§ Bill, as amended, further considered.
§ MR. AMBROSE (Middlesex, Harrow)
said, he was endeavouring last night to put before the House his views upon the propositions which they were told would be found in the Bill. Those propositions were—First, the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, which appeared in the Preamble; and, secondly, that the bill was to be a Bill in relation to the peace, order, and good government of Ireland—that was to say, that the Bill was to relate to the affairs of Ireland exclusively. What he had ventured to point out was that these words "peace, order, and good government" were inconsistent with pledges of the Members of the Government, and involved in the Preamble. The words were inconsistent with the supremacy of Parliament. In the Bill of 1886 there was a clause dealing with the absence of the Irish Members, and, of course, the proposal that they should be excluded was objected to by the Unionists, and by others, upon the ground that it would be a badge of servitude. But, coming to the point—by excluding the Irish Members, Ireland became subservient to the Imperial Parliament, but, by retaining them, they merely transferred the servitude to Great Britain. It was impossible for them to suppose that they could have Ireland in command of these prerogatives, competing with England, without having servitude. They would have 80 Irish Members to come to the rescue. Great Britain would be subject to Ireland. ["Hear, hear!"] An hon. Member below the Gangway (on the Irish Benches) said—"Hear, hear!" If it was the Irish view that England was to become a subject Province of Ireland, let the British people understand that—let it 342 be perfectly plain to them, as he trusted it would be. He did not want to argue points that had been argued over and over again in Committee; it would be outside his purpose to do so, even if it were in Order for him to go into these details. He merely wanted to place these points before them, to show the absolute inconsistency of the Government. They had decided that the Irish Members were to be retained in the Imperial Parliament; and, having decided that, it was impossible for them to retain the words "peace, order, and good government of Ireland" —that was, if they maintained their pledges to the country, and if they allowed the Preamble to remain stating that the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament would not be interfered with. This was not consistent with the obligations imposed by the 5th clause. They were, it seemed to him, not only destroying the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, but doing it with a vengeance, by establishing the supremacy of the Irish Members and the Irish Parliament. He asked what was all this for? He had considered the matter very carefully, and he could not see the necessity for handing over to the Irish Members and the Irish Legislature the command of the Executive Government—the command of the prerogatives, the administration of justice—criminal and civil. He thought he would be able to show that some such words as he proposed were demanded. For his part, he would not give the Irish Parliament the administration of justice and law, and the control of the various criminal jurisdictions throughout the country. Nobody would seriously argue—he hoped the Chief Secretary (Mr. J. Morley), whom he saw in his place, would not—that these were matters exclusively Irish. If the right hon. Gentleman did argue that, he feared he would not carry conviction to any part of the House or of Great Britain. He would illustrate what he meant. His point was that they did not want, for the purpose of a Home Rule scheme, the command of these matters to be handed over. If a London merchant sold to a Dublin trader in the ordinary course of business, let them suppose a dispute arising between the parties—the Dublin trader, say, adopting the methods of the tenant farmer, 343 who said he would pay no rent, and refusing to pay. In that case the London trader had to enforce his claim. For that purpose he must resort to the course of the law in Ireland. Would anyone contend that the procedure in that case was a purely Irish affair? It was not so, more than it was a British affair. The enforcement of legal obligations arising between people in the two countries was, it seemed to him, an Imperial affair. There was no more ground for calling it an Irish affair exclusively—
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must point out that this point cannot be raised on the Amendment before the House. It is not relevant.
§ MR. AMBROSE
said, he was merely putting the case to show that the Preamble was inconsistent with the terms, "peace, order, and good government of Ireland." He would be sorry if he was out of Order. He would put his proposition without illustrating it further. He had intended to show that these were matters not exclusively relating to Ireland, but he would now pass to the words he proposed to substitute, his observations so far having been in support of the leaving out of words on the ground that one part of the clause was inconsistent with another part. In the first place, he proposed to give to the Irish Parliament power to deal with all the matters now dealt with by the Board of Trade, including statistics, railways, canals, gas and water undertakings, merchant shipping, and a variety of other matters. Ho considered that he was more liberal in this matter than Her Majesty's Government, who exempted the Board of Trade altogether. He, however, did not see why, within certain limits, the Irish Legislature should not have power to manage trade regulations. He came next to powers as to Local Government. Those who remembered the Local Government Bill for England and Wales would remember that these powers in the Schedules of that Bill occupied 20 or 30 pages. The powers of the Local Government Board were enormous, comprising almost everything that could be imagined. He added the powers of Local Boards of Health and of Rural Sanitary Authorities, and also the conduct of Private Bill inquiries, believing it hard that Irishmen should be compelled to come to London for the settle- 344 ment of such matters. He hoped that any right hon. Gentleman who did him the honour to reply to him would point out any matter which was a purely Irish affair which would not be comprised in the scheme he had ventured to put on the Paper. If that could be done, and if anything was omitted, he should be only too pleased to add it to his scheme. His intention was to give to the Irish people the fullest possible control over purely Irish affairs, whilst denying to them the control of Imperial affairs in competition with the Imperial Parliament. The scheme would not in any way impede the Bill. The presence of the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament, which was really needful, would no longer be objectionable; there would be no unwarrantable interference with taxation, and if any grant were required to meet expenses he was confident that it would not be grudged.
In page 1, line 15, to leave out from the word "laws," to the word "Provided," in line 17, in order to insert the words "in respect of all matters as applied to Ireland now dealt with in England by the following authorities respectively, namely,—
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. J. Morley,) Newcastle-upon-Tyne
I must compliment the hon. and learned Member on the modesty of his appearance on the present occasion. This is now, I am sorry to say, the 70th day—I am not sure that it is not the 71st day.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Yes; the 71st day of the discussion of this Bill in one form or another. On this day the hon. and learned Member rises and makes a speech of more than half-an-hour in duration—including that portion with which ho favoured us last night—in support of a proposal which, he says, would not impede the Bill, but which would turn it topsy-turvy, and would reduce to a complete farce the 1st clause, which is now entirely disposed of. I consider—and I think the House will consider—the hon. Member's conduct in this matter rather extraordinary.
§ MR. AMBROSE
The right hon. Gentleman charges me with want of modesty in bringing forward this Amendment at this stage. He ought to remember that at an early period of the proceedings in Committee I tried to move it, but was ruled out of Order.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I remember the episode to which the hon. Member alludes; but I am not sure that it is in his favour. We have had a discussion upon a proposal in substance identical with the proposal of the hon. and learned Member. His proposal is to leave out "peace, order, and good government," and to substitute the words on the Paper. Well, that was the identical proposal which the Committee discussed at great length on the Amendment of another hon. Member; and it was exactly for the reason that the Amendment now moved covered the same ground as one which had already been before the Committee that the Chairman ruled it out of Order. In conformity with the spirit of the suggestion which Mr. Speaker was good enough to make to the House yesterday, and which was cordially accepted by the Leader of the Opposition, who recommended the same course to hon. Gentlemen who act with him, I do not propose to enter again into a question which has been adequately discussed on previous occasions. There is nothing more to be said of the Amendment, except that it is in flat contradiction, not only to the principle affirmed by the Second Reading of the Bill, but to the 1st clause. It is a proposal to substitute for the control by the Irish Legislature of peace, order, and good government certain specific and narrow powers. He proposes to confer on the Irish Legislature the powers of the Board of Trade, 346 which would include powers over merchant shipping and trade, and many other things which no one desires to confer on it. The House having affirmed that it is expedient there should be a Legislature in Ireland composed of the Queen and two Houses, to propose now that that Legislature so composed should have nothing to do but with local affairs and local purposes is, as the Prime Minister said in regard to a former Amendment, nothing more than a bad joke.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)
I would remind the Chief Secretary, who is so angry with my hon. and learned Friend for bringing forward a proposal to frame the Bill on lines of local purposes, that whenever it suits the purpose of the Government and their supporters to say that the Bill only gives to Ireland the control of her own local affairs they never hesitate to make that statement. Hon. Members sitting behind the Chief Secretary, in large numbers—I will not say in what numbers—have gone to their constituents and been elected as Representatives of Home Rule, because, as they have assured those long-suffering individuals, they have no intention whatever of allowing any Bill to pass which is more than a Bill giving Ireland the control of its own local affairs. The particular enumeration of the duties which my hon. and learned Friend seeks to impose upon the Irish Legislature may not be the best that can be conceived; but, at any rate, ho is justified in putting down an Amendment which obliges the Government, and even more their followers, to say whether they do or do not adhere to the statements on this subject which they have constantly made in the country, and sometimes in the House of Commons, and in regard to which I have no doubt the House will hear more when the details of the measure have been forgotten. The Chief Secretary has been good enough to quote some words I said yesterday, as to the course that ought now to be adopted with regard to the very small percentage of clauses which so far we have been allowed to discuss in Committee. I made those observations deliberately, and I adhere to them; and they are to the effect that, in my judgmen, it is only advisable to bring up those subjects that are of first-rate importance. Let mo remind the House that the fact 347 that a question has been discussed in Committee is not in itself any reason for not discussing it on Report. The whole theory of our Debate is that the House reviews on the Report stage what has been done in Committee. Although I fully agree that anyone who desires to prevent an undue waste of time would not advise that every point raised in Committee should be surveyed and re-surveyed, on the other hand, there is no one in the House who would think of laying down the proposition that because a point has been discussed in Committee therefore there shall be no discussion of the same matter on Report. With regard to the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend, I agree that it is one which, if carried, would entirely destroy the Government Bill; but the reason is simply this—that the Bill is not in conformity with the professions of its supporters and the pledges of the Government. Therefore, I think my hon. and learned Friend is perfectly justified in asking the Government and their supporters to come clearly out into the open, and say that by Home Rule they emphatically do not mean a Bill which simply moans to give to Ireland the power of managing their own local affairs.
§ MR. ROSS (Londonderry)
said, he could have wished that the subject of the Amendment had been treated in a more serious manner by the Chief Secretary, and that in answer to the hon. and learned Member they might have heard a statement from the Prime Minister. He knew the Prime Minister was in the habit of ridiculing every one of these Amendments; but he certainly thought that this was one which required the fullest consideration of the House; and, although he did not agree with the hon. and learned Member, believing that the proposal really went too far and made enormous concessions to Ireland, he would be willing to end the tremendous struggle that had been going on in this country on the terms suggested in the Amendment. To his mind, it was necessary that there should be some compromise, and in that spirit he was willing to assent to the hon. and learned Member's proposal. No one could say that the concessions made in the Amendment were small ones. To give Ireland control over all local affairs, save those which would constitute her into a 348 Sovereign State, seemed to him to be going very far indeed. The Government claimed that they had a mandate from the country for the purpose of granting Home Rule to Ireland; but there was no shadow of a pretence for saying that that mandate went any further than what was contemplated in the Amendment. The Government said they had a mandate to give Ireland autonomy; but a glance at the election addresses of their supporters would show that all they had proposed at the General Election was an enlarged scheme of Local Government, and nothing in the nature of the proposals embodied in this Bill, and the voters who gave the Government a majority at the last Election accepted that view of Home Rule, and never dreamt that the enormous powers contained in the Bill with respect to the Judges and police and the lives and liberties of the minority in Ireland would be conferred upon the majority. This Amendment contained the alternative policy of the Unionists pushed to an extreme — going as far as they could possibly go, and further than they thought they ought to go. The difficulties that already existed in connection with elected Boards of Guardians in Ireland were not an encouragement to them to enlarge the principle of local self-government in that country; but they were willing to accept it by way of compromise. He did not admit that any one of the grievances of the minority would be met by the proposal. As far as Private Bill legislation was concerned, he had always held the opinion that Ireland had a monstrous grievance, and that it was absurd that in the case of a Railway or Gas Bill it was necessary to spend in legal charges and in dealing with those matters in Loudon almost as much money as was to be spent upon the works themselves. It was by reason of grievances such as these that the Government had acquired the majority which enabled them to force their Bill upon the House. He had frequently heard complaints made of jobs being perpetrated in Ireland in connection with the Grand Juries; but he had of late years had opportunities of investigating the conduct of the Grand Juries. He found that they acted fairly to all parties, and he had never heard on his Circuit of anything in the nature of a 349 job. He admitted that these juries, not being elective Bodies, must cease to exist; but lie was sorry for it, for the.new Bodies would not, in his opinion, do their work nearly so well, and there would be more jobs. That would, however, right itself as time went on. Therefore he cordially supported the Amendment so far as it dealt with this matter. With regard to the other proposals of the Amendment, he agreed with them, but only by way of compromise. He did not wish to see the present situation prolonged. Heaven knew they did not wish the present embittered relations to continue. He and his friends had always entertained warm feelings towards their fellow-countrymen in Ireland, and he must say that the prolongation of this exceedingly bitter situation was most painful to them. They wished for the prosperity of Ireland and of every Irishman just as much as hon. Members below the Gangway, and they were prepared to accept the Amendment as a compromise, in order to put an end to the present embittered relations between the two Parties, which threatened to drift them into actual war. Ho knew a good deal of his countrymen in the North of Ireland, and he was certain they would never submit to the oppression of the Separatists. They knew by what had passed that the majority in Ireland had fatal memories, and would remember things they should forget. It was difficult to believe that the House would insist upon holding them to a Bill which would give the majority full control over one-third of their fellow-countrymen, who, after all, it would be admitted, had done a great deal of good for Ireland.
