§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment [30th August] proposed to Question, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ And which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six mouths."—(Mr. Courtney)
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. TRITTON (Lambeth, Norwood)
said, that in resuming his speech against the Third Reading of this Hill he wished, in the first place, to express his regret that on the preceding afternoon he inadvertently misquoted some words used by the Prime Minister; and he proposed, in the next place, to call attention to the statement of the Chief Secretary in his eloquent speech at Newcastle on Saturday last, that the Government had made the Homo Rule Bill a "workable scheme." He wondered how many Members of the House thought that statement correct. The right hon. Gentleman devoted a considerable portion of his somewhat lengthy oration to severely criticising the conduct of the Opposition, and then went on to say—We gave a pledge to bring before Parliament a scheme which should satisfy Irish desires, which should meet the necessities of Irish social life, and should endanger no great British interest. We have fulfilled that pledge.But had the Government satisfied Irish desires? Why, the very first time an 1588 Irish Member had risen in his place in the House since the delivery of the Chief Secretary's speech he said—One result of the discussion in Committee was thoroughly satisfactory. As the Bill now stood, no man in his senses could any longer regard it either as a full, a final, or a satisfactory settlement of the Irish national demand. The word 'provisional' had been, so to speak, stamped in red ink across every page of the Bill.The hon. Member for Waterford, to whom he referred, further said the Bill would not be a satisfactory settlement to either country, because no settlement would be satisfactory to England which did not end the Irish Question, and no settlement would be satisfactory to Ireland which did not make Irishmen masters in their own country. So much for "the workable scheme" which would satisfy the Irish Members. As a man of business he was strongly opposed to the Bill. As a member of the London Chamber of Commerce he had great respect for the views of kindred organisations, and he could not get over the protests of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce, the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, the Linen Manufacturers' Association, and the Dublin Stock Exchange. He did not know if business men opposite believed the airy assertion of the Prime Minister that the Bill would produce a wonderful plethora of money in Ireland; but evidently business men in Ireland did not look forward to prosperity under Home Rule, for they had pronounced strongly against the Bill; that it would be detrimental to trade and commerce; that if it became law security, credit, and capital would vanish, and starvation of labour set in. He therefore, as a business man, protested against this unbusinesslike Bill being allowed to be read a third time. He further objected to the Bill from the teetotal point of view, and he was surprised that none of the so-called "temperance" party had risen to object to a Bill which made the solvency of Ireland depend on the consumption of whisky, and which made temperance legislation impossible in Ireland—because it would involve national bankruptcy. A widespread increase of habits of temperance among the people would mean financial ruin to the Irish Exchequer. Even the Chancellor of the Exchequer—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby—would not venture to use his 1589 Splendid rhetorical powers in a crusade in poor drink-trodden Ireland, because the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer would protest against his action as likely to load to the bankruptcy of Ireland. He also objected to the Bill because of the danger it involved to the loyal Protestant minority. The Prime Minister said the picas put forward by the Opposition against the Bill were "enormous, monstrous, and hideous falsehoods," though he was kind enough to add that he believed in the sincerity of those who advanced them. The voice of the Protestant minority had been pretty largely heard, and appeals had been made, especially by Nonconformists, begging their brethren in this country to do something to oppose the Bill, and thereby save them from having their religious liberties imperilled and placed under the domination of the Irish priesthood. He wished to know whether the Prime Minister desired it to go forth to the country that these appeals were nothing but enormous, monstrous, and hideous falsehoods? He could hardly fancy that one who, like the right hon. Gentleman, owed his present position so largely to the votes of the Nonconformists of England, would wish such a statement to go forth respecting the pleas put forward against this pernicious Bill by the Nonconformists of Ireland. He (Mr. Tritton) only wished that some of the gentlemen opposite would have the courage of their convictions on this subject. He believed that when the days of Gladstonian glamour and Sextonian supremacy bad passed away there were many Members opposite who would wish to God they had never helped in carrying this Bill through its Third Reading. The other night he dreamt—he knew it was wrong for a middle-aged Conservative to dream; the young men of the Eighty Club were the only men who ought to have dreams; but he was thankful that the Prime Minister could not gag Members in the hours of darkness as well as in the hours of light—he dreamt that just before a most critical Division in the House of Commons the Home Secretary (Mr. Asquith) rose in his place and asserted, in that patronising manner which some of his friends regretted that he had so much acquired since he took Office, that he had been especially authorised by the Government to say that on that 1590 occasion hon. Members would be allowed to vote according to their convictions. He (Mr. Tritton) was afraid that this dream would not come true; but he still ventured to hope that some gentlemen opposite, recognising the unworkability of that scheme, the want of real safeguard, either material or moral, for the loyal minority in Ireland, and the solemnity of the occasion on which they were to give their votes might, before it was too late, go over and help the Unionist Party to defeat the most miserable and the most mischievous measure which had ever been proposed by a responsible Government to that Imperial House of Parliament.
§ *THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir C. RUSSELL,) Hackney, S.
The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has made a vigorous and in parts an amusing speech. I do not think that he proposed to himself to say much, and he certainly has not succeeded in saying much, to assist the judgment of the House upon the great question before it. He began by expressing his disappointment with the character of the speech delivered by my right hon. Friend (Mr. J. Morley) last Saturday. I can only say that we on this side of the House have not been disappointed with that speech. The hon. Member referred to my right hon. Friend's statement that we have proposed to put before this House for acceptance a workable scheme of Homo Rule, and he asked who believed that statement. Well, my answer is that the majority of this House believe it. About some other points of the hon. Member's speech I shall have to say something in the order in which they arise, but I must decline to follow him on this occasion into a consideration of the temperance question or the Local Veto Bill. There has been one feature of the speech of the hon. Member which has been characteristic of all the speeches delivered against this Bill up to the present time, including those of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Courtney) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division (Mr. Chaplin). They have all said very little about the principle of this Bill. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin, indeed, said that by-and-bye some such Bill might properly be accepted by this House and passed by 1591 Parliament, but that this was not the time for it, that the question was not ripe, and that we had not behind us such a mandate from the country as would justify the House in passing such a measure. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford took the same line of argument, but devoted the greater part of his speech to a defence of his reputation for literary accuracy. I am not going to enter into the controversy between the Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman upon the subject of foreign authority in relation to the Irish Question. I will make but two observations in reference to that matter. The first is that the right hon. Gentleman mistook the purpose for which the Prime Minister referred to that authority. The Prime Minister never referred to that authority as being one the volume of which had declared in favour of Home Rule. But he referred to it for the purpose of establishing the fact that there was a consensus of opinion that, owing to the long years of misgovernment of Ireland by the superior power of Great Britain, there was a debt due by Great Britain to Ireland, and not yet recognised in its legislation. When the right hon. Gentleman referred to the case of Cavour I think he entirely misunderstood the application of what he said. Count Cavour was arguing against the Repeal of the Union. That meant the restoration of Grattan's Parliament; it meant the restoration of an independent Legislature, although not accompanied by an independent Executive, and it meant the right of that independent Legislature to entertain questions touching succession, touching the Regency, foreign relations, external trade, Treaties, and the like. When in connection with his opposition to the Repeal of the Act of Union Count Cavour went on to refer to the case of Canada, he meant to express his approval of the principle of delegation by the supreme authority of Parliament to a subordinate legislative authority to deal with local affairs. But, Mr. Speaker, there has run through all the speeches delivered up to the present moment one consistent line of argument, at one moment more obviously and clearly expressed than at another, but never wanting in the whole thread of the argument. It is this—that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) has needlessly and 1592 gratuitously brought forward this Irish Question, and made his attempt to solve it, without there being any pressing necessity for him to undertake that task. One would suppose from many of the observations made that my right hon. Friend had invented the Irish Question. Under these circumstances it is necessary to consider briefly what was the condition of things that had existed long anterior to 1886, and what it was that made it a matter of urgent necessity for the Prime Minister to attempt to deal with the question of Home Rule. We have it upon the confession of right hon. Gentlemen opposite that before 1885 the Government of the Queen, backed up by all the resources of the Empire, was not wholly powerful in Ireland, that there existed in Ireland an embittered feeling in respect of the Government which proceeded from the Imperial Cabinet and from this Imperial Parliament, and that the Irish Representatives, although they had no Constitutional resources and power at their back, were the real authority in the laud—an authority, grievous to relate, often more powerful—that was the accusation of the Opposition—than the law of the land itself. For years there had been pursued an alternate system of bullying and bribing, of coercing and conciliating. At the end of that series of experiments, when in 1885 the Irish people were enabled for the first time to speak as a fully enfranchised people in the sense in which England and Scotland were able to speak, they returned out of 100 popularly-elected Members 85 Members demanding, in Constitutional language and within the lines of the Constitution, the concession to Ireland of the natural right of self-government in its own affairs. I ask, was it possible for any Constitutional Minister, much less for a Constitutional Minister heading and leading the great Liberal Party, to turn his back upon such a demand? Mr. Speaker, I have said that many plans have been tried, and that they have failed. There is one plan that has not been tried—a plan that has this in its favour—that wherever it has been tried it has never been known to fail—and that is the plan of putting responsibility upon the people for their own government. We, in 1886, looked with hope, and in 1893 we look with hope, for the speedy accomplishment of 1593 such a measure as being the means of at once removing, or at least of mitigating, the chronic difficulties of Irish government, and of setting free the energies of this Parliament to deal with pressing questions affecting Scotland, England, and Wales. In 1886 the Government of that day proposed a measure which may be described in a single sentence, for in that single sentence the pith and kernel of the principle of the measure is contained. It was the creation of a subordinate Legislative Authority in Ireland, and of an Executive responsible to that Legislative Authority, which should have power to legislate in respect of purely Irish affairs subject to and leaving untouched, as it is untouchable, the supreme authority of this Imperial Parliament. Well, the Bill of 1886 failed. Why? It failed mainly for three reasons. I will give these reasons, not merely for the sake of retrospect, but because they have a distinct bearing on some of the questions that are in contention today. The first reason was that the public of England and Scotland and Wales were, to a large extent, in a state of un-preparedness for the policy of 1886. The second reason was that by the Bill of 1886 it was proposed to exclude the Irish Members. That proposition was considered quite enough in the eyes of its opponents to condemn the Pill altogether, because it was said that the continued presence of Irish Members in this House was the sign and symbol of the continued supremacy of this Parliament, and that if the Irish Members were to go it meant separation, and nothing but separation. The third reason was that there was connected with that Bill, and forming part, of the policy of that Bill, a Land Purchase Scheme. I can speak with some authority, if I may be permitted to say so, upon this matter, and I have the strongest belief that it was not the Self-Government Bill of 1886 that defeated the policy of the Government of that day half as much as the coupling with it of the Land Purchase Scheme. I will only say that in my own constituency and in other constituencies I saw placards on which was written in large letters the question—"Are you, the overtaxed British taxpayer—you, the overburdened Englishman and artizan—goingto submit to be taxed to the tune of £200,000,000 in order to buy out the Irish landlords?" 1594 I believe that although the policy came upon unprepared minds to a large extent in this country that policy, so far as self-government for Ireland was concerned, would have succeeded even in 1886 had it not been for the Land Purchase Scheme. As regards the exclusion of the Irish Members, I was then, and am now, opposed to that exclusion. I beg leave to say, if I may be allowed this brief personal reference, that in my speech upon the introduction of that measure in 1886 I expressed the earnest hope that the Government would see their way to yield on the point, not that I feared that the exclusion of the Irish Members would lead to separation, but that I was unwilling on the part of my country and on the part of my countrymen to give up a fair share in the direction of those Imperial interests which they have, according to the measure of their opportunity, their means, and their powers, done their part to build up. They have in every Department of the State done, at least, their share of the work of State service. Although the times have been, I admit, when in Imperial matters the Irish people, or a portion of them, have not mourned when the English people mourned, nor rejoiced when the English people rejoiced, yet I have lived in the hope, and still live in the hope, that the day is not far distant when existing differences will have been removed, and when Irishmen will take as much interest as any Englishman in upholding the interests of that Empire, the greatness of which they have done much to create. The plan of exclusion was universally condemned. It was condemned on all sides of this House; it was condemned in the Press and at public meetings. I must express my surprise at one statement made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Courtney)—namely, that the Liberal Unionist Party had not expressed any views upon that question. My right hon. Friend in effect told us that if it had been inclusion instead of exclusion, the Liberal Unionist Members would have seized upon it just as they seized upon the proposal of the Bill of 1886.
§ *SIR C. RUSSELL
To use the right hon. Gentleman's expression, the opponents of the Bill seized upon the pro- 1595 vision which came readiest to their hands. I suppose that Birmingham is some authority upon the question of Liberal Unionism, and I suppose the right hon. Gentlemen the Members for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) and the Bordesley Division (Mr. Jesse Collings) have some place of importance in the Liberal Unionist Party. I would remind the House that when the Bill was under discussion in 1886, and when this question of the exclusion of the Irish Members was the point of attack, a great meeting was held in Birmingham at which the resolution lam about to read was passed. Supporting this resolution were the right hon. Gentleman the Members for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) and the Bordesley Division (Mr. Jesse Collings), and the resolution was moved by Dr. Dale, a man of authority. It began by expressing confidence in the then head of the Government, my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), and it proceeded as follows:—Cordially sympathises with him as the Leader of the Liberal Party in his efforts to make a permanent settlement of the Irish Question, and heartily approves his proposal to entrust to the people of Ireland a large control over their domestic affairs by means of a Representative Assembly, provided that adequate safeuards are devised for maintaining the integrity and unity of the Three Kingdoms; that this meeting recognises in the Irish Government Bill the foundation of such a settlement, and regards with satisfaction the indications of a disposition on the part of the Government to amend the Bill by retaining Irish Representatives in the Imperial Parliament, thus insuring Imperial supremacy and upholding the Liberal principle that taxation and representation must go together; that this meeting trusts that the Amendment suggested, and others that may be shown to be desirable, will be accepted by the Government, and believes that by a measure so amended the just desires of the people of Ireland would be complied with, and that relations of cordiality and mutual confidence between Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom will be established and permanently maintained.Well, after that, it is a notorious fact that my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), subsequently to the defeat of the Government, announced that, yielding, as he believed, to the opinion of the House, and to the strong volume of opinion out of the House, as far as he was concerned the exclusion of the Irish Members from this House had dropped out of, and would form no future part of, the scheme for the Government of Ireland. Since 1886 a good deal has happened. 1596 Since that date we have had announced to us by the Party opposite the policy of permanent exceptional repressive legislation. For the first time we have had on the Statute Book in a permanent form an exceptional repressive measure, which is, if the will of right hon. Gentlemen opposite prevail, to endure for ever. That policy, I contend, failed. [Opposition cries of "Oh!"] Will anybody say it succeeded?
§ *SIR C. RUSSELL
I will make two observations in reference to that assertion. The first is, that if anyone will take the trouble to compare the administration of that repressive measure by the right hon. Gentleman in the early stages of his career, when he was young and earnest, with its administration in the later stages of his career as Irish Secretary he will find a very marked change.
