§ [TWENTY-FOURTH NIGHT.]
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Legislative Authority.
§ Clause 4 (Restrictions on powers of Irish Legislature).
§ * VISCOUNT WOLMER (Edinburgh, W.)
rose to move, in page 2, line 33, at end insert "(6) of an ex post facto character." He said he felt a certain amount of assurance that the Government would not regard the Amendment with hostility, because it fitted in with particular nicety with the character of Clause 4, as described by the Prime Minister in the early discussions on the clause. The right hon. Gentleman laid it down that Clause 4 differed from Clause 3 in this wise: that Clause 3 was meant to tabulate those subjects which were to be not only withdrawn from the cognisance of the Irish Legislature, but were to be dealt with when occasion arose by the Imperial Parliament; while Clause 4 was meant to contain those subjects which were not only not to be dealt with by the Irish Legislature, but which, according to a general understanding, were not to be dealt with even by the Imperial Parliament. It would, therefore, be seen that his Amendment, prohibiting ex post facto legislation, fitted in with the particular characteristics of the clause. A reference to the American Constitution would show that in Article 1 this question of ex post facto legislation was raised twice. In Section 10 it was put down as a restriction on the power of the State Legislatures; but in Section 9 it was put down as a restriction on Congress itself—that was to say, that not only could no State in the American Union pass legislation of an ex post facto character, but such legislation was absolutely forbidden to the American Congress itself. That being so, it was important to find out what interpretation the Courts of the United States had given to this part 1503 of their Constitution. He found in Kent's Commentaries on American Law that in the ease of "Calder v. Bull"—It was held that the words 'ex post facto laws' were technical expressions, and meant every law that made an act done before the passing of the law, and which was innocent when done, criminal; or which aggravated a crime and made it greater than it was when committed; or which changed the punishment, and inflicted a greater punishment than the law annexed to the crime when committed; or which altered the legal rules of evidence, and received less or different testimony than the law required at the time of the commission of the offence in order to convict the offender.In the case of "Fletcher v. Peck" it was observed that an ex post facto law was one which rendered an act punishable in a manner in which it was not punishable when it was committed. As instances of the application of the law, he found in the same work that—A Statute removing the use of the Statute of Limitations where it has already run is ex post facto.That—A law requiring less evidence to convict than when the act was committed is ex post factor.He asked the Committee to consider whether there was not a special reason, apart from general reasons, why they should insert in the Bill this particular part of the Constitution of the United States. If ex post facto legislation was generally condemned, and if—as he believed to be perfectly true—although we have no written Constitution, this form of legislation is almost unknown in this Imperial Parliament, were there not special circumstances in Ireland which called for special care in this matter? Take the question of land legislation. The Irish Legislature of the future might in its wisdom pass a law generally diminishing the existing judicial rents by 25 per cent. That would be perfectly within the competence of the Irish Legislature under his Amendment. But if the Irish Legislature went further, and made this new law apply to all rents by way of a permanent reduction during the last three, five, or ten years, or whatever period might be fixed on, it would be legislation of an ex post facto character. Again, if the Irish Legislature felt constrained to take that action in reference to the Plan of Campaign which the Nationalist Members had so far been 1504 unable to induce the House to accept, suppose they passed a law reinstating in their farms all the tenants evicted under the Plan of Campaign, such action would be within their competence, and would not be affected by his Amendment. But if the Irish Legislature added to the Bill a clause which assumed for legal purposes that the tenants had never been evicted from their holdings, and that their tenant right ran from the commencement of their old tenancies, that would be legislation of an ex post facto character. Take another instance. When his right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham was discussing the other night the position of some of the Civil servants under the new Irish Constitution he read an extract from a speech made by the hon. Member for Mayo, in which the hon. Member declared that certain Magistrates and policemen ought to receive the reprobation of the Irish Legislature for their past conduct and be marked out for punishment. Under what law could these Civil servants be punished? Obviously not under the existing law, because they had not done anything which would make them amenable to the present law; and if they were to be punished in the future it would be by a law passed by the Irish Legislature. That would be monstrous legislation of an ex post facto character. But there was a strong special reason why this power should be taken away from the proposed Irish Legislature. They were told that that Legislature was to be a subordinate Legislature; and was the subordinate Legislature of Ireland to have more power over the Irish people than the Congress of the United States had over American citizens? Was it conceivable that they should give to the Irish Legislature—which would be a strictly subordinate Body, and would spring from the legislative Act of the Imperial Parliament—a power of which the people of the United States had deliberately, and as far as he knew, without regret, deprived themselves for all time? He begged to move the Amendment.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 33, after the word "or," to insert as a new sub-seetion, "(6) of an ex post facto character, or."—(Viscount Wolmer.)1505
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ * THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir C. RUSSELL,) Hackney, S.
It will be observed that the noble Lord, in the argument he has addressed to the Committee, has treated this Amendment as if it applied merely to legislation of an ex post facto character relating to criminal matters, while in fact it covers civil matters as well.
§ SIR C. RUSSELL
The noble Lord has misread his authorities. He will find that there is now in America a uniform judicial interpretation; that this restricts ex post facto legislation to criminal matters, and that it has no relation to other legislation. The noble Lord appeals to the Committee not to give to the Irish subordinate Legislative Body larger powers than Congress possess under the Constitution of the United States. Let me remind him—what has been pointed out before—that the limitation of the powers of Congress was imposed by a number of independent Sovereign States who were arranging terms as to the limitation which should be fixed upon the power of Congress to deal with the independent rights of these independent States. The first observation I would make on the Amendment is that in its terms it is not restrictive in the same scope as similar provisions—both in the Constitution of the United States and in the Constitutions of a great number of the Federal States. That is my first observation. In reference to legislation of a criminal character let me say this: The case the noble Lord puts is the case of the Irish Legislative Body being so blind to their own interests and so forgetful of the first principles of justice as to constitute, by Act of Parliament, an offence that which previously was not an offence, and to visit with criminal punishment an innocent act. All I can say is, that it is difficult to suppose a possibility so monstrous. If such a monstrous case can exist, I want to know what case could be stronger for the application of the checks and safeguards already in the Bill which are adequate to prevent the mischief? I am afraid, because of the way in which my refer- 1506 ences are received on the other side' to refer to the multiplying safeguards that are in the Bill. We think that the good sense of the Irish Legislative Body, in view of its own interest, ought to count for a great deal. There is, besides, the veto of the Lord Lieutenant. There is, further, the case of special instructions with reference to a Bill that could not fail to attract the attention, I will not say of the Executive, but of the whole world if such a monstrous thing were attempted as by an ex post facto Act of Parliament to make into a crime that which was before an innocent act and to visit it with punishment. Finally, there is, in the last resort, the over-riding authority and power of this Imperial Parliament. We therefore think, in regard to the possibility of any criminal legislation of the kind that this Amendment is directed against, that that possibility can hardly be held to exist, and the risk of a possible grievance is really one which is conjured up without any probability to support it. Now I pass to the Amendment in the relation it would have as a check upon legislation of a retrospective kind which was not conversant with criminal matters. With reference to that, I have to say we do not desire to take away from the Irish Legislative Body the power to make such retrospective legislation as may be a perfectly proper and necessary kind of legislation in the class of cases in which it has frequently been passed by this Parliament. I will remind the noble Lord that some of that class of legislation, such as our Statutes of Limitation, are retrospective in their character. Acts of Indemnity are retrospective and ex post facto in their character; declaratory Acts giving definition to the provisions of earlier Acts are in their nature retrospective and ex post facto, and there are a number of illustrations of legislation which is ex post facto legislation of a perfectly proper kind. There is one illustration of which I am reminded—namely, cases in which marriages which had taken place years before, but invalid from some defect which was discovered in the ceremony, were validated by subsequent legislation. These are illustrations which might be multiplied. I content myself, however, with saying that, so far as the criminal application of this Amendment is concerned, we do not conceive it 1507 points to any real tangible grievance or evil; and as regards its application to legislation other than criminal, we do not desire to take away the power from the Irish Legislative Body of legislating retrospectively in proper cases.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
I think, Sir, this Amendment raises again the question which has already been discussed in Committee as to the grounds upon which the Government have selected certain Amendments of the American Constitution, and refused to accept others. We have had to put that question again and again, and we have hitherto been unable to obtain the slightest answer. Now, Sir, I will venture to lay before the Committee what I think is the principle which the Government ought to have adopted. The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down has reminded us that the American Constitution was the result of a Treaty between independent States, and we ought to keep that always in mind. It was a case in which independent States agreed to give up somewhat of their pre-existent independence in order to constitute a Federal Union. We, however, are dealing with a case in which a supreme unity agrees to give up somewhat of its power in order to constitute a subordinate Body. Now, the result of that comparison, I think, is this: that we ought to expect much less from independent States giving up part of their sovereignty than from a subordinate Body receiving something from a Central Authority. The Solicitor General the other day told hon. Members opposite that they were neither a nation nor a State, but merely a subordinate Body not even with the authority or character of a State. Therefore, I say under these circumstances it follows they are entitled to much less in the way of full authority than the independent States of the American Constitution, and, consequently, the principle which I lay down is that the restrictions which the framers of the American Constitution thought it necessary to obtain from these independent States represent not the maximum, but the minimum of concession when you are dealing with a subordinate Body. And, Sir, it seems to me, therefore, that it is the duty of the Government, with regard to every one of the amendments which the United States have thought it fit to 1508 impose upon the legislation of the separate States, to show that these restrictions are not necessary or are not applicable in the case of the subordinate Parliament we are going to create in Ireland. They have not attempted to do that. What is the answer made to the appeal of my noble Friend? We are told, in the first place, that the Amendment is too wide. The arguments of the Government, I must say, always follow exactly in the same line. It is very seldom an argument of principle; it is generally a technical or legal argument. In the present case what the Government say is that this Amendment goes too far. Well, Sir, it does not go one atom further than the provisions of the American Constitution; and when the hon. and learned Gentleman says that in the American Constitution ex post facto is limited to criminal legislation he knows perfectly well it is not limited in words.