§ SIR. J. KENNAWAY (Devon, Honiton)
said, he had no desire to unduly prolong the Debate; but, as he had hitherto taken no part in the discussions, lie desired to make one or two observations. When the Chief Secretary brought forward as a reason for refusing to discuss the Amendment that they had already had the subject under discussion some time, he left out of sight the very exceptional character of the measure, and forgot that it had never been before the country, and that its provisions had been studiously concealed from the constituencies by the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues. The country, therefore, had not had an opportunity of con- 350 sidering the alternative now presented to the House. He was happy to think that the country was now beginning to understand, as the result of the election at Hereford showed—[Cries of "Order, order—!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must remind the hon. Baronet that he is not at liberty to make a Second Beading speech on the Bill.
§ SIR J. KENNAWAY
said, the question was, were they to give Ireland the power to deal with its own local affairs simply, or to satisfy the aspirations of the Irish Nationalists? They were all agreed to meet the views of the Irish Members as far as they could in regard to the government of their own local affairs, but they had not yet come to an understanding as to what those local affairs were. The Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman would help to bring them to an understanding as to what those local affairs were. He thought that the hon. and learned Gentleman who had brought forward the Amendment had served a useful purpose in defining the powers which the Irish Government should exercise. If there was not to be continual strife and contention between Ireland and England, it should lie clearly laid down what were the powers the Irish Government should exercise. The Amendment went rather too far, but it indicated the right lines on which Parliament ought to proceed. There could be no doubt as to the question of industrial undertakings. Then, again, many on the Opposition side of the House had always felt that Ireland had been badly dealt with in regard to the great question of education; they also know that the interests of Irish trade had been largely sacrificed to English interests, and they would be glad that, within certain restrictions, the Irish Legislature should be at liberty to deal with those questions. There was a time when even hon. Gentlemen opposite were afraid to give to Ireland any Local Government except of the most restricted kind. The Irish Local Government Bill introduced by the Leader of the Opposition, however, had shown the urgent necessity for entrusting the Sister Country with the management of many of her local concerns. The Opposition, therefore, were prepared to go to considerable lengths in that direc- 351 tion. He earnestly joined in the appeal of the last speaker, that they might be allowed to arrive at a fair and reasonable compromise without doing anything to impair the integrity of the Empire.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E.E., Holderuess)
said, that though it was true that the Amendment would ruin the Bill reasonable-minded men amongst the Irish Nationalists would see that it indicated the direction in which a compromise must eventually be sought. He knew that many Members of the Opposition would scout the idea of in any degree climbing down from the pedestal on which they had placed themselves; but, to his mind, compromise was essential, and the proposal before the House seemed to him to form a very good ladder for descent. He held that the hon. and learned Member had a perfect moral right to move the Amendment, as it would be remembered that lie was ruled out of Order in Committee in consequence of a discussion having taken place upon a Motion in relation to the words "peace, order, and good government." The hon. and learned Gentleman was ruled out of Order on a mere technicality.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
said, the next Amendment which stood in his name was purely a verbal one. He considered, however, that any misinterpretation of the words of the clause would involve large consequences; therefore, he asked for a declaration from the Government as to the precise effect of the words. He did not doubt for a moment that the intention of the Government was that the word "make" should also cover the words "repeal or alter;" but that was not the impression that the words conveyed to a lay mind. The word "make" did not necessarily cover "unmake." He should, however, be satisfied if he got some 'distinct statement from the Government that this was their intention, and that the words would carry out that intention. He wished to point out, however, that in Clause 20, when the Government were conferring powers on the Irish Legislature, they were not content with the word "make," but added the words "repeal or alter."
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 22, after the word "make," to insert the words "repeal or alter."—(MR. Hanbury.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'repeal or alter' be there inserted."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The words "repeal or alter" are, I believe, convenient and necessary words in Clause 20; but hero it is quite clear that their introduction would not improve the clause. There is no doubt whatever about the effect of the clause. The hon. Member wants to shut out the power of repealing laws relating to certain subjects. The supposition is that the Irish Legislature will do this. How can they do it except by making laws? Can he point out to me any possible way by which the Irish Legislature can repeal or alter a law except by making a law?
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name, with the object of carrying out a pledge I gave to the Committee on the 2nd of June.
Clause 3, page 2, line 7, after sub-section (3), insert.—"(4) Authorising the carrying or using of arms for military purposes, or the formation of associations for drill or practice in the use of arms for military purposes; or." — Mr. J. Morley.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am obliged to my right hon. Friend for having put these words down, and I only rise to ask him a question in regard to the last three words of the Amendment, "for military purposes." I should have thought that these were words which would introduce great doubt into the provision, and would render it very difficult to interpret the clause. If there were any intention of evading the spirit of the provision, these words would, it appears to me, render it extremely easy to do so. I should, therefore, suggest that the words be omitted. It may, perhaps, be replied that such omission would unduly restrict the liberty of practising at rifle ranges, and so on, in Ireland, which nobody would desire to put a stop to; but it must be recollected that even if these words were omitted every freedom that now exists in Ireland will remain 353 unimpaired; and if any great extension of liberty in this matter is required—which I can hardly imagine, there being so much liberty in the subject now—the change could be carried out by the Imperial Parliament, in which Irish interests are to be represented. I think, therefore, it would be better to leave out these ambiguous words.
§ MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
said, he could not admit that the words "for military purposes" were in the least ambiguous. He was greatly surprised at the right hon. Gentleman's speech, because in Committee the pledge given by the Prime Minister appeared to be accepted, and the words now proposed by the Government completely carried out the pledge. If the words "for military purposes" were excluded the result would be to deny to the people of Ireland that which was the ordinary right of free people all over the world. Ho could only say if those words were loft out he could not regard it as otherwise than a stigma and an insult.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
If the right hon. Gentleman had consulted the Debates that took place in Committee on this question, he would have found that what I said was that the Government would bring up words limiting the prohibition contained in the Pill exclusively to armed associations, and for the use of arms for military purposes. The right hon. Gentleman then got up and said—I am sure we are very grateful for the concession the Government has made to us.My hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General, in a preceding speech, had expressly said—All that could be reasonably asked for is the insertion of appropriate words for the purpose of preventing the establishment of armed associations—associations for drill or practice in the use of arms for military purposes.I think, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman cannot deny that we have carried out our assurance, and that, at the time, he found no fault with our statement.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
There is no difference, as I understand it, between us as to the object it is desired to carry out. The only question is as to the particular phraseology which best effects that common purpose. I do not think that the words I used in thanking the Government for their pledge can be considered to affect the question of drafting. I am 354 of opinion that the object would be better obtained by leaving out the words; but I do not press the point.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Amendment proposed, in Clause 3, page 2, line 8, to leave out the words "and other," and insert the words "or any."—(Mr. J. Morley.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. DUNPAR BARTON (Armagh, Mid)
moved, in page 2, line 14, after "treason felony," to insert "criminal procedure." He said, this Amendment was not open to the criticism the Chief Secretary had applied to a similar Amendment moved in Committee, because two important things had happened since that Amendment was discussed in Committee. The House had now decided that the Irish Members were to remain at Westminster for all purposes; and, what was far more important, the explanation which the Government had given of the words "due process of law" had made the subject of criminal procedure one of vital importance. He would not repeat what was said in Committee; but he would remind lay Members of that House what were the main headings which were covered by the subject of criminal procedure. That subject included arrest of prisoners, examination of witnesses, committal of offenders, the provision of bail, the subject of recognisances, the conduct of trials, the way in which a man might be committed, whether by indictment, criminal information, or Coroner's inquisitions, the question of cross-examination, the mode in which a prisoner's defence might be conducted, the question of Crown Cases Reserved—in fact, every question which protected or restricted the liability of any person charged with an offence, whether regarded from the point of view of his right, or from the point of view of the general interests. These matters were really more important than the substance of the law itself, as the particular stages of the trial of a prisoner were really links in the chain of the liberty of 355 every subject of the crown. Under the Bill criminal procedure in England and Scotland could be regulated and affected by the votes, speeches, and arguments of Irish Members; but criminal procedure with reference to Irish citizens could not be in any similar way affected by English or Scotch Members. This was an inequality of a most glaring kind. It was evident that the only way of putting an end to it was to leave the criminal procedure for all parts of the Kingdom to the Imperial Parliament. He did not see how anybody could complain of having criminal procedure regulated by a Parliament in which he was represented. It seemed to him that the adoption of the omnia scheme enormously weakened the opposition of the Government to this Amendment, and very much strengthened the reasonableness of the cause of those who supported it. When they were discussing Clause 3 in Committee they were in darkness as to the meaning of that wonderful phrase "due process of law." Many of them, he believed, were still in a fog in regard to it; but they did know, at any rate, that the nearest definition that could be given of it was that given in the Michigan case—namely, that "due process of law" was intended to secure the right of trial according to form of law; that no man should be tried for his life, liberty, or property, except according to the form of law. But what was the use of giving the minority in Ireland the protection of "due process of law," if that due process was liable to be altered by the Irish Legislature? Certainly, the words, according to precedent and principle, had been added; but surely there were many bad precedents and principles which it would not be desirable to follow, and which, to say the least, were of doubtful value. The Judges and the Members of the Legislature would disagree as to whether certain principles were proper and right to be acted upon, and the fact was that the Government were leaving the whole thing in a state of uncertainty. They would have done well to have excluded criminal procedure from the purview of the Irish Legislature, and to have left the control of it to the Imperial Parliament. Would there be anything unjust in that?
