§ [FORTY-SEVENTH NIGHT.]
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ A Clause (Financial Arrangements as between the United Kingdom and Ireland).—(Mr. W. E. Gladstone.)
§ MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
said, be wished to move to amend the proposed new clause of the Prime Minister by inserting in line 18,after "determined," the words "from time to time." The object of the Amendment was to define more clearly the duty of the Committee to be appointed under Sub-section 3. By that subsection a Committee was appointed to discharge three several functions. The first related to the Customs and Excise Duties collected by Great Britain, and the Committee would have to determine what sum should be deducted from the Revenue of Great Britain and added to the Revenue of Ireland. In the second place, they would have to examine Customs and Excise Duties collected in Ireland, with a view to determine what part of the duty related to articles consumed in Great Britain. They would have to deduct the sum relating to those articles from the Revenue of Ireland and add it to the Revenue of Great Britain. In a subse-sequent clause as to the Irish Post Office the Committee would have to determine every year how much was the Revenue of the Post Office and how much was the expenditure on it, with a view to retaining the Revenue collected and defraying the expenses incurred in the case of Great Britain on the one hand, and of Ireland on the other. These important functions it was evident would have to be exercised from year to year. The Revenue and Expenditure of the Irish Post Office would have to be ascertained each year, in order to determine how much should be added to the Revenue or subtracted from it, and, in like manner, the amount of Customs and Excise would have to be dealt with. The sub-section 672 appeared to contemplate only one order of the Committee, to operate for six years; but the intention really was that there should be no general order, the amounts being ascertained each year. He, therefore, moved this Amendment.
§ Amendment proposed, in line 18, after the word "determined," to insert the words "from time to time."—(Mr. Sexton.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
said, he did not think these words were necessary; but at the same time, if the hon. Member desired to have them, as he did not think they would be injurious, he would offer no opposition.
§ SIR H. JAMES (Bury, Lancashire)
said, this proposal was more serious than the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think. In the Act of 1888, whenever anything had to be done, the words "from time to time" were read in—which words were practically the same as "from year to year." It had been sought in the 5th section to insert the words in regard to the Queen's prerogative; but the Chief Secretary had expressed the view that the words would be road as in the General Act. If the words, therefore, were inserted specifically in the clause under discussion, it would he taken that they were not to he "read in" in other places.
§ MR. T.M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
said, the right hon. Member for Bury was a very clever gentleman; but he seemed to forget that on Wednesday week the hon. Member for Fulham raised this point as to the Lord Lieutenant, and the Government pointed to a provision in the Interpretation Clause bowing that the very thing contemplated was already covered. However, the hon. Member pressed the Amendment, and was supported by his Leaders and sub-Leaders; and in the end the Government, against their own judgment and inclination, agreed to the Amendment.
§ * SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
asked on what principle the Committee would determine the payments in Sub-sections (a), (b), and (c), in regard to articles such as tea and chicory?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
said, he understood that they would be matters of fact determined by local considerations.
§ MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)
said, it would battle Treasury statisticians to findThe annual sum for the Customs and Excise Unties (if any) collected in Great Britain on articles consumed in Ireland.Casks of whisky could, no doubt, he traced; hut how could the amount to be returned on account of tea and chicory be ascertained?
§ THE PRESIDEXT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. H. H. FOWLER,) Wolverhampton, E.
said, it was desirable to adopt as sound a principle as possible in dealing with these matters. There would be no difficulty in dealing with tea and tobacco, hut there would be with chicory and dried fruits. The Report of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Goschen) had dealt with those things on the basis of population, being, practically, the most satisfactory method. The object of the Committee would be to assess to the best of their ability these amounts. It was proposed because the Irish Members had already taken exception to Treasury experts assessing amounts of this kind. It was considered desirable that a Committee, jointly appointed by the Treasury and by the Irish Government, should ascertain what amount of duty was paid in Ireland on articles consumed in Great Britain, and what amount of duty was paid in Great Britain upon articles consumed in Ireland.
§ MR. SEXTON
hoped that in some place or other it would be secured that the Committee should report from year to year.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he wished to propose in the 3rd sub-section, after the word "Government," to insert the words "in equal proportion." The Amendment had regard to the constitution of the Committee, and the sub-section was somewhat vague upon the point. It said that the Committee was to be appointed jointly by the Treasury and the Irish Government; and he acknowledged with satisfaction and with gratitude that the Prime Minister and the Government had admitted that in a case where a Committee had to deal with financial questions affecting two authorities the Committee should be nominated 674 by both and not by one. The Committee was to be appointed jointly by the Treasury and by the Irish Government. What did "appointed jointly" mean? It might mean that the Treasury, having nominated certain persons to act, would invite the concurrence of the Irish Government to every name. It might be held that the Treasury and the Irish Government should concur in regard to every name, or it might be held that the Treasury should nominate certain persons and then invite the Irish Government to nominate the remainder, perhaps a very minor proportion. That would not be satisfactory to Ireland, and he would ask that the usual and reasonable principle which prevailed in the appointment of Joint Committees should apply to the case. Ireland had at least as great an interest as the United Kingdom, because in regard to the Customs the only question would be the question of the transfer of about £300,000 from the Revenue of one country to that of another; and he thought that the country having the smaller Revenue had an interest in the £300,000 as great as the country having the very much larger Revenue. The Excise question would be the transfer of £2,000,000 of Excise from the Revenue of Ireland to toe Revenue of Great Britain, which was about three times as great; and, looking at the relative interests of the two countries, the country having the smaller Revenue had a, greater interest relatively to its entire resources in the deliberations of the Committee than the country having the larger Revenue. However, he should be quite content to lay down the principle that the Committee appointed jointly should mean appointed in equal proportions. He did not apprehend that any great difference of opinion would arise, as the Committee would have to investigate facts and decide upon facts.
§ Amendment proposed, in line 20, after the words "Government," to insert the words "in equal proportions."—(Mr Sexton.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
said, there could be no objection to inserting these words. He quite agreed with the hon. Gentleman that the amount involved 675 would be of more importance to Ireland than to England.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he should like to know—as it was germane to the Amendment—what class of appointment the Government contemplated? Was the Committee to be composed of English Treasury officials on the one side and Irish Treasury officials on the other, or would it be composed of experts and such gentlemen as might be well known for their financial knowledge in Ireland?
§ THE CHIEF SECKETA11Y FOR IRELAND (Mr. J. MORLEY,) Newcastle-upon-Tyne
said, the view of the Government was that they should be officials from the Treasury.
§ * SIR J. LUBBOCK
said, that great difficulty might arise if the Members of the Committee should differ. It was important that they should know from the Government what course was to be pursued supposing the Members of the Committee were equally divided on any particular point.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
said, that the obvious course would be to give the Chairman a casting vote. Care would be taken on Report to insert words securing that result.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)
thought the Imperial Treasury ought to have a casting vote.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said, that Sir Stafford Northcote, dealing with the question of the Suez Canal shares, had said that the English votes on the Board would be weighed—not counted.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
said that, as the Committee was to be appointed in equal numbers by Ireland and England, the Government recognised the necessity of having a casting vote, and they proposed to provide for that on Report. But as it was conceivable that, owing to circumstances beyond the control of the Committee, they might never come to that point on Report, it was desirable that an Amendment to that effect should be introduced at this stage.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, be presumed there would be no appeal from the Committee. Was it the intention of the Government that the Committee should finally decide on the facts or not?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, if the Committee were only to report he should not object to there being no casting vote; but as it was to determine the matters that came before it, surely provision should be made for a majority on one side or the other.
§ MR. DARLING (Deptford)
wished to know if the hon. Member for Louth desired to imply that the votes of the Representatives of the English Treasury should be weighed and not counted? If the policy of weighing and not counting votes had been pursued during the consideration of this Bill he had little doubt that very different results would have been arrived at.
§ SIR J. GORST (Cambridge University)
said, it was (dear that the Committee would have to decide questions of great delicacy on which, without imputing any improper motives to anyone, differences of opinion wore likely to arise. If the English and the Irish Representatives on the Committee differed the whole Government would come to a standstill, unless some method were invented for deciding between them. He therefore asked the Government to pledge themselves to deal with the matter on the Report stage.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
said, he would propose at once to insert the words "the Chairman to have a casting vote."
§ SIR J. GORST
said, they should amend the Amendment by adding the words "with power to choose a Chairman who shall have a easting vote."
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
thought that on a small Committee of four it would be placing too much power in the hands of one man to give him a second vote.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
said, that on an ordinary Select Committee the Chairman had no vote at all unless the voting was equal, when he gave the deciding vote. On a Private Bill Committee, however, the Chairman had a vote as a Member of the Committee, and a casting vote as well.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he had not quite gathered whether the Chairman was to be one of the four, or whether a fifth man might be brought in.
MR. TOMLLNSON (Preston)
asked whether it was distinctly understood that the Chairman was to have two votes—a vote as a Member of the Committee, and then a casting vote?
§ Amendment (Mr. J. Morley) agreed to.
§ Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
MR. SEXTON moved the insertion, at the end of line 20, of the following words:—
The said Committee shall inquire and report, before the end of five years from the appointed day, to the Treasury and the Irish Government upon what principles and in what mode the relative capacity of Ireland to contribute to Imperial charges might in their judgment be most equitably determined, and how the; amount of such annual contribution should be fixed; and, for the purpose of such inquiry and report, the said Committee shall have all the powers of a Private Bill Committee of the House of Commons.
He said, the object of the Amendment was to utilise the ability and the special experience of the Committee for an inquiry in reference to the question of the future contribution of Ireland to Imperial charges. The Prime Minister had intimated his willingness to appoint a Royal Commission for the purpose of making such an inquiry. He did not know sit what time the Royal Commission might be appointed, how it might be constituted, nor what might be the terms of the Reference to it. Until such information was in the hands of the Committee it was not easy to anticipate what would be the precise value of its proceedings. If the Royal Commission were appointed soon, it might close its inquiry in a couple of years, perhaps just about the time when the Irish Parliament came into existence, and it would then be unable to avail itself of valuable experience that might be gathered be-
tween the appointed day and the end of the period of six years. He supposed it would only be instructed to inquire and report, and Parliament would probably reserve to itself the power of saying whether any alteration should take place in consequence of its Reports. Would it not be a, great pity and a great waste of force if the Joint Committee which had to sit from year to year for the purpose of discharging functions bearing upon the inquiry as to the amount of Ireland's contribution should not apply itself to that subject also? The Committee would have to determine the expenditure of the Post Office, how much Excise should be transferred from Ireland to Great Britain, and so on, these subjects having a, close bearing on the question of the contribution of Ireland to Great Britain. Would it not be a great gain to the House of Commons when it considered the revision of the financial relations if it had before it a Report from these gentlemen as to the experience they bad gained during the first five years of the existence of the Irish Parliament? He did not think it would be satisfactory, after the Irish Legislature had come into existence, that an inquiry on the subject of Ireland's contribution should be conducted by a Body named wholly by one of the parties—that was to say, the Imperial Government. The Amendment did not touch the question whether or not the Royal Commission should be appointed. Let the Government appoint one if they pleased, because tiny inquiry would be useful. In his opinion, however, it would be well, in addition, to allow the Joint Committee to make an inquiry, first because the Royal Commission would probably end its investigation at about the beginning of the term; and, secondly, because if was desirable that the Body which made the inquiry should have upon it Representatives of Ireland, he thought his proposal could do no harm, mid it might have valuable results.