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Very good; then why cannot you allow it to be limited by judicial interpretation in this case just as Ave desire that "due process of law" shall be left to judicial interpretation? He had full confidence that in dealing with "due process of law" the Imperial Judges would deal with the matter in accordance with American precedent. Why has his confidence in the Exchequer Judges suddenly fallen short? I am perfectly well aware that the Chancellor of the Duchy has some authority for the statement in his work that judicial interpretation has limited ex post facto to criminal legislation in the United States of America; and the reasons which led them to so limit them would have equal weight with the Exchequer Judges. But if we are now to understand that throughout the rest of this Bill the Government are no longer going to put forward any pretension that matters of this importance can be left to judicial interpretation, but that any point which is open to doubt is to be interpreted in the Bill itself, why do not they propose a very simple Amendment to the Amendment—namely, to add to the words ex post facto "criminal legislation?" That I consider to be a mere excuse. It cannot be pretended to be a solid objection to this Amendment which can be so 1509 easily met. I now come to what is really the serious ground of objection. When I say serious ground, I mean the open and avowed serious ground of the objection of the Government to this Amendment. It is because even in matters of criminal legislation it would be such an extravagant act; it would be so monstrous for the Irish Legislature to have resort to it that the Government cannot think of putting the prohibition in the Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman has admitted that the framers of the American Constitution have thought it necessary to put this restriction over the legislation of the States. Was it monstrous in them to do it? Under the circumstances under which that Constitution was framed, they had much less reason to anticipate any unjust or unfair treatment than we have, because they were not dealing then with long-standing animosities, racial and religious differences which altogether alter the case when you are going to deal with Ireland. But in spite of that they thought it necessary to insert these words which the hon. and learned Gentleman tells us are altogether unnecessary, and, I suppose, an insult to the people of Ireland. I go a step further. Why is the hon. and learned Gentleman not consistent? Let us look at the clause we are discussing. What have we passed already at the instigation of the Government—not as an Amendment proposed by the Opposition? We have debarred the Irish Legislature from depriving any person of life without due process of law. Would it not be a monstrous thing, I ask the Attorney General, to deprive any person of life without due process of law? Is it an insult to the Irish people to suggest that their Legislature can by any possibility do anything of the sort? If that is so—if in spite of that, in order to meet our objections they now tell us—although they could not have told beforehand what our objections could be—whether in order to meet our objections or objections from their own friends the Government have thought it necessary to debar the Irish Legislature from depriving a person of life without due process of law—and I say, Sir, they are debarred from now arguing, when we propose another Amendment, that it is so monstrous to suppose the Irish Parliament would ever be guilty of such a 1510 thing—that it is not necessary to put this prohibition in the Bill. I hold that all this argument about being unnecessary because of the virtues of the future Irish Legislature is entirely false. The principle and policy of the Government ought to be to insert Amendments, even if they think them unnecessary, unless they think them injurious. If this Amendment gives satisfaction to the minority, they ought to be willing to accept it unless they think it injurious, and the hon. and learned Gentleman has not contended that it would be injurious to be applied to criminal legislation. I will go further, and I will say I am not prepared to accept the view that it is such a very monstrous thing, and that it is so entirely improbable that the Irish Legislature would pass ex post facto legislation even of a criminal character. I am by no means certain the Irish Legislature would not in some way or other, by criminal or civil legislation of an ex post facto character, seek to punish those they regard as political opponents. Take, for instance, persons who have held evicted farms. We know perfectly well that persons who have done that legal act have been denounced throughout Ireland as lepers; every conceivable threat has been made against them, and in many cases they have been criminally punished, not, indeed, by the law of the land, but by the law of the Land League. What authority has the Attorney General for saying that what has been done in the past will not be done in the future? Has not the hon. Member for East Mayo used this language?—When we come out of the struggle—this was after the union of hearts, after the introduction of the Bill of 1886—we will remember who were the people's friends and who were the people's enemies, and we will deal out our reward to the one and our punishment to the other.I call upon the hon. Member to tell the Committee who were the enemies of the people, and what was the punishment which he was going to mete out to them. It is not the punishment of the Land League, because that could be inflicted before "they came out of the struggle." No; it is some punishment to be inflicted by legal means after the Irish Parliament shall have been constituted. In these 1511 circumstances, the minority in Ireland have some reason to dread the unrestricted powers which this Bill is going to confer upon the Irish Parliament. I suppose I shall be told that it is very vindictive to refer to the past utterances of hon. Members opposite, and that we ought to forget those speeches. There might be something in that argument if hon. Members opposite would withdraw what they have said. Will the hon. Member for East Mayo got up and say that he regrets the statement which I quoted, and that he repudiates it from the bottom of his heart? As yet the hon. Member has never done so.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I have only to say that if the context of that speech were read out I should not be in the least ashamed of it.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I have read the whole of that speech; the hon. Gentleman has access to it, and I challenge him to read out any part that can affect the plain meaning of the words—When we come out of this struggle we will deal out punishment to the enemies of the people.No context that can be conceived can alter the significance of those words, which were thoroughly understood at the time by the people to whom they were addressed. It is in no sense vindictive to recall these facts, because they constitute the basis of our whole argument. When future Members of the proposed Irish Legislature, men who will control its action, have uttered words like these, we have a right to ask in what way the Grovenment are going to protect the loyal minority, and we are entitled to something more than a mere legal reply from the hon. and learned Gentleman as to the way they are going to protect the minority in Ireland.
§ * SIR F. POWELL (Wigan)
desired to draw attention to considerations which might, perhaps, be worthy a moment's attention. Allusion had been made by the noble Lord to the Constitution of the United States, but he had examined the Constitutions of the different States that formed the Union, and he found that there again those who framed the Constitutions limited the power of the Legislature. He found this restriction on ex post facto legislation appeared in the Constitutions of, among others, New Hampshire, Massachussetts, Rhode 1512 Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and possibly, what was most interesting, in South California itself. The hon. and learned Gentleman stated that by the decisions of the Courts ex post facto law only referred to criminal procedure. In the Constitution of Pennsylvania, in the 17th Article, there was this restriction—No ex post facto law, nor any law impairing contracts, shall be made.He did not venture, with his small remains of legal knowledge, to say what the legal construction would be; but he did venture to say it would be a strange construction which would assert that these words, "ex post facto law," referred to criminal procedure only, when the remaining passage of the same section referred to the law relating to contracts. He had another illustration which he thought still more worthy of notice, and that was the Constitution of New Hampshire. In Article 23 of that Constitution it was stated thatretrospective laws are highly injurious, oppressive, and unjust.But those who framed this Constitution did not rest there, for they added these words—No such laws, therefore, should be made either for the decision of civil causes or the punishment of offences.He did not see how the argument could be carried further except for this observation: that this Constitution of New Hampshire was made 101 years ago; this provision still remained, and, therefore, he was fairly entitled to say that the Americans not only in the Constitution affecting the Congress, but in the Constitutions affecting the States, had laid down a general law entirely in accordance with the Amendment of his noble Friend. He did not wish to refer to the circumstances of Ireland, but he would make this remark: When he found the same principle in this Constitution of America, from the Gulf States across the great continent even to California, he could not help observing that there was a general recognition of that principle, and a desire that it should receive every authority and emphasis on every legitimate and proper occasion.
§ * MR. HALDANE (Haddington)
was not going to follow the right hon. Member for West Birmingham into that broader con- 1513 troversy which he had attempted to raise with hon. Members opposite, and his reason was a very simple one. The right hon. Gentleman went into these other matters which had really nothing to do with the Amendment before the Committee—on the Debate on the Second Reading of this Bill, and unless they confined themselves to what seemed to him to be the real point in these matters they would never get through their work. There was one observation which was made by the right hon. Gentleman which struck him very much. He said that there was a uniformity in the arguments of Ministers, who said that the Amendments were too broad, and could not be accepted on that ground. No one could complain of uniformity of argument on the part of his right hon. Friend, whose present argument amounted to this: that they ought to accept words which would be improper for their purpose because there had been decisions in the United States to put them right. It was really most astonishing why this Amendment was brought forward. It showed that a little knowledge and a good deal of dragging of dusty textbooks from the shelves at the Library at the last moment was a dangerous thing. If they looked at the provisions of the American Constitution, they would find that the provisions, as there interpreted in the context in which they occurred, had a significance totally different from that in which it was proposed to insert these words, and contained nothing of the kind which his noble Friend the Member for West Edinburgh was proposing at the present time. It was distinctly laid down by the greatest International writers of America that these words had received a purely technical interpretation which had limited their meaning exclusively to criminal matters. He had not been able to get Kent's work, which was, perhaps, in the possession of some other hon. Gentleman, but he had looked at it elsewhere. He had, however, been able to get one of the few remaining textbooks which were left in the Library—namely, Story's work, which was of equal authority. This was what Story had said. Speaking of ex post facto laws, he said—The term ex post facto laws in a comprehensive sense embrace all retrospective laws, or all 1514 laws which govern past transactions, whether they are of a criminal or a civil nature; and there hare not been wanting learned minds who have contended, with no small force of authority and reasoning, that such ought to be the interpretation of the terms of the Constitution of the United States. But the general interpretation has