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.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
I think that those Members of this House who had the privilege of being present seven years ago, when my right hon. Friend first introduced the subject of Home Rule to the House of Commons, will recognise that between now and then a great change has come over the sympathies of the House and the circumstances of the Bill. At that time I think the universal impression was one of wonderment and surprise that any English statesman, and, above all, the Prime Minister, should adopt and propose such a policy. At that time every Member of the then Front Bench was believed to have pledged himself, by very recent utterances, against even the consideration of such a policy, and a vast majority of that House were undoubtedly in the same position. Under these circumstances it was only natural that those of us who opposed that Bill, and especially those of us who found ourselves compelled by this new policy to separate ourselves from old friends and old associations, I say it was only natural we should take the course of confronting the promoters of that Bill with their vain utterances, and that we should seek to show, out of their own mouths, the folly and unwisdom of the course they were pursuing. But, Sir, now that is all ancient history. The Members of the Government—the then promoters of the Bill—have made their answer, such as it is, to the charges of inconsistency which we brought against them, and I suppose, Sir, it must be left to posterity to judge between us. But, Sir, in any case, I say for myself, that I do not think it worth while to pursue any longer what I may call 1718 the recriminatory form of argument. We are face to face with the great fact—whatever may have been the motive which induced this sudden surrender, at all events the fact is now that the great majority of the Liberal Party are pleged to the principle of Home Rule, and have been strenuously endeavouring during the last seven years to make it a cardinal feature of Liberal policy. Under these circumstances I am not now going to question either their motives or their consistency. I am going to endeavour to meet them on their own ground, and I am going to invite them and to invite the House to consider how far this Bill, which was introduced by the Prime Minister on Monday night, fulfils the declared intentions and objects of its own promoters. Now, what is the ground-work of this proposal of Home Rule? We have it in the language of the Prime Minister. He laid it down at the very outset, and it has been universally accepted by his own followers. It is that the time has come when it is the duty of this country to grant to Ireland the widest possible extension of Local Government consistent with the unity of the Empire, the supremacy of Parliament, and the protection of minorities. Now, Sir, for myself that is a formula which, treated as an abstract proposition and a declaration of policy, I have never been able to resist. There may be some who are so fundamentally hostile to the whole question of Home Rule that they may be indisposed to accept even that assertion of principle. But, at all events, for myself I am prepared to determine my course and to try this Bill by the question, whether or not in giving this great extension of Local Government to Ireland it does maintain and fulfil the three conditions which were laid down as indispensable by the Prime Minister, and which have been unanimously accepted by all his followers. I would point out to hon. Members that if the Bill fails to meet this test which I am about to apply to it, then a vote against the Second Reading of the Bill would not be a vote against Home Rule in the abstract, but it would be an expression of opinion by the House that this particular Bill did not fulfil the conditions which have always been attached to it. I hope the House will bear with me while I make a careful ex- 1719 amination of it. In doing so I am going to avoid absolutely anything in the nature of polemics, and I shall try to avoid, as much as I can, even a controversial method of treating this great question. The first point we have to consider is whether the Bill preserves Imperial unity. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in introducing the Bill the other day, said that it was his hope and belief, and that of his Colleagues, that it not only maintained Imperial unity, but that it strengthened it. Well, now, what do we mean by Imperial unity? This is one of those phrases which is of necessity somewhat vague, and it is absolutely necessary, if we are to proceed with any advantage, that we should arrive at a common definition. I suppose we should all be agreed, without the slightest hesitation, in saying that this kind of unity prevails at the present moment in the United Kingdom. Does it prevail in the relations between the United Kingdom and our great Dependencies like India, and, above all, does it prevail in our relations with the self-governing Colonies? I should be disposed to answer all these questions in the affirmative; but I only put them in order to show to the House that there are various degrees of Imperial unity, and that we must settle, when we are talking of Ireland, which degree it is which we intend to preserve in the case of that country. Now, let us get to the bottom of the whole question. What is the test of Imperial unity? What is the importance of union? It is that the Central Authority shall have, for all purposes of offence and defence, full control of all the forces and of all the resources of the country in which that unity applies. Now, Sir, in the United Kingdom, of course, that state of things already exists. If the Imperial Parliament chooses to go to war, the Imperial Parliament can spend the last penny of the United Kingdom; it can call out the last man that is fit for military service. In the case of our great Dependencies the unity is somewhat more restricted. We could not call upon India except in a case in which Indian interests were distinctively affected; and in the case of a war in this country, if we were defending ourselves against attack, I do not think it would be possible for us to rely upon the monetary resources, and possibly not 1720 upon the military forces, of our Indian Empire. In the case of the Colonies we have absolutely no power to rely upon either the one or the other. We might be engaged in a war to-morrow; we might be struggling for our very existence in a case the inciting feature of the commencement of which had been in connection with something in which one of our self-governing Colonies was itself concerned, and yet we should have no right, legally or morally, to call upon that Colony to supply us with one single penny or with one single man. Well, now, I say, in dealing with Ireland—I hope I have made the distinctions clear—I think it is evident that the Imperial unity which we want to preserve is the Imperial unity which already exists. It is not such a unity as exists in the case of our Dependencies, or such a unity as exists in the case of the Colonies. This is a most important point. It is most important that we should have clear ideas upon this question, and let me, therefore, enforce it by another argument. My hon. and right hon. Friends here declare emphatically that they are not in favour of separation. They resent any imputation made by us upon them to the effect that their policy is a separatist policy. Why are they against separation? Why, if 83 Members were to ask for separation, or even 103, would they not absolutely refuse it?—we know they would. As far as the domestic affairs of Ireland are concerned, it does not much matter whether that country is separate or independent, or whether it is bound in any kind of connection with this country, provided the Imperial Parliament once and for tall surrenders its present control. The reason why my hon. Friends, why we all, are opposed to separation is because of the geographical situation of Ireland, and because Ireland, within a few hours of our shores, cannot become independent without being a source of danger to the very existence of the Empire. Does anybody doubt for one moment that if Ireland were a thousand miles a way from England she would not have been long before this a self-governing Colony? Her situation is controlled—it may appear to be hard to say so, but it is a fact —her political condition is controlled by her geographical 1721 situation, and her interests cannot be allowed to outweigh the interests of the larger country. That being so, let us consider this Bill in this light, and let us see what is likely to be our position in any time of great emergency. I suppose we may be told that our position will depend a good deal upon the spirit in which the future Irish Parliament deals with affairs in which it may have a common interest with this country, or in which, at any rate, this country will have a paramount interest. Well, in what spirit is the Irish Parliament likely to deal with such question? You, by your policy, are encouraging a spirit of Irish nationality. You recognize, not that Ireland is a part of a great nation in which she has an equal interest, but that she is a separate and independent nation. Having recognized that great fact, you fail, with an extraordinary want of logic, to give it its proper conclusion. Having recognised that Ireland is a nation, you proceed in your Bill, by a series of restrictive provisions, to deprive it of all the most cherished privileges of an independent nation. I am not going through all the restrictions contained in the Bill of 1886, which are repeated in this Bill; but take three of them. You deprive the Irish Parliament of all right to deal with the foreign policy of Ireland. You refuse to Ireland, therefore, its place among the nations of the world. What place has a nation which cannot send an Ambassador to any other, which cannot separately treat with any other in regard to interests of the utmost possible concern? In the second place, you deprive this nation of the right which every other nation in the world enjoys, and which even some of our Colonies enjoy—the right of dealing as it pleases with its own Church and with its own system of education. You are touching questions of religion and morals which concern most intimately the sentiments of the people. My right hon. Friend said the other day that one of the greatest grievances of Ireland—I do not agree with him, but I quote him—is the inequality of the laws between the two countries. What greater inequality can you create than that Ireland should be debarred from dealing with its own Church, from setting up an Established Church if it desire to do it, while England and every other nation can do that. 1722 Thirdly, you propose to take from your Parliament in Ireland, representing this independent nation, all control over its own trade and Customs. I cannot forget what Mr. Parnell said in reference to this matter. He declared emphatically that no solution of this question would be satisfactory or final which did not give to the Irish Parliament the right to deal with its own trade and Customs, and did not allow it, if it saw fit—I do not know whether Mr. Parnell would himself have approved of such a course, but he said nothing would be satisfactory which did not allow to this Parliament the power—if it thought fit, to protect its own industries against the manufactures of Great Britain. Of all these three most important functions of an independent nation you, by your Bill, are going to deprive Ireland. All I can say is you are sowing the seeds of future discontent. You are sowing the seeds of further demands. The time at which that discontent will manifest itself, the time when those demands will be made, will be the time of England's emergency. That will he the time which will be Ireland's opportunity, and it is perfectly absurd to suppose that Irishmen will not take advantage of that opportunity. It would be to accuse them of want of patriotism from their own standpoint if they do not use every weapon which you place in their hands in order to establish the full rights of the nation whose independence you are acknowledging. The Bill is recommended to us as a final settlement. My right hon. Friend, I think, altered the phraseology a little. He said it was to be a permanent and continuing settlement. What guarantee have you, I ask the House, that this Bill, with all these restrictions, with all these trammels, on the march of a nation, will be a final settlement? You have the assurances of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I think the hon. Member for Kerry gave similar assurances in regard to the Bill of 1886. We were afterwards told that the Bill was a trumpery Bill, and that it was accepted pro tanto. I will not now throw upon the sincerity of hon. Members opposite the slightest doubt, but can they guarantee their successors? Can the hon. Member for Kerry (Mr. Sexton)—if he can speak for himself and for his friends—can he speak for the leaders who will 1723 succeed him; can he speak for the leaders who even now, perhaps, are waiting to supplant him? My object in this part of my argument is to show that your settlement being incomplete, Irishmen will have good ground, whenever an opportunity arises, for endeavouring to make the settlement complete; and by accepting this idea of nationality you justify their demands. Those demands Will he Made at a time when it will be difficult, or impossible, for this country to resist them; and when they have been granted, tell me then where will be your Imperial unity? I suppose I may be told, following the line of argument which has been adopted front the Front Bench by the Chancellor of the Duchy and by the Secretary of State for War, that all this is seeking for hypothetical and problematical difficulties; that these are predictions which may, and probably never will be, accomplished. You may choose, if you please, to disregard them. All I can say is that, considering the interests which we have at stake, considering what it is which is at issue—the very existence of this country as a great nation—I think that you treat these objections too carelessly. However, put aside all predictions. Put aside the possibility—in my opinion, the certainty—that, before very long, further demands will be made upon you, that every concession will be extorted from you; but take the Bill, as it stands, and ask yourselves what would be the position of the United Kingdom, above all, of Great Britain, if we were once more, after that Bill passed, engaged in a struggle for existence? It is 40 years since the last great war, and I suppose the majority of Members in this House hardly recollect anything about it. That war was not a struggle for existence. When the battle at Waterloo was fought, my right hon. Friend was seven years old. We have been so long without any danger such as that which disappeared with the victory of Waterloo, that, perhaps, we have begun to think that this immunity is always likely to continue. But when we look to the present state of things on the Continent, when we know the causes for quarrels which at any moment may, arise, when we see the ashes ready to burst into flame, when we know that more than 12,000,000 of men are now bearing arms, or are liable to be called 1724 upon to bear arms, can we believe, is it sensible to believe, that the millennium has come, and that we may never again be called upon to fight for our very existence? I do not much like putting hypotheses, which to me are terrible, hut suppose we were at war with a great Power—with the United States of America—which Heaven forfend, for such a strife would be a fratricidal strife—or with France, which would be almost as bad; or, if you like, with Russia, what would be our position? We are told we ought to rely upon the union of hearts, upon the good feeling which will be created by this Bill in Ireland and among Irishmen. I do not dispute it; I assume it for the sake of argument. But if gratitude is to be found in Ireland, to whom is that gratitude to be shown? Ireland will owe gratitude to Great Britain for this great concession, but does she not owe some gratitude to the United States of America? Does she not, in regard to some portions of her past history, owe gratitude to France? It is certain that, in the case of a war like that, the public opinion of the majority in Ireland would not be in favour of the Power with which we were engaged in deadly struggle? If it be not certain that it would be so, at least it is probable. The 80 Irish Members would come to the Imperial Parliament against the war, and they would make themselves heard—probably at some length; they would embarrass and hamper the conduct of the war by the British Government, but they would be outvoted. When they were outvoted, you would have to make heavy demands in order to defray the cost of such a war. You would have, under this Bill, full control of the Customs, but you could not rely upon the Customs. You would have to rely upon the Excise, upon the Income Tax, and upon internal taxation. Suppose you have got your taxation from the Imperial Parliament, all the collection of the taxes is in the hands of the Irish Parliament. What if they resist? I am not speaking at this moment of active resistance, but suppose that the sentiment of the country is against you, all the organisation of the country, the Executive of the country, the police of the country, the judiciary of the country, the civil officials of Ireland—all are under the control of the native and 1725 popular assembly, all are moved by the same sentiment, and it seems to me you would incur the risk of almost insurmountable obstacles. We were told by the Chancellor of the Duchy that in these cases we must trust to the sweet reasonableness of Irishmen. I do not know that they would be unreasonable if they opposed us in such a case. They have been taught to consider their interests apart from the interests of the United Kingdom. Their interests and their sentiments might be opposed to the policy which you were pursuing, and if so, I am not here to say that they would not be justified in using all the opportunities which you have placed at their disposal in order to thwart that policy. I do not know that it is worth while to refer to that which is a mere historical reminiscence, but I may remind the House that in the time of Grattan's Parliament Wolfe Tone published a letter to that Parliament urging and demanding that they should refuse assistance to this country in the case of war With Spain, precisely on reasons and arguments such as those which I have supposed might be laid before the future Irish Parliament. The Irish Parliament of that day did not follow Wolfe Tone's advice, for the best of all possible reasons, that it represented a party which was totally opposed to Wolfe Tone. The Parliament of that day was a Protestant Parliament, a Parliament of the minority, a Parliament of the landowners; but if it had been a National Parliament, such as that which we are going to set up, my opinion is that its answer to Wolfe Tone would have been something very different. I am discussing this matter as though the opposition would assume what I will call a quasi-constitutional aspect; but one must not dismiss altogether the possibility that it Wright go much further than that. You are going to keep in your hands the military forces. I do not know whether there is any provision in the Bill to prevent the formation of a Volunteer force; but when the whole administration is in the hands of the native Parliament it will be very difficult for you to prevent the arming of the people, and it will be very difficult for you to prevent in time of great national excitement the drilling of the people—that is, of a people who are peculiarly apt in military 1726 affairs. Again I ask the House not to treat these as distant probabilities, and, therefore, to dismiss them. I like to think with you that they are distant probabilities, that it is highly improbable that we shall ever be at war, and that, if we are at war, it is highly probable that hon. Members opposite, who have said so many harsh things in the past, will change their minds, and give us their heartiest, their warmest, and their most generous support. I like to believe all that, but you cannot deny that there is some risk, even if it is infinitesimal. Then, consider what is at stake, and do not act as a nation, or as the representatives of a nation, in a manner in which no private individual would act in his own case. Why, Sir, there is not it man in this House, I suppose, who has any pecuniary interest in the house in which he lives who does not insure it against fire; and yet fire in a dwelling-house is an infinitesimal risk, as we know perfectly well by statistics. At the same time, as prudent men, we provide against this infinitesimal risk, because if by any chance, the accident did happen it might involve us in personal loss of the heaviest kind. But what is at stake, I ask the House once more to consider, in this question of Imperial unity for Great Britain? It is not merely a loss of fortune in which we are concerned, it is a loss of honour, and it may be the loss of national existence. Well, Sir, I think to tell us under those circumstances that we must have trust in circumstances about which we cannot have any certainity is to treat in a very happy-go-lucky way the breaking up of an ancient, Constitution. Upon this part of my argument let me summarise what I have had to say to the House. I say, in the first place, that Imperial unity is chiefly valuable in the case of Ireland so far as it protects us in time of war and in time of great emergency. By the new Constitution, I say, in the second place, we are recognising the separate nationality of Ireland, and at the same time, we fail to satisfy it. Lt the third place, we are making it certain that sooner or later Ireland will ask for more, mid we are also making it certain that if she does ask for more at some time of great difficulty for this country, she will get what she asks for, or she will seriously cripple us, perhaps, in a struggle for our very 1727 existence. I ask, under these circumstances, what would become of the Imperial unity which my right hon. Friend himself desires to maintain and even to strengthen? Now, the second point is the question of the supremacy of Parliament. There is no doubt as to the importance of this point. The greatest emphasis has been laid upon it by all the principal promoters of this Bill. There is no doubt about the intentions of the Government. I could, if it were necessary, quote from the speeches and writings of every principal Member of the Government on the Front Bench to show that in their intention, at all events, the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament is to be manifest, is to be continuous, and is to be operative in the highest degree. That will not be denied. We want a definition, and I cannot find a better definition than the one I quoted from my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary at an earlier period of the Session. When I quoted it he recognised it and cheered it, and I have no reason to suppose that he has gone from it in any way. Neither will his Colleagues dispute it, because, as I have already said, I can bring evidence to show that, although not in the same words yet practically to the same effect, every one of them has declared in favour of the maintenance of the absolute supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. What my right hon. Friend said was this—That the unquestioned and unquestionable Sovereignty of the Imperial Parliament must be maintained intact and unimpaired over all persons and in all matters, local or Imperial.Now, the first point I want to make to the House is this—and I put it particularly to my right hon. Friends, because I think this must have escaped their attention—there are two branches of Imperial supremacy to which the definition of my right hon. Friend equally refers—the supremacy over persons and the supremacy over matters. As regards the supremacy over persons there is not a shadow of a shade of it in this Bill. You have absolutely and entirely given up all pretence of the maintenance of-any Sovereignty by the Imperial Parliament over persons. [Cries of "No!"] I state my case, and I think I shall prove it as I go on. You are going to establish a separate Parliament. You are going to give a separate Executive, 1728 responsible to that Parliament and not to this. I say in these circumstances you have no longer any control over that Executive or over the officers whom that Executive may appoint. Now, just let us see. Let us test it by one or two cases. I might give 50 illustrations, but I will take only two or three from past experience; not because I attach special importance to these particular cases, but only to illustrate the position in which we shall find ourselves. Take the case of the Plan of Campaign. Upon the question of the Plan of Campaign there was a distinct divergence of opinion between the Members for Great Britain and the Members for Ireland. There was some division, I think, among Members from Ireland. Let that pass. Generally speaking, one may say the Members for Ireland sympathised with the Plan of Campaign; and, generally speaking, the Members for Great Britain denounced it as equivalent to robbery. Now, so far as the Imperial Parliament had any control over the matter, they did their best to prevent the Plan of Campaign from succeeding. Now, suppose the Plan of Campaign started in Ireland after this Bill. The Imperial Parliament, I will assume, is still opposed to the policy of the Plan of Campaign. It would still stop it if it could. What can it do? The Executive in Ireland will have the power under this Bill to refuse the use of the police force to the persons who may be engaged in carrying out evictions. They will be able to withdraw all police protection from the landlord of au estate which is the subject of the Plan of Campaign, from the bailiffs, from the caretakers, and from the tenants who take the farms from which others have been evicted. Under those circumstances, the lives of the landlord, the farmer, the tenants, and the bailiffs will not be worth a moment's purchase, and the Plan of Campaign must succeed in spite of anything the Imperial Parliament can do. Take another case. In Ireland Boards of Guardians sometimes take very strange notions of their duties. It was proved, I think, before a Committee of this House that in one case a Board of Guardians had administered relief for political purposes, that they had given 20s. a week outdoor relief to persons in possession of bullocks, hay, and other forms of property, and that they had done this in order to 1729 encourage and support and compensate evicted tenants. What happened? The Local Government Board dissolved this Board and appointed paid guardians to carry on the work.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
It does not matter in the least, because I am merely putting it to the House as an illustration. There was a great number of cases. I believe this particular case was the case of New Ross, but I am not certain. I have not provided myself with the particulars.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member makes an unnecessary interruption. I am putting a case which I believe did happen, but which, at any rate, the House will see might happen, I say what remedy would you have upon these matters of economic propriety on which we English and Scotch Members have very strong notions indeed? We should think that proceedings of that kind by a representative Board were corrupt and altogether indefensible, and if the Imperial Parliament had the power there is no doubt whatever if would dissolve any Board that carried out a policy of that kind. But how can you do it under this Bill? What control have you under this Bill over persons? I will only take one more case to show how it will affect almost every domain of administration. I may be told by the hon. Member for Louth that this is not an accurate statement, but, again, I say if this did not happen, it might have happened. I have been told that in some places Boards of Guardians have made particular payments to sisters of mercy who had attested in connection with the work of the dispensaries. Now, it is perfectly evident to the House that, if it were desired to do so, it would be perfectly possible under a system of this kind practically to endow Roman Catholic convents. There is nothing to prevent Boards of Guardians from making, if they please, such grants to ladies occupied in this work as would in effect provide for a very considerable endowment. Well, that is in distinct contradiction of the restrictive clause in the Bill which pretends to prevent ecclesiastical establishments. All I want to ask the House is, how are you 1730 going to deal with it in this Bill? You cannot touch the Boards of Guardians, and, even if you were to make it illegal by law—which, I think, yon would have some difficulty in doing—I do not see how you can get the law administered. I say, then, that for this one branch of supremacy and Sovereignty over persons there is absolutely no provision at all, and when this Bill is passed the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament will no longer extend to persons, even if it does extend to matters. As regards matters, I am perfectly ready to make the admission that there is a very plausible attempt to secure the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament over nuttters—that is to say, over legislation; but I venture to think that, though it is plausible, it will turn out to he illusory. In the first place, we are told that the principle of supremacy is to he reverentially noted in the Preamble of the Bill. Well, Sir, I thought that was a most curious expression. It reminded me of what is sometimes said that a corpse is reverentially committed to the earth, and I am afraid the dead principle of supremacy is going to be reverentially enshrined in the Preamble of this Bill. But when it is there, what practical effect is it going to have? I have had the opinion of a high legal authority that the Courts would pay no attention to the Preamble in such a matter, and the use of the Preamble for this purpose is merely to employ the Preamble to express a pious opinion. But we do not want a pious opinion. We can get that from hon. Members opposite. The hon. Member for Kerry told us that our supremacy was an incontrovertible fact, and the hon. Member for Waterford said that our supremacy was an inalienable heritage. Yes, they will give you any number of statements of that kind. You may have all the advantages of the incontrovertible fact and the inalienable heritage, but when you come to en; ploy your heritage, you will find the difficulty begins; and as to that both hon. Gentlemen have been perfectly clear. They say, "Here is this weapon of which we cannot deprive you, but if you use it you will use it at your peril." We have got the veto. I am not saying anything about the veto of the Irish Cabinet, because clearly that would be no use to us in a conflict between the 1731 Irish Cabinet and the British Cabinet. But we have the veto of the British Crown. Have hon. Gentlemen considered what the effect would be of the use of this veto by the Crown. I will take a case. Suppose the Irish Parliament—this, at all events, will be admitted to be a highly probable supposition—to deal with a Bill such as that introduced two Sessions ago by Mr. O'Kelly for providing for the evicted tenants. Suppose such a Bill to be passed in the, Irish Parliament. It was, in the opinion of the majority of the Imperial Parliament, a most iniquitous and unjust Bill—I am not saying whether it really was that, I am only saying that, in the opinion of the majority of this House, it was. Consequently, that is precisely the sort of Bill which, if a majority against it continues in the Imperial Parliament, will he undoubtedly vetoed by the Imperial Parliament. Now, then, what would be the state of the case? The Irish Ministry having brought in and passed that Bill with the assent of the vast majority of the Irish Parliament and the full assent of the majority of the Irish people, it is vetoed by the Lord Lieutenant. The Irish Ministry resign, and no other Ministry can take their place and hold it for a single day. What is to become of the administration of the Government in Ireland? You will have to use your veto, but, unless pm ale immediately, prepared to follow that up by withdrawing this Constitution and taking upon yourselves the whole government of Ireland, all you will have done by your veto is to bring about a deadlock. I say that under these circumstances the weapon breaks in your hand the very first time you attempt to use it. But there is another power, as I understand, also reserved to us. We may proceed by way of concurrent legislation. The imperial Parliament does not give up its right to legislate for Ireland, and it may exercise that right in two ways—it may move to apply to Ireland any English or Scotch Bill which is under discussion here, and, in the second place, I presume it may also introduce special legislation for Ireland and proceed with it in the Imperial Parliament. Very well. But suppose that done. Suppose you carry your legislation, and that the Irish Parliament is, as, of course, it must be in 1732 such a case, absolutely hostile to it, and the Irish Parliament has all the powers of administration in its hands, do you think it is possible—is it sensible to ask—do you think that the legislation of one Parliament should be carried out by the administration of another Parliament which is hostile to it? It seems to me impossible to exaggerate the consequences of this state of things. Do not suppose that the result will be that we shall not exercise this veto, useless as it is for all practical purposes. Do not suppose that we shall not exercise the right of concurrent legislation. It is impossible to ask such a tiling. The hon. Member for Waterford spoke of the Statement of the Leader of the Opposition as constituting a threat. No, it is not a threat; it is a statement of fact which results from the consideration of the circumstances. The hon. Member for Waterford wants the House to give him a guarantee at this stage that they will never use their supremacy in Irish matters. The House cannot give any guarantee. The Government cannot give it, because if they did they would be absolutely false to their pledges. They have said they will maintain the supremacy of the Empire, and they cannot give a guarantee that they will not use it. The hon. Member for North Kerry appeared to be a little more moderate, but I imagine that he meant the same thing. He wants, not a guarantee, but an honourable understanding that the veto and the right of concurrent legislation shall not be used in a capricious and vexatious Dumper.