MR. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)
§ MR. DUNBAR BARTON
said, that no doubt the hon. Member would develop that argument, and show where the injustice would come in—where criminal procedure would be betrayed by the Imperial Parliament, in which, be it remembered, Irish Members would sit. He would ask—Would it not be more satisfactory to all parties to have the process of Criminal Law fixed by Imperial Statute? Why did the hon. Member for South Donegal distrust the English and Scotch Representatives in this matter, joined, as they would be, with Irish Members? The hon. Member and his Colleagues claimed unlimited confidence from this House in the Irish Members, why should the confidence not be reciprocal? Similar restriction on matters of Criminal Law procedure were imposed on every State in the American Union; and if this Amendment were carried, could it be said that the Irish people would be placed at a disadvantage compared with the American people? Canada afforded them some light and some assistance in that matter, for their criminal procedure was reserved to the Central Dominion Parliament, and that afforded an additional argument in favour of the application of the same principle to Ireland. He submitted that this was a reasonable proposition, and that it was a step in the direction of making one of the so-called safeguards in the Bill really effective.
In page 2, line 14, after the words "treason felony," to insert the words "criminal procedure."—(Mr. Dunbar Barton.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words ' criminal procedure ' be there inserted."
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE, Edinburgh, Midlothian)
As the hon. and learned Gentleman is aware, this subject was largely discussed upon a former occasion, the report of the Debate occupying 14 pages of Hansard, in four of which the hon. and learned Gentleman fully laid his views before Parliament. I cannot agree with the argument that this is not a fit subject to be delegated to the exclusive consideration of the Irish Legislature; and the fact that words of explanation have, at the wish of hon. 357 Gentlemen opposite, been added to the phrase "due process of law" goes against and not in favour of the present argument of the Mover of the Amendment. The words "due process of law" are now limited by a reference to precedents and principles, and therefore a considerable change in regard to procedure has been made by the House. Yet the House is now invited to reconsider its decision, arrived at after a long Debate, when something has been done which has been accepted on the other side as being distinctly, so far as it goes, in favour of the minority. This matter has already been amply debated. The Government are not prepared to travel over again the Debate covered by the 14 or 20 pages in Hansard, and I, myself, believe the Amendment is totally unnecessary.
§ MR. CARSON (Dublin University)
said, the right hon. Gentleman had complained that the subject had been again brought forward, although it was previously discussed in Committee.
§ MR. CARSON
, continuing, said, the right hon. Gentleman pointed out that 14 pages of Hansard were taken up with the Debate, and then remarked that the hon. and learned Member who proposed the Amendment had done so with a lengthy explanation instead of in a brief speech. If that was not complaining, what was it? It was noticeable that whereas the right hon. Gentleman was always quite willing to discuss at considerable length, as in the case of the Second Chamber on the previous day, those safeguards which the Irish minority knew well to be no safeguards, and which were only put forward with a view to capturing constituencies at the General Election, he did not like any discussion upon those which were real safeguards. Now, he had no wish unnecessarily to protract the Debate; but he was bound to say they felt this was a matter they ought once more to press on the Government. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Amendment would destroy the Bill; but surely it was logical that if the Irish Members were to vote upon matters relating to the liberties of Scotch and English subjects, à fortiori English and Scotch Members 358 ought to have a similar voice in relation to Irish subjects. The matter of criminal procedure stood on a different footing to that of the great majority of subjects which should be conceded to an Irish local Legislature. It was a quasi-Imperial matter which might vitally affect subjects of the Queen in England and in Scotland as well as in Ireland, and it was entirely different from the local matters which might be transferred to the Irish Legislature. True, no person was to be deprived of life, liberty, or property, save by due process of law, in accordance with settled principles and precedents; but those principles and precedents could not be properly maintained save by reserving criminal procedure to the Imperial Parliament. He hoped the House would reconsider its decision, and make effective, at least, one of the safeguards contained in the Bill with which it was now dealing.
§ MR. BODKIN (Roscommon, S.)
said, that remembering the action of the hon. and learned Gentleman in connection with the Coercion Act of 1887, it was certainly very interesting to hear him advocate uniformity of criminal procedure for the Three Kingdoms. It was equally interesting to hear him speak on behalf of that great safeguard of personal liberty—namely, trial by jury, which, in the cases in which it was most needed, was abolished by the right hon. Gentleman the Loader of the Opposition, and refused by the hon. and learned Member himself in certain prosecutions. The Irish people were not likely to forget the manner in which the Coercion Act was administered by the hon. Gentleman, who now, forsooth, insisted on uniformity of criminal procedure! He could assure the hon. and learned Member that no such outrage on the liberty, even of political opponents, was at all likely to be exercised by an Irish Parliament as had been practised by the Tory Party in relation to Ireland. They might with perfect safety leave the Irish Parliament to deal with the question of criminal procedure, assured that it would never be abused as it had been abused by the Tory Party.
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ *VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester)
said, he thought that the Government had no reason to complain of this matter having been brought forward now, because in Committee very urgent appeals had been made to them to allow this clause and the next clause to be postponed until they had been able to discuss Clause 9. He had ventured to point out at the time that it was almost impossible to expect the Committee to discuss adequately the excepted subjects in Clause 3 until they knew whether the Irish Members were going to be retained at Westminster or not. At the time the Government had not made up their minds on that subject, and it was quite possible that the Irish Members would have been excluded altogether. If the Irish Members had been excluded it would have very much changed the opinions of the Opposition on the question now before the House, because then there would be very much weight in the argument that it would be most unfair for Parliament to reserve complete control over Irish criminal procedure when there would not be one single Irish Member at Westminster. Therefore, if the matter had not been discussed in Committee with sufficient light it was altogether the fault of the Government. The House must now discuss the question with the knowledge that 80 Irish Members—all that Ireland was entitled to—were to be retained at Westminster for all purposes. The Opposition were, therefore, entitled to say that criminal procedure which might otherwise be necessarily referred to the Irish Parliament should be retained to the Imperial Parliament. That was no reason why no apology was needed for the introduction of the question now. Another reason would be found in the speech of the hon. Member for North Roscommon (Mr. Bodkin). That speech had thrown a lurid light on the subject-matter which the House was discussing. The hon. Member had said that criminal procedure was much safer in Irish hands than it was in the hands of the Imperial Parliament; because, as the hon. Member had said, the Leader of the Opposition had misused the powers of the Imperial Parliament in the matter of criminal procedure during the last Parliament. That was a most significant observation. The hon. Member 360 had spoken with some heat. It was quite evident that, in his mind, those crimes against which the action of this Parliament was directed a few years ago in Ireland would remain unpunished if the Irish Parliament had control of criminal procedure. The hon. Member had said that the Leader of the Opposition had abolished trial by jury for years. That was not true. If his right hon. Friend had modified trial by jury, had allowed summary jurisdiction in certain cases, and had changed the venue in others, he did it in order to control certain gentlemen in Ireland with whom he could not but suspect the hon. Member for Roscommon had no inconsiderable sympathy. He thought that if anything was needed to convince them that the Irish Parliament were not fit to be trusted with criminal procedure, it would be found in the spirit of the hon. Member's remarks. The hon. Member evidently desired to have control of the criminal procedure, in order to save those whom in England they called criminals.
§ MR. BODKIN
I rise to Order. I do not think it is in Order for the noble Lord to attribute to me a desire to save criminals from being punished; and there was nothing in my observations—in which I engaged that the Irish Parliament would not deal unjustly with its political opponents—to justify such a remark.
§ *VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, he was afraid that he had expressed himself stupidly. He did not think that the hon. Member thought the persons to whom he had alluded were criminals; but he said that the people whom the hon. Member desired to shield were, in England, criminals. But he would pass from the speech of the hon. Gentleman. It was particularly important that this Amendment should be insisted upon, because the Debate in Committee showed that the Government were not only unwilling to give control of criminal procedure to the Imperial Parliament, but were not even ready to protect the criminal procedure in the cases of those charges which had to do with the excepted subjects under Clause 4. In fact, there were an enormous number of charges which might be able to be made in the future against 361 the Irish Government under Clause 4; and though he had moved an Amendment to protect the procedure of the Judges under Clause 4, the Government took no notice of it. It was the same with regard to the highest Court of all, the Exchequer Court. The Irish Parliament might control the criminal procedure of that Court, as the Bill stood, and therefore the Amendment was necessary in order to protect the power of the Exchequer Judges to see that justice was done in respect to the high matters committed to them. The Prime Minister had said that, at any rate, the Opposition had gained a point in regard to "due process of law." It was gained only after infinite trouble, and was a very small point after all. The Opposition had not gained anything like what justice entitled them to, or anything like what the American law gave to American subjects. So long as the Irish Parliament retained control over criminal procedure there were no protections or safeguards which the House could pass to limit that power which would be worth the paper written on. Their power over criminal procedure would enable the Irish Parliament, if they were so disposed—and there was every reason to believe they would be so disposed—to evade the restrictions in the Bill, and relieve from all penalties those who might violate the Act.
§ MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
said, that the Prime Minister had called attention to the space taken up in The Parliamentary Debates by the discussion of this subject on the Committee stage of the Bill. But if the right hon. Gentleman had looked carefully through those pages of The Parliamentary Debates he would have found that about half of the entire report was taken up by the speeches of two Members of the Government—the Solicitor General and the Home Secretary. Therefore, the bulk of that Debate had been taken up by the right hon. Gentleman's own supporters. But the Opposition would have no right or desire to complain of that if the merits of the question had been dealt with by the two gentlemen who had spoken on behalf of the Government. The entire speech of the Solicitor General was on the text, which he had given out himself, that the criminal procedure of this country was wrong, and that they ought to be ashamed of it. There was not in that speech a 362 single argument of any sort in favour of keeping this subject in the hands of the Irish Parliament. Then, again, the speech of the Home Secretary was based on trust of the Irish people. "You are trusting the Irish people in some things," said the right hon. Gentleman, "and why not trust them in this?" But the Opposition were not trusting anything at all to the Irish people; and, therefore, that argument fell to the ground. In fact, on the Committee stage they had had no real discussion of the matter, and it was now being treated by the Government in exactly the same way. It was said to be the object of the Government to give the loyal minority in Ireland some safeguards. But the Opposition had told them that the safeguards which they had given the loyal minority were, in their opinion, whether rightly or wrongly, absolutely useless. Now, when the Opposition proposed what they believed to be a real safeguard, the Government would not accept it. When the matter was discussed in Committee it was distinctly stated by the Government that the Irish Members would not be in the Imperial Parliament to vole on all subjects, and that, therefore, it would be unfair for English and Scotch Members to have the controlling power with regard to criminal procedure in Ireland. That argument, which the Opposition felt to be the strongest argument put forward by the Government, was now turned the other way. It cut exactly in the opposite direction. As matters now stood, the Irish would have the governing voice even in the criminal procedure in England and Scotland. The hon. Member for Mid Armagh had laid before the House 30 or 40 matters of the most vital importance which could not be covered by the Bill except the Amendment were accepted. If the hon. Member had referred only to one of those matters—the Law of Evidence—he would have made a sufficiently strong case. It would be very easy for the Irish Legislature to make certain changes with regard to the Law of Evidence—say that no one should be convicted in certain cases without corroborative evidence—which would allow all the untried criminals of the Land League to escape scot-free. The citizens of the Three Countries were closely interested in this matter. If there 363 was any one thing that was an Imperial question, it was clearly this question of the liberty of the subject. The subject was not to be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. But the Irish Legislature might render that protection worthless by changing the process of law. While the hon. Member for Mid Armagh (Mr. Dunbar Barton) was speaking, the hon. Member for South Donegal (Mr. Mac Neill) interrupted and said it would be an insult and a gross injustice to the Irish people, but the hon. Member for Roscommon (Mr. Bodkin) also rose and said—"You are clamouring for uniformity of criminal procedure throughout the Three Kingdoms, and yet your Act of 1887 took away that uniformity of procedure." As he understood it, the Act of 1887 was simply applying to Ireland the procedure that existed in Scotland, and there was no reason for referring to it except that it gave the hon. and learned Member for Roscommon (Mr. Bodkin) a chance of referring to what he was pleased to call the Coercion Act. What they asked in this matter was that the criminal procedure of the United Kingdom should continue to exist in Ireland as it was at the present time. With the exception of the Whiteboy Acts and one or two minor matters the criminal procedure of the two countries was identical, and was a procedure that had secured the admiration of the bulk of the jurists of the civilised world. Nearly the whole of the works on procedure and law which were used in Ireland were written by English lawyers. When they were told by hon. Gentlemen opposite they were dealing with a purely imaginary question, he would ask them to look back to Irish history, and they would find that in 1689 an Irish Parliament changed the criminal procedure for political purposes alone. The Irish Members, with hardly an exception, had threatened their political opponents, and that being so it was natural they should desire the House to take it out of the power of these gentlemen to carry out their threats. Criminal procedure had been withheld before from subordinate Parliaments. For instance, in the British North America Act they found criminal procedure was withheld from the Local Legislature; and as a proof that it was done deliberately, the civil 364 procedure was distinctly committed to the local Legislature, whilst the criminal procedure was withheld. The United States had done exactly the same thing; therefore, there seemed to him in this clause which had been put forth a great deal to recommend it in declaring that the criminal procedure of Ireland should be in the hands of the Imperial Parliament. This Parliament had reserved to itself certain matters, as, for instance, the Foreign Enlistment Act; but it was perfectly possible for the Irish Parliament, by manipulation of its criminal procedure, to render that Act entirely useless and nugatory. The Prime Minister declined to argue the question on the ground that it had been fully dealt with on the Committee stage, and he (Mr. Rentoul) would appeal to the Home Secretary or the Solicitor General to say if he could point them to one shadow of argument in any of the speeches during that stage that dealt with the question?