been this: that the phrase applies to cases of a criminal nature only, and the prohibition reaches every law whereby an act is declared a crime, and is made punishable as such, when it was not a crime before.By the indulgence of the hon. Member for King's Lynn, who had left this book—Cooley on the Constitution—a most valuable work, he had been able to refer to this authority, and he found a passage in which it was stated that all States were forbidden to pass ex post facto laws, which in terms embraced all retrospective law, but which in the Constitutional sense was restricted and limited exclusively to laws of a criminal character. His noble Friend had proposed an Amendment, which was not to be found in the America Constitution, because he was proposing to bring in terms which were intended to apply, not only to cases of criminal liability, but to cases of civil contract. He, for one, should object to see any such Amendment introduced, and he would say why. In the first place, it was not in any subordinate Constitution which was modelled on any analogy which was drawn from our own. For instance, no such limitation existed in the Constitutions which we had given to any of our Colonies; and, again, what he thought was even stronger, no such limitation existed in Section 92 of the British North America Act, so that in the case where the powers were limited more closely than the powers of the Irish Legislative Body there was no trace of any such Amendment. Suppose they did carry the Amendment, what then? He thought he could give the House three illustrations as to its effect. Some 11 years ago they passed an Act, by a Conservative Chancellor, called the Settled Land Act. That Land Act interfered in the rudest fashion with contracts, and declared all past settlements and prohibitions void so far as they affected the limited owner from selling the land or leasing it, or taking it away from the remainder-man who was to come after him, leaving him money in place of the land and giving other powers. If this Amendment were carried it would be impossible for the Irish Legislature to pass any 1515 Acts analogous to that which was one of the most beneficial Acts in the Statute Book. Again, take the case of the Irish Land Act of 1887, which was passed by a Conservative Government, and which contained ex post facto legislation interfering with rights created by contract, and which had been sanctioned and received recognition from Parliament. No legislation of that kind could be passed, although such a measure might be absolutely necessary to the peace, order, and good government of Ireland. He might also instance the Crofters' Act. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham had suggested that the Amendment should be limited to the Criminal Law, but that point did not arise; it was not within the scope of the Amendment. He did not believe that the Irish Parliament would resort to legislation of the objectionable character to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred. If he had thought so, he should not be supporting a proposal for granting Home Rule. He supported the proposal in the interests of peace and good government in Ireland, and the Amendment was prejudicial to that object in every shape and form.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)
I listened with gratification to the interesting speech of my hon. and learned Friend opposite (Mr. Haldane). I confess that during part of his speech I was in doubt whether he was speaking for or against the Amendment, for many of the observations which fell from him appear to me to tell strongly in favour of the Amendment. The argument which we have heard obviously divides itself into two parts, the first being whether we are going to give the powers of retrospective legislation in civil matters. In regard to civil matters, I admit that there are occasions when retrospective legislation is absolutely necessary; and the only question is by what Legislature that retrospective action should be undertaken? If I required proof to show that retrospective action is in essence of a dangerous character, which ought never to be given to a subordinate Legislature, but ought to be retained by the Imperial Legislature in its own hands, those instances I should draw from the speech made by the hon. and learned Member for Haddington. What were his cases? Those most relevant to Irish history were two-fold. They were the cases in which what he 1516 called the breaking of leases was permitted—I do not admit the accuracy of the term—by the Act of 1887, and the wiping out of arrears under the Crofters' Act. Do you mean to give those powers to an Irish Parliament? I cannot conceive how any man who looks beyond law books and opens his eyes to the real living facts of Irish history would be prepared to trust an Irish Parliament with the power of wiping out arrears of rent or dealing with contracts between landlord and tenant in the way they are dealt with by the Act of 1887. The Act of 1887 with regard to leases may have been right or wrong. I am prepared, on any proper occasion, to defend the course taken by the Government of which I was a Member; but I say, undoubtedly, it was a course which required the strongest justification, which involved principles of legislation which this House accepted at the time with the utmost hesitation, and which, I am sure, they would be insane if they gave into the hands of any Legislature less impartial than that to which we belong. I say less impartial, not because I am laying down the proposition that the individuals of which this Parliament is composed are wiser or more prudent necessarily than those of which the future Irish Legislature would be composed, but because they are drawn from a much wider area, and represent more varied interests, and because the controversies between the different bodies of men interested in Irish land were decided upon in 1887 by a great body of Members who themselves had no personal interest whatever in the decision of these controversies. I do not say that in the past our measures have always been wise. I am inclined to think we have, in many ways, dealt rashly with these questions of property in Ireland; but to hand over all these delicate and difficult questions to an Irish Parliament in which the majority will represent one interest and one interest alone—to hand over to them the control of the interest of all other parties in the controversy—would be not merely unwisdom, but would reach the limit of criminal folly. Is the other case of interference by retrospective legislation in civil matters less pregnant with lessons to this Committee? The Crofters Act wiped ont arrears. But here, again, it was done by a Parliament in which the 1517 crofters themselves or those interested in wiping out the arrears formed a small body in the House, and in which the great majority of the House, whether they decided rightly or wrongly, decided without personal bias or interest. If you are going to hand over to the Irish Parliament, nine-tenths of whom will represent directly the tenant farmers of Ireland, the power to wipe out debts due by them to the landlords, it seems to me you are deliberately opening the way to the most reckless form of confiscation. Therefore, oven in civil matters, I, for one, boldly avow I would not give the power of retrospective legislation to the Irish Parliament, though, I admit, the power of retrospective legislation must exist somewhere. I pass from the civil and I come to the criminal case; and here let me repeat to the Government the question put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), and not as yet answered. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that the phrase ex post facto is one on which decisions have been given in America, and that the words have the most precise meaning according to the American judgment given on them. But the Attorney General will not admit that the Courts of America can guide us as to the meaning of the words in an English Act, though when we were discussing the definition of the phrase "due process of law" a night or two since, we were thrown back by him upon American precedents alone as a sufficient and conclusive guide on the point. What answer has been given by the Government? The hon. and learned Member for Haddington (Mr. Haldane) did not deal with the words, except in so far as to say that the words were introduced into the American Constitution in a context different to that in which it is employed in this Bill; and he implied to the Committee that it was the context in the words of the American Constitution which made the whole difference in their meaning. I am sceptical about that. I do not pretend to have done more in this matter than follow the procedure so scorned by the hon. and learned Member for Haddington—namely, taken down a dusty book from the shelves in the Library, to make myself acquainted hastily with the legal bearings in the case. Whether he has 1518 devoted many hours to the study of the American law as distinguished from the English law I cannot say.
§ * MR. HALDANE
I did not complain that they took the text books down hastily; but I complained of their taking them down hastily and reading them wrong.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Nobody as yet, as far as I know, has been convicted of reading them wrong. I think my noble Friend read them with perfect accuracy. As the hon. and learned Gentleman thinks the context in this question is so important to the meaning of the words, I will read the context. Section 10 provides that—No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation, grant of letters of marque or reprisal, coin money, emit bills of credit, make anything but gold or silver legal tender in payment of debts, pass any bill of attainder or any ex post facto law, or law impairing contracts, or grant any title of nobility.There is the context; and I leave it to my hon. and learned Friend to make any use he likes of it in order to show that the context in which these words are used has the slightest effect on their meaning. That meaning the Courts in America have interpreted, and that meaning the Courts in England—with the assistance, I presume, of decisions of the Courts in America—will be able to interpret. We may, therefore, dismiss from our minds the idea that there is any ambiguity, or that there will be any difficulty in interpreting them. There remains only one further question to be decided, and one further argument to be met, so far advanced by Government speakers; and that is: Is this provision against ex post facto legislation in criminal matters so obviously unnecessary and absurd that we are throwing superfluous insult upon the Legislative Body to be erected in Ireland? I cannot conceive on what grounds this opinion can be held. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Haddington says these words are not introduced into any of our Colonial Acts, and especially are not introduced into the Canadian Act. He told us that this limitation on the power of subordinate and Provincial Legislatures in Canada was not introduced by the North America Act. That is perfectly true; and if we were going to establish in Ireland a Provincial 1519 Legislature on the model of the Canadian Legislature it might be unnecessary to introduce these words. But the Government refuse to adopt any such course. They insist that the powers given to the Irish Legislature shall not be enumerated, whereas the Canadian Act lays down that the powers given to the Provincial Legislatures shall be enumerated. But that is not all, for amongst those powers given to the Provincial Legislature in Canada is expressly excluded the power of dealing with Criminal Law and procedure. It is not necessary to forbid them to pass ex post facto laws in criminal matters, because they can pass no Criminal Laws whatever.
§ * MR. HALDANE
said, they could pass ex post facto laws on civil matters which came within their purview.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
It was not within the Canadian Act, because it was not only unnecessary, but its inclusion would be absolute nonsense. But it has been put into the Constitution of every State of the American Union, and the American precedent is swept aside by my hon. and learned Friend as if it were not worth a moment's talk. I do not say that we are bound to regard the American precedent as conclusive; what I do say, however, is that it is worthy of consideration, and no American authority, as far as I know, has ventured to say that this particular provision is obsolete, and that if the Constitution had to be re-enacted those were words which they would willingly omit. There has been an attempt to break this law in various cases. These cases came before the Supreme Court over and over again, and that there has been a long series of decisions as to what ex post facto legislation was proves that it has been attempted in various States of the American Union. Why should not that which the experience of America has shown to have happened in the United States take place in Ireland? I presume that the Debate will not close without the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) taking some notice of the challenge of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham.
