as priests' dues received from the hearth?
§ MR. SEXTON
Certainly the people pay the dues, but the name given to them by the right hon. Gentleman is incorrect.
§ MR. COURTNEY
I thought hon. Gentlemen would appreciate the fact even if I did not use the common name. That would not be a popular tax. A popular tax would be something that would touch the richer people. A popular tax, I venture to suggest, in Ireland would be a tax——
§ MR. COURTNEY
Not on Belfast—they would not mention the name—but it would come to the same thing if you imposed a tax on machinery. We have got a Rating of Machinery Bill here which is supported by manufacturers and opposed by agriculturists. Well, what would be an exact parallel would be not the rating of machinery, but the taxation of machinery as a means of supplying your revenue and bringing something into the Exchequer of Ireland. Here we have an apprehension that we are setting up a Legislature which, instead of curing the social evils of Ire-laud, will aggravate them, which will increase pauperism and not diminish it, which will overload the people with taxes instead of lightening them, and which, in the end, will drive away capital from Ireland by preventing its proper exercise. When the Income Tax is the same in England and Ireland there is no interference with the present mode of payment; but directly we get under the Bill a differential Income Tax those who live in England and invest in Ireland will have to pay an excess of tax upon those investments, and there will thus be a direct inducement to withdraw Irish investments and to transfer them to England, where they will escape the extra duty. The 297 hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. John E. Redmond) said the Protestants who were opposing Home Rule were those who had enjoyed patronage or favour. Look at the Presbyterians, at the Methodists; look at that fact which came out the other day, which is more striking than any other—at the action of the members of the Society of Friends. Are they people who have enjoyed patronage or favour? Are they people who have lorded it over their neighbours? Out of 1,700, 1,400 members of the Society of Friends have signed a serious, sober, pathetic remonstrance against the adoption of Home Rule. That is a conclusive answer to the statement that the Protestants who oppose the Bill are those who have enjoyed patronage or favour. There is now a real terror and a real anxiety on the part of those who have never been terrified before. It is said that amongst those who are remonstrating against this Bill are those who have opposed even- reform in Ireland, that they are the same people who opposed the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. ["No!"] I am glad to hear that denial, but the statement has been made over and over again. It is sufficient to say that those who have supported the Prime Minister in ever part of his policy before are against him now. The hon. Member for Waterford spoke of Ireland as a nation; but how can we speak of a nation when one-third, or, at the lowest, one-quarter, of the people protest against what is said to be the voice, the mind, and the will of the people? My right hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) is a belated child of the Revolution of 1848; he rejoices in this Bill as recognising the principle of Nationality: his ideas are more of that time than of this, when the International is swallowing up Nationalities, and I think he will bear me out in saying that Mazzini refused ever to recognise in the people of Ireland the attributes and characteristics of a nation.
§ MR. COURTNEY
I do not know that the hon. Member for Devonport had an intimate acquaintance with Mazzini. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax, who knew Mazzini perfectly well, is not found denying my proposition.
§ MR. STANSFELD (Halifax)
I think I know something of Mazzini's opinions. He did not approve of the conception of an independent, separate nationality for Ireland.
§ MR. COURTNEY
I do not quite appreciate the distinction. My statement was that Mazzini denied to the Irish people the attributes and characteristics of a, nation. At all events, my right hon. Friend and his teachers of 1848 were not at one in this movement. What is the justification for this arbitrary definition of a nationality? Surely, from the point of view of nationality itself, the nationality of one Kingdom—Great Britain and Ireland—was greater than the nationalities which compose it. I believe that the Bill is another attempt, doomed to failure, and I suspect that my right hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench hold the same opinion. I believe if we adopt Home Rule it will be something very different from this proposal. There are two forms and no third. There is, first, the method of separating the tasks of the Imperial central organisation and the separate parts composing the organisation—Federalism, as it is called. That is a task involving immense difficulty in construction and enormous risk of corruption through the financial relations which necessarily existed between the central organisation and its component parts. Quite apart from the argument that we should be passing from a higher to a lower level of justice, that method would be something like burning down a house to roast a pig—a sucking pig. The other way of doing it is the Colonial plan, under which we give the greatest freedom to the community whom we endue with power. We may watch under that prospect with sombre acquiescence the development of the monster we have set up. But now there is no necessity to adopt the one or the other. We have done well, even if we have not attained everything that we could have desired; and we might have achieved more if the Prime Minister had not adopted the policy which he did in 1886. Can there be a doubt that if, instead of taking up Home Rule then, he had continued upon the old lines, we should not by this time have had Local Government in Ireland
§ MR. COURTNEY
I was not speaking of that Party. I was speaking of the Prime Minister and his supporters. I assert that there is no reason why, in the nature of things, there should not have been some realisation of what I have always myself recognised as a legitimate aspiration of hon. Members opposite—the incorporation of some of them in the Government of the Empire. There is no reason why they should not have had the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. T. Sexton) as Chief Secretary for Ireland.
§ *THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. J. MORLEY,) Newcastle-upon-Tyne
I thought he bad been condemned by the Special Commission.
§ MR. COURTNEY
I am not disconcerted by that remark. I never took part in the random talk about "marching through rapine." Whatever may have been the part played by the hon. Member for Kerry, I look upon him as an ornament to the House, and a person who might most easily serve the Crown in the United Kingdom, as he would probably serve in Ireland under Home Rule.
§ MR. COURTNEY
Such a policy we might still be pursuing, and it is, in my judgment, a higher ideal than that now set before us, to bring us into union under one system of government, to create a truly National Party, to bring the contribution of each race to the formation of the character of the whole. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in moving the Second Reading of the Bill, said that there had been no case of incorporation initiated by force and maintained by force which had ever succeeded. The statement is probably true; the sting of it lies in the words "and maintained by force." I may quote the epigram of Sir John Harrington—Treason doth never prosper, what's the reason?When it doth prosper, none dare call it treason.If it were initiated by force and maintained by force, of course it could not succeed. But are there no cases of incorporations initiated by force which passed afterwards out of the sphere of force into free and equal union? We need not look far away; they are to be seen across 300 the Channel, where we find the Catholic Breton and the Protestant of Alsace, the Gascon of the South and the shrewd Norman, the people of Marseilles and the Fleming of Artois—people pursuing different political ends, cherishing different political ideals, professing different religions, and speaking different languages, all fused together into one nationality. Is it, then, impossible that we, who are here within a narrower compass, may yet thus unite for the common good?
§ MR. COURTNEY
The end we have been working for has not yet passed away from us, though the action of the Prime Minister and his Colleagues has made it most difficult to attain. But it is not impossible yet. The end is not yet. This Bill will not pass. The Government may not endure, and I am not saying that a Government of right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench will necessarily take its place. We may attain the solution which will give us that which the greatest men have been longing for and toiling after for a century. A century is, after all, a short time in the existence of a nation. The ideal we pursue is an ideal loftier than that presented by the hon. Member for Devonport. It is better to pursue it —it is not yet lost—but it is better to pursue it even though it should be lost, than to succeed by acquiescence with inferior aims. In that belief I shall do my best to oppose the Bill and secure its rejection.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."— (Mr. Asquith.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned until Tomorrow.