§ [NINTH 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-Bench.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.567
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL (Paddington, S.)
My right bon. Friend the Home Secretary, in the luminous speech which he addressed to the House on Friday last, was gracious enough to notice what he called my rhetoric, and he applied to it a composite adjective. He called it "full-blooded." I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman meant this composite adjective to be of a complimentary nature, or of a nature the reverse of complimentary. But I was not at all wounded by this description; only what occurred to me was this—that the right hon. Gentleman had forgotten that persons who live in glass houses are under certain disabilities for the purpose of throwing stones, and if he was right in saying that my rhetoric is full-blooded, I should be very wrong if I were to say that his rhetoric is in the slightest degree anæmic. I do not intend to indulge in any full-blooded rhetoric this afternoon. It will be my object, with the permission of the House, to examine as closely as I can certain main features of the Bill, to examine in some detail the general structure of the Constitution the Bill attempts to set up, and to deal with the operation which certain clauses have upon each other. I think it is encouraging to Members on this side of the House who belong to the Unionist Party to go on dealing with the Bill, for, as far as I can make out, there are no less than four Members among the supporters of the First Lord of the Treasury in his Irish policy who are in a state of most painful uncertainty as to the line which they will take when the House divides on Friday evening. Some of the papers have been full of the agitation of the hon. Member for Walworth, who is much exercised and does not see his way to supporting the Second Reading of the Bill, which provides for the retention in this House of the Irish Members after they have secured an Irish Parliament for themselves. And there is also a very sturdy Radical, the hon. Member for Northampton, who has also expressed the very strongest opinion against the retention of the Irish Members in the British Parliament after the Parliament in Ireland has been established. But I am afraid that though the hon. Member for Northampton has expressed the strongest opinion in his journal on that subject he does not intend to allow the 568 expressions in his journal to bind him in the least in his conduct in the House of Commons. I do not, therefore, count much on any hesitation at the last moment on the part of the hon. Member for Northampton. But we had a remarkable speech last night from the hon. Member for the North-Western Division of Durham. That hon. Member expressed his dissent from the Bill on two important points. He disapproves very strongly of the neglect of the Government to deal with the Land Question in a measure for the better government of Ireland, and he commented very strongly, indeed, and without much qualification, on that neglect; and he also strongly disapproved of the retention of the Irish Members in this House. And then we come to the speech of the hon. Member for the Arfon Division of Carnarvonshire, who expressed the strongest disapproval of any grants from the British Exchequer to the Irish Exchequer for the purpose of dealing with the land in Ireland. He objected very strongly to any grants by way of loans or gifts for that or for any other Irish purpose. That is extremely encouraging to us, for it shows that although the Unionists have not yet succeeded in converting the entire House of Commons they have made progress of which they can certainly take notice and the British portion of the House of Commons is so very representative of Great Britain that the smallest change here probably indicates a very large change in the country. I, however, will now pass away from this preliminary interchange of Party courtesies and come to the actual text of the Bill. I warn the House that I fear I shall be extremely dull, for it is probable that I may have to claim their indulgence for some time, because the Bill is so large and complicated that if a Member wants to deal with it as a whole it is difficult to prevent one from going into detail. But the structure of the Bill has not been examined at any great length during the Debate. The Debate has mainly turned on largo general principles. I will examine, in the first place, the crucial proposition by which the Bill must be tried—the provisions made for the unimpaired, unrestricted supremacy of the Imperial Parliament over Ireland as well as over all other portions of the British Empire, The Homo Secretary on Friday 569 took the rosiest and the brightest view of the excellence of the manner in which this supremacy had been provided for in the Bill. I think it will be expedient to examine the position which the right hon. Gentleman took up, and to see the light which the text of the Bill throws on that position, and the general propositions with which the right hon. Gentleman supported it. The right hon. Gentleman will agree, and I think the House will agree with me, that the essential condition of any Constitution is that there shall be over that Constitution a supreme authority unquestionable by any subject, and which every tribunal must recognise and must obey. Now, the Bill proposes to maintain the supreme authority of Parliament, and that proposal is either enshrined or obscured in the Preamble of the Bill. I will not dispute the great legal authority of the Home Secretary, or of Lord Coke, whom he cited; but I have found in the present day that Judges are not in the habit of paying much attention to the Preamble of any Bill, or of reading the Preamble, when they have to decide a question of law arising under the Statute. The Judges look more to the clauses than to the Preamble, and if they look at the Preamble it is only after examining the effect of the operative clauses. I do not think it matters very much to the supremacy of Parliament, however, whether the Government put it in the Preamble or in the clauses—I do not think it will be effective one way or way or the other. But in the clauses of this Bill we have provisions not in any way to be despised. In Clause 37 I find these words—Except as otherwise provided, all existing laws, institutions, authorities, and officers in Ireland shall continue as if this Act had not been passed,and future Parliamentary legislation by this Parliament is provided for in Clause 9 by the wordsunless and until Parliament shall otherwise determine.The Irish Legislature, under Clause 33, is absolutely prohibited from repealing or altering anyenactments such as, being enacted by Parliament after the passing of this Act. may he extended to Ireland.Therefore I admit, for the purposes of argument, that ostensibly and nominally the supremacy of the authority of the 570 Imperial Parliament is absolutely preserved. I say ostensibly and nominally. My right hon. Friend the late Chancellor of the Exchequer used these adjectives applied to the supremacy as it stands in the Bill—"theoretical and paper supremacy"; and, on the whole, I endorse the view taken by him. But this is certain, that the supremacy goes as far as this: that every subject which may come before and be proceeded upon by the Irish Legislature remains within the cognisance of this Parliament. Any British Member of Parliament after this Bill has passed, if it does, is free to introduce any Bill and to move any Resolution, or to ask any question, to occupy any amount of Parliamentary time on all the affairs connected with Ireland, not only on the subjects now within its cognisance, but in addition on every Act and proceeding of the Irish Executive and of the Irish Legislature. That may be right; I pass no opinion on whether that is a sufficient exercise of the supremacy of Parliament; but there seems to me to be one great disadvantage attached to the form in which supremacy is placed in the Bill. It is extremely probable that this Bill, instead of lightening the labours of Parliament, will greatly increase the work of the Imperial Parliament, and we as now, and more than now, instead of confining our attention to British affairs, shall be continually occupied in examining, balancing, judging, and deciding on the affairs of the Irish Government. Thus the work of Parliament will be greatly added to, and not in the least diminished. But there is another view of the amount, strength, and power of the supremacy left in this Bill. I said it was ostensible and nominal; but I hold, and I think I can prove, that it is not really preserved for any practical purpose. There is a fatal weakness which pervades the whole structure of the measure. If I might use a geological expression, a. very glaring, a large and ominous "fault" runs through the whole political conformation of the supremacy; and it appears in this Bill. That arises from three main causes; and I do not see how anybody in the House will dispute, the tremendous effect on the supremacy of Parliament which these three main causes will produce. In the first place, I hold that the supreme authority of the Imperial Parliament 571 will be rendered impotent to a very large extent by its being deprived of two great Constitutional organs of direct control by Parliament over the whole affairs of a country or an Empire. The British Parliament, the Imperial Parliament, is deprived by this Bill of all personal control over the Members of the Irish Executive; and it is deprived of all direct or indirect control over the voting of supplies, the raising of taxes, and the disposing of the taxes so raised by the Irish Parliament and the Irish Government. That is the first weakening cause which I think affects the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. There is another cause— the separation of the Imperial Parliament from the Irish Executive. I do not know what arrangements may be made for retaining the Irish Members in this House, but there is no security whatever that the Irish Executive would be in this House, and that, if so, it would be controlled in any way by the majority of this House. So that the separation of the Imperial Parliament from the Irish Executive, and, secondly, the attempt to create two fiscal systems for Ireland and England, reduce the Imperial Government to a position of great instability. Then I come to the third great cause, which is the unexampled division of Parliament into two bodies with two separate personalities— one of which may, when the Irish representation is in this House, decide on one political course; and the other, when the Irish representation is out of the House, on a totally opposite course. The Prime Minister has been in this House nearly 60 years. He has occupied a most brilliant and conspicuous position; and I may say with perfect truth that he is the most experienced, oldest, and the greatest Member of this House, Daring the greater part of this time the House has recognised sincerely and genuinely the position which he has created and maintained for himself. But what has he done for the Parliament in which he has been so long, and which has followed him so faithfully? He has literally proposed to transform Parliament under this Bill into what I may call as nothing more nor less than a philosophical absurdity. He tries to create out of our present Parliament one body with two centres of gravity. Sir, I pass away from that question of the 572 supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, whether it is retained or is not retained, or is retained in an imperfect manner; but I say that the power which we give to the Irish Parliament and Government of being independent as regards their Executive, and of being independent as regards their supply, of being separated altogether from the Imperial Parliament and Government, and having a separate fiscal system of their own, and a representation which would certainly be large and might be larger than we think of the Irish people in this Parliament—I think that these throe points reduce the supremacy of Parliament almost to a nullity, and would prevent any English Parliament from asserting that supremacy for many years in a practical manner. I pass on to consider the Irish Legislative Assembly, or Body, I should be more correct in saying. Under Section 2 there is granted to the Irish Legislative Body power to make laws, but only in respect of matters evclusively relating to Ireland. In Section 3 and in Section 4, as I have no doubt hon. Gentlemen who represent Ireland in this House— or who represent a great portion of Ireland—have already discovered, you will find an extraordinary variety of exceptions and restrictions, for the most part drawn with the widest limits and the widest extent, and also undefined except in the vaguest of limits. The power of the Irish Legislature to pass laws is subject also to a very great number of conditions and prohibitions which are scattered throughout the whole Bill. The House of Commons must recollect this Bill being at the Second Reading stage, and bearing In mind that the Bill creates a Constitution for Ireland, every Irish law or, at any rate, 90 per cent. of the law which the Irish Parliament may pass, which oversteps the very dubious boundaries of power which are laid down in this Bill as appertaining to the Irish Parliament is absolutely void. It is not a law at all. Now, I want to know, either from the Treasury Bench or from any Member of this House, whether there is in Europe or in the civilised world— which the First Lord of the Treasury always holds up to our admiration—any Constitution which has ever placed a Legislature in a position so limited, so questionable, and with such subservient 573 jurisdiction, or is there any known Constitution which anybody can cite which has ever exposed laws made by a Legislature to such doubts and to such infirmities as these laws passed by the Irish Parliament might be exposed to before their validity can be pronounced upon? Now I lay it down again as an essential and vital principle for the Legislature to have, as it wore, the sanctioning of every law—every law which any Legislature passes must command, and shall command, instant obedience from all the subjects of the Legislature which passes the law, and it must also afford complete protection to any subject or any agent of the Government who acts under that law or upon it. Now, the Bill, if you turn to Sections 3 and 4, you will find enacts that, if the Irish Parliament passes any law in contravention of those sections, that law shall be void, and under Section 33 you will find that any Irish Act which is in any respect repugnant to any Imperial Statute is to the extent of that repugnancy invalid. Now, this Irish Constitution, I argue from these premisses, cannot in 90 per cent. of its legislation pass a law which is primâ facia valid. Every Court of Justice in Ireland, from the highest to the lowest, when required to act on one of these laws passed by the Irish Parliament must be satisfied that the law is legal. That is almost an Irish "bull," though I do not think anybody would say it in Ireland, but we are obliged to say it in the House of Commons in dealing with this Hill. They must be satisfied that the law is legal, and must decide any of the preliminary questions which may be raised by any Party as to the validity of the law itself. Every official person in Ireland who carries the law passed by the Irish Parliament into execution does so at his own risk. In the event of the law being held ultra vires by a Court of Law, and that decision being supported by the Superior Courts, it is void, and everyone who acts under it, or who sues, or prose cutes, or takes action under it is liable for the act which he does in obedience to the law passed by the Irish Parliament, He would not only have to show, in his own defence, that the law was actually in existence, but also that, its validity was perfect when the Irish Parliament passed it. I am now leading the House on to this strange complication. Under Section 574 23, there is certainly a power of appeal to the Privy Council in the event of a dispute arising as to the validity of a law passed by the Irish Parliament, and under that provision the Lord Lieutenant or a Secretary of State may take steps for the speedy determination of a dispute whether any Irish Act goes beyond the powers of the Irish Legislature, but I do not gather from the measure that this course is open to private persons. It is very doubtful—it must be very doubtful —whether any decision of the Privy Council on such an issue and such a question raised would necessarily got rid of any private liability incurred by acting under the Act in question should it be found to be invalid. The Lord Lieutenant's statement might not cover the case of the private litigant. The Privy Council, it is quite true, under Sub-sections 2 of Section 33 may allow a private person to appear and to be heard: but do the Government think—because the legal authorities I have consulted do not—that a decision obtained from the Privy Council would necessarily bind any English or Irish Court, or any party who had not been represented before the Privy Council? Would not there—if those propositions are sound in law, but in any ease they are worthy of the closest examination—would not there be a certain risk of grave injustice being done if the Privy Council were hold to bind all private individuals throughout Ireland on account of any decision which they come to in any suit where, perhaps, only one private individual might have been heard? That is one risk, but, on the other hand, I admit that if the Privy Council has not binding power over all individuals in Ireland, whether they are represented or not, whether the parties are present or not, then the procedure of the Privy Council established under the Bill—I may say, the elaborate procedure—would he altogether useless. It seems to me that this is a legal point requiring most careful examination by the advisers of Her Majesty's Ministry. Will the House allow me just to place before it the extent and character and object for the exceptions and restrictions in Clauses 3 and 4? These clauses render the question that I have been arguing, as to the powers of the Irish Parliament and as to the powers of the Privy Council, of extreme importance, because I am not suggesting 575 phantoms, as the House will see. The excepted subjects, which are the subjects of Clauses 3 and 4, are matters of everyday legal consideration. I would illustrate that position and give some samples. Section 3 deals with restrictions, and it includes among the subjects that the Irish Parliament cannot deal with treason and treason-felony, alienage and naturalisation. Alienage and naturalisation might become, under certain conditions, in Ireland a most important question. It next includes trade with any place out of Ireland; it includes trade-marks and copyright, coinage, legal tenders, the standard of weights and measures, and foreign mails. Foreign mails means, in other words, letters posted in the United Kingdom to be sent to any place out of the United Kingdom. These are the main restrictions in Clause 3, and they not only render any law in respect of these matters void, but if you turn to Section 19 this surprising and extraordinary provision is found, and if I may I will read it, because it raises a most tremendous question—" All legal proceedings in Ire-land which even touch any matter "—I hope that the House, and particularly the Irish Members, will mark these words—Which touch any matter not within the powers of the Irish Legislature… shall, if so required by any party to such proceedings, he heard and determined before the Exchequer Judges or (except where the case requires to be determined by two Judges) before one of them, and in any such legal proceeding an appeal shall, if any party so requires, lie from any Court of First Instance in Ireland to the Exchequer Judges, and the decision of the Exchequer Judges shall be subject to Her Majesty the Queen in Council, and not to any other tribunal.Now, the result of this clause is plain as words can make it. I will take some examples. An Orangeman or Fenian is indicted before a Court of Justice in Ireland for treason-felony, or for levying war upon the Queen, or for conspiring to do so. That is the first case; but I will take another quite different. A cattle dealer sues a Railway Company for breach of contract in carrying cattle from Dublin to Manchester, raising some question affecting through rates, or otherwise— this touches the cattle trade with England, which is one of the largest of the Irish interests. Take a third case. An Irish merchant sues for an infringement 576 of trade-mark. A Post Office official is prosecuted for stealing an American letter en route for Qucenstown—that would come tinder the head of foreign mails. I could go on and give the House many instances, but such cases, with the exception of the Orangeman or Fenian, are cases of very common, or which might be of very common occurrence—there are many cases very analogous to them—and such cases might arise continually, even daily, in any Court of Petty Sessions in Ireland, in any County Court, at any Assizes, or in the Supreme Court. Every one of these and the analogous cases touches a matter-not with the power of the Irish Legislature, and touches a matter on which legal proceedings are not within the competence of the ordinary Courts of Law if that competence is questioned. In one and all of these proceedings any party at any stage can remove the case before the Exchequer Judges or before one of them, or may appeal from any Court of First Instance in Ireland to the Exchequer Judges, and their decision is only subject to an appeal to the Privy Council, and not to any other tribunal Observe the effect of this arrangement. The ordinary tribunals of Ireland—the Judges, the juries, the ordinary procedure —must be under this provision, in an enormous number and variety of cases, supplemented and superseded if any party so desires it. That is the effect of a clause providing for a judicial tribunal which differs almost from every other judicial tribunal in the civilised world, except those you may find in Oriental countries. It is a very curious thing, but it has appeared to mo that the First Lord of the Treasury has always a great desire to restrict trial by jury in Ireland, and he seems to have almost a dislike to the principle of trial by jury.
§ LORD E. CHURCHILL
I only throw that out as a suggestion, because I do not think it is absolutely necessary that everybody should look on trial by jury as perfect, and I do not blame him if he takes that view. But it is a remarkable thing that in the Crimes Act of 1882 the right hon. Gentleman inserted a provision which enabled the Lord Lieutenant to issue a Commission of three Judges to try without a jury all cases of treason and treason-felony. 577 It is a most extraordinary thing that, under the procedure laid down in Clause 19 for the Exchequer Judges, anybody may he tried for treason or treason-felony before an Exchequer Judge without a ghost of a jury being within 100 miles of the Court. That is the only construction that can be put by any sensible man and by any lawyer on that clause. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman opposite may shake his head, but the authority on which I am relying for the legal interpretation of that clause is, I venture to say, as high as, if not higher than any which the Chief Secretary can have at his command.
Certainly not. But I will ask the House to lot me pursue the argument, which I have not at all finished. It follows that in any civil or criminal action which may take place in Ireland, and which touches any of the exceptions and restrictions in Clauses 3 and 4, the case can be brought within the net of the restrictions and exceptions, and can be tried before an Exchequer Judge without the assistance of a jury. [".No, no!" and laughter.] If there is a jury, why is it not put in the Bill? The right hon. Gentlemen need not fly off into those tits of laughter. This is no laughing matter. I will read the section. I should not have detained the House with it, but for the somewhat discourteous interruptions of the President of the Board of Trade. I will read Sub-section 4 of Section 19. In none of these sub-sections is there any mention whatever of anything like the institution of trial by jury, and if the Government propose to include anything of the kind, at any rate they have not yet done so. Here is the sub-section—All legal proceedings in Ireland which are instituted at the instance of or against the Treasury or Commissioners of Customs, or any of their officers, or relate to the election of Members to serve in Parliament, or touch any matter not within the powers of the Irish Legislature or touch any matter affected by a law which the Irish Legislature have not power to repeal or alter, shall, if so require I by airy party to such proceedings, be heard and determined before the Exchequer Judges.Where is the jury?
