§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Irish Representation in the House of Commons.
§ Clause 9 (Representation in Parliament of Irish Counties and Boroughs).1288
§ SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
I rise to move the Amendment which stands in my name. In doing so, I will, as far as possible, avoid enlarging on the same arguments as were used in discussing the Amendment of my right hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage). No one will deny that the present representation of Ireland is out of proportion, and much too large. Even the Government propose that it should be reduced, and, of course, when we are practically breaking up the Union, we must consider the question entirely de novo. The number of Members proposed in the Bill is, I submit, far too large, and the test I suggest is, on the whole, the fairest as between the two Islands. There is, no doubt, much to be said for considering the population in the arrangement of the Irish Legislative Body, or, indeed, as regards any Parliament, which may, if they choose, interfere in any, even the minutest, details of life. In such a case individuals, over and above any due to their contribution, are entitled to a voice in the determination of matters pertaining to their convenience and comfort, the education of their children, sanitary legislation, and so on. But if this Bill were to become law, Ireland would settle such matters for herself. Why, then, should she interfere in ours? And why should she have a greater influence over our affairs than we ourselves would have? All purely Irish matters, the questions which affect the well-being, the comfort, and daily life of the people, are to be settled by the Irish for themselves. Under the Bill, the Irish contribution will be mainly for the service of the Debt and the Military Forces of the country. Surely, however, as regards both these matters, the voice of Ireland in the National Councils ought to depend on the proportion of their contribution. There is nothing in the payment of Debt, no consideration in the management of the Army and Navy, which enters into our special daily life or our individual existence. Ireland will bear, speaking roughly, l–40th part of the burden—why are they to have 5–40ths of the power? One of the old principles of the Liberal Party used to be that taxation and representation should go together and bear some relation to one another. Our Imperial Expenditure amounts, in round 1289 numbers, to £62,500,000. Of this Ireland will bear £1,500,000, and Great Britain £61,000,000. The population of Great Britain is 33,000,000; that of Ireland 4,700,000, therefore every Irishman living in Ireland will pay 6s. 6d., while every Englishman and Scotchman will have to pay £1 15s. Under these circumstances, it is clearly unreasonable that Ireland should send 80 Members to our 570 as proposed in the Bill. How will hon. Members who represent English and Scotch constituencies be able to reconcile this to their constituents, and, what is still more important, to their consciences? Such a proposal is a monstrous injustice to the people of Great Britain. When we have proposed Amendments Home Rule Members have told us, without a shadow of reason, that we were insulting them. But surely in this case we have grave reason to complain. I do not, indeed, say that Irish Home Rulers wish to insult us; but I do say that, not content with governing Ireland, they wish to dominate England and Scotland also. I am not now proposing that Ireland should have no Members, but merely that England and Scotland should have the proportion of Members to which they are justly entitled. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland very justly told us—not so very long ago—that under such a Bill as this Irish Home Rulers would not only be their own masters in Dublin, but our masters here also. This, then, is an English question. But then we are told that Irish Members would not care to vote on English questions. What evidence have we of that? Only the other day the Local Veto Bill came before the House. I say nothing about the Bill, whether it was a good or a bad measure. But how was it carried? It was a purely British measure; it did not apply to Ireland, and yet it was carried by Irish votes against the majority of Scotch and English Representatives. If we pass this clause we are committing an act of political suicide—we are performing a sort of national "happy despatch," to use a Japanese phrase. Nay, worse; we are placing ourselves in the power of Ireland. Irish Members will exercise a control which it will be impossible to resist. They will be able to determine our Ministers. If they make mistakes now their own people suffer; 1290 but under the Bill this check will be weakened, if not destroyed. Eighty votes count 160 on a Division. The Ministry of Great Britain will be made, by our own act, the tools and slaves of the Irish National League. It was once said that the law of Ireland was not the law of the land, but the law of the Land League. But under this Bill the Land League will not only rule Ireland, but Britain also. I do not base my contention on the character of Irish Members. The argument would be unanswerable if this were a Scotch Home Rule Bill. My contention is, that 80 Members who settle their own local affairs and then come here would have a most unfair advantage. Take the Budget. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would always know that if he proposed a Budget favourable to Ireland, he could rely on 80 Irish votes, counting 160 on a Division. Human nature could not stand such a temptation. This Bill is, indeed, a great surrender. You are betraying the destinies of our country into the hands of men who have told us over and over again that they have no love for us. I say that Englishmen and Scotchmen who vote for this clause, however good their intentions may be, are really betraying the interests of their country. The Government may carry the clause to-day; but I am sure that our countrymen will never tolerate the monstrous, unjust, and humiliating proposal contained in it. The spirit of the country will never brook it. We have been accustomed to rule, not to be ruled; to govern, not to obey. The Committee have, unfortunately, decided to retain Irish Members, but have not yet settled the numbers. My suggestion would leave Ireland some 30 to 40 Members, according to the principle finally adopted as to the Irish contribution, which I submit, under the circumstances, is ample even from the Government's point of view. I propose the Amendment which stands in my name, and appeal to English and Scotch Members not to support the proposal in the clause, the effect of which must be to place England and Scotland in the power of Ireland, and enable Irish Nationalist Members to wring concession after concession from a weak and unpatriotic Government.
In page 4, line 27, after the word "day," to insert the words "existing constituencies shall be abolished, and a number of Members shall be returned from Ireland to serve in Parliament bearing the same proportion to the total number of Members as the contribution of Ireland fixed in this Act bears to the total Imperial expenditure."—(Sir J. Lubbock.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Midlothian)
The speech of my right hon. Friend was distinguished by his usual mildness; he only called us, at the close, a weak and unpatriotic Government.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE, who was indistinctly heard, said: I was going to return my thanks to my right hon. Friend. I believe I have heard the word "treachery" used, and this from a Member for a University, too. I am sorry I am not able to tender my thanks to him for his mildness, which I had intended to offer. My right hon. Friend has taken the opportunity, in making this Motion, to assail the consistency of the Government. Its opinions have been known and formed for a great many years past. The Secretary for Scotland has been charged with changing his mind, but my right hon. Friend effected that process in a good number of years. What is the case of my right hon. Friend (Sir J. Lubbock)? Why, last night he voted for 103 Irish Members. Then came a Motion for the total exclusion of the Irish Members, and my right hon. Friend voted for that. [Cries of "No!"]
§ Sir J. LUBBOCK rose, but Mr. GLADSTONE declined to give way.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I am stating facts. My right hon. Friend now comes forward with another Motion, which he says will give 40 Members to Ireland; but, according to my reckoning, the number would be very much nearer 20 Members. So far as I can make out, the numbers now suggested are 20 to 25, or rather 23 and a fraction of 24. If I understand the argument of my right hon. Friend, it is that it is quite enough to have a small number of Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament to deal with such matters as the National Debt and 1292 military expenditure. But surely these are matters in which the poor man is greatly concerned. For 22 years before 1793 the military expenditure half-starved the population of this country; the agricultural population, more particularly, had not enough to keep body and soul together. The Irish are the poorest portion of the population, and they have been driven pretty nearly to starvation, independently of war. They have been ground down to dust. The poorest part of the population has the greatest interest in the question of military expenditure. But what I complain of is that this is the most reactionary of all the reactionary proposals we have had. When has the amount of taxation ever entered into the question of the franchise? No doubt it constituted a portion of the basis on which the original number of 100 Members was fixed by the Act of Union, and I rather think that, in determining what boroughs should go into Schedule A or Schedule B, there was some mention of taxation under the first Reform Bill; but never since the Act of Union has redistribution been made on the basis of taxation. We have arrived at another view of the matter, and that is that we have primarily and mainly to do, not with pounds, shillings, and pence, but with human beings. When the Reform Bill of 1884 was passed, the House was perfectly aware that the taxable capacity of Ireland was much less than that of other portions of the country; yet by the deliberate judgment of Parliament Ireland received not less representation, but rather more than was her due. In the Bill of 1867 Parliament proceeded upon the principle that, after all, the body and soul of the man were the main subjects before them, and not his capacity to pay. The labouring man has as genuine, as legitimate, and relatively as large an interest in good government as anyone else. I am quoting the uniform practice of Parliament, which has received the sanction of all Parties in Parliament, and I say that, after that sanction has constituted the basis of all legislation, it is, indeed, a strange thing that at the end of the century this superannuated Motion should be introduced which is so unjust in its ground and in its basis. The last instance bearing upon the case was the County Government Bill of the late Go- 1293 vernment, under which the object was to make the Electoral Divisions as nearly equivalent as possible, having regard to the area, to the pursuits, and to the Census. The idea of contribution by taxation to the Exchequer was never dreamed of. Upon the broad and strong foundation of Parliamentary precedent and conduct and authority, I ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
The First Lord of the Treasury commenced his very interesting speech by lecturing my right hon. Friend upon his inconsistency. Well, Sir, I cannot help thinking that that lecture would have been much more interesting and instructive to the House if it had come last night about half-past 11. We, I am sure, would have gratefully accepted it as a substitute for the very short speech in which my right hon. Friend moved the Closure. I do not hesitate to say that it was simply playing with the Committee for the Prime Minister to allege that the vote given by us on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Waterford was a vote in favour of 103 Members. The Leaders of the Opposition stated distinctly that that vote was given against the plan of the Government, and the Chairman stated that if that Motion were carried it would be possible to move an Amendment doing away with the Irish representation altogether. But another charge of inconsistency is brought against my right hon. Friend. The Prime Minister said that my right hon. Friend was inconsistent because, having voted last night for no Members at all, he now votes for 23½ Members. I should have thought it was perfectly consistent for us, who believe that the less we have of Irish representation the better, if this Bill is to be carried, after having failed to exclude them altogether, to vote for the smallest number we can possibly have. I quite agree that the tendency of the House hitherto has been to make representation in proportion to population, and taxation in proportion to capacity. My right hon. Friend said very truly that the interest of the poor man may be just as great as the interest of the rich man in questions of war and the National Debt; but I think it may also follow from that that when you come to deal with taxation you may take into consideration not 1294 only the units, but also the benefits received. And I would point out to my right hon. Friend that that is what we do in regard to municipal taxation. A great deal of the municipal taxation of the country is based not upon the number or proportion of human beings, but upon the proportion of the benefits each man receives. But that is not the ground upon which I press the Amendment. We are not dealing on this occasion with human beings as units, but with aggregations of human beings; and when my right hon. Friend said that the result of the Amendment would be to impose on poor human beings greater taxation in proportion than is imposed on rich human beings, the persons he was thinking of were the Irish human beings and not the human beings of Great Britain, whether rich or poor. I am interested for the poor British human beings. The human beings in Great Britain, whether they are rich or poor, in consequence of the proceedings of my right hon. Friend will have to pay a great deal more than they ought to do in order to relieve the human beings in Ireland for whom he has so great a sympathy. Do not suppose for a moment that this is a question between rich and poor. The taxation of Ireland under this Bill may be settled hereafter by the Irish people. They may if they like—they probably will—impose a greater part of the taxation upon those who are rich and well-to-do and relieve as far as possible those who are poor. It is not a question whether the poor will have to pay more or less, but the question whether Ireland as a whole is to be relieved of her fair share of taxation in order that Great Britain as a whole may pay a great deal more?
§ COLONEL BRIDGEMAN (Bolton)
said, as he had an Amendment down similar to the present one he should like to say a word or two before the Division was taken. Three or four years ago there was a very important meeting at Hawarden between the late Mr. Parnell and the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister then, as they were told, suggested that the proper number of Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament would be 32, and he wanted to know how that figure was arrived at. As far as he was able to see, it was got at by calcu- 1295 lating the Irish contributions to the Imperial Expenditure. The Imperial Expenditure was put at £60,000,000. The Irish contribution to the Imperial Expenditure by the Bill of 1886 was £3,200,000 odd. That would leave the British contribution at £56,700,000 odd, and there were 567 British Members in that House; therefore, there would be one Member to every £100,000 contributed to the Imperial Expenditure. The number of Irish Members was to have been 32, which was exactly one for every £100,000. It was a coincidence that these figures should have worked out so exactly, unless the Prime Minister had intended that that should be the proper contribution. As in 1886 the proposal was there should be no Irish Members in this House, the contribution was to be £3,200,000. At the time of the Hawarden interview nothing was said about the contribution, but the number of Members was to be 32. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: No, no!] He was aware the right hon. Gentleman disclaimed the published accounts of that interview, and particularly said that the proposals were not formal, and not unanimous, and not final. They fully accepted the view that they were not formal, because they were not made officially by the Government; not unanimous, because the whole Ministry did not agree to them: and not final, because no one could ever accuse the right hon. Gentleman of making a final proposal. To connect the word "final" with the name of the right hon. Gentleman was a contradiction. The proposals, then, were neither formal, nor unanimous, nor final. But the right hon. Gentleman never said that the particular proposal of 32 Members was not made. Here was Mr. Parnell's account of the matter—Upon the subject of the retention of the Irish Members Mr. Gladstone told me that the opinion, and the unanimous opinion, of his Colleagues and himself, recently arrived at after most mature consideration of alternative proposals, was that in order to conciliate English public opinion it would be necessary to reduce the Irish representation from 103 to 32.After that he really thought it was a little hard that the Prime Minister should speak of inconsistency on the part of the Member for the University of London, who had really proposed a scheme fair to the constituencies of this country, and which ought, therefore, to 1296 command the support of English Members.
§ EARL COMPTON (York, W.R., Barnsley)
said, the Members of the Committee had heard from the right hon. Member for West Birmingham that the object of the Party which he led was to get a smaller representation of Irish Members in that House; the less the better, said the right hon. Gentleman. He (Earl Compton) was one of those who in 1886 disagreed with the Government as regarded the exclusion of the Irish Members. He himself was then strongly in favour of their inclusion as he was now; therefore, he had not been inconsistent in that view during the last six or seven years. Who were those who were most active in public speeches, on public platforms, and in that House with arguments in favour of the inclusion of the Irish Representatives? Not the Leaders of the present Government, but the Leaders of the Liberal Unionist Party. He could refer to many speeches delivered by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham himself to this effect. He remembered, in particular, a speech of the present Duke of Devonshire, in which he said that the inclusion of the Irish Members was absolutely necessary, and that it was the outward and visible sign of the unity of the Empire. The Liberals were told they were Separatists, although at the present moment they were defending the inclusion of the Irish Members against those who wished to exclude them altogether or have as small a representation as possible, and who had hitherto called themselves Unionists. But, if the inclusion of the Irish Members was the outward and visible sign of the unity of the Empire, and hon. Gentlemen opposite wished to exclude them, how could they any longer call themselves Unionists? The right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment, speaking of the time when the Bill would have passed and there would be 80 Representatives in that House, referred to them as Nationalist Members. He protested against the idea that every Member returned from Ireland would be a Nationalist. Out of these 80 Irish Members, continuing in their present proportions, they would have 64 Nationalist and 16 non-Nationalist Members. Again, if that Bill passed and they had 80 Irish Members in that House who had got a 1297 Legislature of their own, was there any man who believed that the Nationalists would always vote together upon every question that came before the House? They would, no doubt, vote as a solid body as regarded Irish matters; but as regarded Imperial questions, it was perfectly certain there would be a difference of opinion among the Irish Members as there was amongst, English Members. He must also protest against one phrase which the right hon. Gentleman used, and that was that they (the Liberals) should be the tools and slaves of the Irish Party. He heard one hon. Gentleman say, "That is what you are now." He supposed by that was meant that the Government was kept in power through the votes of the Irish Members. [Opposition cheers.] Just so. Then he would ask hon. Gentlemen opposite who cheered that statement whether it would be fair for him to stand up in that House and say they were the slaves and tools of the Liberal Unionists, whose votes alone kept them in power for seven years? There was no difference whatever in the two cases, so far as he could see. The ostensible object of the Amendment was that they should have representation, not according to population, but according to the contributions to the Imperial Expenditure. But the real object of the Amendment was not so much that it should be carried as that they should have a long list of Amendments, one after another, to waste the time of the House. [" No, no! "] Then why did not some responsible ex-Minister put down some Amendment, so that they might understand what they wanted?