Line 20, at end. insert, "The said Committee shall inquire and report, before the end of five years from five appointed day. to the Treasury and the Irish Government upon what principles and in what mode the relative capacity of Ireland to contribute to Imperial charges might in their judgment be most equitably determined, and how the amount of such annual contribution should be fixed; and, for the purpose of such inquiry and report, the said
Committee shall have all the powers of a Private Bill Committee of the House of Commons."—(Mr. Sexton.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I hope that my hon. Friend from whom this Amendment comes will not press it on the Committee—at any rate at the present time. I do not take the view as to the best instrument for this inquiry which he appears inclined to take. All who have paid any attention to the subject must agree that if the House adopts the principle of an intermediate period—and we are indebted to the hon. Member for the suggestion that there should be such a period—there must be a full inquiry before the close of that period. So far I think we are all agreed. Then the hon. Member argues, in the first place, that this Committee will be a competent instrument for conducting such an inquiry; and, in the second place, he is not quite satisfied as to the appointment of a Royal Commission by the Crown after the Legislature in Ireland has been constituted. Now, Sir, I do not think this Committee will of itself be an instrument very well qualified for conducting so large and searching an inquiry as must take place. The inquiry will embrace a great number of subjects, and it would not be well at all to limit the discretion of those who are charged with the conduct of it. But the object of these gentlemen who form the Committee will really be of a very limited character, very different in that respect from the searching inquiry which the Royal Commission will have to conduct. There is, besides, another consideration. We must consider not only the competence of the persons constituting the Body, but the weight and authority their Report will carry. I think it would be absurd to appoint on a Committee constituted for a purpose like this any large number of persons. The constitution of a Royal Commission is of quite a different kind. Except in rare instances, where particular circumstances make the adoption of a different plan desirable, a Royal Commission is generally composed of a number of persons sufficient to allow of the representation of a variety of views. As to my hon. Friend's difficulty that the Commission might be appointed by the 680 Crown after the Irish Legislature had come into existence, I would point out that the action of the Crown would be subject to the control of this House, and that in this House the Irish Members would be represented. I certainly incline to the opinion that this function is one much more closely connected with the duties of the Irish Members in this House than with Representatives of the Irish Legislature or its Executive on a Committee. I should hope that the Irish Members would be disposed to extend the principle of confidence upon which we have been acting throughout these discussions to this question. This would be more an Imperial than a local matter. It is part of the provisional arrangements which have been adopted. We are really postponing now that which is recognised as part of the duty of the Imperial Parliament—namely, the fixing of the financial relations between the two countries. I do not wish to bind my hon. Friend or others, but it does not appear to me that the appointment of this Commission ought to be made a matter of legislative enactment in this Bill. It would be better, probably, that some freedom should be allowed; but I am bound to say that this Committee would not be an instrument adequate to the settlement of so considerable and extended a question as that of the relative liabilities of the two countries. I hope, therefore, my hon. Friend will not press upon us the acceptance of his Amendment.
§ MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's,) Hanover Square
I confess that this question presents several considerable difficulties to my mind. From the observations I made a few days ago my right hon. Friend will see that in my judgment it would not be appropriate, nor wise, nor expedient to refer matters of principle to a Royal Commission. I believe my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister would experience considerable difficulty in finding persons to constitute a Royal Commission which had to decide on principles of taxation.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Then may we understand that the Royal Commission now contemplated by my right hon. Friend is not to deal with the principles on which taxation is to take place, but 681 is mainly to inquire into the facts of the case?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
It will, I understand, inquire into the facts, and make recommendations with regard to taxation suggested by those facts? If they are to inquire into the taxable capacity, that involves a question of what are the principles on which they are to determine such capacity; and I would rather accept the Amendment of the hon. Member, because I should have confidence in the officials who would be appointed arriving at a proper solution of such a question, inasmuch as they would be persons who would be familiar with the whole subject. If, on the other hand, the inquiry of the Commission is to be strictly limited to facts, I think it is a. question whether such an inquiry could not be confided with great advantage to a. Royal Commission. My views on the Amendment would depend on the character of the Commission, and I should like to have some further information from the Government on that point.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
In my opinion, the sole and undivided responsibility for determining principles in connection with charges to be allocated in the ultimate arrangements between England and Ireland must rest with Parliament. In the first place, we must give unbounded power of inquiry into the facts; and if we give the Commission that power it will be impossible to prohibit the Commission from suggesting to the Queen, to the Government and Parliament, the inferences which may appear to arise out of the facts. I do not see how that can be shut out. It never has been shut out. But no power of the responsible Executive Government can be made over to a Commission. I should certainly, in order that the inquiry may be conducted with adequate weight, desire to see various interests and classes represented. I should desire, for instance, to see what are called the propertied and privileged classes—to see the classes connected with the land—represented. I think a Commission would be an efficient instrument; but the greatest care must be taken to avoid the possibility of a suspicion that the Commission is to take out of the hands of 682 Parliament any portion of its duties or responsibilities.
§ MR. J. E. REDMOND (Waterford)
said, a conclusive case had been made by the right hon. Gentleman for the Commission rather than against it. He understood the Inquiry to be desired by everyone on both sides; and, that being so, he did not think the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) need fear either as to the constitution of the Commission or as to the facts that would be laid before it. The present Parliament had made itself responsible for issuing the Commission, and no one would wish to deprive any class of fair and proper representation upon it. They had nothing to go upon tit present; but he would remind the Committee of the answers given by the Prime Minister in reply to questions of his, in which the right hon. Gentleman indicated that there was nothing in the mind of the, Government as to any intention to narrow the Reference to the Commission. The point he now desired to put to the Committee was that he confessed to some apprehension in consequence of the conversation which had gone on. The main object of the proposal of the Member for North Kerry was to throw the duty of this inquiry upon a Committee, which would not go into the matter until the Bill became law. To him it appeared that, as inquiry was essential, the sooner they had the inquiry made the better it would be. Whatever fate might overtake the Bill in another place, he wished to see one practical and important step taken towards Home Rule, and that would be done if the Commission were issued at once and the inquiry proceeded with. He feared the Amendment would have the effect of delaying the Inquiry, and he desired to impress upon the Government that the Commission should be issued by a, precise date without waiting for the Bill to become law. He would—if he might do so—ask the Member for North Kerry not to press the Amendment. He was aware that the hon. Member had suggested that this was not an alteration, but that it was intended to he additional—
§ MR. J. E. REDMOND
Supplemental to the Commission; but if the hon. Member induced the Government to 683 accept his Amendment there would be an alteration, and their interests would surfer in consequence.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the hon. Member for Waterford evidently misapprehended the object of the Amendment. He (Mr. Sexton) did not object to a Royal Commission being appointed; but he was anxious that six years should not be entirely lost, and that the valuable experience that would be gained might be utilised for the purposes of the House. A supplemental Body of this character ought to be useful in connection with the contribution question. He thought it would be seen that he had no desire to delay the appointment of the Commission; but the other Body might be appointed much earlier. With regard to what the Prime Minister had said, he (Mr. Sexton) did not wish to take away from the House the final decision on the question. But the effect of the Prime Minister's words was that, as he had suggested, no matter what Royal Commission was appointed, there would be some inquiry during the transitional period. He joined with the hon. Member for Waterford in urging that the inquiry, in whatever form, should be undertaken without delay. His main interest in the question of Irish Revenue was only in connection with the question of Home Rule. He doubted whether any inquiry would have much effect unless Home. Rule was carried. The inquiry he proposed would facilitate matters, and he did not see that it interfered with an inquiry by Royal Commission.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said, he considered, whether Homo Rule was granted or not, a Commission to inquire into the financial relations between the two countries would be a useful thing. He thought he now understood why time had been occupied in discussing the Amendment for a Committee to make this inquiry. The hon. Member for Waterford had asked for and had been promised a Commission.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, at all events, the Member for Waterford had scored for his section of the Irish Party. (Cries of "Oh, oh!" and "Order!"] Now the hon. Member for North Kerry 684 wanted to score something for the other section of the Irish Party—(Cries of "Question!" and "Order!"]—and the time of the Committee had been occupied—(Cries of "Question!"]
§ Mr. T. W. RUSSELL
said, the fact remained that the Member for North Kerry asked for a Committee to decide upon a question which the Member for Waterford had been promised should be referred to a Commission. (Cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he would like to ask were they to discuss this Royal Commission upon the Amendment before them? Hon. Members wished the Commission to be appointed; and, that being so, they should know whether it was to report before Home Rule was granted with regard to the insertion of certain Financial Clauses in the Bill. The Bill, as it stood, settled matters for six years; but if the Royal Commission reported during that period that Ireland did not pay enough, were they to have new financial arrangements during the six years' term? He thought the force of this question would be acknowledged. It was a question in which the British taxpayer was concerned.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
said, the right hon. Gentleman asked him what course he would take in certain contingencies. It was a hypothetical case—
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, there must be some substantial plan of dealing with the matter. The Government made themselves responsible for a Royal Commission. What would be, in the right hon. Gentleman's view, the effect of the Royal Commission? What would be its objects? That was the question.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
said, he had thought that the object of the Commission had been stated by the Prime Minister. There was a Committee some years ago; and that Committee had a wider Reference than was now proposed. The right hon. Gentleman asked, supposing the Home Rule Bill were passed this year and the Royal Commission were to begin its operations next year, what would be the effect of the finding of the Commission upon the temporary financial scheme sanctioned by the Act? Well, his (Mr. Morley's) view was that 685 the financial scheme would remain in operation until the end of the transitional period, whatever the Report of the Commission might be. The Act would contain a financial scheme, and they would be bound to carry it, out.
§ SIR J. GORST
asked whether, supposing the Report of the Commission were to support the view of hon. Members from Ireland that Ireland's contribution was too large, the Government would continue to exact that contribution for the unexpired period of the six years?
§ MR. J. MORLEY
said, that a contingency such as that contemplated by the right hon. Gentleman must be dealt with when it arose. He did not feel obliged to pronounce an opinion beforehand.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. J. MORLEY moved an Amendment providing that the joint order of the Treasury and the Irish Government dealing with the specified items of General Revenue should be laid before both Houses of Parliament instead of "the House of Commons" only. The terms were to omit the words "House of Commons" from Sub-section 3. and substitute the words "both Houses of Parliament."
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ * MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., S.)