§ *SIR C. RUSSELL
I admit it. But the right hon. Gentleman was in Office under favouring circumstances. What were those favouring circumstances? The first was as to land legislation, which your Party had done all they could to defeat, and to mar when they could not defeat it, and it was beginning to tell with some effect in Ireland. But a much more potent influence was at work in Ireland, and that was the announcement of the policy of 1886, and the fact that a great historical Party had made the question of Irish Government its own. If the right hon. Gentleman's policy succeeded, what an ungrateful country Ireland is, and what an ungrateful country Great Britain is! Because, I suppose, it will be admitted that the electors of Great Britain and Ireland conjointly turned the right hon. Gentleman out of Office. I say his policy failed, and that it did so is shown by the fact that at the end of his administration, so far from anything having been done to satisfy or meet the wishes of the Irish people, the unbending resolve of the Irish people to obtain self-government remained. To-day, even in spite of national differences, four-fifths of the Representatives of Ireland demand Home Rule. I want to know what is the question affecting England or Scotland as to which you can point to 1597 such a preponderating force? I would say that since 1886 circumstances favourable to Home Rule have occurred. I have pointed out some of them. There has been the manifestation of a wish on the part of the Irish people to let bygones be bygones—to rase from the national memory events which have burnt deep into it, and to prefer this claim for self-government in a friendly tone—not to demand it as a weapon of offence against England, but as the concession of a just right to be used for the benefit of Ireland. What has been the change in Great Britain? I say the change in Great Britain has been great. There has been wider interest and fuller information on the question. There has been an appreciation more wide and more thorough than existed in 1886 that, after all, this scheme of Home Rule is but a scheme of delegation from the supreme authority for local legislative purposes on conditions which the supreme authority fixes, and which leave that supreme authority untouched. Above all, there is the manifestation of a charitable and kindly feeling in the generous mind of England and Scotland and Wales to make allowances for the indiscretions, for the wrong things done and said by the friends and advocates of Ireland when they were actuated almost by the spirit of despair. We approach the question now finally with these considerations, and, further, the consideration which the people of these countries, believe me, are beginning to take to heart and realise: that, after all, there is no divided interest between Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom; that it cannot be a gain for England or Scotland that Ireland should remain discontented; and that the great volume of opposition to this concession of Home Rule comes in the main from the Party which in times past has, as long as it dared, opposed all popular reform, and that Home Rule is supported by the Party which in the past has been the great instrument for securing popular rights and defending them. I should now like to be allowed to consider briefly one or two of the main objections urged against this Bill by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin. He said there was no mandate for the Bill. What does that mean? It is, of course, quite true to say that this Bill, verbatim etliteratim, was not before the country; but 1598 except the alteration as to the two orders which appeared in the Bill of 1886 and the question of the exclusion of the Irish Members, does anybody suppose that any intelligent politician or voter or any unintelligent politician or voter who took any interest whatever in this matter did not well know that the principle of the Bill of 1886—namely, the creation of a Legislative Body to deal with Irish affairs—was the principle by which the Liberal Party stood, and to which they would give effect at the next General Election? I do not think that many people will agree with the suggestion that this question was not before the country, and was not fully considered upon every platform where politics were discussed—["Oh!" and Opposition laughter]—aye, upon every platform whore politics were discussed in the seven years that intervened. I will cite the authority of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham. He says—We are face to face with the great fact … that the great majority of the Liberal Party are pledged to the principle of Home Rule, and have been strenuously endeavouring during the last seven years to make it a cardinal feature of Liberal policy."That is literally and absolutely true. Then it is said—"Oh, but the scant majority you have got was not got upon this question at all," and some Members have pointed out how far that majority depends upon the Irish vote. I will do my right hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin the justice to say that he did not make that point. Why is the Irish vote to be excluded? Why are you, the advocates of unity, to use this language of separation? Why, upon a question which directly affects Ireland, in the calculation of votes are you to exclude the Irish votes? But it is said that the question of Home Rule was mixed up with other questions, and the opponents of this so-called revolutionary measure of Home Rule for Ireland suggest a revolution which is still greater, so far as our Constitution is concerned—namely, the referendum upon this question. I do not wish to dwell long upon the question of the referendum. I content myself with saying—and I fancy I shall have the assent of my right hon. Friend the MemberforBodmin—that where by the Constitution the Representative House creates and controls 1599 the Executive Government where, as in this country, it is a Government by Party, the referendum can, in its proper sense, have no proper application and place. Why? Because the question for the electorate must always be, taking the policies of the two Parties before the country, which of these policies best recommends itself to support. It is said that some voters voted for Home Rule candidates because they were interested in the temperance question, and because they were interested in the Disestablishment question for Wales and Scotland. Quite possible; but were there no voters who voted in support of Conservative candidates because they were sound on the liquor question, or because they were opposed to Disestablishment? The same thing would occur if the question were referred to-morrow. So much for the question of mandate and the statement that the Bill was not before the country. It is said next that the question has not been discussed in this House. On that point I have very little to add to what the Prime Minister stated yesterday, but I should like to be permitted to say just a word or two. Four days were occupied on the First Reading of the Bill, 12 on the Second Reading, 47 in the Committee stage, 14 on the Report stage, and, if the Division takes place as arranged tomorrow night, at least three days upon the Third Reading stage. That represents the time taken in passing through Parliament four great measures of primary importance, and some of them of great Constitutional importance. It represents the total time occupied in the passage of the Act of Union, the Reform Bill of 1831, the Irish Church Disestablishment Bill, and the British North America Act. These four Bills took no more time than the time taken for the consideration of this one measure. I notice that my right hon. Friend, who always means to be perfectly candid, says—I will not say that the time occupied has always been judiciously expended.Perhaps not; but whose fault is that? That is what we say, that if you had wanted to discuss this Bill fairly and to invoke the opinion of the House upon what you believed to be essential questions, it was your own fault if you did not do it. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Bordesley Division tells 1600 us that he is going into the villages. He seems to regard the villages as a kind of special playground of his own; and he is going to tell the villages that we have gagged—"second-hand," by the way—the discussion on this matter. I will tell you what I think the villages will say to my right hon. Friend. They will say that if there was anything worth saying and worth listening to 80 days were ample for the purpose. But what will the country, to which hon. Gentlemen are so fond of appealing, ask themselves in their consideration of this question? They will ask themselves in what spirit the discussion of this Bill was approached by its opponents, and we shall be able to remind them that the noble Lord the Member for Paddington said—"We do not desire to amend the Bill"; that the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh said—"We will not touch an Amendment of the Bill"; that the right hon. Gentleman the Senior Member for the University of Dublin said—"We will discuss the Bill to make it more detestable," and that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition more cautiously said—We may move Amendments to the Bill, but we will try to destroy the Bill.[Opposition cheers.] Yes; I quite expected those cheers. That is a perfectly legitimate object on your part. You disapprove of this Bill; you regard it as a bad Bill, and you are entitled to endeavour to destroy it. Nobody can complain of that; but what I wish to enforce on the House is that from these expressions it will be apparent that the real question is not as to this or that Amendment, not as to the exact constitution of the Council, not as to the exact distribution of seats, not as to crossing the t's and dotting the i's in the drafting of Amendments, but that the question which divides that side of the House from this is whether you oppose or are in favour of the principle of autonomy in Ireland? What the country will, I think, ask itself is this: What Amendment could have been conceded by the Government, short of the destruction of the principle of the Bill, which would have done anything to conciliate, or even to mitigate, opposition? But, in fact, the Bill was much more amply discussed than the mere enumeration of the clauses and the Amendments would at all suggest, 1601 because both on the earlier stages, and even in Committee, the fullest licence was given both by the Chairman of Committees and Mr. Speaker to refer to other matters in connection with the Bill so far as they had any connection, even although indirect, with the particular clause or Amendment under discussion. In these circumstances, I submit to the judgment of this House and of the country that it became a question ultimately whether the minority was to overbear the majority, or whether the work on which we have spent long, tedious, and tiresome mouths was or was not to be thrown away. An hon. Friend of mine, the hon. Member for Argyllshire, humorously, in a thin House, described literally the position of the Opposition in relation to this Bill. He said—"You display most anxious consideration about the most minute constituent parts of this prescription, which this House of Parliament is engaged in making up. You do this, although you well know that you have arranged with a friend in another place to chuck the bottle containing it out of the window." That, literally, was a true description of the position of the Opposition in relation to this Bill. Well, the Closure has been used, "second-hand." That is a phrase of the right hon. Member for Bodmin, for which I thank him. Who has any love for the Closure? Certainly not we on this side of the House. It is an evil at the best, I admit, only to be defended where its use avoids a scandal and an evil greater still. But we had in this matter a curious suggestion from the Leader of the Liberal Unionist Party, as he desires to call himself. I refer to the extraordinary statement coming from the noble Duke delivered in Yorkshire the other day, when he told us that he should take a part, and a prominent part, in the rejection of this measure in another place, because it had not been sufficiently discussed in this House. What right has the House to which the noble Duke belongs to dictate to us in this matter what shall be the limits or mode of discussion which we judge to be best? Are they to be entitled to say—"We agree with the right hon. Member for West Birmingham that 100 days ought to have been given to the discussion, and, as only 80 days have been given, we reject the measure"? Mr. Speaker, I repudiate 1602 this right to introduce this entirely novel doctrine, which means interference on matters under the absolute judgment and control of this House. Another point I come to is the question of the power of the Lord Lieutenant as to giving or withholding his assent to legislative measures. I am anxious to say a word about this, as I was anxious to say a word on last Friday in the discussion—rather heated—in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham took part. I was anxious to join in that discussion; but it was judged by others, to whose opinion I deferred, that as the time for the Report had been fixed, and as it was then short, we ought not to curtail the use of that time by others. I wish, upon this question of the veto—as it is frequently miscalled; more correctly called the power of the Lord Lieutenant to give or withhold assent—to say a few words. The three classes of cases which have to be considered in this connection are—First, Bills which are clearly within the competence of the Irish Legislative Body, and which contain no suggestion of oppression or injustice, and as to which no difficulty arises; secondly, Bills which are outside the powers of the Irish Legislative Body, or which do contain provisions oppressive or unjust, and as to which also no difficulty can reasonably arise; thirdly, questions which may be said to be doubtful, and with respect to which the question is asked whether the Lord Lieutenant is to judge whether they are within or without the competence of the Irish Legislative Body, and, if not, who ought to judge? As to this, I wish to speak perfectly plainly as to the position I conceive the Lord Lieutenant to be in. If you will not allow to the Irish Legislative Body the possession of some modicum of common sense, I hope it is not too large a demand to make to ask that you will admit that the Lord Lieutenant may possess some portion of that important quality. If he does, the Lord Lieutenant will have only one course to follow—to be open and aboveboard with his Ministers, and to consult them from time to time in the progress of their legislative work. If he thinks that their legislative enterprises point to offences or possible offences against the 3rd and 4th clauses of this Bill, the restrictive and exemption clauses, he must warn them, and do all that he 1603 can to avoid coming into collision with the Irish Legislative Body. And if necessary he must seek advice from the Imperial Cabinet, putting before that Body the views of his own Ministers in support of their contention and policy and being guided by the advice which he so seeks; and if, in spite of remonstrance and advice, the Irish Ministers discard his opinion, then he has his Constitutional right to dissolve Parliament, and the further Constitutional right to dismiss his Ministers. It is said that that does not meet the difficulty at all, and that the real difficulty will arise when Irish Ministers at the end of the Session, when the Appropriation Bill is a matter of urgency and the Supplies for the Public Service are needed, tack on to the Appropriation Bill some provisions which are objectionable, and then go to the Lord Lieutenant and say—"At the peril of stopping Supply refuse your assent to this Bill." In such a ease—I believe it to be practically impossible—the Lord Lieutenant would be perfectly entitled to say—"You have acted in bad faith towards me; you have not informed me of this. I will not prorogue Parliament; reconsider your Bill. I will take advice, and, if necessary, delay the prorogation of Parliament." That would be the obvious and perfectly Constitutional course to take. Then it is said that the Chancellor of the Duchy showed that the veto was utterly useless, because he said that if the Irish Parliament wore so minded it could easily embarrass the Lord Lieutenant. So it could. What is there to compel it? How could you compel it to vote Supplies? It might refuse to vote Supply, but whose would be the responsibility? The responsibility would be the responsibility of the Irish Government, and you are asked to believe that the Irish Ministers—I care not from what section of Irish opinion they are drawn—would pursue a course which would not only invite, but would justify, interference by the Imperial Parliament; that they would do something which would imperil that precious gift, as they regard it, of self-government for which they have laboured so long; and that they would by such insane conduct paralyse and destroy the efficiency of their own National Government. I have felt indignant frequently in the course 1604 of these Debates at the tone—the contemptuous tone—in which the Irish nation has been referred to. I decline to consider any question in relation to it as if they were inferior to the rest of their fellow-subjects, and ought to be treated as a nation of inborn fools. The last point to which I wish to refer is the 9th clause, or, as it now stands in the Bill, the 10th clause. I would respectfully ask attention to what I have to say upon this, because, unless, indeed, I be mistaken, there has been a great deal of misrepresentation and certainly a great deal of exaggeration about the character and effect of that clause. How is that question to be approached? I admit the difficulties, however the matter is to be approached. No course which can be proposed is free from difficulties; but I wish the House to remember that, in considering it from the Government point of view, they must accept one datum—and that is that public opinion in 1886 and since has determined that the Irish Members are not to be excluded from the Imperial Parliament. Now, that being so, and that being settled as we conceived by the voice of the country in 1886, there are only two possible plans—inclusion for all purposes and inclusion for limited purposes. I ask myself if inclusion for limited purposes had been chosen—what you call, in order to ridicule it, the in-and-out clause—what would have been said? How hon. Members in all parts of the House would have been sharpening their wits in exposing that provision, or any provision on those lines. I admit, and I again concur with what the right hon. Member for Bodmin said, that inclusion for limited purposes would have gone no nearer to conciliate opposition than the clause as it stands. [Mr. COURTNEY: Both are bad.] I wish to point out that that means that you are unwilling to recognise Home Rule at all. [Cheers.] I am perfectly well aware of that, but you are making a special attack on the 9th clause; and the hon. Member for South Tyrone the other night, when flushed with victory, told us that it was not Home Rule, but the 9th clause which had won that victory at Hereford. That being so, and the choice being as between limited purposes and for all purposes, I content myself by saying that for limited pur- 1605 poses it has been shown how difficult of operation such a scheme would be, and that it would involve a novelty in our system and also an organic change which is not the consequence of retention for all purposes. It is said that retention for all purposes—and this is the pith and point of objection to which I desire to direct my remarks—gives, beyond the position which they now have, a power and right to Irishmen to interfere in Scotch, English, and Welsh affairs. I want, in the first place, to ask, have they not that power now? Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that, going back for a long series of years, Irish questions have decided the fate, and, therefore, the policies, of successive Governments, and that thus they have affected English, Scotch, and Welsh affairs? As long as Irish Members continue to sit in this House, whether under an "in-and-out" clause or otherwise, they will always have the right to vote upon the question of the policy of the Government, because that is an Imperial question, and they will have the right to vote upon all Imperial questions. But that is their position now. But it is said that in the future Irish Members will have the right to vote upon questions that are exclusively English, Scotch, or Welsh, and that, inasmuch as Ireland will have the exclusive control over her own affairs, that would be unjust to England, Ireland, and Wales. Well, I will give those hon. Members who hold those views a crumb of comfort. It is this: That in the whole history of this Parliament there is, as far as I am aware—and I have asked others who are better informed upon the point than I am—no one measure that has been forced upon England or Scotland against the wish of the majority of the Representatives of those countries.
§ *SIR C. RUSSELL
No; it has not so passed. I say the tendency of opinion is growing stronger day by day to give weight to local opinion, and that is the principle of the Bill referred to: and I do not hesitate to say, speaking 1606 for myself, that if the majority of the English, Scotch, and Welsh Representatives were seriously opposed to any particular measure affecting either of those countries separately, it would be absolutely impossible—morally impossible—for Parliament to force it upon them. I will only add this: that Ireland is the only country in which the predominant voices of England and Scotland have forced measures that were repugnant to her. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. A. J. Balfour) was the hero of that performance, because up to 1885 the voice of Ireland was not properly represented by popular votes, and since 1885 the right hon. Gentleman has been—in 1887—the author of a measure which was obnoxious to the Irish people, and which was forced upon her against the protests of the great majority of her Representatives. The tendency of opinion is, I again say, such that it is morally impossible to force a measure upon England, Scotland, or Wales against the wish of a majority of their Representatives. It is one of the principles of the Liberal Party that the voice of the country affected is to be respected, and it is the principle Lord Hartington in 1885–6 (when he had a right to speak for the Liberal Party) avowed ought to be observed in relation to Scotch Disestablishment and in regard also to Welsh Disestablishment. The question, therefore, is a practical one. It is: Will the position of England, Scotland, and Wales be worse or better than it is to-day under the Home Rule Bill with the 10th clause in it? That is the practical question. I say that their position will be bettor under that Bill than it is now—not only because the Irish Members will be here in reduced numbers, but because, by granting Homo Rule, we shall have removed to a large extent the motive for the interference on the part of Irish Members with English, Scotch, and Welsh affairs, and because, further, the Irish Nationalists will realise that any such interference on their part with English, Scotch, and Welsh affairs would provoke retaliation on the part of this Parliament with Irish affairs, which is the last thing that the Irish Legislature would desire. I should have desired to say a few words on the question of the laud, but I have already occupied the House at great length; and I should like to say 1607 a word as to the Exchequer Judges, in reference to what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Courtney). He, in effect, said—They are appointed to safeguard Imperial interests, but where is the authority by which they can enforce their decrees?The answer to that is to be found in the 19th clause, Section 5, which says that the Exchequer Judges are entitled, in the first instance, to invoke the aid of the Local Authorities, and to create, if those Authorities are wanting, such agencies as are necessary to give effect to their decisions. The difficulty apprehended is not a real difficulty. Authority exists where there is power, as there is here, to demand, if necessary, the exercise of Imperial authority. Wherever there is power there is authority to do such acts as the circumstances of the case may require. Hon. Members may remember the case of the Georgia prisoners, incarcerated under an unconstitutional law. Their release was ordered by the Supreme Court, and a more piece of paper, signed, "John Marshall"—the name of the Chief Judge of that Court—was ultimately sufficient to procure that release. The Executive authority of the Federal Government in the United States to-day does not rest upon local manifestations of local force; the Federal authority can be brought into play with all the power that may be required. One word with regard to Ulster: I am glad to say that in these Debates we have not heard much about it.
§ *SIR C. RUSSELL
The loyal minority were referred to by the hon. Member who preceded me. We have heard very little in the course of this Debate about the question of religious intolerance, and, in my opinion, that is a matter of happy augury for the future. I am glad to find that it is not seriously contemplated by any hon. Members in this House that the powers to be conferred by this Bill upon the Irish Legislature will be used for the purpose of religious persecution. I was glad to bear from the speech of the hon. Member for the South Division of Dublin County (Mr. H. Plunkett), who has lived all his life in Ireland, and who knows the character of the Catholic people of Ireland and the circumstances of the 1608 country, that he had no dread of the misuse of the powers to be conferred upon the Irish Legislature for the purposes of religious oppression. I believe that that opinion widely prevails among the Protestants of Ireland. There are, if needed, adequate safeguards in the Bill, but there is no fear, and I believe that there are no grounds whatever for the apprehensions that have been in some quarters expressed in this House upon the point. In that connection I will make but two observations. Whatever may have been the faults connected with the National movement in Ireland, that movement has been a National movement, and it has been in no sense a sectarian movement. I would like any gentleman who thinks the Catholics of Ireland are intolerant and illiberal to their Protestant fellow-countrymen to read the speech of an hon. Member of this House, the hon. and learned Member for Accrington (Mr. Leese), recently delivered upon this subject, in which comparison was made between the counties in Ireland in which the Protestants are predominant and those in which the Catholics are predominant; and in which it was shown that in the counties where the Catholics are in a majority they have, recognised fairly and fully the claims of their Protestant fellow-countrymen to share equally in all the advantages that they themselves enjoy in the government of those localities. The only intolerance that has been exhibited in Ireland has been shown by that part of Ulster that claims to itself the possession of all the virtues, intelligence, spirit, and enterprise of the country. Well, Ulster has not made any claim for separate treatment under this Bill. I honour Ulster for that. I am glad that Ulster has been content to throw in its lot with the rest of the country. Whatever may be the feelings that actuate some hon. Members to-day, I am constrained to think that the lofty and purifying-influences which spring from the power of self-government will not fail to act upon the minds of Irishmen any more than upon the minds of other communities. I am confident that when Ulstermen have their fate and their destinies in their own hands, they will forget the causes which have kept them apart from the rest of Ireland, and will apply themselves with patriotic minds to do their duty 1609 by their country. There are still some things upon which I should like to have dwelt, but I will only say a word or two upon the question of what is the alternative policy to that of Home Rule. You condemn our policy. What is yours? You have told us what it was in your measure of 1887, which one of your ablest men has endeavoured to carry out in thorough fashion. I said before, and I repeat now, you have failed in that policy. You have done nothing to reconcile the four-fifths of the people of Ireland—they are as much opposed to your policy to-day as they were when the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour) opposite took Office. When he left Office, his Lord Lieutenant (Lord Zetland), speaking in the North of England, declared that it was impossible to govern Ireland by ordinary law and without perpetual measures of an exceptional character. And now I have to ask those who, I suppose, still believe that the Government of Ireland is the most bureaucratic in the world; that the people of Ireland are more divorced from their own Government than any people in the world; that the system of government known as the Castle Government could not be tolerated in any country where the healthy breath of native opinion was not stifled, what is the remedy? We have propounded a remedy. What is the policy which you propound to cure that state of things? Is it that miserable policy proposed by the right hon. Gentleman in the County Government Bill—a Bill heaped with ridicule from its birth, but as to which the most sanguine admirer of the right hon. Gentleman will not dare to say that it touched, in the very least degree, the evils signified by the name of the Government of Dublin Castle. This system is admitted to be a crying evil. What is the plan by which you suggest it is to be overcome, short of having a Representative Body in Ireland with an Executive responsible to that Representative Body? This is a question which requires an answer. I know of no other plan that has been, or can be, suggested. We have propounded our policy. It may fail to-day, but there is not one of you who does not in his heart of hearts believe that it must ultimately pass. You indulge in doleful jeremiads as to what is to happen when it does pass. You are only doing what your Party has 1610 always done in regard to every great measure that went to broaden the popular bases on which the Institutions of the country rest. Probably this Bill, when it does become law, will not do all the good, or cause any of the evil, predicted for it. I do not believe that it will bring the millennium to Ireland. It depends on the people of Ireland themselves—upon their firmness, upon their fulfilment of the great and noble duty cast upon them in the new era opening to their country, upon their securing and cherishing this priceless gift of self-government, not for a section or for a sect, but for all classes of their fellow-countrymen—for the whole people of Ireland. Mr. Speaker, the claim of Ireland to self-government has survived many and great calamities. It has survived famine. It has survived emigration, which drained the life-blood of the country. It has survived coercion in all its hateful moods and tenses. It has survived the errors of its friends. And vain is the hope that now when it has been espoused by a great historic Party, the greatest agency of wise progressive legislation in the past as it will be the greatest in the future—vain, indeed, is the hope that it will die now. Mr. Speaker, great is the responsibility of the men or of the Party that would let and hinder this settlement, and by delay would rob it of all its grace, and relegate it to that long category of measures dealing with Ireland which have been yielded from necessity, and not from a willing sense of justice.
§ MR. D. PLUNKET (Dublin University)
My hon. and learned Friend began his speech by finding some fault with the hon. Member for the Norwood Division for the admirable speech with which he delighted the House, on the ground that it did not throw much light on the subject of this Bill. Well, Sir, I am bound to say, much as I admire the eloquence of my hon. and learned Friend, I cannot help feeling that in a great part of his speech he has thrown no light on those portions of the Bill to which, when he rose, it was hoped he would address himself. My hon. and learned Friend was so much concerned with the general principles of what he laid down at the commencement that he found he had not time to deal with many matters to which we attach great importance. I am sure the House 1611 would have listened with pleasure if he had gone on and dealt with these subjects. What was the light thrown by my hon. and learned Friend on the Bill? He dealt with the Lord Lieutenant and the exercise of the power of the veto—one of the few matters fully discussed and closured in the end. At the time it was discussed the Government were unable to give any answer to our argument, and I do not think my hon. and learned Friend has put his defence of the Bill in this respect much further. Then he went on to deal with the Exchequer Judges, and I am glad he did so, for that is one of the questions upon which we wanted the counsel of my hon. and learned Friend. His answer on that subject amounted to this: that if the Exchequer Judges want to enforce their authority, they must call in the Army and Navy; and that it was, in fact, by the Imperial Forces alone that their authority was to be enforced. My hon. and learned Friend made a statement which seems to mo a most extraordinary error on his part, for he claims the well-known case of Chief Justice Marshall as a proof of what a threat of the Executive authority would do. The facts are not, however, as my hon. and learned Friend has stated them. My recollection is that that authority was never carried out.
MR. T. W. RUSSFLL (Tyrone, S.)
