§ [SEVENTH 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.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fife, E.
This Debate, Sir, has now gone on for a week, and I suppose we are entitled to assume that we are up to this time in possession, at any rate in its main and leading features, of the case which has to be made against the proposals of Her Majesty's Government. In that case I shall endeavour, in the observations I am about, to address to the House, to meet it not by declamation, but by argument; and if out of the multitude of topics which have been traversed in the course of the discussion I select only a few, I trust that I may fairly ask that the omission may not be deemed to be due to a want of willingness, or to conscious inability, but to the exigencies of the time and the imperative demands of the general convenience of the House. I put on one side at the outset an argument which seems to me to underlie a very largo proportion of the speeches which have been made against this Bill, and which is founded on the supposed incapacity, natural or acquired, of the Irish people in any condition whatsoever to enjoy and exercise free institutions. If it be true, as we have been told, that the majority of the Irish nation are penetrated with an undying hatred of great Britain; if it be true that they desire the power of self-government, and that they will use it solely or mainly as an instru- 336 ment for oppressing their fellow-citizens or as a leverage for the dislocation and ultimate severance of our Imperial unity—while I agree that this Bill would then be shown to rest on an utterly unsound foundation, yet I must add that the argument carries those who use it a great deal further. It would constitute, if it were well founded, the most damning accusation that has ever been levied against the working of the Act of Union and against the British system of government in Ireland. But over and above that, if those assumptions are correct, what are we to say of the wisdom and of the statesmanship of those who only a year ago proposed to plant in this demoralised atmosphere a whole system of Local Institutions, flimsy and ill-constructed as we believed them to be, but quite sufficient to afford a most formidable vantage ground for the predatory and disloyal instincts of such a people as has been pictured to us? Nay, further; we cannot forget that only nine years ago both Parties in this House combined to give to these very people for the first time in their history the privilege of exercising a free and democratic suffrage.
§ MR. ASQUITH
Is it not the fact that both in this House and in the House of Lords that proposal to extend the suffrage to the people of Ireland was carried here by an overwhelming majority, and in the House of Lords without, I believe, any Division sit all? Has the hon. Member forgotten the speech of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington, one of the strongest opponents of this Bill? Has he forgotten that speech in which the noble Lord proved conclusively, at least to his own satisfaction and that of the great majority of this House, that the denial of suffrage to the Irish people was no longer either politic or possible? Those people who are described in the speeches we have heard as the inveterate and irreconcilable enemies of Great Britain are here encamped in the midst of your household, as able now as if this Bill were passed by the power of free representation given to them to hold the balance between Parties and to determine the fortunes of the Empire. I agree with what was said by the hon. Member for 337 Waferford (Mr. John E. Redmond) last night. If the assumptions which underlie the great bulk of your arguments are true, they would not only compel you to reject Home Rule, but also to disfranchise the majority of the Irish people. The truth is, that hon. Members opposite do not believe in those arguments; and the proof is, that they have not the courage or the consistency to act upon them. I will pass over another argument which has assumed considerable proportions in this Debate—the argument that by this measure we propose to hand over the government of Ireland to a body of unscrupulous and discredited Leaders of the Irish National Party. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), who apparently cannot find more profitable employment for his energies, has, I see, been going about scavenging in the dust-heap.
§ MR. ASQUITH
Of speeches of Irish Members, and gleefully piecing together angry phrases dropped upon Irish platforms in moments of exasperation and despair. That, Sir, is my right hon. Friend's latest contribution to the settlement of this great international controversy. Does he need to be reminded, as he was reminded by the hon. Member for Waterford last night in his absence, that in 1885—aye, as late as the beginning of 1886—he himself was the author of proposals to entrust to those very men—aye, and to their Leader, Mr. Parnell—the position of Chief Secretary for Ireland? One of the right hon. Gentleman's Colleagues, the right hon. Member for Bodmin, whom we all admire and appreciate for his clear, dispassionate judgment, only last night, in his contribution to the solution of this great question, proposed that the control of the resources of the Irish Government should be placed in the hands of the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton), one of those very persons whom the right hon. Member for West Birmingham thinks so discredited and untrustworthy. The truth is, that my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham was ready to do in 1886 what the right hon. Member for Bodmin, to his credit, is ready to do to-day, and which all you opposite would be perfectly prepared to do to-morrow as soon 338 as the exigencies of Party permitted. I am not going to waste time on these irrelevant discussions, because the whole of this language is transparently insincere. It does not lie in the mouths of those who were parties to the enfranchisement of the Irish people, those who have been parties to co-operation and negotiation with the men whom they now denounce, to make this objection to the measure we have submitted. In 1884 the franchise was given to the Irish people. Up to that time they had no authentic organ of Constitutional expression of opinion of their wishes and demands. In the Election of 1885, and again in 1886, and for the third time in 1892, the great majority of the Irish people have declared, through their freely and Constitutionally-chosen Representatives, that nothing short of a measure of national self-government would satisfy the demands of the Irish people. I have never said that that demand, striking, unmistakable, formidable as it is, is conclusive on the question. If it can be shown to be impossible to reconcile compliance with it and the maintenance of Imperial unity and with the protection of the just rights of the minority in Ireland, I, for one, would never be a party to accede to it. But the real question we have to consider is—and I do not think any right hon. Gentleman opposite will deny it—whether, in face of that demand, it is possible to devise a scheme, and whether, if it be possible, such a scheme has been devised in the Bill now before the House which should reconcile on the one side the unmistakable wishes of the Irish people with the great Imperial interests and considerations of justice which we in this House are always hound to consider. That is the question to which I propose to address myself. Before doing so, however, I make one observation with reference to the course of this Debate. We have been charged with holding back from the discussion, most unreasonably, as it appears to me. But, if we have held back, I think we could have had an ample justification for doing so, because the longer the controversy developed, the more apparent it becomes that the criticisms of our opponents answer one another. Take two illustrations: We are told with reference to this Bill by the same set of critics that, 339 while it takes far too much from Great Britain to be tolerable in the interests of Imperial unity, it gives far too little to Ireland to satisfy her desire. We are told by the same people that it makes Ireland master of Great Britain, and yet that it leaves the Irish people impotent and unsatisfied in their own country! In other words, it puts England at the mercy of Ireland, while it leaves Ireland at the mercy of England! Sir, I will try to substantiate what I have said. I am glad to see that the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord R. Churchill) has returned safe and sound from his provincial tour. The noble Lord, whatever we may say of him, certainly never minces his words. His adjectives are always in the superlative degree, and his verbs are never in the conditional mood. I do not think I am doing an injustice to the noble Lord when I say that I summarise the criticisms which he has been making upon this Bill in the country in the course of the last fortnight—when I say that he has asked the country to believe that it is the proposal of a Government of lunatics, by lunatics, for lunatics.
§ MR. ASQUITH
No, it is a summary. I admire, as much as it is possible to do, the noble Lord's full-blooded rhetoric; though I confess, when I read his performances at Perth and Liverpool, I could not help thinking of that over-conscientious artist who, finding himself cast for the part of Othello, thought it necessary to black over the whole of his body. What did the noble Lord say? I am quoting his exact words. In his speech at Liverpool he said—Ireland under its own Parliament is intended under the Home Rule Bill to provide everything for itself. Under that Bill we English are prohibited from providing anything for ourselves, except in the manner and according to the methods which may be convenient to the Irish people. That is gospel truth about the Bill.Now, Sir. I will come to another exposition of the gospel truth about this Bill, and I take no loss a person than the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. A. J. Balfour) and read a few words from the speech he made at Belfast on April 4. The right hon. Gentleman said— 340The Nationalist section will never be content, and I go further, ought never to be content "—
§ Mr. ASQUITH (reading)
—with the paltry and beggarly contribution to nationality which this Home Rule Bill gives them.In other words, Sir, we see the measure which the right hon. Gentleman takes of the Irish demand. The Bill, which according to his noble Colleague, enables the Irish people to provide everything for themselves and prohibits the English people from providing anything for themselves, except in the manner and according to the methods which may be convenient to the Irish, in such a paltry and beggarly contribution to Irish nationality that it was not worth their while to accept it.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
My contention was that, while the restrictions and exceptions in the Bill, if they could be carried out, would be such as Ireland could not accept, they were altogether neutralised by the powers given to Ireland which would enable her to make those restrictions and exceptions utterly nugatory and impotent.
§ MR. ASQUITH
The noble Lord's explanation does not carry the matter one step further. What I say is that the two statements I have quoted cannot both be true—that one or other of them may be true, but that they cannot both be true at the same time. Now, Sir, I take the criticisms that have been passed upon the finances of the Bill. I am not going myself into the details of the question of finance, because, as I have already said, I cannot cover the entire ground. But in reference to finance there are two principles which we believe to be recognised in the Bill, but, whether they are recognised in the Bill or not, we regard them as essential. These principles are—first, that Ireland should pay a fair contribution to the Imperial Expenditure, and next, that Ireland should be left with adequate resources for the proper management of its own affairs. Whether or not the scheme con- 341 tained in the Bill effectually carries out these principles is a matter for discussion upon which a great deal may be said. But the arguments against the scheme in the Bill are absolutely destructive of one another, because we are told on the one side that the scheme is unjust to Great Britain, and at the same time that it is ungenerous to Ireland. The contributions proposed by the Bill may be too low or too high; the taxable resources which are left under the control of the Irish Parliament may be insufficient, but it will pass the wit of man to prove to the satisfaction of this House and to the country that both these propositions are true at the same time. The fact is, that the Unionist case, as it has at present been presented to the country, is a chaos of contradictions. It is exactly analogous to the case we are constantly hearing about in and out of the House with reference to the general question of Home Rule, and which tells us in one and the same breath that Home Rule has been imposed upon the Liberal Party by the iron domination and the imperious will of my right hon. Friend dealing with a set of subservient items, and then in the next breath pictures my right hon. Friend as reduced to the most degrading and corrupt expedients for the purpose of purchasing the allegiance of a mercenary body to his policy. I will endeavour to answer what I conceive to be the three main controversies involved in this Bill: In the first place, I wish to ask, Is the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament effectually maintained? Next, Do we give by this Bill to Ireland a real and genuine autonomy? And, thirdly, Do we offer adequate safeguards for the protection of the Irish minority? If these three questions can be answered in the affirmative, and if it can be shown that this Bill does answer them in the affirmative, then I think we have proved the only propositions which it is incumbent on us to make out. I take, first of all, the Imperial supremacy. A sentence of mine used some years ago in an address to my constituents has been frequently quoted in the course of this Debate, and I am very glad that I said anything so sound and sensible. The sentence was that no measure of Home Rule would be satisfactory which did not, maintain unimpaired, unquestioned, and unquestionable, the supremacy of the Imperial 342 Parliament over all persons and all matters, whether local or Imperial. To that proposition I entirely adhere; and if I did not think that this Bill gave effect to it, I would have been no party to the introduction of it or record my vote for its Second Reading. Since the Act of Union we have had one Sovereign Parliament, not only for this United Kingdom, but for the whole of the British Empire. The Bill proceeds, not to split that sovereignty into parts, not to impair or to divide it, not to surrender to any other Body any of the powers which are necessarily involved in it, but it proceeds to delegate for specific purposes and in a particular locality certain powers the exercise of which by a subordinate Legislature is perfectly consistent with the retention of the supreme authority of the Sovereign power which conferred it. In order to make this matter plain, let me remind the House of some of the arguments used in the discussions on the Bill. In 1886 my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bury (Sir H. James), whom I do not see in his place, made a very powerful and able speech against the Bill of that year, in which he attacked it mainly on the ground that it was inconsistent with the maintenance of the supremacy of this Parliament. He then laid down three tests. He said the first question is this: "Does there remain a power which can make identical laws for the whole of the United Kingdom?" I will quote his exact words. He said—The real unity of a Kingdom must depend upon the unity of its laws. I do not mean by that that there must be an identity of laws. … But what T mean is that there must be a power which can make identical laws for a Kingdom supposed to be united. It is not the identity of manufacture; it is the identity of the manufacturing power that makes the unity of the Kingdom.The second question he put was: "Is the supremacy of the Parliament expressly declared by the Bill?" My right hon. and learned Friend answered that question in the negative. The third question was: "Can the Parliament, after a measure is passed which it is alleged will be subordinate to the Imperial Parliament, alter by its own act its own constitution?" My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham, who took the same objection to the Bill of 1886, and said it did not adequately 343 preserve the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, applied a different test. The right hon. Gentleman said—The fact is, that there are two conditions necessary for maintaining without weakening, or throwing doubt upon it, the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. The first is, that they shall have their full, complete, and continuous representation in this House. The second is, that the Local Legislative Body or Bodies to be created shall be admittedly from the first subordinate Bodies. If they are co-ordinate and equal you cannot have supremacy.I have reminded the House of these arguments for the purpose of showing that, whichever of these tests you apply to the present Bill, they are equally, and in the same sense, satisfactory. First of all, the continued supremacy of Parliament is expressly declared.
§ MR. ASQUITH
I am surprised that the late Solicitor General interrupts my argument with an observation of that kind.