THE MARQUESS OF CARMARTHEN (Lambeth, Brixton)
I wish to ask, Mr. Chairman, is this discussing the Amendment?
§ EARL COMPTON
was trying to show what the real meaning of the Amendment was, and that was why he asked that someone should come forward with a real Amendment instead of these shams which they were likely to have for some considerable time. The country understood perfectly well what was the meaning of this. As far as he was concerned, he should have preferred personally to have had the Irish representation exactly as it was at the present moment; and although he voted with the Government for 80 Members, he did so 1298 with the distinct condition in his own mind—and which he should carry out—that those 80 should be allowed to vote on all subjects when they came into that House. In his opinion, they would tend to destroy the Imperial unity if they did not have seated in that House Representatives from all parts of the United Kingdom voting on all questions. That had always been his view; he held it still, and at the proper time he should move that the Irish Members should have the power to vote in all matters.
§ MR. VICARY GIBBS (Herts, St. Albans)
said, the noble Lord afforded an illustration of a Member who thought one way and voted another. The noble Lord had asked why, if the Unionists considered the retention of the Irish Members was the outward and visible sign of the real unity of the Kingdom, they could vote against their retention. The answer was a very simple one. The Bill was a thoroughly bad one, whether they had the Irish Members in or out, and that it was quite impossible to make it a good one by keeping the Irish Members in. If it were possible, he was sure they would vote for it instead of against it; but if they took one course they were landed in one difficulty, and if they took another course they were landed in another difficulty. The noble Lord said it was impossible to suppose that all the Irish Members returned to that House would vote together on Imperial questions. So it would be if they considered Imperial questions on their merits. But that was exactly what they were afraid they would not do, and that was their reason for wishing to see as few as possible of the Irish Members in that House. They believed they would subordinate Imperial questions to their Irish interests as distinguished from other parts of Great Britain, and the tendency of the Irish Members—irrespective of Party—would be for them all to vote together with the view of getting the best possible terms they could for Ireland. Thus Irish Members who did not agree with their compatriots on other questions would be almost necessarily compelled to act with them on Imperial questions. They were, therefore, face to face with a great danger, and however much hon. Members might try to disguise it in that House the constituencies would realise the 1299 danger they were placed in if 80 Irish Members were sitting in that House who were prepared to subordinate the interests of the Empire to the interests of Ireland. The reason which induced the Opposition to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Waterford was to express their dissent from the plan proposed by the Government, and they felt themselves perfectly at liberty in future to support any such proposal as that of the right hon. Baronet or any other. Why, instead of turning round with a tu quoque to the Mover of the Amendment, did not the Prime Minister allow the Secretary for Scotland to get up and explain his change of action on this question? Was the Secretary for Scotland afraid to stand up and explain?
§ MR. VICARY GIBBS
should have thought there was every reason for the right hon. Gentleman to explain the course he had thought fit to adopt. The reason which induced him (Mr. Gibbs) to support the Amendment was not the question that representation should be settled by taxation and not by population—his views were rather in a contrary sense—but because he considered that in regard to such a Bill it would be their interest to reduce, in any way they could and by any amendment, the number of Irish Members who would sit in that House.
§ MR. J. A. BRIGHT (Birmingham, Central)
said, that he had some reluctance to intervene in that Debate, not only because the time in which they were allowed to speak at all was very short, but because what he intended to say could be much better said by others. The Committee, however, would admit that he represented a name which was once well-known and honoured in that House, particularly in connection with Irish affairs and with efforts for the good of Ireland which were made a great many years ago and long before many other politicians had turned their attention to that subject. He had also succeeded to the representation of a very large and important constituency—an old stronghold of Liberalism—and he thought that it, perhaps, might be expected by his constituents that he should say a word in that Debate. In the affecting peroration with which the Prime Minister ended his 1300 speech on the introduction of this Bill he begged of them to forget the past. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman said, "Let the dead past bury its dead," and urged them to forget all that had passed of differences between the British and the Irish Members in that House. Well, he, for his part, would be glad to be able to forget those things, but then the past was all from which he was able to judge of the future. He was there as a trustee for a great trust given to him by his constituents, and it was his duty to see that in these discussions their opinions were expressed, and that they were, as far as possible, safeguarded from the disaster which he thought that he foresaw in the near future. He was surprised on the previous night when quotations were made from speeches of the right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench. There was a quotation from a speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland as to his opinion held not long ago, that by an arrangement just such as was now proposed the Irish would be masters of that House. Was that a position which any patriotic English Minister could regard with satisfaction? He (Mr. Bright) would have thought that if a Minister held such views it would have been impossible for him to have joined in a plan to bring about such a result. The Prime Minister was also quoted as having said that the retention of the Irish Members was a question for the consideration of the Members for Great Britain, and should be left to their decision. The right hon. Gentleman was questioned on this point yesterday, but they got no answer at all. Ministers sat silent. They reminded him of the position of a witness in the Police Court who refused to answer questions put to him because he might incriminate himself. His position was that the Irish Members were going to get great independence at home, and, therefore, he and other British Members were reluctant to lose their independence in that House. The Prime Minister had described the Amendment as a reactionary proposal; but that statement came badly from the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman, who not long ago proposed to exclude the Irish Members altogether. He freely confessed that of the three alternatives for dealing with this problem he preferred exclusion altogether. He knew 1301 that total exclusion was called de facto separation. But that would be better for Great Britain than a muddled-up arrangement such as the in-and-out proposal, which seemed to him the most ridiculous proposal that was ever conceived. He only asked that in return for the relief given to the Irish Members in the management of their own affairs, British Members might have some mitigation of Irish interference in British affairs. He did not wish to delay the Committee by making a long speech. They all knew what a very limited time they had at their disposal, but there were one or two things he would still like to say. The noble Lord who had just spoken (Lord Compton) had said that they introduced that Amendment to bring in a long string of other Amendments. He should have thought that the noble Lord would have seen that the Unionists were not able to do this. They had that Bill put into water-tight compartments. They would try, of course, to ram one of those compartments, and if they turned the whole Bill over they would be greatly delighted. But it had frequently been complained by them that they had not had sufficient time to discuss the Bill. They had been told that they had spent more time over it than had been spent over certain specified Bills. But it might as well be complained against a boa constrictor that it took an hour to swallow a sheep when previously it had taken only a few minutes for a rabbit. That Bill was the largest ever brought before them, and in proportion to its size was the time that should be allowed for the discussion. Charges were brought against the Unionist Members, and he did not know whether the supporters of the Government would believe that to him it was a painful thing to have to oppose a Bill brought in by the right hon. Gentleman who was now at the head of the Government. He was brought up to admire the Prime Minister from his earliest youth and even to revere him. He had not forgotten that lesson. But whatever his feelings in that respect he felt that he was bound to oppose what he believed to be a most dangerous and evil proposal. If he believed that the Bill would bring peace to Ireland and give relief to the House of Commons he would refrain from op- 1302 posing it. But he could not but look at the nature of the Bill, full as it was of safeguards and restrictions. He felt certain that if the Irish Members continued there they would be continually trying to get the safeguards and restrictions removed. Many of the safeguards were in reality weak, though they looked strong. Whether the Irish Members wished it or not they would be compelled in the future to try to get the safeguards removed on account of their restrictive character. Thus, instead of having a reign of peace in Ireland and a time of relief in that House, there would only be interference and constant discussion in an aggravated form. That being his opinion, he felt bound to support an Amendment which reduced the number of Irish Members who could interfere to the lowest limit.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said, it was a great satisfaction that upon one point, at least, the Committee was unanimous, and that was upon the point that whatever might be the number of Irish Members returned to that House it should no longer be 103. The Government suggested it should be 80; the right hon. Baronet opposite suggested it should be in proportion to contribution, and the Members from Ireland were quite prepared to accept that or some other number yet to be found; and so far as he could see there was only one Member of that House—the Member for Waterford—who had ever entertained the notion that the representation of Ireland in this Parliament should remain at 103. He could understand that the Irish Members, having made and unmade Ministries here, would regret going back to Ireland, which was not a very large part of the Empire. The hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond) was apparently the only Member, however, who was unwilling, in some degree, to go. He wished to point out that they had always been ready to follow. In November, 1890, there was a great readiness on the part of the late Leader of the Irish Party (Mr. Parnell) to reduce the Irish representation at Westminster to 32. That was a remarkable number. It was one that the Prime Minister had dealt with in reference to Irish opinion in that House. In 1886 it was said by the right hon. Gentleman that if Ireland was to have Home Rule they should not have Irishmen sitting in 1303 that House; but in 1890 the Prime Minister said he was agreeable to the number to sit in that House being 32.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
Mr. Parnell said that the Prime Minister told him that—It was the unanimous opinion of his Colleagues, recently arrived at, after mature consideration, that in order to conciliate English opinion it would be necessary to reduce the Irish representation here from 103 to 32.I do not hear the right hon. Gentleman repeat that "No."
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said, it never was denied by Mr. Parnell, who said it. It was perfectly true that a letter was written by the Prime Minister on the subject—
§ MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)
I wish to ask, Mr. Mellor, whether this has anything to do with the Amendment?
I cannot say that it has nothing to do with the Amendment, but it is not very near the issue raised by it.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said, he had to thank the Chairman for ruling him in Order, as he was sure he would do. The question he was arguing was that the Prime Minister, having started in 1886 at zero, had gone up in 1890 to 32,and had now come to 80, though by what process he had arrived at the latter number was not quite clear. Thirty-two was, at least, a definite number. This Amendment stood on a definite basis, and, as far as he was concerned, he was willing to accept 32. They were not to assume, however, that with this reduced number they would not have to deal with Irish questions, for the difficulty as to the exercise of the veto under the scheme of 1886 had been pointed out by the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton), and the same hon. Member had said that under the present scheme—A Bill passed by the Irish Legislature might be set aside for a time by the veto, but that there was nothing to prevent the Irish Legislature passing it again and again, the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament being meanwhile, more in evidence than before.1304 That, of course, was the hon. Member's affair. Although the Irish Members would be here in limited numbers they would be a greater force, and everything done before would be done with greater vigour. So that a Body of 20 or 30 Members might be equal in force to 103. They were, at any rate, agreed they would not have 103. What, then, was to be the exact number? He thought the Amendment proceeded on fair lines, and he should support it.
§ SIR J. LUBBOCK
said, when the Prime Minister twitted him with inconsistency in consequence of the vote he gave last night he rose, but the right hon. Gentleman declined to give way. His object was to point out that the Chairman had ruled that, even if the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond) were carried, he would still have been able to move his Amendment. The Prime Minister argued throughout as if the question were one between rich and poor; but that was not so. It was a question as to the relative amount of political power which in future was to be exercised by Great Britain and Ireland respectively. He wished to increase England's share; the Government, on the contrary, gave more to Ireland. He had hoped that some English or Scotch Gladstonian Member would have supported him in claiming a greater share for England and Scotland. As, however, they showed no disposition to do so, he felt it was useless to divide, and would content himself with his protest and ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
Is it your pleasure that leave be given to withdraw the Amendment? [Cries of "No!" "Yes!" and "Divide!"] I think the "Noes" have it.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ *SIR CHARLES W. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean) moved, in page 4, line 27, after "constituencies" to insert "hereinafter," and omit in line 28 the words "in the Second Schedule to this Act." He said the redistribution scheme of the Bill was contained in this clause and the Schedule taken together, and that their effect was to upset the agreement of the 1305 28th November, 1884, between the Parties in the State, and to re-open the whole subject of redistribution in Great Britain as well as Ireland. He would not quote the document that contained that agreement in a written form, except so far as it had already been quoted by the late Sir Stafford Northcote and himself; but to that extent he should refer to it. The proposals of the Bill violated the agreement at two points. The first main clause of the agreement was that, while there should be in future no minority representation under any direct provisions, there should be an indirect representation of minorities by the all but universal creation of single-Member districts—universal in counties. The present Bill, legislating in the most indirect and most objectionable manner by means of a note to a Schedule, kept single-Member divisions in the Irish boroughs; but destroyed them in the counties, and under this Bill nine counties were to return three Members each in a single constituency, and 14 were to return two each. No doubt this provision had been inserted in the Bill in order to avoid the creation of a Boundary Commission; but it was a novel proposal, for in former days the three-Member constituencies had been subject to a Minority Clause, and the effect of the Bill would be to destroy a considerable measure of minority representation at present secured by the single-Member district system, and actually existing at the present time. The other main peculiarity of the proposals of the Bill consisted in the destruction of the existing balance between borough and county representation. The Liberal scheme of 1884 had provided for an exact equality of representation of counties and of boroughs, and had been accepted as fair on this head by the Conservative Party, who naturally attached much importance to receiving satisfaction on this point; but by the present provisions 21 county seats were taken away from Ireland and not a single borough seat, although the first seats to go ought to have been seats from five small boroughs. On the 21st February last a debate had been initiated by the Member for Wandsworth, in the course of which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said—" Sooner rather than later there must be another Redistribution Bill." What they wanted was 1306 "a common-sense adjustment." Under it "some smaller constituencies would be done away with altogether." The satisfaction of the House with this statement had been expressed from both sides; but by the present proposal the existing electoral discrepancies were enormously increased, and the House might contrast Cardiff with 17,833, or the Romford Division of Essex with between 18,000 and 19,000 electors, with, on the other side, Newry, Kilkenny, or Galway. The Romford Division of Essex had more than ten times the population, more than ten times the rateable value, and ten times the electorate of any one of the three smallest of the small Irish boroughs which would be separately represented in the House. Under the scheme of the Bill the Irish counties would be greatly under-represented. The County of Antrim had its representation reduced, and was given but three seats for between 36,000 and 37,000 electors. The County of Armagh had its representation reduced, and was given two seats for between 25,000 and 26,000 electors, and in that county the Home Rule minority, at present represented, was extinguished. In County Down the Home Rule minority, at present represented, was also, in a Parliamentary sense, extinguished; and County Down was reduced to three Members for nearly 38,000 electors. The County of Fermanagh was reduced to one Member for its 12,000 electors, and the present representation of the Tory minority was extinguished. The County of Kildare was also reduced to one Member for 12,000 electors; the County of Kilkenny to one seat for over 12,000 electors. The County of Mayo was reduced to three seats for 34,000 electors. Queen's County was reduced to one seat, and Waterford County to one seat—both of them having over 13,000 electors. Great discrepancies would also be found between the Irish boroughs themselves. East Belfast and Dublin Harbour Division had 11,500 electors to one Member in each case, while Kilkenny, Newry, and Galway had only about 1,800 to 1,900 electors each. The reason was the Prime Minister's wish to be tender to the few Irish towns; but the result was the introduction of fresh and increased anomalies, at the very moment when the Government were pro- 1307 mising the diminution of those which had been shown to exist at the present time. He would not trouble the Committee with further observations. So far as he was concerned, whatever line the Government might take on this question, he did not think the present was a convenient opportunity for dividing on the scheme. But he had thought that this was a convenient opportunity for debating it, as the clause contained matters bearing upon the redistribution proposals of which he had spoken. It would be impossible to pass this clause by without in some sense committing themselves; but a better opportunity of dividing would be afforded by the words of the Schedule if the Government were not able to give way.