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
There is no trial by jury—I can prove it. The section goes on —Or (except where the case requires to be determined by two Judges) before one of them, and in any such legal proceeding's an appeal shall, if any party so requires, lie from any Court of First Instance in Ireland to the Exchequer Judges, and the decision of the Exchequer Judges shall be subject"—not to the decision of a jury—to Her Majesty the Queen in Council, and not to any other tribunal.Any reasonable man or any lawyer, except perhaps one on the Treasury Bench, reading that clause would construe it according to the natural sense of its words, and would say that all cases going before the Exchequer Judges might be tried by one or the other, or bosh of them but there is no suggestion of any trial by jury. I defy the Chief Secretary or any one on that Bench to show me where the trial by jury would come in.
*MR. J. MORLEY
All that it means, with all deference to the noble Lord's learned informant, is that eases of this kind go before an Exchequer Judge, and not before an ordinary Judge. The procedure will remain the same.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
It means nothing of the kind. If it means that, why did you not say so in the Bill? The whole purport of that clause is to remove all the cases of this kind from the ordinary Judges; to differentiate the Exchequer Judges from the ordinary Judges; and there is not a word that shows that, the explanation which the right hon. Gentleman has given has any legal validity. However, I pass on. I pass to the restrictions in Clause 4, which must greatly hamper the Irish Legislature on the subject of local legislation. These are also so extremely loosely drawn as to leave most important interests apparently without protection to hostile legislation, and to open a flood of questions which must lead to very serious litigation. I would venture to crave the attention of the House, for these are questions which I think the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland will consider worthy of his notice. Where litigation results in the decision by a Court of Law that a law passed by the Irish Parliament, and brought before the Court, has overstepped the limits of the restrictions then that law 579 must be declared void. Let me suggest examples—ordinary examples connected with many of the local affairs and local interests of Ireland. Let me ask the Chief Secretary or any Minister this question—Will a law providing for the payment of chaplains in poorhouses and asylums be a law relating to the endowment of religion? because such endowment is forbidden under Clause 4. Will a law regulating and directing the employment of teachers, regard being had to their religious denomination, be a law conferring any privilege on account of religious belief, because that is forbidden under Clause 4? Would a law regulating the meetings of any denominational or quasi- denominational institutions, such as, for instance, a law regulating the meetings or processions of the Salvation Army, or the meetings or processions of the Orange Society, and requiring the registration of the members, would that be a law "prejudicially affecting any right to maintain denominational institutions," because that is forbidden under Clause 4? This is a more secular question. If an Irish Ac1 is passed for enfranchising leaseholders, or empowering urban leaseholders to redeem head rents at fixed rates of purchase, or enacting the compulsory sale of agricultural holdings to occupying tenants, or compelling owners to give land for cottage allotments or many other public purposes, or if a law were passed enacting any modification of the Lands Clauses Act, I ask the Chancellor of the Duchy—because he was the author of this restriction—would it not be open for any one to contend on behalf of the expropriated persons before a Court of Law that the law is one whereby private property is taken without just compensation, and will not the Court's decision on the justice of compensation be a test of I he validity of the law? Well, Sir, I think the right hon. Gentleman, who is responsible for this measure must see that these are questions which may occur every day in the year in Ireland under the operation of this Bill after the Irish Parliament has been constituted. Now, I pass on to the question of corporate property and to the position of endowments. I must really say one word with regard to the position of Trinity College. I asked on the First Reading of the Bill if the position of Trinity College would be protected 580 under the Bill, and one of the Ministers —I really do not recollect which—assured me across the Table that Trinity College was entirely protected under the Bill. That statement is not a true statement. It is absolutely inaccurate. Trinity College is placed in a position of the utmost peril under this Bill. These are the facts. Trinity College, the College of Physicians, the College of Surgeons, the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, the Bank of Ireland, the London Companies, and the Governing Bodies of endowments have no safeguards whatever except an Address being voted by both Houses of the Legislature and the leave of Her Majesty being obtained. All these endowments may be dealt with by the Irish Legislature, and their property diminished or altogether taken from them, in the words of the Bill, "without due process of law." This shows the extraordinary basis upon which the First Lord of the Treasury has drawn the distinction between endowments that may be dealt with and those which cannot be dealt with under the Bill. Maynooth College and Magee College, being denominational endowments, are absolutely beyond the reach of the Irish Parliament. Let me remind the right hon. Gentleman of this. Is he not making a very sorry return and giving very poor reward to Trinity College, seeing that in the year 1873, when Fawcett's Act was passed, it was passed by the liberal public spirit of Trinity College, though it made Trinity College undenominational; and if Trinity College could repeal that law, the Irish Parliament would not be able to lay a finger upon its property. I cannot understand the principle upon which legislation of this kind is based. It is a nice comment on this Bill to say that if you can wrap your endowments in a strictly denominational and sectarian garb you leave it out of the power of the Irish Parliament to touch them. The question of the Address to the Crown by the two Houses of the Irish Legislature requires a short examination. On account of the constitution of the two Chambers, of their composition and their political complexion, it is certain that the sending up of an Address, to be presented to Her Majesty from the Irish Houses, will become as much a matter of form as the ordinary setting up of Supply at this Table in the case of an ordinary Money 581 Bill. The concurrence of the two House, which the Home Secretary seemed to think a great safeguard, is practically not the slightest cheek, but it is a most unreal and flimsy check upon the wishes or the appetites of the Irish democracy or of the Irish Parliament, or of the Irish Executive Government. The question of the leave of Her Majesty being obtained raises the question dealt with in Section 5, and that is the devolution or non-devolution of the prerogative of the veto to the Lord Lieutenant to be exercised under the advice of the Irish Ministry. Nothing in the Bill is more important than a clear understanding of how that veto will be exercised, and if the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary speaks to-night, will he tell the House of Commons what is the meaning of the expression, "Her Majesty," as used in the Bill. It occurs more than once. It occurs with reference to the formal ion of the Irish Executive Committee of the Privy Council, and it occurs in reference to the veto as well as in reference to the Addresses that may be presented by both Houses. It is clear that under a British Government which was friendly to the Irish Executive, the Lord Lieutenant might be clothed with all the prerogatives of the Crown, in which case no protection whatever is given to any corporate property, no limit upon the composition of the Executive Committee is placed by the Crown, and there is no check upon Irish legislation which cannot be removed by the British Government, with or without recourse to the Imperial Parliament. The words of Section 5 are as follows:—The Lord Lieutenant, on behalf of Her Majesty, shall exercise any prerogative of the Queen, the exercise of which may be delegated to him by Her Majesty.Therefore, an English Ministry may advise Her Majesty to delegate the whole of her Prerogative to the Lord Lieutenant, in which case the veto would be exercised, if exercised at all, on the advice of an Irish Ministry. Both Lord Thring and the present Attorney General placed that interpretation upon the Bill of 1886, where practically the same expressions with regard to the prerogative of the Crown were used. I have here the quotations, which I will not road because they are rather long; but if 582 anyone challenges the fact I will produce them. Of course, enormous interests turn on the question which of these interpretations is correct, and I hold that the representatives of the Government are bound to make the point clear to the House before the Bill passes the Second Reading. It. would be a very curious thing, which I do not think Ireland would tolerate for a moment, if it was necessary to obtain the sanction of the Crown by the advice of the British Minister given to the Crown. It would be absolutely necessary that a British Ministry which had to advise the Crown as to whether an Irish measure or a proceeding of the Irish Legislature should meet with the Royal sanction should be advised some time beforehand of the nature of the Act or proceeding for which the Royal sanction was wanted or the Royal refusal to assent might apply. If the prerogative did not devolve upon the Lord Lieutenant, of Ireland exclusively on on the advice of the Irish Ministry, it would be absolutely necessary for the Parliamentary safety of any British Government that they should be apprised beforehand of the nature of any Address, and the probable voting of any Address, or the probable introduction or the probable passing of any law which the Irish Government might think it necessary to propose. What is that but Poyning's law in black and white? That was the great dispute which was finally settled in 1782. The English Government required that the heads of proposed legislation should be submitted to them for sanction before they were introduced into the Irish Parliament. A measure might have made some progress in the Irish Parliament before it was submitted, and the greater the progress it had made, the more embarrassing it would be for the British Government to give advice 1o the Crown. This shows what tremendous Constitutional questions are raised by these provisions of the Bill. Now, Sir, I must for a moment dwell upon the position of the Exchequer Judges, and I think I shall be able to show that their personal position with regard mainly to Exchequer questions and the Revenue between the English and Irish Governments is still more anomalous than their judicial position with regard to the Government. I take objection to the position of the Home 583 Secretary, and I say that the power of the Exchequer Judges to enforce their demands in public cases is a minus quantity—that their power is absolutely nil. The Home Secretary was very indignant at that suggestion when it was made by a former speaker, and was most contemptuous and derisive of the opinions of the hon. Gentleman who made it. In spite of his anger, I make it again most fully. The right hon. Gentleman said, "I do not anticipate any such occasion." He spoke rather in the style which characterised the celebrated Mr. Podsnap, and said, "I put it away from me." He added—But should it arise, it will be the duty of every officer of the law in Ireland, every Sheriff every Sub-Sheriff, every bailiff, and every policeman"—to do what? To obey the orders of the Irish Executive, who pay his salary with regard to those duties? No. According to the right hon. Gentleman, it will be his duty—For the non-performance of which he will be liable to be indicted and convicted.But there is not a single word in the clause which lead anyone to that supposition. The Members of the Government seem to have hidden meanings in all these clauses. No wonder the Debate has dragged on, and no wonder we have had to make long speeches, when we are told that the ordinary sense of ordinary English in the clause is not the sense, and that there is a greal more in the clauses than anybody had any idea of. There never were Bills introduced into Parliament in that way before. The Home Secretary went on to say—It would be his duty to render assistance to the Exchequer Judges in the enforcement of the laws of the Imperial Parliament. It is really taxing one's credulity to ask one to believe that a power which is expressly reserved to it, under this Bill, to the Executive Authority which has complete control over the whole of the Military and Naval Forces of the Crown "—you do not say that you are going to administer martial law—Which call upon the Irish Executive to carry out its decrees—it is, I say, taxing one's credulity to ask me to believe that a power so endowed and so equipped as that will not be able to enforce to the last extent every law which the Imperial Parliament may pass.If the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues are going to carry out this Bill by the Military and Naval Forces of 584 the Crown with all the immense resources of men and money which this Empire can raise, I admit that my argument is a weak one. I did not contemplate a resort—and apparently a prompt resort—to expedients of that kind. But I return. Clause 19 says that if it is made to appear to an Exchequer Judge that any decree or judgment in a proceeding touching on any matter not within the power of the Irish Legislature has not been duly enforced by the Sheriff' or other officer whose duty it is to enforce the same, the Judge shall—what? Is he to form an indictment against the Sheriff or commit him for contempt of Court, or what is he to do? Of course, I cannot say, because this is only what appears in the Bill—Such Judge shall appoint some other officer, whose duty it shall be to enforce that judgment or decree, and for such purpose such officer and all persons employed by him shall be entitled to the same privileges, immunities, and powers as are by law conferred on the Sheriff and his officers.But what a pity the Home Secretary did not give the House some indication of the sort of officer that the Irish Exchequer would appoint when the proper officer refuses or fail to execute his duty. Are the Naval and Military Forces to be used to carry out an ordinary decree of Customs tribute or to enforce a debt that may be owing to the Treasury by some Local Body? If you are not going to use those Forces, let the Chief Secretary tell us what officer, or anybody who can with decency be called an officer, will be at the disposal of the Exchequer Judges, and what will be the attendance and guard he will take with him. There is a well-known story told in Ireland respecting great troubles in a certain county. The Sheriff was told by some well-meaning person to call out the posse comitatus, and he replied: "Good heavens!those are the very people we want to keep at home." I rather think that the only people the Exchequer Judges will be able to put their hands upon for the purposes of this section will be just that class whom the Exchequer Judges would not like to employ in enforcing their decrees. Well, I pass on from that. The Home Secretary alluded to penalties which might be levied on defaulting officers, but I see nothing in the Bill as to how penalties are to be 585 levied upon them, or as to how they are to be compelled to do their duty in the event of proceedings by the Imperial Government against the Irish Government to recover money, or how the Exchequer Judges are going to enforce their decrees against the Irish Treasury officials in the event of a stop order by the Auditor General on the Irish Treasury. The only security we have is the Exchequer Judges and the officers and attendants that can be appointed by them, in the event of the default of the Irish Government. I want the House to imagine how any order of the Imperial Government is to be enforced against the Irish Executive Government, or the Irish Exchequer, except with the authority of the Irish Parliament. The odds are long in favour of the position taken up by the Irish Government to be constituted under the Bill being supported by a large and determined majority in the Irish Legislature. Has the Government forgotten the case of the Limerick Corporation? That is a case that shows the House that I am drawing no fanciful picture. The Limerick Corporation some years ago owed a debt of £1,100 for an extra police force which had been quartered in that county. The Limerick Corporation refused to pay, and I think two or three judicial decisions in two or three Courts of Justice were given against the Limerick Corporation. Decrees were issued to enforce the payment of this penalty. The Limerick Corporation look up a passive attitude. They battled the Courts of Justice; they baffled the great, Lord Lieutenants that were in Ireland.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
No, not at all; the hon. and learned Gentleman is entirely wrong. They baffled Lord Spencer, they baffled Lord Carnarvon— [Mr. T. M. HEALY: No, no!] — although he had treated them with the utmost kindness and courtesy, they baffled Lord Aberdeen, and they baffled—the most heroic thing I have heard done, showing what the Irish people can do when they put their backs to the wall—they baffled even my right hon. Friend the Loader of the Opposition. To this day not a sixpence of that money has been paid. If the British Government, with all the power it commands, cannot, under our 586 Parliamentary system, deal with a City Corporation in Ireland, how are these unfortunate Exchequer Judges going to deal with the whole Irish Government? I come to the last point of the Bill which I shall dwell upon. I come to the Legislative Council, because that is the great safeguard of the Bill, so we are told by the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary. The Legislative Council is the one security which will never fail, and upon which the loyal minority in Ire-land may absolutely rely. The Home Secretary made a very interesting personal confession. He said that he had always been opposed, as an ardent Radical, to the institution of anything in the nature of a Second Chamber, that anything in the nature of a Second Chamber revolted him, and that he deeply regretted that it was necessary to insert a Second Chamber as a safeguard in this Bill. But in the circumstances of the case, and animated by loyalty to his Party, he had waived his objection for once to this particular Second Chamber, and defended it with much spirit and animation. I think, and the House will think when I have explained the constitution and the manner in which this Second Chamber is to be elected, that if the right hon. Gentleman was to give up the cherished principle and ardent convictions of his Radical youth, he might have taken up a better form of Second Chamber than that included in the Bill. I will explain as briefly as I can the way this Second Chamber will be elected, the composition of the electorate, and the probable character of the Chamber. