Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [13th February],
That Leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the provision for the Government of Ireland."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR, (Manchester, E.)
Before, Mr. Speaker, I come to the discussion of that measure which, amid such high expectations and such intense curiosity, was presented to us yesterday by the Prime Minister, I must call the attention of the House to a preliminary question with which he himself dealt during the first part of his speech, and which is, assuredly, not without vital importance, when the House is asked to give leave for the introduction of this Measure. Before we ask ourselves whether the measure is good or is bad, whether it is consistent in its parts, whether it does or does not tamper with the ancient Constitution of these realms, we have the right to put the inquiry why a Bill—any Bill, good or bad—is required for this subject at all. That is a question to which the right hon. Gentleman has 1400 addressed himself on two famous occasions. He addressed himself to it in 1886, when he originally introduced his proposal for the better government of Ireland; he dealt with it again last night. Sir, the circumstances under which the right hon. Gentleman introduced those two proposals were different, and he was forced, therefore, to give a different answer to that fundamental and initial question in 1886 from the answer which he gave to it in 1893. Seven years ago the right hon. Gentleman laid the stress of his argument on this point—upon the absence of social order in Ireland. He told us that juries could not be trusted to do their duty; he told us that evictions, just or unjust, were alike looked on with suspicion by the agrarian population. He gave us statistics of Irish agrarian crime during the last 50 years, and the whole result of his argument was to show that, in his opinion at all events, the alternative for this House was either Home Rule as he conceived the measure or else the continuous operation of a drastic Coercion Bill. Well, Sir, seven years have elapsed. Is a drastic Coercion Bill at this moment in operation in Ireland? [A VOICE: No thanks to you.] If it is not in operation do we then see the consequences which the right hon. Gentleman foreshadowed,—namely, that social order it would be impossible to preserve? Does he still find that Irish juries cannot do their duty? Does he still find that the agrarian question is insoluble and the landlords cannot get their rent? Why, Sir, we all know that the gentleman who sits next him—the Minister responsible for the government of Ireland—told us in the Debate on the Queen's Speech only a few nights ago that never was there a time when rents were better paid, and so great was his confidence in the manner in which Irish juries might be expected to do their duty that he would not even retain the provision for change of venue which his colleagues had before declared to be no interference with the liberty of the subject. Therefore, Sir, the dilemma which the right hon. Gentleman placed before us in 1886 is shown by conclusive experience to be no dilemma at all, and although I admit that the Crimes Act is still on the Statute Book, although I admit that it is there ready to be called into operation should the necessity 1401 arise, although I do not wish to minimise the significance or importance of that fact, still we are reduced, by the logic of events, to this conclusion: that it is necessary to shake to its foundation the ancient Constitution of this country, not because coercion is to be in active operation in Ireland as the only alternative, but because you have to keep on the Statute Book an Act which may or may not require to be brought into operation. I think the right hon. Gentleman will feel that a Bill of this magnitude is hardly to be justified by a condition of affairs like that, and that he cannot come down to this House and put before us again the alternative which he presented with so much plausibility to our notice in 1886—namely, that we have to choose either between Home Rule or the constant operation of a drastic Coercion Bill. Well, Sir, I should like to ask whether there is any force in the argument that the admitted necessity of having a Crimes Act in reserve is one which points in favour of or against the policy which the right hon. Gentleman asks us to adopt? The necessity for a Crimes Act arises by universal admission from one of two causes—it arises either out of the chronic agrarian condition of Ireland, or it arises out of the fact that it is possible, owing to the Unhappy history of the land question in that country, for persons with a political object to serve, to stir up—to rouse into flame—criminal agitation throughout Ireland. I do not care which of these two alternatives you choose. I say that whichever of them you choose it points, not to the necessity for Home Rule, but to the impossibility of having Home Rule. It points conclusively to the fact that until this agrarian question be finally put out of the way, it is criminal to attempt to set up in Ireland a Legislature which is to be practically independent, as we are told, of the Imperial Parliament. If the right hon. Gentleman takes the view that the condition of the agrarian question is the real difficulty in the way of social order in Ireland, how call he possibly expect that that difficulty is to be put out of the way by the action of an Irish Parliament, unless he is prepared to see the agrarian question settled by the destruction of the unpopular minority which happens to be concerned in the possession of land? How can he for one moment 1402 adopt the policy which hands over to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway—who, to do them justice, have never concealed their view of the agrarian question—the settlement of these controversies which, if they are to be settled fairly at all, surely must be settled by the wisdom of an Imperial Parliament, representing constituencies in the United Kingdom which have no immediate personal or traditional views on the subject. But the right hon. Gentleman tells us that the mere presence on the Statute Book of a Crimes Act is a breach of the pledges given at the time of the Union, by which equal laws were promised to the two countries. He gave us, so far as my recollection serves me, no conclusive proof, no proof at all, that any such bargain was entered into. He quoted a Bishop; he quoted au Under Secretary; and he quoted a still higher authority—Mr. Pitt. He quoted Mr. Pitt as saying, as I understand him, that the result of the Union would be equal laws between the two countries. I have not had time to refer to the quotation, but does the right hon. Gentleman suppose that Pitt had in his mind, or could have had in his mind, the question of special laws for repressing crime? Does he think that Pitt would have thought it worth while to promise to the Irish Parliament about to be abolished that no future Crimes Act would be passed? Does he think that the Irish Parliament would have thanked him for such a pledge? Why, Sir, that Parliament passed more Coercion Acts—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not believe that the beginning of the exceptional criminal legislation was in the last five years. If the right hon. Gentleman makes that statement, having looked into the matter, of course I accept his word. My impression is otherwise. But granting, his facts, the pledge given by Pitt was at the time of the Union, and for the five years preceding that the Parliament to whom he was supposed to have promised that he would not pass exceptional criminal legislation had been occupied, by the right hon. Gentleman's own admission, in passing many Coercion Acts. Is it credible that Pitt had in mind legislation of that sort at all? No, Sir. It is quite evident what Mr. Pitt 1403 had in his mind. He had in his mind those shameful fiscal laws by which the British Parliament had during the last century endeavoured, with only too much success, to stifle Irish industries for the benefit of English industries; and he promised the Irish—and that promise has been most faithfully kept—that no fiscal legislation after the Union should be allowed to take effect which would give any advantage whatever to the British manufacturer against his Irish rival. That promise was made; that promise was kept; but if ever the time should come when unequal laws are going to be established in Ireland in relation to industries, those laws will undoubtedly take their origin, and find their roots, in the very proposal of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman went on to found his recommendation for some Bill establishing Home Rule in Ireland upon the majority returned in Ireland in favour of that measure. Well, Sir, upon that I have two observations to make. The first is that the right hon. Gentleman was fairly warned, when he brought in the Reform Bill of 1884, of what the consequences would be. He had those consequences fully in view, and with all that knowledge before him he said that the English majorities were not likely to be moved by the fact that the change in the Irish representation would send a very largely augmented number of Home Rulers to us to assist in our deliberations. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to remind him of his words. They ran as follows:—Why are we to be told that 400,000 persons added to the constituencies in Ireland are to carry all before them, and to prevent us from exercising in this or in a future Parliament an independent judgment on the connection of the two countries? Why are we to be told this when we bear in mind that if there are 5,000,000 in Ireland there are 30,000,000 in Great Britain; and if there are 500,000 or 400,000 persons going to be added to the Irish constituencies, there are 1,500,000 going to be added to the already vast English and Scottish constituencies. Why, then, should we be afraid to look in the face the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork and all his coadjutors"?The Member for Cork and all his coadjutors came down to the House 80 or 90 strong, and the right hon. Gentleman has been afraid to look them in the face. With all the English and Scotch constituencies behind him, he has still been afraid to face the Irish majority which he 1404 called into existence, and for which, before it came into existence, he expressed so much indifference and contempt. I have another question to ask the right hon. Gentleman with regard to this majority. For my part, I think that the only sound Constitutional way of estimating the public opinion of this country is to count the votes in the House of Commons without too curiously inquiring from what country they come? I do not object to that principle; on the contrary, I approve of it. But if you are going to adopt another principle, then I say let us adopt it in its entirety. Why are we to look to the Nationalist majority in Ireland, and not to look to the loyal majority in Ulster? By what right are you going to cut off Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom, and say the majority in this arbitrarily-selected area want Home Rule, and therefore give it home Rule; but when Ulster, or the Protestant part of it—for in these discussions I do not admit that the geographical Ulster represents the exact area with which we desire to deal—but when Protestant Ulster, with an absolutely unanimous voice, declares not merely her aversion to, but her utter abhorrence of, the measure that you propose, their majorities do not count. Then they become mere local ebullitions of public feeling; then we are entitled to disregard them; then it becomes even our duty to put this local majority under the heel of another majority which they abhor and detest. If the right hon. Gentleman desires to consider that this Assembly represents a homogeneous Kingdom I have no objection. If, on the other hand, he means to cut up this Assembly, and say, "You represent such and such a district, and you represent this other district," then I say that, by every rule laid down by himself, Ulster deserves exceptional treatment in this measure, of which I find not one single trace. I pass from the general considerations which the right hon. Gentleman addressed to this House to such criticisms as the necessarily scanty outline enables me to make, with some confidence that I fully understand the proposals of the Government. In the first place, let me ask a question or two on a matter not, indeed, to be compared in importance with the vast Constitutional issues at stake, but a matter, nevertheless, with which the honour 1405 of this House is very deeply concerned, and which I am convinced the right hon. Gentleman will have to take some more precautions in dealing with than I gather from him he has taken already in framing this Bill. I allude to the question of the future of the Constabulary, the Civil Service, and the Judges. As I understood the right hon. Gentleman yesterday, supplemented by the speech of another hon. Gentleman for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton), who appeared to be not less minutely familiar with the details, the proposal of the Government is that after a very short term of years, I do not know quite how many—[Mr. GOSCHEN: Eight, I think]—the Irish Government are to be allowed to say to such and such a district, "We are prepared to supply the police for this district; please to withdraw the Constabulary from it," and that then the Constabulary are to be given their choice of either entering into the service of the new Government to be established in Ireland, or of being disbanded on terms more or less favourable. I do not know whether I rightly apprehend the plan, but that is what I gather from the joint speeches of the Prime Minister and the hon. Member for North Kerry. If anything like that is done, a very gross injustice will be perpetrated on the Constabulary. The Constabulary hold under a variety of Statutes, binding the honour of this House. By entering the force these men cut themselves adrift from all the ordinary means of gaining a livelihood; they put themselves under a strict discipline, they are not allowed to marry without leave, and they can make no preparation for entering into any profession. They look forward, on the faith of Parliamentary enactment, to a long career in the service of the British Crown under an Imperial Parliament, and to certain pension rights when the term of service shall have been accomplished. I am quite unable to see how, if you are going to disband any part of that force within a reasonably brief period, you can do otherwise than break a public engagement you have entered into with the force, and commit on them a very gross hardship.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
What are you going to do with the Civil servants? They entered the Service of the State largely by open competition; they entered into the Service not under a Home Rule Parliament but under au Imperial Parliament. They, too, have abandoned all the ordinary means of gaining a livelihood. They, too, if they are turned out of the Service, will be cast upon the world without any adequate compensation. [Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR: No, no.] That is so. That is under the hypothesis that I am pointing out. Both with regard to the Constabulary and the Civil servants, it must be recollected that vows of vengeance have been uttered by the very men who will be in power in a Home Rule Parliament. Since this Government came into Office I remember seeing an article signed by the hon. Member for Cork, in which he advocated, in the strong language habitual to him, the clearing out of the Castle—in other words, the dismissal of all those Civil servants; who have so faithfully served you during all these years. Their case, let me tell the right hon. Gentleman at once, will not be met by simply saying to them, "Either you serve under a Home Rule Government or you take abolition terms." Something much more than that must be done, and let me say done at the Irish expense, unless you are going to be guilty with regard to the Civil servants of the same species of injustice of which I greatly fear you will be guilty towards the Constabulary. I am aware that in 1886 the right hon. Gentleman made the strongest professions with regard to the Constabulary, but in 1886 he also made strong professions with regard to the landlords. He told us that it was a matter of honour to settle the laud question before giving Home Rule to Ireland, and he told us that it was a matter of duty to see that the Constabulary were not forcibly compelled to change their masters. Well, Sir, honour has gone by the board. I only hope that duty is not going to follow it. The other class of officials with regard to whom I must ask a question and say a word are the Judges. If I rightly understood the proposal of the Government it amounted to this—that for six years the Judges were to be appointed by the Imperial Ministry, but 1407 they were to be paid by the Irish Ministry. That is what the right hon. Gentleman called a joint appointment. I presume that the rights of the existing Judges will be maintained, and I assume that no existing Judge will be liable to dismissal except on a Joint Address from both the Imperial Houses.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I assumed that; I am glad to have confirmation of it. With regard to the future Judges, I want to ask what chance have you of getting good men to take the place on the terms offered? or, if you get good men, what chance is there of their being able to execute justice in the high places to which you appoint them? We all know the kind of criticism to which an Irish Judge is exposed. We all know the sort of attacks made upon him by Irish politicians, from whom, I presume, you are going to form your first Executive Committee of the Privy Council. They are to have the payment of the Judges, and I suppose what will happen will be this: a Judge gives a just, but unpopular, sentence; he unseats, perhaps, some Member for Meath, or—[An hon. MEMBER: Walsall.]
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I will take another instance. These newly-appointed Judges give some unpopular decisions on the agrarian question. Immediately in the Irish House of Commons a Motion is made to reduce their salaries by so much, and you will find that every time in Ireland a Judge gives an unpopular decision he becomes a poorer man; so at last they will get to understand that they are paid by the job, and that the exact amount of acquiescence they show in the views of the Administration of the day is to determine the amount of salary which they are to receive. [Cries of "Hear, hear!" and "Order!"; one Member persisting in an ironical cheer.]
