§ 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. W. E Gladstone.)
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL (Paddington, S.)
Mr. Speaker, it is now, I think, upwards of two years since I had the honour of addressing the House of Commons, and I certainly can say that, whatever changes time may have brought with it, during those two years I have not occupied unnecessarily the valuable time of Parliament. But, Sir, these are very remarkable times we are living in, and the days of the Tory Government, which lasted for six years and only terminated very recently, were days of great repose and days of great tranquillity, and the country may be said—if I may use the translation of a French expression—to have slumbered on both ears. But during that apparently peaceful slumber the country undoubtedly prospered, and the strength of the country grew. In my opinion, an untoward transformation has supervened. Times of excitement and times of political perturbation and sharp Party conflicts have recurred as, somehow or other, they always do seem to recur when the First Lord of the Treasury assumes the position of power. Rival 1610 Parties are prepared now to try their strength on matters connected with the most vital parts of the Constitution, and affecting very gravely, and probably for all time, if certain changes are made, the power and strength of the British Empire. Sir, under these circumstances, I do not hesitate to offer what feeble services I can render to the Party with which I have been long and habitually connected, and I trust I may ask the House of Commons for some portion at any rate of that general indulgence which in former days it so lavishly bestowed upon me, while I endeavour to examine, to the best of my ability, the proposals for the government of Ireland which the First Lord of the Treasury has submitted to the 13th Parliament of the Queen. The right hon. Gentleman, I may say in commencing, is probably dissatisfied—and also, perhaps, some supporters of his are in the same state of mind—with regard to the prolongation of this Debate. No doubt long Debates on the First Reading of a Bill are unusual and not generally resorted to. But I think the House will agree that there are two very conclusive reasons why any dissatisfaction with the prolongation of the Debate—if it is felt —should be moderated. In the first place, I would say that this Bill which we are having submitted to us in no way resembles any ordinary legislation. It proposes to carry through what amounts to a Constitutional revolution, and it also proposes to alter very profoundly the relations that exist between the three countries composing the United Kingdom. When I heard the right hon. Gentleman propose the scheme, in the speech which he made on Monday afternoon for the future government of Ireland, I thought it was almost impossible to estimate, not only the magnitude, but the novelty of the measure. I really thought at times that I was listening to some chapter out of the very singular book called Alice in Wonderland. I dare say that hon. Members familiar with the book will know that every incident in that singular narrative is extremely causeless and unreasonable, and the cause and connection of events are marvellously unintelligible and complicated. So I think it is with this scheme. It seems to me so unreasonable that the right hon. Gentleman should try and rear an edifice, not only enormous, but I would almost say 1611 monstrous, upon foundations the most slender and most frail. Now, Sir, no basis that I can conceive can be found for the extravagent and grotesque production which I think I can show this measure to be. The measure seems to me to be a wilfully gratuitous excrescence. How does the case stand? Ireland has been for some years, and is now, in a tranquil and normal condition. I cannot see that there is any Herculean task of government or of administration which needs to be accomplished there; and, curiously enough—I do not know whether the Irish Members think my deductions too strong —I think Ireland is of the same opinion herself. Undoubtedly at the last General Election an event took place which puzzled even the intellect of the First Lord of the Treasury. Ireland added five votes to the Unionist strength, and of those five two were added from the metropolitan district of Dublin, which you really would have thought would have been the home and centre of Irish Nationalism if Irish Nationalism had been in a very flourishing state. Well, Sir, but that is not all. It is admitted that in Scotland no great enthusiasm was shown for the Irish policy of the right hon. Gentleman, which it was supposed the right hon. Gentleman would bring forward. There may have been enthusiasm for other subjects, which may have embarrassed his Party and himself; but on that subject I think it will be admitted there was no enthusiasm in Scotland. I see opposite to me a relative of mine who can, moreover, confirm my view that the Liberal gains were much smaller in Scotland than was expected, and that on the whole the Unionist Party in Scotland fairly held their own. But when I come to England what do we find? It England we find a heavy majority against the policy of the right hon. Gentleman—a majority, I believe, of over 70, and if the uncontested seats were counted, I believe that majority might be put at upwards of 80. Thus it is the case that in Great Britain there is a sensible majority against the large change in the government of Ireland which the right hon. Gentleman is proposing. Well, that being so, and the right hon. Gentleman not having been able to show to the House any imperative need why we should proceed to these enormous changes, I think it becomes 1612 the more important to examine very closely the principles of the measure, and to analyse and to expose, as far as it is possible to do so, every defect and every danger which surrounds, not so much the details of the Bill, as its actual principles. There is another reason why I venture to think a discussion on the First Reading has been rendered necessary. In the speech which the Prime Minister made on Monday—a most luminous and eloquent speech, which, for many reasons, seemed to me to rival, or even to excel, any of his former efforts—no one could fail to notice that, owing to tho necessary restrictions of time, many important details, many details of the first class, in relation to the question were either passed over, or neglected, or suppressed. I think that it is the duty of the Opposition on the very first opportunity, and before any definite step with the progress of the measure has been taken to en-deavour to extract full information concerning what I must call its great details and primary provision, so that Parliament, and the public which is outside Parliament, which is closely interested in this matter, may be fully informed of the reasons and the nature of the issue which the right hon. Gentleman has thought fit at this period of Her Majesty's reign to raise. I think the Chief Secretary might earlier in the Debate than this have supplemented some of the statements of the Prime Minister, because he must be the greatest authority in the Cabinet next to the Prime Minister on the measure. And it would have been very easy for him, before now, to satisfy what I think is admitted to be the very legitimate curiosity by a great portion of the House. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, who seems to be untaught by any previous experience on this subject, and who has to no purpose, apparently, learnt the lessons of the last six or seven years, and has gleaned nothing from the incidents of the last Election, has renewed in a somewhat varied manner the proposals for the government of Ireland which he brought forward in 1886. What are those proposals, and what is their name? I have never called them, and I never will call them, by any title but that of Repeal of the Union—nor have I ever called the Party who support those proposals by any other title than the Party of Repeal.
1613 I cannot follow the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury into what I think was a very fanciful definition of the nature of the Act of Union. I understood him to say that what it established was a unity of Sovereignty. That is a word calculated to mystify, to perplex, to puzzle, and embarrass the ordinary mind. I think the right hon. Gentleman said that the union of Parliaments was subsidiary to the unity of Sovereignty which was established. With great respect I question the proposition greatly. The union of the Crowns in a, certain sense existed long before 1800. It may be said to have lasted since the conquest of Ireland, 700 years ago. There was always one Sovereign of England and Ireland, and afterwards one Sovereign of Great Britain and Ireland, and so there is a Sovereign now of Great Britain and Ireland. I cannot therefore, see, unless sovereignty means something very different from what ordinary minds understand it to mean, the particular point in the Act of Union which established the unity of Sovereignty. I think the essence of the Act of Union was that it was essentially a union of Parliaments. In the speech which I made in 1886 upon this subject I quoted the third Article of the Act of Union, which runs as follows:—That it be the third Article of the Act of Union that the said United Kingdom be represented in one and the same Parliament, to be styled the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.That seems to me conclusive. That was consolidating. the Parliament of Ireland which had existed up to that time and the Parliament of Great Britain into one Imperial Parliament for the whole United Kingdom. That was the essence of the Act of Union, and to my mind it is that principle of the Act of Union which you are going now to shatter and destroy. It is useless to talk about Sovereignties and the unities of Sovereignties, because the very principle of that Act was the unity of the two Parliaments. It is perhaps not altogether useless to ask, Why was the Parliament of Ireland united with the Parliament of Great Britain? There were reasons of the most imperative character that actually dictated the course not only of one country but of the other. The English and Scotch influences were called into action by the absolute circum- 1614 stances of the day to give a balance and to hold the peace as it were, and to maintain the tranquillity of the opposing groups and parties which for generations had distracted Ireland, had brought her at the time of the Union to social ruin, to utter anarchy, had placed her in peril of foreign conquest, and had landed her in hopeless national insolvency. There was another great reason—namely, that there was no security for Great Britain against her enemies at that time, who were numerous and strong, while Ireland was in independent hands, or in hands approaching to independence. Ireland had to provide under her Constitution before 1800 resources for the protection of her coasts and her people, and the only authority that could provide those resources in Ireland was the Irish Parliament; and it is a notorious historical fact that England could never count with any certainty at all on the capacity or the willingness of the Irish Parliament to perform its duty with respect to the defence of Great Britain and Ireland. Those were the reasons for the Act of Union. The Union was a matter of life rind death to England, and it is also true that at that time it was a matter of life and death to Ireland that there should be one Parliament and and Executive Government ruling over the whole of the United Kingdom under the Sovereignty of one Crown. That was the Act of Union. It appears to me that those reasons exist in all their force at the present day. Parties, races, and creeds in Ireland still, under certain circumstances, require control. Although the country is apparently normally tranquil, I do not think anybody acquainted with Ireland would doubt that all the germs of disorder which are apparently now quiescent are only lying dormant, nor can there be, in my opinion, tranquillity in Ireland, nor eau there be any safety for England, unless the might of the Imperial Parliament, with all its enormous and measureless resources which that Parliament can command in times of peace or in tines of mar, rules over the Irish as well as it rules over the English and Scotch peoples. I do not think yon can deride the views I have put forward, for what is the state of the case? The doctrines which I have ventured to state briefly and summarily to the House are doctrines—I may almost say they are 1615 dogmas—which were held sacred by every Englishman and every Scotchman, by every Member of Parliament from thase two countries, up to within a very few years ago. That expression, which I think was made use of by Mr. Canning, "Repeal the Union! Restore the Heptarchy!" was an expression which found an echo in almost every British mind. And it is a remarkable thing that for 40 years or more of the illustrious political career of the First Lord of the Treasury this dogma of the soundness of the principles of the Act of Union found no stronger supporter than himself—no more eloquent and no more efficacious supporter of the doctrine of the Act of Union. Forreasons which I do not wish to go into, and which I think it unnecessary to examine —for an examination would not conduce to the harmony of our discussions—the First Lord of the Treasury abandoned the stronghold of the Union. I feel very strongly upon this subject. Though I hardly imagine that he will be successful in his present policy, still I think that if he were successful, and if his Irish policy was entered upon, then just as the revolution against Charles I. was known in history under the title of "The Great Rebellion," so the abandonment and destruction of the Union will be known to our posterity hereafter as "The Great Betrayal." As such, I think, it will be indelibly connected with the great name of the right hon. Gentleman. Sir, let me briefly examine some of the proposals which the right hon. Gentleman's Bill appears to contain, and some of the institutions which he appears to wish to substitute for those now existing. In the first place, he creates by this Bill a. Parliament in Ireland—I will quote his words—a Parliament practically separate and independent.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
I took the expression from The Times newspaper. I have not got the quotation here, but I engage to furnish it to the right hon. Gentleman. I particularly noticed that tremendous adjective "separate."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I never used the word "separate" as a description of the Parliament in connection with the word "independent." I said, of course, a separate Parliament.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
I will furnish the right hon. Gentleman with The Times report. It is extraordinary that that word should have been put into the report without its having been spoken, and that I should have made a note of it at the time. But even if he did not say it, it is practically a correct description of what this Bill will do. Besides the Parliament being practically independent and separate, there is to be an Irish Executive, to be controlled by a nominal veto exercised by the Crown. The veto has been much discussed, and the right hon. Gentleman the learned Professor who dignifies the Chair of the Chancellorship of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce) went very fully into it on Tuesday. I understand that the decision of the Lord Lieutenant, or his power to veto, can, under certain circumstances, be overridden by the decision of the Ministers in Great Britain in the advice they give to the Crown. I also heard the Chancellor of the Duchy say that it was very unnecessary to discuss the question of the use of the veto because in practice it would never occur. That is a view which anybody is entitled to hold, and very likely that was what the right hon. Gentleman wished the House to infer.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
I will. point out what happened afterwards. That is what it was intended the House of Commons—not the bulk of it, but a certain section—should infer. It was understood in that light. In the very remarkable speech mule by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) he expressed the greatest anxiety about this veto. He expressed deep confidence in the Government and in the observations that had fallen from the Chancellor of the Duchy; and he felt perfectly certain that the Liberal Party would never make use of this power to annoy or embarrass the Irish people. But, in spite of that assurance, he could not overcome the fear that there might some day be a Tory Government again, and he expatiated in very forcible terms upon the terrible use which an iniquitous Tory Government might make of this veto to spoil the career of the people of Ireland. I listened very carefully to the hon. Member, and—
§ MR. J. E. REDMOND
The noble Lord will forgive me for interrupting him. I was answering what I understood to be the threat of the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Balfour), and my answer was that I did not think that threat would ever become a reality.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