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman having waived his objection to the principle of a Second Chamber will concede the proposition that the fundamental principle of any Parliamentary constitution involving two Chambers should be that the Second Chamber should represent an element of stability; that it should represent a certain amount of property and a certain amount of experience and of education; that it should be a Chamber which by its own authority should act as a check upon hasty popular action, and that it should be really and genuinely an Upper House. Those are, I think, the qualifications for a properly constituted Second Chamber. But what is the composition of the Legislative Council, and whom will it represent? It is all set forth in Clause 587 6, which is full of instruction, not, I am afraid, to English Members, but to gentlemen representing Ireland. It is to number 48 Members, and the person who drew this clause, whoever he was, is open to an alternative indictment, either that he deliberately drafted the clause in such a manner as would certainly mislead at any rate the British portion of the House of Commons, or that he was totally ignorant of the system of valuation in Ireland as affecting various classes of the population. The peculiarity of the social state of Ireland is this—and this affects the Legislative Council at its base—that throughout at least three-fourths of the country the owners and the occupiers are rated at over £20; and they are almost wholly—something like 85 per cent. of them—tenant-fanners, who will form the main body of the constituency which elects the Legislative Council. It is only in the very large cities that you have householders in any number rated above £20, and therefore hon. Members will see that a £20 rating franchise, which in England might mean a great deal, in Ireland only means the tenant-farmers who are rated on their holdings, and it excludes all the shopkeepers and tradesmen and landlords in towns in the country districts of any appreciable size. But it brings in the tenant-farmers who though valued at £20 and upwards live in houses which over an enormous portion of Ireland are rated at from£l to £2. That is the class which on a rating qualification has been selected to elect the Irish House of Lords. I will illustrate this by statistics. I will take two counties, both of them very representative of Ireland— the County of Down and the County of Meath. Meath is a purely pastoral county, and has not more than five towns containing a population of over 500. Down is full of small thriving towns exceeding considerably the population of the ordinary Meath towns. These towns number 31 as against 5 in Meath. The House will see immediately that it is obvious where the valuation per head is highest the numbers excluded in Ireland from the electorate for the Legislative Council will also be highest in that district, and under Clause 5 a very much larger number of urban residents and semi-urban residents in the rising manufacturing and industrial County of Down will be excluded from the electorate for 588 the Legislative Council than in purely pastoral Meath, which is sparsely populated, and where the valuation on the agricultural holdings are at a high figure. The valuation of Down is £864,000 and the population 267,000. and the average valuation is £3 5s. 6d per head. In Meath the valuation is £577,000, or about £300,000 less than in Down, and the population is 76,000, or 191,000 less than in Down, but the valuation in Meath is £7 2s. 8d. which is double the average valuation for the thriving prosperous County of Down. That shows the extraordinary effect of taking this £20 valuation for the composition of the electorate for your Legislative Council. You have taken one class in the country and one class alone, and having done that you tell the Unionists and the Representatives of the Irish minority that you have given them a Second Chamber which they can look to as a certain protection and a certain safeguard. That Chamber will be composed entirely of direct Representatives of the tenant-farmers; in fact, my calculation is that out of the 48 Members of the Legislative Council with which the right hon. Gentleman intends to guard the rights of the loyal minority in Ireland, 30 at the very least must represent the tenant-farmers of Ireland. I blame the Government more on this account, and I blame the First Lord of the Treasury also on this account, that the character and nature of this class of electors which is to compose your Upper Chamber in Ireland was not left to mere inference, was not left to mere guess-work, was not left to mere supposition. The Prime Minister and the Members from Ireland were perfectly well acquainted with the character of that class long before the Bill was introduced. In 1871, when the Prime Minister was at the head of the Government, Lord O'Hagan passed a reform of the Jury Laws which fixed the qualification for jurors in Ireland. It was fixed at a net annual value curiously enough of £20. And in 1871 Ireland was in a state of great tranquillity. There were no Party conflicts in this House, and there was nothing which would make Parties in those days take hostile views on Irish affairs. The result of the first appearance of these twenty-pounders in the jury-box reduced the system of trial by jury in Ireland to what would have been a 589 travesty, or a burlesque, or a farce if it had not been for its ghastly reality. [Mr. T. M. HEALY: No, no.] From every county there came incredible stories as to the failure of the jury system, and the total paralysis of the law. That was in 1872. And what was done? A Special Committee was appointed at the Castle to investigate the operation of the Act; a Parliamentary inquiry was also held, and it is recorded in the Blue Bock that the stories told were exceeded by the grim facts of the real occurrence. The whole of the jury panel in county districts in Ireland consisted of tenant farmers who could not read or write, and the only persons they could be trusted to try were those charged with sheep stealing. They are the class who are now exclusively to compose the constituency and the electorate of the Legislative Council, and they will be paramount over every other class. Now I come to my strongest argument. What did Parliament do with the twenty-pounders? Lord O'Hagan's Act came into operation in 1872. Within six mouths afterwards an amending Act was passed which raised the qualification to £30. That did no particular good, and the jurors were just as stupid and just as useless as they were before. [An hon. MEMBER: No, no!] I am only talking of the particular class which was found by the Parliamentary Committee not to be qualified for the administration of the law. After that Act had been in operation three years another Act was passed in 1876, which in 32 counties raised the rating qualification for jurors from £20 to £40, and the qualification for special jurors was raised from £100 to £150. The Bill also lowered the rating in respect to dwelling-houses, which would mainly affect the towns. When we hear of the manner in which juries in Kerry, Clare, and Limerick have lately been performing their duties in the jury-box, it must be remembered that every one of these jurors his double the qualification of the class of tenant-farmers whom the right, hon. Gentleman has selected for the composition of the Legislative Council. The House should also remember that in the new constituencies which will elect the Legislative Council there would not even be a, leaven of urban commercial experience and independence, and yet Parliament was compelled, only a few years ago, to 590 bring this class into the jury-box, who are to be excluded from the constituency which is to elect the Legislative Government. This is the Home Secretary's ideal of a Second Chamber. This is the Second Chamber to which were sacrificed all his ardent Radical convictions. This is the Second Chamber which the Prime Minister offered, with a liberality and a generosity the bounds of which cannot be described, to the loyal minority in Ireland. The Home Secretary charged me with saying in public that the Home Rule Bill had been proposed by a, Government of lunatics, supported by a Party of lunatics, and passed for the benefit of lunatics. That is a gross exaggeration, and a very strange construction to place upon the words I used; but I will make a confession to the Home Secretary. When I studied this Bill with the greatest care, and mastered its contents—so far as human intellect can master the details of the Bill—my reflections were summed up in. the classic line —It is a mad world, my masters.The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, in concert with, the Home Secretary, brought against the Unionist Party the charge that we considered the Irish Party and the Irish people as less than human. They could not have brought a charge more un-reasonable or more untrue. We oppose this Bill, not because we consider the Irish people less than human, but because they are so very human, and because, whenever you grant to the Irish people large political powers, they will certainly have the strongest and the most just of human motives to make use of those powers to acquire further strength. These right hon. Gentlemen appear to be under the impression that they are dealing with a race more nearly allied to angels than to human beings. A great friend of mine, a very distinguished Irish Judge, told me that the whole Irish question lay in a nutshell, and that it was simply this: that a quick-witted people were being governed by a stupid people. Personally, I do not agree with the opinion of the First Lord of the Treasury or his colleagues, nor do I altogether agree with the sentiments of my friend the Irish Judge. But I know this—that the Irish people can use their own advantages 591 with an enormous amount of facility and an enormous amount of ingenuity of resource, and if the right hon. Gentleman tells mo that they are going to take this Bill, and not going to get out of it for themselves all the advantages which the Bill puts in their way, it shows that at the present moment the Irish quick-witted people are being governed not by a stupid people but by a stupid Party. The hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway who represent Ireland would not accuse me of being tainted in the slightest degree with the malady which I will call Hibernophobia. Knowing the meaning of my words, I say I do not believe there is any one more prepared, more ready, to give the largest liberties in a local sense and within local limits to the Irish people; and if a proposal of that kind were before us, it would be difficult for me to resist such legislation. No one was ever more prepared to see the Irish people work out their own salvation by experience as varied as may have been the lot of every other country in the world. There is no one who wishes more than I do to make every concession which is reasonable and just and within reason to meet the wishes of the Roman Catholic population of Ireland, because I am sure that sooner or later the Roman Catholic Church, as was the case in days which I admit are now somewhat remote, will sooner or later in the future range itself on the side of order, of law, and of morality, and certainly the Roman Catholic Church can exercise a powerful and a considerable influence on the Irish mind. But one thing I would never do to Ireland—I would not screw Ireland down financially, as the right hon. Gentleman has done in this Bill. All my ideas from the first day I took up the study of Irish politics were that in respect to the development of the resources of Ireland, and to giving Ire-land a fair start in the competition with other commercial and producing nations of the world, the treatment of Ireland by the British Exchequer should be liberal and large. I have no doubt the Irish Members will laugh at these ideas. They despise them a little at the moment, and it is quite natural that they should be blinded, and be led away, by the radiant light of an independent Parliament. I confess that this has been my attitude on Local Government in Ireland. Between 592 that attitude and the attitude taken up by the right hon. Gentleman as to the creation of a powerful and independent and separate Parliament and Government in Ireland, there is a great gulf fixed which I can never pass, for more than one reason—reasons which are not inspired by hostility to the Irish race and which have not a spark of animosity towards those who dwell in Ireland. There is a great gulf fixed which I can never pass, for more than one reason— reasons which are not inspired by hostility to the Irish race, and which have not a spark of animosity towards those who dwell in Ireland—the people of that country. The first reason why I never can pass that gulf is that I know that Great Britain will never give to Ireland that Parliament, or, if she does give it she will have to take it back again, in which case the last state of Ireland would be probably worse than the first. If the predominant Party in that Parliament chooses to pay off old scores against those whom they unfortunately consider their enemies in that country or in this, Ire-land would have to pay a fearful price one day for that gratification. Geographical conformation, national protection, and the great natural law of the survival of the fittest all impel and compel a great race like the British to bind up and put up into their Constitution all that nature has allied in them, and though there may be interruption, still the great forces of humanity must pursue their natural way. I have endeavoured to put before the House of Commons a rather larger, more profound, and more prophetic view than has been the case during the past two or three date of this Debate. In this matter Great Britain will not give way—because she cannot give way. Upon this issue she cannot break away from the higher instinct which animates these nations— self-preservation. Those who wish to raise a state of things on the coming into operation of this Bill will he doomed to bitter disappointment and blackest mortification. The vitality and recuperative power that the struggle which this Bill must call forth in Ireland will be far greater in the case of Great Britain than in that of Ireland herself. I am not indignant that this great Constitutional issue has been raised; it had to be decided on by Parliament, and 593 I am glad that it has come now. It reminds me somewhat of one of those fearful tropical thunderstorms of which I have had some experience. Whenever those storms have spent their fury, though they inflict a good deal of damage and loss of life and property, the atmosphere is rendered clearer; they raise human spirits and make human relations easier. They inaugurate, as it were, a new era, create a more equable and temperate climate, and bring better and brighter days. And so it will be when, this contest being over, this Home Rule Bill has passed out of British and Irish recollection.
§ MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy, & c.)
said, there was no necessity to apologise for intervening in this Debate. They had just been reminded in the speech which had been delivered by the noble Lord of the gravity of the present situation and of the magnitude of the problem with which they had to deal. Speaking for himself, he might say that he never approached this subject with light-heartedness. He felt the deep importance of the Constitutional change that was proposed; and he ventured to say that he was prepared to give to the subject that calm and dispassionate consideration which was justified by every circumstance of the case. It occurred to him that there were three classes of argument used in the course of the Debate. There was the argument against the principle of the Bill, which came a little late in the day. Then there was the argument used by all reactionary politicians—the "premature" argument, beginning with "if" and ending with "Perdition." The noble Lord had led them near to Perdition. He would not reply to him, as he preferred to leave him to the tender mercies of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who would speak later on. The noble Lord seemed to think that it was a piece of audacity for Members on the Liberal side to have independent views, or to express them; but they would see on Friday night how much progress had been made. Well, as to the question of Imperial supremacy, if he thought that there was a shadow of doubt as to the maintenance of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, he would consider it his duty to do everything in his power to prevent the passing of the Bill. This 594 Parliament would lose none of its power, and would remain paramount as at present. The noble Lord put forward certain suppositions, in order to make out, upon them, a case for himself. This was a very common mode of argument, and it was possible to demonstrate almost anything in this way. He (Mr. Dalziel) could, if he liked, prove that it was dangerous for Members to leave that House owing to the presence of burglars and robbers outside; but that would be as absurd as the suppositions of the noble Lord. They must bring to boar upon the matter a certain amount of common sense. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had endeavoured to make out that if the Bill were passed it would not be a material contribution to the settlement of the Irish Question, and that this was a premature policy. In 1886, out of 102 Irish Members," there were 86 returned who asked that they should have power to deal with purely Irish affairs on Irish soil. There were three things which contributed to the validity of that demand—first, the knowledge of the Irish people that they had been deprived of their national Parliament—a consideration which was the most powerful of all; secondly, British government had been tried and had proved to be practically a failure—it did not contribute to the welfare of Ireland, a matter which must be measured by the contentment of the people; and, thirdly, the belief of the Irish people that they would be unable to get passed in the Parliament of the United Kingdom those measures which would be for the benefit of their country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian pointed out before the Election of 1885 that they had arrived at a time when there would have to be a change between the relations of the two countries, when they would have to endeavour to secure a permanent solution of the Irish controversy. The answer of Ireland was declared through her Representatives, who by a majority, now as then, knocked at their doors and demanded this change. The question, then, was whether they were to sulk in their tents and refuse to face the problem before them. The Tory Party, having got all the support they could from the Irish Members at the Election of 1885, declared, through the month of the Member for 595 Bristol (Sir M. Hicks-Beach), that they had nothing for Ireland but a coercive policy. It was then that the responsibility fell upon Liberal statesmen of framing a policy which, while it would not be detrimental to this country, would be beneficial to Ireland. They attempted the solution of the problem, and they had met with considerable success. He denied, therefore, that this was a premature policy. The question was forced upon the Liberal Party in a manner which they could not ignore, and it was in a spirit of the highest patriotism that they took it up. There were many proposals in the Bill which he, as a Radical, did not regard with any favour—such as the creation of a Second Chamber, and the withdrawing of the settlement of the Land Question from the Irish Parliament for three years. But if Irish Members were willing to accept the Bill, he did not see why Radicals should oppose it. There was, however, one clause upon which Radical Members would have to take up a very strong position—that as to the proposed retention of the Irish Members. The more the mutter was considered the clearer it would become that the proposal embodied in the Bill of 1886 was the simplest and, for temporary acceptance, the best. But the country, rightly or wrongly, had decided that Irish Members should be retained. The House had to choose, therefore, between the proposal of the Bill and the retention of the Irish Representatives in all cases. The proposal of the Bill would open the door to all kinds of difficulties in carrying on the business of the House. Suppose he were to propose a Resolution with respect to laud values, to which the Irish Members were opposed, he would make the Resolution apply only to Great Britain; but if he could not get it passed without the support of the Irish Members he would have to extend it to Ireland. The opponents of the Resolution, on the other hand, if they thought the Irish Members would vote against it, and that in this way the Resolution would be defeated, would move that it be applied to Ireland. And so it would happen in like manner in the case of an Eight Hours Bill. In his opinion, the real solution of the difficulty lay in the retention of the Irish Members for all questions. He recognised that this was in some respects an anomaly, but it would 596 not be the only anomaly in the British Constitution; and he maintained that it was the only feasible plan for the solution of the question. He thought they were entitled to ask of the Liberal Unionist Members of the House which of two alternatives they preferred; they were entitled to ask for a declaration as to whether they were in favour of the Irish Members voting on all subjects, or in accordance with the proposals of the Bill. The supporters of the Government had been charged during the last six years with concealing their plans, but they now had a right to appeal to the Liberal Unionists to give them their plans. It was the main ground of their opposition in 1886 that Irish representation was not provided for in the House, and he thought they were entitled to ask now what kind of plan they had in view, when they attached so much importance to the point. With all respect to the Liberal Unionist Party, he did not think they had got any plan; they had not yet decided their action upon this particular point, but were waiting to decide it not according to what was good for the country, but what they conceived to be most harmful to the Government. So far as the whole policy embodied in the Bill was concerned they had many opponents, but they had no rivals. The Bill held the field to-day, as it did six years ago; their opponents were statesmen without a policy, politicians without a programme, doctors without the suggestion of a prescription, and they ought to have learned by this time that criticism was not statesmanship, and that opposition was not patriotism. He maintained that the points raised in 1886 were satisfied in the Bill of 1893. They were told that this would not be a final settlement of the controversy. There were some people in that House and outside it who did not want a settlement of this question; it was to their interest to keep it before the country. They knew that the whole mind of the country was concentrated upon the Irish controversy, and that it would be impossible to deal with those social cancers which ought to receive attention at the present time until that matter had been dealt with. Their opponents said that this policy could never succeed, but he would say that they might just as well endeavour to empty the Atlantic with a teaspoon as to think 597 that they could prevent the accomplishment of Home Rule. If anything was clear in this controversy, it was this: that every day the solution of the question was postponed the greater would be the concessions that they would have to make to Ireland. He noticed the other night that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, speaking at Birmingham, made an interesting statement. He said, referring to his own speech delivered in that House—When the other night I challenged the Nationalist Members in their places in the House of Commons to rise and say that they, or any of them, accepted this Bill frankly as a final settlement, there was not one who dared to rise and make a reply. They cannot accept this Bill as a final settlement.If any Irish Member had risen in his place, and had said that he accepted this Bill as a final settlement for Ireland for all time, he thought the House would have acted wisely in handing him over to the care of his relations. No man could decide what the future might bring forth. But if any hon. Member had risen he could have replied to the challenge of the right hon. Gentleman by reading the following extract from a speech of the right hon. Gentleman's, delivered in June, 1881, at Birmingham, when referring to the Land Bill at that time, he said—The Tories say that this would not be a final settlement. Well, perhaps not. There is no finality in politics, and every generation in turn must solve its own problems, and carry forward to a successful issue its own reforms.That was what they said at the present time. The Bill held out to them the advantage at least of a settlement of this question. It might not be final, but, at any rate, it was the first proposal that had made Irishmen and Englishmen understand each other. The first advantage they claimed for this Bill was that it would bring closer the bonds uniting the Irish people and the British people; and, secondly, that it would remove purely Irish concerns from the Imperial Parliament, and would concentrate the popular mind upon those domestic questions which were so urgent and important at the present time. The Bill was not all that might have been expected; but he thought that they ought to be satisfied, as it embodied a policy which, unless all history was to be a closed book, and unless the lessons 598 of their own time were to be set at naught, was founded upon a basis of national greatness, and contained the cardinal secret of Imperial strength.
§ MR. A. CHAMBERLAIN (Worcestershire, E.)