§ MR. ASQUITH
With all due deference to my hon. and learned Friend, I say that it is declared, and that it would be impossible for any Court before which the construction of the Bill might come to ignore the words which stand in the very forefront of the Preamble, which recites that all the powers conferred by the Bill are conferred subject to the unimpaired maintenance of the Imperial supremacy of this Parliament. We have very extraordinary doctrines promulgated as to the functions of the Preamble. Ever since the days of Lord Coke it has been laid down that the Preamble is the keynote of the Statute. While I agree that if there were express enactments in the Statute which were inconsistent with the maintenance of the Imperial supremacy the Preamble would give way to them, yet if there were no such enactments, or if those enactments were ambiguous or were not such as were admitted to be vital to the Bill, the express declaration in the Preamble would prevail. If hon. Members have any doubt on the point let them bring up a clause; if they wish to make such a nugatory declaration, let them bring up a clause, to be 344 inserted in the body of the Bill, declaring in express terms and as one of the enactments of the Bill that the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament is preserved. I think I may promise for Her Majesty's Government that such a clause will not meet with the slightest opposition. Turning to the next of the tests of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, I say that we give in this Bill a full and complete representation of the Irish Members. For my own part, I regard this question of the retention of the Irish Members as vital to the Bill. Before the introduction of the Bill I pledged myself—and I suppose the great bulk of those who sit behind me have pledged themselves—that in any measure of Home Rule that was submitted to Parliament it would be an essential ingredient that the representation of Ireland in this House should continue. I say nothing as to the precise form and mode of that retention. That, after all, is a matter of adjustment. There are two plans. One is that the Irish Members should be here for Irish and Imperial purposes only, and the other that they should be hero for British purposes also. There is a good deal to be said for both plans, but in my judgment the practical difference between them is very slight. We have been told over and over again that even if the Irish Members cannot vote on British Bills, yet, with the power of taking part in a Debate on a Motion of Want of Confidence, they will be able at any time to control the composition and policy of the British Government. The essential point is not the precise mode of retention, but that the Irish Members should be still here in a proportion fully adequate to the population of their country. I say, thirdly, that under this Bill—applying again the tests of 1886—the Imperial Parliament has a continued and unimpaired power of legislating for the whole country, including Ireland. I will refer hon. Members to a clause which has not received sufficient attention—the 33rd clause. If the language of that clause is regarded, it will be seen that the Irish Legislature is expressly disabled from repealing or altering any law hereafter enacted by the Imperial Parliament, and expressly extended to Ireland. So it is clear that under this Bill the power of the Imperial Parliament to legislate for 345 Ireland is preserved. The Irish House of Commons will not have the right to alter even one letter or comma in an Act passed by the Imperial Parliament. Finally, I say that there is reserved under this Bill, as a last safeguard for the continued maintenance of the Imperial supremacy, the veto of the Lord Lieutenant, which is to be exercised on the instructions and in accordance with the wishes of the Imperial Government. I do not think it will be denied by any candid critic of the Bill that, having regard to the considerations I have enumerated, there is, upon the face of this Bill, a complete and adequate recognition of the Imperial supremacy. The argument which is addressed to us, as I understand it, is this—that the only Imperial supremacy that will be secured by the Bill is a paper supremacy—a supremacy which, although complete and satisfactory as far as the language of the Act is concerned, is one which—for two reasons, which I will analyse—will not, in fact, be enforced. What are those reasons? In the first place, it is said that this is an academic recognition of the supremacy of Parliament, and is only assented to by hon. Members below the Gangway opposite upon the condition that it shall never be used. Now, before I say a word about that, since declarations of my own have been referred to, I may be allowed to point out that have over and over again in the course of this controversy—and so, I am sure, have a number of my right hon. Friends, whilst insisting in the strongest terms on the continued maintenance of the Imperial supremacy, declared that I meant by supremacy, not the power, or rather the practice, of meddling and peddling interference with the details of Irish administration and Irish legislation, but that there should be always held in reserve, to be used in cases of emergency and grave necessity, a power in this House to override unjust legislation and to correct oppression and wrong. I myself do not believe that any occasion for the exercise of that power is likely to arise; and if I thought that the effect of passing this Bill would be that, whilst we should have in Ireland an Irish Legislature and an Irish Administration attending to Irish affairs, we should waste our time here, far away from the spot, in ignorance of local conditions, out of touch with local sentiment 346 and local sympathy, in overhauling the trumpery, trivial, and everyday acts of the Irish Parliament, I would never vote for this or any other Home Rule Bill, because we should get none of the advantages of Home Rule, and we should have multiplied all the drawbacks of the existing situation. That is not what any of us on this Bench mean by supremacy, and I venture to say it is not what the Liberal Party mean. What we mean is that we will not surrender over any part of Her Majesty's Dominions the ultimate power which must reside in the Imperial authority, to be exercised discreetly, constitutionally, and only upon fitting and grave occasion, of interfering to make its will felt. With that explanation let me inquire what truth there is in the suggestion that the Imperial supremacy is not accepted in Ireland in the same sense as it is viewed by us. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham threw down a challenge the other night. My right hon. Friend, expert and accomplished debater that he is, never throws down a challenge that he thinks can be easily taken up. He asked the Irish Members—"Will you get up in this House and say you understand Imperial supremacy in the same sense as the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party understand it?" My right hon. Friend had not long to wait for his answer. A night or two afterwards we had that most remarkable and memorable speech from the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. Davitt), in which he declared in the fullest and frankest terms that he did accept Imperial supremacy in that sense, and that he would not question it or quarrel with it. Last night we had a speech equally remarkable from the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond), the Leader of what is called the advanced or extreme section of the Nationalist Party in Ireland, and he declared in almost identical terms and with the same unreserve and frankness and fairness of statement that he accepted Imperial supremacy in that sense also. What, then, becomes of my right hon. Friend's challenge? The only serious menace which has been offered by anybody to this part of the Bill has come from the Leader of the Opposition. He said in his speech on the First Reading— 347You may under this Bill, if you please, think that, the Irish Legislature and Administration are going to carry on their affairs in their own way, but you are reckoning without your host. There will come a time when we shall have a Tory majority in this House of Commons, and that majority will undertake the task of continuous supervision over and perpetual interference with the action of the Irish Legislature.I have two observations to make upon this. In the first place, I think better of the patriotism and good sense of the right hon. Gentleman's Party than he does himself. They may oppose this Bill to the end, as no doubt they will and are entitled to do. They may exhaust all the resources which the Constitution places at their disposal to prevent its passage; but I venture to say, when once this Bill has been placed upon the Statute Book, the Tory Party will loyally, honestly, and j constitutionally help to carry it out. They acted in that way with regard to the Reform Bill of 1832, Free Trade in 1846, and the Disestablishment of the Irish Church in 1869. Every one of those measures was quite as hotly opposed by the Tory Party as the Bill now before the House, and on very much the same grounds; but no attempt has been made, to their honour be it said— and it is part and parcel of our Constitutional system of Government that it should be so—either to repeal those great measures, or by factious or arbitrary proceedings in this House to interfere with their action. Therefore, in the interests of historical accuracy, I feel bound to vindicate the Tory Party against the aspersions and calumnies of their Leader. I have another observation to make with reference to the right hon. Gentleman's threat. H also will have so we body to reckon with—namely, the people of Great Britain. Does he seriously suppose that when a Parliament representing the majority of the people has passed this or a similar Bill into law—
§ MR. ASQUITH
I am not speaking necessarily of this Parliament—I am speaking of the contingency which the right hon. Gentleman assumed: that under some circumstances and by some Parliament or other the Bill would be carried 348 into law. The noble Lord must allow me to make that assumption which is necessary for the argument. I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman supposes that the people of Great Britain, thoroughly understanding the circumstances of the case, and having deliberately assented to the proposal, would tolerate that the right hon. Gentleman's Party or any other should deliberately persist in rendering the measure nugatory? Another argument used by the opponents of this Bill is that the Imperial Government, in the exercise of the supremacy nominally conferred upon it by this Bill, will have no Executive force at its disposal. That is an argument which has been used a great deal in the course of this Debate, but which is, in my opinion, entirely without foundation. How does it stand under the 5th clause of the Bill? That clause says that—The Executive power in Ireland shall continue vested in Her Majesty the Queen, and the Lord Lieutenant, on behalf of Her Majesty, shall exercise any prerogative or other Executive powers of the Queen the exercise of which shall be delegated tu him by Her Majesty.What does that mean? It means that, except to the extent to which the Queen delegates to the Lord Lieutenant Executive authority in Ireland, full and complete Executive authority remains in Her. I am not suggesting for a moment that we are going to set up in Ireland two independent and separate Executives. I think the grant of Homo Rule in any intelligible sense would be entirely incomplete if it were not supplemented by the grant of Executive power. In my judgment the Executive in Ireland is intended to be, and must be, dependent upon and responsible to the Irish Legislature. But that does not in the least prevent the retention, as is expressly provided in this Bill, by the Crown and the Executive Government of the United Kingdom, of such Executive authority as is necessary for the execution of the Imperial law. Let me refer to the 19th clause, which provides for the appointment of two Exchequer Judges, and that all legal proceedings in Ireland which touch any matter not within the powers of the Irish Legislature or which touch any matter affecting laws which the Irish Legislature has a power to repeal or to alter are to be heard and determined by those Judges. Therefore, if any question 349 arises or conflict takes place between the Imperial Legislature on the one side and the Irish Legislature on the other, it can, at the instance of any Party, be brought before the Court of Exchequer Judges. They alone will have any power to determine it, and au appeal will lie from them, not to au Irish tribunal, but to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. How are they to execute their decree? That is a very pertinent question, and one which I propose to answer. We have heard a great deal in the course of this Debate in reference to the Constitution of the United States. In the United States you have exactly, mutatis mutandis, the same state of things. You have the Federal Legislature with a Federal Judiciary entrusted with the execution of Federal laws, with very large powers of jurisdiction, where any conflict arises between the laws of particular States and the Federal laws. On the other side you have a State Legislature, with a State Judicature, and a State Executive. The Constitution of the United States is absolutely silent as to the mode in which the decrees are to be executed. As a matter of fact, we know that the United States have provided, as it will be perfectly in the power of the Imperial Parliament under this Bill to do, should occasion arise, for Federal marshals and other Executive officers to execute the decrees of the Federal Court. I do not anticipate any such necessity in this case, but it will be the duty of every officer of the law in Ireland, every Sheriff, every sub-Sheriff, every bailiff, every policeman—a duty for the non-performance of which he will be liable to be indicted and criminally convicted—to render assistance in the execution of the decrees of the Exchequer Judges and the enforcement of the laws of the Imperial Parliament. It really is taxing one's credulity to ask one to believe that a power which has expressly reserved to itself under this Bill the Executive authority, which has complete and absolute control of the whole of the Military and Naval Forces of the Crown, which can call upon the officers of the Irish Executive to carry out its decrees, and which, in case of default by them, can appoint officers of its own for the purpose—it is taxing one's credulity to ask one to believe that a power so 350 endowed and equipped as that will not be able to enforce to the last extent every power it possesses. Now, Sir, I pass from that to another question. The second question, with which I hope I shall be able to deal more briefly, is the question whether or not this Bill does give to Ireland a real and genuine autonomy. In my judgment that is quite as important as the other question, because I do not think it is of the least use entering into a controversy of this kind unless you can give legitimate satisfaction to the constitutionally expressed demand of the great bulk of the Irish people. Now what is the argument used against us there? It is a significant fact that the argument against us does not, in the least degree, proceed from the Irish Members. We have not heard in the course of the Debate a single complaint from the Irish Members that there is any undue restriction of the powers either of the Irish Legislature or the Irish Executive. It is the over-tender susceptibility—it is the exuberant and, I venture to say, the almost unreasoning sympathy of right hon. Gentlemen sitting on that (the Liberal Unionist) Bench for Irish nationality—which has dictated all these complaints as to the poverty and beggarliness of the powers conferred by the Bill. What do they tell us? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham says—Ireland claims to be a nation. What are you giving under this Bill that is worthy of acceptance by a nation? There is no separate flag, no Army, no Navy, no control over Customs, no power to interfere with external trade, no right to enter into diplomatic relations with foreign Governments.And, says my right hon. Friend, a country which is deprived of all these things cannot be said to be in any full and legitimate sense of the word a nation —cannot be said to have that which has been understood, according to the practice of the world, to be self-government or autonomy; and in support of that argument—I try to state the case as strongly as I can against myself—two considerations are adduced. In the first place we are pointed to the Colonies, and we are told that there are none of our self-governing Colonies that do not possess some of the powers, at any rate, that are withheld from Ireland in this Bill. The late Chancellor of the Ex- 351 chequer, in a speech he made at Manchester the other day, pointed out that the Colonies have what he described as fiscal liberty, educational liberty, and, at any rate, power to have armed forces of their own. And all these things are denied to Ireland. Secondly, we are told that if we refer to the speeches of the Irish Nationalist Leaders in the past and to their declarations of what they intend to have, and short of which they would never be content to receive, we shall find that some, at any rate, of the things that are withheld in this Bill they will require. I think I have stated the argument fairly. In answer to that I have to say, principally, that right hon. Gentlemen have evolved from their own consciousness a conception of a nation, and then they have proceeded to endow the nation with a number of powers, some of which are and many of which are not possessed by a large number of self-governing countries of the world; and then, because they do not find the counterpart of their imaginary nation equipped with these hypothetical powers in the Bill of the Government, they declare that the Bill must fall short of what the Irish people really require. The answer to that is easy. In the first place, right hon. Gentlemen appear to forget that Ireland will, under this Bill, have her complete and continued and just share, through her representation in this House, of the control of every one of those mutters —the Army, the Navy, Customs, Trade, Foreign Relations.
§ MR. ASQUITH
The noble Lord cheers. I am glad he does, because it reminds mo of what he said at Perth the other day. He said—You will find that Ireland retains over the charges for Imperial defence and foreign affairs and, in fact, I think I may say over all Imperial matters, excluded from the Irish Parliament, just as much control as she ever had before, and as much power relatively to the power of England and Scotland as she will have if this Bill never comes into operation.Therefore, according to the concessions of the noble Lord, Ireland, through her continued representation here, is to have her full and adequate share in every one of the matters that are not delegated to the Irish Parliament; and yet we are told that Ireland is to complain that these things may be taken absolutely out of her control, and that she will be left stranded 352 and impoverished with a sort of denuded nationality on the other side of St. George's Channel. But that does not by any means conclude the matter. There is the case of the Colonies. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham was good enough, in the course of his speech on the Second Reading, to answer in advance the argument drawn from the Colonies. I will quote his words. He says—Does anyone doubt that if Ireland was 1,000 miles from England she would have been long' before this a self-governing Colony? Her political situation is controlled by her geographical position.That is perfectly true, and the reason why these restrictions, which are not imposed, or many of which are not imposed, on the power of the Legislatures of self-governing Colonies, are imposed upon and accepted by Ireland is because her geographical situation renders it unnecessary and inconvenient both to herself and to us that she should possess them. As I have pointed out, unlike the Colonies, she is able, by continued representation here, to deal with them for herself. With reference to the restrictions themselves, I am not going through them in detail; but I say of them as a whole that, with one or two comparatively unimportant exceptions, there is not one of them that is not to be found in the Constitution of the United States. Now, that is a very important fact, and it is the nearest analogy that can be got to the state of things with which we are dealing herein the United States you have a number of self-governing communities. They are geographically united just as Ireland is geographically united to us, and the framers of that Constitution therefore found it necessary to provide, and they did provide—to take an illustration in the matter of what is called fiscal liberty— that it should not be within the Constitutional competence of the Legislatures, of the several States to impose Customs and Protective Tariff's. Why should Ireland object? She does not object, but why should you object for her to restrictions which are imposed by the sovereign State, which are part and parcel of the American Constitution, and which, with one or two exceptions, for 100 years have never occasioned any trouble or friction? There is one further point. Are these restrictions or are they not accepted, and will they or will they not work? In my 353 opinion the only true test, the only statesman like test, that you can apply is to ask whether the powers withheld from the Irish Legislature are powers the absence of which will, under the conditions of the case, he injurious to effective self-government, and whether they are powers the absence of which will be resented by a self-governing nation? Unless you can make out one or other of these two propositions you have no cause whatsoever for any objection to the restrictions and exceptions made in the Bill. We have been told by the hon. Member for North-East Cork and by the Member for Waterford—and I think they were perfectly right to say so—that while they do not accept any doctrine of finality in politics—neither do T, nor, I trust, docs any Member of this House—while they do not accept any doctrine of finality in politics, while they have not the power and would have no disposition to bind either their constituents or those who will come after them never to propose to alter any clause or any provision of this Bill —they would be madmen if they entered into any such arrangement—they are perfectly content, speaking for themselves and for their constituents, to accept this measure, and to work it honestly and constitutionally as the basis of future relations between Great Britain and themselves. With that assurance I, for one, am perfectly content. I do not think we could require more; I do not think they would be justified in giving more. But, Sir, there are hon. Gentlemen who sneer either at our credulity or what they consider the insincerity of the Irish Members, and I should like to know what impression was produced on their minds by the speech of the hon. Member for North-East Cork the other night? I do not think that a more remarkable spectacle has ever been witnessed in this House than the hon. Gentleman, as he honestly and frankly avowed, an old rebel and conspirator against the British Crown, who has been won over— [Interruption.]
§ MR. CRILLY (Mayo, N.)
I beg to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether this hon. Member (pointing) is in Order in calling the hon. Member for North-East Cork a, murderer?
§ An hon. MEMBER: He said "a murderer."
MR. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)
I heard the noble Lord (pointing to Viscount 354 Cranborne) use the word. [Cries of "Withdraw!" "Name!" and "Cranborne!"]
§ *MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! [Renewed cries of "Cranborne!"] I cannot take action until I know who the hon. Member was. [Cries of "Cranborne!"]
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
(who was sitting at the end of the third Bench above the Gangway, the Nationalist Members being seated on the other side of the Gangway) said: Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, you will allow me to say, with reference to the observation which escaped from me in the heat of the moment, that, though I stated nothing hut what was true, I quite admit that it is a statement which ought not to have been made here.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The expression referred to ought not to have been used, and I think the noble Lord should apologise to the House for having used it.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
Certainly, Sir. I apologise to the House, though the word was not intended for the ears of the House.
§ MR. ASQUITH
This incident which has occurred, and which is very much to be regretted, illustrates the very scanty knowledge of recent Irish history which is possessed by some hon. Gentlemen. I say it would be impossible for anyone who listened to the speech of the hon. Gentleman, to his frank and manly avowals of his own past, and his declaration that he had been won over from the policy which aimed at separation and independence to the policy initiated by the Prime Minister, not to recognise in his tone the accents of sincerity and of conviction. You may say, if you please, that he spoke as an individual and only for himself; but, Sir, the hon. Gentleman is a type of a very large portion of the people of Ireland. There could be no more significant proof of the change which has been wrought in the deep underlying sentiment of the Irish people than that men who 20 years ago saw their only possible chance of national; regeneration in fighting in the; open field or in the underground methods of conspiracy now become Members of this House, prepared to take, and to take in sincerity, the Oath of Allegiance to the Crown, and are ready to accept a mea- 355 sure which, while it gives full satisfaction to whatever is legitimate and whatever is urgent in the demand of Ireland, at the same time maintains unbroken the share of Ireland in her common heritage in this great Empire. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham accuses us of a sentimental and, as it seems to him, a credulous optimism. My right hon. Friend cannot understand how we should be credulous enough to believe in assurances such as these. I will make a concession to my right hon. Friend. I will agree that, given perversity on the one side and pedantry upon the other, it would be perfectly possible to wreck the Constitution which is set up by this Bill. If you can imagine the Trish people so dead to the sense of their own interests that they use their Legislature as an instrument for oppression; if you can imagine the English people so blind to the traditions of their own Constitution that they insiston a perpetual and meddlesome interference with the affairs of Ireland, then I agree that no assurances, however solemn and sincere, can possibly be accepted. But the difference between my right hon. Friend and ourselves is this—that we believe in the good faith, the common sense, and the self-interest of two great nations. That I agree, and that alone, is the ultimate security for the safe and smooth working of this Bill, as it is for the safe and smooth working of any free Constitution in the civilised world. It was once said by a very great, man that it was a difficult thing to draw up an indictment against a nation. But my right hon. Friend is ready to draw up an indictment against two nations. He is equally sceptical of the good faith of Ireland and of the good sense of Great Britain; and if it be credulity, if it be optimism, to assume, what we all assume in all our legislative proceedings every day, that these things lie at the basis of our political life, then I would rather incur the charge of credulity at the hands of my right hon. Friend than be a sharer in his superior and invincible scepticism. I will say a few words—for I have already trespassed longer than I intended on the time of the House—on the third point, the only other point with which I propose to deal—namely, the question of Ulster and the protection of the minority. 356 I have never denied, and never will deny, that the opposition, I will not say of Ulster, but of a portion of the people of Ulster to this Bill is a very serious fact. I do not in the least sympathise with the scoffing language which has sometimes been used of a mistaken sentiment.