I do not agree. I attached great importance to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, and personally I may say I entirely agree in what my right hon. Friend said. I can suggest to the Irish Party — if they will forgive me for taking such a liberty—a very easy remedy. They should induce the right hon. Gentleman to insert in this Bill a clause, carefully drawn, prohibiting for ever the existence in the future of a Tory Government. And, Sir, in that proposition there would be nothing more open to ridicule, nothing more nonsensical, than the rest of the provisions of the Bill. Why, what more does the right hon. Gentleman suggest by this Bill to ensure a stable Government in England and Scotland and to ensure a continuity of Parliamentary policy? Not content with establishing two Parliaments and two Executives in what is still the United Kingdom, he brings into operation, with a dexterity more perverse than I have ever known, two separate majorities in the Imperial Parliament. On the day after this Bill is passed—if it is passed—if this Parliament happens to be engaged on certain affairs and with the Irish delegation absent from this House, one Party in this House will be in a minority. And suppose on the next day Parliament happens to be engaged on other business not in the category that occupied them on the former day, and the Irish delegation is present, that section which was in a minority the day before may be in a majority the day after. That is an extraordinary arrangement. A majority is necessary, I fancy, in the life of any Government—at all events it has been necessary up to now—and the retention of the Irish Members in this House works out in this way: a Government may have a majority one day on an Imperial question, and be in a minority another day on an important British question, and if there is a defeat the new Government may occupy 1618 precisely the same position, only vice versâ That may be a magnificent arrangement. I can understand that working capitally in Japan. We are so perfectly untrained in these extraordinary kaleidoscopic manœuvres that seem necessary to carry out those provisions, that I fear there will be great difficulty in getting the House of Commons to adopt them. Is it not an extraordinary thing that these ideals of Constitutional Coventment—namely, two Parties in the United Kingdom, two Governments in the United Kingdom, and two separate and distinct majorities in the Imperial Parliament, should be described by the right hon. Gentleman, the profoundest and most learned student of English Parties and public affairs, as the most perfect specimens of Imperial unity? All I can say in that in the face of such a statement as that my reason totters and reels. If the right hon. Gentleman is correct, and if his definition of Imperial unity is a natural and true definition, then I say that I and my hon. Friends who sit near me will have nothing better to do but to retire front public life, for we should obviously be grossly incompetent to have further part in it. I have always recognised the marvellous common sense of the English people. I pass rapidly to the financial arrangements which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned in his speech on Monday, but I shall not dwell on them, because they have been examined very ably by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. I have only one remark to make as to the manner in which those financial proposals may work. I understand that the Irish Customs will be collected and appropriated by the British Exchequer, and that the other revenues of Ireland will be collected and appropriated by the Irish Exchequer. I received yesterday from a gentleman of very great authority in the City a communication in reference to those proposals; and, as up to the present these proposals have not been subject to severe criticism, or have not been severely condemned, perhaps it would be interesting for me to read an extract from the communication. It appears that, though these proposals are new, as applied to Ireland, there is really no special originality in them. This gentleman writes— 1619With regard to Mr. Gladstone's proposals as to the disposal of the Irish taxes, they are certainly new when emanating from an English Government, but otherwise there is nothing in them very novel, although in the coin in which they have been tried they have had but a very qualified success. I may cite the Argentine Confederation where the Central Government keeps the Customs and allows the Provincial Government to appropriate the same taxes as those Mr. Gladstone proposes giving to Ireland. As may be supposed, the Provinces, released front central control, squander their money, and when the members of the Provincial Governments take their seats in the Central Assembly, they steadily refuse to vote anything the nation requires until large subsidies in some shape or other are made to the Provincial Assemblies, with such a result that bankruptcy was never, I suppose, spelt in bigger letters.I think that the parallel is very complete, except of course that I should be sorry to suggest that by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway the Irish finances would be managed on the same basis as the Argentine basis, but you never can tell who may succeed those hon. Gentlemen. It does seem to me that a system which admits of such results, and a system which has actually produced those results in a large, a populous, and a progressive country, is hardly a system to offer either to the English and Scotch people, or to the Irish people for the arrangement of their own finance. The parallel seems to me to be complete, for this is what may happen in Ireland. The Irish Exchequer might be empty. That is just possible, and at the same time the Irish vote might be wanted by the Party in power, whichever it was, to carry some 'economical, some taxing reform, or some other very important British measure. Naturally the support of the Irish Party would be given to the Government on conditions, and the form those conditions would take would be it money grant, a grant in aid, or, perhaps loans on easy germs. This is the principle laid down by the right hon. Gentleman for Irish finance—a principle so economic, so sound, that it is certain to excite the admiration, if not the jealousy, of the English people. I pass to another subject of great importance—the question of religious freedom in Ireland, and what the right hon. Gentleman in his speech called security for personal freedom. I will read to the House an extract front the right hon. Gentleman's speech, in which he deals with this question. He says— 1620Then as regards the incapacities imposed, gentlemen have already been made familiar with them in the Bill of 1886. I will only describe them as relating to two subjects in these most large and general terms by way of a slight sketch.I may remark on that expression that religious freedom and security for personal freedom are perhaps the most important matters to consider in arranging a Government for a country, and I think the House is entitled to expect something more than a "slight sketch" of the principles which are going to define their limits.They are intended," he says, "for the security of religious freedom—and there they touch upon establishments and education—and for the security of personal freedom, with respect to which we have endeavoured to borrow—I hope without trenching upon any just sentiment of Irish patriotism—where we thought we could. safely borrow, from one of the modern amendments of the American Constitution.Well, I challenge any Member of this House—with the exception of the author of that sentence and of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy, who has an intimate acquaintance with the American Constitution—I challenge any other Member of this House to extract any glimmer or the faintest spark of meaning from that sentence, when you consider what is the important and vital subject to which it refers. Does that sentence mean that any Irishman, who happens to imagine, or to be informed, that he has been aggrieved in his legitimate rights by the action of an Irish Parliament, can go to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and have the matter tried, and if he has been wronged that he may receive relief? Does it mean that? The right hon. Gentleman gives me no answer. If that is not the meaning of the sentence, what is the meaning of it, because we ought to have some explanation of what is intended to be conveyed by it. If that be the meaning imagine, after a few years of an Irish Parliament, what a procession of pilgrims there would be from all parts of Ireland to the portals of the august tribunal of the Judicial Committee. What an extraordinary increase there would be in the passenger traffic between Ireland and London. And what strikes me as being very attractive about this proposal is that appearance at the Privy Council, with counsel, solicitors, witnesses, documents, and legal expense, is absolutely within 1621 the reach of the commonest Irish peasant. If the sentence does not mean that, let us know what it does mean. The only assumption I can make at present is that religious freedom and security for personal freedom, which I should have thought would have been important subjects to the Liberal Party, and would have been clearly defined—find their sole protection under the Bill in the working of some modern Yankee notion, of which the great authority on Yankee notions apparently knows nothing, and is quite unable to explain the meaning of it. I am one of those who have in Irish legislation always supported the system of denominational education. The system of denominational education is almost now practically established in Ireland, and I am in favour of that system under the control of the Imperial Parliament, because I feel certain that every religious denomination in Ireland will from the Imperial Parliament receive equal treatment, equal liberality, and equal bounty. But under an Irish Parliament we should have no such security whatever. The chances are that one denomination alone would be favoured and that the others would be skimped tuna starved. What can you expect of a. Parliament which, on educational questions, will probably be inspired by Archbishop Walsh and by Dr. Nulty, and will be controlled by the vast Roman Catholic majority? What provision is made the Bill for the free and unrestrained education of the children of our Protestant countrymen in Ireland? On that subject the right hon. Gentleman gave us no information, and I can learn absolutely nothing as to whether we are to derive any security from the modern amendment of the American Constitution. I pass to consider the case of Trinity College, and to inquire what will be the position of that great institution, which has been the glory of Ireland the past, and which is now a bright and splendid University, illuminating not only the Irish, but the whole world of intellect. For generations, as the House is aware, the Irish Hierarchy have cast a voracious eye on that great institution, on its endowments, and on its possessions; and it looks, as far as I can learn, as if they were likely soon to be able to gratify their appetite, if this measure passes into law. There is another fear which adds to my uneasiness. In 1873, when the 1622 right hon. Gentleman was administering the affairs of Ireland, with that success which has always characterised his Irish administration, he proposed to abolish Trinity College. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. He did not propose to abolish it in name; he proposed to abolish it in nature, and to such a length was the transformation carried that in order to save the sensibility of the Irish Hierarchy the right hon. Gentleman, in one of the clauses of the Bill, prohibited this great University front endowing any Chairs for the teaching of Moral Philosophy and Modern History. I may say that this attempt led very soon afterwards to the disappearance of the right hon. Gentleman from Office, and I am justified in fearing that the disposition of the right hon. Gentleman towards Trinity College would not be one of extreme clemency when he thinks of the great defeat which the supporters of that institution inflicted on him and on his Party. I own that I have very little confidence in the value of the professions made by the hon. Member for Waterford in the most dulcet and mellifluous tones as to the strong spirit of toleration and of justice and the determination to see fair play between man and man, between Catholic and Protestant, and landlord and occupier in Ireland. Past experience does not warrant very much reliance being placed on professions of that kind, and I do not think that it will be wise for any of us to make large political investments on the strength of them. I have still less reliance upon them so far as Trinity College and education in Ireland are concerned, certainly one of the most important matters, but I suppose we have only to rely on the protection afforded by the modern amendment of the American Institution. I go on rapidly to other points on which no information has been given us. I wish to know will the Irish Parliament have power to repeal Statutes, or portions of Statutes, passed by the wisdom of the Imperial Parliament, or will they allow the Statutes to fall into desuetude? That seems to me to be rather important. I should also like to know what will be the powers of the Courts of Justice in Ireland to enforce their decisions and orders? Will they be absolutely above the Irish Parliament in enforcing those decisions and orders with- 1623 out any possibility of resistance, or will it be in the power of the Irish Parliament in one way or another to control them, or will the Irish Parliament have control of the Civil and Military Forces in Ireland? That brings me to another important point on which I should like to have information. Under what authority will the troops (and Militia) in Ireland be? Will they be, as they are now, independent of the Irish Parliament—perhaps I should not say that, for there is no Irish Parliament now thank God!—and will that Body in no circumstances whatever have any control over them? If so, I see a frightful danger to the infant Constitution when a Government will some day instruct an Irish Commander-in-Chief to execute on the House of Commons of Ireland a sort of repetition of "Pride's Purge." This is a constitutional question. Will the troops in Ireland — numbering 20,000 men—be under the authority of the Irish Parliament, or under the authority of the Viceroy; and will the Commander-in-Chief take orders from the Viceroy, and will the Viceroy, give the orders on his own account or on the advice of his Ministers? I point out to you that these questions are absolutely necessary. You are going to create a totally new Government in Ireland; you are going to give this Irish Parliament tremendous powers, and the whole of the circumstances of Irish government, if your measure passes, will be completely changed; and those who have not only a political but a personal interest in Ireland may fairly insist on the utmost information being given in detail as to the nature of the Government you are going to set up. What are you doing in Ireland? You are creating a Parliament. A Parliament must necessarily have very great powers, and I do not think it will be found, judging from history, that you can possibly set limits to the power of a Parliament which it is able of itself to acquire. You have given the Irish people this weapon of power in the shape of this Parliament, and you have also sharpened that weapon by retaining in the midst of your own Parliament 80 Irish Members, which enables them to force concessions front you on every point that is valid to them. You have said more than once that time Irish are a nation. I do not know whether 1624 they are a nation or not; I do not care to discuss the point, because it is not the question at issue. I cannot call the Irish a nation in the sense in which we call the English, Scotch, or Welsh a nation. If the right hon. Gentleman calls them a nation, and if they like to call themselves a nation, I am quite satisfied. It is much more important to consider, however, what the Irish people are; and this is certain of the Irish people: They are perhaps the only people in the world who have the most acute genius of taking advantage of whatever opportunities offer to promote what they may think to be the interests of their nation. If you give to a people such as the Irish people a power under the peculiar conditions proposed here, you will have given them almost irresistible power for exacting from you any constitutional concessions which will enable them to use their power independently of you far more freely than now. You would have a solid contingent of 60 or 70 Irish votes to put a British Government in a minority at any moment, and when we see that the Party opposite have conceded so much in existing circumstances, à fortiori they will concede almost everything that may be asked when those arrangements come into full force. I pass over to the question of the Constabulary, and the extraordinary provision made for them, only remarking that the fate of this historic Force appears to be a very sad one. Six years is the time in which that Force can be extinguished. There is no man in that Force, be he officer or private, who will know at what moment he may be sent adrift. That is the treatment which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to mete out to a Force which in the most unexampled trials and difficulties, almost insuperable, have never faltered in their loyalty and fidelity. I pass on to the chivalrous generosity with which the right hon. Gentleman has alluded to the landlords of Ireland. These unfortunate people are called the "English Garrison," and that is enough to damn them in the estimation of some persons. For some years the Irish landlords have been suffering under the punishment of expiation which the right hon. Gentleman when he was Prime Minister began to inflict upon them; and now the right hon. Gentleman proposes to give them three years' 1625 grace. Three years' grace for the landlords of Ireland, and after that they are to be handed over to the tender mercy of their hereditary foes. I should like to ask a question about people of whom we have heard a little lately—the evicted tenants. What has become of these poor people; and can the Government tell us what has become of Mr. Justice Mathew? What has become, also, of the Report of the Commission which was to enlighten Parliament at the moment of its meeting, and the remedies which were proposed for the unfortunate situation in which these people find themselves? I will also ask, "Will the Irish Parliament have power to vote subsidies for the maintenance of these evicted tenants?" because if they have that power it would make the process of eviction very easy to undergo, and not uncomfortable. But, on the other hand, I admit that the evicted tenants have been the victims of what appears to have been the unfortunate advice given them by two leading Members of the Irish Party, who will probably be two leading Members of the Irish Government, and whose disposition, I suppose, will be to make provision for those they have deluded. I therefore ask whether any Member of the Government will give information its to whether the financial powers of the Irish Ministry and Parliament will give such a disposition of the public funds? Now, I should like to say a final and brief word on Ulster. I allude, of course, to Protestant Ulster. I think the Province of Ulster is the most important feature, perhaps, in the whole Irish community, the most important consideration in any measure you may propose for the government of Ireland. In 1886 the right hon. Gentleman, though he made no special provision for Protestant Ulster in his Bill, very clearly intimated, I think, in his speech that in Committee he might have certain provisions to propose for Protestant Ulster. The fate of Ulster in 1886 was practically left to the scramble of the Committee. But in 1893 the situation seems to be worse, because no provision whatever is made in the Bill for the safety and security of the minority in Ireland, which is composed of Protestant Ulster. No mention of it was made in the speech of 1626 the right hon. Gentleman; Ulster seems to have passed entirely from his mind, and apparently it is to him no longer a factor in the Irish situation. I suppose that Ulster will have to make its own arrangements for itself. I think, perhaps, that will be the best solution of the difficulty. I have always thought that Ulster was capable of looking after itself. The Party under the leadership of the right hon. Gentleman is, I have always gathered, somewhat sceptical and incredulous about the possible resistance of Ulster to an Irish Parliament. You do not believe in the resistance of Ulster to an Irish Parliament? [Ministerial cheers.] Well, I do. I have seen a good deal, and learned a good deal, of the Ulster people. My experience of Protestant Ulster does not date from yesterday. They are a very stern and dour folk. They adhere with uncompromising fidelity to the religion which they profess and to the political cause which they believe to be bound up with the safety of that religion. I have always had a very strong, belief, and I have it now, that Protestant Ulster may be too much for the Irish Parliament. I think the right Gentleman has been unwise and imprudent to leave Ulster not only out of the provisions of his Bill, but altogether out of his calculations. There is this to be said for Ulster in the event of their taking steps to save themselves in the great changes with which you menace them as regards Irish Government: They have rendered to the Empire services of the greatest importance. The Ulster Protestants have rendered to your Imperial Parliament and to your Imperial Executive during 93 years the most unshaken loyalty, and they have been distinguished, with hardly any notable exceptions, for their order; and they have undoubtedly, by their marvellous industry, turned portions of Ulster into almost what I might call the manufacturing garden of the world. They have done that under your government; under your government they have grown up and multiplied; under the provisions of the Act of Union they have elected loyally to live. I do not notice the legends which the right hon. Gentleman formerly indulged in as to what the Ulster people were before the Union—at the tithe of the great Irish crisis of 1798. I do not take the slightest 1627 interest in these