HC Deb 13 July 1893 vol 14 cc1485-547

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Irish Representation in House of Commons.

Clause 9 (Representations in Parliament of Irish Counties and Boroughs.)

Amendment proposed, in page 4, line 34, to leave out Sub-sections 3 and 4.—(Mr. W. E. Gladstone.)

Question again proposed, "That the words 'an Irish Representative Peer in the House of Lords' stand part of the Clause."

Debate resumed.

MR. R. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)

said, that by throwing over these subsections the Prime Minister had converted the Bill into a twofold and contradictory measure—on the one hand giving Home Rule to Ireland, and on the other taking it away from Britain. Whatever might be argued by transcendental and theoretical reasoners, he maintained that the practical outcome of the throwing overboard of these Jonah sub-sections would be, in the language—more picturesque than polite—of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), to put Britain under the hoof of Ireland. It did not specify what type of hoof. Irish Members in the future would no longer be clothed in that House with a representative character; and, again quoting from the same high authority, it was as outrageous a proceeding as to place the arbitrament of British interests in the hands of a delegation of Greenlanders. The only reason for making these changes in the Bill did not seem connected with any change of idea on the part of the Government as to the absolute rights and wrongs of the matter, but it was said that there was a preponderance of opinion on that side of the House, and they feared that they could not carry the clause, and then the Government acquiesced in the direct contrary to that which they had proposed. He was not going to be so presumptuous as to quote anything to the greatest master of Parliamentary tactics extant as to the execution of a change of front in the face of the enemy, or the still more familiar adage as to swopping horses while crossing a stream, or any other wise saws of that sort. But he would ask him whether he was aware of the accuracy and true import of the evidence on which he relied, and of the facts which had been reported to him by his scouts? He observed that the Prime Minister laid special stress on the nine Amendments to the same effect as that which he proposed himself—namely, to omit the sub-section. The first of these Amendments on which the Prime Minister relied, from that side of the House, was one from the hon. Member for Northampton, who was, undoubtedly, in many ways a representative character in the Committee and the House, and who was also an undoubtedly devoted follower of the Prime Minister, so devoted, indeed, that, according to his own account, it required the special interposition of the Sovereign to keep him from following the Prime Minister straight on to the Treasury Bench. He noticed that the hon. Gentleman, though frustrated in that demonstration of affection and attachment, still sat as near to the Prime Minister as he possibly could, being separated from him only by a narrow, though unnavigable, strait, so that he might have the consolation of reflecting that, though he could not be the rose, he would yet be as near to it as he could. Was the Prime Minister sure that he fully knew the mind of those representative names in connection with this matter on which he had laid so much and so important a stress? He did not desire to multiply quotations, but he would cite one or two more passages from a small anthology of the hon. Member for Northampton's opinions on this matter, which he had taken the trouble to compile. On the 27th October last year the hon. Member said— I really cannot comprehend how any human being can suggest that whilst the Irish are to manage their own local affairs they are to be allowed to have a controlling voice in our local affairs. On the 19th December he said— I should not vote for any clause which leaves our local affairs to the arbitrament of the Irish Members after Ireland has been relieved of the intervention of British Members in Irish local affairs. On the 5th of January the hon. Member again said— Do Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Morley imagine for a moment that Great Britain would accept any Bill that, while securing to Ireland freedom from our interference in her local affairs, gives to the Irish Members the casting votes in our local affairs? In the end of January this year the hon. Member said— I hardly believe that any Member of the Cabinet is so lost to the most elementary notion of self - government as to wish to have the Irish Members to carry British reforms by Irish votes. This would be as outrageous as to stuff the Irish Parliament with British Members in order to secure a majority there in favour of some particular scheme of legislation. In the beginning of March he said— I have always held that the inclusion of the Irish Members ought not to be a fatal objection, provided that the Irish Members do not vote on purely British matters. And on the 2nd of March he said— The really important question is whether Home Rule will carry the country at the next Election. There are two things which render this doubtful, and the first is if our opponents could point to the fact that the Irish Members will remain masters of our local affairs and be able to throw their votes for or against any local measure, irrespective of its merits, and that with the view of securing something for Ireland. How the hon. Member for Northampton got round from these utterances to the position of putting down such an Amendment, but in the moving of which he was anticipated by the Prime Minister himself, was a matter which he did not understand, and did not care for; time was too precious to spend in investigating the psychology of Parliamentary teetotums. It would be well for the Government to consider carefully this phenomenon, if they were going to rely on the hon. Member for Northampton, as one of the important signs of the times. If they did, he would trouble the Committee with another statement of the hon. Member. On the 18th of January this year he said— If he were to judge from the number of letters he received, he was not alone in his views regarding the advisability of the exclusion of the Irish Members from Westminster after Home Rule became law. He believed that if Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Morley would only have the courage of their opinions they might count upon the approval of the vast mass of Home Rulers. To suppose that they could obtain a majority at the General Election for any surrender of their rights for self-government was to show singular ignorance of Englishmen. The Government ought well to weigh these observations of their own chosen horoscope or barometer before they made up their minds to march at the wheels of the hon. Member's triumphal donkey-cart. For his own part, he meant to stand by the Government's own subsection until some Amendment better was put before him. Ordinary humanity induced him to step in and take what little charge he could of the Prime Minister's abandoned offspring, especially as he had left it in a very destitute condition, with scarcely a stitch of clothing, the feeding bottle, or the customary letter, with a guinea enclosed to the benevolent. He believed the clause as it stood to be just and reasonable in purpose, as it would give to the Irish Members their full share in Imperial matters, to which they had a perfect right. The proposal, on the other hand, was to exclude them from purely British matters, in which, after Home Rule was passed, they would have no interest whatever, and to take, likewise, the consequences that might be incidental to that arrangement. He would not believe, given a just and reasonable principle, that it was not in the power of the House of Commons to work it out in such a way that order and a perfect distribution of just considerations should be the final result of all that was concerned in the working of the principle. As to its being workable, he was content to ask had they not the guarantee of the Prime Minister's matchless Parliamentary reputation staked in favour of its being workable? Would he have allowed sub-sections to go to the world stamped with his authority that he knew could be properly described as unworkable? Had they not the authority of the Secretary of State for War that the application of it for ordinary purposes might be safely entrusted even in the hands of a Town or County Council? If the Secretary of State for War, in that declaration, did not see his way to vindicate what he had stated, he thought the Committee would agree with him that the right hon. Gentleman was performing the part that a celebrated countryman of theirs would have called a mere windbag. He knew that the Secretary of State for War was a solid and substantial and sagacious segment of the universe. For his own part, he admitted that possibly the plan might dislocate the working of the Cabinet system to some extent; and it was very natural for gentlemen on both Front Benches, whose lives were spent inside Cabinets, or in trying to get inside them, to think the Cabinet system was the best of all possible systems. Just as the prosperous and fortunate classes were said generally to be optimists in creed, and to regard the present as the best of all possible worlds, so the unfortunate and unprosperous classes were generally pessimists, with the exception, possibly, of a few saints and philosophers. He regarded the Cabinet system as to a large extent an aristocratic and even a costly tradition, which was getting a little antiquated possibly, and standing in need of revision, and he should be glad indeed to think that the rejection of these sub-sections by this Cabinet was not connected in some degree more or less remote with the instinct of self-preservation. He was content, however, with the Secretary of State for War, to regard these sections as simply a matter of machinery which the Chancellor of the Duchy said would work more smoothly, more favourably, and more familiarly than the opposite plan of which he supposed the right hon. Gentleman was now the champion. All this since yesterday was mere ancient history, but, at the same time, he submitted that it had a good deal to do with exciting for the like of himself a feeling of commiseration in consideration of the high and dry position by which he suddenly felt himself surrounded, for the ideas which at that moment governed him were those which he learned from the Prime Minister himself. He knew the right hon. Gentleman had declared he would not be a party to any arrangement by which, after Ireland had a domestic Legislature of her own, Irish Members should sit in the Imperial Parliament to manage British affairs; and he knew the right hon. Gentleman had put these two things together—not the one as the more accidental concomitant of the other—but the one as the logical sequence of the other. He (Mr. Wallace) had trusted all along to this declaration, and he had for years been declaring that one of the natural and, no doubt, inevitable conditions of Home Rule would be that Ireland should have no more power over British local affairs than they should have over Irish. And now, how did he find himself? Left to no other consolation, but the barren one of having to repeat Amicus Plato, sed magis arnica veritas. In these circumstances, he offered himself to both sides of the Committee as an object of sympathy in the tragic situation in which he found himself placed. He felt somewhat like a disciple of a venerated master who had been guided by him over a famous historical bridge, crowded with numerous but disappointed transmigrants, to acquire at the end of their journey an enlightened hold of the priceless principle that the angles at the base of a notorious geometrical figure were equal. Of course he was overjoyed, he shouted "Eureka!" and he vowed eternal gratitude to his venerated master. But when he found in a few days that master came along and said to him that he had been around and about among their friends; that he found there was a general feeling among them that those angles ought not to be equal, and that accordingly he was going to bow to the general feeling, so that henceforth they should maintain the inequality of those angles rather than their equality, he asked what was he to do, not being possessed of the flexibility or even fluidity of intelligence which made so many of his co-disciples not only equal to one another but equal to anything. He felt himself in the position that having got the conviction he did not see how he was to unget it. If he had known better possibly he might have done better. But unhappily J'y suis, j'y reste. He admitted his case was one which might melt the proverbial heart of the proverbial stone. What comfort did the Prime Minister offer him in the desolation and despair of which the right hon. Gentleman had been the cause? He said, for one thing, that he should have the felicity of assisting in asserting the equality of all Members of Parliament. But it seemed to him that that was precisely the thing which he should not be doing if these proposals should become law. Members of Parliament were equal because they were clothed with a representative character, and they were equal because they equally possessed that representative character. Under Home Rule, when it was passed, Irish Members in Imperial affairs would, of course, be clothed with a representative character They would be in their natural place, but in British affairs they would not be clothed with that representative character. They would be adveni; they would be mere amateurs, responsible to no constituency for what they did in British affairs. Where did the inequality really come in? It came in when interlopers were put upon a footing of equality with those who had the legitimate power, and the only way of asserting it and curing that inequality was by excluding those interlopers from business with which they had no longer anything to do. The Prime Minister further told him, by way of consolation, that he would not be in such great danger of Irish intrigues in British affairs which he dreaded, and which the right hon. Gentleman originally said both he and his Colleagues could not bring themselves to face, because under Home Rule there would be a splitting up of interests, and in this Parliament there would not be that Nationalistic combination which they now beheld, and which the right hon. Gentleman seemed to regard as the only possible danger ahead. The drawback to that form of consolation was that in order to administer it the right hon. Gentleman had to assume the rôle of prophet. In his (Mr. Wallace's) sorrows prophets were no comfort to him. He could do his own prophesying at home. On the plane of prophecy he was the right hon. Gentleman's match. He knew as much as the right hon. Gentleman did about the unknown, and he cast the horoscope of Irish Home Rule somewhat differently. Very possibly the right hon. Gentleman had made a miscalculation about some star in Orion. He believed it was certain that in watching the action of the veto in the Imperial Parliament upon native legislation the Irish Members would vote as one man, or, at all events, the Party that was in a majority would go solid for national interests, whatever British interests might suffer, and that was why he said in their hearts they preferred 103 to 80, and that that night they would vote themselves into dominion over British affairs, with which they had nothing to do. The last consolation which the Prime Minister offered him was that he should have a share in the happiness of giving the paramount its rightful place over the secondary; of making Home Rule the principle in a Home Rule Bill, and so succeeding in carrying Home Rule for Ireland, which was the paramount, whatever might become of British interests, which were only secondary. He knew perfectly well that the end was logically paramount to the means. But what he wanted to ask was, did the end always justify or sanctify the means? Should they do evil that good might come? That seemed to him practically the question that was raised in this case. He knew plenty of people in life who held strongly by this doctrine of paramount, and who, when they strongly desired an object, would obtain it at any price, however extravagant. But he also knew that that generally led them into the Bankruptcy Court. He had had to encounter gentlemen at the Old Bailey and at Quarter Sessions who were strongly attached to the doctrine of the paramount. They wanted that watch or that silver plate, and if other people's interests must be sacrificed, then so much the worse for the other people's interests. That was a minor matter, and only secondary. He also knew that it did not pay. It brought its practitioners into three months, or three years, or more, according to the exact ratio of their enthusiastic devotion to the doctrine of the paramount. Accordingly, he had derived very little consolation, indeed, from the comforts offered to him in his forlorn position by the right hon. Gentleman, and when he turned to his fellow Home Rulers he received even less comfort and relief from them. They told him, for example, that by giving unlimited powers, by the doctrine of omnes omnia, they should be able to cure the evils and confusion of the "in-and-out" system. It seemed to him the very opposite was going to be the fact, and by the new proposal of the Government they would multiply tenfold or a thousand-fold the evils, because they were extending the operations of the cause. He said the proposal of the Government was nothing better than that of the famous man of Thessaly— Who was so wondrous wise, He jumped into a quick-set hedge And scratched out both his eyes; But when he found his eyes were out, With all his might and main, He jumped into another hedge, And scratched them in again. That was the philosophy by which the Government were endeavouring to cure the evils of the Irish presence in Imperial affairs—by providing for their presence in British affairs. Then he was told he should be no worse off in the time to come than he was now, and that they were doing the same thing now. Well, but he wanted to do better, and he saw a way of doing better in the honest action of those despised and rejected sub-sections. He contended that they would very probably be worse off than now, because under the present system the Irish Members, at all events, were in their true position, and there was a certain check upon them in the present condition of affairs; but under Home Rule, with their omnes omnia, the Irish Members would be in a false position, and with no check whatever upon them. It was very difficult for even the best men to act rightly if they were not in their true, but were in a false, position. Even granted they had no interest to move them, and acted only on the bidding of whim and caprice, he said that in itself was a danger, because they knew that there was a very old Parliamentary hand of even longer standing in that House than the Prime Minister himself, who still Will some mischief find For idle hands to do. Last of all, he was told by his friends, if he would only consent to this arrangement, they would secure the cooperation of, he did not know how many, good Irish Radical votes; and he was not sure, human nature being so weak and so open to temptation, that that was possibly not the least prevailing consideration. But he wanted to ask his fellow Home Rulers seriously whether they felt that they could honestly, and in conformity with any ethical standard of political life, join in an attempt to snatch even Radical votes on these principles? There was no principle more sacred to Radicalism than the principle of representation, and that people should be ruled through Representatives chosen by themselves. But what would be the votes of Irish Members present under the conditions of Home Rule? They would not be the votes of Members chosen by the people in whose affairs those votes were exercised. He told his fellow Radicals that it was impossible honestly to obtain Radical Irish votes under this scheme of Home Rule. Did they say to him they did not care, that they would get the votes—honestly, if they could—but by all means they would get votes? If that was it, then he was afraid he had been getting not into the very best company, and he, for one, refused to join them in debauching Liberalism, or in committing what he believed would be a political rascality. He would do all he could to obtain Radical votes on Radical principles, but he would do all he could also against obtaining Radical votes on anti-Radical principles. Besides, what certainty had they that the Irish votes would always be Radical? A nation of small landlords was more likely to be a nation of great Tories. He regretted that the Government had not stood by their own better judgment in this matter, but had given way to the opinions of those who, whatever might be their excellences in other respects, were surely inferior to the Government in judging of the proper construction of legislative proposals. He was afraid it was, to a certain extent, too characteristic of this Government to give way. They were getting too much in the way of first putting down their foot and then lifting it up again. He would remind them that a Government which ran away was not unlikely to be a fugitive Government. It was not the mind of the Government, but it was the will that caused him alarm. He was not afraid for their heads, but for their backbone. The Government contained one transcendental genius, and half a dozen tried men of unquestionably conspicuous intellect. It would be understood that in so speaking he was speaking with the most friendly disposition towards the Government. Faithful were the wounds of a friend. He had observed that not only persons but Governments had generally two classes of friends—the candid and the sugar-candied. For himself, he was afraid there was no doubt about the category to which he belonged, for, unfortunately, Nature had not dowered him with any plethora of saccharine attributes to begin with, and such as had been bestowed upon him had, he apprehended, become almost atrophied by negligent culture. But such as he was he offered his counsel, and his warning, if need be, to the Government, and he felicitated himself that day upon having had the courage to speak out his mind, and to tell them what he really thought and felt with respect to the unfortunate, and, he believed, disastrous, change that had so suddenly come over the spirit and the character of this Bill. He was afraid now that when it went down to the country and was sufficiently thought over by-and-by, and was understood by the people, it would not only create no enthusiasm, but might excite a great amount of opposition to the Bill and to the idea which it represented, and so be the means of retarding a cause which he should always continue to regard, under just and rational conditions, as the cause of justice, liberty, progress, and good government.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

