§ [FORTY-FOURTH NIGHT.]
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ A Clause (Financial arrangements as between the United Kingdom and Ireland,)—(Mr. W. E. Gladstone,)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ Question again proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."
§ Debate resumed.
§ * MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
said, that when this clause was brought forward on Friday night he thought the discussion upon it ought to take somewhat wider limits than a mere review of the burden to be placed upon Ireland, and that they should ask themselves what was Ireland's paying capacity, and what were the demands made upon her. That point was entered upon by the President of the Local Government Board last week, when he said that the taxable income of Ireland amounted to £15,000,000. He was very glad that that figure had been adopted by the Government, although it was a very full estimate indeed. What had to be paid out of that total? The Imperial taxes amounted to £7,750,000, and to that had to be added the sum paid for rates. These came to no less than £3,250,000, thus made up—Poor Law, at 1s. 2¾d. in the £1, £1,110,000; Grand Jury cess, £1,111,000; municipal rates, £827,000; and miscellaneous, £250,000. And he would say, in passing, that the present system of Local Government in Ireland constituted one of the greatest scandals of Irish administration; and the first work of the Irish Parliament would have to be to revolutionise the Poor Law system under which the 324 people were suffering under a taxation of 1s. 2¾d. in the £1. His point was that out of a taxable capacity of £15,000,000 no less than £11,000,000, or, in other words, 75 per cent, of the total taxable income of the country was paid in rates and taxes. Let us compare these figures with the figures applicable to Great Britain. The President of the Local Government Board told them that the total taxable income of Great Britain was £800,000,000 in 1886, since that year it had increased to at least £900,000,000. What was paid out of that sum? The Queen's taxes totalled £90,000,000, and the local rates £60,000,000; so that the sum actually paid represented one-sixth, or 17 per cent., of the taxable income. Thus, while Ireland paid 75 per cent. Great Britain paid only 17 per cent. This, at the first glance, appeared an extraordinary contrast. Possibly the best method of considering it would be by drawing a comparison with Scotland—acountry somewhat similar to Ireland, although not quite so fertile, and inhabited by 500,000 less people. He found that Scotland paid in Income Tax £1,300,000, while Ireland, under the same system, paid only £550,000; and, allowing for the difference in population, it would seem as if Scotland must be nearly three times as wealthy as Ireland—to speak with greater accuracy, the wealth of Scotland, compared with that of Ireland, was in the proportion of five to two. Now, this gave a very fair opportunity of making a comparison with Irish charges of administration. Irish should be to Scotch charges as 2 is to 5. Let him take first a large item—the Police. The Scotch Police cost £400,000; and as there were more great cities in Scotland than in Ireland, the burden would, of course, in the ordinary way, be a heavier one in Scotland. But the Irish Police cost £1,500,000, or nearly four times as much as the Scotch. Next take a small item—the Scotch Secretary's Office. It cost £11,000 a year, while the Irish Secretary's Office cost £39,000. These were fair specimens of all, and they saw that a system of high charges prevailed throughout Irish administration; and although Scotland was so much more wealthy than Ireland, her total charges for Government came to only £3,750,000, as compared with 325 £6,000,000 for Ireland. He wished to take just one example of English administration. He found that in the English Local Government Board Office an official who had to deal with a population of 30,000,000 got a salary of £1,800 a year, while the clerk who held a corresponding position in the Irish Local Government Board Office, and had only to deal with a population of 4,000,000, received salary of no less than £2,000 annually. That showed the extravagance of the Irish charges. Again, in Great Britain, the taxation was so arranged as to insure that nearly one-half was drawn from the rich, who were well able to pay, while in Ireland exactly the opposite was the case, and four-fifths of the total taxation of the country was exacted from the poor, who were least able to pay it. Thus they had a complete picture of the state of Ireland. She had to pay in rates and taxes 75 per cent, of her total taxable income, four times as much as she ought to pay; and the burden was imposed on that portion of the population least able to bear it. Was not that an extraordinary state of affairs? He desired to speak in moderate language; but he ventured to assert that if, say, Turkey had some island under her sway which contained a population of 4,500,000, who had to depend for their subsistence upon agriculture, and if a rent of £10,000,000 were wrung from them by the Turkish Government, although a fair rent would be £5,000,000, and it', further, she wore groaning under a system of taxation which absorbed 75 per cent of her taxable income, it could easily be imagined what would happen. There would be constant famines; everybody who could leave the country would do so, and discontent would mark the relations of the people with the State. In the imaginary picture he had drawn they had a view of the state of Ireland under the existing system of Government. They had all been studying the Irish Question with great care for many years, and the thing which puzzled them was not its difficulty but its simplicity; and if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, instead of seeking for exceedingly clever but perfectly untrue causes of Irish discontent, such as religious differences, the tyranny of the priests, or the hatred of England, 326 would examine the figures he had presented to the Committee, they would be able fully and easily to account for the discontent which existed in the country. One argument frequently put forward was that there were two nations in Ireland. Surely that was the most foolish of all arguments. How many nations were represented on any of the Benches in that House? It did not matter how many nations there were. If there were 20 nations, and they were treated well, they would love the Government and obey its authority: but if there was only one nation and it was starved it would rebel, and rightly. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition wrote an article the other day, and in accounting for the Irish difficulty he said the Home Rule policy was being urged upon the House of Commons as reparation for the past wrongs of Ireland. The last time he (Mr. Lough) spoke in that House the right hon. Gentleman told him that, although his intentions were good, he had not the faintest glimmering of the meaning of what he was talking about. If the right hon. Gentleman would excuse him, lie would like to apply the same words to the right hon. Gentleman's own statement, for he certainly had not the faintest glimmering of the motives of the Government in the action now being taken. [Cries of "Question!"] Well, he was speaking for himself, and if everybody did that they would gradually get at the opinion of the House. He himself was not moved so much by any of the past wrongs of Ireland, however atrocious they might have been, as by the contemplation of this unjust system of taxation under which the country was groaning, and which in itself was sufficient to account for the whole Irish difficulty. There was one great evil in Ireland, and that was starvation, and it was produced by exactly the same means as had produced it in other agricultural countries—by unjust rents, and by an unjust system of taxation. What, then, was to be done? The first thing was to grasp the situation boldly, and the second was to help Ire-laud to get rid of her present extravagant establishments, and to substitute for them others suitable to the wants of a simple agricultural community. In the third place, we ought to stimulate her to economy, and help her to transfer the 327 burdens to the shoulders of those best able to bear them—to the backs of the rich instead of the poor. From this standpoint let us look at the proposals of the Government. The President of the Local Government Board, in describing these proposals, said—The Irish Expenditure is on a much higher scale than it ought to be. I see no reason for living in a fool's paradise—it would not be possible for a number of years for the Irish Government to make any large reduction.He (Mr. Lough) was afraid that that was a true description, and it was a most melancholy one. But why should they not take the matter in hand now? Why leave it to a future time? Ireland was not responsible for these swollen Estimates. He viewed the progress they were making in the Committee with some alarm. Look at what they did in the past week! They dealt with the pensions of the Judges and of the Civil servants. The Chief Secretary pronounced a splendid eulogy on the services rendered by these officials, and, with some slight mental reservations, he (Mr. Lough) would admit that the Judges were excellent Judges, and that no reflections ought to be cast on the Civil servants or the police. But it was admitted that these forces must be reduced, and the question was on whose back the cost of the pensions should fall. Remembering that these establishments had been forced upon Ireland by this country, he thought that the matter had been dealt with in a rather shabby way. Then there was the question of the reservation of the Excise and the Customs. These were to be reserved to the Imperial Parliament for ever. He was not enthusiastic in regard to that proposal, for the Customs and Excise were the means by which this country levied a most unfair contribution on the poorest people in Ireland. The third point in the Government proposal was the. reservation of one-third of the total Revenue for Imperial charges. That seemed to him an excessive proportion, and the point was one requiring careful investigation. It might be said that that was a very severe criticism. He admitted that he did not approve of the form of the Government's financial proposals; but they had, at any rate, one great merit, and that was they were temporary, and open to reconsideration when the inquiry into Ireland's 328 financial relations with the rest of the United Kingdom had been completed. Turning to the plans of the Opposition, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) had said—Our contention is that whilst Irishmen have paid more than their share, if you like, in the shape of gross Revenue, the returns made to them have been so very much greater in proportion than the returns made to England and Scotland, that their net amount of common Imperial Expenditure has been much less than Ireland's fair proportion.Could a more absurd argument have been presented to the House? It was as much as to say that an unjust system of taxation is compensated for returning a part of what is overcharged. The right hon. Gentleman further said—I say she ought to pay in proportion to her wealth—that she ought, therefore, to pay 1–18th. Now, the net Imperial Expenditure is £60,500,000, and l-18th of that would be £3,350,000.Now, both those propositions were wrong. In the first place, Ireland's share was not 1–18th, but 1–60th; and, in the second, when the true share was discovered, it was not fair to ask her to pay such a share to what did not assist her in the same proportion as it did Great Britain. They must try and measure the Imperial benefits conferred, and if it was found that Great Britain derived a great deal more advantage from Imperial expenses it was only fair that Great Britain should pay a much larger share than should be asked of Ireland. It seemed to him that the only true basis of arriving at the share of Ireland was to discover the taxable income of the country, and to exact the same proportion of taxes as was exacted from Great Britain. It might be asked what about the English taxpayer. He represented an English constituency—a poor constituency—and he should be the last person to do anything unjust to the English taxpayer. But there were branches of economy which the English taxpayer might make with reference to the government of Ireland. For instance, there was the Army, which cost this country £4,000,000 or £5,000,000. In the Army alone an economy might be effected amounting to £3,000,000 at least. ["Oh!"] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the London University (Sir J. Lubbock) had unconsciously suggested another 329 economy in his reference to the policy of sops and doles. The right hon. Gentleman quoted these figures—In grants for public works, while Scotland had received £9,400,000 and England £50,000,000, Ireland had actually had £52,000,000; and while the amounts remitted had been only £365,000 for Scotland and £2,474,000 for England, in Ireland the amount had been £10,400,000.Therefore, England would save money by being relieved of these grants in the future. If Ireland was contented and prosperous English trade would reap a great harvest from that country. The Government's mistake was that they were going to allotment with too small capital. They should ask more money and write a better prospectus if they wished to succeed. If they did so, the people of England would not grudge the cost in the hope of seeing the end of famines and famine relief, a reduction of the Army and Navy expenses, an increase in the buying capacity of the Irish people, which would make them better customers of England, and a final settlement of the Irish Question, which had been the worry and disgrace of Parliament all the century.
§ * MR. COHEN (Islington, E.)
said, he had hitherto taken very little part in the Debates on this Bill, but he would like to offer a few words on the financial proposals. Those proposals were of great importance, and, while he acknowledged that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway (the Irish Members) had a right to make the best bargain possible from their own point of view, he claimed that they in England—in Great Britain—had a right to do what they could to protect the interests committed to them in this country. So far as he was concerned, he should be perfectly content to leave the case where it was left after the masterly and unanswerable speech of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) on Friday night. He said unanswerable speech, because it seemed to him it was scarcely answered, or attempted to be answered—ho said it with all respect—by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. II. II. Fowler). The right hon. Gentleman was exceedingly interesting, but, although he had read as well as listened to the speech, he could not find that he had touched the arguments of the speech of the right 330 hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. He (Mr. Cohen) desired to approach the subject entirely from a financial and business point of view. The essence of the proposal before the Committee was that the Bill set up a now financial system, differing in every conceivable respect from the present arrangements. Up to now there had been one Exchequer, out of which, and into which, all payments had been made. Henceforth the country was to have two Exchequers. Great Britain would have no voice in what was done with the moneys poured by Great Britain into the Irish Exchequer; but Ireland would have a large voice, as some thought too large a voice, in the Revenue which was raised, and in the expenditure incurred by the Imperial Parliament for the service of the Empire. One fundamental consequence at once arose out of this vital change. Formerly there was only one income and one expenditure. They who opposed Homo Rule wished for nothing more than that it should so remain. But this partnership—he was regarding the subject entirely from the financial point of view—was to be dissolved, not by mutual consent, but in the teeth of the earnest protest and the pronounced opposition of the other partner, and yet the opposing partner was to pay for the separation an immense sum annually for an arrangement to which it was strongly and irrevocably opposed. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham had said he estimated that the loss to the British Exchequer would be a great deal more than that shown by the Government Return. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman. The Irish Revenue for 1892–3, according to the Parliamentary Paper No. 280, was given at £6,784,000, of which she was to get two-thirds, leaving one-third, or £2,261,000, to England. He would pass by the £138,000 for Miscellaneous Receipts, which, for some unexplained reason, was to go integrally over to Ireland. He took, therefore, England's share at £2,261,000, from which was to be deducted the cost of collection, £227,000, and the contribution to the Constabulary, £486,000, leaving to England a net sum of £1,548,000. The Imperial Expenditure was given by Parliamentary Paper No. 163 at £62,637,000, so that Ireland would pay hereafter a maximum of a 331 little over 1–40th. In the face of these figures, which were extracted from the Returns that he had quoted, the President of the Local Government Board told the Committee that the "principle" of the Government plan was to bring out as nearly as possible under the new system Ireland's normal contribution, and the amount which she contributed under existing financial arrangements. But in 1891–2, according to Parliamentary Paper No. 163, Ireland paid £2,127,000. So that the Government plan, which was "to bring out Ireland's normal contribution," would result in a reduction of that contribution of, at the, very least, £579,000, or, in round figures, £600,000. Not a word had been vouchsafed to the Committee why the cost of collection was to be borne exclusively by England. A footnote to the Return stated that the collection of Revenue bad hitherto been a charge on the Imperial Exchequer. Of course that was so, because there had been no other Exchequer out of which it could be paid. But now the Government were going to erect two Exchequers; and, if Ireland took two-thirds of her income, surely reason would dictate that she should pay two-thirds of the cost of collection of that of which she retained two-thirds. While Great Britain was to collect the whole Irish Revenue, while she was to pay the whole cost of the collection— over £250,000 yearly—she was to pay to the Irish Exchequer two-thirds, not of the net yield, lint two-thirds of the gross income without any deduction for cost of collection. He thought the Committee were entitled to some explanation of the reason for such an extraordinary arrangement. The Government might also inform them on what principle, if there were one, the whole system had been based. He imagined the Government would admit that the financial relations should be determined by one of two principles—either on the income of the two countries, or on the amount of Imperial Expenditure that had to be provided for. The Government plan failed by whichever system it was tested. If the income test were applied the right hon. Member for the University of London had shown that, while Great Britain paid more than two-thirds—nearly three-fourths—of her income, Ireland was to pay less than one-third of her income. 332 Again, if it were to be, as was by far more rational, a quota of the total expenditure to be provided, the Government plan did not satisfy a single opinion that had been expressed by a single person. The Prime Minister (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) said it should be 1–15th; the Chancellor of the Exchequer said it should be 1–27th or 1–28th.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir W. HARCOURT,) Derby
The Prime Minister said 1–26th.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. H. H. FOWLER,) Wolverhampton, E.
I did not say that.
§ * MR. COHEN
said, he understood the right hon. Gentleman to say it. At all events, three Members of the Government had expressed—two of them in the course of the present discussion—their opinion in favour of a far larger contribution than was contained in the Government proposal. The proposition of 1–40th, however, satisfied not one of the high opinions indicated. The hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. E. J. C. Morton) proposed 1–53rd. Perhaps the electors of Devonport were of opinion that, as they got a share of Imperial Expenditure in dockyards and wages, Ireland should be on a like footing. He (Mr. Cohen) could not follow that out. Another hon. Member went so far as to suggest 1–66th. He did not think the hon. Member's constituents could have imagined he would have been so generous, and they might have something to say on the subject at the next Election. He (Mr. Cohen) had merely glanced at these various proposals of various authorities. No one had advocated, much less attempted to justify, 1–40th. This proposal could not have been brought forward in order to satisfy hon. Members below the Gangway (the Irish Members), as the Committee were told by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond), with his usual candour, that it would not satisfy his friends. He ventured to tell the Government it would equally fail to 333 satisfy the British taxpayer. He had not referred at all to the political consequences of this ill-fated measure; but he believed one of its most deplorable results would be to kindle in a population which heretofore had been united, because it belonged to a United Kingdom, a feeling of separate instead of identical interests, and a feeling of jealousy and rivalry which the Government would have only themselves to reproach for if it should not be confined to financial relations, and if it should destroy, perhaps for ever, the willingness and even the desire of the stronger and wealthier portion of a once United Kingdom to come to the relief and aid of the weaker and poorer portion.