§ Mr. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
I did not say that. What I said was that an understanding was given by the mere passing of the Act.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I think the hon. Member may have the understanding. I, for one, am perfectly willing to give it to him. We will not interpose in a capricious or vexatious way. But is the hon. Member certain that our definitions of what is capricious and vexatious will agree? What are likely to be the points of difference between the Imperial Parliament and the Irish Parliament? They will have to do, in the first place, with questions of finance, and the finance of this Bill, when it comes to be examined, will be found to be extremely complicated. It is per- 1733 fectly well known that the ideas of Irishmen as to their national obligations, or as to their quota or contribution differ very materially from the ideas of Englishmen or Scotchmen.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Not of Scotchmen? I am sure I do not know whether the hon. Member considers himself entitled to speak as the hon. Member for Scotland, or whether he speaks only for his own constituents. If so, that is a more liberal Scotch constituency than any I have ever heard of, because, according to the hon. Gentleman, his constituency, at any rate, will be willing to accept the Irish idea of their fair contribution, which will undoubtedly impose increased taxation upon Scotchmen and Englishmen to the extent of several millions a year. I repeat that there are likely to arise questions of difference on this point. Then there is the question of religion. How is it possible that with a Protestant nation on the one sole and a Catholic nation on the other yon shall not have from time to time differences of opinion as to legislation affecting religious questions? You have differences of opinion upon agrarian questions, and differences of opinion are likely to disclose themselves in regard to the administration of the Criminal Law. These are precisely the matters upon which people feel very strongly on both sides of the Channel, and they are questions upon which the majority in this House might very well think it to be its duty to interfere; but I think its interference would be considered capricious and vexatious by hon. Members opposite. I say it is inevitable under this Constitution, whether you like it or not, that there will be interference, whatever the consequences of that interference may subsequently be. We know what the consequences will be. The hon. Member for North Kerry said that in that case the retention of the Irish Members at Westminster would stand them in good stead.
§ MR. SEXTON
What I said was that the presence of the Irish Members would render capricious and vexatious interference less likely.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Sir, I think it would rather increase the difficulty. I do not want to retort upon the 1734 hon. Member the charge brought against the Leader of the Opposition, and to say that he used threats. I accept his statement as the mere statement of what is certain to follow, and the House perfectly understands me. There is no necessity for an explanation. We know what it means when 80 Irish Members think it their duty to take an active part in our proceedings. All I would ask the House to consider is how far, under these circumstances, the promise in the Queen's Speech will be fulfilled. This is a Bill to give relief to Parliament. On the first occasion of the assertion of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament over Irish affairs you may bid good-bye to the relief of Parliament. I may say a few words upon this very important question of the retention of the Irish Members; and first I point to the curious way in which my right hon. Friend introduced the subject. He explained to us that there were two alternatives—retention On tile one hand, and non-retention on the other; and then he proceeded to set before us a balance, not of advantages, but of disadvantages. It was very difficult to tell for certain which way his own mind inclined, but I came to the conclusion that finally he had determined to adopt the course which, in accordance with his own argument, presents the greatest number Of disadvantages. In 1886 I ventured to say that this question of the retention of the Irish Members was the key to the situation. I argued strongly for their retention; and, sir, I am prepared to argue strongly for it still, and for this reason—that if you get rid of the Irish Members front Westminster you must bid goodbye absolutely to any proposal to maintain the supremacy of Parliament or the unity of the Empire. You cannot do it. You cannot set up a Government here which is to tax Ireland, which is to conduct its foreign policy, which is to confiner and control its trade, and in which Ireland is to have no voice whatever. I say, therefore, emit the retention of the Irish Members at Westminster is an essential condition of the maintenance of our existing Parliamentary supremacy, and also of the unity of the Empire. But I also said then, and I say now, that if you accept the retention of the Irish Members, there are only two practical and logical ways of carrying it out. I challenge anyone to find a third. I beg the House 1735 to understand that I am going to state what these two alternatives are. Do not let me be charged with any idea that I am arguing in favour of either. They may be both bad or both good. At least they are the only two, and it is between them that the House will ultimately have to make its choice if it is determined to retain the Irish Members at Westminster at the time there is to be a Legislative Authority in Dublin. The first of the alternatives is that the Irish Government and the Irish Legislative Body should be a wholly subordinate body—something like an enlarged edition of the Loudon County Council. In that case it is perfectly clear that there is no attack upon the supremacy of Parliament or upon the unity of the Empire. At the same time, a body of that kind may be able to carry out local reforms in accordance with local sentiments, and do a great deal of useful work. That is one alternative. The other is that at the same time that you give a Parliament to Ireland you should give a Parliament to England, a Parliament to Scotland, and a Parliament to Wales, and that you should set up over these four Parliaments a fifth for the United Kingdom. That is a large order. But I am not saying that it may not be the way out of the difficulty. Only in that case let my hon. Friends have the courage of their opinions—let them vote for that, and, above all, do not let them vote for this. But the course which is taken by the Government is open to every objection. It is neither one nor the other of the two alternatives which I have explained to the House as being at least logical and feasible. The course proposed by my right hon. Friends is an absolutely impossible one. Just consider what the two main objections are. I briefly touch upon them. In the first place, what is to be the position of the Irish delegation? They will be neither fish, flesh, fowl, nor good red herring. They are to come here for Irish affairs, and not for British affairs. Everybody who knows anything of the business of this House knows perfectly well that it is absolutely impossible for us to say with certainty even for a single week that the House should be engaged entirely on Irish affairs, or entirely on Imperial affairs. Hon. Members from Ireland would be kept dangling about the Lobby—here to-day 1736 and gone to-morrow, never knowing when they might be called in to take their part—and if they are absent for a minute something may come on which it is of the utmost importance to them to, have a voice in. A condition of things like that is so anomalous that I am perfectly convinced in practice it would be found intolerable. There is no Legislative Assembly in the world which has any practice similar to that. I would not throw any doubt on the sincerity of the, promoters of the Bill; but sometimes it almost appears to me as if they had introduced this clause as what in theatrical language would be called a "practicable clause"—that is, a clause which is to be withdrawn at the slightest pressure. But there is a much greater objection, and it was stated admirably by my noble Friend the Member for South Paddington last night. He said that by this provision you will create two majorities in the British Parliament. Nobody has attempted to get over that difficulty. Are you going to have such a state of things that you may have a British Ministry with all absolutely precarious life and with no possibility of supplanting, it by a firm and stable administration? Take the case as it stands to-day. Suppose this Bill had been passed. Why, at this moment, when my right hon. Friend got up from the Treasury Bench in order to move a "One Man One Vote" measure, or the Suspensory Bills for Scotland and for Wales, he would be in a minority of 40. He might, it is true, call in tomorrow the Irish delegation, and he would be in a majority of 40. But here is a curious position. This British Ministry would be absolutely powerless in all British affairs. No other Ministry would be possible. If, when they were in a minority on some British Motion, another Ministry were allowed to come in, that Ministry, in turn, although in a majority in Great Britain, would hold its life absolutely at the mercy of Irish gentlemen. What would be the consequence? The Prime Minister is fully alive to it. He pointed it out in dignified and impressive language on the introduction of the Bill. He said then that to introduce Irishmen to deal with all British affairs while they were at the Same time dealing separately-with their own affairs would be to create a temptation to intrigue which in the 1737 long run could not be resisted. My right hon. Friend seemed to think that by this proposal he got rid of the difficulty. But, of course, as long as they can vote upon Imperial matters, and especially neon a Vote of Confidence, they have all British policy absolutely at their disposal. Under these circumstances, the difficulties which my right hon. Friend foresaw would be intensified. What would you have? You would have Irish Members who were able under the Constitution to keep a British Ministry in Office, and then were unable under the Constitution to support a single one of the measures on which the British Ministry had set its heart. You have only got to state the question to see how absurd and how monstrous it is. Our Parliamentary system would only work then at the price of continuous corruption. Yon would have to 'nay the Irish, not in money, but in kind. The Government in such a minority as I have suggested would, at all events, be continuously under the temptation to give to the Irish Members something which they wanted for Ireland in order to secure their support, their presence, or their absence, as might be desired, upon English affairs. Under these circumstances, it is perfectly clear that the Irish Parliament, through its English delegation, would be able to make its own terms, and any phantom of Imperial supremacy which may now exist in this Bill would very speedily be cleared out of it. I have only left myself one condition to which I have hitherto not referred. I mean the condition which demands protection for minorities. Of course, it follows that the protection to be afforded is to be adequate and sufficient. Now, here again the argument, as far as I have heard it, from hon. Members speaking for the Government has been that we must trust to the good faith and reasonableness of the Irish Members, and that they will not want to do anything Oppressive, anything which would interfere with personal freedom, and they will never oppress the minority. If there were anything in that argument it would carry us to this—you ought not to have any restrictions at all. If you have put restrictions in the Bill, if you have given these pledges, if you have yourselves stated this as a condition precedent to your introduction of the subject at all, you have bound yourselves to the opinion 1738 that, at all events, the slightest chance of any oppression of the kind we dread ought to be made impossible. And why? Is the danger so remote as some people imagine? It is part of the case of my right hon. Friend that in times past the minority in Ireland has abused its rights in order to oppress the majority. Why are you to suppose that au Irish majority would be less likely to use its rights in the same way? I notice in one of to-day's papers a very interesting account of an interview with that veteran and patriotic Irishman, Sir Gavan Duffy, in which he points out that under this Bill the majority in the Irish Parliament will be so enormously on one side, that it is almost certain to become a despotic majority, and to oppress the minority. And, when we have regard to the special case of Ireland, we must not put from us as absolutely impossible the suggestion that if either a majority or a minority has undue power it might not abuse that power. When we consider the bitter controversies of race, of class, of religion, of Party which have desolated Ireland for centuries, arc we to expect that even the Union of Hearts will do away with the danger all in a moment? Are we certain that Ulster will have nothing to fear from the legislation of the rest of Ireland? Are we certain that Protestants in Ireland will have nothing to dread from the religions legislation of gentlemen who may be nominated by the Roman Catholic priesthood? Are we certain that landowners in Ireland will receive full justice from those whose avowed policy it has been to treat them as a British garrison, and to clear them, stock, lock, anti barrel, out of the land? I think the Government are bound by their own statement, and the House is bound in honour, to defend these loyal fellow-subjects of ours against the possibility of injury. What provision does the Bill make? In the first place, it seeks to protect the Protestants by declaring unlawful the establishment of a Church, and also by some provision with respect to education. I do not want to draw the argument too fine, but I may be permitted to point out that, if there were a strong feeling in Ireland in favour of an established and endowed clergy, there is nothing in the Bill to prevent that being done. There are many ways—I could mime 50—in which the Bill could be legally 1739 evaded. I will give one, merely as an instance. Suppose that the Irish Parliament provided a considerable salary for the managers of schools. What is to prevent the district from electing the parish priest as manager in every case? In that way, by a side wind, if the sentiment of the people were with the Irish Parliament—it depends on that—the Irish Parliament could effect a great endowment of the Irish Roman Catholic Church, in spite of the restrictive provisions of my right hon. Friend. Then, as regards the land and landowners, the Irish Parliament is not to deal with the land for three years. If that is considered a boon to the landowners it is a very strange one. I am not certain that they will not petition this House that they may be executed at once. But what is the meaning of it? What is the intention of the Government in excluding Irish land from the Irish Parliament for three years? Do they intend to deal with it here in the course of that time? I argue that they must intend to deal with it, because, if they do not, the exclusion of the Land Question appears to me to be a most foolish proposal. That is the easiest word I can use. If they do not intend to deal with it, surely, as undoubtedly the question will arise in the interval, they should allow the Irish Parliament to deal wit the matter, which is to them of vital importance. But if they do intend to deal with it, I can only say that during the next three years we shall hear very little, indeed, of the Newcastle Programme. Will it be contended by any reasonable man that these provisions with regard to the Church and the land for the short period of three years are sufficient protection against the dangers which, at all events, Protestants and landowners now fear? Then we have what is really the great invention of the Government—we have got the Second Chamber. I am not going to argue the principle of a Second Chamber, although I cannot help thinking that some of my right hon. Friends will be in some difficulty when this question comes to be discussed in Committee. I have had put into my hands an extract from a speech made in June, 1892, by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, in which he is reported to have said— 1740Having somewhat carefully studied the experience of countries where Second Chambers exist, I have found—unless, perhaps, in the doubtful case of the United States, where they have a Federal Constitution—that the Second Chamber is not the least service to the country to which it belongs.In the same month, at Gateside, my right hon. Friend was asked for some further explanation on this subject. The question was—You stated at Danhead that a Second Chamber was not of the least service to the country to which it belonged. You differ from Mr. Gladstone in this, who even in his model Constitution for Ireland in 1886 proposed and provided for a Second Chamber.My right hon. Friend is reported to have said—I never approved of that provision of the Home Rule Bill, and I am quite sure it is not likely to appear in any Home Rule Bill in the future.I consider that really a matter of very small importance. All I can say is that when the matter comes up in Committee I shall he perfectly prepared to vote with my right hon. Friend for the exclusion of this Second Chamber; but I shall do so without reference to the principle. I shall do so, because it is a thoroughly and absolutely ineffective Body for the purpose for which it is to be created. The idea that a Body of this kind, consisting of 48 Members, is to give any protection to Ulster, to the Protestants, or to the landowners, is perfectly childish! I have no reason to believe that this Body will consist, so far as any great majority of it is concerned, of Ulstermen, of Protestants, or of landowners; but if it did, if every single man of this Chamber belonged to one or other of these minorities, still all they could do would be to delay for two veers the measure of injustice against which they were protesting. At the end of that time they must be outvoted. Do not let hon. Gentlemen mistake the point of my argument. I am not arguing whether this is right or wrong; but you have given this Second Chamber as a protection, and I have pointed out to you it is no protection at all. I cannot conclude without one word on the question of Ulster. For the Protestant minority in Ulster there is absolutely no special provision at all. When we advert to this, what is the answer which is made to us by the Chancellor of the Duchy 1741 (Mr. Bryce)? The answer is a sneer and a defiance. Ulster has said, by its Representatives in this House, that it will, resist any Constitution of the kind which it is attempted to force upon it. The answer is that we are to pay no attention to the Representatives of Ulster, and to take no notice of their "braggart ways." But why not? Whether their ways are braggart or not—
§ MR. BRYCE
The right hon. Gentleman will, perhaps, permit me to correct him, as I am sure he does not wish to misrepresent me I did not say that. I said the reason why my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister did not repeat the words which he used in regard to Ulster in 1886 was because those wools had received no response from Ulster, that no safeguards have been proposed from Ulster, and that, therefore, it did not seem necessary to repeat them; but I never intimated, or intended to intimate, that any representation from Ulster now would not receive the same consideration as it would have received in 1886.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Now I ask the House to recall the language of the right hon. Gentleman. Yes, he said what he has said now in different terms, but in effect. But he said something else. He said that we were not to pay attention to the language. [Mr. BRYCE dissented.] He said, in effect, that we were not to pay attention to the language—
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Now the House understands the value of the contradiction of the right hon. Gentleman. When Members from Ulster get up and speak in the name of Ulster—[Nationalist cries of "A portion of Ulster"]—of Protestant Ulster, if you like; I am speaking always of that minority in Ulster to which I first referred—when the Representatives of this part of the United Kingdom get tip in this House and profess that they represent the opinions of their constituents, 1742 the Chancellor of the Duchy tells them, or tells the House, that they do not represent their constituents; but that they represent only their own bluster. And in the same speech, within a few sentences of the words I have quoted, the right hon. Gentleman, forsooth, takes us to task for not speaking with sufficient respect of the language and expressions of opinion of the Representatives of tine rest of Ireland. It is only the Representatives of Ulster that bluster, I suppose. I do not pretend to be an authority on Ulster. I have no right to speak in their name; but I know that these people of Ulster, of whom we are speaking, are of the same blood as ourselves. I know that in their past history they have given evidence of courage and determination. I know that now in their modern history, by their energy and initiative, they have done more for the prosperity of Ireland than all the rest of the population put together. And when they tell us by their Members and by their Conventions that they will resist, I, for one, am not going to treat them as the Chancellor of the Duchy does—as blusterers and liars. Well, for Ulster there are no safeguards in this Bill worthy of the paper upon which they are written. Ulster, as the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington said, "must take care of itself." I have never said—I have not sufficient knowledge, and therefore have not competence to express an opinion on the subject. I have never said that Ulster will fight. But I say this: that if she does fight, it will take more than the power of the most powerful Liberal Government to coerce her into submission. I have now fulfilled the task which I undertook. I have put aside all the details of the Bill; especially I have said not a word about finance, which will, of course, require the most careful consideration at a later stage. I confess for myself I have been totally unable to reconcile the statement of the Prime Minister the other night with regard to the contributions which will be expected from the British taxpayer with the statement of the finance of the Home Rule Bill which he gave in l886; and I hope it May is possible for my right hon. Friend to put on the Table with the Home Rule Bill a statement of the intended financial arrangements, and, if possible, to show in that statement exactly what the difference to British finance would 1743 be before and after the Home Rule Bill. We want to know exactly how much we shall lose by the transfer of legislative authority. Although I have not gone into details, I have tried to show to the House that the three conditions laid down by my right hon. Friend have not been fulfilled. I have tried to show that the Imperial unity, which alone is of any value, has not been maintained, and that our strength in time of war would be seriously weakened. I have tried to show that the supremacy of Parliament under this system would become an unsubstantial pageant—"the baseless fabric of a vision." And, lastly, I think I have shown that the safeguards proposed for minorities are altogether inadequate for their protection. These conditions have not been carried out, and we are asked to proceed with this legislation in a spirit of childlike trust and hopefulness. If this scheme succeed at all, it will succeed only because of the unexampled moderation of the present leaders of the Irish Party, and of all the leaders who shall ever conic after them. If that moderation stops for a single year the troubles I have foreseen must inevitably arise. On the other hand, if this scheme fail we cannot retrace our steps. The policy which you are now asked to adopt is, believe me, an irrevocable policy. I cannot understand the lightness with which some hon. Members talk of withdrawing these concessions at a future time if the result should not answer their present expectation. I do not think they could have considered the conditions under which such a withdrawal would have to be made. It would lie in a time of great excitement; it would be after a prolonged and bitter conflict between the Irish Parliament and the British Ministry; with Ireland at fever heat, perhaps in insurrection, and in a time of great emergency for this country; with all the friends of Ireland, and with all the enemies of Great Britain throughout the world looking on. I say your task would be gigantic; I believe that it might be impossible. No, Sir, if we commit—I express, of course, only my own opinion when I say—this national crime, we must have the courage to examine into the possible consequences. I say that never in the history of the world has a risk so tre- 1744 mendous been encountered with such a light-hearted indifference to its possible results.