In page 4, line 27, after the word "constituencies," to insert the word "hereinafter."—(Sir Charles W. Dilke.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'hereinafter' be there inserted."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (who was indistinctly heard)
I cannot be surprised that my right hon. Friend has taken the opportunity to call attention to the question of the redistribution of seats. I agree with him that it is impossible to deal finally with the subject at the present moment; but, on the other hand, I cannot deny that the words of the clause as they now stand before us fairly raise the question of the construction of the Schedule. My right hon. Friend has pointed out the defects, as he considers them, of the Schedule—certainly, the points on which they fall short of giving close effect to any abstract principle or any numerical principle. He supposes various motives, which he thinks must have governed Ministers in the consideration of this matter, and which must have induced them to propose a plan of this kind. The reasons which my right hon. Friend has given as probably leading to the plan proposed by the Government have been rightly conceived by him—that is to say, as far as they go—but I may say there is rather a larger conception of the matter than any which has been stated by my right hon. Friend. It was quite obvious to us that it would be very unsafe to found ourselves upon the existing divisions of counties as the basis of our plan, because it is intended by the Bill that the particulars 1308 of Irish representation in Dublin shall, after a very short time, come into the hands of the Irish Legislature itself, and we should have run serious risk of confusion, seeing that cross-divisions might have been adopted—that is to say, seeing that we might have divided the counties for one purpose, and that the Irish Legislature would have divided them for another purpose in an entirely different manner. This confusion of jurisdiction would have raised what we considered a great difficulty. We were anxious, moreover, not to overload the Bill, which already contained such a mass of matter that we had to take steps to bring the discussion to a conclusion; and, therefore, we had to content ourselves with a system which would be more or less a rough system. We could not involve ourselves in all the difficulties of an elaborate redistribution scheme. For example, it is plain that under such a redistribution scheme certain very small boroughs in Ireland would have to disappear. Now, to attempt any process of disfranchisement, even in the case of small boroughs, would be a very serious affair when they were not, ex professo, dealing with Parliamentary reform at all. Public sentiment has required the retention of the Irish Members, and the retention of the Irish Members in this House equally requires that the number should be reduced. We have avoided any violent innovation, and the scheme is, so to speak, in the rough; because, being a collateral matter, it was impossible to bring to bear the whole attention of Parliament to the subject. The Government, therefore, have proceeded on a basis which will avoid disfranchisement, which will not be open to the charge of injustice as between one Party and another, and which will make a sufficiently fair representation of Ireland in this House until the time shall come, to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer alluded on a former night, when the whole subject of redistribution will have to be faced. It may, however, be practicable to amend the Schedule of the Bill without very great dislocation of particulars, and without the necessity of introducing very grave considerations. Most decidedly, if there is any man in the House who is the man to make suggestions of such a character without entailing much labour on the House it is my 1309 right hon. Friend. I acknowledge the great acquaintance with the subject possessed by my right hon. Friend, who was responsible for conducting the Redistribution Bill of 1885 through the House of Commons, and who performed his task with such general satisfaction. I may add that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bury is one of those with considerable knowledge on the subject, through, perhaps, he might regard any attempt to improve any part of the Bill as a useless sacrifice of time.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said, he had one or two Amendments on the question of the Schedules, and, as he represented one of the counties which would be affected, he might be allowed to say a word or two. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean had said that the county representation had suffered as compared with the borough representation. Well, one had only to look at two facts to find that out. Take the County of Antrim. There there was an electorate of close on 37,000, and there was to be a representation of three in that House. Now, if they took five small boroughs—namely, Galway, with 1,909 electors; Kilkenny, with 1,806; Newry, with 1,547; Waterford, with 3,081; and Limerick, with 5,914, they got a total electorate of something like 14,600; and yet the five boroughs were to have five Members, or two more than the 36,000 electors in the County of Antrim. He did not think the matter could be put in a more striking light than that. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had said that it was very difficult to touch the question of disfranchisement in a Bill like this. That was true, but it must not be forgotten that the Schedule disfranchised certain places in Ireland as it was. It took one Member from County Antrim, another from Armagh, and another from Tyrone. What he wanted to know was, how the right hon. Gentleman had managed to make it a disfranchising Schedule in one respect, whilst avoiding making it a disfranchising Schedule in the other? How was it he found no difficulty in disfranchising the counties whilst leaving the boroughs severely alone? Take another case. Cork had an electorate of 10,276. In the future it was to have two Representatives; and the County of Armagh, with 26,000 electors, was only to have 1310 two Representatives. He did not know on what principle the Schedule had been drawn. The proposal was clearly a disfranchising one, and, therefore, the arguments of the Prime Minister could not apply. The disfranchising Schedule had been inserted to the detriment of the Unionist Party. The Prime Minister had found no difficulty in hitting at that Party, but had found considerable difficulty in hitting at the Nationalists, and to save their wretched boroughs he had taken Representatives from the counties in the Province of Ulster. He hoped that, sooner or later, there would be an opportunity afforded of attacking the proposal on the Schedules.
thought the Prime Minister would have been better off, so far as this clause was concerned, if he had allowed the number of Irish Members to stand at 103, for now he was bound to be opposed whatever scheme he proposed for redistributing the Irish seats. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean was, perhaps, the greatest authority on electoral law in the House; but presumably he did not know much about the Irish electoral system. They might prepare a beautiful system of redistribution in Ireland; but, after all, the numbers of the electorate would depend on the Clerks of the Unions, who were paid a certain sum for the names they put on the Register. The result was that in some Unions the names of a large number of dead men were on the Roll.
§ An hon. MEMBER: They will vote nevertheless.
said, that although the fact that electors were dead might be pointed out to clerks they would insist upon keeping them on the Roll and in being paid for them, owing to the state of the Registration Law in Ireland. The population was a truer test than the number of electors. He regretted that the Committee had practically decided in favour of the Irish representation being 80, though the Prime Minister had lessened his objection by stating that in voting no one was bound to the details of the Schedule. The question of the number 80 might be regarded as a detail. The most important point, according to the hon. Member for Tyrone, was the destruction of the boroughs. Well, on 1311 that point, speaking without bias, having always represented a county constituency in the House, he did not think it would be a wise thing to disfranchise the small boroughs, and make Ireland consist entirely of country districts. It would not be wise to destroy the urban spirit in politics throughout the West of Ireland. He disagreed with the reduction of the Irish Representatives; but if the number had to be reduced he doubted whether it could be effected better than by reducing the county Members.
§ MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)
Notwithstanding the closeness with which I think everyone will admit the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean put his case before the Committee, I cannot help thinking that we are in some difficulty in considering the matter. It was very difficult for those who do not represent particular boroughs or counties to follow the general effect of the suggestions of the right hon. Baronet. But what I would point out respectfully to the Committee is this—that if we are in a difficulty in discussing the Schedules now, what difficulty shall we not be in when we reach the Schedules in the fourth compartment? I would venture to point out that it is extremely questionable whether it will be possible to give a single day to the discussion of this extremely important and difficult question, for the Committee will remember that the fourth compartment begins with the new financial proposals of the Government, and I think it highly probable that from all parts of the House these financial proposals will have to be discussed very seriously indeed. Then, what will be the position? We shall arrive at the Schedule when there will be no time to discuss the question raised by the right hon. Baronet. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has stated that this is a rough plan. We shall be in this position: that the rough plan will have to be accepted en bloc, like that relating to the Legislature of Ireland. Not only are the Members returned to us from Ireland to be in an anomalous position, but they are to be elected with new anomalies and all the defects that have been pointed out by the right hon. Baronet. The Prime Minister says there is no taint of disfranchisement about his proposal. That 1312 statement has been answered to a certain extent already by the hon. Member for South Tyrone. "No taint about the plan "—when one of the first constituencies in Ireland, namely, Dublin University, is to be disfranchised. The right hon. Gentleman is very particular that not the smallest population in Ireland shall be disfranchised. But at a time when it is not necessary, when he has only got a piece of rough work to do, according to his own confession, when he is only proposing something temporary, which he apparently thinks will afterwards have to be considered, he takes the franchise from the first constituency in Ireland. [Cheers.] That statement is cheered by hon. Gentlemen—even by the right hon. Gentleman himself.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The Amendment raises it, and I was replying—I hope not disrespectfully—to the right hon. Gentleman, who said there was no taint of disfranchisement in the Bill.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I said neither the one nor the other, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it quite well.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I do not know it quite well, but I was under the impression that the right hon. Gentleman had said so, otherwise I should not have suggested it.
§ Several hon. MEMBERS: He did say it.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
As a matter of fact, I did not say that the right hon. Gentleman had said that there was a taint of disfranchisement in the Bill, but I said, at all events, there is a taint of disfranchisement about it. The right hon. Gentleman, I say, will not sacrifice the smallest borough in Ireland, but he is prepared to gain two seats by the sacrifice of the representation of Dublin University. The right hon. Gentleman said, and he said truly, that there was an enormous amount of work in this Bill, and he justified by this enormous amount of work his course in taking this rough method instead of a more scientific and, let me add, more just redistribution. At all events, I bail with satisfaction his 1313 admission that this Bill does contain an enormous amount of matter which is to be dealt with in three compartments, and I say that an altogether inadequate amount of time will be left for the discussion of the Schedule. Notwithstanding the speech of the right hon. Baronet, if there is anything to be raised in connection with the question of redistribution, I think to-night will be about the last opportunity we shall have for discussing it.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir W. HARCOURT, Derby)
The right hon. Gentleman has criticised the course the Government have taken, and this question arises on what he calls a compartment of the Bill. The question of dividing the Bill into "compartments" has been settled, and we cannot argue it over again. I would ask the right hon. Baronet what course he proposes to take with his Amendment, the subject of which really relates to the Schedule? It is not proposed in this clause to settle all the details, therefore I do not understand, if the Amendment is carried, what proposals will be submitted in regard to this clause. I presume he could propose another Schedule founded on a different principle. That I could understand, but I would venture to suggest that this is not the proper time for the Amendment, unless the right hon. Baronet proposes—which I do not understand him to propose—that we should do the whole redistribution work in this clause. I am not going into the criticisms which have been offered on the plan of redistribution of the Government; but objection has been taken to leaving a number of small boroughs untouched. But if you do not do this Ireland will be almost denuded of borough representation altogether, because with the exception of a few large places—Dublin, Limerick, Belfast, Cork—you have no boroughs that could be left. There are not half-a-dozen boroughs of considerable size in Ireland.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
Then is it intended that borough representation shall be abolished in Ireland? ["No!"] Very well, then; you must leave the small boroughs. The right hon. Gentleman who last spoke, I suppose, would follow up his own suggestion when he voted to keep 103 Members here. If he were willing to keep them—
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I used on a previous occasion a strong expression in regard to that statement, and expressed regret for having used it, and said that it was quite untrue.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I take the meaning of the vote from the ruling of the Chair. But I will not quarrel with the right hon. Gentleman as to what he meant by his vote. I will only adopt the outside interpretation—that used by people who are anxious to keep the Irish representation exactly as it is. There would be no difficulty in the matter if their view prevailed; but if you desire to reduce the number of Irish Members you must of necessity have a redistribution. There is no alternative; and then the course to be taken is obvious enough. It is not desirable to destroy the small borough representation, because that would be to annihilate borough representation. Some seats have been taken from the Irish counties, but that was a matter which you cannot deal with in this clause. You must postpone the decision of that question to some future day, and to discuss the matter now is simply beating the air. I would suggest that, having raised the question and stated his views, the right hon. Baronet should not press the matter.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL (Paddington, S.)
I wish to know whether I shall be in Order, Mr. Mellor, in commenting on the right hon. Gentleman's argument upon the ruling you gave last night? I should like to have a decision on that point, because your ruling is persistently misrepresented, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer devoted some minutes of his argument to it.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
It is not so much to answer his argument that I desire as to make a true assertion against the right hon. Gentleman's inaccurate assertion. It has been pointed out over and over again that we were obliged to vote against the Government plan last night, because that was the only way in which we could raise the question of the exclusion of the Irish Members. That was the position as we understood it to be put from the Chair. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE was understood to dissent.] Well, I am telling you what is the fact. 1315 Our facts are just as much entitled to credit as your facts. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer speaks of our having voted for the retention of 103 Members he makes the most inaccurate statement ever made in the whole course of an inaccurate career. I gather that the right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Dilke) is not going to take the sense of the Committee upon his Amendment.
§ SIR C. DILKE
What I said was that this was obviously not a convenient Amendment to divide upon, and that the proper time for dividing, if we did not get a better scheme, would be on the Schedule.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
No doubt we shall divide on the Schedule, but what discussion we shall get on the Schedule is very problematical. However strong may be the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman against the redistribution scheme, if he does not use them to-night, he will never have the opportunity of bringing them forward. With regard to the redistribution scheme, I think the preservation of the small boroughs is a very great blot upon it. You have destroyed nearly all the small boroughs in England, whilst they are grouped in Scotland and Wales. I think there are also groups of boroughs in Cornwall. You cannot group boroughs in Ireland, because they are too far from each other. I really do not know how Radicals and Liberals can consent to give representation to such tiny specimens of communities. The Prime Minister denies that there is any taint of disfranchisement in the Bill. Well, he disfranchises Dublin University. No casuistry can escape from that. I believe that representation was given to Dublin University by the Act of Union.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
But you have taken away both Members; and yet you actually say there is no taint of disfranchisement in the scheme. The learned Bodies throughout the world, and particularly in England and Scotland, will tremble for their existence. [Ministerial cheers.] Yes; the Chancellor of the Exchequer would disfranchise Cambridge University, and the Prime Minister would disfranchise Oxford University. That is a nice declaration to come from two of the 1316 most distinguished sons of those great Universities! At all events, I do not believe the disfranchisement of Trinity College will be popular in Ireland, even amongst the Nationalists. I was certainly immensely struck by the way in which some of the Nationalist Members spoke in the Debate on Trinity College. However, as I know this Bill will never pass, I think it a most intolerable waste of time to discuss it. We do it, but it is a very great strain on our civility towards the House of Commons. Whatever form the Bill takes, the discussion will all end in smoke, and the Bill will be a very different measure before the end of the year.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, the proposal of the Government was to reduce the number of the Irish Members from 103 to 80 by taking away 21 seats from the counties and none from the boroughs. This he regarded as very unfair. In the counties there was to be one Member for every 13,000 electors, and yet Newry, with only 1,800 electors and a population of a little over 13,000, was to have a Member, as was Kilkenny, where the conditions were somewhat similar. If three out of the 14 boroughs were deprived of Members the change would not be a very violent one. All he could do was to appeal to the good sense of the Government. The present proposal was unfair to the very large counties, and he hoped the Government would see their way to alter it.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
said, he wished to point out to the hon. Member who had just sat down that he would notionally be unable to discuss the Schedule, but would be powerless to move Amendments to it. Therefore, unless the Government treated the Schedule as they had treated the Financial Clauses and put an alternative scheme before the Committee, nobody would be able to give effect to their views that some fair system of redistribution should obtain in Ireland .