§ *SIR E. CLARKE (Plymouth)
said, he had no desire to argue upon the Report stage matters that had been discussed in Committee, and in respect to which they were now in the same position as they then were, but it appeared to him that the answer of the Prime Minister was insufficient and unsatisfactory. The right hon. Gentleman said that this matter had been fully discussed on the Committee stage of the Bill, but he omitted to notice that the answer then given was one which it was no longer possible to put forward owing to the great changes which the Government had themselves introduced into the Bill since this subject was under discussion in Committee. The Solicitor General then said that as the Irish Members would not be entitled to speak or vote upon any proposals for amending the Criminal Law of England, it would be unjust and unreasonable that this Parliament should retain the power to interfere with the Criminal Law of Ireland. The force of that answer had now entirely disappeared, and, as matters now stood, a grave alteration in the Criminal Law of Ireland might be made by the Irish Parliament without the knowledge or consent of this House; while, on the other hand, if we desired to effect in this country an improvement in our Criminal Law, the Irish Members, who would be 365 entirely unaffected by that proposal, might come and object and even prevent the alteration. As an illustration, he might point to an alteration which, in the opinion of this House and of the House of Lords, was, above all others, the most desirable. The barbarous rule of our Criminal Law—that a person indicted for an offence was not allowed to give evidence in defence or explanation of his conduct—was, and always would remain until altered, a blot upon our law and a disgrace to our Legislature. For 22 years majorities in both Houses of this Parliament had been trying to pass Bills to remedy that defect. Why had they not been passed? Because the Irish Members had refused to allow them to pass; and even when the proposed alteration was confined to this country, the Irish Members still opposed it, on the ground that, if passed for England, a short Act of one clause might hereafter extend the alteration to Ireland. Suppose the Bill passed, what would be the position of the Irish Members? They might come and prevent the alteration of the law in this country, while they might make any change they wished in the Criminal Law in Ireland. That was an illogical position. Ho hoped there would be a frank willingness on the part of the Government to meet the case. He did not protest against this handing over of the Criminal Law to the exclusive control of the Irish Parliament on the ground that it would diminish the safeguards for the loyal minority, although he believed it would do so. He could not conceive how Members who had proclaimed the doctrines and avowed the sentiments that had been proclaimed and avowed by Members from Ireland would be justified in abstaining from altering the Criminal Law in Ireland and endeavouring to put that law in uniformity with their sentiments. They had said over and over again that the Criminal Law of that country ought to be in harmony with the sentiments of the people. There could be no doubt that if those who had led the Nationalist Party in this House had the control of the Irish Parliament, they would feel bound, as a, matter of duty, and in consistency with the declarations they had already made, to endeavour to alter the Criminal Law in Ireland in a way a majority in this House might disapprove. 366 Then it was said that if the majority of the House disapproved, the House might, under Section 33 of this Bill, pass au Act setting aside the law so passed by the Irish Parliament; and, having set it aside, the Irish Parliament would have no longer authority to deal with the matter. That was true; but the remedy of passing an Act through this Parliament was a slow, difficult, and costly remedy. They knew the difficulties, and, of course, if they did, he was quite sure that the Members of the Government appreciated the difficulty at this moment of passing Bills through the House of Commons; so that it would be a slow remedy. But the ground on which he put his advocacy of this Amendment was not the ground of apprehension as to particular Acts being passed by the Irish Parliament, but was that if they were to have au Imperial Government at all which was to have effective authority in the different parts of the United Kingdom, they must have uniform criminal procedure, which should be in the hands of the Imperial Government. He did not say at this moment the Criminal Law was absolutely uniform in its procedure in all parts of the country. Ho conceded at once to every Scotchman or to every Englishman who had the honour to be a Scotch Member, the Scottish procedure bad been put into a much better form, in many respects, than in this country; but during the time ho had been in Parliament their labours had been, as far as possible, to assimilate the Criminal Law of the different countries. It had been said and made a matter of reproach to-day by the hon. and learned Member for Eos-common (Mr. Bodkin) that the law of 1887 set up a practice with regard to inquiries, where nobody was charged with an actual offence, which was not to be found in the law of England.
§ *SIR E. CLARKE
said, he would come to that in a moment; but in regard to the point he was now on, it was pointed out that it was not found in the law of this country. Why was that? Ten years ago, to a year, in the Grand Committee of this House he supported the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury (Sir H. James) that that rule with regard to preliminary inquiries should be incorporated in the law 367 of this country; they tried to put that clause into the Criminal Law Consolidation Act, for the reason that they believed it would be of enormous advantage to the Criminal Law in the prevention of crime. The hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) had referred to the Act of 1887, which he said enabled questions to be dealt with by Magistrates and not by juries in the trial of offences. He (Sir E. Clarke) would like to say that the Act of 1887 was never declared to be an alteration or permanent alteration of the Criminal Law.
*SIR E. CLAEKE
said, that was so; but it was a perpetual Act that could be put in force from time to time when necessary; it was putting on the Statute Book a machinery which might be used at a particular time for the purpose of dealing with a particular emergency. There was nothing in the Act that conflicted with the policy they had been acting upon for years—namely, the endeavour to make the Criminal Law alike in all countries. The administration of the Criminal Law was a matter of Imperial concern, and it was a mischievous and separating tiling to have an offence criminal in one country and not in another. on those grounds ho supported the Amendment that had been put forward, and he urged on the Government that this Amendment, which they were justified in resisting before, ought to be accepted now on the principle that, having submitted to the necessity of keeping the Irish Members here for all purposes, they ought to say the Criminal Law was a matter of Imperial concern and should be continued in the Imperial Parliament, which alone should deal with this important matter.
§ *THE SECRETARY op STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Asquith, Fife, E.)
My hon, and learned Friend has travelled at considerable length, and with his usual ability, over ground that was completely covered when this matter came before the Committee on this Bill. My hon. and learned Friend has sought to establish a justification for going over and over again matters that were then decided, by the suggestion that a change has since been introduced in the structure of the Bill that qualifies or mitigates the force of the 368 arguments then used by the Government and the Opposition. What is the change? My hon. and learned Friend says at that time the proposal of the Bill was that the Irish Members should only come and vote on matters of Imperial concern, whereas the modifications subsequently assented to in the 9th clause would enable Irish Members to come here to vote on British as well as Imperial affairs. I have looked carefully through the speeches made in Committee, and I do not find an allusion to anything of the kind. We did not base our objection to this grotesque proposal in the least degree on the fact that we were taking away from the Irish Members the power of debating criminal procedure so far as it relates to England and Scotland. The ground which we took, and which I take again now, can be stated in two or three sentences. It is absurd to give to an Irish Legislature, as you are doing by this Bill, the power of enacting a Criminal Law for Ireland and in the same breath to take away the power of enforcing that law by appropriate procedure. As to the uniformity in the law, perhaps it would be sufficient to say as between England and Scotland the greatest disparity exists, and no one will venture to get rid of it. It might, further, be sufficient to say the late Government, by the enactment to which my hon. Friend has referred, enacted a permanent and perpetual distinction between the laws of England and Ireland in relation to matters that vitally affected the liberty of the subject. But I will not take that ground, because it is not relevant to the Amendment before the House. If my hon. and learned Friend is such a strong advocate of uniformity why not propose to take away the power of legislating in respect of Criminal Law? What would be the effect of carrying this Amendment? You would allow the Irish Legislature to determine by Act whether a particular Act should be an offence, whether an offence should be a felony or only a misdemeanour; you would allow them to determine whether it shall be punished by penal servitude, by imprisonment, or by death; but you would take away the power of determining the manner in which the offence should be tried, the power of saying whether petty offences should be 369 tried by jury or summarily before a Magistrate, the power of saying whether such-and-such persons should be competent witnesses. In other words, while you would give the Irish Legislature the principal power of legislating in relation to Criminal Law, you would take away and destroy that which is necessary to put the law in force. That is the proposition that is now seriously put before the House of Commons! It was discussed at length in Committee and rejected, and not a single argument has been adduced in the course of the Debate which should induce the House to go back on the decision of the Committee.
§ Question put, and negatived.