§ MR. BLAKE (Longford, S.)
said that amongst the difficulties, numerous enough, which they had to face in the discussion of a complicated question like this, the first was that they had to deal in detail with a measure the text of which was not yet before them. He could speak of the measure only from the expression of its principles contained in the speeches of the Prime Minister and other Members of the Government. Whether the text of the measure fairly embodied the principles stated to the House was a question with which they could not now deal. He agreed with the general spirit and view of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) thus far—and he was afraid thus far only—namely, in dealing largely with the great question of principle, and reserving minor details until he saw the text. Another difficulty was this: that the two Bodies who sat in the House in opposition to the principle of the Bill, and to its carriage, approached it ostensibly, at any rate, from different standpoints. The Opposition, led by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Manchester (Mr. A. J. Balfour), approached it from the old Tory standpoint with reference to Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman told them during his speech that it was a good reason against Home Rule that Ireland was, and had for some time past been, tranquil and uncoerced. The right hon. Gentleman thought that 20 years of "resolute government" was a panacea, for all ills. It did not do to disguise from themselves what was the true reason why Ireland was, and had been under different circumstances for some years past, disturbed, and was comparatively tranquil to-day. It was because seven years ago the bright prospect opened to her of an end being put to the system under which she had groaned for so many years. It was because moderate proposals being made by the Leader of the Nationalist Party, the First Lord of the Treasury had seized a great opportunity in the interest of the United Kingdom to meet this proposal, and to propound a scheme which would—he would not say amend or preserve, but create a real Union for all rational purposes, and 1745 give to the Irish people a separate Legislature for domestic concerns. It was because the Irish people had seen a great Political Party (although rent and torn in consequence of this proposal) adhere with strenuous fidelity to the honourable pledges which they had made,—it was because they had seen the Prime Minister carrying on this contest at a time of his life, and under circumstances unexampled in the history of the world, and under great difficulties due to desertion of former friends and to wholly unexpected troubles in Ireland itself—carrying on this contest with unabated zeal and unfaltering fervour. If a truce were arrived at in Ireland that happy consummation would not be due, as the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition supposed, to his "resolute government," but it would be owing to the popular peace brought about by this Bill. It was true that a happy consummation might be reached; but it was equally true—and he stated it not as a threat, but as a fact—that the difficulties which were to be solved by this measure, if they remained unsolved, would be found to rise to the surface with greater force than ever. Hope turned to despair might produce results absolutely fearful to contemplate. He would now like to approach the subject from the standpoint of those who followed the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). That right hon. Gentleman admitted that he would be glad to see a scheme of Home Rule which would effect the limitations suggested by the Prime Minister; but it was a singular thing that whatever scheme of Home Rule was proposed, it turned out to be absolutely impracticable in the view of the right hon. Gentleman. Why, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was one of the oldest Home Rulers of prominence in Great Britain. This particular phase of the Irish agitation for a greater share of self-government took its rise, as they all knew, in about the year 1870, under Mr. Isaac Butt, and early in the year 1874—nearly 20 years ago—the right hon. Member for West Birmingham said he approved of the Home Rule movement. He held that—Irishmen had a right to govern themselves in their own country, and he was willing to con- 1746 cede it. It would be an advantage to both Parties. Ireland would be satisfied, and the Legislature would move at an accelerated pace without the Irish Members. At present they only travelled by Parliamentary train, and that was not quick enough for him.At what snail's pace did the right hon. Gentleman's present train travel? The right hon. Gentleman did not take the view of resolute government taken by the Tory Opposition. In 1881 he spoke on the Irish Question, and then he used language which they would have to consider when they came to deal with the proposals of the present Bill. He then pointed out that—It was not a new problem this Irish Question. Once in 10 years, once in 20 years, it may be, sometimes without the slightest preparation, like a bolt from the blue, the Irish Question is upon us. Every generation in turn for 400 years has had to deal with it; each has disposed of it for a time according to its views, but each has had to bequeath it still unsettled to its successor. It is futile for Lord Salisbury to pretend that the present siuation is the fault of Mr. Gladstone or his Ministry. We know that for the whole time to which I have referred the Irish people have been constantly dissatisfied.That was the language of the right hon. Gentleman; that was the serious character of the problem which the right hon. Gentleman presented to his fellow-countrymen in 1881, and that problem remained in 1886. Now the right hon. Gentleman also denounced in powerful language the state of government in Ireland, the centralisation, the bureaucracy, and want of local government there. What was his complaint when Mr. Parnell proposed in 1885 to have a right to the Customs and the Excise, and to use it for protective purposes? He complained that that involved a great extension of anything they bad hitherto understood by Home Rule. As they knew, the Bill of 1886 maintained the right to deal with trade and commerce, including Customs and Excise, under the Imperial Parliament. As they knew, that compact was made with Ireland. As they knew, it had been adhered to ever since. As they knew, the Bill of to-day proceeded on the same lines. When the measure of 1886 came forward—[At this point Mr. CHAMBERLAIN left his place and was apparently about to leave the House]—he was not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should deprecate recrimina- 1747 tion—[Mr. CHAMBERLAIN stayed his exit and took a seat on the Front Bench below the Gangway]—he was not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should suggest that the case was not one for recriminatory observations, nor should he pursue the topic more than a moment longer. He should just recall to the House what the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman was with reference to the proposals of 1886. His great objection was the non-inclusion of the Irish Members. He pointed out how much that retention meant; he pointed out consequences of the utmost gravity as following from it, and he (Mr. Blake) agreed with him. His belief always had been that their retention was a most important element in a proper adjustment of this question. But he regretted that the right hon. Gentleman should now find that retention so difficult as to be practically impossible, it being the condition upon which he insisted as not merely necessary, hut also practicable in those days. A little later on it was said that if only that condition and one or two others suggested, rather than insisted upon, were adopted, the right hon. Gentleman might find his way to sustain the Bill. The principle of Home Rule he then agreed to, but objected only conditionally to the defective methods by which he believed it was proposed to carry out the principle. A little later still, before the Liberal Unionist Party had assumed its attitude of impotence in this matter, while yet it retained sonic remnant of its previous Liberalism, the right hon. Gentleman professed that the Irish Question did require constructive legislation for its solution—that it was a great pressing question. The right hon. Gentleman propounded a Liberal Unionist programme of his own. It was, of course, binding on no one, but in its exact suggestions the Liberal Unionist programme contained very many of the most important elements of this measure, giving property and civil rights, giving education and giving other rights to Ireland and providing what?—that the Irish Members should be retained for Imperial purpose in the Imperial Parlitunent—the right hon. Gentleman did not find it impossible then, but he found it impossible to-day—and it provided for the minority in so far as religion was concerned, in so far as education was concerned. Those 1748 guarantees, to the best of his (Mr. Blake's) recollection, were set down in those very words contained in the Bill of 1886, and the right hon. Gentleman declared of them that not merely as the result of theory but also of practical experience of the working of the Constitution of other countries that they had been found ample and adequate to the purpose. To-day the right hon. Gentleman, finding many of his suggestions adopted, finding many of the suggestions which he had himself incorporated in his scheme retained, found that all of them were absolutely useless, absolutely impracticable. The right hon. Gentleman applied the test—did the Bill preserve the Imperial unity? And he asked what aid imperial unity mean, and he asked did it consist of a Central Authority with full control of forces for offence and defence? Yes, so it was today, and so it would be when this Bill would be passed. But it would have a greater power in that regard than it could have under the continuance of this present system, because this measure was designed to prevent the recurrence or the continuance of those very feelings to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded when he suggested that the outgrowth and result of a solemn Treaty of perpetual peace and concord between Great Britain and Ireland would be a feeding that England's difficulty would be Ireland's opportunity, while he forgot that his own declaration was that that had been the feeling of Ireland for the last 400 years. The question was how to end it. He (Mr. Blake) said that this measure offered the prospects of ending it. Nay, it offered, humanly speaking, the certainty of ending it. The right hon. Gentleman said that Ireland's geographical sit nation was a bar to separation, and that this harrier must prevail, even to the prejudice of the interests of Ireland. There was force in that observation. Thank God, it was possible to reconcile the interests of Ireland as now learned, known, and agreed to by the great mass of her people with the existence of the Union for all Imperial purposes! They would not suffer in his opinion, and he believed that for these purposes the laws of Providence, the geographical conditions—as many of the best and ablest men, and men of the greatest national spirit in Ireland, believed—did involve the continuity of her union with England 1749 for these purposes, for all purposes of trade and commerce; and he believed that, serious as it would be to England to lose Ireland, the loss to Ireland would be infinitely greater if any system were adopted by which her existing trade relations were disturbed. He could quote an extract from a speech of William Pitt's at the time of the Union from which they would find that the objects to be attained, or rather the difficulties to be guarded against, by means of the Union were precisely those very difficulties which were involved in the series of subjects which under this Bill were reserved to the Imperial Parliament. Had the compound plan of the administration of local affairs, combined with central organisation for common and Imperial purposes been then as widely known as it was now, the solution would then have been found requisite for all the purposes which William Pitt suggested. But other days had come. Union in this incorporated form had been tried and tested, and it had lamentably failed—failed in those respects in which it was necessary that the Irish people should have a domestic Legislature, and what was now proposed? Not that this Act of Union should be repealed. It would continue in its full force and vigour for all its proper and legitimate purposes, and under its authority, by the free consent of the Irish people, would be established and set up under its ægis and authority that domestic legislature which was required in order to create a national union between the two peoples—to make contented hearts, and out of those contented hearts to evolve contented homes. The right hon. Gentleman, having to a certain distance proceeded in one view, began another portion of his speech in a new character; and he (Mr. Blake) was not quite certain whether he had not been listening to a speech of a Fenian head centre when the right hon. Gentleman proceeded to point out the lamentable degree in which this measure fell short of satisfying the legitimate national aspirations of the Irish people. What was this contemptible measure by which they deprived Ireland of all the cherished privileges of a nation? She was to have no control over foreign policy, she was to have no power to send out Ambassadors, she was to be restrained in the setting up of an Established Church 1750 —which they know she had had experience of and found a blessing—she was to have no control over the Customs and over her trade. Yes, Ireland was to have no control over all these things. They had decided that foreign policy was a common and Imperial concern, and that Ireland would have her just share of control in it, no more and no less. They had agreed that trade and commerce, including Customs and Excise, were a common concern, and in that Ireland would have her fair share of control, no more, no less. They had agreed that Church and education were domestic matters, and Ireland would have full control over these subjects by the provisions of the Bill, which were a declaration of what were now well understood to be the jewels of liberty—a declaration of the true principles of religious freedom and equality. They accepted these provisions, not tendered because it was believed that they would violate any of them—there were some of them whose necessity and Whose sacredness had been burned into their souls. They had been struggling, for long to achieve these rights. If they had been taught any lesson it has been the lesson of their value. Nor did he believe for all instant that the Irish majority would use in the way in which the Irish minority did in bad and evil times use their rights to do wrong. It was all important and valuable thing, which they might accept without any feeling of degradation or humiliation with regard to what they looked upon as the immutable principles of civil and religious freedom. It was important from two aspects. It was important as tending to soothe the apprehensions of those who were really nervous as to the new Constitution. It was important as having a practical application twofold. First, there might be conjecturably, according to the views of alarmists, a transgression of the letter of this provision, or rather, an attempt to transgress, because under the law the attempt would be ineffectual, and any transgression of the letter or spirit of these provisions would have no effect whatever. But there might be beyond that a possibility to violate the spirit, but the record which applied to the spirit as well as to the letter was, or ought to be, of value to those who would listen to reason, because it furnished a plain ex- 1751 case and justification for the intervention of the subsisting Imperial authority to remedy any such—to borrow the words of Mr. Parnell—"Any such grave abuse of the powers committed to the Irish Legislature." The right hon. Gentleman suggested that these measures would supply the seed for future demands. What was the present situation? What had been the position of this Parliament for many years with reference to Ireland? What had been the circumstances of affairs in Ireland? Why, they were actually asking the House to believe that an arrangement agreed to by the Irish people as satisfactory was but sowing the seeds for future demands, although it removed the great cause of complaint which had existed up to this time. What guarantee had the right hon. Gentleman that the arrangement would be accepted? They were told that the Bill of 1886 was accepted pro tanto. It was true that a phrase of that kind might be culled from the utterances of one distinguished man (now departed) under circumstances which all deplored; but the record of his action and his voice as the unquestioned and unchallenged Representative of the Irish race in Ireland and beyond the seas was the record to which they should look, and that record was a record of absolute, unhesitating, unequivocal acceptance as a final settlement of the Bill of 1886; and the delay which had ensued, and the difficulties which had ensued, had furnished absolutely satisfactory tests and confirmation of that view. They had had this question for seven years before the Irish people both at home and abroad; they had had an unhappy difficulty in Ireland, immensely calculated to produce dissatisfaction, if dissatisfaction could be evoked, with reference to the modification of their demands. They had had that difficulty extended, to some extent, to the Irish beyond the seas, and he pointed to the general acceptance by Irishmen all over the world of this Bill to-day, not as the best and most satisfactory proof, after the seven test years, but as one proof of the finality of this acceptance, on the hypothesis that the principles stated by the First Minister turned out to be effectually embodied in the Bill. What if a great struggle, for instance, arose, said the right hon. Gentleman—Europe with 12,000,000 of men in arms and Ireland 1752 seizing her opportunity. In case of a struggle with America, in case of a struggle with France, in case of a struggle with Russia, would Ireland be, under Home Rule, on the side of America or France more or less than now? In the affairs of men, in speaking of the future of countries, they could not get, they could not ask, for absolutely securities; but, so far as reason could give them ground for security, they had the absolute assurance that the condition of things to-day, or rather before 1886, was infinitely more dangerous than it would be if this Bill became law. Then the right hon. Gentleman suggested that there was the question of finance. Suppose, he said, the Irish Parliament to resist, then there would be no collection. The Irish Revenue was mainly to consist of the Excise, and the machinery for collection would have to be pretty strenuously used under the not too liberal provisions of the right hon. Gentleman, in order that they might live at all, and any question with reference to the raising for Imperial purposes of Imperial taxes occupied an altogether separate place. Whatever was essential to the effective exercise of the power of a Parliament in which Irishmen were duly represented, to fix and to raise taxes for common purposes, to which they had a constitutional power to assent, ought to be given, and he had no doubt could be given, in this Bill. Then the right hon. Gentleman suggested that there might be Volunteers or au armed force against England. The whole of these suggestions seemed to be of the most baseless and fantastic character. They were absolutely suggestions that concord, contentment, peace, and agreement between the two countries, was to produce a last state of affairs worse than that unhappy first, which the reverse of these conditions had produced; and during all this time the existence of the present power of the Imperial Parliament to place troops in Ireland remained as free as it was to-day, and their powers to blockade her harbours remained as full as they were to-day, and every power they had for maintaining peace against a hostile feeling and for keeping down the people was as good as it was to-day, and all that was changed was that the bare idea of the necessity of any such action had vanished for ever from the scene. The 1753 right hon. Gentleman spoke of the supremacy of Parliament, and was good enough to say that the intentions of the Administration were good, and there was to be a manifest, continuous, and operative supremacy. No, Sir; upon that subject they had the right hon. Gentleman's own remarks. He would quote no more; but would refer the House to the right hon. Gentleman's declarations, repeated declarations, of the fact that the continued retention of the Irish Representatives in this Parliament had effectively produced that supremacy Which he now questioned, and the expulsion of whom he made the groundwork of his opposition to the former Bill. It was his cardinal point and the point on which he voted against the Second Reading, declaring he would not put it to the hazard because it was of such importance. He had got it now, and it withered to nothing before his eyes. What were they to do? He said that over a separate Parliament and a separate Executive they would have no longer any control. Would the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham want to keep up Dublin Castle and its bureaucratic control of Ireland, which no man had more effectively denounced than he had in days gone by? Executive control over Irish administration—the Irish not to get that—that was the right hon. Gentleman's present proposition. Why, he forgot the best part of his record on the Irish Question when he advanced an argument like that? Then the right hon. Gentleman suggested that, suppose some procedure which what the right hon. Gentleman called the British, but which he (Mr. Blake) called the Imperial, Parliament—would regard unfavourably was started, they would have no direct means of checking it. They must look at what the situation of affairs would be. Take Ireland apart from the single question of land, and they knew she was a country abnormal in crime, because she had less crime than any other country. Deal with that Land Question which all parties now agreed must be settled. The lines for that settlement had been largely now laid down, and while it was a gigantic business—gigantic in the administration of its details, the machinery to deal with it hail in large part been already secured. Settle the Land Question—it had got to be done here or there 1754 —and the condition of Ireland became what it ought to be, and what it was with regard to all other crimes. The Irish Legislature, when it obtained control over this branch of property, as over others, with the securities which the right hon. Gentleman had referred to—for he (Mr. Blake) was no Separatist, and he was no confiscator either—they would take away no man's property without giving him just compensation for it—the Irish Legislature, engaged in the solution of these questions, would find no occasion for a Plan of Campaign; and if a Plan of Campaign was started, contrary to the beneficent measures which that Legislature produced, it would surely know how to deal with it, being responsible, as it would be, for the peace and order and good government of the country which it controlled. Then the right hon. Gentleman suggested that there might be endowment of religion—although there was a provision that there should be no establishment of an endowed religion—and that the Local Authorities or the Legislature itself might pay certain religions large salaries for other purposes, making a practical endowment. He should regard that as an unworthy artifice to evade the spirit of the law against the endowment of religion, and deserving of the contempt of all honest men, and meriting the stern and speedy intervention of the Imperial Authorities, if it were resorted to. There was a provision by which, under existing authorities, and without any remonstrance from any Party, those who were best competent to undertake certain matters connected with hospitals, were appointed aid paid. Was it to be a crime tomorrow in Ireland to do that which they did themselves to-day without complaint or remonstrance? But he did not allude to that. He alluded to that which the right hon. Gentleman, if he were speaking seriously, must allude to—some attempt to disguise endowment of religion under payment of other services, which were not rendered. The right hon. Gentleman said that the supremacy if Parliament was irreverently noticed in the Preamble. He (Mr. Blake) thought it was unnecessary to not me it any where. It was admitted on all hands. It was admitted by the right hon. Gentleman himself that at any rate, with the retention of the Irish Members, it was an indisputable fact. There was 1755 not a man in the House who did not believe and know that this proposed Act of Parliament would leave the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament intact in all its parts. If the right hon. Gentleman suggested that the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament was to be used by means of a constant, continuous operative review and re-consideration of all Irish legislation and administration, our last state would he worse than the first. Better keep the responsibility of governing Ireland directly within their own hands than to call upon the Irish to carry out a sham of self-government freed front the responsibility which attached to, but could not be divested from, substantial powers. Nor did the right hon. Gentleman himself in days gone by think otherwise, because he had more than once stated that the practical control of the Irish people over Irish affairs was an aspiration to which he assented as reasonable and to be attained. Then as to the veto of the Crown. The normal action with reference to Bills presented for Assent would be the same in the Irish as in this Parliament. The Viceroy, representing the Queen, would act on the advice of the Cabinet. The Viceroy occupied a dual position. He acted ordinarily on the advice of the Cabinet. He was also an Imperial officer, and express power was, in fact, reserved to give him instructions in regard to any particular Bill. In case of those instructions being received he acted Ministerially on behalf of the Imperial Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman had said that if the Viceroy acted in a particular way it might involve the resignation of the Irish Ministers. Not so. On the contrary; he thought it would plant them more firmly in their offices if the power was unwisely used. They could not be called on to resign for an act of which they did not accept the responsibility. The policy of the Imperial Parliament, in respect to the veto, would be, he believed, a policy of non-interference save in cases in which the spirit or the letter of the Act under which the Irish Legislature was empowered was violated. They had heard a good deal of the rights of minorities. The rights of the minority were as dear to the Nationalists as they were to the Unionists. The right hon. Gentleman had made some suggestions as to the possibility of carrying out con- 1756 current legislation. Why, of course, it could be carried out, though he did not think the occasion for it would ever arise. The Imperial Parliament having the power to make concurrent legislation, had the power to give effect to that legislation, although it was obvious that a step of that kind would be a serious one. The right hon. Gentleman had said these powers would be used. They asked no guarantee that it would not be used. They depended upon their own honour and good faith, and upon their own determination to carry out the conditions of this compact upon their part. They believed that the letter and spirit of this Act of Parliament would he observed by the Irish Parliament. All they asked was while they observed it the Imperial Parliament would observe it too and if each observed it there would be no interference. If the Irish Legislature violated it the Imperial Parliament would have the mortal power to interfere and to redress. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that there would be serious consequences oh interference; that the Irish Members would be there, and that 80 men would make things difficult. What would 103 men do? One would think, to listen to the right hon. Gentleman, that all was serene to-day—that there was not an Irish Question troubling the House; that they had their own way in Scotland, in Wales, in England, and in Ireland itself; that there were no Irish Members to interfere with their free carrying of a Newcastle Programme or any other Programme, or the settlement or non-settlement of the Land Question. Let them look at what they had suffered during a long period of years. Let them ask themselves how many Ministries had been made and unmade by Irish votes against the will of the other Divisions of the United Kingdom. Let them ask themselves what was the position to-day. What made the Ministry? What could unmake it? Yet they talked as if all that did not exist. What made the Salisbury Administration of 1886? Let them acknowledge, that for the purpose of obtaining the paramount national rights of Ireland, the Nationalist Members dealt with English, Scotch and Irish questions, and with Conservative Ministries and reform Ministries from the point of view of what was best for Ireland. Let them remember they 1757 had found a position which they regarded as intolerable, that you have been obliged to take step after step to redress it, that they had found their path obstructed again and again, that they had found no peace or ease. But now a plan had been found which removed from this area these questions which had agitated it for all these years, which reduced the number of the Irish Members, which abstracted from them the power to interfere with any British local legislative concerns, which left Parliament free to pass Bills for England, Scotland, and Wales, according to the majority of Great Britain, and which more and greater than all removed the cause for Irish Members dealing in these measures otherwise than upon the merits of the questions submitted, removed the reason for alienation, substituted peace and love for disorder and revenge, and gave a truly united Parliament for a common purpose. There they had got a condition—it might not be perfection—but a condition infinitely better than that which now obtained, that show prospect infinitely better than that which was open to them from any other source or by any other plan, by producing the best desires for harmonious and concerted action, and ultimately reducing existing capabilities for mischief. There were difficulties no doubt, and complications no doubt, awl he thought their ultimate solution was to be found in the shape of local institutions for other parts of the Kingdom, with an Imperial Parliament for all. He was an advocate of that policy, though he knew the time for it had not yet arrived. He believed that the passing or this Bill, the experience which Parliament would derive from it, the enormous relief it would have from a mass of Irish business; the new spirit which would attend their deliberations, and the beneficial results or Home Rule in Ireland, would go far to advance and bring into the region of practical politics the adoption of this plan in reference to other portions of the United Kingdom. Then the right hon. Gentleman had said that there would be no relief, and had gone on to say that the Irish delegation might turn out a Ministry, that then there would be a difficulty about getting it in again. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. J. Bryce) had pointed out that it 1758 was the Imperial vote which would decide the question of confidence in the Ministry. As time went on, he believed they would come more and more to the conclusion to which they were rapidly coining, that if they would not take Home Rule in form they would take it in substance; that the local opinion of Scotland would be deferred to by England and Wales, that of Wales by England and Scotland, and that of England by Wales and Scotland. That condition of things obtained in theory, and it would obtain more and more in practice, and there would thus be found a practical solution of those enormous theoretical objections. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the new plan would work only by corruption and only by subsidies to Ireland. Have they never heard of Irish grants before? What had they been doing this long time with Ireland? They had been trying to placate her with sops, and the right hon. Gentleman thought that under this new plan there was danger or payment with sops. The right hon. Gentleman had said also that the Bill did not contain adequate protection for minorities, and that there should be restrictions. He rejoiced to know that there was in the Liberal Patty a faith, he believed a faith which was absolutely well-founded, in the honesty, the good faith, the equity, the impartiality, and the liberality of the majority of the Irish people. He rejoiced to know that the Liberal Party did not impose those restrictions on lines which would make them humiliating, degrading, and difficult to accept. Those restrictions recognise the liberty and rights of the individual as sacred, and morally beyond the power and competence of injurious interference by any majority, however great. The Nationalists freely agreed to the consecretation of those principles in their charter of liberty. It was no degradation. It had been done in the great Constitution of the Republic. He regarded it as a boon to humanity if, after having recorded certain principles or civil and religious liberty as sacred, fit, and proper to be applied to Ireland, the day might come when they would feel themselves able to apply them to themselves. Then as to the land, the right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the term during which it was reserved to Parliament—a term of three 1759 years, but in reality more, because this Bill was not yet passed; and even after it was passed, and after au Irish Legislature had been constituted, and after three years had lapsed, the Irish Legislature would ponder a little, perhaps, over an Irish Land Bill before it dealt with it. The right hon. Gentleman had suggested, as a difficulty, why they should not pass this Bill the length of time during which the Imperial Parliament would have to deal with the question of Irish laud. What would happen if they did not pass the Bill? That they would have the question with them not for three years, but for all time until they settled it. The right hon. Gentleman had suggested that the Second Chamber was no use, and that he would like to vote against it. The Second Chamber was, he thought, a very much better Second Chamber than the last one. It recognised the principle of election, though the franchise was a restrictive franchise. This Second Chamber was designed to give what protection could be reasonably given to minorities, and it afforded two principles, each of which was of the greatest value. In the first place, it afforded the principle of full debate and discussion by an elected Body of any proposition of the more popular Chamber, and the power of rejection twice. That gave one of the greatest securities against injustice. It gave the security due to full inquiry, to full and calm discussion, to a long time for discussion, and to the excellence of second thought, and it gave the security that it enlisted the attention of the Imperial Parliament and of the British people to any attempt to violate the spirit or the letter of the agreement under which the Irish Parliament received the power to deal with the question. There was the second power also. If, after all that, the popular Chamber insisted upon the measure it could insist upon it absolutely, for there was the joint vote, and, therefore, they had the power of the Second Chamber influencing the decision of the popular Chamber with results tending to equality. In that way they had ample security against rash and unjust legislation. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of Ulster as if Ulster were in a pitiable condition. He had not been able to understand the deep interest that 1760 Englishmen took in Ulster. If there was a part of Ireland that could take care of itself in a Dublin Parliament it was Ulster. By the numbers of its population, its intelligence, its education, its property, its enterprise, it was absolutely well able, not by those unconstitutional and violent and injurious methods which the right hon. Gentleman referred to, but by taking a part with the rest of Ireland in the deliberations of the Irish Assembly, remembering that although Ulster was Protestant, the people of Ulster were Irishmen after all. By uniting with the rest of Ireland in an effort to make that country what it ought to be, on these lines Ulster would obtain not only her fair share of attention, but far more. He rejoiced to know that Ulster, whether by constitutional or unconstitutional means, whether by throwing a certain Crown into the Boyne, or by lining the last ditch, or by the use or that gun and revolver which an hon. Member had said every Ulsterman had, he rejoiced to know that under these rumours of aggravation and panic and alarm Ulster was tolerably contented and serene. She does not demand separate treatment. She had not suggested her abstraction from the rest of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, having lost his power to coerce, thought fit to exercise his power to taunt the Nationalists the other day. The right hon. Gentleman had no juster or more appropriate name for Ireland than an "arbitrarily selected area," and he had told them that that arbitrarily selected area had no better right or claim to demand Home Rule than a fragment of one of England's own provinces. The right hon. Gentleman ignored the immutable decrees of Providence which had given to Ireland a boundary the most definite and marked which can be seen, "the streak of inviolate sea." The right hon. Gentleman had even forgotten those bad quarters of an hour which, in days now happily gone by, he himself had experienced in his efforts to cross that boundary. He had ignored the history of an ancient Kingdom; he had passed by the treachery and corruption by which she had been cheated out of Tier rights; he had forgotten her never-dying national spirit; he remembered not her continued mid never-ceasing struggles for the maintenance of her rights, and he called her an 1761 "arbitrarily selected area." But that country was no arbitrarily selected area. It was one country after all, and one country it would remain, and he believed that Protestant Ulster would scorn the suggestion that she should part her fortunes from the remainder of the island. What did those say who proposed it? They proposed it on the ground that Protestant Ulster was not safe; and if that ground was true, if they really believed that of Protestant Ulster, in what condition did they, conjuring up those dangers, propose to place the scattered men of his (Mr. Blake's) own faith in the South and West? Why, upon their own suggestion they should not, propose separation, they should insist upon the union of Ulster with the remainder of Ireland, as Mr. Parnell had done, saving in that House that Ireland could not spare a single Irishman. The whole policy of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Chamberlain) was based upon a pessimistic and mistaken view. It was suggested that those ancient memories of wrong, those differences of creed, those differences to some extent of race, those differences of class would to be an eternal, an irreconcileable barrier; that hate, and distrust, and revenge were for all time to be the part of the two populations into which the Unionists proposed to divide Ireland. He believed in a better future for the country. That day, as every day, they had prefaced their deliberations by a fervent supplication of Almighty God, the Father of them all, that He would be graciously pleased to guide their councils, that they might unite in the knitting together of all persons and States within the realm in true Christian love and charity one with another. Let them not deny in action the possibility of the prayer they made. Let them rather, now and henceforward, bend their energies towards its accomplishment, and he believed for that accomplishment the first and most effectual step would be to turn this Bill into law.