said, his hon. Friend who had just spoken of course had a right to state his own opinions, but when he attacked most of those on that side of the House he surely had no right to explain to them the motives by which they were actuated. He was perfectly ready to admit, so far as his own personal belief went, that the best plan to adopt would be to entirely exclude the Irish Members from that House. Though he had given no pledges to vote against exclusion, many Liberal Members had, and for the reason that in 1886 the main protest against the first Home Rule Bill was that it entirely excluded the Irish Members. They were told again and again that this would disintegrate the Empire and convert Ireland into a Colony; and it was understood that if this difficulty could be got over and Irish Members retained many Liberal Unionists, who said they had strayed from the Liberal fold on account of this matter of exclusion, would return to it. But those Liberal Unionists had not kept their word. They (the Liberals) were not going to follow that bad example. They had kept their word. Many of them told their constituents—he did not, however—that they would vote against exclusion, if they found themselves, speaking as a Party, pledged against it. They found now, however, that total exclusion had been rendered impossible to the Liberal Party. For himself, he was more in favour of partial than of full retention, provided a working means could be found to carry on the present Parliamentary system. He had expected his hon. Friend to tell them of some system that would be workable; but his hon. Friend spoke only of the Cabinet system. This system appeared to him to rest upon the basis that the Cabinet was a Committee of the majority in that House. If they had any different system from that which prevailed they might have a British majority and an Imperial minority. He would favour partial exclusion, but that he had come to the conclusion it would destroy the Parliamentary system of Government. The objections against partial representation outweighed those against representation as a whole. His hon. Friend told them that by leaving out of the Bill the subsection under consideration they would deprive Great Britain of Home Rule. But had Great Britain Home Rule at the present moment with the Irish vote? Let them take the Local Veto Bill as an illustration—a Bill that was essentially British, and was to apply only to Great Britain. That Bill was carried against the British majority by the votes of the Irish Members, and so he contended that by giving the Irish Members full powers to sit and vote on all matters after Home Rule was passed for Ireland they did not in any sort of way deprive themselves of Home Rule, because, unfortunately, they did not possess it. He was one of those who were in favour of Home Rule all round—for Wales, Scotland, and England as well as Ireland—and he believed the result of giving it to Ireland would be that it would yet be adopted for all the component parts of the United Kingdom. For six years the Conservatives and Liberal Unionists had been explaining and discussing this question, and declaring how difficult it was. But they had not stated what their own wishes were. Would the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition state precisely what he wanted? Did he object to partial retention, or simply to the particular scheme set forth in the Bill? He had given his reasons why he was in favour of partial retention; would the right hon. Gentleman do the same? Instead of quoting from old speeches would he tell the Committee what was the course he recommended to be pursued? If the right hon. Gentleman would submit some scheme of partial retention which would not destroy Parliamentary Government it would be welcomed, for they were not slaves on that side of the House. The Prime Minister had said that he left the matter entirely to the House. If the Leader of the Opposition could bring forward a scheme which would meet the difficulties of the situation, he believed the Prime Minister would be prepared to accept it. If he would do what it had passed the wit of man on the Ministerial side of the House to do—if he would get them out of this difficulty—everyone on that side would be glad.

SIR J. PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)

said, he had listened with respect to the speech of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh, and it was refreshing to find that there was in the House one immaculate man entirely beyond the reach of temptation who never thought of his constituents or his votes as long as he was doing his duty by pulling the Bill of the Government to pieces. He was himself one of those who found fault with the Bill of 1886 because it excluded Members from Ireland from taking part in the discussions of the House, and he stated that he could not feel that there was such a thing as Imperial unity without Imperial representation. He believed that the granting of Home Rule to Ireland was in accordance with the best interests of the country and the unity of the Empire. It seemed to him impossible to have unity of Imperial interests if Irish Members were excluded from the House of Commons and the Irish Peers from the other branch of the Legislature. The Home Rule Assembly was to be a subordinate Assembly. There was no difference of opinion in the House on that subject. But if Imperial unity was not maintained in that House they would have a state of things which would be very dangerous to the interests of the Empire. He thought it impossible that a people like the Irish, who had spread themselves over the world and taken a large part in the government of our Colonies, would settle down content merely with a local Assembly, throwing away all concern in our Imperial interests, our foreign relations, our Army, and our Navy, If Irish Members were excluded altogether there would be a risk of the Irish Assembly dabbling in things which were Imperial in their character whatever the law on the subject might be. As to any danger arising from Irish Members taking part in discussions on British interests, he entirely failed to see it. The Irish Party had from time to time turned out one Government after another, not on great questions of British interest, but because of one predominant feeling—that they must have Home Rule. If Home Rule were taken out of the way, what object could Irish Members have in turning out Governments? Where a measure seemed likely to work for the benefit of the commonwealth the Irish vote would be given in its favour. There was no predominant feeling in Scotland against English interests—why, then, should there be in Ireland once Home Rule was granted? If they looked through the Bills on the Paper—Government Bills and Private Bills—they would see that many of them were not Party questions, but were for the benefit of the country at large. Many of the Bills passed through the House by the help of the Irish Members would be a guide to the Irish Parliament afterwards as to what they were to do for the benefit of their country.

MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)