§ MR. ASQUITH
But let us clearly appreciate what is the extent and scope of the opposition we have to deal with. The hon. Member for Mid Armagh, in his very interesting speech the other day, used what seemed to me from his point of view a somewhat infelicitous comparison. He reminded us that in point of area and in point of population Ulster is about the equivalent of Wales—a little bit larger if anything. I say I thought that a rather infelicitous comparison. What is the case of Wales? Wales and Monmouthshire return 34 Members; Ulster returns 33. Of the 34 Welsh Members 31 voted the other day in favour of a proposal which dealt with an institution in which they were peculiarly and locally interested. Can you get out of your 33 Ulster Members any such demonstration of opinion as that? Ulster Members are divided in the proportion of 19 to 14. In the last Parliament it was 16 to 17 the other way. And I cannot help contrasting the attitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite in reference to the claims of Wales with their attitude when they come to deal with Ulster. I introduced a Bill which proposed to suspend ecclesiastical patronage to a limited extent in the Principality, and when I ventured, in a very mild and almost apologetic way, to say that such a demonstration of opinion—31 votes out of 34—in a matter which, after all, was a local matter, was one which was entitled to consideration, I was met by the answer that that was pure and undiluted separatism; that it was a majority of the people of Great Britain, and of the people of England in particular, who had the right to decide this question, and that they would snap their fingers at the 31 Welsh Members so long as they thought the other way. An English minority is good enough to defeat the overwhelming majority of the people of Wales; but the Ulster minority, which is only in the proportion of 19 to 14, is to be strong enough to defeat the opinion of the 357 whole of the rest of Ireland. I think we should have a little consistency in our Unionism. I think we may at least claim in argument the same measure of importance should be given to 31 out of 34 Welsh Members that is given to 19 out of 33 Ulster Members. Let me further point out that in 1886 my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said, and I think he has said so more than once since, that if Ulster, or this little corner of Ulster—for that is, after all, the only place where this feeling exists—demanded separate consideration he was quite prepared to give it to them. He did not pledge himself—and I do not think he ever would pledge himself— to separate that part of Ulster from the rest of Ireland. He was perfectly entitled to take into account separate claims for separate treatment, but what is the claim of Ulster now? We hear from the hon. Member for South Antrim (Mr. Macartney) that Ulster repudiates separate treatment, and will not have it. The claim of Ulster is, therefore, not that her own interests should be consulted, not that her own minority should be provided for, but, because she objects to Home Rule, the rest of Ireland shall not get it. A more preposterous claim has never been put forward on the part of any minority in any country in the world. I am not going into the fears of Ulster—the fears of religious persecution, and the fears of commercial hostility. It is a certain and simple answer that the Irish Government, like all Governments, will, in the long run, be guided and controlled by self-interest, and is not likely to start on its career by an act of colossal injustice— by an act which would prejudice against it the opinion of the whole civilised world, and which would lead to the exportation of capital, and to the paralysis of industry, and of the resources necessary to the maintenance of its Government. My opinion is that, without any safeguards in the Bill at all, the matter is so clear that the fears of Ulster will prove to be entirely illusory. But we have introduced safeguards, and I will refer for a moment to one. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham, who pays a great deal of attention, not only to my speeches and to the answers I give at public meetings to my constituents, hits succeeded in 358 unearthing, from about 1,000 answers which I think I gave in the course of the last General Election, two statements of mine, which he quoted with very great triumph on the First Reading of the Bill. The first was a statement that, in my opinion, second Chambers were undesirable institutions. Sir, I adhere to that opinion. With few exceptions— and I think I mentioned one—I do not think—I am speaking my own personal opinion only—that second Chambers, under the conditions of modern democracy, are very successful or safe, and it was with considerable reluctance that, so far as my own opinion goes, I assented to the introduction of a second Chamber in this Bill; but this is a concession made to a demand of those who say it is not safe to leave the Ulster people to the uncontrolled domination of a single Chamber. We are told that some provision, at any rate, ought to be made to prevent hasty legislation; and, in order to conciliate opposition, and to make the fullest possible concession to demands which I do not admit to be reasonable, but which have some colour of plausibility, and which agitate some minds, I am perfectly prepared to give a trial to the experiment of a second Chamber. I do not observe that any objection has come from the Members of the Irish Party themselves, and we shall see in the course of years whether or not a second Chamber is necessary. I have the strongest possible suspicion myself that it will prove to be wholly unnecessary, but it was inserted to remove apprehensions, legitimate or illegitimate, and as such we ought to give it every trial. No one who has listened to the course of these proceedings can doubt that such difficulties as there were in Ulster have been exaggerated and inflamed by the importation of extraneous influences. The Leader of the Opposition took on himself the responsibility of going to Belfast during the Easter Vacation, and of fanning into flame the smouldering excitement. The right hon. Gentleman used very peculiar language. He said that he was informed by those who knew the condition of the City that the Loyalist population would find the task of self-restraint no easy one, and he added, "No wonder." He further said that be had not come there to preach any doctrines of passive obedience or non-resistance, and he uttered the pious prayer 359 that the people of Ulster might never have to fight. I am quite aware that these were the conditional incitements of an academic Anarchist. I should like, in order that hon. Gentlemen may realise what this actually moans, to put, hypothetically of course and academically, what appears to me to be a parallel, but much stronger, case. Suppose that in the Whitsuntide Vacation—if we have one— my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary were to go down to Cork or Limerick. I dare say they could get up a procession there. Suppose my right hon. Friend were to address the people in some such language as this, he would not have to draw upon the resources of a comparatively contracted imagination, and he would not have to depend upon his own more or less scrupulous rhetoric. He would simply have to go to the speech which was made at Belfast in the Easter Vacation, and suppose he were to say to the people of Cork—"Here is a Bill before Parliament for giving you self-government, upon which for years past your hearts and those of the great mass of the Irish people have been set. Three times, by overwhelming majorities, have you returned a Constitutional representation to the House of Commons in favour of that scheme. Your wishes may be, I do not say they will be—pray God they may never be thwarted by an English majority in the House of Commons, or by a non-representative authority in another place. No wonder, gentlemen, that I am informed by those who ought to know the condition of this great city that the Nationalist population find the task of self-restraint no easy one. I am told we are, perhaps, living in Cork over an explosive mine, which a spark might at any moment ignite. I venture to toll you that you do not stand alone, that you have not been abandoned by Great Britain, that the Home Rule Bill may yet become law; but I do not come here to preach any doctrines of passive obedience. You have had to fight for your liberties before. I pray God you may never have to fight for them again. I admit that the tyranny of majorities may be as bad as the tyranny of Kings,; but, ladies and gentlemen, I hope and believe this is a mere abstract and academic proposition." I projected this imaginary discourse into the Whitsuntide Vacation, but perhaps 360 it would have been bettor if I had put it back and imagined that it had been spoken a year ago. I do not think that a long time would have elapsed between my right hon. Friend's academic utterances and his appearance before a couple of Removable Magistrates; and I am perfectly certain that, however that would be, there is not a Unionist platform in this country that would not have wrung with denunciation of the responsible statesman holding office under the Crown, who had gone down into a disturbed and excited part of the country, and deliberately incited to the resistance of the law. I claim to have fulfilled the promise that I made at the outset to deal in detail and seriatim with the arguments which have been urged against the Bill. I have only to add, for myself, that I have never regarded the grant of Home Rule to Ireland as an exceptional and desperate remedy for a desperate and exceptional disease. I agree that the circumstances of her history and the scandals and dangers of her present situation make her demand one of paramount and undeniable urgency; but, in my opinion, this is a natural and necessary step in our normal Constitution. I have heard a great deal in the course of these Debates as to the conditions under which great Empires have been consolidated and built up. I affirm that there is no instance in history of effective consolidation which has not been preceded or accompanied by a large measure of local autonomy. How stands the case with regard to the fall and disintegration of Empires? What is it that has brought to the ground all these gigantic structures? It has been the concentration of the governing power; it has been the failure to develop local organs for the wishes and functions of local life; it has been the choking of the centre and the wasting of the extremities, with the result to the whole system of congestion, paralysis, and decay. It is this catastrophe that we wish, if we can, to avert from ourselves. I yield to no one on those Benches in my zeal for the maintenance, intact and unimpaired, of our great Empire. With all the blots that stain its history, with all the faults and shortcomings in its actual working, I believe, as strongly as you can, that it is the greatest civilizing instrument which the political genius of man as yet devised. 361 But, Sir, it lives and acts, and it can only live and can only act, by the free and spontaneous co-operation of all its parts. That is the article of a, standing or falling Empire, and it is in that spirit and for that purpose that the Bill has been framed. Seven years ago my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister appealed to the people of Great Britain to make the cause of Irish self-government their own. That appeal was made by a man who had already given a full life of industrious service to the State; it was made to a democracy, young, ardent, newly emancipated, feeling that it had for the first time within its reach social and political aims of its own upon which its heart was set. Such an appeal required upon the one side the surrender of honourably earned repose, and upon the other side the postponement of large and long-cherished hopes. Sir, those sacrifices have been gladly made—sacrifices worthy of a great cause; sacrifices which history will record, which posterity will honour. Of them this measure is the fruit. For them, if, as we believe, it brings contentment to Ireland, honour to Great Britain, added strength to the Empire, it will be the ample and abounding reward.
§ *LORD GEORGE HAMILTON (Middlesex, Ealing)
The Home Secretary has made an able and telling speech. At the commencement of his observations he stated he would confine himself to argument and not to declamation. He kept his promise only for three-fourths of his speech, and in that part in which he endeavoured to state the case with which he said he proposed to deal he put words into our mouths and arguments which we have never used. He commenced by stating that we had urged and contended that the Irish were unfit for free institutions. Who has said so? No one on this side of the House. Neither is the question now whether Ireland is fit for free institutions or not. What we have said is what the right hon. Gentleman in the conclusion of his speech confirmed; Ireland is not one nation, but two nations; not composed of one homogeneous community, but of various sections, different races, and different religions, which are kept together under the impartial authority of a supreme Parliament, but that if you attempt suddenly to make either one or other complete masters of those to whom 362 they have been for many years opposed, political disaster will ensue as bad for Ireland as it will be for Great Britain. Sir, this proposition is the opposite of the great legislative proposal made by one of the greatest Prime Ministers this country ever had—Mr. Pitt. We are asked now to reverse the Legislative Union which he established. Why did Mr. Pitt use his whole influence and his whole power to incorporate the Irish with the British Parliament? It was because he found out from bitter experience—and he was the only Prime Minister who ever had practical experience of the working of an independent Parliament in Ireland—he found from bitter experience that the factions and feuds in Ireland, with the violence on both sides, had culminated in the terrible-civil war which ensued, and which rent the country in twain. I ask the attention of the Home Secretary to this fact—that the very moment von attempt to reverse the policy of Mr. Pitt you are threatened from both Parties with a renewal of that civil war to stop which the Union was carried. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford said yesterday that if this Bill were thrown out serious consequences would ensue in the South of Ireland, which would necessitate a military occupation, and we have been told what the condition of Ulster is. Though you may ridicule Mr. Pitt and attempt to reverse the Union which he established, the very first step you take is attended by the danger which he anticipated. Upon what ground did the right hon. Gentleman base his support to the Bill? He said that if we opposed it we ought not to have given the franchise to Ireland in 1885. I have a distinct recollection of that Debate, and I took part in it. A great many of us did oppose the reduction of the franchise in 1885, not because it was bad in itself, but because we knew that the result would be that at least 80 Irish Members would come back here asking for the repeal of the Union. We pointed that out to the Prime Minister of England, and we told him if that occurred he would give way. He denied it, and in doing so he made the most passionate reply I think I ever heard in this House. He utterly repudiated that insinuation. We pointed out to him that if there were any reduction of the franchise the Loyalist 363 minority of Ireland, owing to the unequal distribution of seats, would be inadequately represented. He replied that they must look for the protection of their interests to the majority of the English and Scotch Members. Within 16 mouths of the time when he informed this House he would never contemplate that which we told him would probably occur, he was standing at that Table moving the repeal of the Legislative Union, and de-priving the loyal minority of Ireland of that safeguard which was his main argument for a reduction of the franchise. The Irish Members are now naturally in a very good humour, but the time will come when you will not be able to continue the course that has put them in that good humour. Suppose the Irish Members go a little further, and ask for many important additions to this Bill, will you grant them because three-fourths of the Representatives of Ireland are unanimous in that demand? Sir, the right hon. Gentleman made himself merry over what he asserted were inconsistencies in our criticism, but the more he pieced them together the more they tallied. Inconsistency of criticism on the part of the opponents of this Bill is of only comparative importance. What is of importance is that those who propose and those who accept it should place the same meaning on its provisions. I fail to trace one particle of resemblance between the definition which the right hon. Gentleman gives as to the supreme authority as defined in this Bill and that which the hon. Member for Water-ford yesterday accepted. What did the hon. Member for Waterford say? He said—We claim this not as a concession, not as an act of grace, but as a matter of historical right.And you have conceded that. "Very well," says the Prime Minister, "it is a matter of historical right." Then the contention of the Home Secretary and of the Solicitor General that this is a delegation of authority is incorrect. If it be a delegation of authority you can take it back; if you give it as a matter of historical right you cannot; therefore we start at once in the first preliminary definition of this Bill by finding that those who promote it and those who accept it are hopelessly at variance as to its interpretation. Will those who accepted it say they were 364 mistaken and deluded? Will those who now propose that Bill adhere to their position? Sir, it is not the first time that this House has been quieted by able lawyers placing certain constructions on the words of an Act of Parliament. I recollect that 11 years ago the Prime Minister proposed to deal with the Irish Land Question. It is a remarkable fact that the principle on which he dealt with the Irish Land Question is identical with the principle he proposes to apply in dealing with the Irish political question. In Ireland he establishes a system of what is kown as dual ownership in the laud. He created two sets of proprietors, and thus there were upon every holding in Ireland two proprietors with a joint and separate interest. He has now adopted the same principle as regards this Bill. He has brought a second Parliament into existence, and he proposes to give to the two Parliaments a joint and separate ownership in one Constitution. And what was the result of his legislation in Ireland? We were assured just as solemnly as now by Home Secretaries and Solicitor Generals that every right and authority which the landlord had would still be maintained. Little by little the second proprietor has absorbed them all, until they have nothing left. The right hon. Gentleman is now depriving them of all authority. The solitary remnants of his (the first proprietor's) previous power consists of his being in possession of a precarious and unpopular rent-charge; and so I say, under this so-called new Constitution, you have created a sot of circumstances which will inevitably result in the Irish Parliament — the occupying tenant — gradually assuming to itself more and more power, gradually absorbing and assimilating the various functions associated with this Imperial supremacy until the solitary remnant of the connection with Great Britain and Ireland will be the possession of that precarious and unpopular rent-charge. Now, Sir, it is very easy for anybody with the ability of the right hon. Gentleman to maintain that theoretically the supremacy of Parliament is still to be exercised over Ireland. But he did not attempt to show in any shape how the necessary power was to be found for enforcing that authority. I was reading the other day the history of a very able Irishman, who was one of the 365 most successful Viceroys of India, and he made use of a very simple expression. He said—Great Britain cannot discard the means of power and yet enjoy the fruits of it.But under this Bill the whole Executive authority in Ireland is given to the now Government. You are placing under it every Civil servant who previously was in your employ. Now, there are no people more easily impressed with the trappings and symbols of authority than Irishmen, and you take care from the moment this Bill comes into operation to place in juxtaposition your old servants and the servants of the new Government. The one will be steadily disbanded and decreased, the other will be steadily augmented and increased, and thus for years to come you set before the Irish people in all parts of Ireland the picture that the Imperial authority is on the wane and local authority is on the rise. Therefore, in any difficulty which hereafter may arise between the Imperial Parliament and the Irish Parliament, you will not have a single Executive officer except two or three aides-de-camps of the Lord Lieutenant on whom you can rely. The Home Secretary says you will have the Army and Navy. Now, Sir, it is very easy to show that, by a very simple and at the same time a very justifiable arrangement, the Army would not be an effective instrument for enforcing the will of this House against the will of the Irish Parliament. Under this Bill Ireland is to contribute a certain sum towards Imperial expenses, on the ground that she participates in some of the benefits that result from that expenditure. Now, what would be easier than for the Irish Government to say:—" We admit this obligation and this liability: but, as Ireland is a. distinct and separate nationality, we request that all the regiments which are raised in Ireland and have their headquarters in Ireland should, whenever they are home from foreign service, be quartered in Ireland." There is not an instance hardly in the history of the world whore, when there has been division between authorities, the troops raised in a particular locality have not gone with that locality; and by that one small process of insisting on their right as a separate nation to have the troops raised in Ireland located in Ire-land, your Army there would become a 366 most inefficient instrument for the assertion of your rights, and probably a very efficient instrument for the support of the Irish Parliament. The Militia, in any controversy which arose between Great Britain and Ireland would most undoubtedly, if they in any way assumed a national shape, support the Irish National Government. You would have the whole Police Force of the country under the control of the Irish Government; you would not have a single friend in Ireland, because you have betrayed your friends, and when once betrayed men are reluctant to co-operate with those who betrayed them. You are then in this position: without friends in Ireland, with all your Executive power in the hands of an Irish Parliament; the Army recruited in Ireland; the Militia hostile to you, and with a number of Gaelic Athletic Clubs which could be converted into an efficient Volunteer Force. I say most unhesitatingly that, under the conditions which I have stilted, and which are almost certain to result, you have not got at present sufficient force to in any way assert your authority over an Irish Parliament if they were to decline to carry out your decrees. The right hon. Gentleman may say—"Oh, there is the Navy." Once, and once only, has the Navy in modern days ever been employed in trying to secure obedience from a recalcitrant territory; and that was a case in reference to which the name of King Bomba has become famous. Will it be seriously contended that your Navy, the number of men in which is small, is to support the decrees of the Exchequer Judge against the recalcitrants in Belfast or Dublin? The whole theoretical scheme which the right hon. Gentleman, as a lawyer, stated—that the supremacy of Parliament is inalienable and can be asserted—the whole of this falls and topples to pieces the moment it is practically examined. But, Sir, there is something more. The Home Secretary, in his eloquent peroration, spoke of the great danger of over-centralisation, and of the enormous benefits that had accrued from the system of devolution, both in consolidating the strength of great Empires and increasing the loyalty of their people. But has the Home Secretary reflected for one minute upon what must be the necessary result of this Bill, if it pass into law, as regards Ulster? I 367 am glad he spoke in a sensible and serious tone as to the state of fooling in that Province, and I hope he has set an example which other Colleagues of his will follow. The result of this Bill, assuming it passes into law, must be to make every Ulsterman a Separatist. You say that the minority must obey the majority, and you make use of the majority of your friends in Ireland for the purpose of the argument, and say that Ulster must obey them. But Ulster knows that in this country there is a majority in favour of their view. And what do you do? By the gerrymandering of your new Constitution yon bring over that very majority from Ireland, and. by using it twice you thus convert your minority here into the majority. But by converting what is a British majority into a minority in this House you are placing it in the power of the Irish Government to make use of the troops and forces which belong to the majority here for the purpose of coercing those with whom I agree in Ireland. Therefore, the inevitable result, if this Bill passes into law, must be to create a condition and stress of circumstances which must force those whose only fault at present is their ardent attachment to our Government and Constitution to a policy of entire separation from Great Britain. Has the Home Secretary reflected upon the tremendous powers and forces which this Bill creates? You propose to create and set up in Ireland a distinct nationality. You propose, further, to tax that nationality chiefly for the benefit of Great Britain, or, to a large extent, of Great Britain. Now, Sir, no one knows better than the Homo Secretary that history teaches us that the two causes which have produced revolution are taxation imposed which does not benefit those who are taxed and a disregard of national aspirations. By this Bill you are combining both these forces. Assume that the Irish Government, after a little time, finds itself in the position of being short of money. What more natural, what more simple proposition, than that Ireland should become a free country, and cease to pay tribute to Great Britain? And who would benefit most by such a proposition? The people you have betrayed and deserted. The Prime Minister defended boycotting once and 368 exclusive dealing. Suppose Ireland was to try a little exclusive dealing with the Customs? No, Sir; it is a very pretty scheme on paper, but the moment it is subjected to the wear and tear of all the difficulties that exist in Ireland it will become absolutely unworkable. In the discussions that have taken place almost every speaker, with the exception of the Home Secretary, has devoted much time and much attention to the results of the Union, and in every instance ail those who have supported this Bill have done their very utmost to depreciate the results which have been attained by that Union. It is curious for how much the Union is responsible! The Prime Minister made the Union responsible for the fact that he had never been in the Cabinet with an Irishman. Now, in the first Parliament in which I had the honour to sit the right hon. Gentleman had two Irishmen in his Cabinet, Mr. Chichester Fortescue and Lord Dufferin.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Will the noble Lord permit me to say that Lord Dufferin was not in the Cabinet, and that I was referring to Mr. Chichester Fortescue when I said that I thought that only one Irishman had boon in a Cabinet in which I had held Office.