§ *MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
Mr. Speaker, before I begin to discuss the Bill before the House, I must express what I believe to be the feeling of every hon. Member present, our welcome to the hon. Member for South Longford, our admiration for the character and ability he has displayed in his speech, and the belief that the hon. 1762 Gentleman will, on this side of the Atlantic, rapidly reach a position not unworthy to be compared with that which he filled in the great Dominion of Canada. I hope that in the future discussions on this question we may have some light thrown on them from his experience of colonial life. At present we can only welcome him as a great debater, who has shown that he is not unworthy to take a place in the foremost ranks of debaters in this House. The time is running short, Mr. Speaker, and I may be discreetly brief on this occasion. I hope I may be allowed the indulgence of the House when I recall the fact that I have never spoken on this question in this Assembly. This is the first time I have spoken here on Irish affairs, at least in connection with the great constitutional change which was proposed in 1886, and which is revived in this Bill. I am glad to be able to approach the question in entire agreement with the hon. Member who has just sat down, that this is a grave and weighty matter; that it cannot be dismissed lightly; that the Irish Question has not only been a perplexity to past generations, but that it is a difficulty which we inherit to-day. But I differ from the hon. Member in thinking, that the question is now, or has recently been, of the gravity which it formerly possessed. I differ altogether from him in supposing that we were not approaching the solution of the difficulty, and that the solution could not be complete without entering on a question of grave organic changes. The Union has done a great work, and I can appeal to the incident referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Head of the Government to show the character of that work. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House referred, not for the first time to the fact that when the Act of Union was in contemplation the Protestant population of Ulster were foremost in their opposition to it. Now he confesses with some regret that that population is not opposed to it. Well, Sir, the Act of Union has done some work, even if it has only brought that population into union with the people of Great Britain. But it has done more. The Act of Union has worked not to bring the whole population of the Sister Island into that feeling of amity which we would like to see realised, but it has 1763 operated, as hon. Members opposite will not deny, to make the spirit of union among those who hold position, whether by wealth, by education, by professional status, or otherwise, friendly and strong towards the people of Great Britain. That has been clone under the Act of Union, followed up by the action of an Assembly still somewhat aristocratic, and at the most animated by the middle-class opinions and the middle-class sympathies of this island. The upper and middle classes of the two islands have been brought into unison by the operation of the Act of Union, and through the Imperial Parliament representing these classes. Up till the General Election which followed the late Reform Bill, the right hon. Gentleman admitted that there was no Parliamentary demand for a re-consideration of the question of the Union, of dimensions which demanded his attention. But when we had a democratic Assembly brought in by household suffrage in town and country we naturally produced in the Irish representation a representation of the nouvelles couches of Irish society, which had hitherto been but feebly represented here. We had brought before us in striking demonstration the representation of the masses still unattracted to sympathetic union with ourselves; and, without waiting to see what the operation of a reformed Parliament would be, the right hon. Gentleman at once rushed to the conclusion that it was necessary to enter into this question of organic change. That was an act of great hurry to say the least. It would have been well to have waited to see whether the operation of the new electorate, speaking through new Representatives, would not have brought the whole population of Ireland into the same agreement with the population of Great Britain, as under the operation of the Parliament elected under the Constitution of 1832 we brought the middle classes of Ireland into harmony with the middle classes of Great Britain. For this reason I have always thought that the action taken by my right hon. Friend in 1886 was a hurried and an impatient action. He should have waited to see what was the view of this Parliament before proceeding to rend it in twain. But other counsels were adopted by the right hon. Gentleman, and we have now to consider what is put before us. I will venture for a few 1764 moments to examine briefly the methods which are proposed in this Bill for grappling with the Irish problem. What is Home Rule? What is it that is demanded? Home Rule means the election of a Parliament which shall have complete control over Irish affairs and a Ministry which will be responsible to that Irish Parliament. You have a Parliamentary representation and you have an Executive representative of Irish opinion, and holding office by concurrence with Irish opinion. If that be the true description of Home Rule, was it so far wrong on the part of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington to say last night that Home Rule meant the repeal of the Union? It is quite true that it does not mean the repeal of the Union by setting up the Parliament which existed in Ireland, with its corrupt boroughs and its Peerage, and its Executive really dependent on the Government of Great Britain, as these existed before the Act of Union was passed; but it does involve the repeal of the Union in this: that it makes the Legislature and the Administration in Ireland independent of any influence of Great Britain and independent or any control or supervision on the part of this Imperial Parliament. Here I am in agreement with the hon. Member for South Longford, who practically confessed that the safeguards included in this Bill are illusory. The safeguard of the veto is perfectly worthless. The hon. Member said that it would never be used in relation to the affairs intrusted to the Irish Parliament, unless that Parliament acted in some abnormal anal extraordinary way which he believed would never arise. That is a confession that the veto would never be wanted. But I will go further than that, and say that, wanted or not, it would never be used. I appeal to the experience of the hon. Member himself as to the relations between the Imperial Government and the Colonies, not only in Canada, but in Australia, to prove that with respect to the affairs committed to the charge of the Colonial Legislature, however much the action of that Legislature might appear to be injudicious or wrong, or even unjust, to the Government at home, the Government at home do not, and practically cannot, recommend the exercise of the veto when such action 1765 is confined to affairs which were committed to the Colonial Government. The question has occurred again and again. When the Australian Government, in New South Wales took action with respect to the admission of Chinese—action which was in some respects in violation of our Treaty relations With the Chinese—we remonstrated and attempted to use some influence to have this policy withdrawn, but in vain; and it was recognised at home that, having committed power to the local Government, it is impossible to interfere with that power, however badly in our opinion, however injudiciously or unjustly, that power is used. The same thing occurred with reference to New Zealand over and over again; and with reference to Queensland the discussions are well known which took place on the question of the Kanaka traffic. It was felt that the proposals to renew that traffic were full of danger, but it was impossible for the Government at home to exercise any influence by way of recommending that a veto should he placed on any legislation on the subject, because it lay within the sphere or the business committed to the Colonial Government. How, indeed, could the veto be carried into effect in any attempt we made to use it? That is a practical consideration in respect to our Colonies; and if We once concede a Parliament to Ireland it, would be practically impossible to assert the veto if we attempted to use it, for the Irish Parliament and the Irish Administration insisting, on the maintenance of the law which we meant to veto, there would be a deadlock brought about between the two Governments, neither being able to carry out its wishes; and the whole thing would thus end in confusion. There are also the questions of reserving matters for consideration at Westminster, the question of the land, for example, being reserved for three years. I venture to say generally, with respect to the reservation of legislative power within matters which are local, that such reservations could not be maintained. I do not see bow the question of reserving legislation with respect to land for three years could be worked even if this Bill became law. You must have some dealings with land going on in Ireland. At this moment a cry has been heard from Ulster on the 1766 land question, and there is another cry from the South and West of Ireland with respect to judicial rents. Are all these movements to be arrested; can they be arrested? It is impossible to have a stagnation of land legislation for the course of three years, and it is impossible for the British Parliament, to undertake within that time any settlement which would meet the case concurrently with this Bill. The exceptions with respect to land and commerce from the legislative power of the Irish Parliament would be mischievous as long as the reservations last. But, Sir, the great question to consider is this:—If you set up this Parliament in Ireland, if you intrust to it the powers which are now proposed to be given to it, and if the power of veto with respect to the legislative powers is one which would be inoperative in respect to their action—then you have to consider what would be the probable character of the dangers incidental to the setting tip of such a Legislature. In this connection you will have to take into account that which the hon. Member for Longford omitted, the recent history of Ireland, and to consider the dangers which will follow the setting up of a Parliament with Ireland in the position in which she now is, as well as the character of the Legislature it is proposed to set up. As to the Legislature, I confess that I do not know what would be the representation of opinion in what is known as the Upper House or Legislative Council. I do not know whether the 48 gentlemen elected would represent property, the classes, or what; but this I see at once: that if the present 103 Members were transferred to Dublin, the 48, even if unanimous, and even if joined to the minority of 103, would be outvoted. They would not be able, even acting with perfect unanimity, to withstand the majority of the joint Assemblies so constituted. It is therefore important to consider what would be the character of the Representative Assembly, the Lower House in Dublin. You are going to take the constituencies as they exist, and you propose to transfer the same constituencies and have a body of persons elected as the present Members are. The security of the veto is worthless; the security of the Upper House is probably equally so; and if the Government are going to produce any securities in Ireland for the good government of 1767 Ireland it must not rest in securities provided from without, but in securities provided from within. The only true security which you can offer for the future government of Ireland is the constitution of an Assembly which shall always contain within itself a sufficient representation of the moderation, judgment, and character of the best portions of the Irish population, so that by their presence there they should be able to raise a remonstrance which could not be neglected, and which might lead to the prevention of injudicious or unjust legislation. I was glad to read in The Times this morning a telegram giving the views of that well-known Irishman, Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, who put his finger on this very blot. He said that the weakness of the proposed Constitution of Ireland lay in the Assembly. You have not got an Assembly with any promise in it of adequate representation of the minority, or with any promise in it of the maintenance of powers that are sufficient to prevent unjust and unwise action on the part of the majority. If we are really to take up the task of constructing a Constitution for Ireland, the present representation of Ireland must not be taken with its present constituencies and transferred to Ireland. You must undertake such a reform as would secure to the Lower House of the Irish Parliament securities and safeguards which could not be found by any provision or safeguard on this side of the Channel. I wish to impress on the House that you must not rest content with entrusting to the Irish Parliament powers which might be checked from London, for such checks would be vain. If you are determined to make the experiment of setting up a Legislature in Ireland you must make that Parliament contain securities within itself by the representation in adequate force there of all that is strong in the Irish character and the Irish people. I do not imagine that we should have absolutely illegal action on the part of the Irish Parliament. That is, perhaps, sufficiently provided against in the Bill. But what we do apprehend, especially having regard to the representation of Ireland here, which is at least a faithful representation of what might be expected by a transfer of the Representatives of the same constituencies from West- 1768 minster to Dublin; and having regard to the recent history of Ireland, the confusion, the hostility, the alleged wrongs perpetrated on one side and the other—these things, which the hon. Member for South Longford (Mr. Blake) put on one side, asking us to trust the loyalty and the good sense of the Irish people; I say, taking, into account these things which the hon. Member put aside, what we must apprehend is wild, ignorant, reckless, unjust legislation and administration. Let me make one or two suggestions. There is a great demand for a revision of rents; what would be easier than for a simple Bill to be introduced for the reduction of rent all over Ireland? Have we any security such a thing would not be possible in the Irish Parliament? During the three years after the passing of the Act, no doubt they are forbidden any legislation with respect to land; but after that, what security would there be against the wholesale revision of rent, the wholesale reduction of rent, I will not say the abolition of rent, but such a diminution as would he unjust, and yet such legislation as would be wholly beyond the exercise of the veto here. We have had a good deal of that kind of legislation suggested in this Parliament in the past, and we may have a good deal of it realized in the future. Then is there any security that taxation, partial in its effect, might not be an evil, into which the new Irish Parliament might not easily run? The Administration of Ireland would be absolutely free from your control, whatever nominal authority you may say you have over the legislation; it would be a one-sided Administration not corrected by a minority in the Assembly capable of standing up for equity and justice in the conduct of that Administration. You are thus always led round to the conclusion that the future of Ireland will depend on the character of the Assembly. If you are going to undertake this labour you must address yourselves to the constitution of the Legislative Assembly, because, unless it be animated by a sense of justice, unless it has within itself a sufficient minority to stand up for those who would be subject to the legislation of the majority, you can have no confidence as to what will be the character of that legislation when you have no power to arrest or correct it. Sir, the scheme foreshadowed in this Bill is, in my opinion, badly constructed with 1769 respect to Ireland itself; the Legislature is not such a Legislature as you could safely launch and invest with the large powers proposed to be given by this Bill, and I venture also to say it is badly constructed with respect to Great Britain. Enough has been said probably upon the effect to this Assembly of the in-and-out method of bringing Irish Members to work here. I will not repeat what has been already recorded. It is admitted by the hon. Member who has just sat down, as I think it must be by everyone, that under this proposal you have two majorities and a Ministry, as the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce) says, which will command the support of the Imperial majority, but will be unable to legislate according to the views of the majority of Great Britain, if that majority should lie in a different direction to the Imperial majority. That appears to me to combine all the disadvantages that could accrue from cutting Ireland entirely adrift, and none of the advantages which we should get from that relief; to combine all the disadvantages which could accrue from the adoption of a Federal system, and none of the advantages which you might get from a collateral relief. It is bad on both sides. It would not be impossible to reconstruct, if necessary, our Government on a system of federation of the three parts of the country; the task would be difficult, but it would bring some compensations. These you do not realise, but what you would realise would be an infinite confusion in the position of the Ministry of the day. My right hon. Friend mentioned a proposal which has not attracted much attention, which appears to me to be a gratuitous addition to the inconveniences of this plan. As I understand it, a Bill might be brought in relating to Great Britain; but it would be possible for an Irish Member to move that it extend to Ireland, and if that Motion were adopted, it is clear all the future proceedings would be Imperial, subject to the consideration of the whole House. I am not sure that the interest taken by an Irish Member in a Bill has not sometimes been an interest taken in order to prevent it being passed; it has almost been avowed by hon. Members that they would prevent a Bill being passed, and the way to do that is to manifest an interest in it, and it would be sufficient to 1770 move to extend any measure to Ireland to get a foothold to enable them to wreck the Bill altogether. What is the reason for this extraordinary position? Suppose the Bill is a good Bill. You have set up by hypothesis a Legislature in Ireland. If the Bill is a good Bill, and it is agreeable to Irish feelings, then it could be adopted there. Why should not the Irish Legislature take it up and pass a similar Bill of their own? Why should they be brought here to interrupt the progress of legislation by moving that it extend to Ireland? We have had a subject before us two or three times in recent years upon which public opinion is pretty nearly unanimous on this side of the water, but about which public opinion is not of the same character on the other side of the water, and that is the admission of persons who are accused to give evidence in their own behalf in criminal cases. The hon. and learned Member opposite manifested a great interest in that Bill for the purpose of preventing it passing at all. If, under the new system, a Bill of this kind were brought in it would be competent for that hon. and learned Member or any other hon. Member to interfere with its being adopted by Great Britain which wanted it, and it would be competent for the hon. and learned Member to do that under the form of wishing to have it applied to Ireland; whereas, if he did wish it, it would only be necessary to take the step of getting it introduced into the Irish Parliament also. I confess I am totally unable to see the reason for this extraordinary aggravation of the difficulty that will arise. I may point out one minor consequence of that aggravation which deserves attention. We have been spending a good many years in trying to simplify our Statutes; we have had Commissions sitting year after year, and a Select Committee has inquired into the subject, and a lawyer of very great ability permanently employed, all for the purpose of reducing the size of our Statute Book, so that at last we would be able to say there are the Statutes or the Kingdom in some half dozen volumes. No doubt the Irish Legislature would like to see their Statute Law as compact; but if this scheme were adopted and worked out, where would the Irish lawyer in the future find 1771 his law? It would be in the Statutes passed by the Irish Legislature; in the Statutes introduced into the Imperial Legislature for British purposes, but made by subsequent motion applicable throughout the whole Kingdom, so you would have an actual separation of the Statutes available in Ireland by the introduction of this extraordinary machinery which I have not found any kind of suggestion for. I pass on very rapidly to say two or three words about the scheme of taxation, which I confess is extremely obscure to me, but I suppose at a later stage we shall have some light thrown upon it. A scheme of legislation which, while it gives Ireland a Legislature, gives to this Assembly the in-and-out action of Irish Members, is most dangerous in respect to taxation. What is the method of taxation? As I understand it, it is this: All taxation is to be levied by the authority of Parliament here, and the Customs taxation in Ireland is to be received—["No, no!"] I was wrong in saying all taxation; the Customs, Excise, Postal, and Telegraphs are to be fixed by the Imperial Parliament. I will confine myself to the Customs and Excise. The Customs are to be levied by Imperial officers, and the Excise is to be levied by an Irish officer. What I do not quite understand with respect to the Excise Revenue is this: The duty is paid on whisky in Ireland which is consumed in England. Will the duty paid on whisky so consumed be received by the Irish officials, and form part of the Irish Revenue? Shall we, when we drink Irish whisky here—or those of us who do—shall we really be paying a tax to Ireland, or will there be an account taken between the two Treasuries?
§ MR. COURTNEY
I submit that is rather important, but am I to understand now that, although levied in Ireland, it will be accounted for to the consuming country?
§ MR. COURTNEY
I can see that is a matter of considerable difficulty, of considerable embarrassment, and of considerable intricacy; that, though the duty is paid in Ireland, it should be accounted 1772 for to the consuming country, and form part of the Revenue of Great Britain, because it would involve new regulations in trade, involving something like a watch over the trade in that particular commodity between Great Britain and Ireland, and the same supervision of trade as would be involved in setting up a Customs tariff. It will not be a very simple proceeding, and it is rather calculated to lead to some dispute between the two Governments. But I am still more embarrassed about the Property Tax. That is apparently to be levied by each country for its own purposes. If an Irishman invests in property in Great Britain the tax would be levied in England, and form part of the Revenue of England, and I do not know how the Irishmen with their Constitution in the future will like that scheme under which the Property Tax, levied upon the investments of Irishmen, will go to swell the Revenue of Great Britain. But I dwell on these questions simply for this purpose: If we are going to draw up a scheme, if you are going to enter on this task at all, I think the view von ought to have before you, the object you should try to effect, should be a complete separation of the Revenues of the two countries, and the avoiding altogether of the question of contributions from one to the other, above all things if that is to be connected with a representation of Ireland in a Parliament here. We had a reference made last night to the Argentine, but I think we may bring the experience much nearer home to prove to us the danger of the plait that has been drawn out. What has been the secret of the good relations which have existed between us and our Colonies—at least, what have been the essential conditions On which those good relations have been maintained? That the Colonies paid no contribution whatever; that we have no money relations with them. There are persons who say we made a very great mistake in that, and that we should have reserved the power to fix the duties on imports between Australia and Canada and this country. I do not share their belief. I think we should look after the affairs of Ireland; but it would lie utterly impossible to look after the tariffs and Customs levied in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. The con- 1773 dition on which the friendly relations have been maintained between this country and its Colonies has been freedom from all money arrangements. Look, Sir, also at the history of the United States. How is it that the Constitution of the United States has worked so smoothly through these 100 years? The one principal reason is that there has never been any pecuniary relations between the Federal Government and States; the States have been thrown on their own resources entirely to raise the Revenue they wanted; the Federal Revenue and the Federal Government have been independent of the State Government in respect of money. Now look at another picture. New Zealand is a country that had Provincial and Central Governments; and what was the cause of the breaking up of that Provincial Government? The breaking up arose from the bad working of the system under which the Central Government of New Zealand out of the revenues it imposed supplied the wants of the Provincial Government. The money relations between the two kinds of Governments caused the Deputies of each Province to come to the central place—in the Assembly of which they were members—not to work for the general good, but for the purpose of getting a larger share of the money for public works in their particular Provinces than those from the other Provinces. The hon. Member who preceded me will not challenge my statement when I say that the weak point, the unsatisfactory part, of the working of the Constitution of the Canadian Federation has been the money relations between the Dominion Government and the Provincial Governments. The real danger to the future of the Canadian Dominion results from the temptation to intrigue, the temptation to jobbery, and, I may say, the temptation to corruption which arises from the allocation of money by the Central Government to the Provincial Governments. You propose to set up a system between Great Britain and Ireland which will involve all these dangers, and we shall aggravate them by the presence of 80 Irish Members in this Assembly. If we are bound to undertake this work—and I, for my part, do not believe we are; we were going on well; and if we had had patience we should have gone on better—if we are bound to 1774 undertake this work we must see, firstly, that the construction of the Irish Parliament itself will give guarantees of good government in Ireland; and, next, that we should make the money relations, if we are to have money relations between the Imperial Government and the Irish Government, not relations which will be modified by votes in the Assembly of the Irish deputation present, but relations that shall be modified only by negotiations between the two Governments, so that the Government possessing the confidence of the British people here and that possessing the confidence of the Irish people there shall concur between themselves as Governments what shall be the money relations between them, independent of any vote of the Irish Members brought here, and using the power they have to embarrass our joint deliberations. The experience, as I say, of the United States, the experience of ourselves in relation to our Colonies, shows the beneficial results that may be scoured by avoiding these money relations between Parliaments; while the experience of New Zealand, the experience of Canada, shows the extreme danger of entering on a course that will make the allocation of money between the Central Authority and the Provincial Authority dependent upon the votes of Provincial representatives coming to the Central Parliament. Sir, I said I would not occupy a longtime, but I am afraid I have trespassed more than I intended. I apologise to the House for the imperfect way I have put before it these two questions on which I have dwelt—which are faults in the construction of the Bill we are now asked to sanction the introduction of. It appears to me they are radical faults incapable of amendment, except by a complete re-construction or the Bill. If we are to undertake that labour we shall have to consider these two questions. For my part I repeat, as I said at the beginning, I refuse to allow the cause has arisen for the consideration of such proposals as these at all. We have gone on for 80 years with steady beneficial progress—["Oh, oh!"]—steadily beneficial; the Legislature of the United Kingdom has captured the upper strata of Irish society—["No, no!"] I can only repeat my opinion, and appeal to those who know Ireland intimately.