§ MR. PLUNKET
Yes; I am right, so that my hon. and learned Friend's argument on that point has entirely broken down—the instance upon which he rested the strength of his argument against the case we have made on the provisions of this Bill. Well, Sir, I will not renew the Debate on that subject. I might go on dealing with points that have been dealt with over and over again. I shall not do so. I shall, however, say one word in passing of the general observations which my hon. and learned Friend introduced at the beginning of his speech. He first of all pronounced a funeral oration upon the abortive Bill of 1886, and he explained the reasons why that measure was rejected by an overwhelming majority of the constituencies of the United Kingdom. The 1612 oration was made for the purpose of showing why the present Bill should not be rejected—why it should fare better, since it did not contain the defects of the Bill of 1886. The fact that there is a difference does not prove that this Bill is likely to succeed. He said that the country was not prepared in 1886 for that particular measure. But, I should like to know, has the country been prepared for this Bill? If he says so, I answer—Let him try it, and the sooner the better. My hon. and learned Friend said something about the Land Purchase Bill of 1886; but he said nothing of the Land Question in connection with the present Bill, although in 1886 the Prime Minister relied mainly on the agrarian relations in Ireland. He had nothing to say now on that subject. Another reason he gave for the rejection of the Bill of 1886 was the exclusion of the Irish Members. That proposal may have been bad or it may have been good; but after all the vacillation and concealment of the Government—however it may have carried them through their difficulty in this House—this point, I venture to predict, will be the rock upon which, beyond all others, their ship will go to pieces. What else did my hon. and learned Friend say in the earlier part of his speech? He said the Home Rule Bill was introduced in 1886 because it had been proved that it was impossible to carry on the Government of the Queen, and that the government of the Land League was omnipotent there. Then he went on to denounce the Tory policy of repressive measures—"coercion forever and ever," as it used to be called. I observed that, although my hon. and learned Friend went into that question, the Prime Minister, in introducing his Bill this year, did not rely upon it at all. The Land Question, and the situation arising out of that question, formed the chief topics of his speech in 1886; he never alluded to them in introducing the present Bill. Why did not the right hon. Gentleman rest his policy this year on the same ground as in 1886? Because all his prophecies had been defeated, all his statements as to the impossibility of carrying on the Government of Ireland except by such coercion as had never been known before had been falsified and all his forecasts on this subject had failed. The hon. and learned 1613 Gentleman (Sir C. Russell) began to argue that the policy of the late Government had failed, and when he was told it had not failed, and he saw that he had started on the wrong lines, he went on to say why it had not failed. The reasons he assigned were that the Land Act was beginning to produce beneficent effects, and the hope of the coming Home Rule was influencing the lives of the people. Well, Sir, we have heard that argument before, and what does it come to? The working of the Land Act did not prevent the Leaders of the National League from doing all they could to make the law in Ireland a failure, nor did it prevent hon. Gentlemen, and even right hon. Gentlemen opposite, from aiding and abetting them in this House. But the attempt to defeat the law failed. Baffled and beaten, the conspiracy fell back; and when my right hon. Friend (Mr. A. J. Balfour) left the Government of Ireland the law of this land had been established, the law of the Land League had been broken down, terrorism had been defeated, honest men could go about and do their work in freedom and in safety, and, in spite of the so-called "coercion for ever and ever," there was hardly a person in gaol under the Crimes Act; indeed, the gaols wore empty and the banks were full; peace prevailed in Ireland, contracts were observed, and all the anticipations and prophecies on which the Prime Minister founded his demand for Home Rule in 1886 had been utterly disappointed. Well, Sir, I do not desire to follow the hon. and learned Gentleman further into that part of his speech, nor do I desire to attempt to argue again any of the points on which I have had the honour, by the favour of the House, of addressing it on former occasions. I should have been glad if we had had from the hon. and learned Gentleman or from some other Member of the Government further light upon some of those portions of the Bill which have not been debated at all, or have been inadequately debated. The utter inadequacy of the provision was demonstrated; so much so that on the 11th August the Prime Minister went so far as to say that—If it could be proved upon a discussion of the Schedule that it was unjust as between Nationalists and Unionists, not only a very grave charge of indiscretion and neglect would have been made good against the Government, 1614 but likewise a very strong case would have been made out for compulsory rectification, at whatever cost of time, of that error.Well, Sir, has there been compulsory rectification? Is this Bill to leave the House without any further explanation as to what the Government are prepared or what they are not prepared to do? We had no opportunity of discussing that matter on the early Sittings on the Bill, and I think I can fairly claim to hear something on this final stage of the measure from someone who can speak with the authority of a Member of the Government. But though we have not had an opinion from the Government as to whether or not the Schedule is unjust, we have been favoured with the opinion of an hon. Member sitting on the other side of the House. My hon. and learned Friend opposite boasted to-day that the workableness of this Bill was proved by the Divisions—by the support which the majority have given to it. But, certainly, the workableness of the Bill is not clear to the mind of tit least one of the supporters of the Government, who should be supposed to know something about it—I refer to the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Little). Speaking on August 7 that hon. Member said—The Schedule would shut out the Protestant minority in Leinster, who numbered about 1500,000 or 400.000, from any representation either in the Irish House or in this House. … On behalf of Leinster he demanded from the Government and from the House some scheme which would give adequate representation in the Irish Parliament to the Protestant and Catholic minority. … He asked the Government to put before the House a plan which would provide a fair representation in the Upper House, in the Lower House, and in the Imperial Parliament, for the minority in Ireland.That was the demand made to the Government by one of their supporters, specially well qualified to speak on the subject, yet we have not a word of explanation from them. And this is the condition in which this "workable" Bill is to be sent away from this House. Well, there is one matter which I desire—with the permission of the House—to dwell on at a little greater length. I will deal with it as shortly as I can, but tit the same time I hope the House will bear with me, for the matter is one which greatly affects many of those I have the honour to represent in this House. I desire to put some questions to the House and to ask for some explanations as to 1615 their dealings in this Bill with the Land Question of Ireland. We have not been I well treated by the Government in this matter. I think the House must have observed with me that when the Prime Minister sat down at the end of the great speech with which he introduced the Bill not a word had been uttered on the Land Question in Ireland, as if there had not been a Land Question there at all. But when we saw the Bill itself, what did we find was the provision dealing with this subject? The provision was that that question should be reserved from the Irish Legislature for three years. A most extraordinary provision, and I protest that up to that moment I had not the smallest idea on what principle the clause had been introduced into the Bill. We have not heard a word of explanation on that subject, and the transitory provision was huddled away into the furthest corner of the furthest "compartment," where it was impossible to get at it. The House has not been treated fairly and frankly. I hope that when someone rises on the Front Bench opposite we shall, on this subject, have an explanation of the most amazing change of front which had ever been made by any Government. I say I am entitled to speak on this subject, not only because I represent tens of thousands of men who will be speedily and absolutely ruined if this Bill should pass in its present form, but because, after all, the Land Question is the Irish Question. When the Prime Minister introduced his Home Rule Bill in 1886 it was on the Land Question and the Agrarian Question arising out of it that he mainly relied, and when, a week later, he was introducing his Land Purchase Bill that formed the whole foundation of the speech and the policy which he propounded. I will read a few of the words which were then spoken by the Prime Minister, because I desire to obtain some explanation, if it can be given, of the great change of front of the Government, not only in procedure, but, as I contend, in principle, and as to the obligations of duty and honour which were then spoken of and which now appear to be forgotten. The Prime Minister, after a most exhaustive and interesting review of the Land Question, summed up the case thus—It would be an ill-intended and an ill hapen kindness to any class in Ireland to hand 1616 over to an Irish Legislature as its first introduction to the work that it may have to perform this business of dealing with the question of the land. It would be like giving over to Ireland the worst part of her feuds and confronting her with the necessity for efforts which would possibly be hopeless, but which at any rate would be attended with the most fearful risks.Are we not entitled to know, if the Land Question is to be handed over to the Irish Legislature after three years, how we are to avoid or get rid of these fearful risks? But in that same speech he argued, in support of what be called "an obligation of policy and a dictate of honour," that the deeds of the Irish landlords were, to a great extent, the deeds of the Imperial Parliament, becauseWith power in their hand it had looked on—it had not only looked on, it had encouraged and sustained,and so he came to the conclusionThat Great Britain should make herself a Party to the matter—to the extent at least, as he said, of 'a just offer and a fair opportunity' given to the landlords of extricating themselves, if they would, from the position of peril in which they had been placed by the facts of history he had reviewed.In the same speech be added the well-known words—It is impossible to deny that the landlords have been our garrison and our representatives; that we have relied upon them as they have relied upon us, and that we cannot wash our hands of the responsibility for their doings and for the consequence of those doings.The right hon. Gentleman the other day by interjection—and all the light which has been thrown on this subject has been by way of interjection—stated that these words were spoken with respect to facts and circumstances which were then existing. But is that any argument? But these reasonings were not founded on the facts and circumstances which then existed. They were hewn out of the rock of Irish history—they were found embedded in the chronic condition of the social system of Ireland; they were the fruit, I suppose, of his own observation of the difficulties and dangers of the question for half-a-century of public life. I do not wish to go into the antecedents of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, but I say, generally, the Prime Minister is quite indignant now if anyone suspects the leaders of the agrarian revolution in Ireland of hostility or injustice towards the Irish landlords. He seems 1617 to think that the leaders of the League, who were formerly "marching through rapine," the loaders of the League whose steps wore dogged by crime, are all now "the mildest-mannered men that ever scuttled ship or cut a throat." And the other night he told us there wasno reason why they should accept the proposition that the Irish people were to be held untrustworthy with regard to the administration of the Land Laws.I venture, with all respect, to refer him back to his arguments, and I confront him with his conclusions which I have quoted; and I claim that someone on the part of the Government should explain to us this fundamental change in their policy. We want to know what is the change in the circumstances that have since happened? On what grounds do they justify the policy of this Bill? by which they do hand over (after three years) the Irish Land Question to the Irish Parliament—by which they do leave the landlords without any just offer—without any fair opportunity of escaping from their certain doom. What are the principles of this Bill? In the first place, with regard to the Executive, if the Bill were to pass tomorrow, the power of appointing the Commissioners and Sub-Commissioners who are to fix the rents in the future would be absolutely in the hands of the Irish Executive. The duty of enforcing the law and of giving such protection and assistance to the landlords as might be required would be absolutely in the hands of the Irish Executive. We have stated the manner in which the Irish Executive would be sure to exercise these powers; and not only has it not been gainsaid, but no attempt has been made to gainsay it. But what are the proposals as regards legislation that are introduced into the Bill? As I have said, it is proposed to hand over the power of legislating as to the land to the Irish Executive for three years. I ventured to put down on the Paper, when we were in the Committee stage, Amendments which would have had the effect of reserving the Land Question to the Imperial Parliament not for three years but altogether—or, at any rate, until some permanent settlement of the main difficulties of the matter was arrived at. I thought, and still think, that that would have been the natural corrollary 1618 following from the reasons and policy propounded by the Prime Minister in 1886. But we never reached that clause, and we have never had any opportunity of debating it, and no explanation as yet has been given. As I understand, the Prime Minister expressed the pious opinion that it would be possible for the Imperial Parliament to grapple with the question of Irish laud during the next three years, and hints were thrown out by the Chief Secretary and the Attorney General to the same effect. If the Home Rule Bill is passed, and we get rid of what is called the incubus of the Irish Question, is it not absurd to suppose that, with the Irish Members present in this House, a Bill could be passed disposing of the Land Question which at the end of three years—supposing no such measure were adopted—would come under the unrestricted control of the Irish Legislature? It is playing with the House to tell us that before the expiration of the three years the Imperial Parliament may settle the Irish Land Question. In proof of my statement that the landlords will be in deadly peril if the Bill passes in its present form, I will not refer to the speeches of the Irish Members, but I will cite the authority of Members of the present Cabinet. I will not cite the Prime Minister, for he has been more guarded in his statements than some of his Colleagues, and there is no inference to be drawn from his arguments except that there was grave apprehension on the part of the landlords, and that it was necessary to afford them some opportunity of escape. I do not wish to weary the House with many quotations, but here is what was said by one who, before the Land Purchase Bill was debated in 1886, was a Cabinet Minister, and who is the Secretary for Scotland in the present Government—Mr. Gladstone and his Colleagues were just men. They were determined that the Irish landlords should not be ruined by being exposed to the action of the Irish Executive. They knew that, under the proposals they were bringing before the country, the Irish landlords would be ruined, and so they brought in a Land Purchase Bill.I would ask the House to listen to a quotation from another gentleman, who was not at that time a Member of the Cabinet, but who is now—and I am sorry that he is not in his place at this 1619 moment. I refer to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Bryce). The Chancellor of the Duchy has played a rather unhappy part in regard to the Bill. With a very considerable knowledge of the American Constitution, he was allowed by his Colleagues to introduce some safeguards and precautious which turned out, to be worth nothing at all—though when it was sought to introduce other provisions taken from the same source which might be of some avail in protecting the minority, the answer was that gentlemen below the Gangway would not consent. But the right hon. Gentleman, though, perhaps, not very successful in his experiments as a Constitution maker, is a brilliant writer, and I will, therefore, ask leave to make an extract from an article written by him in February, 1886, in one of the magazines, which states clearly the case for the Irish landlords. The right hon. Gentleman said—One of the weightiest arguments against the creation of any Legislative Body in Ireland, whether central or local, whether a Parliament, or a Provincial Council, or a County Board, is the danger it involves to landowners. The power of dealing with the land is the very power the Irish most desire; what object is there in a grant from which the power is reserved? But everybody knows how such a power would be used. Most Nationalists own that they would give a merely nominal compensation to the landlords, whom they regard as robbers. Some talk of five years' purchase, some of prairie value. It is proposed, even by some English statesmen, to give Elective County Authorities the control of the police. But with the police under the orders of an Elective Board the landlord might whistle for his rent. He would be lucky if he kept a whole skin. His property would be gone without any need for confiscatory legislation. Now, can the Imperial Parliament leave the landlords to the mercy of an Irish Authority? There is a feeling against them in England, a feeling justified by the sins of the class in time past, but which ought not to make us forget the innocence of many members of the class, still less the hardships which some of the innocent—ladies, for instance, with no livelihood save their rents—have suffered since 1879. All of them, however, be they good or bad, and their mortgagees, have legal rights grounded on Imperial Statutes. The honour of England is pledged to these rights. At no cost can we abandon them. We could not look other nations in the face were we to throw over men whose property we con firmed as lately as by the Act of 1881; not to speak of the shock which so pernicious a precedent would give to the security of property in England and Scotland. It has been suggested that guarantees might be taken from any Irish Authority against interference with contracts, or vested rights of property. But such guarantees 1620 would not touch the police difficulty; and in any case they would be uncertain in their effect, likely to give rise to infinite litigation, certain to produce conflicts between any Irish Authority and Imperial Statutes. They would keep up that very irritation which the grant of powers of local legislation would be designed to remove. The conclusion follows that before any police control or any considerable legislative functions can be conferred on an Irish Authority, whether central or local, the Land Question must be grappled with. Reasonable compensation must be offered to the landowners, and either prior to or concurrently with any settlement of the other questions this compensation must be secured, and a scheme enacted for the discharge by the purchasing tenants of the liability devolved upon them.These were the words of the right hon. Gentleman, who is a careful student and an accurate writer, and who is not specially friendly to the landlords as a class. It is not necessary to make quotations from Irish Members; but I ask the right hon. Gentleman, or any Member of the Government, to tell us what has happened since 1886 that should change the opinions that were then expressed. Have Irish Members repudiated any of the doctrines upon which these conclusions wore formed by the right hon. Gentleman? I will not occupy much more time in answering statements which I can hardly imagine are relied upon as arguments against affording landlords and those dependent upon them an opportunity of escape. I do not think that any such arguments would be founded on the misdeeds of the Irish landlords as a class. The Prime Minister dealt with this in 1886. He referred to the Bessborough Commission, and said that the landlords had stood their trial and had been acquitted.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
You should quote what I said as to the greater light thrown on the case by the deeper experience under the operations of the Land Act of 1881.
§ MR. D. PLUNKET
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to that kind of argument before, and a more baseless and unfair argument than that now suggested against a body of men whose fate was in the balance was never made. What is the case? Why, Sir, the opinion of the Prime Minister is quite changed by his experience since 1886.
§ MR. D. PLUNKET
I can hardly believe that position. That was not the 1621 position of the Prime Minister when he brought in his Laud Bill in 1886. The experience of the Act of 1881 was in the possession of the Prime Minister when, in 1886, he declared that, although he framed a great indictment against the landlord system in the past, he hoped and believed there were few landlords against whom accusations could be made in recent times. Why, then, are we not to fulfil the obligations of honour and duty towards them? Are they now to be told they are robbers and have taken rents from their tenants unfairly? I challenge the Prime Minister as to the argument based on the operation of the Land Act of 1881. That Act has now been 13 years in operation. Every tenant in Ireland has an opportunity of going into the Court and getting his rent reduced. Fewer than one-half, or 280,000, have availed themselves of this opportunity, and in 113,000 cases rents have been reduced by voluntary arrangements. It is unjust to found on such facts an excuse for a change of policy. It cannot be deemed that, on the whole, the reductions made by landlords in England have been greater than those that Irish landlords have been required by the Land Courts to make; and the conclusion to ho drawn is not changed by the fact that the reductions were voluntarily made in England. When you establish Land Courts you set, landlords, as it were, at arm's length. The ground of the usual claims upon landlords was cut away by the legislation of 1881; and, besides that, what chance bad landlords in any part of the country to come to terms with their tenants when the object of the Land League was, not to reduce rents, but to get rid of landlordism and to make voluntary agreements impossible? To this day tenants in Ireland are sitting under agreements with which they find no fault, and they can and do pay their rents; and it is perfectly monstrous to exempt from provisions of security which were offered in 1886 the landlords of to-day, because a small number are accused of not having been sufficiently lenient in the matter of rents. I do not suppose it will be contended that because landlords are hostile to Home Rule no means of escape for them is to be provided. It was equally admitted in 1886 that landlords were hostile, and still they were protected by 1622 the proposals of that year. Landlords are opposed to Home Rule, not only because it means speedy and complete ruin to themselves, but because they believe it will be the ruin of their country. And you are going to force this Bill upon them, and because, you say, the offer of 1886 was not acted upon, all further obligation is at an end. An offer was never effectually made, and it was not, therefore, refused. What is the meaning of saying that because the landlords refused assistance in carrying a Bill which they believed to be ruinous to their country it is now to be held that their hostility to the Government shuts them off from consideration? It is a monstrous proposition. It is an argument that cannot be seriously advanced.
§ MR. D. PLUNKET
When the right hon. Member for Sleaford (Mr. Chaplin) was speaking the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce) said, "The offer was made." Although landlords, as a class, are unpopular with some supporters of the Government, still I believe hon. Members on the other side of the House would not—whatever may be their opinions on Irish landlordism—would not willingly do injustice to them any more than to any other class. One word more about another matter. What is the position in which we stand now? The Government have had years to mature their plan, and to consider the least obnoxious way in which they could present it to the country. They have had a great advantage in the swing of the political pendulum, which, however, no Government, after a long term of Office, ever survived. Yet they have presented their scheme in the vaguest and most unsubstantial way, so as to obtain the support of men of diverse and opposite views. What is the result? Scarcely have they scraped together an insignificant majority, insignificant for the purpose of grappling with such a social revolution as is now proposed. In fact, they would not have a majority at all, if it were not for the support of those at whose dictation this great surrender has been made. They have had not only six years to consider the question, but they have had a whole Session in which to exhibit and defend as best they could their proposals before the House and the 1623 country. Beaten in argument, they have fallen back on the Closure—the "guillotine"—and, after all, they have been obliged to abandon, after many vacillations, some of the most important provisions of their Bill. The Chief Secretary (Mr. J. Morley) has denounced me personally for saying I was willing to destroy a Bill which has had no sanction from the country. I have been quoted several times by Cabinet Ministers for saying I was willing to make the Bill more detestable to the country. Let us have done with this pharisaic cant. What Parliamentary Opposition would not do their best, in dealing with a measure which they believed to be ruinous to their country, to make it detestable in the eyes of the country? We have succeeded, by perfectly fair Parliamentary methods, in showing that the Bill is detestable. It is absurd to fasten on me the word "detestable," because it has two senses. You may make a Bill detestable by exposing its deformities, which was the sense in which I used the word; it is another thing to proceed to say you will make the Bill a worse Bill and therefore make it unworkable, which, by the way, is the word assigned to me by the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) in the course of a pompous homily in which he boasted of his 40 years of Parliamentary experience. I challenge the hon. Member to put his finger upon the occasion on which the threat was uttered. The words that the hon. Member assigns to me I never said, and it is only by putting a gloss upon them that they could be made to bear such a construction. But I do contend that the attitude which we have assumed is perfectly legitimate and Parliamentary; and I claim that every Opposition has not only the right, but the duty imposed upon it, when they believe a Bill to mean ruin to the country, to exhibit it as being detestable. We are chided with un Parliamentary conduct because there is no better argument to advance. But, Sir, the people of these three Kingdoms have been watching those proceedings. We challenge the Government to appeal to the people. We defy them to say that we have not succeeded in making their Bill more detestable. They must have some time to introduce other measures. Other thoughts, other hopes, must be placed in 1624 the minds of the electors. They must be made to forget the exposure they had seen in this House of this Bill. That sort of manœuvring may succeed for a time, but a day of reckoning must come; and I confidently believe that when that day does come, the sense of duty and justice and honour of this great people, which saved the country seven years ago, will come to the rescue again, and the courage and the common sense of the English people will shake off once for all the sickly sentimentalisms, the absurd fallacies, with which it has been endeavoured to cozen them; they will resume their old healthy and honest belief in this Imperial Parliament, where all parts of the country may be freely and equally represented; they will declare that this Parliament has the right to govern, as it has hitherto governed, every part and section of the Three Kingdoms; that it has the power, as they know it has the will, to do justice fairly by all. When that day comes, and when the question is proposed—"Has not your own country in former times suffered at the hands of this country, and is not some atonement required?" I would answer—"Yes, in former times it is true; but I say that of the last 70 years it is false." Those who most stoutly and strongly opposed the Union at the time admitted that after Catholic Emancipation was carried in this House this country did her best, and no other country has ever, and I do not believe ever will struggle more honestly to redress and redeem whatever errors were committed in the past—but I believe the verdict of the country will be that if atonement is now to be made for the errors of these bygone times it is not by flinging, after past misgovernment, the reins on the necks of the maddened horses. It is not by casting the peace and the prosperity of Ireland into the arena of fiery religious and civil conflict, to be torn to pieces and left to sink in weakness and in hopeless poverty. No; if the great heart of England, to which the right hon. Gentleman eloquently referred yesterday, beat, as I believe it does, it will teach that people to cast their arm lovingly round their weaker sister, steadfastly to guide her destinies and to lead her into the ways of peace. Speaking as an Irishman, born and bred, all whose traditions and recollections of happier times are associated and inter- 1625 twined with Ireland—I say, speaking from the deepest feelings of heart and conscience and knowledge, I believe it is here in this Imperial Parliament that best can be promoted and preserved the material prosperity, the abiding peace, and the real liberty of every class and creed of the people of my beloved country.