§ *LORD G. HAMILTON
I will, of course, accept the right hon. Gentleman's statement upon the point. I now come to the main argument of the case. The moment you come to any part of Ireland where the population has increased the hon. Member for North East Cork and other hon. Gentlemen do their utmost to show and to prove that that increase of population has nothing whatever to do with the Union, but is the result of local accident. I say that if when the population in Ireland has increased the credit of that is not to be placed to the Union, so, on the other hand, when the population has decreased, it is not fair to make the Union responsible for that. The fact is that the great difficulty in Ireland is an economic difficulty, and if the population has decreased in Ireland it has decreased in every country in Europe. But if emigration has increased and the population has decreased in certain parts of Ireland, I wonder whether hon. Members below the Gangway have ever reflected how much they themselves have had to do with it? Lord Clare said 100 years ago— 369If you wish to stop emigration you must enable sensible and rational people to live in peace at home.But the great difficulty in Ireland has been that, wherever there has been a congested district, or, through the temporary failure of the seasons, any section of the people has been in distress, the agitator has made remorseless use for his own purposes of that distress occasioned by economic causes. We have heard a great deal about Gweedore. Let me state shortly the history of Gweedore, because it affords a good illustration of the use to which agitators put philanthropic and beneficent action. Some years ago an Irish philanthropist, Lord George Hill, bought a small property in the west of Donegal for the purpose of trying a social experiment. He regretted very much to see such a great number of able-bodied men leaving the country; and he proposed to cut up the property into small holdings, and to see if it was not possible by these holdings, combined with cottage industries and the development of local resources, to enable a considerable population to live in decency and comfort. The greatest possible interest was taken in the scheme, and by no one more so than by the Roman Catholic Bishop and clergy. There was a little periodical published month by month by Lord George Hill, the title of which explained the nature of the scheme—Assist us at home, that we ne'er need roam, I remember a shrewd old man telling me that though the scheme might give satisfaction for a time, sooner or later Gweedore would become a centre of disturbance. Surely enough, when prices fell and a not over-scrupulous gentleman became resident in the neighbourhood, the scheme became a source of disturbance and disquiet to the whole neighbourhood. The only result of that philanthropic action was that Lord George Hill's heir has been for many years in danger of his person, and, pecuniarily, has been ruined. Yet the rents, as a rule, did not average 5d. a week. I have heard great eulogies from hon. Members of this House of the parish priest of the district—Father MacFadden. I am quite certain that the landlord would gladly exchange his rents for the income Father MacFadden receives. When men who try to solve the social difficulties of Ireland are 370 treated as the landlord of Gweedore has been treated, the men who cause that treatment are as much responsible as anyone for the decrease in the population. Looking back on the past, I do not believe that the great mistake in Irish history was the abolition of the Irish Parliament. The great mistake was that that Parliament was not abolished 100 years earlier. Then the Irish Parliament petitioned more than once to be incorporated with the British Parliament, and the Petition was refused. No man who looks impartially at the evils from which Ireland has suffered, and is suffering, can doubt that if that amalgamation had taken place it would have been enormously beneficial to Ireland. What were the complaints? It was complained that the oppressive Penal Code was harshly administered. The contact of Irish Members with a great Protestant community like this would have led to leniency in administration, if not to repeal, of the Penal Laws. The commercial disabilities applied to Ireland, because she had a separate Parliament and was a separate Kingdom, could not have been imposed if the Parliaments had been incorporated. The gross abuse of patronage in connection with the ecclesiastical and Civil establishments would not have occurred if the Representatives of Ireland had had a place in this Parliament, and the contact between English and Irish landlords would have done much to bring the two systems of agriculture into accord. The more you look back upon history, the more you will see that, the evils of Ireland had their origin, not in the abolition of the Irish Parliament, but in the legislation and traditions and customs which that Parliament set up. During the last 50 years English influence has been most beneficial in all directions, and scarcely any symptom of material improvement which has taken place in Ireland is not due to the fact that Irish Members have a part in the Imperial Parliament. There is one question on which I should like to speak at some length, and that is, the protection of minorities. It is quite true, as the Home Secretary has said, that there are two Ulsters; but the Ulster which is in favour of Home Rule is, comparatively speaking, a narrow strip of territory, and on that strip you will probably find the thickest and densest Celtic population in 371 Ireland. In Ulster, race and religion are practically convertible terms. All the Roman Catholics, with scarcely any exception, are Celts by descent. All the Protestants are of Scotch and English descent. But that is not the case in other parts of Ireland. In the South a large portion of the Catholics are lineally descended from English settlers, and a much larger relative proportion of the Roman Catholics in the South are possessed of means, and occupy a higher social position than is the case in the North of Ireland. Nineteen-twentieths of the Catholic population in Ulster are labourers and small farmers. When charges are made that in Ulster we are intolerant, and the charges are supported by statistics showing that there are only a small number of Roman Catholics occupying positions of trust compared with Protestants, the simple fact is that race and religion have bred in the Protestant more fitting qualities for positions of trust and responsibility, and it is that, and not intolerance, which causes the great disproportion. Let any man who uses this argument of intolerance go round any of the industrial establishments in Ulster, and he will find that nine-tenths of the men occupying positions of trust and responsibility are Protestants. Three hundred years ago a great settlement took place in Ulster, and the recollections of that settlement and of the results which followed it still linger in the minds of both populations. The Prime Minister says that he brings in this Bill to bury the past. Its only recommendation to the Roman Catholic population of Ireland is that it will revive the past, and that the plantation of 300 years ago will be reversed. That is the reason why the Roman Catholics in certain parts are so strongly in favour of the measure, and that is one of the reasons why the Protestants are opposed to it. The Home Secretary talked as though the visit of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition to Ulster and the speeches he made were necessary to work up the smouldering emotions of Ulster-men. It was obvious that the Home Secretary was not speaking seriously. I know a great deal about Ulster. I took a considerable part in the General Election of 1886, and I visited Ulster only twice between then and the General Election last year. I was simply amazed 372 at the change of opinion which had taken place. It is not the result of agitation. It is the result of careful thought and careful watching of the transactions of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, and the tolerance and support those transactions received from the promoters of this Bill. It was thought to be clever Parliamentary tactics, by right hon. Gentlemen opposite in the last Parliament, to support everything done by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway in connection with the Plan of Campaign, boycotting, and other forms of intimidation so freely used by them. It is the worst electioneering device to which they ever resorted. Ulstermen now know what is in store for them. In controversy with the right hon. Member for West Birmingham the Prime Minister said, the other day, that after 1881 he had never denounced any member of the Land League for improper practices.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that he never denounced any of them by name.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
I will refresh the right hon. Gentleman's memory. Amongst the various Members below the Gangway the hon. Member for East Mayo occupies a prominent position, and public opinion in his own Party designates him as the future Home Minister of Ireland. This is the description which the Prime Minister gave of the hon. Member in a speech in the House of Commons on the 24th of May, 1882, two mouths after the Kilmainham Treaty, and when the hon. Member, having been let out of prison, was naturally on his best behaviour—The hon. Member comes here as the apostle of a creed which is a creed of force, a creed of oppression, and a creed of the destruction of all liberty and the erection of a despotism on its ruins differing from every other despotism in this—that it is more absolutely detached from all law, all tradition, and all restraint.You may say that the hon. Member has altered his practices. Not a bit of it. He went down in August, 1887, to Dublin, and, speaking of the past practices of the Land League, which had been condemned for the horrible intimida- 373 tion which they had exercised, he said—I wish to say plainly that, so far as I go. I intend to practice the same form of intimidation, in spite of all proclamations or persecutions they can enforce. If the operations of the League in the past can be correctly described by 'intimidation,' then I say that I intend to practice them and preach them.Can any one wonder that men who have been in political opposition to the hon. Member do not look forward with very much pleasure to the prospect of he and his Party holding place in control of the administration and Executive control of Ireland. The Home Secretary ridiculed the alarms and fears of the Ulstermen. He asked—Is it likely that the new Parliament in Dublin will start on its career with a colossal scheme of injustice?No, Sir, they would not be so foolish. They are shrewd men, and are not likely to make any such mistake. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has lived in any country or in any district the great mass of whose population are Roman Catholies—where the priests are all powerful and the congregations subservient. If he had he would have felt that subtle and all-pervading influence which is ever present in the community; intangible, but which affects not only their public views, but their social and private life; and he would not willingly set up those who control that machine into a position where they would have dominant power over the supreme Executive and Legislative Authorities of the country. But who taught the Ulstermen to distrust the Roman Catholic priesthood and hierarchy in Ireland? It was the Prime Minister himself. I have here a copy of the well-known pamphlet, Vatican Decrees, and I propose to read a passage from it, not for the purpose of convicting the right hon. Gentleman of inconsistency, but because it is interesting to note now what his views were, not only with regard to the intolerance of the Irish priesthood, but as to the claims of Ireland upon England. He says—When Parliament had passed the Church Act of 1869 and the Land Act of 1870 there remained only, under the great head of Imperial equity, one serious question to be dealt with—that of the higher education. I consider that the Liberal majority in the House of Commons, and the Government to which I had the honour and satisfaction to belong, 374 formally tendered payment in full of this portion of the debt by the Irish University Bill of February, 1873. Home, indeed, think that it was overpaid: a question into which this is manifestly not the place to enter. But the Roman Catholic prelacy of Ireland thought fit to procure the rejection of that measure by the direct influence which they exercised over a certain number of Irish Members of Parliament, and by the temptation which they thus offered—the bid, in effect, which (to use a homely phrase) they made to attract the support of the Tory Opposition.Mark what follows—From that time forward I have felt that the situation was changed, and that important matters would have to be cleared by suitable explanations. The debt to Ireland had been paid; a debt to the country at large had still to be disposed of, and this has come to be the duty of the hour.
§ *LORD G. HAMILTON
No, I beg your pardon, I will read the application—I am no longer able to say, as I would have said before 1870, 'There is nothing in the necessary belief of the Roman Catholic which can appear to impeach his full civil title, for whatsoever be the follies of ecclesiastical power in his Church, his Church itself has not required of him, with binding authority, to assent to any principles inconsistent with his civil duty.'Thus 18 years ago the right hon. Gentleman believed that, the debt to Ireland having been paid, the duty of the hour was to protest against the intolerant pretensions of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. The light hon. Gentleman then spoke of the priesthood having control over 40 Irish Members, but they have now control over double that number; and it is now the duty of the hour not to protest against their intolerant pretensions, but to hand over the loyal population of Ireland to their authority. In answer to the fears expressed by the people of the North that their property and their civil and religious liberty would be in danger under this Bill, the Home Secretary has said that there are words in the Bill to protect them. But what protection is there in words when they can be so easily explained away, as the Prime Minister explained away words the other day? It was a marvellous performance. I can only say that that was the best sleight of tongue I have ever witnessed. It has destroyed the confidence of the men of the North in the sincerity of the Prime Minister, because they say no words so plain as those 375 he explained away could be put into an Act of Parliament. Yesterday the hon. Member for Waterford made an extraordinary statement as to the excessive tolerance of Roman Catholics towards Protestants, and he asserted that the Protestants had nothing whatever to fear from them—that whenever they had been in a position of authority they had treated Protestants with tolerance. I do not wish to revive those hateful old controversies of the past, but when a statement of that kind is made it is necessary to contradict it. Once only in the last 200 years did the Catholic majority get control of Parliament and of the Executive, and that was in the time of James II. and just before the battle of the Boyne. What they did is well known. They commenced by confiscating all the property of their opponents—a common practice. They brought in the biggest Bill of proscription of which history has any record. In a few days they proscribed the persons and confiscated the property of 2,445 persons in one Act of Attainder, and they comprised two Archbishops, eight Bishops, 64 temporal peers, 83 clergymen, and 2,289 ladies, knights, and gentlemen. Here, then, is an example of the tolerance of which the hon. Member for Waterford boasts. But that is not all. Being short of money, that Parliament seized and got possession of every kind of base metal they could. They then converted that metal into tokens, and forced the Protestants in the country to take the tokens at the nominal value they represented. Such is the extent to which those gross acts of injustice have imprinted themselves in the hearts of Protestants, that whenever they hear talk of Catholic tolerance they are always reminded of the brass money. The hon. Member for Waterford also contended that there was a very intense national feeling in Ireland, and that it altogether predominated the agrarian movement. I utterly deny that. The only really national movement in Ireland in recent years was the Fenian movement. The Fenians were patriots, because though they wished to have recourse to violence they desired to establish a nation, and not to obtain the property of one particular class. That movement failed. Mr. Parnell, as we all know, was then forced to try to asociate with that movement the agrarian question and 376 since then the Nationalist movement has been unduly swollen, and my firm belief is that if you can detach that part of the people of Ireland who are mainly interested in the land question from the national movement it would dwindle to very small proportions indeed. We are told that among the other evils of the present system is this—that the payment of officials in Ireland is on a most exorbitant and colossal scale, and this has been given as another instance of our misrule. But it is very curious that directly this enormous and exorbitant expenditure is proposed to be handed over under the Bill to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, the amount to meet it, although supplemented by £500,000, becomes insufficient. We oppose this Bill, although every effort has been made in past years to induce us to support the action of the right hon. Gentleman. Bribes have been offered to the Irish landlords, and doubtless if they had accepted the terms of 20 years' purchase many of them would be far richer than they are to-day. In the same way hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway have endeavoured to catch the support of the tenant farmers of Ulster by proposals which, they say, would reduce their rents. I say that so far from being influenced by sordid motives, the landlords and tenant farmers are influenced by patriotic motives, and desire to retain the political privileges they still have. Now, Sir, of the fate of this Bill on the Second Reading of course there is no manner of doubt, but its being passed into law is absolutely impossible. Then we are told that if it is not passed into law it will be necessary to have recourse to drastic coercion. I believe it will not be necessary to do more than we should have done if we had had a majority at the last Election. A large number of prominent Home Rulers are placed in a great difficulty with regard to Home Rule; the more the reality of Home Rule is brought close to them the less they like it. I admit there is a great deal to be done in Ireland to improve the material prosperity, both in the way of accelerating Land Purchase and establishing a single proprietary. I think, further, that as soon as Land Purchase has attained any dimensions, it will be most desirable to engraft on that foundation a complete system of Local Government such as my 377 right hon. Friend proposed in the late Government. When the Prime Minister asks us to bury the past and to accept this Bill as a message of peace, I say the real object for which this Bill is accepted by Gentlemen below the Gangway is not to bury the past, but to revolutionise the present, turn topsy-turvy all the existing conditions of society in Ireland, and reverse the settlement of centuries; and any such proposal, if attempted, can but lead to discord in Ireland. The Homo Secretary thought he made a great point by suggesting that it would be an inexpedient thing for the Chief Secretary for Ireland to visit Cork and make such a speech as my right hon. Friend made in Belfast. But is it wise to trust a people with a separate Parliament when you believe that to make such a speech among them would be likely to produce rebellion? [Cries of "No!"] If you do not believe in the danger, what, then, would be the harm if the Chief Secretary should go to Cork and make such a speech? I believe that it would be possible, on the foundation of things as they are at present, to do much to develop the material prosperity of Ireland. England, I admit, has treated Ireland badly in the past. There are still many open wounds. What we ought to do is to heal and to cure them. However strongly I am opposed to the political views of hon. Gentlemen sitting below the Gangway, hostile as they are to differences of class, race, and religion, I hope those differences are no obstacle to our working together for the permanent benefit of Ireland; but we do so on one condition, and one condition alone—the recognition of a united Parliament and an undivided nationality.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