§ A. J. BALFOUR
I see that policy appears to be received with a considerable amount of approval by some hon. Members below the Gangway, but I cannot think it is one which will commend itself to the common sense of this 1408 House. Well, Sir, I leave these questions, which, though, of the highest importance, I admit are secondary questions, and I come to the character of the new Government which is to be created by this measure. It appears that Ireland is to be mapped out into three different kinds of constituency. The country is to be divided into 103 constituencies for the purpose of representation in the Irish Parliament; it is to be divided into 80 constituencies for the purpose of representation in the English Parliament; and it is to be divided into 48 constituencies for the purpose of representation on the Legislative Council. A more extraordinary and complicated arrangement I have never heard of. A man will find himself as a voter for the Imperial Parliament voting in one constituency, as a voter for the Irish Parliament voting in another constituency, and as a voter for the Legislative Council—if he be rated above £20—voting in a third constituency. This is a small matter, but it shows the kind of complexity in which you will find yourselves helplessly entangled if you try to carry out this extraordinary inversion of our Constitution. Then I turn my attention to this Legislative Council. It is a substitute for that anomalous second order which figured in the Bill of 1886, and which, I believe, could hardly have survived the discussion in Committee. But I do not know whether this proposal is likely to be more effective if it is ever allowed to work, or whether it is more suited to stand the fire of Parliamentary criticism. In the first place your main object in constituting it is, according to your own view, to protect minorities; and I can quote endless speeches to prove what I am saying. The minority which most requires protection is the minority most concerned in the ownership of the land. I cannot find in this Legislative Council any adequate protection for the owners of land. The vast majority of the constituencies will be identified in all their interests, not with the ownership, but with the occupancy of land. And let this be recollected. The Imperial Parliament, by legislation which may or may not be necessary, has entered upon the most clangorous and invidious task of determining the relative proportions of the produce of the soil which are to be taken by the owner and by the 1409 occupier. That action on the part of this House has been and will be fraught with consequences of the utmost difficulty and delicacy. It is fertile in danger; but the dangers that we run in dealing with such questions in an Imperial Parliament are as nothing to the dangers which you will run, and necessarily run, in attempting to deal with this question by the Irish Parliament. If it is hard—and it is hard—here to administer justice in this matter through mere legislation when the legislators have themselves no personal interest in the result, how can you expect that in these two bodies which you create you will have justice done, at all events to the minority which forms the easiest object of plunder? If these sinister forecasts—not forecasts made by me alone, but forecasts which I could supplement by quotations from almost every gentleman who sits on the Bench opposite—if these sinister forecasts are to be fulfilled, what protection will be found in the Legislative Chamber elected in the main by one of the classes interested in this division of property? I utterly fail to see how the mere fact that you exclude occupiers below £20 will afford anything but the most shadowy safeguard to the interest which you yourselves admit to be in danger. But there is another point. Supposing this Legislative Chamber carries out the objects with which you have created it—supposing it does withstand the unjust legislation which is successfully carried out in the Lower Chamber, do you believe that it will be allowed to subsist? Do you believe for one moment that that part of your paper Constitution will be allowed to stand? If there is one thing more certain than another it is that any safeguard based upon the property qualification is worth little more than the paper it is written on. The whole tendency of your legislation, the whole tendency of democratic thought, is, rightly or wrongly I do not inquire—and it is not material to my argument to determine—is set upon sweeping away these arbitrary distinctions founded upon wealth and wealth alone. Therefore, if your Chamber is to prove effective, it will prove the object of such concentrated attacks in Ireland, backed by such concentrated attacks here, that it must give way to the first rush of popular feeling. I do not say that that makes it worthless—I do not say that 1410 even the weakest barrier is not better than no barrier at all, but I say that to come down to this House and pretend that by this Legislative Chamber you have provided us with anything like a safeguard for the minority, even upon other subjects than the land, is to ask us to ignore every lesson which the history of Democratic Constitutions is capable of affording us. While the Legislative Council thus affords but a feeble and precarious barrier against the dangers which you justly anticipate, while it will not be able in the long run to put the bit in the mouth of the Representative Assembly, you provide with your veto, as it appears to me, an instrument which will not keep up a chronic or a permanent safeguard to anybody or to anything; but it will be capable of occasional use in a manner which must produce the profoundest irritation in Ireland among that section of the Irish population who you expect your Bill to please. If I understand the right hon. Gentleman's proposal rightly it may do all this. The Lord Lieutenant is to be appointed for six years. The Lord Lieutenant has the power of the veto. The power of the veto is as an ordinary matter to be exercised in accordance with the advice of the Irish Cabinet—that Cabinet which in his explanation the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister called the Executive Committee of the Privy Council. But in other cases not specified the veto is to be exercised not in accordance with the wishes or advice of the Irish Cabinet, but in accordance with the wishes or advice of the British Cabinet. Well, until we see the classification of questions on which the British Cabinet are to have the power of stopping Irish legislation, it is impossible for us to pronounce with certainty as to how this scheme will work. But it certainly does appear to me that for time first time an endeavour has been made to lay down the constitutional manner in which the Sovereign, either directly or through her Viceroy, is to take advice. At present the constitutional practice is that the Sovereign has but one set of advisers. There is no question of choice between advisers. So long as the Ministers of the Crown are in Office the advisers of the Crown are these Ministers. 1411 In your new Bill you are going to give the Sovereign two sets of advisers.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am coming to the colonial question directly. I am not now discussing the constitutional formulæ of our Colonies; I am trying to discuss the practical working of this Bill. If the Crown is to have the liberty of whether it will take the advice of the Irish or of the English Ministers, it appears to me that you are greatly increasing the power of the Crown to begin with, because you will give it this right of alternative choice, and will thus land yourselves in very great embarrassment. Let us suppose some case arising in Ireland upon which the English Ministers of the Crown have a very strong opinion, exactly opposite to the opinion taken by the Irish Ministers. The Irish Ministers give the Viceroy the advice not to withhold the veto. The English Ministers advise Her Majesty to withdraw the Viceroy unless he will promise to veto the Bill. Both sets of Ministers announce that they will resign unless their advice is followed. It appears to me that it will then rest with the Crown to decide whether she will lose her Irish or her English Administration. Let us say that the Sovereign decides that it is better to lose the Irish than the English Administration. Then the veto is given not in accordance with the advice of the Irish Ministers, but of the English Ministers. You have a deadlock in Ireland. Things go smoothly in England. If, on the other hand, the Crown takes the opposite course and acts in accordance with the advice of the Irish Ministers, things go smoothly in Ireland and there is a deadlock in England. But in either case it is evident that you will very greatly augment the power of the Crown; and, in the second place, you will bring into existence a state of things which may at any moment produce a deadlock either in your Irish Government or your English Government. I hope I have put my point clearly enough. There may be an answer to it in the Bill, or the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Bryce), the greatest Constitutional authority in this House, who is going to follow me, may be able to explain how this difficulty is to be got over. But I will give him one warning. Do not let the right hon. 1412 Gentleman talk to us of Colonial Legislatures. I shall show him directly that this question cannot be argued as if Ire-la lid in any respect resembles a Colony; nor would any English Ministers who knew their duty consent to be excluded from the consideration of Irish affairs in the same manner as we consent to be excluded from Colonial affairs. That brings me directly to the question of Imperial supremacy. I admit that, according to all the speeches and declarations that have been made, the Imperial supremacy is to figure largely upon the surface of this Bill. It is to be introduced, it appears, into the Preamble. I never heard before that the Preamble was so important a subject; and my hon. and learned Friend (Sir E. Clarke) who made that brilliant attack upon the Bill last night, and who speaks with an authority upon these legal questions to which I can lay no claim, has told us that oftentimes the Preamble to a Bill is inconsistent with its contents, and that no Judge under such circumstances troubles his head with what a Preamble may happen to contain. But what we want to know is not whereabouts in the Bill there is a declaration about Imperial supremacy, but whether that declaration is a barren or whether it is an operative declaration. Supremacy is nothing, unless it be supremacy over the unwilling as well as over the willing. Supremacy is nothing if it be merely a paper supremacy; and what I hope the right hon. Gentleman who is to follow me will tell us is whether in this Bill there is to be merely a barren declaration that we—the Imperial Parliament—are to have the same sort of control over Irish affairs which we now exercise over Canadian or Australian affairs, or whether our supremacy is to be real and operative, a supremacy carrying with it duties and rights—a supremacy to be exercised in conformity with the views of the Ministers of the Crown. Sir, we heard a good deal last night, and I think on other occasions, from Members representing Ireland, that they are quite ready to give us an Imperial supremacy on the understanding that "an honourable bargain"—I think that was the phrase—is entered into between the Imperial Government on the one side and the Irish Government on the other that that supremacy shall practically never be 1413 used. Well, I tell the hon. Gentleman at once, so far as I can speak for those who agree with me in political matters, that no such bargain is possible or will be entered into. If the supremacy of Parliament be indeed preserved in this Bill, as the right hon. Gentleman says, that supremacy, if we have any control over the matter, shall, as far as we can manage it, be an operative supremacy. We shall not consent to allow this weapon for the exercise and maintenance of justice to rust in our hands, and if we can, through the exercise of the Constitutional powers entrusted to the Imperial Parliament, do something to mitigate the evils which we forsee will result from the establishment of an Irish independent Legislature, depend upon it, Mr. Speaker, we shall not neglect our duty. Let us remember what will be the necessary result of this supremacy of the Imperial Parliament being coupled with this occasional power of Veto on behalf of the Crown. Why, the result will be this: that whenever there is a Government in Office dependent on the 80 votes of the hon. Gentlemen from Ireland, they will come down and say, "The Irish must manage their own affairs. It is quite true that what they are doing is deplorable. Great in-justice is being committed upon helpless minorities. We deplore it, but we cannot prevent it." But if another Government comes in, not dependent on the votes of the 80 Gentlemen from Ireland, they will take this view of their duty, and will say, "We represent the Imperial Parliament, which is supreme in Irish matters. We cannot avoid exercising the powers which have been entrusted to us. We should be failing in our duty if we were to do so." And then I should like to know how far the hon. Gentlemen who now clamour for this Bill will feel that they have got that which they have been all along demanding. Hon. Gentlemen must be aware when they ask for a Colonial Legislature and Constitution that they are asking that which the whole history of this country and the geographical positions of the Three Kingdoms render alsolutely impossible, and which, if they were not rendered impossible by those considerations, would be rendered impossible by the very Bill we are discussing. I say it for this reason: Under the Colonial Constitutions we really have no concern with anything 1414 whatever of Colonial interests, save only the conduct of foreign policy, in which they have but little concern, and in which they feel but comparatively little interest. Under the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman we shall be concerned with the whole fiscal policy of Ireland and the whole foreign policy of Ireland; with the defences of Ireland; we shall have Irish Members in our midst; and we shall not be able to avoid discussing — and endlessly discussing — Irish questions. Under these circumstances, is it not folly to suppose that any Party in this House that has the power of intervention in Irish affairs will refuse to exercise that power, or that, if they refuse to exercise it, they will not be held accountable for their lâches by the public opinion of England and Scotland? So the result will be a spasmodic, not a continuous, intervention in the affairs of Ireland, as we now have, not a steady discussion of Irish policy in this House, but a spasmodic interference according to the balance of Parties, an interference now vanishing into nothing, now rising into a great factor in political considerations. I cannot conceive anything less calculated to give to Ireland that independent control of her affairs which the right hon. Gentleman desires, or to satisfy the aspirations of the Irish people, or to induce the smooth workings of Parliamentary institutions. This question derives an enormously increased importance from the fact alluded to, but not dwelt upon either by the right hon. Gentleman, or by my hon. and learned Friend (Sir E. Clarke)—tho fact, namely, that under your new Constitution the Irish Members in this House may have, usually will have, a determining voice in the Constitution of the British Cabinet. This argument is familiar to the House. It has been largely used upon platforms, and, depend upon it, if the Irish Members are retained when this Bill gets into Committee, which I have great doubt, a great deal more will be heard of it still. The right hon. Gentleman must see that the whole tendency of Constitutional change during the last 150 years, almost the last 200 years, in this country has been to throw more and more into the Cabinet of the day—a Body not recognised by our Constitution—the whole control not merely of our foreign affairs, but of the 1415 programme of legislation which is to be laid before this House. Formerly, a great deal of legislation was done by private Members. Everybody knows now what private Members' legislation means—it means the airing of a certain number of topics, possibly interesting and possibly not interesting, the decision of the House upon certain principles connected with them, and the relegation to another Session of any final decision upon the subject. Government Bills, and Government Bills alone, are the Bills that pass, and the determination of who your Government is to be, and the determination of what your Bills are to be, is the most vital and most important question which either this House or this country can possibly have to determine. Yet we are actually told that this vital, this essential question, is to be determined not by those who are interested in the legislation, but by the 80 gentlemen who are not. They it is who will decide who shall occupy the Treasury Bench, who are to be the Ministers, who shall bring in Bills, and what are the Bills that shall be brought in, and how vain it is to tell us that they will not be allowed under their Constitution to discuss or to vote upon the Bills when they early out the far more important function of determining what the Bills are to be, and who shall have charge of them. I think the right hon. Gentleman takes the sound view of this question when he holds that his own scheme is impossible of execution. Nobody could doubt who heard the admirable balance of academic opinion which he gave us last night on which side his own inclinations were. I am convinced that of two impossibilities the right hon. Gentleman has himself chosen the least impossible, but that, in obedience to the view of his colleagues, he has put in the Bill the most impossible, and of these two impossible alternatives I think the House, if we ever come to a vote upon the matter, will finally decide upon rejecting the one which the right hon. Gentleman has embodied in his proposal. I turn now to a question upon which we still have a great deal to learn—on which we have more to learn perhaps than on any other subject from the Bill when it is printed—I mean the financial proposals. I do not pretend to have thoroughly grasped—I do not think the right hon.
1416 Gentleman would suppose that anybody could thoroughly grasp—the character of these proposals in the course of his. statement. I do not blame the right hon. Gentleman, of course; but I should like to ask any Member of the Government who may speak to tell us, in the first place, how it will be possible to collect income tax in Ireland without either depriving the Irish Government of income tax which they ought to get, or depriving the British taxpayers of income tax they ought to get. At present the whole income tax is collected, in railway and other stocks, either in Dublin or London, or the other great centres. The right hon. Gentleman gave us no suggestion as to the way in which he was going to get over the extreme difficulty which must arise if you continue to collect in Dublin the tax upon securities the interest on which is paid in London, and if you collect in Loudon flue tax on securities properly held in Ireland. That is a matter very complicated and difficult, upon which I hardly expect at this stage of the Debate we can have much information from the Government, or which can be very usefully discussed. I come to the much broader and much more important question of the Irish contribution to the Imperial purse, and I think upon that point I did understand the proposals of the Government. If I am right they amount to this—that the Customs Duties in Ireland just about amount to the share of Ireland—the debt of Ireland—as estimated now by the right hon. Gentleman, to the British purse, that we were to collect them, and whenever in the future we want to get more out of Ireland we should have to raise the Customs Duties, and whenever the general share of Ireland appears to be in excess we shall have to diminish the Customs Duties. Is that correct?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman truly says he did not touch upon the point, but at all events he did tell us that the Customs Duties were to represent the whole interests of England in the share which Ireland paid us. I think we have a right, even at this stage of the Bill, to ask how are we ever going to deal freely with our Customs Duties in the future? How are we going to modify our taxation when fiscal 1417 and general considerations may require us to modify them? There is a whole school of politicians who desire to abolish the Customs Duties altogether. They go in for what they call a "free breakfast table." Supposing these hon. Gentleman were to agree with the 80 Irish Members in this House to vote against the Customs Duties? Supposing they were to succeed in carrying out their policy the result would be, not only that there would be a free breakfast table, but also that Ireland would be saved from any contribution whatever. It follows, also, so it seems to me, upon the broad principle laid down by the right hon. Gentleman, that no alteration, however minute, in our Excise or our Customs—and recollect that they hang together—could be made without either cheating Ireland of something which she ought to obtain or cheating ourselves of something which Ireland ought to give us. How the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the future is going to manage the difficulties of his Budget under a system like that I confess utterly passes my comprehension. I do not believe that this House will ever consent to hand over for ever its own power to deal freely with its own taxation, and nothing less than that is required by the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman. Compared with that the bonus of £500,000 a year which the right hon. Gentleman has given to Ireland may appear trifling, and I think it is trifling. But, I ask, how is even that £500,000 a year to be provided? The right hon. Gentleman said you "ought to be liberal to Ireland." I am all for being liberal to Ireland—when Ireland is in the same firm with ourselves. So long as we are partners I am not only not averse to, but I am in favour of, a policy which will place at the disposal of the poorer country some of the resources of the richer country; but when you are going to cut off the connection with regard to Imperial affairs, when you are going to make a clean division between the two countries, then, I think a little less generosity and a little more justice will not be out of place. I confess I am very sceptical whether it will be found, when the figures come to be examined, that our payment to Ireland is not greatly in excess of £500,000, which is the amount 1418 the right hon. Gentleman estimates in his own proposal. It represents a capital of £17,000,000. Why is this country going to hand over these £17,000,000 to Ireland without return? Sir, the only explanation is that we were engaged in a contest with the forces of lawlessness and disorder. We have been beaten in the contest, according to the right hon. Gentleman, and a war indemnity is now exacted from us. For my part, Sir, I object to paying that war indemnity. I do not admit that we have been beaten. I think that if that contest recommences it will have the same termination as it has had already, and that the resources of civilisation will again be found equal to the task which has been thrown upon them. Now, Sir, perhaps we are in a position to estimate what are the profits to all concerned of this speculative constitution which the right hon. Gentleman wishes to force down our throats. Let us go through the parties in Ireland. First there is Ulster. We know what Ulster is. Then there are the owners of land. I think we can conjecture what they will think of it; for, observe, you not only, with regard to the land question, propose to hand over to the Irish Parliament the whole settlement of that question in a few years—three years—but you propose immediately to give them executive control of the Land Question. I say without hesitation that without legislation at all, the man who has control of administrative machinery can plunder to the last farthing from every landlord in Ireland. The hon. Member for Kerry last night, in language to which I confess I listened with astonishment, having still ringing in my ears words and utterances of a very different description—he told us that the Party to which he belongs desire to deprive no man of Ids liberty and no man of his property. When did the Party of which he is a Member become converts to that opinion? The men who desire to sweep landlords off the face of the earth, the men who devised the system of boycotting, apparently are equally desirous of preserving the property and liberty of the people. The hon. Gentleman must be aware that the landlords are likely to attach more weight to the pre-utterances of his friends in Ireland than to the politic statement made across the floor of the House; and the landlords, at all 1419 events, cannot see in the prospect of this Bill anything else than the certainty of illimitable plunder. The Civil servants and the Constabulary I have already dealt with. They, at all events, are not likely to approve a measure which, under one disguise or another, proposes to hand them over, with what compensation we know not yet, to masters whom they have never bargained to serve, who have never hesitated to say how they will use the power of administration when once it is confided to their hands. So much for the loyal portion of Ireland. How about the disloyal portion? Are they likely even to find in this Bill the goal of their desires? They have never hesitated to tell us in the frankest manlier what they desire. Even up to the last few months they have stated that they wish to see Ireland a nation among the nations of the world. They look back to 1798, 1848, and 1867. They look forward to these men who avowedly desired complete separation as their masters and their ideal. Are they likely to be content with an arrangement, whatever protestations they may make—and their protestations appear now to be feeble—an arrangement which, according to the Bill, I presume would deprive them of any power of raising a Volunteer Force, of any power of managing trade, any power of dealing with the great branches of taxation, any power of managing their own Telegraphs and Post Office.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
That is not an unimportant portion of management—any power of dealing directly or indirectly with Foreign Powers. Are they likely to be content with a scheme which, in addition to these limitations, hampers their domestic legislation by a Legislative Council elected upon a high and arbitrary franchise? Are they likely to approve of a scheme which gives to the Crown, on the advice of her British Ministers, the right to veto Irish Acts of Parliament? Are they likely to consent to a scheme which, if it preserves the Imperial supremacy at all, will certainly preserve it in a form in which it can be exercised when a Government is in power strong enough and courageous enough to exercise it? You have stimulated the appetite of those gentlemen throughout all these six years. You told them that 1420 they are a nation, and that they deserve the treatment of a nation, and now you put them off with a Constitution which not only does not make them a nation, but which puts them immeasurably below the smallest self-governing Colony in this great Empire. How can you expect that they, at all events, whatever they may say in view of future contingencies, are really content with the measure of Home Rule you put before them? So much for Ireland. What is Britain's share of this balance-sheet of disaster? £17,000,000 to these gentlemen for the privilege of wrecking our Constitution. We deprive ourselves of all freedom in the management of our own taxation in the delicate matters with which taxation is concerned. We permit our deliberations to be maimed and even rendered ridiculous by Irish Members, who are to vote and are not to vote, who may take part in this debate, and may not take part in that debate, who may turn out a Ministry, and who may not vote on a Roads Bill. Above all, Britain gives up the prospect which has been held out to her that, at all events, we shall have peace from these Irish controversies, and that our own time shall be given to our own affairs. Can anything be more certain than that in the Bill you are going to lay on the Table of the House the Irish question, which has occupied three-fourths of our time, will occupy the whole of it? We shall have the endless questions which now perplex us in the management of Irish affairs; we shall be asked, and asked with an insistence which a Ministry numerically weak can hardly refuse, to alter the Constitution which you tell us is final. I confess that at first sight it might seem, and has been to me a matter of surprise that seven years of careful meditation has only ended in producing this strange abortion of a measure. Surely those who are concerned in framing it are not deficient in either ingenuity or ability, or zeal for the public good? I fully and frankly admit that. Why, then, have they done no better than this? I will tell the House—because they have attempted an impossible task. A Federal Government may be good. Colonial Government may be good. The British Constitution as it stands may be good; but this bastard combination of the three is ludicrous and impossible, and the very attempt to force it down our 1421 throats appears to me to argue an ignorance of the past patent lessons of history which I am surprised at in gentlemen of the learning of those whom I see opposite me. The Prime Minister quarrelled with me the other night because I said he was engaged in a course which reverses the process by which every great Empire had been built up. Does he still differ from that statement? Spain, Italy, France, Russia, Germany, the United States of America, Great Britain itself—every nation in the world, is built up out of the ruins of smaller States, which originally occupied the area on which these great empires flourish. The process of every great community has been towards further integration. The right hon. Gentleman asks us to retrace our steps and make our progress towards disintegration. In so doing, I tell him, he reverses the necessary steps the evolution by which great empires are built up and maintained. I admit that there are cases in which this process has never been completed—cases like Austria, cases like Norway and Sweden, cases like the British Empire. But all these cases of arrested growth are proof conclusive of the general proposition which I have laid down. Of course, the reason of the process is different in various cases, but the result is the same in every case. Austria-Hungary is, for its population and its wealth, perhaps the weakest State upon the Continent. It is kept together largely, as we all know, by the menace of foreign complications. Sweden and Norway—which figured largely in the old Debate, and about which the Prime Minister preserves an ominous silence now—it anyone will look at their recent history, present a conclusive proof of the difficulty in which you will eventually be involved by any attempt similar to that which the right hon. Gentleman is now making. As for the British Empire, we all know that we are in process of founding beyond the seas great communities of our own race and of our own blood, and that we cannot count upon them in every stress and under every circumstance to form a part of the effective strength of the United Kingdom, and the time may possibly come—though I hope it never will come—unless we can discover some method of binding them in constitutional relations to us—the time may come when 1422 the thread of common affection and common sentiment which now binds us together may possibly be severed. Do not let us, then, within the United Kingdom itself, endeavour to carry out the process of bringing about a state of things which we see is productive of weakness in every country where it has been tried. I believe, and there is nothing—there is no faith more firmly rooted in my mind—I believe that Ireland was in process of being United to Great Britain more closely in the bonds of common national affection than ever before. The laud agitation which began in 1879, under the guidance of an able politician, postponed perhaps for a generation, perhaps for more, the full consummation of our wishes. But though the harm that was then done, and the harm the right hon. Gentleman has done by his proposals, cannot be exaggerated—though I believe, our children and our grandchildren will still feel the effects of the revolution in Ireland and the betrayal in England—yet I think we have it in our power in the House of Commons and the country to say that this process shall no further go, and that much as we have suffered from vacillation in the past, at all events, we With our free consent will put an end to this project, absolutely impossible of execution in its details, and even worse ill its general principles; by which the right hon. Gentleman, under the cloak and guise of drawing into closer harmony the different parts of the United Kingdom, is going to frame institutions which must tend, ever and ever, as time goes on, to separate us both in temper and in mind, and ultimately in nationality. These are the reasons which appear to me to be conclusive against the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman. These are the reasons which I have felt all along must militate against any scheme he might propose, and which appears to me to militate in greater strength against these particular proposals than they militated against the original proposals of 1886.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY OF LANCASTER (Mr. JAMES BRYCE,) Aberdeen, S.