legends. I do not care what the Ulster people were at that time. I know what any are how, and I say that the Imperial Parliament has no moral right to compel them to transfer their allegiance to any other Body, least of all to a Parliament which has been described as practically an independent and a separate Parliament, and in which Parliament the majority must mainly be a majority of the hereditary foes of Protestant Ulster. Sir, I have heard it sometimes discussed whether Ulster would fight. I have heard an Irish gentleman of great position, Ulster born, and more Liberal than anything else in his politics, who was asked the other day whether, if this Irish Parliament were constituted, Ulster would resist by force, and he said that, on the whole, his opinion was that such resistance might take place because of this reason: that civil wars in history had generally broken out and taken place either on religious questions or on taxation questions, and that Ulster would probably be basely wounded on both these points. Sir, I stand here in the House of Commons as a Member of Parliament, and, Sir, in your presence, and in the presence of Her Majesty's Ministers, this I will say: I take the earliest opportunity of stating that everything I said in Belfast, and generally about Ulster eight years ago, and which excited much condemnation, and, I must say, the severe condemnation of the First Lord of the Treasury, I reiterate now. Every word; I take nothing back; I modify nothing. I used these words in the plainest English sense which could be put upon them. I meant the Ulster people to take them in that sense; I say them again now. I do not think that in taking up that position I shall stand alone. I think the bulk of the Members of the Unionist Party will have great sympathy, if not more than sympathy, with the resistance which Ulster may offer to the domination of such a Body a Body so odious to the people of Ulster —as that which you seek to set up. I think we have some sympathy—and, perhaps, more than sympathy—with these opinions from the Nonconformist Bodies of England and Scotland, who share, and who do not share passively, but actively, the affection of their compatriots and co-religionists in Ulster for 1628 the religious doctrines which they profess, as well as for the form of Government which they think essential to these doctrines. They, I think, will speak out and act. I am certain that the Party opposite, and that the Government responsible for governing Ireland, would make no more fatal error than to underrate and despise and ridicule that religious feeling and spirit or Ulster. To leave out of your Bill all mention of the rights of Protestant Ulster, to make no mention of her rights and her merits, bearing in mind the history of Protestant Ulster, is to every fair-minded man the most foul, the most craven, insult ever passed by a Government upon a loyal people. The Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce) appealed to us—made a somewhat exalted appeal to us the other night—to moderate our opposition, and he seemed to think that compromise on this question was possible. Sir, there will not be even the shadow of a shade of a compromise. When I hear such extraordinary propositions put forward, I fancy that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues hardly fairly or adequately realise the tremendous forces that are arrayed, and will be arrayed, against their Irish policy. In the House of Commons, I admit, I have never counted on the Unionist Party being able to defeat the measure of the right hon. Gentleman. I think I recognise that they have a majority, and I will not attempt for a moment to analyse the composition of that majority. But a majority of 40 is undoubtedly a majority of 49, and numerical facts of that kind are rather hard to get over. I have no doubt, that various motives—honourable and respectable motives—Party loyalty, Party discipline, and the fear of premature Dissolution and long absence from Office—may induce that majority, at any rate for some time, to keep itself solid, and therefore I make the right hon. Gentleman a present of the House of Commons. But I move the issue to other Courts—one of equal and one of greater power. In the House of Lords I think it is possible that the right hon. Gentleman and his Party may find a very formidable obstacle. I know that the action of the House of Lords on great questions of reform is derided by hon. Gentlemen opposite; but of this I am perfectly cer- 1629 tain: that the Peers of England on this emergent and vital occasion will not he frightened either by ridicule or by menace. What forces have they behind them? They have behind them some 320 Members of the Unionist Party in the House of Commons. They have behind them the immense majority of the constituencies of England. If they do fight, as I suppose they will fight, in opposition to your Bill, they will be fighting for the best cause that the Peers ever fought for. They will not be fighting for any class interest, for any illiberal object, or any selfish motive, but they will be fighting for the rights of the English people. I have no fear that when they are fighting in such a cause as that you will be able to overcome the House of Lords. But beyond the House of Lords there is the third tribunal, before which, sooner or later, every Party must appear. It is a higher and mightier tribunal than either the House of Commons or the House of Lords, and from it there is no appeal. It is before the English constituencies that ultimately the great issue between us must he decided. I look to the people of England as a sure support. It is to the operatives of Lancashire, the miners of Yorkshire and the North, to the artisans of the Midlands, and to the tried loyalty of what I may call the almost solid South, that I look to give us a majority big enough to overwhelm the Party of Repeal as it exists in its composite form at the present moment. These classes of the population which have enumerated know by instinct, which is unfailing, that their rights are endangered, and I rely upon their determination, on their tenacity, and on their courage to refuse to surrender to a section of the Irish people English rights upon which the strength of the Empire, the maintenance of their commerce and manufactures, and the safety of their homes absolutely depend. Never will the English allow any minority whatever, no matter of what nationality, to impair their existence. The Unionists, in my sincere opinion, are fighting for the life of England. I know the nature of the English people, and, thank God, I know this Bill cannot pass!
§ MR. JOHN ROSS (Londonderry)
said, that if any doubt remained as to the absolutely impracticable character of the Home Rule Bill it was completely re 1630 moved by the speech on Tuesday night of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. J. Bryce). There was no person in the House—or, indeed, in the whole country—better qualified to defend the Constitution now under discussion in the House than the right hon. Gentleman, the author of the American Constitution and the author of the Holy Roman Empire. The right hon. Gentleman was now engaged with others in manufacturing another Holy Roman Empire in Ireland, of which the loyalists would he the victims. The absurd and ridiculous nature of the three Electoral Bodies proposed to be constituted in Ireland by the Bill had been pointed out; but the right hon. Gentleman—this expert on Constitutions was unable to give the House any explanation of value. It was perfectly evident that every difficulty that was before the House in the consideration of the Bill of 1886 was before it again, and that these difficulties were unsolved and unsolvable. He could well understand how the Prime Minister could come before the House with this most important Bill, and tell the House that he had not yet made up his mind with regard to a portion of it, because the right hon. Gentleman dealt with the matter as if he were a mere chairman of a debating society. It was perfectly clear to him that that indicated the hopeless state of perplexity to which the Cabinet was suffering at the present time, and it seemed to him it was evidently the intention of the right hon. Gentleman—his attitude as to the inclusion, or exclusion, of the Irish Members—was a mere excuse for the shelving of the Bill whoa the Opposition against it had gathered its greatest force. He thought that Ulster deserved, at least, some little consideration in this important matter. Ulster had given some of the greatest men who had built up the Empire, and surely it was a hard thing, when they so ably assisted in building op the Empire, and felt proud to form part of that Empire, that they should be cast off in such a manner. He quite acknowledged the exceedingly gracious manner in which the Prime Minister had introduced the Bill. As he listened to the right hon. Gentleman he was able to understand the extraordinary fascination which he exercised, and which made him almost omnipotent in the country; but, 1631 of course, he could not consider the manner in which the Bill was introduced. He had to look at the matter of the Bill, and he should say, on behalf of the people whom He represented, that he most sincerely believed, whether right or wrong, that there was never a more cruel or a more unjust measure put before the House of Commons. He had looked to see what protection there was for minorities in the Bill; there were really none. They had heard about the supremacy of Parliament, about the extraordinary Body called the Legislative Council, and about the veto of the Lord Lieutenant, and they were informed by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster that there were clauses in the Bill providing for the safety of life and liberty and property, and providing also that education would not be interfered with. But that was the answer of an impracticable man of letters, and not the answer of a practicable man of business, because what they had to remember was this: that it did not matter a straw what declarations were in the Bill if the Executive was in the hands of men they could not trust. He would take an example: Suppose an agrarian murder had been committed, and if the authorities did not Lout down the murderer what security would they have for the protection of life and liberty and property? He hardly knew a single case of an agrarian murder or an outrage of that character that had been committed that Nationalist Members had not thrown difficulties in the way of the perpetrators being brought to justice. Hon. Members from Ireland had attacked the juries; they mentioned them by name in the public papers; they attacked and villified the Judges; and, under these circumstances, was it not madness to ask the loyalists of Ireland to trust that these gentlemen would pursue in the future a directly opposite course to that they lied pursued in the past? They should not be carried away by inflated language about conciliating Ireland; they should not put their common-sense behind them; and they knew perfectly well from what had occurred in the past that so long as the Executive was in the hands of gentlemen like the Nationalist Members there would be no security for life and property in Ireland. If, after his encounter with the Land League, the right 1632 hon. Gentleman had come down to the House and said, "These forces of anarchy are too strong for us; I have struggled as long as I could against them, but I find I am beaten, and I now propose by way of conciliating the Irish race to hand over to them the control of the police, the judiciary, and the land. I will assume a policy of trust; I will trust them, and leave these things in their hands "—why, if that had occurred the whole civilised world would have been shocked and astounded. Such an act of madness was never heard of in history, and yet that was the very thing the right hon. Gentleman was now proposing to do by this Bill. There might have been some excuse for it in the land League days; but the right hon. Gentleman could not nowsay that it was impossible to keep down the forces of anarchy in Ireland, when the Leader of the Opposition after a few years in Office had restored order where formerly disorder prevailed, and had gone out of Office without a single perpetrator of an agrarian offence being imprisoned. If that was not believed by the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, let them ask the commercial classes in Ireland as to the effect of the administration of the Leader of the Opposition. The people of Ulster would never agree to the Constitution which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to get up in Ireland; they lived in Ireland, and they loved it quite as much as Nationalist Members, but from their experience of the state of the country they had arrived at this determination on the subject. They knew what the Nationalist Members were; they had always declared their object to be to make Ireland a nation. That did not mean a dependent, but it meant an independent nation, and the right hon. Gentleman was assisting as far as the sense of decency of the English people would allow the Nationalist Members in attaining that object. He (Mr. Ross) was an Ulsterman, and it might be said that he took an extreme view of the matter; but it was hard for loin to believe otherwise than that this Bill would put an end to liberty and to everything that made life worth living in Ireland. If one part of the United Kingdom had served the Empire better than another it was Ulster; it had done much for English liberty in the past, and had acted a 1633 creditable part in the history of the Empire. Ulster had positively made up its mind on this matter, after having given it the greatest possible consideration. There was a time when the words of the Prime Minister had the greatest possible weight in Ulster. There was a time when there was hardly a house in the Province in which the portrait of the right hon. Gentleman was not to be found, and when the right hon. Gentleman was regarded with great affection. If there was any person in the world who could persuade the people of Ulster from the course they had resolved on, it was the right hon. Gentleman. But they had read everything the right hon. Gentleman had to say in favour of Home Rule, and their determination to resist Home Rule was absolutely fixed and unalterable. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that there was a period when the opinion of Ulster on this subject was different from what it was now. That was so; but that was at the time that that the ideas of the French Revolution had affected young students all over Europe, as well as in Ulster. In addition to that, Ulster was at the time suffering from serious fiscal wrongs. Their linen trade was being taxed off the face of the earth by England, and that was the reason which drove large numbers of the Presbyterians of Ulster—to which Body he had the honour to belong—to the resolution that they would try to set up in Ireland a Republic like the American Republic. Bit all the grievances of Ulster were removed; the Republican movement stopped, and from that time up to the present the people of Ulster had been as good subjects as any Her Majesty possessed. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to wish that the people of Ulster had continued in the same frame of mind; but if that had happened, the chances were that the great forces of the French which were sent to the East would have been concentrated in Ireland, and he doubted very much whether the right hon. Gentleman would have a British Empire to dismember. It had been said that the people of Ulster wished to maintain their ascendency. The Presbyterians of Ulster had never in any way sought for any ascendency; and they had never enjoyed ascendency at all. On the contrary, they had supported the right hon. Gentleman in 1634 his efforts in the past to establish religious equality in Ireland. They had always tried to live on the best of terms with their Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen, and now they met with their reward in the Home Rule Bill, which practically placed them under the feet of their Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen. It was a terrible experiment. They could not look back on the history of Ireland without fearing that it was a terrible experiment. And what had the people of Ulster done that they should he made the subjects of this extraordinary experiment? The right hon. Gentleman had said over and over again that the Act of Union was a closed book which never could be re-opened. Ulster believed in these words of the right hon. Gentleman. They never believed that any politician would ever go back of such language. The right hon. Gentleman had often told them they never would he cast off, and they believed that so long as England had a soldier they never would be put under the heel of the majority in Ireland.
§ MR. ROSS
asked what were the reasons which induced the right hon. Gentleman to go back of his words? Whatever might be the ostensible reasons advanced by the right hon. Gentleman the real reasons were 72 in number, and were in the shape of Nationalist Members Promo Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had stated there were only two roads in this matter—coercion and autonomy. He never thought the House of Commons would be so led away by phrases. What did coercion mean? The land of Ireland was in the possession of a few; some agitators stirred up the people to try to get possession of it, and coercion was merely the preventative measure necessary to keep the knives from the throats of the, landlords. Very little now remained of the so-called coercion in Ireland. It was like a sword in its sheath, told could affect nobody. It certainly was no reason why these tremendously revolutionary proposals in regard to the government of Ireland should be laid before the House. The right hon. Gentleman used another phrase—"autonomy." But what meaning could "autonomy" have in a country where there were two races of different creeds, different sentiments, and different 1635 history—two races unfortunately hostile to one another—but that the majority would grind the minority under their heels? [Cries of "No!"] Hon. Members said "No," but history taught a different lesson. Did right hon. Gentlemen opposite presume to know what would happen in Ireland under Home Rule better than those who lived in the country? There were two or three classes in Ireland who objected to this extraordinary measure. They were classes whose opinions could not be ignored. Let them take the Presbyterian ministers—the ministers of his own Church. They were unanimous on the point. entertained a feeling of horror at the proposal. They had no interest to serve in that. They did not want to establish any ascendency in Ireland. They only wanted to he on an equality with the rest of their fellow-countrymen. It might be said that this alarm was groundless. But those who had lived in Ireland during the period of their lives claimed to know more about the country than those who had merely visited it on a passing tour. There was one great difference that struck him between this Bill and the Bill of 1886? The former Bill was of a dual character. It was a Bill by which it was proposed to appropriate British money to buy out the Irish landlords. He was not a landlord himself. He was in the same position as the Member for North Fermanagh, who offered a prayer to Providence that he was not a landlord; but, at the same time, he had been brought up with some sense of justice, and he thought nothing could be more extraordinary than the way in which it was proposed to deal with the landlords in this Bill. They were to be reserved for three or treatment by die English Parliament—the British Parliament—for three years, and then—to the wolves with him! The Member for North Kerry had told them that he would take good care that nothing would be done to Irish land in the interval.