rose to move, as a Amendment, to add to the beginning of the 4th sub-section the words—Whenever the surplus available for the Irish Government amounts to not less than £500.000.His object in moving this Amendment was clear enough. It was to guarantee a surplus for the Irish Government of £500,000. [Opposition Cheers.] He assured hon. Gentlemen who cheered ironically that there would be no mystery about what he meant. His proposal had been described by the hon. and gallant Member for Armagh as an extraordinary proposition, and as one that had been gathered from the Land League doctrines Well, if it was, and if it was carried, it would not be the first of the Land League doctrines that had been given effect to in that House. For the last 10 years the British Parliament had been engaged in passing into law various parts of the original programme of the Land League; 686 and if this was a part of that programme he was glad to say that it had the assent of a very high authority—one whose opinion bethought it would be admitted carried great weight. He had there an extract from a letter written to The Westminster Gazette a short time ago by Sir Robert Hamilton, a gentleman of great experience, and of long official service in the Government Departments, and he dealt with this very proposition. He said—Provided that the figures of Mr. Gladstone are to be relied upon, it appears to me that £500,000 is not an inadequate surplus for the Irish Government to start with; but the figures of this sum are, to some extent, conjectural.He continued—The Irish Members ask—I think fairly—that they should be made sure of this surplus. In these circumstances, the simplest way would be for the Imperial Government to guarantee it for a certain fixed time.He went on to say—If the figures of Mr. Gladstone's estimate are borne out by the results, the Imperial Exchequer would not have to contribute anything; but, on the other hand, if the results turn out to be less than that estimate, then the Imperial Exchequer ought to make due provision for the Irish Government, and thus carry out their undertaking to provide a surplus of £500,000.After all, therefore, he was not making this proposal on his own authority alone, and he ventured to submit that such an opinion from an authority like Sir Robert Hamilton deserved the serious consideration of the Government. The reasons that supported this Amendment were perfectly clear. In the first place, they did not know what their receipts would be and what their expenditure would be, and the mistakes that had been already made in the Returns they had had justified them, in being suspicious as to all Returns. [Opposition Cheers.] Hon. Gentlemen who cheered that statement had helped to make that state of things certain, at least in regard to Irish Expenditure, because they had supported and helped to carry an Amendment with reference to the pensions of Civil servants and police that would saddle the future Irish Government with a burden of indefinite magnitude. That charge, in his opinion, rendered it very uncertain whether, even if the estimate of their receipts were correct, they should be left with any surplus at all; and he, for one, should be very slow 687 to join in working out a scheme of self-government with all the uncertainty as to whether they should have a surplus or a deficit in their very first year. Another reason for obtaining this guarantee was that for the first six years after Home Rule was established their hands would be absolutely tied in regard to their Revenue. They were to have no power to increase or re-adjust existing taxes to make up any deficit that might occur, and as for the answer that they could levy new taxes he would only say that he would be a bold Irish Minister indeed who would attempt to create a new tax in Ireland during the next 20 years. It had been said that they were asking for English money. For the seven or eight years he had had a seat in the House he had heard many audacious statements, but had never heard anything more utterly audacious than the assertion that by the scheme of the Prime Minister a single penny of English money would go into Irish pockets. After paying for every local service of an Imperial character, the Revenue of Ireland showed a surplus just now of £2,000,000. Was that Irish money or English money? Did they pretend that it was English? He repeated that he had never heard anything more utterly audacious than this claim, and he could only wonder that men who had characters to lose should transfer the stale fictions of the platform to the floor of that House. He did not believe that there were many Englishmen so stupid as to believe this fiction; but he had no doubt there were some who, on English platforms, would pretend to believe it. But if those Members had tongues the Irish Members had tongues too, and they would endeavour to show that not only was there not a single penny of English money coming to Ireland, but that the English were actually putting in their pockets money that belonged to the Irish. He had said this was not English money. He would go further, and say that even if it were it was owing to Ireland a hundred times over for the robberies inflicted by England upon Ireland in the past. England had robbed Ireland right through a century. Under the Act of Union they commenced by swindling Ireland, and driving her into bankruptcy. This same question of Ireland's taxable capacity was discussed at 688 the time of the Union, and the result was that Ireland was grossly overcharged. Pitt and Castlereagh imposed upon Ireland a contribution that she was unable to pay, and in the very first year after the Union money had to be borrowed to make up the deficiency, and in 15 or 16 years the Debt of Ireland by these charges rose from £24,000,000 to £120,000,000. The Committee would hardly believe it, but £90,000,000 was added to Ireland's National Debt to meet a deficit of £12,000,000. He had no hesitation in saying that that fraudulent overcharge of Ireland at the time of the Act of Union was nothing less than a gigantic and audacious swindle. By the means he had described the National Debt of Ireland had been quadrupled, while in the same period that of England had only been doubled. This, moreover, was a violation of the Act of Union, for it was stipulated that there should be no borrowing on Ireland's separate credit after the Union. It was also stipulated that Ireland should not be subjected to the high standard of taxation in England until the circumstances of the two countries became uniform. In 1817, however, the two Exchequers and the two Debts were consolidated, and Ireland, without the required uniformity having been reached, was treated on the high English level. In that backward age there were some who called this extortion a blessing, and in these few weeks past they had heard in the speeches of gentlemen of the Unionist persuasion the same audacity of assertion. The result of this over-taxation of Ireland was made clear in 1852, when the Spirit Duties were increased. A uniform rate was imposed on Excisable liquors throughout the United Kingdom, and the result of that system was that in 10 years the taxation of Ireland was increased by 52 per cent., while the taxation of England only increased during the same time 17 per cent. He did not know what they called that, but he called it robbery. Last night the Member for Surrey stated that while Ireland paid 13s. in Excise Duties, England paid 15s., but the explanation of that was that Excisable articles consumed in Ireland had been taxed fourfold the amount paid by Excisable articles consumed in England; and then, after raising the Irish duties out of all pro- 689 portion to the English duties, they came down here and told the Irish that because they paid more they were able to pay more. Anything meaner than such a statement by anyone knowing the facts he could not conceive. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer reminded them that the present Prime Minister was the Chancellor of the Exchequer who, in 1852, made the Spirit Duties uniform, but he was not the only Chancellor who pursued that policy. The late Chancellor himself was the last to lay au extra 6d. on the Whisky Duties. The fact that the two Parties in the State had combined to rob Ireland in the past was no answer to the Irish case. Since 1852 Ireland, it was computed, had been in this way robbed, on the average, of £1,500,000 to £2,000,000 a year. Mr. Giffen, a high authority, said £3,000,000, and his figures had never been disputed. In the face of these facts that could not be denied—[Opposition laughter]—ignorant laughter would not dispose of them—in face of these facts, how could the claim Ireland now made be refused? The right hon. Member for Cambridge University and the right hon. Member for St. George's, Hanover Square, objected to the misdeeds of men who were dead being made the basis of present-day claims. A more immoral argument he had never heard. It meant that if at any time they had got money, no matter by what dishonest means, they were to stick to it in spite of the immorality. He did not know what the late Chancellor of the Exchequer would say if they applied the same principle to Egyptian finance. He assured the late Chancellor of the Exchequer that they would never cease to revive the old transaction of the Act of Union. They should never cease to revive the transaction of 1852 and subsequent transactions of the same kind, and they would never cease—he spoke independently and sincerely—to bother and worry this Parliament until it granted to Ireland full reparation and its full measure of justice. He urged as an additional argument for this Amendment, that, in charging Ireland two-thirds of the cost of the Constabulary and England only a third, they were charging Ireland more than her fair share. The hon. Member for Waterford was represented as having said the other night 690 that the Irish Constabulary was an Imperial Force from its inception. What he said really was that it had been an Imperial Force almost from its inception. When the late Chancellor of the Exchequer thus misquoted the Member for Waterford, the right hon. Gentleman referred to the services of the police in the Fenian rising, and he was sorry he chose to describe the Fenians as "foreign ruffians who spread a network of crime throughout the country." The Fenians were not foreigners, and at their trial in Dublin they were denied the rights of foreigners. They were tried as Irishmen, and in respect to their characters they were as respectable and far more devoted than the smug hypocrites who slandered them, entrenched behind the Imperial Forces, inside and outside the House. That reference of the right hon. Gentleman to the Fenians reminded him that the very title of the Constabulary showed their Imperial character, for they acted the part of an army. In 1867 they put down the Fenians, and for that achievement they were called the Royal Irish Constabulary, and he repeated that the very name stamped them as an Imperial Force. He would respectfully submit to the Prime Minister that it was a settled principle of equity that when they got rid of a charge, the compensation to be paid in respect of it ought to come out of the fund which was relieved from the charge. Though no gentleman in the House would dispute that principle of equity, he was sorry to say that it had not always been observed in dealing with Ireland. At the time of the Church Act there was a charge on Imperial funds of £40,000 a year for the Presbyterians and an annual charge of £30,000 a year for Maynooth, and accordingly, when compensation in respect of those charges was made, it ought to have been made by Parliament out of Imperial Funds. It was, however, taken out of the Irish Church surplus, a purely Irish fund. The Constabulary had been maintained in the past out of Imperial funds for Imperial purposes, and he submitted that upon every principle of equity the cost of winding it up ought to come out of the fund from which it bad hitherto been paid. There was an additional reason why this ought to be done. Originally, part of the cost of the Constabulary 691 was borne by the counties in Ireland. In 1845 Sir Robert Peel brought in a Bill for the repeal of the Corn Laws, when it was pointed out that the repeal would disastrously affect Ireland, and Sir Robert Peel pledged himself there and then that, as some compensation for the repeal of the Corn Laws, he would have the whole cost of the Constabulary put upon the Consolidated Fund and taken off the counties of Ireland. Sir Robert Peel wont out of Office, and in 1846 a Liberal Government brought in a Bill based on the promise of Sir Robert Peel, and the cost of the Constabulary then became an Imperial, and not an Irish, charge. He might enter into the historical aspect of this financial question at length, but he would not do so; be would only refer to one particular, and that was the increase of the National Debt. He referred to this chiefly because of the argument used last night by the hon. Baronet the Member for Kingston (Sir R. Temple). His (Mr. Clancy's) contention in regard to the National Debt was, that they (the Irish) had never had a National Debt—that Ireland never had such a Debt, properly speaking, of its own. The National Debt, created at the time of the Union, was created for Imperial purposes—namely, to put down the rebellion. As to the National Debt created since the Union, Ireland had not had the least say in creating it, and, therefore, not being Ireland's Debt, Ireland ought not to be charged a, single penny in respect of it. But the hon. Baronet said last night that it was incurred to provide, for wars on the Continent, and thus Ireland, as well as England, was protected. Protection, indeed! It reminded him of the protection the bear gave to the victim when it hugged him to death. Protection! when this Parliament allowed the landlords of Ireland to grind their unfortunate tenants to the dust. Protection! when they kept four-fifths of the population of Ireland outside the pale of the Constitution. Protection! What they wanted to be protected against at that time was England; and he did not hesitate to say that if at any time during those years Ireland had thrown off the yoke of England by force of arms, it would not only have been justified, but called upon to do so. They never had 692 protection from England of the right sort; they had the protection of a stepmother—of an enemy; and the records of Parliament for the last 50 years showed that, because what they had been doing was to repeal and reform all their legislation of the early part of the century. They had had no protection from England, and owed her nothing in respect of her protection. To sum up, all he could say was that they did not know what their expenditure or their revenue would be, that their hands would be tied for the next six years, so that they would not be able to make up a deficit by imposing taxation; that it was not English money they asked for, but their own; and that even if it were English money, England owed it to them ten times over. These were the reasons in support of his Amendment which he ventured to submit to the Committee with all respect, and especially to the Prime Minister, who had on recent occasions referred so eloquently to the shabby treatment which Ireland had in financial matters received at the hands of the British Government.
Line 21, at, beginning, insert "Whenever the surplus available for the Irish Government amounts to not less than five hundred thousand pounds."—(Mr. Clancy.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I do not intend to discuss the historical argument that has been brought forward by the hon. Member, because I do not think we can deal with it adequately at this time. The only conclusion to which I am drawn is that in this intermediate arrangement for six years Ireland should be treated equitably and even liberally. This, I think, has been fulfilled by the proposals that have been made, and further than that we could not go at the present time. The Amendment of the hon. Member is rather a singular one, because the hon. Member says that when the surplus of £500,000 falls short, of that amount—say, for the sake of argument, that it falls to £499,000—in consequence of that fall one-fourth shall be taken away from the Imperial contribution; that is to say, the Imperial contribution from Ireland shall be reduced from oae-third to one-fourth.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
That is the complement to this Amendment, and I treat it upon that principle. According to the Estimates that have been made, the Government show a surplus of £500,000, which, if the Estimates are realised, would remain to the credit of Ireland when she has back her portion. That is the whole meaning of the surplus. There is no such thing as a surplus ear-marked, and there is no such thing legally as a surplus of £500,000. As I understand the Amendment, it means that whenever in the balance-sheet of Ireland, between Revenue and Expenditure, there was a surplus of less than £500,000, then the Imperial contribution should be reduced by one-fourth.