§ * MR. J. A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)
said, he approved of the present financial scheme of the Government on several grounds. He thought it better than the scheme of February. In the first place, he thought it an advantage to the Irish Exchequer not to be called upon to rely for its surplus on the Revenue derived from an excessive consumption of spirits. He believed, also, it was not advisable at the present moment to disturb more than could be helped the present arrangements with regard to taxation in Ireland. He believed that the Irish Parliament would have enough to do without troubling itself for the next few years with details of its own taxation, and that meanwhile the whole matter would be inquired into by a Royal Commission or by other means. At the same time Ireland would, under this scheme, share with Great Britain any fluctuations that might occur in the Customs Revenue. The question as to what Ireland's contribution should be, no doubt, was a difficult one, as no one could deny who had, in an unbiassed spirit, studied the finances of the two countries. But it was for the Government to steer between the rocks. The object of the Government ought to be to keep Ireland out of financial difficulties, especially at a time when she was engaged in putting into operation a new system of government, and when she was about to initiate the development of her own interests and industries, and when it was most important that her credit should be good. 334 On the one hand, she should not be encouraged, by the possession of too ample a surplus, into expenditure for objects which had not received the full consideration of a responsible Government—for undoubtedly an enormous number of claims would be made upon her. The amount of the surplus must also be regarded from the point of view of what was fair to the taxpayers of Great Britain. On the other hand, Ireland should not be treated in a niggardly spirit, or she might be justified in making further demands on the Imperial Parliament. There were many fields for expenditure in Ireland which it was not necessary to enter into at the present moment; but anyone with a knowledge of local government would know that it would in the future be necessary for Ireland, to borrow and lend money to promote, additional light railways, improved sanitary arrangements, and dwelling accommodation, to develop harbour facilities and reproductive works, to organise the creation of a, Civil police, and to re-model the Bank on College Green in Dublin into Houses of Legislature. There would be educational grants required, for Ireland would not desire to be behindhand either in compulsory, secondary, or technical education. She would, furthermore, be called on to pay the salaries, gratuities, and pensions rendered necessary by the Bill. He wished to see Ireland treated liberally in the future; for, undoubtedly, in the past, she had been taxed to an extent out of all proportion to her wealth, as compared with other portions of the United Kingdom. It might be said, "We have poverty at home;" but here, as in Ireland, those who enjoyed the luxuries of life should be taxed, and not those who had a constant struggle for existence. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for London University had said on Friday night that in the past Ireland had been treated liberally, and that £10,400,000 of taxation had been remitted. But the right hon. Gentleman had failed to remind the House that, in the first 16 years after the Union, the Irish National Debt increased by £80,000,000, and he ignored many other similar facts. If taxation had been remitted in the past, why had it been necessary? Because Ireland had no resources of her own to fall back upon in times of distress 335 or famine. And this had been no fault of hers. The fault had been ours. Ireland might have been lacking in energy, no doubt; many individuals in the Irish peasantry might have been deficient in enterprise; but at whose door ought the blame to be placed? He believed it ought to be placed at the door of Great Britain, who had destroyed her industries, and had nourished an abominable land system in the country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Loudon had assumed that 1–17th was a fair proportion of the Imperial charges for Ireland to pay. The right hon. Gentleman had not given his reason for that assumption, and on that false basis he had gone on to tell the people of this country that Home Rule was to cost us £2,150,000. Those figures were absolutely misleading. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham wanted to see Ireland contribute 1–12th of the Imperial charges, but the right hon. Gentleman had said that the principle he would desire to see adopted was one based, not upon the cost of Imperial Services, but upon Ireland's taxable capacity. MR. Giffen proved in 1886 that Ireland's taxable capacity was £70,000,000 and Great Britain's £1,200,000,000; and lie estimated that, deducting the cost of living—£12 per head (i.e., 8d. per day)—it would leave Ireland's taxable wealth at £15,000,000, and Great Britain's at £800,000,000, or 1–53rd. The total Imperial charges were £62,900,000, and, dividing that by 53, Ireland's share was £1,186,000. Ireland was called upon to pay under the scheme of the Government £2,276,000, or if the vanishing item of £486,000 for Constabulary were deducted it would mean that the immediate contribution was going to be £1,790,000. If, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman's principle of relative wealth were adopted Ireland would then pay £604,000 less than the Government asked her to, and in six years' time £1,090,000 less, which moneys would have to be provided for by British taxpayers, in whoso interests the right hon. Gentleman asked Ireland, in violation of his principle, to now pay 1–12th only. The Government proposal, however, left matters unaltered pending investigation, so as to enable Ireland to pay ultimately what might be found to 336 be fair. Under the Government scheme the cost to Great Britain of Home Rule would be as follows:—In. 1891–2 the Irish contribution to Imperial Revenue was £1,833,000, and in 1892–3 it was £2,103,000, or an average of £1,968,000. The Government proposed to take as Ireland's immediate contribution £1,790,000, thus calling upon Great Britain to pay the difference of £178,000, or, say, £180,000. There was no need for the British taxpayer to be frightened at this cost which would terminate a wasteful system in the present method of government, for which he (the taxpayer) was partly or wholly responsible. There was one other point he (Mr. Pease) would like to allude to. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had said that for future wars Ireland would be asked to contribute 1–12th, whereas for past wars she would only contribute 1–40th, and he had asked for some explanation. Surely the reason was obvious. The Revenue derived from present taxes was subject to deduction for local expenditure, but a war tax was subject to no such deductions. Thus from Ireland's Imperial Revenue of £7,643,000, £5,540,000 was deducted for local expenditure, leaving available as the net Imperial contribution £2,103,000, and from Great Britain's Imperial Revenue of £88,455,000, £29,982,000 was deducted for local expenditure, leaving available as the not Imperial contribution £58,473,000, or if these proportions—the disparity in which afforded a full explanation to the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham — were reduced it would be found that out of every £26 raised for Imperial contribution in Ireland £18 was remitted for local expenditure; out of every £29 raised for Great Britain £10 only was remitted. He thought the reasons he had given, though short, were sufficient to justify him in supporting the scheme of the Government. If it were not quite so ample as he could have wished, it was yet sufficient to enable the Irish Representative Assembly to judiciously administer the affairs of their nation, in a way which would be in sympathy with the people, and which would in no way be detrimental to ourselves, for we should be be relieved of the management of Irish local affairs and be able to make progress 337 with matters which concerned other portions of the United Kingdom and the Empire.
§ * MR. GERALD BALFOUR (Leeds, Central)
said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had begun by dwelling on the advantage of a temporary settlement; but he (Mr. Balfour) did not think that any advantage was likely to result from that expedient to the British taxpayer. The hon. Gentleman himself admitted that Home Rule, according to the latest scheme of the Government, would cost £140,000 a year to this country. Nor did be (Mr. Balfour) believe that a temporary settlement would bring any benefit to Ireland. On the contrary, a preference had been strongly expressed from the Nationalist Benches in favour of the plan originally proposed in the Bill as against the plan now substituted for it. The provisional settlement was conceived in the interests of the Government alone, which, in this instance, as in many others when it found itself unable to solve a difficulty, postponed it. Then the hon. Member had gone on to say that he was sure the British taxpayer would not desire to deal with Ireland in an illiberal and niggardly spirit. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had adopted the same line on Friday. He had said that if Great Britain were determined to give Home Rule to Ireland she would treat Ireland generously, and would not be deterred by any mere objection of pounds, shillings, and pence. Well, he (Mr. Balfour) entirely agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that Great Britain ought not to be ungenerous if she was determined to give Home Rule to Ireland; but he had yet to learn that Great Britain was in favour of giving Home Rule to Ireland. The truth was that this financial question afforded one more illustration of the impossibility of separating the principle from the details of the measure. The Prime Minister and his Colleagues seemed to be slaves to the abstract idea of Home Rule; but they could not give Homo Rule to Ireland in the abstract. The moment they attempted to work out a scheme of Homo Rule in a practical fashion it became apparent that none could be devised capable of satisfying the conditions on which alone Parliament could wisely 338 give Homo Rule to Ireland. Whether they took the question of the land, or of the loyal minority, or of the representation of Ireland at Westminster, the answer was the same—there was no solution of the problem compatible with the facts of the case. The financial part of the proposal only added one more to the series of dilemmas which any scheme of Home Rule involved. They could not give Home Rule with financial conditions at once just to this country and satisfactory to Ireland. Two main questions had been raised in the course of these discussions. First, would Great Britain gain or lose financially under the new scheme as compared with her present position; and, secondly, what quota ought Ireland justly and fairly to pay under any scheme of Home Rule? Now, he would take the first of these questions to begin with. He had looked very carefully through the Returns which bad been furnished by the Government, and he had arrived to the best of his ability at his own conclusions, independently of any results that he had seen worked out on the subject by others. The last Return of the Government showed that the present net contribution of Ireland to Imperial Expenditure was £2,103,000. In order to arrive at the gross contribution he added to that the sum of £235,000, the cost of collecting the Revenue. This gave a total gross contribution from Ireland to Imperial Expenditure of £2,338,000. Now, one proposed gross contribution under the new plan presented by the Government was a sum of £2,276,000. Subtracting that from the former sum, there appeared a loss to the Imperial Exchequer under the new scheme of £62,000. But that was not all. To that was to be added the charge for Constabulary. He was aware the right hon. Gentleman opposite would say that that was a vanishing charge; but he took the figure that, for the present, Great Britain would actually have to pay. In the first year, at all events, there would be an additional sum of £486,000 for the Constabulary. These two sums added together represented a loss to the Imperial Exchequer of £548,000. But that, again, was not all. There was an item on account of Expenditure in Ireland amounting to £130,000 for public works and buildings, 339 and another of £142,000 for railways. That expenditure, he held, must he regarded as being of an exceptional character, and ought not to enter into any computation of the normal Irish charges. These two sums added together gave them a total of £272,000. Therefore, making the necessary corrections, he arrived at the conclusion that the total loss to the Imperial Exchequer under the new system, as compared with the present system, would be £820,000. If they subtracted that from the proposed gross contribution of Ireland, amounting to £2,276,000, the remainder was £1,456,000; and that, he held, represented the true not contribution of Ireland to the Imperial Expenditure under the new plan in a normal year, being an amount equivalent to about a 1–42nd part of the Imperial Expenditure. Now, he should like to deal with the same matter from a somewhat different point of view. In order to arrive at the net contribution paid by Ireland to account of Imperial Expenditure, the right hon. Gentleman took the total Revenue of Ireland, and the total amount of Irish charges, and subtracting the latter from the former, treated the remainder as the net contribution from the Irish Revenue to Imperial Expenditure. It became important, therefore, to examine what were the items which were included under the head of Irish charges, because unless those items were correctly so apportioned they would not be able, by the mere process of subtracting, to arrive at the true contribution of Ireland to Imperial Expenditure. If they compared a contribution of Ireland in the year 1891 with that of the year 1892–3 there was a very considerable discrepancy. In the first year the net contribution from Ireland amounted, according to a Return which had been presented to the House, to £1,833,000. Last year it amounted to £2,103,000. What was the reason of the great difference between the two figures? It was simply that in 1891–2 on public works and railways much more money was spent than was spent in the succeeding year. There was a difference of something like £250,000, and it was that £250,000 which made the difference between the contribution of Ireland to Imperial Expenditure in 1891–2 and in 1892–3. As he had already pointed out, this expendi- 340 ture on public works and railways was in the nature of a special and exceptional expenditure, and ought not to be allowed to enter into the calculation at all. It was, in fact, a special eleemosynary grant from the Imperial Exchequer to Ireland; therefore, in estimating the residue available for Imperial Expenditure, they should not begin by subtracting that amount from the gross Revenue of Ireland. The same remark applied also to the charge for the Constabulary. In the Return the charge for the Constabulary, which amounted to nearly £1,500,000, was treated as being in the true sense of the term an Irish charge. Rut now they were told by the right hon. Gentleman that one-third of that was more properly to be regarded not as an Irish charge, but as an Imperial charge. But if it was to be regarded as an Imperial charge it was clear enough that that also ought not to be subtracted from the gross Revenue of Ireland in order to arrive at the amount available as contribution to the Imperial Expenditure. Now, he made the correction due to these two errors, and the result was that the net contribution available for Imperial Expenditure was no longer £2,103,000, but that amount plus £250,000, representing the special expenditure on railways and public works, together with £486,000, representing one-third of the cost of the Constabulary: or, in other words, the total amount available for Imperial Expenditure, after Irish charges proper and normal had been deducted, amounted to about £2,840,000. This was something like a 1–21st part of the net Imperial Expenditure. He could not help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board on Friday night played fast and loose with these figures. When he desired to minimise the amount available for contribution by Ireland to the Imperial Exchequer, then he made out that these charges were Irish charges proper; but when, on the other hand, he desired to magnify the obligations of the Imperial Exchequer to Ireland, he treated them as though they should be Imperial Expenditure. If, however, it was to be contended that these were properly Irish charges, why should this country be called on to pay for them after the domestic affairs of Ireland 341 were separated from Great Britain? This brought him to the second question —namely, what was the proper quota for Ireland to pay under a, system of Home Rule? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham stated that, in his opinion, 1–18th would he the proper contribution for Ireland to pay. In 1886 the Prime Minister said the just contribution of Ireland would be 1–14th. True, the right hon. Gentleman actually proposed to require only 1–26th: but, according to the principle laid down by the right hon. Gentleman, the contribution would have been 1–14th.
§ * MR. GERALD BALFOUR
Well, 1–15th. The difference between the 1–15th estimated in 1886 by the Prime Minister and the 1–18th which was the figure now given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, arose from the fact that in 1885 Probate Duty was exceptionally productive. He believed the 1–18th represented the true proportion calculated on the basis of the Death Duties more fairly than 1–15th: and that this would he, under the existing state of things, a nor unfair contribution for Ireland to pay was further shown by the figures given by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board on Friday. The right hon. Gentleman said the amount of deposits in the savings banks constituted, in his opinion, a just basis in estimating taxable capacity, and stated that the deposits in the savings hanks of Ireland amounted to 1–19th of the deposits in the savings banks generally throughout the country. So it appeared, if they took that basis, that 1–18th—the estimate of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham—was nearly right. It was true that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board did not rest content with the estimate of 1–19th. The right hon. Gentleman said that in order to arrive at the taxable capacity of a country they must multiply the number of its inhabitants by 12, and deduct that number of pounds from the total income of the country. In that way the light hon. Gentleman made out that the taxable capacity of Ireland was only £15,000,000 annually. He would point 342 out to those of the right hon. Gentleman's Colleagues who happened to be present that, if that was a fair basis to take in order to estimate taxable capacity, then Ireland was at present raising a Revenue of rather more than half her whole taxable capacity. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir W. Harcourt) nodded. He should have thought, however, that this consideration was one which would have caused the Chancellor of the Exchequer to pause before accepting his colleague's theory. But that was not all. The population of Ireland had considerably diminished since the middle of the century, and during that period the wealth of the country had increased. Now, supposing the reverse were to take place, and that, in the coming years, the population were to increase to the point it reached in 1846, and the wealth to diminish to what it was in that year, what would be the result? Why, that Ireland would have no taxable capacity at all; and he presumed that, following out the right hon. Gentleman's principle, Ireland ought in that case not be taxed at all. If that were so, really they would have to entirely remodel the doctrine that taxation and representation went together; for if the population of Ireland was to increase to 8,000,000, while her wealth were to remain what it was now, the result would be that she would be emit led to send not 80 but more than 100 Members to the House, and et be paving no taxes at all. That, he thought, was a, reductio ad absurdum of the theory of taxable capacity put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. Speaking for himself, he (Mr. Balfour) thought that 1–19th would not be an unfair quota for Ireland to pay if it were possible to deal with this as an abstract question. Unfortunately, they could not deal with the matter in that way. If Ireland was to pay 1–19th, or anything approaching that figure, under any system of Home Rule, Ireland would he bankrupt within a very few years. He would go further. He believed that if the Government scheme were carried into effect Ireland would be bankrupt within a comparatively short period. And that was the real difficulty with which they had got to deal. Just at the very time that Ireland had less right 343 than she had before—less claim—to the charitable doles of Great Britain she would stand in greater need of those doles. It must be remembered that the credit of Ireland under Home Rule was not likely to be in a very flourishing condition. In a speech of the Prime Minister's, quoted on Friday by the hon. Member for Waterford, the right hon. Gentleman spoke of nursing most carefully the newborn credit of Ireland. He (Mr. Balfour) was greatly afraid that, whatever care was devoted to the nourishment of that interesting infant, it would be impossible to rear it to maturity. He was confident that Ireland would not be able to pay to the Imperial Exchequer under Home Rule even the sum she was called upon to pay now. He therefore felt entitled to say that, while Ireland under this scheme would be getting more out of Great Britain than at present, more would not be nearly sufficient for her needs. The Government had not solved the financial problem of Home Rule by their latest proposals. It would not solve the difficulty merely to postpone it, and in the meantime to patch up a modus vivendi under which Ireland got more than she could justly claim, but less than her necessities would require.
§ * THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir W. HARCOURT,) Derby
I think the tranquillity of the Committee now lends itself to financial discussion, and I shall, therefore, take this opportunity of saying what I have to say. I am not going to enter into any speculative theories of taxation and contribution such as my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. G. Balfour), with the great acuteness which he always shows, has indulged in. I do not think that this question is to be solved by any theory of what a particular country under particular circumstances ought to pay. At all events, we have fixed upon a ruder and, I think, a more sensible method. The hon. Member for North Islington (Mr. Bartley) asks on what principle the Government founded their present plan. I stated it last week. Our object is that the normal contribution of Ireland shall be under Home Rule as nearly as possible what it is now and what it has been for some years past. That may be a rude method, but it is a sensible one; and if we can con- 344 vince the people of this country that we are asking them to receive normally from Ireland what they have been receiving in recent years, I think they will be satisfied with that as the basis of a settlement. What is the use of the hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. Cohen) taking the figures and treating the £500,000, which is to be a temporary bonus and allowance, as if it were the normal figure? It is nothing of the kind. It is like the fallacy that runs through the whole of the fly-sheet which has been distributed by the hon. Member for Surrey (Mr. Brodrick). Why, the figures given in his Paper are absolutely fallacious from beginning to end. He takes the Prime Minister's figures of 1886 in order to compare them with the present figures, and he deducts the £500,000 from the one and not from the other. A man who makes a calculation in that way cannot expect to command any financial respect. He puts a note at the bottom saying that this is subject to deduction for the Police, but he does not make the deduction, and that indicates the whole of his comparison.