§ MR. DILLON
The Member for Mayo will take no notice of the challenge until he has been supplied with information as to the date of the speech 1520 and the newspaper from which the report is taken.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I will give the hon. Gentleman all the information that he desires. The passage which I quoted is taken from a speech made by the hon. Gentleman on December 5, 1886, and reported in the The Freeman's Journal.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
At Kilmovee. The speech was made on December 5, 1886, and appeared in The Freeman's Journal of December 6.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman has got all the information he desired. ["No!"] Well, all that he asked for—possibly more than he desires—and I am sure the hon. Gentleman will give the Committee his views on the subject by-and-bye. In America this limitation has been proved necessary by experience. In Ireland, where the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham pointed out that circumstances existed which would make ex post facto legislation probable, where some of the leading Irish politicians have made speeches which indicate not merely that the danger exists, that a policy has been formulated—there, of all countries in the world, this limitation ought to be put in by those who are responsible for this measure. I would ask the Government whether they really think they will strengthen their position in this House or in the country when they refuse Amendments which are directed against obvious dangers, when they cannot point out a single flaw in the arguments in support of those Amendments, or any real objection to their adoption?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I do not intend to traverse the whole region of this Debate. The question that has been raised between my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) and my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) is one into which I shall not enter at the present stage of the discussion. A challenge has been delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, concerning which the hon. Member for East Mayo has asked for information and desires to consult the report; and in these circumstances, and until we know what further may be said upon 1521 this matter, I think I ought to pass it by, and especially as the matter is irrelevant to the discussion. I rise to speak upon the question which constituted the main part of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. In the early portion of his speech the right hon. Gentleman contended strongly that the Irish Legislature ought to be deprived of the power of making ex post facto laws in civil and ordinary matters. Having demonstrated that proposition to his own satisfaction, he argued strongly in favour of the present Amendment, in the full prevision that it was an Amendment effectually limited to criminal matters. The point upon which I wish to address the Committee is the appeal made to the American provision. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham claimed at the beginning of his speech that, as the Government have adopted one provision from the American Constitution, when another provision was produced they ought not to decline to accept it. Is there anything strange in adopting one provision as applicable to the purpose in view while we decline to adopt, another which, in our judgment, is not applicable? Because you have sufficient reason for adopting one provision, you do not admit on that account that everything in that portion of the Constitution has a claim upon you? It comes to us, no doubt, with such authority as is to be derived from the admirable manner in which that Constitution was adapted to the exigencies of that country; but it comes to us otherwise with no presumption whatever in its favour, unless we see that it is applicable to the exigencies of our own country also. I cannot, therefore, admit any primâ facie argument which would lead my right hon. Friend to have the right he thinks he has to require from us the adoption of anything of which he might approve from the American Constitution. We have before us two classes of precedents. The one is the precedent afforded us by the American Constitution—which is not a single but a plural precedent, because, on the one hand, the restriction has been adopted by the States upon themselves, and, on the other hand, it has been imposed by the States upon the Federal Constitution. We have another class of precedents, and that is the precedents of our own Colonial Legislatures. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition 1522 says that this power of retrospective legislation ought never to be accorded to a subordinate Legislature. The right hon. Gentleman has in his view a whole series of our legislative enactments with regard to our Colonial Legislatures; and in every one of them this power has been left free and unembarrassed to the subordinate Legislatures.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The right hon. Gentleman thinks the Legislatures of the Colonies are not subordinate; I affirm they are. Then I want to know whether it is a little technicality or a Constitutional principle? The right hon. Gentleman denies the supremacy of Parliament. He does not admit that the supremacy of Parliament rules through the Empire; and when I turn to a Colonial Legislature—I say, if you like, the Constitution of Western Australia—and term it a subordinate Legislature, he says I am only making use of a legal technicality. The right hon. Gentleman denies the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. Why, Sir, the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament is visible from one extremity of the Empire to the other. We have got, at any rate, in dealing with this strange doctrine Acts that reach over a series of years—Acts whereby Colonial Legislatures have been created to whom this power was given. Those are facts that the right hon. Gentleman should not overlook. We have the authority of a long series of legislative Acts for our own people, in our own Empire—Acts which were considered by this House of Parliament, and these, amongst a variety of circumstances, might be considered to have some relevancy to this case. I will go further, and point out why it is we may suppose the wisdom of the American Constitution to act as has been indicated in regard to this provision, and why it is that our standpoint is just in its application to this case. In America there is no supreme Legislature. The State Legislatures were originally supreme; but they devolved a portion of their supremacy on the Federal Government, and only retained the portion which was locally applicable to each of them. The Federal Government received from the States certain prerogatives and powers, and no 1523 more. America has proceeded in the only way she could proceed by this Treaty between the Federal Government on the one side and the States on the other side. The States have this right of ex post facto legislation. And by the arrangement between the States and the Federal Government there is no authority to check it. But there is no authority to check such legislation. That is why we are not called upon to sanction it. We have only to allow the legislative authority to be exercised subject to the authority of the Imperial Parliament. In America there is no control. The distinction is, I think, as clear as noonday. In England we have the control of the Imperial Parliament, and, that being so, there is no reason why we should adopt the Amendment which has been proposed.
§ SIR H. JAMES (Bury, Lancashire)
said, he did not wish to detain the Committee. He would not enter into the general argument that had arisen; but he would like to say a word or two with regard to the last argument of the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman said they ought to impose on the Irish Legislature that which they had not imposed upon other Legislatures. For his (Sir H. James's) part, he had thought there was a great difference between the supremacy over the Colonial Parliaments and the supremacy intended to be exercised over the Irish Legislature. There was a supremacy of the Imperial Parliament over the Colonial Legislature; but they had never exercised it.
§ SIR H. JAMES
said, they had never, he thought—seldom at all events—exercised it in reference to internal matters, such as criminal legislation. The Legislatures existed free from actual interference in these matters. They did not retain the power by anything like Clauses 3 and 4 of the present Bill; and the supremacy that existed was one which made the Colonial Legislature subject to the general supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. But in this case it was not a general supremacy, but a particular supremacy, that was retained. He did not know whether the distinction arose from, or was due to, geographical or other considerations; but it was most marked. And in this very argument he 1524 thought they had an argument which the Prime Minister had not in his mind. He asked how they were to apply to Ireland that which they did not apply to the Colonial Legislatures? There was no restriction upon the Colonial Legislatures as to dealing with the deprivation of life, liberty, and powers according to due process of law. The Prime Minister's question was, why did they not put in a provision of that kind restricting the Colonial Legislatures on these points? The answer was that it was not required. There was a difference in the case of the Irish Legislature, because, in the opinion of the Government, such a provision was required. The argument of the Prime Minister, then, was annihilated. The Prime Minister said if they had taken one restriction from the American Constitution that was no reason why they should take all restrictions from it. That was in reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain); but the right hon. Gentleman had not suggested that if they took one therefore they should take all. What the right hon. Gentleman did suggest, and what should be pressed upon the Prime Minister, was that if one clause was taken, and if there was another clause or provision which was cognate to it—which bore a similarity to it—it might be considered whether it would not be possible to take it, or whether it ought not to be taken also. The Government would not allow the Irish Legislature to deprive persons of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; but, at the same time, they were willing to allow the punishment of death upon a person who would only have been subject to non-capital punishment before his crime was committed. If they took two clauses of this character he did not see why they should put in one and leave out the other which was similar to it in effect and direction. There were no arguments of a purely political character. They were framing a Constitution, and they must look at what was necessary to that work. He submitted that the Amendment was entitled to the favourable consideration of the House.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 240; Noes 270.—(Division List, No. 156.)1525
§ * VISCOUNT WOLMER
said, he had next to move in page 2, line 33, at end, insert "impairing the obligation of contracts, or." He said this also was taken from the American Constitution. This was not a restriction binding on Congress, but upon the States alone. The observations of the hon. Member for Haddington (Mr. Haldane) in reference to the last Amendment proposed would, perhaps, be applied in this case also; but he would point out that he was not departing from the proper context, as the Amendment, if put into operation, would come immediately after Sub-section 5, which read—(5.) Whereby any person maybe deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, in accordance with settled principles and precedents, or may be denied the equal protection of the laws, or whereby private property may be taken without just compensation; or.In this he was following the American law—the provision relating to matters of this character coming in that law immediately at the tail end of a whole series of restrictions on the powers granted. In this case the restrictions would be imposed in the actual place in the section corresponding with that in the American Constitution. He noticed that his hon. Friend the Member for the Arfon Division of Carnarvonshire (Mr. Rathbone) proposed to move an Amendment to this Amendment. He proposed to insert after "contracts" the words—Except with the consent of Parliament testified by an Address to Her Majesty from each House of Parliament.Of course, there was nothing in the American Constitution analogous to this proposed Amendment. He (Viscount Wolmer) would have no objection to adding the words, but he thought they would add nothing to the force of his Amendment; if anything, he rather thought they would derogate from its importance. His opinion was that such powers as were mentioned in the Amendment should never be given to a subordinate Legislature; and he thought—and he hoped the Committee would think with him—that there were special subjects connected with Ireland which rendered this question one of vital importance. On all matters other than land the question of contracts would be on the same level in Ireland as it would be in this country; but he was prepared to argue that the question of land in Ireland created a state of things totally 1526 different from that found in any other country. What were the views of Irish Members on the subject of land legislation? They wore well known to be in favour of further curtailment of the judicial rents fixed under the Act passed by the present Leader of the House. The hon. Member for Cork, speaking in Tipperary in 1885, had said—If our struggle is a hard one the rewards and prizes of victory will be very great—prairie rents for the farmer, and less than prairie rents, if possible, for the labourer.Mr. Davitt, until recently a Member of the House, had said the same thing at a later period—since, in fact, the commencement of the "union of hearts" theory. He had said—Twenty per cent reduction of judicial rents will be no permanent relief to Irish industry. Ten years hence it would be as heavy a burden as the existing rental.Had the Irish Members changed their minds?
§ * VISCOUNT WOLMER
said, that almost every word he was now saying about Home Rule had been incorporated in his address in 1885. The Irish Members had never concealed their opinion that the existing judicial rents were not low enough, and that they should be still more curtailed. That might or might not be a fair and proper view. He did not mean to argue that; but what he wished to point out was that Her Majesty's Government and the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government had a special and particular responsibility in the matter—they having fixed the rents. Had the landlords fixed them, or had they had anything to say in the matter? If there was one man more than another responsible for the rents at present existing it was the Prime Minister. They were the work of the whole Liberal Party; but the right hon. Gentleman was Prime Minister at the time. It seemed to him that the Government were of opinion that the subject of land legislation should be withdrawn from Ireland, otherwise why had they left it outside the purview of the Irish Legislature for three years? With what object had that been done? Was it the intention of the right hon. Gentleman and his Government to deal with the question themselves 1527 within that period? Did they mean to settle that question for ever, so that the question of land should no longer divide classes or interests in Ireland? If so, that would be an answer to the greater part of the Amendment. But, if the right hon. Gentleman was not prepared to say that, he must explain why he would at the expiration of three years leave this question of land contracts to be dealt with by gentlemen who had declared themselves to be in favour of reducing the judicial rents.
§ * VISCOUNT WOLMER
Then what did they call contracts, if agreements to pay rents fixed by a Court of Justice were not contracts? To say that because the Australian and Canadian Parliaments, which were subordinate, were at liberty to legislate upon the Land Question, the Irish Parliament, which would also be subordinate, therefore should not have this subject withheld from it was to compare two things which had no correlation whatever. These Colonies might demand to sever their connection with us and to become separate Nationalities. If they did, would the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, or his Colleagues, be prepared to resist their demand by force of arms? No; but in the case of Ireland, would they not forbid that severance under any circumstances? Was there a single supporter of the Government who had not at one time or another stated that under no circumstances would he consent to the independence of Ireland?