§ MR. J. E. REDMOND (Waterford)
said, the last two or three speeches that had been delivered had, in effect, amounted to au appeal to the Government to reconstruct the Schedule before it came before the Committee. It was said that there would be no time to discuss the Schedule, and past experience rendered this very likely. If the Government 1317 re-considered the Schedule at all, he would urge them not to do so with a view of diminishing the borough representation of Ireland. The fact that certain Irish boroughs had a very small population was not sufficient to prove that the total borough representation of the country ought to be diminished. When in 1874 Mr. Isaac Butt proposed a Home Rule Scheme for Ireland he proposed that the Irish boroughs under a system of grouping should have an equal representation with the county constituencies. Possibly that was a somewhat extreme proposal; but in order that every section of public opinion might be properly represented in Parliament, it was essential that there should be an adequate and distinct representation of the boroughs. That being so, any diminution of the number of Borough Members would be distasteful to a large number of Irishmen. One of the Amendments he had intended to move, if he had had the opportunity, was that the borough representation in the Lower House of the Legislature should be increased. He had worked it out in such a way that he could have shown that an increase of the kind would not have increased the political power of any Party in Ireland. He sympathised very much with the remarks of the hon. Member for Galway. The whole of this trouble had been brought on the Government by themselves. He had taken every opportunity of protesting against cumbering the Home Rule Bill with the redistribution scheme. The Government admitted that that scheme was inadequate, imperfect, and rough, and it was quite true to say it would have been impossible for them in the time at their disposal to have produced an adequate scheme. He hoped, however, that if the Government set about the re-construction of their scheme they would make it, as they had made the financial scheme, worse from the Irish point of view than the original scheme
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that this was not the right time for discussing the question. It always seemed to be a case of "jam yesterday, jam to-morrow, but never jam to-day." Every Member of the House knew perfectly well that there would be no opportunity of discussing the question 1318 when it came up in the Ordinary course. The Prime Minister had said that the Schedule had been drawn so as to introduce as little innovation and to do as little injustice to either political Party as possible. But with regard to the question of innovation, he would point out that almost every constituency in the Schedule had been put upon a different basis from the English and Scotch constituencies, and in respect of almost three-fourths of them a backward step had been taken; for whereas English and Scotch constituencies had been made single-Member constituencies, county after county in Ireland had had the scrutin de liste applied to them. Then, as to the statement of the Prime Minister that it was his intention in drawing this Schedule to inflict as little injury as possible on either Party. What was the fact? In Tyrone at present the Unionist and Gladstonian Parties were almost equally divided, and returned two Representatives each; but under this Schedule the whole of the Unionist representation will be taken away from that county, and his hon. Friend the Member for South Tyrone would lose his seat. [Nationalist cheers.] He did not wonder at those cheers, for that result would be as gratifying to hon. Members opposite as no doubt it would be to those who drew the Schedule. Again, in the County Fermanagh the political Parties were almost equally divided; but this Schedule would entirely disfranchise every Unionist in the county. He had some sympathy with the appeal of the hon. Member for Waterford on behalf of the boroughs. He certainly thought that these boroughs ought to be retained under the Irish Legislature, but what was wanted in the Imperial Parliament was an adequate representation of the two great Parties which were contending in Ireland; and, so far as this House was concerned, it did not matter whether the Members came from boroughs or counties. It had been said that two seats of the University of Dublin might be ignored in this matter. But the constituents of the two Representatives of Dublin University amounted to four-fifths of the whole of the constituents of the three small boroughs that were left in under this Schedule. It was also necessary to consider the value of a vote as between 1319 great and small boroughs. Take three of the divisions of Belfast. If three divisions of that city had a fair representation as between Party and Party in Ireland they ought to have 15 Members instead of three, in order to put them on an equitable footing with the three small boroughs that were put in the Schedule. He trusted the Committee would have an opportunity of considering the Schedule later on, but he did not believe they would, because it was a gerrymandering Schedule; and, whatever might have been the intention of its authors, the result was to put a preponderance of power on the side of the Party which drew that Schedule, and to deduct from the just influence of the Unionist Party in Ireland.
§ LORD G. HAMILTON (Middlesex, Ealing)
In 1885, with the assent of both Parties and in accordance with public opinion, the system of single-Member constituencies was adopted for the whole of the United Kingdom. I want to know, therefore, why under this Bill that system is to be abolished and a return made to the old system, which has been universally condemned? It is admitted that the Unionist Party is largely unrepresented in parts of Ireland outside Ulster. The one solitary Unionist Member for a county constituency outside of Ulster sits for one of the divisions of Dublin County, and for no reason whatever the Prime Minister under this Schedule proposes to lump the two divisions of the county together so as to form a single constituency which will return two Members, with the result that the Unionist Representative will disappear from that county altogether. What possible reason can there be for going back to the old discarded plan? There were only seven constituencies which required redistribution, and four of these are in Ulster. One of the great objections raised in 1886 to those enormous constituencies was, that a candidate found it physically impossible to cover it all during a contest, and it was urged in favour of small single constituencies that it would induce independent men, representing the local feeling of localities, to come forward as candidates, as they would have a better chance of entering Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman, however, proposes to go back to the old system, although there exists in Ireland an Organisation to crush out any indepen- 1320 dent candidate opposed to its principles. The only reason the Prime Minister gave for not proposing a general system of redistribution was that there is such a mass of matter that it would have been impossible to discuss it within the limits of one Session of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman cannot make that excuse with regard to this Bill, because, if it is so large that it will occupy the whole time of the Session, he had no business to bring in 10 or 12 other large measures, which are merely political bribes. We have, therefore, the admission of the Government that we are now to have an improper scheme of representation which will not be discussed, and the consequence will be that for many years to come a certain section of this House which comes from Ireland will be returned on wholly different principles from those on which English and Scotch Members are returned. I trust, therefore, that hon. Member3 who are in favour of the single-Member system will make a protest against a return to the old system now, for when we reach the Schedule it will be put without discussion.
§ MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
said, he entirely accepted the principle contended for by the hon. Member for Waterford, that every section of opinion in Ireland should be represented in Parliament, when he was just now pleading for the retention of the representation of boroughs, and he hoped the hon. Member would remember that principle when the next Amendment was being considered. If, as the hon. Member said, every section of opinion in Ireland deserved adequate representation in the Imperial Parliament, then Dublin University might, under the circumstances, claim the hon. Member as a supporter of the maintenance of its representation, for a large section of opinion in Ireland could secure representation in no other way.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, he would not now enter into that question. But he pleaded for the merciful consideration of the Government, although it did not appear that they were in the least degree disposed to listen, because it depended entirely on their good pleasure whether any kind of alteration would be permitted to be introduced into the Schedule, as the Schedule would come at the end of the 1321 fourth compartment, and could not be discussed. He therefore thought the Government should give some little attention and some little consideration to what the supporters of the Amendment now urged. He accepted the principle laid down by the hon. Member for Waterford, that there should be in the Imperial Parliament, as far as possible, a representation of the different political interests and feelings in Ireland; but he dissented from the view of the hon. Member for West Belfast, that they were only concerned with the representation of two Parties. There were more than two Parties in Ireland, and he was rather concerned with the representation of the divisions of Parties in Ireland. Therefore, he was not disposed, on the mere disparity of numbers, to conclude that they must disfranchise comparatively smaller constituencies such as these Irish boroughs if they fulfilled the purpose of obtaining a different kind of representation from the kind of representation procured in the counties. He dissented also from a statement made by the noble Lord the Member for Ealing. He did not think it could be said that what was done in 1885 was done with the deliberate approval of the community at large. The community acquiesced in the reform; but it had been going through the test of experience, and it must be maintained or reformed according to that experience. In some respects the new system was good; in other respects it was bad; but it was too early yet to assume that the single-Member constituency was the one that must prevail in the future.
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said, he wished to offer a protest against the suggestion of the hon. Member for Caithness, that three of the Parliamentary boroughs of Ireland—Galway, Kilkenny, and Newry—should be disfranchised. Coming from a Scotch Member, who knew nothing of the case of Ireland, it was a very cool proposal. If any proposal of the kind were made, he certainly would oppose it in the strongest manner within his power. Of course, once they changed the number of Members which Ireland was to send to the Imperial Parliament the question of redistribution was bound to come up. But would any man say that there were not discrepancies and anomalies in the repre- 1322 sentation of England and Scotland, as between boroughs and counties, as well as in Ireland? If they wanted a redistribution let them begin with Great Britain, for if they commenced with Ireland a great deal of confusion was certain to follow.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said, the Committee would remember that it took many weeks in the House in order to make the Redistribution Act of 1885 fairly acceptable to the people. Yet to-day they were asked to pass what was practically a Redistribution Bill for Ireland in one hour and 20 minutes, because on the Schedule they would not be allowed to say a single word. Surely that proved conclusively that they were attempting a work at the goading of the Prime Minister which was absolutely impossible. The Amendment before the Committee affected not only Ireland, but the Imperial Parliament, and that was why the Unionists were especially concerned about it. In the Redistribution Act of 1885 certain principles were laid down, such as single constituencies and grouping arrangements, every one of which was ignored in the system it was now proposed to apply to Ireland. In fact, quite a new Redistribution Bill was introduced, and no time was given for its consideration. He wished, also, to draw attention to the fact that this measure affected most seriously the Metropolis of London, with which he was more particularly concerned. He wanted to ask why there should be five Members for five small boroughs in Ireland, counting 10 votes on a Division, while a division in London with a population as large as the combined population of the five Irish boroughs had only one Member? The seat of North Islington, which he had the honour to hold, had a larger population than Cork; and while Cork had two Members, North Islington had only one. It was all very well to say that, because a man was an Irishman, he was to rule in the Imperial Parliament as well as to rule in Ireland. But he did not take that view, for he considered that Londoners and Irishmen should be represented with equal fairness in the Imperial Parliament. This measure emphasised in every possible way all the anomalies of the old system. For instance, the plan of returning three Members for one county as one constituency was, to his mind, a 1323 most fatal error. The people of London were greatly unrepresented. If they combined simply and solely for their own purposes, as the Irish had combined, they would have a much larger representation, and possibly, if they wished, might have a Home Rule Bill of their own. But they did not want that, and all they wanted was their fair representation in the House. As the Committee would not be able to discuss the question on the Schedule, he hoped they would divide on the present Amendment, in order to show emphatically that they were determined not to allow large and important groups and districts in London to be ignored under the present system of representation, whilst five small boroughs in Ireland were allowed to send five Members to the House. A Bill had been introduced to establish One Man One Vote. But he could not see how any follower of the Government could consistently vote for One Man One Vote when it was absolutely laid down in this measure that certain persons in Ireland should have 10 or 12 times the voting strength of the inhabitants of London at the present time. But he knew the reason why the Government adopted this course. It was because they were perfectly well aware that if they attempted to alter the representation of those Irish boroughs they would have the whole Irish Party at their throats, and the Bill would not be allowed to pass. It was not to London alone that injustice was done by the present measure. Surely it was a most monstrous thing that Cardiff, with its 20,000 electors, should return only one Member, while these five small Irish boroughs with an electorate not so large as that as Cardiff should return five Members. He had not the least objection to the Irish people retaining these rotten boroughs, if they pleased, under Home Rule—
§ MR. W. REDMOND
I rise to Order, Mr. Mellor. I wish to know whether the hon. Member is in Order in using the word "rotten" towards the electors of these boroughs?
§ MR. BARTLEY
said, that electioneering showed the large boroughs were free from those little weaknesses that were sometimes found in small boroughs. Again he protested strongly against this redistribution scheme, and he urged the Committee to divide against it.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, he had already told the Committee that his object in moving the Amendment was to obtain a discussion on the question which alone could be obtained on this occasion, and that he intended to allow it to be negatived without a Division. If, therefore, the hon. Member for North Islington forced a Division on the Amendment he would not be able to vote for it, though he did intend to vote against the Schedule.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I admit that if we were to have a regular Debate on the Schedule it would be far the best opportunity for discussing the redistribution scheme of the Government. But, looking to the fact that we shall not be able to get more than a Division on the Schedule, I am inclined to believe that those who object to this redistribution scheme—and apparently the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean and other followers of the Government are discontented with it—will do right in voting against it.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I do not object to the course urged by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. But, so far as I am concerned, my right hon. Friend will remember that I do not ask the Committee at the present stage to acknowledge the Schedule as it stands.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, that as one of those vitally concerned in this matter, he would insist on a Division. They could not be expected to take the mere academic interest which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean took in the question. This was the only opportunity they would get for discussing the question. The gag would stop them from doing it when they got to the fourth compartment, but they would not be gagged now.
§ MR. HARRY S. FOSTER (Suffolk, Lowestoft)
said, he rose to take note of the fact that a supporter of the Government—the hon. Member for Caithness—had told them that to fully discuss this matter would take the whole time till 10 o'clock on Thursday night. Probably, if a supporter of the Opposition said that, he would be charged with obstruction.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 182; Noes 212.—(Division, List No. 207.)
§ MR. SETON-KARR (St. Helen's)
rose to move, in page 4, line 28, leave out 'Second' and insert 'First.' The effect of his Amendment would be that, instead of 80 Members being returned by Ireland to serve in the Imperial Parliament under the Home Rule scheme as the Bill proposed, only 48 Members would be returned. He ventured to think that if they gave to Ireland a present of a Parliament with two Houses the aspirations of the Irish people would be amply satisfied with 48 Members returned to serve their interests in the Imperial Parliament, and to interfere in the business of England and Scotland as well. His proposal was a perfectly Constitutional proceeding, for the same constituencies which returned Members to the Assembly—the Irish Legislature—would also return Members to serve in this House. He begged to move the Amendment.
In page 4, line 28, to leave out the word "Second," and insert the word "First,"—(Mr. Seton-Karr.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'Second' stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
said, he had had some difficulty in voting with the Government against the proposal to retain the 103 Irish Members in this House, but he could entertain no difficulty whatever in voting against this most preposterous suggestion. But in voting against the principle of 103 Irish Members, he was not altogether uninfluenced by the fact that later on in the clause came certain words describing the functions of the 80 Irish Members left to the Imperial Parliament, and he consoled himself with the reduction of the number of Irish Members from 103 to 80 by recollecting that it would be in his power on a later 1326 clause of the Bill to vote against the "in-and-out" clause, and thereby allow the Irish Members to vote on all questions in this House. He did not think that that would be an unfair compromise in a matter on which compromise was desirable and natural; and he trusted the Committee would hear from the Government that, as they had cut down the representation of Ireland, they would, on the other hand, allow the 80 Irish Members to vote for all purposes.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
hoped that the Government would take up a firm position against the proposal now before the Committee. They saw that the Opposition were prepared for the inclusion of the Irish Members or the exclusion of the Irish Members according as the emergency arose. [Cries of"No, no!"] He supposed hon. Members opposite would not agree with that observation, but people generally believed it was a correct description of what had taken place. He hoped the Government would stick to the number of 80 Irish Members mentioned in the Bill, and he thought the Bill would be greatly simplified if the 80 Members were maintained for all purposes. There were two reasons why that course should be adopted—the first and more obvious reason was that many duties were reserved from the Irish Parliament to the Imperial Parliament; and the second was that, as the Imperial Parliament retained the power to legislate for Ireland, it would be most unfair, during the troublous times through which Ireland would have to pass, if even the slightest restriction were placed on the Representatives she sent here.
§ MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
said, there were four methods by which Parliamentary representation was allotted in different civilised countries. One was based on population; the second was based on income taxation; the third was based on the Probate and Death Duties, by which the property of a man was supposed to be most accurately estimated; and the fourth was a system by which representation was given to any part of a country according to its contribution to the defence of the country or to the National Debt. On the basis of population Ireland would be entitled—when they took away the five University Members from England, as the 1327 University Members of Ireland were taken away—to about 74 Members in proportion to the population of the rest of the Kingdom. The income taxation of Ireland, in proportion to the income taxation of England, would give Ireland 40 Members exactly; her proportion of the Probate and Death Duties 39 Members; and her proportion of the contribution to the National Debt 26 Members. If the whole of those Members were added together and divided by four, an average of 46, or about the number proposed in the Amendment, would be obtained. Therefore the Amendment struck a balance in the fairest possible manner between the different methods by which Parliamentary representation was granted in different parts of the civilised world. To continue the extraordinary anomalies in representation which existed in Ireland under any Bill would be strange indeed It was understood that the Bill was intended to remove a great many anomalies and a great many defects in Ireland. But why not go a step forward and take notice of these five small boroughs in Ireland? It was perfectly possible to group these boroughs as they had been grouped in Wales and Scotland. There were between 30 and 40 constituencies in Great Britain having each an electorate as large as the combined electorate of Newry, Kilkenny, Galway, Waterford, and Limerick, and yet they returned only one Member each, while these Irish boroughs returned five Members. He was prepared to admit that one Irishman was as good as two Englishmen, but he was not prepared to go so far as to admit that one Irishman was as good as five Englishmen, and yet the Members in these unimportant boroughs in Ireland had a voting power of 11 men, whether they regarded them from their numbers, from their taxation, or their rateable value, and they continued this anomaly though a new Bill was brought before the House to cure all these difficulties. If this Home Rule Bill had not been before them the Government might fairly have said they desired to introduce a Re-distribution Bill for Ireland; and, therefore, they should wait until they dealt with the entire scheme of redistribution for the United Kingdom. That would have been a fair answer; but here was a Bill which dealt with the representation of Ireland, which was, in a certain sense, 1328 decidedly and distinctly a disfranchising Bill, which disfranchised a great and important constituency in Ireland—namely, the Dublin University, and which would disfranchise a larger number of Unionists than it would disfranchise Home Rulers, for it so happened that in the over-represented boroughs in Ireland there was only one case where a Unionist was returned at present, and that was in the City of Derry, where the Member was returned by a small majority, and where the seat might be lost at another election. Therefore, retaining the present representation of these boroughs was retaining an over-proportion of Home Rulers to Unionists, and on that ground he supported the Amendment of his hon. Friend.
MK. J. MORLEY
It will not be necessary for me to occupy more than a moment or two. This is an Amendment we cannot accept; it is based on no principle whatever; it is a purely arbitrary figure arrived at by the hon. Member, and arrived at by a peculiar method. He proposes to substitute the first Schedule for the second Schedule. What is the first Schedule? The distribution of constituencies in the first Schedule is framed on a £20 rating qualification. Can the hon. Member contend that the distribution—which for the purposes of a Legislative Council is based on a £20 rating qualification—that the distribution so framed and so based is a proper scheme for the representation of Ireland in this House? We cannot accept this or any Amendment fixing a purely arbitrary figure.
§ MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)
said, it was extremely difficult to move a reduction in any other form. He had an Amendment on the Paper to reduce the number from 80 to 40, but that would be out of Order; and the hon. Member had taken, therefore, a very convenient way of raising what was more or less near the point. It appeared to him that if they passed this Schedule they defined the number absolutely, and they would be obliged to accept the number as 80; therefore this was the occasion when they had to discuss the whole question whether 80 was the right number of Members for Ireland, or whether the number ought to be reduced. The Amendment of the hon. Member, though remarkable in form, was the only way in which the question could be 1329 raised. He was surprised that the Government had not responded to the admirable and pathetic appeal of the hon. Member, which reminded him of the quotation—I do not ask to see the distant scene, One step's enough for me.Here they were in the middle of this section, which laid down that in-and-out question, and they did not yet know whether the Government meant to stick to it or not.
§ MR. PARKER SMITH
thought it was a matter of vital importance, when considering what number of Representatives they were to give to Ireland, they should know whether they were to be whole or half Representatives. Even on the principle of concealment favoured by the Government, they were entitled to ask, when voting on the number of Members to be given to Ireland, what the qualifications of those Members were to be; whether they were to be here like every other Member, or were to be mere shadows to come and depart at a moment's notice? The hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Dr. Hunter) talked about compromise, and regretted very much having voted against the 103 proposal of yesterday; but it appeared to him (Mr. Parker Smith) that the compromise now offered was one in which the Irish would get their fair share of representation in that House, their fair share according to population, which was now the theory upon which representation was to go. They agreed to that principle, but they said it ought to be done without a measure of Home Rule being introduced at all, and he hoped it might be done in the future by some other Government than the present. If they were to give Ireland a position superior to any other part of the Empire, they ought to accept some compromise, and be content with 40 or even 30 Members in the House of Commons. They considered that when the Irish Members came here as a kind of Embassy from an almost foreign Power, their numbers ought to be reduced from 80 to something less dangerous, particularly after the six years when everything would come into the hands of the Irish Parliament. They would like some more information why the Government had altered the position which the Prime 1330 Minister took up a while ago, when the discussions were going on with Mr. Parnell at Hawarden. At that time what was talked of was that Ireland should be represented by some 30 Members in Parliament, and. they wanted to know what England had done that she should be chastened to this further extent? This was the time when, in deciding what the numbers were to be, they were entitled to demand to know what the views of the Government were with regard to this 3rd sub-section.
§ *MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.), in supporting the Amendment, said, the hon. Member for West Islington had repeated the assertion that the Opposition had voted for 103 Members. These statements were repeated over and over again, although there was not a shadow of foundation for them except in the imagination of the Prime Minister, who thought proper to take that view in order to prevent a defeat of the Government. What the Opposition voted for was against the Government proposal concerning the retention of the Irish Members. It was somewhat strange that in the discussion concerning the retention of the Irish Members the valiant words of some of the Gladstonian Members seemed to be altogether forgotten. One of the Members for Edinburgh (Mr. Wallace), for instance, said most emphatically that he was opposed to the Irish Members being retained at all; he wanted to have them cleared out bag and baggage, and yet in the Division he actually voted for the retention of the 80 Irish Members. The Amendment they were now considering was a sort of half-way house between the retention of 80 and the abolition of the retention of the Irish Members in that House. He had always said he objected to the Irish Members leaving. He wished to see one Parliament with the Irish Members retained here with the other Members in their proper number in proportion to their population, or according to any other fair basis of calculation; and why he voted against their retention was simply because this Bill gave to Ireland a Parliament, took away from the Imperial Parliament the power in any way to interfere with the details of the work in Ireland, and yet the Irish Members were to remain here and interfere in British affairs. After seven years' careful consideration the Government brought up this clause, 1331 showing that they had been completely converted from their previous opinion, which was in favour of the exclusion of the Irish Members. They had changed their opinions altogether, because they said they thought the public demanded it. That was, they thought they could get more votes, and, now, when they had brought in a clause to retain 80 Irish Members, they were pressed by many of their followers to retain these Irish Members for all purposes, and it was impossible to extract any statement from the Government as to whether they intended the Irish Members to remain for all purposes or not. It would have saved considerable time and have been more straightforward and business-like on the part of the Government if, at the commencement of the discussion on this clause, they had made some explicit announcement as to the main lines they intended to pursue. But the fact was that upon this and other clauses the whole policy of the Government was to wait and see which way the cat jumped. Whenever they saw a possibility of defeat, or the pressure from the Irish Members became stronger, they changed their line of front, as on the present occasion. If they were to alter this clause in the sense of allowing the Irish Members to vote on all subjects, it immensely strengthened the importance of the Amendment, because having, in addition to this, a Parliament of their own, they would be in a totally different position to all the other Members in that House. The only objection the Chief Secretary made to this Amendment was that he said it was a very ridiculous sort of proposal, because they had taken the number of 48 out of the first Schedule, and that Schedule represented those who were £20 ratepayers. That was not the fact at all in any sense. It was quite true that only £20 ratepayers were going to vote for the Legislative Council, but this Schedule in no way limited the people who were to vote—it simply laid down the law. [Mr. J. MORLEY was understood to dissent.] It was true that, as the right hon. Gentleman had been pleased to draft it, £20 householders in these different counties were to vote only for the Legislative Council. But that did not affect the Amendment. The County of Antrim would have the same number of Members in one Schedule as the other. The difference in the two 1332 Schedules was that they were carefully to reduce the number from the smaller counties and boroughs and leave the representation at 48 instead of at 80. He regretted it should be necessary to take any Representatives from the smaller boroughs. There was more independence in the smaller boroughs than in many counties. [An hon. MEMBER: They are all independent.] He did not think all the counties were independent. He thought a good many of them were highly dependent on the priests, and a good many of the Irish Members in that House were entirely dependent on the priests for their seats. The boroughs were, as he had said, more independent than the counties. In many of these boroughs there had been a fight between the two rival factious, and although he had no sympathy with either party he was glad to see one victorious over the other where the priests had dominated. What they really had to consider was the effect the proposals of the Government would have upon them as English Members and upon the Imperial Parliament. What did it really mean? As the Bill at present stood, it meant that all the finance of the United Kingdom was practically to be dominated over by Ireland, who would in no way contribute to the detailed finances of these countries, but would simply contribute certain proportions to the Army, Navy, National Debt, and certain other expenses if they had any money. Ireland would contribute nothing to the great expenditure of the management of England, Scotland, and Wales, and would have nothing to do with it, and yet under the Bill there would be 80 Irish Members who would have a preponderating voice in the administration, collection, and enforcement of taxes which they would not pay, or be responsible for, or interested in. Was that reasonable? As an English Member he emphatically said it was not. Take, again, the important question of Private Bills in that House. English Members would have no voice in any sense concerning any Bill brought forward in the Irish Legislature. But the fact remained that in the Imperial Parliament, if they accepted 80 Members as against 48, they would have 80 Irish Members coming there to interfere with Private Bills in that House which concerned England, Scotland, and Wales. Not many weeks ago a Bill was brought 1333 in to enable one of the London Water Companies to carry out the absolute orders of that House in other Bills. They wished to raise £200,000 or £300,000 in order to obey an Act of Parliament passed by that House. What happened? That Bill, which was required by London—which he considered as important as Ireland—was half supported by several Members of the present Government, and was thrown out by the Irish vote. If that could happen now, surely it would be possible in the future for their Private Bills, which were intended to promote the welfare of their towns in England, Scotland, and Wales, to be defeated and altered by these 80 Irish Members, who really had no manner of interest in the questions they would thus virtually decide. They would have a Parliament to deal with their own affairs, and surely it was most unreasonable that they should then be allowed to interfere in English, Scotch, or Welsh affairs. He thought that was a very strong point indeed. Were they going to allow the Irish Members to vote on such Bills as that regarding Local Veto? That Bill would be carried by the Irish vote. If that Bill was passed by the Irish vote, was it not unfair that the English Members could do nothing towards a like Bill for Ireland? Was it fair that the Irish Members should have the power to have whisky in Ireland to their hearts' content, and that they should then come over here and say—"It is bad for you to have anything to drink, and we shall prevent you"? He (Mr. Bartley) protested strongly against that. Another great question was that of Disestablishment. The Irish Members were not very much interested in the question as applying here, because they belonged—the majority of them belonged—to a different faith from that of the majority here. But the Irish Members would resent extremely any interference with the Catholic Church in Ireland. Yet they were to come to the Imperial Parliament with the power of voting for the Disestablishment of the Protestant Church in Scotland or Wales! Bad as such a state of things would be with 48 Members, it would be better than with 80. An hon. Member below the Gangway had made a remark which was a misstatement; it was a misstatement he would not be allowed to 1334 use if he were not protected by Parliamentary usage.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Wicklow, W.)
said, he was the Member alluded to, and he wished to know if the hon. Gentleman was in Order in accusing him of making a misstatement?
§ MR. BARTLEY
said, he would withdraw at the request of the Chairman; but the hon. Member had no right to make that statement within his hearing. He (Mr. Bartley) would have used stronger language but for the usage of the House. The misstatemeut—
§ MR. SETON-KARR (St. Helen's)
wished to know if hon. Members below the Gangway were in Order in interrupting?
hoped the hon. Member would keep to the Amendment, and that he would be allowed to proceed.
§ MR. BARTLEY
said, he wished to emphasise that they on that (the Opposition) side of the House did not vote last night for 103 Members, but that they voted against it. The hon. Member (Mr. J. O'Connor) said they did, and it was then that he used the word "misstatement." He had no hesitation in saying so. The Prime Minister had said—
§ MR. BARTLEY
said, he was putting an interpretation on what occurred, and he must protest against the hon. Member (Mr. Bodkin)—he did not know where he sat for—interposing in this manner. He protested that he, at any rate, did not vote for 103 Members, and he was not going to be dictated to by unseemly interruption.
§ MR. BARTLEY
said, he had been keeping strictly to the point—to the Amendment; but hon. Members, in face of awkward facts, generally ran off on side issues. ["Order!" and laughter from the Irish Benches.]
§ MR. BARTLEY
said, he would do so; but he must state that any digression had been caused by the repeated interruptions of Irish Members. His contention was that the proposal, as regards the Irish Members, was most unfair to the English people—to London and to England; but if the Irish Members were to come, a force of 48 would be quite enough, because matters concerning the interest and welfare of Great Britain ought not to be subordinated to Irish representation in that House. He hoped the Mover of the Amendment would divide upon it, as he should certainly support him; for while, as he said, he believed 48 was too high a number, it was a better number than 80.