§ MR. BRODRICK (Surrey, Guildford)
May I remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the Prime Minister himself stated in his speech of 1886 that he confidently expected the charge for the Constabulary would not exceed £1,000,000?
§ * SIR W. HARCOURT
If that were so, I do not see how the Prime Minister could have arrived at the results he stated on that occasion. However, if the hon. Gentleman chooses to rely on figures of that description I cannot help it. I have stated the principle on which we proceed, and the figures are shown in the last Paper laid before the House; £2,276,000 is the contribution which we reckon is to be made by Ireland. That, of course, is to be regarded as the normal contribution; to the extent of £500,000 there is a temporary deduction in the shape of a contribution on the part of Great Britain to the Constabulary expenses. The only deduction you can make from the normal contribution is the deduction with respect to the cost of collection. Our plan, if you make a deduction for the cost of collection, is substantially the average of what has been contributed by Ireland in the last three years. That is our case. You may try to alter these 345 figures if you like. The House has heard a great many figures, and I am not going to quote many more. Papers are before the House and the country by which our figures can easily be tested. I have never known the House to derive much advantage from the use of a great number of elaborate figures. I am more concerned with the general arguments urged against the scheme by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). The right hon. Gentleman, in a speech distinguished by that ability which his speeches always show, went through the scheme, and where he has reaped there is not much left for others to glean. I think be stated all the conceivable objections to the scheme of the Government, and I have heard little that is new since he spoke. I desire, therefore, to address myself to the points of principle he made against our scheme. He divided what he had to say into objections to our methods and objections to our results. I will lay down this canon; that if I can show that every one of the objections he made applies with equal or greater force to the existing system than it does to the plan we propose, then his objections really fall to the ground. What is the use of urging against our plan objections that are applicable to the existing system which, if you reject this Bill, you will retain, and which will then have a worse effect than they have now? The first objection the right hon. Gentleman took was this, lie said we might take one-third of the present Revenue of Ireland; but he urged that this would be subject to fluctuations, so that the contribution would not always be the same. Does not that objection apply to the existing state of things? If the Revenue of Ireland falls the contribution to England falls, the Expenditure remaining the same. If the Revenue remains the same and the Expenditure increases, the contribution of Ireland falls. If the Revenue falls and the Expenditure increases, the contribution of Ireland falls in a double degree. Therefore, the whole of this objection is an objection which applies with equal force to the existing state of things. What is the use of bringing forward as conclusive objections to our proposals conditions which are in full force at the present moment? Has your quota from Ireland never fluctuated? Has your surplus always been the same? 346 What you receive from Ireland is never constant. If you will take the very useful Return produced by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, you will see that in every year the contribution is different. Three years ago the contribution from Ireland was £2,500,000, and in two years it had fallen £700,000 under the administration of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I have got here the contributions from Ireland in the three years dealt with by the right hon. Gentleman's Return. The contribution was, in 1889–90, £2,568,000; in 1890–1, £2,283,000; in 1891–2, £1,882,000: and in the last year, £2,103,000. If you take the average of the contributions for the last three years you will find it is something under £2,100,000. We propose to allot a sum rather larger than that. Why has the contribution of Ireland fallen? Not because the Revenue has fallen, for they wore good years. It was because the Expenditure had increased. The Expenditure bad increased in three years by about £1,000,000. Do you think that will never happen again if you defeat this Bill? An increase of about £1,000,000 in the Expenditure and of about £300,000 in the Revenue leaves a difference of £700,000, which is the outcome of the Irish contribution under the administration of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. You are so solicitous about the British taxpayer. Well, during these years the British taxpayer had to find the difference of £700,000, which was owing to your management of the Irish Exchequer. I have said that the objection applies with oven greater force if you compare the present system with that which we propose. The Irish contribution now depends upon variations in the Revenue and in the Expenditure. There are at present two variants, and in our proposals we eliminate the variable expenditure, with which we have no concern. Therefore, you have a quantity which you can ascertain with much greater certainty, because there is only one variant left, and that is the amount of the Irish Revenue. If the Revenue of Ireland diminishes, the contribution will fall as it does now; if it increases, you will get more, but you will get rid of the formidable element which varies only in one direction, and that is the 347 Expenditure, which constantly increases. That is the difference between the two schemes. The argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham offends by the base, as the French would say, because it is one which applies with greater force to the system now in operation, and will apply with greater force hereafter if you succeed in defeating our scheme. To me, in the office I hold, this is a consideration of immense importance. I only wish I saw the prospect of commuting English Expenditure on the same basis, and then we should know a little more of what would be the future situation of the British taxpayer. That the Irish should complain of this I can understand; but why the British taxpayer should be afraid of it passes my comprehension. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Chamberlain) said there would be greater difficulty than at present in collecting the Revenue in Ireland. Why? You will collect with the same officers as now, but the Revenue now comes, in the first instance, into the British Exchequer; and the Irish Exchequer has no defined and direct interest in that collection. Hereafter Ireland will have an interest of two-thirds in the collection of the Revenue. Of every £1 that is lost to the Revenue of Ireland she will for her own purposes lose 13s. 4d. You have, therefore, given a motive to the Irish Government and the Irish people to protect the collection of the Revenue which they have not at present. Therefore, that objection also is turned against the right hon. Gentleman, because it applies with greater force to the present system than to the system we propose. Nor is there one of his arguments which, in my opinion, is not open to these objections? I do not know anybody in Ireland who will not desire that the Revenue should be collected. I should think even the hon. Member for Armagh and the hon. Member for South Tyrone will desire it. It will be the interest of the whole people that the Revenue should be collected if they have two-thirds share in what is collected. The next allegation is that our plan will hamper British finance; that it will cripple the British Budget, and tie the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a very great evil if it exists. I do not deny the inconvenience of a double Exchequer. I have painful experi- 348 ence of it now. There is not a man at the Treasury who does not smart under the difficulties of the double Exchequer which was started by my Predecessor. And in this case there is the disadvantage that the Second Exchequer is divided into 50 or 60 other Exchequers among different Local Bodies to whom the money is assigned. We have that object-lesson before us, and, therefore, I do not deny that a double Exchequer has its inconvenience. But, again, I say it is not half as bad as the existing system with which you have to deal. The right hon. Gentleman, when he dealt with Local Taxation, created two Exchequers, but in a more objectionable manner. He hypothecated certain taxes. He pledged them and mortgaged them for a particular purpose in a manner which everyone who has to deal with finance has found most embarrassing. He mortgaged the Probate Duty, and when we come to deal with the Death Duties we find them mortgaged to Bodies who will greatly object to our dealing with them. He has mortgaged a certain portion of the Customs and Excise Duties, and he has tied and hampered the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the British Budget in a manner which our scheme does not approach. We hypothecate no taxes, we mortgage no sources of Revenue. We leave the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer absolutely free to collect these taxes, and deal with them as he thinks best in the interests of the country at large. This, then, is an objection. I say, which ricochets on yourselves, and which has a far larger and more stringent application to the new condition of things which you have created than any which we propose to create. Then there is the other objection about direct and indirect taxation; but it exists now. Ireland does contribute less now when you reduce indirect taxes; the reduction is less if you reduce direct taxes. That is the fallacy which runs through all these arguments. It is said that if you should lower the Customs Duties—the Tea Duty, for instance—you will diminish the Irish contribution. Well, of course you will. But if you diminish the Tea Duties now it would be the same thing. Why, any man of sense sees that at once. Ireland will pay less for her tea than she does now. All these things 349 are brought forward as if they were marvellously profound discoveries. They are things which anyone who has learned the multiplication table knows has happened since Ireland and England had any financial relations. I therefore arrive at the conclusion that under the plan of the Government our finances will not be more hampered than they are mow, but less hampered; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not be left fettered in dealing with the incidence of taxation—at least, so far as the Irish contribution is concerned. Then there is another objection, which is not so much financial as political. It is said the Irish Members will interfere with British finance. Is that a new discovery? Has that not happened before? It is said the Irish Members may embarrass the Budget; I know that very well. It is not a very common thing to have a Government turned out on a Budget, but it has happened, and not many years ago. It was done by gentlemen who sit opposite and by those who sit below the Gangway. What is the use, then, of saying the Irish Members may in the future interfere with the Budget? If they do they will come in in less numbers than they do now. Will they be less willing to interfere with your Budget if you refuse them Home Rule? Why, the transaction of 1885 was not so much a financial vote as a vote given by the Irish Members, because they believed —I express no opinion as to whether they were right or wrong—that by turning out one Government and putting in another they would advance the cause of Home Rule. If you defeat our plan and restore the state of things previously existing, what happened before may happen again. It is perfectly idle to allege against our plan that we are creating a state of things which docs not exist at present. I venture to say that if you defeat Home Rule there will not be less desire to interfere with British finance in 1885. There will be quite as much, probably more. In my opinion, if you give Home Rule and satisfy the Irish people and the Irish Members, they will be much less likely to interfere with British finance than they have been in the past. This argument I used on the 9th clause, and it applies to this with equal force. The Irish Members have in the past used finance with other 350 subjects for promoting their national demands; and when you have satisfied those demands, you will be less likely to be interfered with. I go to the next part of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, where, happily, he propounds his own scheme, and therefore on this, instead of assuming a defensive attitude, I may assume the part of a critic. It is only necessary to state the views of the right hon. Gentleman as to what ought to be the principle of taxation of Ireland to refute them. This is what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said—I should like to say a word or two as to what ought to be the theory of fair contribution. I think it will be found that there are only two theories which are practicable alternatives. The one is that the receiving country—that is, the country which receives the benefit—should pay according to the cost of what it receives; and the other is, that it should pay according to its taxable capacity or ability to pay. Of these, the principle of cost is in theory the fairest one. Let us suppose that we are dealing not with Ireland, but with one of the smaller European Powers, and that that Power asked us to undertake its naval and military defence, what should we do when we came to consider the price? Why, we should consider the cost to ourselves. The lowest sum which we should take for conferring that benefit on the other country would be the actual amount of cost out of pocket—the addition to our taxation which this liability would necessitate. I cannot but think that that method would also be fail' in the case of Ireland. Although it would be extremely difficult to make up the cost, although it would be subjected to no end of consideration, and although it might be impossible to say clearly what the additional cost of the defence of Ireland as compared with the defence of Great Britain would be, still we may say that any calculation based upon that principle would give a quota enormously greater than anything we are likely to ask from Ireland now. I will give one fact to illustrate my case. At the present moment the cost per head in the United Kingdom of the Army and Navy is 17s. 6d. The cost to Ireland, if she were a separate country, having an Army and Navy in the same proportion, would be £4,000,000 or twice as much as the total contribution which the Government are now asking from her in respect of all the ServicesNow, the Committee will observe that the case which the right hon. Gentleman takes is that of a foreign country which comes to ask for assistance from you. The right hon. Gentleman never seems to have distinguished between what is and what is not a part of the Empire. He cites an argument derived from the independence of the United States, from Greece, and from the Transvaal—all 351 foreign States. He says that we did not give a surplus or a bonus to them when they separated from us. But everyone must have seen the irrelevance of comparing a separate country with that which is part of your Empire. I will take the right hon. Gentleman's principle and ask him whether he will apply it to Canada, Australia, or the Cape of Good Hope? The defence of the Cape of Good Hope, of Canada, and of Australia is infinitely more costly, and makes larger demands on the resources you must keep up for that purpose, because they are more distant; and, therefore, I should like to know whether he will apply to those parts of the Empire the theory of cost which he says is the fair one to apply to Ireland? It seems to me that it is only necessary to state the argument of the right hon. Gentleman in order to show that it carries with it its own refutation. Then there is a most curious fallacy on another point, where the right hon. Gentleman says that, though approving of our proposals, there should be entire contribution in the case of War Tax. He asks why Ireland should not give a total contribution in the case of current naval and military expenditure? Can anything be so unreasonable as that proposition? Ireland gives only a proportion of the available taxation for this purpose, and so does Great Britain. The ordinary military expenditure is defrayed in the proportion which belongs to the surplus in each country after meeting the other heads of cost. But as regards special purposes, the whole tax is devoted to the special purpose for which it is raised. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that we never told the country at the last General Election what it was that we were going to give as Ireland's contribution. There was the statement of the Prime Minister on that occasion, and, work it how you like, you will find the proportion of the present contribution does not differ more than by one point from the proposals made by the Prime Minister on that occasion. To say that the proposal was not before the country is not correct, because you can take the leaflet of the hon. Member for Guildford and deduct £500,000 for the Constabulary contribution, and you will find the result almost exactly the saem. The right hon. Gentleman has 352 stated that the proportion was 1–26th in 1886, and we have shown that it is 1–27th in 1893. The average contribution of Ireland during the last three years is £2,090,000. You may deal with these questions on any principle you like, but in negotiating, in the language of diplomatists, you may either make the settlement rest on the basis of status quo ante bellum or on the basis of status in quo. We cannot go back to the status quo ante bellum; and, therefore, the Government plan is founded on the status in quo or the uti possidetis. We have founded our scheme on the present contribution; and as it amounts to one-third of the Revenue, we have said that we think the rule of one-third of the Revenue will be a fair basis to adopt for the future settlement. I will now deal with the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the London University. He asks why should Ireland only pay one-third when England pays two-thirds towards the Imperial charge? When that question was first put I said that I did not understand it. I have so high an opinion of the right hon. Gentleman's knowledge, intelligence, and experience that I thought it was impossible he could have intended to put a question to which the answer was self-evident, and, therefore, I could not believe it was the question he really intended to put. What does Ireland pay and what does England pay under the present system? England pays two-thirds and Ireland one-third of their respective Revenues—that is in a single-sentence the answer to my right hon. Friend's question. If you take the Parliamentary Paper No. 305, you will find that in 1891–2 England, in payment of local charges, contributed £61,000,000 out of £90,000,000, or just about two-thirds, whilst Ireland's contribution in that year was less than one-third. The year 1891–2 was rather an exceptional year, but for 1892–3 you will find in Paper No. 334 that Great Britain contributed £58,500,000 out of £88,500,000, and Ireland £2,103,000;that is to say, England contributed as nearly as possible two-thirds, and Ireland one-third. The contribution is the difference between the Revenue and the Expenditure, and the real reason of the small contribution of Ireland is the 353 exorbitant and enormous expenditure we force upon her. That is the answer to the right hon. Gentleman—it is the enormous, exorbitant, extravagant, wanton, and unnecessary expenditure we compel her to incur. I come to a point which, I think, will impress the Committee. The gross cost of Police in the Three Kingdoms, from whatever source defrayed, may be stated for the year 1890–1 as follows:—The expenditure on the Police in England is £4,145,000, or 2s. 10d. per head of the population. In Scotland it is 1s. 11d. In Ireland it is 6s. 10d. That is the cost of resolute government. If the cost in Great Britain had been as great per head as in Ireland the additional British Civil expenditure would have been £6,700,000. I will take another case—the cost of the administration of justice. In England the cost is 5¼d. per head of the population; in Ireland 1s. 7¼d. What is the meaning of that? Most of it goes to the loyal minority. That is the enormous remuneration which goes to them, and I am bound to say that that loyalty is amply secured by what they have received as well as what they expect to receive. Now, that is the history of the one-third contribution of Ireland. If the cost in Ireland of the Police had been on the same scale as in Great Britain, the reduction in the Police expenditure in Ireland would have been £971,000—that is to say, you keep the Police in Ireland as compared with the Police in Great Britain upon a scale which is represented by additional taxation in Ireland to the extent of nearly £ 1,000,000. If the cost in Great Britain of your Judicial Establishments had been on the scale of Ireland, the judicial expenditure of Great Britain would be £1,800,000 more than it is now; and if the cost in Ireland had been on the scale of Great Britain, the reduction in judicial expenditure in Ireland would be £260,000 less. I will not go through the whole subject of the Judicial Establishments in Ireland. This is the payment for the cost of what is called the English garrison. It is the necessity of ascendency. If you choose to govern by and for the minority you can only govern by force, because you have not the support of the opinion of the mass of the people. It is so with your Police, and it is so in every Department of your Civil Service, and that is 354 the reason that while you have only a few regiments in England and Scotland you must keep 30,000 men in Ireland. [Cries of "No!"] I am sure the Army might be diminished if there were no English garrison. Can you remove that Army?
§ * SIR W. HARCOURT
Oh, it is for the barracks in Ireland! Then when you have erected barracks in England under this £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 you have got for the purpose, you will take the whole of the Military Forces away from Ireland?