§ * VISCOUNT WOLMER
There was an hon. Member sitting on the Ministerial side of the House who would permit Ireland to become independent. Very well. He would leave that hon. Gentleman to settle the matter with his constituents. But, with the single exception of the hon. Member, there was no one else on those Benches who would be prepared to admit the principle of separation between the two countries. To object to the Amendment on the plea that the Colonial Parliaments were subordinate and that this power was not withdrawn from them, and, therefore, ought not to be withheld from the subordinate Irish Parliament, was playing on the mere similarity of 1528 words—words used to convey a totally different meaning.
In page 2, line 33, after the word "or," to insert as a new sub-section the words "(6) Impairing the obligation of contracts; or."—(Viscount Wolmer.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)
said, he begged to move as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, after "contracts," to insert—Except with the consent of Parliament testified by an Address to Her Majesty from both Houses of Parliament.He would ask the attention of the Committee to a short statement of the grounds on which he believed that the Amendment, when modified as he proposed to modify it, would tend to facilitate the passing of the Bill and make its working both safer and more easy and efficient. They were assured by the Opposition that the Bill would not be allowed to pass the other House of Parliament until the country had passed it after an appeal; and it ought, therefore, to be their object, by adopting such provisions as experience had proved to be wise and efficacious in analogous cases, to satisfy that moderate part of the community on both sides who really decided the fate of elections and of measures. Now, American lawyers said that the provision under consideration had been found extremely useful in preventing hasty and unjust legislation, but that the absolute form in which it existed in America had been found to fetter too much some forms of legislation beneficial to the community. It would require in America an alteration of the Federal Constitution to enable the State Government to pass a law impairing the obligation of contract; and this, it had been held, precluded legislation such as they had found necessary to make in England, and as would have been advisable in America, to deal with companies, such as railways and others, where the Courts had held that the laws giving them concessions amounted to a contract. This disadvantage had not been sufficient to induce the Americans to alter their Federal Constitution during the 100 years of its existence; but it ought to be, and could be, met in the way he had put on the Paper, where, without 1529 the cumbrous and time-occupying machinery of a Bill whereby a single discussion and a single vote of the Imperial Parliament any safe and beneficial law or part of a law passed by the Irish Parliament could be sanctioned, which otherwise, under the proposed Amendment, would not be legal. He was quite aware that Irish Members might at first sight think that this would undesirably fetter them in dealing with important questions, say the Land Question; but he thought he could show that it would not interfere with any just or wise legislation in this respect, but would clear the way and make such legislation more practicable, while, at the same time, it would calm the fears of capitalists generally, including those whose capital was invested in land; and, looking to the importance for Ireland to attract and retain capital, this in itself would be a very great benefit. He was sure every thoughtful Irishman would see that if, as was intended, and as he hoped and believed the United Kingdom would do, it continued to lend £40,000,000 to Ireland to facilitate land purchase, it would require some precaution that the security on which it had advanced this large sum did not seriously endanger the securities on which it was advanced, however much it might trust the good intentions of the present and future rulers of Ireland. Now, the Amendment, as modified by his proposed Amendment, placed the initiative and practical suggestion and consideration of land legislation in Ireland where it would be best understood. The First and Second Reading, Committee, and Report stage would be undertaken by the Irish Parliament; but the mortgagee's assent would be required in its simplest form, and thus security would be given to him and other capitalists similarly circumstanced to measures dealing with the security on which their money had been advanced. On every side he thought this would be an advantage. Everyone who had really taken the trouble to study to its origin and to the bottom the Irish Land Question must realise that all its difficulties had arisen from the fact that whereas in England the Common Law, as established by the Judges, and the legislation arising therefrom, had been founded upon the customs, habits, and needs of English life and circumstances, in Ireland their laws had been 1530 settled, not on Irish needs, circumstances, equities, and the customs arising therefrom, but by the ultimate appeal to English Judges and English law, on the totally different circumstances, wants, and customs existing in England. They were only now beginning to realise, and had not realised yet, the fact that the relation of landlord and tenant, as existing in England, was almost non-existent in Ireland, where they were, instead, joint owners of the land; and he believed it would be a positive advantage that the initiation and discussion of any further improvements that might be required in land legislation should take place in Ireland, where they did know something about it, than here, where they were still very ignorant on the subject. Only one argument more, but it was an important one. He believed firmly that the leaders of the Irish people had every intention and determination to work a Home Rule Bill with prudence and discretion; but he believed that no one was more interested than they were in this Bill being passed with such restrictions and limitations as would strengthen their hands in resisting unreasonable expectations and demands. Till the country had settled down and come to understand what was possible by legislation, he believed it would be impossible, even by so powerful a man as Mr. Parnell himself was, to pass legislation without making promises which could not be carried out; and on this ground, he thought, a provision such as the modified one he ventured to recommend to the House would be invaluable. He was quite aware that there were provisions in the Government Bill which they considered would be more effectual than the one under consideration; but they rested on argument, this rested on experience; and that extremely stupid person, the capitalist, whether great or small, was much more easily pacified by a precaution which experience had proved to be effectual than by one which he was only assured, on authority however high, would be so. And let them think how important credit and capital were and would be to the Irish Government.
Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, after the word "contracts," to insert the words—
Except with the consent of Parliament, testified by an Address to Her Majesty from both Houses of Parliament."—(Mr. Rathbone.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be inserted in the proposed Amendment.
§ * SIR C. RUSSELL
said, the hon. Member was much more sanguine than he was if he thought that his Amendment, even if it were accepted by the Government, would do much to conciliate an opposition which had been all along of so uncompromising a kind.
§ SIR C. RUSSELL
said, the entire argument, both of the noble Lord and of his hon. Friend, dealt with the question of land legislation and legislation relating to landlord and tenant.
§ * SIR C. RUSSELL
said, his hon. Friend's speech was mainly directed to land legislation, and that properly came for consideration he submitted under Clause 35; and, so far as that branch of the question was concerned, he (Sir C. Russell) wished to state the view of the Government with regard to it. There was in Clause 35 a provision preventing the Irish Legislative Body from dealing at all with this question of land for three years. The position of the case at the end of that time, assuming the Bill to become law, would be either that the Imperial Parliament would in the meantime have dealt with the question, or that it would have upon it the obligation of fixing the terms and the conditions upon which it would delegate to the Irish Legislature the power to deal with it.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
It would shorten our proceedings if the hon. and learned Gentleman would tell us how in Clause 35 that policy is carried out, or whether he proposes to modify Clause 35 in order to carry it out?
§ SIR C. RUSSELL
If Clause 35 is inapt for the purpose I have indicated, it may be necessary to make some alteration in it. The effect of the clause as it 1532 stands is to deprive the Irish Legislature of all authority on the Land Question for three years.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Does not Clause 35 deal only with temporary restrictions, and when they are removed will not the Irish Parliament have absolute authority?
§ * SIR C. RUSSELL
said, that he could not make his point any clearer. The present clause was taken, as the noble Lord quite correctly stated, from the American States Constitution. The first observation he would make on the Amendment was that it would be found in every text writer that such a clause was a grievous impediment in the way of admittedly useful legislation. A great deal of litigation which had arisen had been in relation to contracts, said to be evidenced by grants from the State—Charters to Corporations and the like. He had given his reason why he was not considering that portion of the clause dealing with the relations of landlord and tenant. The Resolution, if carried as amended, would render it impossible for the Legislative Body to do anything which would in any way impair the obligation of contract, except on an Address by the two Houses of Parliament. What was the meaning of that? Why the Irish Legislative Body would be excluded from legislation extending over a large area of subjects which had been found most useful and necessary in this country. Some illustrations had been given by the hon. Member for Haddington, which undoubtedly had some bearing on the earlier Amendment, but which had a more direct bearing on the particular subject now before the Committee. But there were other illustrations. There was an English Act taking away from the landlord of property a right of re-entry upon breach of a stipulation; if the nature of the breach was such that it could be remedied by the payment of damages. That provision was applicable to leases made either before or after the passing of the Act, and should have effect notwithstanding any stipulation to the contrary. In other words, Parliament had recognised that there was a case in which, but for legislation which directly impaired the obligation of contract, injustice would be done, and it sanctioned that impairing of the obligation of contract. 1533 The next illustration was to be found in the Settled Land Act affecting the common case of quit rent or rent charge issuing out of the land. A man might invest his money in that particular way; but though a bargain might have been made whereby a fixed quit rent was to be secured for ever, the Legislature stepped in and said the landowner might claim the right of discharging that quit rent altogether. Then, under the Act of 1882, which was passed when Lord Selborne was Lord Chancellor, in the case of settlement contracts with a remainder to others, it was laid down that, even where such settlement was embodied in an Act of Parliament, it was for the general good that there should be power in the tenant for life to sell the whole estate, instead of the remainder-man getting what he was entitled to under his contract. The remainder-man got the purchase money represented by his interest in the estate. That provision, again, operated retrospectively. Although these illustrations did not upset the general proposition that a contract was not a thing to be lightly interfered with, they showed that the matter was not one which ought to be taken out of a Legislature passing laws in the interest in the community. The hon. Member for Carnarvon said he, did not wish to make interference with contracts impossible—that all he wanted to do was to substitute an easy method—and he (Sir C. Russell) was amazed at the language the hon. Member used—which would leave to the Irish Legislative Body the initiation of legislation of this nature, though the concurrence of the House of Commons, and, what was still more difficult to obtain, the concurrence of the House of Lords, would have to be obtained. The hon. Member was much more sanguine than he (Sir C. Russell) would be. In his opinion, the Amendment of his hon. Friend would be an aggravation of the difficulty and not a mitigation of it. These were the reasons why the Government could not accept the Amendment as originally proposed, or as it was proposed to amend it.
§ MR. RATHBONE
said, he moved his Amendment as a matter of expediency, because he considered that, for a time at least, and especially if the Irish Legislature were to deal with land in Ireland, it would diminish immediate difficulty in 1534 this Parliament if the Irish measures had to be passed by it as Provisional Orders were now passed through both Houses.
§ * MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
said, that the hon. and learned Member for Haddingtonshire had narrowed the argument so successfully that he had succeeded in getting rid of every notion or idea that they were discussing a great Constitutional issue, and had reduced them to a level of a purely technical legal discussion. The Attorney General, who they had hoped would have raised the level of the discussion, was, he regretted to say, a good deal disappointing. That hon. and learned Member and others who had taken the Government view of the present Amendment had asked what were the grounds on which those of them who spoke on behalf of the Irish Unionists based their demands? There were many of those grounds; but he would begin them by quoting from an authority who had been appealed to already, not once or twice, but many times, by the Attorney General and his Colleagues. The Unionists believed it was desirable that there should be some provision in the Bill to prevent the impairing of the obligation of contracts for precisely the same reason which operated on the mind of that distinguished person, the practical constructor of the American Constitution. Mr. Hamilton, said—Ex post facto laws and laws impairing the obligation of contracts are contrary to the just principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation.It might be said that there was no necessity to guard against things that were so improbable that there was no danger of their being done; but that was not the opinion of Mr. Hamilton when he wrote in the Federalist as to the necessity for this Article in the American Constitution. He wrote—Our own experience has taught us that additional fences against those dangers ought not to be omitted.The Attorney General had shown no reason whatever why they should take a different view to that adopted by the framers of the American Constitution, and he had entirely failed to meet the contention of those who said there were a thousand reasons of the strongest kind why they should be anxious to give shape in the Bill to the proposals that were 1535 thought adequate by the framers of that Constitution. One of the inevitable results of the recent absence of the Attorney General from this country was that he had not had the advantage of hearing the Debates which had taken place during the early part of these discussions. He was certain that if the hon. and learned Gentleman had been present he would have been anxious not to add one drop to the ocean of cant, the cataract of sentimentality with which they had been overwhelmed since the Session began. He hoped they would hoar no more of the saintly character of the proposed Irish Legislature.
§ * MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said, the hon. and learned Member had not used those words; but he had endowed the Irish Council with attributes which could only adorn a Parliament of Saints. He (Mr. Arnold-Forster) and other Unionist Members from Ireland did not in the least value these protestations of confidence in the future Irish Legislature. No one who had seen the men who were to be the leaders and promoters of that Legislature at work, and who bad followed the work they had done, could value a snap of the finger these everlasting appeals as to the virtues of a future Irish Legislature. The Attorney General might just as well drop that class of argument for any good it was likely to do. [Cries of "Question!"] The Government took the view that hon. Gentlemen on the other side were likely to be not only an efficient but extraordinarily moral and wise body of men. Well, he (Mr. Arnold-Forster) took an exactly contrary view. He did not know on what ground the Government and their supporters based their views. He knew the ground on which he and his friends based theirs. They said that hon. Members opposite would do in the future precisely what they had done in the past, and what they had told them they would do, and he had found himself utterly unable to take the stand indicated by the Prime Minister and the Attorney General, and say, "These men have lied, and lied, and lied." [Cries of "Order!" and interruption.]
* THE CHAIRMAN
I would call the attention of the hon. Member to the fact 1536 that he is not speaking to the Amendment.
§ * MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
I readily recognise your ruling, Sir, but my object was to point out—[Cries of "Order!" and "Withdraw!"] I have nothing to withdraw. [Cries of "Order!"] Well, I will put it in this way: You cannot at present persuade me that all that hon. Gentlemen opposite have said is untrue.
§ MR. MACFARLANE (Argyll)
I rise to Order. Is it in Order for an hon. Gentleman to charge against a large number of Members in this House that they have "lied, and lied, and lied"?
The reason I rose was because what the hon. Member was saying was altogether apart from the Amendment. I really must ask the hon. Member to keep to the point.
§ MR. MACFARLANE
Do I understand your ruling to be that it is competent to charge men with having lied?
If the hon. Member had made that charge I should have called him to Order. The hon. Gentleman who rose to Order could not have heard what the hon. Member said.
§ * MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said, that what he desired to point out was that the appeal made by the Attorney General, and those who took his view, was that they could safely dispense with these safeguards, because they had no reason to anticipate that acts would be done by the Irish Legislature which would come in conflict with the principles of equity and justice. If that argument were a sound one, thou the reply of the Attorney General was to the point and practical. But his belief was that there were no reason whatever to agree with these anticipations, and as there were no safeguards in the Bill, it was the duty of the Committee to provide them. There was a very serious danger that the Irish Legislature would, on a very early day in its career, take steps to do away with the obligations of contract; and in saying that, he relied on the statements which had frequently been made by Nationalist Members as to what they proposed to do when they had the government of Ireland in their hands. If those promises were attempted to be carried out, it would be the duty of this Imperial Parliament instantly to put its powers into force to restrain them. It should be remembered that the Nationalist 1537 Members regarded and judged certain matters in relation to the administration of the Civil and Criminal Law, and especially the law relating to contracts, from a point of view entirely different from the point of view from which they were regarded and judged by the English people. They had told the Irish people over and over again that the obligation of contract, as English people understood it, was not binding, and that at the very first moment they got the opportunity they would release the Irish people from the obligations they had contracted. In fact, at the present moment Nationalist Members were continuing that course of procedure, for they were attempting to defy the existing law with regard to contracts, and to persuade the people of Ireland that not only was it their duty to ignore the obligations of contract, but that they would be held harmless if they disregarded these obligations. They had all heard of "Pandeen O'Rafferty's Catechism" and the "No-Rent" Manifesto. Those documents were aimed deliberately at existing contracts. The statements of hon. Gentlemen opposite with regard to contracts were not merely the accidents of the day, but were deliberately-conceived views to which they thought it their duty, as Representatives of the Irish people as they called themselves, to give expression. The opinion widely prevailed in Ireland—and it was an opinion which had been fostered by hon. Gentlemen opposite—that there was an equitable claim, which was enforcable as a legal claim, on the part of persons who, by statutory enactment and the process of the Courts, had been put out of their farms, to come back. There were a large number of members of the League who had shown an animus revertendi, coupled, he was afraid, with a mixture of animus furandi. During the present year, in the County of Limerick, a man bought a property, and had been in full enjoyment of it for four years, when one of those men who had shown the animus revertendi and the animus furandi returned from America, said the property was his, and claimed it. What happened? A meeting, which was advertised in the local papers, was held in the locality by the followers of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and the man was told that he would either have to give up the property or to 1538 pay a fine of £200 to this self-constituted tribunal in order to purge the offence of paying for and occupying his own property. If that were a just and honourable and straightforward transaction in the eyes of Nationalist Members at the beginning of this year, what evidence was there that it would not be equally just and honourable and straightforward two years hence? They had been told that this "angelic Parliament" would never endeavour to go an inch beyond the law. He would give the Committee an instance which occurred not eight or nine years ago, but within the past six months, of the kind of judicial tribunal which was held throughout the country by the supporters of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and who, indeed, in holding these tribunals, were carrying out step by step and line by line the teachings they had received from these hon. Members. This tribunal was held for the trial of one of Her Majesty's subjects, and the offence with which he was charged was that under the protection of the law he had effected a contract—in other words, that he had bought a property and had occupied it. The man was told that he must render up the property or pay a fine. The transaction was thus referred to in Court by the County Court Judge of the district—The evidence in the case disclosed a very startling state of affairs which he could not have imagined existed so far North—worse could not be heard of in Clare. If it was true as disclosed on oath by witnesses that this gang of scoundrels,—by which the learned Judge meant the local National League—
§ MR. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
Might I ask the hon. Member if there is any mention of the National League in that Report?
§ * MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
Yes, there is; not the National League, but an identical body—the Land League—
§ * MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said, the present Body was a case of Apostolic succession. But he might be allowed to finish his quotation. The County Court Judge said—If it was true, as disclosed on oath by witnesses, that this gang of scoundrels sat at this place and had the audacity to fine the defendant in this action, he assured them if they were brought before him he would certainly 1539 deal with them with a very strong hand, if it lay in his power; it was an offence against the Queen of the highest description. To say that men will be prevented from discharging their honest debts, and that it is tolerated in a civilised country is a perfect disgrace to the Government.If that were done in the green tree what would be done in the dry? These Courts were held year after year under the sanction and by the order of the National League; and he thought he was entitled to quote the actions of those who will form the Dublin Legislative Council of the future as a sure guide to what would be the course of conduct of that Legislature in regard to the obligations of contract. They had been told by the Attorney General that they ought not to insert in the Bill this provision from the American Constitution, because it would prevent the Irish Legislature from passing Acts of Indemnity and a number of other excellent Acts. The Loyalists of Ireland were, however, prepared to take that risk. The people of the United States had struggled along for years with this Magna Charta in force, and they were likely to struggle along in the future as in the past. But if it were the fact that the insertion of the Amendment in the Bill would prevent useful legislation, it must be apparent to the Attorney General, as it was apparent to every Member of the House, that there was a tribunal before whom these matters could be brought, and before whom these matters ought to be brought. There were thousands of reasons why in the state of Ireland as it was, and as it would be for years to come, it would not be desirable to bring these questions before the Irish Legislature, especially as there was another tribunal before whom they could be brought, and by which they would be decided with the assistance of Members from Ireland. That tribunal was the Imperial Parliament. He had every confidence in the Imperial Parliament, and believed it would give proper attention and consideration to every matter that was brought under its notice. He believed that if those measures ought to pass they would be passed by the Imperial Parliament, and he did not consider it a wise argument to say that these matters should be excluded from the cognisance of the Imperial Parliament 1540 merely because if brought before the Imperial Parliament they would receive scant shrift, and, after having been considered, would be negatived on their merits. But the Attorney General went further. The right hon. Gentleman had said that it was supererogatory to discuss any matter referring to the land in connection with the Amendment. Then the Irish Unionists would want to know the position they were in with respect to that question. He admitted there were important matters outside the land that were affected by the obligation of contract. But the Land Question was of overpowering importance in Ireland. The Attorney General had told them for the first time that the question of the land was put on a basis absolutely different to that on which they believed it would be placed. The right hon. Gentleman told the Committee that the clause in the Bill was not the clause he desired to put into the Act. Then they had been misled, and the Government had been parties to misleading them. What they had been justified in believing up to that moment was that for three years the Imperial Parliament was to have control of the land, and as to what might happen after those three years the Bill was silent. The conclusion which anyone of common sense, whether lawyer or layman, would draw from that was that at the end of those three years that provision would lapse, and the treatment of the Land Question would revert, simultaneously with the falling in of a large number of judicial rents, to the Irish Council.