§ *MR. E. J. C. MORTON (Devonport)
said, he must venture to apologise to the House for following the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University, and following him after such a speech as that which be had just delivered. The right hon. Gentleman spoke as an Irishman, and no one who differed from him, whether Irishman or Englishman, would dispute his claim to the title of a patriotic Irishman. But he must question the soundness of the right hon. Gentleman's argument that the Unionist efforts to make the Home Rule Bill detestable had been justified by success. How did the right hon. Gentleman know that he had succeeded? His statement was of the nature of prophecy. The House had listened to many prophecies about that Bill. When this Parliament first met they were informed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) that it would be impossible to form a Cabinet, yet a Cabinet was formed, and it had proved one of the strongest of modern times. Then it was said that the Cabinet when formed would not be able to agree as to their programme. This was also falsified. Then they were told that it would be impossible for the Government to frame a Home Rule Bill which would satisfy every section of their followers. That was a prophecy which would be finally falsified to-morrow night. Then there were prophecies that the Government would be defeated on the Address; that they would be defeated on the Second Reading; that they would be defeated on some vital point in Committee. Since all these prophecies had been falsified by the event, the right hon. Gentleman must forgive him if he ventured to doubt the accuracy of the prophecy which the right hon. Gentleman had just been uttering. Coming now to the general question, ho had listened to every word on the Third Reading to learn as far as he could the reasons which were advanced by the Opposition for desiring 1626 the rejection of the Bill at this the eleventh or the twelfth hour. He thought that nearly the whole of the case of the Opposition was contained in one speech—one remarkable speech—that of the right hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Courtney). The right hon. Gentleman referred to many points which had been referred to again and again in that House already. The first point that he took was that this Bill had been advocated, and thus far carried forward, in the mists of secrecy, and in principle he alleged that the First Lord of the Treasury had never given an indication of his designs with regard to Home Rule for Ireland until he suddenly sprang those designs on the House on April 8, 1886. He (Mr. Morton) had some recollection of a speech delivered in the spring of 1886 by Lord Hartington, in which his Lordship alleged that none of the Col leagues of the First Lord of the Treasury could possibly object to the action which the right hon. Gentleman had taken, because it had been well known for years that the mind of the right hon. Gentleman was moving in that direction. But more than that. It was a matter not only known to the Colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman, but of notoriety, that for years the mind of the right hon. Gentleman had been moving in that direction. [Dissent from the Opposition Benches.] Well, he could quote the most absolute proof. In the month of January, 1883, Sir Alexander Gait, then Agent General for Canada, delivered an address in Glasgow on the subject of Imperial Federation. This was published in February, 1883. In the course of that address Sir Alexander Gait said that the practical question for those interested in Imperial Federation to ask was what was the first step to be taken in that direction, and then Sir Alexander added—After all, I think the Irish demand for self-government, or as it is called, though the term is one I scarcely like to use, Home Rule, is really what this country will have to consider—whether it is not possible to give to Ireland such a measure of self-government as will remove this growing grievance.Then Sir Alexander went on to say—Now I believe that that very remarkable man who is now the Premier of this country—I believe in the invitation, for it amounted to that, which he gave to the Irish Members at the beginning of last Session (that was referring to the speech on the Address in February, 1627 1882), to propound what they thought would be acceptable in the way of self-government for their country, indicated that there was in Mr. Gladstone's mind the opinion that some measure would have to be taken in that direction.Not only was that the opinion of Sir Alexander Gait, but it was well known that the Dominion Parliament of Canada in 1882 passed an Address praying Her Majesty to grant Home Rule to Ireland. This was either moved or seconded by the lion. Member for Longford (Mr. Blake), then in the Dominion Parliament, and the grounds on which the Dominion Parliament avowedly chose that particular occasion for passing that Address was the very speech of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury on the Address of 1882. It could not, therefore, be said that any secrecy had been preserved by the Prime Minister in his conduct of this case. But it was said that the electorate of this country was entirely ignorant of the details of this Bill at the time of the last General Election, and that, therefore, the electorate should be consulted again, and the details placed before it. He maintained that, with the single exception of the Reform Bill of 1832, there never had been a single instance in the Parliamentary history of this country in which the details of any of the great measures that had revolutionised our political life had been before the electorate at the General Election previous to the Session in which they were introduced. Was the Repeal of the Corn Laws before the electors? Why, even the subject itself was not before the electors. Was the Reform Bill of 1867 before the electors? Why, the very Ministers who proposed it were pledged against Reform at the previous Election. Or the Land Act of 1881? Or the Coercion Act of the right hon. Member for East Manchester in the time of his Chief Secretary ship? Were the details of the right hon. Gentleman's Local Government Act of 1888 before the country during the General Election of 1886? There was not a single instance, excepting that of the great Reform Bill, to back up the Constitutional argument of the right hon. Member for Bodmin on this point. But he went further. The right hon. Member for Bodmin, like the Leaders of the Opposition, admitted that the decision of the 1628 electorate on that Bill should be final if the Bill was laid before them. It could not be denied that something of the nature of this Bill was before the electorate at the General Election. It was known that the Liberal Party were going for a Parliament, and for a responsible Executive. That amount of detail was, at any rate, known. The question really was, how much of the details of the Bill were before the country—were sufficient details before the country? If the Leaders of the Conservative Party acknowledged that the electors of this country had a right to the final decision on this Bill when the details of the Bill were laid before them, how would they be able to deny that the electors had a right to decide whether or not sufficient details were before them? If the country held the view that they were being kept in the dark, that sufficient details on any measure were not before the country, would they not take note of that, and would it not tell against the framers of the measure at the Election? Inasmuch as the country returned a majority to support the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, he held that the country's decision as to the adequacy of the details was taken as much as could be its final decision on the Bill itself. But what reasonableness was there in this complaint about the absence of details? What real inducement had the Unionists given to the Prime Minister to give details earlier than he had done when they had always said that whatever the details were they would vote against the measure. But as to this question of details, he maintained that, with the single exception of the Reform Bill of 1832, there never had been a measure before Parliament of the details of which the electorate knew so much at the previous General Election as they knew of the details of the Homo Rule Bill at the last Election. The country had the Bill of 1886 before them. The First Lord of the Treasury had invited discussion on the details of that measure. He had said that if any elector felt strongly upon any detail of the measure, and would vote for Home Rule if his views were met, but would vote against Homo Rule if they were not met, let him say what this detail was, and the First Lord of the Treasury would see if his views could be met. There was 1629 only one instance in which this invitation had been accepted. Some electors did say they would vote for Home Rule if the Irish Members were retained in the Imperial Parliament, but would vote against Home Rule if they were excluded. The First Lord of the Treasury met their views, and agreed to retain the Irish Members. It was, therefore, open to any elector who was in doubt about Home Rule to know any detail about which he was anxious. And when, between 1886 and 1892, the Prime Minister was appealed to, his answer was that there was no justification for assuming that the details of the Bill of 1886 would be altered, excepting so far as ho had given public intimations on the subject. Ho himself had drawn up a Home Rule Bill—a Bill in which he simply introduced into the measure, as it stood in 1886, such changes as the public declarations of the Prime Minister before the General Election led him to expect. When the Bill now before the House and the Bill he had drawn up were compared, he found that they did not substantially differ—a fact which he thought proved that the nature of the proposed Homo Rule Bill had been very well known to the country. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham declared that this was beyond comparison the most important Bill ever introduced in the House of Commons. Did the right hon. Gentleman really think, or, if he had persuaded himself, did he think he could persuade the country, that the Home Rule Bill was really more important than the Act of Union, the Reform Bill of 1832, the Bill for the Repeal of the Corn Laws, and the Disestablishment Act of 1869 all put together? The total time taken up by all these Bills was 80 days, which was exactly the time devoted to this Bill.
§ *MR. E. J. C. MORTON
said, then he would throw in the British North America Act of 1867 for the two days more. The contention was that every clause in this Bill was a Bill in itself. That was true of every great Constitutional Act passed by that House. The most important Constitutional Act ever passed by the House of Commons was the British North America Act of 1867, which 1630 contained 147 clauses, each of great importance, and which set up a Constitution not merely of the one Parliament and the one Executive of the Dominion of Canada, but a Parliament for every one of the Provinces, and yet the whole time taken up in the discussion of that measure was only two days. Not one of the Acts establishing Constitutions in the Colonies occupied more than seven days in debate. But, further, he maintained that, as a matter of fact, the present Bill, in spite of the guillotine, had been discussed in all its important clauses. It had been said that, in dealing with a great Constitutional question like this, they were dealing with what was known in some Continental Constitutions as a fundamental law, and that the Imperial Parliament was not morally entitled to interfere in a matter of fundamental law in the same way as in ordinary legislation. Again, what Lord Salisbury once described as "that magnificent institution of the American Constitution, the Supreme Court," had been referred to over and over again. It had been contended that such an institution, with its restrictions upon the Legislature, would be an advantage to the United Kingdom. But the motives for providing those restrictions in relation to the American Constitution were precisely the reverse of the motives which influenced those hon. Gentlemen who now desired a similar institution for England. The motive in the former case was to guard against reaction and to stereotype freedom; in the latter case it was to guard against progress and to stereo-typo tyranny. He alleged fearlessly that the Home Rule Bill, from the point of view of Great Britain, was a matter of extremely trivial importance; but, of course, from the point of view of Ireland, it was of vast importance. It could only be of importance to Great Britain in so far as it affected the Constitution of this country, in so far as it affected the unity of the Empire and the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, and in so far as it affected the moral obligation of the Imperial Parliament to protect the minority in Ireland. Each of these three questions had been most freely and fully debated. The guillotine had not been applied to one of them. As to the first of these questions, the Constitution of Parliament, it was abso- 1631 lutely unaffected by the Bill, except in the simple detail that there was a very small redistribution of seats arrangement, by which the representation of Ireland was reduced from 103 to 80 Members; surely, in so far as the Constitution was touched by that arrangement, it was touched in a sense that hon. Gentlemen opposite would approve of. Then, as to the second point, the unity of the British Empire, it could not be said that the question of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament had been withheld from the full discussion of the House, because it was debated on Amendments to Clauses 2 and 3, the latter of which took seven and a half days. Not one of these Amendments had been closured. The guillotine did not fall on the first four clauses, and it was only on the first four clauses that the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament could be raised. Then, again, the question of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament might be said to arise on the 3rd clause, which dealt with the exceptions from the powers of the Irish Parliament. On that clause every Amendment put down by the Opposition, 58 in number, was discussed, which occupied 11½ days. The question of the Imperial veto arose on Clause 5. It was perfectly true that the guillotine did fall on Clause 5; but it was also true that there had been five days of full discussion on the clause, and that 24 Amendments to it were considered. With regard to the 17 Amendments guillotined, it was a matter of absolute certainty that six of them would have been ruled out of Order, as having been covered by previously discussed Amendments. The question of the veto was not only discussed on Clause 5, but it was discussed in detail on the First Reading and on the Second Reading of the Bill, so much so that on February 17 the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington said, in a speech, that he would not refer to the veto, because it had been already fully discussed. Then there was the question of the protection of the minority. That question was, first of all, included in the restrictions on the powers of the Irish Parliament in Clause 4—a clause that had been debated 7½days, on which every Amendment put down, and in Order, was discussed, and on which the guillotine did 1632 not fall. The question also arose on Clauses 27, 28, and 29, which dealt with the pecuniary interests and pensions of the Civil servants. Every one of these clauses was discussed to the full; not a single Amendment was closured, and the guillotine did not fall upon any one of them. The right hon. Member for Bodmin had also complained that the Land Question had not been sufficiently debated. But, if so, whose fault was that? The Opposition had had full power of raising it, and he maintained that they could only deal with it by Amendments to the first four clauses, and every Amendment they put down to those clauses was discussed, or else by a new clause on Report, and none of the new clauses were guillotined.
§ MR. E. J. C. MORTON
said, that that did not prove that no Amendment which was in Order could be devised. And, as a matter of fact, it was raised on Clause 4 by an Amendment of the hon. Member for York. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin had also stated that Clause 9 had not been properly discussed. Well, it was debated for five days. On the 10th July the Opposition voted for retaining 103 Members for Imperial and foreign affairs only, and on the same day they voted for total exclusion. On the next day the Opposition voted for an Amendment moved by the right hon. Member for the University of London for reducing the number of Irish Members to between 30 and 40, but retaining them for all purposes, and on the same day they voted for retaining 48 of the Irish Members. On the 13th of July they voted for the in-and-out clause and against retaining 80 Members for all purposes; and, lastly, by voting against the clause, they voted for leaving the Imperial Parliament absolutely untouched and for retaining the 103 Members to vote on British as well as Irish affairs. If, after that, they wanted still more discussion, he could only say that they exhibited a positively Gargantuan appetite for devouring their own principles. He was certain that if the Liberal Party was unable to rouse the country by the cry of obstruction the Opposition would not be able to rouse the country by the cry of the "gag." The 1633 country desired, above all, that the efficiency of the Imperial Parliament should be maintained, and he believed that one of the very strongest arguments in favour of Home Rule was the argument that by removing this everlasting Irish difficulty largely from out the daily consideration of this Parliament, they would really restore and revivify the efficiency and honour of the House of Commons. The country regarded the "gag," to use the word of hon. Members opposite, with no great disfavour, for paramount to its desire for full and free debate was its desire that the efficiency of the House of Commons, as a legislative machine, should be maintained. He must ask the House to allow him to thank the House for the patience and kindness with which they had listened to him. But though he might owe an apology to the House for venturing to address it at all, he made bold to say he owed no apology on the particular ground of the subject which he had last referred to; for although he was only a new Member, in his first Session, yet the honour, the efficiency, and the dignity of the House, the Mother of Parliaments, with its traditions extending back for many generations, with its centuries of service to the cause of Democracy, of freedom, and of good government, was the concern, and ought to be the concern, of every one of its Members, however young and however inexperienced—nay, it was the heritage of every one of the citizens of the Empire, however mean his status and however humble ho might be.
§ MR. HOUSTON (Liverpool, West Toxeth)
said, he would not have intruded upon the notice of the House if it were not the fact that he, unlike many Members, came to Parliament perfectly free and untrammelled by pledges and promises, except that ho would do his best to oppose any scheme having for its object the creation of a separate Parliament for Ireland. Representing a division composed entirely of working men, mostly mechanics and artizans, he claimed to speak the views of what was an intelligent English democratic constituency. He would not follow the hon. Member for Devonport through his labyrinth of statements and figures, nor refer to the Attorney General's brilliant speech, but would confine himself to some of the arguments used by the Prime Minister. 1634 If any arguments were necessary against this Bill they might be supplied by the speeches of the Prime Minister and other gentlemen occupying seats on the Treasury Bench previous to their conversion to Home Rule. The Prime Minister had told them that they had arrived at the point where two roads met—one leading to autonomy, the other to coercion—but the right hon. Gentleman seemed to be strangely blind to the road right in front of him, and which had been trod so successfully and with such material benefits to Ireland by Mr. Balfour. He questioned if the Prime Minister would have seen the road leading to automony if the finger-post of 80 Nationalist votes had not pointed in that direction, and he had not read thereon an imperative instruction to follow that road. As to so-called "coercion," ho took it that while the same laws obtained throughout every county in England, if there was an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease or of swine fever, say in Lincolnshire, what happened? Exceptional and restrictive laws were at once applied to stamp it out. But did Lincolnshire complain? Or, if she did, would the rest of England pay much attention to it? And if there was an outbreak of clerical Nationalist enthusiasm in any part of Ireland, resulting in outbreak, mutilation, intimidation, and arson, why should not exceptional laws be applied? The right hon. Gentleman had also referred to Cook's prophecy about Irishmen in the Government, and he was glad to see that the Prime Minister had departed from the prophecy, and had given them the benefit of listening to one of the most brilliant Irishmen in modern times—the Attorney General. He rejoiced that Irish prophecies were sometimes not only inaccurate but utterly unreliable. Grattan wrote—You have destroyed our Parliament, but we will have our revenge, and we will send into your Parliament 103 of the greatest scoundrels in the Kingdom.They had had 93 years' experience, but that prophecy had not yet been fulfilled He ventured to believe that the trouble in Ireland arose not so much from agrarian as from religious causes. He had not one word to say against the Roman Catholic religion, but he had very strong opinions about the political priest. An ignorant peasantry, dominated by an 1635 autocratic and intolerant priesthood, did not usually indicate a happy and prosperous country—a priesthood which was so intolerant that at times it was at variance with the head of its own Church, so autocratic that it preferred to appeal to the superstitious imaginations of its votaries rather than to their reason and intelligence, and it was not to the Representatives of the people, but to the representatives of this priesthood that it was proposed to hand over the government of Ireland. Who were these Representatives? He meant politically. He was told that in private life they were most desirable and pleasant acquaintances; that to know some of them was a liberal education. He had not the advantage or pleasure of knowing those gentlemen, and, therefore, he could only form his opinion of them from what the Prime Minister had said of them and what they had said themselves. The Prime Minister had spoken of them in the most forcible terms of his most forcible and picturesque vocabulary. The Prime Minister had described them as men marching through rapine to the dismemberment of the Empire, and yet he now professed to have the most unbounded faith and confidence in them. These men, or their predecessors, had avowed undying hatred to England, had avowed sympathy with England's enemies, and their determination that Ireland should be a free nation among the free and independent nations of the earth; that they wanted no more Kings or Queens; but that they wanted a Republic, and that they would not be satisfied until they had severed the last link that bound Ireland to this country—and it was to these very men that the Prime Minister proposed to hand over the government of Ireland. How did this proposal affect England? Supposing Home Rule granted to Ireland; as a result confidence would be destroyed in Ireland, the landlords would be driven forth beggared and ruined, manufactures would be much more heavily taxed than they were at present, and industries would seek a more congenial home. Capital being withdrawn from Ireland and industries ceasing to exist, nothing would be left but the laud to tax; and even supposing the tenant farmers—who, he understood, were the only people in Ireland who wanted Home Rule, except the Party Representatives—got the land 1636 rent free, they would be taxed to such an extent that they would be worse off than they were at present. The starving peasantry would come over to England in shoals, and swell the already overcrowded ranks of unskilled labour; the undue competition would reduce the already low rate of wages received by unskilled labour: the workhouses would be overcrowded with the poor, the helpless, and the idle; parochial rates would be increased; and every class of society would be affected by this measure. Ireland would be reduced to a state of bankruptcy, and probably might apply for funds to some foreign Power. Looking at the matter from the Imperial point of view, they could not afford to show weakness at home, for other nations viewed them with jealous and envious eyes, and if the demands of Ireland were acceded to they would be encouraged to make demands and encroachments upon their domains abroad. One hon. Member had told them that England's difficulty would be Ireland's opportunity, and if England was at war with any foreign Power they would endeavour to throw off the hated Saxon yoke. They had tried it before, and there was no reason why they should not be tempted to try it again. If they glanced at the map it would be seen that nearly the whole of their shipping in leaving or approaching their ports passed within measurable distance of Queenstown, which would make an excellent harbour for an enemy's fleet to take shelter in, and from which an enemy's cruisers might sally forth and attack their shipping, probably destroy it, and paralyse their trade. This was no fancy picture of the imagination, but it was quite possible—nay, he would say probable—and he was lost in astonishment that the nominal author of this Bill was so blind as not to see the dangers that might accrue from the passing of it. It was a curious coincidence that the Prime Minister's advent to Office was invariably followed by disorder, disaster, and disgrace; and he feared that should the right hon. Gentleman continue in Office they would see a recurrence of the events of the past administration, culminating in the most serious and greatest of disasters—a foreign war accompanied by a civil war at home.