MR. J. E. REDMOXD (Waterford)
said, that as he understood the Amendment proposed, the effect of it would be this—he would take the case the right hon. Gentleman had himself put—that in some years the surplus would be £199,000 instead of £500,000; in that case the operation of the Amendment would be that the Imperial contribution would be diminished by £1,000.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
My objection to it remains in full, because this is not a question of money to be handed over by us to Ireland in future years, in respect to which I could understand the argument which says you ought not to fall below the sum you set out with, but this is simply a question of the balance between Irish Revenue and Irish Expenditure. The effect of the Amendment would be to make ourselves dependent for a portion of the Imperial contribution upon the balance which the Irish authorities might think fit to establish. For example, if Ireland increased her Expenditure by £500,000, that £500,000 would be deducted from the Imperial contribution. The argument is that the Imperial contribution ought to be lightened—to be diminished—not in consequence of a diminution of the resources of Ireland, not in consequence of any alteration in the relations of the 694 two countries, but because the Irish Authority thinks fit to spend £500,000 more. That would be a fundamental departure from the main outlines of the scheme. It is founded on principles totally unsound, and to which, I am sorry to say, we could not give any agreement.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
My right hon. Friend will understand the argument of the hon. Member for North Dublin (Mr. Clancy) is, that Great Britain has robbed Ireland to such an extent in the past that it would be perfectly legitimate and perfectly just that we should in this matter make restitution to Ireland. I quite appreciate the course taken by my right hon. Friend, and I agree there is not time to answer the argument of the hon. Member, because, through the unfortunate manner in which we are dealing with the whole of these questions, of great importance both to Ireland and to this country, he feels he must not absorb more of the few hours left by replying at length to the hon. Gentleman. But let me point out the disastrous effect of that course. The hon. Member has made an elaborate indictment against the finances of this country. He has laid the indictment against my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, and against other Chancellors of the Exchequer, that through the whole course of the century they have been unjust to Ireland. It is most important that the Prime Minister, who has conducted with such ability the finance of this country—I might almost say for half a century—should, with his great authority, be able to tell the Irish people that they were deceived—voluntarily deceived—by the statements so put forward by Irish Members. Is it not really disastrous that statements of this kind should not be answered, not by the Opposition, who are suspected by the Irish Members, but from the Government Benches? The right hon. Gentleman himself ought to be able to show that the view put forward of Great Britain having robbed Ireland for all these years is a false view and a slander on the right hon. Gentleman and other Chancellors of the Exchequer. The speech of the hon. Member for North Dublin is simply sowing the seeds of discontent with the arrangement proposed by the Prime Minister. That is very disastrous, and 695 my right hon. Friend has let words drop as if he endorsed the statement that Ireland had been unjustly taxed. The other day, when I dealt with this question, hon. Gentlemen opposite thought I was making a charge, an attack upon my right hon. Friend, because I said he was responsible to a great extent for the taxation of Ireland. That was not my object; but what I wanted to prove, both to this House and the country, was that it was impossible for the statements of the hon. Member for North Dublin (Mr. Clancy) to be true, because if it were, the reputation of my right hon. Friend would rest on a false basis. I hold that he has taken the proper course in the great financial schemes affecting Ireland, and that he was animated by a just spirit, but I regret that the refutation does not come from his own lips. I will not attempt to deal with the figures of the hon. Member, but will leave that to others, and I only rose to enter my protest on behalf of previous Chancellors of the Exchequer against the silence of my right hon. Friend being taken as endorsing the views put forward by the hon. Member.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
said, that a charge of sporadic and continual robbery had been put forward by the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Clancy), who challenged them to reply. The Prime Minister said there was not time adequately to reply to the historical argument. Doubtless, there was not; but as an English Member, he thought the time had come when they could no longer allow this imputation to be cast upon them without putting before the Committee and the country facts that were, or ought to be, well known The hon. Member, as a first charge against them, said that Ireland had a normal surplus of £2,000,000, and that practically she ought to enjoy the benefit of that surplus; but how did the hon. Member account for the position of Scotland? After all, there were three nations concerned in this partnership. The English nation, in round numbers, paid two-thirds—as a matter of fact, she paid seven-tenths—of her annual income to Imperial charge, Scotland paid two-thirds, while Ireland alone paid one-third, or, rather, three-tenths. As to the outcome of the Royal 696 Commission, he should not be sorry to prophesy that, whether or not England turned out to have played the part of the unjust judge, the Irish nation had played the part of the importunate widow. The hon. Member in his allegations, based on the Act of Union, forgot that such a person as the great Napoleon ever existed. Ireland, of course, had to pay her share of the cost of the gigantic struggle which convulsed the whole of Europe.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said, that was the fallacy that lay at the base of all the hon. Member's arguments. It was not only a war of Greater Britain, of the United Kingdom, but a, war in which we took up and played the man's part for Europe against the despotism of the First Napoleon. Hon. Gentlemen might sympathise with the views that first animated the First Napoleon; but he asked whether, in the light of events, they would rather have been on Napoleon's side or ours? Would the fate of Ireland have been happier as a member of the Continental Alliance, with all her ports blockaded, with all her manhood drawn from her, and all her money drained into the Treasury of France? In the great Napoleonic struggle victory was cheaper than defeat, and that was the answer to the contention of the hon. Gentleman that Ireland was robbed by the Act of Union. He passed to the amalgamation of the two Debts in 1817. The hon. Member said that constituted another wrong and injustice to Ireland, and that it led to Ireland being taxed on a level with England. That, as the hon. Member afterwards admitted, was not true at that time. Let them consider whether the amalgamation of the two Debts in 1817 was a wrong to Ireland or not? So far from being a wrong it was a blessing. The other day he came across a quotation of Lord John Russell, from which it appeared that the Irish taxes in 1817 were bringing in a sum of £4,000,000 to the Revenue less than they were expected to bring in; and as the Expenditure was £7,000,000, in order to make up the deficiency Ireland, before 1817, would have had to borrow, these borrowings going to swell up the National Debt. After 1817 Ireland did 697 not borrow. If her faxes were computed to raise £7,000,000 and only brought in £4,000,000, the English and Scotch were the only people who were worse off by the arrangement. England had a strong case as against Ireland in this connection, and when the Royal Commission sat it would be found that the Irish Members had been living in a fool's paradise over this question of the financial relations between the two countries. Admitting that the taxation between the two countries was equalised, that equalisation had led to this result: that, whereas the English and Scotch paid towards Imperial charges £7 out of every £10 they raised, the Irish people paid only £3. Upon that absurd basis, which the present Chancellor of the Exchequer had pointed out was incurred by them in order to keep up what he called eleemosynary coercion, it was proposed that this basis of payment should be continued, and now the hon. Gentleman wished to have a guaranteed surplus of £500,000. One argument which had been most effectively used in support of Home Rule was that England would get rid of the cost of the Police, light railways, and other winks in Ireland. But, instead of that being the case, the clause as it stood placed upon the backs of the British taxpayers for ever a bargain which had been denounced in the strongest terms by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whilst the hon. Member by his Amendment wished to pile upon that an additional burden of £500,000 a year.
§ MR. T. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
said, if the case of the hon. Member who had just spoken and of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer were so complete, he expected they would have no opposition from them to the appointment of a Special Commission. Up to the present, however, they had given no countenance to the appointment of the Commission, and some observations of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer would seem to imply that their opposition to the proposal was to be continued. The principle of the Amendment was a fair one, and it was unjust that no proposal had been offered by the Government such as was suggested. What was their (the Irish Members) case? When flu Prime Minister proposed his Bill for the Better Government of Ireland, he 698 proposed that the Irish Government should have the power of taxing the Irish people, and he calculated as essential for the purpose of the Irish Government that there would be a surplus of £500,000. Since then he had changed his mind—the Government had changed the character of their proposal—and instead of giving to the Irish Government for the next six years the power of controlling and imposing taxes, they took it into their own hands. All the Irish Members asked was that if they deprived them of imposing and controlling the taxes of Ireland, they should at least guarantee to the Irish people the amount which upon their own calculation they put forward as necessary for the purpose of the Irish Government. Where was the unreasonable demand in that? The hon. Member who spoke last said they wanted the English nation to manage all these things for them. They did not; they were perfectly willing to take the offer the Government originally made, that the Irish Government should control the taxes of Ireland. They were willing, if the Government adhered to their original proposal, to take that offer now. If this country was to control the taxes after they set up an Irish Government they must on their part, in the name of the Irish people, protest against the imputation which would be made against them afterwards of mis-government, if, under the system now proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Government, Ireland would not be able to maintain a surplus sufficient to carry on the Government. They were not wedded to the Amendment in this particular form; but the right hon. Gentleman would see the absurdity of first putting forward a proposition that the Irish were to control their own taxes, and making a calculation founded upon that of £500,000 as necessary for the carrying on of the Government, and then taking away from them the power of raising their own taxes. By doing so be left them absolutely powerless; and if the Home Rule Bill failed in its purpose, it would fail because of this provision: because the Irish Government would not be able to raise the money that it was the intention of this scheme to give them. He appealed to the Government to make some concession. It 699 was all very well to talk about the Irish Government squandering the money given them; but if it were possible, as he contended it was, that by some unforeseen expenditure the amount of money which the Government themselves regarded as necessary to carry on the Irish Government should not be forthcoming, surely it was contrary to all reason and common-sense not to protect the Irish Government against such a contingency.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
said, the hon. Member for North Dublin made a plain, straightforward speech from his point of view, and proved from his figures that successive Governments of Great Britain had been robbing Ireland. He was not going into that question, but it was due to the Committee that the Prime Minister or some Member of the Government should say whether they agreed with that view or not. If they did, the argument of the hon. Member opposite was worthy of attention on the grounds of justice. But it was to be noticed that whenever the Government were challenged to reply to any of these difficult questions there came over the Treasury Bench one of those brilliant flashes of silence which seemed to answer their purpose in every difficulty. He wanted the Government to pay attention to the speech of the hon. Member for North Dublin for another purpose. That speech illustrated the union of hearts that was to continue. He felt thankful, as a Representative of the British taxpayer, that the hon. Member for the moment did not represent the majority of the Irish Members, because, if he did, English Members would stand aghast when they came to contemplate what the Government would have to yield to at the expense of the British taxpayers. But when they remembered that although the Barry of the hon. Member for Waterford was in the minority in that House they were far stronger in Ireland than their numbers would appear to indicate, they must come to the conclusion that the sentiments and speeches which they had heard from hon. Members opposite that night were the sentiments and speeches which would be taught from one end of Ireland to the other—that Ireland was the robbed party—and they knew how these sentiments were 700 likely to be adopted. If those hon. Members in a future Parliament should represent the sentiments of Ireland, what was the Government going to do that relied on those hon. Members opposite for their Office? They had two things to do. To resist and probably lose Office, or yield to the demands made at the expense of the British taxpayer. If it was a similar Government to the present, they knew the first alternative would not be taken. They would stick to the Treasury Bench through thick and thin; therefore this union of hearts was a very poor look-out. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment was very hard on the Liberal Unionists, calling them audacious, and using other epithets of a similar character. In doing so he was only copying, almost verbatim, the language the Prime Minister used on Tuesday night in an excited moment, and when he had lost his temper. The hon. Member for North Dublin slated that by the Act of Union the Irish people were robbed. Whether that were so or not, it was abundantly evident that by the Bill for the disruption of the United Kingdom, which the Government were forcing through by the gag against the will of the majority of Great Britain, the people of Great Britain were to be robbed. That was one thing they had to make clear. The hon. Member challenged his (Mr. Jesse Collings') statement that it would place upon the British people the burden of the deficiency which would result from Ireland paying less than her share to the Imperial contributions. He repeated his statement, and he declared from careful calculations that the cost of this Home Rule Bill to each constituency would be £4,000 per annum. In the City of Birmingham it would mean that a 4d. rate would have to be imposed in order to raise £32,000 a year, which would be the cost to that city to carry out the crazy scheme of the Prime Minister for breaking up the United Kingdom. He did not think that when this was recognised any city would put up with it. The hon. Member for North Dublin said they were going to worry and bother this Parliament until they got their rights. That was a nice prospect for the union of hearts, of the existence of which the Prime Minister had so often assured them. 701 The Act for breaking up the Union would rob the British taxpayer beyond all doubt, and the prospect which the speeches of hon. Members opposite revealed was anything but cheerful for the British people. The Liberal Unionists only desired what was fair under this Bill, if it should ever become law; but this it never would. All they wanted was that Ireland should contribute her fair share towards Imperial Expenditure. The old legal maxim, to the effect that those who participated in the benefits should share the burdens, ought to be applied to the case of Ireland. It would be a good look-out for the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer to be assured of a surplus; but it would tend to make him somewhat careless in making up his Budget, because he would be assured that a surplus would come to him. On the other hand, the outlook for the British Chancellor of the Exchequer would be very bad indeed. They could see the spirit in which these proposals were regarded by hon. Members opposite. So far from being a final settlement, hon. Members opposite said plainly that I hey would worry and bother this Parliament. If anything could open the eyes of the Prime Minister to the madness of the scheme, the speeches of hon. Members opposite should do so. At any rate, those speeches would open the eyes of the British constituencies, and whenever the matter was referred to them both Bill and Government would he wiped away.
§ * Mr. H. S. FOSTER (Suffolk, Lowestoft)
said, the Amendment had met with such scant courtesy, and such a poor reception at the hands of every Member who had spoken either from the Unionist or Government side, that he apprehended there was no serious argument which had to be met. But if the Prime Minister himself thought the Amendment unworthy of notice, certainly the observations with which the Amendment was supported were worthy the attention of the Committee, he was not at all surprised at the line of argument taken by the Mover of the Amendment, and it was only in accordance with the argument which the hon. Member and his Party persistently used. He accused the Go- 702 vernment of this country of having been parties to a gigantic and audacious swindle; with being guilty of robbery and immoral conduct. Coming from an Irish Nationalist Member they were accustomed to language of that kind, and the ground of want of time was a convenient excuse for the Prime Minister for not taking notice of this abuse, because the Prime Minister himself, unhappily, in advocating this measure, had occupied a great deal of time in throwing abuse on this country. Adjectives almost as strong as those employed by the Irish Members had been made use of by the Prime Minister of England against England. The good name of England would be sacrificed, if necessary, in order that the Bill or any particular clause in it should pass. The hon. Member for North Dublin interjected, in the course of the speech of the hon. Member for Dover, that the Irish people had no interest in the Napoleonic wars. That was quite in harmony with a statement of a late Member of the Irish Party, Mr. O'Kelly, who said—"An Irish rising would burst forth at the first signal from a French warship." Every one of the limitations of the Government would be accepted by the Irish Members protanto, and no further. They would use this Bill as a lever for extorting more from the British Government, and they had given fair notice of their intentions. In the face of those declarations, what became of the prospect held out from time to time to the electors of this country that if once a free hand wore given to the Prime Minister to deal with Ireland the Irish difficulty would be over? The hon. Member for North Dublin had also stated that night that Ireland owed England nothing, and that they were taking this measure as a right. This measure was being passed as there suit of fear, and he asked hon. Gentlemen opposite what kind of gratitude from Irish Members would result from this Bill if it were passed? These were concessions which hon. Members from Ireland had succeeded in wringing from the Prime Minister, and they were given to them as a weapon to enable them to extract something more. There was no sense of community with the English people; but, fortunately, the Irish Members below the Gangway (the 703 Nationalists) did not represent Ireland altogether, for there was a portion of Ireland which was loyal to this country, and which intended to remain loyal, and which, so far from desiring to weaken their connection with this country, desired to strengthen it. And now a word with regard to the Amendment. There was not time to discuss it. The Prime Minister claimed to dispose of it in a sentence. The Prime Minister reproached the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond) with want of care in regard to the Amendment; but the right hon. Gentleman himself might be accused of want of care in the reading of it. He did not seem to have gathered the meaning of the Amendment; as to whether one-third was an excessive contribution, and as to the proposal that there should be a contribution of one-fourth; but, independently of that, if the surplus was not £500,000 the Irish were to contribute nothing at all.