SIR J. GOEST (Cambridge University)
proposed the following Amendment:—Page 2, line 15, after the word "or," to insert as a new sub-section the words "(7.) The hours and conditions of labour in factories, workshops, and mines; or.He said: The conclusion to which I invite the House by this Amendment is that legislation relating to factories, workshops, and mines had much better be left to the Parliament of this United Kingdom, and this conclusion I base upon these premises: first, that legislation of this kind has become, or is on the point of becoming, an International matter; and, secondly, that under these circumstances it is for the advantage of the people of the United Kingdom that such legislation should be regulated by a single Parliament and not by two separate Legislatures—one for Great Britain and the other for Ireland. As regards my first premise, I suppose everybody who reads the newspapers and who is acquainted with the history of his times knows that the working classes in all the civilised countries of Europe are now taking part in a great and powerful movement, which is a movement in favour of the bettor conditions of labour, and more protection for the labourer, and that the direction which this movement is taking at the present moment is a demand for uniform legislation in the various civilised countries of the world, so as to make the hours and the conditions of labour generally as much alike as possible in these various countries; and it is also taking the direction of put- 370 ting pressure—which sooner or later will become irresistible—upon the Governments of the various civilised countries to come together and enter into common agreement for the regulations under which machine labour and mining labour should be carried on in the various civilised countries of the world. I believe the Conference which took place at Berlin a few years ago was a mere rudimentary Conference which, hereafter, will develop into Conferences of very much more importance and of a very much wider-reaching kind. You have got the Government of Switzerland, which is entirely dominated by the interests of the labouring classes, using every possible opportunity of pushing on Conferences of this kind; and you have got the Governments of the great European countries—Germany, France, and Great Britain—every day more and more influenced by the sentiments and opinions of the working classes, and, therefore, every day driven more irresistibly into these sort of Conferences. I do not think I am indulging in the spirit of prophecy, or making any extravagant forecast of what will happen in the time to come, when I say I do not believe many years will pass over our heads before we shall have a Conference of the Governments of the great European States which will then be called upon to pledge the Legislatures of their respective countries to enter into certain broad legislative enactments with regard to the conditions under which labour should be carried on. Now, that is my first premise—that these questions of labour legislation, if they have not already become, are very rapidly becoming, matters of International concern. If I am right in that position, is it the interest of the people of the United Kingdom that they should be represented in matters of this kind by one Legislature or by two? I suppose it is not the idea of the present Home Rule scheme that Ireland should have any separate diplomatic representation, and that, therefore, in any Conference of the future you will not see Great Britain and Ireland ranged one against the other in the same way as at the Berlin Conference you saw Austria and Hungary, Sweden and Nor-way, Holland and Luxemburg, represented by different Delegates, taking different lines, and advocating different principles. 371 I suppose it is the scheme of the Home Rule Bill, as far as diplomatic representation is concerned—though very possibly some gentleman representing Ireland might be united with any British Delegate as a Representative to a foreign country, yet the representation of the United Kingdom would be still one and indivisible. But the probable result of such a Conference will be that the Delegate from the United Kingdom, of whatever elements it may consist, will have to pledge the Government of the United Kingdom to certain definite steps in the direction of legislation much more than the Berlin Conference did. The Berlin Conference did not pledge the Governments to any definite step of legislation, but merely laid down certain principles which were generally pronounced to be desirable. But this Conference will be of very little use if the Governments of the countries who are represented there do not enter into some kind of understanding or engagement that the Legislatures of the countries they represent will, on certain broad lines, conform to the general uniformity of European legislation in these subjects. I ask anybody, either an English or Irish Member, to consider what an embarrassment it would be if the Representative of Great Britain has to speak for two independent Bedies—the Legislature of Great Britain and the Legislature of Ireland? It is bad enough to pledge one Legislature in these democratic days, and any Government which enters into an undertaking that its Parliament should pass certain measures has to do so with great caution and circumspection. It is an extremely delicate matter, but how much more delicate it would be if the Representatives of the United Kingdom had to enter into any kind of undertaking as to what the Irish Legislature would do! How could they possibly carry it out? How could they speak in the Councils of Europe with the voice with which the Representatives of the United Kingdom—the greatest manufacturing and industrial country in the world—should speak if they have the knowledge and consciousness all through that there is a Legislature within the limits of their own country over which they have absolutely no control whatever. The Government know—I have no doubt hon. Members who sit on both sides of the House know 372 —that even in such a rudimentary Conference as the Berlin Conference our own Government of India, which was not separately represented there, resisted to the utmost, and resists to the present day, the carrying out of the opinions of the Berlin Conference, and neither the late Government nor the present Government has been able to get our own Indian Government even up to line with the Resolutions of that Conference. I will just give the House one single instance which will show what I mean. There was nothing upon which the Representatives of the several industrial countries in Europe were more enthusiastically unanimous than in the prohibition of the underground labour of women in mines. There was not a single dissentient voice on the part of any Representative of any country in Europe against that proposition, which was the first of all the propositions laid down by the Berlin Conference three years ago, and yet to this day women are working regularly in the underground workings of the Indian mines. I am not quite sure that in some Government mines they have been stopped; but certainly in the Indian mines generally women are to this day working in the underground mines, and the Government of India are resisting with the utmost force they can any Indian law which will interfere with labour of that kind. That will give you an idea of the difficulty which the Government has in pledging any Legislature over which it has no absolute control. That is my second proposition—that it is much more for the interests of the United Kingdom—for the people of Ireland as well as the people of Great Britain, that in International matters of this kind the Parliament which has to deal with such matters should be a common and not separate Parliament. Let me ask the House to consider for a moment the position we shall be in in reference to legislation of this kind, because since this matter was discussed—very insufficiently, I think—in Committee, a very great and perfectly fundamental change has taken place in the Bill. It is this: that while the people of Ireland will exercise full influence in regulating the conditions of labour in factories, workshops, and mines in Great Britain, the people of Great Britain will have nothing whatever to say to regu- 373 lating the conditions of labour in factories, workshops, and mines in Ireland. Without being at all offensive to Ireland, I may say that as a manufacturing people she occupies a very inferior position to that of Great Britain. It is not only that the manufactures of Ireland are much smaller and less important than those of Great Britain, but the manufacturing population of Ireland bears a much less ratio to the whole population of Ireland than the manufacturing population of Great Britain bears to the whole population of Great Britain. Therefore, you have this extraordinary anomaly: that the labour legislation of the great manufacturing country of Great Britain is to be controlled by the, comparatively speaking, agricultural population of Ireland, whereas the small and insignificant labour legislation of Ireland is not to be touched by the great manufacturing people of Great Britain. I hope this matter will be understood in Lancashire, Yorkshire, Lanarkshire, and the great centres of British industries, and that the people of these countries will be indoctrinated in the course of the controversy on this matter into the knowledge that it is no part of the scheme of the Government that their labour is to be regulated by Ireland, and that they are not to have any voice in the regulation of Irish labour. But, at any rate, I am right in saying there is one curious anomaly which exists in the case of labour legislation—that whereas the people of this country—who are so greatly interested in these labour questions—or the Representatives of the Linked Kingdom will settle what their conditions of labour are, that will not extend to that part of the United Kingdom—Ireland—which, not being specially a manufacturing country, is at liberty to have a peculiar law to itself. I know in times past these Labour Laws have been regulated by different countries under the idea that by a Labour Law of a particular character they would gain some economical advantage. I am a great disbeliever myself in the advantages of bad labour. Though the laws of this country are more stringent than those of most countries, I do not think our industries suffer by proper attention to women and children, and to the conditions of labour. I do not think the country suffers by it, 374 but a great many people do. There is a great feeling on the part of many nations on the Continent that if people work long hours they will gain an economical advantage by it, and that heresy prevails in England and Ireland. A great many people think that by relaxing the attention given to women and children, by relaxing the stringent conditions under which mining and manufacturing labour is carried on in Great Britain, some economical advantages will result. How are we to feel certain that heresies of this kind may not induce the Irish Legislature, as a concession to manufacturing interests, to make some relaxation of labour legislation, some differences in the amount of protection afforded by labour legislation, which not only would be very disadvantageous to the people of Ireland, but would interfere with our acceding to that uniformity of law which the nations of Europe are likely in the coming period to demand? Again, what a disadvantage it would be to the United Kingdom if, owing to economical heresies of this kind, the law which prevails in the United Kingdom, instead of being the one general law, should become two! I have, I think, adduced reasons which ought to commend themselves to the minds both of the Government and of Members who represent Irish constituencies in this House. I confess I have put down this Amendment more as a protest upon an important matter of International interest than with any idea that practical good will come out of it. I am afraid the Government will not accept the Amendment, because they have apparently got to a period when they will only pass the Bill as it stands, and will not apply their minds to a new consideration of this character. But even if they were to accept the Amendment, I have very grave doubts as to whether it would really preserve the unity of the United Kingdom for this purpose, because if you create in two parts of the United Kingdom two separate Legislatures and two separate Executives it would be possible to help diversities of legislation and of government springing up, diversities which must inevitably lead to separate Institutions and separate laws in these great subjects. Of all the subjects outside the domain of purely Imperial subjects, there are none upon 375 which it is more for the interest of the people of England and of Ireland that there should be one uniform law, and one Legislature which could alter that law in accordance with the requirements and sentiments of civilised peoples than this subject of factory legislation, and it is in the interests not of the people of Great Britain alone, but of the people of Ireland also, that I propose this Amendment.
In page 2, line 15, after the word "or," to insert as a new sub-section, the words "(7.) The hours and conditions of labour in factories, workshops, and mines; or."—(Sir J. Gorst.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. J. MORLEY
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has made, as he always does, an extremely ingenious and interesting speech. Ho began by saying, and ho ended by saying, that he thought uniformity of these Industrial Laws between Great Britain and Ireland was greatly to be desired, and he has urged various considerations in support of that view. But then, very shortly before he closed his speech, with that touch of cynicism which always imparts a particular flavour to all his utterances, the right hon. Gentleman said he had no hope whatever that the insertion of this, or any provision of the kind which he or his friends endeavoured to get inserted, would not have any effect in producing the very end which he has in view. I think, that being the case, he really owes some explanation to the House for having once more made over again the interesting speech which he made on the 6th June? It was the very same speech, and the very same arguments. For myself, I like what is familiar and what I have hoard before; and certainly, every argument used by the right hon. Gentleman we were familiar with, for we heard them on the 6th June. We then answered his speech to the best of our ability. A good many Members of the Committee spoke upon the proposal, and the Committee divided upon it. As the right hon. Gentleman says, he hopes for nothing even from the acceptance by the Government and the House of this proposal. Why he should have taken up time, even in this inter- 376 eating way, I cannot for the life of me conceive. I cannot consent to go over the grounds which were covered by the right hon. Gentleman, and to which we replied on the former occasion. The right hon. Gentleman says that there is one change which has taken place in the position since we last discussed this proposal. He says now he and his friends, or anybody who is so minded, will go down to the English and Scottish constituencies and will point out to them that the Irish Members will be able in their own country to make their own Factory and Mining Laws, and so forth, and that they will also be able, perhaps, to have a casting vote in making the Industrial Laws for Great Britain. For my part, I am not the least afraid of any demonstration of that kind when we remember what the right hon. Gentleman appears to have forgotten, that in the discussions in Committee it was precisely the Representatives of English and Scottish labour in this House who were most decided in opposition to the proposal which the right hon. Gentleman then made, and which he now makes again. The English labouring class have never found the Irish Members or the Irish National Party hostile or even cold to their claims or their interests; therefore, that new point which the right hon. Gentleman made—and the only now point, I think—we are not at all afraid of. I am in accord with very much the right hon. Gentleman has said upon the desirableness of our Empire, as a whole, if it were possible, being represented at one of these great International Conferences which I quite agree with him in thinking likely to become more and more frequent. It would be a great advantage we should represent as great a force and consensus of opinion and purpose as possible; but then I must remind him that we have not been able to secure identity of action and purpose in our own Colonial Governments—the Indian Government, for example—and there is no reason to hope we shall be more successful in obtaining that identity of action in the future than we have been in the past. The position of the right hon. Gentleman is this: that for the sake of some speculative, remote, and contingent advantage to be derived from a single representation 377 at one of these Conferences you are to commit the absurdity of requiring the Irish Legislature to make laws for good government in its own country, and yet they are to make no laws as to public health, workshops, mines, and so forth. Surely the right hon. Gentleman is far too acute not to see that the position is an absurd one, and I would point out to hon. Gentlemen opposite that if they support the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman they will have to do it upon grounds the exact opposite or absolutely different from those which they took up in supporting the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Harrow (Mr. Ambrose). The point urged by the hon. and learned Member for Deptford (Mr. Darling) and others in support of that Amendment was that yon were willing to concede to Ireland full power of carrying out her own purpose and her own interest in all these purely local matters, and yet almost the next vote you are asked to give is to take away from Ireland the power of making laws in those very matters which have any special concern for her interests.