§ MR. ROSS
said, he may have misrepresented the statement of the hon. Gentleman, but he understood him to say that the Irish Members would remain there to see that nothing should be done with Irish land. What, defence could they offer on the Liberal Benches 1636 for keeping this Land Question in reserve for such a period? He said the meaning of it was public plunder—simple robbery. They knew that hon. Members had told them the best thing the landlords would get would be a single ticket to Holyhead. These gentlemen had spoken of the payment of rent as illegal and immoral. Were they entitled to have the settlement of the question? The Protestant tenants living in Ulster knew that many others had threatened to go back to their own land, as they called it. ["No, no!"] Members might cry "No," but he knew the Protestant tenants of Ulster were at the present time in a state of grave alarm, and the reason for that he believed to be that Home Rule had been introduced into that House, and that if the Home Rulers were capable of plundering, the landlords they were also capable of plundering the tenants. He was astonished at the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the tenants in the North of Ireland were thinking far more of reductions in their rents than of Home Rule. He hail heard, since the introduction of the Bill, that the tenants in that part of the country regarded this measure with abhorrence. They were told that in six years' time the Judges were to be appointed by the Irish Parliament. They had some confidence as long as eminent men were appointed to administer the laws justly; but the Members behind him on the Irish Benches had vilified every member of the Bench, or most members of it; they had taken every opportunity of insulting them, even having questions asked in the House for the purpose of bringing their administration of the law into ridicule. What kind of men would they have to administer the maw when they had the hon. Members in power in Ireland? If they were to be handed over, let them, at least, know to whom. Then the Irish Parliament was to select its wit police. They remembered the kind of police they had in the towns and villages during the days of the late Mr. Forster. He asked any man who knew Ulster to say, would she ever tolerate this class of police? They were told by the right hon. Gentleman of the moderation of the Irish demand. They had the same kind of talk in 1886; but when the curtain 1637 was drawn, and the actors discovered unawares in Committee Room No. 15 in 1890, they found that the Bill of 1886 was only pro tanto, and to be made use of for the purpose of obtaining further concessions. They were told before that time that clericalism was a dead system; that it did not any longer exist; that it did not exist in France, or Germany, or Spain, or in Ireland; but since that time they had been able to prove that that was absolutely untrue. The truth came in the Meath Petitions, and it proved that clerical force in Ireland was supreme. Were they to be handed over to that clerical party? Was it fair to hand over a Protestant people to be dealt with by such a party? The remarks of the Member for South Edinburgh on this subject the other night—his jaunty levity at the expense of the Protestants of Ireland—surprised him. Would the hon. Member (Mr. Paul) venture to tell the people of Soul It Edinburgh that they should be placed under clerical power? If the hon. Member did, his flight from the constituency would be meteoric. They were told by the Member for North Longford to keep up their spirits, as he would see that there was no clerical oppression. He would use his influence towards that end. He (Mr. Ross) was quite sure the hon. Member would do that. But how did the candidates supporting the hon. Gentleman—how did they behave in Meath? He himself had said they went too far. He said the clergy went too far. What power could the hon. Member have against such a power as that? About the same as the bubbles might have against the stream in attempting to dam it. They were bound to go along with it. Any man who dared to raise his voice against the priests in Ireland would be swept out of it. The Member for Waterford told them there would be no such thing as clerical oppression under an Irish Parliament. He was the last man in the world who should have told them that; for more cowardly, more barbarous or meaner treatment than had been applied to the Member for Waterford and his friends he never could have conceived. The hon. Member forgave that in a Christian spirit, but they in the House of Commons could not get over it in any practical way. How were they, then, to get 1638 over this clerical power in Ireland? I understand the hon. and distinguished Member who comes from Canada and who now represents South Longford (Mr. Blake) is to speak in this Debate. I would like to direct that hon. Member's attention to a case which has been mentioned here more than once. In Canada, when Lord Dufferin went there, there were two powers—the French Roman Catholic and a small Protestant power; and it. was found that the Roman Catholic power was oppressing anti hammering down the Protestant power. In these circumstances, Lord Dufferin was obliged to throw in the great Province of Ontario, and in that way not to create a division, but to create a union in order to be able to maintain the liberties of tire people of that country. All the historic examples they heard of in 1886, including Austria-Hungary and Norway, were going wrong. He would like any gentleman to show him in the w hole of history a single case where any great nation was so mean as to hand over a small colony planted by itself to a hostile Power. Let him be shown any such state of affairs existing in any part of the world. The Prime Minister in his peroration said that England owed it to her fame and character to make this great settlement of Ireland, and that she would be doing, one of the most famous acts ever publicly done. What was the fact? That England were about to hand over the people she had planted in Ireland to their enemies. If ever England was guilty of this great betrayal she would never hold any fame or character among the European Powers again. Were the Unionists who had held the post for England so long, who had been called the English garrison in Ireland, now that it was thought they could be done without, to be handed over, tied band and feet, to those who were hostile to and who had threatened them. It was all very well for the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) to say that be and his friends would be kind to these poor slaves; but they remembered the words of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), who had said that when his Party came into power in Ireland they would weigh out rewards and punishments. They also remembered the speech of another Member of that (the National- 1639 ist) Party, who had said that when they got the power in Ireland they would know how to deal with these gentry—meaning the northern people. They knew enough to show them that under an Irish Parliament there would not be a particle of toleration shown to the loyalists. These were the people to whom the Unionists of Ireland were to be handed over. A nation might survive many things, but he was satisfied that no nation could survive a betrayal of those who had put confidence in them.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES (Durham, N.W.)
thought there would be but one feeling—of satisfaction on both sides of the House at seeing the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) once more with them, and he was sure none of those who listened to his brilliant speech felt anything but pleasure at finding him once more upon the Front Opposition Bench taking part in the Debates of the House. He did not intend to follow the noble Lord through his speech, but there was one observation which the noble Lord made that filled him with some amazement. In endeavouring to establish his proposition that the Bill of the Prime Minister was a Bill tantamount to the repeal of the Union, the noble Lord stated that the Act of Union was not, as argued by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, a measure for securing the unity of the sovereignty, but a measure for securing the unity of Parliament. He (Mr. Atherley-Jones) respectfully submitted that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House was literally accurate when he described it as a measure for the unity of the sovereignty. The Irish House was a House of co-ordinate jurisdiction and power with the British House of Commons, and had the same power over the control not only of domestic affairs, but control over Imperial affairs as the British House of Commons. It was a House of co-ordinate power and sovereignty; it was a sovereignty of the Imperial Parliament, in conjunction with the Crown, and there was no precedent for saying that the delegation of authority to a subordinate Parliament was tantamount to a repeal of the Union. He thought that obser- 1640 vation of the noble Lord was one that deserved comment and elucidation. He thought they must see that the feeling of the House generally was that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House that it was a unity of sovereignty was an absolutely and literally accurate statement. He had observed that there had been a very full and a very free expression of opinion upon this measure from all parts of the House, but that one—the section to which he had the honour to belong—the Liberal Party. When the Bill of 1886 was introduced they had a free expression of opinion from the Liberal Party, and in his opinion the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister should now be assisted by his supporters on the general leading features of the measure which he had introduced. He had another reason for rising, and that was, he hoped, not as a rebellious but as all independent Member of the Liberal Party; he should not forget his duty to his fellow-citizens and to the constituents who had sent him there to represent them; and he wished to put on record his most respectful protest against the solution of the Irish problem remaining over for any further period of time. He had always expressed the opinion that this question should be dealt with in the most expeditious manner possible; and although, as they knew, no scheme could be regarded as a scheme of finality, that need not prevent them securing an early settlement of the question as presented to them. He wished to say to his Unionist friends that the time for discussing Home Rule was past. He could conceive no difference between the position now and that in 1886. The present Leader of the Opposition had brought the solution of the question nearer by reason of his methods of governing Ireland. There were 80 substantial reasons for the immediate discharge of the obligation that rested upon Parliament sitting on the Benches opposite (the Irish Benches). They had there a full majority of the Irish Representatives making the demand. It was obvious that they could have no solution of the question except the solution of Home Rule. They might oppose the measure, and perhaps they might delay it, but they could never 1641 defeat it. It was their duty, therefore, in a spirit of moderation and of mutual compromise, to approach the consideration of the question, and he did not despair of having the assistance of the Conservative Party in that spirit. His first contention in support of the Bill was that the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament was secured. He felt, however, that the veto proposed to be given to the Lord Lieutenant, acting on the advice of the Executive Committee of the Privy Council, was no veto at all; but they had security in the veto which would be exercised on the advice of the Ministers of the Crown in the Imperial Parliament. That was, in effect, the colonial veto. He did not know whether the hon. Gentleman (Mr. E. Blake), who had occupied such a high position in Canada, was in the House—he should be able to give them an opinion on the subject—but he believed that the veto referred to was absolutely adequate for the purpose of securing that no measure beyond those embraced within the powers of the Statutory Legislature should be passed, and that none should be passed which could inflict injustice on any class. So much for the guarantee of Imperial supremacy. He did not believe that any recital in the Preamble of the Bill, or any clause in the body of it, was a proper guarantee—it would be illusory. They knew that they had supremacy only in the abstract over their Colonies. They knew perfectly well that if they passed laws against the wishes of the Colonies, and that were prejudicial to the people of those Colonies, and if they tried to enforce them by physical power against the Colonies, the figment of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament would be shattered in a day. There was a difference as regarded this measure, for the Imperial Parliament reserved control, and the veto was direct, and could he exercised if occasion required—as, for instance, in cases of attempts at religious establishment, and such like causes. He believed what he had said on this subject was absolutely correct. He had not seen the Bill, and what he had said might not be as correct as he supposed; nevertheless, he knew it was absolutely correct as a statement of constitutional law. He now passed to the portion of the Bill which provided that the Land 1642 Question should be reserved to the Imperial Parliament for three years. It was trite that that period was a comparatively short one, and he apprehended that during that time this (the Imperial) Parliament was to be occupied with certain schemes of Land Law reform for Ireland. He was one of those people who believed that if the Irish Members and the Irish people were to be trusted at all they would be trusted altogether, and he was of opinion they would deal fairly with the landlords, notwithstanding what was said on that topic from some platforms. Why should they keep back the Land Question from settlement by the Irish themselves? In 1871 Mr. Derry, an able and patriotic Irishman, thought the Irish were then beginning to realise that there was such a thing as land. Yet they in England, while proposing a large measure of self-government, proposed to reserve that question to the Imperial Parliament. The only reasons they could get for the reservation would be found among hon. Gentlemen opposite, the friends of the landlords of Ireland, who probably dreaded legislation by the Irish Parliament, including further reductions of judicial rents, the extension of the Ashbourne Acts, and other measures of a like or a kindred character. It was because he wished that there should be a speedy settlement on the lines of a broad and generous trust that he strongly advocated that they should endeavour in Committee on the Bill to secure that the Land Question should not be reserved to the Imperial Parliament for three years. Another point on which he differed from many of his friends on that (the Ministerial) side of the House was as to the retention of the Irish Members. He had never hesitated to concur in what the First Lord of the Treasury had said on the subject in 1886, that it baffled the wit of man to devise a satisfactory scheme whereby Home Rule could be given to Ireland, and the Irish Members could at the same time be retained at Westminster. He was satisfied that the retention of the Irish Members in the House of Commons must mean that there might he in domestic affairs a majority for the Ministry, and in Imperial affairs a majority against the Ministry. He quite admitted that that condition of things 1643 might prevail now. He admitted that the Irish Members were the arbiters of the destiny of the Government, but English Members had a reciprocal right of intervening in the affairs of Ireland. They were able to pass domestic legislation for Ireland. As the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary said the other day, "They were one Parliament, knowing no distinction of Scotch, Irish, or Welsh Members"; but they would cease to be in that position under the Bill. There would be two Parliaments—an Irish Parliament and an Imperial Parliament, with a contingent of Irish Members amongst them. They might as well import into the House 80 French Deputies, or 80 Members of the German Reichsarath, as have 80 Irish Members here interfering in the domestic affairs of the country. He was glad the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury had left this an open question, and he hoped that the views he entertained, and which he was sure some of his fellow Liberals entertained, would ultimately commend themselves to the wisdom of the House. There was a still greater danger and difficulty to his mind, though it might not appeal to his brother Scotch and Welsh Liberal Members, and that was this—that it was the first step, and a very long step and a very final step, towards federation. Undoubtedly if they retained the Irish Members in the House with no control over their domestic affairs, but an indirect control, the inevitable result would be that the Scotch Members, and even the Welsh Members, would clamour for the concession of Home Rule. He was in favour of Home Rule for Ireland because he believed it was an absolute political necessity, but he was as strongly opposed to Home Rule for Scotland and Wales; and he would tell them why. He was opposed to it because he believed it was entirely uncongenial to the spirit of the democracy. He believed the genius of the democracy tended towards the uniting of peoples and of races rather than to the perpetuation of factitious distinctions; and he was persuaded that there were no circumstances of clime, of place, of custom, or of laws, of religion or of race, which rendered it necessary that this Kingdom should be split up into three or four separate Parliaments, 1644 separate Executives, leaving an Imperial Parliament whose functions, when stripped of all their domestic powers, would be mischievous in the direction of inter-meddling, and would produce friction between different nationalities and extremely embarrass our relations with our Colonies and with foreign countries. He had endeavoured—he hoped with moderation—to state his views respectfully, but none the less firmly, on this question. He knew it was necessary that Irish Members should have control over Imperial matters; he knew that taxation and representation should go together; and he could not help thinking that it might be possible to formulate some scheme by which in regard to any financial obligation, either direct or indirect, it might be possible to consult the Irish Parliament, and so arrive in the Imperial Parliament at a just and right conclusion in the matter. He did not, of course, intend to-night to enlarge on that. Other opportunities would be afforded. He appealed to the House not to adopt the spirit of the speech of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington—a speech which was little more than a repetition of the remarks made by the noble Lord on the Bill of 1886. They had to complain of the tone of the speech; they had also to complain of the fact that the Ulster Members regarded abuse as argument and declamation as demonstration. It would have been very much better if the sturdy Presbyterians of Ulster had come to the House to speak in terms of moderation and wisdom. It would then not have been difficult to arrive at a solution which would secure for them that protection which every minority under the British Crown had hitherto enjoyed, and which there was reason to believe the Liberal people of this country and a Liberal Parliament would never deny to anyone.