§ * MR. H. S. FOSTER
said, it was suggested that if the surplus was only £499,000, the contribution to England would be £1,000 short; but he wished to point out that by the terms of the Amendment, unless they had the £500,000 surplus they would have a nil contribution. He was satisfied both sides of the House would not look at that view very favourably. The object of the Amendment seemed to him to be to put on record the fact that the Irish Members were not satisfied with what the Prime Minister to-day called a favourable and an equitable arrangement, but what next year he might consider a very inequitable arrangement.
§ MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
said, that the hon. Member for North Dublin (Mr. Clancy), in bringing forward the Amendment, stated that he did so for two reasons—first, because it was doubtful whether there would be any surplus at all in Ireland; and, secondly, because the Irish would not have control over their own taxation. As to the first argument, the hon. Member might set his mind at rest. He might be certain that there would be no surplus—a fact which ought to make him more firm in advocating his Amendment. With regard to the second 704 point, he (Mr. Rentoul) could very well understand the feeling of the hon. Member, and could thoroughly sympathise with him. Of course, if it was understood that the postponement of the various important matters in the Bill was to be for the purpose of getting some skeleton of a measure passed at the present time which could be afterwards filled up, and that by putting forward the measure the fears and apprehensions of the Loyalist minority could be lulled to rest, there did seem to be logic and sense in the plan of the Government. But the Ulster Members understood these tactics, and objected to the Bill. Although the questions of taxation, of judiciary, of police, and of the land were reserved from the Irish Legislature, the Ulster Members objected to the Bill just as much as they would have done if these questions had not been postponed, but had been dealt with in the measure. The hon. Member for North Dublin moved that whenever the surplus available for the Irish Parliament amounted to not loss than £500,000, then, and not till then, one-third of the General Revenue of Ireland would be paid into the Exchequer of the United Kingdom. Now, if this Amendment were accepted as part of the Bill, would it not be the positive duty of the Government of Ireland to keep the surplus always under £500,000? A point which seemed to have missed the notice of all the previous speakers was that the Amendment would be satisfied if the surplus was 1s. under £500,000. Under those circumstances, the Amendment was a much stronger order than had been at first thought. Hut the hon. Member spoke of the future taxation of Ireland, and said—"He would be a bold Minister who would impose any new tax on Ireland for the next 20 years." But would he be a bold Minister, in the estimation of the hon. Member, who would put a tax, say, on the linen trade of Belfast? though, of course, there were taxes that it would require a bold Minister to propose in an Irish Legislature. But the hon. Member had spoken of the indignation which, he said, was expressed on the platforms of England when it was pointed out that English money was being perpetually asked for to go into Irish pockets. Considering 705 the statements made, both inside and outside the House, during the last 20 years, considering the statements made by speakers from Ireland with regard to England and the English people, it was not to be wondered at that the constituencies of England would strongly resent the idea of English money going into the Irish poekots—especially if I he partnership was to be dissolved. The hon. Member had dealt with the police, and he had pointed out that it was an Imperial Force—a fact which was proved by the phrase "Royal" being applied to the Irish Constabulary. But strangely enough, in the next sentence, the hon. Member, referring to a remark made by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer two or three nights ago, alluded to the Fenians, giving them an extraordinarily high character as patriots of the first order.
§ THE CHAIRMAN
pointed out that the observations of the hon. Member were not relevant to the Amendment before the Committee.
§ MR. RENTOUL
said, he was referring to the words which the Mover of the Amendment used in the course of his argument.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Order, order! The hon. Member's argument is not germane to the Amendment under discussion.
§ MR. RENTOUL
said, the hon. Member had referred to the state of Ireland after the Union, referring to the large increase of Debt for which Ireland was liable, and some of his remarks were received with laughter by hon. Gentlemen who, probably, had not studied the question as deeply as the hon. Member had done. The hon. Member was decidedly correct in a great deal he had said; but he had left out of count why it was that the Debt of Ireland had increased at that time. The hon. Member had subsequently indicated that, to his mind, it would not have been relevant to have brought before the House what was 706 the state of the case at that time. Another hon. Member had referred to the enormous cost of the defence of this Realm during the Napoleonic Wars, and the hon. Member for North Dublin (Mr. Clancy) had said—"What had we to do with that? We gained nothing by it." That brought out as forcibly as anything could bring out what they had repeatedly asserted—namely, that down to the present moment there had not been displayed by gentlemen from Ireland any particular interest in the honour and well-being and upstanding of England. When the hon. Member who was speaking at the time said—"The money was spent to protect you as part of the United Kingdom," the hon. Member for North Dublin said that the people who most wanted to be protected at that time were the people of England. If that was the view of the hon. Member and his Party, they certainly had not risen to the height of being strong supporters of the United Kingdom, or of the British Empire generally. But the hon. Member had spoken of Ireland having been robbed in the past. He had said—"Anything you give to us now will be only a fair set-off and reprisal for what has taken place in the past." It was remarkable that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, in answering the Amendment, should have passed over that observation without a single remark, because if robbery was committed the Prime Minister for 40 years had been more responsible for it than any other living man. The Opposition, however, did not desire to allow the observation to pass; for the simple reason that if they did it would be used against them with considerable force. There was an immense amount of exaggeration about the wrongs which had been perpetrated by England against Ireland in the past, and when they asked hon. Gentlemen who made the assertion to descend to particulars they found that those particulars were remarkably shadowy, and that the greatest difficulty was experienced in supporting them. At the time of the Union Ireland had a population amounting to a little over one-third of the population of the United Kingdom. The contributions from different parts of the United Kingdom at that time were divided into 707 l7ths. Ireland bad to 2-17ths and Great Britain 15-l7ths. If the populations had been what they were now, the ease would have been very different; but hon. Gentlemen, when they spoke of Ireland's contribution at the time of the Union arid of the various calculations and fixtures that were made at that time, always markedly abstained from stating the relative populations in those days. He objected to the Amendment, not because he should think it unwise if Home Rule were carried—for if Home Rule were adopted he should believe in Ireland getting all she could out, of England—but he objected to it because of the argument that it was warranted by the robbery of Ireland by England in the past. As he could not agree with the hon. Member in this, he could not support the Amendment. Bur he liked the Amendment from another point of view—that was to say, because it would be one of the best platform arguments they could have. Nothing would weigh more strongly with the people of this country than to tell them that all that had been said in the past about getting rid of the cost of Irish police and light railways, and of doles and sops, was a fiction. He would neither vote for the Amendment nor against it, and he should, therefore, leave it to its fate.
§ MR. SEXTON
It is a little late in the day for the hon. Member who has just sat down to profess any concern for the future prosperity of England. Yesterday the Leader of the Irish Unionist Party, the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson), declared that he did not care a farthing whether the contribution to Imperial charges was paid at all by Ireland if Home Rule was granted, and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Carson) has declared that he would be loyal to England only so long as England was loyal to him. Before the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Dublin appeared upon the Paper, I had put down an Amendment to add to the end of the sub-section the following:—Provided that if in any year the balance remaining out of the residue of the General 708 Revenue of Ireland and the Miscellaneous Revenue of Ireland connected with the Civil charges after payment of charges, existing or creative, in pursuance of this Act. including all charges for police, is less than £500,000, the difference shall he deducted from the contribution of Ireland's liabilities and expenditure, and paid into the Irish Exchequer as parts of the Special Revenue of Ireland.That Amendment was one which applied itself precisely to the subject. It only asked that if in any year when the charges which now exist, and which you have created, or the charges which you are about to create after the passing of this Act, were paid, less than £500,000 remained, that the difference, and no more, should be paid out of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom. I think that suggestion was in line with the fundamental idea of the Prime Minister on the question of finance—namely,, that Ireland should have a free £500,000. If an opportunity had been afforded to me to submit my Amendment to the House I think I could have made a case upon it, and in that case I should have thought it my duty to challenge the decision of the House. The hon. Member put down an Amendment in an earlier line of the clause, and thereby obtained priority over my Amendment by one of simpler form, but one which, as the Debate has shown, exposes itself to criticisms of a damaging kind. If the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman were carried the sub-section would read in those terms—Whenever the surplus available for the Irish Government amounts to not less than £500,000 one-third part of the General Revenue of Ireland should be paid into the Exchequer of the United Kingdom.I am bound to say that, as the Amendment stands, it is open to unanswerable objections. The first is, that the Amendment is in no sense defined; and if in any year of the six, including the transitional term, the Irish Government, no matter what expenditure they might make not contemplated by the Act, it might still be claimed that they should be entitled to have a surplus of £500,000. It is obvious, I think, that such, a contention could not be maintained before the electors of the United Kingdom. In the second place, the effect of the Amendment would be that whilst in any year if £500,000 remained after all the out- 709 goings of the Irish Government had been paid, then a contribution would be paid to the Imperial Revenue; but if there was not £500,000 in the Irish purse after all charges had been paid, then there could be no contribution, because the hon. Gentleman will see that he makes no provision for a case in which there was not a surplus of £500,000; and if this surplus was less than that amount in any one year there would be no provision for the contribution to the Imperial Revenue, and therefore no contribution. Such an Amendment could not be seriously considered. In fact, he had been warned by several gentlemen above the Gangway that, this Amendment would offer the best platform argument that the Tory Party could possess. I do not feel that I could support any Amendment that I could not support as well before the British electors as in Ireland as being a just proposal, just to one country as to the other; and in this view I offer the hon. Gentleman the advice not to challenge a, Division on his Amendment. As the question is before the Committee, and as the Prime Minister has said that in his judgment Ireland ought to have a free £500,000 after the discharge of her present engagements, or engagements created by the Act, I take this opportunity of showing how unjust I think it that in the course of this discussion, and in the course of this Debate to-night, reference should be made to charity, to gifts, and to British gold. I tell the Committee that British gold is not concerned in the question. We are dealing here with Irish money. We are dealing with the disposition of Revenue raised from the people of Ireland, and raised from the people of Ireland alone, and in spite of all that has been said as to the revision of taxation and the increase of the burden of Ireland, I say no such question as the revision of taxation is raised or is raisable by the Bill. The only question is, there being a Revenue of £7,000,000 in Ireland upon which you have created charges of £5,000,000, what are you going to do with regard to the £2,000,000 that remain? There is no larger or more general question in the Bill before us at present. The £7,000,000 of Irish Revenue passes into the Imperial purse, and after you have discharged the local charges of the Government in 710 Ireland there remains a, sum of £2,000,000 which you have to apply in aid of Imperial charges, and the question now is, should you continue to apply the whole of that £2,000,000 to Imperial charges, or should you make the Irish Government some allowance in respect of the new charges which, as I submit, are created by the act? We have been told by hon. Members, and especially by the Members for Islington and Bordesley, that they are prepared to go to the constituencies and tell them that each constituency in this country will lose from £1,000 to £4,000 a year by the scheme. I submit that Great Britain will not lose 1d. by the scheme, but that the quota of the Government, which is intimately connected with the surplus, will give Great Britain every 1d. she receives at the present, and will, at the same time, relieve Great Britain from risks and liabilities which are incidental to the continuance of the Imperial system. I think it of importance that this should be clearly understood, and I will give the Committee in about one minute some simple figures, as to which I challenge contradiction, and which I am prepared to maintain hereafter in any constituency in the country. I take the last three years, and as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has taken a leading part in this financial matter, I beg to submit these figures to him for consideration and review. I refer to the official accounts, and I say that they show that the surplus of the Empire from Irish Revenue for 1890–1 was £2,254,000. The error in the Irish Revenue had not then been discovered, and it appears from that error that the Revenue of Ireland was £360,000 a year less than was supposed. I do not take off that £360,000: but as the amount of the error in 1891–2 was £370,000,1 apply that to 1890–1. I deduct that, and I find the surplus available for Imperial charges from Ireland for 1890–1 to be £1,934,000: in 1891–2 the surplus was £1,832,000; and for 1892–3, ending March 31st, the surplus was £2,102,000. I take together the surplus for the three years, and it amounts to £5,860,000, which gives an average surplus derived by the Imperial Exchequer out of the Revenue of Ireland for the last three years of £1,950,000 a 711 year. The Committee, and I hope the country, will bear in mind that the actual gain to the Imperial Exchequer from Ireland for the last three years was £1,750,000 a year, and all thoughtful men will agree with me that a result drawn from the average of three years is more trustworthy than if it is based on one. What is proposed to be given by this scheme? By the scheme the Government propose that the Imperial Exchequer should receive from Ireland £2,280,000 a year—that is to say, £330,000 a year more than you are able to take from Ireland under the present system, when you have every penny of the Irish Revenue in your own hands; when you have in your own hands the local charge, and when you have absolute power to determine what surplus you should take. Therefore, I submit that you will receive from Ireland by the Act £330,000 a year more than you receive at present. If the hon. Member for Islington (Mr. Bartley) or the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bordesley (Mr. J. Collings) dares to go to his constituents and tell them any such ridiculous fable as that they are going to lose £1,000 or £4,000 a year by reason of this arrangement, I have only to tell them that we can go to their constituencies as well as they; that a, very plain tale will put them down, and that they will not promote their return to this House at the General Election by attempting to mislead the public mind by laying before their constituencies on an important public question a statement which can so easily be disproved. I pass to the next point of my contention, that even after making allowance for the contribution which you make towards the cost of the Police, you still retain as much for Imperial Revenue as you receive at the present moment. Considering the nature of the Police Force of Ireland, considering how you organised it upon a scale proportionate to your Imperial wealth and not to our island poverty; considering how you used it not for the good of the people, but to prop a class, to extort unparalleled rents even to the beggary and banishment of the people—I say it would have been nothing wonderful if those who caused the enlistment of that Force had determined to bear the whole cost of the winding up and dissolution of that Force, 712 especially as Ireland has to bear the charge of raising her own Police Force. But you do not. You say, "We bear one-third and you bear two-thirds." Very well, what charge do you bear? £480,000 a year, and the charge will be a, diminishing charge. If we assume, as is intended, that the organisation of the new Force and the reduction of the old one shall proceed on a regular and even course throughout the transitional period of six years, that charge of £480,000 will diminish in the sixth to £240,000. The average charge for the six years will be about £320,000 a year, and taking that £320,000 from the £2,280,000 which is to be the quota, we reach this conclusion—and I challenge anyone to contradict if—that we will pay for the six years, even after allowing for the charge for Police, £196,000 a year, whilst what you received for the last three years was £1,950,000. Therefore, let no one say that the charge for Police is a gift. It is nothing of the kind, for you have taken good care in drawing up this plan that, even when you have paid the charge for the Police, you receive a little more than you have received from Ireland under your own Administration for the last three years.