said, he must ask the indulgence of the House for a short time while he endeavoured to discuss this great question. He was aware that a certain amount of impatience was being expressed as to the length of the Debate, but at the same time he would remind the House that it had still to hear a single speech from any independent Member representing a British constituency who would frankly and fully defend this Bill. The hon. Member who had just sat down had not attempted, in the course of his remarks, to show that the Bill would be a satisfactory or permanent settlement of this question. He went far in the other direction, for be proved conclusively that whatever the Bill might be for Irishmen, it would be an intolerable nuisance for Englishmen, as it would establish in that House a state of things to which Englishmen would never submit—that it would make the transaction of British business an impossibility, and would constitute that Assembly the laughing stock of the world. He asked the House what prospect it had that the passage of this Bill would be regarded as a settlement by the Irish Members? But they wore now being told that they were no longer to expect a final settlement, and, in point of fact, the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had ridiculed the idea of finality in politics in terms that were scarcely respectful to the Prime Minister. If it were not to be a final settlement, what sort of a settlement was it to be? For the distrust that was felt on the subject, the framers and supporters of the Bill had only themselves to blame. For his part he did not wish to go about, as the Home Secretary had said, "scavenging among the dust heaps of Irish speeches." The speeches referred to were for the most part fresh in the recollection of the House, and were not mere utterances dropped on Irish platforms in moments of passion alone. They had formed the staple of the speeches that had been made by the Irish Nationalists, and the guide of the general action which the Irish Members had taken during the last six or seven 599 years. Allusion had been made to the bargain that had been arrived at in regard to this Bill; and even in the nature of that bargain, as far as could be seen, there was reason for distrust and suspicion. What was that bargain? The Prime Minister thought that out of his generosity he was offering a free concession to the Irish people. On the other hand, the hon. Member for Waterford only accepted the measure as a tardy and imperfect recognition of the claim to Irish rights. It was not, how-over, a free bargain for the Irish Members. They had no alternative to the choice which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had offered them. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had said that hon. Members opposite would be perfectly ready, when Party exigencies required it, to concede what they now refused. He wondered whether the right hon. Gentleman really meant what he said. He did not like to retort, upon him his own words, and say that the language was language of "transparent insincerity.'' But he would ask the right hon. Gentleman how long did he think that he and his colleagues would sit on the Treasury Bench if the Irish Members suspected they could get more than was now offered them from the Conservative Party? There was another peculiarity in the bargain. What would the House think of the case of two business men who came to an agreement under which each party signed the document containing his own terms, but did not sign the document containing the terms of the other party? This, however, was the position in which the House was now placed in regard to this Bill. Right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench stated what they proposed, and the Irish Members put in different terms what was their view of the working of the proposed arrangement. But assuming there was no ground for distrust in regard to the past speeches of the Irish Members, and that they were sincere in their acceptance of this Bill, what, he asked, was likely to be the case in the future? What guarantee was there that when the Dublin Parliament met there would not grow up even a more extreme Party than that of the Nationalists of the present day? Were they quite sure that when the Dublin Parliament was 600 established, the extreme Party behind them would not outweigh the Party of moderation? They had heard a good deal about "perversity" on the part of either of the two Parliaments, which might wreck or endanger the scheme of Home Rule. He asked the House, was it possible to avoid perversity on the one side or the other? Had the Irish never been perverse? Was Grattan's Parliament never perverse? Did that Parliament never use the difficulties of the Empire to gain concessions for itself? But even in later times, would it not be admitted even by the occupants of the Treasury Bench that there had been much that was perverse in the case of the Irish leaders? At any rate, the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister must have thought so when he shut up several of them in Irish prisons. But, putting, aside what might be the attitude of Irishmen, had England never been perverse in its treatment of Ireland? Why, the whole case for the present Bill was rested by its author on the continued perverseness and ignorance of the English people with regard to Irish affairs. He need not go far back to find cases in which considerable perversity was shown by a large section of the House with regard to the proposals for dealing with Irish questions. What, he asked, was the conduct of the then Opposition during the whole of the last Parliament? It was deliberately planned and carried out in order to place the greatest possible difficulty in the way of those who were then administering the law. For seven years every obstacle that the}7 could place in the way of the Government was placed in the way of the Government. The Homo Secretary had, in a paraphrase of one portion of a speech by the late Irish Secretary, drawn a picture of the Chief Secretary going down to Cork and making a speech for the purpose of embarrassing some future Government. The right hon. Gentleman need not have drawn on his imagination; he might have drawn only on his own memory, and have referred to the present Chief Secretary going down to Tipperary. Perhaps, said the Home Secretary, they could have got up a procession for him, but they did better than that, for they got up a riot, and the Chief Secretary lent the weight of his great position and authority to those who 601 were defying the law and attempting, in the words of an hon. Member, to make government by the ordinary law impossible. With such facts fresh in its memory, how could that House venture to stake the continued existence and greatness of the country and the safe working of its Constitutional system on the chance that there might, never again he perversity on the Treasury Bench or in any other portion of the United Kingdom? Was it not absolutely certain that there would be disagreement—or perversity—in the future? The Prime Minister had laid down four propositions about incorporating and autonomous unity. They were, he thought, most disputable propositions, and most difficult to understand. But he would venture to add a proposition of his own, and to say, in reply to the cases adduced by the Prime Minister, that there was no example of the concession of such a Government as the right hon. Gentleman proposed to establish which had not been followed by further demands and further concessions, unless the people had been kept down by force. Norway and Sweden were hardly helpful examples, as although Norway had acquired almost every right this Bill would give to Ireland, she was still struggling to obtain separate diplomatic relations with other countries. Canada, again, was hardly an encouraging example, as Canada had a great deal more than was proposed by this measure for Ireland, and was still unsatisfied; while, as to Turkey, he put it to the House, had it come to this: that no hotter models for representative institutions could be found than such as were to be obtained from the effect and moribund despotism of Turkey? More strange than all, the right hon. Gentleman asked the House to consider the case of Austria-Hungary. On that point he should like to quote an opinion, taken from an Austrian source, about the workableness of the arrangement which the right hon. Gentleman proposed. He would commend it to the House, because it was, at any rate, a sample of one side of the opinion of the civilised world—a side which, unfortunately, did not seem to reach the Prime Minister. He was sometimes puzzled to know where the Prime Minister found his information about the civilised world. He could not help suspecting that the right hon. 602 Gentleman's friends supplied him with a Bowdlerised edition of it, in which everything against Home Rule had been left out, and nothing but what was favourable allowed to remain. He was living in Germany shortly after the introduction of the Home Rule Bill of 1886, and he met with but one article in any German paper fully approving of that measure, and that article was written by the hon. Member for the Hoxton Division of Shoreditch. Here was another expression of opinion from an Austrian source— namely, from the Neue Freie Presse, the great Liberal organ of Austria, and he commended it to the House, because they had experience in Austria, of Home Rule, and they knew something of the difficulties of a composite Constitution. This paper said—The Irish Members in the House will simply traffic with their votes on Imperial questions, further concessions to Ireland being the price they will demand.It added—This is no empty predict ion, for we in Austria have had painful experience of the 'Plan of Traffic,' as the Reichstag used to he called, and we wish to see England spared the sufferings we have had to endure in our body politic owing to a majority on every important question having to be purchased from the Separatists by further concessions to their respective Provinces."'With that experience before them, why should they suppose that under a similar Constitution, and in a similar state of things, the Irish Members would act, in a totally different way? When they urged this argument, they were told that they must rely on the self-inter cut of Ireland. The interest of Ireland had, he supposed, been the same in the past as it would be in the future, and the interest of Ireland in the past had not been sufficient to maintain the Irish Members in friendly relations with the Government of this country. But interest was not the only thing nor the main tiling which regulated the conduct of men. Sentiment was at least as powerful as interest, and if hon. Members had meant what they had said, if their organs had given expression to their real feelings, then their sentiment was at least very often in great opposition to ours. Under this Bill they combined against us both feelings—both the interest of Ireland and the sentiment of the Irish Nationalist Party. What was going to be the case in the 603 time of war? Were the interests of Ireland or the sentiment of Ireland on all questions of our relations with Foreign Powers, and on the complications which they might give rise to, such as would commend themselves to the majority of that House? The hon. and gallant Member for Galway, speaking the previous night, said that it would not be fair to ask Ireland to give an equal contribution in money for the purposes of war. Why? Because she had not the same interest in war that England had. Yes; but in that case the interest of Ireland might be against them at the time they most needed her aid. He did not rest his case alone on the question of what Ireland would do in time of war. What would be the interest of Ireland in times of peace? This Bill proposed to give the Irish people the management of their own local affairs. That was the claim which the Irish Members now made. What could be more essentially a local affair than the question of the establishment and endowment of religion? What question could there be which touched more deeply, which moved more intensely, the sentiments of the Irish people? Yet, under this Bill, they were to have no power to touch the question and no right to express any opinion upon it. He could not help asking himself why were these safeguards introduced? If the right hon. Gentleman and his followers trusted the Irish Members to the full extent, what necessity was there for any safeguards at all? These safeguards were introduced because right hon. and hon. Gentlemen knew that if this Bill passed the Irish Parliament would wish to do things which they would wish to prevent. Take the question of finance. What was going to be the interest of Ireland—what was going to be the sentiment of Ireland on the financial relations between that country, and what remained of the United Kingdom if this Bill passed? The late Chancellor of the Exchequer asked the previous night what was to happen to the money they had advanced to Ireland under the Land Purchase Acts, and which, as he understood the declarations of the Government, they were to go on advancing? He thought he could tell the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member for East Mayo said in 1888, two 604 years after the consummation of the union of hearts, that—In the name of the people in Ireland who trust in me, I give them (the English people) full and fair warning that I will not consider it an honourable obligation for the people in this country who have bought under pressure of coercion to repay the money should the opportunity arise.He thought, then, that their interests would at once come into conflict with the interests of the people the hon. Member represented. They should be bound to do their best to recover that money, and they would at once have a bitter and difficult conflict with the Irish Parliament. But this concerned only the question of the repayment of the instalments and of interest of money advanced for Laud Purchase. What about the general financial relations between the two countries? It was complained that at the present time two-thirds of the Irish people were against the present system of Government; but when this Bill passed they would have against them on this question of finance, not two-thirds, but the whole of the Irish people. There was not a single Member representing any section of the Irish people who had taken part in that Debate, who had not declared that the financial relations imposed in that Bill were unjust and inexpedient, and could not be maintained. The deputation which the Prime Minister had not time to listen to would have told him the same thing. How, then, were they to expect that the Bill would be, he would not say a final settlement, but a permanent and continuing settlement? How could they expect the Irish people to submit in perpetuity to have their trade relations settled for them by the Imperial Parliament? It was said by the Home Secretary that they would have 80 Members there to represent them, but they had 103 Members there now, and they were not satisfied with 103. Did they think they would be satisfied in future with 80? The more they contemplated these restrictions, and looked into the Bill, the more evident it was that it could not be a permanent or continuing settlement. No wonder the hon. Member for Waterford said he looked forward to the development of this Parliament and Constitution when it was once created. The situation would be intolerable, and they would either have 605 to take hack what they had given or give more. What was to be the guidance they were to receive from right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench? Would they again find salvation and come and tell them that the cheeks and safeguards they introduced they never thought necessary in their minds, and that they were only to satisfy their (Unionist) uneasy consciences? He thought this Bill opened up a vista of trouble, of irritation, and of conflicts between the two countries, of which no man could see the end. He bad only dealt with a small part of the subject, and he thanked the House for the courtesy it had extended to him. He bad tried to show that this Bill could not bring that permanent and continuing settlement which its authors hoped for. He was not insensible to the fair prospect held out by supporters of the measure, and be was also conscious that there was much in the past relations of the two countries which was regret-able and sad, but a brighter day was breaking. A new generation was growing up which was a stranger to the bitter memories, and whose chief desire it was to wipe out all recollection of the past. They (the Unionists) yielded to no one in their sympathy with the Irish people, and in there desire to be just—lye, and to be generous—in their treatment of them. but they believed that this Bill could not be a permanent treaty of peace between the two countries. They believed that it would be disastrous to the prosperity of Ireland and dangerous to the existence of this country. Above all, they believed that it was a cowardly surrender of the obligations they had taken upon them, and a base betrayal of those who had trusted in the goal faith of England. With such a policy as that they could have no part, and to it they must offer all the resistance in their power.
§ MR. JOHN MAINS (Donegal, N.)
said, he had great pleasure in intervening and taking an humble part in this great Debate on the Bill for the bettor Government of Ireland. He sincerely hoped that the House would grant him its kind indulgence this the first occasion on which be had risen to speak there. The opponents of the measure bad alleged that the Prime Minister in his Irish policy was dependent on the Irish Nationalist vote for his majority. They 606 had no right to taunt the right hon. Gentleman in that way, for the present Prime Minister had no need to remain out of Office from 1886 until last summer; all be required to do was to have renounced his pledges to Ireland, and then the Members who called themselves Unionists would have immediately supported him. He remarked that although the Tory Government were returned to Office in 1886 on the plain understanding that they would govern Ireland without any exceptional legislation, and that they would give the Irish people County Councils, and not pledge British credit in Ireland, they immediately forgot all those promises, and passed one of the most drastic Coercion Acts that had been in operation in Ireland for the past 90 years. He addressed the House as an Ulsterman and as an Ulster Member. He represented one of the most Northern constituencies in Ireland—namely, North Donegal. He was also a constituent of the Member for North Berry and of the Member for North Antrim—two Tory strongholds in Ulster. He himself carried on business in Coleraine, was a member of several Public Boards in that district, and was intimately acquainted with that part of the country, and with the wishes and aspirations of the people. Ulster Unionist Members frequently referred to that Province as being entirely opposed to Home Rule, or to the granting of any measure of justice to Ireland such, for instance, as this Bill proposed. But what were the facts? The total population of Ulster was 1,619,814, of whom 741,859 were re-turned as Roman Catholics and 874,955 Protestants. Deducting the number of Roman Catholics from the Protestants they would find that the latter had a majority over the Catholics in that Province of 130,096. To hear the statements of Unionist speakers, sometimes people would imagine that there were scarcely 130,000 Catholics altogether in that Province. The population of Belfast was 255,950, of whom 70,000 were Roman Catholics and 185,950 Protestants. So that if they left Belfast out of the calculation in estimating the population of Ulster, they would really have a majority of Catholics there, and practically all of those were in favour of Home Rule. Not only was this the case, but there were large numbers of Pro- 607 testants also in favour of Home Rule. In his own district of Coleraine, Ballymoney, and Portrush—which he ventured to say was one of the most Protestant parts of Ireland—there were very many influential and respected Protestants in favour of the policy of the present Government. In Coleraine the supporters of the Government were not at all confined to the fanning classes, and he knew many professional gentlemen there of the highest position, as well as shopkeepers and others of influence, who were strong Home Rulers, and many of the tenant-right farmers would also he declared supporters of the right hon. Gentleman if they were allowed to speak out their minds and were not intimidated. He mentioned that the Ballintoy district, which was considered a hotbed of Toryism, a special meeting of the Select Vestry was held for the purpose of passing a resolution against Home Rule, and it was only carried by a bare majority of one, exclusive of the Chairman. As another proof of the strong feeling in favour of Home Rule, he might mention that the papers which supported the policy of the right hon. Member for Midlothian, in the part of Ulster of which he was speaking, such as The Coleraine Chronicle, and The Ballymoney Free Press, had a far larger circulation than those journals which advocated the policy of the Unionist Party. The hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond), speaking in the House on Thursday last, said that one-half of Ulster was favourable to Home Rule. Now, he (Mr. Mains), as an Ulster Representative and as an Ulsterman intimately acquainted with the state of affairs in that Province, asserted that more than half of the population were in favour of the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. Hon. Members would say— "If such is the case, why have you not more than half of the Representatives of Ulster on your side?" His answer was that the Nationalists in the various constituencies had not sufficient funds, like their opponents, to watch and look after the Register, because many of the farmers in Ulster were in fear of declaring their opinions in favour of Home Rule owing to the boycotting to which they would be subjected, and because the majority of the collectors of rent, being 608 against it, assisted in every way to get Nationalists off the Register. He could mention to the House the ease of a Presbyterian minister who had been boycotted—a clergyman who lived in a district not far from Coleraine. It was notorious that the house agents and rate collectors in Belfast were opposed to the Home Rulers, and that they gave all possible assistance to their opponents. They were told by the Ulster Tory Members that Ulster was industrious, wealthy, loyal—in fact, if they blotted Ulster off the map of Ireland they would have nothing left. The fact was that Ulster was not more industrious than the rest of Ireland. It was highly favoured in the past by the Ulster Custom, whereby the improvements of tenants were protected—a custom which did not extend to other Provinces. That was about all. He would direct attention to the fact that Irishmen from all parts of Ireland were to be found in Great Britain, the United States, and the Colonies. Did they ever hear that, amongst all these, Ulstermen were specially singled out for either industry and intelligence over and above men from other Provinces? He appealed to hon. Members if they ever heard a distinction drawn in this matter? Then, as to the wealth of Ulster, he would refer the House to the valuation of the four Provinces of Ireland to be found in the Census for the year 1891, and to the valuation per head of the population, and the Income Tax assessments. The figures had been quoted before, but they deserved the careful study of hon. Gentlemen. He need not pause to inform the House as to the numbers who had emigrated from Ulster as compared with the rest of Ireland. That had been already ably and exhaustively dealt with by hon. Members who were supporters of the Government. He preferred to give local and personal information about the so called prosperity of Ulster, and, in doing this, he might remind the House that that Province had suffered even more from emigration than any of the other Provinces. Was that a sign of prosperity? His business brought him into immediate contact with the farmers of the North of Ireland, and he was well acquainted with the so-called wealthy Province in many parts far beyond his own neighbourhood; and he could state that it was every year becoming more and more difficult to col- 609 lect accounts from the fanners. Hon. Members must bear in mind that outside Belfast and the district surrounding it they had an almost entirely agricultural district—nothing but the industry of agriculture to look to for the support of the population. Well, to his knowledge, farmers who had money by them ten or twelve years ago had none now; and others who at that time were fairly well off wore now over their heads in debt, whilst many others had been obliged, owing to the depression and the bad times, to sell out and leave the country. In those circumstances it could scarcely be contended that Ulster was either wealthy or prosperous. They had heard a great deal throughout the Debate of the loyalty of Ulster. The declarations of loyalty came from the Orange section. Orangemen always professed loyalty to the Queen; but history supplied a clear proof that they wore loyal only while the British Parliament and Government acted as they wished in every particular; but as often as Parliament had passed Acts such as the Emancipation Act, the Municipal Reform Act, and the Disestablishment Act— which were now universally admitted to have boon measures of the simplest justice to Ireland—they had threatened to kick the Queen's Crown into the Boyne. For similar reasons and in similar terms they had attempted to intimidate the House of Commons, and had threatened England with their vengeance. That, surely, was a. curious way of manifesting loyalty. They had heard, too, of the lining of the ditches. Well, there were, he supposed, 60,000 Orangemen in Ireland. Let them imagine 60,000 opposing 4,000,000 or 5,000,000, and then they had a picture of the absurdity of the situation. Were these expressions of loyalty and disloyalty consistent? Certainly not. They were just on a par, however, with all the other arguments against Home Rule. But he would ask, could they expect anything else but threats of civil war from the rank and file of the Tories, when their Leaders and their great Chief in the House, used such language as he had used at Belfast, at Easter? What did the right hon. Gentleman say? Addressing the Ulster Hall meeting, he used these words—No wonder, my Lord Mayor and Gentlemen, that I am informed, by those who ought to 610 know the condition of this great city, that the Loyalists of the population find the task of self-restraint, under such circumstances, no easy task. No wonder I am informed that we are, perhaps, living in Belfast over an explosive mine which a spark might any moment ignite; no wonder men's recollections turn back to the dark days of 1886; and, gentlemen, overwhelming is the responsibility of those men who have brought about, those politicians and Ministers who have brought about, a state of things like that, and I would venture, so far as I can, to appeal to you to recollect that you do not stand alone, that you have not been abandoned by Great Britain, and that the Home Rule Bill has not yet become law. I do not come here to preach any doctrines of passive obedience or non-resistance. You have had to fight for your liberties before. [A Voice: "And will again," and cheers.] I pray God you may never have to tight for them again. I do not believe that you will ever have to fight for them, but I admit that the tyranny of majorities may be as bad as the tyranny of Kings, and the stupidity of majorities may be even greater than the stupidity of Kings, and I will not say—and I do not think any rational or sober man will not say—that what is justifiable against a tyrannical King may not, under sadder circumstances, be justifiable against a tyrannical majority.Was that the same right hon. Gentleman who sent so many to the plank-bed for violating a Coercion Act which was a disgrace to the Statute Book; who punished for crimes which were no crimes? Was that the gentleman who went among the incendiaries of Ulster a fortnight ago, himself the great incendiary of them all? Was he the gentleman who was the Leader of the Opposition in that House? He would not comment further, as he believed the House could form its own judgment. Religion had, unfortunately, been introduced as an argument against the granting of Home Rule. Hon. Members and others at meetings through Unionist portions of Ulster told their hearers that Home Rule meant Rome Rule; Home Rule meant separation from England; Home Rule meant confiscation and the loss of property; and, further, that it meant that Papists would kill Protestants in their beds, and that Catholics were balloting for Protestant property. He was sorry to say many of those things were believed in parts of Ulster. If Home Rule meant Rome Rule, how did the Catholics of Ireland treat the Protestants? They had ample testimony that they always treated them in the most tolerant and liberal spirit. This generous treatment of Protestants by Catholics had been the I characteristic of all Irish history, and 611 they could only judge of the future by the past and the present. They had examples of the liberality of the Catholics in the appointment of Protestant officials for the Municipal Government of cities like Dublin, Cork, Wexford, and others, where the Catholics were in a majority. They had Protestant Mayors, they had Protestant M. P.'s elected by Catholic constituencies, and they had the crowning fact that all the Irish Leaders, with the single exception of O'Connell, were Protestants. The principal businessmen in Catholic Ireland were Protestants. Could the hon. Members of the Ulster Tory Party point to a solitary city where their Party had control in which, a Catholic Mayor had been elected or a Catholic official appointed if a Protestant could be got to take the place? Was there a case of a Protestant constituency electing a Catholic representative? He was bound to say that he had been more than surprised since the introduction of the Home Rule Bill, when he had been obliged to listen to the language used by right hon. and hon. Members and to compare it with what they said a few years ago. They had certainly shown a wonderful facility in altering their opinions. But, at any rate, the opponents of this measure could not prevent it becoming law. The Liberal Party always passed the measures which they took in hand. He could not conclude without expressing an ardent desire that the great, venerable, and illustrious statesman, who had piloted this measure through so many storms since 1886 would be spared to see the accomplishment and successful finish of his great work. When the Bill for the better government of Ireland became law, it would cement a real and a lasting bond of union and brotherhood between the two nations, and if England should, unfortunately, get engaged in war with any Foreign Power, no part of her Army would be more loyal and true than the Irish contingent; and he was quite sure that they would do all they could to uphold and preserve the honour and prestige of this great and mighty Empire.