said, it had not been his intention to address the House until many months of regular attendance had familiarised him with the Forms of the House, and if he did so now it was because he had noticed a tendency on the part of those opposed to the measure to attempt to belittle, and if possible to degrade, the whole Irish race. There was not an epithet which hatred or fancy could suggest that had Dot been publicly lavished upon Irish Representatives. His constituents had sent him there to protest, on their behalf, against this un-English practice, figuratively speaking, of hitting below the belt. 378 It might be asked, had not Ireland sent her tried and trusty champions there to defend her cause? True; but certain parts of the country had sent other Irishmen, and as one of those, as an Irishman and a Protestant, representing, as he did —by no mean majority either—a great working-class constituency in the heart of South London, he ventured to raise his humble voice on behalf of his native land. Reference had been made more than once to Trinity College, Dublin. He might say that more than a quarter of a century ago he obtained some distinction at that. University, and, more than that, he stood in this country in 1885 as a Home Ruler. It had been said that the people of Ireland were discontented and turbulent without cause, for that they were governed by the same laws as governed this country. They soon, however, proved that Ireland was still the home of the packed jury, and there the Magistrate stepped down from his seat, clothed in his mantle of bigotry, for the mean and filthy purpose of polluting justice at its source. They no sooner proved this than their opponents changed their ground, and admitted that Ireland had wrongs to be righted, and the apprentices attempted to rival their master, and brought in, some of them, Home Rule proposals. But all these erred in one particular—that they did not recollect the strong sentiment of nationality, that existed in Ireland; they said that, the Land Question once settled, it would undoubtedly cause Home Rule to vanish. The Laud Question had been comprehensively dealt with, and the value of land lowered by 40 per cent.; but, notwithstanding that fact, they found that the demand for Home Rule was stronger than ever. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. A. J. Balfour) referred to the present Bill as an abortion; but he forgot his own little Bill, which saw the light in a state of putrefaction, for it actually stank in the nostrils of the people of England and Ireland alike, and the effluvia was even too much for the right hon. Gentleman himself, for he objected to examine it, and therefore buried it in the political back garden. But he wished to deal with the main points against Home Rule. First and foremost, they were told that Irishmen were a defective race, and in regard to that he appealed to an autho- 379 rity which would be received with considerable satisfaction on both sides of the House—namely, the late Mr. John Bright. Mr. Bright, in referring to the Irish Question, after pointing out that in its suitability for trade and commerce Ireland was quite on a level with the most favoured countries in Europe, and after pointing out that he was of opinion that Ireland's poverty and misery was due to England's misgovernment, went on in these words—We employ them down in Lancashire, and with the prospect of good pay they work about as well, and are as trustworthy, and quiet, and well-disposed to the law as people of this country.When the Irish Roman Catholic gentry were driven by brutal penal laws from all the paths that led to affluence and honour at home and sought service abroad, Europe fairly resounded with their achievements. Throughout the North American Continent all the hardest work was done by Irishmen. But it was said that Irishmen did not prosper in Ireland, and upon this he appealed to the Leader of the Opposition, and at the same time thanked him for the kind interest he took in the Irish Civil Service and the Royal Irish Constabulary. Under fair conditions Irishmen prospered everywhere. The Royal Irish Constabulary, a force of between 10,000 and 12,000 men, could only be compared with the Spanish Constabulary and the Metropolitan Police. The Spanish Constabulary were recruited from the picked non-commissioned officers of the Spanish Army. The Metropolitan Police were a carefully selected body of men, deservedly the admiration of all foreigners who visited London, and how were the Royal Irish Constabulary recruited? Direct from the cabins of the Irish peasantry, Protestants and Catholics alike, and yet they performed with skill, courage, and devotion, difficult and dangerous, and, to them, at times most distasteful duties in a manner beyond all praise. How came it that wherever the English language was spoken a vast preponderating proportion of those skilled in that great engine of civilisation, the Press, were Irishmen, and when (as in one or two instances they had done) they migrated from the gallery to the 380 floor of the House they had proved themselves not their inferiors but in most respects their superiors? He came to the next great invention that Home Rule meant Rome Rule. Surely everyone must know that the time for priestly influence in politics had gone. [Laughter.] There was a French proverb which, being freely translated, ran "those who laugh last have the heartiest laugh," and he would justify what he was about to say. He was aware that hon. Gentlemen opposite had culled their information on the Irish Question from the pamphlets of the Conservative Association, and he was thus convinced that, as in insect life, they became impregnated with that on which they fed—[Cries of "Oh, oh!"] He was only comparing them to butterflies —to caterpillars which became butterflies. He was not so severe as the Leader of the House who referred to hon. Gentlemen as rodents. Caterpillars were clean feeders, whereas rats were not so dainty. To return to his argument, he said that the days of priestly influence had gone, except when that influence was on the side of some great popular movement. When Christianity placed itself on the side of the poor, down-trodden, and oppressed it had this great power, but when it placed itself upon the side of authority and power he maintained its influence was nil. For example, the whole power of the French priesthood added to the whole power of the Government was unable to keep the Napoleonic Dynasty on its Throne. This was seen also in Italy, and in the advance of Republican anti-clericalism in Catholic Spain. Again, it was said that although Protestants and Catholics might live in peace and harmony elsewhere, in Belfast it was impossible. That noble city disgraced itself by its riots. Orangemen allowed their Protestantism to eclipse their Chistianity, quite forgetting that almost half the Christian world was Catholic, that it was the faith of their forefathers, and that it was practically the only form of Christianity professed for nearly 900 years. It had done much for humanity looked upon purely as an engine of civilisation, and it was disgraceful upon the part of some to hurl foul epithets against the noblest and most devoted portion of priesthood. In connection with this question all the great leaders of autonomy for Ireland 381 were Protestants, except Daniel O'Connell and Smith O'Brien—
§ CAPTAIN NORTON
said, that added to the strength of his argument. All but Daniel O'Connell were Protestants, and these men did not tremble for their religion. Even Mr. Parnell, the last and greatest of all, was a Protestant. He believed Mr. Parnell had written his name in the annals of his country, and built himself a monument in her people's heart. He hoped the frailty and misfortune of the man would be forgotten in the greatness of his part. His belief was that the name of Mr. Parnell should be written side by side with that of the great names of Grattan and Daniel O'Connell; and he would say to the hon. Member for Waterford in lines which were, doubtless, as familiar to him as to most Irishmen.Then here's their memory— may it beFor us a guiding lightTo cheer our strife for libertyAnd teach us to unite.He would like to touch for one moment upon Ulster. Ulster, with an insane self-laudation, declared she possessed all the intelligence in Ireland. He asked how came it, then, that of all the great men whose names adorned the pages of Irish history, not one of these men claimed Ulster as the Province of their birth? Of the great statesmen —Sheridan, Grattan, O'Connell; the great writers—Burke, Swift, Lever; the great poets—Goldsmith and Moore; the great orators—Shiel and Curran; and of the great Generals—Wellington, not one of them was born in Ulster. In Great Men of the Day he failed to find the name of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson), and there was no record of any great hero born in the vicinity of Ballykilbeg. One name adorned Ulster's page, but that was the name of one who was both a Roman Catholic and a Home Ruler, who now sat on the Treasury Bench and was destined to occupy a still higher position (Sir C. Russell). Economic and geographical causes accounted for the rise of Belfast, and, if it were possible to bring the same causes into operation in Galway, its peasantry would take full advantage of them. But he passed from that to the question of 382 safeguards. These Gentlemen who asked for safeguards, these valiant descendants of the men who fought at Derry and the battle of the Boyne, came here whining like guilty school boys who dreaded a whipping and asked for safeguards.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON
said, that that was their one contention, and he asked would they not be foolish to give any consideration to them under the circumstances, since they admitted that no safeguards would give them satisfaction? They were perpetually demanding safeguards. "Thus conscience doth make cowards of them all." Their more worthy ancestors, when they were as many weeks as they were hours now from this great country, were not afraid to hold their own. The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord R. Churchil), when he went to Belfast to canvass for sedition, said, "Ulster would fight and Ulster would do right." No; "Ulster might riot and Ulster would do wrong," and when the British officer at Dublin received instructions from that House to send troops to Belfast to quell those riots he would carry out his instructions and his duty or resign his position. The Duke of Wellington had correctly spoken when he pointed out that a British officer had nothing to do but obey orders. He was sorry the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) was not there, for he was going to point out that if he was under the impression that British soldiers, when they had orders to do so, would "hesitate to shoot" he was very much mistaken. Doubtless, the hon. and gallant Member's views upon discipline bad been gained by experience in some 4th Battalion; but when he was helping to line that last ditch and heard a section of Regulars get the order to load with ball cartridge and fire he would do well to lie low, or be would discover to his cost that British bullets go straight, and that lead, though a soft metal, was very hard when it came in contact with the human bone. The last contention with which he proposed to deal was this—Ireland, it was said, desired separation. His countrymen might have many failings, but among them blindness to self-interest had never been attributed to them. In the Municipality of New York Irish- 383 men had—as he heard an American lady curiously express it—secured all the "soft seats" for themselves. Yes. He looked forward hopefully to the time when they should secure some of the soft seats there. He referred to the Treasury Bench. Nay—more—he was sanguine enough to hope that one day the highest seat of all—that which the Speaker by his tact, urbanity, and impartiality so greatly filled as to be the admiration not only of the House but of the country at large—might be occupied by a countryman of his, and that it might lose nothing in dignity at his hands. Nearly 19–20ths of Ireland's trade with this country consisted chiefly in produce of a perishable nature; consequently England was, and must remain to a great extent, a principal customer; and were the Irish likely to quarrel with the source of their bread and butter?—scarcely. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, whose brain, some held, had been blighted by the stigma of political treason, but for whom he still had unbounded admiration, as he was indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for much of his own sound (he hoped) Radicalism, was ungenerous enough to infer that in the event of some great National emergency Ireland would be base enough to play the traitor. Let her, too, be judged by her past. In 1778, when England wanted sailors, she gave a sop of liberty to Ireland, and the latter sent her 50,000 seamen in a month. The greater number of the European soldiers who fought the battles which won our Indian possessions were Irish. When Great Britain was fighting for her existence against the House of Bourbon, and "Britannia ruled the wave," 70,000 out of the 100,000 men who manned her fleets were Erin's sons, and one-third of her Armies were composed of Irishmen who had fought to uphold the Union Jack in every quarter of the globe, and their sons would not now be a party to tearing it up. Separation was a myth, and Home Rule a certainty. In language which might become the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for—well, who ought to represent—New market, Home Rule had not broken down in her training. She had not been scratched. She had been brought to the post by the greatest rider of the day, who—in spite of the shameful hustling 384 of unscrupulous and incompetent jockeys—had brought her out of the ruck. She was now leading—going: strong-—and was bound to win. That ominous shout from the ring could be heard, "Ten to one on Home Rule—Home Rule wins." And so she would. Her backers were preparing to cheer, and the wretched "Welshers" getting ready to run. The Prime Minister had told them that all hon. Members of the House were supposed to be equal, and why?—because no one was greater or less than those whom he represented; and in the majesty of that Assembly each Member spoke for a portion of his country, and there were hon. Members opposite who, though clothed in authority to-day, had spent many weary years as wanderers from their native laud—indirectly they represented hundreds of thousands of his fellow-countrymen who had been driven from their homes by iniquitous Land Laws, the fruitful parents of famine and of crime. In truth all the planet was earth, but it was not the earth which bore the imprint of their infant steps; all the atmosphere was air, but it was not the air that fanned their brows at birth; all the sun was light, but it was not the light that caught their earliest smile; all men were their brothers, but they were not those brothers in whose breasts there beat the warm and generous Irish heart. Let the Irishman wander where he would, "his first best country ever was at home." Liberty in all her sublime influence might smile upon him in the West and toil procure for him there comforts he had never known before; but each morn his eyes would wander sadly towards the rising sun which then bathed in its lays the land of his birth, and he felt that he would barter years of his existence to make his country prosperous and free. Patriotism might be a sentiment, but from the time when the father of poetry first wrote to the present time no nobler passion had swelled the human soul. It was that sentiment which had placed this, their common country, "first on the blazing scroll of fame." It was that sentiment which Irishmen held in common with Englishmen, and for which they claimed that consideration which they had a right to demand. It was that sentiment which when justice had been done would bind them together as no kindred nations had ever yet been 385 bound—resolved to battle side by side; resolved to brave every danger; resolved to face every sacrifice in order that they might maintain inviolate that glorious Empire in which they claimed with the people of Great Britain an equal share.
§ *MR. S. HOARE (Norwich)
said, the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down had made an eloquent and humorous speech, and he was at a loss to understand how it was that an Trish constituency had not availed itself of his great ability, and especially of his sporting knowledge. He wished to express his opposition to this Rill, not from the historical or even the Imperial standpoint, but from the point of view of Englishmen. It was his privilege to represent a very large constituency, which contained a large number of working men. At the outset he must declare that the financial clauses of the Bill were most unfair to Great Britain, and especially to England; and if he alluded to them as being unjust he would like to say that, for himself and all who sat on those Benches, they were most anxious that their financial relations with Ireland should be generous and fair so long as Ireland remained our partner. But if Ireland determined to separate herself from us, then Great Britain had a right to demand that the separation should be based on just and equitable terms. It was Ireland that came and made this demand, and they had a right to examine closely the terms on which that partnership was to be dissolved. The Prime Minister, in introducing the Bill, had told them that there was to be a balance of £500,000 in favour of Ireland. At whose expense would that balance be found? Undoubtedly, either in the whole or in the main, it would have to be found at the expense of the British taxpayer. The Customs of Ireland were to be allotted to Great Britain as the share of Ireland in the Imperial Expenditure. This amounted to £2,370,000. The Prime Minister, in mentioning this matter, stated in a somewhat offhand way that this was between 4 and 5 per cent. of the Imperial Expenditure—namely, £59,000,000. Since his speech they had a statement from the Treasury which showed the figures to be £62,000,000, and 4 per cent. on the £62,000,000 would come to a larger figure than the Prime Minister sug- 386 gested. He was not quite sure what was to come out of this £2,370,000. They knew that they had to give back £500,000 for the Constabulary, and he concluded that there were to be some other charges to be met out of the fund. He concluded that there would be the salary of the Lord Lieutenant; and if he lightly understood—he owned that was a difficult point—there might be in the future some pensions to come out of the fund. They had not yet settled the pensions of the Civil servants, but, taking it all round, there would practically be a contribution of £1,870,000 for the next few years. How were they to find out whether this was too little or too much? It was his fortune to be in that House in 1886, and, being somewhat fond of figures, he listened with the greatest interest to the very long statement of the Prime Minister when he introduced the financial part of the 1886 Bill. It was a great contrast to the short statement he made with regard to the financial scheme of the present Bill. He told them that, at the Union, Ireland contributed I to 7½ in the Imperial Expenditure; that in 1886 it was 1 to 11½ and he suggested that 1–15th was the right thing now for Ireland to pay if they had a dissolution of partnership. What should be the contribution of Ireland? They had no statement as to how this money was to be allotted, as they had in 1886. Taking the Prime Minister's figures of 1–15th, that contribution would come to over £4,000,000 a year. Though Ireland was to pay the small share of £1,870,000, she was not expected to contribute to Votes of Credit for war, and other purposes, such as the Vote in 1885; so that Englishmen and Scotchmen were at once placed at a disadvantage. It was said that the Income Tax could be raised to 1s. 4d. Yes, but suppose that the Irish Parliament had already raised the Income Tax to 1s. 4d., for if he understood the Bill aright there was nothing to prevent it doing so. Then they only had the Customs; but he did not suppose that in time of war it would be an easy thing to raise their Customs. He did not see where the money was to come from, unless the Irish people took to the. drinking of whisky to an enormous extent. So far as the Income Tax was concerned, he thought that the power of 387 dealing with that should be in the hands of anybody except the Irish Government. With regard to the Customs, if anyone looked at the Returns he would see that if they were to trust to them they would practically have to stereotype the duties as they were now levied. He was glad to think that the late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) achieved something in the direction of a free breakfast table; but he would point out that if in the future they reduced the Tea and Tobacco Duties they could only do so at the cost of a perpetual annuity from England to Ireland—unless they could get more out of the Excise, which seemed to be the only basis they could go upon. The working classes, therefore, would practically be paying a portion of Ireland's contribution in the event of a reduction being made on tea or tobacco. Independently of the difficulty of working the Customs, he thought it would be found very hard to raise them and interfere with the fiscal arrangements. The payment of Customs was very unpopular with all parties, and it was to be remembered that Ireland might not pay them even when able to do so, and also that there was a great temptation to smuggling, for which the Irish coast offered great facilities. Again, what provision was going to be made with reference to the National Debt and the charges on the National Debt? What portion of the £2,370,000 was to be allotted to the Sinking Fund and the payment of the National Debt charges? What security would there be for the payment of the Public Works Loan and the Irish Land Commission Loan, amounting to £16,000,000? These were questions he would like to have answered. He would close with a reference to the question of the representation of Ireland under the Bill. In the dissolution of this partnership between the two countries there should be fair play all round. If the Irish could not pay their proper share, then let Ireland's voice be in proportion to her contribution to the Imperial Expenditure. Ireland, it was proposed, should have one-eighth of the representation of the House of Commons, instead of about 25 Members, who would properly represent the actual interest of Ireland according to the Imperial Expenditure. As an Englishman, he maintained that he had a right to complain that a large body 388 of men—so large as to be totally out of proportion to their interests in Imperial matters—should be enabled to come to Parliament and possibly involve his constituents in a heavy expenditure for war without contributing more than a fraction themselves. The answer to that, no doubt, would be the poverty of Ireland; but, if Ireland were so poor that she could not contribute her proper share in Imperial Expenditure, then Ireland ought only to be represented according to the proportion that she contributed. Why should they, in such circumstances, admit a body of men who would he hostile to the Imperial Government, and who would try to make that Government impossible? Why should they admit them to take part and vote on questions of, perhaps, national emergency? He had arrived at the same conclusion as to Ireland's position in this matter as had Mr. Giffen, whose opinions had been cited by an hon. Member; he asked English Members representing working-class constituencies to remember that in passing this Bill they were not only granting Home Rule to Ireland, but were giving effect to a policy which would affect all classes in the country. It had already and would continue to upset trade. Owing to the uncertainty which prevailed, orders were being cancelled by firms in Ireland, which, were they to be fulfilled, would give employment to workmen in England. He was told that houses were being closed in Dublin owing to the acuteness of the crisis. Traders felt no security at present. And then they had further to remember that disturbed trade in Ireland would affect the labour market in England. Irishmen would come to England and compete with the working men. As long as Ireland was united the English people would do their best to be just and liberal even at a loss to themselves; but if Ireland insisted against the will of England in dissolving the partnership which had hitherto existed, then they must, in the first place, be true to their own people. It was at a Parnellite meeting, he thought—at some great meeting, at any rate, that was held in Dublin lately—that the Home Rule Bill was described as likely to bring Ireland to a state of bankruptcy. He implored Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Welshmen to pause, and to consider that in allowing this Bill to pass 389 they would be bringing disgrace and dishonour upon the British name.