§ MR. M'GILLIGAN (Fermanagh, S.)
said that, as an Ulsterman and a Representative of an Ulster constituency, he rose to give his support to the Third Reading of the Bill for the Better Government of Ireland, which had been introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. It had been frequently asserted in the Debate upon this Bill by Unionist speakers that it was only those who resided in Ulster who were acquainted with the mind and feelings of the people there upon the subject of Home Rule; and, in as much as he was born and bred in the very heart of Unionist Ulster, he claimed to have that knowledge, and he asked the indulgence of the House whilst ho endeavoured to briefly state it. The Nationalists of Ulster regarded the Bill as an act of deliverance from the system of government which prevailed there, and which practically excluded them from having a voice or participation in the management of local affairs, and they welcomed it as a necessary and long-expected reform to abolish the one-sided system of government which had so long been the bane and the curse of the Province. It would be the means of infusing national life and feeling into the working of local affairs, and of giving the masses of the people a share in the administration, which was at present wholly in the hands of the classes. As a matter of fact, the Nationalists of Ulster had had innumerable difficulties to contend with by reason of their political opponents having in their possession all authority and power. Hon. Members unacquainted with I he state of the Province would, perhaps, be surprised to hear that in Ulster an office having income or profit attached to it was never, or seldom, given to a Nationalist. Unionists had as their heritage the control and dispensing of such offices, and he regretted to say that he could not recall a single instance—and he had lived his life amongst them—where a Nationalist had been appointed by them to a post of emolument. No Nationalist held any of the important offices of Clerk of Town, Harbour, or Water Commissioners, Clerks of Markets, Town Officers, Masters or Matrons of Workhouses, Medical Officers, to official positions, bank managers or cashiers, where these Unionist gentlemen could prevent it. Indeed, such was the position of affairs that 1638 no Nationalist would dream of becoming a candidate for such posts, knowing his chance of success to be nil. It was said that Ulster was opposed to the granting of Home Rule. But when hon. Members spoke of Ulster what did they mean by that term? Did they mean nine counties forming the Province called Ulster? If they meant that, then he said Ulster was not against Home Rule. But, perhaps, they intended to say that a portion of Ulster was against Home Rule. Well, he granted that there were in Ulster, as there were in other places, persons not disposed to advocate the concession of autonomy to Ireland. But if they looked into the reasons for their hostility, they would find that the people Ulster supposed to be hostile to Home Rule were continually goaded on by excited and warlike gentlemen, and made to believe that Home Rule was what those politicians represented it to be for reasons best known to themselves. What was the fact about Ulster? That more than one-half of it was Nationalist to the core, and joined with the other three Provinces in demanding Home Rule. On this question Ulster was divided into two sections. There was Nationalist Ulster and Unionist Ulster. There was a Nationalist Ulster true to the ancient traditions and patriotic aspirations of the Celtic race, who had survived all endeavours to expatriate them by the application of cruel and vindictive laws. And there was an Unionist Ulster often referred to in that House as the loyal minority. And what were they loyal to? Loyal to the ascendency authority and power which was theirs at present. It was for the retention of that ascendency they professed to be Unionists. Talk of depriving them of it and they were disunionists. Circumstanced as the Unionists were it would be passing strange if they did not object. The soft side of the Constitution was and had been extended to them. A mode of government which had been established 93 years was bound to have defenders, especially those who had benefited largely by it, and who saw in its discontinuance a termination of their privileges. Let them contrast the intensity of the feelings of the two sections in Ulster for and against Home Rule. With the Nationalists it was the settled passion of their hearts, which had increased year 1639 by year in their stern uphill fight, and which they would never relinquish. With the Unionists it was true that a large portion of them were strongly opposed to it; but anyone who attended meetings of Unionist Ulster farmers since the General Election knew that they were not satisfied with the existing order of things, and that they would welcome Home Rule, or any rule that would do them justice. They had no deadly animus to this Bill or its supporters. No doubt at the General Election they were frightened into a fear of the priests—that was a word to conjure with by Unionist Leaders. It served better than to discuss Home Rule on its merits. But this fear, he ventured to say, was a passing one. In their reflections the tenant farmers knew what Party in Ireland fought their battles and prepared their case for legislation, and what Party in England placed on the Statute Book the Acts of Parliament that released them from the power of landlordism. Merchants in agricultural Ulster would tell them that business had been on an inclined plane for years past, and, in the event of an unfavourable harvest this year, and the low price of cattle being maintained, commercial disaster would have taken place. Matters in those districts wore just as bad as they could be, and it was useless of hon. Members to he talking of prosperity in Ulster. The emigration from Ulster was a grave commentary upon its alleged prosperity. During the most prosperous times in Ulster, in the Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties, about 750,000 people left it. For 18 years Ireland had her own Parliament, in sympathy with the people, and she prospered. For 93 years she had had a Government not in sympathy with the people, and she had decayed. To withhold Home Rule, which meant a Government in sympathy with the people, would be to continue the evil system which had wrought the decay, and meant the gradual extinction of the Irish nation at home—an event, he was afraid, that would not be patiently submitted to. After 93 years' rule of the richest Government in the world Ireland was the poorest. As she had not thriven under English rule, by all rules of logic and fair play she was entitled to some other rule. Speaking as one of the Representatives of Nationalist Ulster, it 1640 afforded him much pleasure to exercise his privilege in that House to thank the Prime Minister for his noble effort, for speeches which shed such a brilliant light upon the darkness, the ignorance, and the prejudice which surrounded the Irish Question of misgovernment, and for pleading the cause of an oppressed and down-trodden people. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to prosecute the work he had begun to a successful issue, and that work would complete the emancipation of the Nationalists of Ulster, who had been reared in the school of political and religious adversity, purified by the fire of persecution and strengthened by wrong suffering, and who indulged in the hope that the English Parliament would in the expiring years of the century make atonement and restitution for its act of spoliation and robbery in the beginning by restoring to Ireland her right to make her own laws in her own Parliament in her own laud.
§ MR. W. KENNY) (Dublin, St. Stephen's Green
desired to say a few words with reference to the speech of the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Morton) and the brilliant speech of the Attorney General. It appeared from the confession of the hon. Member for Devonport that he was a competitor of the Prime Minister, because the hon. Member had told the House that he himself, either last year or the year before, had drafted a Home Rule Bill and that it turned out almost identical with the Bill of 1893. He should like to know whether the Bill of the hon. Member contained anything identical with or even similar or analogous to the Financial Clauses in the Bill of the Government as it now stood, or whether the Financial Clauses embodied in the hon. Gentleman's Bill were like those contained in the Bill of the Government as presented in February last? He should also like to know whether the hon. Gentleman proposed that the Imperial Government should undertake the collection of taxes in Ireland; whether any one of those taxes should be taken as representing Ireland's contribution to the Imperial Expenditure; but, above all, he should like to know whether this wonderful draft the hon. Member had compared in competition with the Prime Minister contained the "in-and out" clause that was in the Bill as introduced in February last, or the clause which 1641 was now in the Bill by which the Irish Members in that House were to have unrestricted powers upon all questions—Imperial and otherwise? Upon this question of the "in-and-out" clause the hon. Member ought to be an authority to some extent. The hon. Gentleman, he understood, occupied an official position in the English Home Rule Union, and lie was assured, on the authority of the hon. Member for South Tyrone, that at the recent election at Hereford a leaflet was circulated, bearing the impress of the Home Rule Union, which stated that the original "in-and-out" clause which was contained in the Bill of February last was the clause that remained in the Home Rule measure, although the Premier had then given unrestricted power to the future Irish Members in this House. He should have liked to have heard some explanation from the hon. Member for Devon-port as to how that leaflet came to be circulated in Hereford upon the very day of the opening of the poll? The hon. Gentleman referred to one or two of the clauses of the Home Rule Bill, which ho said had received discussion, and the first he referred to was the question of the Civil servants, and he thought he included the Police. Undoubtedly they had some discussion upon the clauses of the Bill which related to the Civil servants and Police, but nobody knew better than the Chief Secretary that what affected the Civil servants and the Irish Constabulary were not so much the clauses of the Bill as the Schedules of the Bill which were never discussed, except for some incidental references. The hon. Gentleman also referred to the question of the land, and assured the House that the Land Question was also discussed. The only discussion they had on the Laud Question was that which arose on an Amendment with reference to the appointment of Assistant Commissioners. Turning to the speech of the Attorney General, he should like to call the attention of the House to what he regarded as rather a singular episode in the course of that speech. The hon. and learned Gentleman, with very great eloquence, deplored the time when, before 1886, the Nationalist Members of that House did not mourn with the English people in their sorrow and join with them in their joy, and he hoped and expected the time 1642 was coming when the Irish Members who had helped to build up this great Empire would learn what its real meaning was, and if a time of sorrow came would mourn with the English people in their sorrow and join with them in their joy. Previously to the Attorney General having made use of these observations, he had been cheered to the echo; afterwards, when he dealt with other subjects, he was cheered to the echo by gentlemen on the other side, but not one single cheer came from gentlemen representing Irish Nationalist constituencies when the hon. and learned Gentleman addressed these particular observations to the House. The Attorney General spoke as if this Bill was accepted by the Irish Members. He should like to know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman either heard or read the speech delivered the previous afternoon by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond). The Unionist Members had always been protesting, both in this House and out of it, that this Bill was only a pro tanto Bill—only an instalment of what was expected from the I Irish Benches—and there was no finality; whatever in connection with it. What did the hon. Member for Waterford say? He said that no man in his souses could regard this Bill as a final or satisfactory settlement of the Irish Home Rule Question. Were the Irish Nationalists satisfied? They did not depend upon the hon. Member for Waterford for any statement with reference to the want of finality in this Bill. They had also the statement of the hon. Member for North Kerry, in the course of the Debate in Committee on the 9th clause, that the whole scheme of the Government was experimental, temporary, and transitory. That opinion was endorsed to a large extent by the Home Secretary, who appealed to the House and said—"Why not treat it as a mere temporary and transitional scheme?" The hon. Members for Waterford and Kerry, or their followers in Ireland, had made speeches upon Irish platforms in which they had elaborated the ideas as to want of finality in the Bill. One of these gentlemen (Mr. Haviland Burke), whose speech was a type of the speeches made in Ireland, speaking on the 2nd April, 1893, said he thought the Home Rule Bill ought to be accepted for want of some- 1643 thing better, and that the Irish Members ought to do their best to improve it in Committee, and to enlarge its provisions and the liberties it gave, so as to make the Legislature worthy of a free and distinct nationality. He wished to draw the attention of the House to the expression "a Legislature worthy of a free and distinct nationality." That expression was really borne out by the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had last addressed the House, because he thanked the Prime Minister for restoring to the Irish Nationalists the Parliament which they had lost in 1800. That meant a great deal more than the boon the Prime Minister was prepared to bestow on the Irish Nationalists. Grattan's Parliament was an independent Parliament; and they had it in the speeches made upon Irish platforms and in the addresses of Irish Members in that House that the present measure was only the basis for further demands on the part of the Irish Members, who, having 80 of their number in this House, would never rest until its liberties and scope were enlarged, and until they got a measure worthy of what they called "a distinct nationality." lie should like to make one or two observations with reference to the speech of the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman said that this Debate would not add to the fame of Parliament. He thought everyone of them on that side of the House would agree with such a statement. They did not believe that what had taken place in Committee of this House would add either to the fame or prestige of Parliament. This Bill in its Third Reading stage occupied a very peculiar position, and presented a very peculiar development indeed. The Bill was one of the very first importance, as was admitted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler), who, on the 16th June last, declared that it was beyond all question the most important legislative proposal which had been made to the Parliament of the United Kingdom in the present century, and that it was a measure which ought to receive the most careful and most anxious consideration of every Member of Parliament. The Government had been for the last seven years pondering and deliberating on the measure which they introduced in February last, and, 1644 notwithstanding all the consideration they had given to that measure during; those years, notwithstanding the time that had elapsed since August, 1892, when they were called upon to assume the reins of Government down to the time the Bill was introduced, the Bill had emerged from Committee and Report stage altered in its character and vital principles, and altered not so much by the Opposition who criticised and opposed it, but altered by the authors of the Bill themselves. The new clauses of the Bill were, to a largo extent, wholly undiscussed in the Committee of the House. In his interesting speech yesterday the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury admitted that 26 clauses and six Schedules of the Bill were undiscussed. What were the clauses of the Bill which had been left undiscussed? They had had a superficial reference, but no discussion upon the constitution of the new Irish Legislature; they had had no. discussion in regard to the Exchequer Judges, their duties, responsibilities, or the position they were to occupy; no discussion on the question as to the decision of Constitutional questions; no discussion on the power that was given to the Irish Legislature to repeal certain Acts of Parliament; and, above all, they had had absolutely no discussion, except the few hours given to them before the application of the Closure on the 13th July, on the question of the powers of the-Irish Members who were to be retained in this House. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Mr. J. Morley), addressing his constituents last Saturday at Newcastle, admitted that the question, as to the power of the Irish Members was one of the most important—he did not say the most important, but one of the most important—clauses of the Bill, lie-(Mr. Kenny), and hon. Gentlemen in the House who agreed with him, went further than the right hon. Gentleman in that direction, because they regarded it, and had always regarded the question of the powers of the Irish Members, as the crucial and turning point of this Bill. That it was the turning point that agitated the country at the present moment had been proved by the Hereford Election. They had discussed the retention of the Irish Members; but that was as to the numbers in which they were to be retained, or whether they were to be 1645 retained at all, but they had absolutely no discussion, save and except the few hours he had already mentioned, on the question of the powers of the Irish Members. They did discuss, to a certain extent, the question of the old 9th clause, now the 10th clause, and they discussed the question of the number of the Irish Members to be retained; but the right hon. Gentleman put off to a future day the discussion of a number of other clauses in the Bill, and included in that postponement the question of the powers of the Irish Members. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman considered the matter so very unimportant that he gave it the go by; but he should have liked to have seen the enthusiasm that would have been invoked at Newcastle if the right hon. Gentleman had told his audience that, after considering the matter from 1886, they had, at the very last moment, the day before the Closure was to be applied, changed their mind, changed it without giving this House, the Opposition, or the country the opportunity of criticising the details in their line of policy, and had adopted the clause as it now stood in the Bill, by which the Irish Members were to be retained for all purposes in the Imperial Parliament. If the House would permit him, he should like to go into the question of the way in which the Opposition and the country had been treated on the question of the retention of the Irish Members so far as their numbers were concerned, because they must differentiate, in dealing with the 9th clause, between the question of the number of the Irish Members and the powers to be given to them if they were retained. For three or four years past they had been informed and were aware that the Irish Members were to be retained in some numbers in the House; they were not concerned so much with the question of the retention of the Irish Members, knowing that was a matter determined upon, but they were concerned with the question of what the powers of the Irish Members were to be when so retained. In August of last year, upon the Debate on the Address, the Prime Minister, after setting forth the various modes by which the Irish Members might be retained, stated that if the Liberal Government were called to Office, it would plainly be their duty to select the best form of dealing with Irish 1646 representation in the House; that this could not be decided upon till they were in a position of responsibility; but that, when they had selected what they considered to be the best form to adopt, it would lie their duty to carry it out. That speech had only been made a fortnight when the right hon. Gentleman assumed Office, and having assumed Office, and having to make a selection from the various modes which he had indicated, he and his Cabinet deliberately selected the in-and-out clause. They were satisfied with the declaration of the Government policy, but on the 8th May a question was put in this House to the Prime Minister by his right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), who asked the Prime Minister whether or not he intended to propose Clause 9 as it then stood in the Bill? The Prime Minister's reply was that they intended to propose and to submit to the House the clause as it stood. Last night the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division (Mr. Chaplin) referred to another declaration of the Prime Minister's, made on the 30th May, that he intended to stick to the clause as it stood in the Bill. What happened? On the 13th of July one of the compartments of the Bill was closured, and in that was included the 9th clause. Upon the night before the Closure was to be applied, the Prime Minister, upon his own Motion, moved the omission of the sub-clause which provided for the restricted powers of the Irish Members; and on the following night, without the country having had any opportunity beforehand of knowing the policy of the Government, the Amendment of the Prime Minister was closured, and that was the only opportunity the Opposition and the country had had, up to this time, of discussing the question of the powers of the Irish Members who wore to be retained. Was it fair, frank, and honourable of the Government to act by the Opposition and the House in the way they did? The House would remember that the Government focussed and fixed public attention on the clause as it stood; and with the attention of the House so focussed and fixed, the Prime Minister, the night before the Closure, proposed an Amendment which completely altered the clause from its original character. He 1647 thought the tactics adopted by the Government in connection with this question of the powers of the Irish Members would be a disgrace to an Irish Local Board of Guardians. No explanation was given until the night of the 13th July, when the Prime Minister vouchsafed some explanation to the House for the conduct of the Government in having kept this clause up their sleeve until the evening before the application of the Closure. On that night, the 13th July, before they arrived at the hour of 10 o'clock, the right Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), in his speech said they had a right to be frankly and honourably treated, but when they asked if there was any truth in the rumours afloat as to the change their questions were always evaded or refused an answer. And what did the Prime Minister say in reply to that? He interrupted the right hon. Member for West Birmingham by an exclamation of "Hear, hear!" That was that he pinned himself to what the right hon. Gentleman said that the questions were either evaded or refused an answer. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham then said—My right hon. Friend says, 'Hear hear!' but is that proper treatment of the House of Commons!And the Prime Minister said—The question put to me was one I understand the purport of, and I was determined to defeat it.In that answer of the Prime Minister they understood the meaning of the Government; the Government first proposed a clause on which public attention was fixed, and then the Prime Minister came down and at the last moment announced to the House what the change of policy of the Government was, and that it was intended to confer on the Irish Members unrestricted powers. He (Mr. Kenny) submitted that was not the way to afford a free and fair opportunity to the House or the country to discuss the policy of the Government, and he thought he might further say that the Opposition deserved fairer and more honourable treatment. Having regard to the importance of the measure, to the fact that it involved not only Irish but British interests, and having regard to the way in which the House had been treated, he ventured to think that the treatment ought to be almost 1648 enough to induce Members not to pass the Third Reading of this measure. He now desired to say one or two words upon the question that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary referred to in his speech at Newcastle, and which had been referred to also in this House—namely, the question of the British vote in this country. If the House would permit him ho would give the figures as they appeared in the Divisions upon the Bill, both in favour of the Government and against the Government. On the Second Reading the majority for the Government was 43, the British majority against the Government was 14. On the 30th June, on the first Closure Resolution, the majority of the Government was 32, and the British majority against the Government was 19. Upon the question of Clause 5 standing part of the Bill, the clause that dealt with the Executive, the majority of the Government was 35, and the British majority against it was 32. When they came to deal with Clause 6, the clause that dealt with the two Legislative Councils in Ireland, that clause which the Prime Minister yesterday stated was one of small importance, the Government majority was 15, and the British majority against it was 40. On Clause 7, dealing with the Legislative Assembly, the Government majority was 36, and the British majority against it was 23. On the question as to the entire exclusion of the Irish Members, the Government majority was 31, but there was a British majority against it of 28. And on the Prime Minister's Amendment, giving unrestricted powers to the Irish Members, the Government majority was 27, and the British majority against it was 33. He thought these figures showed not only British opinion in the country, but the opinion of the Representatives of Great Britain in this House in connection with this measure. It had been said by the Chief Secretary, and also, he thought, by the Home Secretary (Mr. Asquith) in the course of the Debate on the Address in 1892, that the majority of the entire united Parliament ought to be the majority that would decide every question in this House, and that they were not to subtract from that majority the votes given by Irish Members. He quite agreed with those observations of the 1649 right hon. Gentleman and any other speaker who might rely on the same argument when ordinary questions were dealt with by this House, but they had to remember that when the Act of Union was passed in 1800 they had to get the consent of two Legislatures, of the British Legislature on the one side and the Irish Legislature on the other. Therefore, when they were going to a certain extent to modify that Union, when they were altering the principles of that Union, why should not the bodies in that Union be restricted to their constituent elements, and the voice of the British majority be taken? [A laugh.] He did not understand why the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary scoffed at that; if they were to do that they would have a British majority against it; and surely the Irish partner in this business could not be allowed to separate from the partner with whom it threw in its lot in 1800 without the consent of that other and larger partner. One other topic that was raised by the right hon. Gentleman in his speech at Newcastle he wished to say a word about. In addressing his audience, the right hon. Gentleman said the arguments of the Unionists were based on the consideration that the Irish Members were either lunatics or rogues. The same argument had been thrown in their teeth night after night by the Prime Minister, and they had been lectured by the right hon. Gentleman and told they ought to have the most explicit faith in hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite. But he (Mr. Kenny) would ask were they not; were they not entitled to look back upon the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite, both in and out of the House; were they not entitled to consider what they had done in the past; and, above all, were they justified in dismissing from their minds the finding of a judicial tribunal of this country? [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen might sneer at that, but it was composed of three powerful Judges, and were they to dismiss that finding from their minds? The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond) yesterday assured them he had a most complete and explicit faith in his countrymen, in the moderation, the common sense, and the good feeling of the countrymen in Ireland. He did not 1650 know whether or not the hon. and learned Gentleman agreed with the views put forward by a Dublin journal, of which the hon. and learned Member was the Chairman of the Board of Directors. What was the opinion of the leader writers of that journal of the gentlemen who formed Committee Room No. 15? He only quoted their opinions for the purpose of his argument, and he said at once that he did not concur in them; he did not endorse them; but they were the opinions of the hon. and learned Gentleman's own friends. What did the leader writers of this journal say in the issue of the 11th October, 1892? They said—We see them now in fear of life, full of selfishness. many of them without a shred of anything beyond what they can borrow and foul-mouthed, destitute of every sense of loyalty; some of them disreputable, all of them apostles of downright tyranny, men who in a free country would correspond to a banditti of—(The rest of the quotation and the other blanks failed to reach the Gallery.) That was about as strong a condemnation as was ever seen in the Press; but he presumed the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond) would endorse what the leader writers and editors of that journal had written. For his part he did not endorse it, and he thought the statement was unquestionably an exaggeration, still it showed at the present moment what the opinion of one section in Ireland was with regard to another section. He had only one word more to say. One thing was certain—that throughout the whole of the Home Rule business no effort had been made by the Government to carry out the promises made before the General Election. Two sets of promises were made in regard to the Newcastle Programme, but in addition to these promises had been made in the House by the Prime Minister to the Irish Members, and he (Mr. Kenny) wished to know what had become of those promises? In his speech on the Address in August last, the Prime Minister said the Crimes Act of 1887 should not be retained on the Statute Book longer than the condition of Parliamentary time required. They had had a good deal of Parliamentary time wasted in this House—["Hear, hear!"] Yes, hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite took it in one sense, they (the Opposition) took 1651 it in another—they said that the time of the House had been wasted on a measure which could not became law, and which would not become law, and whilst the time was being wasted the Government found it impossible to give any attention to a Bill introduced by the hon. Gentleman who represented the St. Patrick's Division of Dublin (Mr. W. Field), a Bill which appeared on the Paper every night and adjourned every night to the next night—a Bill of one clause which proposed to repeal the Crimes Act of 1887. Why did not the Chief Secretary give to the hon. Member some facilities to pass that Bill? On the contrary, instead of giving facilities for passing that Bill, the Government proposed to re-enact in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill the 8th clause of the Crimes Act of 1887, and keeping alive the provisions of the Peace Preservation Act of 1881. The Chief Secretary, in one of those works of his which was so instructive and so interesting, and which now formed part of the standard literature of this country, had told them there was a Nemesis waiting for the Government. He ventured to say that the Government had been unscrupulous and profligate in its promises. They had come into power on false issues and false pretences, and he believed, in common with the great majority of people of this country, that that Nemesis of which the Chief Secretary had spoken was sure to come.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