§ *MR. E. M'HUGH (Armagh, S.)
said, that as a new Member he claimed the indulgence of the House if he failed to express his views in a lucid or Parliamentary form. As an Ulsterman, he felt proud to have heard the flattering terms in which hon. Unionist Members had spoken of Ulstermen. And had they not been given at the expense of the other Party in Ireland, he should have appre- 1645 ciated the compliments. As a citizen of the prosperous City of Belfast, and one largely connected with the trade of Ulster, and all parts of Ireland, returned by an Ulster county, he felt glad to be in a position to rise in that House as an Ulsterman, and say he was a Home Ruler, and that Home Rule was the only means that would save not alone Ulster, but all Ireland from total extinction. He could quite understand why Ulster Tory Members were so much opposed to Home Rule, but no one could understand the meaning of their opposition so well as an Ulster Catholic. The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh, in his speech the other night, displayed an amount of eloquence which he (Mr. M'Hugh) could not lay claim to. He wanted common-sense. He would try and state his views in as commonsense a way as he could. He had heard nothing new in this speech. It was the same old no Popery cry and landlords' rights speech that he had heard for the last 20 years, except that it had been served up this time with a good deal more cayenne pepper and brimstone than usual. The hon. Member for East Belfast stated that the priests were hound to use their power to put down the Protestant minority. That he (Mr. M'Hugh) denied, and he would use very strong language if Parliament allowed it. There were no more tolerant men in the world than the Catholic priests of Ireland. The hon. Member at his first election was very glad to accept the services of a. Catholic priest. The Protestants were in the minority in the South of Ireland, and he had never heard of intolerance there on the part of the priests. The hon. Tory Members from Ulster were very anxious for the integrity of the Empire. They did not care a straw for the integrity of the Empire. What they eared about was the integrity of landlords, rack-rents, and the integrity of the loaves and fishes they had so long enjoyed. Interfere with them, and their loyalty would be seen in its true colours. They would threaten, as before, to kick the Queen's crown into the Boyne. Their motives in opposing this Bill were not patriotic; they were selfish motives. They did not want to lose the Home Rule they had had for centuries—Home Rule to the fullest extent. The Ulster Home Rule 1646 was not the kind of Home Rule the Irish Party asked for Ireland, simply because Ulster Home Rule benefitted only one class and one creed, to the exclusion of all others. They wanted a broad, generous Home Rule that would benefit all Ireland, and that would bring happiness and contentment to everyone in Ireland, whether he be Catholic or Protestant—Nationalist or Orangeman. It had been asked, tune after time, what would become of the loyal minority if Home Rule were passed. The fears of injustice or wrong being done came not from the bulk of the Protestants of Ulster, but arose from the guilty consciences of their landlord leaders, who feared the majority would treat them as they had treated the loyal Catholic minority in Ulster. He had lived and mixed among the Protestants in Ulster all his life, and if they would speak as they had spoken to him, they would say they fear no wrong or injustice from their Catholic countrymen. They dared not express their views publicly. They would be boycotted and ruined in their business. The people of England had no conception of the exclusive policy which, for centuries, the Catholics had had to contend against. Let them see how had the Catholic loyal minority been treated in Ulster. The Penal Laws might as well never have been removed from the Statute Book. They were still in full force in Ulster. Catholics were systematically boycotted from every position of honour and profit, as the few figures he would trouble the House with would prove, facts that were given before a Committee of the House last year. The Catholic population of Belfast was over 70,000. There were four public Boards to which members were elected. In the Harbour Board there were 22 members—37 employes in connection; not a single Catholic. Poor Law Board, 22 elected members; not a Catholic. 21 ex officio Guardians, one Catholic; but he was a Tory Liberal Unionist. Out of the 91 employes in connection with this Board, all were Protestants, except the nurse and two teachers; but the latter were required by Acts of Parliament. The City Council was composed of 40 members, but not a single Catholic was in the Council. There never, at any time, was more than one Catholic, and he 1647 was there because be was a Tory. There were 87 officials connected with the City Council, receiving salaries annually amounting to nearly £17,000. There were just two Catholics employed, receiving about £100 in salaries between them. The Petty Sessions Chief Clerk, his five assistants, the Recorder of the City, County Court Judge, Clerk of the Peace for Antrim, Clerk of the Peace for the Borough, the Coroner, Sub-Sheriff—all were Protestants. On the Asylum Board the Chief Secretary had equalised matters a little, but not enough. In connection with this Board there were 65 officers; eight Catholics, who were employed in menial positions. He noticed the hon. Member for South Belfast and the hon. Member for North Antrim smiling. He defied the hon. Gentlemen to contradict the figures and facts he had given. Since this Session commenced there were two appointments made in Ulster—the Sessional Solicitorship for Antrim and the Postmistress at Carrickfergus, but in consequence their positions were filled by Catholics. Ulster Tory Members worried the Government, and still they talked of intolerance. The same exclusive policy towards Catholics was carried out in all parts of Ulster. He did not believe there was another part of the world where there was so much intolerance. And, still, the Ulster Tory Members had the barefaced audacity to get up in this House and talk of intolerance and priestly intimidation. If the people of the South were intimidated, it was never heard of. They were told that the prosperity of Belfast and Ulster was owing to the Union and the majority being Protestant. That was a great fallacy. Ulster prosperity was due to the fact of her being always the petted child of England, while every means had been adopted to suppress the woollen and other flourishing industries in the South of Ireland that were competing with the manufactures of England. Fortunately for Ulster the linen industry was not alone not interfered with, but a linen Board was established, which gave grants of £12,000 a year to buy looms and supply small farmers with flax-seed, the total amount given was £1,600,000. This was not done because Ulster was Protestant. It was done for the simple 1648 reason that England was not hi coin-petition to any extent with Ireland in the manufacture of linen goods. If she had been, England would not have spared Ulster more than Munster. There was another industry in Belfast and neigh-bourhood that competed largely with England—the cotton industry—which gave employment to nearly 30,000 in Belfast and the neighbourhood. This industry was largely competing with England, and in time it was suppressed, and at present there was not a trace of it. If the same course had been adopted towards the linen, as the cotton industry, Ulster could boast of no more prosperity to-day than Munster. There was another important factor to account for Ulster prosperity. The Ulster tenant farmer always enjoyed tenant right, and when his sons grew up he could dispose of his farm at a good price, and give his sons a start in business. The farmers of the South of Ireland were denied this till a few years ago. When the House passed the Home Rule Bill, it would be the first great step in righting the wrongs of centuries, and it would contribute largely to make the Irish people happy, prosperous, and contented, and Ireland, instead of being a source of weakness, and blocking the way of English reforms, would be a tower of strength, and the most reliable portion of their great Empire. The integrity of the Empire would be on a more secure basis than it has been for 700 years. He hoped that the Secretary of State for War was not losing sight of the fact that it was rumoured that when the Home Rule Bill was passed Ulster would declare war, and hostilities would be commenced, and rumour had it that the hon. and gallant Members of that House would lead the Army, gentlemen who had rendered good service to the State, and distinguished themselves in the field of battle. He did not believe Ulster would fight. No, Ulster would not fight. Ulster will get tight. Then Home Rule would be all right.
§ MR. W. KENNY (Dublin, St. Stephen's Green)
asked for that indulgence which was always extended to a new Member on rising to address the House for the first time. He should hardly have thought of troubling the House with any observations in this Debate but that he 1649 represented one of the five seats won from the Nationalists of Ireland. His constituency numbered 8,400, of whom 46,00 were Unionists, and he considered it his duty on the first available opportunity to state to the House what the opinions of these 4,600 Unionists were upon the question which was now before the House. His constituency was one of those scattered Unionist communities outside Ulster, who looked to this Parliament and to the British people for protection against the results of the Home Rule Bill, and which would call upon the House of Commons to stand between them and the dangers which the Bill would inevitably produce if it became law. His constituency protested as strongly against the initial principle of Home Rule—against the establishment of a central authority in Dublin—as against every detail of the measure which was proposed, as did Belfast, Londonderry, or any other part of Ulster. The existence of a Unionist minority outside Ulster was a fact that had to be reckoned with. It could not be got rid of, as the bon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. T. Sexton) tried to get rid of it the other evening, by a taunt and a sneer. The Unionist minority outside Ulster existed. Ulster could take care of itself, but these scattered communities, like the community he represented, were thrown on their own resources, and unless Parliament was true to them, as he believed it would be, they would be left alone in the fight. The loyal minority said—although it might be sneered at—" We represent the intelligence and the wealth of Ireland." [Laughter.] That was the way in which statements of this kind were invariably met—instead of proof or test, the reply of the Nationalist Party was a taunt or a sneer. His constituency was composed of business men, about the largest merchants in Dublin. They had considered the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman of 1886, they had considered the present measure on Monday night, and they were unaltered in their determination to oppose it with all their strength. They had considered how it would affect their position as traders, and they had arrived at the conclusion that it would be attended tended with the 1650 greatest danger to the best interests of the trade and commerce of the country. The Unionists of Ireland were anxious that the Home Rule question should be settled one way or the other. The continued existence of the Home Rule agitation had been sufficient in Ireland to arrest the development of the country, whilst in England it had arrested beneficial English legislation. While looking at the question from a different point of view his constituency were quite as anxious as the Government to have a definite "Yes" or "No" pronounced upon it. There was, however, absolutely no finality in the present measure. In 1886 the right hon. Gentleman said he intended the Bill to be a complete and ample measure of Home Rule for Ireland, satisfying to the wishes of the Nationalists. The hon. Member for one of the Divisions of Durham, who had just spoken as an independent Member, admitted that there was no finality whatever about the present measure. It proposed to permit agitation, with regard to the Irish Land Question, to continue unchecked for the next three years, and therefore, in his view, the Bill about to be introduced would only accentuate and aggravate the situation, not alone in Ireland, but in Great Britain. The Prime Minister, in the wonderful speech with which he charmed the House on Monday night, appeared to endeavour to convince the House that the Leader of the Opposition had no other policy to offer to Ireland but one of coercion, and that no other policy had been tried in Ireland since 1886. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to have forgotten the admirable schemes brought in by the late Government for the development of the material and industrial resources of Ireland. It could easily be shown that Ireland had prospered between 1885 and 1892. One of the tests that could be applied was that of the increase in cash balances in Joint Stock Banks in Ireland. On the 31st December, 1885, these stood at the sum of £29,370,000, while in December, 1891, they had risen to £34,532,000. The balances in the Post Office Savings Bank and Trustee Savings Banks amounted to £1,710,000 in 1886, and had risen in 1891 to £5,932,000. The railway receipts, which in 1886 were £2,751,000, had risen in 1891 to £3,146,000. Apply- 1651 ing another test, he found that the total number of paupers in receipt of indoor and outdoor relief had decreased every year since 1886. In that year the -number was 633,000, whilst in 1890 it was only 455,000. These were practical tests that could properly be applied to show the improvement that had taken place in the condition of the country under a so-called coercion rule. The hon. Member who spoke last had referred to the increase of the value of Railway and Bank Stock in the North of Ireland. He (Mr. Kenny) would give the House some figures which would throw a little additional light on the subject. He had before him a Return showing the fall in prices between 1885 and 1886, consequent on the pilot balloon having gone up with reference to Home Rule. The Stock of the Bank of Ireland on the 31st May, 1885, stood at £333, whilst on the 31st May, 1886, in the middle of the Home Rule Debate in the House of Commons, it had fallen to £260. The National Bank Stock stood at £24 ½ at the former date, and had sunk to £18⅞ at the latter date. The Provincial Bank Stock sank from £29 to £20, and the Northern Bank Stock from £24 to £20. Coming next to the Railways, the Great Southern and Western Ordinary Stock sank from £112 to £95, the preference shares from £110 to £103, and the debentures from £112 to £104. The Midland and Great Western Ordinary sank from £72 to £61, and the Great Northern Ordinary from £113 to £95. No doubt these shares had gone up to a point far beyond that reached in 1885. The reason, however, was not that people in Ireland were satisfied that the Home Rule Bill was about to pass, but because of the very opposite. The Unionists in Ireland had finally made up their minds that a Home Rule Bill could not, and would not, pass. [Nationalist laughter.] Hon. Members might laugh; but if they went about amongst their constituents and asked the merchants of Ireland whether they expected that such a Bill, containing no safeguards whatever for the loyal minority, was going to obtain the support of English and Scotch Members, they would soon come to the conclusion that such a thing was in no way expected. The Prime Minister in his 1652 speech complained that the provisions of the Crimes Act with regard to preliminary inquiries, special juries, changes of venue, and summary jurisdiction had been made part of the permanent law of the land. He (Mr. Kenny) did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman), who was formerly Chief Secretary for Ireland, thought now that none of these provisions ought to be made part of the permanent law. In a speech of that right hon. Gentleman in October, 1885, he said—Bat the key of the whole of this question was this—that in many parts of Ireland, for certain classes of offences, especially offences of an agrarian character, they could not trust to the ordinary class of jurymen doing their duty, partly from ignorance, partly from prejudice, but mainly owing to the cruel and overpowering system of terror under the National League. They could not be sure with the clearest evidence of being able to get a verdict. Now, he maintained that, in order to uphold the arm of justice in Ireland, it was not merely reasonable, but necessary, to provide some measures which could overcome that difficulty, and it might very well have been made part of the permanent law.Thus it was evident that the right hon. Gentleman advocated the permanent adoption of a provision of this kind as, far as the jury law was concerned.
§ *MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
Not with regard to the last Coercion Act, which had not then been thought of, much less passed.
§ MR. W. KENNY
said the principle was the same, but he supposed the right hon. Gentleman had now changed his opinions.