Mr. Speaker, the right hon. Gentleman need not have made any apology to this House for the length of his discourse, for we all have at all events listened with admiration to the vigorous and incisive criticism 1423 of which he is a master, and so much a master indeed that I sometimes think he must prefer his present position on the From Opposition Bench, whence criticism can be delivered with greater freedom and less responsibility. But there was one feature of his speech which, for me, at till events, marred the pleasure with which I listened to his dialectical skill and that was the tone and temper with which he dealt with Ireland and every one concerned with Ireland. He spoke just before he sat down of creating a common National affection between Ireland and Great Britain. But Sir, it is not by language such as the right hon. Gentleman employs; it is not by representing Ireland in the most odious light; it is not by arguing that every power conferred on her is certain to be misused; it is not by treating the national feeling of Ireland as disloyal that that national affection between the two countries will be created. I think the right hon. Gentleman forgot in the ardour of his destructive criticism that he was actually answering in the latter part of his speech the criticisms he indulged in in the former part. The former part of his speech was devoted to proving that this Bill went too far; that it was dangerous to every class in Ireland, and exposed Great Britain to constant menaces; whereas the latter part went to prove that the Bill was so small, so narrow, and so insignificant, that it would not give any satisfaction to the Irish Nationalist feeling, and it would leave all our struggles to be renewed here. The right hon. Gentleman has travelled over a large field. From history and the theory of Constitutions down to the details of finance there is scarcely a a point which he has not touched. Before he sat down he invited me to follow him into the large question—fit for the philosophic historian, no doubt—as to what are the causes which strengthen States, and the processes by which they grow. That is a subject of great interest, but there is no time for me to follow him into its discussion DOW, owing to the number of practical details connected with the Bill on which he is entitled to expect an answer. I will therefore only say on that part of the subject that I thought him most unhappy in these references, on which he laid most stress—these references to the cases of Germany and 1424 Austria-Hungary. Germany has become a great State by her recognition of local autonomy, a recognition which this Bill is intended to carry out; and the States of Germany could not hold together for a year if the forcible consolidation which delights the right hon. Gentleman were adopted there. Then again, was Austria-Hungary a stronger Power when she acted on the principles of the right hon. Gentleman; was Austria stronger when she had annulled the ancient Constitution of Hungary, and held Hungary prostrate under her legions? Is she not far stronger now under the loyal attachment of the Hungarians to their Constitution; and is there a more conclusive proof in the history of this century of the value of free institutions, of the value of the recognition of national life, and of the power of countries working together when that national life is recognised, than is afforded by the case of Austria-Hungary since the policy of death was accepted? When the right hon. Gentleman referred to the case of the United States, did he not know that the United States hold together their vast territories, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, because they have embodied in their Constitution a far more complicated system of local autonomy than that to which the right hon. Gentleman objects in this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman asked us whether such countries could count upon the support of their several parts in moments of strained relations. Does he think that during the 90 years that have passed since the Union we have usually been able to count on the loyal support of Ireland in moments of stress and danger. No, Sir. The last ebullition of Irish loyalty towards Great Britain was made by the free Parliament of Ireland before the Union, and ever since that time it has been our duty to hold Ireland down by force, and Ireland has been to us a source of weakness and not strength. ["No, no!"] I appeal to facts on that point. Have we not got a force of police and a force of soldiery in Ireland one-fourth of which would be sufficient were Ireland more loyal and contented? The right hon. Gentleman asked us in his introductory observations what justification we had in introducing this Bill. We find our justification in two facts. The first is the failure of the right hon. Gentleman's Coercion policy — a failure which is 1425 proved by this, that he was obliged himself to abandon the lines on which he started; a failure which is proved by this, that instead of reconciling Ireland by his government—whether by the method of bludgeons, with which that Government began, or by the method of bribes, with which that policy closed—instead of reconciling Ireland, instead of bringing Ireland into harmony with the present condition of things, he is obliged to own, and must own, that the only difference between the claim of Ireland for Home Rule in 1885, and the claim of Ireland for Home Rule in 1893, is, that owing to the disunion in the Nationalist Party, a few seats have been lost to that Party in Ireland. In 1886 Ireland demanded Home Rule, and still demands it, by a majority of four-fifths of her people, and demands it by a majority which has been largely reinforced in England. What is my second reason? We bring in this Bill because we have received a commission from the country to do so. We bring it in because the electorate of the United Kingdom have pronounced for it by a large majority. ["No, no!"] Do hon. Members who say "No, no," deny that there is a majority in the United Kingdom of 40, which is daily increasing, and do they deny the legal competence or the moral competence of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to legislate for Ireland as well as for Great Britain? These, Sir, are our justifications. We would be false not only to our pledges, but we would be unfaithful and disobedient to the voice of the country if our first act was not to lay this Bill on the Table of the House. I will now try to meet, as far as I can, the criticisms of the right hon. Gentleman, and I will preface my answer to these criticisms in detail by one or two words on the general plan and scope of the Bill as we conceive it. This Bill is intended to remove the friction existing between Great Britain and Ireland in respect to the management or mismanagement of Irish affairs in the Imperial Legislature, and it is intended to give to Ireland full control of whatever can be called her local and domestic affairs. Our first object has, therefore, been so to frame the Bill that everything that genuinely concerns Ireland, or any part thereof, shall be relegated to the Irish Parliament. We have not sought to make 1426 small exceptions and restrictions from the generosity of our grant, because we believe that the object in view will be best attained if the Irish Parliament is given free scope within its proper sphere, and is not constantly pulled up, checked, and interfered with by the Imperial Parliament. Therefore, no restrictions are placed on the power of the Irish Parliament except on two grounds: In the first place, we except those questions which touch matters of Imperial concern, and which are summed up in the 3rd clause of the Bill, and those which touch some matter which is no doubt internal to Ireland, but which is of so controversial and delicate a nature and so apt to raise internal controversy in Ireland and to provoke measures that might savour of injustice, that we hold it better to withdraw them from the competence of the Irish Legislature. With these two exceptions the legislative powers given to the Irish Legislature are ample and generous. We have imposed safeguards in cases of necessity, but they are not intended to interfere with the ordinary working of the Irish Government—they are not intended to "cabin, crib, and confine" the Home Rule we give, but to be held in reserve, to be used only in extreme cases of grave necessity which may arise if Party feeling should carry the majority of the Legislature beyond its proper limits, and particularly if any attempts should he made to transgress, in the spirit as well as in the letter, or in the spirit without the letter, the restrict ions which the 3rd and 4th clauses impose. These are the general lines of the Bill; and in these lines I find my answer to the criticisms of the right hon. Gentleman. We regard it as a safe Bill from the point of view of the Irish minority, because safeguards are provided to prevent the Irish Legislature from passing beyond the bounds which this Bill prescribes, or in seeking to tyrannise over the minority. On the other hand, we say that, viewed from the point of view of the patriotic Irishman, who desires to see the interests of his country promoted, who complains that the English Legislature has not understood Irish needs, who comments on the failure of many English attempts, however well meant, to legislate for Ireland, the Bill gives ample room and verge enough. We say to such Irishmen—we give you power to legis- 1427 late upon all your domestic affairs, to remove the reproach that we have neglected you or legislated wrongly for you—we give you the chance of doing better for yourselves. I put it, therefore, to the House that it is possible to combine, and this Bill will be found on close examination to combine, large control over domestic affairs with complete safeguards against any transgression of the limitations laid down. It is asked what value is to be attached to the safeguards—the supremacy of Parliament; the veto and the constitutional power of reference. The right hon. Gentleman asked me with regard to the veto whether we proposed to classify the cases in which the British Cabinet could interfere. The answer is, No; we do not propose any classification, because we believe that no classification is possible. Our view is that it is a power to be kept in reserve, only to be used if the gravest ease should arise—and in particular if the restrictive provisions of the Bill should be transgressed. To adopt an expression of the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton), which I thought well fitted to convey the meaning of the Bill, the veto is not to be used capriciously or vexatiously.
§ MR. BRYCE
The judge, as to whether it is proposed to be used capriciously or vexatiously is the regular advisers of the Crown—that is to say, the British Cabinet. That is my answer also to the remarks made about the difficulty the Crown would be placed in from baying two sets of advisers. The Crown will not have two sets of advisers. The Crown will be advised as the Crown is always everywhere, and in all affairs advised, by the Imperial Cabinet. It is the Imperial Cabinet in the constitution of which the Irish will have and ought to have a voice as well as the English and the Scotch. The Irish Ministers will deal with the Lord Lieutenant only, and what will happen is this: The Lord Lieutenant, upon their advice, will give or withhold the assent of the Crown to Irish Bills. If there should arise an extreme case such as I confess I do not contemplate—which, as I believe, will not arise, and will not arise because we have a safe- 1428 guard in reserve, for the very existence of that safeguard is the best assurance that it will not arise—if an extreme case should arise and the provisions of this Bill should be transgressed, if any act of tyrannous character should be attempted by the Irish Parliament, it will be the duty of the Imperial Cabinet to intervene, but in no other case. With regard to the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, it is fully expressed in the Bill, but it did not need to be expressed at all, because every lawyer and every one familiar with the working of Parliament must know that we could not if we would impair the supremacy of Parliament. It is the very foundation of our whole constitutional life. But if it is any satisfaction to hon. Gentlemen to know it, we do not rely merely upon the Preamble for the assertion of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. You will find in the Bill a clearly-drawn clause in which the functions of the Imperial Parliament with regard to Irish legislation are set forth.
§ CAPTAIN BETHELL
Will the Governor of Ireland be allowed to withhold assent in the same way as the Governor General of Canada, in spite of his Cabinet?
§ MR. BRYCE
If the House wishes me to go into the Colonial case I am quite willing to do so, but I had perhaps better proceed to deal with the safeguards in their order. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. A. J. Balfour) asks who can predict what would be the results of the exercise of the veto. There are many things no man can predict. What statesmen have to do is to devise the best machinery they can which may be adapted to the cases likely to arise. We have devised a machinery which we believe will not be needed, but which will be perfectly effective if it is needed. Our view of the ease is this: that in the ordinary working of the Irish Parliament it will be no more necessary to interpose the veto than it is necessary to interpose the veto in the working of the Colonial Legislatures; but if an extreme case arises it will dealt with on its merits. We believe that, just as there has grown up in the case of the Colonies a body of tradition and usage, which is recognised by Colonial Governors and by Colonial Secretaries at home, and which points out the cases in which the reserved powers 1429 of the Crown can be properly employed, so there will grow up in Ireland also a body of usage and tradition which will be soon recognised and will obtain no inconsiderable force, and which will dictate the general lines on which the reserved powers of die Crown are to be employed. No doubt the usage in the case of Ireland will be somewhat different from the usage in the case of the distant Colonies, but the general principle will be the same. It is impossible to provide beforehand for every case that may arise; what we have to do is to provide machinery that shall be flexible and adaptible, to deal with cases as they arise. The same remark applies to the reference of constitutional questions by the Crown to the Privy Council. That right is, in the first place, given to the Lord Lieutenant and the Secretary of State.
§ MR. BRYCE
The Secretary of State who has to deal with Ireland usually is the Home Secretary; but the hon. Member for Waterford is in error if he supposes that there is any idea of subjecting Ireland to the Home Secretary. I am endeavouring to explain to the House the power of the Lord Lieutenant or the Home Secretary to refer to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council a question arising upon the constitutionality of an Act of the Irish Parliament—that is, upon the conformity or nonconformity of the Irish Act to the provisions of this Bill. If it were alleged that an Irish Act transgressed the provisions of this Bill, which may be called the constitutional basis of the Irish Legislature, it would be proper to have a speedy determination of the question, and in that ease it would be the duty of the Lord Lieutenant or of the Home Secretary, if there is a primâ facie ground for doubting the constitutionality of the Act, to obtain such decision. But that is not the only power. It will also be in the power of any person who alleges that any unconstitutional act has been done to dispute it by ordinary proceedings at law. We know that is the way in which these things are done in the United States. If the Irish Legislature should pass an Act which is inconsistent with the provisions of this Bill, that Act will be ipso facto invalid; it will be invalid in so far as it 1430 conflicts with the provisions of this Bill; it will therefore not be law; and it will be in the power of any private individual to allege that it is not the law, and to refuse to obey it, on the ground that it is not the law, because it is inconsistent with the Bill. The House will, therefore, see that there is ample safeguard against the transgression of the provisions of this Bill; and the chief reason why power is given to the Lord Lieutenant or the Home Secretary to refer the question to the Judicial Committee, is that a more speedy determination may thus be obtained than would be obtained in regular course of proceedings at law. As to safeguards for Ulster, it has been remarked that what the Prime Minister said in 1886 has not now been repeated. But let us recall the reception given to these words of the Prime Minister. They were answered by words of defiance from hon. Gentlemen who claim to represent Ulster here—a point upon which I confess I have great doubt. I feel sometimes inclined to ask hon. Members not to judge the people of Ulster by the blustering and noisy vehemence of those who profess to speak on her behalf here. At any rate, these hon. Gentlemen would not have our plan at all; their answer was that they did not want any security or safeguards. They also said, "We do not want to be separated from the rest of Ireland." I give them all credit for that answer; I think in that they are right. There is no severance of the interest of Ulster from that of the rest of Ireland. If there be any danger to Protestants, surely the people of Ulster are better able to take care of themselves than the scattered Protestant minority in the rest of Ireland. But within the last 10 years, whatever Government has been in power, we have not heard of a single instance of oppression perpetrated upon Protestants in the South and West of Ireland. The interests of Ulster are the interests of Ireland in another sense. I may refer gentlemen who are nervous on the subject of Ulster to the provisions they will find in the 3rd and 4th clauses of the Bill, not only to protect religious freedom and to prohibit any establishment of religion or any favouring of one denomination, but also to safeguard all educational interests and also to protect life, liberty, and property in terms which we have drawn from one of the 1431 amendments to the American Constitution. But I prefer to rely upon the facts of the case. We are told that the difficulty the Irish Parliament will experience in starting is the want of a larger balance to its credit. Ulster we know, and some parts of Leinster, contain a large amount of the wealth and manufacturing industries of the country. In order to increase the Revenue of the country it will be generally admitted that every industry ought to be fostered and encouraged in Ireland, and I cannot believe that Irishmen, even if they were such perverse creatures as hon. Members opposite appear to believe, would seek to destroy the industries which are the sources of the country's strength and prosperity. As to the opinion of Ulster, I do not believe that Ulster is by any means as unanimous as is sometimes represented on this question of Home Rule. The tenant farmers of Ulster, the bone and sinew of the people, are at this moment far more concerned about the question of the reduction of rents, and far more anxious to obtain rent reductions, than they are to resist Home Rule. I now come to the subject of the Legislative Council. I am not surprised that the hon. and gallant Member for Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) pooh poohed the Legislative Council. We believe that it will be a very respectable and quiet Body. It is a Body that will consist of 48 persons, elected by limited constituencies of 170,000 in all Ireland. I am afraid that the bellicose temper of the hon. and gallant Member for Armagh would make him feel very much out of place in such a dull and staid Assembly as this Legislative Council will be. It will, however, be an Assembly which I believe is fairly certain to represent the property interests of the country. We are constantly told that not only all the intelligence, but all the property of Ireland is opposed to the Nationalist Party, and we are told sometimes that the anti-Home Rule Party consists of two-fifths of the population, sometimes that it consists of one-third, and sometimes that it contains 2,000,000 of the population out of 4,500,000. If, as is represented, they form a very large proportion of the people of Ireland, and if they include all the property and intelligence, surely they will be able to command a sufficiency of representation on the Legislative Council, which is to con- 1432 sist of 48 persons elected by a limited constituency of 170,000 electors. I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman opposite is not satisfied with the provision we make by a Body constituted expressly in order to give a due representation to property, and which we ourselves would like to put on a wider basis—making it elected by a more popular franchise—if we were not afraid that complaints would be made that no safeguards for property were provided. The right hon. Gentleman says that it will be swept away. Well, there are no communities in our Colonies which are more thoroughly and heartily democratic than the rising, enlightened communities of Australasia; and both in Victoria and South Australia there exists an Upper House elected on the basis of a property qualification, and that Upper House is not only not unpopular, but is admitted on all sides to have rendered great service to the Colony, and to exercise a very valuable moderating influence. Therefore, we base ourselves upon the experience of communities fully as democratic, and in some respects more democratic, than we expect Ireland to be. I do not, therefore, see why it should be thought that the Irish Legislative Council should not be an extremely useful part of the constitutional machinery. To me the plan appears far better than the two Orders proposed in 1886, because the existence of a separate House will involve separate Debates, which may do much to enlighten and instruct the people, and there will be further delay and additional consideration given to Bills, because they will have to pass through their stages in both Houses. The right hon. Gentleman opposite assumed that the Council might be extinguished; but when the Bill is printed, he will see that the Irish Legislature will have no power to extinguish the Legislative Council. The right hon. Gentleman also referred to the position of the Royal Irish Constabulary, the Civil Service, and the Judges. I am glad to be able to give him satisfactory assurances on all these heads. The Constabulary deserve the praise which has been bestowed upon them. We are aware of the obligations which Imperial legislation has imposed upon us in their regard, and we propose to abide by those obligations; for it will be found that the 1433 Constabulary have been dealt with in accordance with the chartered position which they hold, and that they have no reason to complain. The sane remarks apply to the Civil Service and the Judges. We recognise our liability to make provision for them, and we have satisfied that liability. With regard to the Judges, the right hon. Gentleman is quite in error in supposing that there will be any power in the Irish Legislature to diminish the salary or the pension of a Judge appointed in the future. We expressly safeguard the rights of future Judges to the salaries and pensions which they understand they are to have when they are appointed. I was a little surprised by the zeal which the right hon. Gentleman showed for the maintenance of judicial independence, bearing in mind the judicial independence of the Magistracy which existed during his term of Office.