§ MR. BYLES (York, W.R., Shipley)
said, a complaint bad been made about the inordinate length of speeches, and be promised not to sin in that respect. He had had the advantage of listening to only a portion of the speech made by the last speaker; but, so far as be understood the practice of the House, a good deal of what the hon. Member had said appeared more suitable to the Committee stage than the Second Reading stage of the Bill. He did not propose to examine and debate the details of the Bill in the way in which the last speaker and many others had done, and perhaps he might be excused if be did not follow the hon. Member in the discussion of the financial proposals of the Bill. He had asked himself during the Debate what was the prevailing note of the criticisms against it, and it seemed to him that the prevailing note of these criticisms and arguments was distrust of the Irish people. Let him take an example from the speech just delivered. The hon. Member, referring to the large loans which were made to tenants to purchase their estates, said that if the Irish declined to pay, how were they going to get the money? He (Mr. Byles) believed it was the fact that the English Government had lent very large sums of money to Englishmen as well as Irishmen. Nobody ever asked, if the English declined to pay, how were they going to get the money? Why should they distrust their Irish neighbours across the Channel and suppose that they were less likely to fulfil their engagements than the English were? For his own part, he believed that they were just as ready to pay their honest debts as anyone on this side of the Channel. He might, in passing, refer to another argument used by the hon. Member—namely, that the effect of this Bill, if passed, would be that Irish industries would decline because capital would be withdrawn and Irish workmen would come over and compete with English workmen. He (Mr. Byles) could scarcely resist a smile when he heard that argument. It was an argument which was so extremely familiar, and true when it was turned, as it had been turned on a, thousand Liberal platforms, the other way about. What had happened through our present and past 390 rule of Ireland? Irish industries had decayed and Irish workmen had come over here and were at this moment competing with English workmen. What the Liberal Party wanted to do, what they proposed to do, and what he, for one, believed they would do if they passed this Bill, was to stop that process, and to build up Irish industries and restore Irish workmen to Ireland. The town in which he lived, though only the ninth town in the Kingdom, contained about 25,000 Irish people, and that one fact, if rightly understood, was a condemnation of past Irish government. One other argument of the hon. Member he would refer to, because it was such a pure sample of the old Tory ideas which had had ascendency in this country in past years, but which he (Mr. Byles) hoped were rapidly decaying. He referred to the question of representation. The hon. Member had said that if Ireland was poor, then it ought to be represented according to its wealth or poverty. Surely the idea that the wealth of the country should be the gauge of representative power was one which this Government was trying to destroy. They wanted to abolish all properly qualifications and to regard men as equal to one another. That, at any rate, was the democratic action principle which he advocated. In the very interesting speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Courtney), which he listened to on the previous night with the respect with which he would always listen to his teaching, the right hon. Gentleman used arguments which expressed again this principle. He said that there was reason to believe that if Home Rule were granted to Ireland the Irish people would adopt the principle of Protection. Though he was a stout Free Trader, he would give Home Rule to the Irish people, and would leave them to decide whether Free Trade was a wise policy or not. If they adopted Protection, then he believed they would be blundering. France and America had done it, and had made a mistake; but Ireland should have what they were professing to give her, and could make their own mistakes if they chose. As for building piers and buying boats, that was what the Public Works Department in Ireland had been doing expensively and extensively. The Public Works 391 Department in Ireland were putting up piers, which he had seen over and over again, to which a boat was never moored, the spot, perhaps, selected because it was on the ground of some noble landlord. As to the fisheries, it was a scandal that past Governments had not developed them when there was a starving population on the soil, and all round the coast food in abundance. These were the very things which he would expect Irishmen to do as soon as they got control of their public money, and he did not know whether they could spend their taxes more wisely. The right hon. Gentleman also made a reference to the probable expenditure of Boards of Guardians in giving reduced relief to the poor of the country at the expense, no doubt, as his argument was, of the British ratepayer. He (Mr. Byles) was not afraid that the elected Boards of Guardians in Ireland, any more than elected Boards of Guardians in England or any other country, would do that which was unjust if they were entrusted with the administration of their own rates. Taxing the rich was another terror held out to them by the right hon. Gentleman. He was not one of those who was quite so much afraid as some Members of the House might be about taxing the rich. He thought, so far as he was able to understand the incidence of taxation, that the rich had been for many years in this country, as well as in Ireland, taxing the poor, and he held that the proper taxation resources of this country were its accumulated surpluses. He would rejoice if he saw in Ireland some important and interesting experiments in fiscal matters which would prove an example to England, and which he hoped would be followed by the removal of taxes from the subsistence wages of working people and their transfer to those who had surpluses and accumulated wealth. Let him notice another argument addressed to them a few nights ago by an hon. Member who represented a Division of Suffolk. He felt constrained to answer this argument, because it was said that the Party sitting behind the Treasury Bench did not really care for Home Rule, that the whole thing was more or loss a put-up job, and an arrangement by which a number of gregarious followers were ready to follow the shibboleth of their Leader. He (Mr. 392 Byles) represented one of the largest constituencies in the country, and had gone about a great deal in that constituency. There were a large number of working men in the constituency, and he would tell the House that there was in reality in this country a very strong, attached, determined Home Rule Party among the working people. There was a time when the Irish Members who came to that House had no friends and no supporters, but now in every town in this country they could get vast masses of men together who really cared for the question and could understand it in all its bearings. They knew the injustice which had been imposed upon the tenant-farmer and the labouring populations of Ireland; they knew that the whole value of the farms, which in strict equity belonged to the men who had created that value, had in tens of thousands of cases been confiscated by the nominal owners. That was the injustice which was at the basis of the Irish Question, and it had entered into the heart and soul of the working men, and there was now a Party in England which would never drop this Home Rule Question. The working men of this country could also understand how the whole weight of the law and the whole judicial and police system had been lent to the support of the ascendency Party. Hon. Gentlemen seemed to think that the Liberal Party was not likely to hold together and did not really care for Home Rule; but they were now near the day of Division, and they had not yet seen the beginning of destruction or decay. While he believed the rank and file of the Liberal Party and the great mass of the constituents had their minds solidly made up on the question of Home Rule, he also thought that those who cared most for the question were those who knew most about Ireland. Many of the stoutest Home Rulers of the Liberal Party were just those men who had spent time in Ireland, who had gone among the people, who had talked to the priests and the peasants, the schoolmasters and the tradespeople, and as far as they could with the landlords and the agents. That he had done for many years past. He had made it his business to go into every part of Ireland in order to instruct and inform himself on the question. When they heard men like the hon. Member for Haddingtonshire 393 (Mr. Haldane) say that they would never serve behind any Leader who did not put this question in the front of his programme, hon. Members must not imagine that the question was going to fade into obscurity. If this Bill wore defeated, as it would not be, the problem would still have to be faced, because the Home Rule Party must grow. Another argument that had been abundantly brought forward and abundantly answered was that the minority in Ireland would be seriously oppressed by the majority, and that Parliament must look forward to civil war if it passed the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Courtney) had said that, at a moderate estimate, the loyal minority was one-third of the people of Ireland, whilst the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) said he would not put it at more than one-half. He (Mr. Byles) did not want to dispute these figures, but he could only say that a minority of that magnitude, and especially one which was said to include all the wealth and all the intelligence of Ireland, must have played its electoral cards very badly when it had allowed so many Nationalist Members to get into the House of Commons. But, big or little, the minority was taking a course which he thought every Member of the House ought to condemn. He did not want to deny the seriousness of the manifestations which had been made in Belfast or elsewhere, or for a moment to minimise the serious opposition which had been given to the Bill by large numbers of very intelligent and educated people. He did think, however, that every section of the House ought to protest in the firmest and strongest manner against the declarations which were being made that the legislation to be passed by Parliament would be resisted by force of arms. He should have thought that the Tory Party, which had been so loud in its condemnation of disloyalty when shown by other inhabitants of Ireland, would have been the first to put its foot down upon such threats. He should have imagined that a Party which called itself Unionist and Constitutional, and which prided itself upon being loyal, but which showed its loyalty by threatening disobedience, its Unionism by drilling in secret at midnight, and its Constitutionalism by storing 394 Orange Lodges with arms, would have been cast out by the great loyal Party in the House of Commons. There was a better way than that which the so-called Unionists were adopting, and if the minority was as large as it professed that way could not be very difficult for them. He had been in a minority many a time in his life, and the best counsel he could give to a minority was to make itself into a majority. He commended to thorn the example of that distinguished statesman the late Mr. Parnell, who once boasted that in the 11 or 12 years in which he had been in that House he had seen Ireland converted from a disloyal to a loyal population, and said that when he entered Parliament nine out of every 10 of the inhabitants of Ireland were ready to take up arms against the Queen, at any rate in spirit, but that he had lived to see the day when nine-tenths of them were ready to adopt Constitutional instead of disloyal means. He would also commend to the new disloyalists—to the new rebels in Ireland —the example which had been shown by the Nationalist Party. Let them put away the blunderbuss and abandon secret drilling. He had a friend holding the honourable position of a Member of the House of Commons who had told him that he had drilled at midnight on the hill-sides of Galway, and had sharpened his pike in the firm belief that he would get allies sufficient to resist all the Forces of the British Empire. That gentleman was going to follow the Prime Minister into the Division Lobby on this Bill, for he had come to believe that the Ballot Box was a stronger weapon than the pike or the blunderbuss. That was an example which he commended to the Belfast disloyalists. It was evident that if the disloyalists persisted in carrying out their throats it would be necessary for the Constitutional and Conservative Members on the Ministerial side of the House to put down any disloyalty which might break out in the North-East corner of Ireland, and, if necessary, to lock up distinguished people. To turn to another subject, he might say that since he had been a Member of Parliament nothing had struck him more than the way in which the Irish people had been misrepresented. He had found, over and over again, that a totally wrong colour was put upon the actions of the 395 Irish people. In his judgment the killing of the Police Inspector at Gweedore was no murder, because the simple Donegal peasantry who were concerned in that crime were, in their belief at any rate, engaged in an act of religious defence in defending their priest at a time when he was wearing his holy garments. During the Debate on the state of Clare raised by the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) the House was treated to stories of crime in that county which would have been amusing had they not been so likely to be mischievous. He himself knew Clare well enough, and he admitted that there were some troublesome persons in the county; but, upon the whole, the people of Clare were as peaceable, as virtuous, and as simple as any peasantry that could be found in the whole world. It was not in Clare as it was in the City of London, where he, in his own home, had to lock up his portmanteau and any drawers that contained valuables. When he crossed Seven Dials, as he did every night, he had to be on the alert; but he could walk down any dark lane in Clare alone and undefended without the slightest apprehension of danger. A Debate was raised recently by a right hon. Gentleman as to the danger incurred in releasing a young man named Foley who had been imprisoned for being concerned in an outrage. From the language used ill that Debate, anyone would have supposed that Foley, and men of his class, were something like the desperate Nihilists in Russia, or the companions of Orsini, and that the "infernal machine," as it was called, was something like Orsini's bomb. By Colonel Caddell's courtesy, he had seen this explosive in that gentleman's museum at Tipperary. It was simply a two penny squib, but, instead of being made of cardboard, was made of lead. It was a little thing about two inches long. He was certain that the whole idea Foley had was to make a bang and perhaps to break a window, and to frighten the police. Again, the evicted tenants who had been concerned in the Plan of Campaign had been denounced as fraudulent debtors who wanted to steal money from their landlords. He knew those people, and knew that what they aimed at in the Plan of Campaign was, no doubt, while adopting 396 extreme remedies for extreme diseases, to redress injustice, and to assert their manly independence, and say, "We will not be robbed." A picture had been held up in reference to the Meath Election Petition about the clergy of Ireland which to anyone who did not know them would give an absolutely wrong impression. There was not a more virtuous, a more simple-minded, a more industrious, a more honest, or a more God-fearing peasantry in the whole world than the peasantry of Donegal and Clare, and there was not a clergy in the whole world that more largely displayed the true qualities of the Christian minister's devotion to the people's interest and absolute self-abnegation and disinterestedness than the Catholic clergy of Ireland. Again, politicians, and even Liberal politicians, used to talk of the Irish Members as though they were utterly unworthy to sit amongst the other gentlemen in the House of Commons. He himself thought it was so because they told him so. He knew them better now, and he said fearlessly that for dis-interestedness, for earnest zeal for the cause they had at heart, and for all the qualities we looked for in Members of Parliament, they had as good a right to take their place on the floor of the House of Commons as any other body of Members. If the Irish Members were the worthless mercenaries they were sometimes represented as being, he would like to ask one question about them. It was said that £1,000,000 sterling had been guaranteed for the Ulster agitation. The days of the Union furnished an example of what might be done with a good deal of money in dealing with political matters. If the Irish Members were so corrupt and so mercenary, £1,000,000 would surely buy a sufficient number of them to turn the scale against this Bill. It would only need about £150,000 apiece to do it. Why was not that course adopted? The reason was that the gentlemen who made these suggestions about the character of hon. Members opposite knew that they were the most incorruptible part of the House, or, at all events, were as incorruptible as any part of the House. He asked the House to trust the Irish people, for they could not find a people more entitled to their trust and confidence, 397 or who would show more gratitude. Pass this Bill, trust the Irish people, and he guaranteed the Irish people would not deceive them. They would then get rid of the Irish difficulty and enable Parliament to get on with many necessary democratic reforms. The Member for Bodmin said that Bill would substitute injustice for justice. He asserted that the exact opposite was the object of the Bill, and that this object would be attained by it. It would stop the mismanagement of public money in Ireland. A friend of his who was once in that House, one of the most intelligent merchants in Ireland, once said to him—"Give us Home Rule and we will make Ireland a garden in 20 years." He himself believed they would do something like it; but above all these things it would reconcile two peoples who had been so long asunder. That was the strongest reason why he, for his part, desired to see this measure passed. He wanted to see Englishmen at friendship with Irishmen, and all ancient animosities forgotten. He wanted to see that cordial and mutually helpful feeling between them that he believed would come from this Bill, so that, instead of Ireland being a subtracted strength, she would become an added strength to the Empire of which they were all so proud. He supported the Bill because it was a measure of peace and forgiveness, of restitution and of reconciliation.
said, he would endeavour to state the naval view of this question in as brief terms as it was possible for him to do so. He desired at the outset to say that they recognised the courtesy of the hon. Member who had just sat down, and also the moderation with which he had given expression to his opinions, though, of course, they did not accept his views. The hon. Member told them that if they passed this measure and showed confidence in the Irish people he would guarantee the Irish people would not deceive them. He was afraid that the hon. Member was not an Irish Leader, though he might have some little knowledge of Ireland. He himself had some little knowledge of Ireland also, for he had the honour to command a vessel on the coast of Ireland at a most critical period, at the first Fenian outbreak of the winter of 1866–67, and he never spent a more miserable six mouths in his life. The weather was bad enough, but other things 398 he encountered were worse than the weather. The hon. Member said the Irish Members were fit to sit side by side with other Members in the House. It was because the Unionists wanted to keep them there for the good of the Empire and of Ireland that they opposed the Bill. Assuming the Home Rule Bill passed, the hon. Member said the disloyalty of the North-Eastern portion of Ulster would have to be put down. That was where they joined issue with the hon. Member. These people were not disloyal. They were loyal to the connection between this country and Ireland, they were loyal to the Crown, and as such they would continue to be if this Bill passed, and it was because of that that they (the Unionists) stood by them, and they said there was no case on record in history of any country proposing by force, to thrust aside its loyal subjects and hand them over to be ruled by persons they detested and abhorred. They had been favoured with the opinions of two Members of the Government on this question. The first Member of the Government to address them was the Solicitor General, who gave them a long legal argument which few of them valued, and who charged them with being still opposed to any Home Rule Bill, although their curiosity had at last been satisfied. It was quite true they had been waiting for six long years to know the contents of the Bill, and had the country known what these contents were the result of the General Election of 1892 would have been somewhat different. They now knew the Bill, and they were very sorry to have received the knowledge they now possessed. They were very sorry the Bill contained such proposals as it did. The Home Secretary said that the Bill, if not passed, would be wrecked by perversity and pedantry. Their contention was that it was being driven through the House by political perversity and pedantry. The Home Secretary expressed trust in the Irish Leaders; he could not share that trust. The language of the Home Secretary, in referring to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham as scavenging on dustheaps, was not such as they would look for in a Privy Councillor. They (the Unionists) looked upon the right hon. Member for West Birmingham as one of their 399 honoured Leaders, discharging his duty faithfully and unflinchingly from the most patriotic motives; and if the right hon. Gentleman had been obliged to turn up the pages containing the past speeches of hon. Members from Ireland, he was only doing his duty in showing what had been their utterances, so that the country might know that though they were as mild as sucking doves here, in their own country they were stormy petrels. During the years 1884 and 1885 various Irish Members had made speeches declaring that England's difficulty was Ireland's opportunity, and using similar expressions, showing that their feeling towards this country was not of the friendliest character. The Irish Leaders, by those speeches and their past actions, had shown that they were not to be trusted. The Home Secretary alluded to Ulster as simply a Province of Ireland, but carefully ignored the fact that when the Unionists spoke of Ulster it was simply a figure of speech for the whole loyal minority in Ireland. In England they understood by the expression "loyal minority," the whole of the loyal population in Ireland, and not merely those in Ulster. They held strongly to the opinion that Ireland was over-represented, and the Prime Minister, by his Bill, showed that he, too, thought so, for he reduced the representation from 103 to 80. If Ireland only had her fair number of Members, the right hon. Gentleman's majority would be reduced to very smal proportions indeed, and he did not think they would hear anything of this Home Rule Bill. It was not fair that a revolutionary change of this character should be forced upon this country in the present state of the representation of Ireland. They had had the admission from the Home Secretary that he was no longer a believer in a Second Chamber at all. That was the first time they had had the admission from a Cabinet Minister on that Front Bench that he did not believe in the House of Lords. There was no country in the world which was constitutionally governed, or anything approaching to it, which had not got a Second Chamber. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to the United States. He only wished they had one of the safeguards of the United States, and then they would be in no danger from this hateful measure. In 400 the United States this measure could not be brought forward even for discussion without permission given by a two-thirds majority, and it would then have to be carried by the Legislatures of all the States, and finally by a three-fourth majority in both the Congress and the Senate before it could become law. In this country, however, we had no safeguards whatever but the House of Lords to protect the Empire against the action of a majority which had been obtained at the last Election by trickery and by political fraud. The Liberals did not put this question of Home Rule before the country as a direct issue, as it was put in 1886. In 1886 there was no other issue before the country but Home Rule, and the country gave a majority of 116 against Home Rule. That being so, he deplored that this agitation should be continued for seven years. His Radical friends, apparently, would never accept the decision of the country unless the majority happened to be in their favour; and yet, with their small majority of 40, they thought that they were entitled to force this hateful measure upon the country, which had already declared against it by a majority of 116. The majority of 40 had been obtained by concealing the question of Home Rule and by putting forward the Newcastle Programme as the main issue to be decided at the General Election. They complained that there was no finality to this hateful strife. Having made one appeal to the country and got an answer it ought to have been sufficient for all time. But the Liberals made another appeal to the country, and having concealed the issue before the electors they got a majority of 40. Was it in accordance with the spirit of equity that under the circumstances they (the Unionists) were to accept this majority of 40 and have this measure forced down their throats? The House of Lords would fail in their duty if they did not reject this Bill backed up by 40, when the Liberals would not accept a majority of 116 against them. The House of Lords he was sure would do their duty, and would reject the Bill if ever it reached them. The country ought to have an opportunity of giving its final verdict upon this question. Some remarks were made the previous night—he believed by the right hon. Member for Bodmin—about desiring 401 to see a clever Irishman us Chief Secretary for Ireland, and then the Home Secretary took advantage of that remark to state that they (the Unionists) were ready to put Mr. Parnell in that position, and would have been ready to do so notwithstanding the Parnell Commission. They would only be too glad to see a clever Irishman in the position of Chief Secretary, but he must be a man who was loyal to the British connection. They would be glad to see other positions in connection with the Irish Government filled by Irishmen, provided they were loyal men. The Home Secretary had said they had accused the Prime Minister of trying to force the measure through by his own imperious will and by the power of the Irish vote. Well, he thought both those assertions were perfectly true. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that, if he thought the Imperial supremacy was not preserved in the Bill, he would not vote for it. He had been asked what he thought of the speech delivered by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Wallace) last night, and he had replied that he considered him as being too dangerous a man for the Party opposite to turn loose upon a question of this kind. The hon. Member had said that, in his opinion, the Imperial supremacy was practically gone. The hon. Member said he believed in the spirit of democracy and of national honour. So did they, and they believed they would be guilty of national dishonour if they were to be a party to this Bill, which would hand over the loyal minority in Ireland to the rule of their sworn foes. The hon. Member also said that Ulster would have her fair rights in an Irish Parliament, and that she could adopt the Closure. How could she adopt the Closure when she was in a perpetual minority? The hon. Member admitted that this Bill created a revolution, but said that he shrank from nothing. But while they did not oppose reform, they thought it their duty to be thoughtful and careful before they allowed a revolution. The hon. Member told them he regarded the measure as the beginning of Federal Government, but he objected to beginning with Ireland, saying that the experiment should not be tried piecemeal, but should be adopted all round. The Member for Waterford, in his important speech, had stated that the issue before the country 402 now was whether Parliament should grant Ireland representative institutions. Their reply was that Ireland already had representative institutions, inasmuch as she was represented by her Members in that United Parliament. The hon. Member had also slated that the final solution of this question would be a Federal Parliament, and that he declined to accept this as a final measure. That was what they said and why they opposed this Bill. That was why there was such force in the statement of the Member for West Birmingham when he said it would be used as a lever for extorting further concessions. The hon. Member asked them to make up their minds to leave Ireland free to manage her own affairs. They replied that she should have as much freedom as England and Scotland, and no more. The Home Secretary asked— "If you do not believe in giving Ireland the management of her own affairs, why did you bring in the Local Government Bill for Ireland? "It was because they believed in treating Ireland on the same lines as England and Scotland that they brought in that Bill. Although that Bill was received with a chorus of ridicule, they understood perfectly well that that ridicule was prepared beforehand; and when it came to the SECOND READING it was carried by a majority of 92, yet the normal Government majority at the time was only 70. The hon. Member for Waterford said the Irish Members ought to have the same rights as in the case of Australia. But there was no analogy between the two countries, for while Australia was 12,000 miles away Ireland was (dose at our door. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh said he declined to be considered as a Representative of Scotland merely, but that he was a Representative of the United Kingdom, and that he was proud to be a Member of the British Parliament. There was no such Parliament in the world, and Irish Members ought to be proud of belonging to it. He would like to know what they would be in their own Parliament? Would they be proud of it without traditions or leaders, and without a history except Irish history? They would not be proud of it, and they would wish themselves back here again. They had been told that there was a spirit, of resistance in Ireland to British rule. The way 403 to meet it was to put it down kindly but firmly. Hon. Members opposite would not condescend to look at this question from the English point of view, but only from the Irish point of view. Irishmen were entitled to what Englishmen were entitled to. They were entitled to no more, and would get no more. It made him sick almost, and he dreamt of it at night sometimes, that politicians should make so little of their own country in which they lived, as to be willing to do everything for Ireland and nothing at all for England, Scotland, and Wales. The hon. Member for Waterford had said that our government of Ireland had failed. He admitted that it had failed under the late Government. [Ministerial cheers.] That was a little slip. He meant under the preceding Radical Government; that he had forgotten they were no longer in power. It failed under the Liberal Government, but it had been successful under the late Government. It was said that Ireland for seven years had been crimeless, and that that was due to the Union of Hearts. He did not believe in those emotional reasons. It was due to the firmness of the late Government. The hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. Davitt) had delivered a great and eloquent address. He preferred an open enemy to a false friend, and therefore he admired the candid utterances of the hon. Member. The speech of the hon. Member manifested openly an hostility to England. [Cries of"No!"] He took the hon. Member's words down—"I am a sworn enemy of the English Government." [Cries of" Was a sworn enemy!"] He was not aware that the hon. Member had changed his views with regard to England. It was absurd of him to say Ireland was governed by force. The answer was, it had the same laws as England, but there was a slight difference in the administration of the law. It was a figure of speech to compare Ireland with Poland. Why did Irishmen who lived in England, under English laws, hug their chains? Why did they not go to America? But they knew the Government was just; that the laws were just, and the laws were the same in England, Scotland, and Ireland alike. There was a difference, but it was only a slight difference, in the adminis- 404 tration of the law in Ireland; and he objected to hon. Members getting up in the House and attacking the laws of a country where civil and religious liberty had been brought to the highest pitch of perfection. The hon. Member for North-East Cork also said that Ireland was a poor country. If this Bill passed it would undoubtedly become poorer. The late Government had relieved the congested districts of Ireland, had given light railways to Ireland, and had passed the Ashbourne Act, which gave £10,000,000 to the tenants to buy up the land of Ireland. If the Home Rule Bill passed, Ireland would get no more money out of England. Ireland would be a poor country, and would have no means for relieving her starving peasantry in seasons of distress. The hon. Member also said that there had been an increase of lunacy in Ireland. It was all caused by the Union. But he (Admiral Field) said if there had been an increase of lunacy it was caused by the terrorism which the hon. Member and his friends had set up in Ireland; and if the Bill passed the number of lunatics would undoubtedly increase. The hon. Member also said that when Ireland got Home Rule Scotland and England would also demand it. That was why the Conservative Party opposed this Bill. They did not believe in the Federal system; they believed the Bill was a first step downward, and that was why they resisted it and would continue to resist it. Then the hon. Member for North-East Cork produced 300 Bills, which were waiting at the doors of the House till the Home Rule Bill passed. But the Opposition did not want to admit these Bills. He did not believe in Parliament as a mill to grind out Acts of Parliament, and thought there were too many Bills and too much law. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax said he was a believer in the principle of nationality. He would like to ask how the right hon. Gentleman reconciled the view with his support of the movement for Italian Unity, where there was not one race, but several races concerned? The right hon. Gentleman said the dominant fact was. that Ireland was an island separated from; Great Britain, and with a different race and; religion. That was the very reason why they could not afford to grant Home Rule. If Ireland were 1,000 miles away they 405 could say, "Go and be—." The reasons for Home Rule were much stronger in 1800. Then it often took a fortnight to get Despatches from Ireland. Now we can sit at the end of the telegraphic wires and talk as rapidly as we pleased. The lion. Member for West Fife, whose speech he greatly admired because it was full of kindly feeling, complained of the apathy of the public towards the bitter cry of Ulster. Yes, that was just what he and the opponents of the Bill complained of too, though, perhaps, in a little different sense. They wished to wake up the people of this country to a sense of the just fears of Ulster, and their leaders had succeeded, despite the shortening of the Easter holidays. He now came to his own view of the question, and was going to raise one objection which no other Member had raised in the course of the Debate. Clause 24 of the Bill stated that the new Lord Lieutenant was to be appointed without reference to his religious belief, and he contended that it was not right that the Prime Minister should endeavour indirectly by the clause of a Bill to effect such a great and significant change in the law as this involved. The right hon. Gentleman proposed by a Bill a few years ago to remove the Catholic disabilities attaching to the offices of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and the Lord Chancellor of England, but was defeated. What the right hon. Gentleman could not then do by a Bill he was now seeking to do by a clause in the present Home Rule Bill. That was neither fair nor right. The Opposition took no illiberal view of this matter. They desired that no one should be ostracised from political life on account of religious opinions, but they recognised the necessity of certain safeguards, and this was one of them. The Lord Lieutenant was the representative of the Sovereign, and as long as Ireland was united to great Britain and there was a Protestant Sovereign on the Throne the Lord Lieutenant should be a Protestant. Moreover, he affirmed, as a naval man, that the Bill, if it passed, would weaken England as a Naval Power, and that consideration alone ought to be sufficient to secure rejection of the measure. There was not an officer in the Service who would not confirm what he said—that if the Bill became law it would weaken the 406 supremacy of England over the seas. They had not forgotten what occurred in Bantry Bay in 1796, when 43 French vessels with 10,000 soldiers sailed to invade Ireland. Fortunately, the God of Battles fought for us; the winds and the sea were on our side; the force did not land, but was scattered by the elements, and very few either of the ships or men got back to France. What happened in 1796 might happen again in 1896 if we should be at war with France or in any difficulty. There was a Wolfe Tone in those days, and probably there would be another Wolfe Tone in the days to come when he was wanted. If the Bill passed we would be obliged to increase our naval expenditure, for we would have to take the precaution of keeping a squadron constantly on the watch on the coast of Ireland. Ireland had many excellent harbours, both large and small, which would be admirably adapted for the use of torpedo-boats. Naval men were fully alive to that fact. Some steps should be taken to protect these harbours from being invaded by French torpedo-boats. [Laughter.] Hon. Members from Ireland might ridicule these points, but the disloyal phrase, "England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity," had not been forgotten; and perhaps the disloyal in Ireland would be only too happy to welcome friends on their own coasts. He was glad to find in the Bill that the now Irish Government was to have no property in the lighthouses and light-vessels. That was an important matter. But the 25th clause provided that the Queen might place under the control of the Irish Government for the purposes of that Government lands and buildings in Ireland vested in Her Majesty subject to such restrictions as might seem necessary. What, was to become of the officers' residences at Queenstown, and the docks at Haulbowline, and the buildings at Kingstown? What was to become of the coastguard stations? He was certain the sailors of the Fleet would not desire to remain in Ireland to protect the Irish against smugglers. Let the Irish protect themselves against their own smugglers. Hon. Members said that till this Bill was passed the Irish Members would rule the House. He had often heard of a mother smothering her infant; he had never yet heard of an infant 407 smothering its mother until now. His hon. Friends were doing their best to rouse their countrymen against this Bill. Lord Melbourne said that the English people were very difficult to rouse, but once roused the devil himself would not stop them. When they were roused they would make short work of this Bill. He lamented the introduction of this terrible Bill, and he wished with all his heart that the Prime Minister in 1885 had won that majority which he asked for to make him independent of the Home Rulers. If he had we should never have heard of this Bill. The late Mr. Bright said of the right hon. Gentleman when he had taken up Home Rule—I object to his policy because it offends my reason; I object to his method because it offends my conscience.They used to hear some time ago a good deal about the three F's; he was a believer in the three P's—that was, in the policy of Pitt, of Peel, and of Palmerston. These were men of backbone, who would not yield to any appeal made to them by men disloyal to Great Britain. In September, 1856, the Prime Minister delivered a speech in which he said that it would be hard to say what might not have been anticipated from Mr. Pitt's wisdom and vigour, but the events following the French Revolution forced him into a war which made it impossible for him to effect any reformswith the splendid and isolated exceptions of the Union with Ireland and the abolition of the Slave Trade.It seemed rather hard that the right hon. Gentleman should now speak of "the splendid and isolated exception of the Union" as a blackguard transaction. The late Lord Houghton, who was a friend of the Prime Minister, said of him that his view of impartiality was to be furiously in earnest on both sides of a question. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to have been furiously in earnest on both sides of this question. The Duke of Wellington, writing in 1829 to the Duke of Northumberland, who was then Lord Lieutenant, said that if Ireland could be kept in tranquillity, if the law was put in force in every case which required it, if it was the Government which governed and not the demagogues and priests, or the Liberal Clubs, he defied not only a Party, but any Party, and all Parties to do any injury to the Govern- 408 ment. Sir R. Peel said that he wanted no array of figures, no documents, no speeches of six hours, to establish the policy of the Union; he would, therefore, give an emphatic negative to the Motion for repeal. This Bill was equivalent to repeal. Sir R. Peel did not hesitate to avow that a complete separation of the two countries would be preferable to repeal of the Union. If the Nationalist Party got this Bill they would demand more, and they would never be satisfied till they got more. In the earlier part of the '70's Lord Beaconsfield used of the Liberal Government then in power words which might be applied now.You have legalised confiscation, you have consecrated sacrilege, you have condoned high treason, and now you cannot govern a country.The present Government had done all this, and now their policy was a policy of despair. As a naval man, he declared that the Bill was a dangerous Bill, and no man ought to be a party to voting for it. It would, bring about serious disasters in the near future, and if we were at war it would weaken our powers of offence and of defence also.
§ *MR. BLAKE (Longford, S.)
said, the hon. and gallant Admiral did not state the grounds on which he insisted that the powers of offence and defence of the Empire would be weakened by the passage of this Bill. That was to be taken as a matter of faith from the hon. and gallant Admiral. This country would want more ships, more guns, and more Admirals, he supposed.
§ *MR. BLAKE
Yes, there is one too many. How making Ireland contented and loyal could produce a state of things in which one more Admiral, one more ship, or one more gun would be required it was impossible to understand. When the hon. and gallant Admiral said that if Ireland were removed 2,000 miles away he could then contemplate an independent Ireland with tranquillity, the House would be able to appreciate the sincerity of the first part of his speech in which he intimated his strong desire that Irishmen should remain here. A great deal was heard of the intellect, the intelligence, and the capacity of the minority in Ireland, and he did not undervalue it; but the test which could best be applied to 409 the intellect, the intelligence, and the capacity of men for the constructive arts of government was that which was afforded In' the conduct in Parliament of the picked men sent to represent the minority and the majority respectively, and he did not hesitate to say that, tried by such a test, the Representatives of the Roman Catholic majority could hold their own with the picked men of the minority which arrogantly boasted the exclusive possession of those qualities. The former had in times past, when it was impossible apparently to inform the mind and conscience of the British Parliament, used language which was strong, and had had recourse to measures which were extremely strong, the necessity for which, if there was a necessity, was much to be deplored. But since a great Party in this country gave to the Irish people their first gleam of hope, and the great Leader of that Party undertook to examine the Irish Question from a fair and unprejudiced standpoint, the course pursued by the Representatives of the Roman Catholic and Nationalist majority had been a course which entitled them to be recognised as statesmen, and one which furnished the best guarantee it was possible to give in advance that they would exercise the functions with which they asked to be entrusted as statesmen ought to do. The hon. Member for South Tyrone and others had asked how he, a Canadian representing an Irish county, could stand up here and upon platforms in this country to advocate the cause of Home Rule without the knowledge to be acquired by long residence in Ireland. He admitted the justice of some of those remarks. But the history of Ireland was writ large in the book of the world in pages dimmed with tears and stained with blood, and that might be read by those who ran, and he had read them, not running, but for 20 years. The hon. Member for South Tyrone could not have had that advantage in regard to Canada, because it was the good fortune of that country not to have had for a great many years occurrences like those which had dimmed and stained the pages of the history of Ireland. Canada, large in extent, but occupying rather an obscure corner of the world, had settled its own difficulties without troubling England, and therefore had not given this country an opportunity of 410 learning much about it. The hon. Member had spent three or four weeks in Canada, and had fallen among Orangemen and persons of that kidney. They did not beat, or wound, or rob him, or despitefully use him, but, on the contrary, they received him hospitably, and crammed him with things which he was only too anxious to swallow, and which were difficult of digestion and dangerous to retain. He did not deny that there was in that country a large and powerful body of persons who entertained hostile feelings with reference to Home Rule for Ireland, but it was mainly composed of Orangemen as fanatical as the Orangemen on this side of the water. There were also others who sympathised with some of the opinions of the Orange Body, and, further, some timid, nervous apprehensive men who shared those feelings; but there, as here, the strength of the opposition to Home Rule came from the Orange Body and was based upon the same principles. The hon. Member having received from those sources information with reference to the condition, particularly of the Province of Quebec, imparted that information to the House, and dealt with one portion of the Bill in the light of Canadian experience. The hon. Member referred to the power of the Imperial Parliament to legislate after the passage of the measure in respect to the affairs which touched Ireland; he admitted the right, but declared that there was no use in that right when Parliament had parted with the Executive power, and his example was the case as he alleged, in Canada when, after the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council had upheld the right of the Dominion Parliament to legislate for the Provinces with reference to the question of local option, the Act was left a dead letter, because the Provinces said, "All right, enforce it," and it never had been enforced. The hon. Member had been grossly misinformed. The Provinces did all they were called upon to do, by supplementary legislation, by the appointment of officers and otherwise, to discharge the duty which lay upon them, and made strenuous efforts to enforce the Act. The law, it was true, in many parts of the community failed to operate, not from any disloyalty in the Provinces, or from any dislike on their part to do 411 their duty, but because in many communities there was not that widely diffused and strongly-felt force of public opinion which was absolutely necessary to obtain the practical execution of a law which deeply touched the social habits of the people. Any nation which tried to enforce a Local Option Law would find that discretion must be used in the attempt, or else the remedy would be worse than the disease. Federal Laws which were to be creatures of a common Parliament must from the very nature of the case be susceptible of being enforced by the agents which that Parliament had power to set up if necessary. That was the system in Canada, and it worked admirably. But there must remain power in the common Parliament by independent action to make those laws effective. The Bill contained express provisions to that end. The hon. Gentleman entered into a somewhat brief historical résume of things in Canada and the operations in this country with a view to the relief of the discontent existing there. He pointed out that the policy of Lord Durham was the reverse of the policy of this measure; that Lord Durham's policy was one of consolidation, and not a policy of disruption. Lord Durham was sent out to meet a great difficulty. The discontent was acknowledged to have a just foundation, but, whether just or not, it was necessary to remove it. That discontent was due to the circumstance that England had granted the people an imperfect measure of self-government. England had granted a Legislative Assembly with the power to make laws, but she did not grant the Colony a responsible Executive. By certain revenues not under the control of the popular Assembly, England enabled herself, as long as the Canadians allowed it, to thwart that Assembly. There was discontent, there were representations, there were deputations, and extreme views proceeded naturally out of a disregard of those efforts. They culminated in rebellion. Lower Canada had a population divided into French Roman Catholics, speaking in the large, and some Irish Roman Catholics, and English and Scotch, and some Irish Protestants, and, just as it had happened in a country near at hand, the English, Scotch, and Irish Protestant minority claimed to be the loyal minority. They insisted that the safety of the Empire 412 and the continuance of the Union depended upon their rule being continuous. They pointed to the majority as being disloyal. They had, in fact, at that period all the stock arguments used by the so-called Irish Loyalists of to-day, so Lord Durham said that it was necessary to give self-government. He said that an Executive responsible to the people must be accorded, and he suggested that it should be done. But the loyal minority, fearing to lose their ascendency, and noisy as they were elsewhere, so impressed his mind that he proposed, as part of his scheme, the re-union of the two Provinces. In other words, he proposed the Anglicising of the two Provinces; the making of them into one harmonious whole, in which the French lamb would be inside the British lion. The two Provinces were re-united, and they were to have an equal number of Representatives, although the Upper Province had much the smaller population. The idea that the majority in the Province of Quebec should be Anglicised and denationalised and kept under the heel produced the natural fruits. There was a spirit evoked on the part of the French people natural and laudable. They determined to preserve their identity. They determined that they would not be Anglicised, and the efforts of England failed wholly owing to the means she adopted. What was the result? The experiment was tried for 25 years. They got rid of the difficulty of attempting to govern the country, but they left it in a condition in which it could with difficulty govern itself. There were occasions when one Province made encroachments on the other. There was a division of Parties. The progress of reform in respect of those laws and institutions became almost impossible of execution because of the dangers which the people deemed they would run if any interference was submitted to. In the end a deadlock ensued, and after a long period of Governments with weak and inadequate majorities, the statesmen of both sides set themselves to see whether some remedy could not be applied. The hon. Member said that the remedy which was applied was one of a different character from that which he understood it to be. It had been suggested that it was a remedy by means of the creation of an 413 incorporating union of those two with the other Provinces. It was not so. Such a remedy would have been rejected. It was felt at last that the true remedy was to leave to each of those communities which had formerly been separate Provinces and which had never been welded together by the force applied to them in the settlement of 1841, the control by each of its own local affairs, to find a common ground with reference to affairs in which their interests were really cognate, to create a true union of feeling and interest by limiting that union to those subjects on which the people felt that a common Parliament ought to act, and by granting to each of the countries a separate Institution for their own local management of such affairs as were special to themselves.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
Will the hon. Gentleman allow mo to say I do not think I referred at all to the settlement of 1867. I think I confined myself practically to the settlement under Lord Durham.