Mr. Speaker, like many of my Colleagues upon these Benches, I may say I have taken no part in the long discussion of this great question; but I know that the people of this great country and the Members of the House will not for a single moment believe that, either in my own case or in the case of my Colleagues, that silence was caused by any want of interest in these Debates. That silence was imposed upon us by a sense of duty to our people, because we declined to be parties to the conspiracy which became very soon manifest in this House to smother this measure by a forest of Amendments and by a needless stream of talk, instead of subjecting it to an honest and faithful criticism. The views of our Party and the interests of our people during the progress of this Bill through the Committee were in the hands of a Member who enjoyed to the fullest extent 1652 the confidence of his Colleagues, and who did as much as could by any possibility be achieved by any man to represent to and impress upon the House and upon the Committee the views of the people of Ireland with regard to this Bill. Sir, before I come to make the few observations which I feel bound to make on this measure ere it passes through this House, I desire for one moment to allude to a couple of points in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. D. Plunket), and in the speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Courtney). The right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for the University stood up in this House, as it seemed to me, in a very ill-judged and unwise fashion, and placed himself before us from the beginning to the end of his speech as the champion of Irish landlords. He viewed this Bill from the point of view of the material interests of the Irish landlord, and from no other point of view. And he set against the wishes and the aspirations, and, as we hold, against the hopes of future prosperity and peace for our people, one consideration only, and that is the claims which the Irish landlords have to the protection of their material interest in Ireland. Well, Sir, we have no desire to rob any man in Ireland; and notwithstanding all that has been said, and in spite of all the criticisms to which we have been subjected, if our past careers were critically examined and compared with the past history of Irish landlords, I do not think our action would come out worst. The Irish landlords, said the right hon. Gentleman, view this measure as one calculated to be ruinous to their country. Sir, the record and history of the Irish landlords hardly entitle them to call it their country, for in the days of their power, which lasted too long, and during which they controlled without responsibility the government of the country, they showed no interest in its welfare, and I will only make this further comment on the observations of the right hon. Gentleman—that that very expression has been used with regard to every measure of reform which ever was proposed for the people of Ireland. I challenge him, or any other of the Conservative Party, to point to one measure of reform which has been proposed and passed, or attempted to be 1653 passed, in this House throughout the long history of 70 years to which he has alluded, which has not been denounced by the Irish landlords as likely to be ruinous to the country. The list extends from Catholic Emancipation down to the Land Bill of 1881. The right hon. Gentleman then went on to say that it was universally admitted that this Imperial Parliament has the power, as we all know it has the will, to do equal justice to all, and that he thought it was not to be denied that for the last 70 years no injustice had been done by this Parliament to the people of Ireland. All I can say is this—that if we were to accept the proposition that for the last 70 years the Parliament of this country has been endeavouring to the best of its ability and power, which I do not admit, to do justice to the people of Ireland, then I say that on that test alone it stands condemned, and the only conclusion which we can draw from the history of these 70 years is that, whatever may be the case as regards the will of this Parliament, it has not the knowledge and it has not the power to do justice to our people. Why, Sir, within these 70 years what has been the history of Ireland? We have had two or three attempted rebellions. We have had two famines. We have had half the population of the country shamelessly exterminated, and one-half of the inhabited houses of Ireland razed to the ground by the greed of Irish landlordism. During that period, in spite of the verdict of Commission after Commission appointed by this House—in spite of the voice of the Irish people appealing to this House—the few Representatives who, in the days gone by, represented the people of Ireland here, met with deaf ears or no ears at all; because, when I first knew the House—when I first came to listen to Debates here under that Gallery—when any Irish Bill or any Irish matter came up, the House emptied, and Members never came in until the Division Bell rang. That has been the history of these 70 years. Oppression and the feeling of injustice at the hands of this House in our unhappy country had the inevitable results of oppression, which are not peculiar to the people of Ireland, but which have been the infallible results of the reaction against oppression wherever it existed, and amongst what- 1654 ever race. Our country has been the victim of secret conspiracy, rebellion, and of social disturbance—a condition of things fatal to all hope or chance of prosperity or peace. I say that all the misery, and all the crime, and all the desolation and despair of those 70 years lie at the door of the Imperial Parliament. It ill befits any right hon. Gentleman who has studied the history of his country, who has studied the history of these years, and of the Irish question in this Parliament during these years, to stand up in this House now and say that the history of the past 70 years goes to prove that this Parliament had the will, or, if it had not the will, that it had the knowledge or the power, to do justice to the people of Ireland. Take the history of one question alone—the question of higher education in Ireland. What has it been? Generation after generation of young men growing up in Ireland have been denied the greatest gift that can be bestowed on the youth of a country. And why were they denied the gift of a University education? Because their conscientious convictions closed the doors of the Universities that exist in Ireland against them. Almost all the acquaintances of my youth, and those of the generation who went before me, were obliged to face the world without the inestimable advantages which are open to the people of England, Scotland, and Wales. Aye, the University which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Plunket) represents in this House kept its doors closed—not exactly its doors, but all privileges closed against the Catholics of Ireland until by the agitation which I can well remember the Test Act was passed. That concession was not granted to the pleadings of the Representatives of Ireland in this House. It was not granted from a sense of justice. It was granted because the agitation which was started for the foundation of a Catholic Institution was thundering at the doors of Trinity College, and they passed the Test Act to save themselves from confiscation. There is one just observation I will make in concluding what I have to say upon that question—that particular grievance, for the redress of which for years—for 50 years—appeals have been made to this House. It still stands unredressed, and 1655 still the youth of Ireland who chance to belong to the Catholic Church are obliged to face the world, great numbers of them from conscientious motives, without the advantage of higher education. And yet we had an example the other day in the course of the discussion in Committee on this Bill which must have convinced any Member sitting on those (the Opposition) Benches that if we had a home Legislature in Ireland with power to settle that question it would have been settled, to the satisfaction of Protestant and Catholic alike, 35 or 40 years ago. Who can tell us or estimate the amount of ill and injury that has been done to our country by leaving that question unsettled for 35 or 40 years? Now, Sir, I come to an observation which struck me the other day in a speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin, who always adopts, I must say, a very different tone in his observations in dealing with these Irish questions from most other hon. and right hon. Members of Unionist principles, because when he approaches the question ho does not consider it to be his duty to assume that the Irish people are scoundrels and robbers, and he does not find it necessary to hurl insults at the Irish Members in the course of every speech he delivers. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin sets an example which, in my humble judgment, would be very well followed by many of his friends. But he made this remarkable observation in the course of his speech which struck me very much, because it seemed to me to be one of the very strongest of all arguments in favour of Home Rule. What did he say? He said that in the case of the makers of the American Constitution there was one element which was totally wanting in the present instance—that was the element of necessity to do the thing at the moment; and that in the case of this Home Rule measure there was no necessity, and he emphasised the fact again by saying "no necessity whatever." That is a very extraordinary doctrine to us in this House. What is necessity, or what does the right hon. Gentleman mean by necessity? Does he mean that he would deny to the Representatives of a people what the voice of the people has been proclaiming by overwhelming majorities at repeated elections? Would he deny the Repre- 1656 sentatives of that people the justice and the right which they claimed at the hands of this Parliament until the necessity arose? What kind of a necessity? Ah, Mr. Speaker, that is the fatal lesson which has been taught to the people of Ireland during these 70 years, and there is not a peasant in Ireland who does not know that if he comes here with justice and reason on his side those considerations have no value in this Parliament until a necessity is created. That was what gave birth to the Land League; that is what filled the Ribbon Lodges in Ireland, because the peasantry have been taught that you will not listen in this Parliament to the voice of justice, but that an imperative necessity must be created, and that then the reform and the justice which was denied the Representatives of the people will be granted because of the necessity. I am sorry to say, Mr. Speaker, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin expressed a deep truth when he used those words. I believe that if it had not been for the intensity—and I should almost say the ferocity—of the Land League agitation, that the system of felonious landlordism in Ireland would be to-day untouched and unbroken. Our voices and our votes in this Imperial Parliament would have been as powerless to overthrow it, or to effect the great reforms which have been effected, as pea-shooters would be to attack a fortress. No, Mr. Speaker, I say that is a deadly doctrine. I say that the doctrine formulated by the right hon. Gentleman, but taught for long and weary and disastrous years to the people of Ireland by the action of this House has been the mother, the fertile mother, of secret societies, of crime, and of disorder. Now, Sir, I come to the question of this Bill, and I may say at the very outset that in approaching the consideration of the measure at this stage I approach it as a whole much more than as a question of details. The details are undoubtedly complicated, and were subjected by the Tory Party in this House to a most searching and microscopical criticism. That stage of the Bill is passed, and we have now got to this question—what is the measure, as a whole, as it now stands before this House, and what is its value to the people of Ireland? It has been said in the course of this discussion—I think said by men 1657 even professing to speak for the people of Ireland—that the Bill settles nothing in its present shape, and would satisfy no one in Ireland. Well, Sir, I confess I hold a diametrically opposite opinion. I hold—and I shall not he afraid to maintain this doctrine on any popular platform in Ireland—aye, or in Canada or in the United States or in Australia—where I know my countrymen as well as any other Irishman—that this Bill, so far from settling nothing, is a great Charter of liberty to the people of Ireland, and they will accept it in that sense. When I hear men talking about the question of finality, and when I come to consider or deal with finality and with the question as to whether this is to be accepted as a final settlement of the Irish National claims, I want to know what is meant by finality? If men mean when they speak of finality that this law is to remain like the laws of the Modes and Persians, as we are told in ancient books, remained, though I very much doubt it, without the alteration of a jot or tittle or clause or sub-clause, thou such a finality is an absurdity, and never was heard of since human laws were first framed. Certain details there were in this Bill on which we differed from the Government, and on which, to some extent, we still differ; but I take the Bill as a whole, and if by finality we are to mean, as I think we ought to mean, that the people of Ireland, taking all the circumstances into consideration, and viewing this measure as a whole, would accept it, if passed into law, in good faith as a settlement of the National claims of Ireland, I say I believe they would. In my judgment, the great question which we have got to face and to answer is this—whether if this Bill were passed into law tomorrow or next week—and I wish to heaven it were—we, the people of Ireland, would accept it in good faith or not, or whether we would work it in good faith or not? I say we would work it in good faith. If the Government and the Liberal Party and the people of England are content to accept this as a final measure in the sense that it will be regarded as a substitute between the two peoples for the distrust and suspicion which have so long prevailed, I believe in that sense it will be received as thoroughly final. A good deal of criticism 1658 has been expended on the details of this Bill, and in this connection I wish to say for my own part, and speaking on behalf of the whole of my Colleagues and the people of Ireland, I desire to take the opportunity of expressing my grateful and lasting sense of gratitude to the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) for the way in which he has handled this difficult matter. I now take from the mouth of the Prime Minister himself the points which he stated as in his judgment covering the entire substance of the Bill, and I believe he was perfectly correct, so far as my poor judgment goes, in his statement that the eight points he mentioned cover the provisions of this Bill. I will go over those points seriatim, and I think I can say with reference to them that we are satisfied, and the people of England are satisfied, with regard to them. First of all, there is the supremacy of this Parliament. We accept the supremacy of this Parliament, and I am not aware that any considerable section of the Irish people wish to deny it. The second point is devolution and the responsibilities of the Irish Parliament. On that point also, as far as I am aware, the people of Ireland are content with the Bill. The third point is the constitution of the Irish Parliament. So far as that goes, on that point also substantially, I think I may say, we are content. A slight difference of opinion exists as to the number of Members, but that is a matter in reference to which no difficulty could arise. The fourth point has reference to disabilities and limitations. That is another point in reference to which some slight difference of opinion exists; but taking the measure as a whole, though some of the limitations and disabilities imposed on us are humiliating while others are wholly unnecessary, yet I think the people of Ireland have acted prudently, generously, and wisely in recognising the difficulties of a Government who wished to do them justice and in showing that they did not desire to hamper them unnecessarily. We have no objection to the disabilities, because we have no desire to do what the disabilities would prevent us from doing. The fifth point is the position and responsibilities and duties of the Executive. That is a matter of supreme importance. On that point also, I believe the people of Ireland are satisfied. I come to the 1659 sixth point. The retention of the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament. On this point a slight difference of opinion has been indicated by a section of the people of Ireland; but I say, on the whole, that although we think that the Irish Members in their full strength might be left in the Imperial Parliament until, at all events, the reserved questions wore handed over to us, yet I think I can speak for the whole of my Colleagues and for the people of Ireland when I say that we would not have thought of endangering the passage of the Home Rule Bill on a question as to whether we should have 80 Members or our full strength. The seventh and eighth points mentioned by the Prime Minister refer to the Financial Clauses and to pensions to the Royal Irish Constabulary. I shall say nothing on the first-mentioned point, because there is still a difference of opinion between us and the Government on the Financial Clauses. It is largely a difference of calculation. The Government and the Liberal Party have recognised that for the first years of its existence the young Irish Government ought to be supported. The Government is in negotiation with the hon. Member for North Kerry, and if he gets the better of them, as I hope he may, I think the Government will do justice to us when the facts are fully brought to light. I am speaking for myself alone when I say that I consider this question is one of great importance; but, after the discussion which has taken place, I do not consider that it is a question to be placed in the same category or on the same footing with the granting to us of an Irish Legislature, which will make laws for the people of our country. I do believe that in the future, having recognised the proposal of my hon. Friend the Member for North Kerry, and having recognised the principle that we ought to have a surplus, that substantial justice will be done to the people of Ireland. As regards this Bill, I think I may say that the people of Ireland all over the world will accept it as a great measure of justice and liberty, and as some satisfaction for their national demands. As I have already said, the real question which we will have to consider and to solve will be whether, when the Bill is passed into 1660 law, the Irish people will work it in good faith or not. What I have to say in answer to that question is that if the powers which are to be granted to the people of Ireland by this Bill are used in the manner that has been suggested from the Tory Benches, and if religious liberty or the unity of the Empire is interfered with in any way, the experiment will have proved a failure, and the prophets of evil will have been fully justified. But if the people of our country act, as we know they will act, in good faith, like civilised human beings, and not like maddened savages, I ask the Members of the Conservative Party what right have they to assume that the people whom they have never given a chance to obtain their liberty will use it when they get it so madly and so wickedly? If the people of our country act wisely, and with good sense, they will substitute between the people of Ireland and the people of England for that sentiment of suspicion and distrust which has lasted for centuries a feeling of friendship, of trust, and of good-fellowship. Charges have been made, cruel and unjust and monstrous charges have been built up in the course of these discussions against the people of Ireland. We have sat silent on these Benches all the while, not because we did not feel those charges, but because we knew that the people we represented in this House would appreciate the object we had in view. I ask with confidence any man in this House, is there one single charge which has been levelled against the people of Ireland which in the past history of this country has not been levelled against the democracy of England? In the days of the Chartist agitation and in the days of the Reform Bill the Tory gentlemen of England who are now trying to stand between the people of Ireland and their liberty levelled against their own countrymen language as foul and dishonouring and as unjust as anything that has been heard from the Tory Benches in this House during these Debates against the people of Ireland. [Cries of "No, no!"] The Tory Party may not like to be reminded now that the Tory democracy has sprung into being of these things, but what I have said is the literal truth. I say that the pictures which were drawn by the Constitutional Tory orators of 1829, 1831, and 1832 were more lurid and more 1661 terrifying as to what would be the fate of England or of the Empire if the masses were allowed to rule. Yet the Reform Bill was allowed to pass, and the disparaged and denounced masses of the working men of England were allowed into the Legislative Temple. That Temple was not pulled down, and robbery was not practised. On the contrary, the might and majesty and happiness of England increased in proportion as justice was done. I assert that the real truth of the history of this whole transaction is simply this: that the evils and the misery which have existed in connection with the relations between England and Ireland are to be sought in the action and machinations of the propertied classes of this country. The fact is, that for many a long year there has been built up between the people of England and Ireland a wall which was reared and constructed by the selfish monopolists of this country. [Cries of "No, no!"] Yes; that is true. The people of England on one side of that wall were taught to regard the people of Ireland as enemies; and on the other side the people of Ireland wore taught by the Governments of this country to regard the people of England as their enemies; but that wall has been broken down, and the people of Ireland and the people of England, looking through the gaps which have been made, where they expected to find enemies have found friends. I say that the passage of this Kill through the House of Commons marks a new era in the history of the relations between the two countries. The Members of the other House may do what they like. This is not the first time that they have destroyed a measure of reform and justice. Do what they will, I say that the Third Reading of this measure in the House of Commons can never be undone. Although time has been wasted, and although a good deal of talk has been expended during the passage of the measure through the British House of Commons, yet I hold that these three months or 80 days have not been thrown away; that these 80 days have been the means of forming a bond of union between the masses of the people of England and of Ireland, have been the means of drawing them closer together day after day; and while we sat silent 1662 upon these Benches giving no voice to our feelings, yet we felt that the discussions that were proceeding would yet bear good fruit in the struggle which has been going on between the peoples of the two countries. Let the Lords do what they think fit with the Bill. We, for our part, will advance into the future with confidence and with hope, knowing that for the first time in the history of these countries the millions of our race, whether they live in Ireland, or whether, by oppressive and unjust laws, they have gone to other lands, where they have flourished and multiplied—[a laugh]—I do not think it is a subject for laughter—the millions of our race, wherever they are, are still faithful to the land from which your laws drove them—the millions of our people, whether they live in Ireland or across the sea, will go forward in the battle with confidence to carry this great measure, side by side and shoulder to shoulder, with the millions of the people of England. Whatever may be the fate of the Bill in the House of Lords next week every man who sits here to-night knows perfectly well that such a combination is resistless, and that such a Bill is bound to become the law of the land.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said, he had listened to the hon. Member for East Mayo with great interest. His speeches were always interesting, and he (Mr. T. W. Russell) confessed that any stranger, hearing the close of the speech of the hon. Member, would be under the impression that there was an English majority in favour of the Home Rule Bill.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, his hon. Friend might take such liberty with facts as he chose, but his assertion would not make an English majority in the Lobby.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, that the hon. Member for East Mayo observed that the Conservative Party had a great 1663 objection to their past history being raked up and exposed. Well, of all men in the world, the hon. Member ought to have been the last man to make such a statement, because if there were a Party which could not afford to have their past raked up it was the Party of which he was a leading Representative. The Attorney General, in his extremely able and brilliant speech, stated towards the end that they had hoard very little of Ulster of late in these discussions. Indeed, he had expressed a hope that the Ulster question had disappeared. Well, he (Mr. Russell) was there to-night as an Ulster Member for the express purpose, almost at the end of this lengthened discussion, to make the opinion of that Province clear to the Attorney General and to everybody else. There had been a good many attempts of late to misrepresent the opinion of Ulster with regard to the Bill. The Prime Minister received a Memorial not long ago purporting to be signed by 3,000 Presbyterians in that Province. What was that Memorial? He had paid a great deal of attention to it, although he had taken no part in questioning the Prime Minister with regard to it. If anyone would look at that Memorial he would find that two-thirds of the space was covered by a request for a revision of judicial rents, and the remaining one-third expressed the sympathetic feeling which the memorialists entertained for the right hon. Gentleman's efforts on behalf of Ireland. He (Mr. Russell) asked the House of Commons to remember that the phrase "Home Rule" never occurred in the Memorial at all, and it was hawked through Ulster and put before the tenant farmers as a Memorial in favour of the revision of judicial rents, the very thing that the Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary had not the slightest intention of doing. With regard to the observations of the hon. Member for South Fermanagh (Mr. M'Gilligan), he had told them that the Ulster farmers were about to turn Home Rulers—
§ MR. M'GILLIGAN
said, what he had stated was that the Unionist farmers of Ulster were not satisfied with the existing order of things, and would welcome Home Rule or any other rule which would give them justice.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, he was not a prophet nor the son of a prophet, and he would say to the hon. Member—"Do not prophesy as to the Protestant farmers until you know." This much should be known to the hon. Member already—seeing that he had been obliged to leave the County of Londonderry in which he lived for South Fermanagh in order to obtain a seat—that no Home Ruler had the slightest chance of getting returned for his own county. He (Mr. T. W. Russell) wished to state for the benefit of the Attorney General two of the reasons, at all events, which animated the people of Ulster in their deadly hostility to the Bill. Speaking in their name, and without mincing his words, he said they objected to being governed by men whose record in the past gave no guarantee for just or good government in the future. He asked anyone to look over the record of the past for the last 30 years and say whether the people of Ulster were not justified in holding that opinion. He had been told—he thought by the Attorney General himself—that whilst gentlemen opposite had said and done things which were wrong and regrettable, they ought to rely on the sobering influence of power and responsibility. Well, if they were in a difficulty at any time they had only to go to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who explained everything. Here was an extract from the book of the Chancellor of the Duchy, on the very point the Attorney General had referred to. The right hon. Gentleman said—The chief lesson which a study of the more vicious of the State Legislatures teaches is that power does not necessarily bring responsibility in its train. I should be ashamed to write down so bald a platitude were it not that it is one of those principles which are constantly forgotten or ignored. People who knew very well enough that in private life wealth, or rank, or any other kind of power is as likely to mar a man as to make him, to lower as to raise his sense of duty, have nevertheless contracted the habit of talking as if human nature changed when it entered public life.He commended that paragraph to the Attorney General. So far as the people of Ulster were concerned, they had no desire to rake up the speeches that had been so freely made during the past 13 or 14 years. The speeches were there, and they spoke for themselves; but, speaking on behalf 1665 of Ulster, he said they could not expect them to hand over their property and liberty to men who, during the past 14 years, had shown that they respected neither the one nor the other. He put that matter plainly, not as his own view alone, but as the view held all over the Province of Ulster. The next thing they objected to was this—they did not think that a Parliament, mainly elected by illiterate peasants, and certain to be governed and dominated by the most arrogant priesthood in Europe, was at all likely to be a just Assembly. The people of Ulster held that opinion. They had a right to hold it. The illiterate peasants were there, and the Government would not help them to get rid of the illiterate vote. The priesthood were there, and the Government proposed, instead of lessening their power, to increase it. They could not eradicate this feeling from the minds of the people of Ulster. The people of Ulster had seen these men at work—they knew what those men were, and they had not the slightest intention of trusting them. The Prime Minister said yesterday that the Irish people—and in the right hon. Gentleman's view there were no people in Ireland except those represented by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway—had never felt the Act of Union to be morally binding. It was carried against their wish, and they had never felt it to be morally binding. This measure, if it were carried to-night or to-morrow night, would be carried against the wish and the vote of the Ulster Representatives, who would not consider it morally binding upon them, and for the same reason. He came now to the Bill itself—to the pregnant fact that two-thirds of this measure had never been discussed at all. That one fact stood broadly out on the face of things. The hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. E. J.C. Morton) had spent his time to-night in telling them what clauses of the Bill were discussed and what clauses were not discussed. That was useless so far as the people of this country were concerned. The plain fact of the matter was that the Government were proposing to read a Bill a third time, two-thirds of which had never been submitted to discussion in the House. What was the answer to that? When his right hon. Friend the 1666 Member for Bodmin referred yesterday to the gag he called it "second-hand," and the Government seized upon that and proposed to tell the people of this country that they were not the inventors of this machine; they only took it second-hand, The answer to that was plain. It had been stated over and over again in the House. The six clauses of the Crimes Act, which wore discussed fully in the House, comprised the whole operative portion of that measure. The Government had never answered that, or attempted to answer it. Could they say the same of the undiscussed clauses of this Bill? They knew perfectly well that they could not; and the Prime Minister yesterday, in his enumeration, pointed out that the great Reform Bill of 1831 took 39 days; but the Government had gone one better than that. They passed a Reform Bill for Ireland without discussing it at all, and also the arrangement for the redistribution of seats under the Second Schedule. They passed a new Reform Bill for Ireland and a new Redistribution of Seats Bill without discussion, and a pretty mess they had made of it! He did not think the Chief Secretary was responsible for that Schedule; he did not know sufficient of Ireland to have drawn it up. The Schedule was supplied by the ready-made department on the other side; it was merely handed to Her Majesty's Government, and it stood as their eternal disgrace.