§ MR. KENNY
In that case the right hon. Gentleman, he supposed, did not join with the Prime Minister's complaint as to the permanency- of certain clauses of the Crimes Act of 1887. Another right hon. Gentleman, who was also a former Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir G. Trevelyan), speaking at Galashiels in May, 1886, said—In last June. Mr. Gladstone and his Cabinet determined to maintain the law in Ireland. They resolved to have a preliminary investigation on oath into undetected crime, which you have in Scotland. They resolved to have power of changing the scene of a trial from a locality 1653 where public feeling was too strong for that trial to be a fair one, a power which you have in Scotland. They resolved to call a special jury in cases of crime, as a substitute for the far more potent and effective system of convicting or acquitting by a majority of jurors, which you have in Scotland. They resolved to allow a summary sentence of a few months to be inflicted for crimes of violence and intimidation by two Stipendiary Magistrates, who answer in essential respects to your Scotch Sheriffs. That is Coercion! That is the system, greatly effective as a check on crime, but absolutely without any terror or danger to law-abiding citizens.After such statements as these, on the part of two Members of the present Cabinet, could it be said that the Unionists of Ireland were not justified in desiring that the Crimes Act should remain on the Statute Book as part of the permanent law of the land? With regard to the measure now before the House, the country had been looking forward to its introduction for some seven years. There were two essential particulars on which it had been expected that some light would be thrown by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. The first of these was the safeguarding of the minority in Ireland; and the second was as to whether any system could he devised, apart from the strictly federal system or a complete repeal of the Union, which would enable the Members for Ireland to be retained in the Imperial Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman had "tried to reconcile that which Unionists regarded as wholly irreconcilable. Having regard to the provisions of the Bill, as described by the Prime Minister on Monday, he thought that the secret which had been kept so long by the Government was scarcely worth keeping. The Bill consisted of a mass of incongruities, and if it had been placed before the constituencies before the General Election, its inconsistencies and vain attempts at compromise would have been thoroughly exposed. The measure attempted to conciliate two parties, one of which was known as the Gas and Water Party, and the other as the Parnellite Party. The right hon. Gentleman had thrown a sop to the Nationalists of Ireland by giving the Lord Lieutenant a veto on the advice of the Irish: Ministers, whilst to the Gas and Water Party he had urged that whilst 1654 there was undoubtedly this veto in Ireland there was another veto in England. He had altogether omitted to say that he had retained the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament in sufficient numbers to prevent the English veto being exercised. With reference to the safeguards proposed, the first observation which would occur to anybody was that the right hon. Gentleman seemed to have absolutely no confidence in the legislative authority he was about to set up. He had reserved for the consideration of the Imperial Parliament for three years the question of die land. He had reserved from the action of the Irish Parliament for six years the question of the Constabulary. The appointments of the Judges were to remain within the control of the Imperial Government. The Prime Minister would not even allow Election Petitions in Ireland to be tried by the ordinary Judges of the land. What were the safeguards provided for the Irish minority? The first was supposed to exist in the Legislative Council of 48, elected on a restricted franchise. All he could say with reference to the 48 was this: that he did not believe, having regard to the various constituencies and the number of occupiers of £20 throughout Ireland, that in this Legislative Council the Unionists would not exceed 14 or 15. If that were so, he would like to ask where was the protection for the minority in Ireland? It was said that if they had not got the Legislative Council they limited the supremacy of Parliament. The answer was that the Irish would be there. If the veto was refused by the Lord Lieutenant on the advice of his Irish Ministers in Dublin, the Irish Members to the number of 80 or 81 would be in attendance at Westminster and put any Ministry out of Office that dared to apply the Imperial veto when the Lord Lieutenant had refused to apply it in Inland. The third safeguard of the minority that was stated was the veto to which he had just referred. That veto would he the merest figment, and there was no question that on the advice of the Irish Ministers it would certainly not be effective. The result of the absence of these safeguards would be that under the proposed Bill there would be absolutely no protection for the minority 1655 in Ireland, whether it was the minority in Ulster or the minorities of those scattered communities throughout the rest of Ireland. The country had looked, during the last five or six years, for some elucidation of the question of the retention of the Irish Members. The right hon. Gentleman, in introducing the Bill, said he only regarded this question as an organic detail, but they insisted that the retention or non-retention of the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament was not a mere organic detail, but that it was an essential and vital principle of the Bill. He should like to know what the right hon. Gentleman's idea was with regard to the way in which the Irish Members were to be retained. Were they to come to Westminster at intervals, or were they to remain there all the year round? Were they to be about the House, and called in should an Imperial matter arise? Or if they were only to be at Westminster at intervals, and, in the meantime, an Imperial question arose, were they to be telegraphed for from Ireland? One of their principal objections to this measure was the objection which no doubt the right hon. Gentleman himself felt in 1886, and that was that whatever measure was introduced for the better government of Ireland it should have some sort of finality and completeness about it. Did those hon. Members who supported the right hon. Gentleman expect that there was to be any finality whatever about the present measure? The Bill was really but a lever for further agitation in the Imperial Parliament. The first proposal, he ventured to think, that would he made would be to whittle away a large proportion of the Customs Revenue of £2,370,000. The Irish Members would then find the two Exchequer Judges in Dublin an intolerable nuisance, and the two Exchequer Judges would go. Then they would decide that Election Petitions should be transferred to Judges of their own appointment; and, finally, he had little or no doubt there would be an agitation in that House that Ireland should have a distinctive trade policy, which would involve the right of the Irish Legislature to impose protective tariffs and offer bounties in Ireland. There were two other 1656 matters he would like information upon. First, he did not hear the right hon. Gentleman refer to appeals from Ireland, save to appeals to the Privy Council on questions of ultra vices. He would like to know whether there was a provision in the Bill for the retention of the House of Lords as a Final Court of Appeal in civil matters in Ireland? He thought the right hon. Gentleman said that the provision in the Bill of 1886 for this purpose had been abandoned; but if that was so, he should like to know what was the Final Court of Appeal which was intended to be set up in the place of the House of Lords? There was one other question they must look for an answer to. They had had some strong answers from the Home Secretary upon the question of a general amnesty to criminals in this country. He would like to know whether the Irish Executive, as soon as it was established, was to have the power of releasing prisoners like the Phœnix Park prisoners who were now in gaol? The Home Secretary had said there was no intention to extend a general amnesty in this country, but they were not quite sure that if there was an Irish Executive these prisoners might not be regarded as political prisoners, and that there might not be a general amnesty, and that they might not be let loose on society. That was a most important question for them, and he would like some information upon that and the other points.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, the hon. Member had told the House that he represented a body of men possessing exceptional intelligence and wealth. That might possibly be the case, but it did not follow that because one man was wiser and richer than another that he counted for two. The hon. Member also said that he represented 4,600 constituents; but he (Mr. Labouchere) found that the hon. Member was elected by 2,878 votes, and that against him were 3,488 of the non-intelligent and non-rich.
§ MR. W. KENNY
said, the hon. Member was looking at the register of last year. The register had slightly improved since then. Now the majority in his favour was 781.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that he preferred to look at the election figures, and not at vague facts about the register. The hon. Member had treated them to a mass of financial considerations, to only one of which he would refer. It was a remarkable fact that in 1886 they were told that Home Rule would ruin Ireland, and the proof was that public securities had gone down. They were now told that Home Rule would ruin Ireland, because public securities had gone up. Surely both of these arguments could not be true? The hon. Member told them that a proof of the success of the government of the late Irish Secretary was that the balances at the savings banks had increased; but did the hon. Gentleman not know that if they had increased it was because owing to certain Land Acts and Rent Acts which the Government had passed a good deal of the money which used to go into the pockets of the landlords now went into the savings banks? But they had had a more important speech, if he might be allowed to say so, than that of the hon. Member who had just sat down. That was the one from the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington. He was sure they were all glad once again to hear the voice of the noble Lord. Still, owing to no fault of his, for this matter had been so fully discussed, he thought he did not add much to the stock of the arguments that already existed on both sides. He was perpetually saying, "I want to know whether this or whether that is in the Bill. I want some Minister to tell me." It seemed to him that, considering they might at least hope that on Saturday they would have the Bill in black and white, it was more reasonable to wait until they had it before them than to endeavour to get from Ministers this and that matter of detail. He thought the noble Lord would admit that he was himself utterly and absolutely opposed in principle to this or to any scheme of Home Rule, so that his criticisms appeared to he deprived of a good deal of their value. Of course, a matter like this was a most complicated one. They had two islands, one a large one, and the other a small one. The object, then, was to produce such a state of things as would enable them to have local Parliament in Ireland 1658 dealing alone with Irish matters, and a Parliament in England dealing with British local matters, and also with Imperial matters. It was very much like trying to put a square peg into a round hole. He quite agreed that the angles of the peg would remain. He quite admitted that they could not get a fit geometrically perfect; but it seemed to him that the great object was, assuming they were in favour of Home Rule, to get the best fit they could under the circumstances. He, for his part, thought this Bill, assuming that it was desirable to give effect to the principle of Home Rule, was a great effort of legislative art on the part of the Prime Minister and on the part of his Colleagues. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had fully re-cognised the difficulties, and that he had dealt with them in a most successful manner. It must always be remembered in this matter of Home Rule that they had got to choose between two alternatives. After the Bill of 1886 the Unionists went before the country saying there was a third course, that of some species of local government for Ireland. When they got into power where was the third course? It entirely disappeared. Every year they were told that something was going to be done with regard to the matter. When was it done? In the very last Session of the last Parliament, and the Ministers were so utterly ashamed of their own Bill that it sunk to the bottom of the ocean in the midst of the ridicule of their own followers, and he thought no one more effectually and efficiently ridiculed it than the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour) himself. The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington made a great point of the fact that the majority in England was opposed to Home Rule; but surely that was a strange argument for a Unionist, whose Party had always insisted that no distinction was to be made here between Members, from whatever part of the country they might come. He agreed with the view that when the question was either Irish, or Scotch, or English, special consideration should be given to the views expressed by the Representatives of that particular portion of the Kingdom. The noble Lord said the entire United Kingdom had not declared de- 1659 cidedly in favour of Home Rule. They were told there were several issues before the country, and that Home Rule was only one, and that the Government got their majority by other issues and not only by Home Rule. They could not look into the minds of the electors. They submitted several issues, to them, and they came to their conclusions either favourably or unfavourably to those issues. But he asserted that there was no Member of the Gladstonian Party who blinked the question of Home Rule before the electors. If ever a majority had a mandate from the country to carry any measure, the majority that sat on the Ministerial side of the House had a mandate from the country. The noble Lord tried to frighten them about Ulster. It was not the first time the noble Lord had tried to frighten them with Ulster. The noble Lord, when the last Home Rule Bill was being discussed, said that Ulster would fight. The noble Lord said the Ulster people stated they would fight, but it was a very different thing from fighting. He should think himself that the people of Ulster would, as soon as there was a Parliament in Ireland, rally almost unanimously to that Parliament. He had not been in Ulster himself, but so far as he could understand the position, the Ulster farmers were up in arms against judicial rents. When the tenants of Lord Londonderry began to see that the Irish Parliament was ready to step in to secure them fair rents, it seemed to him that they would soon desert Lord Londonderry, the noble Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), and hon. Gentlemen opposite, and rally to the Parliament which gave them what they wanted—security in their holdings. The noble Lord said they had no right to call upon the Ulster people to change their allegiance. They were not going to ask them to do that; they would owe the same allegiance to Her Majesty and her representatives in Dublin as they would now. Surely they had already changed their allegiance; they were called upon to do that when the Union was carried. Before that they owed their allegiance to an Irish Parliament, and since then, in a Parliamentary sense, they owed their allegiance to this Parliament; and therefore what they were doing 1660 to these people was to enable them to revert to their original allegiance to a Parliament in Ireland. He should like to know from some Ulster Member what they claimed with regard to Ulster. Did they suggest that Ulster should be left out of the Irish Parliament?— ["No, no!"] No, then what was it; what did it amount to? The hon. Gentleman held that not only all Ireland, with the exception of a portion of Ulster, should be in favour of Home Rule, but that there should be a majority in the United Kingdom in favour of Home Rule, and yet there was never to be Home Rule so long as these Ulster people imposed a veto upon it. Was that to be the condition of things? If so, that was Ulster rule with a vengeance. They were not to do what they thought justice to the whole of Ireland, or what the United Kingdom thought justice to the whole of Ireland—["No, no!"]—yes, because Ulster objected. [An hon. MEMBER: Half of Ulster.] An hon. Member said "half of Ulster." They knew there was a fluctuating majority in Ulster. Last Parliament there was a majority in favour of Home Rule, in this Parliament there was a majority slightly against, probably in the next Parliament there would be a majority largely in favour of Home Rule. He thought that all would agree with him in saying that one-half the population of Ulster were in favour of Home Rule, and the other half were opposed to Home Rule. The noble Lord was terribly afraid of religious liberty suffering if Home Rule was granted. "What," said the noble Lord, "is there in the Bill to preserve religious liberty." Again, he (Mr. Labouchere) said wait for the Bill, and they would see what was in it. At present they knew there was a denominational system of education in Ireland—["No, no!"] Yes there was. [Mr. T. W. RUSSELL: Nothing of the kind.] They had the Conscience Clause, and it seemed to him, so far as he gathered from the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury, that things would remain as they were, the Irish Parliament would not be able to alter the denominational education that existed in Ireland at the present moment. With regard to personal liberty, the noble Lord was also much terrified, and said 1661 the Prime Minister said personal liberty was to be protected by a clause taken front the Constitution of the United States. He did not know any better place from which to take anything than the Constitution of the United States. He regarded the Constitution of the United States as near perfection as anything that had been invented by the mind of man. But what was this clause? The clause provided that anyone who suffered from the State Government, who thought that the State Government had acted ultra vires, might appeal to the Supreme Court. The noble Lord told them that same right would be secured to the people of Ireland by going to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. "But," said the noble Lord, "How can a poor man go before the Committee?" They did not suppose an appeal would be made to the Judicial Committee every day. There had only been 40 or 50 appeals to the Supreme Court of America since America had existed. They took up one or two test cases, and if there were a sufficient number of men who reasonably thought injustice was being done, some sort of subscription would be made and a test case taken to the Judicial Committee, when the matter would he decided once for all. But they might be certain there would be few of them. For his part, he thought this Bill was a very good Bill as a basis to go into Committee upon. As the First Lord of the Treasury said, a great deal was left open for Committee; the Government wished to be assisted by the House, and, For his part, he tendered himself as one of their assistants. He thought, in the slain, the Bill was a thoroughly good Bill. He did not pin himself down to saying he was going to vote with the Government on every question. Take, for instance, the second Chamber, he was not in favour of two Chambers, he was in favour of one, and, certainly, if there were to be two, he was in favour of both being elected on the same franchise, with only a difference made in areas, as in the case of every State in the United States. He could not see his way, he confessed, to vote in Committee upon any proposal that would make a distinction between rich and poor in the franchise. He was a One-Man-One-Vote person, and in 1662 favour of there being no distinction being given to any man on account of his wealth; and whether they succeeded or not, the Radicals ought to register a protest against a plan which might be used as a precedent against them when they got rid of the House of Lords. Then, with regard to land, he perfectly agreed with an hon. Member who spoke this evening, and said he could not understand why, if the Irish were able to look after the land in three years, they should not be fit to look after it now. He suspected their Irish friends wanted a little more of our money. He should really like to know what their views oil this Land Question were. He could assure them that no Government would venture to propose any further Land Purchase Bills. What they were in favour of, at least most of them on that side of the House, was a Commission for revising the judicial rents, and he should be glad if that Commission were appointed, and he felt sure. that the Irish people might then be given the right to control their own laud. They had heard a good deal about finance. The noble Lord told them that the financial scheme of the First Lord of the Treasury was a bad one with reference to the collection of the revenues, because a similar plan had not succeeded in the Argentine Republic. He should as soon have talked about a land of brigands as the Argentine Republic, and surely there was some distinction between the United Kingdom and the Argentine Republic. But if the noble Lord had gone to Turkey he would have found there was a plan there by which the Import Duties were paid into the Exchequer for the benefit of the bondholders who had succeeded, and these duties were not taken by the Turkish Government, though sorely in need of them. But, at all events, he did not think the noble Lord would frighten them out of this scheme by telling them it had not succeeded in the Argentine Republic. As to the retention of the Irish Members, that would be a question raised in Committee. He was exceedingly glad the First Lord of the Treasury had drawn a plan by which the Irish Members, at any rate, would not be able to vote on matters exclusively English. That was what he had always been opposed to; but he 1663 agreed that the scheme was not a very good one, and he also agreed with the First Lord of the Treasury that it would be better to exclude the Irish Members entirely from Parliament under certain limitations, and he had no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman, who said the First Lord of the Treasury would stand to his opinions, would vote with him (Mr. Labouchere) and others who entertained the opinion he had expressed. But he did not make these criticisms in any hostile spirit to the Bill; he considered them fair and legitimate considerations for discussion in Committee, and he thought the decision come to in Committee ought to be accepted by all Home Rulers. For his part, he should always accept those decisions, whether for or against him. He went further, and said it was of paramount importance they should have, without delay, a Home Rule Bill passed through the House upon the declaration that the Representatives of the United Kingdom were in favour of a definite scheme of Home Rule. Though he objected to some of the details, if it went out of Committee precisely as it went in he should vote in favour of the Bill on the Third Reading. The noble Duke (the Duke of Devonshire) had tried to terrify them about the House of Lords. He told them the other night the House of Lords were going to defend the liberties of the United Kingdom by running counter to the will of the people. For his part, he had never been strongly in favour of an Assembly like the House of Lords. He could not understand why some 600 gentlemen should interfere with the decisions of the Representatives of the people. If they did, they would find additional force was given to the intentions of the democracy to put an end to their existence. In the meantime, he would venture to suggest this scheme to the First Lord of the Treasury, as it had occurred to him it might meet the difficulty. It was obvious that it was perfectly monstrous that when they had come to a decision that decision should not b e accepted by the House of Lords, and that, he thought, would he admitted on all sides. It was obvious that when the electors had taken the trouble to send them to Parliament as their Representatives they should not 1664 be given all that trouble for nothing through the action of the House of Lords, and it seemed to him this scheme might be adopted Keep over some of their Estimates—it had been done before; have an Autumn Session, and then, if the House of Lords then threw out the Bill, bring it in again. Having thrown over a few of the Estimates, they would have to have an Appropriation Bill, and they could tack the Home Rule Bill on to the Appropriation Bill. He thought that was a simple solution of the difficulty; and he could assure the Government this: that no matter what course they took against the action of the House of Lords, they would be supported by the entire democracy of the country. He thought the Home Rule Bill a good Bill. He thought it might receive with advantage certain modifications in Committee; but whether these modifications would be carried out or not, he thought the Radicals throughout the country would recognise that the Bill dealt with the difficulty in regard to Ireland efficiently, and they would, therefore, give it their cordial support.