§ MR. SEXTON
I have a great respect for the admissions of any right hon. Gentleman, no matter on whatever Bench he sits; but even respect for the admission of a Member of the Government cannot alter the force of facts. Can any right hon. Gentleman on either Bench get up and challenge these figures?
§ MR. SEXTON
Very well, get up and tell the reason, and I will sit down. I will stand by these figures hero, or in St. George's, or in Islington, or Bordesley, or in any other constituency where any gentleman will say that Ireland is benefitting by this arrangement. Instead of that, the United Kingdom, whilst professing to give a gift in aid of the Police, has retained every penny that with the utmost skill she is able to get out of Ireland, having the management of the Irish Revenue altogether in her own hands. Nevertheless, this arrange- 713 ment might serve under two conditions: First, if the Police were to continue as at present; and, secondly, if no now changes were created. But what is the case in regard to the Police Force? I know that no man in the House is filled with greater anxiety than the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland in regard to the results of this Police finance, he knows it involves an enormous, undefinable, and I may say immeasurable, burden. I have endeavoured to measure it, and what is the conclusion at which I have arrived? The full sum placed in the Irish Budget for the service of the Police is £970,000; and unless Ireland can keep all her Police charges within that sum for every year of the six she will have to encroach upon the surplus. I see the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. H. H. Fowler) present. There is no more accomplished financier in the country than the right hon. Gentleman, and I know he will confirm me in saying that unless Ireland can bear the whole of the charges for the Police out of that £970,000 he must encroach on the surplus. [Mr. H. H. FOWLER: Hear, hear!] What are the charges on this £790,000? At first there is £360,000 for pensions. Ireland under the scheme pays two-thirds, or £230,000 for present pensions. Deduct that from £970,000 and £740,000 is left for the actual charge. Out of that Ireland must raise her own Police Force. The Prime Minister fixed the cost of that at £600,000, and I believe it will not be a penny less. Making allowance for the present circumstances of Ireland, and the difference of opinion that prevails in some districts, and making allowance also for the unfortunate influence of precedent which you have created in influencing the pay of the new Force, I do not believe if will be possible for many years to come to maintain a Force of the most moderate number consistent with Irish wants for less than £600,000 a year. Deduct that from £740,000, and only £140,000 is left for Ireland to meet the whole; of the future pension charge created by the Schedule of the right hon. Gentleman. What will be the amount of that pension charge? The present charge for pay and allowance is £1,050,000; a year. The 714 right hon. Gentleman has proposed to carry in the Bill a, Schedule by which every member of the Police Force will be entitled—even if he joins the local force in Ireland—to 1-50th of his pay for each year of service, and to his actual years of service 10 years have to be added. I put the average service of the Irish Police at 15 years. The average, then, that each man will take will be 25-50ths of his pay, 15-50ths for his actual service, and 10 for the added years. He will be entitled, therefore, to take one-half of his pay as pension, so that the pension charge about to be created, apart from the present pension charge, is £525,000, of which Ireland must pay two-thirds, or £350,000. Put the balance left is only £140,000, and, therefore, there is a. difference of £210,000 that must come out of the surplus of £500,000. What, then, becomes of the free £500,000? It is almost half gone for the Police alone. It may be said that this charge will only accrue at. the end of six years, but observe that the reduction of the Constabulary cannot begin until Ireland has begun the organisation of her new Force, and it cannot proceed except in proportion as the new Force is created, I while the Constabulary Force cannot be dissolved until the new Force is complete. For every £100 you take off the Constabulary charge in the balance-sheet of Ireland that country will have to incur £80 for every member of the new Force and £50 for the pension of every member of the old one; and, therefore, in order to reduce the charge in the balance-sheet by £100 Ireland will have to incur £130 of a new charge. Let us assume that the reduction of the Constabulary goes on at an even rate for the whole six years, which means that £120,000 a year is taken off the charge. In order to take off £120,000 of this charge you must incur a deficit of £36,000. For the first year of the provisional period you will I have a deficiency of £36,000; for the I second year you will have one of twice £36,000; for the third year one of three times £36,000, and so on, until in the final year it will be £210,000. I ask any Liberal Member listening to me to say whether he understood when the Prime Minister told us we were to have a free £500,000 for the purposes of Ire- 715 land, that a Police scheme, of which we then knew nothing, would be brought in, the effects of which would bean increased deficiency, ranging from £36,000 in the first year to £210,000 in the sixth, every penny of which would come out of the free £500,000? I have said there was one other condition on which the plan might be possible, and that is that there should be no new charges. But have Members realised for a moment that there are new charges not included in this balance-sheet which are imposed on Ireland by the Bill? It is upon this balance-sheet that the surplus of Ireland depends, and the balance-sheet is full of chances. The Revenue may go down. It went down last year, and is going down still further this year. Civil government charges may go up. All this may decrease the surplus even upon the balance-sheet: but I go outside the balance-sheet, and I say, without reference to it, that there are six charges placed upon Ireland any one of which may seriously invade the surplus. May I recite them? First, there is the Post Office. I know there is a deficiency of £50,000 placed in the balance-sheet; but the Post Office Estimate is increased by £30,000 for the present year, and that will be charged to Ireland in addition to the deficiency charged in the balance-sheet. In the second place, Ireland is to be responsible for all the charges on the Church Fund, and last year the rental income of the Church Fund was less than the expenditure by £50,000. If that should happen in coming years the Irish surplus would have to make it good. In the third place, Ireland is to be responsible for any deficiency in connection with land purchase, and in the event of the occurrence of one bad season, and still more in tin; event of two, that might be a serious liability. In the fourth place, Ireland is made liable for an annuity of 4 per cent, on the whole amount of Treasury loans outstanding. They amount to £8,000,000 upon a total of £40,000,000. You have had to remit £10,000,000 out of the total of £40,000,000. With regard to the £8,000,000, Ireland will have to pay £820,000 a year. In one branch alone there was a, deficit of £40,000 from railways in the last three years; and if the Irish Government is unable to collect the full amount, it will be obliged to pay the 716 amount of the deficit from the surplus. In the fifth place, you propose to lend no more money to Ireland. Again, should there be a loss on Irish Revenue, you will only have to bear one-third instead of the whole. You will receive from Ireland an annuity of 4 per cent, on all outstanding loans instead of being obliged to remit them as uncollected. You will avoid all special grants to Ireland, which amounted on an average to £250,000 a I year for the last 40 years. The refusal to lend any more money involves a very serious consideration for every Irishman, and I think it is also a very serious consideration for Englishmen in regard to the stability of the Government that you mean to create. If you cease to lend money in Ireland for public purposes, for the purposes of landlords and tenants, or for the various public institutions of the country, the Irish Government in the first year of its existence will be face to face with the necessity, out of their own limited credit, without any assistance from Great Britain, of by some means or another establishing a, credit out of which they can lend £500,000 a year. In order to borrow money you must have credit, and in order to have credit you must have a surplus of Income over Expenditure. I point out in no captious or querulous spirit, but in a spirit of reasonable suggestion, that these various charges laid on Ireland by the Act may so encroach on the surplus as to deprive us of that reasonable hope of financial stability which every thoughtful Irishman must consider to be of the first necessity in contemplating the future of his country. I submit to the Prime I Minister that the free £500,000 which he; desires Ireland should have for her purposes for the cost of Government and for the passing of ameliorative measures respecting the condition of the people will not be available if there be a, deficiency caused by the cost of the Police to the extent, as I have shown, of £36,000 in the first year and £210,000 in the sixth. It will be endangered by the several charges I have recited, and the result left in my mind after the most serious contemplation is that I am unable to determine whether this surplus will be available to the Irish Government. I do not wish to press the matter further at the present stage. If I bad an opportunity 717 of moving my Amendment I should have ventured to press it, but I do not think the Amendment of the lion. Gentleman raises the question in a form which I can support. It is open to two objections; First, it does not define the surplus; and, secondly, it is open to the objection that if there was no surplus in any year there would be no contribution to the Imperial Revenue at all. I could not support any Amendment of that kind, for I am determined to take a high ground of equity in the matter. I could not support any Amendment which I could not recommend as just, not only to the electors of Ireland, but also to the electors of Great Britain, upon whose judgment the final decision of this question must rest. I think those who have heard me will agree that I have endeavoured to address myself to this question in a reasonable spirit. [Ministerial cheers.] I am glad of that expression of sympathy from hon. Members opposite, and I rely on the Liberal Party, and especially on the Prime Minister, even at this late stage, in view of the fact that, even after the Police allowance you will receive from Ireland as much as you do at present—to consider whether by some modifications of the Police arrangements, by some limited guarantee of a surplus for purposes connected with the passage of the Act, he could not afford some reasonable prospect of that stability in the Irish Government which is the first condition of government, and which I am sure, whatever may be thought on this side of the House, every friend of the Home Rule policy would desire.