I have listened with attention to the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and, as far as I can collect, he has two principal reasons for the vote he is going to give. One reason is that if the Irish Members are not allowed to take their full share in Imperial affairs they will lose their interest in them, and the second is that it will do the Irish Members a great deal of good to listen to our discussions on British affairs. I am convinced that two more trivial arguments could not be advanced upon what is the gravest matter which has come up in the whole course of our discussions in Committee. The hon. Baronet, in using such arguments, must have been playing with us, though I should have hardly thought him capable of joking on such a question. His first argument is that we should bribe the Irish Members by giving them an interest in our affairs, which are not their concern; and his second is that so great are the educational effects of our Debates that we should drag Irish Members here to go through the educational process of our discussions and to vote in our interests that they may be the better qualified to go back to their own country to discuss and vote upon matters upon which we have had their assistance before. Well, Sir, I think my hon. Friend will hardly expect the Committee to take very seriously the reasons he has given for the vote he proposes to record to-night. I pass from that speech to the speech which immediately preceded it—namely, that of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere). The hon. Member for Northampton made a very direct appeal to me—an appeal to which I feel disposed to respond. The hon. Member said—"Let the Leader of the Opposition give his views upon the whole policy involved in this question of the retention of the Irish Members, and we shall be glad to consider them." Though he did not promise me his vote—indeed, he sufficiently indicated that, whatever are my reasons, he probably would not give me his vote—yet I am ready to tell him what it is that will guide me in voting on this Amendment, and, after this Amendment is disposed of, in voting on the whole clause. Though I am prepared to respond to the appeal of the hon. Member, I do not think it is a fair question to ask us to solve problems that are none of our setting. The hon. Member for Northampton says—"I admit the difficulties, and it is your business to solve them." It would be our business to solve them if we had framed the Home Rule Bill, but in our view those questions are not capable of solution; and the very fact that they are incapable of solution affords, in our opinion, a conclusive argument against the whole scheme, of which one or other of the plans in question must necessarily form a part. In my opinion it is not necessary, in order to demonstrate the impossibility of Home Rule, to discuss any other question than this of what we are to do with the Irish Members; and if we can show, as I believe we can, that there is no conceivable or possible plan which is not open to objection so serious that it would wreck any scheme to which it was attached, then I think we shall have demonstrated that Home Rule is a scheme which, in the interests of the Imperial Parliament, you ought never to have opened up. I take, however, the vote on the Second Reading as provisionally affirming the principle of the scheme, and I set myself to find the course which is least open to the fundamental objection to which all the courses are open. The Opposition have already voted in favour of total exclusion, and so great is my faith in the arguments on which that vote was based that I still do not give up the hope of inducing the Committee to accept that view, and I have accordingly put down on the Paper a clause embodying my view of the way in which the Irish Members should be treated—a clause which I may describe generally as being based on the provisions of the Home Rule Bill of 1886. I will do my best to afford the Committee the opportunity of voting on that scheme by voting for the omission of this clause altogether; and if we are successful—and I think I can show that we ought to be—in rejecting absolutely from top to bottom the whole scheme of the Government, then, when the time comes, I shall propose my new clause by which, roughly speaking, the old plan of 1886 will be inserted in the Bill. Now, why is it that I anticipate that upon this vote for the clause I think we ought to meet with a better measure of success than we did when we proposed the total exclusion of the Irish Members at an earlier stage of the Committee? I have listened with attention to every speech made from the other side on the subject. I see with unmistakable clearness that from the Prime Minister downwards there is not a single English or Scotch Representative who does not loathe the introduction of the Irish Members—[Cries of "No!"]—and who does not, on its merits, think the whole scheme indefensible, and who does more than put the thinnest veil over the innermost feeling of his heart that the old plan with all its objections—and, Heaven knows! I have no wish to minimise the objections to the old plan—was the better of the two. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary the other night was subjected to a severe cross-examination as to his previous utterances. He never explained them. He never for a moment pretended that he dissented from them. If I rightly interpreted certain words and inarticulate signs of the Chief Secretary, there is not a single word of his speeches, admirable speeches, which were quoted on this subject to which in his heart at this moment he dissents. And as for the Prime Minister, I do not think any man who heard his speech on the introduction of the Bill and his later utterances upon this clause doubts that if the Prime Minister were the absolute arbiter of our destinies on this matter, he would go back to his old original proposals, and would prefer, in the interests of Parliament and Great Britain—and I would add in the interests of Ireland—to exclude the Irish Representatives totally from discussions in this House. And what have we heard from the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. R. Wallace), who made a most brilliant speech—of its kind one of the most brilliant speeches of my whole Parliamentary recollection? He has shown his absolute and irrevocable objection to the new policy of the Government. He has not shown that he desires the scheme as it now stands. He says that it may be workable, but even he does not for a moment pretend that he thinks the "in-and-out" scheme an advisable or practical one. He quoted his old speeches in which he had always advocated the total exclusion of the Irish Members. I claim him, therefore, as one of the other side of the House who, when we come to vote for the omission of Clause 9, with the view of subsequently introducing the clause I have just described, will be found in the Lobby with me. Then I come to the hon. Member for Northampton. He told us, in answer to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, that it was his habit to mature his opinion before he gave them final expression.


Hear, hear!


Well, the hon. Member's mode of maturing his opinions appears to be to publish them monthly—[Several VOICES: Weekly.]—yes, weekly in Truth, and then to go back upon them when it comes to a vote in the House. I find it extremely difficult to reconcile the hon. Member's present attitude with his previous utterances. This, at all events, I gather from his speech—that, whatever his vote may be, his opinions are unchanged. He has told us as distinctly as words could that at this very moment, when he is going to vote with the Government against the "in-and-out" clause, his opinions remain what they have always been—in favour of total exclusion.


Allow me to explain. My opinion, I did say, remains in favour of total exclusion, but I am looking at the major rather than the minor, and I believe if there was a. majority in favour of total exclusion by certain Members on this side of the House voting for it, we should absolutely wreck the Bill, and I do not want to wreck the Bill.


That is a new version of the doctrine of the paramount, of which we had so interesting an exposition earlier in the evening. At all events, I fail to see how it would wreck the Bill if the hon. Member and his friends would consent with me to reject the clause as a whole with the view of introducing a new clause. Does the hon. Member think he would be running counter to the Bill?


It would not mean total exclusion.


My clause would. I am answering his appeal. I say if he likes to look at the Notice Paper he will see that I have put down a clause embodying my view.


I think it would wreck the Bill.


The hon. Member may have access to a source of information which is denied to us. Why it should wreck the Bill that the views of the Head of the Government should receive full expression passes my comprehension. At all events, it is clear from their speeches that all the gentlemen on the Ministerial side to whom I have referred are agreed that of the three detestable alternatives the least detestable is the one by which we shall be deprived of the presence of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. That is a sufficient answer to the hon. Member as to what my general policy is, and how I would propose to carry it out. Now, as to the particular line of action we ought to take in the Division on the present Amendment, the course is not quite so clear, for my objection to the "in-and-out" plan is so great that to nothing except total inclusion can it be greater. To weigh the exact comparative dangers these two schemes is throwing upon us a burden somewhat difficult to bear, and I will frankly admit that I have some difficulty in making up my mind on the question. My reasons for the course I am going to pursue are these: I admit with the hon. Member for Northampton, and I believe with every single gentleman who has considered this matter, that the "in-and-out" clause must carry most serious evils in its train. It must, in the first place, shatter or threaten the ordinary procedure of Parliament with many difficulties. It must, in the second place, lead to constant intrigue with the Irish Members, and it must, in the third place, I believe and fear, shatter the Cabinet system. The hon. Member for Edinburgh thinks very little of the Cabinet system. He regards it as an ancient instrument of Monarchy, which might be dispensed with in a Democratic State. I do not read history like the hon. Member. To my mind it is the most ingenious and flexible machinery by which the Executive is brought into harmony with the opinion of the country or with the opinion of Parliament that has ever been devised by the ingenuity of man. I, therefore, should see with the greatest regret anything introduced which should either destroy or tend to destroy the Cabinet system. So far, therefore, I agree with those who see very great evils in the "in-and-out" plan. But what is the alternative? Really it passes my understanding to comprehend how any gentleman can seriously come down to the House of Commons, five-sixths of which are British, and deliberately tell these British Members that henceforth their affairs are to be controlled, and in most contingencies absolutely controlled, not by those who represent them, but by those who do not represent them. At present this Parliament forms a Legislative Assembly for the three United Kingdoms. Everybody sits here by equal right, everybody has an equal title, everybody is on an equality, and everybody from the very nature of the case has not only the abstract right, but the duty imposed upon him, of considering all questions, local and Imperial, which may be submitted to him. That is what representative government means. What it does not mean is to bring here a set of gentlemen who are called upon to vote for things which do not concern them, and who are given the absolute control of their own affairs without any intervention from any other part of the United Kingdom. Would you call that representative government? The right hon. Gentleman has long played the part before us, with great grace and dexterity, of a Constitutional lawyer. Does he, who has studied the theory and the growth of the English Constitution, mean to tell us that a plan under which those are called upon to vote on questions who do not represent any part of the Kingdom which is in organic unity with the part with which these questions deal can be called representative government? Why should it be? Suppose we were to introduce for Canada, or for the United States of America—why not?—a set of gentlemen, very competent politicians, very honest men, and say—"We do not pretend to interfere with your affairs, but we feel we require assistance in managing ours; be good enough to give us that assistance; come and join in our deliberations; give us the benefit of your eloquence; vote in our Lobbies." Why, the man who proposed that, if he was not promptly shut up in a lunatic asylum, at all events would not be allowed to claim the title of a Constitutional authority. But that is not all. Not merely are you introducing into our Assembly—as it will then be an Assembly for dealing with local matters—gentlemen from outside who have no concern in these local matters, but you make your selection of the Members on the most extraordinary principle. You might have chosen persons conceivably who have invariably in the past shown their devotion to our traditions—shown their love of our methods of conducting business, who have done their best to further the business and the honour of this House, who have always shown a profound and disinterested attention to our local interests, who have not been devoted to isolated questions, and to the furtherance of one political object—you might have chosen these men, and although I should not have advised you to introduce even such persons from outside into your Assembly, at all events the result might not have been disastrous. What is the history of gentlemen below the Gangway? They have shown themselves in their own way, according to their own lights, men of great patriotism, men of public spirit, men of energy and of eloquence. I do not deny it. That public spirit, that patriotism, that energy, and that eloquence have not been devoted in the past to British causes. They have not been devoted to furthering the honour and supporting the interest of the British House of Commons. Even when they form Members of the same integral organic representative system as we do they have not helped us; and you expect from them, when you banish them from your system, and when they come to you as outsiders, a course of conduct which they have never shown when they were of your family and belonged to the very system that you represent.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

We put you in Office in 1885.


I am not going to discuss the history of the last 10 years with the hon. Gentleman. I do not know whether, supposing his theory is correct, he said that with the view of commending the action of the Irish Members to hon. Gentlemen opposite. I understand the interruption, however, as an important and relevant one. I understand him to say that, without being at all in agreement with the Conservative Party in 1885, the Irish Members nevertheless thought it desirable to put that Party in power to carry out their own objects. That is what they did in the green tree—that is what they did when they were Members of our own system, when the United Kingdom was really united and the Parliament of the United Kingdom was really a united Parliament—what do you expect in the dry?

An hon. MEMBER: To do better than put you in power.


I expect them to do what the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, in his earlier expectations on the Irish Question, expected. I expect them—and I should not blame them for it—to come here and to use the powers which you are now putting into their hands for the furtherance of their Irish objects as distinguished from British objects. I expect them in the future, even more than in the past, to use the votes which the Constitution gives them, and the powers which the Constitution confers upon them, to raise or lower, to upset or establish Ministers, not in proportion as those Ministers may serve the interests of Great Britain, but in proportion as they may serve the interests of Ireland. And if they so use their powers—and, being human, what else do you expect of them?—can you doubt that by this clause, passed as you mean now to pass it, you are inflicting the deadliest blow on Parliamentary Government which it ever sustained in the whole history of the world? I have in these few words clearly explained both the vote I mean to give to-day on this Amendment, and the vote I mean to give on the whole clause. I have deliberately abstained from attacking the Government. To tell the truth the Government are hardly worth attacking. Hitherto it has been supposed that, at all events on Bills of their own creation, and on questions of vital importance, it was the duty of the Government to lead the House—to guide the House—to place a policy before the House and press its acceptance. That tradition has been, amongst many other traditions, finally swept away by Her Majesty's Government. We in vain plied them with questions month after month as to what course they were going to take on this clause. They told us, I understood—I never know whether I quite understand the Government, but I understood them to tell us that they meant to commend the clause as it stood to the attention of the House. That, unless my memory deceives me, was not said once nor twice, but a dozen times, and then they come down to this, House, and so eager are they not to present their scheme to us, but some totally opposite scheme, that they will not even allow the hon. Member for Northampton to propose his own Amendment, but they rush into the field and propose a change of front on no better ground that I can discover than that their Whips told them that it would pay in the Division Lobby and that they saw three or four Amendments down on the Paper which they interpreted as being in the sense of their own new policy. Well, a Government which rolls about from side to side, which has no convictions, at any rate which does not act on any convictions, but rather prides itself on obscurely indicating that its own convictions are precisely opposed to its own avowed policy—a Government of this kind every one of whose Members—with the doubtful exception of the Secretary for Scotland, who once uttered a passionate cry in favour of retaining the Irish Members on the ground that there never could be a Radical majority in this country without the Irish Members—have, some of them in language of the utmost eloquence, precision, and explicitness, avowed their intention of carrying out a policy which, before the Division, before the Debate, before a single word has been said on the question they absolutely abandon—a Government of that kind is not worth attacking. They take the view, if the Prime Minister represents them accurately, that the question we are discussing is of minor importance, and that so long as we can pass Home Rule in some shape, so long as we can have a Legislature in Ireland of some kind or another, the effect on the Imperial Parliament, the greatest of all representative Assemblies, is not to be counted in the balance. This is a matter—I think the exact phrase of the Prime Minister was—this is a matter of minor importance.


That was not my phrase.


I was quoting from memory. The right hon. Gentleman's sentences, though extremely eloquent, are not so brief that I can carry the whole of them in my mind.


You can carry the part that is convenient.


The clause from which I was quoting runs thus—"None of these minor considerations ought to influence our course."


What minor considerations?


Of course, there are only one set of arguments, one set of considerations, which can influence the House on this question, and that is the future position of our Debates, of our power, and of the Constitution based upon representative principles.