§ MR. BRYCE
I am aware that the right hon. Gentleman inherited arrangements which had been in existence for many years before he carne into Office, but the policy of the right hon. Gentleman with respect to the use made of his Removable Resident Magistrates as instruments for his policy of coercion under the Act of 1887 imposed a strain upon the judicial system of the country and the independence of the Magistrates to which they had not been exposed before.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman has accused me of tampering with justice in Ireland. I have no objection to that accusation, if it be justified by facts.
§ MR. BRYCE
Nothing was further from my mind than to suggest that the right hon. Gentleman hail tampered with the independence of justice. I know him to be incapable of it, and I believe that no Minister of the Crown would do such a thing. My meaning was that the, Coercion Act as administered under the right hon. Gentleman necessarily and inevitably affected the position of the Magistracy in Ireland, imposing on it an improper and dangerous strain. I now come to a point in which the right hon. Gentleman laid very considerable stress, and on which, I admit, 1434 he is entitled to lay stress. The point has reference to the position of the Irish Members in the British Parliament. It is, indeed, difficult to find a system under which arrangements perfectly satisfactory to all could be made. The course of exclusion is obviously inadmissible because it was rejected, and rejected on strong grounds, in 1886 by a large majority of English people otherwise favourable to the Bill of that year. To the course of retention for all purposes I have myself never been able to see much objection, but it appears to excite strong hostility in some quarters, hostility so strong that it may possibly be difficult to persuade any majority to adopt it. The third course of retention in lessened numbers is open to a double logical objection, and therefore we fall back upon the fourth course of retention for Imperial purposes only. I do not deny that, for those who are familiar with daily work in this I louse, a system under which a portion of the Members will vote in some Divisions and not in others does present elements of difficulty. I think, however, those difficulties appear to be very much greater at first sight than they will be seen to be when examined in detail. When the clause is produced it will be found that it sufficiently provides for the cases that would arise, and we have added to that clause a proviso that the decision on the application of the Bill to eases in which the point will arise shall never be questioned otherwise than in this House. This question, in other words, will never come before the Courts of Law, and no suspicion of invalidity about the carrying of a Bill or Resolution will arise outside the House; it is a matter which will remain wholly within the jurisdiction of the House itself. That clause and proviso will meet most of the difficulties the right hon. Gentleman pointed out. The right hon. Gentleman asked a so whether it was right that Irish Members should determine what Cabinet was to be in power, and he justly observed that the most important function of Parliament is to keep an Executive in power. That function must belong to the whole Imperial Parliament, because the Imperial Cabinet is charged with the management of the concerns of the whole Empire, and clearly it can only be kept in power by all the Members from all parts of the United Kingdom, who are all 1435 equally interested in the due conduct of Imperial affairs. The only inconvenience, therefore, which will arise is this—and I frankly admit it is an inconvenience—that it will be possible that a Ministry may be in power, supported by a majority of all the Members, who will not be able to pass Bills for England alone, because they do not possess an English majority. Will the House be surprised to hear that although it has sometimes, if rarely, happened since the Reform Act of 1832 that there have been Ministries in power dependent on an Irish majority only, there has never yet, so far as I can gather—and I am indebted on this point to my right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), who has made a careful examination of it—there has never been any case of an English Bill of first-class importance, or even considerable importance, which has been carried except by the votes of an English majority. Therefore, the case which we are contemplating is not only a hypothetical case, but is one which, according to the experience of the past, is most unlikely to occur. I will go further, and say it is a case which ought not to occur. The hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Sir Edward Clarke) put the case of the Welsh Suspensory Bill. So long as the Irish majority remain here, of course they must retain their right of voting, and it would be most unjust to them, before you have given them a Legislature of their own, to debar them from voting upon any Bill whatever. If the hon. and learned Member is ready to assume the Home Rule Bill already passed into law, then the question of their moral right to vote for a Suspensory Bill may become a practical question. The hon. and learned Member put, I think, a very bad case when he put the case of the Welsh Suspensory Bill, because what is our contention? It is that such a Bill ought virtually to be decided by the votes not of English Members, but of Welsh Members—that is to say, it is a Bill which the British as well as the Imperial majority ought to adopt when there is a large and overwhelming majority of Welsh Members in its favour. But I will put the case of an English Bill. Suppose the case of a Bill for the disestablishment of the Church of England. I frankly own it would be 1436 impossible to carry such a Bill against the English majority. But it would be virtually impossible to do so now; for though we have now the legal right to carry such a Bill by the votes of the Irish Members against an English majority, everyone knows that we could not seriously attempt to do it, for the objection to such a course would be overwhelming. We are, therefore, dealing here with idle and fanciful dangers, and the very difficulties which the hon. and learned Gentleman conjures up are in existence at this moment. Let me take the instance of Scotland. Scotch Members have always claimed that it was most unfair to force a Scotch Bill upon this House against the wish of a large majority of Scotch Members, and the House has always adopted that view. I admit that upon many small points—Amendments in Committee—Scotch opinion may have been overborne, but there has never been a case of an important Bill being forced upon Scotland against the wish of a Scotch majority. So that here also we have practically recognised the principle which under the arrangements now proposed would be formally enacted. When hon. Members speak of inconveniences, let them remember the numerous inconveniences from which we may now suffer if majorities were to assert all their legal rights and over-ride the moral and practical aspects of the case. For my part, I believe that if the House chooses between the various plans, it will be found that the plan we have proposed is subject to fewer inconveniences, and is far more likely before long to be smooth, easy, and familiar in its working than any plan excluding Irish Mend altogether. The hon. and learned Member also took the case of a sudden vote. That is just one of the cases which might occur now if we did not deal with them upon common-sense methods. Snap Divisions are not allowed now to upset a Ministry, and they ought not to be allowed to have any more effect in the future than we allow them now. I come next to the subject of finance. The right hon. Gentleman asks how we propose to deal with the collection of Income Tax. He will find the question fully answered in the Bill. There is a clause in the Bill which expressly deals with the case of the collection of Income 1437 Tax, and which, I think, removes the inconveniences to which the right hon. Gentleman very properly called attention. Then he asks, What would happen if the Customs Duties were to be abolished? He forgets that that is an Imperial matter, and there therefore will be no difficulty in dealing with such a case, by obtaining the contribution of Ireland in some other way, should a change be necessary, because the Irish Members will be here in full strength, and because in all matters of Imperial finance they will be equally interested with ourselves. Remember that we are not, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, dissolving partnership with Ireland; we are retaining Irish Members for all our most important affairs, for the whole of our Imperial Budget, Imperial Expenditure, and Imperial enterprises, and in any proposal for a serious and deep-cutting financial change the Irish Members would have to bear their part. That there will be some difficulty, that Budgets will occasionally present problems of more complexity than they have presented hitherto, I admit; but we have introduced a scheme in the Bill by which, as we trust, it will be found possible for the House to deal equitably with the claims of Ireland and with the adjustment of taxation between the two countries. The principle is simple, and we have full confidence in the wisdom and equity of Parliament to give effect to the principle when and as cases actually arise. I am sorry to have detained the House so long in dealing with those matters; but I feel the importance of the criticisms which the right hon. Gentleman brought forward, and it is far better that such criticisms should be given and answered at the very outset. I must, however, observe that it is easy to conjure up difficulties with all new schemes. Why, if any philosophic visitor were to come down here from some other planet and ask someone to explain the British Constitution to him, would he not say, "Such a scheme cannot work; it is too full of complications and contradictions." The fact is that any constitutional plan drawn out on paper always bristles with difficulties. May I call the attention of the House to a very interesting parallel case which happened just a little more than 100 years ago? In 1878 the United States of America 1438 were called upon to consider a Constitution which had been drafted. That Constitution had a very narrow escape of being rejected. Predictions the most unfavourable in their character, and criticisms the most various and searching in their quality, were levelled against it, and it was confidently declared that it never could work, but would lead either to the destruction of liberty or to speedy disunion and separation. More titan 100 years have passed since then, and to-day under that Constitution 70,000,000 of people live in happiness, having reached a pitch of material strength and prosperity hitherto unexampled in the history of the world, while to-day reverence is paid to the authors of the Constitution as the benefactors of their country. If we are to assume that everybody will do the wrong thing, that everybody will set himself from the first to try not to make the scheme work, but to make it fail, difficulties may probably arise. But why should such assumptions be made? We admit and foresee that there will be some difficulties; but making all possible allowance for human frailty, we believe that this scheme will succeed, and we believe it because we believe that there are good forces as well as bad forces in human nature, and that on the whole the good forces are strongest. We believe that in spite of the warnings of the right hon. Gentleman that even a Tory Government will try to work the Constitution fairly. We believe when the right hon. Gentleman comes into power, as no doubt by some turn of the wheel of fortune he one day will, and finds the Irish Legislature established in Ireland, he will not be the man to make a capricious or vexatious use either of the veto or of the supremacy of Parliament. We believe he will by that time have realised the relief given to Britain by relegating everything relating to Irish local affairs to the Irish Legislature. This is, however, only one part of the gain we expect. Relief will also be given to Britain in her Imperial aspect by making the Irish a more loyal and contented people, and in that view and in that belief—in view of the good results which we hope this Bill will work—I will venture even now to make an appeal to the patriotism of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they must resist the Bill, as no doubt upon any matter 1439 of principle they must, not to conduct a harassing and vexatious opposition upon every petty detail with the view to prevent it having a fair chance of passing into law. They know as well as we do that some scheme for Irish self-government must pass. They know that the demand for an Irish Legislature, which has been almost uninterruptedly made since 1800, sometimes in a revolutionary, now, happily, in a constitutional, way, will some day have to be granted. Is it not better for them, even now, not to protract a useless struggle, but to yield with some measure of grace what they must see to be inevitable? Be that as it may, in laying this Bill on the Table of the House we have sought to do our duty by Britain and by Ireland. We trust to the Liberal Party, and to the Irish Party, and we trust, I will venture to say, to both sections of the Irish Party, because I believe both sections of the Irish Party when they come to examine the Bill—and I hope they will pass no hasty judgment upon it until they have examined it—will find in it a full satisfaction of all reasonable claims. We confidently trust that these Parties, representing the majority of this I louse, will help us to carry this Bill through. We do so because we think the Bill affords a fair, moderate, and practical solution of the question. We hold that it has in it the elements of success and of stability, because it appeals not to fear or force, like the coercive policy of the past, but to the higher and better side of human nature, because it is calculated to bring peace and concord out of strife and bitterness, because it rests upon the solid and enduring foundation of those principles of self-government and freedom and responsibility—responsibility the offspring of self-government—by which Britain herself has grown great, and has grown to be the pattern mid model of all the free nations of the world.
§ *SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)
said, they land all listened with respect and admiration to the speech of the right hon. Member for Midlothian the previous night in introducing this Bill. He laid its provisions before the House in a conciliatory manner, and he, for his part, hoped they would all debate it with as little heat as possible, for in so doing lay their best hope of arriving at a 1440 wise conclusion. The right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had referred them to the American Constitution, and everyone who had read his (Mr. Bryce's) most interesting and valuable work on this subject must appreciate the difficulties which the framers of that measure had to contend with. But there was this difference between the two cases: They had in the case of America to make a new Constitution, whereas we had a Constitution which had grown up with the history of our own country, and which he saw no reason at all to change. His right hon. Friend the Prime Minister had told them that he had a commission from the country to introduce this Bill. He was very much surprised to hear that, because he could not help remembering that not only they but many supporters of the right hon. Gentleman himself had been doing everything they could for many years past to induce the right hon. Gentleman to tell them what his policy was in order that the constituencies could have an opportunity of pronouncing upon it. Such information was withheld from them, and, under these cirumstances, the right hon. Gentleman could not say he had a commission from the country. The Prime Minister told them they had no choice between Home Rule and coercion; he spoke of their "embracing the path of coercion," which was rather a curious metaphor, and in support of that contention he referred to the present Crimes Act. As to the Crimes Act, he would remind the House that Lord Selborne, one of the highest legal authorities on Constitutional Law, and who had been Lord Chancellor in two Ministries of the right hon. Gentleman, had told them that that Act created no new crimes. He believed the statement to be absolutely correct. Instead of the Crimes Act being coercion, as had been alleged, it did away with real coercion—boycotting—which had caused so much misery in many thousand homes; and under this Act for months past there had only been two or three persons in prison, and he believed they were imprisoned for offences which would have been punishable in any civilised country in the world. His right hon. Friend justified the Bill on the ground that the population of Ireland was irreconcileable. But was the case so hopeless? The right hon. Gentleman had himself reminded them of the case of Belfast. Belfast, at the 1441 time of the Union, was bitterly opposed to that policy, but was now one of the strongest supporters of the union of the two countries. There were some words used by the right hon. Gentleman in that part of his speech that he had listened to with considerable pain. He told the House how unanimously the people of Belfast then opposed the Union which they now supported, and then he went on to say—We have seen them alter from what we think better to what we think worse";and expressed a hope that they would change again, resume their old feelings of jealousy towards us, and—Form one in a noble and glorious unity with the rest of their fellow-countrymen.They did form now a noble and glorious unity with the rest of their fellow-countrymen. We were their fellow-countrymen, and we meant to remain so. As regarded rural Ireland, he admitted the case was different. But it was not hopeless. The people of Belfast were in favour of the Union because they had prospered under it, because they felt it was to their advantage to form an integral part of this great Empire. The rural population—and he deeply regretted it— had been less fortunate, though not through any fault of ours. What had been the economical history of rural Ireland since 1800? The population at that time was about 5,000,000. Fostered especially by the great development of the cultivation of the potato, it rose to over 8,000,000 by about 1845. Then came the potato disease; and the yield of the potato, which had been between six and seven tons to the acre, fell below three and a quarter tons. This caused the great famine, and we contributed £8,000,000 to mitigate its effects. But the result was that something like one-half of the staple food of the rural population was swept away at one fell blow. Necessarily the population dwindled. It was now again below 5,000,000, and at the present figure would, he hoped, be maintained in comparative comfort. But the fall of the population from 8,000,000 to 5,000,000 was unavoidably accompanied by great suffering. He did not complain that we were blamed, though he thought unjustly; but he hoped that, now this great source of suffering and sorrow was at an end, there were brighter prospects in store for 1442 the rural population; and that, though it must take time, the same happy change of feeling which had taken place in Ulster would extend to other parts of Ireland also. Since he had had a seat in that House he had always listened with respect and sympathy to the views of Irish Members, and he had voted, and should vote, for every measure calculated to remove any injustice or to promote the comfort and welfare of our Irish fellow-countrymen. The experiment which we were now asked to try was absolutely novel. There was nothing like it in the world. Austria-Hungary (and nearly the same might be said of Norway and Sweden) was a dual Empire. Each of the parts had equal privileges. It was presided over by an Emperor with great power; and yet he was not sure that it possessed the elements of strength or of stability. So also in the United States and in Switzerland, every State had similar rights. That was not what was proposed now. He saw that several Gladstonians had declared in favour of "Home Rule all round." But that was not Home Rule; it was Federalism. It would present great difficulties, but it would not be open to the objections which were felt to Home Rule. Federalism treated all parts of the Empire alike; Home Rule granted special privileges to one portion which were denied to the rest. His right hon. Friend had not correctly appreciated the position which the Unionists took up as regarded the retention of Irish Members. They did not advocate their retention with a view of maintaining the supremacy of the Crown. The argument was that you are on the horns of a dilemma; if you do not keep the Irish Members you cannot be said to maintain the Union; and if you do, to use the words of the Secretary for Scotland, you make them not only masters in Dublin, but our masters in Westminster also. The Prime Minister said that he proposed in this Bill to give the Irish their proportionate weight. It seemed to him that 80 was too large a number. Under the circumstances of this Bill the true measure was not the number of the population, but the amount of the contribution, and according to the contribution, although the financial part of the proposal was not very clear, 40 would be a fairer number than 80. Ireland would in future only contribute one-twentieth 1443 of our Imperial Expenditure, and yet it was proposed to give them one-seventh of the representation! The Bill of 1886 excluded the Irish Members and in criticising that Bill Unionists dwelt on the consequences which must have followed from that proposal. They succeeded in convincing the country that their objections were well-founded, and they converted the great bulk of the Liberal Party, who ought not, therefore, to complain of the course taken at that time. In the Bill now before the House the Government had placed themselves on the second horn of the dilemma, which seemed to him to be the more dangerous of the two. Who was to decide when Irish Members were and when they were not to vote? Was that difficult and invidious duty to be thrown on the Speaker? Surely on that point we should be opening a door to interminable disputes. Moreover, the English Government was an Executive as well as a Legislative Body. They carried on the government of the country. But while we should have no influence in the selection of the Irish Government, Irish Members would have a very powerful voice in the selection of our Government. Suppose a case—and history had shown it to be a very common one—such a case as the present, when the Government had been put in power and was kept in power by Irish votes against the wishes of the people of Great Britain. Under this Bill who would be Prime Minister? As regarded our home affairs, Lord Salisbury would have a majority of 40; as regarded Imperial affairs the right hon. Gentleman would have a majority of 20. We might well ask the memorable question, "How is Her Majesty's Government to he carried on?" The Budget would be an Imperial question, but Irish Members would vote on it, and they would thus be our masters. We welcomed them here as equals, but the right hon. Gentleman would put them in a position of advantage over us. The right hon. Gentleman had said that no Bill of first-rate importance had ever been passed in this House against the wishes of England. Well, this was a Bill of first-rate importance, and he hoped it would not be passed against the wishes of England. The right hon. Gentleman had told the House that it was a cardinal feature of 1444 his proposals to maintain the supremacy of Parliament. But how was that to be insured? Not through the police, for they would gradually pass to the Local Authorities. Not through the Executive Government, for they would be under the Irish Parliament. Through the troops? That would be most unsatisfactory. But who was to call them out? Sir J. Stephen pointed out this difficulty in a letter to The Times on May 1,1886, when he said—How would the troops be set in motion? No military officer would act on his own responsibility. The Irish Magistrates, answerable to the Irish Legislative Body, would not call upon the troops to act against the orders of that Body, though they might be compelled to act in obedience to it.Under this Bill the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament in Ireland would be a mockery and a sham. Again, we might be placed in a position of great difficulty if the Irish Executive infringed the Neutrality Laws to aid in any cause with which they sympathised. What power should we have of enforcing those laws? There might, for instance, be enlistments on behalf of one side or the other in some foreign struggle. That would place us in a great international difficulty, and yet how could we prevent it? The right hon. Gentleman had postponed to the close of his speech one very important part of the question—that of finance, and he had left the House in much doubt as to the provisions of the Bill. Whatever difficulty there might be as to the determination of the questions on which the Irish Members were not to vote, there was no doubt that they were to vote on questions of peace and war. But if they involved England in a war, how could we be assured that they would bear their fair proportion of the burden? The Prime Minister had referred to Customs, but it would not be possible to raise more than a small portion of the funds by Customs Duties. The right hon. Gentleman had scarcely alluded to the Income Tax, and no one seemed to understand his proposals as to that great source of revenue, but he had said, mysteriously, that—As to other sources of revenue, we have in view a proposal by which we should make sure of getting a fair provision from Ireland for special Imperial necessities.Considering the great importance of this question, and the disadvantage at which 1445 we should be placed if we had 80 Irish Members voting here, while we had no voice at Dublin, it was remarkable that the right hon. Gentleman should have thought it unnecessary to give even a hint of the proposals he intended to make. This Bill was called a Bill for the better government of Ireland, but he was afraid it would raise angry feelings and hostility, if not civil war. There were, moreover, other considerations; and if this Bill were to pass, he thought it would injuriously affect the interests of Ireland. The very shadow of Home Rule had acted prejudicially on all Irish securities. Ireland needed capital for the improvement of her harbours, for the drainage of her land, for the development of her industries, and as long as the two countries were connected capitalists thought they had full security for their investments; they were ready to embark in Irish enterprises. But the very threat of Home Rule had done much to shake that feeling, and he was afraid if the Bill ever became law it would have a very unfortunate effect upon Irish industries, and check the development of that country. He would appeal to an authority he was sure would even now be listened to with respect by Irish Members opposite. In the Debates on the Bill of 1886 Mr. Parnell pointed out that—Irish landlords now can borrow money at a low rate of interest for the improvement of their estates; Irish tenants can borrow money for improving their farms; Local Bodies can borrow money for sanitary purposes within their jurisdiction. All these are very important matters. But we shall have to surrender all these under the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman.Those words of Mr. Parnell were as applicable to the scheme now before the House as they were to the scheme of 1886, and what was true then was true now. For Ireland, then, he believed, this was an ill-omened Bill. As far as England was concerned, this Bill would place us at a terrible disadvantage. The words of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland were as true now as when they were spoken. He said—It is proposed to give Ireland a Parliament of its own for Irish legislation, but to admit Irish Representatives to the Imperial Parliament to discuss and vote on Imperial matters.… However anxious we may be to divide the domestic functions of Parliament from its Imperial 1446 functions, I will venture to say that Irish Members will not only be absolute masters of their own Parliament in Dublin, but they will be our masters at Westminster as well.The right hon. Gentleman had never answered his own argument. He did not allege that the Irish Members would do anything they were not entitled to do as Representatives of their country; but by this Bill they would not only have rights and powers as regarded the administration of their own country, but they would also then be entitled to come into the English Parliament and exercise rights and powers here, whilst English Members would have no part in Irish affairs. This was not only an Irish but an English question, in which Englishmen had a vital interest, for it fundamentally altered the Government of England as well as that of Ireland. He was glad that thin country decided against the Bill in 1886 and in 1892, and he was confident that it would give the same response to any future appeal. He should be the first to admire the spirit of conciliation in which the Bill was brought forward by the Prime Minister. He (Sir John Lubbock) desired to promote good feeling in Ireland, and to receive any proposals which would tend to her well-being. But he could not support a Bill which he believed to be fraught with danger to both countries; which opened up new subjects of contention; which would throw the British Government into confusion; which abandoned those just rights of self-government which Parliament had no right to sacrifice; and which gave to the Irish Representatives a control over English affairs to which no wise and patriotic Englishman would consent.