§ *MR. BUCKNILL (Surrey, Epsom)
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) had spoken of the Bill as a great and novel measure, and even of a 612 revolutionary kind. That being the statement of one of the supporters of the Government, he thought the matter was one upon which everyone ought to be allowed to speak who had sufficient courage to do so. The Prime Minister had said, some years ago, thatHe who would introduce grave Constitutional changes should lay the ground strongly and broadly in historical and political reasons.What were the reasons which justified this measure being made law? He would not follow the right hon. Gentleman in his references to Grattan's Parliament, or to the great O'Connell and his attempts by Constitutional methods to repeal the Union; but he would point out that the Young Irelanders opposed O'Connell and attempted by physical force to obtain repeal, and that not so long ago the Fenian Brotherhood boasted that 15,000 members of that body had been secretly sworn in amongst the British Army. The right hon. Gentleman had from time to time clothed himself in the garb of a prophet. In 1869, when his first great prophecy was made, he said that if the Bill for the Disestablishment of the Irish Church became lawThose blessed words Peace and Justice will be echoed on every Irish shore.That prophecy was a failure. His second great prophecy was made in 1870 on the introduction of his first Laud Act, when he said thatPeace and order would be found and settled and cheerful industry would diffuse its blessings from year to year and day to day more and more over a smiling land.He gave the right hon. Gentleman full credit for believing from the bottom of his heart that in 1869 and 1870 he had found something that would put an end to Irish troubles. But from 1870 to 1881 it was a matter of history what the condition of Ireland was. In 1881, on the introduction of the second Land Act, he prophesied again, but again the prophecy failed. From 1800 to 1885, as the right hon. Gentleman had himself stated, Ireland had not been made either loyal to the Crown or affectionate to the English people. They found this in the language the right hon. Gentleman addressed to the Ulster deputation which waited on him recently— 613We have tried hard from 1800 to 18S5 to work the Legislative Union: we have tried hard by introducing into Ireland all such 7'eforms as we dared and could, and our position is that we have failed.If that was the state of things in the past, what could they say of the present? What indications were there at the present, time, except the speeches they heard in the House, to justify anyone in coming to the conclusion that this great Constitutional change should become the law of the land? What had bean said by the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. Davitt)—whom he quoted its an honest man determined to do what he said he would do—when coaxing the electors of Meath to return him to Parliament? in the presence of 41 priests and other M. P. 's, he said—I will go into Parliament as a Land Leaguer, and as the unrelenting enemy of Irish landlordism,'and so on, and he concluded that part of his speech thus—If I am returned as one of the Members for Meath, I will ambition to be the scourge of landlordism."'In the, light of these observations how were they to understand the speech the hon. Member had delivered in the House the other night, when he was posing as a convert to Constitutional methods, and was spoken of so highly by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for East Fife? This spectacle of the gathering of converts was a very beautiful one. It was charming, in a sense. It read very well in newspapers the next day; but what he had to ask the House to consider was whether they had to credit the speech made by the hon Member in Meath or the speech he had delivered in the House? And they could not forget that the hon. Member had made in America what he subsequently described as a stupid speech, in which he had said—There are two means which we pursue to accomplish our ends—the first is a policy of destruction by hammering against landlordism We are satisfied with nothing but its total abolition. In the House of Commons we pursue a constructive policy, so that you will be able to reconcile the speeches in Ireland against landlordism and the speeches in the House, which might not seem to you in keeping with those delivered by Members of the same Party in the House of Commons.The Irish landlords were the people who had been described by the hon. Member as "the British garrison in Ireland," so 614 that it was not difficult to arrive at the true attitude of the hon. Member at the present, moment. The speech the hon. Member had made the other night was constructive, the other speech he had made was destructive — one loyal, the other disloyal—and the House would know how to reconcile the two. Surely no man was loyal who pledged himself to enter the House to be the scourge of any section of the community. If this Legislative Assembly were granted to Ireland, no doubt the Member for North-East Cork would hold a distinguished position in it, and what position would he take up then? Would he "ambition" to destroy the landlord class? If so, he would not be doing something which would be helping to give equal laws to all sorts and conditions of men. There were but two questions in this case. One was tins—would the Bill, if it became law, tend to make the Irish people—as a people and not a part of it people—contented and happy; and the other was, would it tend to strengthen the British Empire? Unless both of these questions could be answered in the affirmative the Bill ought not to pass into law. But there was, another condition of things. It was said that there could be no harm done with regard to religion because of the safeguards. But that was not altogether true. The Prime Minister declared to, the Ulster Deputation lately that there was no religions jealousy so far as the Roman Catholics were concerned, and quoted O'Connell's "attachment to the Protestant population of Ireland." Did the right hon. Gentleman forget that O'Connell was the man who invented the Roman Catholic priest as a political agent? There was the authority of Mr. A. M. Sullivan's book for saying that it-was the priestwho told their Hocks how to vote and they voted, who in the big world outside was their foe, and him they hated.Daniel O'Connell created the Irish priest as a political agent, and the Irish priest was even to the present time alive to the fact of his creation. He was still acting as a political agent, and not to the benefit of the Parliament or the country. The late Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, in an article published in The Dublin Review in 1885, had said that no one could 615 expect the Irish Roman Catholics to bear goodwill to Dublin Castle and the English garrison, and he added that nations had imperishable memories. If that was a statement from a Roman Catholic Archbishop, was it not fair for the Protestants of Ulster to say that they believed from the bottom of their hearts that if this scheme became law there would be in future, as there had been in the past, dangerous jealousies between Roman Catholics and Protestants? Could it be denied that if the Bill became law and a Parliament was established in Dublin, the majority of Members would be of the Roman Catholic and not of the Protestant religion? For these reasons he said the Bill ought not to pass. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin had been twitted for declaring that in this matter "patience was a virtue," but he (Mr. Bucknill) would remind the House of the passage in Shakspeare—How poor are they that have no patience;What wound did ever heal but by degrees."'No doubt Ireland had had much to complain of in the past, but he did deny that she had any just cause of complaint now. He was anxious to see Irishmen on the same platforms as Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Welshmen, and governed by the same laws, and that was all Ulster was asking for, and all that in 1880 the Prime Minister said he would give. He would therefore be patient, only showing Ireland that Great Britain was anxious to atone for past mistakes and errors, He desired to see—A rainbow of peace and brotherly loveExtend from shore to shore.But they were told that Ireland would never be governed by Great Britain— that however good its laws were she would rather be badly governed by a Parliament of her own than well-governed by the British Parliament. Did that show goodwill and a desire to bury the hatchet? He sincerely trusted that the Bill would not become law, and that those who had held the reins of Office from 1886 to 1892 might yet have another chance of governing Ireland fairly and properly. He protested against the late Government being called a Government of Coercion. They had tried by all lawful means to do right to the Irish people. He objected to the Bill, because he be- 616 lieved if it became law it would neither make the people of Ireland happy and contented, nor tend to the safety, honour, and welfare of the British Crown and people.
§ *DR. MACGREGOR (Invernessshire)
said, the time for long speeches on this question had gone by. The fact was the subject had been thoroughly well thrashed out in the Press, on the platforms, and in Parliament; therefore it was not his intention to trespass on the time of the House for more than a few minutes. He was persuaded that no amount of talking would convert a single Member of the House, or change a vote from one side to the other. He did not rise, therefore, with the intention of attempting the conversion of anyone. He was convinced of the justice and expediency of giving Home Rule to Ireland, and he rose to emphasize that conviction by making one or two suggestions for the purpose of clearing away difficulties. The great difficulty in the Bill, to his mind, was the retention of the Irish Members. Even the friends of the Bill acknowledged that. In 1886 the difficulty was in the exclusion of the Irish Members from the House, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and his followers would have voted for the Bill of that year but for the exclusion of the Irish Members. Now they were equally hostile to the retention of the Irish Members. In passing, he might be allowed to remark how disappointed he was with the changed position of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. At one time he placed much confidence and hope in the right hon. Gentleman's views and declarations. He now hoped that he could reconcile his changed attitude with the dictates of his own conscience. All he (Dr. Macgregor) could say was that if he could his conscience must be a very elastic one. There could be no doubt that the 9th clause of the Bill constituted a great difficulty, and he believed the only solution of the problem respecting the retention of the Irish Members was to be found in the adoption of the principle of Federal Home Rule, or Home Rule all round. He much regretted that the Prime Minister, after the long consideration he had given to the question, had not seen his way to the introduction 617 of a Bill dealing concurrently with Scot-laud, Wales, and Ireland. If Home Rule were a good thing for Ireland, why was it not a good thing for Scotland? He presumed that it would be generally conceded that Scotchmen were fairly capable of managing their own affairs. Why should they be compelled to come to London for local legislation, which was even then too often denied to them because of the pressure of business in this House? The Parliamentary machine was blocked, and a deadlock was fast approaching. The demands for social and political legislation had so vastly increased in recent years that it was utterly impossible to deal with them in one Parliament. It was, therefore, absolutely necessary to have a devolution of work to the various Provinces and to allow Local Bodies to deal with local affairs, with one Parliament supreme over all? The Local Bodies could send a third or a half of their numbers to the House of Commons to manage Imperial affairs. He hoped it would never be necessary for Scotchmen to resort to violent methods to obtain recognition of their national rights once more. In saving this he made no reflection on the tactics which his Celtic cousins had found necessary to obtain recognition of their nationality; on the contrary, he thought other nationalities owed them gratitude for the example of constancy and courage they had set them. Why should England, the reputed mother and cradle of liberty, continue to play the tyrant over weaker nations? As he listened to the exposition of his country's wrongs by the hon. Member for North-East Cork, he felt that every word might apply with equal force to that other branch of the Celtic race in the Highlands of Scotland. What is the real reason for the opposition to Home Rule? He knew that the alleged reasons advanced by the Unionists against the Bill were "separation" and the "disintegration of the Empire." But these bogus cries were no longer tenable, and no one believed in them. The real objection to Home Rule lay in the fact that the privileged classes, feeling their monopoly of power slipping from their grasp, wore making a last desperate effort to retain it. Would it not be more wise and prudent for the governing and privileged classes to make reason- 618 able concessions to the democracy in time, before the democracy by more violent means swept every obstacle from their path? The Leader of the Opposition commented in his speech in Belfast on the tyranny of majorities. But there was a tyranny far worse than the tyranny of majorities, and that was the tyranny of minorities; and a privileged minority in these countries had for a long time exercised tyranny over the majority of their fellow-countrymen. Why should Ulster—or rather half of Ulster—have the right to dictate to the rest of Ireland? It would not be more absurd if the Opposition dictated to the Government that what they desired, and not what the majority desired, should be enacted. The right hon. Gentleman prayed that Ulster would not be called upon to fight. So transparent an incitement to rebellion was unworthy the Loader of a great and historic Party, and it must have created in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman himself a certain amount of "philosophic doubt." The noble Lord the Member for Paddington had also declared that "Ulster will fight, and Ulster will be right." Such a sentiment might be very characteristic of the modern lion-hunter, but it was hardly worthy a Member of the Privy Council, and one of Her Majesty's ex-Ministers. He would make one other suggestion to the Government with all earnestness and respect. If the Bill should be thrown out by the other House, let the Government come back next Session with an all-round Home Rule Bill dealing simultaneously with the various sections of the United Kingdom, and he ventured to predict that such a measure would be received with ten times greater popular enthusiasm than the present lop-sided attempt to satisfy national aspirations and national demands for self-government.