§ *MR. BLAKE
regretted extremely that the information furnished to the hon. Gentleman in Canada did not extend so far as to enable him to enlighten the House on that which was really the cogent part of the whole argument. The hon. Member's friends gave him an account of the Durham settlement, and for all the hon. Member knew, apparently, it was continuing to this day; because surely, if he had known, he would have stated that the Durham settlement had, in that particular which he had quoted to the House, wholly failed.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I was replying simply and solely to the statement regarding Lord Durham's settlement. I was perfectly aware of the settlement of '1867; but inasmuch as it did not come within the province of my reply, I did not refer to it. As the hon. Gentleman has referred to my sources of information, I should like to say that one of my main sources of information was not an Orangeman, but a gentleman who happens, I understand, to be a partner in the business of the hon. Gentleman.
§ *MR. BLAKE
said, he was not in the habit of choosing his partners with reference to their politics or with reference to their political opinions. He did not at all say that the hon. Gentleman's information was confined to Orangemen; but he said 414 that there were many men, not Orangemen, possessing many of the qualities, good or bad, which affected the Orange mind, and who took a similar view. He said the important point of the Canadian parallel was the point which the hon. Gentleman felt himself bound, from the narrow line his reply involved, to omit wholly; that was the point, that an incorporating Union produced the very evil results which an incorporating Union produced between Great Britain and Ireland, and 25 years' experience convinced them that it was necessary to apply a remedy, and 25 years' experience convinced them what that remedy should be, and the remedy adopted was to substitute a Union for things really common, and separate Institutions for things really local. The hon. Member said that this proved his case as to Ulster, because Upper and Lower Canada were separate. But that was not the Ulster of Quebec. The Ulster of Quebec, according to the views of the hon. Member, was to be found in that loyal and Protestant minority whose attitude in the earlier years he had sketched a few moments ago. The loyal and Protestant minority accepted the proposal that was made for a Federation. They accepted the proposal that the local concerns should be—with certain safeguards which were introduced—controlled by the Local Legislature in Quebec, and therein they showed their wisdom. But there had never been a time in the early or in the later days in which they viewed the Roman Catholic majority with that degree of detestation and abhorrence which the House now learnt regulated the sentiments of the loyal Irish minority towards their countrymen. Certain precautions being taken—and he need not say this Bill abounded with precautions, whilst suggestions had been made to indicate what more precautions were wanted to remove imaginary apprehensions—they accepted the situation. No doubt some of them were now dissatisfied, and had been all the time dissatisfied. There was nothing more difficult than for a minority composed of the race of which that minority was composed, and having occupied the predominant position which that minority had occupied, to reconcile themselves to the view that the majority should rule. They did not like it, and it was but human nature that they should not, 415 though not the highest part of human nature. But he would say this: that, as far as he could judge, the minority of the Province of Quebec, and he had anxiously watched—as it was his duty to do, and as himself a Protestant and akin to that minority—the operations in Quebec. The minority in the Province of Quebec had always had its share, and generally more than a proportionate share, in the government of that country. There were always one or more English and Protestant Ministers in the Provincial Government; and so far as he could learn there had been an extraordinary degree of liberality with reference to representation in Parliament of those who were not merely of an absolutely different race, but of another tongue and of another creed. Now, what was done here with reference to that measure which produced these results, the measure of 1867? There was a proposal to change the Constitution of several autonomous Provinces. One—Nova Scotia—had its own separate existence, or what gentlemen opposite called practical independence. They were a high-spirited people who had fought for the complete grant of self-government. A great popular leader had prosecuted an agitation for many years, which resulted in the grant of a complete measure of self-government about the same time that that result was reached in the other Provinces. In the Parliament elected before ever the proposition of confederation had been before the people at all—wrongly as he had always conceived—the Ministers of that Parliament of Nova Scotia pressed through an Address to the Queen and to these Houses to alter the Constitution and to make Nova Scotia a part of the Dominion. Nova Scotia resisted strenuously. A great number of Petitions were sent forward. Mr. Bright presented the ease of Nova Scotia on the floor of this House, but in their wisdom they did not think it necessary to wait. In their wisdom they chose to act upon an Address so obtained in a Parliament not elected on the question, but before the question was spoken of in Nova Scotia at all, and incorporated it here by an Act of that Parliament on the strength of this Address, with the natural result that at the first election, taking place immediately on the consummation of the measure, 18 out of the 19 Members from Nova 416 Scotia came up for Repeal of the Union, and almost the wholes of the Local Legislature was returned for the same policy. He stated a case infinitely stronger than that of a fragment of Ulster. He was now speaking of a Province which had a Constitution, and which had enjoyed it for several generations, and which was so dealt with. He thought it was a great mistake, and that it would have been better for him if there had been delay, and an election in Nova Scotia. The chances of many years' progress and harmony and Union were interfered with by that Act. But the consequences had now been overcome, and the people had come to recognise, with the disadvantages, the advantages of this scheme. The case of Nova Scotia was not the case of the so-called Province of Ulster. They must have some regard to the state of facts. The facts were that Ireland was one country, and that only part of one of the so-called Provinces was objecting to this great settlement, and it was suggested that the voice of the so-called Province should be a decisive voice against the whole country, and not merely that, but should have a voice in undoing the will of the whole. Hon. Members say that if this measure is passed, Ulster will become Separatist and go in for independence— [An hon. MEMBER: No.] He know it was difficult to collect the common sense of the Opposition, because there were varieties of opinion upon the subject, and one did not know well how to collect them. And what was to be the result? They would be told, he supposed, that Ulster would become an armed camp, and was to be found armed against the will of all the rest of Ireland. He would suggest to hon. Gentlemen who put forward that view seriously, that seeing that they claimed all these attributes for the loyal minority, if they could prevail against all Ireland with arms, they could prevail against all Ireland without arms. There was no proposition more certain than that even if they took at a very considerable discount the opinions which hon. Gentlemen representing the sentiment of Ulster as to its superiority in all the qualifications which go to make up a people—to the rest of Ireland, even then that such a minority could command the situation under all circumstances if it found it necessary to act together. Hon. Gentlemen had suggested that the Irish 417 Legislature was to be divided into two parts—Roman Catholic Nationalists and loyal Protestants. Did anybody suppose that if the Irish Legislature met to discuss questions of common interest, such, for instance, as municipal institutions, that they would not discuss them apart from any of the considerations that were now put before them? Amongst the good qualities of Catholic Nationalists was a tendency towards a very considerable difference of opinion which sometimes arose at very inconvenient times. But did hon. Gentlemen suppose that, when the common cause was won, they would be all agreed? It was his belief—and he hoped and trusted it would be found to be accurate— that they would find some of them on one side and some on the other. Such had been the case in their own country. During a long period they had seen the Protestants of Quebec divided, and the Catholics divided also — they had seen those differences subsist there which hon. Gentlemen would declare must also subsist here. They now had hon. Gentlemen declaring that they dreaded that a minority estimated at one-third, and so infinitely superior in all attributes except the counting of heads, would never have power in Ireland or a chance in Ireland, and they declare at the same time that a majority in the Imperial Parliament would be dominated by Irish Representatives. But if Party differences here were so serious, their divergence of opinion so rooted, and the impossibility of agreeing was so great that 80 Irish Members brought in amongst them were going to balance or overbalance Parties and practically rule the situation be wanted to know why one-third, or one-fourth even, in Ireland should not be able to assume the same position there? The hon. Member for South Tyrone proceeded to speak of the condition of things in Quebec. He (Mr. Blake) bad watched its concerns for 30 or 40 years. He had lived there a good deal and knew its people, politically, pretty well. He had always watched with a deep, and sometimes with an anxious, interest the progress of affairs in that Province; and knowing what he did of that people, having had the relations with them which he had had, although he was generally in a minority, indeed almost always in a minority in 418 that Province, even if it had not been to some extent important in this Debate, he should have craved leave to say a word or two with reference to those so far away, whose situation and circumstances had been so erroneously represented to the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member said they had education in the hands of the Church, and that it was a farce. His (Mr. Blake's) figures with reference to education were mainly from memory. They were not very recent and only approximate, but he believed they would be found sufficiently exact to convey the real sense and truth of the situation. The population of Quebec! at the period of his figures was about 1,400,000, of which 1,200,000 were Roman Catholics, and 200,000 Protestant. The school-houses in that Province numbered 5,000 —4,000 being Roman Catholic, and 1,000 Protestant. The scholars numbered 230,000 Roman Catholics and 35,000 Protestants. The teachers numbered 9,000, and the average attendance over 200,000. He did not think those were figures of which Quebec had reason to be ashamed. How long was it since the same state of things prevailed with reference to Great Britain—at any rate, with reference to England? He knew education was not in as good condition in Quebec as it was in the Upper Province, but it had greatly improved. It was now largely efficient, and it was becoming more efficient. As to the questions between Protestants and Catholics in matters of education, the Protestants, wherever they were in the majority in the Municipality concerned, elected the School Commissioners for the school, and, if they were in a minority and they pleased, they had the right to elect other school trustees for a Dissenting school, if they could gather only 15 scholars together. The main expenditure was by local rates levied from Protestants for Protestant, and from Roman Catholics for Roman Catholic, schools. The central grants in aid were given in proportion to population, with the exception of certain grants for higher schools, which, for obvious reasons of justice tempered with generosity, were given in larger proportion to the Protestant minority than the population would warrant. There was also a Protestant Committee and a Catholic Committee on the Council of Public 419 Instruction, and they regulated the working of the schools. He had repeatedly asked Protestants in that Province whether they had any complaint with reference to the position of education? He had sought for such a grievance and had failed to find any existing, because the free will of the Assembly had given more amply than they were constrained to give by a faithful observation of the Constitutional and fundamental obligations. The hon. Gentleman said there was no Established Church in the country, but that the Catholic Church took tithe from the land. Yes; but whose legacy was that? Who established the tithe? The tithe was very small, only l–26th on certain grains, and the sum it furnished was small; but the most grievous complaints were from the grievance-mongers of Ontario, who complained more than the people of Quebec. Had the Protestants any grievance with reference to tithes? No; for the tithe was only payable by land in occupation of Catholics. If a Catholic sold a farm to a Protestant the tax ceased and it was tithe free. But it was said that efforts were made to get the land into Catholic hands. What efforts? Boycotting and oppression? Not at all. The priest provided money at a low rate of interest, and enabled the purchasing Catholic to pay a higher price than he otherwise would give to the Protestant vendor of the farm. The grievance was that he was tempted by a good price to part with his land. That was a grievance which he had seen seriously stated as a grievance which called for serious attention, as it left fewer Protestants in a locality.
§ *MR. BLAKE
wondered how many Irish landlords would object to be squeezed out in that way? He would agree, however, that the Protestant and English-speaking minority was not in as comfortable a position in some respects as they would be if those around them were of the same extraction and of the same race and the same traditions, the same tongue, and the same faith. They could not help that, but, so far as he had been able to discover, there was no ground to urge that their position was made uncomfortable by the majority which surrounded them. 420 On the contrary, he believed that one of the most creditable parts of a creditable history, upon the whole, was the degree of tolerance, liberality, and recognition of the rights of minorities, of the rights of those of a different creed, and of the obligations of common citizenship, which distinguished the majority of the Roman Catholics of the Province of Quebec. Time and again Protestant English-speaking men had been returned to Parliament for constituencies in which the dominating force was Roman Catholic and French, and, living in another Province, there was not a day, from the period after he had been four or five years in public life, in which he could not have been returned for constituencies in which there was not 100 English-speaking people in the Province of Quebec. The hon. Gentleman said there was a deficiency in the Public Revenue, and that the commercial classes of Montreal were raving under the fresh taxation put upon them.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said, he did not say that. He said they were raided by fresh taxation.
§ *MR. BLAKE
said, he was reading from The Times report. However, it did not matter. The tax to which the hon. Gentleman referred, he would lead them to suppose, was put on by some French Catholics. Well, the Treasurer of the Province, who corresponded to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this country, was a Protestant and an English-speaking man, resident in and returned for Montreal. If the people of that city were being raided it was by one of their own. No doubt the Province of Quebec had accumulated a debt and incurred a deficiency, but it was not the only Colony that had done so, nor was it because the inhabitants were French and Roman Catholics that these results had ensued. It was not accurate to say that the Catholics were exclusively agriculturists and the Protestants exclusively commercial and professional men. The people had a strong objection to direct 421 taxation; but even if they had been willing there were difficulties to the adoption of direct taxation. The principle upon which the taxation was laid, even if the details might be objectionable, was not so objectionable in itself. He believed it was not laid with the view of taxing the Protestant class.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I said to make up the deficiency a special tax ought to have been levied on the entire community, and not levied on a class. I did not say on the Protestant, but on the commercial class.
§ *MR. BLAKE
said, that the tax was laid, and he thought properly laid, on the shoulders best able to bear it. As to the statement that the corruption to which the hon. Member alluded was due to what he called the dual system of Church and Home Rule, all fair-minded men must agree that the Catholic Church in all countries, including Quebec, had stood firm to its great attitude of insisting on public and private morality; and there had been repeated instances in which the Hierarchy of that Church and its inferior clergy had done their very best to enforce the moral laws and the laws against corruption, particularly at election times. He could only wish that as active an enforcement of those laws had been always displayed by other denominations. The Church in Quebec was powerful, and it was under the rule and regulation of the Pope of Rome; but there were more Popes than the Pope of Rome, and in others than the Catholic communion. The Catholic Church in Quebec had taken a. considerable part sometimes in politics: but he had never heard that that part was taken against Protestants and in favour of Catholics. Though there was a time when the Liberal Party in Canada felt that the Church, or rather some of its Bishops and clergy, were taking too active a part in politics, still their influence was exercised against the Liberal Party of Quebec, who were mainly Catholics themselves, and in favour of the Conservative Party, with which the bulk of the Protestants were allied. Though there had been corruption, as had been said by the hon. Member for South Tyrone, he denied that it was due to! what the hon. Member described as the dual system of Church and Home Rule. When corruption arose in Quebec the people themselves, under great difficulties, 422 took the matter in hand and found the remedy. They turned out those men whom they believed guilty of corruption. The man who unfurled the standard of Canadian independence was the very man who was put on his trial. He asserted that Canada was contented. He repeated that Canada, considering all its conditions and circumstances, was wonderfully contented. No sane man would allege that the last word had been said for Canada. No one could deny that its condition was transitory. It must live and grow in its political development. It was because those national attributes, which Ireland agreed to share in common with Great Britain, could not be offered to Canada by the United Kingdom, that complete content did not exist there. It was because no plan had yet been found to combine British freedom with the British connection. He was speaking with frankness on this subject. For he had an earnest desire that this means should be found, and he had sacrificed something that steps should not be taken which might render it more difficult to remedy this state of things. He rejoiced to know that men were bent upon its solution, and the sooner that was brought about the better for this country and the better for its relations with the great Colonies. Nearly 20 years ago he first raised the question, and the difficulties had enormously accumulated since then, and in 10 or 20 years, if the matter were not taken in hand, these difficulties would probably be entirely insurmountable. He believed that the majority of the people of the country would hail the suggestion of a practicable plan, which would settle in a permanent manner its relations in connection with this Empire. With regard to questions of defence and offence, he believed there was a feeling growing that the people of Canada were not concerned with transactions which might involve England in those little wars in which she indulged; but they wore in a position in which they were willing and anxious to use a practicable plan, which would enable them to remain in connection with the Kingdom, and to complete their national and economic development. The difference between Canada and Ireland was that Ireland had now a national share in Imperial and National affairs. Let Parliament give her that 423 local control she asked for, leave her that share in National concerns she rightly demanded, and a settlement in substantial terms of finality would be obtained. He believed that the principle of Homo Rule for the various Divisions of the United Kingdom might long precede the practical application of it, and when it was recognised that local opinion should rule in Scotland in Scottish concerns, that local opinion should rule in Wales in Welsh affairs, and in England in English affairs, many of the difficulties which now gave rise to alarm would be solved in practice. The essence and substance of this whole controversy it might be difficult to argue on ordinary lines. It depended on whether Parliament was going to adopt the policy of trust and belief or the policy of incredulity and despair. It depended, also, upon the question whether animosity, rancour, and alienation produced by past wrongs and injustice were removable from the mind of man, and whether they were to be repaired by the continuance of wrongs and injustice, and by the continuance of the rule of superior force, or by the abandonment of wrong and injustice and by the grant of the reasonable rights of citizenship. The suggestions put forward as to the Roman Catholics being unworthy of confidence were suggestions that went back to the time of Catholic Emancipation. They could not grant the franchise unless they honestly acknowledged that the men to whom they granted it were capable citizens, equal to the discharge of the duties, from the highest to the lowest, which belonged to citizenship. They could not grant it unless they acknowledged that they were entitled to the ordinary normal rights of majorities, and unless they were prepared for everse their whole policy since before 1829,and govern Ireland as a Crown Colony, they had no alternative, logical or practical, except to trust those men, whom they had declared to be capable citizens, with the duties of capable citizenship, and say to them— "We trust you, and we believe you are equal to the trust."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."— (Mr. A. B. Forwood.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.