§ SIR J. GOLDSMID (St. Pancras, S.)
said, it behoved the Committee carefully to consider the nature and character of the second Schedule proposed by the Government before deciding whether it should be a part of the Bill or not. The Schedule embraced two systems of representation, and the Government ought to decide between them before asking the House to accept the Schedule. The Schedule was opposed to the principle of the last Redistribution Bill carried for England and to the principle laid down in the Newcastle Programme of "one man one vote," and it dealt unfairly and inconsistently with the distribution of seats in Ireland. It was not fair that Antrim, Armagh, Carlow, and Leitrim, for instance, all two-Membered constituencies, except Antrim, which had three Members, should each be left as one constituency, whilst Dublin City, Belfast Borough, and Cork were to be divided. The principle of division should apply to all. With regard to the question of redistribution, he thought the smaller Irish boroughs ought not to be retained, and to retain them on the ground that there were not many boroughs in Ireland was ridiculous. No doubt, as experience proved, every effort would be made by the Members representing the small boroughs to retain their representation. He maintained that the American system was the best in this matter. Besides, they need not go against Nature, which had made Ireland an agricultural country. Its mercantile 1336 community was almost entirely confined to three or four large industrial centres—Cork, in the South; Dublin, in the East; and Belfast in the North—and it had very few towns which could really demand representation. He contended that the principle of numbers adopted in England should be applied to Ireland in the same way, and that the present system of representation in Ireland, unfairly favourable as it was to that country, ought not to be maintained. As in 1887 30 Members were calculated by the late Mr. Parnell to be sufficient for Ireland in the Imperial Parliament, so in 1893 48 would be more than ample. Another advantage of this proposal was that the unfair arrangement with regard to the small boroughs would not be continued. This was a matter that should guide the decision of the Committee. It was certain that the composition of the new Parliament, as far as Irish Members were concerned, would seriously affect English and Scottish constituencies; and, therefore, the Government ought to say whether they intended to stand by the clause or not. He supported the Amendment on the ground that he was in favour of 48 or a less number, and because, if there was to be harmonious working in Parliament in future, the House of Commons ought not to continue to give a preponderating and deciding influence to the Irish Members. The Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) said he did not want to come there to regulate English affairs, but he would have the right to do so, and they, on their side, would have no right to regulate Irish matters. The position, then, was:—If he (Sir J. Goldsmid) had no right to interfere in the regulation of Irish affairs the Member for Kerry had no right to interfere in his (English) affairs. There was a question of reciprocity involved, which ought to be duly considered.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
said that, in supporting the Amendment, he had a few words to say in reply to an observation of one of the hon. Members who had spoken. In previous Divisions, upon which the Opposition had been twitted that they had voted in favour of any particular number, whether 103 or 80, they voted against the Government scheme as a whole. The Government scheme was involved in the words put from the Chair; that, and nothing more. It was suggested that they 1337 voted for 103 Members; but that was not so. They voted against the Government plan, whatever that was; and he was sure hon. Members below the Gangway would appreciate their having gone on the good old Irish principle of voting against the Government. That being their position, they had a right to vote in favour of 48 now without being open to the charge of inconsistency. If Home Rule was to be given to Ireland he had always considered that there should be a certain amount of Irish representation in the House of Commons. For example, in the event of war breaking out, this country would have to levy a certain sum on Ireland as her share of the Imperial Expenditure; and if Ireland was not represented she might refuse to contribute on the ground that the war was declared by an Assembly in which she was no more represented than Canada or any of the Colonies, and that, as those Colonies were not called on to contribute, neither should she. This would be a formidable objection. In 1886, 30 was the number suggested, not definitely or authoritatively, perhaps, but by a general understanding. He thought that this number of 30, or thereabouts, would suffice. One of the great objections which he had formed to the Irish representation at Westminster, however, was that the Irish Members appeared never to be able to vote on British questions without having Ireland and her interests mainly in their thoughts. That was the impression left on his mind. He did wish they could regard such questions from a British domestic standpoint. The question had been mentioned of a London Water Bill. That Bill was controlled by the vote of the Irish Members, who did not think of the particular necessity for it, or of the wishes of the promoters, but were guided by the action of the Metropolitan Home Rulers who worked with them. They were always thinking merely of Ireland, and not sufficiently of the British concerns about which they were voting. Whilst he was of opinion that a certain amount of Irish representation in the House of Commons was absolutely necessary, he thought that such representation should be limited to the lowest possible number.
§ MR. BRODRICK (Surrey, Guildford)
said, the conduct of the Government had been more extraordinary in this Debate 1338 than it had ever been before. There had been a discussion ranging over an hour or an hour and a half on the number of Members who were to appear in the House on behalf of Ireland, and the Chief Secretary for Ireland had made a speech of two or three minutes in reply—a speech of a purely perfunctory character, and one in which he made it clear that he had not one grain of sympathy for the retention of the Irish Members. The statement that he could not accept any number except the arbitrary number proposed by the Government was scarcely courteous to the Committee, especially after the speech of the hon. and learned Member for East Down (Mr. Rentoul), who had given figures and statistics proving that 80 Members would be a gigantic and gross over-representation of Ireland in the House of Commons. He hoped that before the Debate closed the Committee would have from the right hon. Gentleman some symptoms of the principle on which it was proposed that 80 Members should remain at Westminster. It was said that, having voted for 103 Members on the previous evening, the Opposition had no right to vote for 48 now. Every man who had ever voted in Committee of Supply was aware that it was usual for Members who questioned different items of a Vote to go into the same Lobby against that Vote, and that was practically what had been done on this clause. He asked the Chief Secretary to say what was to be the position of Ireland and what the position of Scotland in regard to representation in the House of Commons under this Bill. Scotland contributed to the taxation of the United Kingdom 1 in 9, and to the population 1 in 9⅔, whilst her representation was 1 in 9⅓. Scotland was, therefore, represented by the exact mean between taxation and representation. Ireland contributed 1 in 30 of the taxation, and the Bill proposed that she should contribute 1 in 40; her population was 1 in 8, and her representation in the House was 1 in 8. During the Debate which took place in 1884 a speech was made by his right hon. Friend the Member for Dublin University (Mr. Plunket), which he believed largely accounted for the good fight the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Mr. J. Morley) was supposed to have made for keeping the Irish out of that House altogether. The argument then used held good now— 1339 namely, that the Irish constituencies were made up of men more than half of whom lived in houses of under £1 in value—a class which did not exist in the electorate of Great Britain, and which was absolutely unfit to send Members to Parliament. The House of Commons resolved on the 14th of May last year, by a majority of more than 2 to 1, that in the interests of true freedom of election the clauses in the Ballot Act which permitted the illiterate vote should be repealed. If they took away the illiterate voter from the Irish Register they would reduce that Register by between 30 per cent. and 40 per cent.; and therefore the number of Members Ireland would have the right to send to the House, leaving out taxation, would be between 40 and 50. The figure of 80 was purely arbitrary, and the Government ought to justify that figure before they began to throw stones at any other figure. The hon. Member for Aberdeen, who had spoken against the Amendment, was, he believed, one of the Members of the Scottish Home Rule Association, which had declared that even if the Irish Members had a vote on Imperial affairs alone they would be able to exercise control over Scottish Business, and, in point of fact, would become the masters of the British Parliament. He objected to Scottish Members who belonged to this Association and voted for such Resolutions winking with one eye at their constituents and with the other at the House of Commons and voting in favour of the retention of 80 Irish Members. The Committee was entitled to know whether the Government intended to hold by Sub-sections 3 and 4 of this clause, or to retain the Irish Members for all purposes. Had those sub-sections already shared the fate of the first Financial Clauses, and were they to say of them as they could say of the original Financial Clauses—"Few and evil were the days of their pilgrimage in this House?" If the Government would make a clean breast of it they would probably find that there might be even among their own supporters some who would consider whether they were justified in giving to Ireland larger representation than to Scotland, which produced a larger amount of revenue, and which sent to the House of Commons men who were, at all events, provident of the time of the House, and who rarely intervened in debate except on their own subjects. 1340 It really seemed an anomaly that men who, because they were so difficult to manage here, had been given a Parliament of their own, and who would have no domestic affairs to bring before them, should actually be given a larger proportion of representation than those who would come here to discuss all their domestic affairs, and that they should be liable, as had been pointed out by one of his hon. Friends, to have even their Private Bills outvoted by those gentlemen, who, simply because they represented an impecunious and garrulous race, were to be entitled to control the legislation and actions of Great Britain. [Cries of "Oh!" and "Withdraw!"] Well, he had some claim to belong to that nationality himself, and he was not going to contend that his fellow-countrymen had either a regard for expenditure or an undue reticence in their contributions to Debates in that House. They were in a position in which they had a right to ask that the Government should make a clean breast of their intentions. He really did not think that Members opposite always considered what a serious question it was whether they were to have 40, 50, or 80 Irish Members there. Look at what a difference might have been occasioned this Session if the number had been less. If there had been only 80 Irish Members there the Government would have been in a minority last night. They would also have been in a minority as to the question of the constitution of an Upper Chamber in Ireland, and they would have been in a minority on the question whether the Irish Government should deal with Resolutions on subjects with which they could not deal by legislation. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Morley), who recollected the discussions of 1884 which terminated in giving Ireland 103 Members, would remember that there was hardly a single political change that had taken place since 1884 which would not have been averted if Ireland had returned only her right number of Representatives. He said this was an important and significant fact, and he would appeal to the Government, before it was too late, not to treat this question simply from the point of view of an easy Closure, but to consider whether for once they could not erect a standard of independence apart from those who governed their policy on the Nationalist Benches. What they did now would remain irrevocable and un- 1341 shakable until a fresh settlement took place in reference to the whole Parliamentary relations of Ireland and Great Britain. He thought he should be well advised if he made an appeal to the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton)—
§ MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
I think the hon. Member might, when he appeals to us, abstain from grossly impertinent language with regard to our country.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
Mr. Mellor, I wish to ask you, in reference to the ruling you gave when I was speaking, whether that expression is in Order?
§ MR. SEXTON
Let me state my view. The hon. Gentleman spoke of Ireland as an impecunious and garrulous race. I hold that that language with regard to Irishmen, if not to any Member of this House, is extremely improper.
Of course, if spoken with regard to a particular individual, the language is out of Order.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)
Mr. Mellor, I ask you whether "grossly impertinent" is not out of Order?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
On the point of Order, I would call attention to the fact that the hon. Member for North Kerry did not apply the expression to a thing, but to the hon. Member.
The hon. Gentleman says he applied the expression to the language of the hon. Member. Then he was clearly out of Order. [Cries of "Withdraw!"]
§ MR. SEXTON
I would submit that if there is to be any withdrawal there should be withdrawal of the offence. If the hon. Gentleman will withdraw the language he applied to all the Irish Members, I shall have no objection to withdraw also. [Cries of "Withdraw!" and "Name!"]
THE MARQUESS OF CARMARTHEN
Mr. Mellor, after you have ruled language distinctly out of Order, is it in Order to make the withdrawal conditional?
; The hon. Member has explained what he meant. I have ruled that the language he used was out of Order, and I ask the hon. Member for Kerry to withdraw it. At the same time I wish to point out that these personal appeals and personal observations are very unfortunate, and should not be made. I think, as a point of Order, the hon. Member for Kerry should withdraw the expression.
§ MR. SEXTON
I have to ask you, Sir, whether the hon. Member—[Cries of "Withdraw!"]—was entitled to use the language he did? [Cries of "Name!"]
I cannot say that the language used by the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Brodrick) was out of Order; but I think such language is very unfortunate. Having said so much, I hope the hon. Member for Kerry will, on reflection, see that the language he used was language which ought not to be used by any Member of the House.
§ MR. SEXTON
It is impossible for me, Mr. Mellor, to qualify the language I used unless the offensive epithet is withdrawn. [Renewed cries of "Name!"]
§ MR. MANFIELD (Northampton)
I desire to call your attention, Sir, to the conduct of Members on the other side. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham the other night used the word "Shame"—
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
Is it a breach of Order to say that a race is a garrulous race, or to say even that it is an impecunious race?
MR. J. MORLEY
On a point of Order, Sir, is it to be held that to call a body of gentlemen an impecunious and garrulous race is not a provocation? [Nationalist cheers and Opposition cries of "Oh!"]
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
May I, Sir, on the point of Order, recall to your recollection what has occurred? My hon. Friend the Member for Guildford, rightly or wrongly, referred to the Irish race as impecunious and garrulous. I myself, although I am not an Irishman, do not feel that I am outside the epithets impecunious and garrulous. Both of them could be applied to me with considerable effect. But the point is that the 1343 hon. Member for Kerry described my hon. Friend's language as impertinent. [An hon. MEMBER: "Grossly."] You, Sir, ruled that those words were not Parliamentary, and you called upon the hon. Member to withdraw, but because my hon. Friend did not, as a preliminary operation, withdraw certain epithets applied not to Members below the Gangway—
§ Several hon. MEMBERS: "Certainly!" "Yes!" "He did!"
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Because my hon. Friend applied that expression not to Members of this House, but to the nation to which my hon. Friend himself belongs, the hon. Member for North Kerry absolutely declines to obey your ruling, or to make that apology which you said was due to the hon. Member for Guildford.
MR. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)
I would call your attention to one fact, Mr. Mellor. Before my hon. Friend made the observation complained of the hon. Member for Guildford made a personal attack on the Irish Members, and said that Home Rule was granted by this Government because the Irish Members were troublesome and unmanageable.
§ MR. STOREY (Sunderland) rose amidst cries of "Order!" and "Chair!"
I have already pointed out that I think the language used by the hon. Member for Guildford—
I have already pointed out that the language used by the hon. Member for Guildford was of a very provoking character, and calculated to cause a good deal of feeling. The language used by the hon. Member for North Kerry in answer was language that I am quite sure he must regret; and I hope that, in the first place, he will withdraw that language.
§ MR. SEXTON
May I point out that I did not volunteer the offensive words—[Cries of "Withdraw!"]—but the hon. Member for Kerry—[laughter]—that is a pretty example of the "Order" of the Opposition—give me time to explain—the hon. Member for Guildford used what I consider to be grossly 1344 offensive language against our countrymen and ourselves. I heard it in silence and patience, and it was only when the hon. Member turned to me and irritated me, by a personal appeal to myself, that I used the language complained of. If the hon. Member will express his regret for his language, I will withdraw mine. [Cries of "Oh!" and "Name!"]
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
I think this discussion is very unedifying, but you, Sir, have made a definite ruling, and the expression of the hon. Member for Kerry was distinctly un-Parliamentary. I am sure if the hon. Member for Kerry would withdraw what he said my hon. Friend would totally disclaim any special imputation on any class of the Irish people.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
My hon. Friend made a general statement. I would suggest that what I have said should be the result of the ruling of the Chair.
I think the suggestion make by the noble Lord is a very proper and fair one. The language used by the hon. Member for Guildford, probably without his intending anything of the kind, was calculated to cause considerable irritation to the Irish Members. He then made an appeal to the hon. Member for North Kerry, and that hon. Member then used language which I am sure on reflection he must regret. I hope the matter will terminate by the hon. Member for Kerry expressing his regret that he used the language complained of, and by the hon. Member for Guildford also withdrawing.
MR. J. MORLEY
What is wanted is to restore the tone of the Debate—[An hon. MEMBER: And pacify the Irish.] The remark of the hon. Member for Guildford has been admitted by you, Sir, and is felt by most Members of the House to have been provocative. [Cries of "No!"] English Members of the House would object very much to being called impecunious and garrulous. The whole Committee are agreed that the language was unfortunate, and I think the hon. Member for North Kerry is prepared to withdraw. It is now only a question of which hon. Member will withdraw first, and I am sure the hon. Member for Guildford will be prepared to state that he did not apply the phrase to hon. Members below the Gangway. 1345 Then my hon. Friend the Member for Kerry will withdraw his observation. [Cries of "No!"]