§ * Sir W. HARCOURT
I do not know about that. There is another point I would submit to the right hon. Member for the University of London. He says you must demand that Ireland shall pay the same proportion as England pays—that is, two-thirds. Why, to do that you must double the taxation of Ireland. Is he prepared to go before the country and his constituency and to say that, in his opinion, the fair thing would be to double the taxation of Ireland? I should like nothing better than that the issue between us should be raised on such a proposition as that. Then you may say—"Oh, well, after Home Rule there will be none of these exorbitant establishments. Ireland will then have more reasonable establishments, and, therefore, she can contribute more." I hope she will; but we are bound to make provision for the existing tenants of these exorbitant establishments, and in those clauses which were fought with such minuteness and tenacity the other day the object was to fix upon the future Government of Ireland, for a long time at least, the whole cost of these establishments, and more, because it is quite plain that when a Judge retires and receives a pension, and you pay the salary of a new Judge, you have to pay more than yon do now. After a time the result of the economy will appear; but, in the meantime, the whole pressure of these exorbitant establishments will remain fixed on the Irish Parliament. You have saddled them with a damnosa hereditas, and you are bound to give them 355 some assistance in winding up these extravagant establishments. I venture to say that neither the right hon. Member for Leeds, who has been Chief Secretary for Ireland, and before that Secretary to the Treasury, nor any other Member who held that Office, will deny that the establishments in Ireland are exorbitant beyond all justification. That is really the answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for London University. That is the reason why Ireland has contributed only one-third in the past, and why at present, and until she has had the means of establishing a more reasonable system in her own country, she must pay only one-third. I said I would say a word on the subject of the cost of collection. The whole cost of the collection in Ireland is £235,000—that is the cost of collecting, in round numbers, £8,000,000. Of that £8,000,000 we get £4,000,000, and Ireland gets £4,000,000. Would hon. Gentlemen opposite propose that we shall charge Ireland with the whole cost of collecting that £8,000,000? In my opinion, that would be absurdly unfair. I believe the way we have presented the matter in our last Paper—namely, to take the Expenditure and Revenue on both sides of the account gross and not net—is a fair way of dealing with the question, but I really do not care to embarrass a great question with small issues of this kind. If you choose to insist upon deducting the cost of collection, the sum you must deduct is £120,000—the cost of collecting the half which Ireland gets; and if you take that from her normal figure of £2,270,000, you have £2,150,000, which is a higher figure by about £50,000 than the average contribution of Ireland for the last three years. As to the £500,000, it has been the intention of the Government from the first to make a contribution to the enormous and exorbitant Police Force in Ireland, which she is not, allowed to get rid of all at once. She is compelled to provide for their retirement pensions and salaries, and we consequently propose to give back a lump sum to Ireland until she will be able to effect serious economies in her system. That seems to us a reasonable thing. We have placed upon her these responsibilities. We do not allow her to release herself from 356 them at once, and the contribution we make is to enable her to set her house in order. I have endeavoured to consider this matter from the point of view of the British Exchequer, as it was my duty to do, and I am prepared sincerely to say that, in my opinion, it is a good bargain for the English taxpayers. I will endeavour to state to the Committee why I think so. As I have already said, the normal contribution of Ireland during the last three years has been £2,089,000; and if you deduct one-half the cost of collection her normal contribution in the future will be about £50,000 or £60,000 more than it is under the present system. As to this proposed contribution by Great Britain of £500,000. What is it? It is a terminable annuity constantly diminishing, and you commute for it, the increasing demands for Irish expenditure. Everyone who knows anything of commercial transactions knows the value of closing a capital account. Here, under the plan we propose, we close the capital account with Ireland. That is what we purchase with this terminable annuity, which assists Ireland in her present need and protects the British Exchequer in the future from increasing demands. As I have said before, I wish I could stereotype and commute the British Expenditure upon anything like these terms. What, on the other hand, is your policy? You desire to go back to the old system of administration in Ireland, which has been a system of eleemosynary coercion, the most expensive form of government that ever existed in the world—a rod in one hand and the British purse in the other. That system has proved in the past for you an unprofitable policy; it has cost, you much, and if you go back to it it will cost you much more in the future. I have shown how in the last three years you have lost £500,000 in Irish contribution. In 1889–90 the contribution was £2,500,000. Last year it, was barely more than £2,000,000. That has gone in endeavouring to buy off the unpopularity of your Coercion Bill. You have had in that time to use more force, and your expenditure on force has been greater than it was before. You have had to offer the Irish bribes as the price of peace. Your policy has been like that of a man I once knew, who used to beat his wife, and afterwards make it up 357 by giving her presents of diamonds. That is not good domestic economy; nor is your system good public economy, but that is the fruit of your resolute government in Irish affairs. Instead of a temporary charge of £500,000, which would diminish with a more reasonable Government, and with a more contented people [Opposition cries of "Oh!"]—do you expect they will be more contented when you have rejected this Bill? If you do, I differ from you altogether, and I think they will be more discontented than they are to-day—you will have a constantly growing Expenditure and a diminishing contribution, because the contributions of a discontented people are always growing less; while the population is diminishing the Revenue decreases. All this results from the attempt which you have pursued with such resolute determination to keep down the national sentiment of Ireland. After all, the national sentiment is a great contributor to the Exchequer, and if you wound the national sentiment the national finances are sure to suffer. You may call this "resolute government" if you please. I will not quarrel with you as to terms, but it is the most extravagant form of government which the brain of man ever conceived. It has proved so in the past, and it will prove so in the future. With coercion on the one hand, and with these doles and sops on the other, you are burning the candle at both ends. That is the history of the small contribution of Ireland to the Imperial needs of the country, and these are the reasons why, in my opinion, the settlement we have proposed is not a bad settlement for the English taxpayer. I believe that any man who brings to the consideration of this subject an impartial and a statesmanlike mind cannot come to any but one conclusion, and that is that the policy of conciliation and of self-government for Ireland which it has been our duty to propound is not only politically wise, but financially sound, and that it will lead not to the increase, but to the relief of the burdens borne by the British taxpayer.
§ MR. JACKSON (Leeds, N.)
I should like to say a word or two, in the first place, upon the concluding portion of the right hon. Gentleman's speech in which he gave the Committee his views as to the cost of Irish Government in the 358 past. In listening to the Chancellor of the Exchequer addressing this side of the House and constantly using the term "you," the Committee might really think that the right hon. Gentleman had never been in Office before, and that he himself had nothing whatever to do with this enormous and extravagant expenditure which he says we have forced on Ireland. The Chancellor of the Exchequer hardly did himself justice. Certainly he did not do justice to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition when he spoke of the efforts made to relieve pressing and urgent distress in Ireland as a bribe given to buy the hostility of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. At the time that expenditure was undertaken we were threatened with a grave calamity in Ireland. [Nationalist cries of "No!"] The hon. Member for Donegal did not take the view at the time that there was no distress. He went to Donegal and met the Chief Secretary there.
MR. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)
I told the Chief Secretary that he would not bribe the Irish people out of their nationality.
§ MR. JACKSON
My right hon. Friend never desired to bribe the Irish people out of their nationality, but he endeavoured to cope with the prevailing distress, and he coped with it most successfully. Yet the reward he gets from the Chancellor of the Exchequer is that he is told that he doled out these sops to buy up the hostility of hon. Members below the Gangway. I had something to do with the details of carrying out that scheme, and I venture to say that every shilling of the money which had been expended on railways in Ireland was well and wisely spent, and that it will in the future bring back a return in the shape of increased prosperity to the districts of Ireland that most need help. What would have been said of my right hon. Friend if, with the warnings he received, and with the evidence which was accumulating before him, lie had failed to meet that great emergency?
§ MR. JACKSON
Then why did the right hon. Gentleman condemn the expenditure of these largo sums? The right hon. Gentleman also talked about 359 the Army that was kept up in Ireland. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman wishes the Committee and the country to think that the Army is kept up in Ireland to suit the English people, and in order to keep down the Irish people. I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to make this experiment. Let him take the troops away from Ireland. Let him remove even 10,000 soldiers from Ireland. There is not a single Member who sits on the Irish Benches who will not then make his voice heard; and let the right hon. Gentleman understand that the Irish people recognised that the keeping of the Army in Ireland is an enormous financial benefit to that country. England would certainly benefit; and if the right hon. Gentleman tried the experiment, he would make himself very popular in England, but very unpopular in Ireland. The keeping of the troops in Ireland is, no doubt, a convenience to both countries, because if the troops were brought to this country it would be necessary to incur large expenditure in providing additional barrack accommodation, and in taking the troops from Ireland great injury would be done to that country. When I was at the Treasury, and even when I was in Ireland, several attempts were made to close Constabulary barracks. Why, my hon. Friend the Member for South Tyrone almost threatened to annihilate me if I closed a police barrack. There is nothing the Irish people are so tenacious in retaining as the advantages they possess from the expenditure in connection with these Forces. The right hon. Gentleman says he is going to make a good business bargain; he is going to close the capital account in Ireland. How does he know he is going to do that? How does he know that this expenditure is not going to increase in Ireland instead of diminish? Has he made his final bargain? What about the time at the end of six years, when there is to be a revision of the terms? Will he hear nothing then about increased expenditure? I will tell him what he is attempting to do. The right hon. Gentleman is attempting, by this Bill, to relieve Ireland of her rightful share of the constantly-growing Imperial Expenditure, and to throw upon the British people the whole increase which would be necessary for Imperial purposes. I am not sure that by his very action he 360 is not tending enormously to increase in the future that expenditure on Imperial defence which would be necessary for this Empire. He is releasing Ireland for the future from all charge and from all responsibility, and what I cannot but think they will recognise as being a rightful share in the protection of this great Empire. Now, Sir, I should like to say a few words upon some of the earlier statements of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman bases the defence of his scheme upon what he calls the basis of the normal condition of the account; and I think we are all of us glad to know that, practically, the right hon. Gentleman accepted the figures of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). I think he never attempted to disprove one single figure of the right hon. Gentleman. It is true he differs from him as to the particular title by which the £500,000 should be called.
§ MR. JACKSON
Quite so; but I am in the recollection of the Committee, and I must adhere to what I said—that he never challenged one of the figures of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), nor do I think he successfully challenged the conclusions at which the right hon. Gentleman arrived. The statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) the other night was extremely clear, and, so far as I could follow the figures, I think they were absolutely correct. The right hon. Gentleman, I think, has hardly behaved quite fairly or quite frankly with us who sit on this side of the House. The Committee will remember that over and over again the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the year 1892–3; and, secondly, in order, or, at all events, to give the appearance of additional fairness, that he would not be content to rely on that one particular year of 1892–3—
§ MR. JACKSON
1892–3 is the last year given in the Return; but the right hon. Gentleman went on to say he would take three years as establishing what he called the normal condition of the account. It is 361 true that he admitted that in those three years there had been exceptional expenditure, but I maintain that the very fact of there having during those years been exceptional expenditure destroys altogether the accuracy of the statement that these three years are to be taken as normal years. I should like to give these figures to the Committee because they make clear this particular point. I have taken out from the accounts the expenditure upon public works and buildings in Ireland, and upon railways for several years, and I may say that the average expenditure under this Vote for the last 15 years prior to 1890–1 was, in round figures, something a little over £240,000 a year. It runs very close to that all the way through—sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. Now what happened in these three years, which the right hon. Gentleman has taken as being the normal years? The expenditure jumped up, as compared with 1889–90, when it was £241,000, to £409,000; in the next year it jumped up to £573,000; and in the next year it was £336,000. Now, Sir, I say, therefore, those three years cannot be taken as the normal—it is quite unfair to treat that as normal—expenditure. I should, if I may be allowed to do so for the sake of illustration, describe the expenditure that has been made upon railways in Ireland as expenditure which will ultimately be of threat advantage to Ireland; that it is an expenditure which, once made, is completed. I say that the method of computation adopted by the right hon. Gentleman is practically to capitalise against Great Britain this enormous expenditure. It only requires to be stated in the form in which I have put it to show that those three years are not normal years; and, therefore, the balance which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) arrived at as the result of expenditure based on those figures, and accepted and endorsed by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, makes, I say, an unfair bill as regards the British taxpayer, because it is crediting Ireland with an expenditure which was entirely exceptional and which will now cease.
§ MR. JACKSON
Is the right hon. Gentleman going to start more railways? 362 I would point out, and I think the Committee ought to understand this, that even in the last year of 1892–3 the Return of Expenditure which is furnished to the House by the Government contains, among other things—and on which the balance-sheet is made, and which shows the £2,000,000 surplus— an item of £140,000 for railways, and it also contains £40,000 which, I think and hope, is special—namely, for stamping out pleuro in Ireland. There is another singular item, that in making up this balance-sheet for 1892–3 the Government have included in the Expenditure a sum of about £50,000 more than is expended at all. It is very easy to verify it, because it is given in Return No. 335. This is what is stated—Details of Expenditure, 1892–3, for which the Irish Government will have to provide under the Imperial scheme of the Government for Ireland.The figures for Revenue are correctly given; but the figures for Expenditure ought also to have been accurately given. In Class 4 it says—Inclusive of the whole new educational grant, of which only three-fourths was voted in 1892–3,and the sum appears as £210,000 expenditure, whereas only three-fourths of that sum had been voted. That makes the balance-sheet, and in framing the expenditure there is an addition of two special sums of payment, including £50,000, that was not expended in that year at all. I say that is a very curious form in which to make up the accounts for presentation to Parliament, and I was surprised to see this £50,000 had been included. The right hon. Gentleman stated, I think very fairly and with justice to my right lion. Friend, that during his period of Office the surplus had been about £2,000,000 on the average, subject to the correction of the figures I have stated, and he pointed out that the increased Expenditure during that period had been about £1,000,000. But he went on to say that what the Government were going to do by this Bill was that they were going to get rid of all responsibility for expenditure in Ireland in the future. Now, I venture to say that we entirely differ with the Government on that point. The principle on which the scheme of the Government has been framed is the principle, from 363 the point of view of the Government, of what is the present surplus. The present surplus the Government arrived at by deducting the Expenditure from the Revenue, and they call the balance that remains the surplus that comes from Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman says he is going to get rid of all responsibility with regard to Expenditure in the future; but what is he going to do when the revision comes about at the end of six years? Does the right hon. Gentleman think that, after he has established in Ireland a Legislative Assembly; after he has parted with the control of the Expenditure; after he has parted with the control of the Revenue, does the right hon. Gentleman not think that these gentlemen will press upon him then the basis that the right hon. Gentleman takes now—namely, that if their expenditure increases, they will be entitled to pay less than they are called upon to pay now? So far as my knowledge and experience of these gentlemen enables me to form an opinion, there can be no question that the very object of postponing the final settlement of this question is in order to strengthen the hands of these gentlemen, and not the hands of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I should like at this point to say I think it rather an interesting question why the Government have adopted this transitional period, and why they have postponed the final settlement of accounts as regards Ireland. I cannot, I confess, come to any other conclusion than that the real reason, if you could get at it, is that the Government could find no solution upon which they and their friends would agree. I say it with all respect to the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, but I confess that the postponement of this settlement appears to me to be a complete victory for the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton), who has, so far as I have been able to gather his views, from time to time consistently advocated that the question of the final settlement should be left to the future. I do not think it needs a very powerful imagination to picture what will happen by postponing this settlement for six years. After, as I have said, you have given a Parliament in Dublin; after you have parted with the control over the collec- 364 tion of your Excise Revenue, I must say it appears to me to be a very great anomaly that you should take into your own hands the collection at the end of that time; that you should take into your own hands the collection of the Customs Revenue by Imperial officers, and give up the collection of the Excise to the local officers to be appointed by the Irish Government. I fail to see what difference there is between one Revenue and the other. If you have confidence in those gentlemen that they will render you a satisfactory account; that they will do the work just as well as you can do it, why not trust them with the collection of the Customs Revenue? It appears to me you have a great distrust in the one case which is unjustified if the trust in the other case is proved to be wel1-founded. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about a double expenditure having been created by my right hon. Friend who was then the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I think I may leave my right hon. Friend to answer for himself upon that point, but, I may say there is this great difference: you are going to set up opposing interests.