§ *MR. PERCY M. THORNTON (Clapham)
asked the consideration of the House while, as a new Member, he ventured to address to it some remarks in a different line from those that had been heard in the earlier part of the Debate. A difference of opinion had arisen between the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberbeen as to whether there was a mandate given at the last Election for the introduction of a Home Rule measure. The right hon. Gentleman only dealt with the matter in generalities; he (Mr. Thornton) would endeavour to bring it down to principles. Those principles would be more or less of a local nature.
1447 He represented a very large constituency in the south-west of London—almost, he might say, within sight of the House—and he felt that the south-west of London bad given a very qualified verdict, indeed, towards the bringing in of this measure. From the moment the County Council Elections were in prospect up to the last General Election the Liberal Party in south-west London almost ignored Home Rule in their speeches. He did not mean to say that there was no reference at all; but Home Rule was not largely touched upon in any of the speeches. As a Representative of the working classes, he would doubtless be asked how it was that if this was only a partial mandate to bring in a measure of the kind he, on the other hand, could claim a mandate to oppose it. His argument in reply to that was that in every Unionist's address which he had read the question of Home Rule was kept to the forefront. But if he was told that was not an answer, he would take the fact that not less than five prominent Gladstonian Members went out to his constituency, and two at least of them—although just previous to the election—made speeches about Home Rule, one of these being the right hon. Member for Midlothian himself, who addressed a gathering on the subject in the house of the Rev. Guinness Rogers. His contention, plainly, was that there was no complete mandate on Home Rule from the south-west of London. He saw his colleague in the representation of Battersea—for he sat for that place also—he saw that hon. Gentleman (Mr. John Burns), whom he believed to be a faithful friend of the working classes, and he would ask him whether it was not a fact that while he mentioned Home Rule in his address, the election was won by attractive speeches on social questions and matters of that character? Home Rule, then, was not a primary fact in the discussions that preceded the election. It would be interesting to the House to hear the views of his hon. Colleague on this aspect of the case. The policy pursued was that of putting other subjects forward and then rushing Home Rule just as the elections came on. For fully 18 months they did not hear of Home Rule in his constituency—they heard not a word about it until just before the elections.
1448 In his opinion, the people of England had no interest in the question, and did not wish any Bill to be passed. He gathered from the Debate that this measure would give practical independence to Ireland. He wished the Chief Secretary for Ireland had been in his place that he might hear what a great authority, Edmund Burke, said of the drawbacks of independence. Writing to a rev. gentleman in 1796 Burke said—Ireland has derived some advantage from its independence of the Parliament of this Kingdom, or rather, it did derive advantage from the arrangements which were made at the time of the establishment of that independence. But human blessings are mixed, and I cannot but think that even those blessings were bought dearly enough, when along with the weight of the authority they have lost all benefit from the superintendence of the British Parliament.And again, on the dangers of neglect, Burke wrote—All the evils of Ireland originate within itself. That unwise body, the United Irishmen, have had the folly to represent those evils as owing to this country, when, in truth, its chief guilt is in its neglect, its utter oblivion, its shameful indifference, and its entire ignorance of Ireland and of everything that relates to it, and not to any oppressive disposition towards that unknown region.He (Mr. Thornton) asked them, did they desire to return to the practical independence to which Burke alluded, or to that terrible condition of neglect which the Prime Minister mentioned when he alluded to Swift? It was his own belief that this measure would never be tried, and it was also his hope that the request that it should not be tried would come from Irishmen themselves. After stating a desire to conduct his opposition to the Bill without any animus towards a majority of the Irish Representatives, he cited the opinions of Molyneaux and Sir William Petty in sustainment of his argument that, even if the Bill were tried, the time would come when Irishmen, or Irish Representatives, would ask that their country might remain united with England, as he believed the Parliament of Ireland would bring no peace or happiness to that country. They would ask them, he was sure, to keep to the policy of Pitt, allowing the Irish people to remain on a level with the English; and that policy was one of justice and one of mercy.
§ *MR. J. W. CROMBIE (Kincardineshire)
said, he did not intend to follow the hon. Member who had just sat down through the arguments he had thought fit to adduce. He had told them he had no mandate to deal with the question, but he admitted, at the same time, that he himself had taken every occasion to bring it forward. Like the Leader of the Conservative Party in that House the hon. Gentleman must be a master of subtle argument. He had listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour) that evening with the keenest pleasure. His political opinions could never blind him to the right hon. Gentleman's eloquence and his mastery of political argument, but neither could these considerations blind him to the weakness of his case. The right hon. Gentleman told them that the measure introduced by the Prime Minister was against the spirit of the times; but he did more than that, for he gave them an example of the Constitution which he believed to be in consonance with the spirit of the times—and that was the Constitution of Germany. What control had the Reichstag of Germany over the Home-Ruled States? If gentlemen opposite knew anything of the subject they would know that the answer to that question would not help their case. When he heard the Leader of the Opposition speaking of the Constitution of the German Empire as in consonance with the spirit of the times, he could not avoid thinking that evil communications must have corrupted good manners, and that the right hon. Gentleman had been putting his money on Parnellism, and that, vieing with the Member for Waterford, he was determined to go one better. The right hon. Gentleman tried to point out that they were in a dilemma. He endeavoured to show that the Prime Minister had averred, as a reason for introducing the measure of 1886, that Ireland was then disaffected, but now argued that Ireland wanted Home Rule, and should get it because she was tranquil. If he had impaled the Prime Minister on one horn of the dilemma, surely the right hon. Gentleman had impaled himself on the other; for his argument against Home Rule in 1886 was that Ireland was disaffected; now, because Ireland was tranquil, he asked the House to 1450 reject this Bill. They were told that Ulster objected to Home Rule, and that if she continued to object she should be excepted from the rest of Ireland. This seemed to him to be the enunciation of a new doctrine in legislation. He would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he acted upon that doctrine when he introduced a Coercion Bill which was objected to by the majority of the people in the greater portion of Ireland, and whether he put his Coercion Bill on Ulster only, which wanted it, and exempted the rest of the country, which did not want it, from its operation? Now, he was addressing the House as a new Member, and he was perfectly well aware that a new Member stood at a great disadvantage until he had acquired a knowledge of the ways and forms of the House; but that was, he acknowledged, mitigated very largely by the indulgence shown by the Speaker and hon. Members generally. But if a new Member had this disadvantage to encounter, he had also one distinct advantage—and that was, that as he had never addressed the House before, he had never laid down any political doctrine which he had to reconcile with his present political action, as happened, unfortunately, to be the case with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bordesley Division (Mr. Jesse Collings). He confessed that had he been a Member of the House in 1886 he should not have supported the Bill of that year. He objected to that Bill because, in his opinion, it contained two evils—the first, the proposal to pledge the credit of the British people for the advantage of the Irish landlords; and the second, the proposal to exclude Irish Members from the Imperial Parliament. If their objection—the objection of himself and many other Liberals—to the exclusion of the Irish Members was considered by some an unwise objection, it was at least au honest objection, because they believed that in the retention of the Irish Members there was the insignia of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, and in their exclusion would be seen the insignia of the independence of the Irish Parliament and the disintegration of the Empire. They had at that time a gifted leader to speak for them and to declare their feelings. He referred to the right hon. Gentleman 1451 the Member for West Birmingham. At that time they looked to Birmingham as the beacon of progress. They looked to it for advice, and he recollected a meeting of the Liberal Two Thousand of Birmingham at which the Member for West Birmingham and the Member for the Bordesley Division were present, and he remembered a resolution which that meeting passed, and which was copied and approved of by mostly all the Liberal Associations in the Kingdom. He called the attention of the House to the resolution, which, being moved by Dr. Dale, and supported by the right hon. Gentlemen (Messrs. Chamberlain and Collings), declared the confidence of the meeting in Mr. Gladstone, and went on to say that the meetingCordially 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 of his proposal to entrust the people of Ireland with a large control over their domestic affairs by means of a representative Assembly, provided that adequate safeguards are devised for maintaining the integrity and unity of the Three Kingdoms; that this meeting recognises in the Irish Government Bill the foundations 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 the relations of cordiality and mutual confidence between Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom will be established and permanently maintained.Would the right hon. Gentleman stand by that resolution now? There was some show of obstruction at the meeting; and according to The Times newspaper—Mr. Chamberlain protested with great warmth against such a course as utterly unworthy of the traditions of Birmingham, and plied the Party of delay with a shower of taunts, which had the desired effect of bringing about immediate consideration of the question.He wondered whether the right hon. Gentleman would use his benificent shower of taunts now against the obstructing a measure which met the Birmingham demand? They had been taunted by the hon. Gentleman the late Solicitor General upon the nature of their majority. What, however, was the bond of union that kept together the 1452 Party opposite in the present position of affairs? It was simply a policy of denial of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister and all his works. It was nothing more than that. He had listened to every speech that had been made in the course of the Debate, and he could not detect in any of them the slightest shadow of an alternative policy to this measure. There was a time when they heard a great deal about alternative proposals. The Member for West Birmingham used to support the principle of Home Rule, but he had no alternative to offer now. He had at one time offered many plans of Home Rule, but the Duke of Devonshire and other colleagues of his would not even discuss them. The only gentlemen who would discuss them even round a table were right hon. Gentlemen who occupied places in the present Administration. They had a proposal from the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord R. Churchill), in which they were told about a measure of "simultaneity and identity." What was the policy of the late Cabinet? Whatever it may have been while the noble Lord was a Member of it, as soon as he left it his policy of "simultaneity and identity" followed him out of it, for they never heard more about it. They certainly had a measure introduced by the late Chief Secretary for Ireland. It was said that a surgical operation was required to bring to the brain of a Scotchman the nature of a joke, but he thought little brains were required to show that that measure was intended as a joke—a measure which proposed that the Local Bodies it aimed at creating were to be arraigned before the Judges of the land, who should have the power to dismiss them. This was an idea that might do very well for the libretto of a comic opera, but it could not be put forward seriously as a measure of justice to Ireland. The Party opposite were held together by the bonds he had mentioned. They had no scheme of their own, and they were opposing the only statesman who had a scheme which was a complete one, and which he was able to carry to a successful issue. The late Solicitor General for England told them on the previous day that he was full of hope, for he had strong reliance on the judgment of seven years ago. He (Mr. Crombie) was full of hope, for his reliance 1453 was strong on the judgment of seven months ago. It was said that gentlemen opposed to them would wreck this measure on its details. The measure of 1886 was wrecked on its details, but the details of the measure of 1886 were its weakness; while the details of the present measure constitute its strength. The noble Lord the Member for West Edinburgh told them he had long looked forward to that day. He (Mr. Crombie) had also looked forward to that day; and hon. Members sitting around him had looked forward to it, because it gave them an opportunity of voting for a great historical measure which proposed to heal the old sore which had rankled between England and Ireland for seven centuries, a measure which marked a great epoch in the history of the Empire, and which would herald in a period of prosperity and peace.