§ * SIR C. RUSSELL
My hon. Friend is under a misapprehension as to what I said. What I did say, or intended to say (it was probably my fault), was that the question of land did not arise properly under this Amendment, because it was dealt with under Clause 35, and I said that under that clause the scheme was that for three years the Irish Parliament had nothing to do with the land, but I did not imply that it was the intention of the Government to introduce any provision differing from the effect of the provision existing in the Bill, while pointing out, as must be obvious to everyone, that it was perfectly open to the Imperial Parliament to introduce any legislation on the subject which it may think right.
§ * MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
said, he was perfectly prepared to accept the explanation of the hon. and learned Gentleman, but he thought it would be disappointing to some hon. Members now absent to find that, they bad been misled in the matter. The Committee, however, were entitled to know to what extent they were charged with the matter, and why they were not now fully competent to legislate on the question of contracts in this Bill. Night after night they had watched their liberties being shred away one by one. There were liberties common to all men; there were some which were particularly essential to a commercial community. The Government had taken away from the people of Ulster their privileges of habeas corpus and of the Petition of Right, and now they were taking away the power to legislate on contracts—a matter in which the commercial and agricultural classes in Ireland were vitally concerned—and giving it to persons whose dealings with contract had been condemned a hundred times in that House by both Parties; and whose actions bad been denounced in language of thunder by Members of the Government, to men who, as members of the Lower Division of the Dublin Council, would act in the future as they had acted in the past.
§ MR. CARSON (Dublin University)
said, be hardly thought, having regard to what had taken place during the early discussions on the Bill, that the Committee had had any sufficient explanation from the Attorney General, who was the only Member on the Treasury Bench who had addressed the Committee on this subject. On the Second Reading of the Bill the Chief Secretary was asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin why the Government had left out this important provision of the American Constitution, and the Chief Secretary said that it was a matter of extreme importance, and that the Government before going into Committee would consider whether they would not accept it as being a perfectly fair Amendment. The Chief Secretary gave two reasons for not introducing it into the Bill—first, because it failed to baffle some kinds of legislation which was objectionable; and, secondly, because it checked other kinds of legislation which 1542 were unobjectionable. These were objections that did not go to the principle of the Amendment. They might be met by so amending the Amendment that it would really baffle objectionable legislation, and remove the check to legislation that was unobjectionable. He wished to know bad the Government since the Second Reading given any consideration to the matter at all?
MR. J. MORLEY
I have given the reasons why we left out the American provision with regard to contracts, and I stated that the experience of the operation of the provision in the United States was that it did not prevent some kinds of objectionable legislation, while it impeded some kinds of legislation that was unobjectionable.
§ MR. CARSON
said, that the Amendment, could be so altered that it would baffle objectionable legislation and remove the check to legislation of an unobjectionable character.
§ MR. CARSON
asked, was there any special objection to it? On the Second Reading the Chief Secretary had said in reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin—There is no special objection to the importation of these restrictions if it is thought desirable when the Committee stage comes on, and if my right hon. Friend will argue his case he will be listened to by the Government with perfect consideration.It now appeared that this "perfect consideration" meant that before the right hon. Gentleman had argued the matter the Attorney General got up and said that the Government were determined to accept this Amendment. They knew the explanation of that change of front. The Government at the time the right hon. Gentleman made the declaration that the subject would meet with their careful consideration little knew the taskmasters they were serving. Amendments which, in the opinion of hon. Members behind them, were unobjectionable and in the interest of the loyal minority ought to be accepted the Government were not allowed to accept. The right hon. Gentleman said that this provision had been inoperative in America.
§ MR. CARSON
said, of course he and the right hon. Gentleman might differ as to what was good in reference to the obligations of contract. For instance, the right hon. Gentleman might think that the breach of contracts in relation to land was perfectly praiseworthy, while he thought that contracts in regard to land stood like all contracts, and ought to be enforced. But, to go outside the question of land, it had also been held that this provision would prevent Acts which would affect the validity of contract. Was a subordinate Parliament to be allowed to pass Acts which would affect the validity of a contract, the construction of a contract, the duration of a contract, the discharge of a contract, the evidence of a contract, and, above all, to abrogate the substantive remedy for a breach of contract? Was the Irish Legislature to have the power to take away what was practically the only substantive remedy for contracts in relation to land—namely, ejectment for nonpayment of rout? These were matters which had been brought before the American Courts, and in every one of them it had been found that the provision was operative for good. He wanted to know whether the subordinate Parliament was to have these powers in relation to contracts—the power really of putting an end to contracts altogether—and, if so, why? The Attorney General said he would not argue the question of land. He said that before the land devolved upon the Irish Legislature the Imperial Parliament would fix the powers and conditions of delegation. If so, he admitted that that was an important concession; but they wanted to know, before the Irish Legislature got the whole control over contracts, what were the powers and conditions of delegation which the Government proposed to bring into the Bill in a subsequent clause, according to the promise of the Attorney General?
§ SIR C. RUSSELL
I did not promise that the Government would bring in any; I referred to the power of the Imperial Parliament to deal with the question.
§ MR. CARSON
asked if they were to understand that the Attorney General meant that the Imperial Parliament would fix the powers and conditions of delegation?
§ * SIR C. RUSSELL
I said that Clause 35, together with Clause 4, does fix certain terms which, of course, it is in the power of the Imperial Parliament to alter if they desire to do so, but I did not pledge the Government to any intention to alter them.
§ MR. CARSON
said, he only wanted to know whether or not, according to the Attorney General, the Imperial Parliament was going to fix the powers and conditions of delegation? He hoped there would be some more light thrown upon the question. One of the very best effects of the Amendment would be that it would not, if carried, allow the Irish Parliament in anywise to deal with or infringe upon rights that had been conferred by Royal Charter. By the Bill as it stood the Irish Legislature would have the power to exercise rights which this Imperial Parliament itself had never exercised. As to the argument that the Amendment would prevent certain beneficial legislation, he admitted that the Settled Lands Act was a strong interference with private property; but his argument was not that these things might not be done, but that they ought not to be done by a subordinate Parliament in which the overwhelming interest would be the agrarian interest. Was the Irish Parliament to have the power, as regarded the evicted tenants, to confiscate the rights of those who had already acquired interests under this Parliament in evicted farms? The question in relation to the evicted Irish tenants had given rise to considerable discussion, and the Irish Members had shown that in regard to it they were at considerable variance with the rest of the Members of the Imperial Parliament. He admitted that those tenants had been very badly treated, because hon. Gentlemen opposite had held out promises to them which had never been fulfilled for the purpose of making political capital. [Cries of "Question!" and "Order!"] He alluded especially to the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works. [Renewed cries of "Order!" and "Question!"]
§ * SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
I rise to Order, Sir. It is utterly impossible to hear a word of what my hon. and learned Friend is saying in consequence of the persistent interruption of hon. Members below the Gangway.
§ MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
I rise to Order, Sir. I wish to know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman is in Order in referring to the evicted tenants?
§ MR. CARSON
said, he would confine himself strictly to the Question. He was arguing as to the probability of hon. Members below the Gangway, when they got power, interfering with contracts between landlord and tenant, and he asserted that it was entirely germane to show that not only had they themselves already so interfered by their conduct, but that they had been actually supported by the right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench in inducing tenants to break their contracts. He wished to know whether the Committee would with their eyes open allow the subordinate Parliament to interfere with contracts, and so make good the promises which the right hon. Gentleman opposite had made? What was to become of the unfortunate men who, in defiance of the Land League, had gone back to their farms carrying their lives in their hands? Did the Committee intend to give hon. Members below the Gangway the power to turn those men out of their holdings and thus to bring the law into contempt? He had hoped—[Loud cries of "Oh!" and interruption from hon. Members below the Gangway.] He wished that hon. Members below the Gangway would not take so much trouble to prolong the Debate. He hoped that the hon. Members opposite, who he had no doubt were quite as anxious that existing contracts between Irish tenants and their landlords should be carried out as hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House were, would look upon things not as they were in this country, but would take warning by what had taken place in Ireland in the past, and have regard to the past history of the Irish Nationalist Party. [Cries of "Oh!" and "Order!"]
§ Mr. Sexton
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. VICARY GIBBS (Herts, St. Albans)
said, that the Attorney General had stated that if Clause 35 was not adequate to deal with the question, words should be added. If the Government did not intend to add such words, what did the statement of the Attorney General mean? He could not help thinking that the hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken unadvisedly, and that he had since consulted with his Colleagues, and had been told to get out of the position as quickly as he could.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
There is one corner of the House from which frequent interruptions proceed, not at one period but at all periods. We have again and again appealed to hon. Members opposite to take part in the Debate. We are in possession of their views upon the whole Irish Question up to the introduction of this Bill, and we have had occasion from time to time to quote their opinions, but we ask them—[Interruption by Irish Members below the Gangway.]