§ MR. SEXTON
[Cries of "Order!"] asked whether the hon. Member meant by the "ready-made department" the Party on that side? He wished to inform the hon. Member that the first the Irish Party knew of the Schedule was when they saw it printed in the Bill.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, he meant exactly what he had stated. And now, so far as the gag was concerned, he wished to show what hon. Members opposite thought of it in 1887? They had made a prophecy—which, like many of their prophecies, had not come true. On June 25, 1887, a leader writer made a prophecy in United Ireland at the closing of the Crimes Act Debate. The paper was then edited by the hon. Member for Cork City, and the writing was so like the hon. Member's that he 1667 could almost swear to it as an expert in any Court. This was what was said—Debate is the lever by which abuses are removed. It is manifestly the interest of the mechanical majority of reaction to stifle Debate and extinguish minorities before they grew formidable. It is idle to hope that the weapon now used for oppression will be available for reform. A mechanical majority is unknown in the Liberal Party. No Liberal Prime Minister could lead a united Party to the merciless slaughter of free speech.Was he not right just now in warning hon. Members opposite not to prophesy until they knew? Was there not such a thing as a mechanical majority in the Liberal Party? Was not the Prime Minister ready to lead them to the merciless slaughter of free speech, and free speech not upon a Bill to put down crime, but upon a Bill to create a new Constitution for Great Britain and Ireland? The Government would not be able to convince this country that they had not gagged free discussion. ["Oh, oh!"] He had been quite as much about the country as hon. Gentlemen who cried "Oh!" and he could tell them they would find that the British people did not love proceedings of this kind. The next point with which he would deal was the representation of Ireland. He heard the Chief Secretary interrupt the hon. Member for the St. Stephen's Green Division (Mr. W. Kenny) when he said something about the feeling in Ireland on this subject. He wanted to deal with it, not from the Irish standpoint, but from the standpoint of the United Kingdom. They were in this House as citizens of the United Kingdom, and they had a right to discuss the question from the standpoint of the Imperial Parliament. A great deal had been made of what Liberial Unionists said on this subject in 1886, but he was not responsible for that, because at the time he was not in Parliament. Therefore, he was entitled to give his own view of the matter. There were only three ways of approaching the question. They must either exclude the Irish Members altogether, and they at one time proposed to do that, or they must retain them for limited purposes, and they proposed to do that in the beginning of the year, or they must retain them for all purposes as they proposed to do now. They had travelled the 1668 whole gamut, and they had the satisfaction of knowing that there was now nothing left of the road to be travelled. For the exclusion of the Irish Members this much was to be said—that the British people would then be masters in their own House, and, even more important than that, they would be masters of the whole British Empire, and the Irish Members would not be entitled to interfere. He objected to that in 1886, and he objected to it now. He objected as an Irish Member. It was a monstrous thing that they should call on the Irish people to pay taxes and give them no representation, and he thought it a monstrous thing that if this country reserved to itself the right of proclaiming war, Ireland should have no voice in the matter. Then, as to the in-and-out clause, what had the Chief Secretary said on that matter? Speaking to his constituents at Newcastle on the 21st of April, 1886, the right hon. Gentleman said that the result of retaining the Irish Members for Imperial purposes only would be that we should have all the then existing block of English business and all the existing irritation and exasperation continued. He said that English feeling would not be allayed by such an arrangement, that Irish feeling would be exasperated by it, and that the whole efforts of the Irish Members would be directed to throwing their weight first in favour of one Party and then of another until the barriers, limitations, and restrictions which ought never to have been set up had been removed. The right hon. Gentleman added that, for his part, he could not see how an arrangement of that sort promised well either for the condition of Ireland or for the English Parliament. And yet the right hon. Gentleman had since backed the Bill containing that very provision. He did not blame the right hon. Gentleman for this, because it only showed the extreme difficulty of the situation. The Attorney General had that night defended the retention of the Irish Members for all purposes, and said it would be quite impossible for the opinion of the Irish Members to over-rule ultimately the opinion of English and Scotch Members upon any English or Scottish question. He very much doubted that statement. In illustration of the contrary, he cited the case 1669 of the English Local Veto Bill, in regard to which it would he quite possible for the Irish Members to overrule the opinions and defeat the purposes of the English Members. And, at the same time, they would allow the Irishmen to have the option of exempting themselves from the operation of the Bill. He defied the Government and their supporters to defend such a state of things on any English platform. The hon. Member for Govan blurted out the true reason why the 9th clause of the Bill was wanted—to force the Newcastle Programme down the throats of English Members. Now, with regard to the Land Question, the opinion of the Liberal Government in 1886 was perfectly well-known. The Liberal Government of that day absolutely declined to trust the Irish Parliament with the settlement of the Land Question. Speech after speech was made by responsible Members of the Cabinet—by the Prime Minister, Lord Spencer, and the Chief Secretary, among others; and all the speeches were in the direction that such a concession to the Irish Parliament ought not to be made. Why did Ministers take up that position at that time? They had just passed through the horrors of the Laud League Campaign; the soil of Ireland was red with blood, the moral code had been absolutely obliterated in that country, and right hon. Gentlemen now sitting on the Treasury Bench dared not take the responsibility of handing over the laud of Ireland to men who had violated all sense of honour and morality in the matter. Why, then, had there been a complete change of front? Why were Ministers ready to do in 1893 what they declared in 1886 they could not and would not consent to do? They had changed their minds for one reason, and one only, because hon. Gentlemen opposite would not thank them for an Irish Parliament in which they would be debarred from dealing with the Land Question. The handing over of the Land Question to the Irish Parliament was the means by which it was hoped to commend Home Rule to the Ulster farmers. In 1882, after the Land Act was passed, and when it had been only a few months in operation, the question was raised on the Address. Rents had been reduced in a few months by 23 per cent., and some 1670 of the landlords brought the question before the House. Did the Prime Minister say that the Land Commission were right? Not at all. The right hon. Gentleman calmed the fears of those gentlemen, and said they had no right to reason generally from a few cases. He absolutely did not think that a general reduction of rent at that time would have been right or just. That was the position in 1882. The plain matter of fact was this—that Parliament in 1881 took, and rightly took, what the law called property from the landlords and gave it to the tenants. The Parliament of 1881 was right; but the Prime Minister pointed out to the Irish landlords, when that was done, that the residue left to them was absolutely safe and secure, and his Lord Chancellor (Lord Selborne) said the same thing. The same right hon. Gentleman who uttered those words in 1881 was now absolutely a party to handing over the whole of the Irish Laud Question to the men who manned the Land League, who invented the Plan of Campaign, and who had made no secret of what they meant to do when the power came into their hands. The hon. Member for the City of Cork, addressing a meeting in County Tipperary on February 5, 1885, said—Remember that if our struggle is a long and a hard one the rewards and the prizes of victory are very great—prairie rents for the farmers, less than prairie rents for the labourers.The hon. Member was either expressing his true feelings or he was not. Did he mean prairie rents for the farmers? Then the hon. Member for North Louth said—I say that the property of the Irish landlords deserves to be abolished more than the property of the slave-holders deserved to be wiped out.Was the hon. Member fooling the people, or was he not? If he was, let him say so. If he was not, let him confess that he meant to rob the Irish landlords. That was the bribe to the Ulster farmer. He ventured to say that he knew the Ulster farmer rather bettor than hon. Members below the Gangway, and he ventured to tell them that they would not succeed in their mission. The Ulster farmer had ideas of his own about the land. Those ideas did not run in the direction of the revision of rents, but in the direction of the abolition of dual ownership. He 1671 longed to own his farm, and he knew that a pauper Irish Parliament could never effect that for him. He knew that what lie might save in rent that Parliament would take out of him in extra taxation. He knew that with the advent of the new Government all guarantees for good government would cease, and the chances were 500 to 1 that when hon. Members below the Gangway went to him with their cry of cheap land he would tell them that man did not live by bread alone, and would refuse to sell his country for their mess of pottage. Now he came to the question of education. If there was one question more than another on which the Irish people distrusted this Bill it was the question of education. He concurred with the hon. Member for East Mayo that the question of University education ought to have been settled long ago; hut he was now dealing with the system of mixed education set up 61 years ago. It had worked marvels and had reduced illiteracy in Ireland from 57 to 18 per cent., and he thought it was the most extraordinary thing he ever heard of that hon. Members opposite, who were always talking about the advantages of Irishmen working together, should be the very men to seek to separate Irish children and to decline to allow children of different denominations to meet in the same school. At the present moment minorities were not only protected by the Conscience Clause, but by the time table and an innumerable host of rules; and, as a matter of fact, in the most distant parts of Catholic Ireland the Protestant, child was as safe in a National school as lie could be, and the same might be said of a Catholic child in a National school in the North of Ireland. The Government were going to hand over that system which had done so much for Irish education to a Parliament which, on this question at all events, would be controlled by men who had sworn eternal enmity to mixed education. That was being done by a Party many Members of which fought Mr. Forster in 1870—led by the Chief Secretary, who was foremost in the fight—led by a man who had taught a generation of Englishmen to hate clericalism and sacerdotalism, and now sat on that Front Bench to carry out their behests. He was told that under the 4th section 1672 minorities would in every way be safe, that the Conscience Clause was a sacred subject that the Irish Parliament could not touch. But there was no need that the Irish Parliament should touch it, for by the Charter of the National Board the Commissioners could do it with the consent of the Lord Lieutenant without any Act of Parliament at all. An absolutely worthless Conscience Clause might be adopted in lieu of the present one. This was what was being done by the Party that made its political fortune out of its opposition to Mr. Forster's Bill in 1870. It was said that history repeated itself. Yesterday the Prime Minister had referred to Lord Macaulay, and he now proposed to read an extract from Lord Macaulay's history. Writing of a memorable epoch in Irish history, the great historian said—Unhappily James, instead of becoming a mediator, became the fiercest and most reckless of partisans. Instead of allaying the animosity of the two populations, he inflamed it to a height before unknown. He determined to reverse their relative position and put the Protestant Colonists under the feet of the Popish Celts, To be of the established religion, to be of the English blood, was in his view a disqualification for civil and military employment. He meditated the design of again confiscating and again portioning out the soil of half the Island, and showed his inclination so clearly that one class was soon agitated by terrors which he afterwards vainly wished to soothe, and the other by hopes which he afterwards vainly wished to restrain. But this was the smallest part of his guilt and madness. He deliberately resolved not merely to give to the aboriginal inhabitants of Ireland the entire possession of their own country, but also to use them as his instruments for setting up arbitrary government in England. The event was such as might have been foreseen. The Colonists turned to bay with the stubborn, hardihood of their race. The Mother Country justly regarded their cause as her own. Then came a desperate struggle for a tremendous stake.They might look for King James to-night. The extract which he had read was an exact description of the present situation. The struggle was the same now as then, and the Mother Country might still rely, as she relied in the olden days, upon the hardihood of those who were proud to trace their descent from her. He believed also that those who stood at the outpost of danger, just as their ancestors did, might equally rely upon the Mother Country, to make an end of this precious scheme, and thus to 1673 bring peace both to England and Ireland.
§ *MR. BIRKMYRE (Ayr, &c.)
said, he might frankly tell the House that he could not say one single new word upon this interminable subject of Home Rule. He ventured to think that the House would lose nothing if it proceeded at once to a Division upon the Bill. The country would not regret it if it could be so, and many weary and jaded Members of that House would find great relief. If, however, he could say nothing new upon this Bill, he could and did congratulate the House that at last they were within measurable distance of giving effect to the views of the constituencies as they were expressed at the last General Election, and of fulfilling other pledges which, at the same time, were given to the country. It must not be forgotten that this country was no less than seven years in arrears with Liberal legislation. He hoped that Members of all shades of Liberalism—even some of the Liberal Unionists—would join with the Government, and give them their assistance to pass many much-needed Liberal reforms. He hoped it would not be considered presumptuous in a new Member of that House to venture to remark that it was to be regretted that at every stage of this Home Rule Bill the arguments adduced against it had been of a dismal prophetic character, and that they had been so largely of a personal and recriminatory sort; of the kind known as the "you're another" argument; for if ever there was a question which should be settled independently of any feelings of this sort, and simply upon its own merits, apart altogether from consideration of Party, he maintained that if national interests only were considered that was the question of the Third Reading of this Home Rule Bill, which might, he affirmed, pass without a Division. What mostly struck a new Member like himself, when ho entered the House and took part in the business, was the terribly congested state of business that prevailed, and the utmost difficulty that there was for legislative action to be taken, and the great facilities given to the Opposition for opposing the express wishes of the people as declared at the General Election. He contended that as Irish Members occupied so much time of the House one of the first 1674 measures to be adopted in order to get rid of the congestion was to give the Irish a Parliament in Dublin. The first question to be asked upon that, be apprehended, was whether Irishmen were, judging from the past, politically capable of self-government? Irishmen representing the people of Ireland in the House of Commons had led the way in the great political movements of the century. The Irish were the first to lay down the political dogma that no man ought to suffer political disability on account of his religious belief, but he would not detain the House by naming any of the other great measures in which Irishmen had led the way during this century. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had a profound admiration for the Constitution of this country, and he contended, in all seriousness, that if they were to deduct from the Constitution the great measures which Irishmen had been instrumental in engrafting on the Constitution there would be very little left of the Constitution worthy of admiration. That incontestable fact gave him hope, and was, in his opinion, a reply to all the groundless fears which had been expressed to the effect that this Bill handed over the destinies of Ireland to the illiterate voters and priests of Ireland. If these illiterate voters and priests had in the past sent such a body of men to the House of Commons, who they must all acknowledge were adepts in Parliamentary procedure, it was not unreasonable to expect that in their own country, under the happier auspices of a now political life, Irishmen would at least maintain the reputation they had gained in this Parliament, and, perhaps, would be able to set an example even to this Parliament itself. The great influence of the illiterate voter and the priesthood in Ireland had been owing to the hateful measures embodied in the word "ascendency." If Irishmen had been granted the system of education asked for years ago the proportion of illiterate voters in Ireland would have been much the same now as it was in other countries. But, speaking of the influence of the priesthood, he asked whether priests in Ireland were the only clergymen who interfered in politics? Hon. Members did not need to cross the Channel in order to get an object-lesson 1675 in the interference of clergymen in politics. There was this difference, however: that the beginning and the end of all the priesthood's interference in politics in Ireland was on account of their profound sympathy with the sufferings of the people. It was not for the sake of the loaves and fishes of the State. He wished he could say the same for the clergymen of Scotland, England, and Wales. It was but right to state that when ministers of the Established Church of Scotland preached at Liberal candidates, they usually prayed for them as well. If political consistency was a virtue, then he maintained that hon. Gentlemen representing Ireland wore the most consistent of statesmen. The discussions on this Bill had taught them an object-lesson in consistency, for if there was one principle which gentlemen opposite held dearer than others it was that there should be a Second Chamber, and yet they voted against a Second Chamber for Ireland. Such political apostasy they had not found Irishmen guilty of. They had heard a great deal about the retention of Irish Members in Clause 9, but it must not be forgotten that gentlemen opposite voted for the full number, 103, being retained. He was not afraid of that clause, and he rather fancied that, if principles and political consistency were considered, the effect of that clause in the Ayr Burghs would be to increase at the next Election his majority of 7 votes to nearer 700. He was not afraid of all the arguments which had been advanced against the Bill. What he was afraid of was the envenomed hostile feeling expressed not so much in argument as in jeers and sneers, with which hon. Gentlemen opposite saluted the oft-quoted words "Union of Hearts."