§ *MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
said, he, for one, entertained vehement objections to the proposal of "Home Rule all round," which the hon. Member who had just sat down put forward as an alternative to the Bill, before the House. The hon. Member seemed to hope that the Prime Minister might be induced even at the eleventh hour to accept the proposal. He warned the hon. Member that he must expect some disappointment or some defer- 619 ment of his hopes, for, until he had succeeded in forming and drilling a compact Party of at least 80 Members in-that House, it was idle for the lion. Member to suppose that he would succeed in inducing the Prime Minister to change a policy to which the right hon. Gentleman was pledged. Turning to the scheme before the House, which was to grant Ireland separate Parliaments, he would briefly state his reasons for voting against the Second Reading. He held strong views on the question of Ulster, which he would ask the House to take for granted. He was strongly opposed to the retention of the Irish Members, but was content, to quote words published by the Prime Minister only last year, "To take his objection simply to a proposal that Irishmen should deal exclusively with their own affairs and jointly with ours." The question whether the Preamble was the proper place for the declaration of so high a principle as that of Imperial supremacy was one for lawyers, and he would not detain the House by discussing it; but he shuddered when he heard the other day that those charged with revising the Statutes found no fairer field for their hewing propensities than in the Preambles of Statutes. If so, the action of the Government in this matter had been rated too high by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. The Preamble, so far from being a shrine in which objects of reverence were ensconced, would seem to be rather a dustbin in which rubbish was shot to be carted away. He would not detain the House by discussing the many safeguards with which, as had been truly said, the Bill bristled. There were two vetoes in the Bill. One was the veto to be exercised by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland on the advice of the Irish House of Commons; and the other veto was to be exercised on the advice of the British House of Commons. But they were told that the second veto could never be exercised unless they wore prepared to reconquer Ireland. It was clear that such safeguards could do little to re-assure those who feared that the new vehicle of Irish Government would travel too fast. The first was but a fifth wheel to the coach, and the second a brake, which the guard was cautioned never to use. Then they had trial by the Ex- 620 chequer Judges, the absurdity of which had been exposed by the noble Lord, the Member for Paddington. The Chief Secretary seemed to suggest that the assistance of a jury was implied in the clause criticised by the noble Lord. But the clause spoke of trial by two Exchequer Judges. Were they to infer that the Government carried their admiration of dualism so far that, not content with Government by two Parliaments, they also wished to institute trial by two juries? He would not further discuss these provisions, but would confine his observations to only one aspect of the measure. He would ask what chance it had of satisfying the aspirations of Ireland? That was a prior consideration. If they were not going to satisfy Ireland by the Bill, they might save themselves the trouble of inventing safeguards or of investigating the question whether every precaution had been taken in the general interests of the Empire. If they disappointed Ireland under the Bill they would infallibly breed ill-will in that country, and all the contemptuous eloquence of the Home Secretary would not be able to put away the danger which they would have rightly and justly incurred. The Home Secretary did not condescend to argue with the possibility that they might arouse in Ireland something akin to hatred and animosity. By the admission of right hon. Gentlemen opposite there were now in Ireland thousands of men who desired complete independence, or, at all events, a Parliament completely independent and coordinate with this Parliament, and out of Ireland there were millions of Irishmen who cherished the same wish. By this Bill they would create an environment in which these opinions would develop and propagate;—opinions which, by the admission of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they existed to any large extent, constituted an unanswerable objection to any concession of Home Rule. That being so, they ran very great risk in passing this Bill. They might be told that the odds were great against this country ever again having to face such a Power as that wielded by the First Napoleon at the opening of the century; they might be told that the odds were far greater against such a national danger coinciding with the existence of disloyalty, hatred, and animosity in Ireland; but it 621 was their duty not to do anything to increase the probability of such a situation. As it was, the just indignation of Ulster under the Bill would create a greater danger in Ireland than ever existed before: but if in this Bill they disappointed the hopes not only of Ulster, but of Nationalist Ireland, they rendered the chances far greater that they might have to fight once more, not for riches, not for pre-eminence in the world, but for national existence. He asked the House, therefore, to consider whether the measure was likely to satisfy, not for ever, but for long, the wishes of Ireland, judged by the speeches of the hon. Member for Water-ford and of the Home Secretary: either of those eloquent speeches taken alone constituted an able defence of the Bill. But they did not stand alone. They were made in defence of the same Bill. And in the essential conflict between the ideas inspiring those two speeches, he found the most emphatic condemnation of the policy they were alike delivered to defend. The hon. Member for Waterford had spoken what he (Mr. Wyndham) believed to be the real sentiments of Ireland. On the other hand, the Home Secretary, as the spokesman of the Government, had strained every nerve to prove that compromise was possible, but had failed to convince the House. Such a demand as that put forward by the hon. Member for Water-ford could only be satisfied by the concession of an independent co-ordinate Parliament, and, above all, by a Parliament bound by no financial obligations to Great Britain. Such a demand could only be refused by insisting on complete Legislative Unions. The hon. Member for Waterford said—Ireland is a distinct and separate; nationality …. for 600 years Ireland had her own Parliament, a Parliament which, whenever the opportunity arose, claimed the exclusive right to legislate for the Irish phople.That was an accurate statement of the whole history of Ireland. Ireland had had many Parliaments—Parliaments in which Catholics and Protestants were represented in the time of James I., the Parliament in which Catholics only were represented in the time of James II., and the Parliament in which Protestants only were represented, by means 622 of which, with the assistance of the Volunteers, Grattan obtained legislative independence; but all the Parliaments, differing in franchise, composition, and aim, had one goal to which they all marched—the abolition of the right which England claimed to legislate for Ireland over the head of the Irish Parliament. The Home Secretary, dealing with the very same point, said—I say that under this Bill the Imperial Parliament has a continued and unimpaired power of legislating for the whole Empire, including Ireland…. It is clear that the Irish House of Commons will not have the right to alter even a letter or a comma in an Act of Parliament passed here.On the one hand, they had the hon. Member for Waterford basing his claim on the recollection of all the Parliaments of Ireland; steeped in the traditions of these Parliaments: reminding them of the policy pursued by every Irish Parliament till Grattan and the group of illustrious men who surrounded him wrung from England the admission that she had no right to legislate for Ireland. On the other hand, they had the spokesman of the Government recommending a compromise specifically on the ground that it embodied a restriction which every Nationalist Leader, dead or living, had denounced, and against which every Irish Parliament had protested. With that contrast existing, he was not surprised that Her Majesty's Ministers had abandoned the plea of finality, which until a short time ago was one of the five essential conditions of Home Rule, and were now content to claim acceptance of the Bill on the ground that it would be the basis of the relations between the countries. The hon. Member for Devonport the other night had given the House some little historical instruction. He told them not to be afraid of the policy of the Government, as it was no new thing. But the complaint of the Unionist Party was that it was no new thing. For the policy of granting a subordinate Parliament to Ireland had been tried and failed in practice; had been discussed in Council and had been rejected in Council. The hon. Member for Devonport had stated truly that Pitt once contemplated some such middle term between Grattan's independent 623 Parliament and complete Legislative Union. But that plan had been at once abandoned, because from the moment it was first mooted in a letter from the Duke of Portland to Lord Shelburne, in 1782, it was denounced and rejected by every man entitled to speak for the Irish nation. This plan for giving Ireland a Parliament with control over her local affairs, and having an Imperial Parliament for Imperial purposes, was not as much as debated in the Irish House of Commons, for it was felt to be an insult to the Irish race, but it was discussed in the English House of Commons in January, 1799, and was thus criticised by Sheridan—Are we to be told that independence will survive the Union though in a modified state, that Parliament will be left to judge of the local affairs of Ireland? Really, Sir, this seems almost too much for men's feelings—a Parliament!a sort of National Vestry for the Parish of Ireland.How could the Government ask the House to repeat an experiment which had failed most egregiously and most completely in 1782:—an experiment which must always fail? For such a compromise at once fomented and disappointed the national aspirations of Ireland; gave to Ireland the semblance of national independence, and denied to her the substance of political equality, in the absence of which Grattan had said Ireland must always be the enemy of England's power. The Home Secretary had charged the Unionists with inconsistency in their arguments against the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman said the Unionists alleged that the Bill would make Ireland master of Great Britain, and, at the same time, leave the Irish unsatisfied in Ireland. But where was the inconsistency in saying that the Bill gave the Irish Members too little power of government in Ireland to satisfy the national aspirations, and at the same time gave them too much power at Westminster to allow the Representatives of Great Britain full control over their own affairs? You could not compensate a man for hampering him in his affairs by allowing him to meddle in yours. You would not reconcile a tenant to restrictive clauses in his lease by allowing him a right of way 624 through your garden. The Home Secretary, replying to the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, who pointed out that Ireland would have no Flag, no Army, no Navy, stated that Ireland would be reconciled to the restrictions on the normal rights of a nation which the Bill imposed by being allowed to send Representatives to the Imperial Parliament to vote on Supplementary Estimates. The pity was that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway looked upon the Army as our Army, not their Army, upon the Navy as our Navy, not their Navy, and upon our diplomatic relations as English, not Irish diplomatic relations. The Home Secretary did not seem to appreciate the first difficulty of the Irish Question—namely, the claim of the Nationalists that Ireland was a nation. This claim of Ireland was one which, if they thought it must be met, they could meet any day by granting to Ireland an independent and co-ordinate Parliament; it was a demand which they could never meet on any day by granting to Ireland a subordinate Parliament bound by a tribute to Great Britain; but it was a demand which, he hoped, some day they would be able to meet by preserving to Ireland her proportionate representation in the House. The Government asked them to repeat an experiment which had failed in 1782 because it did not sufficiently recognise Ireland's nationality. There were two additional reasons for predicting failure in the future oven swifter and more complete than in the past. The first he would merely mention—it was Ulster. The Home Secretary endeavoured to rule out the claim of Ulster on the ground that it was incompatible with the demand of Nationalist Ireland for Home Rule. He thought that with more reason they could rule out Ireland's claim as incompatible with the continued enjoyment by Ulster of that political equality to which every part of the Kingdom was entitled before the concession of special privileges to any part was as much as entertained. The graver objection was inherent in the financial proposals of any measure of this kind, but was accentuated in the particular proposals of the Government. Some such compromise as that pro- 625 posed by the Bill in the matter of finance was rejected before 1800. Canning, speaking in the British Parliament in 1799 on the proposed "middle term" between Independence and Union, pointed out that the financial relations woulddeprive the Parliament of Ireland of all freedom and dignity in the points the most essential to its very being as a Parliament.Canning contemplated a quota: under the Bill a particular Fund was appropriated, but this did not affect the gravamen of his charge, which lay in the words—Without power to give or withhold the Irish Parliament might remain a respectable Council, but not a House of Commons according to the genuine spirit of the British Constitution.And what did the hon. Member for Waterford say of the particular proposals in the present Bill?—I have met no man of any political Party in Ireland who has ventured to suggest that the government of the country could be successfully carried on under the financial clauses of the Bill.That difficulty was inherent in any attempt to give Ireland an independent Parliament, and at the same time exact from her an Imperial contribution. The Home Secretary had, again, in this matter brought an illusory charge of inconsistency. He would say, not only that this Bill was unjust to Great Britain and inadequate for Ireland, but that every measure of the kind must labour under that double disadvantage. The Prime Minister told them that they were to be rid of a system which was incredibly and immeasurably wasteful.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said the Chief Secretary applauded that, but who was to benefit by the reform? What had England to gain under the Bill? It could be proved to demonstration that she could not gain a single penny under it, and that if the present system was wasteful, England must for ever bear the loss of that, waste. The Prime Minister asserted that the Customs upon which he proposed to lay his hands would produce nearly the right amount. By what standard did the 626 right hon. Gentleman arrive at the right amount? In 1886 he said that Ireland's right proportion would be l–14th or l–15th, but that would more nearly approach £4,000,000, and would far exceed the amount now proposed by this Bill. That amount was estimated upon the difference between the total revenue collected from Ireland and the total expenditure in that country. It appeared from a Return of the hon. Member for Cambridge University that out of every £100 contributed by the British taxpayer, 70 per cent. went to Imperial charges, and 30 per cent. for local expenses. In Ireland, by a strong coincidence, the proportion was exactly the reverse. Out of every £100 contributed by the Irish taxpayer, 30 per cent. only went to Imperial charges, and 70 per cent. was retained or returned to Ireland for local expenditure. But the sum which was for ever to represent Ireland's contribution was estimated on that 30 per cent. —namely, on the difference between the revenue collected from Ireland and the amount expended there locally, an amount criticized as extravagant beyond belief. [Mr. SEXTON: Revision.] He accepted the interruption, and confidently foretold that any revision must be against and not in favour of British interests. Great Britain would, therefore, reap no benefit from economy, if economy took place under the Bill, for the Bill stereotyped for all time, as against Great Britain, a system characterised, according to the Prime Minister, by incredible and immeasurable waste. He came now to the position which Ireland would occupy under the Bill. She would have still to contribute a sum equal to 30 per cent. of her present Revenue to the Imperial Exchequer, and the remainder of her future Revenue would be for her own use. The 70 per cent. which Ireland now received back was raised from the whole area—with the aid of the whole credit of the United Kingdom. But he doubted whether Ireland would be able to collect such a sum from Ireland alone and with the aid only of her own credit. For instance, he did not believe that the Probate Duty assessed and collected in Ireland would equal her share of the Probate Duty assessed and collected from the United Kingdom. If that were 627 so, Ireland would be poorer than now. And he ventured with reference to the interruption of the hon. Member for West Kerry to prophesy that whenever the ratio of the money at Ireland's disposal to her Imperial contribution sank below 70: 30, the present ratio, there would be a cry for revision against Great Britain. Under any financial scheme that might be devised credit and economy of collection would be destroyed, and a great loss would ensue. Who would bear that loss? Would England, who, under the Bill, must still suffer the stereotyped result of incredible and immeasurable waste, or Ireland, where, according to the hon. Member for Waterford, there was not a man who did not spell "bankruptcy" in the provisions of the Bill? He was convinced that under no measure would they be able to arrive at an equitable and adequate financial arrangement between the two countries. He had touched only on one aspect of the Bill as illustrated in the speeches of the Member for Waterford and the Home Secretary. He had endeavoured, in the light of their eloquence, to estimate its chances of satisfying Ireland's aspirations by granting a subordinate Parliament trammelled with financial obligations. And when he remembered the passion of national pride which glowed in the periods of the hon. Member for Waterford, he declined to believe, even if the Irish people now accepted this measure in sincerity, that they would for long be content with a sham independence purchased at another nation's expense. And if they should not, as they could not, prove content, he, as an Englishman, could not afford them in this measure a just and sufficient cause for joining the enemies of his country.
§ *THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. J. MORLEY,) Newcastle-upon-Tyne
I have listened, as the House always listens, to the hon. Member for Dover with interest, and I confess—what I cannot say of other speakers—that I am always sorry when he sits down. The hon. Member, from his official position as Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition, has had opportunities of fathoming the realities of Irish life which have not 628 fallen to many Members of the House. The hon. Member, as I am glad to find, has not contented himself with the mere controversy of the day. He has gone back to the days of those who have left us this legacy—the days of Pitt, Sheridan, Shelburne, and others; and, therefore, unlike his Chief, the Leader of the Opposition, it cannot be said of him that he has neglected the past in considering the problems of the present. The hon. Member, talking of the speech of the Home Secretary, said that my right hon. Friend had set up a certain number of cock-shots which it was for Gentlemen opposite to hit over with a stick. Though I cannot but admire the talent of the hon. Gentleman, I cannot admit that he has hit over with a stick any of those cock-shots. He declares that Ireland now comes before us, in the demand which the present Government is endeavouring to meet, as a nation. He says that this is not a demand to be met by any miserable policy of compromise. He says that the policy of compromise has broken down. Has not the policy of no compromise broken down? Why are we discussing this Bill to-night? It is because the policy of no compromise, of which the present Leader of the Opposition was and is the most unflinching Representative, has broken down in his own hands. ["No, no!"] I shall have more to say on that by-and-by. Meantime, will you allow me to assert it provisionally? Hon. Gentlemen opposite will not deny that it broke down at the General Election. The Member for Dover showed that he had not only studied this question in its historic aspect, but that he had considered seriously the important points raised by the situation and the Bill. I will not attempt now to deal with the points that he raised. I shall have something to say by-and-by on the points raised by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. The contentions of the hon. Member for Dover are worthy of consideration, and will require to be dealt with in Committee. He says that it is impossible to devise or imagine an equitable plan for adjusting the relations between Great Britain and Ireland on the footing of separate Exchequers; but when the time comes I have no doubt that we shall be able to deal with that and other questions.
§ MR. MORLEY
The hon. Member says that the wit of man, of which we have heard so much, and in which I have considerable faith, cannot devise a plan by which Ireland shall pay only a just and equitable share, and by which Great Britain shall not demand more than her just and equitable share. Surely that is not an impossible thing to do when we shall come to close quarters with it in a few days. The hon. Member warned us that the passion of national pride, to which the hon. Member for Waterford and also the hon. Member for North-East Cork gave admirable and noble expression, cannot be met by such a Bill as this, and he asked what are Gentlemen on this side going to do with that passion surging, now tumultuously, now less tumultuously, but always flowing with new and ever-increasing volume. What are you going to do with it? Now, I will turn from the hon. Member—leaving untouched many important points raised by him—to the general course of this Debate. Last night the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square, raised the bitter cry that we on this side of the House, and especially Members on this Bench, gave no reply to arguments. I have listened to nine-tenths of this Debate when gentlemen opposite were engaged in more agreeable occupations. I thought in my innocence that the House of Commons was the scene and the arena upon which these questions are to be fought out. But the noble Lord the Member for Paddington, to whom I hope to make more or less an answer which I trust he will not think inadequate, reserves his "full-blooded" speeches for circuses at Liverpool.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The noble Lord protested against the adjective, but he gave the people of Liverpool the substantive. I think I have listened, I say, to nine-tenths of what you call arguments; but those arguments were more prophecies, and the only reply to pro- 630 phecies, as everybody knows, is not to believe them. That form of reply was freely and abundantly given. Gentlemen opposite pretend to argue that our safeguards are inadequate. Yes; but what they really do is to foretell with the greatest confidence such a state of things that no safeguards within the compass of Legislature would be adequate. I submit that our hopes are at least as substantial as your fears. [Cheers.] Yes; and if I may be allowed a moment to stray into the green pastures of the doctrinaire, I would warn gentlemen opposite that those only see aright into the future of civilised communities who hope, and not those who fear. I have not boon able to gather in this Debate any reason why our optimist predictions should be dismissed as empty sentimentalism, and your pessimist predictions are to be extolled as oracles of wisdom. I will give an instance of the kind of thing which passes muster for what is called argument. My right hon. Friend the Member for the University of London last night framed an argument on the great increase of emigration during the last three months—January, February, and March. I wonder that my right hon. Friend should have fallen into so ludicrous a position. He, at all events, ought to know that these volumes of emigration are due to economic and other causes, and have very little to do with a political cry of the hour, even though it be a great political cry. My right hon. Friend said that, according to Official Returns, the first three months of the year showed an increase in the number of emigrants of 3,000 and odd as compared with the corresponding period of last year. But this was following on a decrease of 5,000 and odd for the four months after the present iniquitous Government came into Office—from September to December of last year, as compared with the corresponding period in 1891. That shows what any man of sense in this House must be well aware of—that these variations, so far as they are abnormal, are the outcome of the restrictions on emigration adopted last year by the American Government, and which have since been removed. That is my answer to that line of argument. Another argument was made last night by another right hon. Gentleman, 631 I think the Member for the Ormskirk Division (Mr. Forwood), and he said, "You must refer, if you want to know what is thought of this Bill, of your projects and policy, you must look to the opinion of great centres of trade and commerce." The right hon. Gentleman comes from a county which I also have the pleasure of coming from, which is a great centre of trade and commerce—namely, the County of Lancaster. He said, "Let us feel, then, the pulse of the County of Lancaster." The noble Lord in his speech at Liverpool said he was proud of Lancashire, that he was not dissatisfied with the political record of Lancashire. Sir, there is no other county in which there has been such a movement of opinion in respect of this question of the better Government of Ireland than the County of Lancaster. In 1886 the Party of better Government for Ireland carried only, I think, 12 seats; but in 1892, when this question, mind you, has been threshed out as it has in few counties in the Kingdom, the Liberal Party, the Party of the better Government of Ireland, doubled their representation. That is a record with which the noble Lord is not dissatisfied, and which the right hon. Gentleman appeals to as an indication of the pulse of the country.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
That is quite true, but the point is the movement of this question during the six years when the late Chief Secretary (Mr. A. J. Balfour), himself a Lancashire Member, had it all his own way. Lancashire, which was not specially concerned in other questions in the Newcastle Programme, as London is for example, Lancashire has moved in this extraordinary way; and I do not believe, and I am told by those who have remained in Lancashire, and followed the political history of Lancashire more closely than I have been able to do, that on no question since the great Free Trade days, which were days of Lancashire's triumph, the days of Bright and Cobden, since then on no question has there been such movement, such depth of feeling as there has been amongst these men upon this 632 question. When, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman says that trade and commerce depend on peace and contentment, Lancashire has shown that she more readily believes than in 1886 to the tune of 100 per cent. in her representation that peace and contentment lie through the conciliation of Ireland, and no men are better able to claim the right to speak for Lancashire than the Liberal Representatives of that county at this moment. I now come to the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord R. Churchill), who opened the Debate this evening, and who said, quite unnecessarily, that his speech would be dull and lengthy. I am afraid I shall be more dull, and I do not know that I shall be much less lengthy. The noble Lord wound up by an impressive peroration, impressive because he really knows a great deal about Ireland. He wound up by saying he was going to tell the House —the words were perhaps a little high— his profound and prophetic view. I listened to the formula in which he would embody this profound and prophetic view, and I heard phrases about the survival of the fittest and magnetic consolidation. I confess I have not the least idea of what magnetic consolidation means or what it has to do with this question. The noble Lord in the greater part of his speech raised Committee points. I am going to deal with such of them as I can, but I submit that most of them were Committee points, of great importance, I fully admit. The noble Lord complained that the Debate had turned upon large general principles, but I thought that was the very thing that a Second Reading Debate was supposed to do. He took it out of that region, and he asked various questions, which at the risk of wearying the House I will try to answer. He asked—Is there any known Constitution which exposes a Legislature to such doubts and exceptions and restrictions as those to which we expose the Irish Legislative Body under this Bill? The answer is the simplest in the world. The United States of America and the Dominion of Canada. The noble Lord shakes his head, but I say, without fear of contradiction, that every State in the American Union is subject to restrictions far more severe than those in this Bill. After all, the 633 two most important restrictions in this Bill, everybody will admit, are those which prohibit the endowment of a religion and the imposition of Customs Duties. These are restrictions which the noble Lord well knows are imposed on every State in the American Union. Then as regards Canada, does he really think there are no restrictions either upon the power of the Dominion of Canada in respect of this Parliament where we sit, or on the powers of the Provincial Legislatures towards the Dominion Government? Why, the noble Lord has only to go into the Library and he will find two enormous volumes of decisions of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, settling, or trying to settle and decide those very points of doubt which have arisen as to the respective spheres of jurisdiction of the Provincial Legislatures and the Dominion Legislature. I am rather amazed that the noble Lord should have made so extraordinary a proposition. Then he told us of a very learned legal authority whom he had consulted upon the provisions of this Bill. He declined somewhat peremptorily to give me the name, in order that we might know what force attaches to it, of that legal authority. I wish to speak of any legal authority in Ireland, of most legal authorities in Ireland, with great respect, as the legal authority of the noble Lord may be some friend of my own, therefore I shall speak of him with respect, but I must say that in the first large point raised by the noble Lord this high legal authority has let him into a complete mare's nest. What was all that talk of the noble Lord that under the Bill we propose to send cases of treason to be tried by one or two Exchequer Judges without a jury? Of course, as I ventured to interrupt the noble Lord in response to his invitation, the Exchequer Judges in a case of that kind will sit with a jury wherever other Judges would do so.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell the House where that is laid down in the Bill, and how it is that an appeal lies from a special Court of the Exchequer Judges, where no jury is mentioned, to the Privy Council, which represents the Crown, 634 and where no jury could possibly come in?