Those are not the minor considerations mentioned by me.


I will not enter into a contest with the right hon. Gentleman as to his meaning. If he thinks it worth while, he can explain afterwards if I have misrepresented him. If he tells me I have misrepresented him I entirely accept his assertion. I do not press the matter further. Whether he does or does not think that the arguments which, after all, are the only arguments worth dealing with on this question are of minor importance, I would fain hope that there are still to be found amongst the supporters of the Bill those who do not think that the future of Ireland or the future of England or of Home Rule, important as that issue is, can be for one moment compared with the future destinies of the House of Commons. My firm faith is this: We have before us times of great stress and trouble. Problems are coming up in the not distant future which will require all the wisdom and all the sobriety we can command in order to enable us not merely to register the will of the people, but to guide the will of the people, and give it expression in forms which neither we nor our children may have reason to repent. On the future of this House depends the future of England; and I would earnestly appeal to every man who hears me not to allow minor considerations to touch this paramount interest. I would beg them to remember that, after all, even from their own point of view, the fate of the Bill is not bound up with the decision on this 9th clause. I would remind them that the Government themselves have shown such flexibility of opinion in this matter that any plan which this House may impose upon them they will be bound to accept. Gentlemen opposite can vote with perfect freedom according to their convictions; and I would beg and implore them, even if they do not consider their own electoral interests, which I believe myself will not gain by the vote which they propose to give to-night, that at all events they will remember the magnitude of the charge committed to them, and that they will not, by a rash decision given on short notice, imperil the whole future of an Assembly in which the interests, not of Great Britain and Ireland only but of the whole Empire are involved.


I have listened very attentively to the right hon. Gentleman. I think the House in general will bear me out in the assertion that I have endeavoured, as far as possible, in these Debates to avoid matters of crimination and recrimination and all topics which might tend to import heat, seeking, on the contrary, those topics and expressions which might attend to allay the heat that is apt to accompany discussions of great and vital questions of politics. I had hoped to adhere to that resolution to the end, but the right hon. Gentleman will not allow me; I am obliged to enter upon the ground which he has just been traversing. The right hon. Gentleman says he will not attack the Government—a most charitable declaration. I can assure him that the Government are perfectly indifferent whether he attacks them or not. But, having given us the benefit of his charity, he proceeds to pour upon us the vials of his wrath, and explains to us why it is he will not attack the Government; he will not attack the Government, for such a Government as this is not worth attacking. [Opposition cheers.] I quoted those words on purpose to draw that cheer. Such a Government as this is not worth attacking. [Cheers.] The cheers have a little abated. [Ministerial cheers.] One purpose of my rising is to endeavour to throw a little light on the question what Governments are and what Governments are not worth attacking? Why, Sir, is this Government not worth attacking? Because we have professed all along—not now, under the pressure of political interest, but through the whole contest of the last seven years—that the question of the retention or the non-retention of the Irish Members, and the question of the mode in which, if retained, they ought to be retained, was beset with difficulty, and that, being beset with difficulty, and there being no possible plan known to us or capable of being suggested that was free from even legitimate objection—we felt it be a point upon which, as in our opinion it is not involved in and could not be put in competition with the great question of Home Rule for Ireland, the opinion of the country ought to prevail. That was our view, and the right hon. Gentleman says that a Government capable of holding that view upon such a subject as this, upon which the Government admits and, I think, has shown that there is no method of proceeding that is not open to considerable objection—that any Government that remits to the free judgment of this self-governing people the question which of these alternatives amidst contending difficulties it shall adopt, is a Government not worth attacking. What we should be inclined to say, in the first place, is this—that the Government is bound to adhere to the main principle of its policy, and that a Government which cannot adhere to the main principle of its policy is a Government, perhaps, not worth attacking. Have we abandoned the main principle of our policy? When did we state that the exclusion of the Irish Members was a great principle of policy? We have always argued it as a question of comparative and of very serious difficulty, but it was no principle of our policy, and was never announced by us in that character and capacity. It was one of those subjects open to doubt, open to discussion, and eminently one, if upon any question whatever, on which it was fitting and it was right that we should be ready to defer to the well-ascertained judgment of the country. Sir, I perfectly understand the course of the right hon. Gentleman. I do not find much fault with the right hon. Gentleman for endeavouring to fasten upon us a totally different construction. He is fond enough of quoting from this or that speech of this or that Member of the Government; but he has never been able to quote a single expression from any speech showing that we at any period of this great controversy had made a capital article of our creed of our intention that either the inclusion or the exclusion of Irish Members should be the determining consideration upon that far greater point—whether we were or were not to prosecute the Irish question of Home Rule. Therefore I differ from the right hon. Gentleman in the proposal that it is not worthy of the Constitutional Government of a self-governing country to make a choice justified by the character of the question, and to say—"Here is a matter upon which we are ready to defer to the well-considered and well-ascertained judgment of the country;" while in respect to all points we laid down, and we were careful to lay them down in the clearest language, as the cardinal and determining principles of our Bill, we have adhered to them fast and firmly from the first to the last. There may be Governments unworthy of being attacked; of course, the right hon. Gentleman never belonged to such Governments. The right hon. Gentleman's standard is very high; no Pharisee who ever lived in Judea had a loftier standard of action than the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman says I talk of this as a minor consideration. If I rightly remember, the minor considerations were comparisons between the two modes in which the Irish Members were to act when voting in this House; but the right hon. Gentleman cannot abide the idea that a question of this kind was never included by the Government, or any Member of it, among the vital considerations of the Bill to which we should be held, but was regarded as a principle upon which we should be open to influence from the House. Well, Sir, I think the right hon. Gentleman will feel that, if it is necessary to be thus consistent upon questions not capital in themselves, there are other questions of a higher order on which a Government is bound to be consistent. If we, who never fastened ourselves to this question and never argued it except as a question of expediency, were not free to admit the judgment of the country as governing our policy, what am I to say to those who announce in the autumn of one year that to make certain proposals is forbidden to them by every moral principle, and who, a few months afterwards, make these very proposals? The right hon. Gentleman compels me to go back to the autumn of 1886. He ought to remember—and if he does not we re- member—that when the question of Irish distress was raised, proposals were made and seriously urged from different parts of the House that the judicial rents of Ireland ought to be again examined and adjusted. I think nearly every Member of the Government of that day, certainly all its leading Members, said the proposal to re-examine the judicial rents was contrary to moral principle.


I never stated anything of the kind.


I did not say you did. For once I am able to agree with the right hon. Gentleman; I am not speaking of him.

LORD R. CHURCHILL (Paddington, S.)

I did not say it.


Did not Lord Salisbury say it? I really did not think that the right hon. Gentleman would condescend to this method of argument. What I say is that Lord Salisbury and other leading men of that Government declared that it was contrary to the moral principle of right and wrong and contrary to government by honourable men that they should attempt to re-introduce the consideration of judicial rents before the expiration of the term for which they had been fixed. What happened? A few months elapsed, and that very Government did what they had condemned as immoral. [Cries of "Question!"] Why did not you call "Question" when the right hon. Gentleman was speaking? The question I am touching is a very inconvenient one. It is laid down that we are not worthy of consideration in this House because we are swayed by pure expediency in a matter never avowed by us as one capital to the question, but always treated by us as one of a secondary though very important character. It is said that, because the voice of the country has swayed us, we are unworthy. What thinks the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, I think, gave his opinion upon this subject at the time? What thinks the right hon. Gentleman himself, a contented Member of that Government while these declarations of high morality were delivered in 1886, he having been the organ who contradicted every one of those declarations by his actions in 1887? And yet we are given to understand that we are unworthy because we are dealing with this question as a question of ex- pediency. You have not given a shadow of a shred of proof that we have ever treated it otherwise.


That is my complaint against you—that you have never got beyond the wire-pulling consideration of this thing at all; that you have never regarded it as it ought to have been regarded.


Then the doctrine of the right hon. Gentleman is that that which renders us totally unworthy of the honour of an attack from him is that we have now treated the subject exactly as we have treated it all along, erroneously, as he thinks, but that we have always treated it as a question of expediency and as a question for wirepullers. He has totally failed to show one single shred of evidence, one rag of evidence, to prove that we have ever treated it otherwise than as we now treat it. But I retaliate upon him—I ask him to apply to the Members of the Government of 1886 something of the pure and crystal clearness of his ethical principles, something of his chivalrous conception of affairs, and to tell me why it is, if we are unworthy of attack, that a Government which in the Autumn declares the revision of judicial rents to be a breach of primary moral principle, and yet a few months later, by the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman, perpetrates that very offence—a Government still adorned by the presence of so many distinguished gentlemen, and still supported, above all, by the high and transcendent morality and the unbending principles which the right hon. Gentleman applies unflinchingly to his opponents—is to be the precise converse of that which he keeps in perfect readiness for action for the convenience of himself and friends.

MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)

I find it difficult to explain—it may be due to some hitherto undiscovered doctrine of suppressed intellectual energy—how, whenever we come towards the end of a compartment, the heat of this Committee undoubtedly rises. It may be owing to the pressure of the reserved clauses and Amendments. My right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) commenced his speech by saying, with great truth, that on the whole he had avoided anything in the nature of recrimination in the course of these Debates, but he was bound to make an exception to-day owing to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. A. J. Balfour). The House is fuller than it was when the Leader of the Opposition rose, but I think that those who heard him speak will agree that, at all events until he came to the concluding sentence, his speech was a most weighty and a most moderate exposition of his views. It can, therefore, be only the last words of the speech which have provoked the somewhat excited interposition of the Prime Minister. In the course of those words the Leader of the Opposition, dealing with the course which had been taken on this particular matter by the Government, expressed his opinion that the Government was hardly worthy of notice. Thereupon, instead of using his energies to defend the Government against this imputation—at which I can well understand he felt annoyance—my right hon. Friend sets himself to prove that the pot is as black as the kettle. Granting, for the sake of argument, that the Government of 1886 was as immoral as my right hon. Friend has represented it to be, surely in his comparison he grants the point of the argument of the Leader of the Opposition, and he admits that his Government is at least as immoral as the Government which he condemns. But, Sir, I venture to say that the illustration he chose was a most unfortunate one. My right hon. Friend appears to have altogether forgotten the circumstances to which he alluded. He says that in the Autumn of 1886 the Government, which had absolutely declined under the pressure of high moral considerations to consider the subject of the revision of rents, undertook that very revision. Well, Sir, so far from the Government of 1886 having put forward any high moral considerations against the revision of rents, that Government appointed a Commission to consider the subject.


I think my right hon. Friend's memory has again deceived him. He will find that that Commission was not appointed to consider the revision of rents.


It was.


My right hon. Friend's memory has again deceived him. The Commission was appointed to consider the depression of agriculture in Ireland, in order to see whether any revision of rents was necessary. If that is a specimen of the tu quoque of the Government, all I can say is that a more miserable attempt at recrimination has never been made. I have followed the Prime Minister in the recriminatory portion of his speech, but what is of much greater interest is his defence or apology for the policy the Government has pursued with regard to this most vital feature, this organic detail of the Home Rule Bill. He says the Leader of the Opposition complains because the Government has remitted to the free judgment of the country which alternative it shall adopt in the solution of this question. In the first place, let us grant that the Government intend to remit this question to the free judgment of the country. How do they intend to take the free judgment of the country? Are we at last enabled to hope that the Government have in contemplation an immediate Dissolution? No announcement would give us greater satisfaction. No, Sir; nothing of the kind. But if the opinion of the country is not to be taken in the only way in which its present opinion can be freely and fully expressed, the only alternative is to take the opinion of the Representatives of the country. That raises again the question which I put to my right hon. Friend the other night. My right hon. Friend has said on more than one occasion—I gave him chapter and verse for it—that on this question of the retention of the Irish Members the British people were to have a determining voice.


Have they not a determining voice in a Parliament where there are 570 of their Representatives, apart from the Irish Members?