§ MR. JACKSON
I am the glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman take such a cheerful view of the future; he sees no difficulty in the way of the British Chancellor of the Exchequer when he has to make his Budget and has to deal with increased or diminished taxation. There is this difference, however, between the double Exchequer, as the right hon. Gentleman termed it, of my right hon. Friend, and that he proposes to set up; in the one case Parliament has complete control, can do just as it likes, can make any arrangement the Chancellor of the Exchequer may desire. That, clearly, will not be so in the case of the double Exchequer in Ireland, over which the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have no control. I think it is hardly necessary for me to say more on this point than this: that, so far as I am able to judge, the contribution which it is proposed shall be made by Ireland will be very much to the disadvantage of the British taxpayer. I hear a good deal said about Ireland being poor. There is a great deal of poverty in Ireland, but there is also a great deal of poverty in Great Britain—in England and 365 Scotland there are a great many districts where there is very considerable poverty. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. H. H. Fowler), in his very interesting speech the other day, referred to the Income Tax. He thought that was the best test. He said that the Income Tax, the Savings Banks, and the Death Duties might be taken as the fair test of the power of a people to pay taxes. Is it not true that the Income Tax under Schedule "D" does not produce its proportion in Ireland according to population that it produces in this country? But that is easily explained. Whereas in this country you have a manufacturing population, which represents probably two-thirds if not a larger proportion of the whole, in Ireland the conditions are almost exactly reversed, and, therefore, the Income Tax under Schedule "D" produced a much larger Return in this country than in Ireland. In looking through the Returns for a period of years I notice this very curious fact: that the Income Tax upon land in Ireland is maintained at about the same figure; but the Income Tax under Schedule "B" in England—as the right hon. Gentleman will see if he refers to The Statistical Abstract—which in 1880 represented a value of £51,000,000, in 1891 represented a value of £11,000,000, or a fall of £10,000,000. In Scotland it fell from £7,700,000 in 1880 to £6,300,000 in 1891; but in Ireland in 1880 it represented a value of £9,980,000, and in 1891 it was £9,941,000. Not only is the law different, but the method of collection is different. The method of assessment is this: For Income Tax purposes the amount is taken at half the rental in this country and at one-third in Scotland and Ireland. Therefore, that makes a considerable difference. That which is the largest occupation in Ireland shows that there has not been that diminishing of profits; that the condition of Ireland has been about the same—["Oh, oh!"] It could be proved by many other things. There seemed to be an impression that it would be possible to show that the condition of Ireland to-day was worse than it was in 1880. I venture to say that proposition cannot be maintained, and I will test it upon any figure you like. There has been a continued and continuing improvement in the prosperity and welfare of Ireland during the 366 last 10 years. You may take, if you like, the Savings Banks, which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. H. H. Fowler) thought a fair case to take. My recollection is that in 1880 the amount to the credit of the Post Office Savings Banks in Ireland was £1,500,000, and in 1891 it had risen to £3,900,000, so that it was more than doubled in that period of time. Take any figure you like, and there is a continuing and steady growth and improvement in the position of Ireland. Therefore, when you ask us to give to Ireland this large bonus to the detriment, as I think, of the British taxpayer, based, as I believe it is, on figures that are not normal, which are exceptional, I say that you are asking us to approve a scheme which ought not to be approved. I believe the plan adopted by the Government is a plan which will be found in practice to be unworkable. It cannot be defended on principles of equity, and therefore, so far as I am concerned, I shall do my best to defeat it.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
Thought this was a subject on which England had a good deal to say; it was not only a matter that concerned Ireland, but to a very great extent undermined the whole condition of this country itself. It might be said and argued that Home Rule was a matter which concerned Ireland alone. He, for one, disputed that statement. Certainly, Home Rule in itself very largely concerned Ireland, but the question of giving what he must call a charitable dole to Ireland to start her in Home Rule was surely an affair that concerned Great Britain infinitely more than it concerned Ireland. They had had in the discussions during the last few years, as had already been pointed out, three schemes of finance put before them. They had had the scheme of 1886, the scheme of February of this year, and also the scheme which they were now considering—namely, the revised clauses concerning this Bill. It had been pointed out that these schemes varied one from another. In 1886 the scheme nominally arranged that Ireland was to pay to England 1–15th of her Revenue, but, really 1–25th; in February, 1893, the scheme arranged that Ireland was to pay 1–26th, but really 1–38th; and the present scheme arranged that Ireland 367 was to contribute nominally 1–28th, but really 1–40th. One hon. Member said that was too much, because the Union was got by fraud, therefore Ireland ought only to contribute 1–43rd; and another hon. Member to-day said 1–60th would be amply sufficient. As an Englishman he strongly objected to the present proposal, and he wanted to ask how this proposal would affect Great Britain? It was quite ridiculous for them to talk about generosity in this matter; what they had got to do was to take the bare facts of the case as they affected the ratepayers and taxpayers of Great Britain. If two men were partners and one of them had practically all the capital, all the connection, all the energy and enterprise, and did practically all the work, and if his partner, who had little capital, energy, or enterprise, and did very little work, wanted to dissolve the partnership and take with him a large part of the capital in order to start, a rival institution, they would not treat that as a case of generosity, but they would go into the hard facts of the case and allow him what was right, and no more than was right. Great Britain, by a large majority, had declared they did not want Home Rule. That being so, why, in the name of common fairness, should they be asked not only to give what they did not want, but absolutely to pay heavily to give it? The prodigal son only asked for a fair share of goods; but here not only were they to give a fair share, but they were to give a large portion of their own goods besides, in order that Ireland might start on this wild goose scheme. What were the facts concerning these Financial Clauses as they affected Great Britain? The first consideration raised was that Ireland, by this proposal, was to pay one-third of her Revenue towards all the cost of Imperial Expenditure, and keep two-thirds for her own wants. Great Britain, on the other hand, was to contribute two-thirds of her taxation to Imperial purposes, and only to retain one-third for her local wants. Why, in common justice, was this disproportionate arrangement to be made? The only answer the Chancellor of the Exchequer ventured to give was that this system existed at the present time. But as long as Ireland was united to England it was another matter. The real question was, why 368 were the English constituencies to pay double as much as the Irish when they were going to allow Ireland to separate from them in the way proposed? If hon. Members had explained to the electors that it was coolly suggested they were permanently to carry out a system by which England, Scotland, and Wales were to pay double their share to Imperial Expenditure in proportion to Ireland, whereas Ireland was to have Home Rule and was to continue to pay one-third, there would not be a single agricultural labourer who would not have understood and objected to such a monstrous proposition. The taxable capacity of Ireland was about 1–12th that of Great Britain, and by that clause they were asked to stereotype a system by which Ireland was to pay only 1–40th instead of 1–12th. The difference between 1–12th and 1–40th meant that Great Britain would have to pay in perpetuity £1,600,000 a year more than she did now. This £1,600,000 represented that London should pay in perpetuity a sum of £270,000 a year more than her fair share, or more than 2d. in the £1 of a greater rating value. Was that fair? He represented a part of Islington. Islington contained a population of 350,000, or a hundredth part of the population of Great Britain and Scotland. This meant that Islington would have to pay in perpetuity a sum of £16,000 a year extra in carrying out, this proposal of Home Rule; and North Islington, his constituency, would have to pay £5,000 a year. Why should his constituency have to pay this extra amount as a dole to Ireland in order to give her Home Rule? There were many of his constituents who were in a very poor and struggling condition; although he believed it was a gross impertinence to be called impecunious, there were many who were impecunious, and they did not see why they should pay this large sum to give Ireland Home Rule. Such a sum as £5,000 a year could do a deal of good among the poor of his constituency; and he asked why should they, by a shuffle of figures, be taxed to this additional extent because Ireland wanted Home Rule? He was fond of generosity when it was voluntary. He had no objection to the maid servants of New York taxing themselves to support Home Rule; but he objected to himself 369 and constituents being taxed in this enormous way to supply a thing they did not want, and against which they protested in every sort of way. Another thing was that changes in the system of taxation would be made extremely difficult. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that there; would be no difficulty, and that the late Chancellor of the Exchequer had formed another Budget system under the Local Government finance. But the two systems were totally different. Under the system of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer they had got both financial arrangements under the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Imperial Parliament; but here they were absolutely separate, and any change in their system under this arrangement might enormously influence the contributions which Ireland had to pay. If, for instance, they increased the Customs and Excise, Ireland would pay enormously more than if they increased the Income Tax. In considering these questions they should recollect they were to retain the 80 Members there, and they would have them voting on all their fiscal system, and who would know that if the taxation on one subject, were altered it would enormously affect their contribution to Imperial purposes, and that if it were put on another subject it would affect it in a very different degree. The Irish Members would have power in that House to interfere with and prevent the Chancellor of the Exchequer imposing taxation in a way which would be beneficial to England, if they thought it would add one farthing more to the amount of their contribution for Imperial purposes. Turning to the question of taxes per head paid in Great Britain and Ireland, they all acknowledged that, as England was a richer country than Ireland, it was not unreasonable she should pay a larger share per head of taxation; but there was no possible reason why this disproportion should be increased and an addition made to the burdens on the British taxpayer, whilst, at the same time, they reduced the burden on the Irish taxpayer. In 1886 the Prime Minister said it was fair that Great Britain should pay £1 10s. 11d. per head and Ireland 13s. 5d. But the Prime Minister had completely changed his front, and he now proposed that instead of paying £1 10s. 11d. per head, Great 370 Britain should pay £1 15s., and Ireland, instead of paying 13s. 5d., should pay only 6s. 6d. He failed to see why this change had been made, seeing that the circumstances now were exactly similar to those of 1886. Again, the President of the Local Government Board stated that the £500,000 a year with which they were going to start Home Rule was a distinct bonus to Ireland. He believed that instead of being £500,000 it would be near £800,000; but assuming it, for argument sake, to be £500,000, he asked why should Great Britain pay a bonus of £500,000 a, year to Ireland at all? It meant £85,000 a year to the poor Londoners, and in his own small district an absolute donation to Ireland of £1,700 a year, or nearly 1d. in the £1. There was not a single constituency which, if it had been told that Home Rule to Ireland meant that each constituency would have to subscribe £1,700 a year, would have agreed to it for a single moment. But that was not all. The hon. Member for Waterford said that not only should that House give Ireland this £500,000 a year, but, that they should have a guarantee of it. They wanted not only their promise but their bond. He thought there was a great deal to be said for the view of the hon. Member for Waterford that there ought to be a bond, for when the people of Great Britain understood that they were not only going to give Home Rule to Ireland, but were going to be taxed £500,000 a year to support Home Rule, they would feel they had been deluded and wronged, and would with one voice determine to repeal the present Statute. If a guarantee were given it would, of course, make it more difficult to alter the law. The hon. Member for Waterford, as a reason why that guarantee should be given, said it was, of course, impossible for the Irish Legislature to begin by making new taxes, and that, therefore, England must pay. He thought the Irish Members must laugh in their sleeves at the condition of England. They must really laugh to see the British lion, muzzled and tamed, led by the Prime Minister and bled in the way he was. He agreed with the hon. Member for Waterford that the Irish Legislature could not begin by putting on a farthing of taxation, because the Irish people thought they were to have free land and no taxes; and if there was any 371 idea of increasing taxation there would be such a revolutionary feeling on the part of the Irish people that double the present number of the Constabulary would not protect hon. Members below the Gangway in carrying out the Government. The financial aspect of this question was very simple. If Ireland wanted Homo Rule honestly she must pay for it, and not allow Great Britain to do so. There was no reason why the constituencies of England, Scotland, and Wales should have to pay for it. Ireland, in common honesty, must pay her fair share to Imperial taxation, and they, as trustees for Great Britain, were bound to see they did their best to protect the interests of their constituents. Why should there be a surplus handed over to the Irish people? Ireland must pay her own working expenses. There was no proposition to give England a surplus to carry on her working expenses. There were about 512 constituencies in England, Scotland, and Wales, and they proposed to hand over to Ireland about £512,000. That meant that every constituency was to be asked to subscribe, roughly speaking, £1,000 a year to this business. He contended that if this issue had been put to the constituencies—namely, that each was to pay £1,000 a year for giving Home Rule to Ireland, not a single one would have agreed to it. To make Great Britain pay for Home Rule which she abhorred was, to his mind, the meanest thing ever proposed. It was a financial betrayal of this country. Great Britain was to be bled as well as deceived, and the people were to he taxed to the extent of £500,000 a year to carry on this wretched legislation. What was this £500,000 surplus to be handed over for. Simply and solely in exchange for the Irish votes. The Act of Union had been abused and described by an hon. Member opposite as a swindle; but the Union was not carried by any worse system than that by which it was proposed to carry this Bill, and which was a system of bribery in order to get 80 votes. He protested in the strongest possible way against Great Britain being robbed in this manner. When the country knew that they were not only going to give the people of Ireland the management of their own affairs, but wore going to make Great Britain pay the piper as 372 well, all he could say was that the people of England, Scotland, and Wales would with one voice declare that Home Rule, it it were honest, meant that Ireland must pay for it, and that it was a mean, shabby, and contemptible thing to ask Great Britain to pay for that which she objected to In 1886 and 1892, and which she would equally object to at the next Election.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
said, the hon. Member for North Islington (Mr. Bartley) had spoken of the British lion as being a very dejected animal at present. He (Colonel Nolan) should think that the British lion, as represented by the hon. Member, was very much on the rampage, especially as it was being continually trotted out for platform use by the hon. Gentleman. The chief point of the hon. Gentleman's argument was that Ireland would have to pay £1,700 a year more for the passing of the Home Rule Bill. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had, however, answered that argument in advance by showing that Great Britain would get as much from Ireland as she had been getting during the last few years. The constituency of North Islington might rest assured that they were getting a very good pecuniary bargain under the Home Rule Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) said the minimum that Ireland ought to pay was the cost of her defence, and he had very properly argued that if we were entering into a Treaty with a small Foreign Power we should not take her over except on that condition. There had been an extraordinary misapprehension as to the amount that Ireland ought to pay on a basis of that kind. The right hon. Gentleman himself had not given a single figure to show what the amount should be; and it, therefore, devolved upon him (Colonel Nolan) to make a statement showing what the defence of Ireland would cost. How were they to determine what the defence of Ireland would cost? If a man were setting up a manufactory and wanted to know the cost of working it he would try and ascertain what other factories of a similar kind cost. Acting on that principle, he (Colonel Nolan) had ascertained what was the cost of defending other countries which were most like Ireland. There were no fewer than six 373 small countries in Western Europe, three of them larger and three smaller than Ireland, which might serve as examples. There were perfectly trustworthy financial statements as to the cost of defending those countries. He excluded Holland from the list, because Holland was a great Indian Power, and her military and naval expenditure was, of course, chiefly settled by her Indian expenditure. The remaining six countries were Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium, and Portugal. In Belgium the total cost of defence was £1,880,000, in Switzerland it was £1,475,000, in Sweden it was £1,540,000, in Norway it was £600,000, in Denmark it was £975,000, and in Portugal, including the administration of the Colonies, it was £1,850,000. The average of the six amounts was £1,385,000, which would, at first sight, seem to be the amount that Ireland ought to pay. As, however, the cost of Portugal included the administration of the Portuguese Colonies, he thought it was fair to knock off about £300,000 for the total, which would reduce the average expenditure to about £1,350,000. Therefore, he contended that the maximum which Ireland ought to pay for defence was under £1,400,000.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, the Navies were included. Three of the countries had a greater population than Ireland, and three a smaller population. It might be said that in these countries they had obligatory service. No doubt that was the ease, and the result was to reduce the cost largely; but he thought the Irish people would rather have obligatory-service themselves than pay another £500,000 for defence. He thought that Ireland resembled Norway more than it did any other of the countries he had mentioned. Neither Ireland nor Norway touched any great European country, and between each of them and the next great Military Empire a friendly Power was situated. The defence of Norway cost £600,000; but, correcting this figure for population, the cost of defending Ireland would be brought up to something over £1,300,000.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, no doubt the neutrality of Belgium was guaranteed by the European Powers; but he did not think there would be any difficulty, if the Cabinet of this country desired it, in obtaining the neutrality not only of Europe, but of the United States, as far as Ireland was concerned. He did not think, however, that any strong believer in the neutrality of Belgium would have spent all the money that had been spent on the fortifications of Antwerp. The only other country whose neutrality was guaranteed was Switzerland, and she spout more than any of the other smaller countries in defence. While putting the contribution of Ireland at £1,400,000, the question arose what amount ought to be paid while the Irish Constabulary existed? The Irish Constabulary was the most expensive Force in The whole world. It consisted of 15,000 men, and The military value of those 15,000 men must be deducted from the £1,400,000 until in process of time the Irish Constabulary disappeared. The members of the Irish Constabulary were bigger and more powerful men than the Guards in London, and about equal in physique to the reserve of Guards and to the Imperial Guards of Russia. After they had had about six weeks' training, he thought that their military value might be taken at about £50 a head. That would mean a total of £750,000, and, deducting this from the £1,400,000, the contribution of Ireland would be reduced to £650,000. The only figures he would deal with were figures which previous speakers had omitted to notice. In forming an estimate of the wealth of the two countries and the amount of taxation that should be paid some regard should be had to the houses the people lived in. Well, judged from the point of view of house rent, Ireland should only pay 1–37th of the taxation of the United Kingdom. This was a rough and ready test, no doubt, but still it was a very good one. The test of furniture showed a similar result. Here, therefore, they had two tests corroborating each other. He took them from Nuttall's Directory, which was an admirably arranged work of reference. Any Englishman who went over to Ireland and did not content himself with a few weeks' stay in Dublin, but made the acquaintance of the people and saw their poverty and their modes of life in the 375 country districts, would return home firmly convinced that Ireland could not be taxed on the same basis as England. The contribution of Ireland ought to be at present—that was to say, until the Constabulary was absorbed—some £650,000 or £700,000, and in the future it should be £1,400,000. The Government ought to be supported against the Opposition, whose desire just now appeared to be to screw as much money as they could out of Ireland. The Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for North Dublin ought to be supported; but as to what the course of the Irish Members should be on the whole clause when it was put from the Chair the character of the proceedings on the Amendments would determine. He quite agreed that the proposal of the Government was mild compared with what the Opposition would offer. Still, under the Government scheme, Ireland would be practically left as she had stood for the last 15 or 20 years; during the whole of which period the Irish Members had been continually complaining of the unfair taxation put upon the country. This question was of the utmost importance to the people of Ireland, who felt very keenly that they were handicapped by excessive taxation, which would in the future render it very difficult for them to properly develop the internal resources of the country.
§ MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
said, that from the peculiar position he occupied as representing an Irish constituency, and at the same time being a taxpayer in England and not in Ireland, he was able to look at the question from two points of view. If the Home Rule Bill were an accomplished fact, no doubt all the Irish Members would be entirely at one on the point that the more they could get out of England the better. It would be unpatriotic from every point of view for them to say that because they objected to a system of Home Rule, when it was obtained they would endeavour to make the grants given to the Irish Government as small as possible. There would be entire agreement amongst all sections of the Irish Members in the matter. But as they were bitterly opposed to Home Rule being granted, and as that matter was at the present moment in the hands of the English electors, they considered it of the greatest 376 importance to make known to English electors what they would lose pecuniarily under this Home Rule scheme. His experience amongst the constituencies had led him to the opinion that the consideration to which the electors of this-country attached the greatest weight was probably the question of pounds, shillings, and pence. They could appeal to a large section of the electors of any constituency very strongly if they put before them the fact that they were either going to lose or gain by Home Rule. The Government could not object to criticism of their proposals, because they had already rejected two of their own schemes themselves; and if anyone now moved, in the form of an Amendment, the scheme of 1886 or the scheme of February last, doubtless the Government would go dead against it. A new scheme was now before the Committee which Members had had very little time to consider, and as to which they had not had the advantage of reading magazine and other articles, as they had had in regard to the previous proposals. The scheme was brought before them at a time when a great many Members of the House were weary of the long and protracted discussions on the Bill, and when they really had not the amount of time to devote to the matter which they would have been able to give to it if it had been advanced some months ago. And the new scheme laboured under the disadvantage that it was less approved of by the Irish Nationalists than was the scheme of 1886 or of February, 1893. As to the scheme of 1886, the taxable capacity of the country was put forward as the basis on which they should go. That taxable capacity was to be according to wealth, and wealth was to be estimated according to the Death Duties. Those duties paid by Ireland worked out at about 1–14th of the whole; and at the present time, on the same basis, the contribution would work out at 1–17th or 1–18th. But to that was added £1,750,000, the balance of duty collected in the one country and paid in goods in the other country. So that under the first scheme, whilst 1–15th was the contribution said to be given, 1–25th was in reality the contribution. In the scheme of February, 1893, the Government adopted the method of taking one particular tax—the Excise Duty—as the 377 quota which Ireland must pay to the Imperial charges. That, when it was worked out, came to a nominal 1–26th; but when the addition of £500,000 was made it came to 1–30th. According to the present scheme, the taxation of Ireland was to be calculated by the Imperial Government, and 1–3rd of the whole was to be taken, and this they were told worked out at 1–27th or 1–28th; but when the cost of collecting the Constabulary and other matters were a added, it came to about 1–41st of the whole. Ireland would have to pay £1,548,000. It was said that under the Government scheme there would be two Exchequers, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had met that by saying—"Well, but who started the idea of two Exchequers? You" (speaking of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer ("were responsible for it, and we are smarting under the two at the present time." But if they proved a difficulty now they would be more of a difficulty under this scheme, for at present the two were under one authority, and being similar in their views and ideas they naturally worked harmoniously together. But what struck one with regard to the present scheme was the fact that, whilst 20 or 30 different financial schemes had been propounded on platforms up and down the country by the Members and supporters of the Government, not a single speech had been made in support of the particular plan which the Government now proposed, or, so far as he could see, in favour of anything in the direction of the scheme at all. The hon. Member for Northumberland (Mr. J. A. Pease) had told them that this scheme was better than that of February last, but he had failed to support his assertion by argument. The hon. Member said, further, that it was well that Ireland should not depend on manufactured spirits for her Revenue. A great many Members would thoroughly agree in that; but, at the same time, Ireland would have to depend upon something for her Revenue. The hon. Gentleman met that difficulty by saying—"We had better not disturb the existing system until the Commission has reported." Well, but the Opposition had understood that this Bill was a final settlement of the Irish difficulty. Clearly the Irish difficulty was not being finally grappled with by 378 the Government. They were only meeting it by postponing the settlement of the financial question, which was at the bottom of the whole matter, for years to come. The hon. Member opposite had said that the object of the Government ought to be to get Ireland out of her financial difficulties. If the Government undertook that, task it would be the most sanguine Government that ever held Office in this country; and if it succeeded in keeping Ireland out of financial difficulties, either individually or collectively, it was likely to do a very splendid piece of work indeed. Moreover, Governments did not always do their duty, and those who looked to them to do so, especially on matters of this sort, wore likely to be grievously disappointed. The hon. Member, guarding himself by a, backward glance at the constituencies, probably at that of Durham, said—"Neither must the Irish Exchequer have too ample a Revenue, lest it should be extravagant." So that the Irish Exchequer was to be kept out of difficulties, and, at the same time, to be kept out of extravagances, and that difficult task the Government of this country had on their shoulders. The hon. Member said that the Irish Government in the future would have to give grants for education, light railways, and harbours—that Ireland would have to borrow and lend, and that, therefore, the Imperial Parliament would have to be generous. The withdrawing party of the firm was to be kept out of financial difficulty by the party who objected to the withdrawal! The hon. Member said the reason for that was that Ireland, in the past, had been taxed far beyond her capacity. But what had the Prime Minister said before he was a Home Ruler? He had said he was aware of no inequalities between the several parts of the United Kingdom in the matter of the payment of taxes. If that meant anything at all, it meant that Ireland, instead of being taxed above her capacity, was not taxed up to the level of her capacity. The President of the Local Government Board had said that if Great Britain was determined to grant Home Rule to Ireland Great Britain would not be mean enough to be deterred by the matter of expense. Unfortunately, Great Britain had voted against granting Home Rule; and, therefore, it was natural that Great Britain should follow on the same line 379 and vote against granting the extra expense required. If Great Britain had gone in enthusiastically for Home Rule, as Ireland had done, he could have understood her being able to pay the extra expense; but as England was tremendously and overwhelmingly against Homo Rule it was only following up the argument of the President of the Local Government Board to say that England should follow up her action by refusing to put her hand in her pocket to pay for this scheme. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the calculation he had made was a rough and ready one, and that the contribution of Ireland would be as nearly as possible what it was at present—namely, £2,276,000. Yes; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer had based his argument on a miscalculation, and the right hon. Gentleman could not have been in ignorance with regard to the enormous difference between the three years on which he had based his calculation and the 15 preceding years. In the 15 preceding years the contribution was a little under £240,000 a year; in the three years it worked out on an average of £439,000 a year. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had sneered emphatically at the reference of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham to Greece, the United States, and the Transvaal. He had said—"Yes; but they are not, and never were, parts of an Empire." But that was the point made by the Unionist Members—that Ireland, from many points of view, under the Bill was ceasing to be a part of the Empire. ["Oh!"] Yes; and if this scheme developed and strengthened from year to year in all probability in a very short time the unwithdrawn dream of the Irish Nationalists of living under the green flag of an emancipated nation would be realised, and Ireland would become an independent nation. Time passed quickly, and having regard to the fact that since 1886 the Government had not been able to formulate a scheme which would stand without considerable revision, how did they know that at the end of six years they would be able to propose a settlement of the financial difficulty which would have a chance of success? The Irish Members might find the cost of government much more than they anticipated, and the expenses of the localities 380 might greatly exceed the calculations of even the most cute Irish Members—and Irish Expenditure would have to be taken largely into account. "There is a great deal of poverty in Ireland," said the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that point had been dwelt on by several speakers. The hon. Member for West Islington had said that Ireland was the poorest country in Europe, which was very much like saying that Ireland was an impecunious race. he had been afraid that some Irish Member would have felt his sensibilities touched, because that statement, as a reflection on the poverty of Ireland, was ten times stronger than anything which had been previously said in these Debates. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said there was great poverty in Ireland. But there was also great poverty in England; and when they considered the impecunious taxpayers in Ireland, they must also think of the impecunious taxpayers of England as well. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had talked of the scandalous expenditure in Ireland in regard to maintaining certain services there, and one would have thought the right hon. Gentleman had himself never had anything to do with a Government that had had charge of Irish affairs in the past. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was a Member of two or three Governments which had made no efforts to reduce the expenditure on the Judiciary or Police in Ireland. Nay, more; the last Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a Member increased very considerably the cost of these two Services. The right hon. Gentleman had quoted figures showing that the cost of Police in England was 2s. 10d. per head of the population; in Scotland 1s. 11d., and in Ireland 6s. 11d., and he asked what was the meaning of that? He (Mr. Rentoul) would ask to what part of Ireland was the heavy cost of the Police to be attributed? lie found that while there was one policeman for each 635 persons in England, in County Down there was one for every 1,052 persons only, and in Antrim one for every 1,003 persons. It was clear, therefore, that if the Police cost 6s. 10d. per head in Ireland, as compared with 2s. 10d. in England, it was not in the Unionist counties, but among the right hon. Gentleman's own friends—in the 381 places where the union of hearts throbbed strongest—that the cost of the Irish Police was chiefly incurred. The Unionists had nothing to do with these heavy expenses, and no subjects of Her Majesty cost as little for police as they did. Speaking of the administration of justice, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said it was five times as expensive in Ireland as in England, the cost in England being 5¼d., and in Ireland 1s. 7½d. per head, and he stated that this expense in Ireland was largely attributable to the fact that ruinous remuneration was given to light places in connection with the Judiciary and Civil Service, and that most of these places were given to the loyal minority. A large number of officials in Ireland at present were appointed by the Government of the present Prime Minister from 1880 to 1886, to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer belonged; and if the positions were given to Unionists, it must have been because they were most fitted for the places. Surely if this scheme of Home Rule was to work well the cost of the Police and Judiciary would be brought down very largely, and the need for enormous grants would not, then be necessary, because Ireland's contribution would be able to be larger in proportion as these expenses were made smaller. The Chancellor of the Exchequer could not believe it was a grievance to Ireland that they had 30,000 soldiers in that country. As an Irish Member, he had perfect authority from his constituency to say they would be glad to have 30,000 soldiers quartered in their own division; and if twice as many soldiers were quartered in Ireland it would be of immense benefit to the Irish people. These soldiers were paid out of the Imperial Exchequer, and they spent their money in Ireland. If the experiment were made—even on a small scale—of reducing the number of soldiers in Ireland a cry would soon be raised by the Irish people, and by the Nationalists most of all. The whole argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in answer to the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, came only to this: that things would be no worse than they were under the old system. It was for this the Session was being wasted: they wanted things to be better. The hon. Member for North Islington (Mr. 382 Bartley) had shown what the cost would be of maintaining this Exchequer in Ireland to the electors of Great Britain. He agreed with the hon. Member that if each constituency had known that it would cost them £1,000 a year to maintain this Parliament in Ireland, it would have had a wonderful effect on their votes. They had the utmost distrust of this last financial scheme of the Government, which had been rushed before the House at the last moment, and when they were not allowed sufficient time to enable them to understand and consider it.
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
said, that naturally a good deal of that Debate had turned on the question of the Irish Constabulary, and his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Galway had given the House his opinion as to the proportion of the cost of the Irish Constabulary which ought to be borne by the Imperial Exchequer. He would not enter into that subject, but perhaps the House would permit him to give it one short and simple fact with respect to the cost of the Irish Constabulary. Ireland had 700,000 more of a population than Scotland; it was mainly of a rural character, and the cost of the Police in Ireland ought to be less than the cost of the Police in Scotland. But the cost of pensions alone for the Irish Constabulary was about equal to the cost of the whole pay and clothing of the Police of Scotland. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham was, he thought, responsible for leading the Committee into what he could not help regarding as a wrong point of view. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that this question of the financial relations of Ireland and the Imperial Exchequer ought to be approached from the point of view of an ideal or imaginary sum which Ireland ought to contribute to the Imperial Exchequer. That was taking hold of the subject by the wrong end. The contribution, so called, of Ireland to the Imperial Exchequer was merely an arithmetical sum, which was obtained by subtracting from the gross Imperial Revenue derived from Ireland the entire cost of the Public Service in Ireland. The first charge to the British Treasury must necessarily be the cost of the Public Service in Ireland, and he ventured to think the point of view 383 from which, in his opinion, the question should be approached was this: What was the amount that should be allowed to Ireland which would, under the Home Rule Bill, undertake the discharge of the Public Service? The scheme of the Government was as simple and practical as anything could be. It was that an allowance should be made to Ireland of the precise sum, no more and no less, which the Public Service of Ireland now cost the Imperial Exchequer. In addition, the Government proposed to give for a short period assistance to Ireland in the shape of one-third of the cost of the Constabulary. He entirely agreed with the Government that a less sum would hardly be sufficient for the practical administration of Ireland. What was the view of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham? He made out that, assuming under Home Rule the Expenditure would be £60,500,000, the share which Ireland ought to pay was £3,350,000. The right hon. Gentleman was very much enamoured of that calculation, because he told the Committee that this fact was not placed before the electors at the last Election; it was not known, and it was not even suspected. What was the fact? The only fact was that the right hon. Gentleman had made a calculation. That he had made a calculation was a fact; hut whether that calculation was right or wrong was not a fact, but a matter of opinion, and upon that opinion he thought the right hon. Gentleman would find very few intelligent critics to agree with him. But starting with this supposition that Ireland ought to pay £3,350,000, Ireland cost them last year £5,540,000, and, therefore, the total sum they ought to receive was £8,890,000. That was £1,250,000 more than they actually did receive; so that if, according to the right hon. Gentleman, this was the sum which Ireland ought to pay it was, at all events, £1,250,000 less than the ingenuity of a British Chancellor of the Exchequer had ever been able to extort from them. That was the first consideration. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned two tests by which the amount of the Irish contribution ought to be measured. It was obvious that the only basis upon which the liability for taxation could be imposed as between the two countries 384 was the relative income of the two countries. What was the relative income of Ireland and Great Britain? That question could be answered with exactness in respect of persons with incomes of £150 a year and upwards, but with respect to persons whose income was less than £150 there was no absolutely reliable information in this country. But they did ascertain those who were over £150 a year, and that was a very important figure, and for this reason: He thought it could be shown that the aggregate income of the persons over £150 a year was considerably greater than the aggregate income of the persons under £150 a year, and there was some reason to believe that the proportion of wealth among those who were under £150 a year bore the same relation to the proportion of wealth of those who were over £150 a year. At all events, he was able to verify that in one instance. Comparing the resources of Scotland and England with reference to persons who had incomes of £150 a year and upwards, the results seemed to show that the wealth of Scotland in the case of persons with incomes over £150 a year was 75 per cent, of the wealth of England per head of the population, and the wealth of the "upper ten" might be taken as the measure of the wealth of those below them. There was no test for the purposes of comparison of classes so solid as the test of rent, for it varied as income varied. The average cost of house accommodation in Scotland per head of the population was £2; in England it was £2 14s.,and,therefore, these amounts were in the ratio of 100 to 74. What was the wealth of Ireland as exhibited by the official Returns? He would compare the wealth of Ireland with that of Scotland, because they nearly approached one another in population. The gross amount of assessments to Income Tax in Scotland was, in round numbers, £60,000,000; in Ireland it was £20,000,000; so that the wealth of Scotland as compared with Ireland was in the proportion of three to one. But that was not all. Let them take Schedule "E," and there the moment they commenced to examine the Return they could not fail to perceive the abnormal and extraordinary cost of the Civil Service and the poverty of the country. When he said poverty he did not mean 385 impecuniosity. There was a distinction between poverty and impecuniosity. He had known men with large means who were always impecunious, and he had known many poor men who wore never impecunious. Under Schedule "E" the assessments of the salaries of persons who were not in the Government Service reached £3,200,000 in Scotland, while in Ireland they were £1,200,000—namely, they wore in the proportion of 100 to 37; whereas the assessments of the official salaries, which represented the burden upon the public, were in Scotland £350,000 and in Ireland £1,100,000. In other words, while in the salaries earned directly or indirectly in the production of wealth Scotland was three times as rich as Ireland, when it came to official salaries they were three times as much in Ireland as they were in Scotland. Taking Schedule "D," which dealt with trade and professions, the relative assessments in Ireland and Scotland were as 31 to 100; that was to say, Scotland had three times as much assessments as Ireland. In Schedule "E," which dealt with public companies, Scotland, as compared with Ireland, was in the proportion of 100 to 34, or, practically, 3 to 1. Taking Schedule "A," the total figures were £13,500,000 for Ireland, and £19,500,000 for Scotland. That Schedule dealt with the rent of agricultural lands and other kinds of lauded property. The property, excluding the rent of agricultural land, was in Scotland under Schedule "A" assessed at £13,000,000, and in Ireland £3,600,000, or in proportion of 100 to 27. This was a test of wealth, but rent was no test of the ability of the taxpayer to pay. Of course, it was obvious if rents were to be increased by 20 per cent, in Ireland, they would not increase the wealth of Ireland by 20 per cent. They would not only decrease the tax-paying capacity of the people, but, they would make it impossible for many of them to live. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham had drawn a doleful picture of the dreadful difficulties in which a Chancellor of the Exchequer would find himself under the Government scheme; but he thought he had been well answered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that night. The whole argument of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham was based upon the supposition that his 386 audience were not familiar with the elementary facts of British taxation. In the good old days of ransom the right hon. Member for West Birmingham had championed the cause of the workingman, and used to point out that, whilst the millionaire in Ireland did not pay in Imperial taxes more than 3 per cent, of his income, the professional man paid 5 to 7 per cent., and the working-man paid from 10 to 20 per cent, of his taxable income into the Imperial Exchequer. The greatest injustice was perpetrated by the system of indirect taxation as between those who had over £150 a year and those who bad less. If those who had £150 a year paid their fair share of taxation, the amount payable in Customs and Excise would be so reduced that there would be no contribution from Ireland at all. The Income Tax and the Probate Duty were simply adjusted. They were ad valorem duties. A man was taxed according to his means—no more and no less. Under Home Rule, whatever taxes were imposed on Ireland would be exactly the same as were charged on any person in a corresponding portion in Great Britain. But with regard to Customs and Excise it was a very different matter. These taxes were mainly paid by the poor—These whose incomes were under £150. The poorer the population, the more oppressive was the burden of indirect taxation; and the only sense in which Ireland had any interest in this matter of taxation was that, being the poorest part of the United Kingdom, she was interested in curtailing the dimensions of indirect taxation. In that respect the working-men of this country and the people of Ireland were in the same boat precisely. The reason why the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham—who, no longer the champion of "ransom," had gone into the opposite camp—attacked the scheme was because he knew that its financial effect would be to weld the people of Ireland and the working classes of this country into a solidarity against which all the ingenuity and all the artifice of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer would not prevail. He regarded the scheme as one which would inevitably have the effect of consolidating the alliance between those who represented the working classes of this 387 country and the Irish Members. They were equally interested in curtailing the monstrous system of indirect taxation, and it was because the right hon. Gentleman knew that—because he had now enlisted under a different banner—that he delivered his not unusual philippic the other night.
§ * MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's,) Hanover Square
I will presently examine to what extent it is likely the proposals of Her Majesty's Government will facilitate relief from indirect taxation. The hon. Member believes they will promote the diminution of indirect taxation. If I read them aright, they will have precisely the opposite effect. The diminution of indirect taxation will mean bankruptcy to the Irish Government. The Irish Government has to depend for its resources mainly upon whisky and tobacco. If there is a diminution in the receipts from the duties on spirits and tobacco, I do not know how the hon. Members below the Gangway, with all their financial ability, will be able to make two ends meet.
§ * MR. GOSCHEN
Yes; but I do not understand how they are to levy it. A national rate may be well enough in a country with a large accumulation of personal wealth; but I think in Ireland it will not have the results the hon. Member supposes. But I leave the speech of the hon. Member, and now wish to put before the Committee that it appears to me, and I think both sides will agree, that these questions of the financial relations between England and Ireland, or the financial solvency of Ireland, and of her just contribution to Imperial Expenditure, raise as important elements of discussion as any which have been brought before the Committee. The President of the Local Government Board said the people of this country would not decide this case on a miserable question of pounds, shillings, and pence; but the effect of the scheme upon the pockets of taxpayers—British and Irish—is likely to affect largely any temporary or permanent settlement Her Majesty's Government may attempt. The solvency of Ireland is a matter of Imperial concern. If Ireland becomes bankrupt under these proposals, as the hon. Member for Leeds pointed out, it will have a distinct effect upon British prosperity in 388 the end. In their present attitude the Government mainly concentrate themselves upon the Irish case; and I am myself prepared to treat this matter not only from the point of view of the British taxpayer, but from the point of view of the Irish taxpayer, and to see whether the proposals of the Government hold water. From the Irish point of view do these proposals offer any hope of a final settlement—any hope that, at the end of six years, we may not be in a worse position than we are now? I will endeavour, in a few sentences, to dispose of what we may call the question of the accuracy of the figures. Looking to the contributions made to the Debate from both sides of the House, I think we are not very far apart—we are not out by more than £100,000, or perhaps £200,000, though such a sum is somewhat important. I will place what I consider to be the real facts of the case before the Committee in a few sentences. According to the last Return which they placed before the Committee, the Government put the Imperial Expenditure at £62,900,000. The chief point in dispute with regard to the next figure is as to the cost of collection. The President of the Local Government Board said that there were only two methods of dealing with the cost of collection: either you must keep it as an Imperial charge, as it is treated in the Government Return—deducting the whole expenditure from the total Imperial Expenditure—or you must take the exact amount paid in Ireland. But that which is paid in Ireland is no criterion, because there are many Irish charges which are paid in England. Nor am I prepared to say that you ought to deduct the whole from the Imperial Expenditure. The proper way to treat it is this: You ought to look at the Revenue contributed by each of the three parts of the United Kingdom, and then deduct from each of the three the corresponding cost of collection. That is the only rational and businesslike way of proceeding. The Government have not yet sufficiently learnt their lesson. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that we must divide the Revenue collected in Ireland—namely, £8,000,000, into two—the Irish are to take £4,000,000, we are to take £4,000,000; therefore, the Irish would pay the cost of collection only on£4,000,000, and we were 389 to pay on £4,000,000. Very well. But who are "we"? I say the right hon. Gentleman has not learnt his lesson. According to the new proposals of the Government, there must be four purses—the Irish purse, the English purse, the Scotch purse, and then the Imperial purse. But the right hon. Gentleman now asks that Englishmen and Scotchmen are to pay the cost of collection in Ireland of that portion of Irish Revenue which goes to the Imperial purse, as well as of their own share of what goes to the Imperial purse. But surely Ireland must pay its share of the cost of its own Revenue, whether spent on Ireland or contributed to the Imperial purse, just as England and just as Scotland pays each its share of its own Revenue. And what was the orginal idea of the Government? In the Bill of 1886 the Prime Minister proposed that the Irish Revenue was to be paid over, less the cost of collection, which was not to exceed 4 per cent. At that time, under Clause 14 of the Bill of 1886, the right hon. Gentleman said Ireland should pay the whole cost of collection; and in the next effort of Her Majesty's Government—the first effort of this Session—the sum of £166,000 was debited to Ireland, the Government still maintaining that Ireland must pay for the cost of collection. But now it is to be an Imperial charge, and Ireland will not pay on its Revenue of £7,000,000, which is about 1–12th of the whole, but only its 1–30th towards Imperial Expenditure. Why is this new theory put forward? The reason is manifest. The cardinal point of Her Majesty's Government is that a surplus of £500,000 must be found for the Irish nation. This must be got by hook or by crook, and the figures must be successively adapted to give that £500,000. If they do not give it, so much the worse for the figures. I should be inclined to think that negotiations have taken place. We have read about them. We know that the Member for North Kerry had interviews with the Prime Minister—I do not say I hat there was anything dishonourable in the transaction—and I believe it was laid down as a, cardinal principle, "Unless we have £500,000 to spend, we will not have Home Rule; we cannot run the show for less." The first balance-sheet showed a surplus of 390 £500,000, but a great accident occurred. It was found that the Excise Revenue would give £300,000 less than had been calculated, and it was therefore necessary to revise the Estimates—to start the new principle, and to adopt the new canon, that Ireland should pay what it pays now. That was not told us on the First Reading. It was only told us on the Second Reading of the new clause, which, after we have been over two months in Committee, is now presented to the House. This £300,000 has to be made up, and the right hon. Gentleman says, "We must give them £500,000 for the Constabulary; then they will have the surplus that they want."
§ * Mr. GOSCHEN
Yes, yon proposed it in 1886. Then, as now, you must have a surplus. The view of hon. Members below the Gangway is that unless you start them with a good round sum bankruptcy would be possible. You must, therefore, give them £500,000, and the Constabulary afforded, in the eyes of the Government, the best defence that could be made to the contribution from this country. The President of the Local Government Board said, "This is admittedly a bonus." There are two arguments: We tire told that this Force, which has been kept up against the will of the Irish people, is the right one from its origin and position for us to pay for. That is one argument. The other argument is that they must have the money. I can prove that there is no ground for giving any bonus to Ireland on account of the Royal Irish Constabulary. The President of the Local Government Board said that this was a bonus, and that the British public were not shabby, and would give it. This cheerful gift of the British elector is to be given to Ireland under the coercion of the Irish vote. Let the right hon. Gentleman exclude the votes of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway—exclude them in tins Parliament or the next—and let us see then what would be the views of the British electorate. Is it generosity for the British majority to be coerced by the Irish vote into giving £500,000 to the Irish in order to carry Home Rule? The Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke of the "sops and doles" given by the late Go- 391 vernment in order to bribe the Irish people away from their sentiment of nationality. A more unfounded charge, a more scandalous charge, has never been levelled at a Party or at an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman was answered by the right hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Jackson), who spoke of the absolute necessity the late Government were under of stopping famine, and he referred to the money expended with that object upon the light railways. The right hon. Gentleman opposite spoke of these as "sops and doles." I wonder whether right hon. Gentlemen opposite really think that when we proposed those votes we were doing more than the duty of any Government. What is a "sop" in the view of right hon. Gentlemen opposite? A sop, in their view, is a contribution voted by a Unionist Government under the most urgent circumstances of public need. But when, with the assistance of hon. Members below the Gangway, with 80 Irish votes cast in their favour, the present Government propose to inflict an additional taxation of £500,000 upon the British electors, that is not a sop, that is not a dole; but this coerced eleemosynary contribution is a generous gift from the British taxpayer. Well, this £500,000 has to be found. The President of the Local Government Board says the money ought to be found. I should like to see this money put upon the Votes or upon the Consolidated Fund—"£500,000 for the purpose of running Home Rule." That would be an honest way of testing the generosity and inclination of the people of Great Britain. It is rather hard that the British people, who are in a majority against Home Rule, should be asked to contribute towards establishing a Government which they do not wish to see established. Another argument is put forward, partly endorsed by the magnificent—I might almost say the magniloquent—peroration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is said that this is a force which has been forced upon the Irish. "You," he says, "have forced this extravagant expenditure upon the Irish people." I wonder who are the "You's," just as I wondered before who were the "We's." I wondered what part have the Liberal Government had—what part had the Government of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister 392 of which I was a Member in forcing this expenditure upon Ireland; and what efforts have they made to reduce it? The right hon. Gentleman himself must feel some prickings of conscience in this matter. The cost of the Constabulary and of the Judges was the same in 1886 as it, was in 1891, although in the former year there had been no "resolute" government of Ireland. If the figures are examined, I think it will be found that the errors of irresolution have cost this country more than any attempt at resolute government. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer endeavoured to make a point out of the number of troops who are stationed in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said that we kept 30,000 troops in Ireland for the purpose of holding down the people. That the right hon. Gentleman should believe in that idea passes belief. The right hon. Gentleman's profession of belief in that idea may do for the platform at Derby, but it will not do for the House of Commons. If the right hon. Gentleman's friends will keep Ireland quiet the Government can easily bring back 20,000 of the troops to this country. True, there are no barracks in which to put them.
§ * Mr. GOSCHEN
When the Bill is passed! There is confidence in the tranquillity of the Irish people! Well, whether this Bill is passed, or whether it is not passed, I say—and I believe I am expressing the views not only of the late Government but of the Government that preceded it—that this mass of troops is kept in Ireland not for the purpose of oppressing the people, but for the convenience of the general military arrangements. There would be an uproar in every part of Ireland if the troops were to be withdrawn from every town in Ireland, because, after all, the population of Ireland, both male and female, love the military, and Ireland claims to enjoy her fair share in the advantages arising from the expenditure upon the Army. Passing from the Army to the Constabulary, the right hon. Gentleman says that the Imperial Government ought to bear the cost of the Constabulary because the Constabulary is an Imperial Force. That is one of the arguments of which we have heard a great deal, and the hon. Member 393 for Waterford says that that body in its inception was an Imperial Force. But the memory of my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury may, perhaps, carry him back to the time when the Force was first established. It was first established in 1835 against the wishes of the Magistracy and of the local gentry, with the full approval of O'Connell, and the measure establishing it was praised by the younger Grattan. And this is the Force that it is said was in its inception an Imperial Force. It was insisted upon by the Irish patriots of that day that this Force would take away from the Magistracy and the local gentry their power and authority, and yet the right hon. Gentleman opposite says that that body is a Force established for Imperial purposes. From that time down to the present the Force has been used, not for Imperial purposes in the sense attributed to it, but merely for the purpose of preserving local law and order in Ireland. I do not appeal to hon. Members below the Gangway upon the point, but I ask the Party opposite—those who now represent the Government, and who represented it in times past—whether the preservation of law and order in Ireland is merely an Imperial concern, and whether it does not concern the Irish people? When did the right hon. Gentleman and when did the Prime Minister first hold that view? See to what it leads. There may be Fenianism, and the Constabulary are not to fight against Fenianism. Is it not an Irish concern that Fenians and foreign ruffians, subsidised by foreign money, should not be allowed to spread a network of crime throughout the country? If we say that law and order must be preserved in that country, and that the law of the Queen must run throughout it, then right, hon. Gentlemen opposite say that that is an Imperial concern, and that the expense of maintaining the Force necessary to preserve law and order in Ireland must be paid for out of Imperial taxation, and that Ireland itself has no part or interest in the matter. I think that it is monstrous to put forward such a proposition. If the Force is a large one, why is it large? Because the circumstances of Ireland—because crime, and crime under your Government more so than under the late Government—require this Force to be kept up; and was the cost of 394 that Force less before the late Government came into Office than it is now? The cost of that police is less now than when the Prime Minister left Office. There are 2,000 fewer constabulary at this moment, and they cost less. The highest total of numbers and highest point of cost were reached in 1884–85 when the Constabulary wore 14,500, as against 12,159 in 1892. What nonsense, then, it is to talk of this being the result of "resolute government"! Or does the Chancellor of the Exchequer think that his was the resolute government in preceding years? If so, his resolute government ended in a Constabulary Force of 14,000 men. Really it seems as if right hon. Gentlemen have exhausted every possible argument against the British Government in which they have borne a part, against a Parliament which the Prime Minister himself has led for so many years. I defend his older self against his present self. We are not responsible for the cost of the Constabulary being so great, and not being responsible I do not see why one-third of that cost, in order to give an Irish surplus, is to be put exclusively upon the shoulders of the British taxpayer. The idea is clearly this: that Ireland cannot do without this contribution. ["No!"] Well, can Ire-laud do without it? I am not sure that Irish Members are not perfectly right in maintaining that unless they have this £500,000 they will find great difficulty in making both ends meet. That is a confession—I do not wish to introduce one word to jar on their susceptibilities—but that is a confession that Ireland is too poor to be able to stand it. That is the contention of hon. Members; I do not say whether it is correct or incorrect. ["No!"] Well, if Ireland does not contribute the sum which the Government think it ought to contribute to the British Exchequer, then it might be able to stand alone.
* MR. GONCHEN
A charming confession! If we keep our hands out of your pockets then you can manage to run alone. Very well. The Government do not intend to keep their hands out of your pockets. I see a very great danger in that remark; for if the hon. Gentleman holds that the Government put their 395 hands too deep into Irishmen's pockets now, what prospect is there of a friendly settlement six years hence? The Chancellor of the Exchequer has got due notice of his hands being put too deep into the pockets of the Irish people. We think that the contribution of Ireland to the Imperial Expenditure is not adequate, but the hon. Member thinks that the Irish can pay their way if you do not put your hands into their pockets at all. What does Ireland want? Is Ireland to be defended without any contribution at all? That seems to be the contention, and it was strengthened to-day in a dangerous speech by the Minister responsible for the British purse. Reckless, and only anxious to answer the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, he said, "Look at the Colonies." That was the language not of a Chancellor of the Exchequer, but of an advocate of the Home Rule Bill, because does he not see that that argument cuts at the proposals which the Government have laid upon the Table? Does he not see what a weapon he furnishes to his ingenious and exacting allies? I had hoped that the hon. Member for North Kerry would have spoken in this Debate, but as he has not spoken, I will venture with all deference to take his place. I will argue this question from the Irish point of view. I ought to have summed up the few figures which I promised in the beginning by saying that, according to my calculation, the British taxpayer loses about £700,000. He loses £500,000 by the Constabulary and £200,000 by the ingenious device of the collection of the Revenue. Now, let me examine the situation from the point of view of Ireland. What is the position of Irish finances under this Bill? Let me treat it for the moment from the point of view of Expenditure and of Revenue. Can the Expenditure be largely reduced? Will the Revenue be kept up? I must once more bring up that which the President of the Local Government Board called a stale quotation, but which I would rather call an unanswered quotation, with reference to the plethora. The Prime Minister sent the Belfast deputation away under the distinct impression that in his belief the balance-sheet of Ireland would be turned into a most flattering picture, for he 396 suggested that there would be a plethora of money. He has since called it a "conditional plethora." I do not find the word "conditional." [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: Certainly not; but you find the conditions.] Yes; but are the conditions which were in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman certain to be fulfilled? He says there is a condition in what he said; yes, because, of course, there never is a statement made by the right hon. Gentleman without there being a condition in it. Well, there is a condition in this statement. Here it is—Now, my allegation is that, instead of a chronic want of money—now comes the condition—if there be political prudence in Ireland there will be a chronic plethora of money.If the right hon. Gentleman suggested a condition which is not likely to be fulfilled, it was scarcely fair to the deputation. But in his present attitude—his sublime attitude of confidence in the political wisdom of his hon. Friends below the Gangway—he may be sure that the condition will take effect—I feel sure there will be a chronic plethora of money after the Home Rule Bill is passed.
§ * MR. GOSCHEN
I will read the words—If there be political prudence in Ireland there will be a chronic plethora of money after the Home Rule Bill is passed.
§ [Ministerial cries of "Ah!" and cheers.]
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The words "I am sure" are not there. The right hon. Gentleman is mixing up words of mine with language of his own.