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The noble Lord asks where he will find it in the Bill. The Bill does not override common law and common sense. The noble Lord said there were hidden meanings in the Bill. Well, what he calls a hidden moaning is the application of the common law to the Bill, and what may be, I do not say it is, what may prove to be on careful examination—not such examination as the high legal authority seems to have given to it, but upon careful examination, may prove to be the case—that the words of the Bill do not meet the point. Hut how absurd it is to use what may be—though I do not admit it—a bit of obscure drafting, and to set that down as a dark and sinister design on the part of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to abolish trial by jury. The third point of the noble Lord was, will the law relating to chaplaincies in workhouses, meetings and processions of the Salvation Army, and modifications of the Lands Clauses Acts, and other illustrations which he gave, be against the 4th section? My only answer to that is that that will depend upon the precise terms in which the law is passed. It will be open to anyone to contend that the law violates the 4th section of the Act, and whether in a given case, such as the Salvation Army or the Orange processions, or in any other set of circumstances, that contention is good will depend upon the character of the law and the facts to be settled by a. decision of the Courts. The noble Lord asks whether the decisions of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in cases of appeal would be binding on the Irish Courts. Undoubtedly.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Certainly upon Irish Courts, but I have no doubt upon both, because the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is constituted by this Bill 635 a filial Court of Appeal in the matters which come before them. Therefore I take it that the answer to that question is that the decision would be binding both on Irish and English Courts. The fifth point of the noble Lord—at least he tried to make it a point—was that my right hon. Friend and the rest of us had endeavoured to favour Magee College, which is Presbyterian.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I did not make it a point; I only pointed out that under the clause Magee and Maynooth Colleges occupied a superior position, in point of view of safety, to Trinity College and other corporate endowments in Ireland.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I only failed to draw a distinction between pointing out and making a point, but I believe I seized what the noble Lord was at. He said that Magee College, which is Presbyterian, and Maynooth, which is Roman Catholic, as against Trinity College and other Corporations, wore more exposed to certain criminal or nefarious designs which an Irish Parliament might perhaps entertain.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The noble Lord and his legal authority have made a little confusion. The noble Lord said that the 2nd sub-section protected Magee and Maynooth, whereas the 6th exposed Trinity College and other Corporations to special attack. The 2nd sub-section no doubt protects those denominational institutions as to the right to maintain them. The 6th sub-section gives quite another aspect to the matter. It turns entirely upon the rights of property, and in that respect Maynooth and Magee Colleges on the one hand are precisely and absolutely on a level with Trinity College on the other. The noble Lord must consult his legal authority again. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Courtney)—one of the few eminent men of his section who, I believe, really desire to remain Liberals as well as Unionists—my right hon. 636 Friend, who has considered the Irish Question for a great many years, asked how it was we had left out the clause of the American Constitution dealing with the obligation of contracts. I will tell him and the House in a sentence or two why this was. We did carefully consider this provision in the Constitution of the United States, as it was obvious it might apply to the case of Ireland. The operation of this provision of the Constitution of the United States was carefully examined by us, and what did we find? That in the United States—and we have among us a Colleague who knows more about the process of legislation and administration in the United States than can be found among any other English Party—we found that there was an enormous number of cases in which the meaning, the effect, and the intention of that clause had been constantly discussed, and that questions of great difficulty and great importance arose in spite of all the cloud of decisions, questions of great difficulty and great importance still remained to be settled. Then it was considered whether the English Courts would adopt the same line of interpretation which was adopted in all these cases in the United States. We found that the provision might fail to baffle some kinds of legislation that were objectionable, and, on the other hand, it would check some kinds of legislative action which everybody in the House would agree to describe and think of as legitimate. That was the result of the United States experience. On these grounds—first, because it would be likely to lead to much complicated litigation, therefore its action would be uncertain; secondly, because it might prevent harmless and unobjectionable legislation; thirdly, because it might easily fail to hinder obnoxious laws—we preferred to model the clause upon the language of other parts of the American Constitution. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. A. J. Balfour) said, "Oh, you have borrowed a clause which was introduced in order to protect the blacks." Well, a noble relative of his would hardly object to a clause protecting Irishmen on that ground. The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. There are parts of the American Constitution far older than the 14th Amendment—which 637 was no doubt specially devised to protect blacks. Parts far older than that exist in many State Constitutions, not only in the 14th, but in the 5th Amendment of the American Constitution.
§ MR. COURTNEY
Allow me to ask my right hon. Friend whether in the light of his American experience he cannot, while following the principle, avoid the dangers which appear to be considerable?
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I do not know how that may be. There is no special objection to the importation of these restrictions if it is thought desirable when the Committee stage comes on, and if my right hon. Friend will argue the ease he will be listened to with perfect consideration. Now I go back for a few minutes to the noble Lord.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
All these points are very complicated. My point about the Article in the American Constitution was this: that if a certain law was passed for taking property on certain terms, would not the decision of the Courts as to the validity of the law determine the question whether compensation was just or not.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
In a particular case no doubt it would have to be examined to see whether it was just or not. The standards by which the justice of the compensation would be settled are standards which I know are not according to the existing law. The question is open to consideration in Committee whether you are going to put further restrictions on the power of deciding what is just compensation and what is not. Now I come to the broader question raised by the noble Lord when he says—What do you mean in your Subsection 6—what do you mean by the expression "Her Majesty"? My answer is that that depends upon the collocation of the Bill, but, speaking generally, in most cases—I cannot make a particular exception and reservation at the moment —but in most oases it moans Her Majesty advised by Her Imperial Ministers. Now, take the case of Trinity College, which the noble Lord first raised his point upon. 638 The 6th sub-section of the 4th clause undoubtedly means Her Majesty as advised by Her Imperial Ministers. There is no doubt in the 1st sub-section of the 5th clause, which turns upon the Executive authority, "Her Majesty" means Her Majesty advised by Her Imperial Ministers.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
And the same is true of the 2nd sub-section. The noble Lord said, "This is Poyning's law over again."
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Did he not say Poyning's law? I appeal to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway whether he did not say it was Poyning's law being put round your necks? His legal advisor has not told him what Poyning's law was. Poyning's law set up a state of things which was totally different from any state of things set up by this Bill, with all its exceptions and all its restrictions. Poyning's law—I am not going to deliver a lecture upon the merits or demerits of Poyning's law—I wonder if the noble Lord knows when it was passed. By Poyning's law the initiative of a Bill was or could be stopped; the Committee of a Bill could be stopped by the Privy Council in England. These provisions in the 5th clause are a reserve against acts of oppression; and more than that, the veto is a reserve which exists over the whole of the Empire. One more point as to the Legislative Council. I am not in love with the Legislative Council any more than my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. I have no partiality for Second Chambers. I do not suppose my want of partiality for them is likely to be improved by the doing with which we are threatened by a Second Chamber not far off. I have no partiality for property qualifications. The noble Lord somewhat laboured the point as to Down and Meath. I am not sure that I have followed the noble Lord's points, but I understood his position to be that the £20 qualification excluded the shopkeepers of Down, and included the tenant-farmer who lives usually in a much worse house, and is, the noble Lord said, of a less conservative type.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
If he is not of a less conservative type, why did the noble Lord object to his having the power of sending men to this Legislative Council? The hon. Member for the Guildford Division of Surrey, no doubt, recalls an afternoon in May, 1884, when he moved that Ireland should be omitted from the extension of the Franchise Act. The noble Lord, who is now suspicious of the tenant-farmers of Ireland, in the most brilliant speech that I think he has ever delivered—it contained a Latin quotation —laid down this doctrine—and under proper conditions I do not say it is a false doctrine; on the contrary—that in effect, he had no fear about extending the franchise, because we would find in the rural areas of Ireland, among the tenant-farmers of Ireland—What? A conservative force which will counterbalance the Fenianism and the conspiratorial forces of the town.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The noble Lord cannot have forgotten that speech. It was an important one, and that was the doctrine which he laid down. I have read the speech again and again.On the whole" (said the noble Lord) "therefore. I do not, from what knowledge of the people I have been able to gain, fear the effect of this enfranchisement.The right hon. Member for the University of Dublin saw much more clearly than the noble Lord; and the speech enables us to test the prophetic powers of the noble Lord—Sympathisers with Fenianism and conspiracy are to be found in the towns, and are chiefly confined to the lower classes of town population.Yet the noble Lord comes here and complains against our Schedule, because it docs not give enough to the towns and gives too much to the tenant-farmers. The noble Lord says our Schedule is against the towns, and he takes the cases of Down and Meath. Meath has one Member—a constituency of tenant-farmers—while Down has three, so that we have recognised the noble Lord's 640 principle. Then the noble Lord went on to say that a higher property qualification was necessary. If we had chosen a higher qualification the constituency would have been too small to have had any real weight in the Chamber. The noble Lord spoke about a £40 qualification; but a £40 qualification would have given us 60,000 ratings, including women and double ratings. Can it be contended that, if you are to have a special rating qualification at all, you could set up a Chamber elected by between 50,000 and 60,000 voters to counterbalance a Chamber elected by 750,000 or 800,000 voters? Anyone can see that this is absurd. But, after all, the real question is, "Do you deny that there is any occasion— any necessity—for a Bill for the better government of Ireland?" [Opposition cries of "Yes!"] Yes, you deny it, I know, and I do not speak disrespectfully of your denial. You deny that there is any necessity or any case for this Bill for the better government of Ireland, and gentlemen there (the Liberal Unionists) deny that there is a case for any Bill for the better government of Ireland. The noble Lord, however, did not; and there is an Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Salford, and there is the language used by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin in favour of the extension of Local Government. Those stings of conscience, those searchings of hearts; but, after all, it is a very old story. When we are told that gentlemen opposite and their confederates and allies, if they had the chance, would, as compared with us, bring in a rational and sober plan for the extension of local self-government in Ireland, let us look at the history of the question. In 1842 a Commission reported in favour of amending the system of County Government in Ireland. A Bill was brought in to carry out that recommendation in 1849; it was rejected. It was brought in again in 1853; it was rejected. It was brought in again in 1856; it was rejected; again in 1857 and rejected. Then there was a pause in that process of rejection until 1868, when the Parliament and the Government of the day resorted to the very soothing and comforting plan of appointing a Select Committee. That Committee issued a very copious and, 641 like all Reports, a very admirable Report, but nothing was done. In 1875 a Bill was brought in for County Reform in Ireland; in 1879 another Bill was brought in; again, in 1881, in the time of the Administration of my right hon. Friend, and at a time when Ireland was in a far worse condition almost than she has ever been since. Then the right hon. Member for West Birmingham and the Duke of Devonshire were in the Cabinet, and it was announced in the Queen's Speech that a Bill would he brought in for the extension of Local Government in Ireland. Nothing was done. In 1892 the Party for which the noble Lord had made a promise of equality, simultaneity, and similarity did, it is true, bring in a Bill for extending Local Government in Ireland, but it perished amid the inextinguishable laughter of the civilised world. I do not know whether or not we are to be displaced by hon. Gentlemen opposite, but in such a case we should know what to expect if the present Leader of the Opposition should again be the Leader of that Party. We know what the right hon. Gentleman has said. He has told us that he cared more for his Coercion Bill than for any Local Government Bill. The noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) has said that he would give extension of Local Government in Ireland when she is loyal and when the conditions in favour of law and order are stable. He said the Irish question, depend upon it, was an economic Question. We know pretty well what that means. When an ex-Minister comes down to this House and tells us that the Irish Question is an economic question, it means that he is going to propose a tremendous grant of British cash to Ireland. That is what he means. There would be no plan then for the extension of Local Government, and your only alternative is to accept a thorough plan. I now turn to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square. He made, as we might have expected, considerable reference to the financial points of the Bill, and certainly no one has a better right to do so than he has. The point raised by the right hon. Gentleman was that the plan of the Bill impaired the fiscal freedom of the 642 Imperial or British Chancellor of the Exchequer. We admit that to a certain extent, but the right hon. Gentleman is the last man who ought to advance that as an objection to the Bill. Why? Did he not himself start a new plan, by which he diverted £7,000,000 from the free control of the Imperial Chancellor of the Exchequer, whereas we divert only some £5,500,000. The right hon. Gentleman said that in future no Chancellor of the Exchequer would be able to announce or to continue the reduction of the Tea Duties. Now, this reduction can only be made under one of two sets of conditions. There must either be a surplus, or there must be an increase of taxation. If there is a surplus it can only be created either by growth of taxes or by a decrease of the Imperial Expenditure. My right hon. Friend will not deny that in either case Ireland is entitled to share in that surplus, and under the plan of the Bill she would share in it by a reduction of the Customs Duties. I quite admit that when you take the case of direct taxation there is a difference, but, after all, let us look at the matter as practical men dealing with figures and amounts. What does Ireland now contribute to direct taxation? She contributes between 4 and 5 per cent. — over 4 per cent., at any rate. Now, suppose you are going to raise £ 2,000,000, the amount mentioned by the Prime Minister the other night, in order to carry out the reduction of the Tea Duties. The share of contribution by Ireland to that £ 2,000,000 would be £80,000. But what is £ 80,000 in the abyss of expenditure into which you plunged the British Exchequer by all those projects of bribes and doles which are in the nature of bribes? It was scarcely ingenious in the right hon. Gentleman to try to lead the House to forget that the rate of increase of expenditure in Ireland is greater than that of Revenue by £100,000 per annum, taking a 10 years' average. Then the right hon. Gentleman talked about the £ 500,000, which is to be the working balance for the Irish Exchequer. I am glad my right hon. Friend has advanced a step since the First Reading of the Bill, because then he said this sum was a burden of £ 17,000,000, and he arrived at 643 this conclusion by capitalising the £500,000.
MR. J. MOKLEY
But surely the right hon. Gentleman knew that this £500,000 was an expiring charge. If he did not know it at the time of the First Reading of the Bill he knows it now, and I am glad he did not reproduce that very telling figment, which I see, however, has been reproduced and scattered abroad in leaflets. Why does not the right hon. Gentleman stop the issue of these leaflets? For he knows now that the £ 500,000 is an expiring charge beyond the ordinary sense—that a diminution of it would take place every year. Therefore, it is rather absurd in the House—I do not mean on platforms, because it is rather too late to ask right hon. and hon. Members to be guarded in their utterances on the platforms, but in this House I think it is rather too bad of the right hon. Gentleman to talk of it as if it were a constant charge of £500,000. Although it is an expiring charge, yearly diminishing, I admit there is a certain burden on the British taxpayer temporarily. Meanwhile, do not forget, when you are striking an account to set against it, the stoppage of Irish demands. One more point of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Irish contribution to the Imperial Expenditure is said to be too small. Well, it may be from certain standards: but, at all events, it is exactly what Ireland pays now and has for some years been paying towards the Imperial Expenditure, and what the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues were perfectly willing to accept from Ireland. This is the question, Do you pretend that she ought to pay more than what you admitted to be her fair share, for the simple reason that we are going to create an Irish Legislative Body, and to delegate to it some powers which we think can well be exercised by Irishmen in their own country? Do you say that Irishmen ought to pay more? I shall listen with curiosity to what some hon. Gentlemen on that Bench may say. I know that it has been con- 644 tended that you ought to measure the Irish contribution by the taxable resources of Ireland. It may be that upon further examination you may find the quota plan the least open to objection, but it will raise a great many points, and those we shall be able to consider in Committee. The right hon. Gentleman said there were £8,000,000 outstanding on public works and £10,000,000 on the Ashbourne Act, and 4 per cent. on that would be £720,000, and he asked how was that going to be paid. In the first place, the margin ought to be rather considerable, because the Irish Government under the Bill would receive more from the borrowers than it would have to pay to the Imperial Exchequer. That, as far it goes, may be little or much, but as far as it goes is additional security. Secondly, there is that advantage that we, instead of dealing with all these Local Bodies, the landlords, the tenants, the Harbour Boards, and all the rest of them, shall deal with the Irish Exchequer, which is one Body, and which will be interested in making a faithful collection. If you start from the proposition that the Irish Exchequer is going to be manned by a parcel of rogues, there will be an end to the argument, but I am sure my right hon. Friend will not take that line. I was surprised, when the hon. Member for the University of Dublin recapitulated these loans last night, to find that he actually included in the list of loans between 1844 and 1848, which was the period of the famine, and these ought never to have ranked as loans at all, but as grants. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer is very cunning. He talked last night about trusting the Irish people and trusting their Leaders. He trusts the Irish and their Leaders when it suits his purpose, and he distrusts them when it does not suit his polemical and political purposes. Those platform speeches made in Ireland show it. The Leader of the Opposition said to the Irish farmer: "Pray do not forget how rich your British partner is. Do not forget how much you can squeeze out of the British Exchequer. Do not forget the golden stream you can extract as the price of the Legislative Union," and the next moment the Party opposite will run to the British taxpayers and warn them how deep the Irishmen will dive 645 into their pockets. That is an illustration of the sincerity of their methods of political controversy.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Will you not give much more than £500,000 a year? Why, it is your whole policy—doles, bribes, and fat sops, which demoralises and enervates Ireland.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
It does not seem as if Ireland did like it, after all. One word more as to the financial risk. Have you never been willing to run financial risks? You forget the Land Purchase Acts of 1885 and of 1891. The whole argument to-day assumes that the Irish are a dishonest nation, and the willing pupils of predatory teachers. It is to this dishonest nation of teachers and pupils that you have arranged to lend £ 40,000,000. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer said last night that they could not be trusted with the Irish landlords, and yet they can be trusted with £40,000,000.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Securities!That is an old controversy, and I will not go into it to-night. We know what your securities are; you are to stop the funds which are appropriated for the education of the Irish; you are to turn out the lunatics on the road— more important still, you are to sell up every individual tenant who makes default. Is that security? You are very fond of calling our safeguards under this Bill paper safeguards. I have expressed my opinion upon them at considerable length on various occasions. What are yours, I should like to know? We, under this Bill, would substitute for these complicated, unreal, and unworkable safeguards of yours the Irish Exchequer. I should have thought that the Irish Exchequer, think as badly of it as you can, quite as good security for repayments under the Laud Purchase Act as the contingent portion of the Guarantee 646 Fund. In his unsleeping vigilance the hon. Member for Elgin and Nairn (Mr. Seymour Keay) pointed out to us that it is doubtful whether Clause 17 of the Bill accurately represents the intentions of the Government. That point is a mere matter of drafting, and is now under consideration. I now come to the general arguments arising in this Debate. The great objection which hon. Gentlemen opposite feel to our proposals and policy turns upon the character of the gentlemen to whom they say we are going to entrust the destinies of Ireland. We are told that we ought to regard the antecedents of those gentlemen. My hon. Friend the Member for East Worcestershire, to whom we all listened with interest—and to whom I listened with special pleasure, because I have known him for the greater part of his life—will, I am quite certain, at a future day, when we, perhaps, have vanished from the scene, think that the policy advocated in his speech to-night turned upon a mistaken view of the events of the time. My hon. Friend referred to the character of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite; but he forgot what, apparently, many hon. Members in this House forget— namely, that, as the homely phrase has it, circumstances alter cases. The hon. Member for South Tyrone the other day quoted some bad language which somer of those hon. Gentlemen opposite were e-ported to have used with reference to one another. Why, to a fastidious standard of that kind, three-fourths of the Legislative Chambers of Europe and the United States would not conform. The hon. Member sets up a standard for Ireland which no civilised country that I know of sets up. [Cries of "Oh!"] Yes, and I have heard as bad language used during the last five or six years by hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway opposite with reference to hon. Members sitting below the Gangway as the latter have ever used.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
I did not quote any words. What I did was to refer to the actions of Nationalist Members.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
That is not quite, correct, for the hon. Member quoted a passage from an Irish newspaper.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I spoke with perfect deliberation when I said that the objection that we had in Ulster to the government of these men was not with regard to their language, but to their action in reference to the Land League, the Plan of Campaign and to boycotting. Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with that?