§ COLONEL BRIDGEMAN (Bolton)
said, he could not see that the hon. Member who had now resumed his seat had suffered under any great disadvantage. He said that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition had opposed Home Rule in 1886 because Ireland was disturbed. That was not the argument if he remembered rightly. It was rather that the policy was a policy of despair, and the right hon. Gentleman protested against the theory that Irishmen should be allowed to have their own way because they thought it desirable to resist law and order. He saw that there was another method of managing the Irish people, and he never suggested in any sense that Home Rule was a wise or a judicious policy. The hon. Member for Lichfield had suggested that those who indulged in criticism of the Bill should make their remarks as brief as possible, and that all Members might be able to express their views. He would follow the advice of the hon. Member, and merely touch upon one or two points which seemed to him to require attention. The first question of importance was that of the retention of the Irish Members. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen had told them that the objections to the retention of those Members were fanciful, and said that when they had examined the Bill they would be satisfied that it provided for any difficulty that might arise. He thought he could suggest a difficulty that would be hard to over- 1454 come. Let them imagine a Conservative Government in power, the Home Rule Bill having been passed into law, and let them further imagine that they had 80 Irish Members in that House. Supposing, then, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian brought forward a Resolution—a Motion for the disestablishment of the Scotch Church, the Irish Members could not take part in the Division, because the question would be a purely British one; but if a Vote of Want of Confidence in the Government were brought forward, then the Irish Members might be called in to vote, and with their numbers they could easily defeat the Conservative Government, upon which, he supposed, a Liberal Government would come into power. They would bring in a Scotch Disestablishment Bill, but, as the Irish could not vote on it, the Liberals would be turned out again, and they would have this thing going on over and over again, with the result that they would be placed in a very absurd and ridiculous position, and make themselves look foolish before the civilised world. There was only one subject upon which the Irish Members could safely vote, and that was a Vote of Want of Confidence in the Government. He would like to have an answer from the right hon. Gentlemen as to how they would deal with that difficulty. The other point to which he would address himself was the financial aspect of the case. They were told that Ireland's contribution to the English Exchequer would be between 4 and 5 per cent. That seemed a very small proportion when it was remembered that the population of Ireland was 12 per cent. He wanted to ask the question: If the Irish contribution was to be merely 4½ per cent., why should Ireland send Representatives in the proportion of 12 per cent. to the Imperial Parliament? This was an interesting question of taxation and representation. Another point in connection with this matter was that the population of Ireland was perpetually changing. If this Bill had been brought in in 1842 the ratio of Members to be sent to this House would have been, he presumed, 180. They would see by a comparison of the Census of the last few decades that there was a perpetual change going on in the Irish population; and if that were so, were they to be 1455 invited to stereotype the figures he had quoted this particular Bill? He would watch with curiosity how Irish Members would give their votes on these points. He hoped no votes would be given, for this measure as a policy of despair. If the Government were firm and generous they would endeavour to continue the policy of the late Chief Secretary. If they did that there would be no necessity for a Home Rule Bill, and Ireland would take her place in line with England, adding to its strength instead of diminishing that strength, as this measure undoubtedly would do.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member for Kincardineshire has reminded the House that in 1886 Birmingham gave some advice to the then Liberal Party—an advice which they refused to take, and for the tendering of which those who offered it were ruled as out of the Liberal Party. The hon. Member told us to-night that the Liberal Party has now accepted that policy, but, Sir, they have accepted it seven years too late. It is remarkable, Sir, that the efforts made at that time to prevent the Prime Minister from making ducks and drakes of the great instrument called the Liberal Party, which was called into existence for a totally different purpose —it is remarkable that those efforts should be brought as a reproach against us now. What can I say about those gentlemen who, like the hon. Member who has spoken to-night, followed the present Premier like dumb dogs when he, without any mandate from the people and without consultation with his supporters here, took and wrecked that Liberal Party which it had taken us and our fore-fathers generations to build up? The right hon. Gentleman might have given his personal assent to Home Rule; but I say he had no right, under such circumstances, to ruin the great Liberal Party. We now know why the Bill has been in abeyance for seven long years. We also know the reasons why it has been concealed for seven years. It was pretty well guessed that the British public would not stand such a Bill. In 1886 it was concealed in the same manner up to the last moment. It seemed to be thought then, as it is thought now, that the only chance for such a measure was to rush it; that if there were time 1456 for reflection and explanation the great majority of the people of this country would have nothing to do with it. The Prime Minister says that since 1886 the majority in England and Great Britain against Home Rule has decreased, I say it has not decreased on the question of Home Rule. Let the Government dissolve on this present Bill. The question has been put before the country as gas and water and Home Rule by means of Village Councils. [An hon. MEMBER: Never!] Well, here is a specimen of a card of which I have seen scores. It is copyright, is printed at Leicester, and supplied to Gladstonian candidates. Amongst a dozen different promises, it contains the words "Home Rule for Ireland; Home Rule for England by means of Parish Councils." It is patent that this was an attempt to make the electors understand that the Home Rule advocated for Ireland was of the nature of the self-government recommended for England in the form of Parish Councils. Now that we have had the Bill described we can discard that useful phrase "Home Rule," because we know the Bill is one to repeal the Union Act of 1800. I was struck by the reception that was given to the Bill yesterday. There was general admiration of the great display of intellectual and physical power on the part of the Prime Minister, and there was recognition of the glamour which his great personality threw around the question, but for the Bill as apart from its introducer I venture to say there was scarcely a cheer. The policy before the country is one of repeal and of disintegration of the United Kingdom. That was the policy which was defeated in 1886, and which I venture to say will at the first opportunity be defeated this year. I should have thought Members of the Gladstonian Party would have been anxious to go to the electors and obtain their opinion on a Bill which they now have heard described for the first time. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bryce) said the Government had a commission from the United Kingdom on this Bill. As a matter of fact, hon. Members themselves never knew what the Bill was before yesterday. Would it not be better for hon. Members to go back to the constituencies and let them know that the Home Rule that is advocated means a 1457 separate Parliament in Ireland and a separate Executive; that in these small islands there are to be two Parliaments, two Executives, two Prime Ministers, two Chancellors of the Exchequer, two standards of justice, and two standards of law and order? Great Britain was a party to the Union in 1800, and the majority of the British electors are against the proposals of the Prime Minister. Is it not right that both parties to the Union should have a voice in the proposed dissolution of that Union? Is it right that this measure should be forced down the throats of the people by a majority obtained not on the issue of Home Rule at all—a majority obtained on false pretences. It is said that the Union in 1800 was brought about by bribes. Well, if this majority has its way, I venture to say that disunion will be brought about by lures, and promises, and bribes such as will be far more potent in their way than, though they may differ in character from, those used in 1800. Of what does the present majority consist? It is admitted that 81 is the legitimate number of the Irish Representatives. That, of course, more than accounts for the majority. In England there are a number of boroughs and districts where Gladstonian Members were returned by the Irish vote. Such are those of Middleton, Radcliff, and Gorton Divisions of Lancashire, and such also are Darlington and Hartlepool. If, however, we were to appeal to those constituencies on the plain issue now before the country, perhaps even there—aye, and even in Midlothian itself—the majorities might be materially reduced. The country ought not to have this Bill forced upon it by a majority got together by these means. I remember reading one of the able speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. H. H. Fowler) in Wolverhampton, when he spoke of Home Rule as being a kind of local government, and I challenge anyone who heard or real that speech to say that it did not give the impression that Home Rule, after all, meant an extension of local government. Then I should like the Home Secretary (Mr. Asquith) to explain how this Bill—Maintains intact and unimpaired the unquestioned and unquestionable supremacy of the Imperial Parliament over all persons and all matters local and Imperial.1458 Six or seven mouths ago, when the right hon. Gentleman moved a Vote of Want of Confidence, he called the Liberal Unionists apostates. I wonder what apostacy attaches to men who assume one set of opinions only to discard them under other circumstances? It is the duty of the Opposition, who represent the majority in Great Britain and the vast majority in England, to insist that this Bill should be considered by the constituencies before it becomes law. I should like to ask a preliminary question. Why is there to be a Repeal Bill at all? Why, as the hon. Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) said, should Parliament be broken up at all? We have a Parliament not of England, Ireland, or Scotland, but of the United Kingdom, a Parliament in which all sections are represented, and Ireland is over-represented. It seems to me that a Parliament that is good enough for Scotland and England should be good enough for Ireland. We have heard a good deal about liberty in England. What liberty is there in England that there is not in Ireland? What liberty is there in the North of Ireland that there is not in the South of Ireland? If the Imperial Parliament can secure the nationality of England and Scotland, what is to prevent its securing the nationality of Ireland? I was struck by the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Bryce). I confess I did not see so many difficulties in this Bill until I heard him. He dealt with them in an academic and intellectual manner, but at the conclusion of his speech there seemed to be such a mass of intricacies, complications, and difficulties, that one longed to ask him, "Why are you rushing into such a state of affairs?" It was only a few months before the right hon. Gentleman was converted to Home Rule that he said—Rhetorical commonplaces about liberty and nationality have little application to the Ireland of to-day. The Irish ideal of a leader has been an orator who will worry and vex and terrify the ruling Power, not a constructive statesman whose plans will restore prosperity to the country.The right hon. Gentleman also said—At the lowest computation more than 1,000,000 Irishmen are opposed to the Nationalist programme, and this million includes nearly all 1459 the property and education of Ireland. A minority like this cannot be ignored.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS.
It was in 1884. That was not long before the great and sudden surrender of the right hon. Gentleman and his Party to the demands of men whom he described in this fashion. This is an extract not from a speech in this House, but from a deliberately written and well considered pamphlet. It is beyond my conception how men can change in the course of a few months with such agility. The strongest case against the Repeal Party, as we must call them now, is to be found in the expression of their own opinions. There is a passage from one of Lord Spencer's speeches which describes the situation so admirably that it cannot be put aside. Speaking of the future of Ireland, Lord Spencer said—What we have to do is this: we have to tell the Irish people that their just grievances will always be redressed, that we will extend to them every privilege and liberty that we Englishmen possess; but we must tell them plainly at the same time that no party in England, whether Conservative or Liberal, will put up with anarchy, and that in respect of the Repeal of the Union we feel like the Americans when the integrity of their Empire was threatened, and that, if necessary, we must shed blood to maintain the strength and effect the salvation of the country.Some of the provisions of this Bill appear to be quite comic. I would ask the House supposing the Party opposite had brought in such a measure, how would the supporters of the present Government have pounced upon it, and how would the Prime Minister have torn it to pieces? What should we have heard from the new-fangled Liberalism about property qualifications, two orders, and all the rest of the retrograde suggestions made in this Bill? As to the retention of the Irish Members, one could almost have fancied as one listened to the Prime Minister's description of that bit of "indigestible diet" that we were in a debating society in which the right hon. Gentleman was taking both sides at once. The right hon. Gentleman said at Manchester in 1886—I will not be a party to giving Ireland a Legislative Body to manage Irish concerns, and, at the same time, to having Irish Members in London acting and voting on English concerns.1460 That is just what he is going to be a party to. [Cries of "No!"] If not, it does not "pass the wit of man" to draw a distinction between local and Imperial affairs. Who is to draw the distinction? Is the Speaker to say every hour, or when any new piece of business, or any part of a new piece of business, is entered upon, "This is Imperial, and this is local; you may vote on one but not on the other"? How about the Budget, and such questions as those of Uganda and Egypt? They are, no doubt, Imperial questions, and the Irish Members might vote on them in such a way as to cause great expenditure in the construction of railways, or even in war, although they would pay nothing or hardly anything towards the cost. Suppose the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) should carry his Bill for a free breakfast table, what would become of the Customs, the Irish share of which is to be retained by Great Britain? Suppose the promises that have been so lavishly made to the country voter that the tax on tobacco will be lowered are carried out, what, again, will become of the Customs? The right hon. Gentleman said he was content to trust to the patriotism and generosity of the Irish Parliament for giving subsidies in cases of war or emergency. I am not so sure that that trust will be well founded. Suppose the present Government, as they are very liable to do, should run us into a war with France with regard to Egypt, I do not think Ireland would vote a subsidy to assist us in carrying on that war. I think it more likely that France would, as she has done before, make Ireland the base of operations against England. One thing is clear: the British taxpayer is again to be called upon. Whereas in 1886 the tribute, as it was called, was between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000, the Irish are now to pay £2,000,000, and the balance is to come out of the pockets of the British taxpayer. On the question of finality, I should like to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton (Sir G. Trevelyan) tell us whether he has at last found the halfway house between local government and separation. If you give this Bill to Ireland, I say Ireland ought not to be content with it. No colony is treated as you propose to treat Ireland. Canada 1461 has been mentioned. The Government propose to put Ireland into something like the position which Canada occupied before the rebellion of 1847, when it was found that there were two peoples in Canada who would not blend—namely, the French and English Canadians. Thanks to the foresight of Lord Durham, it was found necessary to give them separate autonomies. Canada practically became independent and free of this country altogether. But supposing this Home Rule Bill was passed, what would be the position in Ireland. You would find two races, precisely as you found in Canada, and under the same conditions which would lead to civil war; and unless we come in to put down the Ulster people you may depend upon it we should have to separate them by giving them separate autonomies. Of course, this Bill will be accepted by all sections of the Nationalist Party; they would be very foolish if they did not. To give them their due they have always been straightforward in the expression of what they wanted. It was the same in 1886, when The Irish World wrote that it would be proper, of course, for Mr. Parnell to support the measure as it stood, but that every arrangement short of separation must leave Ireland in the position of a Province. Mr. Parnell said, "always refuse to accept any finality." Is it not a curious thing that the memory of the man who brought a Prime Minister to his knees does not to this day receive a single word of recognition—a statesman who made the present Opposition? The speech of the hon. Member for North Kerry, I should think, would undeceive those who think we are going to get rid of the Irish difficulty in this House. He showed a threatening position which does not accord well with the thought of finality. The fact is, if this Bill passes, where we occupy two days with Irish affairs we should be occupied a week, only the difference will be that while now we have the power then we shall have the responsibility and have given up the power. I will now deal with a point which has been evaded for the past seven years by all the Gladstonite Party; it is the question of Ulster. The Prime Minister last night gave a sort of reproach to the Ulster people, that they were not rebels as they were 100 years ago. But if the rebels of 100 years ago are the staunch 1462 loyalists of to-day, does not that prove that after 90 years of experience of the Union they are so convinced of its advantages that they are now among the most loyal? The fact is there has been no sympathy expressed with the Ulster people by the Prime Minister or anyone among the present Government. It has been a question absolutely shirked, as if they were not Irishmen at all. The only men who are Irishmen in the eyes of the Government are the Nationalist Party. I would make a suggestion to the Government why they should not separate Ulster from the other part of the country. When the great War of Secession took place in America the State of Virginia found itself partly loyal, partly secessionist, and what did the Federal Government do then? They divided it into two, and then took the loyal part into the Union and left the other out. That seemed a sensible course, and I think Ulster has a right to demand treatment of that kind. The Imperial Parliament can cast Ulster off, but I do not think it has any moral right to force Ulster to go under another Parliament, which power it detests. We have heard a good deal about legislation coming in a "foreign garb"; what sort of garb would the legislation come in from Dublin to Ulster? I think very much like a foreign garb. If we may take the action of the Irish Education Board, we know what will happen. I invite the attention of my right, hon. Friend, the Member for Wolverhampton, to this, because my right hon. Friend is in a very interesting position. He is, as it were, chanting the responses whilst Archbishop Walsh is conducting the service. The action of the Education Board quite recently shows that they will tax the country for denominational education; by doing that you tax Ulster, and I think Ulster will refuse to be taxed in such a way as that. The resolution passed by the great Ulster Convention, which spoke in the name of one-third of all the inhabitants of Ireland, was clear and distinct. The loyal population of Ulster are too wealthy to be let alone; what a place for plunder! It is not likely, therefore, that the masters of the Government who sit opposite, will allow them to leave Ulster out of the question. What is likely to take place is that instead of union between the different parts 1463 of Ireland there will be further agitation, and eventually civil war. I hope to have some reply to the points I have raised, especially with regard to Ulster, whose only crime has been that she has been loyal to the Union.
§ *MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
I do not propose to occupy the time of the House by following the discursive and diverting speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. The right hon. Gentleman has a great objection to politicians who change their minds on this Irish Question, and he has found particular fault with Lord Spencer and some others of his colleagues because, since the year 1884, they have advanced a considerable distance along the road which leads to goodwill between the peoples of England and Ireland. It may be well just to remind the House in a sentence that while Lord Spencer and his colleagues have changed in the direction that I have indicated, the right hon. Gentleman has changed in an entirely different direction; because it is a historical fact that at the very time Lord Spencer was denouncing the Laud League in the terms quoted by the right hon. Gentleman, the right hon. Gentleman was supporting the Land League, and the leaders of the Laud League in this House; in fact, the right hon. Gentleman, who, in his later days, has blossomed into an ardent supporter of the coercionist policy in Ireland, was in those days so strong an opponent of coercion and so ardent an Home Ruler that, when the Irish National Party, in the year 1885, issued a manifesto to their supporters in England asking them to support the Tory candidate in English elections, an exception was made in favour of the right hon. Gentleman. There are two kinds of changes on the Irish Question; one the change made by a brave and magnanimous man like Lord Spencer, who having resolutely followed the policy of coercion recognised his error and entered upon the path of conciliation. And there is the change of the right hon. Gentleman, who, having tried for a short time the policy of conciliation for reasons best known to himself and to Birmingham, changes over and enters, at this time of the day, upon the policy of repression. I propose to turn to the more serious aspects of this Debate. I desire cordially to concur in the compliment 1464 which last night was paid in this House by, the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) to the Prime Minister. He truly said that the scene witnessed last night in this House was one almost unparalleled in the history of this Parliament. The spectacle of this aged statesman who in 1886 was driven from Office by a large majority at the polls, and who during the seven years that have elapsed has maintained his position on this Irish Question, and who comes down at the end of seven years to repeat, with eloquence that age cannot wither nor custom stale, his plea for the freedom of a poor and long-suffering country, does seem to me to be a spectacle which must arouse certain emotions in the mind of every man in every Party. But the House will understand me when I say that the thought uppermost in my mind last night was not the presence of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, but the absence from this Assembly of the great Irishman who was the real father of Home Rule—the great Irishman who drove the Prime Minister and his Party from the paths of coercion in which they had so long strayed, and who taught them that in concession to Irish national sentiment were to be found alone Irish content and Imperial safety. In a memorable cable message sent by the hon. Member for North Mayo (Mr. Dillon), and the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien), and some others of their colleagues, to an equally memorable meeting in the Leinster Hall, that great Irishman was described as—The man who has brought the Irish people through unparalleled difficulties and dangers, from servitude and despair to the very threshold of emancipation, with a genius, courage, and success unequalled in any history.However much it has become fashionable nowadays to belittle his services or to seek to bury them in forgetfulness, the words of that cablegram are literally true to-day. When Mr. Parnell came to this House Irish national sentiment was denounced and derided by this House. Home Rule was regarded as a chimera, and every English Party ridiculed and despised it, and all the vast mid limitless powers and resources of England were expended in the effort to crush Irish Nationalism and to silence its voice.