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
said, very few Amendments to the Bill had been moved which were more important, and in which a keener interest was felt in the Lancashire constituencies than in this particular Amendment. He could quite understand the right hon. Gentleman did not attach very much importance to it, because they knew that in those constituencies Gladstonian candidates had great difficulty in reaching any position near the head of the poll. What his constituents, amongst others, complained of was the uncertainty in which this question was left by the Government. The Government contended that there was no possibility of the Irish Legislature making any new laws on this subject. If so, why did not the Government boldly stand by their opinions and put a clause into the Bill forbidding the Irish Parliament to interfere in these matters? The Government next asked— "What was the necessity for doing anything of the sort? Ulster had been able to compete with England under the same Factory Laws that existed for all the United Kingdom; and if Ulster had been able to do so, why should not other 378 portions of Ireland, which have at least equal advantages with Ulster?" As regarded Ulster, ho was not sure that the power to increase the hours and alter the conditions of labour would not have a bad effect; but, at any rate, it would unsettle the whole conditions under which labour in the Ulster factories was carried on. The Chief Secretary seemed to think that the right hon. Member for the Cambridge University (Sir J. Gorst) had taken up a very illogical position in proposing this Amendment, and, at the same time, admitting that if introduced into the Bill it would not have much practical effect. But that was because they looked on the whole Bill as so ridiculous that they believed that whatever safeguards were inserted they would have no effect. The Government, however, took the opposite view, and that was all the more reason they should accept this Amendment, which was designed to protect English manufacturers and traders. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Labour Members spoke strongly on this subject before; but be did not think the hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. J. Burns), who spoke upon it, could be regarded as one who was able to speak on behalf of the people of Lancashire. They bad no reason to suppose that Ireland would follow the example of England in this matter than the operatives of the Continent, and it was to be remembered that the suggestions which had been made by the hon. Member for Battersea applied to the old trades, but would not he so applicable to the new industries that would spring up in Ireland. The hon. Member said, in opposition to his statement, that they should organise to meet any difficulties that, might arise; that Ireland had a right to make up leeway for the loss which bad been caused by the policy of England. That looked as if the hon. Member thought that Ire-land would do something to improve her industries. He (Mr. Hanbury) would venture to point out the natural way under this Bill for improving local industry was by an extension of the hours of labour. That appeared to him to be the only equitable course, and it was one that was likely to be adopted in Ireland. When the Amendment was previously before the House, the Prime Minister said that it was of vital importance that 379 there should be a uniformity of Commercial Law throughout the Three Kingdoms. It would, perhaps, be uniform for the higher classes of commerce; but for the working classes there was to be no protection. It was not to be the same for them, and that was a grievance which they in Lancashire felt very keenly indeed. The inequality was one which should not exist, and he hoped it would be removed. The right hon. Gentleman argued the matter as if it were purely a local one. They said it was not purely local; so far from that, it were very largely an International matter. Surely, then, it was a matter that affected the United Kingdom! He was not going to touch upon the representation of this country at any International Conference of Labour; but he could say that a very strong feeling existed among the operatives of Lancashire at this moment. Those operatives had two objects before them—(1) to get higher wages; (2) to get shorter hours. As long as long hours of labour existed on the Continent it would be difficult for English trade to increase, and, therefore, difficult for the operatives to obtain the objects they had in view. What, then, would they say at having rivals in Ireland able to use those long hours of labour in the same way as they were being used in Continental countries? Not only would they have a rivalry set up in Ireland, but they would have a bad example shown to the Continent in respect of the shortening of hours of labour. He repeated, it was a local matter; it was a matter affecting English operatives, and they were not now likely to consider the proposal favourably when they reflected upon the circumstances under which it was foisted upon them. They would suffer very keenly, because they would have to contribute a vast sum to Ireland, while the legislation in regard to the Customs would affect them materially; and, again, they would have no voice whatever in regard to Irish factory hours, although 80 Irish Members would be sent to Westminster with a voice in the making of Labour Laws for England. A system of this character was an injustice to the British operatives, and yet the right hon. Gentleman would tell them that it was entirely a local matter! That being so, he thought the question was worthy of re-consideration. It was one, 380 as he had said, upon which they felt very keenly, and, although the right hon. Gentleman might not feel any interest in it, it was their duty as the Representatives of these operatives to see that justice was done to them.
§ SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
said, he might be allowed as a native of Lancashire to say a few words upon this question. He would deprecate, in the most respectful language, the claim set up by certain hon. Members to represent the operatives and the labouring classes. They were all returned to Parliament by the same suffrage, and, therefore, they all represented, to a greater or less degree, the operatives and workpeople in their respective districts. As regarded the general question of factory labour, public opinion, as a whole, was, undoubtedly, sound; but he did not look upon public opinion as to factory hours as unanimous. On the contrary, he found that in Lancashire and in the industrial districts of Yorkshire there was a stronger feeling against the present restriction of hours than was in accord either with his sentiments or his wishes. He was not going back to the Berlin Conference to draw any inferences from what then took place. But he would point out that the Lancashire operatives, looking across the water, found that longer hours existed on the Continent, and they regarded with great jealousy the manufacturers who took their capital from England and invested it in Saxony, France, or Germany. The operatives could not see without jealousy that those who competed with them worked longer hours, and that their powers of production were superior. He was speaking now from the point of view of the operative. At the Berlin Conference England was greatly in advance of foreign nations. Since that time a Factory Act had been passed of a wholesome character, and the right hon. Member for Bury (Sir H. James) had a Bill in hand on the subject. But, although there might have been some advance on the Continent the disparity still continued, and he did not, himself, believe that the time was near when there would be equality of conditions of labour in this country as distinguished from the Continent. In India the workpeople were employed for longer hours, and he could tell 381 them that there wa a strong feeling upon that point in Lancashire. He found from documents and from inquiry that relaxation did a great deal to weaken and impair factory legislation. That was principally the case in Switzerland, as could be ascertained from the documents connected with the Berlin Conference. This was a point that affected them. The English operatives felt alarmed lest the Irish Legislature should fall back upon what was done in these other countries. A question arose in the mind of the English operative that this was as likely to occur in Ireland as in any other country. Then there was the question of the sanitary condition of factories. He would not object to this question being entrusted to an Irish Legislature; but that he felt great doubt that, even if the Irish Legislature maintained the law as it was in this country, there would be a laxity of administration, and the sanitary condition of factories in Ireland would become greatly inferior to the condition of the Yorkshire and Lancashire factories. He feared that if the framing and administration of the law on this subject were left to the Irish Parliament and Executive, there would be a falling off in the condition of the Irish operatives, and that the less prosperous of them might take refuge in England. This might lead to great jealousy and a recurrence of the severe, painful, and demoralising conflicts which took place years ago. He remembered those conflicts which took place in his earlier days in the Counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire, and he hoped that they would do nothing which would bring about the return of such feelings as were then excited.
§ *MR. MICHAEL AUSTIN (Limerick, W.)
said, the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Gorst) seemed to have a great distrust of the Irish Legislature; he was not willing that it should have any power at all. In that he carried out the view of his colleagues. Hut if they looked at this question as affecting the interests of this country, surely they would see that no Party had been more ardent supporters of legislation relating to the interests of the English working classes than the Irish Party. No one would venture to deny that they had spoken and voted in favour of every Act of the kind that had 382 been proposed. Therefore, the suggestion that the Irish Legislature would pass laws to extend the hours of labour was absurd and ridiculous. It was said that Ulster was contented with the present system. Why, there was no part of Ireland to which it was more necessary to have some attention paid in regard to this question. In Belfast the state of things was not satisfactory. As a Member of the Royal Commission on Labour, he was aware of the facts that had been laid before that Commission on the question of wages and the hours of work in Belfast. The wages there, as a result of the system that was adopted, were lower than in England and Scotland. It was said by the Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) that a crushing blow would be dealt to English industry if this question were handed over to an Irish Legislature. He could say, as an Irish Representative of labour, that he was intimately acquainted with the cotton factory operatives of Lancashire, and in every district with which he was acquainted they hoped that this question would be left to the Irish Legislature. ["Oh, oh!"] The Member for Preston said, "Oh, oh!" but he had not come into contact with the operatives as closely as he (Mr. Austin) had. The Secretary of the Cotton Operatives Organisation (Mr. Mawdsley) would testify to the truth of what he had said. English workers need have no fear that their fellow-workers would be crushed by the Irish Legislature. As he had said, the Irish Members had in this House always spoken and voted in favour of any action or movement that tended to lift the English workers up, and they would act in a similar way towards the workers in their own country. The same laws that prevailed in England would prevail in Ireland. There would he no attempt to reverse those laws; on the contrary, the Irish Legislature would co-operate with them in promoting the interests, which were identical, of the workers of Ireland and Great Britain.
§ *SIR. H. JAMES (Bury, Lancashire)
As a Member for a Lancashire constituency, I should be content to leave the statement of the case by hon. Gentlemen opposite where it is; but my attention is attracted to the words addressed 383 to the House by the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. M. Austin). In the last four years I have been in pretty constant communication with the Textile Factory operatives, especially within my own constituency. I also am intimately acquainted with Mr. Mawdsley, and I do not believe that either the operatives of Lancashire or Mr. Mawdsley would be willing to leave to the Irish Legislature the power of giving preferential hours of labour. Well, Sir, I do not much fear giving power to the Irish Legislature to deal with the machinery or the sanitary condition of factories. I think they should have that power. But I object to power being given to impose preferential conditions—I object to that being given to one part of the United Kingdom, irrespective of other parts. The operatives themselves have cheerfully accepted a limitation of their hours of labour, but they have never accepted the view that that limitation should exist in one factory and not in another. And what is the difference where the line of limitation is to be between England and Ireland or between Lancashire and Yorkshire? The capital employed in one or other of the counties, if you take Lancashire and Yorkshire, would have a great and predominant power of competition, so that the labourer might be paid higher wages than in the other county, where the operative would be placed at an undue disadvantage. If that is what would be the case as between Lancashire and Yorkshire, what would be the effect upon competition between England and Ireland? I should like to hear what hon. Members from these counties who sit behind the Government have to say upon this question. Meanwhile, I would ask the Chief Secretary whether, if the Amendment were modified, and if it were simply stated in the Bill that there should be no interference with the hours of labour affecting competition with the United Kingdom, would the Government consent to that? Or is it to be taken as the intention of the Government that the Irish Government should have the power of maintaining free trade in hours of labour, whilst restrictions are maintained in England? This is not a matter of prejudice. It is a matter of fair practical business. Do the Government intend to give the Irish Legislature the power of 384 making Ireland a favoured nation and a place of favoured competition, or do they wish that the hours of labour, which means competition, to be on terms of equality? This is an Imperial question—a general question, at any rate. Working men throughout the United Kingdom ought to be on terms of equality. That is all we ask. It cannot be an insult to the Irish people to say that they shall not compete unfairly with English operatives. If I cannot induce the Government to accept this Amendment I will try and barter with them. I should be willing to give up the exclusion of the Irish Legislature to deal with trade marks and merchandise marks in exchange for the acceptance of this Amendment. I think I know what the Lancashire people will feel upon this subject, and I believe that the views I have expressed to the House are those entertained by the Lancashire operatives, who will, I fancy, strongly object to any unfair competition that may be invoked. As the matter seems to interest the hon. Member for Shipley, I would say that there is not likely to be any competition between Bradford and Ireland such as there will be between Lancashire and Ireland.