The argument of my right hon. Friend is not worthy of the Committee. We may test it at once. My right hon. Friend says Great Britain is to have the determining voice in this Parliament, because its Representatives form the majority of the House. The other night we took a Division upon the question whether all the Irish Members should be excluded from this House. There was a majority against our Amendment of 31. That was a majority of the House as expressed in the ordinary way by a Division. But what were the facts of the case? Of British Members—English, Scotch, and Welsh—there was a majority of 29 in favour of that Amendment. The opinion of Great Britain was unmistakably expressed on that occasion by the Representatives of Great Britain; and if my right hon. Friend sticks to what he said in the country on more than one occasion, he is bound in honour to give force to that opinion. My right hon. Friend went on to say that these are questions of minor importance. He complained of the quotation of the Leader of the Opposition, and said the alternatives we have been discussing were not the minor considerations to which he referred. He is certainly mistaken. What my right hon. Friend said was— I think that other sections of opinion will appear, and defenders of various interests will arise, that are not dreamt of; and the substitution of a system of representation giving greater scope to varieties of opinion for one that gives little or no scope to the exhibition of such variety will greatly diminish the likelihood of the inconveniences of any such combination as that I have referred to. My right hon. Friend then goes on to say— In any case what we have felt throughout is this: that whatever plan you adopt it is our duty to confess any possible inconvenience attending that plan. We have a paramount object in view of such Imperial weight and importance that none of these minor considerations ought to be allowed to influence our course. If the English language means anything, these minor considerations refer to considerations previously stated—that is to say, the inconveniences attending the three several courses; and one of these inconveniences was pointed out by himself—that under this system our ordinary Parliamentary practice would be interfered with, and there would be constant intrigues between the Government of the day and the delegation from Ireland.


I never said "constant intrigues." I pointed out a possible danger—a danger which had been realised in 1885.


Then I do not understand the heat with which my right hon. Friend repudiated the interpretation put on his words by the Leader of the Opposition. At all events, my right hon. Friend admits the possibility of a state of things which would be absolutely destructive of all the best traditions of our Parliamentary life; and he says that it is a minor consideration when contrasted with the passing of a Home Rule Bill. My right hon. Friend went on to say— When was the non-retention of the Irish Members a principle of our policy? It never was a capital article in that policy that either inclusion or exclusion should be a determining point of our policy. On the last occasion when he introduced this Amendment he made a statement to a similar effect. He said— We have undoubtedly given pledges, which we cannot ignore, to the country in regard to the retention of Members. We are pledged to adopt the retention of Members in some form. And he said, further— I do not think that we have ever given a pledge as to the manner in which they shall come back, as to the purposes for which they shall come back, or as to the powers which they shall have in this House. But that is not the case. He has given a definite pledge, to which I wish to hold him. Speaking in Manchester on June 25, 1886, after the Home Rule Bill had been defeated, when he was declaring what was to be the future policy of himself and of his Party, he referred to this question of the retention of the Irish Members. He admitted that the Government would be willing to consider the possibility of their retention, and he said— I will not be a party to a Legislative Body to manage Irish concerns and at the same time to having Irish Members in London acting and voting on English and Scotch questions. That is a distinct pledge, which has been so understood in the country, and the views expressed by my right hon. Friend have been expressed by almost every man on that Bench. They have formed the subject of speeches which have been delivered by many Members to their constituencies, and I cannot understand how, in these circumstances, and in face of a pledge of that kind, the Government can now call upon the Committee to adopt this great change. We are asked at a moment's notice, only a few hours before the Closure which will prevent any adequate debate, to accept a proposal which is at variance with the original Bill. It is not the Bill which passed the First and Second Reading which we have now to consider. The Bill has been changed in its most vital points. There were two cardinal matters which any Government might have to face in dealing with this matter. There was, in the first place, the effect of any scheme of Home Rule upon our Constitution. There was, secondly, the question of what price the British electors were to be asked to pay for the advantage of conferring Home Rule on the Irish people. In regard to both these points, great changes have been made in the Bill at the last moment, and we begin to understand why they have been delayed so long. The tactics which have prevailed throughout the whole course of these discussions from 1885 down to the present day have been the same, and they are unworthy of the Government. We knew how Home Rule was introduced into the country; how kites had been sent up to see how the wind was blowing—how straws were floated to show the direction of the current. In fact, the country was treated like a timid horse. It was brought up to the scheme, and allowed to smell it. When opinion was sufficiently hardened, then the endeavour was made to rush the Bill through in a hurry. Now, precisely the same treatment is being meted out to the supporters of the Government in regard to this change. I do not believe that they were consulted before these changes were introduced; for if they had been consulted, I do not believe that 20 men would have accepted such a proposal as that they are now asked to support. If anyone disputes that I refer him to the Chief Secretary. The Chief Secretary, speaking at Newcastle, said that this was a proposal which would weaken the Legislature in Ireland, demoralise the Legislature of Great Britain, and that he did not believe there were 20 Members in the House of Commons who would vote for it. Now, for weeks statements have been allowed to appear in the public Press, and speeches have been delivered indicating a change of front on the part of the Government. Although we are the opponents of the Government, we have a right to be frankly and honourably treated; but when we asked whether there was any truth in these statements, and whether the Government would stand to their original proposal or vary it, our questions were always evaded, or they were refused an answer.


Hear, hear!


My right hon. Friend says "Hear, hear!" But is this proper treatment of the Committee of the House of Commons?


The question put to me by my right hon. Friend was one of which I perfectly understood the purpose, and I was determined to defeat it.


Determined to defeat it! But how? By allowing the House of Commons and the country to be deceived. I am glad that the policy of the Government is now unmasked, and that we are to have a clear issue; and although the House will have to decide that issue cramped and paralysed by the Closure, it will be able to decide, even though it could not discuss, the details of these proposals. The issue is whether the interests of Great Britain are to be controlled by Delegates from Ireland, nominated by priests, elected by illiterates, and subsidised by the enemies of this country? That is the issue, and upon that issue we will appeal confidently to the verdict of the country—a verdict which you are striving to delay, but from which you cannot escape.


The right hon. Gentleman has severely attacked the position of the Government. But what is the right hon. Gentleman's own position on this question? I understand the position of hon. Gentlemen opposite, for they say that if we are to have Home Rule the Irish Members must be excluded. Is that the position of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham? We have experienced the disadvantage of the opposition of the right hon. Gentleman to the Bill of 1886, and now to the Bill of 1893. The cardinal point of the right hon. Gentleman's opposition in 1886 was that, although he was in favour of Home Rule, "the autonomy of Ireland," as he termed it, yet he made it a fundamental condition that the Irish Members should remain in full and undiminished force in the House of Commons. This is the gentleman who thinks it worth while to attack the Government for their change of opinion. For the purposes of the Second Reading in 1886, the right hon. Gentleman laid it down as a vital principle that the Irish Members should remain in the House of Commons in undiminished numbers, and for all purposes, declaring that to depart by a hair's breadth from that vital principle would be to destroy the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. Now, the right hon. Gentleman says that the thing is vital; that one of the main grounds on which he attacks the present Bill is that the Irish Members are, under the Bill, to remain in the Imperial Parliament. The only conclusion at which I have been able to arrive with reference to the right hon. Gentleman's consistency—for the right hon. Gentleman is, I am sure, consistent—is that he has one vital and guiding principle from which he never departs, and that is to oppose any proposal whatever made by the Liberal Party, and, above all, made by the Chief of the Liberal Party. His course and his conviction are determined by the proposals that may be made by my right hon. Friend; and whatever those proposals may be, they secure the bitter—I might almost say the venomous—opposition of the right hon. Gentleman. In 1886 the Prime Minister proposed the exclusion of the Irish Members, and the right hon. Gentleman discovered that their inclusion was absolutely necessary. And it is because that inclusion is now proposed that the right hon. Gentleman is equally profoundly convinced that it is absolutely necessary they should be excluded. If you follow the clue I have afforded, you will find that the political career of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham is one absolutely consistent, though it may lead the right hon. Gentleman to follow the most opposite courses. The Government has the advantage of two opponents. One of our opponents does not think us worth attacking. We know with what force he hurls his javelin, and we are—I, at least am—grateful to him for that. We have another opponent who does think us worthy of attack. I will not say I am equally grateful to him for that. But we always find an apt answer in his own example, and therefore, on the whole, we feel tolerably comfortable. I will now say a few words on the present Amendment. ["Hear, hear!" from the Opposition.] I venture to state that I am almost the first person this afternoon who has done so. The Leader of the Opposition and the Member for West Birmingham certainly did not say much on that subject. You say that our proposal is a very unfair and injurious arrangement for England. What, then, are you going to do? You are going to leave the Irish Members in undiminished numbers; and if you accomplish all you propose you will have the evil, which you so much fear, in an aggravated form. There is no single evil that the right hon. Gentleman has pointed out as arising from the presence of the Irish Members that will not exist in greater force after this Bill is defeated than before. They will be here in their full numbers of 103, and for all purposes. You say there is great danger under this Bill of their being here for purposes of political intrigue. Will there be less danger after you have defeated this Bill than there was before? How, then, do you escape that evil which you so much dread? I venture to submit to you an argument which you should consider—Will the Irish Members when they have got Home Rule be more or less inclined to use their presence here as a lever for attaining their objects? [Opposition cries of "More!"] I think, much less. They will have attained one of the chief objects of their desire; they will be occupied with their own affairs; and they will have less temptation and less inducement to operate on English politics for the purpose of promoting Irish ends. I do not wish to put it in a way that is offensive to gentlemen opposite. In my opinion, when the main desire of the Irish people is satisfied to the extent of giving them control of their domestic affairs, you will have removed one of the greatest temptations and inducements that they can possibly have to interfere with you or your affairs. That is one of the great reasons why I think the establishment of Home Rule will be a benefit and not a disadvantage to the English Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman appealed—and I feel the justice of that appeal—to the paramount object of every Member of this House of Commons being to maintain its integrity and honour. I beg the right hon. Gentleman to believe that in that sentiment I am not a whit behind him. We may take different views of the way in which that object may be attained, but I claim for myself and the gentlemen who sit with me an equal interest in the integrity and honour of this House, and I have no hesitation in saying that that is the great and governing principle which ought to determine our action upon this and every other Bill which comes before us. Therefore it is that I am endeavouring to put before the House the reasons why upon this question we are really doing that which is most conducive to the dignity and efficiency of the House of Commons. Let us talk frankly on this subject. ["Hear, hear!"] Well, now, do let us endeavour to argue this fairly. What has been notoriously our great difficulty for the last 10 years? I might even go further back. But for the last 10 years it has been the dissatisfaction of the Irish Members, who are here, with their position in reference to Irish government. We know perfectly well how that has operated—I do not say on Cabinets, because that is a minor matter, but upon the legislation and action of this House of Commons and upon its power to do that which it has been elected to perform. We have suffered under that, and its interests have suffered. Do you think that when you have rejected this Bill you will suffer less? Remember this—that, in my opinion, you will suffer a great deal more. The Irish Members will not only be dissatisfied, but they will have had their hopes, which have been raised to the highest pitch, disappointed. Do you think that this House will become more capable in the days to come, when you have rejected this Bill and when you have 103 Irish Members here with full powers, than you have found it in the past? Do consider that upon this occasion, when you have the opportunity. Consider it, not in regard to the question of removing the Irish Members from this House—I am not in favour of so removing them, nor do I care to argue the question of suspension. I am speaking with a conviction which a full consideration of this matter has brought to my mind. I do consider the presence of the Irish Members in this House as an essential element in the constitution of the Imperial Parliament. You may take that as a proposition to which I have maturely and decidedly come. That being so, you have to decide the question whether the Irish Members are to be here for all purposes or only for some purposes. That really is a question which I do not think may properly be called a minor question. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition himself appeared scarcely to have ascertained his own mind with regard to it, and appeared to be in considerable doubt as to which of the two propositions he was willing to accept. I confess that I myself hold that the inconvenience that would result from the Irish Members leaving the House on certain occasions and coming back upon other occasions would be so great as to utterly overpower any arguments that can be brought forward in support of the other proposition. I know that it is supposed to be a popular belief that if you give the Irish Members the right to manage their own affairs you ought to obtain some corresponding advantage or reciprocity. In my opinion that view cannot be supported, and I will give you my reason for holding that opinion. In my opinion, when we give the Irish Members the right of managing their own affairs, we are not giving them a privilege—we are rather imposing upon them a burden which now rests upon our own shoulders; and, so far from admitting that we ought to obtain some compensation for the course we are taking, I think that we ought to give them some compensation for imposing that burden upon them. Therefore, this conception of the reciprocity which lies at the bottom of a great deal of the feeling upon this subject is, in my opinion, utterly unfounded. But it is for you, who are opposed to Homo Rule, to show how you are going to settle this matter in the event of your succeeding in throwing out the Bill. Even if you succeed in re-establishing the great principle of the Union, will not the Irish Members still be here for all purposes? I have endeavoured in a very few words to state what is really in my mind in regard to this matter, and I hope that I have made my view on the subject sufficiently plain to hon. Members opposite. I beg hon. Members opposite to believe that in the course which we are pursuing in connection with this subject we are not indifferent to the interests, the character, or the position of this House. We may be mistaken, but we honestly believe that by giving Home Rule to Ireland and removing Irish questions, Irish passions—if I may be allowed to say so—and Irish discontent out of this House, we shall not be imposing upon the House anything of an objectionable character, but shall be removing one of the greatest obstacles in the way of its performing its duty. With reference to the Amendment now before the House, what I understand is this—We propose to vote against the 3rd sub-section, the result of which will be that Irish Members in diminished numbers will be here for all purposes. If you succeed in throwing out the Bill, the Irish Members will be here in their present numbers for all purposes also. That is the first thing. Then how are we going to vote upon this Amendment? You are apparently about to vote—and although it is not the construction that you may wish to place upon your action, yet it is a construction that that action is open to—in favour of the "in-and-out" system.