1465 With a handful of men he fought the House of Commons, and in a few short years he so consolidated his power that he succeeded in driving from Office first a Liberal Government and then a Conservative Government, and, finally—and this was probably his greatest achievement—he succeeded in bringing, the foremost Englishman of the day and the great Liberal Party to the recognition and admission of the justice of the claims of Ireland. I do not begrudge to the Prime Minister the meed of praise for the courage and consistency of the last seven years. For my part, on an occasion like this, I will have no share in the ingratitude of those who shower their praises to-day upon the living Englishman, but who shrink apparently from even mentioning the name of the dead Irishman, but for whom, for all that we know, the present Prime Minister and his Party might to-night be pressing a Coercion Bill through the House. Upon this Bill it is impossible to express any final or decided judgment. It does not need the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to prevent us from forming or expressing any rash judgment upon this matter. It manifestly would be impossible for any man to express a final or decided judgment upon a Bill of this complexity and importance until they have a print of the Bill in their hands. The first criticism which I would make upon the Bill as far as it is possible to offer a criticism at this stage at all is this. The fifth of the conditions which the Prime Minister laid down as the conditions guiding him in drafting and explaining this measure, was that it should be, as far as possible, a final settlement of the national question. Now I am one of those who believe that, even in the ordinary legislation of this House, and still more so in regard to a measure of this complexity and importance, it is the utmost folly for people to talk of finality. Mr. Parnell once said truly that it is impossible for any man to dare to set limits to the onward march of a nation. With reference to the Bill as expounded last night, and as understood at any rate by me, I have no hesitation whatever in saying that there are in it great and serious blots, and that it will be absolutely necessary to press for serious amendment of many 1466 of its provisions. I recognise the course through which a Bill of this kind will have to go. We will press for amendments in a certain direction, but the Unionist Party, as they call themselves, will press for amendments in an opposite direction, and it is impossible for any man to tell in what shape or form the Bill will emerge from its Committee stage. Therefore, I say, that he would be a rash and foolish man indeed who, at this stage of the Bill, said whether it is or is not likely to afford a final and satisfactory settlement of this great international question. But there are certain broad lines in the Bill which are plainly intelligible, and which one may deal with. In the first place, I desire to say that the broad principle of the Bill—that is, the creation of an Irish Parliament with an Executive responsible to it, with full control over the management of purely Irish affairs, with the exception of one or two Irish matters which are to be reserved for a definite time—I, for one, am in full sympathy and accord with. There are some matters that require investigation and discussion. First of all, there is a question which has been largely discussed in this Debate, and which forms a topic of discussion in every Debate on Home Rule—that is, the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. The Member for North Kerry said last night that no Irish Nationalist disputed the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. There are two ways, Sir, of looking at this question. Before the Union, as the Prime Minister explained last night, there were two distinct and independent Sovereignties—that of the King, Lords, and Commons of England, and that of the King, Lords, and Commons or Ireland; and the argument of those who say that the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament has not been called in question rests on the validity of the Act of Union. It is an historical fact that national sentiment in Ireland has always disputed that validity. It founded itself on the declarations made at the time of the pre-Union Debates in the Irish Parliament. I would quote the declaration or Mr. Plunket, who, in the Irish Parliament, denied the competence of that Parliament to pass the Act of Union, and warned the House not to lay hands upon the Constitution, as they were not elected for this purpose, and if they did 1467 transfer their power of making laws for Ireland they would do so, he said, without authority, and no man would be bound to obey the laws so made out of Ireland. Now, Sir, the moment that Ireland is willing to accept such an arrangement as is proposed in this Bill—the moment she gives her acceptance of it, she implies an abandonment of the argument of the invalidity of the Union. If this Bill be passed the necessity for that argument of Irish Nationalists is gone. But, Sir, I noted a significant phrase in the speech of the Prime Minister, in which he warned the house of what might follow the rejection of this measure or of similar proposals. Ireland is moderate in her demand, and she has expressed her willingness to accept—if you confer it upon her—a scheme of this character, recognising the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament over Ireland and England alike; but the Prime Minister warned the House that if Ireland's moderate demand be rejected we in Ireland may have to fall back on the argument of the invalidity of the Union, and on the necessity of repealing the Union instead of accepting this, or a similar compromise. For the purpose of argument then in discussing this proposal, I frankly say that we are willing to accept a measure of this kind based on the validity of the Act of Union and acknowledging the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. The position from an argumentative point of view is this—that supremacy of the Imperial Parliament over Ireland, as over England, is admitted, and it is an inalienable supremacy. We have never asked for the curtailment of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament over Ireland under a Home Rule scheme. We have always admitted the fact that if a compromise of this kind be accepted as a settlement between the two countries, then your Parliament in England will have the dual power to take away our Parliament from us and to pass laws for Ireland over our heads in contravention of the wishes of the Irish Legislature. I do not want to labour this question, but I think there could be no better definition of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament than that to be found in the speech of the present Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on the Bill of 1468 1886. The right hon. Gentleman insisted in that statement on the absolute omnipotence of the Imperial Parliament. This is the position so far as the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament is concerned, and what do we ask? We ask this:—If this compromise between the full and extreme demand of the national sentiment of Ireland and English feeling be agreed to, and if we admit the validity of the Act of Union, what we ask is that we should have some guarantee given us that this Parliament will not exercise its right of legislating for Ireland over our heads upon those questions committed by the Constitution Act to the Irish Parliament. It is true, with reference to the Colonies, that the Imperial Parliament does not, as a rule, legislate for them over the heads of the Colonial Legislatures, but it can be pointed out with incontrovertible force that there is a difference between the cases. The Member for North Kerry told us last night that the mere establishment of an Irish Parliament amounted to a compact that England would not legislate for Ireland. I agree with that; but the hon. Member went further, and declared that a clause in the Bill to that effect would not have the slightest value. I differ from that, and I point to the declaration of the Chancellor of the Duchy in his speech that I referred before, in which he dealt upon the practice of Parliament, stating, "that such a compact or declaration has in practice the effect of binding successive Parliaments by imposing a moral obligation upon Parliament not to act contrary to the Statute." It is the manifest intention of the Prime Minister and his colleagues to confer unfettered control of purely Irish affairs on an Irish Legislature, and, especially after the speech of the Leader of the Opposition to-night we ask that there should be in this Bill a declaration to the effect that in those matters specially committed to the charge of the Irish Legislature there shall be no vexatious or capricious interference on the part of this Parliament. The Member for North Kerry used the words "vexatious and capricious," I think. His words were that—The Imperial Parliament was supreme, but he held the passing of the Home Rule Bill reserving certain subjects to the Imperial Parliament and committing others to the Parliament of Ireland as amounting to a compact— 1469 that there would be no capricious interference with an action within the appointed sphere of the Parliament of Ireland.In substance, Sir, there is directly no difference between us on this point. We both admit the technical supremacy of the Imperial Parliament, but we both sad that there must be some protection against the use of the power held by the Imperial Parliament as against the Irish Parliament. The hon. Member for North Kerry used another argument from which I entirely differ. He takes the view that the presence of the Irish Members here at Westminster will be a guarantee against interference. I take the exactly opposite view. How is it you do not interfere in colonial matters? There are no Colonial Members here, and you do not interfere in the affairs of the colonies. It is very rarely, at any rate, that you do. Why should you interfere in Irish matters if the Irish Members were away? In the Bill of 1886 the proposal was that the Irish Members should be withdrawn. It is, unfortunately, proposed in the present Bill that they should be kept here. If Irish Members were away there would be no temptation, but with a loyal minority always here, representatives sent to this House from constituencies hostile to Home Rule for Ireland in any shape at all, they would come here with an avowed policy of wrecking the constitution of Ireland and of initiating debates on every conceivable Irish question, and so the presence of Irish Members would be a standing temptation to this Parliament to do that which otherwise it would not do. Let there be no doubt on this point in the mind of any hon. Member. You must not expect that any scheme w ill be successful for the Government of Ireland which sets up, either directly or indirectly, this Imperial Parliament as a Court of Appeal on the acts of the Irish Legislature. Such a position would be an intolerable one for this House, and would be still more intolerable for the Irish Legislature. I say our position would be much worse than it is at present if, after having constituted a local Legislature in Ireland, this House should act as a sort of a Court of Appeal to revise, amend, or repeal any of the acts of the Irish Parliament. I come now to the second point of importance—namely, the question 1470 of the veto. The view we have expressed on this question is perfectly clear and perfectly fair and reasonable. It is a mistake to suppose that we have ever made an extreme claim on this question. Last October I stated what I understood to be the necessity of the case in reference to the veto. I said—We have to make it clear and unmistakable that in the daily life of our new Parliament the veto of the Crown will be exercised constitutionally on the advice of the Irish Ministers, and that it will not be made a practice for the interference by the Imperial Government or the English Cabinet in the government of those purely Irish affairs which are committed to the charge of the new Irish Legislature.I always took the view of the clause of the Bill of 1886 as plain on this question. That clause was—That subject to any instructions which may from time to time be given by Her Majesty, the Lord Lieutenant will give or withhold assent to Bills.And so on. I interpreted that, and most Irish Nationalists interpret it, to mean that the daily life of the Irish Parliament, and in reference to purely local Bills the Lord Lieutenant will give or withhold his consent on the advice of the Irish Government. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes, but unfortunately a discussion arose some few few months ago in England—it was initiated by Mr. Oscar Browning—which elicited from quite a number of gentlemen of eminence and authority various and widely different interpretations of that clause, and hence it was that another discussion on the point arose in Ireland, though efforts were made to stifle it in that country. I am glad to think that the result of that discussion in Ireland has been satisfactory, because we have it from the Prime Minister that in the new Bill the clause will read differently, and that there will be an express declaration that the Lord Lieutenant is to exercise his veto on the advice of the Irish Cabinet except where there are instructions to the contrary by Her Majesty. That places the practice about which we were uncertain absolutely beyond dispute. If it were necessary to go further on the point, we have the declaration of the Prime Minister, who used this pregnant and significant phrase— 1471We desire to give Ireland a Parliament which would have practically a separate and independent control of Irish affairs.And further, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. James Bryce) said the veto was only to be used in case the provisions of the Bill were transgressed or that some intolerable tyranny was practised by the majority. So far as the latter contingency is concerned, if any attempt were made by the Irish Parliament to outrage the political privileges or the religious instincts of the minority, I for one, and I am sure every Nationalist will agree with me, I would not object to any power stepping in to save the minority in Ireland from injustice. I am very clear on the point, but there has been some doubt raised about it already. The phrase used by the Prime Minister was that the Lord Lieutenant should exercise the veto, not on the advice or the Irish Cabinet, but on the advice of the Executive Committee of the Privy Council. I presume the Executive Committee of the Privy Council simply means the Cabinet, which depends for its existence on the support of the majority in the popular Assembly. I listened with regret to the threats indulged in on this point by the Leader of the Opposition, though in one sense I thought it hopeful that a large portion of his speech indicated something like a change in the way he looks at this question of Home Rule. He is no longer fighting a theory; it seems to me he now feels it necessary to grapple with a reality; he foresees that this is a more serious business than some of his light-hearted supporters imagine, and therefore he stands up at that Table and threatens—a most unworthy proceeding as it seemed to me—that if his Party comes into power after the concession of Home Rule, the veto will not be left to be constitutionally exercised by the Lord Lieutenant, but will be exercised constantly over the head of the Irish Cabinet to give satisfaction to every petty Party interest of his friends.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman means that he is quoting my actual words.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Well, what I said was, that it would not only be in the power but would be the duty of every British Administration to interfere in every act of the Irish Legislature interfering with the rights or interests of any party in Ireland.
§ MR. J. E. REDMOND
The right hon. Gentleman's speech is in the recollection of the House. The Government say that this over-riding veto is not to be used except in some great case of emergency or injustice or tyranny; but the argument of the right hon. Gentleman is, that that may be all very well for a Government with the views of the present Government, but other Governments would come into power and would feel it their duty to use it constantly; that they would not allow the weapon to rust, but would keep it clean and sharp, by converting this power into a continually operative veto. I am not a bit dismayed by that threat. My belief is this, that if such a state of things arose in Ireland as would justify the exercise of this extreme power, it would be a state of things which would justify you in taking the Parliament a way altogether. But I am not a bit afraid of such an emergency ever arising, and the threats of the right hon. Gentleman pass us by as the idle wind. There is one other matter connected with the veto on which I desire to say a word. We have always maintained that upon the ordinary every-day work of the Irish Legislature the veto should only be exercised on the advice of the Irish Ministers. The organ of the Government in London—The Daily News—in writing upon this question, in a more or less authoritative tone stigmatised that demand as an "obvious and palpable absurdity." Well, I am glad to be able to say that the Prime Minister has taken a different view of this matter, for he has inserted in the Bill a provision carrying out what The Daily News has stigmatised as an obvious and palpable absurdity. I regard it as of enormous importance in the case of the veto that the Lord Lieutenant should cease to be a Member of the English Cabinet. The Bill of 1886 had no such provision, though the Prime Minister, in one of his speeches in 1473 1886, indicated that that was his view; and I say at once that the exercise of the veto by the Lord Lieutenant would be resented and distrusted in Ireland if the Lord Lieutenant remained what he is to-day, not simply the representative of the Sovereign in Ireland, but the representative of the fleeting Governments that come and go in this House. I turn now to a question on which I desire to ask the Government for some information—that is the question of the control of the Constabulary. The Prime Minister said the Constabulary should be gradually transformed—that they should be a disappearing force, and that the new force should be under the control of the Irish Government, but during the interval Ireland was to continue to pay £1,000,000 a year for the support of this armed police, but he failed altogether to tell us whether there was any definite or specified period stated in the Bill. The hon. Gentleman the Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) in his speech last night asserted or assumed that there would be a definite term in the Bill, and I understood the Chief Secretary last night to indicate that that was so. I therefore listened with great disappointment to the speech of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, which gave us no information as to whether the term would be stated in the Bill. I ask now, Will there be a term in the Bill, and, if so, for how many years? Let us remember how the matter stands. This was one of the points on which Mr. Parnell insisted on during the struggle in Room 15 and after. In dealing with conversations which took place at Hawarden, as to the authenticity of which there was some difference of opinion, Mr. Parnell said—With regard to the control of the Irish Constabulary, it was stated by Mr. Gladstone that, having regard to the necessity for conciliating English public opinion, he and his Colleagues felt that it would be necessary to leave this force and the appointment of its officers under the control of the Imperial authority for an indefinite period, while the funds fur its maintenance, payment, and equipment would be compulsorily provided out of Irish resources.Now, that statement of the recollection of the interview was contradicted or denied. I want to know whether this Bill proposes, or does not, to leave the Irish Constabulary for an indefinite period—that is, no number of years stated 1474 in the Bill—under Imperial control. As to the other point we do know that, whatever the interval is, Ireland is to pay £1,000,000 a year towards their maintenance as a force. Of course, as the force is reduced the charge will be reduced, but we have no accurate information as to whether the process of reducing the Constabulary may not go on at the will and the caprice of successive English Governments for generations to come. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I hope that before the Debate closes he or some other Member of the Government will state whether there is a term of years in the Bill within which they must disappear altogether, and what that term of years is, because I confess, if there is no term of years in the Bill, and the matter is left indefinite, I for one take the very gravest objection to that portion of the scheme.
§ MR. J. E. REDMOND
I am very glad indeed to have heard that statement front the right hon. Gentleman. But then I am forced to the reflection that a term of years—a definite term of years for the police being in the Bill—and a definite term for the control of the laud question by this House being in the Bill, and these being the two points on which assurances were asked in Committee Room 15 from the right hon. Member for Midlothian, it is to be regretted that when both contending parties in Committee Room 15 united to ask him for a declaration on these points—even a private declaration—he did not give it to us, although he must have known if he had he would probably have saved Ireland from two years of internal discord and misery. On the question of the laud I have only this to say: any temporary reservation of the Land Question in principle, so long as the term is definite, I do not object to. God knows it might be a blessing for the Irish Parliament for two or three years to be relieved from this nightmare of the Irish Agrarian Question. On principle, I do not object to it. But I have two remarks to 1475 make; one is, that the period of three years would, as I understand, cover the exact period when the revision of judicial rents under the Act of 1881 comes about, and the other is that, that being so, it is of enormous importance, whilst the gnosis reserved to this Parliament, that you should not touch either the number or the powers of the Irish Members in this House. As the House may have gathered from what I have already said, I am not one of those who have any overpowering desire to see the Irish Members in this House at all. It would simplify many of the provisions of this Bill if the Irish Members were withdrawn from this House. But as long as you keep control over a question like the Land Question and the Constabulary force in Ireland, it is absolutely essential for us to keep our numbers in this House. On this question I will again quote Mr. Parnell, and I venture to say, before this Debate closes, his statements, his declarations, and Ids warnings will be repeated and adverted to by hon. Members sitting in every part of the House. Mr. Parnell said—With regard to the retention of the Irish Members, the position I have always adopted and then represented is that, with the concession of full powers to the Irish Legislature, equivalent to those enjoyed by a State of the American Union, the number and position of the Members so retained would become a question of Imperial concern, and not of pressing or immediate importance for the interests of Ireland. But that, with the important and all-engrossing subjects of agrarian reform, a constabulary control, and judiciary appointments left either under Imperial control or totally unprovided for, it would be the height of madness for any Irish Leader to imitate Grattan's example and consent to disband the army which has cleared the way to victory.Therefore, our position is this: that, so long as you retain control of these purely Irish questions, in common justice we are bound to demand that we shall be allowed to remain in this House in our full numbers. And as to the question of the division between Imperial and local affairs, I confess I am one of those who believe that in the end the Prime Minister—who has left it an open question in his speech, to be decided by the majority who compose this House—will find the task, in his own words, baffles the wit of luau, and that it will be impossible to make a proper division.