§ MR. LITTLE (Whitehaven)
Perhaps the right hon. Member would allow me to say I am an Irish Protestant from Leinster, and I say they have not captured all the upper strata of Irish society.
§ MR. COURTNEY
I do not suppose they have captured every one; I never made such an absurd claim. What I do suggest and repeat is that the operation of the United Parliament, working for the inhabitants of Ireland, has had this result—that whereas the Union at the outset was opposed by high and low, by Protestants as well as, or rather more than by, Catholics, and by people engaged in commerce more than by the peasantry, the operation and action of the United Parliament has steadily been to capture more and more the upper strata of Irish society; and if we had gone on longer we had considerable hope, under the operation of the democratised Assembly we have now, with our wider and keener sympathies with the lower classes of Ireland, we had strong hopes of bringing about a complete reconciliation. At all events, there was a case for waiting. We have in this United Parliament guarantees of justice to Ireland—imperfect, if you like, but guarantees of justice far superior, at all events in my judgment, to the guarantees of justice we can expect from an Irish Parliament constituted as proposed by this Bill. I do not wish to say anything that may be considered offensive to any Member of this House; but when I consider what would be the future of the people of Ireland as a whole when entrusted to an Assembly of those who represent Ireland here—when I contrast the future thus anticipated with the future springing from the action of this United Parliament still maintaining its power, I can have no hesitation in expressing my opinion—my sincere opinion—we have better guarantees of justice under the existing system than under the proposed alternative. The Parliament of the United Kingdom has, after all, held the balance between the two—["Oh, oh!"]—has of recent years held the balance steadily even. How has it cut down the power of the landlords? The United Parliament might be trusted to have gone on. I, for my part, cannot see in the proposed Parliament any guarantee of equal justice; but I see in it great danger. Even if you undertake the task 1776 of re-constructing the Constitution, if we are to give Ireland autonomy we must proceed on different lines from those adopted by the Government in their Bill; we must construct a different Assembly for Ireland, and produce a scheme of an entirely different character to govern the relations between Great Britain and the Sister Island.
§ MR. BODKIN (Roscommon, N.)
claimed the indulgence which the House proverbially extended to new Members when addressing it. He did not propose to follow in any minuteness of detail the speech of the right hon. Member who had just sat down. The right hon. Gentleman, he imagined, was so accustomed to one stage of a Bill that he could see it in no other light. In fact, the speech was a Chairman of Committee's speech. He (Mr. Bodkin) was a little surprised when the right hon. Member for West Birmingham rose to take part in the Debate. He rather expected that he would have risen to call attention to a question of Order, and have pointed out that there was really no Question before the House at all, because, in the language of the right hon. Gentleman himself, Home Rule was "as dead as Queen Anne." Surely if the right hon. Member was right, it was hardly useful or dignified for the House to spend four days in the discussion of a corpse. He thought, however, that the right hon. Gentleman and the Tory Party, with whom he acted, had found, in the words of the immortal Mr. Mantilini, that Home Rule was a "demn'd uncomfortable corpse." It was hardly generous of the right hon. Gentleman now to come down to the House in his thousands, so to speak, and triumph over the dead body of a principle which he had once advocated. But did the right hon. Gentleman really persist in his belief that Home Rule was as dead as Queen Anne? He had said it at Walsall, but Walsall hardly agreed with him in his conclusions, and he (Mr. Bodkin) thought that if Queen Anne was as much alive as Home Rule, Ulster Members would find themselves in a very awkward predicament, owing allegiance to two Sovereigns. The assurance that Home Rule was not dead was to be found in the presence of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) on the Treasury Bench. The life not only of the right hon. Gentleman, 1777 but that of the Liberal Party, was bound up with Home Rule. There had been on this question, after full discussion and much examination, a social revolution in England. It was not to a scratch vote; it was not to the conversion of Scotland or Wales that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord or the Treasury wits indebted for his return to power, bat to the conversion of the great electorate of England. There had been little or no change in Ireland—all the change there had been had been nominally against Home Rule; there had been little or no change in Scotland and little or no change in Wales, but the "flowing tide" had flowed on in England. The Liberal Party was pledged to Home Rule, and, as the Prime Minister had told them, "never yet had the banner of that great Party been stained by permanent defeat." There could be no doubt of the final success of this great principle of justice to Ireland. He would not insult the English people by declaring that they were a nation of weather-cocks, and he would not insult the Liberal Party by declaring that it was a Party of renegades. There might have been a few renegades in it in the old days, but they, happily, had departed from its midst. There was a time when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham claimed that the section with whom he acted were the real Liberal Party of England, but the right hon. Gentleman would hardly make that assumption now. But that claim had been abandoned as too absurd. As well might a mortified and amputated big toe claim to be the real man, and threaten to kick its former proprietor off the premises. He did not think it was the principle of Home Rule that really affected the mind of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. He could in a short elegy describe the origin and meaning of the Party which the right hon. Gentleman captained. The House would forgive him for the length of the quotation—for, like the Koh-i-Noor, to cut it too much would spoil it. What he desired to draw attention to was Goldsmith's Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog. The elegy describes the origin and nature of the Party commanded by the right hon. Gentleman. It goes somewhat in this way— 1778And in that town a dog was found, As many dogs there be,Both mongrel, puppy, whelp, and hound, And curs of low degree.This dog and man at first were friends; But when a pique began,The dog, to gain his private ends, Went mad and bit the man.Around from all the neighb'ring streets The wond'ring neighbours ran,And swore the dog had lost his wits, To bite so good a man.The wound it seem'd both sore and sad To every Christian eye;And while they swore the dog was mad, They swore the man would die.But soon a wonder came to light, That show'd the rogues they lied,The man recover'd of the bite, The dog it was that died.He would not trouble the House by following the varying arguments they had heard from the right. hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and his friends—it was impossible to follow the chamelion changes of the right hon. Gentleman, who blessed to-day what he cursed yesterday, and would curse tomorrow what he blessed to-day. The right hon. Gentleman who last spoke seemed to think that seven centuries of misgovernment and misery were not enough for Ireland, and that they should try the medicine a little longer. He seemed to think that if the last Parliament had had time enough it would have "conciliated" the Irish Members. He (Mr. Bodkin) would give a quotation or two to show how, for six long, terrible years, the ex-Leader of the House had attempted to conciliate the national feelings of Ireland. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien) had said—The four seized me, and a violent struggle took place between us, the Governor standing by. They succeeded, after a struggle, in flinging me on my back.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I must point out to the hon. Member that he is not in any way dealing with the Question before the House.
§ MR. BODKIN
said, he bowed to Mr. Speaker's ruling, and hoped the right hon. Gentleman would overlook his transgression, having regard to the fact that he was a new Member. He would merely point out that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Manchester had "conciliated" Irish feeling by flinging Irish Members of Parliament into prison wholesale, by batoning popu- 1779 lar assemblies, by attempting to stifle the Press, and by adopting as cruel and mean a system of tyranny generally as ever a strong country inflicted on a weak one. Irishmen when they asked for justice received two alternative taunts. If they were in a state of agitation they were told they would get nothing until they were quiet; and if they were quiet they were told they would get nothing until they agitated. Now, forsooth, that Ireland was peaceful and at rest, they were told that that was sufficient proof that Home Rule was not needed. Let him tell hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who used arguments of this kind that Ireland was contented because she had hope. It was not fear, but hope, which had subdued the Irish race. Coercion had been withdrawn in Ireland not because it had succeeded, but because it had failed. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Manchester had been beaten in the policy he had adopted in the matter of the prison treatment of political prisoners. He had then tried to gag the Press, but there again he had been ignominiously vanquished, although at one time he had the Mayors of four Irish towns in gaol, including the Lord Mayor of the Irish capital. Coercion in Ireland was a thing of the past. As to the objections to the Bill, one of them was founded on the terrorism exercised over the House by the hon. Member sitting below him (Mr. Johnston) and his Ulster friends—their threats of civil war and the lining of the ditches. He acquitted the hon. Member of bloodthirsty intentions, and had no doubt they would get on very well together when Home Rule was established. He wished all Ulster Members were as honest and loyal to their opinions as the hon. Gentleman. When they talked of "lining the ditches" he believed that, as a rule, they meant lining their breeches pockets. They all talked of confiscation until there was money to be had, and then there was a rush for it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was hardly within his right when he taunted the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Bryce) with having laughed at the bluster of the Orangemen. On the 13th January, 1884, speaking at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the right hon. Gentleman said of these people— 1780With boasted professions of their devotion to the Crown they insult and defy the Representatives of the Crown in Ireland, and they break the laws themselves while they pretend to defend them. I believe at this moment that it there is any danger to the peace of Ireland it arises from the proceedings of a certain section of the population of Ulster, led by men of education, who know enough to know better, and Who seem to have been stimulated into almost unreasoning ferocity by the mild eloquence of the Leader of the Opposition"—meaning the late Sir Stafford Northcote. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham was now trying his hand at stimulating the Orangemen into unreasoning ferocity. When the time came Ulster would be loyal to the Irish Government, loyal in a better and a truer sense than it had ever been before. Ulster had repudiated—and he thanked God for the repudiation which came from every Ulster Member—separation from the rest of Ireland. To paraphrase a statement of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington, Ulster would sit tight, and Ulster would be right, when the time came. They were told that the whole proceedings of that House would be futile, because the House of Lords would block the Bill when it came before them. The Leader of the Opposition had denounced the establishment in Ireland of any Chamber approaching to the House of Lords. The right hon. Gentleman had been joined in his denunciation by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. They all said that they were going to create a bad House of Lords, mud that it was reactionary to suggest an Upper Chamber in view of the irresistible tide of democracy which was now determined against it. Well, they might have a bad House of Lords when they got their Irish Parliament, but they would have a much better House of Lords than that which tumbled like a lot of schoolboys—
§ *MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I must point out to the hon. Member that it is out of Order to speak disrespectfully of the other House of Parliament.
§ MR. BODKIN
humbly apologised. His mistake was due to his being so entirely unused to the Chamber. He was justified, however, in saying that the Lords had no right to block the will of the people. It was said that by this Home Rule Bill they were obstructing the Labour cause, but he thought that 1781 every friend of the Labour Party would say that the reproach was not a fair one. The Irish were a nation of labouring men. They were a poor nation. All their sympathies were with the Labour Party; it was only now necessary to point out to the working classes that in the present Parliament they had a tool to hand for the redress of their grievances if they chose to use it. The House of Lords was now the last plant of the Tories; and in speaking of that Chamber in order to keep himself within the limits of Parliamentary language, he would quote the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. The right hon. Gentleman in "Plain Words to the Peers" had said—I am rather thankful than otherwise to gentlemen who will take the trouble of wearing robes and coronets and keeping up a certain state of splendour which is pleasing to look on. They are ancient monuments, and I, for one, would be very sorry to deface them. But, gentlemen, I do not admit that we can build upon these interesting rains the foundations of our Government. I cannot allow that these venerable antiquities"—
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I am sorry again to interrupt the hon. Member. He is transgressing the Rule that I laid down, and I now warn him that I shall not tolerate it any longer.
§ MR. BODKIN
said that he was quoting the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
He is quoting words not used in this House, and is transgressing the Rule laid down front the Chair.
§ MR. BODKIN
respectfully apologised. He thought himself secure in quoting the words of the right hon. Gentleman. He would only express the hope that the right hon. Member for West Birmingham would soon become one of the "venerable antiquities" which he had himself described as occupying the Upper House. He desired, before he concluded, to allude to a statement made by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham as to the question of the nationality of the people of Ireland—that "arbitrarily selected area," selected by the Almighty without any previous consultation with the right hon. Member or his private secretary. In 1883 the right hon. Gentleman had said— 1782Our task will never be completed until you have succeeded by just and equal laws and wise administration in enlisting on the skin of the English Government and the English people the interest and influence of the bulk of the Irish nation.Did the right hon. Gentleman think, when he said that, the Irish people were not a nation? In former years there was a feeling of hate towards England among the people of Ireland, and they fought for freedom and vengeance. Now that was all changed, and they fought for freedom and friendship. Let the old quarrel then be settled by the measure introduced by the Prime Minister. Let the Irish wolf dog and the British bull dog hunt in couples, and there would be no game in the world swift enough or strong enough to withstand them.
§ "MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
The most important measure of the century is at present before the House. It is introduced by a statesman of almost unprecedented experience, of great learning, and of undoubtedly great personal popularity, but, as Unionists contend, of very partial and one-sided knowledge of Ireland. It is introduced not merely by its author, but by its creator; for when the Prime Minister allowed adverse fortune in the ballot boxes to convert him to Home Rule, he found nobody among the English, Scotch, or Welsh in favour of such a doctrine, and therefore he had to create—to make out of nothing—both the sentiment and the policy, and in this he has undoubtedly to an extent succeeded, so that we are told in almost identical phraseology by a score of journals that we are at present face to face with "The hour and the man," a phrase formerly and much more fitly applied to John Knox, and the Reformation of Scotland. Now, since a measure great in evil, or great for good, according to the mind of its critics, but undoubtedly great, is before this House, it seems to me that we would all best serve our separate purposes if we approach it now, and at all future stages, with as little personal bitterness, but with as much wisely-guided energy as possible, both in language and in action. For myself, I could not discuss this subject as a bigot, because I am of opinion that every Member of this House belongs to that section of the Christian 1783 Church into which he happened to be born; and if he had happened to be horn into another section, he would very likely find himself there at present; but in any case we must assume that every hon. Member is satisfied with his ecclesiastical position, and, if so, no one ought to regard him with any shadow of disfavour. But there are two classes of Irishmen that are supposed to he incapable of impartiality in matters political: these are landlords and Orangemen, and I do not belong to either class. I am not a landlord, because those of my ancestors who were landlords, being thorough Irishmen, set themselves enthusiastically to solve the problem of "How to live happily on four times your income," and solved it by proving that it could not be done; therefore, I have been relieved of the duties of property in Ireland. As for the rights of property in that country, they are dying by inches; and if this Bill passes, they will receive their jovial wake and solemn burial at the hands of an Irish Parliament filled with Members whose ideas of property must be perfectly impartial, because of the entire absence of any experience of a propriatorial kind on the part of these gentlemen, always excepting certain funds of American origin but of Parisian location at present. Neither ant I an Orangeman, for reasons which reflect no discredit either on me or on the Orange Institution. Consequently, I would ask Irish Home Rulers to assume, even if they regard the assumption as a violent one, that I am quite unprejudiced in this matter, and oppose this Bill for reasons which have nothing personal in them, beyond what ought to be personal to every subject of the great British Empire, and I shall compel myself to imagine that they are equally honest and sincere in the support they give to this Bill, which they one and all admit they do not regard with any unqualified admiration. But I would not for one moment insult at once their intelligence and their honesty by assuming that they are satisfied with this Bill, or that they accept it, if they do accept it, as anything more than a meagre and very slippery stepping-stone in the onward march of a nation, to which onward march, according to Mr. Parnell, no 1784 man could or ought to set bounds. It would be insulting the intelligence of Irish Nationalist Members if anyone imagined for a moment that they would be satisfied with this wretched Bill as the end and embodiment of all those splendid national aspirations, of which they had so loudly talked, and it would be insulting their platform honesty if anyone assumed that this Bill pleased them, a Bill which falls so miserably far short of their outlined system of Government, for they, one and all, in language more or less distinct, have said that they must have a Parliament "free as air." The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland (Sir George Trevelyan) never spoke more correctly, and seldom so correctly, as when he said there was no half-way house between Home Rule and total separation. Now, it does not seem that the First Reading of a Bill is the time to go into details. Nor can any Ulster Unionist Member honestly go into details, because no matter what the details were we should oppose this Bill. We opposed the principle, and if we are obliged to fight the details we shall do so merely for the purpose of defeating the entire principle of the Bill. For the Unionists of Ulster this Bill is all bad, and could not be improved in Committee, because grapes cannot grow from thorns. But let me now proceed to give the reasons why we Unionists offer an uncompromising opposition to the principle of this Bill. In the first place, it proceeds to do what is new in the history of the world. It is a proceeding without precedent, without necessity, and without excuse. England's greatest philosopher, who was at once a great lawyer and a great statesman, Lord Bacon, said in his Essay on Innovations—It is good also not to try experiments in states, except the necessity be urgent or the utility evident.And certainly neither of these conditions is present in the case before us. The necessity is not urgent, because Mast and present Chief Secretaries vie with each other in speaking of the peaceful condition of Ireland during the past half-dozen years; and when the Unionists speak of the prosperity of the loyalist portions of Ulster, they are told at once that much of Leinster and Munster excels Ulster in prosperity. Clearly, 1785 therefore, the necessity for Home Rule, even in spite of the depression of a season, is not urgent, and certainly the utility is not evident. No single Member of the Government, no single Gladstonian, no single Home Ruler, as far as we have heard or read, has ever tried, either on the platform or in this House, to point out clearly how Home Rule would financially benefit Ireland. The sole argument is that it would content Ireland. Well, it would give hitter discontent to one-third of the Irish people; and with regard to the remaining two-thirds, the contentment which the Parnellites would experience if the hon. and learned Member for Louth, the late platform biographer of the Presbyterian and Protestant clergy of Ulster, were in power in Ireland, is a contentment difficult to imagine and dangerous to describe. Whereas, if the hon. and learned Member for the City of Waterford were in power, and selected the Member for Louth for his Cabinet, I fear occasional shadows would flit across the horizon of the Isle of the Blessed, and another St. Patrick would be needed once again to expel certain animals whose path is more slimy than direct. Therefore, on the dictum of Lord Bacon, Home Rule is a thing that should at present be outside the ken alike of the lawyer, the statesman, and the philosopher, as being a mere experiment, neither necessary nor useful. The one reason, then, in favour of this Bill, that seems to be really and seriously relied upon by its promoters, is, that it will give contentment to Ireland; but that it will absolutely fail to do so is, in my mind, an undoubted fact. But; Mr. Speaker, I should like to enumerate the reasons, which weigh with me, in opposing this Bill, and in opposing any and every form or Home Rule for Ireland. Now, although so many able speeches have been already delivered in this Debate, yet, oddly enough, the objections which, with the greatest weight, force themselves on my consideration, have either escaped mention entirely, or have beet referred to in a very cursory manner. A very large portion of almost every speech made from this side of the House during this Debate has been taken up with extracts from speeches made by Gladstonians in the past, which extracts are 1786 in the strongest and most emphatic opposition to the sentiments expressed by by these gentlemen at present. Now, although the quotation of these unfortunate utterances of former days render Gladstonians, visibly uncomfortable and observably unhappy, yet they really do not touch the merits of the question; they merely prove that Gladstonianism is a plant of very recent growth, and that the modern graft on the stem of Liberalism is as unlike that stem as anything can possibly be. These extracts prove to a demonstration that every opinion held by a Gladstonian is exactly the reverse of what he believed eight years ago; but they do not prove whether he was right then, or whether he was wrong then, and is right now. Therefore, if the Gladstonians had only a little manliness, they could get rid entirely of the difficulty of their own past by saying, "We said these things in the past; but we were wrong then, and we are right now." That would be the proper line for men to take. But, no; that line they will not take, for such a course would admit a want of infallibility in their past history, mid their creed lies in one sentence, "Gladstone is infallible always, and we are his prophets." But, Mr. Speaker, I want to mention some reasons that exist, and that have always existed, against Home Rule, quite irrespective of men or of Parties as they stand to-day; and these are seven in number. But the time of this House does not permit, nor does the intelligence of hon. Gentlemen render it necessary, that I should do more than briefly refer to them. And, first, is the action of other nations. In the entire history of the world, no nation has ever done, ever discussed, or ever even dreamed of doing, to itself that which is proposed by this Bill. Most of the European States have had an opportunity at some time in their history of pronouncing a personal judgment on such a line of conduct, and how have they pronounced it? Of the many instances let us take three. Only a score of years ago, Italy was divided into several Kingdoms and Republics, but did it remain so? Did the Venetian, the Lombardian, the Neapolitan, or the Tuscan flourish under Home Rule? Did they cling to it? No; they became one united Italy, and 1787 with what result? With the best result that has followed any great constitutional change in this century. Hon. Gentlemen have no doubt frequently conversed with Italians in the last few years. For myself, an admiration for the strange, wondrous, and, sometimes, weird history of Italy has led me to seek the society of Italians, whenever opportunity offered, and from one and all the same answer has come. From Tuscan or Venetian; from Neapolitan or Lombardian, it is all the same. They all rejoice in a unification which is already bearing such splendid fruit, that they are beginning in moments of enthusiasm to raise the curtain of the future, and see the light of other days coming back again, and Italy once more mistress of the world. It may be a dream, but it is a happy and a possible one, and vastly different from the wretched nightmare of Home Rule. The next instance we may take is France, and here we have the wonderful case of La Vendée. The inhabitants of that portion or France were intensely Catholic and intensely Royalist, and the New Republic was Atheistic and Democratic. At Paris, the centre of the latter Party, a temple was raised to the Goddess of Reason, and an abandoned woman was glorified as the representative of that goddess. The Vendeans fought like men on the battlefield, and not like cowardly fiends with dynamite. They had every possible reason to separate themselves from the rest of France. In political sentiment, in religion, in everything, they were different, but, after nearly 1,000,000 victims had fallen in the struggle, La Vendée was completely crnshed into subjection. Now, is there any politician or any constitutional lawyer to-day who will not admit that France was perfectly right in preventing the Vendean Provinces from separation, and that such separation would have been disastrous to France? The next case I will refer to is the United States of America, and this instance I need only mention. The Southern were different from the Northern States in sentiment, greatly different in race, and different both in habits and in education, and yet one of the greatest wars of modern times was waged in order to preserve the Republic one and united. The devastation there was nothing ordinary. Bitter and irre- 1788 trievable ruin was hurled upon tens of thousands, who wanted nothing except the mere sentimental gratification of a simple desire for Home Rule. If we want a picture of the devastation, we need only look at the Shenadoah Valley, one of the richest and most fertile valleys in the world when the war began, yet in after years the historian says its ruin was so complete that if a crow wanted to live in the Shenadoah Valley he must bring his provisions along with him. In La Vendée, and in the United States of America, we have two instances in the same century of the desperate lengths to which France and America went in order to prevent Home Rule, and yet we are told to grant Home Rule, and told that we are self-seekers, bigots, and fools if we do not grant it at once and with enthusiasm. The second argument against the is scheme of Home Rule is the advice of other nations. We are told that foreign nations display a deep interest in this matter, and earnestly advise us to break up our Empire by granting Home Rule. The Prime Minister has many times gloried in the statement that France and America, and, indeed, almost all the nations of the world, are advising us to grant Home Rule, and are in favour of his policy. Sir, I know two or three barristers, who, when they are opposed to me in a case, are in the habit, before the trial comes on, of giving me advice as to how I should conduct my case. They are men of very great experience, and their advice would naturally be most valuable, but at the moment they are my opponents and my rivals. Therefore, I listen to their advice most attentively; and whatever they advise I do exactly the opposite, and by so doing I am nearly always right. What is the moral? It is no new one; it is thousands of years old. It is expressed in Virgil's sentence, "I fear Greeks even when bearing gifts." The advice of other nations indeed! The advice of other nations, that are clearly our rivals, and our competitors! The advice of nations like France and America, whose subjects cannot hide their jealousy of us even during one single conversation! Let us consider that the worse the position of England the better relatively is the position of France and America. Therefore, let us say to them, 1789 "We don't want your advice. We want your action. France, What did you do in the case of La Vendée? America, What did you do in the case of the Southern States?" We ask, Mr. Speaker, that before this Home Rule debate ends someone, in this House will point to a single nation that has ever tolerated for a moment the course of conduct which we are asked to adopt without present necessity and without possible future advantage. The third objection to this policy is to be found in our admiration and respect for the great Liberal or Gladstonian Party. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite laugh, but in opposing this Bill we are complimenting their past and better judgment. For more than 50 years the Prime Minister was the bitterest opponent of Home Rule. For more than 20 years the Chancellor of the Exchequer refused "to stew in Parnellite juice," or to sup with Home Rulers, or with their master, even with the longest spoon. The present Secretary for Scotland (Sir George Trevelyan) was for many years, with more or less variation, repeating the words which he used in this House—That any responsible body of Ministers, whatever else they did, should put the keeping of the police, the enforcement of civil obligations, and the safety and property of our fellow citizens throughout Ireland, in the hands of an elective Irish Parliament I could not believe.Sir, are we to imagine that these great men were wrong through a long series of years? If a man makes a statement for 53 years, and then makes an exactly contradictory statement for seven years, are we not treating him with greater respect if we believe him for the longer period? There are 53 annual reasons why the Prime Minister is wrong, and only seven such reasons in favour of his being right. The other night when a speaker from this side of the House asked what had changed the views of the Prime Minister on this question, a Gladstonian, with more readiness than intelligence, called out "The Ballot." Sir, the Ballot can change the place of the Parties in this House. It can put out a Ministry and put one in; but it can never change the ridiculous into the wise, the unjust into the just, or the false into the true. The Prime 1790 Minister once said in a great speech that such a scheme as this, which he rightly designated a disintegration of the great capital Institutions of the country, would serve but one purpose, and would have but one result, that "of making ourselves ridiculous in the sight of all mankind." How can the Ballot affect that? How can the lowering of the franchise affect that? If a thing is ridiculous, then the votes of 10,000 Irish Members in its favour might make the Members ridiculous, but could never make the ridiculous act a wise one. When those words were uttered the population of Ireland was greater than now, and the sentiment of the people was just the same as it is at present. Great men have their moments—their years of weakness, but after their period of passion has passed, they bless those who pluck them back from the edge of a precipice; therefore, our respect, our affection for the Gladstonians makes us say, "We will save the Empire from you; or, better still, We will save you from yourselves." My fourth reason against the policy of disintegration is to be found in the present position of the Three Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland. If things were in a bad state we might try a change, on the ground that any change might be for the better, but the Three Kingdoms never were in a more hopeful condition than at this moment. England is by far the richest country in the world. The prevent available capital of England is more than twice the available capital of the whole of the rest of the world. England's wealth has increased in the present century to a degree that has no parallel in the whole of history. In the past 10 years it has increased at the rate of £650,000 a day. Therefore, the financial condition of England does not call for this experiment. Turn to Scotland, and here we find that the proportion of wealth is greater still; for while England's property and wealth give £290 for each individual in England, Scotland's wealth is £307 per head for the population of Scotland. Therefore, it has been wittily said that every Scotchman who left Scotland and came to England lost £17 by the transaction. But let us turn to Ireland, and even in spite of a momentary depression, we find that loyalist Ireland is more prosperous 1791 than either England or Scotland; for if through low prices matters are had with farmers in Ireland, at present they are worse with farmers in England. Again, no city in Europe has made such progress in wealth and population in the past half century as Belfast has done. Her two great trades, the linen trade and shipbuilding, have no equals to-day. Indeed, in all matters at present Ireland is better off than Great Britain. [Cries of "No, no!"] Hon. Gentlemen representing Home Rule Irish constituencies dissent. Very well. I am speaking of the loyalist, law-abiding, hard-working Ireland which I represent, and they are speaking of the lawless and backgoing Ireland, which they are helping to keep poor; for there are two Irelands, and I speak for my Ireland while they speak for theirs. Not so long ago Cork was the second city in Ireland, with a population of 88,000; Belfast was the third city, with a popu-of 79,000, now Cork has a population of 78,000, and Belfast has a population of 277,000, and all this is well within the memory of many Members of this House; and yet in her harbour and in her natural advantages Cork is much better situated than Belfast. From these facts clearly England and Scotland do not need a change. Loyalist Ireland does not need a change, and the rest of Ireland has only to imitate the North in order to have like prosperity. But the next argument against Home Rule is to be found in the opinion of great men who are outside the political arena. A politician's opinion is often to be distrusted, because it is prejudiced. Only last night, in the Members' Lobby, after a gentleman had made a long speech, one man came up to me and said, "What a splendid speech; what great ability!" And the next man I met said, "What an absurd failure! Poor fellow, I thought he had some brains!" The first opinion came from a political friend, and the other from a political foe. Now, on this question of Home Rule, the opinions of great men outside the sphere of polities are likely to be of a hundredfold higher value than the opinion of anyone inside this House. Therefore, let us look at the great English writers, scientists, and philosophers. What has been the view of Tennyson, Tyndale, Froude, Swinburne, 1792 Huxley, Matthew Arnold, Goodwin Smith, Sir Frederick Leighton, Frith, and a hundred others? [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen laugh; but you did not laugh two months ago when those of us who were present in Westminster Abbey committed the remains of Lord Tennyson to the dust, the remains of one who was pronounced to be the greatest Englishman of the century. Yes, you feel sore as you look at the leaders of the art, the literature, and the science of this country, and see that they are against you. What personal ends had these great men to serve? They were, and those of them who are alive are, against Home. Rule, and they will live when many of you are forgotten, and when your policy is as much a ridiculous thing of the past as Smith O'Brien's cabbage garden rebellion. The sixth, and possibly the most pressing, reason against this Bill is the mental state of those who will form the majority of the Irish Parliament; and I assure hon. Gentlemen I use the phrase in no sense to indicate that they have weak minds—I use it to signify their state of opinion. Now, as to that mental state, the first point is that they consider that we ought to be ruled by Roman Catholic priests. [Cries of "No, no!"] You may dissent, but I call prove it. You say we Irish Unionists ought to be ruled by the majority, do you not? ["Hear, hear."] Very well; the Catholics are the majority. Therefore, we ought to be ruled by the Catholics. But who rules the Catholics? Have they any freedom? Can they exercise their freedom? No; we have it on record, by no less an authority than the Member for North Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) in his speech at the Meath Election Petitions, "The right of private judgment is the right of private stupidity," therefore, every Irish. Home Rule Member is either returned by the priests or by the stupidity of the electors, and we, the Protestants, are thus to be ruled by the priests. Another indication of the mental state of the Irish Party is their extreme violence towards all who differ from them in any way or to any degree. No language is too vile for them, and no weapon too strong, and this applies to both sections alike. Can the Unionists of Ireland be happy in the prospect of such rulers? Another mental feature of the Irish Nationalist 1793 Party which would make us fear for any country which they might govern, is to be found in their idea that talk, means business, or that eloquence means commercial efficiency. The curse of Nationalist Ireland has always been an extreme veneration for talk, and a disrespect for work. Take one illustration: In the beginning of last July the walls of Belfast were placarded, "Vote for Sexton, your only Member." [Cries of "Hear, hear!" from Irish Nationalists.] I am rejoiced to hear that expression. It gives your assent to that placard and to its sentiment. Therefore, that placard expresses the ideas, not merely of Belfast Home Rulers, but of you all. However, do you forget that two of the Belfast Members form the firm of Harland and Wolff? Now, if every one of the 103 Irish Members had done as much for Ireland as Harland and Wolff have done, Ireland would be relatively to its size by far the richest country in Europe; yet in the opinion of Home Rulers, Harland and Wolff are nobody, and the late Member for West Belfast is the only Member, a gentleman who, despite his eloquence and power, has not added a shilling to the wealth or Belfast, or, as far as I know, to the wealth of Ireland. To give the Government of a country to men who regard power of speech as the only factor in national greatness or success, is one of the wildest proposals ever made in this House. Thus the mental state of the Home Ruler seems to be intolerant, violent, and unbusinesslike. But, Sir, the Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton), in his very able and judicious speech—a speech which it would be audacious in me to praise—gave us, or tried to give us, a grain of comfort. He said, "The Irish Legislature will not desire to inflict injustice upon anyone in Ireland." But we want to know, is that declaration the outcome of the hon. Gentleman's private stupidity, or is he allowed to make it by permission of his priest? When he gives us an assurance, we cannot tell whether it is a stupid one or an ecclesiastical one. He has no right to give any assurance; he has no right to tell us anything till he has first got his inspiration. Therefore, the Members are to be returned by the priests, and all the statements that the Members make are to 1794 be affirmed, contradicted, or withdrawn according to the orders of the ecclesiastic masters of the political slaves. But my last argument against the principle of this Bill is to be found in the result of separate Parliaments in the two cases of Scotland and America. In Scotland the affairs between the English and Scottish Parliaments came to such a state of tension that Hallam, in his Constitutional History, says—The well-known business of the Darien Company must have undeceived every rational man who dreamed of any alternative but incorporation or separation. The Scotch Parliament took care to bring on the crisis by the Act of Security of 1704.'That Act, as hon. Gentlemen well know, declared that after the death of Anne, the same person was not to be Sovereign in England and in Scotland, and we remember that the English retorted by the Alien Bill, which made the Scotch aliens to England. What an encouraging page of history for those who want to establish once more two Parliaments in these Kingdoms! And now, with the permission of the House, on whose patience I have too greatly trespassed—[Cries of"No, no!"]—I would like to refer to a peculiar circumstance with regard to the effect of subordinate Parliaments in the United States in t he case of the American War. By this Home Rule Bill all matters of peace and war are to he reserved to the Imperial Parliament, and all soldiers and officers are to be the servants of the Imperial Parliament. Now, this was exactly the case in America at the time of the Civil War. Every general, and officer, and soldier, in the Army was the servant of the Senate of the whole Republic; but when the war began, each man seemed to consider that he was a member of a State first, mid a member of the Republic afterwards; for we find that those generals who had been born in Southern States went, with the South, such as Johnston, and Jebb, and Lee; and that those generals who had been born in Northern States went with the North; for example, Sherman, and Grant, and Sheridan. Now, will hon. Gentlemen consider whether or not the smile result might not be expected in the case of a difference between the Irish Parliament, and the Imperial 1795 Parliament? Might not all Irishmen in the British Army feel that they were Irishmen first and Britons afterwards? [Cheers.] The Irish Nationalists cheer that statement. Well, I am glad, because it may impress my view on English and Scotch Members. It may show the danger—the immense danger—of raising up in this United Kingdom a Legislature, no matter how hunted its powers, to which Irish Members, by their cheers, have declared that every Irishman, soldier or civilian, owes fealty and loyalty, in preference to that loyalty which the soldier, at any rate, has sworn to give to the Imperial Parliament. Divided allegiance is the greatest danger on earth; and yet, if this Irish Parliament has any reason for existence, it is because Irishmen are considered likely to be more contented under it; that is, to be willing to give readier allegiance to it, than to the present or any future Imperial Parliament. Disaffection is avowedly at the root of the whole matter, and you are now going to give that disaffection a local habitation and a name. But, Mr. Speaker, before I sit down, let me refer to a statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in his speech two nights ago. Let me read his exact words—I feel sometimes inclined to ask hon. Members not to judge the people of Ulster by the blustering and noisy vehemence of those who profess to speak in their behalf.Now let me ask, why did not the right hon. Gentleman tell the House that he was an Ulster man himself? Why does he conceal that fact lest it should injure him in Scotland? Why is this Ulster man—this Irishman—ashamed of his country? But has he any right to speak for Ulster or for any section of it? He is a member of a very celebrated Ulster family, but I believe all the members of his family, all his relatives, are as dead against Home Rule now, as he himself used to be. One distinguished member of the family, A. Hamilton Bryce, LL.D., wrote one of the ablest works that has ever appeared against Home Rule, and he sent me a copy of it, with a letter to say that his chief object in writing it was to do away with the evil effect and blot out the stigma which had been cast upon the 1796 name of Bryce by his relative; therefore, time right hon. Gentleman who, while afraid to acknowledge Ulster, yet claims the right to speak for her, has not the right to speak for his own family or for any member of it. But he calls us "blustering," and I find that to bluster is "to assume in manner or language a power or responsibility for which there is no foundation." But if any Members in this House have the right to speak for their constituencies it is the 23 Irish Unionist, Members. Many of us were returned unopposed; and, taking all the facts, no 23 men in this House have so strong a vote behind them as we have; therefore, no matter how strongly we speak, we have authority so to do. In fact, no strength we possess can voice strongly enough the mandate which we received last June in the Belfast Convention. But we have been called "noisy." Now, sounds me never noisy unless they are out of harmony. Sounds, however loud, are musical when they are harmonious; and even if we Irish Unionist Members were as loud in tone, as we are the direct opposite, we could never be noisy among ourselves, for there are not 23 Members in this House, who act more in harmony among themselves in every respect. Therefore, it is unfortunate that the Government attack on us should have been made by an Ulster man, who hides his nationality, and by a statesman who does not know the proper meaning of common English words—a gentleman who ought to express his deep regret for the language he has used towards those of his own blood and race, whom he has deserted. But in spite of foolish taunts, in spite of misused language, I do not believe that this Empire is going to be broken up. It is not the creation of to-day or of yesterday; it is a Constitution of more than a thousand years' development; it is an Empire of the very smallest beginnings and of the most gigantic dimensions; it is not the mushroom growth of a night, nor is it the rapid creation of an accident. It is the slow and steady and solid erection of many centuries. It belongs neither to an age, nor to a race. Each section of the Three Kingdoms has nobly borne its part in raising the structure. Each century and each age has added to its stability, and, therefore, the men of to- 1797 day are but the trustees appointed by the men of the past, to guard this great inheritance for the men of the future. Filled with such an idea we will use every means, we will put forth every effort, we will strain every nerve to defeat this or any other scheme of Home Rule.
§ *MR. J. S. WALLACE (Tower Hamlets, Limehouse)
claimed the indulgence of the House as a new Member, and said he had not intended interposing in the Debate until he heard the challenge of one of the hon. Members for Tyrone, in which he said he world like to have the opinions of some persons from Ireland who had a stake in the country, and had something to lose. He was a Belfast man, and had a stake in Ulster. He had something to lose, and therefore he thought it his duty to stand up and let the House know that which the Members who claimed to represent Ulster had kept back from thern—a true statement of Ulster's feeling upon this question. So strongly persuaded was he that the proposed measure of Home Rule would be for the general benefit and prosperity of Ireland, that within the last three months and since the Government were returned to power, he had increased his stake in Belfast. He would like to refer to what the Leader of the House had said with reference to the Protestants of Ireland and the men of 1798. He was the grandson of a man of 1798, and great grandson of an 1882 man, who was the descendant of ancient and honourable sheep-stealers in the South of Scotland. That was at a time when sheep-stealing was regarded as a perfectly honest and honourable occupation by Southerners in Scotland upon the Northern people of England. The only inconvenience that attended it was, that if they were caught in the act they were hanged upon the spot. His ancestors, wise men in their generation, afterwards thought it would be much easier for them to turn their attention to the North of Ireland, and he hoped he inherited some of the sense of his ancestors. He had another qualification to speak, for he was a Vice President of the Irish Protestant Home Rule Association, which load been said very little about in the House by hon. 1798 Members from Ulster opposite, who proclaimed that they alone represented Ulster. He did not deny the enterprise and intrepidity of the Members for North and East Belfast, who had been alluded to by the last speaker; but the awkward fact which had been kept back was that neither of the gentlemen was an Ulster man at all. He had been present in the offices of the Home Rule Association in Belfast when Harland and Wolff's own Protestant ship-carpenters came by night and asked to be enrolled as members of the Protestant Home Rule Association, the stipulation being that their names would never be published, and that their subscriptions should be under initials lest they might lose their employment. Those men were enrolled, and he and the secretary had to pledge their honour that the men's names would never be revealed in public as members of the Association. Protestant merchants in Belfast had told him privately that they sympathised with his views; he only mentioned these things to show that the whole of the Protestants in Belfast were not against Home Rule. They constantly met him and told him that at last this long-standing quarrel between the two countries was about to be ended. But hon. Members were fond of telling the House that the question of Home Rule was never put fairly by the English electorate. So far as he was concerned, Home Rule was the principal plank upon which he fought the contest in Limehouse. For five years Home Rule had been referred to at every meeting in his constituency, with the result that they increased the Liberal poll by over 70 per cent. over the elections of 1885–6. He had also been to the meetings of other English Liberal candidates, and he had heard Home Rode put in the forefront. It seemed to him that when they had heard one speech from an Ulster Member they had heard pretty well all they had to say. The arguments of hon. Gentlemen opposite resolved themselves into this: that there were no special reasons why the South and time West of Ireland were not prosperous, and that there were no special privileges pertaining to Ulster why she should be more prosperous than any other portion of Ireland. But hon. Members from Ulster were very apt to forget a speech of the 1799 noble Lord the Member for South Paddington, in which he said, addressing the Orangemen of Belfast, "By heavens, gentlemen, your privileges are worth fighting for!" His first reason for saying that there were cogent and legitimate reasons why the South and West of Ireland were not so prosperous as Ulster, was the fact that the fishing industry was not so prosperous as it was some time ago, when the Irish had complete control. They had succeeded in obtaining the control of the fish trade with the Baltic, and had excited the ire of their Scotch brethren. The Irish obtained control of the Baltic fish trade. When the Scotch found they were being beaten by the Irish in these fisheries they immediateiy procured the withdrawal of the Irish fish brand, and obtained the Government brand for their own fish with a bounty of 4s. per barrel. Was it any wonder, he asked, that the Irish fisheries dwindled and died out? Then, again, the woollen trade had been successfully established in the South and West of Ireland; but in the reign of William III. laws were passed by the English Parliament which prohibited the exportation of Irish woollens to the markets abroad, of which Ireland had then the control, and trade by that means passed into the hands of the woollen manufacturers of Yorkshire. The deportation of Irish cattle was also prohibited at the demand of the English farmers, and the trade ruined. When it was borne in mind, in addition to these facts, that the Irish tenants had been rack-rented for years, it would be easily understood why the South and West of Ireland were not in so prosperous a condition as they might have been under proper conditions. The great success of the ship-building trade, the linen trade, and the agriculture of the North was often referred to, and it was said that Ulster had in these industries no privileges of favourable conditions over other parts of Ireland. With the indulgence of the House he would give the reasons for the success of these industries. He would first point out that in Belfast they got building land on perpetual leases—an absolute security of tenure—which was a system that did not exist in the towns and cities of the South and West. Again, there had been for years tenant- 1800 right in Ulster, by which the tenant was partially protected in the fruits of his industry. He said "partially" because the tenant had not yet received complete protection, but the landlords of Ulster had not harassed their tenants to the same extent as the tenants of the South and West had been harassed by their landlords. Then came the question of the ship-building industry. He had no desire to minimise the praises which had been bestowed on Messrs. Harland and Wolff for the success they had achieved in the ship-building industry. They Were shrewd and sensible men of business, and they saw that Belfast was most favourably situated for the shipbuilding industry, because it. was adjacent to the iron and coal-fields of Scotland and the North of England. It was often asked by Unionists, why was not Cork as prosperous as Belfast? But Messrs. Harland and Wolff would not have been shrewd men of business if they had set up their ship-building yards in Cork, where the freights for coal and iron were three times higher than they were in Belfast. He, therefore, declared that the success of the ship-building industry of Belfast was due to cheap iron and cheap coal. One would think, to listen to the speeches of Unionist Members from Ulster, that the success of the linen trade was due to the Protestantism of the Province. In his opinion, its success was due to the encouragement support in the way of bounties which it had received. Many millions of public money bad been spent in establishing the trade. From 1690. to 1830, a period of 140 years, Belfast and Dundee took£28,000,000 in bounties for the encouragement of the linen trade, or £200,000 a year. In 1698 Louis Crommelin was brought over from Holland by King William to take charge of the Huguenot Settlement at Lisburne; and, in addition to a bounty of £10 for every load of linen produced, he got £5,000 in grants from 1704 to 1708. In 1711 the Linen Board was established, and in six years spent£1,250,000 of public money. [Cries of "Oh, oh," and impatient interruptions from the Opposition Benches.] Could hon. Gentlemen opposite deny these facts? When he entered the House of Commons he thought he should address an Assembly 1801 of gentlemen, and he would be listened to. He had had the honour of putting down a Tory in a metropolitan constituency, and be was not going now to be put down by Tories in the House of Commons. In 1724 a duty of 2s. 10d. per welt was imposed on imported linen, and a bounty of 1d. per yard on home linen exported was paid. In 1747 the bounty was increased to 3d. per yard. In 1739 the Royal Dublin Society imported Dutchmen skilled in the growth of flax and published a book of instructions for the cultivation of the crop. In 1783 Lord Donegall gave four and a half acres of land in Belfast at 20s. an acre, in order that the White Linen Hall might be built. In 1806 Messrs. Nicholson, of Bessborough, near Newry, were paid 30s. per spindle, and 2d. per yard, bounties on their linen manufactures. In 1809 the Linen Board gave£200,000 for the encouragement of the industry. In 1809 100,000 persons grew flax, and 18,000—more than half of whom were Ulster men—claimed the bounty. In the early part of the century, and until 1845 £10 duty was imposed on every ton of flax imported. In 1841 the Flax Society was endowed with £1,000 per annum. It brought over Flemish experts to teach the Ulster farmers, and it sent Ulster farmers to Belgium to learn, and to afterwards teach, the farmers of Ulster how to cultivate the crop. As a consequence of this, the flax crop in Ulster had enormously increased and had gone on increasing. The Flax Supply Association followed, and for seven years, from 1864 to 1871, got £20,000 in grants. From 1861 to 1864 an immense demand for linen sprang up owing to the American Civil War stopping the cotton trade, and money flowed into Belfast. These, he thought, were abundant reasons for the prosperity of the linen trade of Ulster; and if any proof were wanting to show that religion had nothing to do with that prosperity he had only to point to Roman Catholic Belgium, which was the greatest competitor of Ulster in the linen trade. He, as a Presbyterian born in Belfast, declared his belief that the idea of establishing a Roman Catholic supremacy never entered the heads of his Roman Catholic; fellow-countrymen. He travelled on business through the West and South of Ireland, and no objection 1802 was ever raised against him on account of his Presbyterianism. He found that the most prosperous traders in the towns in the South and West of Ireland were Presbyterian elders, who were supported in business by the Roman Catholics. He had no fear for Presbyterianism under Home Rule. If Presbyterianism had in it the truth of God, it would flourish under any conditions; and if it had not that truth, then the sooner it came to au end the better. He meant by that that Presbyterianism should stand oil its own merits. The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) had been in America hunting for arguments against Home Rule. But the hon. Member did not tell the House that in America the Roman Catholics were about equally divided between the two great Political Parties of the country; and that the priests never interfered in the exercise of the franchise by their flocks. The reason of that was that the priests believed they would be travelling outside the domain of the Church by interfering in politics. He regretted that an objectionable Pastoral had been issued by Bishop Nulty in Ireland. But the Bishop had to take the consequences of that Pastoral— consequences which were brought to him by Roman Catholic, witnesses and Roman Catholic Judges. The House should also know that the hon. Member for North East Cork (Mr. Davitt) had protested against such a Pastoral being used on his behalf, and that he had told the Bishop the Pastoral would do him more harm than good. It was also the fact that none of the other Bishops of Ireland sympathised with the action of Dr. Nulty. He was sure that under Home Rule the priests would not figure so much in politics, but world confine themselves to the discharge of their Ministerial functions. He, therefore, had no fear that under Home Rule a Roman Catholic ascendency would be established, that in saying that he was also expressing the sentiments of the Presbyterian farmers of Ulster, who would be glad to see a Home Rule Government established that would do justice between them and the landlords. As an Irishman he hailed the introduction of the Home Rule Bill as the dawning of a better day for Ireland. The Bill was a message of mercy, which would dissipate the discontent of the past, and dispel the gloom 1803 that overhung the future; and when a Home Rule Government made laws not in the interest of any section, but for the good Of the vast mass of the people, then he was persuaded that agriculture would revive, that trade and commerce would increase, and Ireland at last would with peace with England.