We intend to vote against the Government.


I fully give you credit for that. It is a perfectly legitimate course for you to take, because we have been told that it is the duty of an Opposition to oppose, but it appears to come to this: that if we vote against the "in-and-out" system you will vote for it, and if we adhere to it you will vote against it. ["Hear, hear!"] You are evidently entirely impartial in the matter. Well, in the present state of things you will vote for the "in-and-out" system. [Cries of "No!" from the Opposition.] The situation appears to me to be this: We have been reproached because we desired to obtain the opinion of the country upon this subject. As everybody knows, it was proposed by the Bill of 1886 to exclude the Irish Members from this House. But will anybody deny that there was so strong an opinion throughout the country that the Irish Members should be retained, that no Government which really desired to settle this question could disregard it? It would have been insane conduct on the part of the Government if they had set aside the opinion on the point that was entertained by the majority of their Party and of those who support Home Rule. What is there to be ashamed of in framing our Bill in accordance with the opinions of the majority of our Party? You may call that wire-pulling if you like. What Government is there who do not frame their measures in accordance with the views of the Party by which they are supported? They are quite right to do so. What is a Government after all? [An hon. MEMBER: Ah! what is it?] I will answer the hon. Member, who comes from a stock who ought to know the proper answer to the question he has put. A Government, after all, is the organ of that great section of the community consisting of the Party which it represents, and, therefore, it is bound to consult that Party in reference to the policy it pursues. Therefore, we were bound to ascertain what was the predominant opinion of our Party on this "in-and-out" question, and we have come to the conclusion that the predominant opinion of our Party was in favour of retaining the Irish Members, but in diminished numbers. I hope I have spoken frankly on this subject. That being the case, we are perfectly confident that we shall have the support—perhaps with individual dissent—of the majority of those who are in favour of Home Rule. We have, no doubt, a very difficult course to steer; there are great difficulties in the subject itself, and there are great difficulties in the formidable combination which is opposed to us; but we believe that the action we propose to take will be beneficial to the House itself, and will conduce to the settlement of this great controversy.

MR. DARLING (Deptford)

said, the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer held so firmly the opinion that the Government were adopting the best course was a sufficient indication that the Committee and the Government had not held that opinion long, for every opinion which they had held for any considerable time they had seen reason to doubt, and before long to change altogether. He should imagine—having made a somewhat careful diagnosis of the Members of the Government, and the manner in which they held their opinions—that they had held this particular opinion for about six days. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had given the Committee an interesting piece of information, which was wholly at variance with what they had been told by the Prime Minister, because, while the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the action taken by the Government was, he thought, legitimately described as "wire-pulling," but which, at the same time, he preferred to call "consulting the opinion of the Party," the Committee had been told by the Prime Minister that what was done was to try to find out—not the prevailing opinion of the Party, but the prevailing opinion of the House and the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer seemed to think that the way to find out what was the prevailing opinion of the country on a point on which the country had not been consulted was to ascertain the prevailing opinion of the Party, though the Party had not debated, and not been allowed to debate, the question.


The hon. Member is in error. I did not make that statement. I said that the opinion of the country was that the Irish Members should be retained.


said, there was a means at the disposal of the Government for finding out the opinion of the country; but it was a means which they did not think of availing themselves of. The Committee had been assured by the Government, up till yesterday, that the country was perfectly satisfied with the Bill as it stood. They were now told that the country was dissatisfied with the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman was a Constitutionalist, and he knew that the true Constitutional way to find out the opinion of the country was not by asking the Whips; it was not by asking Members who felt insecure about their seats. Did anybody suppose that the expressions of the hon. Member for Northampton represented the opinion of the country? When the hon. Member for Northampton declared for in the Committee to-day what he described as wrong a week ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer said it was simply the maturing of opinion. He denied that it was the maturing of opinion, and he declared that the hon. Member for Northampton as truly misrepresented on this question the opinions of his constituency and the country as last week he represented the opinions of his constituency and the country. The right hon. Gentleman said the country had made up its mind that the Irish Members must remain at Westminster. Yes; the Irish Members must remain there, but they must not have a Parlia- ment of their own in Dublin; they must remain at Westminster as they had remained for the last 90 years. The right hon. Gentleman also said that if the Irish Members were given a Parliament of their own they would not interfere with British business, because there would be less inducement for them to do so. He could imagine that being so if the Irish Members got complete separation. But the Irish Members were not getting all they asked for. The House had been plainly told by the Irish Members that in this Bill they were not getting all they demanded. What reason could the right hon. Gentleman have for supposing that as soon as the Irish Members got Home Rule they would not come to Westminster and ask for a further instalment of the rights to which they said they were entitled? They would be able to say to a Government in the same difficulty as the present Government—"If you do not do this for us, we will vote against you, and for the Tories."


They do so now.


said, that was true, but British Members at present had the power to frustrate the little scheme of the Irish Members by interfering in Irish matters if the Irish Members interfered in British matters. But under the Bill the British Members would be deprived of that safeguard, for they would be powerless to interfere in Irish affairs, while Irish Members could interfere as they pleased in British affairs. But the right hon. Gentleman had another and far more dangerous argument. He was glad to hear it, and he would have the pleasure of repeating it in far more popular Assemblies than this. The right hon. Gentleman said that representation was a burden—


No, not representation. I said transaction of Irish local business here was a burden.


said, he was stating what the argument of the right hon. Gentleman led to. The right hon. Gentleman said—"We are casting a burden upon them; we are giving them their own affairs to manage; and we ought to give them some compensation." The right hon. Gentleman said that a Parliament was a burden, and that those who gave the Irish a Parliament ought to give them some compensation to make up for the great injury they were inflicting upon them—


I said we were giving them a burden rather than a privilege, and added that we were entitled to give them compensation rather than that they should give compensation to us. Of course, I did not put it as a serious proposition. I used it as an incidental remark.


The right hon. Gentleman calls letting out the truth "making an incidental remark." What he said was—"We are imposing a burden on them, and we ought to give them compensation." We have it now that we are actually doing what is a disadvantage to Ireland, and that we ought to give it compensation.


No, no! I said nothing of the kind. I said that it, was an advantage to England to give them the management of their own affairs, and that it was an advantage to us to get rid of them. The observation about compensation was made incidentally and ironically.


My observation is made incidentally too; but it is not made ironically; it is made seriously. I think the incidental observation of the right hon. Gentleman will get him into trouble at Derby, and will get many of his friends into trouble if they vote for it. The right hon. Gentleman distinctly told us that we were putting a burden on Ireland, and that, therefore, we must give them compensation.


Again I must contradict the hon. Gentleman. I did not say anything of the kind. I hope there is an end to it.


No; there is not an end to it.


Well, if the hon. Member does not observe the ordinary courtesies of the House I cannot help it. When a gentleman says "I did not state that," it is the rule of the House to accept the statement.


I observe the ordinary courtesies of the House. [Sir W. HARCOURT rose and left the House.] Long ago I demolished the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, and now I have got rid of himself. When the Unionist Party were told that they must allow the Irish Members at Westminster they replied—certainly; that they saw no particular inconvenience in that beyond the inconvenience which the country had suffered for the last 90 years. They did not seek to solve the problems laid before them one way or the other. They simply desired to leave the Imperial Parliament as they found it, and the answer they gave the Government was—"You are trying to solve the insoluble; you are trying to benefit Parliament by breaking up Parliament; and you are trying to give it strength by doing that which must inevitably weaken it. We say that the country never realised that you would do what you are proposing to do now. We ask you to go to the country, and let it decide the issue.

MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)