§ COLONEL WARING (Down, N.)
said, his hon. Friend who had just sat down was, as usual, very amusing. But what struck him as peculiarly amusing in the speech of his hon. Friend was the attack he had made on the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington for putting questions to the Government as to what would appear or not appear in the Bill. No doubt the Bill would be out in a few days, but that was no reason why the House should not get information about it from those who had asked leave to introduce it. His hon. Friend had pointed out that the fall of securities in Ireland on the introduction of the Home Rule Bill of 1886 was used as an argument to show the apprehension with which Home Rule was regarded at that time; and that the absence of such a fall now should be held up as a proof in the opposite direction. But the reason why securities had not fallen in Ulster this time was simple. It was because the commercial classes of Ireland had the slightest belief in the Government's ability, or perhaps the desire of the Government to pass the Bill. His hon. 1665 Friend had also told the House that no Liberal candidate had shrunk from introducing the question of Home Rule in addressing his constituencies at the General Election. But of this he (Colonel Waring) was certain: If the Liberal candidates did not shrink from question of Home Rule they described Home Rule to suit the different palates of audiences in different parts of the country, and that no two Liberal candidates represented Home Rule in the same form. For instance, at Rossendale Home Rule was described as "gas and water Home Rule"; but in constituencies where the Irish votes were strong it was put differently. The hon. Gentleman asked what did Ulster want? Ulster simply wanted to be let alone. They had thrived in the world under the Union, and they desired to be left under the Union. "Let us alone,"—that was what Ulster said.
§ COLONEL WARING
said that when he talked of Ulster he was talking of political Ulster and not geographical Ulster. Geographical Ulster, of course, included Donegal; but the Ulster he meant was the ancient Kingdom of Ulidia, a name which he would prefer to use, only the other was better understood by the common people. The House had had some amusing remarks on the House of Lords from the hon. Member for Northampton, but the hon. Gentleman seemed to forget that the House of Lords was part of the Constitution, and that the House of Commons had no more power to abolish, to end, or to mend the House of Lords than the House of Lords had to abolish, end, or mend the House of Commons. The threats of the hon. Member for Northampton were unreal, and the House of Lords could afford to smile at them. The speech of the Prime Minister introducing the Home Rule Bill contained a great many rather startling assertions. Some of these assertions were concerned with ancient history, with which hon. Members, as a rule, were not competent to follow the right hon. Gentleman. But one, at least, had reference to events within the experience of several Members 1666 of the House. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Irish Members for the last seven years had been mute in this House. Well, if the Irish Members had been mute, the newspapers during that time were wonderfully fertile in invention, because they contained columns day after day of the speeches of hon. Members. The right hon. Gentleman also said that the Union between England and Ireland was degrading. He (Colonel Waring) asked did Scotchmen consider that Scotland was degraded by the Union with England? The Union was not degrading, and it certainly was not disastrous to Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman also spoke of unequal laws. If any inequality existed it was inequality rather in favour than against Ireland. Laws had been passed in favour of the occupiers of land in Ireland; large sums of money had been advanced for Irish purposes, neither of which had been done for England or Scotland. He was sure the people of England and Scotland would not be sorry to suffer from a similar inequality. There was one point still in doubt as to this proposed Irish Parliament, and the House was aware that there were certain religious disabilities connected with the Imperial Parliament. Clergymen of the Church of England and clergymen of the Church of Rome were not eligible for seats in the House. He asked whether these disabilities applied also to the Irish House of Commons? That was a very serious and important matter for consideration. This Irish Parliament would be completely under the control of the Roman Catholic hierarchy of Ireland; but he wanted to know would the priests and Bishops be allowed to sit in it; would they have Archbishop Walsh occupying, say, the position of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian in this House, and Bishop Nulty that of the "lesser light who rules the night?" The right hon. Gentleman twitted Ulster on her change of opinion since the Act of Union was passed. Supposing it was true that Ulster had changed her opinion, she had changed it only once in a century; but the right hon. Gentleman during the half century of his political life had changed his opinion somewhat more frequently. Speaking in 1835, when, the first attack was made on the 1667 Established Church in Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman said—I deny that this the conversion of the Roman Catholics was the exclusive business of the Church of Ireland; the one great part of its mission was the instruction of those who belonged to it in the maxims of religion, loyalty, and truth. Has it failed in that respect? or are they not, on the contrary, to be reckoned among the most loyal and devoted subjects of the Crown. England is a Protestant State; they ought, therefore, to uphold the Protestant religion.The right hon. Gentleman now proposed to uphold that religion by placing it beneath the heels of the Roman Catholic hierarchy of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman on another occasion said that "England was not to be converted from Home Rule by menace." Neither was Ulster to be converted by menace, whether expressed or implied. The Prime Minister had also said that this settlement of the Irish difficulty was to be a real settlement. The right hon. Gentleman did not use the word "final." But how long was this real settlement to last? Would it last for a generation? No, it would only last half a generation; for in 15 years it was to be brought up again for revision and alteration. The right hon. Gentleman said that the minority in Ireland would have the protection of the Legislative Council to be elected by a higher franchise. That was a mere pitfall and snare, because the franchise would give no security to the loyalists; and then, again, as to the two Chambers and their proposed constitution, the mode of representation that would be in operation would give no more protection to the minority than if there was but one Chamber only. He passed over the question of the veto, as so much had been said on that subject. But why was the number of Members in the Irish Parliament to be fixed at 103? and why were the Members here to be fixed at 80? They were told that there was some unfairness in the number of constituents that each represented, and that there should be one vote one value as between England and Ireland; but he and his friends said that there should be one vote and one value between the Loyalists and Separatists. Why was it that the number of Irish Representatives was not reduced to 80? Simply because the result of that would be to increase the 1668 Unionist minority in the Irish Parliament from one-fifth to one-fourth. Therefore, it was not proposed to make any alteration in the constitution of the Irish Parliament, and to give them one vote one value there; but where they were dealing with the distinctions between English and Irish interests they took care that these anomalies should be corrected. In saying a few words of criticism about the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for the Bordesley Division, he wished to express to him his thanks for the great services his right hon. Friend had rendered to the Unionist cause. But the right hon. Gentleman made a proposal that they should treat Ulster in the same manner in which the United States treated the State of Virginia—to divide the rest of Ireland as Western Virginia was divided. That was a proposition which no Ulster man who had the slightest regard for his character, who was not prepared to be branded as a coward and a traitor, would ever entertain. They would stand by all their Protestant brethren in Ireland, and would stand or fall together. Home Rule they had always regarded in Ulster as Rome Rule. That had been proved to demonstration by the elections in the County of Meath. It was not that they eared very much for the threats, curses, or the blessings either of Archbishop Walsh or Bishop Nulty; but, at the same time, those threats and curses were not likely to give them very great confidence in the treatment they would receive by a Parliament in Dublin under the domination of Archbishop Walsh and Bishop Nulty. He did not think that hon. Members opposite would wonder that, as Ulster rejected the Bill of 1886, with its so-called safeguards, so they would unite in rejecting the present Bill, which was shorn of all possible safeguards for the minority in Ireland. There was a possibility of a collision of opinion between the military authorities in Ireland and the civil ones in the event of the establishment of the proposed new Parliament; and he would ask the Secretary for War whether the Commander-in-Chief would have absolute control of the forces there, or whether they would be under the control of the Irish Parliament or the Lord Lieutenant, who would he directed by his responsible Ministers 1669 in Ireland? This Parliament would be a Roman Catholic Parliament, dominated and governed by the Roman Catholic hierarchy; and yet English Radicals, sons of British freemen, proposed to submit the loyalists of Ireland to a tyranny which they themselves and their fathers would never have submitted to. Would they submit to be governed by a Parliament under the dictation of any Pope, Archbishop, or Ecclesiastical Party? He felt very much inclined to apply to those who supported the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian the Scriptural denunciation—Woe unto ye, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.This was a yoke which their fathers broke off their necks 200 years ago at Derry, and it was a yoke which they would never submit to. They were simply telling the House what must occur. The Prime Minister said he treated these vaticinations as idle wind, lout they were really the first murmurings of a tempest which would drive him and his followers, shattered and wrecked, upon die lee shore of indelible infamy.