1476 Let English and Scotch and Welsh Members bear this in mind; we have not asked to be kept here; Ireland has not asked that her Members should be kept here. You have forced this on Ireland, and if certain anomalies and inconveniences follow to you, you should remember that it is all your own doing, and you should also remember the important consideration that it is, after all, only a temporary arrangement. What I would like to say upon this question is, so long as these matters are reserved from the Irish Parliament you must give us our full numbers and powers here, but as soon as the reserved questions go to an Dish Parliament then you can reconsider the whole question, and if you take our Representatives from this House, pending the establishment of a complete system of Federalism, I do not think Ireland will very grievously complain. I do not dwell upon the question of the appointment of Judges, although I regret the Government should have made a backward step on the Bill of 1886. The Bill of 1886 gave all the new appointments to the Irish Government. Why should it now go back and insert a term of six years? On the question of finance the Leader of the Opposition tonight stated that even he, with the information and knowledge at his disposal, found it impossible to deal accurately or fully with it until he has seen the Bill, therefore the House will easily understand I shall not attempt to go deeply into the subject. I will simply say that at first sight it seems extraordinary to me that Ireland under this Bill should be treated absolutely worse in questions of finance than in the Bill of 1886. Under the Bill of 1886 Ireland was called upon to pay a fixed contribution to England, amounting to between one-fourteenth or one-fifteenth of the total Imperial charges. But the Primo Minister, in explaining that proportion, said the Imperial contribution would be paid by Ireland out of funds composed, in the first instance, of the entire receipts paid into the Irish Exchequer. But that is not a true test of the amount of taxation paid by Ireland. There are goods which pay duty in England and are exported duty-paid to Ireland, which are consumed in Ireland, and for which the 1477 duty is really paid by Irishmen, while the receipts go into the Imperial Exchequer; and, on the other hand, goods which pay duty in Ireland, but are consumed in England. I state with confidence that the Irish receipts gain mow from Great Britain by that process than Great Britain gains from Ireland, there being something like £1,400,000 paid by the British taxpayer and forming part of the Irish receipts. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the total contribution to be paid by Ireland—that was, £3,242,000, plus our contribution of £360,000 to the Sinking Fund—should in justice be reduced, in considering its proportion, by that sum of £1,400,000, so that, in point of fact, when we are asked now to pay a practically fixed sum of £2,370,000 we are being asked to pay considerably more than £3,242,000, less the £1,400,000, which we were getting credit for under the Bill of 1886. Under the Bill of 1886, while nominally paying 1–15th we were really allowing for this sum of £1,400,000 only paying about 1–26th. Under this Bill we lose all benefit from this £1,400,000, and will have to pay between 1–20th and 1–25th. Getting credit for £1,400,000 in 1886, our contribution was less by a very large sum, about £160,000 a-year, than the contribution we are asked to pay now. There is another way of looking at it. Under the Bill of 1886 the first Budget which the Prime Minister proposed for the Irish Parliament showed a surplus in our favour of £400,000; his Budget the other night showed a surplus of £500,000. But how is the balance made up? The balance, so far as I can make it out, is not made up of any additional generosity on the part of the Government of England but is made up by an increase of the Excise. As I understand the Excise is now at a higher figure than ever it was, and this surplus of £500,000 which the Prime Minister says will stand to our credit on our first balance sheet, may, if the Excise receipts through any operation of the law or other causes fluctuate, and diminish instead of rising as last year, when the whole of our surplus, or, the greater part of it, might he swept away at one fell swoop. That is not a satisfactory condition I rather think to any section of Irish Nationalists. It 1478 seems to me it is your highest duty, your highest interest, if you are to pass a Home Rule Bill at all for Ireland to give us a Parliament under such conditions that we can have a fair hope of working it successfully. If that new Parliament in Ireland is to do any good it must set itself to the work of raising the industrial condition of the country. I hope there will be very little politics in the Irish Parliament, but that that Parliament will devote itself to business matters, and matters of an industrial character, and the first essential of that Parliament will be that its credit should be good. How can that credit be good if you launch it on the world with a speculative surplus of £500,000, which depends for its existence entirely upon a speculation as to whether the Excise will continue to increase instead of diminishing, as many people think it likely, and many think desirable? The other matter I want to allude to is, I will not call it the question of two Chambers, but the question of the protection of the minorities in Ireland. Personally I have rather a predilection in favour of the principle of two Chambers, but I do not want to argue this matter from the point of view of theoretical predilection at all. I take a broader view of this question. I know there are classes of our countrymen who are distrustful of the majority of the Irish people, and who think foolishly, as I believe, that the Irish Parliament will rush headlong into wild, reckless, and violent proceedings, and for their protection, therefore, I welcome the provision for the two Chambers, without inquiring whether it is right to have a high franchise, or whether the interval between the first passage of a Bill and the time of its ultimate passage is too long or anything of that kind. I took at it in the broadest possible way. I am anxious that the minority of our fellow-countrymen should have their rights, and liberties, and interests protected, and if it could be shown that a better plan of protecting minorities in Ireland, without violating any material or vital principle could be devised by the Government, then I would heartily approve of even more stringent regulations in that direction. I would say that none of my fellow-countrymen need have any fear from the free action of 1479 the Legislature of the Irish people. They need have no fear of religious persecution. They may take it for granted that in that Irish Legislature Catholics just as earnestly and as bravely as Protestants will stand forward in defence of religious liberty. Mr. Speaker, an entirely new class of Irish politicians will enter into that Legislature. There will be fewer of the "excited politician" type so well exemplified in his own person by the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson). Men who are now absolutely precluded from public life under present conditions—the commercial and professional classes—men engaged in various walks of life, but not men of independent fortunes, who are unable at present to neglect their businesses and professions—will come into this new House. One of the most extraordinary things I think that Ireland has done during the past 12 years is that it has been able to send to this House and to support a baud of men who represent Nationalist opinion. The great majority of Irish Nationalist Members in this House are poor men who could not afford to come here were it not that their fellow-countrymen whom they represent are sufficiently in earnest on this question to provide them with the means. That is something, in my opinion, for both the people and the Members to be proud of. But, as I said, an entirely different class of men will come into this new Parliament. The great Nationalist Party will be broken up into various groups, and I think it is absolutely certain that men of more moderate views of all sections will come together, and that our countrymen, who to-day are apprehensive, will find before many years of the working of that Parliament that their surest safeguard is not to be found in artificial provisions forged in this Parliament at Westminster, but in the good sense and the patriotism of the great majority of their fellow-countrymen. For my part, I never have believed in the tall talk of Ulster. We have had experience of it in the past. In my short experience in this House I have never known any benefit wrung by our labours in this House which the Ulster people were not the first to go in and take their share of. Yes! the Land Act of 1881 was pillage and spoliation, so the Members from Ulster told us, but 1480 the first melt who went into the Land Courts to take advantage of the system we had wrung from Parliament, were the men in Ulster whom we are now told will not take advantage of the benefits of the Irish Parliament, and forsooth will line the ditches behind such gallant men as the hon. Member for North Armagh. I may be asked, as a whole, what have I to say about the Bill? I said at the commencement that no man but a fool would venture at this stage to express a decided opinion. What I desire to say is this: In my opinion this Bill, as I understand it, is defective in some very grave and important matters; that in some other matters it is gravely disappointing, and that in the financial aspect it is not only ungenerous but absolutely unjust, and my view is this: that it will be the duty of Irishmen—of Irish Nationalists at any rate—to endeavour so to mould this Bill that it may be a basis of settlement—a settlement which if not final in its shape and the powers it confers, will, at any rate, hold out the hope that the more acute phases of Irish mis-government may immediately disappear, and that the freedom and legitimate independence of our nation will depend in the future upon no outside forces, but upon the steadiness, the constancy, and the courage of the Irish people themselves.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said it might be that there were Members who looked upon that Bill as an ordinary item in the Newcastle programme. That, at all events, was not the view which the Ulster Unionist Members must take of it. For the Province of Ulster this was a matter of life or death, and whoever discussed that Bill, or whoever opposed it, the Ulster Unionist Members would fight every line, and would oppose every clause of it. In the speech of the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce) the House had been advised not to pay too much attention to Ulster Members. It was only Members on the other side of the House that were to receive attention from the Treasury Bench. The right hon. Gentleman also said the Ulster farmers were more concerned about the reduction in their rents than about Home Rule. Well, the right hon. Gentle- 1481 man was in Ulster at the time of the General Election, which was not long since, and he did his best with five picked Gladstonian candidates—the only five who could be found—in the Province of Ulster on the lines he had indicated that night, and where were they? Was there one of the five there to tell the tale or to give the slightest support to the Bill Whether the right hon. Gentlemen believed the Ulster Unionist Members ought to be listened to or not, they meant to discuss that Bill in every detail, and to resist and oppose it to the best of their ability and the utmost of their power. The Prime Minister said the previous night that Ireland had suffered from coercion ever since the year 1832, with the exception of two years. He begged to say that they from Ulster looked upon that Bill as a perpetual degradation and coercion of Ulster. They were told that Ireland had not had the equality of laws that had been promised. He wanted to know where the inequality existed? He affirmed that Ireland had had more legal privileges than either England or Scotland. The land laws in Ireland were infinitely better than those in England and Scotland. The Church in Ireland was disestablished in obedience to Irish demands, though it had not been disestablished in other parts of the United Kingdom; Ireland had had national education for 60 years, which could hardly be said of England, and he maintained that if there had been laws for the repression of wrong-doing, they were only such laws as au Irish Parliament itself would have been forced to pass in the face of the same dangers. They were told by the Prime Minister that there was indeed a limited portion of Ireland opposed to this Bill, and he stated that he could not really make out the difference between 85 Members who were hostile to his Legislation in the last Parliament and 80 Members who were hostile now. There was a remarkable difference, and it was singular that the right hon. Gentleman did not see it. The right hon. Gentleman had a majority from the Province of Ulster with him in the last Parliament; he has a minority in this. That was a thing which the right hon. Gentleman failed to see, but whether he saw it or not, the fact was the difference 1482 between 85 and 80 was pretty much the difference between a minority of one in Ulster and a majority of five against this Bill. They looked upon that Bill as the coercion and degradation of Ulster—a Province which England settled and planted 200 years ago. That Province asked for no privileges and no rights, but simply asked to be allowed to go about its business in a peaceable way, and to have the protection of the law in carrying on that business. The right hon. Gentleman said that Ulster might change, and that Ulster had changed. He also drew attention to a fact he had often mentioned in public, that at the close of the last century the Irish Protestants were in the main rebels. He would like to ask the House of Commons what was the lesson to be drawn from the descendants of these rebels in the last century. These descendants of the rebels were the staunchest Unionists now. The descendants of the United Irishmen, the descendants of the Volunteers, their most determined opponents, were now staunch to the Union of the three countries, and the fact that these men were loyal to-day proved the ability and the willingness of the Imperial Parliament to concede every just demand. It was the concession of the just demands that had made these descendants of rebels the most loyal. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister referred to the peaceful character of the agitation conducted by hon. Gentlemen opposite. He thought that was the most remarkable of all the remarkable statements of the Prime Minister last night. "the peaceful character of the agitation conducted by hon. Gentlemen opposite;" did the right hon. Gentleman forget the Land League agitation; those years stained with blood? Did he forget the last few years of boycotting, of robbery, and of crime? And why did the right hon. Gentleman come down to this House and introduce a Bill of this kind, and plead "the peaceful character of the agitation of hon. Gentlemen opposite." The agitation had not been peaceful, and it was largely in consequence that the feeling in Ireland was as much against the Home Rulers as against Home Rule. These men had gone through the country, and crime and robbery had followed their footsteps. Although the right hon. Gentle- 1483 man the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce) was prepared to trust them, he had taken good care to clear out of Ireland with all belonging to him. He (Mr. Russell) preferred to trust to the evidence of those who had something to lose. Now he came to the Bill itself, and the very first thing he desired to refer to was the proposed protection for minorities in the Bill. Last night he listened very attentively to the Prime Minister. They had some difficulty where he was in hearing everything that was said. He did not, however, complain of that. He had read the speech carefully to-day, and he must say that it hardly corresponded with some of the things said by the Chancellor of the Duchy to-night, and therefore he wanted explicit answers to some statements he was going to put. First, with regard to legislation, that might be ultra vires. As he understood the Prime Minister last night there was to be an appeal against such legislation to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, but as he understood the right hon. Gentleman that appeal was only to be upon the initiative of the Viceroy or, he thought, the Secretary of State. If he was right in his conclusions, he wished to point out that it differed from the appeal of every colony. In Canada, for example, every person feeling aggrieved by the legislation had the right of challenge. He would give the right hon. Gentleman an instance. In the year 1878 the Dominion Parliament of Canada passed an Act of Parliament giving power to localities throughout the whole Dominion to prohibit the traffic in intoxicating liquors within their locality. A large number in Canada held that this was the work of the Provincial Legislature, and an appeal was taken, which came to England for decision. But the appeal was taken by those who felt themselves aggrieved, and not by the Governor General, and what he wanted to know was this, if there was only to be an appeal against such legislation on the initiative of the Viceroy or Secretary of State? If so, then he said the appeal would be very much shorn of its value. If on the other hand every person who felt aggrieved was to have the right of appeal that was not what the Prime Minister said, and he wished to know whether the Chan- 1484 cellor of the Duchy who had spoken was right or the Prime Minister.
§ *MR. BRYCE
There is no difficulty or obscurity about it at all. Every person who considers that a Statute enacted by the Irish Legislature is in excess of its power is entitled to dispute the validity of that Statute, and that contention, in whatever Court it was raised, would be heard. If the point were appealed, the appeal would go to the Privy Council, who would adjudicate upon it. Therefore, every private individual will have absolute security. Where au Act has been passed before there has been time to take the requisite judicial proceedings, and it is thought desirable to decide upon the constitutionality, with a view to the more speedy and direct determination of the question, it is in the power of the Lord Lieutenant or Secretary of State to move Her Majesty to refer the question to a Judicial Committee. And I may go further, and point out there is a provision in the clause where the question is dealt with saving the right of Her Majesty to refer to the Judicial Committee any Petition brought before her by any of her subjects.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, that made the matter perfectly clear, and he was glad to have elicited so much. He came next to the provision respecting the Legislative Council that had been spoken of to-night by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) as a protection for the Irish minority. He failed to see how it could protect anybody. If they took the Bill of 1886 the matter was entirely different. There in the Second Order they had 103 Members and in the Lower Order 204. Now, he mild understand how, with the Bill of 1886, there could have been some control, because a minority in the Lower Order, coupled to a substantial majority in the other Order, might have controlled certain forms of legislation. With 103 Members in the Lower House and 48 in the Upper House he did not see how it could be possible to stop or arrest any legislation that was objected to seriously by the minority. He could not see how this Legislative Council, which might be good in itself—he did not object to the principle 1485 of a Second Chamber—but it could not possibly be a protection to the minority in the sense the right hon. Gentleman spoke of, or in the sense spoken of by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond). There were clauses, they were told, in the Bill dealing with religious freedom. There were also clauses in the Bill of 1886 dealing with religious freedom, and they were the most unsatisfactory clauses imaginable. They proposed in the Bill of 1886 to prevent the establishment of any religion in Ireland. They did that in one clause, but they expressly enacted in another that the Irish Legislature might endow forms of education. If he wished to endow religion he could not do it more effectively than by means of education. He wanted to know especially whether it was proposed in the Bill to prevent the majority in the Legislature taxing an Irish minority for sectarian education. They need not tell him that was not a danger, because within the last two months Archbishop Walsh had done his best, behind the back of this House, by a resolution of the National Board of Education, to change the whole fundamental character of that education, and drive it into sectarian lines. They did not want it there, and they would not have it. The right hon. Gentleman had drawn on the American Constitution a good deal. It was perfectly clear; it stated that Congress should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, and that was construed to mean education, and the State public school in America had remained unsectarian in spite of all the efforts of sectarians of every kind. Now, he wanted to know, having drawn on the American Constitution for a good deal in the Bill, would they undertake to protect the Irish minority from being taxed by this Legislature to support Roman Catholic education in Ireland? He thought that was a perfectly fair question to ask. He now came to the question of the land, and he thought it a most extraordinary tiling that that which was the real and principal question in Ireland, the question which dominated ever-thing else there, that that question should have been treated as a mere postscript to a speech. He thought that the most extraordinary thing about the introduc- 1486 tion of the Bill; three lines iris newspaper told them what the Government proposed with regard to the Irish Land Question. He wished to call to the mind of the Chief Secretary for Ireland some observations of his own on this matter. The right hon. Gentleman proposed in this Bill to reserve the Irish Land Question to the Imperial Parliament for three years, and then, he supposed, the right hon. Gen-man would commit it to the Irish Legislature. He presumed he was right in that. He had no land, and was, therefore, totally unaffected by any proposition of the kind; but what did the right hon. Gentleman mean when he stated at Chelmsford some years ago that—The late Liberal Government, greatly to their honour, passed an Act to prevent landlords confiscating the property of the tenant. That was a noble exploit. I do not think we shall be able to deal satisfactorily with land until we have passed some legislation to prevent tenants from confiscating the property of their landlords.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, the right hon. Gentleman said, "Hear, hear!" but there was an hon. Member sitting opposite whose idea of a fair settlement of the Irish Land Question was that every Irish landlord should receive a single ticket trout Dublin to Holyhead, and by this Bill the right hon. Gentleman, after expressing these views at Chelmsford, proposed to leave the Irish Land Question to hon. Gentlemen holding such opinions. What did the right hon. Gentleman mean? Now, he would take Lord Spencer, who had also made some pretty strong statements regarding this question. Lord Spencer, speaking, he thought, at Newcastle, said—We all know, everybody knows in this room, that there have been many feuds in Ireland, and foremost amongst these is the land question. The whole force of Irish agitation at one time was against the landlords; that animosity was bitter and strong, and I do not think it would be just or honest in the British Parliament to leave unprotected and uncared for the landlords of Ireland.Seemingly Lord Spencer had got rid of his ideas of justice and necessity, for he was going to leave the landowners in three years totally unprotected, and to hand them over to nice who had made 1487 no secret of their opinions, and who for years had carried on an agitation with the express and avowed object of ruining the landlords. England had planted the Irish land system in Ireland, and was responsible for it, and it was the meanest and shabbiest performance on the part of England to say to the landowners, "You have served our purpose in days that are gone; you have been our garrison: you have earned the enmity of the people because you have been our garrison; we have, however, done with you, and we hand you over to your enemies, and they may do as they like with you three years hence." As to the Judges, he would say nothing; but with regard to the police, the hon. Member for North Kerry said the other night that, in the new and regenerated Ireland that was about, to be created there would be little work for the police. He supposed the hon. Member said that on the principle that where there is no law there would be no transgression. A very interesting side light had been thrown upon this question by what had taken place in Massachusetts. In 1885 the Irish captured the city of Boston, and placed an Irish Mayor in the Civic Chair. The moment that was done, the American citizens appealed to the State Legislature, and said, practically, "We are not going to trust the peace of the city of Boston to an Irish Mayor," and the Legislature passed an Act taking the control of the police from the Mayor and the Civic Council of Boston, and vesting it in three Commissioners, and that state of things continued until the present day. There was only one other city in America where the Irish ruled, and that was the city of New York, and every American citizen was ashamed to mention the state of things in that city. As to the retention of the Irish Members, in May, 1886, the whole of the hon. Members on his side of the House voted for the Second Reading of a, Bill which excluded the Irish Members from that Chamber, but in July they, with one consent, when they found themselves before the country, argued for their retention. What was their policy now? Why, they had none at all. It was a case of "As you please. You can either have them or not." And yet this was a great Government, and this was the great Liberal Party without 1488 a policy; it came down with the most important Bill of the Session, and with regard to its most important and fundamental part, threw it on the Table and said: "We do not know what you ought to do. Make up your minds as you like." He could understand why the Government wished to retain the Irish Members; it would be an unconscionably dull place without them. But there were some things not very plain in the explanation of the Bill. According to the explanation, the Irish Members would be 80 strong, and their power would he limited. What he wanted to know was this, was there to be a redistribution of the Irish seats? There must be. There were 103, and there were to be 80 in the future, but if they brought the Irish Members back 80 strong and reduced them to their proper proportion, they would not have recognised the English anomaly, and they would require to have a redistribution Bill for England. Now, were they to have three different constituencies in Ireland. There were a large number of not very intelligent voters in that country; there were 50,000 or 60,000 illiterate voters. They were to have three constituencies, one for this Parliament, one for the Legislative Council, and one for the Irish Assembly. The Irish peasant would be absolutely bewildered, and the result would be that the priest would be supreme over all, and would be director of everybody's conscience in the matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy said that they had a Commission to introduce this Bill. He did not think they had. The country knew nothing about the Bill, and they studiously kept the country from knowing about it. Supposing they had gone to the country and told the people the absolute truth? They went with the Newcastle programme in their hand; but supposing they had told the people that they were going to introduce this Irish Home Rule Bill first, what would have been the fate of the great Liberal Party? They would have confessed their incompetence to pass one of their measures, and did they think the electors were such idiots as to place in power a Party with a programme which they were unable to carry into effect? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton, was right when he said that there 1489 was absolutely no half-way house between Separation and Union. So far as the Members for Ulster were Concerned, the people they represented had a fixed determination to resist this Bill. The Parliament they proposed to create would be a Parliament largely under the control of the Roman Catholic priesthood, inspite of anything the hon. Member for Waterford might say. The commerce, the agriculture, the trade of Ulster were fiercely hostile to it. If the Government had proposed to protect the minority they could have done it. They had drawn upon the American Constitution; but supposing they had put in their Bill for Ireland that which was in the very front of the American Constitution—namely, that all property was sacred and contracts inviolable—how many Home Rulers would there have been then? He said they could have protected the minority in Ireland if they had wished to do so. Her Majesty's Government were simply initiating a squalid war of races, and that which James and Tyrconnel failed to do they were not likely to accomplish.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Lord Randolph Churchill.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till Thursday.