said, the brilliant speech of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. R. Wallace) had put before them the views they had expected to be held not merely by him, but by all Members representing English and Scotch constituencies. The Member for East Edinburgh had asked what he should do in the difficulty of having to vote against the Party with which he generally acted, and of whose policy he, in the main, approved. He (Mr. Rentoul) also found himself in a difficulty in voting on this clause, because his natural instincts would lead him to vote with the Government on it. The reason was that he was an Irish Member representing an Irish constituency; and if this Bill passed retaining the Irish Members, and giving them power to vote on all questions in that House, he could hardly conceive any position more enviable than that of an Irish Member of Parliament, because for a man to enjoy whatever dignity there was attaching to the position of Member of Parliament without responsibility of any kind was certainly a very enviable one. They were frequently told the Members of the House of Lords were in a position superior to the Members of the House of Commons, because they had not to give an account of their action to anybody, whilst the Members of the Lower House were under the mastery—and sometimes the severe mastery—of their constituents. But under this Bill an Irish Member in that House would have the power to vote on all English, Scotch, and Welsh questions, about which his constituents did not care one brass farthing, and knew absolutely nothing. Therefore, such Member would be in the position to advocate and vote on any side of any British question that might please him. To him, living, as he did, in England, and being much interested in English questions, it would be a nice position to be able to deal with such questions any way he liked without having to give the slightest account to any person. They knew the mass of their constituents in Ireland took no interest whatever in Imperial questions, and would not care to hear anything about them, so that if that Bill passed he was unable to conceive what he could possibly say to his constituents if called upon to address them. That might be a delightful position for some hon. Gentlemen to be in; but to those who, like himself, took a keen pleasure in addressing their constituents it was not pleasant to be left out in the cold, and to have nothing to say to them. But let them see how matters would work in the Imperial Parliament. Take the question of Scotch Disestablishment. The Established Church of Scotland was a Presbyterian Church. The Churches in Scotland anxious to disestablish the Established Church were Presbyterian also. In that House from Ireland there were altogether only three Members who were Presbyterians. The whole of the rest were gentlemen who know nothing about the Presbyterian Church in any shape or form; and could they conceive any greater farce than that 70 or 80 Roman Catholics from Ireland, knowing or caring nothing about the Presbyterian Church in Scotland beyond believing it to be a heretical Church, should be the gentlemen who would be called upon to decide this great question for Scotland? Would the Scotch Presbyterian Members feel proud when they went back to Scotland and had to acknowledge they would not have carried the measure had it not been for the votes of 70 or 80 Roman Catholics who knew and cared nothing-about the Presbyterian Church, but who disagreed with all the three branches of that religion? The same remarks would apply to Welsh Disestablishment and the great educational problems of England. The 80 Irish Members would mean 160 votes in that House, and whenever had there been a Government having a majority of 160? These great English social questions would have to be dealt with by Irish Members, who would decidedly form a majority larger than in any Government that had been in power for many a day, so that gentlemen who were absolutely irresponsible to their own constituents would actually settle every question in that House. That being so, if it were not for the difficulty of not acting with his Party, he should, as an Irish Member, want to vote with the Government, so as to get the control of all British affairs into the hands of the Irish, because whatever their disagreements among themselves they were very apt to consider they could manage the affairs of other people pretty well whether they could manage their own or not. He stood in absolute amazement to think that any English or Scotch Member could listen to this proposition for a single moment. The retention of the Irish Members for the purpose of voting on Imperial questions was a totally different matter. If there could be a distinction made between local and Imperial matters then he thought it would be a right and proper thing to retain the Irish Members in that House and only be justice, because they were not giving the control of Imperial affairs to Ireland, which would be unrepresented with regard to Imperial affairs if the Irish Members were not retained for the purpose of dealing with such affairs. But it was a question outside that altogether, and Members outside this country, and knowing little of its affairs, would have absolutely the governing voice in regard to them. The argument had been used by the Prime Minister that that was the position at the present time. Yes; but the Irish Members could be paid back a little. If the Irish Members now opposed the Bills of Welsh or Scotch Members, these latter Members could pay them back in turn by opposing a Bill promoted by the Irish Members. But after this Home Rule Bill passed, if the Irish Members opposed a Scotch Bill, the Scotch Members could not retaliate or secure fair treatment by opposing an Irish Bill, because all Irish matters would be dealt with by the Irish Parliament. So that the illustration by the Leader of the Opposition of bringing in a number of gentlemen from America to help them in this Parliament and vote for them was not in the slightest degree far-fetched, because these gentlemen brought from America would not be one whit less responsible to the constituencies of England and Scotland than the Irish Members would be. It had been asserted by the Opposition that this Bill had not been before the constituencies, whilst gentlemen on the other side had said it had been before the constituencies for six years. A great question with regard to an enormous Bill could not be settled by an off-hand yes or no. A little part of the Bill might have been before the constituencies. The question was—Was this particular part of the Bill before the constituencies? It had been his fate to attempt to answer speeches of Gladstonians made in various parts of England, and in three-fourths of the newspaper reports of their utterances he found that one of the great arguments in favour of Home Rule was that they should get rid of the Irish Members, and thus have an opportunity of dealing with British affairs, or the saving clause was put in that if the Irish Members were retained it would be for Imperial purposes. That was an argument which carried great weight in the constituencies. The germ of this change took place in a letter of the Prime Minister, written exactly a year and a half ago. A mechanic at Vauxhall, who was deeply interested in labour questions, had written to the right hon. Gentleman, stating that he and others believed that the Irish Members generally voted with the Radical Party on labour questions, that the exclusion of the Irish Members would be a great weakness, and that their retention on Imperial questions and in lesser numbers would not be sufficient. The Prime Minister replied to the effect that he saw no reason why the Irish Members should not be retained without diminishing their numbers or strength. That was the first hint he ever had that there would be a possibility of retaining the Irish Members to vote on all questions. He thought at the time that the Prime Minister did not mean what he said in that letter, but now it seemed that he did, and they knew that the Irish Members were to be retained for all purposes to rule and govern that House on all British as well as on all Irish questions. But there was another point. He understood under that Bill that the same gentlemen would serve in the Dublin and in the Imperial Parliament, the Sittings being arranged in Dublin so that they would not clash with those of that House and that a Member could attend in Dublin and come over to the Imperial Parliament when Imperial questions were brought up at stated times. But it now appeared from the Bill that they were to be in the Imperial Parliament all the time; therefore, it was physically impossible for an Irish Member to sit in the Dublin Parliament also. That being so, there would be a double set of Members for the same constituency—one for the Dublin and one for the Imperial Parliament—and he could understand that very considerable rivalry and jealousy would exist between such Members with regard to the position they occupied in reference to their constituencies and popular favour. They had an illustration of that in the London County Council. They had many instances where gentlemen of the same politics represented the same constituency, the one in that House and the other in the County Council, and it led to a considerable amount of friction and jealousy as to the position which each man occupied in popular favour with exactly the same constituency. There was another point which had carried great weight with the English and Scotch Members. A constant argument of the Gladstonians had been that the real strength of the 80 Irish Members would be only 40 in this House, because 60 of them, roughly speaking, would be Home Rulers and 20 would be Unionists, the 20 Unionists blotting out 20 Home Rule votes, thus leaving only 40. There was nothing that would happen in the future which he was more convinced of than that the 80 Irish Members would act solidly in that House. The Unionists would be in a hopeless minority in the Dublin Parliament, and he believed their only chance of getting any measures they wanted fairly considered in the Dublin Parliament would be by standing by the other Members—that was the Nationalist Members—in the Imperial Parliament. For these reasons, and believing the whole measure to be unworkable from every point of view, he desired not merely that the Irish Members should be excluded from voting on certain questions, but that there should be adopted the principle hinted at by the Leader of the Opposition which was the only workable principle and the only principle which the Prime Minister himself had ever thoroughly approved of in his Bill of 1886, and that there should not be an attempt to retain in that House gentlemen who were responsible to no constituency whatsoever for four-fifths of all the votes they would give, who would know absolutely nothing about many of the questions on which they voted, and against whom no reprisals could be made or counter-action taken by English or Scotch Members.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

said, he regretted very much the course which had been taken by the Prime Minister. After the six years of consideration of the matter by the Prime Minister and his Colleagues he certainly expected to hear some further explanation from the right hon. Gentleman as to the meaning of the 9th clause than had been given by him. Under the Bill as proposed there would be three types of legislation—the Imperial Parliament for Imperial purposes, with the Irish Members present; the British Parliament to deal with British matters, with the Irish Members absent; and an Irish Legislature to deal with Irish local affairs. Many persons contended that such would not work, but he saw nothing whatever which would hinder the in-and-out plan from working. He could not, however, support the change of policy that had been made by the Government. He would have supported the in-and-out principle as a compromise, but that compromise had been given up, and in his judgment the Government had made Home Rule impossible. The father of Home Rule, Mr. Isaac Butt, devised a scheme which would work, and he did not believe that any other scheme could be carried out. The scheme in the Bill was neither Federal nor incorporating, and was in part tributary, and it had all the evils of the three without the good of any one of them. In these circumstances, if the price they had to pay for Irish Home Rule were the conditions now laid down—the Irish were to sit in the Imperial Parliament for all purposes—he could only say that he believed if the Government went to the country with such a policy they would be overwhelmed to an even greater extent than they were in 1886. He believed, as an ardent advocate for Home Rule all round, that the only solution of the problem was to be found in the system of Federation. At the present time if Irishmen voted in that House for a Jaw they were required to obey it, and if they voted money for the administration of the United Kingdom they were required to pay their proportion. But if the Bill passed everything would be changed. Irishmen would then vote for laws which they would not be required to obey, but which Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Welshmen would have to obey. The proposal now put forward by the Government would only create great anomalies and injustice, and he repeated his belief that if they went to the country upon it they would go to certain defeat.

MR. J. E. REDMOND (Waterford)

I am most reluctant to occupy the time of the House, or to intervene between it and the Division; but I would beg the indulgence of the House for a few moments while I state the view of this matter that is present to my mind. I trust all genuine Home Rulers in the House will note the attitude taken up by the Leader of the Opposition in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman has made it clear that he is not taking one side or the other in regard to the in-and-out plan. He avows that his object is to demonstrate the absolute impossibility of Home Rule, by showing in turn how impossible and inconsistent any system of Home Rule would be.


That is not exactly what I said. My view was that the two schemes you have to choose between are absolutely intolerable; but, on the whole, that the scheme of the Amendment is rather more tolerable than the scheme of the Bill.


That is quite consistent with my recollection of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. I hope hon. Members of this House who are genuine Home Rulers will take note of right hon. Gentleman's attitude, and will not be led to vote with him in order to demonstrate the impossibility of Home Rule. I desire to give my impressions in a very few sentences. No sane man can contend for a moment that it would be possible to propose a scheme dealing with Irish representation in that House which would be perfectly logical and consistent in itself. To my mind there is only one logical way of solving the problem, and that is by establishing a system of Federalism which would enable various local Parliaments for the different parts of the United Kingdom to legislate locally for those parts, leaving to the Imperial Parliament the function of managing purely Imperial affairs. That is a solution to which we are probably tending; but it is a solution which can only be arrived at by a series of steps. No man can imagine that it would be possible to arrive at a system of Federalism for the different parts of the United Kingdom at one step. Between the first and the last step in that direction hon. Members must make up their minds to tolerate certain inconsistencies and anomalies. I desire to say, from the Irish point of view, that the difficulty we are confronting as to the retention of the Irish Members has not been created by Ireland or by Irish Representatives. In 1886 we were willing to accept, under the conditions of the time, a system of total temporary exclusion. British opinion insisted upon that idea being given up and upon the Irish Members being retained in the House; and this Bill, by reserving a number of vital matters for a series of years from the Irish Legislature, has made the retention of the Irish Members for a time an absolute necessity. Under these circumstances, it will be most unfair if Ireland is made the sufferer in the Division that is about to take place. The Bill of 1886 was defeated because of Clause 24, which provided for the exclusion of the Irish Members, more than for any other reason; and it will be a monstrous and unfair thing for Ireland if, by the votes of those who profess to be Home Rulers in principle, the present Bill is defeated on Clause 9, which provides for the retention of the Irish Members. The fact of the matter was the Government have had to choose between two evils, and they have chosen the lesser. On the First Reading of the Bill, speaking from first impressions and before I had read it, I expressed a decided opinion against the in-and-out system, and immediately after the Second Reading of the Bill I placed on the Paper an Amendment to leave out Sub-sections 3 and 4. I am glad, therefore, that the Prime Minister yesterday moved the Amendment which stood in my name. It seems to me that the in-and-out system is indefensible, grotesque, and absurd, and that for two reasons. One, which is to my mind conclusive and unanswerable, is that it is impossible to make a division between Imperial and local affairs. I heard a friend of mine say that the Irish Members could have no concern with purely English matters. Now, in my opinion, there is not an English, Welsh, or Scotch matter which might become a subject of Imperial concern in which Ireland must not have an interest. Take, for instance, the Local Veto Bill. At any moment the fate of the Government might depend upon the decision of the House upon that Bill. The moment the fate of the Government depended upon the decision of the House on the Bill the Bill would become a matter of Imperial concern. Assuredly that is unanswerable. What is more essentially an Imperial concern than the maintenance of the Imperial Government? Therefore it is impossible to devise any scheme of in-and-out by which we can make a division between Imperial and local matters. There is another reason from my point of view. I object altogether to have the question of conceding a Parliament to Ireland encumbered by the further question of altering the whole basis and constitution of the English Parliament by introducing into it an entirely new set of Members with limited powers. As to the system now proposed, the system of omnes omnia, it has its inconveniences and anomalies; but, after all, it is only a temporary arrangement. The whole question of the representation of Ireland in this House remains with the Imperial Parliament to deal with as it chooses in the future. The necessity for Irish representation here is absolute so long as certain powers are reserved. But when the Imperial Parliament has given to Ireland full powers over Irish affairs, then, though I have a strong opinion that Ireland ought to be represented in the Imperial Parliament, I would be willing that that representation should be taken away, in the firm belief that when a system of Federation is adopted the Representatives of Ireland will be again called back to take their part in the administration of the affairs of the Empire. My belief is that the whole character of Irish representation will be changed under the system of Home Rule. The Leader of the Opposition said that if we were to retain any extraneous Representatives in the House we ought not to retain Members with the history and antecedents of the present Representatives of the National Party, because those Members have not in the past been friends of England, and they would come here to vote, not for British interests on their merits, but with the ulterior view of forwarding the interests of Ireland. It is true that the Irish Members have not been friends of England in the past, and why? Ah! the history of Ireland supplies the answer. Your own historian, Froude, gave the answer when he said that Irishmen were not to be blamed in the past if they looked to France, to Spain, to the Pope, or to any power on earth or in heaven to rid them of the tyranny of their country. But if power is given to Irishmen to rule their own affairs, the motive which governed Irishmen in the past will to a large extent disappear, and they will be able to give their votes on purely English matters upon their merits, and not with any ulterior object as suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. These are the reasons why I intend to vote for the new scheme which the Government have proposed. On the question of the clause which will come up immediately afterwards my attitude is simplified greatly by the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. The right hon. Gentleman is going to vote against the 9th clause, not because he is in favour of retaining 103 Irish Members, but because he wants to bring in a new clause providing for their total exclusion. That renders it absolutely impossible for me to carry out the view I had favoured. My Amendment the other night was directed to retain 103 Members, and I regret exceedingly that the majority of the Committee did not support it. I have done all I could to have the Irish Members retained at a total of 103, and, having done that, I am not to be drawn now by the consideration that the defeat of the clause would temporarily resuscitate the question of 103 when I am told frankly by the Leader of the Opposition that his object is to bring up another clause for their total exclusion. Under these circumstances, I intend to vote for Clause 9. As Englishmen have raised this difficulty about the in-and-out system for themselves, as Irishmen have been willing to depart temporarily out of this Parliament, and are willing now if the same full powers are given them as in 1886, I would appeal most earnestly to English Liberals who are at heart real Home Rulers not to allow individual predilections or pet theories once again to blight the hopes of Ireland as they were blighted in 1886, trusting to good sense and patriotism to mitigate the inconveniences and anomalies which may arise under the Bill, and, at no distant period, to entirely remove them.