§ *MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
There may be some Members of the House, and I myself ant included among them, who think that this Debate is somewhat of a contravention of the ordinary practice of the House of Commons. But I think we need not regret, at all events, the time which has been spent upon the subject to-night, because we have listened to one or two most remark-aide speeches. We heard a speech from an hon. Member below the Gangway who is himself a merchant in Belfast, and who, therefore, from the very heart and core of loyal Ulster, was able to give a strong adhesion to the principle of the Bill. On the other hand, we heard a very lively speech from the hon. and learned Member for Londonderry opposing the Bill upon an argument which was purely and simply a Home Rule argument. For what did he say? He said, pointing with an air of scorn to these Benches, "Why are you thrusting this Bill upon us? What do you know of 1670 Ireland? What business have you to legislate for Ireland? It is we who know Ireland, and not you." That is the very reason why we advocate home Rule. Then we had a very long speech from the hon. and learned Member for the St. Stephen's Green Division, and as he made personal reference to me, and quoted some expressions of mine, perhaps I may say a few words on the subject. I will let him into a secret, and will make him an offer. The secret is this: the particular position which when Chief Secretary for Ireland, and up to this day, I have always held, is that what would have more effect than any other thing in obtaining in a righteous and proper manner verdicts from jurors would be the adoption of the ordinary common-sense Scotch practice of allowing juries to return a verdict by a majority. That, I thought, might be made part of the permanent law of the land. I only regret that I have never met an English or Irish lawyer who did not look upon it as rank heresy. And my offer to the hon. Member is this. The hon. and learned Gentleman referred to certain provisions in the Crimes Bill of last year which he said were similar to what was to be found in the Scotch law. There is, I admit, a bastard resemblance. Well, the other I will make the hon. and learned Gentleman is that if he will apply the Scotch law to Ireland in its entirety I will give him my hearty support. Then we have had a lively speech front the hon. Member for Northampton, whose acuteness and independence of spirit, ingenuity, and candour, and the sweet reasonableness which distinguishes his character, we all admire. My hon. Friend gave a cordial and loyal support to the Bill, although he has objections to sore points. But chiefly we have hued the speech of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington, which came as a refreshing influence upon us who have been listening, to a somewhat dreary Debate, We rejoiced to hear the noble Lord's voice in the House. I have called the noble Lord's speech "refreshing," because he speaks with a certain show of authority on the Opposition Benches, though we are not quite sure how far that authority extends. He was the first Member who interposed in the Debate, so far as I have heard it, who has 1671 been able to oppose the measure, and state his reasons for opposing it, without proceeding to traduce the character and malign the motives of the Irish Members. That is what we expected—at least, I expected—all along from the noble Lord. We had reason to know, or to suspect, in the last Parliament, that the noble Lord gave perhaps a chastened approval to—perhaps he regarded with some positive dislike—a great deal of the policy of the then Irish Secretary who sits opposite. [Lord R. CHURCHILL dissented.] Well, we only had the suspicion, then, although I am aware that he made very few open signs. The noble Lord was able during those years wonderfully to curb his natural impetuosity. Although he occasionally indited a hasty but vigorous letter to The Times which gave promise of Parliamentary activity, that promise was rarely fulfilled. He sometimes intervened in debate; but I do not remember any occasion in which he allowed his courage to carry him into the Division Lobby. At all events, the noble Lord has this to saw: that he has never been one who has founded his opinion upon that unworthy distrust of the Irish people to which I have alluded, and he was able to criticise this and other measures without founding himself in the smallest degree upon a distrust and depreciation of that people. I have often asked myself, in the course of this Debate and of others on a similar subject, what would be my feeling as a Scotchman if I sat here and listened to the things said of my countrymen and my country which we are accustomed to hear said of Ireland and Irish Members, especially if those things were said by Scotchmen. What should I have said if I had seen English Member after English Member—and, thank goodness, I have never seen them—getting up and, with all their knowledge founded probably upon a summer holiday tour in the Highlands or a month or two spent in the society of deer stalkers, either condescending to us with an air of patronising superiority or prophecying of us, if we were once removed from their beneficent control, every evil tendency that can afflict mankind? It is difficult to say which would be the more galling. Does the right hon. Gentleman who leads the Oppo- 1672 sition think that he was assisting in the promotion of good feeling between the two countries, under any conceivable system of Government, when he rose the other night and went through the whole gamut of the vices and misdeeds which an Irish Executive could commit and called for safeguards against them? His argument implied that if the Irish Legislature and Executive were not checked they would tyrannise over the Constabulary, degrade the Judges, ruin the Civil Service, and plunder the landlords. ["Hear, hear!"] "Hear, hear!" say hon. Members who are simple enough to be led by such wild language into a belief that these things are likely to happen.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not wish to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman. I did not so much prophesy about the future as quote the past.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I will take the last instance, then, as the most conspicuous and palpable. The landlords have been plundered in the past. If plunder there has been, who committed it? Not hon. Members below the Gangway opposite. What power had they to do it? No, this Imperial House of Commons was responsible, and who has been the most recent and the most extreme contributor to that process of plunder but the right hon. Gentleman himself?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not rise to argue the point, but I wish to say that the right hon. Gentleman has misinterpreted my interruption and my speech. What I alluded to in my speech and in my interruption was not the action of Parliament, but the speeches and threats of Irish Representatives—that was my premise; and my argument was that when those same gentlemen had the power to carry out their threats, they might be trusted to do so.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
Well, all I can say is, if this is the measure of the common-sense and statesmanship and knowledge of the world of the right hon. Gentleman, I am very much disappointed, because he ought to have known that the exaggerated language sometimes used in days of stress and strife and turmoil by excited politicians in Ireland is no proof of any definite 1673 purpose on the part of the Irish people. At any rate, our argument as opposed to the right hon. Gentleman's assertion is this: that the cure for excited language and extreme action is to invest the Irish people with a degree of direct and public responsibility. But does the right hon. Gentleman not see that, in bringing these strong accusations against three-fourths or four-fifths of the Irish people, he really uses an argument that recoils upon himself, because if the Irish people were really so incapable of governing and controlling themselves as he makes out, it would be the most glaring confession of the lamentable condition into which a generous and spirited nation can be brought and allowed to fall under the right hon. Gentleman's system of government, and of the necessity for a drastic reform? If I am asked why, as we have no share in these unworthy fears, we have inserted certain safeguards in the Bill, why we prescribe a certain time within which no arbitrary dealing can take place with either the Bench, the Civil Service, the Constabulary, or the Land Question, my answer is that we have to do our best to assuage the fears of innocent people who actually take in a serious sense the wild words that are sometimes tittered. We have also in a smaller degree guarded against what I believe to be a small danger, that these sort of attacks may lead to a spirit of recrimination, and that in the possession of new powers some people in Ireland may be goaded by these insulting prophecies into a less quiet attitude. Now, Mr. Speaker, anyone accustomed to the Forms of this House who happened to come into the Gallery during this Debate would, I think, be puzzled to make out what stage we were engaged in. This is a Motion for the introduction of the Bill. The question before the House, then, is, Is this a subject upon which legislation is required? On the Second Reading we come to the question whether the general scheme is a good one, and in Committee we have the details. This Debate, however, is occupied almost entirely with the details of the measure. There was indeed, as we might expect, one grave and outspoken utterance by the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh, who said openly and honestly 1674 to us that he did not care a straw for the details of the Bill; it was the thing itself that he objected to. But the fact that we are discussing the details is not surprising, because the question of principle—the main question of this policy—has been discussed and re-discussed in this House and in the country until there is nothing more to be said about it. We have dinned into the public ear, on the platform, from this House, and by every other means, what our object is—which is to establish in Ireland for Irish purposes a Legislative Body and an Executive dependent upon it. That was known to every one except one person, the right hon. Member for Bordesley. He said in his speech the other night that he was taken completely by surprise. He was good-natured enough to suggest that as he was so taken by surprise it would be a very proper thing for the Government to advise Her Majesty to dissolve Parliament in order that the country might be better informed, upon the supposition that everybody was as ignorant as himself. I think it is too much to expect that the Queen—not to speak of the Government—should put the country to the expense and inconvenience of a General Election for such a matter, but it is quite in the right hon. Gentleman's power to redeem his position. He has only to go to his constituents, and he would be much more certain how he stood. We have heard on the first day of this Session from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the applicant for the Chiltern Hundreds is subject to no inquiry into character. Therefore, any little political difference would not stand in his way for a moment; and if, as may be, some of the little section of politicians with whom he acts are in the same category, they might each in succession make the same application for the Chiltern Hundreds, and then we should have not only the advantage of declaring their position, but also we should have an illustrative light thrown upon public opinion in the country in a series of bye-elections. I was astonished, when the right hon. Gentleman went on to speak further on the matter, to find he was not contented with the composition of the constituences in this country; and taking a leaf out of the book of the right hon. 1675 Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who started the same extraordinary theory not many months ago, he would eliminate from each constituency, in estimating the real value of its votes, every voter who was not born in that particular part of the Kingdom. Most fortunately for the right hon. Gentleman he has an opportunity now that rarely occurs. My right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board is going to bring in a Registration Bill, and he has only to move a provision to the effect that on the register every person's place of birth should be recorded, and that no one's vote should be counted who does not vote in the country in which he was born, and the whole of his object will be accomplished. To such strange shifts are thus brought these devotees of Imperial Union when they try to explain away—in a manner which has not been usual, I think, among English politicians—their straightforward defeat before the tribunal of public opinion. I turn to that portion of the Bill which has a most direct interest for us as Members of Parliament—namely, that which proposes that the Irish Members should remain here, and that Public Business should be in some manner or other divided. The House will remember that in 1886 there was proposed the temporary exclusion of the Irish Members. If I remember aright there were two important reasons given for excluding them; in the first place, the fact of certain complications to which I shall refer presently; and, in the second place, it was urged that there would be a difficulty on the part of Ireland in—if I may use a sporting phrase—furnishing two teams, one for Ireland and one for England. That particular argument was urged by Mr. Parnell; and as I mention his name I will say that, with reference to what fell from the hon. Member for Waterford the other night, I am sure that no one could deal with this question at all without having the most respectful memory of the statesmanlike intuitions and genius of that departed public man. Now the Government have determined to include and not exclude the Irish Members. I see that there is a. report going about that this is a matter of comparative indifference to the Government, and that whether the Irish Mem- 1676 bers are included or excluded is not regarded as a point of importance. That is not at all the view of the case which I take. The Bill provides for the inclusion of the Irish Members unmistakably, and, for my part, I think most rightly and necessarily. The noble Lord, repeating very much the sentiments he expressed in 1886, talked of this Bill as pure and simple repeal. How can it be a repeal measure when the Irish Members are retained in the Imperial Parliament? His observation had Borne force in it in 1886, but the force of that observation at least has been lost if we agree to retain the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament. Speaking as a Scotehman, I must say that if there were any similar proposal at any time for Scotland, I should object to having my country excluded from its full representation in the management of Imperial affairs. The complications of which I spoke remain, however. They were amply explained in 1886. They are obvious to everyone with the slightest knowledge of the case. The alternatives are either that the Irish Members should be here and vote on all subjects, or that business should be divided; and both plans present grave difficulties. Nothing has been urged in this Debate which could fail to have been fully before the eyes of anyone who has been considering the matter for the last six or seven years. When the Prime Minister was speaking, I was a pretty close observer of the countenances of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I observed that when, after a somewhat tantalising interval, and after an elaborate exposition of the difficulties in either case, my right hon. Friend finally pronounced in favour of the division of business, those hon. and right hon. faces increased considerably in length. The truth is, Mr. Speaker, that we see very clearly that there was a double bolt forged against us to be discharged at the beginning of this Parliament. We were, a weak Government, in a weak position, with a divided and dwindling majority both in the House and the country. I will not say how far those anticipations have been realised. But of all the barrels of this many-barrelled blunderbuss which was to be levelled against us—and I adopt that weapon because of 1677 the peculiar aptness of the name—the two most damaging barrels were these: first, there was the dastardly conduct of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in letting, loose upon society two dynamiters of the worst description—the men Egan and Callan; and before Parliament met it was discovered that if this crime had been enacted on society, it was with the connivance, or at any rate with the cognisance, of the late Home Secretary (Mr. Matthews), and therefore that particular barrel was promptly lowered. The next point of which we heard every where was the intolerable injustice of allowing Irish Members to come here and vote down English and Scotch Members upon matters in which they themselves had been made independent, but upon which they would still maintain power over us. But what a disappointment it was when it turned out that that was not the proposal which the Prime Minister had accepted! I venture to surmise that the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Edward Clarke), who made so brilliant a speech in following. the Prime Minister, came down to the House with two speeches in his pocket or in his mind, one of which would show the insufferable injustice of keeping the Irish Members here to vote upon our domestic questions, and the other of which would show the ludicrous anomalies of dividing Business. The noble Lord opposite spoke of the provisions in the Bill for the division of Business as "a dexterous arrangement." But whether dexterous or not I do not know that he was particularly dexterous in showing the anomalies connected with it. Let me point out this important difference between the two modes of dealing With the Irish Members in this House: To allow the Irish Members to vote on our domestic questions is in itself palpably unfair, and although for a short time we might very well be content to allow it, if there was sufficient inducement in the whole policy which would make us submit to it, still it would be an injustice which comes home to the mind of feeling of every man in the community; whereas, on the other hand, the difficult mode of procedure and the anomalies we have heard so much about, created by a division of Business, are hardly understood by the general public, and although they keenly appeal to us and 1678 our habits as Members of Parliament they affect not any principle, but the mere machinery of legislative work. I am by no means indifferent to the Forms and practice of this House. They have come down to us, hallowed, many of them, by long tradition; they embody the experience of generations; they have sunk into the very being of Members of this House, and it is not without a pang and a wrench that we see them altered. But after all, Sir, they are but forms and methods, they are mere machinery; and if they stand in the way of some great beneficent purpose, then we are forced to say, "Alter the details of your machinery rather than that that purpose should be thwarted." Is this great Assembly, which owes its incomparable authority to its power of adapting itself to the circumstances of changing times; is it now to declare itself so tied and bound by its own habits and Rules, that it must renounce the possibility of doing what others find easy? As to the mere question of dividing Business, it cannot be an insuperable problem. My right hon. Friend was right in saying six years ago that, in his belief, it passed the wit of man to express in mere regulations such a division of subjects, but the answer to many a similar dilemma is found in the words solvitur ambulando. Practice will get the better of theory, and surely the House of Commons will not be non plussed by a difficulty which, I make boll to say, would meet with a summary solution at the hands of any Town or County Council in this country, who would be content to leave their chairman to decide in any case which was incapable of being met by explicit rules. But then there is the case of the alternating majority which vet may have to determine the fate of Ministries. This, I freely admit, is a real difficulty and anomaly, but I would make three observations upon it. The first is, that the Imperial majority must, of course, be the determining majority, and not the British. The second is that, in our recent experience, the cases have been very rare when one was contrary to the other—much more rare than many hon. Members think; and, thirdly, that we have never been accustomed, until the last fortnight, to see the whole tune of Parliament, or a large part of it, taken up by Votes of 1679 Censure upon the Government. When, Sir, I turn from the question which affects us personally, as to the position of the Irish Members in this House, to the question of the constitution of the Irish Legislature and Government, there are not many points, I think, left unexplained, but I will refer to some of them. Our object has been to create an effective Legislature, with the amplest powers over Irish business; and in order to meet the fears to which I have already alluded—and which I, for my part, do not share—we have created for the protection of the minority the simplest form of a Second Chamber. High-sounding words have been used with regard to the supremacy of Parliament. We have had, two days ago, a declaration of what supremacy means in certain quarters. A noble Duke, with whom we used to be so familiar in this House, presided at a banquet given in honour of a noble Lord who is a Member of this House (Viscount Wolmer). The noble Duke gave his notion of Parliamentary supremacy, and I quote it in order to repudiate it as an idea of anything that would be tolerable. He said—When we spoke of the maintenance of the supremacy of an Imperial Parliament, what we had in our minds was the practical, continual, and constant control by Parliament over the legislation and, if need be, over the administration in all parts of the United Kingdom.Why, Sir, if this is what is meant how would Parliament be relieved, and how would Ireland be advantaged by the passing of this Bill? If the imperial Parliament were to be always supervising, nagging at, and meddling with the affairs of Ireland it would be better a hundred times that we should let things alone, for the position would be intolerable. The commonsense of the case which commends itself to plain people, is that it is amply met if there is some adequate provision for the prevention of the abusive exercise of delegated powers; and, of course, if these powers were seriously and continuously misused, it would always remain for the Imperial Parliament to resume the functions of which it had voluntarily divested itself. The noble Lord asked me some definite questions, which I will endeavour to answer. The provisions regarding religious freedom and 1680 educational freedom will be very much the same as in the Bill of 1886, and there will also be the American provision for dealing with personal freedom. I think as the noble Lord has curbed his impatience for two years he might be able to curb it for two days longer, when he will be able to study these provisions in the Bill itself. The noble Lord asks, very justly and naturally, can the new Parliament repeal the Acts of the Imperial Parliament, and how can Courts of Justice enforce their orders? These are both provided for in a way he will see in the Bill. He asks about Trinity College. Trinity College is protected in the Bill; and I need hardly say, in regard to any of the provisions, if the noble Lord or anyone else can point out that they are insufficient for their purpose, I have no doubt we shall be very glad to consider any Amendment. I have been asked a most momentous question, apparently of great interest to the gallant Gentleman who spoke last (Colonel Waring); that is, who will command the troops? I wonder would anybody expect that they should be altered from the position in which they at present stand? The state of things with regard to the troops and Militia will remain exactly as at present. They will be under the supreme control of the Commander-in-Chief at home—under the Queen—and no change in the political form of the Government will in the least affect the standing Army. I have noted some of the points as to Ulster, but I have not time to deal further with them or the financial question, which will be much better understood when the Bill is in the hands of Members. Now, Sir, I have said that this Debate has been somewhat unusually prolonged, and the astonishing excuse offered by those who have prolonged it is, that having committed a similar contravention in 1886, they have established a precedent which it is desirable they should follow in 1893. But we, at least on our side, make no complaint of any amount of criticism or discussion, you may apply to the Bill. The plain and paramount object of this measure is to secure self-government for Ireland and relief for the Imperial Parliament. The particular mode that has been selected 1681 in each subsidiary matter appears to us the easiest and wisest after full consideration of all obvious alternatives; and we are confident the more it is criticised and discussed, the more will the main features of the scheme commend themselves to the common-sense of the country as a safe and reasonable plan for the accomplishment of a noble purpose.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Anstruther.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till Tomorrow.