§ MR. DARLING (Deptford)
said, lie hoped no one would accuse him of being the Devil's Advocate. He had not intended to take part in the Debate except to defend the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government against himself. In that respect he was quite willing to assume for the moment the part of the Devil's Advocate. The right hon. Gentleman had been charged with being a robber—which he (Mr. Darling) should not have thought strictly Parliamentary—and with having been engaged in robbery from his entrance into public life down to 1886, and to have been assisted in that by persons who 718 were characterised by their smug hypocrisy. The Prime Minister was accused of being a robber because he extended the Income Tax to Ireland, and also because he increased the Spirit Duties payable on Irish spirits when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the year 1853. Now it appeared, according to the hon. Member for North Dublin, that this was robbery. When the Prime Minister made his proposal in 1853 he was attacked by the Irish Members. In fact, the right hon. Gentleman had always been attacked by the Irish Members down to 1886, and probably he would be again after the present Bill had been rejected. In the course of the Debate in 1853 the right hon. Gentleman was attacked by the Irish Members on account of the increase of the Spirit Duty, and in his defence he protested against the reckoning the imposition of an additional duty upon spirits as if it were something to be brought to account between Ireland and England. But it was brought to account that very day. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say he denied that it was to be set down as a burden inflicted upon Ireland; for if Ireland with a population of 5,000,000 or 7,000,000 felt aggrieved by paying £190,000 on spirits, he did not know what they would say to poor Scotland which was relieved from no consolidated annuities at all, although they were going to ask from Scotland, with a population of only 3,000,000, the sum of £270,000. He also denied that it was amongst the rights of man that an Irishman should be allowed to intoxicate himself for 2s. 4d. a gallon, whereas the Englishman could not do it under 7s. 10d. It was, he further added, an utterly unreasonable thing to take any such view as that the additional Spirit Duty was a wrong inflicted upon Ireland. Yes, but that was the view taken now by the right hon. Gentleman's own supporters—by a dozen of them, if not by 80. In the same Debate the right hon. Gentleman said very much to the same effect in dealing with the question of the Income Tax. The whole of the present Debate had turned upon these two questions of the Spirit Duty and the Income Tax. England was the robber because it extended the Income Tax to Ireland and increased the Spirit Duty payable by 719 Ireland when the right hon. Gentleman was Chancellor of the Exchequer. That was the head and front of the offence of England. Now, if he (Mr. Darling) belonged to a thin-skinned people—to a people who did not like to be commended for their eloquence if they did not exactly like the term in which it was expressed—he should object to the nation to which he belonged being called a nation of robbers. Although he was nearly as pure a Scotchman as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) opposite, the one drop of English blood which everyone had in himself, except the right hon. Gentleman, would revolt at being told he belonged to a nation of robbers, and being told that upon the strength of what the right hon. Gentleman did in 1853. It would be remembered that the Act of Union was stated in the Debate that day to have been one of the injustices to Ireland, and the arrangements under that Act were put forward as a continuance of financial injustices. On the occasion of the Debate in 1853 the present Prime Minister said, in defending the extension of the Income Tax to Ireland—It was rather remarkable that the proceedings relating to the Act of Union, which had occurred in the interval, should have been allowed to drop entirely out of sight. They had been told it was a very haul case that Ireland should pay £4,000,000, or, as one hon. Gentleman said, £5,000,000, towards the general Revenue of the Empire. That was said to be a very hard case, and Ireland, it was added, would have been much better off if her financial concerns had been kept entirely separate from those of the United Kingdom.That was exactly what was said by the Member for North Dublin—that Ireland would have been better off if she had been allowed to keep her financial concerns entirely to herself, and yet the right hon. Gentleman did not feel inclined to get up to-day to contradict what was said against his own finance, on the pretext that he had not time. He would not say by whose fault it was he had not time. He (Mr. Darling) had been brought up in a school where hon. Gentlemen opposite had not studied, where it was taught that a man might not take advantage of his own wrongs. But that was what the right hon. Gentleman now sought to do. The right hon. Gentleman had not had time to make a defence to- 720 day, but in 1853 he made a defence in which he emphatically denied that Ireland was unjustly taxed for the sake of England, but quite the contrary, and he showed there was no hardship whatever in her ease. That was what the right hon. Gentleman said in 1853 when he dared to say anything; would he dare to say anything different now?
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
We have spent an interesting evening in the discussion of this financial question, initiated, I think, almost entirely by the Irish Members. Sir, no doubt the Irish Members have a full right to be heard upon a matter which is to them of interest and considerable importance. I do not think they will be prepared to say that even now, after the opportunity which has been afforded them, they have nearly exhausted what they have to say on the subject, and yet in a few minutes the guillotine will descend upon friend and foe alike—upon Irish eloquence as well as upon that which proceeds from Unionist sources. As to the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman, I think he himself must have become convinced that it is an impossible one. Its object we all understand. It is to secure to Ireland a free surplus of £500,000, whether Ireland is extravagant and spends more than she ought to spend; whether the Revenue of the United Kingdom—and, of course, he Revenue of Ireland with it—diminishes, and thereby lessens the balance: in cither of these cases it is to the British pocket that the hon. Gentleman looks to make up the amount. And, Sir, as has been pointed out even by his Friend the hon. Member for North Kerry, he will not adequately secure his object by the Amendment upon the Paper. The hon. Member for North Kerry—who, I observe, invariably puts down a competitive Amendment whenever any Member of the other section of the Irish Party intervenes in the discussion—the hon. Member from North Kerry has an Amendment of his own which, curiously enough, he defers—
§ * MR. CLANCY
We announced this Amendment through the mouth of I he hon. and learned Member for Waterford on the very first night that the new financial plan was stated to the House.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member is certainly a humorous politician. He interrupts me, in the first place, to say that the hon. Member for North Kerry had precedence of him; and he interrupts me, in the second place, to say that he was first in the field. I do not think that it matters much, but it all goes to support my opinion that whenever any Member of either section of the Nationalist Party puts down an Amendment a, Member of the other section hastens to put down another. The Amendment of the hon. Member for North Kerry, which is directed to the same object, would undoubtedly achieve it more satisfactorily; but we have not, thanks to the Government, time for its discussion. If we had, I would venture to propose an Amendment to the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Kerry, and whereas he proposes that whenever the surplus—over which the Irish Government will have large, if not entire, control—sinks below—500,000 the deficiency shall be made up by the British Exchequer, I would propose that whenever the surplus exceeds £500,000 the balance should go to the British taxpayer. But, as I have said, we have not time to discuss this most interesting subject. Neither have I time to answer the hon. Member for North Kerry's bold challenge that his statements could not be disputed. He made a general statement concerning the finance which would have been more in place if it had been delivered on the Second Reading of the clause. Although his challenge was apparently addressed to us, it was really addressed to the Government Benches. His speech was a criticism of the finance of the Government, and went to show that the Government, like every preceding Government, was prepared to rob the Irish people. This was his statement, that the financial proposals of the Government were intolerable except under conditions 722 which the hon. Member showed were absent from this scheme. It is this statement that the financial scheme of the Government is robbery and intolerable that the hon. Member gallantly proposes to repeat before the constituents of the hon. Member for Islington and of the right hon. Member for Bordesley. Perhaps be will be kind enough, at the same time, to visit West Birmingham. I am sure he will have a reception worthy of his merit, and I will only ask, if he does accept my invitation, that when he makes this tremendous charge against the Government, whom 1 certainly shall not be there to defend, he will tell my constituents, at the same time, what he thinks of the finality of the Government's proposal. But, in answer to the whole contention of the hon. Member for North Kerry, I will say, without entering into figures, that be has entirely omitted to consider our arguments and views. We accept the statement of the Government that by this Bill they are giving, for a time at all events, a clear benefit of £500,000 a year to the Irish people. We are not satisfied with that statement, and we say that if there is to be a separation of interests—if there is to be a conclusion of the partnership which has been going on for more than 90 years—the sum which Ireland ought to pay is not the sum which she docs pay, hut a sum reckoned according to her taxable capacity. We say that the charge which will be put upon her by the Government scheme is £1,800,000 'less than she ought to pay, and upon that issue we intend to go to our constituents. [Interruption.] We are approaching the end of all things, and I notice that hon. Members are even impatient in regard to the few minutes which still remain before 10 o'clock is reached. [Cries of "No!" and, cheers.] I am thankful for hon. Members' courtesy, and I will endeavour to occupy these few minutes to their profit and to my pleasure. We have come, at all events, to the last scene in what I think I may call the discreditable farce to which the Government have reduced the proceedings of the mother of Parliaments, and it is to us not the least matter of regret that this position should have been reached by the action of one whom we are all ready to recognise as one of the greatest of Parliamentary 723 figures. What is the situation? We have been discussing the financial relations between the two countries. There could not be a matter of greater importance and interest to the people—to the taxpayers of this country. It interests the British people to know how much they are expected to pay for creating a system of Home Rule for Ireland, and here is a curious fact. Throughout these proceedings upon the financial scheme not one single Amendment has been put upon the Paper in the name of any supporters of the Government. There are Amendments down, and many of them in the names of Irish Members who are considering—and rightly considering—the interests of their constituents and country, but not one of the British supporters of the Government has found in his heart to put down an Amendment to protect his constituents or to protect his country. What is the reason for that? The reason, of course, is that hon. Members behind the Government think that these proposals are absolutely satisfactory; they think that they are perfect and cannot be improved. [Mr. ROBY: Under the circumstances.] Under the circumstances, says the hon. Member! It would be difficult to improve them in five minutes. They think that, under the circumstances, the proposals of the Government cannot lie improved. Yes; but they thought that the last scheme was perfect and could not be improved. They think every scheme, as it successively proceeds from the fertile brain of the Prime Minister, is perfect and cannot be improved under the circumstances. That has been their attitude with regard to the whole of this Bill, which has been changed again and again in the course of the last few weeks. It is not the same as it was when they agreed with enthusiasm—under the circumstances—to the Second Beading. Since then the most important, the most, vital question of all—the question of the retention of the Irish Members—has been changed and changed in a way directly opposite to the pledge—the promise—which was given to the constituencies of this country by the Prime Minister himself. ["No, no!" and cheers.] What is the use of hon. Members saying "No"? I have quoted the words of the 724 Prime Minister, uttered in the course of a speech at Manchester, when he said—I will never"—that was, under the circumstances—"I will never be a party to giving a domestic Legislature to Ireland and to allowing the Irish Members to come here to interfere with English and Scotch affairs.I say that this Bill has been changed in its most vital features, and yet it has always been found perfect by hon. Members behind the Treasury Bench. The Prime Minister calls "black," and they say, "it is good": the Prime Minister calls "white," and they say "it is better." It is always the voice of a god. Never since the time of Herod has there been such slavish adulation. [Cheers, cries of"Progress!" and "Judas!"]
It being Ten of the clock, the Chairman, in pursuance of the Order of the House of the 30th June, interrupted the Debate and put the Question on the Amendment forthwith:—
§ Amendment proposed, in line 21, before the words "One-third," to insert the words "Whenever the surplus available for the Irish Government amounts to not less than five hundred thousand pounds."—(Mr. Clancy.)
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee proceeded to a Division, and the Tellers were named; for the Ayes Mr. Clancy and Mr. William Redmond; for the Noes Mr. Marjoribanks and Mr. Thomas Ellis.
§ MR. VICARY GIBBS(seated with his hat on) (Herts, St. Albans)
said: Mr. Mellor, I draw your attention to a point of Order. An hon. Member called out "Judas!" [Interruption.] It was the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool. [Interruption.] Mr. Mellor—["Order!"]—Mr. Mellor, he cried out "Judas!" [Cries of "Order!" and great confusion.]
§ MR. VICARY GIBBS
Mr. Mellor, the hon. Member for the Scotland Division called out "Judas! Judas!" ["Order!" and interruption.] I move that his words be taken down.
§ THE CHAIRMAN
again put the Question, and Members rose to leave the House, there being meanwhile considerable excitement, noise, and disorder.
An hon. Member on the Opposition side of the House, addressing hon. Members seated near him, said, "Don't move."
§ MR. HANBURY (seated, and with his hat on)
I beg to ask yon, Mr. Mellor, whether you distinctly refuse to put that Question on the ground that you did not hear the expression? [Interruption, and cries of "Name!"]
§ MR. VICARY GIBBS
I ask you, Mr. Mellor, with all respect, that you put the Motion which I have made.
[The hon. Member for St. Albans then approached the Table, and held a conversation with the Chairman.]
§ THE CHAIRMAN
The doors must be opened.
The Chairman directed the words to be taken down, and left the Chair to report them to the House.
§ The House resumed.
§ * THE CHAIRMAN
, addressing the Speaker, said: Certain words were alleged to have been uttered by an hon. Member, but I did not hear them. I understand that a Motion was made by the hon. Member for St. Albans that 726 the words be taken down at the Table. Owing to the noise, I could not hear what he said. Afterwards he came to the Table and repeated his Motion and the words, and I ordered the words to lie taken down, as he stated they were used. I cannot report, of my own knowledge, by whom the words were uttered.
§ * MR. SPEAKER (addressing Mr. Vicary Gibbs)
Does the hon. Member complain of any words having been used?
§ MR. VICARY GIBBS
Yes, Sir. I complain that again and again, in a loud and an insulting voice, the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool cried "Judas! Judas! Judas!" addressing the words to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, who was then addressing the Committee. I may also say that I hoard the hon. Member for Louth call upon the hon. Member for the Scotland Division not to continue in that disorderly way, so that there can be no mistake on my part as to what occurred.
§ MR. W. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
Mr. Speaker, I beg to corroborate the hon. Member. I heard the hon. Member for the Scotland Division make use of the words mentioned, and I rose to call the attention of the Chairman to the language.
§ MR. HANBURY
Mr. Speaker, I also heard distinctly the hon. Member for the Scotland Division repeat these words four times.
§ Mr. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
Mr. Speaker, I beg to ask you whether, the Chairman having stated that the words in question did not reach his ears, it is now possible to take action?