SIR H. JAMES (Bury, Lancashire)

said, his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir W. Harcourt) had made a strong declaration in favour of consistency. The consistency of his right hon. Friend he would leave entirely unnoticed to-night. The Chancellor of the Exchequer charged the Liberal Unionists with being inconsistent, and he also made a strong personal reference to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham. That right hon. Gentleman had dealt fully with his personal position and with the position of the Liberal Unionists, and though the Chancellor of the Exchequer was in the House the argument of his right hon. Friend met with but one reply—the Closure. What his right hon. Friend had said the Prime Minister (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), the Chief Secretary (Mr. J. Morley), and the Chancellor of the Exchequer allowed to pass unanswered. Might he recall the position which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had taken up? In 1886 there were Liberal Unionists who held different opinions upon this subject. Mr. John Bright took the view that the only compensation for Home Rule would be the exclusion of Irish Members, and many of the Party shared that opinion, and had never uttered one word in favour of the retention of Irish Members in that House. What was the view of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham? He asked that there should be a retention of Irish Members for one reason only, that there should be no Parliamentary power, such as is now proposed, in Ire-land, and that there should be a body of men with distinctly delegated powers amounting to local government, and if they obtained such lesser body, then he said Ireland should be represented in the Imperial Parliament. That was the logical position taken up by his right hon. Friend. On the part of his right hon. Friend, he said that not one word of his could be quoted in which he had ever taken up the position that there should be a Parliament, such as that found in the present Bill, in Ireland, and, at the same time, a retention of Irish Members at Westminster. That was the position his right hon. Friend had taken up in 1886, and again 48 hours ago, and that had not been contradicted, until the champion of consistency, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, took part in the fray. The position the Unionist Party took up in reference to the matter now before the Committee was perfectly clear. They were taunted with giving a vote which would be in favour of what was termed the "in-and-out" condition of things. Technically they would be so voting. But these difficulties that had arisen on this question were all born of the Home Rule proposition. The Unionists were not in favour of Home Rule at all. If it was to exist, then they sought to mitigate its evils, and they were opposed to total retention as the greatest evil of all. They asked first for total exclusion and were defeated; they then said, "If you admit them do not let them vote on all things," and lastly they said, "Above all things we are opposed to total inclusion." The proposition of the Leader of the Opposition was a logical one. He said, "Strike out the 9th clause altogether, and insert in its place the proposition that existed in the Bill of 1886." That was a proposition in accordance with the views of the Unionist Party, and that was the proposition they desired to place before the Committee. They were framing a Constitution, and there was no article of that Constitution more important than the one they were now dealing with. It had been admitted by every Member who had spoken on the subject that the Imperial Parliament should sustain no injury. There were anomalies existing in the Constitution; but there were anomalies and anomalies. Some grew up gradually, and as they grew up they were so tempered and fashioned that, although anomalies in theory, in practice they became benefits to the Constitution. The Committee were asked now to establish by Statute an anomaly for which no excuse could be made from a Liberal point of view. The Liberal Party always asked for an equality of voting power. They were about to claim that one man should have only one vote. What power would the electors in Ireland have? Were they going to be men with only one vote? No; they were going to give the electors of Ireland three votes—a power, for the same qualification, for a man to vote for a Legislative Assembly in Ireland, to vote, certain of them, for a Legislative Council, and then for Members of that House. Where was the justification for giving an elector, with only one qualification, three distinct representations in three distinct bodies? They were giving that to the Irish electors. They denied it to the electors of Great Britain. On what ground was it that they gave this preference? Was it more than a mere accident? He could understand their saying, "You ought to give a vote to greater intelligence;" but they proposed to disfranchise Dublin University, therefore they were not retaining the votes of those who represented intelligence. Did they say the Irish elector was more intelligent than the elector of Great Britain? In Scotland there was only one person in 100 illiterate; in Great Britain, out of every 80 voters only one person was illiterate; but in Ireland out of every five voters one person was illiterate. Yet they made a selection of these Irish electors, and said, "We will give you threefold more voting power than the electors of Great Britain." The British elector would wonder how this great anomaly came to pass, and he would have to go to some frequenter of the Lobby to find out. He would be told that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had declared that it was because the Leaders of the Liberal Party had consulted their supporters, and had been advised by them to make the proposal. But the real truth was that the Government had consulted and were acting in accordance with the desires of the Irish Nationalists. They were the Party who claimed this over-balance of power which was justified on no principle. One word on the question from the Irish point of view. Where was the representation to come from? Who were to be the Representatives of this great voting power? Where was Ireland to find 103 Members to represent her in the Legislative Assembly, 48 Members in the Legislative Council, and 80 Members to come here? On this point the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) had declared that the best brains and intellect of the country would naturally seek the superior outlet, and that the inevitable result would be to send the cream here and keep the skim at home for Ireland. From this they learned that the best Irish Representatives would be sent to the Imperial Parliament. He had always thought until a short time ago that the best character that could be given to a Representative would be that he should be an assiduous Member of Parliament, able to give his best attention to the affairs of Parliament; but they had learnt from the Prime Minister that his hope was that the Irish Members would not attend here, and that he believed that if they were permitted by legislation to be Members of that House they would very seldom attend. If, as the right hon. Gentleman hoped, the Irish Members would attend here only on rare occasions, that would mean that they would be used for certain purposes and certain purposes only. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the Imperial Parliament would be relieved of a great legislative burden; but did that lie in the mouth of one who had been preaching the great doctrine that there should be no taxation without representation? They were about to give to the Irish Members power to impose taxation which would not fall on the electors they represented, but would fall on those whom they would not represent. Suppose a question arose in the House of Commons as to whether there should be an increase of the Customs Duty, which would fall alike on Great Britain and on Ireland, or whether there should be a tax which would fall on Great Britain alone, what would be the tendency of thought of every Irish Member who came into that House? Would he dare to vote a Customs Duty which would fall upon Ireland? Would he not vote for the tax which would fall on England alone? The Prime Minister said he hoped the Members of the Irish Ministry would sit in that House. Well, they would, in all probability, have the Irish Prime Minister in the House of Commons. To whom would he owe his allegiance? If he gave a vote opposed to the view of his Party in Ireland he would know the fate he would have to undergo. Therefore, while his duty would be to Great Britain, every moment of his time would be employed in endeavouring to discover what the Party in Ireland, to whom he owed his position, would think of his action. The proposition now made by the Government would, he believed, be scouted by the people of Great Britain.


said, it was not his intention to say more than a few words, but he must begin by expressing regret that the Prime Minister, instead of trusting to the opinion of official or officious persons, had not called a meeting of the Home Rule Party under his auspices to afford him that information which it was desirable he should obtain as to the feeling of the House on the question of the retention of the Irish Members. He would say at once, speaking as a Home Ruler, that it was no light thing for a Member of the Home Rule Party to assert his private judgment against the opinion of his Leaders and the majority of his Party; and if this had been a question of detail or a subordinate matter he should gladly and loyally have waived his opinion in deference to the view of his Leader and of the bulk of his Party rather than have taken up a position of antagonism to them; but this provision determined the interests which should be represented in that House, and was the most far-reaching provision that could be embodied in a Home Rule Bill which provided for the establishment of a local Parliament in Ireland, and was a provision which went as much to the root of the question as the establishment of Home Rule in Ireland itself; and, as a humble English Member, he was not prepared to subordinate to the establishment of Home Rule in Ireland the vital question of the character of the constitution of the House of Commons. He did not mean to make any expressions of regret, nor did he mean to fire off a shot and then retire into the obscurity of the Smoking Room. He was elected as a democratic Member in 1885. He did not use that phrase in any high-falutin' sense. He remembered that in 1885 he promised his constituents that under the auspices of their great Leader they would be enabled to pass reforms which would benefit materially and morally the condition of the people. For eight long years there had been an absolute and complete delay in the passage of any measure of that kind. He believed it would be by the passage of a Home Rule Bill that the Irish difficulty would be removed, and that they should be able to address themselves to questions concerning the interests of this country. He did not mean to say that that was the guiding influence with him in voting for Home Rule, but that consideration influenced him largely. But he did not argue for absolute symmetry. He believed that the very essence of the position required that there should be compromise; but he found that the measure before the Committee meant the necessary continuance in the House of Commons for at least six years of the chaos, agitation, and legislative obstruction which had stood in the way of any contribution to the demands of the English democracy. They had heard an apology for the proposal of the Government submitted to the Committee to the effect that its necessary consequence would be a plan for the establish- ment of a federation for England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Were his hon. Friends prepared to vote for Home Rule for Scotland?

Several hon. MEMBERS: Yes.


said, that would be an intolerable position to take up. Were his hon. Friends agreed? He ventured to say that on the Ministerial side of the House there were at least four out of every five Members opposed to the establishment of a Federal system. He had read speeches from the Secretary for Foreign Affairs and from the Secretary for Scotland, which showed that there was a decided difference amongst Scotch Liberals on this question. In his opinion the guiding motive for the provision was a belief that the Bill would not pass. [Loud cries of dissent and interruption.] Those hon. Members would accept any position or any imposition so long as a mandate for Home Rule could be sent to the House of Lords. [Interruption.] That was not a position which ought to be taken up. [Interruption.] Every English Member had a solemn responsibility. That responsibility attached not merely to the whole measure, but to its parts. [Interruption.] His hon. Friends might stop him by clamour—[Interruption]—but he spoke the voice of the people of this country. Although prepared to concede to Ireland the fullest measure of Home Rule far beyond the gas-and-water plan which some Members advocated, he would defend the rights and privileges of the English Parliament.

It being Ten of the clock, the Chairman, in pursuance of the Order of the House of the 30th June, interrupted the Debate and put the Question forthwith.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 298; Noes 325.—(Division List, No. 211.)

Sub-sections 3 and 4 omitted.

Whereupon, in pursuance of the said Order, the Chairman proceeded to put successively the Questions on Clause 9, as amended, and on Clauses 10 to 26, forthwith, as followeth:—

Question put, "That Clause 9, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 326; Noes 297.—(Division List, No. 212.)

Question put, "That Clause 10 stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 49; Noes 358.—(Division List, No. 213.)

Question, "That Clause 11 stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.

Question, "That Clause 12 stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.

Question, "That Clause 13 stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.

Question, "That Clause 14 be postponed," put, and agreed to.

Question, "That Clause 15 be postponed," put, and agreed to.

Question, "That Clause 16 be postponed," put, and agreed to.

Question, "That Clause 17 stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.

Question put, "That Clause 18 stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 328; Noes 294.—(Division List, No. 214.)

Question put, "That Clause 19 stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 325; Noes 291.—(Division List, No. 215.)

Question, "That Clause 20 stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.

Question, "That Clause 21 stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.

Question put, "That Clause 22 stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 319; Noes 286.—(Division List, No. 216.)

Question put, "That Clause 23 stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 315; Noes 280.—(Division List, No. 217.)

Question put, "That Clause 24 stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 300; Noes 265.—(Division List, No. 218.)

Question put, "That Clause 25 stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 297; Noes 262.—(Division List, No. 219.)

Question put, "That Clause 26 stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 290; Noes 256.—(Division List, No. 220.)

Whereupon Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Mr. Marjoribanks,)—put, and agreed to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.