§ *MR. BYLES (York, W.R., Shipley)
said, he rose in response to the right hon. Gentleman (Sir H. James), who, speaking on behalf of the Lancashire operatives, told the House that if the Yorkshire operatives were permitted to work for 74 hours per week, while the operatives in Lancashire were restricted to 54 hours, the latter would feel that they had a great grievance. Speaking for the Yorkshire end of the stick, he (Mr. Byles) replied that if the Yorkshiremen did manage to gain a limitation of their hours to 54 per week they would not envy their neighbours in Lancashire who were to work 74 hours. He listened with some attention to the speeches of the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Han-bury) and the hon. Baronet (Sir F.Powell), in the hope of discovering whether they were really speaking for the operatives in the manufacturing part of Lancashire, or in the interests of the manufacturers themselves, and he was unable to believe that they really had the interests of the operatives at heart. Throughout the whole of the Debate there had been an assumption 385 that if the question of hours in factories was left to an Irish Parliament, in all probability the hours would be extended. He did not see why such an assumption should be made, and he suggested that it was equally fair, and far more reasonable, to assume that an Irish Parliament would shorten the hours of labour. If an Irish Parliament were to differentiate in the matter of hours as regarded this country and Ireland, the difference was likely to be more beneficial to workmen in Ireland, in respect both of hours and conditions of labour. One of the advantages which he was looking for from the formation of an Irish Parliament was that they would have what Lord Rosebery called "experimental legislation." He had no doubt that there would be some valuable experimental legislation in regard to landlords, and he was looking forward to some valuable experiments in regard to factories. In this country there was a strong agitation going on in favour of an eight hours' day; but he supposed that no one who had any experience of the slow growth of social questions in this country before they ripened into legislation would look forward to the attainment of that Utopia to working men without believing that a long time must elapse before it was attained. But in Ireland it was perfectly possible that, with a small country, a small population, and a small Parliament, an experiment of the kind might be tried in a very short time, and it would be a valuable experience for Great Britain to watch and see if it would be wise or unwise to adopt a similar policy here. He would make only one other general observation. They had been engaged for many months in trying to pass this Home Rule Bill, and they had decided to give certain powers to the proposed Irish Parliament. Every Amendment—and this like the rest—was directed to take away piecemeal those powers. For that reason, as well as for those which he had previously stated, he intended to oppose the Amendment. The Home Rule that they were to give to Ireland was of a restricted and moderate kind, and they ought not to begin to whittle away by Amendments of this kind every power which they had entrusted to an Irish Parliament.
§ MR. WOLFF (Belfast, E.)
said, that as one connected with the manufacturers in the North of Ireland, he desired to say a few words on the Amendment. A great deal had been said as to the tendency of an Irish Parliament to lengthen the hours of labour, so as to put English, manufacturers at a disadvantage in the competition. If he thought that would be the case, and that the result would be to make goods cheaper, he should be the last man to oppose such au Amendment. But he did not think that anything of the sort was likely to take place. So far as the skilled trades of the country were concerned, such as engineers, joiners, and all men connected with the shipbuilding trade, all the men who were worth, having belonged to Trade Unions, which embraced all parts of the United Kingdom, and were too powerful to be overridden by an Irish Legislature. Of course, there remained a large number of operatives engaged in the textile trades: but he did not think that even they were at all likely to come into competition with those of England. There was little linen manufacture in Scotland, and none in England. The competitors with Ireland were on the Continent; and the Irish Legislature was not likely to try to compete with them, at all events, by increasing the hours of labour. The Irish Legislature would be largely returned by agriculturists, who would have little to do with manufactures, and who would be likely to favour short hours and high wages irrespective of the interests of manufacturers. An hon. Member opposite said that if the Irish Legislature did interfere with the conditions of labour, it would prove a valuable experiment for England. Well, England was going to do a great deal for Ireland by granting Home Rule; but Ireland was not likely to return the compliment by making experiments at her own cost for the benefit of England. The hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. M. Austin) had spoken of the condition of the working classes in Belfast, declaring that they received low wages. But the condition of the working classes should not be gauged by the amount of money paid to them at the end of the week. The cost of living, the cost of land, and 387 the general condition of the community had to be considered; and, taking these circumstances into view, he believed the people in the North of Ireland were as well off as they were in Lancashire. Wages, after all, were merely a question of supply and demand for the manufactured goods. But in spite of all this he intended to vote for the Amendment. There ought to be no difference in any legislation relating either to manufacturing or commercial matters generally between Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom was not so very large that it could be divided into districts with different laws for each district. There were differences, no doubt, between England and Ireland; but that was a matter to be regretted, and they should try to avoid increasing the evil in this Bill. It was proposed that the Irish people should have 80 Representatives in that House, and they would, therefore, have a voice in any legislation on those subjects. As he was afraid that legislation on questions affecting manufactures by people who were not familiar with such legislation would be more likely to do harm than good, and as he was most anxious that the laws of the Three Kingdoms in reference to those matters should be as far as possible uniform, he would support the Amendment.
§ MR. OLDROYD (Dewsbury)
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury (Sir H. James) had spoken on this matter as representing the operatives of Lancashire. It seemed rather strange that in this matter the cotton operatives of Lancashire should have such extreme fears of competition on the part of Irishmen, for the cotton trade was one in regard to which Ireland, at the present moment, did not compete with England at all. That trade did not exist in Ireland, and it would have to undergo all the vicissitudes and expense of establishing itself before it could compete with the operatives of Lancashire. He now desired to say a few words with reference to the woollen industry. As regarded that industry, there was considerable competition between the North of England and Ireland, and though it was increasing he did not say it was very formidable. During the last few years very consider- 388 able advances had been made, both in respect of the amount of woollen fabrics produced in Ireland and the quality of the workmanship. But ho did not entertain any fears from a limitation of the hours in Ireland. He and those interested in the woollen industry believed that the present hours were long enough, not only for the operatives personally, but for the real and effective power of the industry concerned. As regarded the cotton industry, and the opinion expressed on behalf of the operatives of Bury, he might say that, although this matter had been before the House in Committee, he had not received any communication from a single member of his constituency expressing any fear on the subject what ever; and he did not believe there was the slightest apprehension that any evil could possibly arise from legislation as to the hours of labour which might be enacted by an Irish Parliament.
§ SIR A. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
said, the right hon. Member for Bury (Sir H. James) had made a generous offer on behalf of his constituents which he (Sir A. Rollit) did not think he would find many other Members ready to make. As a Yorkshireman, and as also representing a Metropolitan constituency—London being the great distributing centre—he should be very sorry, and the London Chamber of Commerce also would be indisposed, to sacrifice our trade-mark arrangements and merchandise marks for any advantage that might accrue from the present or any other proposal. He did not know anything which more tended to illustrate the advantage of uniformity than our legislation with regard to trade-marks. They had the effect of binding all parts of the Empire together, and of inducing a very large amount of that national action and protection which otherwise would be hardly possible, and he ventured to say that that very example should be one of the chief inducements to hon. Members to support the Amendment. The whole tendency of the times in commercial matters was towards more uniformity than had existed in the past. For his own part, he thought that uniformity in reference to the Labour Laws should, from a commercial point of view, have the approval of the House. Of course, he spoke of uniformity in countries 389 where the conditions were similar. He granted that in the case of India there might be room for difference of opinion; but that did not exist in regard to England and Ireland, there being no variations in practice. He had been surprised to hear from the hon. Member for Wigan (Sir F. S. Powell) some aspersions on Irish manufacturers; but he was able to say from his own experience that there were in Donegal factories which, as regarded the health of their inmates, the methods and processes employed, and the general conduct of their business, would compare favourably with many institutions of a similar character in this country. He did not distrust the Irish Legislature in dealing with those matters; but he was bound to remember when Ireland had a Legislature of her own an attempt was made by bounties and rebates and the like to attack the industries of this country in order to support those of Ireland. He could conceive nothing more fatal to the commercial future of Ireland than the repetition of anything of that kind. It was most important that in economical matters regulating trades and industries the action of the Legislature should be as far as possible uniform, and that that uniformity should be maintained. It was said that if the Amendment were carried the operatives of this country and of Ireland would be liable to suffer; but he did not think that the operatives would be dependent on the Parliament of either the one country or the other. For his own part, he believed that the Trades Unions exercised the chief influence in the matter. The hon. Member for Shipley said that experiments as to the working of the new economic system might be tried; but he failed to see why Ireland should be the corpus vile for the experiments of this country. Those who spoke of an eight hours day as a working man's Utopia which was not likely to come about did not rightly read the signs of the times, having regard to what had taken place at the Berlin Conference. Legislation on that question was not at all unlikely. As lie believed that the commercial interests of the two countries were joint he should support the Amendment.
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
said, they could wish for nothing better to go to their constituents with than the statement of the Chief Secretary that it was the intention of the Government to give the Irish Legislature power to deal with factory legislation as they thought fit. He believed that when this matter was put before the constituencies, particularly of Lancashire, the Opposition would have all the operatives and workers on their side.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
This raises a matter in which my constituents are greatly interested, as there is a considerable trade between Birmingham and Ireland. I would point out that this raises a different class of consideration to that which has been raised by other Amendments. In previous Amendments we have desired to protect ourselves against possible abuse by the Irish Parliament. That is not the case here. It is not a case of abuse of the powers which might be conferred on the Irish Legislature; but the object of the Amendment is to insure uniformity in legislation with respect to matters in which uniformity is specially desirable. I cannot understand why the Government should not be consistent in this matter. They have, yielding, I believe, to pressure from the Opposition, agreed to include merchant shipping in the restrictions which they have made on the Irish Legislature. Why, therefore, should there be no uniformity? Why should they exclude merchant shipping and include factory legislation? The two things stand on the same footing. As regards the feeling which exists among the working people of Birmingham in this matter, I can say they have two fears in respect of it. The first is that it may be possible for the Irish Legislature, in order to stimulate a particular trade or industry, to repeal some restriction which has been imposed upon trade of this country in order to enable it to he carried on in Ireland. Another objection is that we are not dealing only with legislation as its exists at present, but with possible future legislation. Whenever working people come to this House and ask for legislation in any way restricting the action of their employers, they are always 391 told—"Take care what you are doing, because you will be at a disadvantage with regard to foreign competition." But in future this addition would be made—"Take care that you do not put yourselves at a disadvantage with regard to the competition from Ireland, because there is no certainty that this legislation which you are seeking to promote in England will be followed by the Irish Legislature." That argument will be used with great force against any proposal by the working people of this country for any fresh factory legislation; and it is upon that ground, as well as upon the ground of fear of what may happen in regard to existing legislation, that my constituents, and, at any rate, the working men with whom I have had the opportunity of talking on the subject, object very Strongly to having two sets of factory legislation in the United Kingdom. I appeal to the Prime Minister, if he will not accept the Amendment, at all events to justify the anomaly of refusing to give the Irish Legislature the power of dealing with merchant shipping or factories at sea, whilst he gives it the power of dealing with factories on land.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman opposite proposes to respond to the appeal which my right hon. Friend has just made before the Debate closes. As he did not rise, I availed myself of the opportunity of making the few observations that I think it necessary to lay before the House on the present occasion. The Chief Secretary has accused the right hon. Member who moved the Amendment of repeating arguments that were employed on a previous occasion. I cannot make a retort on the Government, because I cannot find out that on a previous occasion they used any arguments at all. I gathered from the tone of the Chief Secretary's speech that this question had been thoroughly threshed out in Committee; that the Government had replied to all the arguments; and that it was unnecessary for them to meet again a case which they had met so effectually on a previous occasion. Well, Sir, my memory is not very good in this matter; but I taxed myself in vain to find any record of the wonderful arguments used by the Government in Com- 392 mittee. The only speech delivered by a Member of the Government was a speech by the President of the Beard of Trade, which did not fill a column in Hansard. As a matter of fact, the Government have not, either in Committee nor on the present occasion, faced the problem, or even touched the fringe of the question raised. That alone would afford ample justification for the raising of this question again, even though it appears we are not to be more successful than we were in June in extracting from the Government an adequate reply. It is evident that the Government think silence the most judicious policy, and, from their point of view, I am not sure that they are not right. I cannot deal in these few remarks with the Government case, because I am in ignorance of what it is. I can make some observations on what I have heard from various Members in the course of the Debate. The Chief Secretary argued that we cannot consistently vote for this Amendment, because we supported the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Harrow (Mr. Ambrose), which purported to give to Ireland the management of her own affairs in certain branches of Departmental administration. The right hon. Gentleman never looked at the Amendment, for ho completely overlooked the fact that the hon. and learned Member for Harrow deliberately excluded from his Amendment the Home Secretary's functions, and it is the Home Secretary who is alone charged with the particular administrative duties which we are dealing with in the Amendment. Whatever value there might have been in the tu quoque, had it been well-founded, there is, as a matter of fact, no foundation at all for it. At present the Home Secretary is supreme in regard to all inspection in England, Scotland, and Ireland. The inspection of factories and workshops in Ireland does not come under the survey of the Chief Secretary. He has nothing to do with it; he does not appoint the Inspectors, and it is not to him that the Reports are addressed. When you pass this Bill, if you pass it without this Amendment, and without the consequent changes the Amendment would require, you take away from the Home Secretary the whole regulations respecting factories and workshops, and you throw the 393 responsibility, and, what is more, the cost upon the new Irish Legislature. I want to know what hope there is that that Legislature will operate effectively the very costly machinery we have devised for looking after factories and workshops? It has been mentioned by some gentlemen in this Debate that the Legislature in Ireland would represent a purely agricultural constituency, and would not be interested in manufacturing questions. The number of the manufacturing population is comparatively trifling in proportion to the whole population, and of this fraction of the population a very small proportion are in harmony with the political opinions of the majority. I think it is, under the circumstances, a perfectly vain hope for us to entertain that under the new Irish Legislature the existing and most costly system of inspection of factories and workshops can be continued, or that any proper system can be substituted for it. Several of my right hon. and hon. Friends have, speaking for the manufacturing districts they represent, stated that the utmost jealousy existed as to the course which might be taken by the Irish Legislature, or, what is still more important, which the Irish Legislature might abstain from taking. That was replied to, in the first place, by one of the Members for Belfast, who said ho thought questions of wages and laws were not really settled by legislation in the trade with which he was acquainted, but entirely depended on the Trades Unions. I do not doubt at all that Trades Unions have a very great, and, I dare say, extremely beneficial power in Belfast, as in other towns; but they probably only affect wages over a very restricted area, especially as my hon. Friend says wages are lower in Belfast than in parts of England and Scotland.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
That was the interpretation I was disposed to put on what my hon. Friend said. Therefore, we have it on my hon. Friend's own authority that, as a matter of fact, the Trades Unions cannot be relied upon to produce uniformity. The hon. Member for 394 Dewsbury (Mr. Oldroyd) said that Ireland was competing with him in the woollen trade, but that he was not afraid of Ireland, and did not desire to maintain uniformity, as he did not think that any disparity of condition between England and Ireland would inflict any injury whatever on the trade he represents.