§ MR. SPEAKER
We have got past any technicalities. Three hon. Members have stated that they heard the words I would, therefore, ask the hon. Member for the Scotland Division whether he used those words or not, and I am sure I can rely upon his honour to say whether he did or not?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
Mr. Speaker, I beg to ask whether the immediate cause of your having' been brought into the Chair was that after the House had been cleared for a Division, hon. Gentlemen refused to participate in the Division—[Cries of "No!" and "Yes!"]—I bog to ask whether, until the question of a Division has first been cleared away, we can enter into the original cause of the disorder; and whether the Chairman, having given a ruling that the House was to be cleared, and hon. Gentlemen having refused to clear the House, that is not the immediate matter before the House?
§ * MR. SPEAKER
As to the immediate matter of my being sent for, I knew nothing until I was sent, for. The Chairman has made a statement that a complaint was made of words having been used which I understand were the cause of some disturbance. [Cries of "No, no!" and "Yes, yes!"] Then there is no reason why I should have been sent for unless a disturbance arose. I understand the disturbing cause was that some opprobrious word had been used by some hon. Member in the House. [Cries of "No, no!"] Then I must appeal to the Leaders of the House to tell me what did happen.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Mr. Speaker, an appeal from you cannot possibly be disregarded by me, but I am sorry to say I can contribute little information, neither my ears nor my eyes having enabled me to give a distinct and clear account of what did occur. Unquestionably the proceedings usual before a Division on the part of the Chairman of Committees did take place. When the Question was first put a cry of the "Noes have it" proceeded from an hon. Member below the Gangway. After an interval—I imagine a proper interval—the Question was again put finally, and orders were given by the Chairman, as it appeared to mo in a regular manner, that the respective Parties should withdraw, a cry having been again raised that the "Noes have it" by the same hon. Member. The Chairman of Committees ap- 728 peared to me to go through these proceedings with perfect regularity; but, undoubtedly, they were constantly accompanied by an amount of uproar such as rendered it, I think, quite impossible for him and myself, and, I imagine, for most of us, to give any account of what was going on. A bye incident had been raised on the Bench opposite to me, to which I need not, perhaps, refer, as it appears to have been entirely separate from the main proceedings. [Cries of "No!"] By the apparent eagerness and anxiety of a gentleman opposite—the Member for the St. Albans Division of Hertfordshire (Mr. Vicary Gibbs)—it was evident that he wished to convey some communication to the Chairman of Committees; but it was impossible for him to do so, although he was backed by an hon. Gentleman sitting near him—the Member for Preston. Then, Sir, I am bound to say I am no witness—I am a more reporter—in adding that it was convoyed to me by one or more gentlemen that the original cause of the disturbance was the word to which you have referred and which the Chairman has reported to you—that while my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham was addressing the House, or towards the close of his speech, I do not exactly know which, the words "Judas, Judas!" were repeatedly and audibly used in reference to him, in a manner not mistaken, from which I presume in my own mind that a difficulty had arisen in the minds of some Members not upon the principle, but as to what ought to be done. I suppose the difficulty to be that some hon. Members thought that the question connected with the words used ought to be disposed of without reference to the Division, while others supposed that the Division ought to go forward in the regular manner, and that afterwards would be the time for dealing with the words alleged to have been used. This is but a lame and imperfect account, but it is the best I am able to give. I do not venture to speak as to the merits of the case, and the simple question is the question of Rule and Order, whether the Division should be concluded in compliance with the order of the Chairman, or whether the proceedings of a Division, having commenced, can be interrupted 729 for the purpose of dealing with the words addressed to my right hon. Friend?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Mr. Speaker, in deference to the appeal which you have, I understand, made to the right hon. Gentleman and to myself, I have to say that my own personal cognisance of the incident which led to your being recalled to the Chair is confined to the fact that at the close of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham he was assailed by cries of "Judas! Judas!" proceeding from some gentlemen sitting in that quarter of the House [indicating the Nationalist Benches]. I have no cognisance or knowledge from whom those cries proceeded: but I was myself witness of the fact that the hon. Member for the St. Albans Division of Hertfordshire thereupon called the attention of the Chairman of Committees to the person, the Member of this House, from whom, as he believes, those cries proceeded. He called attention to them on a point of Order under the usual procedure. I, not intending to take part in the Division, was not present at the end of those proceedings, and my own personal knowledge does not extend beyond the incident to which I have just referred. I am informed—but of this I am only a, reporter of incidents which have come to mo by testimony and not by ocular evidence—that, after I had left the House for the purpose of letting the Division take its course without myself taking part in it, regrettable incidents occurred in this House, consequent, no doubt, upon the point raised by the hon. Member for the St. Albans Division. It was the opinion—as I understand, according to the Rules, the correct opinion—of those who raised this point of Order that it could not he decided after the Division was taken; and therefore those who desired to see it decided were under the necessity of waiting until yon, Sir, had been recalled to the Chair before the Division was taken, an 1 until you could give your ruling upon the point. That, I am given to understand, is the reason why there was some delay in clearing the House; but these matters, Mr. Speaker, for the reason I have stated, I do not speak of as an eye-witness, but only as one who 730 has endeavoured, to the best of his ability to collect from those who have seen a true account of what occurred.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
I ask you, Sir, to request the Chairman of Committees to report to you what occurred.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Anything which the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Committees may be willing to state I am sure the whole House will be pleased to hear.
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Mr. MELLOR,) York, W.R., Sowerby
Perhaps some hon. Gentlemen may not have heard what I did report. I will, therefore, report again—namely, first of all, that there was so much noise that I did not hear the expressions which have been referred to. In the next place, I saw the hon. Member for Hertfordshire endeavouring to attract my attention. I endeavoured to hear what he said, but could not on account of the noise. I asked if the hon. Member wished to make any Motion. Then another hon. Member, the Member for Preston, endeavoured to call my attention; but I could not hoar what he said, the noise was so great. Presently the hon. Member for Hertfordshire came to a place where I could hear, and moved that certain words be taken down. I informed him that I had not hoard the words, and could not tell from what quarter they proceeded; but, in accordance with the Rules, I ordered them to be taken down, and the Motion having been made, I sent for you, Sir, in order that I might make my report to the House.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I am obliged to the two right hon. Gentlemen, the First Lord of the Treasury and the Leader of the Opposition, for the statements they have made, which have been supplemented by the Chairman of Committees. It appears that a point of Order did arise before the House was cleared for a, Division. It was the duty of the hon. Member to call at once the attention of the Chairman of Committees to what occurred, and it seems to me that what I stated at firs I was the right impression— 731 namely, that the originating cause of the disturbance was some opprobrious expression alleged to have been used, coming from a particular quarter of the House. I asked the lion. Member if those words had been used, and he says they were used, and his statement has been corroborated by several hon. Gentlemen. I am quite sure that if any hon. Member who did use those words in the heat of the moment, and in the irritation, perhaps, of circumstances, will simply state to the House that he regrets having used them—I am certain the House will think that it will be my duty to take no further notice of the incident, and to ask the House to proceed in an orderly course with the business before the House.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
Mr. Speaker, I have not risen hitherto, because I did not wish to add by one moment to the scene of violence which I think we all regret. Two of my hon. Friends, one an English Member and the other an Irish Member, have been physically assaulted in the course of the discussion. Mr. Speaker, if in any way whatsoever any observation of mine may have contributed to bring about that most regrettable state of affairs, I most humbly apologise. [Cheers, and Opposition cries of "Withdraw!"]
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I hope I may appeal to the good sense and calmness of the House to regard what has been stated by the hon. Member as a sufficient indication of his feelings. If he has caused in any way any subsequent disturbance he regrets it, and he also regrets and apologises for, as I understand, the expression which he used. [Mr. T. P. O'Connor signified assent.] In my view that is an ample apology, such as I should have expected of the hon. Gentleman; and I hope the House, after what has passed, will, as I ventured to say a few minutes ago, in the interest of Debate, and in the higher interests of the character of this House, allow the regrettable incident to pass into oblivion, and will proceed with the rest of the business of this evening in a manner which will do honour to the traditions of 732 this House, and will not allow any enemies of our institutions to rejoice.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
Mr. Speaker, I regret, Sir, to feel it my duty to call attention to a circumstance which occurred after the event which we have just been considering. A disturbance was going on in front here, and a sudden charge was made by a number of hon. Members below the Gangway on to the seat on which I was sitting. I rose in my place, not desiring to be run over by the charge, and the hon. Member for the Ossory Division, without provocation at all, struck me a violent blow on the side of the head. [Nationalist cries of "No!" and Opposition cheers.] I feel it my duty to call your attention to that fact. I can only say that, so far as the hon. Member is concerned, I gave him no provocation. I never even saw the blow that was struck. When I turned round he was about to repeat it, and he struck mo from behind on the side of the head.
§ MR. T. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
, who rose amid loud cries of "Order!" said: I had left the House, in accordance with the Chairman's ruling, to take part in the Division. I had passed through the Division Lobby and recorded my vote, and was about to leave the House, when I heard the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord R. Churchill) appeal to some of his followers to leave the House and take part in the Division. On my return after recording my vote I saw the disturbance that took place. I heard the Serjeant appealing to hon. Members to leave the House. When I came here to assist the Serjeant in his endeavours—[laughter]—I think, Sir, notwithstanding the laugh, the Serjeant-at-Arms will bear me out—I distinctly saw the hon. Member who has just now complained, before he was struck, strike several hon. Members.
§ MR. CONDON (Tipperary, E.)
After the apology of my hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Yard Division—[laughter]—I may say that when I heard the hon. Member for North Armagh stand up in his place and state that without the 733 slightest provocation the hon. Member for the Ossory Division of the Queen's County attacked and struck him, I am compelled, in the interests of fair play and truth, to stand up in my place and corroborate what was said by the hon. Member for the Harbour Division. When I came into the House after recording my vote, the first thing I saw was the hon. Member for North Armagh striking my hon. Friend (Mr. Crean) a blow in the face and attempting to strike him a second time, when two or three of his friends above the Gangway prevented him from doing so. He was struck without the slightest provocation.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I do not desire to interrupt hon. Members, but I wish to say that any future inquiry as to what took place will apparently only reveal the fact that in the confused mélée criminations and recriminations took place between Members. I really think that in the interests of the dignity and honour of the House it would be well to let the matter rest where I left it. I have only to add that any breach of Order should be at once, then and there, brought to the notice of the Chairman of Committees, or, if I am in the Chair, to myself, and I am sure it will be dealt with. We cannot go back now, after some little time has elapsed, and inquire into all that took place. I do not attach blame to any Member. I only ask the House to allow the matter to drop in the interests of the dignity of the House.
§ The Committee resumed.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Whereupon, in pursuance of the said Order of the 30th June, the Chairman proceeded to put successively the Questions on the new Clause under consideration, and on the remaining new Government Clauses, postponed Clauses, Schedules, and Preamble, as followeth:—
§ Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 312; Noes 291.—(Division List, No. 243.)
§ The Clerk at the Table read out: New Clause (As to Irish Consolidated Fund and special revenue).734
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I beg to call your attention, Sir, to the fact that, as this clause has no number, no name, and no description, we do not at all know what it is, as it has not been read.
§ THE CHAIRMAN
The clause is on the Notice Paper—it is set out on the Notice Paper, and, according to Rule, the Clerk at the Table read the title of the clause.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 321; Noes 288.—(Division list, No. 244.)
§ Another Clause (Supplemental as to Local Taxation Accounts and other matters.—(Mr. W. E. Gladstone.)
§ Question, "That the Clause be added to the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Another Clause (As to Irish Post Office revenue and expenditure.)—(Mr. W. E. Gladstone.)
§ Question, "That the Clause be added to the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Another Clause (Definitions.)—(Mr. J. Morley.)
§ Question, "That the Clause be added to the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Postponed Clause 14.
§ Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Postponed Clause 15.
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 316; Noes 283.—(Division List, No. 245.)
§ Postponed Clause 16.
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 313; Noes 280.—(Division List, No. 246.)
§ Schedule 1.
§ Question put, "That, this be the First Schedule of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 310; Noes 277.—(Division List, No. 247.)735
§ Schedule 2.
§ Question put, "That this be the Second Schedule of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 290; Noes 273.—(Division List, No. 248.)
§ Schedule 3.
§ Question, "That this be the Third Schedule of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Schedule 4.
§ Question, "That this be the Fourth Schedule of the Bill," put, and negatived.
§ Schedule 6.
§ Question, "That this Schedule be a Schedule of the Bill," put, and negatived.
§ Schedule 7.
§ Question put, "That this Schedule be a Schedule of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 299; Noes 268.—(Division List, No. 249.)
§ New Schedule (Provisions as to Pensions and Gratuities to Persons in the Public Service.)—(Mr. J. Morley.)
§ Question, "That this Schedule be added to the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ New Schedule.