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and with you, Sir, that the sooner this incident is terminated the better. But the way the case stands is this—that my hon. Friend beside me used language which might be provocative, but which is undoubtedly in Order, and the hon. Member for Kerry has used language which is undoubtedly provocative and not in Order. Now, the right hon. Gentleman opposite has suggested that my hon. Friend near me should express his regret.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Well, should explain that he did not use the language with regard to Members below the Gangway. That has already been done by my hon. Friend. ["No, no!"] He has stated in the most distinct language—and everybody who heard him will agree that his statement is strictly consistent with his speech—he has distinctly stated that he used the language with regard to the Irish race and the Irish nation, of which he is himself a member, and that he did not use it with regard to hon. Gentlemen who sit below the Gangway. Allow me to say that, while I have no doubt he is perfectly ready to repeat it, the point before the Committee is what the hon. Member for Kerry has said. The hon. Member for Kerry has used words—
§ MR. STOREY
again rose and endeavoured to address the Chair, but the Chairman motioned him to sit down.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR, resuming said: I believe the words were—but it is not essential.
§ MR. STOREY (to whom Mr. A. J. BALFOUR gave place)
What I want to say is essential. I had the advantage of being here during the whole of the proceedings.
§ MR. STOREY
The point I want to bring to your notice, Sir, is this—that I have heard three times the statement of 1346 what my hon. Friend the Member for Kerry did say, and what I want to ask you is this—whether it is not the practice, before calling upon an hon. Member to withdraw, either to have the words taken down, or to ascertain from him the substantial accuracy of the words? [Cries of "No!"]
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not know why my hon. Friend opposite interrupts me upon a point of Order. What I was saying was that, while the hon. Member for Guildford is undoubtedly in Order, you, Sir, have ruled that the hon. Member for Kerry is not in Order. I believe, as a matter of fact, the words were that the language used by my hon. Friend the Member for Guildford was "grossly impertinent."
§ MR. SEXTON
What I said was that if he appealed to me he would do so with a better prospect of success if he had not used grossly impertinent language about our fellow-countrymen and ourselves.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
It is perfectly clear now, from the re-statement of the hon. Member, that he did apply to the language of my hon. Friend the words "grossly impertinent."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
You have ruled those words, Sir, to be out of Order, and you have directed the hon. Member to withdraw. I now would suggest that if we are to continue this Debate, and if the order of this Committee is to be maintained, the first thing that is to be done is that the hon. Member for Kerry should unconditionally withdraw the words. Unless that be done, it appears to me that the authority of the Chair, and with that the whole hope of the future orderliness of our proceedings, absolutely vanishes.
§ MR. SEXTON
I do not understand that you ruled the language of the hon. Member to be in Order. On the contrary, you said it was provocative language. I have never understood that it is in Order for an hon. Member to use provocative language.
The language used by the hon. Member for Guildford was provocative, and calculated to produce ill-feeling. I trust that a matter of this kind is not going to be decided upon a mere question of form, and I trust the hon. Member for Kerry will withdraw 1347 language which, I am sure, he will see upon reflection was language that he ought not to have used, and that the hon. Member for Guildford will do what the noble Lord suggested—namely, explain that he did not mean to offend hon. Members below the Gangway or say anything discourteous to the hon. Member for North Kerry.
§ MR. S. EVANS
I wish to ask you whether it is in Order, when the Chair is making observations to the House, for the Leader of the Opposition to shout out "Monstrous!" so that it can be heard in this part of the House? [Cries of "Name!" and "Explain!"] I distinctly heard him use the word, and it could only apply to the observations of the Chair. [Cries of "Name!"]
The hon. Member for Kerry, as I have already stated, has used language which is out of Order. It is language which I am quite sure he will regret, and I hope he will withdraw it.
§ MR. SEXTON
The offence against us has not been withdrawn, and the proposal now is that we, having been subjected to a wanton offence, are to humiliate ourselves. ["Oh, oh!"] With all respect for your high office, Sir, and with all duty to the Committee, I must, in duty to myself, decline to do it. [Cries of "Name!"]
§ SIR H. JAMES
I am sure the Committee would wish, if they could, to avert the scene which is likely to take place if someone does not intervene. I would appeal to the hon. Member for Guildford—[Cries of "No!"]—who, I think, will put himself doubly in the right if he takes the course which I suggest. [Renewed cries of "No!"] Hon. Members below the Gangway have taken the view that he spoke, not only of the Irish race, but of themselves personally. My hon. Friend did not speak of hon. Members—he spoke of the Irish race.
§ SIR H. JAMES
I do not think it is too much to claim the right to criticise a race, but I should care if the words were applied to myself or my friends personally. May I ask my hon. Friend whether he could not repeat that which he said, and so show that he did not apply the words to any Member of this House, and, if that be done, the cause of complaint of the hon. Member for Kerry will be gone?
MR. T. M. HEALY
As I understand it we belong to the Irish race, and the hon. Member for Guildford described us as an impecunious and garrulous race. That is an insult to the Members of the Irish Party, for we stand by our countrymen. [Nationalist cheers.]
THE MARQUESS OF CARMARTHEN
You, Sir, have called upon the hon. Member for Kerry to withdraw an expression which you ruled un-Parliamentary, and, he having said that he would not withdraw it, I ask what your ruling upon that point is?
I quite appreciate the feeling and motive which induced the right hon. Member for Bury to appeal to the hon. Member for Guildford. I think that as the hon. Gentleman has used language of a provoking character, though he may not have intended it, the least he can do is to explain that he did not intend it to apply to the Irish Members. I can only express the hope that he will take that course.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
On a point of Order, is it considered by you, Sir, to be a term of reproach to apply the word "impecunious" to the Irish nation? I sympathise with the word. If anyone were to apply it to me I should not look upon it as an insult, but as indicating a pecuniary misfortune. As to the term "garrulous," that describes the peculiar characteristic of the country to which I belong.
MR. T. M. HEALY
May I ask whether the hon. Member who has applied these terms to our countrymen does not derive his income from the Irish tenantry?
I have explained exactly what I think with regard to the language, and have requested the hon. Member for Kerry to withdraw it. If he does not do that in obedience to my request, I shall very much regret it, for I cannot conceive that the hon. Member for Guildford would mean to insult any Member of this House. I am most anxious that this scene should terminate, and I am most anxious that the hon. Member for Kerry should take that course which seems to me right and proper.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I arrived in the House but a few minutes ago, and derived my information respecting the language of the hon. Gentleman from the Leader of the Opposition. From him I learn that the hon. Member for Guildford used language which was provocative, but was not out of Order, and thereupon the hon. Member for Kerry used language in retaliation which was out of Order.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I assume that when you retaliate you do provoke. What I wish to say is, first of all, that I regard it as a first duty to support the Chair. I earnestly wish to say, further, that it is my strong and deliberate opinion that he will do the greatest honour to himself who is the most prompt and the most decisive in assisting to bring the Committee out of its present dilemma. When an assault takes place, we are very anxious to learn who struck the first blow, and although the first blow may have been a blow short of the one which was administered in retaliation, yet we do not on that account acquit the person who struck the first blow. That appears to me quite undeniable. On the other hand, I venture to revert to what I have said—namely, that, in my opinion, the Chair ought to be supported. In my opinion—though it is taking great liberty for me to say so—of those two gentlemen, the man will do himself the most honour who is the first to give assistance to the House in the dilemma in which we now stand; and if the hon. Member for Guildford is not worthy—[Cries of "Oh!"]—is not disposed to stand in that place of honour, I hope my hon. Friend the Member for Kerry will rise and take up that position.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am bound to say that, if my hon. Friend near me does not rise, it is because he is acting on the advice which I tendered to him. After the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman, I do not think that the weight of responsibility ought to rest on any other shoulders than my own. The view I take of this matter is that, as you, Mr. Mellor, have justly said—no doubt truly said—my hon. Friend's language was provocative language; but, Sir, in this House we are always using provocative language. I know I have been guilty of a great deal of provocative language; and if I, after provoca- 1350 tive language had been used towards myself, had got up and described the gentleman who used it as being guilty of gross impertinence, I should have felt that I was not merely resenting provocative language, but was infringing the Rules of the House. It appears to me that, in the interests of the Committee, my hon. Friend is desirous of explaining again that he used this language in regard to no individual and no politician in this House, but in regard to the nation of which, as the hon. Member for Louth stated, my hon. Friend is a member.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
That is rather provocative language. I must say that, in the interests of order in this House, when the Chairman rules a certain expression to be disorderly, it is absolutely necessary, before any other steps are taken, that that expression should be withdrawn by the gentleman who has used it. I have thought it necessary to say this, because it might be imagined that my hon. Friend would be ungenerous if he did not at once rise, in response to the appeal of the Leader of the House. I think he ought not to do so, and I take the full responsibility of tendering to him that advice.
After that speech of the right hon. Gentleman, I put it once more to the hon. Member for Kerry whether he will accede to the Prime Minister's appeal?
§ MR. SEXTON
I suppose, Mr. Mellor, I am entitled to make a statement. Notwithstanding the remarks which have fallen from the Leader of the Opposition, the hon. Member for Guildford sits silent and makes no statement himself. There is not anything in this world compatible with my sense of duty to myself and others that I would more gladly do than respond to an appeal of the Prime Minister. I rate a request from you, Sir, at scarcely lower value. But my countrymen, my colleagues, and myself have been deliberately insulted, and the gentleman guilty of the insult, instead of uttering one syllable which would occur to a chivalrous man and gentleman, suffers another Member to speak for him. [Cries of "Order!"] That being the case, it is impossible for me, upon an appeal from the Prime Minister, or from any man, to do what duty and self-respect demand I should 1351 not do; and, therefore, I submit myself to your judgment.
With very great regret and pain I must desire the hon. Member for Kerry to withdraw from the House under the Standing Order which is vested in me. [Cries of "No!"]
The Clerk will read the Standing Order.
The Assistant Clerk (Mr. Milman) at the Table read the Rule, as follows:—That Mr. Speaker or the Chairman do order Members whose conduct is grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately from the House during the remainder of that day's Sitting; and that the Serjeant-at-Arms do act on such orders as he may receive from the Chair in pursuance of this Resolution.
I cannot allow anyone to enter into argument. This is a Standing Order of the House, and I have no power to do otherwise than put the Standing Order in force. [Cries of "Name him!"]
§ MR. SEXTON
You have two courses that you can take. [Cries of "Order!"] You can either name me under the Standing Order and allow first the Committee and then the House to pass judgment, and that, I suggest, would be the more expedient course, or you can decide my conduct, notwithstanding the explanation that I have given, to be grossly disorderly. I ask you, Sir, whether, in the exercise of your discretion, you decide my conduct to be grossly disorderly in preference to naming me, so that the judgment of the House may be taken? [Cries of "Order!"]
I take this course because it is the course which is pointed out by the Standing Order. [Cries of "No!"] The hon. Member having resisted, having disobeyed the ruling of the Chair, I have no option in the matter, but must desire him to withdraw.
§ MR. SEXTON
Do I understand, Mr. Mellor, that you hold—[Cries of "Order!"]—that you are entitled—[Cries of "Order!"]—to take a course never taken before, and that you are not called upon to do what has been done 1352 without exception in all other cases? ["Order!"] I claim, Sir, that my conduct be submitted to the judgment of the House.
I believe that this is the step pointed out by Standing Order No. 27—[Cries of "No!"]—and my order was that the hon. Member should withdraw for the remainder of this Sitting. Therefore I call upon the hon. Member to obey the ruling of the Chair and the Standing Order.
§ MR. MANFIELD rose amidst cries of "Order!" The cries of "Order!" continued, and the hon. Member resumed his seat.
§ MR. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
I beg, Sir, to move that you do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again. [Cries of "Order!" "Chair!" and interruption.]
§ MR. SEXTON
I submit, Mr. Mellor, in the interests of the Irish Party and myself, that my conduct has been respectful and not grossly disorderly. [Cries of "Chair!" and "Name!"] I claim that I ought not to be expelled from this House even for one evening by an exercise of personal autocratic power, but that my action ought to be submitted to a vote of this Assembly.
I must again call upon the hon. Member to obey the Standing Order, and to leave the House.
The hon. Member is not entitled to make that claim, because under the Standing Order I have taken exactly the course which is prescribed. [Cries of "No, you have not!" "It has never been done before!" "It is Milman—he is boss!"]
§ MR. BALFOUR
rose amidst considerable interruption, and for some time could not obtain a hearing. He said: I hope that whatever view may have been taken of the incident that has just occurred we shall, at all events, all agree in supporting the authority of the Chair, 1353 which it is absolutely necessary that we should do in the interests of the order of our proceedings.
MR. T. M. HEALY
The Clerk is in the Chair, not the Chairman; leave the Chairman alone; leave the Chairman alone!
The conduct of the hon. Member was disorderly, and, acting under the Standing Order which has been read, I desired the hon. Member to withdraw for the rest of the evening, and he has resisted the order of the Chair.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
—[Cries of "Order!"]—I am not out of Order. It is you, the occupants of the Ministerial Bench, that are out of Order in not supporting the Chair. Why does not the Leader of the House get up?
The Standing Order says—Provided always that a Member ordered to withdraw under this Standing Order and suspended from the service of the House—
§ MR. SEXTON
I am not suspended yet. Am I to swallow an insult to my countrymen at the dictation of an English Clerk? [Renewed Nationalist cheers, and cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Notwithstanding what has happened, and with a full sense that after the appeal I have made to both Gentlemen opposite—
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I do not understand why the noble Lord is so ready to interrupt me. As a matter of fact, I have appealed to both hon. Gentlemen opposite, and said that, in my opinion, he would earn the most honour who was the first to attempt to relieve the Committee from its present dilemma. I have heard with the deepest regret from the Leader of the Opposition that from him advice to a contrary effect had been given to the hon. Gentleman sitting beside him.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I should be only too glad to be contradicted by the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman, if I heard him aright, advised the hon. Member who sits by him not to intervene, although from the Chair a desire had been expressed that he should do so. However much I lament that such advice has been given—and such advice having been given I can hardly wonder that it was followed—having been thus given and having been thus followed, in my opinion most unfortunately, I see the lines of your duty, painful as they are, to be clear. I again most respectfully appeal to my hon. Friend the Member for Kerry, and beg him to relieve the Committee from the difficulty in which we are placed by acceding to the wishes of the Chair.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The conduct of the noble Lord in making these continual interruptions does not assist us in escaping from this dilemma.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
They were the wishes of the Chairman, expressed in the first instance with the utmost temperance and the utmost forbearance. They were followed, I am quite aware, by the order of the Chair. I hope the hon. Member for Kerry will even now yield to those wishes and obey that order.
§ MR. SEXTON
I retain my opinion of what has occurred, but in deference to the Prime Minister I shall withdraw from the House.
§ [The hon. Member then walked out of the House.]
MR. T. M. HEALY (to the Clerk at the Table)
Let the Chairman alone. We do not want any Clerks to be in charge here.
I read the Standing Order. The incident has now terminated, and I cannot have any discussion.
If the hon. Member for Caithness thinks I have acted wrongly, his remedy is to bring the matter before the House.
This is in the nature of a personal explanation. The hon. Member is surely entitled to make a personal explanation.
THE MARQUESS OF CARMARTHEN
I beg to draw your attention—["Order!"] I beg to draw your attention—Renewed cries of "Order!"]
§ [The noble Lord, being unable to obtain a hearing, soon after resumed his seat.]