§ SIR H. JAMES (Bury)
I have trespassed so often and at such length on the attention of the House during the progress of this Bill that I had resolved to take no part in the Debate on the Motion now submitted from the Chair. But a speech of great ability has been delivered this evening by my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, and I desire to make a few observations on the arguments he employed. My hon. and learned Friend began his speech by saying that this Bill ought to 1676 receive the approbation of the House because it was founded on the plain natural right of self-government. When I heard, in the course of the speech, my hon. and learned Friend claim that this country was a united country, so that we could not distinguish for any purpose between the British vote and the Irish vote, I ask—How is it that within this United Kingdom there can be a claim for self-government by Ireland when the whole of this United Kingdom has self-government now? If this claim is made as a natural right on the part of Ireland, on what is it founded? If self-government be conceded to Ireland, why should it not be conceded to Scotland, Wales, and England, or within an area—if different blood be found to exist there—which comprised Cornwall or Yorkshire? We are determining the great question of Federal existence when such an argument as that is employed. If this argument is employed you must have complete Federation, and you must bring into existence, if not a Heptarchy, numerous divisions of the Kingdom, and say that they have a natural right to self-government. Will the Government dare to make any such proposition? If they do, they must make it as a whole, and not by a piecemeal and unequal Federation. The second argument of my hon. and learned Friend was that the reason the principle of Home Rule was not accepted in 1886 was because it was submitted to unprepared constituencies. "There was no preparedness amongst the constituencies," said my hon. and learned Friend. Sir, that is the reason that there is no substance in this Home Rule proposal. Some people say that this is a great revolution; others say it is a great reform. I put it to the House—Has ever a great revolution been submitted to the people by one man, and has a revolution ever been successful except it came from the people, and not from a command and order given to them that they should vote for it? Let us come to more peaceful proceedings. What reform has ever been carried by a people not in a state of preparation to receive it? The true growth of reform is within the ranks of the people, strengthened from within, urged forward by them according to the growth of public opinion, and so at last becoming accepted by the leaders of the 1677 people. There were members that were unprepared, as the whole Liberal Party was when, in 1886, one man commanded the reform to be carried out. Since that time there has been no natural growth of reform in the direction of this Bill. It has been merely a matter of Party action and Party policy, which the people had to receive at the dictation of one statesman. My hon. and learned Friend referred to 1832. Was it wise of him to refer to that period? In 1832 there was a national enthusiasm in the demand then made for Reform. We hear no such cry now. Why, even if you tried to raise it you could not. In those days the cry was—"The Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill." I would ask my hon. and learned Friend to try and raise that cry at the present moment. How near would he be able to get to it? It would be something like this—"The Bill, the new Bill, and nothing of the Bill." That is all that he could say after the Debates that have taken place in this House. My hon. and learned Friend then proceeded to press as an argument in favour of Home Ride the unanimity of opinion in Ireland. He said—"When has four-fifths of any portion of this country made a demand for a measure which we did not grant?" I thought this country was a united country. My hon. and learned Friend, strangely enough, used that argument at the same time that he said—"You have no right to apportion the majority—you have no right to distinguish between the Irish, the English, and the Scotch people." Some day it will be said that four-fifths of the Welsh people ask for Disestablishment, and that it is Welsh opinion only that must decide the question. I think we shall then be able to use the argument that the whole people, speaking as a whole, and not any part of them, should determine these questions. I demur entirely to the view taken by the Government and their supporters in regard to their right to prevent free discussion in this House. Hypothetically assuming it to be true, although I deny the statement that we have occupied more time than we ought to have occupied in discussing the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th clauses of the Bill; and supposing that we have overestimated the importance of those clauses, I say we are dealing with the gravest 1678 measure that has ever yet been introduced into this House that affected a whole people. It is, as I have said, a revolution of great and fundamental importance. Now that we are dealing with the action of individual Members, is it not fair that the punishment you inflict upon those who have so used the time of the House shall be in some way proportionate to the offence, and that it shall fall upon the right people? The hon. Member for Bedford said that really we ought to be very glad that the Closure had been applied, because it enabled us to get away earlier from the labours of this House. But if it be true, if we are glad to go, where is the punishment to us? The punishment is not upon the erring Member, but upon every Irishman who has nothing to do with this House, and who is dependent upon the wisdom of the provisions of this measure for his good government. Every man who is represented by hon. Members who sit near me may suffer the evils of arbitrary and class government, and what will it be for us to tell them—"The measure was never discussed, the provisions were not settled by argument, and the only reason is that some Members spoke too often, and at too great a length"? The punishment will fall upon our country when our country is suffering from the weakness imposed on it by this measure. The punishment will fall, not upon us—not upon the men who have committed the crime, but upon the innocent, who have taken no part in obstruction, and who have only desired that there should be serious discussion before any measure was placed upon the Statute Book. My hon. and learned Friend proceeded to utter in words almost of indignation—words cheered by hon. Members below the Gangway—a denunciation of the House of Lords; and ho quoted a recent speech of the Leader of the Liberal Unionist Party declaring that the House of Lords would be justified in rejecting this Bill because it had not been discussed in this House. My hon. and learned Friend said that it was a monstrous doctrine, and a usurpation by the House of Lords. Let us consider to what result my hon. and learned Friend's indignation leads him. I have understood that in this Constitution of ours 1679 there were two deliberative Assemblies, and that they ought each of them to perform the function of deliberation. I agree with my hon. and learned Friend that the House of Lords have no right to control the details of our procedure. They cannot say to us—"We think your Standing Orders ought to be altered, so that you can sit beyond 12 o'clock"; but they have a right to demand from us that we shall share the responsibility of legislation. They have the right to ask when we send up a Bill—"Have you deliberated upon it? Have you tested the wisdom of its provisions, or have you simply discussed one-fourth of its provisions and not discussed the other three-fourths, asking us to bear the full responsibility for all that you have not discussed?" Let us be just. If the House of Lords sent a Hill, even of four clauses, down to us, with throe of the clauses undiscussed, what should we say to the House of Lords? And if that Bill had the slightest suggestion of Conservatism or Liberal Unionism in it the Attorney General would be still more emphatic than he was to-night, and ho would say—"What have we to do with the idle and lazy men who will not discharge their duty? Why should we, the Commons of England, be called upon to do the work of the House of Lords?" Would he not ask that that Bill should be remitted to the House of Lords that they might duly exercise their duties as a deliberative Assembly? If we have not been sufficiently brief in order to satisfy, not the demands of Parliament, but the demands of Party, what have the House of Lords to do with that? They say—"We ask you simply to bear your portion of the deliberation, and when you have done that we will consider the measure. There are peculiar reasons why the House of Lords should say so in this case. If we ask that Chamber to perform our duty as to certain portions of the Bill, and if they do endeavour to discharge the double duty, what will follow? Let us take the financial provisions. If they were to criticise too much in this matter, where we have never exercised our discretion at all; if they were—in these clauses, which present all the features of a Money Bill—to reconstruct this clause and alter that, my hon. and learned Friend's in- 1680 dignation would break out again, and he would say—"What have they to do with such matters as these, which are within our peculiar province?" He would ask the House of Lords to accept our judgment in this matter—our judgment which we have not yet been able to express. Let us be just, even to those whom we regard as our opponents. There are Members, I know, who have no particular affection for the House of Lords. But what is their duty if they are to exist at all? We know, and the House of Lords know, that it is not to oppose the will of the people. They have given full proof of that during the last 60 years. The House of Lords have to act in two capacities. Personally, each Member entertains his own opinion; but, collectively, they submit them to the demands of the Constitution. The majority of the House of Lords did not agree with Catholic Emancipation, but they accepted the Bill. But that Bill had been for years before the public, and a majority of the House of Commons had considered every line of it. That Bill went to the House of Lords with the approval of the majority of the House of Commons and of the country. In 1832 the individual opinion of the House of Lords was against the Reform Bill; but there, again, they did not oppose the judgment of the people. But they knew that every line of it had been discussed in the House of Commons. As to the Irish Church Bill of 1868 and the Representation of the People Bill of 1884, the House of Lords did not oppose the will of the people. But whilst they have shown their wisdom in these instances, what do you expect from them next week? What is their duty but to say that before the Bill passes into law it shall have the sanction of the people of this country, and also that the sense of the House of Commons shall have deliberated not only upon every principle, but upon every detail that affects the Constitution? I wonder what would be said of the House of Lords if, instead of performing the duty of a Second Chamber in checking hasty, rash, and ill-considered legislation, next week they said—"We will accept this Bill? True, it has never been approved by a majority of the constituencies, as the Bill of 1832 was approved; true, the House of Commons has 1681 refused to go through its details and discuss it; but, nevertheless, we will pass it." Then, let the time come when, under this Bill, great disorder and disaster may arise, what would be said of that Chamber as a whole; what would be said of every individual Member of it? It would be said—"You had the power to stay the passing of that Bill; you had the power of asking the people of the country to say 'Aye' or 'No' do you approve of it; you had the power to remit it to the House of Commons for full and complete consideration, but you abdicated your function, and you refused to do more than blindly accept that which you believed to be wrong, and which you believed had neither been approved of by the people or by Parliament." There will be an attempt to pass this Bill some day, not upon its merits, but it will be an attempt to pass it by raising a cry. It may be a cry against the House of Lords for performing its primary duty. But, Sir, there is a good deal of common sense in the people of this country. There may be men who will ask that the House of Lords shall be abolished and cease to exist; but so long as it does exist it must at least justify that existence by the utility of its acts, and the first utility that will be found within its action will be not to refuse to pass a measure according to the arbitrary view of individuals who shall form that House, but to refuse to pass any Bill until it has received the sanction of popular approval. How ought that approval to be shown? In one breath the Attorney General tells us that we must take the constituencies as a whole, and in his second argument he said we should look, not to the constituencies as a whole, but to the Irish people; that they desired this measure, and that, therefore, we ought to give it. Well, Sir, we have heard these arguments before. We have now a demand made upon the House of Lords to pass a measure which shall separate the Union, for legislative purposes and Executive purposes, between Great Britain and Ireland. Well, Sir, who ought to express their views upon this subject? My hon. and learned Friend said—"Oh, you ought never to separate the countries to see what the opinions of the countries shall be." We have learned a lesson from the Prime Minister, who told us, in respect 1682 of the existence of the Irish Members in this House, that the British electors ought to determine that question, and we learned from him that the British electors had something special and separate to say when they were asked to allow Great Britain to have legislation imposed upon it by Irish Members, while we cannot legislate in return. I suppose when you are separating the bonds of Union both the entities that compose that Union should be consulted. When the operation of separation was proposed to be performed upon those two unhappy individuals, the Siamese twins, both of them were consulted beforehand as to whether it should be done or not. If they had asked only one and not the other the injustice would have been of the greatest, and the injury, I believe, would have been resented by the one not consulted on the subject. We demand at least that before Great Britain is to be separated from Ireland, and ruled by Irish Members in this Chamber, that Great Britain shall express its opinion upon it, and if it come to pass that there shall be found a majority in Great Britain, as there is now, opposing this measure, that voice must be listened to, and the House of Lords will not be enabled to say—"We will not listen to that voice, but we will, under all the circumstances, listen to the voice of the majority in respect of the Three Kingdoms. We will not listen to the more powerful Kingdom who resents the fact not so much of disunion, but of the Government of that country being carried on by Irish Members without a corresponding power being given to English Members." My hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General became indignant, and said he had been shocked over and over again by the contemptuous way in which the Irish people had boon spoken of. We have not boon contemptuous of their ability, zeal, or personal worth. But peoples must be spoken of according to their conduct, and we speak of those who represent the political force of the Irish people not according to a fancy estimate we have to make of them, but according to their acts—acts which have been proved and established, and upon which judgment has been given. Of the Leaders of the Irish people we have spoken not so much in terms of contempt 1683 as in terms of censure and condemnation. They are men who have governed Ireland, not in the name of the law, but, in fact—some of them at least—for 12 or 13 years with the power of crime. Hon. Members sitting upon the Benches opposite helped to found the Land League, controlled and organised it, and that was a League which paid for the commission of crime out of the funds of the League. ["No, no!"] Hon. Members who say "No, no.!" are ignorant of the facts which have been proved and established by documents written in the names of the Leaders of the Land League. [Cries of "No!"] If hon. Members challenge me, I will tell them who were the men who knew that payments were made to men who committed outrage and crime. And these are the men who, having thus controlled and governed Ireland, who were censured by none so acutely and so severely as by the Ministers now in power, whose crimes were known to them and condemned by them—to them is to be handed over the power of governing their fellow-men in Ireland. Sir, that is not the language of contempt, but it is the language of condemnation. Hitherto rewards have been given under every conditions of life to citizens, at least, for good conduct; but you are now about to reward these men for bad conduct. And apart from the main fact that you are now entrusting them with the government, not only of those who agreed with them, but of the men who disagreed with them, can the House refuse to recognise what effect this must have upon the Irish people who are not of the Leaders? Sir, they will recognise quickly enough that these are the men who preached defiance of the law, and who summoned the men of Ireland from the hill-side to defeat and break the law, and that they are the men who did not disapprove of outrage and mutilation, and in some instances of murder. And then the Irish people will be told that it is those men who led on that crime that the Imperial Parliament has thought fit to reward with high distinction, and power, and place. And what, in time to come, will those more humble Irishmen say? They will say—"Let us defy the law; let us attempt to defeat the representatives of law and order, and we, 1684 according to this new political morality, shall receive our reward; we shall be as successful against our Leaders as they formerly were against theirs." We are to justify and approve the very lowest grade of political morality that it is possible to conceive. I now return unwillingly to the subject I just referred to. This degradation of political morality and true government has not come from the mandate of the people; it has come simply from the exigencies of a Party, who have bought the alliance of those whom it has placed in the position of governing them. The few arguments dealt with by my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General referred to three portions of the Bill—the veto, and the position of the Viceroy in respect to it, and the power of the Exchequer Judges to enforce their decrees. In the first place, he told us—and I suppose it was satisfactory to the Irish Members to hear—that the Viceroy, as representing the Sovereign, was to act with a power in the Irish Parliament that no one, I think, has ever seen exercised in any Parliament—not in this, at any rate, since a certain bauble was removed from the Table. According to the Attorney General, the Viceroy is not to act Constitutionally under the advice of the Executive Committee, but to keep watch and ward. He is to say—I think the words were used by some Member of the Government—"My good fellow, you are not to pass this Bill. I really do not like it. I, the dictator of Parliament, tell you that I do not like it, and that if you pass it you are acting against my orders." This is the position in which you put the Representative of the Sovereign in this country—a position which, if there was no other objection to it, must produce conflict, and which cannot for a single moment represent the good government of Ireland. My hon. and learned Friend came to the point, and then he ran away. He depicted the view that had been presented by the Chancellor of the Duchy that the Chamber will say to the Lord Lieutenant—"We will refuse you supplies if you veto this Bill," and when we were all expecting him to tell us what would happen when that occurred my hon. and learned Friend passed from the subject, and left it without one word of explanation. He next told us he 1685 would deal with the land; but, again, on that subject he had nothing to say. Following the example of a celebrated Scotch Minister, finding the subject one of difficulty, he passed on to the next, and never touched the land at all. There was one other matter ho did deal with. He knows the position of the Judges under the 19th clause, and he says—"Oh, they may enforce their decrees under Subsection 5!" What is that? These two Judges, gentlemen of advanced years, learned in the law, make a decree, but they are without forces at their disposal. Are they to raise forces of their own to carry out their decrees? "No," said my hon. and learned Friend, "they are backed by the Imperial Executive." Imperial Executive where? There is none in Ireland. The Imperial Executive here? By whom will that Imperial Executive be represented? By military force, and military force alone; and if these Judges come and fail to obtain the assistance of the Executive power in Ireland—and it is upon that hypothesis that you will bring the Imperial Executive into play—that means conflict between the two Governments, and once you use the military forces of the Empire against the Executive Government in Ireland it is simply civil war. My hon. and learned Friend told us the interesting anecdote about Georgia, but he evidently did not know the facts. The Supreme Court of the United States granted a writ of habeas corpus, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court issued his decree. The President of the State of Georgia said, "Let him execute it," and the decree was sent to Georgia; but the State of Georgia laughed at it, and took no notice of it. The men remained in prison for months, and then made submission of their own accord. It was only then that the State of Georgia, having defeated the action of the Chief Justice of its own motion, released the prisoners. I may read from a book which has caused so many people to exclaim—"Oh, that mine enemy—my political enemy—would write a book!" I refer now to this well-worn book The American Commonwealth, and this is what the Chancellor of the Duchy there says of this incident— 1686This successful resistance of Georgia in the Cherokee dispute gave a blow to the authority of the Court, and marked the beginning of a new period of history.And this is the example which my hon. and learned Friend gave, not only to prove that the Exchequer Judges would be powerful men with the Imperial Executive at their back, but to prove, what is much more important, that we shall be able to see that their decrees given in the Imperial interest will be enforced, and will not be laughed at and treated by the Executive of Ireland as Georgia treated the decree of Chief Justice Marshall. I am not very well acquainted with local affairs in Ireland, but I have a recollection of some matters connected with the Corporation of Limerick. That Corporation refused to obey certain orders, and I picture to myself these two Exchequer Judges telling the Corporation of Limerick that they are to pay a certain sum of money, and the Corporation of Limerick, with the approval of the Irish Executive, saying—"We will not pay it." What is to be the remedy, and how is the position of these Judges to be different to that of Chief Justice Marshall, whose authority was shaken, if not destroyed, in the Georgia case? Would not their position be the laughing stock not only of this country, but of people throughout the world? There is one good reason (pointing to the clock) why I cannot continue to deal with the arguments of my hon. and learned Friend. I should have liked to have demonstrated that there has been no undue discussion of this Bill. We were told a short time ago by a Member of the Government that anyone could find something to say in the way of Amendments if dealing with a Bill of Rights or Magna Charta. I doubt whether you can draw any comparison between those great measures and this Bill. They were merely declaratory of the law; but here we have to deal with a measure of which the hon. Member for Sunderland said that every clause represents a Bill, and of which the senior Member for Northampton wrote that it was 20 Bills rolled into one. It is a measure which destroys one Constitution and attempts to erect another, and it is impossible that any one line of it can be treated as a declaration of the law. It is a measure dependent upon the 1687 thoughts and wisdom of men, and the men who have to deal with the measure are answerable for every word in it. In erecting a Constitution you ought to have a main concurrence in arriving at some definite conclusion according to admitted pledges to the country. But when you ask 670 men, more or less equally divided, every one of them, to bear the responsibility for this measure, and to be answerable to their constituents for all that is in it, you must expect prolonged discussion, and discussion which cannot be controlled by the precedent of olden times. In those days men were not answerable to their constituents as they are now. In those days men did not take the part in political discussion they do now, and they acted without due regard to the responsibility of their position as legislators. At any rate, we are in a different position, and it is impossible with us that this most contentious Bill should be otherwise than discussed with the greatest deliberation. This Bill, as my hon. and learned Friend anticipated, goes to its death, and we scarcely know whether we can ask even a decent sepulture for it, for we are sending up only the mangled remains of a Bill. It is not even a body that can be recognised in any feature. We send it to another place in order that it may, I suppose, be interred with some decency. Whatever may happen, we shall have nothing to blame ourselves for. We have done our best to prevent this insufficient and uncertain legislation, and if we fail the fault is not ours. It was said long ago that England would never be undone lest it should be by Parliament, and we who in this day are Members of this Parliament have done our very best to prevent the undoing of our country, and we believe we shall succeed, not by our individual efforts, but simply by the wise judgment and common sense of our countrymen.
§ *MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY (Longford, N.)
I am afraid, Sir, I shall have hardly time to make any lengthened or elaborate reply to the right hon. and learned Gentleman to-night. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has made a speech to which we all listened with a great deal of curious interest. Before he started off, according to what the American war song says, "on his march 1688 in Georgia," he occupied himself with two special functions. We often hear of a speech made to the Gallery. The greater part of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speech—the early part of it—was a speech made to the Peers' Gallery. He addressed himself altogether to the House of Lords, pointing out to them what their Constitutional duty was, and laying down for them some strange and singular doctrines. The right hon. and learned Gentleman laid it down as one of the rights and duties of the House of Lords never to pass any Bill coming up to them from this House until they had first ascertained whether the feeling of the people of the country was in favour of that Bill. Now, I want to know whether there is any method by which the House of Lords can learn what the feeling of the country is except through the expression of this Representative Assembly? Then, again, he said to the House of Lords that if they should pass a measure which is not a measure that works well, they will be told by everybody whom the measure injures—"You are the guilty persons, because you, before you passed this Bill, should insist on having a fresh opinion from the constituencies of the country." Well, I want to know where in Constitutional Law any doctrine of that kind lies enshrined? Who ever gave the House of Lords power to appeal to the constituencies of this country or in any way, direct or indirect, to enforce an appeal to those constituencies? The House of Lords has got to take a measure as it conies from this House, either pass it, or amend it, or mutilate it, or not pass it at all, but they must accept a measure coming from the majority of this House as a measure sent up by the majority of the people of this country.
§ It being Midnight, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed To-morrow.