§ MR. OLDROYD
was understood to say that he did not refer to the future, but to the present state of things.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not say that wages are the same, or that hours are the same, in Great Britain and Ireland; but I do say that factory legislation is the same, and I say that, in so far as factory legislation of whatever kind operates as one of the conditions of production, making it more less costly, you undoubtedly may have differences introduced which could not be introduced under your present system. It has been said it is an error to suppose that short hours mean defective production, and that it would not pay the Irish Legislature to permit an increase of the hours of their workmen, because no commercial or manufacturing advantage would thereby accrue to Irish productions. I must firmly hold the faith that the shortening of the hours of labour in very many instances has not only not diminished the effectiveness of capital and labour, but has actually augmented the effectiveness of both. But I think it would be an extravagant conclusion to draw from that general doctrine that no restriction that might be made would, to some extent, hamper the capitalist and merchant. I think it quite possible that some restrictions in the hours of labour ought and probably would be made; but if such restrictions are made they ought to apply equally to the Three Kingdoms, and not to England and Scotland only, to the exclusion of Ireland. The contention of the Government is that the Irish Legislature would never attempt to repeal the existing factory legislation, or to do any thing to injure the English workmen. I grant that; but I ask whether it is probable that the restrictions which we in this country think desirable would be extended to Ireland? The Irish farmers would say to themselves—"Our industries are infant industries—industries of tender years, delicate and somewhat 395 sickly—and if we apply these robust remedies to them, we shall kill them, instead of curing them." That being so, the 80 Representatives of Ireland would vote in favour of the restriction of the hours of labour in this country, and would abstain from carrying out that principle in Ireland. I think that the Government have made a double mistake in this matter. They have made the mistake of not answering the questions that have been put to them on this subject, and the mistake of framing the Bill as they have done. I believe there is no part of the Bill that will be better understood by the British workmen than the portion of it that is now under discussion. As to the workmen of this country being satisfied with the argument put into the mouth of the Chief Secretary, and with the assurance that the Irish Members have always shown themselves sympathetic with the claims of labour, I say that the workmen of Great Britain are not so idiotic as not to be able to perceive that when those Members have to deal in Ireland with their own affairs their sympathy will be with the Irish, and not with the English industries, and that may lead to very different results. I think it would be in vain to ask the Government to throw any further light on the question; and I will, therefore, conclude by saying that I shall undoubtedly vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
said, that since this question had been before the Committee he had spoken to many working men and representatives of Trade Unions both in England and in Belfast, and he had found that English working men would scarcely believe that they were to be subjected to such legislation as might be imposed upon them with the assistance of the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament, whilst a different kind of legislation altogether might be adopted by the Irish Legislature for the working classes of Ireland. When they had asked for the reasons for such a state of things, he and others had been obliged to say that the Government had given no reasons. That answer must continue to be given, unless some Member of the Government would now get up and defend the proposal of the Bill. The hon. Member for East Belfast (Mr. 396 Wolff) had said that the Trades Unions in Ireland were all powerful to settle these matters; but he would remind the hon. Member that Trades Unionists in Ireland were only powerful to the extent to which they co-operated with the Trades Unionists of Great Britain. If this Bill passed and the Irish Unionists were left to their own resources, they would be positively an insignificant Body when opposed to the great voting power of the rest of Ireland. He was anxious to see how the Representatives of labour were going to vote on that Division, because if the Bill were allowed to stand as it was it would amount to a virtual abandonment by British Trades Unionists of the Trades Unionists of Ireland. He had been told by men who stood high in the Trades Unions in Belfast that if they were once forsaken by the Trades Unionists of Great Britain they would have no power whatever, but would be subjected to any kind of regulation which the Irish Parliament chose to impose upon them. Two questions were involved in this Amendment; one was the welfare of the British operatives, and the other the welfare of the Irish operatives. The only defence of this part of the Bill in Committee was given by the President of the Beard of Trade (Mr. Mundella), who said that the reason why the woollen trade was making way in Ireland was that wages were so low in that country. If, however, in addition to the difference in the wages, hours were made longer in Ireland than in England, or the restrictions with regard to women's and children's labour were done away with, or the expensive restrictions now put upon manufacturers abolished, these things would represent a good deal more than a difference of a few shillings a week in wages. Those who voted against the Amendment would vote against the best interests of the British workmen and against the best interests of the Irish operatives as far as health and convenience went. This was a question that was more largely talked about in the British constituencies than the Government seemed to think, and people would not believe that such a difference in legislation was really intended. It would take the vote that was about to be given to convince the British workman that the Govern- 397 ment was forcing upon them the great injustice contemplated by the Bill.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 144; Noes 189.—(Division List, No. 269.)
§ MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
said, he wished to secure the omission, from line 16, of the words "or quarantine," his object being to leave this subject in the power of the Irish Legislature. He did not think it necessary to speak upon it at any length; but he would point out that quarantine largely depended on local circumstances, and there was no necessity for uniform regulations throughout the United Kingdom. This was, therefore, a subject which might reasonably be left to the Irish Legislature to deal with.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 16, to leave out the words "or quarantine."—(Mr. Courtney.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'or quarantine' stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I do not quite understand my right hon. Friend's motive in moving this Amendment. The word "quarantine" is a somewhat ambiguous phrase. It might mean the execution by Customs officers of certain regulations as to cholera, yellow fever, and other diseases coming from foreign countries, or it might mean, in a looser sense, the regulations made and executed by the Local Authority as to other diseases under its ordinary sanitary powers. The Government do not intend to exclude from Irish legislation sanitary regulations made by Sanitary Authorities; but they are bound, from their conception of the position of Ireland in relation to foreign countries, to adhere to the exclusion of "quarantine" in its true sense from the legislative power of the Irish Government.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Because those regulations affect other countries as well as Ireland; and, as they may have to be applied to foreigners and foreign ships, it is not right that the dealing with them should be left to the Irish Legislature.
§ *SIR C. W. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
said, the law of quarantine must be looked upon as virtually extinct in this country; and it would be a 398 mistake to spend much time in discussing the question, as some years ago it was decided that in future quarantine should not be enforced in this country as regarded cholera. It still remained, as regarded yellow fever, under the Privy Council, which had no staff for the execution of its powers, and the Local Government Beard had control over all the arrangements at ports with regard to the importation of cholera and every other disease. In Ireland the Irish Local Government Beard had similar powers. In this matter we were not bound by any engagements with Foreign Powers, and really the whole subject was one of antiquarian interest only.
MR. GIBSON BEWLES (Lynn Regis)
said, the right hon. Baronet was mistaken in asserting that the quarantine law was practically extinct; so far from it being so in this country, there was a Vote of £1,500 on the Estimates this year for the maintenance of the quarantine station at the Mother bank. He was no friend of quarantine; ho believed it did more harm than good; but if harm was to be done let it be done by all means by the Irish Government, and not by the Imperial Parliament. He sympathised with the Amendment on those grounds, and would, therefore, vote for it. He strongly objected to the policy of the Government in throwing upon the ports the expense of taking precautions against the importation of cholera. His own constituency had been put to a very considerable expenditure on account of quarantine directed against foreign vessels, and much injustice was done, as the Central Government sent down an Inspector to tell the Local Authority what to do, and afforded it no pecuniary assistance at all. Seeing that this was really an Imperial and not a local matter, the burden should fall on the country at large. But so long as the Government insisted on treating this as a local matter by making local ports pay all the expense, they had no right to prevent the Irish Parliament having control over it.
§ *SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir C. W. Dilke) is mistaken in supposing that quarantine is inoperative in this country, because I remember perfectly well that two or three years ago I attended a 399 meeting of the Privy Council, at which an Order was passed consigning to quarantine the passengers and crew of a ship just arrived from the West Indies.
§ *SIR J. FERGUSSON
The question is whether the Irish Parliament shall have power to frame quarantine laws and regulations different from those in force in other parts of the United Kingdom, and to adopt a system of quarantine such as obtains in Spain and other countries, thereby causing considerable inconvenience to the people of this country, or to neglect rules that we consider necessary. I think the House should pause before adopting the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 20, after "1854," to insert the words "and the Acts amending the same."—(Mr. J. Morley.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. VICARY GIBBS (Herts,) St. Albans
said, he had to move an Amendment substituting the word "currency" for "legal tender," in the list of subjects which the Irish Legislature were precluded from dealing with. He admitted that the subject was fully discussed in Committee. But on that occasion the Chancellor of the Exchequer, while unable to accept the Amendment, promised to consider if any further safeguard were necessary. He now asked what was the result of the right hon. Gentleman's consideration. He was surprised at the absence of the right hon. Gentleman at a moment when a question of such importance to the commercial classes was about to be discussed. As the clause now stood, it would be in the power of the Irish Government to issue paper currency to any extent they might think proper. The principal currency in Ireland at the present time was a paper currency; the banks were allowed by law to issue notes to a certain extent secured by their own reserves, and beyond a certain limit they were required to keep gold in their cellars as against the notes. But the Irigh Government might think fit to stop that currency, and there was nothing in 400 the Bill to prevent them doing so. Then the question would arise as to what currency should be substituted for it, and the Bill would enable the Government to issue a paper currency without any security at all.
It being half-past Five of the clock, Further Proceeding on Consideration, as amended, stood adjourned.
§ Bill, as amended, to be further considered To-morrow.