§ *MR. G. J. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)
Mr. Speaker, in that bright bit of banter which was the only answer that the Secretary of State for War (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) gave to the very powerful speech of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) the right hon. Gentleman commented, thought not severely, on the length of the Debate that was taking place on the First Reading of this Bill. I think he said it was in contravention of ordinary Parliamentary practice. I have precedents before hue, which I could quote to the House where, on questions of infinitely minor importance compared kith this great issue, there have been four, five, and six nights' Debate on the First Reading. But I am not concerned to establish a precedent for this case, because it appears to me that the Bill itself is unprecedented; and if the Bill is unprecedented, though we had precedents to guide us as to the manner in which it should be debated, it would be our duty so to debate it as to open the eyes of the country to its provisions on every possible occasion and in every possible aspect. The Secretary of State for War is not dissatisfied with the Debate because we have had some interesting speeches. I entirely agree with him; and if he said that with justice last night, I think we may still further congratulate ourselves to-day on the prolongation of this Debate, looking to the most interesting speeches to which we listened at an earlier part of the evening. But comparatively few Radical supporters of the Government have taken part in this Debate. It has not been in order to save time, because the Debate would have come to a conclusion in precisely the same number of days, even if Radical Members had taken part in it. But I can quite understand their abstention. I can quite understand it, because they found that the whole field of discussion 1804 was thoroughly honeycombed with. pitfalls into which an unwary supporter of the Government might walk. What line was he to take up? Was he to defend the precise proposal of the Government with regard to the retention of the Irish Members in this House? Would it be wise for him to put forward his views after the tentative character of the proposal winch was submitted by his Leader himself? I think it was very wise that the Radical Members did not embarrass themselves in that respect. Again, what should they say in regard to the financial clauses? Should they approve straightway of what, right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition called the war indemnity of£17,000,000, which is to be paid as the price for the cessation of hostilities?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman did not hear the calculation. It was a very simple one. It is the capital sum represented by £500,000. Hon. Members will admit—if they prefer to have the annual payment rather than the capital taken—that it is £500,000. Well, then, were they to approve of the £500,000 a year? That, Sir, would have been a very dangerous position to have taken up, because hon. Members for Ireland have declared that the financial proposals of the Government are thoroughly unsatisfactory, and that they will have to be remodelled. Point by point hon. Members will find pitfalls. Some have already Megan to stumble into them. With regard to the safeguards that are offered, the £20 Legislative Chamber has not received a very warm reception by Radicals opposite, and I think the Government will find that with regard to it they are opposed by a very large portion of their own supporters. Therefore, I think it natural that very few of the independent English and Scotch supporters of Her Majesty's Government should have taken part in the Debate. But we have not had much light even from Her Majesty's advisers. We have had a speech from the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. James Bryce), and a few observations from the 1805 Secretary of state for War (Mr. Camp-bell-Bannerman). The Government have proceeded, it appears to me, upon the principle or partial revelation. They were not prepared to show this great piece of legislation to their followers at once. I will make good what I say. Take the case of the land. There was nothing whatever said by the Prime Minister upon the Land Question—this most important question, in regard to which the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Edward Blake), in his eloquent speech this evening, said that it most urgently required settlement—a, matter of primary importance, with regard to which the Leader of the Opposition had said the very honour of the House of Commons was engaged. This subject was slipped over entirely, and no ray of light was shed upon it. The Prime Minister, when asked, said he had forgotten to state that the Land Question would be hung up for three years. It was a very important statement; but how little was this for our guidance! With regard to the veto, it was the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy who had to reveal the fact and to explain the nature of the veto of the Imperial Parliament. The Prime Minister slurred over that important question in one single sentence. He said there will he special occasions when the Viceroy will receive instructions from the Sovereign. That was all that was vouchsafed on the first occasion.
I have no wish, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman, to misinterpret him in any way; but by this I stand—that it was only in a single line the right hon. Gentleman alluded to that part of the Bill. Am I not right, therefore, in saying that this is a system of partial revelation? With regard to the financial question, how inadequate Was the first exposition! and as regards the police, it war necessary to press into the service of the Government the hon. Member for Kerry, who explained what are the police provisions with infinitely greater accuracy and expansion than the authors of the Bill. It appears to me the Government have proceeded upon 1806 this principle—that what light they would throw upon the Bill should be a kind of revolving light, green sometimes, when it was shown to the Irish Party, and at other times red to their English supporters. I Should wish to say a word or two on the question of finance. and to be corrected if I state the general position inaccurately. There appears to me to have been some confusion between the comparison of the financial arrangements of 1886 and of the present financial arrangements. It has appeared to a good many on both sides of the House as if the present demand. of Ireland was a much smaller demand than that in 1886, for this reason: that the present contribution asked for from Ireland is two million three hundred odd thousand pounds, whereas in 1886 it was put at three million two or three hundred thousand pounds. Am I not correct saying, that this difference between the two statements arises partly from the fact that in the 1886 arrangement part of the proceeds of the Excise, which ale practically paid by the English consumer, remained in the hands of Ireland. whereas it is now to he paid straight into the English Exchequer?£1,400,000, which under the arrangement of 1886 would have remained under the Irish Exchequer, will now come into the English Exchequer; consequently, the contribution from Ireland must to that amount be diminished. If I understand the matter rightly, that is the reason why the present demand appears to he much smaller than the demand in 1886: but, as a matter of fact, I understand that the demand now is practically about the same as dud-which was made before. I have thought it right to give my opinion on the subject, not in any controversial spirit whatever, hut only to. avoid misconception. But the sooner. we have the statement promised with regard to finance upon this matter, the better it will he, in order that we may see clearly into it. Look nit this financial question for a moment as it is now revealed to us. Without going into figures at all, what is it? The Customs are to. be kept for Imperial purposes; the Excise, Income Tax, and Stamps are to be handed Dyer for Irish purposes. Well, then, What are the Customs Duties? The Customs Duties mean the ditties on 1807 tea and tobacco and on foreign spirits; but 80 far as Ireland is concerned, it is on tea and tobacco alone that they will pay contributions to the Imperial Exchequer.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Yes, on foreign spirits; but I thought that the Irish, on the whole, would consume their own spirits, and that very few foreign spirits would compete with the admirable beverages which are now going to be constituted as the fundamental basis of Irish finance. I will show in a moment that the whole of the Irish finance, as constructed by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, depends on whisky. But how about the Customs and Imperial finance? Mark this, as the Bill has been explained, if increase the Customs Duties, you increase the share Ireland has to pay; hut if you diminish the Customs Ditties, you will diminish the contributions which Ireland has to pay. What does the hon. Member for Leicester, Who is in favour of the abolition of the Tea Duty, say to this proposal? No answer has been given to this point, though it was raised by my right host. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, that if the Tea Duty is reduced the. contribution from Ireland is reduced; and if the duty on tobacco is reduced, Ireland will no longer pay that share which t he Prime Minister thinks it is vital for her to pay. See, then, how the arms of the Chancellor of the Exchequer are tied in the future in this respect! I must protest with all my might against this tying of the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and embarrassing the finances of the country by making the Customs Ditties dependent upon the maintenance of the Irish contribution. It should be understood by the country that by this measure we are tying our hands as regards Customs. Well, now, how does the matter stand as regards Irish finance? The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave us the figures of the sums which together constitute the Irish contribution—£5,650,000; I think that was the total to be paid by Ireland. Of that total, £3,200,000 are Excise; and nearly the whole of the Excise consists of duties paid upon spirits. The consequence will 1808 be this: that the smoker and the tea drinker in Ireland—and they are almost identical with the whole of the population —will know that, when they consume tea and tobacco they are paving tribute, an it will be called, to Great Britain, but whisky-drinkers will be supporting, the national finances. It was the hon. Member for Waterford who said, in his very able speech, "We have a balance now of £500,000, but we depend mainly upon the Excise. What is then to happen if the Excise should fall?" Why, certainly, the surplus will vanish. The Budget of Ireland is so constructed that it simply depends Nom the consumption of whisky by the people. It will not be increased through other items of consumption, because the duties upon them will be fixed by Imperial law and therefore the position is, that the finances of the country will depend mainly upon the drinking of the people. I will not inquire to what extent they will then encourage or not encourage those efforts to promote temperance which I believe they have often supported by their votes in this House. Such is the finance; and I feel confident that this scheme of finance cannot stand. It will have to be re-cast. Neither Irish Members nor English Members Will be prepared to accept such finance at the hands or the Government. There is one great change that is made in this Bill as compared with the Bill of 1886, partly in financial matters and partly in other matters, and it is that the whole collection of the Revenue is to be placed in Irish hands. The Income Tax, Stamps, and the Miscellaneous Revenue—all except Customs—are to be put in Irish hands. Every Excise officer in Ireland will be an officer, I understand, not of the Imperial Government, hut of the new Executive; every official in Ireland will be a servant of the new Executive; every collector will be a servant of the Executive. We shall pa t with the whole collection of the Revenue; we shall part with everyone who r presents Her Majesty's Government in Ireland excepting two men—the Commander-in-Chief and the Viceroy. Every other representative of the Sovereignty of this country will have vanished from Ireland except the Viceroy, the red-coated soldier, and the Custom House officers at the ports. Then the 1809 hon. Member for Longford thinks that if more money should be required from Ireland we might count not only on their goodwill, but we should he aide to enforce it. The power of the purse is an immense power, and the right hon. Gentleman parts with the power of the purse as regards both collection and expenditure. The whole Civil Service of Ireland is to be revolutionised and to have a new master. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman can quote a precedent in history for the replacement of a service like the Civil Service in Ireland such as is to be proposed by this Bill. It is an immense revolution. Do hon. Members thoroughly grasp the effect of the proposal? Every post office—take Belfast—take Ulster—the whole patronage will be in the hands of the Central Executive in Dublin. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham said, what protection is there for persons in the Bill? The cheers showed in what spirit even English Members would be prepared to administer the Bill in this respect. Looking to the differences between Ulster and the rest of Ireland, looking to the claims of loyalists in other parts of Ireland, to place the whole patronage not in the hands of an impartial Body, but in the hands of the existing majority is, under the circumstances, a very hold step, which must be regarded by this country With very considerable distrust. But distrust? Have we arrived at the main argument which is used against us by our opponents. Our opponents tell us at every step that we distrust the Irish people, not only that we have mistrust as to what they will do, but that we malign their motives and hold them up to contempt or blame. We have often protested against that insinuation and that charge. It is an absolutely false charge. [An Irish MEMBER: Hottentots.] Does not the hon. Member, who is a literary man and able to understand the English language, know that the phrase was never employed in I he sense which he wishes to give to it, and that it has been a malicious attempt to mislead the country. If the term should be revived—[An hon. MEMBER.: It will be revived]—in the feast of reconciliation, when we are to celebrate the union of hearts, the Member for Louth will stand there and say "Hottentots" by way of ensuring that union. 1810 I could quote words in answer to the hon. and learned Member for Louth and the hon. Member for Longford to show what could be expected. We are told that the sponge is to wipe out all that has been said. We were told by the Secretary of State for War that the language which has been held in Ireland during the last 10 years has been the language of excited politicians, and that we ought to forget that language at the present moment. I wish, if it were possible that it should be done—I wish it were right that it should be done—I wish, looking to the reconciliation that we all desire, that we could forget—that it would be right to forget—every violent word that has been spoken on the hillsides of Ireland. But can we do so? Are we entitled to believe, looking to the duty we owe to the loyalists of Ireland, that the policy which has been announced for years has been abandoned by the Irish Party, and abandoned at this moment because moderate words are now asked for? I am not anxious to introduce controversy into this matter. But when we are told, as we have been by a Minister of the Crown, that we are holding up the Irish nation to contempt, We are bound to reply; and if we ate warm in our replies it is not in the spirit of controversy, but rather in a spirit of regret that such charges should be launched, and launched against a Party who represent a majority of Great Britain, taken as a whole. Such charges are not calculated to encourage the Irish people to believe' in the alleged great desire for re-conciliation or in the view that the Party opposite are absolutely sincere in their declarations. I say we are serving in the cause in which you yourselves profess to he engaged if we protest against such insinuations and such reproaches. The Secretary of War, when! lie spoke of excited politicians, seemed to think that all the violent language-that had been used should he forgotten, because it really meant nothing but heat; but I ask, Has that language had: no effect on the Irish peasants? Can they at once forget all the lessons they have been taught? I wish to know, because this is a very important matter. Has the language with regard to land, and landlords which has been used during. the last 10 years been only so much 1811 political capital employed, so much humbug, so much blarney, indulged in simply-in order to create excitement? If so, I can only say that the Irish peasants and tenants have not read it in that light. The excited words of hon. Members have lit a flame in many parts of Ireland, and we cannot believe that that flame will at once be smothered because a Home Rule Bill is passed and those hon. Members are installed in College Green. Will the agrarian question cease? The hon. Member for Longford seems to think that it will cease at once. But why should it cease? Do hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite think it will so cease? If it does, will the fact not show that all the outcry about judicial rents and other matters was so much mere political machinery employed in order to produce a Home Rule Bill The hon. Member for the City of Cork used these words not long ago—The Irish Party will never accept any national settlement—any Home Rule settlement—that will not draw the last fangs of landlordism, and that will not leave this Irish race of ours the masters and landowners within the four seas of holy Ireland.Are these the words of a serious or of an excited politician? And how will the tenants take these words? The hon. Member possibly may be installed as Minister for Agriculture on College Green, and we shall then see whether he with perform this interesting act of dentistry—namely, "Drawing the last fangs of landlordism" But we have got to provide securities that this kind of policy should not be carried out, and we have a right to ask, Have hon. Members abandoned their language in this respect? The right hon. Gentleman says we used hard words. The Leader of the Opposition spoke of plunder. That was a hard word, but it is not harder than a "rapine," which was used by a very high authority. Hon. Members below the Gangway call that justice which we call plunder. The fact is they have a different standard. I am not now attacking the Irish Members at all. They are attacked when they are called excited politicians by the Secretary of State for War. But what we say is this. Through the agrarian difficulty their whole minds are in a 1812 different position; their attitude of mind is different. They call landlords robbers. Do they withdraw that? Are they prepared to give up the demand for "restitution"? It is these questions which must be faced; and how are they to be faced? Now I ask the Chief Secretary, What is to become of the land during the next three years? Are the landlords of Ireland to be allowed to bleed to death during that period? Do Her Majesty's Government intend to deal with the land themselves, or has the whole subject gone by the board? We have had no hint with regard to the land from any hon. Gentleman who has spoken. We consider that the Government, after their declarations in 1886 and the attitude they have taken throughout, are bound in honour to deal with the land question if they intend to keep the matter away from time Irish Legislature for three years. The question of education cannot be disposed of as the hon. Member for Longford tried to dispose of it this afternoon. The hon. Member said that perhaps the Irish would show us an example of civil and religious liberty. Well, I do not know whether the lesson is to be conveyed to us by the instruction of Archbishop Walsh. The hon. Member comes to us from abroad, and I am sure I am echoing the feelings of every hon. Member when I say we rejoice to see the hon. Member amongst, us, and that we were glad to hear his eloquent speech. We welcome him as an addition to this House. But the hon. Member has not known, I believe, what has been going on with regard to education ill Ireland, the hitter, but not intentionally bitter, controversies; the Roman Catholics doing their utmost to carry out a policy which the Protestants have strenuously resisted. The Roman Catholic majority will have the power of the purse, and that power will be able to decide many most important questions in regard to education. There are Protestant schools, not in Ulster, but in the South of Ireland, which have struggle enough to maintain themselves. They cannot be maintained by law. They can only be maintained by an impartial administration. How will the Education Board be constituted in future in Ireland, and what weight will be thrown upon 1813 it? I say again, in connection with education, that you can introduce into this Bill no securities when you have parted with the whole of the Executive power. I ant relieved from the necessity of dealing with the vast changes which must take place through the transfer of Executive power by the most powerful speech of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. He showed how the power of the Executive will act, and if you add that the whole of the personnel will be the personnel of the majority, and that the power of the purse will be in their hands, I say you are making a revolution quite as great and as serious as my revolution which could be made through changes in legislation. Well, then, what securities are we to have? That is the question which was 'oust pertinently put by the Member for West Birmingham, and I will not dwell on this part or the case for one moment. He spoke of the Legislative Council, and lie received no answer. Anti here I may remark that no answer has been given to the very good point made by the Member. for Plymouth (Sir Edward Clarke), when he asked why the figure of 48 had been chosen. He showed that this figure of 48, on a certain calculation, would prevent this Council ever having a majority if they sat together with t he popular Board. Therefore this very security, this very body which is intended to protect the Loyalists, is generated by a piece of gerrymandering, in its very origin. That is the spirit in which this part of the case has been provided for. Besides, we have already haul notice with regard to this part of the case that there is a lance number of lion. Members opposite who will attack this principle. We know that not only the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan), will comedown here and make able speeches over again on this question of the Franchise, and will urge that a privilege has been established which should be abolished. Then we come to the question of the veto. The hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond) said he was content with the change in the Bill—namely, that 1814 the every-day veto would be used on the advice of the Irish Cabinet by the Irish Viceroy. That is no veto at all. I say that such a veto may just as well be out of the Bill, for if the Irish Viceroy has to act on the advice of the Irish Cabinet with regard to vetoing. a Bill, it simply means dint the representatives of the majority are to advise the vetoing of a Bill which they themselves passed! That is simply put in as a blind, and it is not worth the paper it is written on. As to the other veto, that has been so thoroughly argued, there is only one observation I would really deal with. The subject was ably dealt with by the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Blake), hot I regretted that while he went, point by point, with great debating power, through the speech of the Member for West Birmingham, he did not give us the advantage of his Canadian experiences with regard to the working of the veto, nor did he tell us what the Canadian people would think if the Canadian Parliament was subjected to the same kind of veto as is now proposed for the Irish Parliament. Ah, but then Canada is semi-independent: Canada is placed in a totally different position! Is Canada, a nation or not? We look upon Canada as a loyal and devoted Colony. They do not claim to be a nation, and yet what have they got? They have their own tariff; they are not tied as regards education; they have fiscal freedom; they have freedom in every respect, and yet they are not a nation. And the hon. Member speaks of Ireland as a nation! He spoke of their national rights, and yet he thinks Ireland will be satisfied with an infinitely lower concession than that which is given to Canada! The nation which claims to be a nation is to be satisfied with less than a Colony demands! But we have the veto in the Colony! How often has the Colonial veto been exercised is Canada? I have not got the same knowledge with regard to Canada as I happen to have in regard to some other Colonies; but I know this—that whenever there is the slightest question of the interference of the Imperial Parliament in any question that affects the Colonies there is a ferment at once, mill daily threats of separation. I have had letters myself from Australian and Cape gentlemen, who say in comparatively in- 1815 significant questions, if the Imperial Government interferes, if the Imperial Government forces this upon us, we will not be responsible for the consequences. If that is so in the case of the Colonies, why is it not likely to be so in the case of Ireland? But we have had plenty of warning. Both the Member fur Waterford and the Member for Kerry (Mr. Sexton) said they would consent to the nominal supremacy of this Parliament, and the veto is to be a weapon which is not to be used.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
There has been no answer to the question which has been put. Perhaps we shall have an answer from the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The hon. Gentleman wants a compact.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Here is what the hon. Gentleman says—The framing of the Home Rule Bill would amount to a compact which would no doubt be observed by men of common-sense, so that there would be no capricious and vexatious interference by the Parliament.And then the right hon. Member for West Birmingham asked a question, which has not been answered—namely, how are the words "capricious and vexatious" to be interpreted? Who are to be the judges?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The hon. Member is not only a Member of great commonsense, but of great acuteness; and, if time 'wrinkled, I could put to him a great many questions as to what he considered capricious and vexatious, and I think that his definition of those words, and the definition of the majority of the British people, would probably be very different.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
It is all very well to use those words about commonsense and vexatious and capricious, but the hon. Member is poli- 1816 tician enough to know that as regards the question of capriciousness at all events, the views of two opposing parties will always be entirely and diametrically opposite. This veto is not to be used. At all events, if it is frequently used, if it is used for the purposes for which the majority in Great Britain may claim to use it, we have had fair notice front hon. Members what will be the consequences. Eighty Members from Ireland will know how to give a good account of themselves. It has been said in this Debate that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Balfour) has uttered threats. There has hem no threat by him, nor have there been threats by lion. Members on this side. There has been a frank exchange of explanations given for the information of the House. I trust I have not trespassed unduly on the patience of the Rouse. Hon. Members must feel how vast is not only the ground covered by the Bill, but, all the surrounding circumstances. And I can assure lion. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that if they take the deepest interest in the Bill it is surely natural—and I hope they will not misconstrue our motives—that we, on the other side, should be deeply interested in the mighty issues that are involved. There is still one question which I should like to be allowed very briefly to touch, and which is of all others, perhaps, one of the most important, and that is as to the retention of the Irish Members in this House. Upon that we had a very interesting speech yesterday, and some very interesting remarks from the Secretary or State for War (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman). He treated this matter in the lightest possible way. He said, "There is no difficulty whatever in solving the matter. Solvitur ambulando; we will settle it as we toddle along." But it is not very respectful to his right lion. Leader to say there is no difficulty. Solvuntur risu tabulœ was another quotation which struck me when I heard the proposal of the Government. I thought the right hon. Gentleman; would be laughed out of Court. That was also the impression in the year 1886 of a great many of his Party, and I do not know that they have yet changed their view. I should like to have been present at the meeting of the Cabinet 1817 when the Prime Minister made his argument against this proposal—against the proposal that is embodied in the Bill, when he said, I suppose, as he told us, "I wish not to have lop-sided Members in the House, not Members with limited liability, hut. Members who are always equal." Then the Secretary for War, I presume, got up and said airily, "Solvitur ambulando, there is no difficulty at all; why, a Town Council would settle it." What a view to take of the intellectual capacity of a Town Council Why, here was something that baffled the wit of man, and still baffles the wit of man, and yet the Secretary for War thinks that a Town Council would settle it. That is not the opinion of others. The Secretary for War, in his bright imagination, said he saw our faces grow longer on this side of the House, in proportion as it was developed that this preposterous proposal of the Trish Members being admitted on the principle of limited liability was to be re-introduced into the Bill. There was no reason whatever for us to dislike the proposal made, because of all others I think it is the one that is most likely to be cut out of the Bill, and to give rise to the greatest dissatisfaction in many quarters. Well, now, Lord Rosebery did not think you could solve this question as you toddled along. What did he say? He said, not very long ago—On the other hand, if you say, as may he said, 'We will admit the Irish Members, butt only for Imperial matters,' what are you going to do with the Irish Members when Imperial matters are not going on"?Well, a Town Council would settle it, I suppose.Is the Speaker to ring his bell and say, The Irish Members may come in'? and then some English Member, who objects to the Irish Members, will rise and say, Sir, I object to the Irish Members coming in; this is not an Imperial matter.' And then we shall have a Debate, perhaps of two nights, as to whether or not it is an Imperial matter. And the Irish Members may come in, and then, just in the middle of Question time, you may suddenly thud the Speaker ringing his bell again, and saying,' The Irish -Members will please to return to their quarters,' and you will have these unfortunate Irish Members in a state of perpetually-suspended and restored animation.I think the right Icon. Gentleman (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) was a little hard upon his colleagues in treating- the matter so lightly as he treated it last night. 1818 There is also the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I do not know whether he objects to this particular method more than to the entire withdrawal of the Irish Members, but I should like to rend the following passage to him:—I do not care" (said the Chief Secretary) "what precautions we now take; I do not care where you draw the line in theory. You may depend upon it there is no power on earth which can prevent the Irish Members from being in the future what they have been in the past—the arbiters and masters of English policy, of English legislative business, and of the rise and fall of British Administrations.Now, let us mark these words: "there is no power on earth; the Ministry cannot do anything on earth, which can prevent the Trish Members being in the future what they have been in the pastille arbiters and toasters of English policy —not only of Imperial policy, but of English policy—of English legislative business, and of the rise and fall of British Administrations!" The hon. Member for Longford tried to meet that to-day, and failed to meet it, and every single Member who has addressed himself to this subject has not been able to disprove the assertion which has at once to be met—that while the Irish will have their Legislative Parliament, they will still remain, to use the eloquent words of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, "the arbiters and masters of English legislation." It has been proved over and over again—and I should like to know whether the country will be prepared to admit the truth of what has been said—that, even if you pass this Home little Bill it is clear that no power on earth can prevent these gentlemen from being the masters of English legislation. Have you tried to prevent it, or do you admit that, you have not prevented it? I think the Prime Minister admits that it has not been prevented, and we shall depend upon—
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I said that it would not apply to 19–20ths or 99–100ths of the business of Parliament.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Of English business; but if the 20th means the fall of an Administration? Yes, the fall of au English Administration engaged in English legislation, which is displaced from power by a combination of the 1819 minority of English Members with the Members from Ireland? That cannot be answered. I would frankly say I do not think hon. Members have tried to answer it. If that be so, are the Irish Members to remain in this condition? Can that be permanent? We are asked to vote this measure partly on the ground of finality. I think finality has been repudiated, even by the hon. Member for Waterford. The hon. Member for Longford seemed to think Mr. Parnell had really accepted the Bill in 1886 as a final settlement. I should prefer to hear that statement from the Member for Waterford, or even from the Member for Louth. It was not accepted by Mr. Parnell as a final settlement. He distinctly stated so in public, and it could not be a final settlement. It has been always argued that it is not a final settlement, and as it is not a final settlement, we are to retain the Irish Members in this House to be the arbiters and masters of English legislation. We have neither got security in this Bill, nor have we got finality. We have not got that finality which is the essence of the whole case. I believe that from this Bill you will have to remove the financial part—you will have to change the financial part; you will have to change a great deal connected with the Second Legislative Chamber, and you will have to change the Irish representation. I wonder how much will remain of the whole Bill under these circumstances. We should like to see the Bill, and we are glad that the sight of the Bill will have been accompanied by this Debate. There is much hidden away in the Bill; there are many little clauses, the effect of which would never have appeared unless this Debate bad taken place. It is not easy to read in a little clause how the Irish remain the masters and arbiters of English legislation. These things are not, found in the Bill. But the Bill will be printed, we shall see it to-morrow, and we shall then be able to judge how far even the policy announced to us has been carried out by the right hon. Gentleman. But that Bill will never pass into law. It will be added to the Bill of 1886, and very probably there will be a future third attempt. They will not be bound up in the Acts of the realm, but they will be bound together in a little volume which may be 1820 headed:—"Failures to solve an insoluble Problem." The problem is insoluble, and, therefore, I attach no blame to the extremely able gentlemen who form Her Majesty's Cabinet that they cannot solve it. But you are asking for incompatible things. You want to retain English sovereignty, and at the same time Ireland is to be a nation; you want to retain fiscal unity, and at the same time to have a separate finance for Ireland; you want to have this Imperial Parliament deciding Imperial questions, and then for us to decide British legislation alone. It is impossible. It is an insoluble problem, and so I say this is an attempt—made, I will admit, from that which may be called a righteous motive—but it is an attempt which I think must fail. Now as regards motives. These Bills were introduced originally — and the Chief Secretary contributed very much towards their introduction—from a feeling of despair, from the idea that this country had become impotent to govern one of the integral portions of the United Kingdom. There were others who desired to get rid of this problem in order to make further progress with English legislation. They were content to abandon the Loyalists of Ireland so long as they could pass more legislation in their own direction. But now I will admit quite fully—I am anxious to admit it—that amongst hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite there is a large class, perhaps the majority, who have given up these ideas of despair and convenience, and who are now animated really by the simple desire of conciliation, and attempt, to unite the English and Irish. I will admit that fully, and I can imagine the immense attraction which such a Bill must have for the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. There is no operation in engineering which has a greater attraction to ambitious and clever engineers than the construction of a bridge which will span a wide chasm. The right hon. Gentleman has had that ambition, and it is a noble ambition. But the foundations of that bridge must be firm. It must be so constructed that it will bear the stress of storms; and that construction we do not see in the bridge which the right hon. Gentleman attempts to construct. I say I acknowledge in all sincerity the desire of the 1821 right hon. Gentleman for this re-conciliation, but let the right hon. Gentleman and his friends in their turn also give us credit for the motives which made w resist, and which still continues to animate us to resist, this Bill. It is no small motive which animates us. It has been pointed out in language so powerful that I will not attempt to imitate it—last night by the noble Lord the Member for Paddington, and to-day by the Member for West Birmingham—that we believe, rightly or wrongly, that the integrity of the Empire is at stake. We may be mistaken, but, at least, it is a motive for which, if you felt it, you would vote as we do, if you were convinced upon the arguments that have been used, as we are convinced, that the highest interests ever committed to the charge of an Imperial Parliament now depend upon our endeavours. That is the motive that has inspired us, and it is a motive which you are bound to respect. If you say you cannot share it, can your imaginations not carry you to this point, that you can believe we feel the dictates of honour compel us to stand by the Loyalists of Ireland? Can you not feel what we feel, and what we have repeated so often, that these Loyalists of Ireland have believed in the British connection; that they have stood by that British connection in good times and in bad; and is it right now to hurl almost remonstrances at them, as the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister did the other night, because they have not thrown in their lot with those who desire to separate from the United Kingdom? I say we are bound to stand by them, and never in the history of the world has a great Power like us consented to abandon a population of a million that desired to remain under our sway. You talk of reconciliation, but in that reconciliation the million Loyalists of Ireland ought to take part, and so long as they stand by in despair we will not surrender to any attempts which would bring about a betrayal of those who have been so trite to us. The right hon. Gentleman, I think, quoted Grattan the other night. I should like to quote to him the words of a great. Leader under whom he himself served—Sir Robert Peel — in 1834, in opposing the Motion for a Select Committee to inquire into the Repeal of 1822 the Union. That Debate lasted for four nights. It was not supposed that on a question like that the opportunities for discussion should be scant. What did Sir Robert Peel say? He said "Opposuit natura; physical necessity forbids repeal." Those words are true now, and this is repeal. Opposuit nature, physical necessity forbids this Bill that the right hon. Gentleman is anxious to pass. But more than that, during those 60 years' that have passed since Sir Robert Peel uttered those words our honourable obligations to the Loyalists of Ireland have increased and grown, and have constituted an additional duty to resist any attempts by which they will lose the protection of the Imperial Parliament. Sir Robert Peel said "Opposuit nature; physical necessity forbids repeal." We add: "Honour forbids it."