§ * Mr. GOSCHEN
I appeal to hon. Members opposite whether I did not put the point fairly—[Cries of "Yes!" and "No!"]—in conveying that it was the inmost conviction of the right hon. Gentleman that there would be political prudence in Ireland? At all events, I ask the right hon. Gentleman now straight—Did he not think at that time there would be political prudence in Ireland? Why, he has told us so a hundred times, and I am entitled to take his view 397 that there will be political prudence in Ireland. We have been denounced and held up to almost the execration of the Irish people because we have said that we have not the same confidence. But did the audience of the right hon. Gentleman take his remark to be conditional? No; it did not mean a conditional plethora to them. I think it was hard on the Belfast deputation that, when dealing with them, the right hon. Gentleman should point to the vista—a conditional vista if you like—of a golden surplus in Ireland; but when he comes to the hard realities of dealing with the hon. Members for Kerry and Waterford, neither he nor any one of his Colleagues is able to point out that there will be any margin, and Ireland is to fall back on the British taxpayer. Is there to be a reduction of expenditure in Ireland? Honestly, I do not see much chance of it. The right hon. Member for Leeds dealt with that matter earlier in the evening, and he put a strong case before the Committee. He pointed out that there is not that same obligation on the Irish Members to keep down the expenditure as there would be if this were a final settlement. I am reminded of the situation of landlords with a revision of rents after 15 years. It becomes the interest of the tenant during the last few years to so present his farm in a condition of poverty to the Sub-Commissioners as to secure a further reduction of rent. Similarly, it will be the interest of hon. Members below the Gangway to present such a balance sheet at the end of the six years as to induce them to appeal to the generosity of the British taxpayer for a fresh arrangement still more detrimental to our pockets than that now proposed. Why do the Irish Members press for this transitional period? For the reason that at the end of the six years they hope to get more than you give them now. They have said openly that they do not think the Government are giving them enough. If they Thought they had struck a good bargain for themselves, that they would have a surplus and a diminishing expenditure—a plethora of money, in short—they would fear a revision. But they desire it. Why? It is by no means difficult to say. Let me now examine shortly the Irish position from the point of view of Revenue, and I wish 398 to examine the sources of Revenue in Ireland. It is to depend entirely on indirect taxation. Ireland will become bankrupt if she becomes sober. Every effort made by the Temperance Party to pass anything like a local veto in Ireland will be followed by a diminution in Irish resources. You will have a poor country depending upon sources of Revenue peculiarly affected by the sobriety of its population. There are many countries which might depend upon indirect revenue with fair safety; but it is a most unfortunate situation for Ireland that she, of all countries, should be dependent simply upon the produce of the Excise and Customs. While the two countries were bound together Ireland not only relied on indirect taxation, but on the immense resources of direct taxation of her richer partner, who at all times of difficulty came forward with readiness to her assistance. But the Irish position will be dangerous under the proposals of the Government. Then, as to the methods generally employed by Her Majesty's Government. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is so enamoured of his present proposals that he believes that they put the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his Budget in a better position than they occupy under the present system. He thinks that the difficulties mentioned by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham are not nearly so confusing and hampering as the present system. He said that now there were two variables—the Expenditure of Ireland, which was always running up, and the Revenue of Ireland; whereas under his new system there would be only one variable—the falling-off of Revenue, the danger of an increase of Expenditure being eliminated. It has been proved that the right hon. Gentleman does not eliminate that danger; and if the same sort of famine and danger which occurred in 1889 and 1890 were to recur under Home Rule, I do not feel at all certain that Ireland might not be compelled to appeal once more to the British Exchequer; and if such an appeal were made under such distressing circumstances I feel confident it would be met. Therefore, I do not admit that the expenditure we have incurred of late years would necessarily be stopped under the new proposals. The right hon. Gentleman 399 has shown how there would be more freedom under the new system than under the old. He pointed, with a certain amount of triumphant exultation, to my having established two Exchequers—the local and the Imperial. But there is this difference. If he chooses he can stop that system to-morrow. He has merely to devise a better system; the choice rests with the discretion of the Imperial Parliament. He says—"You have mortgaged this and mortgaged that." But who is the party to the mortgage? Who has the right to resist any change which the Chancellor of the Exchequer may make? I perfectly admit that it is possible, with his financial acumen or with that of his advisers, for the right hon. Gentleman to devise some better scheme. My scheme can be repealed by Act of Parliament, because there are no contracting parties. I have no Chancellor of the Exchequer from any County Council who comes to bargain with me as to what surplus he is to have. There is absolute freedom. The House of Commons can deal with the matter as it likes; and yet the right hon. Gentleman quotes this system as a precedent for his system, under which you may not touch the contract made with the exacting negotiators below the Gangway, because it would be a breach of faith, after making the bargain, if you were to change your system. I will call the attention of hon. Members below the Gangway to the way in which the two Chancellors of the Exchequer will stand in relation to one another. The Irish Budget is so balanced that Ireland cannot afford to lose any Revenue; but the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, let us suppose, wishes to reduce the Excise Duty. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself took that instance, and said that such a step would be so much relief to the Irish people. Yes; but how are they to pay their way then? If you take off a part of the Spirit Duty you at once render the Irish Exchequer bankrupt. Is not the English Chancellor of the Exchequer hampered? Can he take that step in face of the protests of the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer? Is it not patent that, according to this scheme, when the English Chancellor of the Exchequer forms his Budget, he will have to summon over the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider what effect any 400 proposal will have on the Irish Exchequer? If you reduce the Excise Duties, then Ireland would have to cut down her expenditure, or would be unable to pay her tribute to this country. There seems to be no answer to that. With two Budgets, as there will be, and two Chancellors of the Exchequer, and compacts between the two, the whole finance of this country will, to a much greater extent than ever before, be under the control of the Irish Executive and the 80 Irish Members who are to remain here. There are still some few very important points to which I wish to call the attention of the Committee. There is a very important subject, to which nearly every speaker has called attention, and which I am bound not to pass over in silence, and that is the question of the fair taxation of Ireland. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in an off-handed way, said—"Oh, I will have nothing to do with your speculative theory as to what Ireland ought to pay. She is to pay what she is paying now." Well, that is not the view taken by the Prime Minister and some other speakers on that side of the House. They have said that Ireland ought to pay her fair share. Now, the view taken by the Members from Ireland is that Ireland is immensely over-taxed at the present time. They hold that that over-taxation dates back to the Union. I have heard the theory put forward that they have been over-taxed in the whole to the extent of £300,000,000 sterling. The first error in that is that when they speak of contribution they never deduct from it any excess of contribution made by this country to Ireland. What is most important is to consider not only the gross, but the net, Revenue; and hon. Members will have to deduct from the enormous sum which they say Ireland has paid too much what they have received in excess of the proportion due to them as compared with England and Scotland, and also the amounts collected in Ireland as taxes paid by the English consumer. These are two points which affect the matter very much, and I will point out to a gentleman who is not in the House now, who has examined the question very carefully—I mean Sir Joseph M'Kenua—that he ought to remember the £1,700,000 now proved to be the amount collected in Ireland and really 401 paid by the English taxpayer. Many calculations made by Irishmen have entirely omitted this fact. But the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has promised a Royal Commission to the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond); and he is prepared, as I understand him, to go back to the time of the Union, in fact to any time, and to examine the whole of the relations between the two countries. I think that is a very queer Inquiry to take up. It was examined into in 1864 by a Committee, and I do not know that they arrived at any satisfactory conclusion either way. But, supposing it were proved that 80 years ago England exacted more from Ireland than her due proportion, I want to know is the theory on which the Commission is founded that if that is proved the taxpayers of to-day are to make good that which Ireland paid too much in 1820? All that is of mere historical interest. Is the great-grandson of the British taxpayer of the first part of the century now to repay to the great-grandson of the Irish taxpayer any sum over-paid by Ireland? I think that would be fantastic finance. But see the danger which lurks in the idea. It is this—that from the time of the Union England and Ireland have not been one nation. The right hon. Gentleman now seems to discover that they have been two nations all along, and, if so, that amounts, then overpaid, ought now to be made good to Ireland. If he is not prepared with some support of that general theory, I must say it is very dangerous to enter on the inquiry he has touched. What does my right hon. Friend say now?We propose to fix the Irish contribution at a little over 4 per cent., whereas the present Irish contribution to the Imperial Revenue is no less than 12 per cent.I think my right hon. Friend meant 1–12th, which is about equivalent to 8 per cent.That contribution, I am sorry to say, has been for some time an injustice, and to continue it would be simply a prolongation of injustice.Let the Committee mark. The statement is—The Irish contribution at present is no less than 8 per cent.But we have been elaborately assured tonight by the Chancellor of the Exchequer 402 that Ireland's contribution is to be precisely what she has been paying. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister says—They have paid 8 per cent., and we propose to fix their contribution at a little over 4 per cent. To continue their present contribution would be a prolongation of injustice.What dangerous language for a Prime Minister to use, to hold that it would be a prolongation of injustice, whereas his own Chancellor of the Exchequer states that the precise contribution is to be prolonged, and to be prolonged because it is at present being paid. But my right hon. Friend says—I am sorry to say it is an injustice, and its continuance will be an injustice.Dangerous words for a Prime Minister to use! If Ireland pay too much—I ask the attention of the Committee to this point—if they pay too much, why do they pay too much? When did they begin to pay too much? Under what system of taxation did they pay too much?
§ * Mr. GOSCHEN
Precisely. When we raised the Whisky Tax in 1853, and when we extended the Income Tax to Ireland for the first time. That was called by historians a new departure in the equalisation of taxation. If there is now injustice, when did it begin, and who is responsible for it? The first effective step towards the increase of the Whisky Duties was taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1853. Who was he? He was the present Prime Minister.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
As my right hon. Friend has mentioned that, he ought to have mentioned the enormous pecuniary remission that was made at that time.
§ * MR. GOSCHEN
I am going to mention that. I am going to defend my right hon. Friend—[ironical laughter]—not ironically, but in fact. I am not prepared to allow the financial reputation of my right hon. Friend to be defamed by his later utterances. In saying that an injustice existed my right hon. Friend brings an unjust charge against himself and his own acts. There is only one head under which Ireland could be said to pay too much, if at all, and that is the Spirit Duties. What was my right 403 hon. Friend's defence of the Spirit Duties?
§ * MR. GOSCHEN
Your justification, then. In 1853 the right hon. Gentleman increased the Spirit Duties. He was violently attacked by the Irish Members of that day. One of the Irish Members said then that the right hon. Gentleman, in reply, had made one of the jauntiest speeches ever made by a Chancellor of the Exchequer; and it was said that he made sneers and insinuations against the Irish Members which they did not deserve. We can imagine the jaunty speech of the right hon. Gentleman, because now, as in 1853, he is able to address us with a vigour and a jauntiness that all his friends and all his opponents admire. At that time my right hon. Friend made an excellent defence. [An hon. MEMBER: Forty years ago!] But the tax has not been diminished to this day; and, though the right hon. Gentleman has been Chancellor of the Exchequer since, he has never seen till this day that Ireland was overcharged. In 1858 Mr. Disraeli increased the Spirit Duties to 8s., and be was warmly commended by my right hon. Friend for what he had done. In 1860 my right hon. Friend was in need of money, and he then completed the operation by putting the Irish Spirit Duties up to 10s. How did my right hon. Friend defend himself? There were remitted in 1853 Consolidated Annuities to the amount of £260,000, which represented the charge upon Ireland towards interest and Sinking Fund on the large amount which had been advanced during the famine.
§ * MR. GOSCHEN
The annual amount was £260,000. It was pointed out that the increase of taxation far exceeded the amount he had taken off. How did he reply? This is extremely interesting, looking to the attacks now made by him on the Act of Union. He said that before the Union in Ireland they were paying for their Debt alone £5,900,000, while they were only paying £4,000,000 404 under the Union in the year 1853, and he properly justified the increase of taxation by pointing out the remissions which he had made, and by pointing to the Act of Union and showing that Ireland would be better off under the new régime. Is it not important that the constituencies should know, when the Prime Minister says Ireland is unjustly taxed, that we have his life-long assurance, I might almost say, that they are not unjustly taxed? It was not a solitary error in 1853 or 1860; since that time he has been over and over again in power, and when has he communicated with any of his colleagues; when has he himself supported the view that remissions ought to be made to Ireland because she was paying too much? I deny that we have been engaged in the work of plundering Ireland, our poorer sister. Why did we not hear of that in the years between 1871 and 1874, the years of leaps and bounds? Did we ever hear then or since from him that Ireland was over-taxed? Did we ever hear of it until now in the course of these Debates? No; it was not until these Debates that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister lent his great authority to the charge that we are unjustly taxing Ireland. I cannot too strongly express my regret, now that this country must of necessity be engaged for years in an argument with Ireland, that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom should lend his great financial authority to the view that Ireland has been taxed too much. There appears to have been a recklessness of assertion in this matter on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and also on the part of the Prime Minister, which is extremely to be regretted. What does Ireland pay now? About 1–28th part, exclusive of the £500,000 contribution for the Constabulary, or 1–40th if you include the Constabulary. I will put the case in the roundest figures. £2,276,000 is Ireland's contribution. Deducting from that the cost of the collection of the Revenue it reduces it to about £2,050,000, and the £500,000 for the Constabulary which we are going to pay brings it down to £1,550,000, which is the whole contribution. I put that as about 1–40th if you take in the Constabulary, or 1–30th if you do not take it in. That, then, is what Ireland pays. What is her fair contribution? 405 I have heard Mr. Giffen's article quoted in all parts of the House. I may tell hon. Members who may not have read the article that it was written in 1886 to prove the economic value of Ireland to Great Britain; and it is from that article statistics are quoted to show that while £15,000,000 is the taxable income of Ireland, £800,000,000 or £900,000,000 is the taxable income of Great Britain, the inference being that Ireland ought only to be taxed in that proportion. As a statistician, I would give Mr. Giffen a very high place; but this is not a mere statistical question. It is a fiscal question. I know a fiscal authority far higher than Mr. Giffen, and that is the Prime Minister himself. There is also the authority of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I would point that if Mr. Giffen's contention had been right the Prime Minister must long before this have reduced Irish taxation. The fact that he has entirely ignored Mr. Giffen's fiscal principle seems to be pretty conclusive proof that he does not endorse them as laid down by Mr. Giffen. In fact, no country in the world has accepted these fiscal propositions. Mr. Giffen says that every family in Ireland requires £12 per head, or £60 per family of five people, for their sustenance; and accordingly, after deducting this from the total income, he makes the curious calculation in the case of Ireland that £15,000,000 only is the taxable income. No financier has ever laid down, and, what is more important, has ever acted on, a principle of that kind. [Cries of "Divide!"] I admit that I have been listened to with exemplary patience. But I am not dealing with generalities. I have taken some pains to get at the facts. I have no wish that we should be shabby towards Ireland, but I think that the House of Commons and the country ought to know how the matter stands. Hon. Members from Ireland have studied Mr. Giffen's article line by line; and it is upon that article, to a great extent, that they found their view that Ireland has been over-taxed. Well, as regards the value of land and houses, he takes 15 years' purchase as the rate for Ireland, as against 28 years as the rate for England, and he makes this a large element in determining the value of property in land in Ireland as compared with land in Great Britain. Why does 406 he take 15 years in the case of Ireland? Because, forsooth, political agitation prevents a higher price being paid for land in that part of the Kingdom! Because there are political agitations in Ireland, he says that houses and land must have a different value assigned to them from that which would be assigned if the property were left to the free operation of the market. But that does not commend itself to me as the best method of estimating the relative tax-paying capacities of Great Britain and Ireland. There are other methods of gauging what Ireland ought to pay, and by every one of them we find that if we put Ireland's contribution at 1–18th or 1–20th the calculation is a favourable one for the Sister Island. If you take the Death Duties as a gauge the contribution should be 1–18th; if you take Income Tax it should be 1–22nd, and if you take the savings banks it should be 1–19th. So you have three important standards all pointing to the same result—all clustering round the same figures. Then as to Ireland's powers of consumption. She is able to consume in tobacco, tea, and alcohol on the same scale as other portions of the United Kingdom, and these consuming powers of Ireland must be taken into account. An hon. Member opposite said yesterday that it was the very excessive taxation that had produced famine in Ireland, and that by a low taxation we could prevent famine. By a low duty on whisky in Ireland we are to prevent famine! I never knew before that cheapness of alcohol was an important element in national prosperity. All this proves that Ireland has a taxable capacity beyond the capacity calculated on Mr. Giffen's figures as to the aggregate income of Great Britain and Ireland respectively. I say that 1–18th or 1–20th is the fair contribution that Ireland ought to pay if she wishes to became a separate fiscal unity. It is more than she pays now, I admit; but if Ireland wishes to sever the partnership, is that a reason why the British taxpayer should lose £1,500,000 annually? Under Home Rule Ireland will lose the advantages of British credit, and will lose those resources which Great Britain has always placed at her disposal in times of depression; and Great Britain will lose the inestimable advantage of a continuing Union between Great Britain 407 and Ireland. Sir Robert Peel said that geographical considerations forbid repeal. I say that fiscal considerations forbid repeal. During these Debates we have found many arguments against Home Rule, and not the weakest of them lies in the financial impossibility of the scheme—in this financial problem which the Government in their three essays have vainly tried to solve.
§ Question put, "That the Clause be read a second time."
MR CHAINING (Northampton, E.)
On a point of Order, Sir, I wish to ask you whether you had not put the negative before the hon. Member rose?
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 226; Noes 191.—(Division List, No. 239.)
§ It being after Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.