§ MR. BRODRICK
I will explain, if hon. Members will bear with me for three minutes, exactly what occurred from my point of view. As regards the words I used, the expression I used was this: I was pointing out that the Scotch electorate were in a certain proportion, and their contributions were in a certain proportion, and that the Irish contributions were small and their numbers large in proportion. I then used the words complained of incidentally, and without the smallest intention of referring to any Member in this House, and, in order that there might be no mistake, I immediately proceeded to apply the observations to myself as well as to others. I hoped that every source of irritation was removed, but I found that was not so when the hon. Member for North Kerry used the expression complained of. I should not have hesitated to explain; but that during the time I have sat in this House I have always understood 1356 that words which the Chair ordered a Member to withdraw were to be withdrawn before any explanation was given. I should be the last man in the world to wish to hurt the feelings of the hon. Member for North Kerry, and, if I did give offence to him, I did so without the smallest intention of provoking the hon. Member by my conduct. I can only say that it was without the least intention to-wound any Member that I used the expression. I was saying that it was useless at this moment to appeal to the Government to make any concession with regard to the 80 Members, but I was prepared rather to appeal to the hon. Member for North Kerry, of whom I was about to say that he had secured a majority last night, and was the gentleman who was held to be the author of the new Financial Clauses. I will only say that nobody can regret more deeply than I that any words I have used should have led to this prolonged absorption of the time of the Committee. It certainly was not my wish. During the time I have been sharply opposed to hon. Members below the Gangway, I do not remember any expression of ill-feeling passing between us before. I should have been the first to give the hon. Member this assurance if it had not been that the Orders of the House require that the words complained of should be withdrawn before an explanation is given. I hope we may now be allowed to resume business, and that the Chief Secretary will answer now the question I put to him before this unfortunate interruption.
§ MR. S. EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)
As the incident is now closed, and after the somewhat tardy explanation of the hon. Member—["Order!"]
§ MR. S. EVANS
I was merely going to ask, Sir, whether it would not now be a very gracious act to unanimously invite the hon. Member for North Kerry to return to the House? I only wish to know, Sir, as a point of Order, whether it is possible by the unanimous wish of the House to invite the Member for North Kerry to resume his place in the House?
§ [The rest of the hon. Member's remarks were inaudible.]
MR. T. M. HEALY
I wish to ask you, Sir, whether the hon. Member for Guildford has withdrawn the expression "impecunious and garrulous," which he applied to Members of this House? [Cheers, and cries of "He never said it!"]
§ MR. BRODRICK
If I had used those words I would withdraw them at once. I do not think the hon. Member was in his place when I spoke.
In answer to the question of the hon. Member for Louth, I have to say that the hon. Member for Guildford has withdrawn the expression.
§ MR. W. JOHNSTON
I rise to Order, Sir. I wish to ask you, Sir, whether, when the Clerk—Mr. Milman—at the Table has been called by name and the hon. Member for Donegal says, "I will drag him out of that"—["Order!"]
§ Question put, "That the word 'Second' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 251; Noes 218.—(Division List, No. 208.)
MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.) rose to move—
In page 4, line 30, after "more," insert "the Royal University of Ireland shall return two Members.
He should mention that there were two Universities in Ireland. One was the University of Dublin, which had up to the present time two Representatives in Parliament, and the other was the Royal University—in reality the people's University, and it was important from all possible points of view that that University should also have Parliamentary representation. He did not move this Amendment in the interest of the political Party to which he belonged, because it was not at all improbable that the Royal University would return two Members of Home Rule opinions. It was solely in the interest of higher education in Ireland that he moved the Amendment. It was a doctrine held by
many Members of the House, and particularly by Members of the Radical Party, that the different sections of the community should have direct representation in Parliament. It was held that there should be Labour Members to represent the interests of labour; that Members connected with the shipping trade should represent the shipping interests; that Members practically connected with agriculture should represent agricultural interests; and surely it was not less important that there should be Members directly connected with the Universities to represent the interests of higher education. In England the Board schoolmasters were trying to run one or two Representatives of their own in order that their views might be distinctly laid before the House, and so important did they think the matter to be that they had raised a fund to pay the expenses of these Representatives. If the question before the Committee was that there should be no University representation, a totally different issue would be raised. But hitherto the House in its wisdom had allowed the large and important Universities to be represented in Parliament. In 1605 the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge were allowed two Members each, as it was found necessary that these Universities should be directly represented in Parliament in order that their interests might be preserved, though at the time every Member of the House was either an Oxford or a Cambridge man. He thought it very important that every possible incentive should be given to students of Universities to graduate. A feeling widely prevailed amongst students that it was not necessary to graduate—that a degree was of no value, and the consequence was that the students were led into idle ways. But if Parliamentary representation were given to the University the degree would become valuable and important, for the graduates would elect the Representatives. It was a well-known fact also that Irishmen holding Irish degrees laboured under a disadvantage in England, for there was a tendency to underrate Irish degrees, and to say that they were not equal to English degrees. The consequence was that a large number of Irishmen in the House had again graduated in London in order to rid themselves of the stigma of the mere Irish degree. He was of opinion that if the Royal University had two Re-
presentatives in the House it would raise immensely the Irish degree in public estimation. It was well-known that educational agencies in London discounted the Irish University degrees, principally because the Royal University had not been thought worthy of representation in that House. By an inquiry which took place about a dozen years ago it was found that several degrees of the Royal University stood second in distinction and importance amongst the degrees of the Kingdom—the London University being first, and the Royal University second. He begged to move the Amendment.
In page 4, line 30, after the word "more," to insert the words "the Royal University of Ireland shall return two Members."—(Mr. Rentoul.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
said, he desired to oppose this Amendment on two grounds—first, that it was out of Order; and, second, that it would lead to the return of two impecunious and garrulous Members to that House.
§ MR. RENTOUL
I wish to say that there are hardly any of the hon. Member's friends who are graduates of Universities.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said, that on the first ground he wished to point out that they had passed the word "more," after which the hon. Member proposed to insert his Amendment. If they could return no more, he hardly saw how they could move to insert two more Members; on the second ground, he had sometimes considered that when Members, even though born in Ireland, though they did not represent Irish constituencies, had accepted pensions in that House they thereby became impecunious, such, for instance, as the noble Lord who was lately First Lord of the Admiralty, and he thought it was extremely undesirable to add to the number of impecunious persons in that House. Accordingly, with a view to prevent a further spread of impecuniosity, and as the Amendment dealt with the Colleges of Ireland, and as hon. Gentlemen connected with Trinity College had always in that House enjoyed large salaries, he did not see why the outdoor relief should be further extended by placing on the books of the House two more Members who would 1360 probably be in receipt of large salaries and their pensions if this Amendment was carried. On the question of garrulity, he thought he was prepared to show that Members representing Universities had not been silent in that House. In fact, they had known Members for Universities, even from Ireland, who had been extremely loquacious. Therefore, as the Representative of a constituency which might be poor, it was true, though he thought that was not a ground for its being insulted—as the Representative of a constituency, at any rate, of ordinary persons, he was bound to prevent the introduction into that House of persons connected with Universities, most of whom would draw salaries, and afterwards, no doubt, pensions.
On the point of Order raised by the hon. Member, I think the Amendment is in Order, as it refers to the Schedule.
MR. J. MORLEY
The hon. Member has based his argument in support of the Amendment on an extraordinary ground. He asks the Committee to sanction the allotting of two Members to the Royal University of Ireland, of which I would be the last man in the House to say a disrespectful word—not because it would improve the character of Irish representation—not because there were high interests which under any other circumstances could be adequately represented, but because it would induce a certain number of young men to take their degrees, who otherwise would not do so.
MR. J. MORLEY
Yes, but the hon. Gentleman made it his strongest and most salient ground. Can the Committee believe that the hon. Member has proposed a serious Amendment when one of his arguments is so ludicrous?
§ MR. RENTOUL
I understand this Bill is intended to be of advantage to Ireland. Is it not for the advantage of Ireland that its young men should stay in Ireland and not come to the English Universities? What I stated was that the Irish Universities stood lower on account of their not having Parliamentary representation.
MR. J. MORLEY
Am I to understand that more gentlemen will remain in Ireland if only they can vote for a Member for the Royal University of Ireland?
§ MR. RENTOUL
My point, whether it is good or bad, is that Parliamentary representation raises the status and standard of a University.
MR. J. MORLEY
Does the hon. Member take up the position that l-40th of the representation of Ireland is to be allotted in this way in order that a certain Educational Body shall attract a larger number of students? Well, I myself cannot conceive a more ludicrous argument. What is the fact? There is a University in England called the Victoria University which is a most successful Body, and the rallying centre for a number of Educational Institutions. Has that University got a Representative? Again, there is the University of Durham, which has no Parliamentary representation. It is true that the University of London has since 1867 got representation, but it was a very important Body long before that time. But why should I argue the point? There is no need to argue the point, because, in the first place, it is absurd that the representation of Ireland should be adjusted in order that a certain University should attract a larger number of students, who would thereby be induced to remain in their own country; and next, because this Assembly has something else of more importance to think about than whether a certain Teaching or Examining Body shall or shall not be represented in this House.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think the Chief Secretary was not justified in attacking my hon. Friend as he has done, merely because he expressed the desire that the University of which he is a member should be represented. [Cries of "Divide!" from Nationalist Members.] Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway who interrupt either are not University men, or do not care about University representation—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
My hon. Friend simply desires that the Royal University of Ireland should have representation given to it as well as the other Universities. There is nothing discreditable in the views of the hon. Member. When the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland says that the Committee have more important things to consider I do not dissent from him: but I submit that, having retained the representation of the smallest and most 1362 insignificant boroughs in Ireland, it is rather absurd for the right hon. Gentleman to say that it is beneath the dignity of the Committee to consider whether the Royal University shall or shall not have representation here. But, although I think my hon. Friend was perfectly justified in moving his Amendment, I would not recommend him, in face of the many important questions we have to discuss, to expend the time of the Committee on a Division, inasmuch as the Government have shown no great desire to improve the representation in the way in which the hon. Member wished, or, indeed, in any other way. The Government earlier in the evening deliberately resisted the Amendment of the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir C. Dilke), which was a far-reaching Amendment dealing with the whole of their absurd scheme for Ireland. Under these circumstances, I would advise my hon. Friend not to put the Committee to the trouble of dividing.
§ Objection taken.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 226; Noes 255.—(Division List, No. 209.)
§ MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)
said, he wished to move an Amendment—In page 4, line 30, to leave out "and Dublin University shall cease to return any Member.He said that the question raised by the Amendment was the question of University representation—the question of taking away the University representation that existed. The principle of University representation was one which could be defended as being part of the soundest method of giving a true representation of the opinions and feelings of the nation. University representation introduced a diverse element which they needed in the House of Commons; it also gave a small amount of variety to the representation of Ireland. Further than this, it was the old Radical theory strongly maintained by John Stuart Mill and maintained in the Debates on the Reform Bill of 1867. What was it, then, that 1363 had made orthodox Radicals turn round? Was it anything more deep-seated than the fact that University Members had been against them in late years? That, however, was not a sufficient explanation for making a change in the principles of Parliamentary representation. Those University constituencies ought to be maintained where they existed. They had a great claim to return Members to Parliament as representative of classes, feelings, opinions, and knowledge which, especially in Ireland, could not be represented in the other constituencies. He thought it would be a distinct blot on the Bill if it took the first step towards abolishing the existing University representation.
In page 4, line 30, to leave out the words "and Dublin University shall cease to return any Member."—(Mr. Parker Smith.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. J. E. REDMOND (Waterford)
said, he desired to explain the position which he intended to take upon this Amendment. It had been decided by the Committee that the number of Irish Members should not be 103, though it had not been decided that the number should be 80—in other words, as he understood the situation, the Schedule was still before the House, and if time was afforded to the Committee by the Opposition to discuss the Schedule it would be possible to discuss it and to endeavour to provide that Ireland should be represented not by 80, but by some number more nearly approximating to 103 Members, which he considered to be the proper number under the circumstances. His action on this Amendment, therefore, would be guided by this consideration: he would vote against any proposal to diminish still further the Representatives of Ireland in that House; and as the proposal of the Bill was to deprive the University of Dublin of two Members, he should vote in favour of the Amendment. He declined on this Amendment to go into the large and serious question of University representation. That was a question which should be considered on its merits and as applying to all parts of the United Kingdom; and if an experiment was to be made on the question of the representation of Universities in this House, he objected altogether that it 1364 should be made upon Ireland. It ought to be made in a general proposal applying to the Universities in all parts of the United Kingdom. He intended to support the Amendment, because he hoped, if time was afforded to them, to be able, in dealing with the Schedule, to largely increase the number of 80 Members proposed in it. He knew they could no longer hope to obtain 103 Members for Ireland; but he hoped, if time was afforded, that they might be able to provide a much larger number than 80. The hon. Member for North Kerry proposed last night the number of 102. That was a proposal which, of course, he would earnestly support, though it was a proposal which would probably not be carried. In view of the declaration made by the hon. Member that he would propose an Amendment in that direction, he was opposed to any proposal that would take away these seats from Dublin University.
MR. J. MORLEY
The hon. Member who has moved the Amendment based it on the ground that it was desirable to vary the uniformity of representation. But I want to ask the Committee whether that has been the result of giving representation to the Universities? It has not been so, and least of all in the case of the University of Dublin. I have no wish to use disrespectful language of the Representatives of that famous and venerable Institution. The right hon. Gentleman who has spoken on behalf of the University is a Member of whom any constituency might well be proud. We cannot forget that gentleman's character and gifts; but we must not forget that the great function of the University of Dublin, so far as representation in this House goes, has been to find seats for Tory Law Officers. So far from varying the representation, no representation has been so uniform, so monotonous, so little varied as that of this University. If anybody will show me that the University of Dublin preserves a representation which no other part of Ireland is able to secure, that fact would weigh with me to some extent, because I agree that in Ireland, of all communities, it is most desirable to have varied representation. If the hon. Member would point out to me changes of machinery or changes in our Schedule by which we could secure a more varied representation in Ireland, I, for one, would cordially support such a proposi- 1365 tion. But this proposition is not to that effect. To continue the representation of the University of Dublin is simply to secure two seats for one particular shade of the Irish minority. Those seats have not been given to learning and eloquence, but to Tory Law Officers to secure Tory votes. On that ground, and on the ground that the whole tendency of opinion is against University representation, which has secured no good end in this country, and on other grounds which could be urged if time permitted, the Government must oppose this Amendment.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
A desire has been expressed for a Division, but I think the Committee will generally feel that it is absolutely impossible to divide upon the Amendment until we have heard, among others, the two gentlemen who represent the University of Dublin. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that the seats of the University of Dublin are not given to learning or eloquence, but to secure Tory votes, from which I gather that the right hon. Gentleman thinks it impossible for gentlemen of Tory convictions to have either learning or eloquence. Without claiming much for the Party to which I have the honour to belong, I will say, at all events, that there are two Members of it who, though Tories, possess both learning and eloquence, and those two gentlemen at this moment represent the University of Dublin. 'They will, when the time comes to-morrow, defend the seats which they so worthily occupy; and in the meanwhile, I suppose, it will be impossible for us longer now to continue the Debate.
§ It being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.