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. J. MORLEY,) Newcastle-upon Tyne
; Mr. Speaker, I can assure my right hon. Friend who has just sat down that we on this side of the House do not in any, way underrate either the strength, or the sincerity, or the uprightness of the motives of gentlemen like himself and those who take his point of view with regard to this question. But I think lie is rather unfair in charging us with trying to scamp this discussion. The right hon. Gentleman said, "Let us have the Bill," and then he attempted to justify the four nights' Debate which has taken place. I think this plea for the length of the Debate would have been a little better justified if the Debate had been followed by a Division. The right hon. Gentleman harped on the phrase "partial revelations." Whose fault is it that the revelations have been partial? If the Debate had stopped on Monday night you would have had the Bill the next day. If it had stopped on Tuesday night you could have had it on Wednesday; if it had stopped last night you could have it to-day. Is it not absurd to charge us with making partial revelations? The right hon. Gentleman was very angry at being accused or suspected of distrust of Irishmen. Why should lie regard that as so wounding an accusation when we remember that 14 years ago 1823 the whole of his policy upon domestic legislation was stamped by a distrust of Irishmen. The right hon. Gentleman touched upon certain points of finance, but he almost put himself out of court as a financial authority, if I may say so without meaning any disrespect, by his borrowing the extraordinary figures which were used by the right lion. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition on the first night of the Debate. My right hon. Friend, adopting those figures, says we are going to pay to Ireland a tribute of £17,000,000. How did lie get those figures? That is the capital value of £500,000 per annum, but that figure is absolutely misleading and absolutely worthless, because the £500,000 per annum, be it too much or too little, represents the vanishing charge. Yet both my right hon. Friend and the Leader of the Opposition treat this vanishing charge as if it were a permanent charge—that is, he capitalized the amount, and then he taunts us with paying that tribute to Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman made some remarks upon the subject of the Civil Service in Ireland, and said that there would be a great displacement, and he illustrated this by saying that when this Bill becomes law the officers in the Postal Service will be no longer nominated by the English Post Office Department, but by the native Government. What a dreadful thing that such a change should take place, and that the nomination of the postal servants should be taken away from Englishmen, and put into the hands of the population of the country! Then, as to the Land Question, the right hon. Gentleman suggested that the future Irish Government might institute legislation which, said he, they—meaning lion. Gentlemen on this side of the House—would call phonier. I have never paid much attention to these high-flown words from the lips of hon. Gentlemen upon the Bench opposite, remembering, as I do, what occurred in 1887. What Act could an Irish Parliament pass as to which either Lord Salisbury or the Leader of the Opposition in this House could use stronger language than they both employed only about a month before the passing of that measure? Lord Salisbury then said that any revision of judicial rents would be dishonest, and the Leader of the 1824 Opposition stated that, in his opinion, it would be fraudulent, monstrous, and so forth; and yet a mouth later, after considerable vacillation, they passed a measure which, if it were passed by an Irish Parliament, the late Chancellor of the Exchequer would have characterised as an act of injustice or of plunder. Then the late Chancellor of the Exchequer asked, What is to become of the Irish Land Question during the next three years—do we intend to deal with Irish land? My answer is, that the Irish Land Question will remain, during those three years, as it is at present, subject to its being dealt with if any emergency arises. [Ironical laughter.] I do not know what there is in this to excite ridicule. It seems to me a very reasonable proposition. My right hon. Friend then made a truly extraordinary reference upon the matter of education. He said that the hon. Member for South Longford could not have known what had been going on in Ireland during the past six months in regard to education. I suppose my right hon. Friend was referring to certain proceedings before the National Board, when he said that those proceedings were a warning of what would happen if there were a Catholic majority in the Irish Parliament, of which Archbishop Walsh would be the dictator. If my right hon. Friend had inquired, he would have known that the proposals which were made had the support of Lord Justice Fitzgibbons, of the Senior Fellow of Trinity College, and of other Protestant authorities.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
The right hon. Gentleman must be aware of the numerous discussions that took place when compulsory education for Ireland was being discussed.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
Among other things, it was imputed to my predecessor the Chief Secretary, and to the gentlemen who sit round him, by the Member for South Tyrone that they, and not Archbishop Walsh, were designing to make this change.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
The right hon. Gentleman is not entitled to make any such assertion to this House. I never imputed anything of the kind.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I am speaking from recollection, and if I am in error in supposing that it was the lion. Gentleman, I am certainly not in error in saying that the hon. Member for South Antrim made a distinct charge in this House against the right hon. Gentleman to the effect I have stated. This only shows that the right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Exchequer was merely uttering a platitude as to the true facts of there being a Parliament in Dublin; and that he entirely overlooked the fact that the only demand that Archbishop Walsh has so far made has been backed by Lord Justice Fitzgibbons, by the Senior Fellow of Trinity College, and by three other Protestant authorities. The Debate to-night, I gladly recognise, has reached a higher level than Debates in this House sometimes attain, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham did what he promised when he said he would abstain from the recriminatory arguments which sometimes play a larger part in his speeches than one likes to see; and the duel, as I may call it, between him and the hon. Member for South Long-ford (Mr. Blake) was worthy of the best traditions of this House. I look upon discussions of that kind, which I believe would be frequent enough in an Irish Parliament, as among the prime agencies in enabling all sections of Irishmen, who are divided by old fends and by new fends, to understand each other, and to find better and surer ways out of their difficulties. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said that the tests which he should apply to any Home Rule plan were whether such a plan satisfied Imperial unity and the demand for the supremacy of Parliament, and did it furnish guarantees for the protection of minorities? I will be allowed to say that the right lion. Gentleman attached a very peculiar significance to each one of those three phrases. As I listened to Ids speech] and followed, as attentively as I could, ail Ids arguments, I found that this was the net result—that by imperial unity he did not mean 1826 Imperial unity at all, but simply centralisation—that by the supremacy of Parliament he meant the negation of self-government—that by the protection of minorities he meant the prolonged ascendency of Ulster backed by one English Party. The right hon. Gentleman deals in sinister prophecies. I should think more highly of him as a prophet if his prescience had come a little earlier and his promises, both to Ireland and in other matters, had been more abundantly fulfilled. The right hon. Gentleman makes light of the fact that the declaration of the supremacy of Parliament collies in the Preamble, following in this, I believe, the authority of the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth. But may I say, without disrespect to the hon. and learned Gentleman, that there was a Sir Edward Coke before there was a Sir Edward Clarke, and Sir Edward Coke said this:—"The Preamble is the key to the Statute." I do not know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman knows his Coke, but that is our answer to the very light store which the right hon. Gentleman sets on the declaration in the Preamble. The right hon. Gentleman also enumerates what are called the restrictions and exceptions as so many badges of servitude. The taking away of property with due process of law and with provision for just compensation, together with other restrictions, are not badges of servitude. They are recognised as the principles upon which the foundations of every free modern Government must be built up. The right hon. Gentleman predicted, as did also the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, various evils from various denominations. He said there was nothing to prevent an Irish Parliament from practically endowing the priests by voting salaries for clerical managers and schools. There are no end to prophecies of that kind. But one must look at this question largely and broadly, and in the light of experience. I am not going back to the Debate on the Meath Election. The right hon. Member for Bury did me the honour to quote several passages from various writings of mine as to clerical domination and priestly usurpation. I have not much, perhaps I have nothing, to unsay. I rest my defence of the proposal to set up a free Parliament in Ireland on a 1827 broad political proposition, which is, I hold, supported by all the lessons of European experience. That proposal is —I do not say how much priestly usurpation prevails in Ireland — but the way to baffle priestly usurpation, if usurpation there be, whether in Ireland or elsewhere, as distinct from sacerdotal influence in the region of faith and morals—to confront it by a strong lay, national, representative, political authority. That is my answer to that most important point. I repeat in this House what I have often said out of it, that there is not a Catholic country in Europe in which the priesthood have achieved a standing political supremacy. They have not got it in France, or Spain and Germany, or in any other country. Then my right hon. Friend who has just sat down, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and other speakers, have gone through the anomalies which will arise if Irish Members are retained at Westminster under the plan proposed in the Bill. These anomalies are perfectly obvious. My right hon. Friend exposed them on the first night of this Debate. But if it be granted — as we maintain, of course you do not accept it—that it is a matter of the highest national and political expediency that a Legislature and a National Government should he erected in Ireland, then this question of the manlier in which the Irish Members are to retain their seats mid voting powers in this House is a secondary question. I do not call it secondary in relation to the Parliamentary Constitution, because it is not; but it is secondary to the great object, the paramount object, from which we start. And the mere fact that the arrangement proposed is anomalous can scarcely be pressed very hard by gentlemen opposite. I will give them an illustration, if they will allow me, of an anomaly in the existing Constitution. This Bill will pass this House. They know that. And that is why Leaders of the Opposition go about saying that, whatever this House does, all will be set right in another place. That is the whole point of that often-repeated remark. Now, is there no anomaly in such a state of things as that when we, after seven years of stress and controversy in the country, 1828 achieved a majority for a certain policy in this House? ["No!"] How can hon. Gentlemen keep saying "No!" If I am wrong in that, then the Bill will not pass. If the Bill passes, that will show that we have got a majority in this House. Very well; we achieve a majority in this House, and you who protest against anomalies are leaning upon the rejection of this Bill in a House which is not representative, and where the majority in this House as now constituted will, perhaps, be represented, for aught I know, by 40 or 48 votes. Why, if you are going to begin hunting up all the anomalies you can find you should look at old institutions. After all, there is one broad question which I put without tie slightest desire to enter into any recriminatory discussion which may be in the slightest degree annoying to the Dissentient Liberals below the Gangway.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Liberal Unionists. We do not call you Separatists, because you object to that word. I ask you to call us by the name we have chosen.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I would just as soon use the one word as the other, and if Liberal Unionist is pleasanter to the ear than Dissentient Liberal I shall use the term. But when he says that he and his friends never call us out of our name, that is taxing the credulity of the House to a large degree. The Liberal Unionists owe us an answer to this question. In 1886, and constantly since, as the Member for Bodmin reminded us, they declared that they were ready to give to Ireland the utmost measure of self-government compatible with the safety of the Empire—that they would give everything to Ireland that England and Scotland had. They have been in power these six years. For those years they have been in a majority. They brought in no measure of reform until their last year, and then they had to be coerced into bringing in a Bill for improving. Local Government in Ireland. But what a Bill it was! That Bill was not passed. It was laughed out of the House. I am bound to say that nobody laughed at it more heartily than its 1829 author. This is the position in which we now stand. You refused our proposals for Home Rule in 1886, and you said you had an alternative policy—to widen popular institutions in Ireland within safe limits, to give Irishmen a greater share in the government of their own country. The Member for West Birmingham in those days used to say that Irishmen had no share in the government of their own country. That is eight years ago. What has he done, with all his power, with all his supporters in the Midlands and in this House, to give a single Irishman, let his be au Ulster man or not, an increased share in the government of his country? What reform has been effected in Ireland during the last seven years, when the late Government and their allies had the whole administration of Ireland and the whole machinery of this House and the votes of this House—the votes of both Houses—behind them? That is a question which they ought to answer. They may deplore Home Rule as much as they please, and I do not impugn their motives in doing it; but they know as well as we know the present state of things in Ireland, the present exclusion of Irishmen, even the ablest of them, from all part in the government of t heir country, their exclusion from all local institutions which are the very soul of our political system —they know that, in this state of things England is dishonoured and Ireland is misgoverned. Mr. Speaker, I think I detected in the speech of the right lion. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham a consciousness of the weakness in his disposition and that of Ins political friends, for in no part of his argument did he reject and repudiate Home Rule as a principle. What he did say was in criticising our plan. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman, in case we should be defeated, is revolving in his mind another Round Table Conference. I do not know if I should be invited to sit at it, but if I am it will be my duty to decline. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin made a speech very full of argument, and brought forward some criticisms upon the Bill which were, many of them, to the point. They were not all to the point, because he has not seen the Bill; and that shows what I may call the 1830 utility of this prolonged discussion before the Bill is brought in. Hon. Gentlemen get up and say, "I don't know what is in the Bill, but if that is in it it is wrong," and gentlemen on this Bench get up and say, "You must wait and see the Bill." I regard this prolonged discussion as futile. My right hon. Friend will find that every one of his points will be met—I do not say satisfactorily—by the Bill, and it will convince him that all his points have been considered. One point I will refer to for a single moment. He said the weakness of the Constitution proposed in the Bill is the character of the Assembly, or Lower House, which, lie said, would have no power to prevent hasty and bad proposals. He said there is no power in it sufficient to protect minorities. Then I knew well what was coming from my right hon. Friend, and lie deserves, I am sure, which he received, all credit for the honourable persistency With which he adheres to his remedy—his panacea—that there should be a proper representation of minorities. My right hon. Friend has thought a great deal about Ireland for years. Surely he must know that you can invent no plan for the representation of minorities in Ireland which will attain the end he desires, because the minorities, outside a narrow though important circumscription, are too small to be distinct. It is really so, and though one is always sorry to deprive a fanatic of his idol, my right hon. Friend ought to realise that of all places Ireland is the place where a plan for the artificial representation of minorities would be least able to secure the object in view. On the second night of the discussion the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said a few words about the Irish Constabulary with which, in substance, I find little fault. The right hon. Gentleman dwelt upon I the unfairness that would lie perpetrated, and this Parliament would be responsible for, if there were any slackness in the full acceptance of all the obligations the Imperial Government has entered into with that important Force. I can only tell the right hon. Gentleman and those who act with him that I should regard myself as one of the unworthiest of Ministers if I were a party to any transaction which did not recognise in the 1831 very fullest way every obligation that has been entered into with the men and officers in that Force. The right hon. Gentleman, when he sees the Bill in its fullest form, will see that we have not lost sight of what is due to that great and important Force. On finance the late Chancellor of the Exchequer made two or three remarks. One of them pointed to the difficulties which attend the arrangements for the fixing, imposition, and collection of Excise Duties. Upon finance generally I think it is too late to expatiate; hut I do think it is important that at this stage I should say there is a clause in the Bill to mark the principle that, while accepting the Customs as a full discharge under present circumstances of Revenue and of Charge, the Imperial Exchequer may be entitled to farther aid in a fair proportion from Ireland, should those circumstances Undergo a material change, or should any great common emergency arise. As regards the particulars of this and one or two other clauses, our present knowledge of the facts does not allow us to give them their final form. We acknowledge and do honour to the office which is rightly assumed by gentlemen from Ireland, as the champions of their country, not only in political respects, but in financial respects also. Their views shall receive from us the most careful consideration. On future stages of the Bill we shall be able further to state our views. We regard the Committee as the decisive stage. When we know the exact accurate estimate of Revenue and of Charge for the coming year we can consider, in precise and not merely in provisional terms, the language in which the clause should be finally expressed. I will not detain the House any longer. The general arguments on Home Rule will be better dealt with in the remarks on the Second Reading. The only point made strongly to-night by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was this—in case or war we should find ourselves at an immense disadvantage, and that t hat moment would be seized upon by gentlemen from Ireland to wring and extort concessions from us. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to have forgotten that 1782, 1832 when Grattan's Parliament was granted, was the year when Britain's power stood at its very lowest. But in all these arguments as to the effect of an Irish Legislature on the power of this country, hon. Gentlemen seem to forget that there is no reason why the safety and greatness of the Empire arc incompatible with the happiness of all those who live in it. All the arguments against this Bill, except, perhaps, that used by the right hon. Member for Bodmin, have dwelt on the assumption that Ireland is a constant, perpetual, and irreconcilable enemy. We accept no such proposition. I, for one, will never accept it, and I can only say that the more I see of Ireland, and the more closely I am brought into relations with Irishmen—and I have some friends who are called loyalists as well as a great many who are called Nationalists —the more convinced I am that there arc no people who would be more speedy to profit by a free Parliamentary Government. The right hon. Member for Birmingham taxed us with going into these proposals with a light heart. I, for my part, have never gone into this difficulty with a light heart. I have always known that it was a serious task in which we have embarked; and I know there are risks, though I believe they are not great. I am, like the right lion. Gentleman, for insurance, but we are insured. The last time I stood at this box and spoke in this House upon a Home Rule Bill comes into my mind. I warned the House that if they rejected that Bill, as they did, they must not think that the Irish Sphinx would gather up her rags and immediately depart from our midst. That prophecy has come true. It is as true to-night as it was seven years ago. It is because I believe now as firmly as I did then that we shall only exorcise this evil spirit in Ireland, and between Ireland and England, by such a Bill that I ask this House to allow us to introduce it.
§ Question put, and agreed.
§ Bill ordered to he brought in by Mr. Gladstone, Mr. John Morley, Mr. Secretary Asquith, and Mr. Attorney General.
§ Bill presented, and read the first time, [Bill 209.]