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I will deal with that by-and-bye. Great stress has been laid upon the argument as to character by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). The right hon. Gentleman is the greatest reformed character in this House. The former speeches of the right hon. Gentleman form the most direct and violent contradiction to what he maintains today. I suppose that many excuses may be made for him—it may be said that he was only sowing his political wild oats —and that he is a most interesting and repentant prodigal. But, surely, the milk of human kindness runs so richly in his veins that it should make him a little more charitable to his brother penitents, who, like him, have altered their opinions, and who have bidden good-bye to prairie value as he has bidden good-bye to ransom and to natural rights. It is quite true that hon. Members below the Gangway at one time used violent language which was deplorable, and that cruel and detestable things wore done in the course of the Land League agitation. But was Parliament quite blameless, were the two Parties in this House blameless in the matter? The answer is that the Land Act of 1881 was a right and an expedient piece of legislation. Will hon. Gentlemen opposite deny that? If I wanted to quote cases in support of that view, even from hon. Members of the late Government, I might refer to Lord Cadogan, who has made many acknowledgments that that was so. I am sure that the hon. Member for South Tyrone will not deny that the Land Act of 1881 was a wise and beneficent piece of legislation. Does the hon. Member not agree with that view?
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Say what you will of the Land League, say what you will of the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. Davitt), the founder of the Land League, you cannot deny, putting aside Party prepossessions and personal feelings, that it was that agitation which pressed upon Parliament the greatest and most effective measure of justice ever passed in this House in favour of the great bulk of the Irish people. When we are told of the enormities of these men, and when their action is brought forward as an argument why Ireland should not have control over her own affairs, I say that these men who forced you in this House to attend to Ireland are entitled to a little more moderation of language and a little more leniency of judgment. I pass to a political argument bearing directly upon the Bill in connection with this point. When I said that rents had been well paid in Ireland last winter, the Leader of the Opposition remarked that the tenants paid their rents because their Leaders told them to do so. Why did their Leaders tell them that? According to the right hon. Gentleman, it was necessary for the success of Home Rule and for the position of the Government. What is the meaning of that? That their Leaders told them what their own political necessity dictated. I do not accept that as the whole story, or as anything like the whole story. I believe the tenants of Ireland last autumn and winter made a great effort to pay their rents, because they were interested in the stability of the Government. You say the Irish tenants try to pay their rents if paying their rents happens to suit their political interest, or the political interest of their Leaders. Can anybody who tries to see how this Bill would work doubt that it would be the political interest, at all events, of the Irish Leaders, when they had the responsibility of power cast upon them, to do their very best to see that legal obligations were respected? Something has been said about the No-Rent Manifesto, and we have been warned that that Manifesto would be reproduced. I remember more than one conversation with the late Mr. Parnell, who declared to me that the No-Rent 649 Manifesto, issued while he was in Kilmainham, had been a complete failure; and he said that no set of men in Ireland, however influential, whatever policy they might have advocated, would be able to induce the Irish tenant willingly to come out of his holding or to make default in his contracts if he could meet them. You have to recognise that when you are looking to the future. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin taxed the Prime Minister with looking at the Parliamentary life and not at the real life of Ireland; but it is by looking at the real facts of the life of Ireland that I, at least, have formed a strong conviction that the new Government in Ireland, remembering the great saying that "Morality is the nature of things," would find the nature of things compel them to enjoin respect for legal obligations. There is one detail in the Bill which is of immediate practical concern. The Leader of the Opposition—I am sorry he is not in the House at this moment— went to Dublin the other day and delivered a very long, and an elaborate passage as to the treatment of the Royal Irish Constabulary under this Bill. He said—"That is the way in which the Royal Irish Constabulary are going to be treated." But the Royal Irish Constabulary are not going to be treated in the way described by the right hon. Gentleman. He could not have taken the trouble to study the Schedule, or he would not have made the extravagant statements he did at Dublin. I have had some sharp controversies with the right hon. Gentleman during the last six or seven years, but I never expected to sec the day when ho, who knows the Arcana Imperii Hibernici, and when some of his friends are using language which means the deliberate justification of disorder, or it means nothing——
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The noble Lord cheers that. At that moment, the right hon. Gentleman goes out of his way to kindle and justify discontent in the force on which any Government, whether his or ours, would have to rely for the suppression of disorder. That is a double 650 compound operation which I do not think any patriotic man of any Party could justify. I should like to notice another charge which was made against us by the right hon. Gentleman when he went to Dublin. He said—For years the officials in Dublin Castle have been the butt and object of attack of every whipper-snapper who thought he could show his knowledge of Ireland and his love of liberty by abusing the Castle. For years they have been the helpless victims of abuse to which they were powerless to reply, and now it appears that in the fulness of time the Imperial Government is coming forward and is going to hand these faithful servants of the Crown over to those who have made no secret of the fact that they are their deadliest and most determined enemies.Well, Sir, I should be the most ungrateful of men if I did not recognise and on every occasion testify to my opinion of the capacity and fidelity of those gentlemen in Dublin Castle; and I, for my part, never desire to have better colleagues than some of them have shown themselves to be in circumstances of some delicacy and of a rather peculiar character. Let us see how this matter stands. Do whipper-snappers alone attack Dublin Castle? Listen to the language used in 1885—I say the time has come to reform altogether the absurd and irritating anachronism known as Dublin Castle.That is the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. Is it the proposition of right hon. Gentlemen opposite that no amendment of the Irish administrative system of government ought to take place, because it might involve some detriment to the Civil servants? The government of Ireland by Boards, a system under which three men are set to do the work that might be done by one, is notoriously one of the most cumbrous, confused, and chaotic systems that could be devised, and nobody knows that better than some of the ablest men in Dublin Castle, and nobody knows it better than the three ex-Chief Secretaries, who ought to be, but are not, in their places on the Front Bench opposite. I would beg the noble Lord opposite, who is angry at what I have been saying, to recognise this—that if you only extend Local Government you will have to remodel, reorganise, and reduce your staff at head-quarters. What other significance can you attach to 651 that doctrine of decentralisation to which hon. Gentlemen opposite are as much committed as we are? Most of these faithful Civil servants, in my opinion— and it is not an opinion expressed at random—will stay. The Irish Government would he mad—and I tell hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite that they would be mad—if they did not retain their services. But whether they stay or whether they go, we, at all events, have guarded their interests with a liberality which, as I believe, will make other Departments rather envious. Now, Sir, I go at once to a Constitutional point, which has, I think, been neglected in this Debate—namely, the complete severance in whole and in part of the Executive Government in Ireland and the great majority of the Representatives of the people. There is no case, in the whole of our diversified Empire, where the system of government exists that prevails in Ireland. I wish to place this point before the House, because it is material that the House should have it before them in deciding aye or no on this Bill. There is no place in the Empire where you invite people to choose men to represent them in Parliament and sot up an Executive Government not responsible to them, not expected to work in harmony with them, but which has been in the main, with some bright intervals, steadily and strongly opposed to them. What do you do? You send over an Englishman, you plant him in a large room in Dublin Castle, you surround him with eight or ten advisory Boards, you place at his disposal the eyes, ears, and hands of the most efficient Constabulary Force in the world, while the Irish representatives stand apart, without responsibility, without a chance of administrative training and experience, and wholly unassociated in the work of governing the country in which they belong. And this decentralization does not give you a strong Executive. Mr. Disraeli, in a famous passage that has been quoted in this Debate, in 1884, made use of a phrase which showed extraordinary insight, when alongside an "alien Church" andan "absentee aristocracy" he placed the weakest Executive in the world. It is, and it must be, the weakest Executive in the world. And mark, you have sent since the Union the very best men 652 that the Kingdom could produce. I went the other day through a list of those who have been Viceroys or Chief Secretaries of Ireland. What do you find? You have sent the very best, or at all events the most conspicuous, men in the whole of your lofty line of British statesmen — the Duke of Wellington, Sir Robert Peel, Lord Melbourne, Lord Derby, and Lord Cardwell, and many others down—I will not mention anybody now in the House—to Lord Spencer and the present Duke of Devonshire. And yet you have failed. Why? Because Irish Members still count, and the question is whether you are going to have them on your side, aiding, co-operating, and associating with you in the work of government, or whether you are going to continue making your government subject not only to that exclusion, but also, which makes it much worse, to the ebb and flow of Party victories in Great Britain. You make Ireland, this unhappy country, the cockpit of your Party fights. Everything done in Ireland is put under a microscope. Most unfair judgments are passed upon small things and upon great, upon characters, upon motive, upon act, upon what takes place from day to day—the whole thing is put under the pharisaic microscope, and you not only do not have the Irish Representatives with you, but the judiciary, the magistrates, those in small posts and in great, are for the most part chosen from one side of political opinion, and one side, I am afraid I must say, of religious belief. Because I tried the other day in a most trivial affair to redress the balance, I was attacked as sapping and undermining the foundations of law and order. Let us go to the heart of the matter. You say that the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway are not representative, that they know nothing of their constituencies, and their constituencies know nothing of them; that they are the mere mechanical creatures of political conventions, no more in touch with their constituencies than the man in the centre of the web at Dublin Castle. Say so if you please, but you prove too much. What have we to say of our system of government which makes these mechanical creatures of political conventions with wires pulled from headquarters, whether from Archbishop's palaces 653 or elsewhere, the balancing force between the two great English Parties, as they wore at the end of the Parliament in 1885, as they were at the beginning of 1886 and in 1892? The noble Lord to-night talked about our proposals in the Bill, which are proposals, after all, subject to modification and reconsideration. He said the plan of the Bill for retaining Irish Members gives you two centres of gravity. It was a felicitous expression, but go beneath the felicitous expression to the fact. The noble Lord appealed to the Prime Minister and said that ho, who himself had been the idol and chief of Parliaments, was breaking up Parliament and giving it two centres of gravity. I wonder whether my right hon. Friend would not say that ever since he came into public life there have been two centres of gravity. There has been a British majority, and there have been the Irish Members settling English questions upon Irish grounds. I cannot sit down without saying a word about Ulster. I have never failed in admiring the energy and vigour of a city like Belfast. In the course of the Debate the other night an hon. Gentleman rather uncharitably compared Belfast with some towns in the South and West of Ireland, and seemed to attribute the fact that these towns were dwindling to political or religious causes or both. Sir, I do not think anything of the kind. I think these towns in the South and West of Ireland have dwindled and decayed for the same reason that many old towns and villages in our own country have dwindled and decayed, because they never were independent centres of industry, but were markets for the agricultural areas around them. Agriculture, unfortunately, has dwindled and decayed, and so these towns have decayed. But apart from these rather pharisaic comparisons I have never been guilty of deriding or making light of the feelings of the Protestants in the manufacturing and commercial centres of the Province of Ulster. I am not here to deny—because on such an occasion as this one ought to speak with the fullest frankness to the House of Commons— the gravity and significance of the ferment that is now going on in those counties display to the Bill. I am fully alive—perhaps more alive than any man in this House—to the troubles and diffi- 654 culties which, whether Home Rule prevails or vanishes, the ferment in this north-eastern section of the country, heated, aggravated, and encouraged by English statesmen, may raise up against peace and order in Ireland. I admit the full force of those demonstrations; but I do wonder that Conservative statesmen should use the language they do. They profess in this House that this policy has no chance. Then why do not they go back to Belfast and say, "The policy of the Bill has no chance. Be of good cheer; England will support you."
§ MR. J. MORLEY
No, they do not say that. I will tell the hon. Member in a moment what they do say. I do not wish to criticise the action of hon. Gentlemen in this House; but I must say this. It is all very well to air a philosophic doubt in a library, and to launch an abstract and academic proposition to an academic audience. But 150,000 men in marching order, with hot heads and hot hearts, are not exactly abstract nor academic. I say the more serious the crisis, as these gentlemen believe, the more real the danger, the more deep, earnest, and genuine the feeling, the more violent the passion, the more terrible the explosion, the stronger the reason why men should guard their words, and vigilantly consider their consequences. The noble Duke who is the Leader of a section of the Liberal Unionists made a speech on Saturday last which I confess seems to me to show the high-water mark of the frenzy to which Unionist fanaticism and superstition can bring men of intelligence. A more incoherent and ignorant perversion of history I have seldom read. The Duke of Devonshire said—We are accustomed in Great Britain to venerate and respect the memory of our ancestors, who, in the time of James II., resisted by force the laws that it had been sought to impose upon them.That is just what it was not. It was not raising resistance to the law, and the noble Duke in the next sentence says so—James II.'s claim was by the exercise of his authority to over-ride the provisions of an Act of Parliament.That is just what the noble Duke claims for his own friends at this moment. Then he said— 655Our forefathers took an objection to the action of James II. upon principle. It cannot be said that they were in any immediate danger of actual tyranny or actual oppression.The noble Duke had never heard, I take it, of the "bloody circuit" in the West of England, of the rabbling of the Covenanters in the West of Scotland, of the arbitrary dismissal of Judges, of the clean sweep made among the Magistrates and Borough Corporations, and of the violent attacks on Colleges and Universities. He had never heard of the trial of the seven Bishops. Yet he says that there was no danger of actual tyranny. I am sure that if Judge Jefferies, or the seven Bishops, or James II. himself, could revisit this sublunary scene, they would be amazed at such a reckless and ignorant perversion of history. But there is one more passage I must read—The people of Ulster are a strong and masterful race. They have been for a long period accustomed to rule, and their language may be sometimes wanting in that moderation and consideration for the feelings of those whom they have been accustomed to think they have a right to rule, which we should expect from the citizens of a free State towards their fellow-subjects. We expect that the inhabitants of Ulster, like the inhabitants of every other part of the United Kingdom, will obey the law; but no subject is bound to obey a law which does not give him at least equal protection with that which is offered to every other class of his fellow-subjects.Then the noble Duke winds up by saying—The people of Ulster believe, rightly or wrongly, that under a Government responsible to an Imperial Parliament they possess at present the fullest security which they can possess of their personal freedom, their liberties, and their right to transact their own business in their own way. You have no right to offer them any inferior security to that; and if after full deliberation, if after weighing the character of the Government which it is sought to impose on them, they resolve that they are no longer bound to obey a law which does not give them equal and just protection with their fellow-subjects, who can say—how, at all events, can the descendants of those who resisted King James II. say—that they have not a right, if they think fit, to resist, if they think they have the power, the imposition of a Government put on them by force?
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The noble Lord cheers. Would they have the right to resist an Act of Parliament passed by the Imperial Parliament?
§ MR. J. MORLEY
But that is your battle-cry. I should use the language employed at the time of the Union by somebody who was resisting the proposal for 103 gentlemen to come from Ireland to sit in this House. He gave this very graphic account of the matter. He said—Suppose any man of plain understanding should meet your peers and 100 members on the road to London, and asked them, 'What are you going there for?' and you should answer, 'We are going there to preserve the peace of Ireland,' would he not say, 'Good people, go back to your own country. It is there you can best preserve its peace. England wants you not, but Ireland does.'That is what I wish to say to Ulster, and the country has to decide—this House has to decide—and in giving your vote on this Bill you have to say whether the ideal of dividing a section of Ireland from the rest of the country, whether the ideal of inviting this North-East section to turn her back in sullen pride upon all the rest of the country, blind to the needs of the country, deaf to her cry, doing nothing for the country, is a higher ideal, a higher matter, than ours, which is to say: No; let all Irishmen of all creeds, whatever their geographical position, whatever their interests, whether they be commercial or agricultural, join and remember that, though England does not need them and does not want them, Ireland, their own country, does. I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite will not misunderstand the silence of popular and Nationalist Ireland. If they do they will make a great mistake. Do not nurse the illusion that it is a silence of apathy or indifference, still less that it marks the expiring hour of a great national demand. Whatever you do with this Bill in this House, whatever they may do with it in another place, whatever even the constituencies may do with it if it comes before them, however all that may be, do not delude yourselves with the idea that the question is going to slumber. One thing only is certain; never before have Irishmen had English political Leaders and an English political Party standing by their side in their national demand. They have it now. We will not desert them. We will never betray them. Irishmen all over the world, in the United States, in the Colonies, in Ireland itself, are looking to us. Their trust shall not be deceived. We may lose this particular phase, but the question cannot be put 657 back. Your trust of Irishmen shall not be betrayed or deceived, and, that being so, whether younger men may have to take up the battle I know not. But the principle has now rooted itself, the justice of the demand is established; it has sunk into the breasts of a generation. It will never pass. That conviction will never pass. And those who first established that alliance, who first built it up, may rest confident that it cannot fail, and that sooner or later— and probably sooner rather than later—we shall see our ideal realised and all sections of Irishmen united to govern their own country, which we have so lamentably misgoverned.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."— (Mr. Rentoul.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till Tomorrow.