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
I rise to Order, Sir. The hon. and learned Member for Louth is continually interrupting.
said, that he hoped hon. Members would not interrupt the right hon. Gentleman. It was extremely difficult to hear the Debate if the speakers were interrupted. He hoped that hon. Members would assist the Chair in this matter by preserving Order.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I was saying, Sir, that we should be glad if hon. Members opposite would favour us with their views. We have not asked them for their views as expressed previously to the introduction of this Bill, but we want to know what modification has been made in those views by the introduction of this Bill. But up to the present time we have failed to secure the slightest return to our invitation. Tonight, however, the silence is broken. The hon. Member for North Kerry has made a speech, and nobody, I am sure, will complain of the speech which he has just delivered, for all it contained was the Motion that the Question should be put. What is the question with regard to which the hon. Member desires to stop a discussion which has lasted only 1547 an hour and a half? It is a question that not only affects all contracts in Ireland, but especially those contracts which relate to land in that country, and it is, therefore, one that is certainly worthy of the careful consideration of this Committee. I have not to go far for my authority on this point. Lord Spencer on this subject said—Everybody knows there have been many feuds in Ireland and animosities which cannot be expected to die at once. Foremost is the Land Question; the whole force of Irish agitation at one time was against the Irish landlords. I do not for a moment think it would be just and honest in a British Parliament to leave unprotected and uncared for the landlords of Ireland. We have at different times curtailed their rights by Act of Parliament, and it would be a mean and treacherous thing if we did not defend what we consider their just interests.Are the Committee, at the instigation of the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton), one of the parties to this dispute, going to do the mean and treacherous thing Lord Spencer said they never would do? The Committee are called upon to treat this Amendment from two points of view—from the point of view of the Irish Land Question, to which I will return presently, and—
§ MR. SEXTON
If the right hon. Gentleman considers I am mean and treacherous, I tell him to his face it is not true.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I really do not see the relevancy of that interruption. Lord Spencer, from whom I was quoting, said that it would be a mean and treacherous thing for the British Parliament to leave the interests of Irish landlords uncared for. I quoted Lord Spencer in support of the contention that this question affecting the interests of the Irish landlords is worthy of serious consideration, and we are not going to be shut out from its serious consideration by Motions for Closure, or by the rude interruptions of hon. Members opposite. I was going to call attention chiefly to the Land Question. Before I do so there are two points upon which I would say a word. When the Amendment was moved how was it met? The Attorney General got up and said, in answer to the hon. Member for Carnarvonshire (Mr. Rathbone), who also urged the acceptance of the Amendment with the addition of his Proviso, that if the Government were to accept it he was afraid it would not conciliate the opponents of 1548 the Government. In what sense would it not do so? Is it pretended by the Government, and claimed for the first time by the present, of all Governments, that no Amendment is to be considered favourably by them unless accompanied by the assurance on behalf of the Opposition that they will be conciliated throughout the whole, course of the Bill? It is a perfectly absurd contention. I would ask the Attorney General whether, when he spoke of not conciliating the Opposition, he included hon. Members opposite? They are the Members who will not be conciliated, and under dread of whose lash the Government sit, and refuse to accept Amendments the principle of which they thoroughly approve. Then the Attorney General said there were certain contracts in land as to which a prohibition of this kind would lead to serious results, and that they had led to difficulties in the United States of America. The authorities the Attorney General quoted show clearly that the Americans, on the balance of advantage and disadvantage, approved of this in their Constitution. I think it is accepted as a principle by the Government that in all these matters, if the balance is in favour of the Amendment, the Government would accept it. American experience and authority is wholly on the side of this security afforded by this Amendment. Has any authority ever suggested there should be an amendment of the Constitution to remove this restriction? I now come to what, after all, is the main question. [cries of "Divide!"] No; we are not going to divide. Am I to be precluded by hon. Members opposite from considering the arguments of those to whom the pay a qualified allegiance? No; I have more respect for the Government than have Members opposite, who treat them as slaves. ["Divide!"] I will wait the pleasure of hon. Members. Every Member of the Government has admitted that the agrarian difficulty lies at the bottom of the Irish Question, and originated the demand for Home Rule. Therefore, when we come to the Land Question we touch the crux of the situation. Nevertheless, the Attorney General refused to say a word about the Land Question. Why? Because he said there were two alternatives in the Bill—first, the Bill provided that the 1549 Land Question should not be dealt with by the Government exhaustively and in such a manner as to constitute, a final settlement. [Cries of "Question!" "Order!" and "Divide!"] Mr. Mellor, I must appeal to you to protect me.
I appeal to hon. Members to keep Order. [Cries of "Where!"] Order, order! It is impossible to carry on a discussion unless hon. Members assist the Chair.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I was saying, as regards the first alternative of the Government, the settlement to which they refer must of necessity be an exhaustive settlement, a complete and final settlement, or else it would be no settlement at all, and it is no answer to our contention to say they were going to make a settlement, unless they had in contemplation an exhaustive and final settlement. I put it to the Committee and to the Government, Does the Government intend to make that exhaustive and final settlement of the Irish Land Question, which has been a question for centuries; and if they do, what change does the supporters of the Government think there will be for any part of the Newcastle Programme during the next three years?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I rise to Order, Sir. I wish to ask whether, in discussing the question of contracts in Ireland, it is in Order to discuss the Newcastle Programme?
The right hon. Gentleman alluded to the Newcastle Programme; he did not propose to discuss it.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL (Paddington, S.)
May I ask, Sir, whether repeated questions, frivolous questions, as to questions of Order, have not been themselves ruled by authorities in the Chair as the most disorderly thing that can be done?
§ MR. SEXTON
On a question of Order, I wish to ask whether, in regard to a question of Order to which you have given a reply, the noble Lord, who is a distinguished specialist, is entitled to 1550 stigmatise the question of Order as disorderly?
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I am afraid these interruptions have a tendency to prolong my speech, because in appealing to the supporters of the Government I wish that my meaning should be made clear, and I have to go back again in order that that should be done. I have dealt with the first alternative of the Government, and my allusion to the Newcastle Programme was intended to show that it would be really beyond their power to deal finally and exhaustively with the Irish Land Question for the next three years without abandoning the whole time of Parliament to it. I, therefore, come to the other alternative, which is that there is to be no dealing exhaustively with the Irish Land Question for the next three years, and then, said the Attorney General, the Government would make conditions and restrictions such as might be necessary to protect the interests involved. The intention of the Government is that at the expiry of three years these provisions which the Committee are now discussing and which the Government will not accept, or rather such conditions and restrictions as might be thought to be necessary or desirable, should be imposed on the Irish Legislature. Therefore, at the expiry of the three years there will be another discussion on what will be equivalent to another Home Rule Bill. The Attorney General has spoken as if it were a necessary consequence of the Bill as it stands that these conditions should be imposed. Where are the conditions in the Bill? The hon. and learned Gentleman has referred to Clause 35. But Clause 35 is headed "Transitory provisions," and only imposes restrictions for three years, so that at the end of that time, unless the Government propose a new Bill, the Irish Parliament will be free to deal with the question. The Government have to-night admitted that it would be necessary in the interests of the Irish landlords that some conditions for their benefit should be inserted. Then why in heaven's name should they not be inserted now? Why should the Committee be told that they were to wait until three years hence 1551 when they know not what may then be occupying the time of Parliament? I have seen suggestions from amateur Constitution-makers that the Government ought to divide their Bill; but I have never believed for a moment that a Government, led by the Prime Minister with all his experience, would be so foolish as to try that proposal, which would only get them out of one hole to land them in a bog infinitely deeper. The Government are apparently prepared to suggest that these provisions should be discussed in a new Parliament three years hence; and on the ground of that absolutely illusory promise to discuss them three years hence, when they do not know that they will even be in Office, they ask the Committee to give up their right to discuss the question now.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not wish to prolong this discussion, but I do wish to get an answer from the Government. The Attorney General made an interesting and powerful speech, but unfortunately in a somewhat empty House about 8 o'clock, and there was one statement he made to which I called attention at the time, and upon which we must have some more explicit information. He said the Amendment we are now discussing referred to two classes of subjects—contracts relating to land and other contracts not relating to land, and he said he would not deal with the contracts relating to land, because in Clause 35 the whole subject of land was deferred for three years, and at the end of that time this Parliament would determine clearly on what principles land would henceforth be dealt with in Ireland. I asked the hon. and learned Attorney General whether under Clause 35 there was any provision suggestive that at the end of three years it would rest with this Parliament to lay down the principle within which, and within which alone, the Irish Parliament can deal with the land; and I asked whether it was the intention of the Government so to amend Clause 35 that it would carry out what we understood were now the intentions of the Government? The hon. and learned Gentleman gave me no distinct answer at the time, and he was not obliged to answer, because my observations were by way of interjection and interruption, and he was justified in leaving them to a later stage; but that later stage 1552 has now arrived, and I would respectfully ask whether the Government will now give the Committee a clear intimation of what their intention is. Do they think that Clause 35 as it stands now will give the Imperial Parliament the power and impose upon it the duty of prescribing to the Irish Parliament at the end of three years the limits within which that Parliament could alone deal with the Land Question? If Clause 35 will not give that power and will not impose that duty, do the Government mean to propose an Amendment to the clause for the purpose of making it accord with the policy which they have avowed?
§ MR. SEXTON
did not say that the considerations raised in the questions put by the right hon. Gentleman were absolutely irrelevant; but he must say that upon an Amendment raising the question whether the Irish Parliament should be free to legislate on a question affecting contracts to raise the question of possible Amendments on Clause 35 seemed to him to be extravagantly and unduly widening the boundary of the Debate. He had heard the Attorney General more than once explain what his meaning was, and, as he understood it, the meaning of the Attorney General was that during the period within which the Irish Parliament would not have the power to legislate on the Land Question the Imperial Parliament would have the power to do so, and that during that period the Imperial Parliament would also have the power to attach conditions to the right of legislation on the subject. But he also understood that the Government did not intend to impose upon the Irish Legislature any other restrictions than the general restrictions which were found in Clause 4.
§ SIR C. RUSSELL
I deprecated discussion on the Land Question at all on this Amendment, because I hold that Clause 35 would be the proper occasion to discuss it. I said either the Land Question would be dealt with by the Imperial Parliament, and dealt with exhaustively within the three years, or it would not. If it were, though it would be a sanguine expectation, we might hope that it would be removed from discussion; if not it must be dealt with by the Irish Legislative Body, sub- 1553 ject to such restrictions as the Imperial Parliament thought right to impose.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL (Paddington, S) rose—
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
said, he did not know what motive could actuate an hon. Member in endeavouring to silence them in a debate on a question of this character. He could assure the House that it was not losing time, because nothing could tend to a greater consumption of time than misunderstanding. That was a reasonable proposition. Well, now, neither the hon. Member for North Kerry nor the Attorney General seemed to have a clear idea of what would be the effect of the rejection of this Amendment. On that subject they wore completely in the dark. If they were not certain whether it would be in their power to deal with the question on Clause 35, it was quite impossible to say what difficulties might be thrown in their way, or on what principle they were going to deal with the subject in throe years. ["Divide!"] He hoped the Chief Secretary would boar with him. They could not tell what might happen in Ireland under the operation of the Home Rule Bill. They knew at the present moment certain people had certain rights—["Divide, divide!"]—and they would not lay down the most elementary—[Loud cries of "Divide!"] He prayed that he might be heard. He never interrupted anyone, and why should they interrupt him?
§ LORD R. CHURCHILL
said, it would be better for them to deal with the question at once, and not let it stand over for three years to be dealt with then by another Government and another Parliament. Let them lay down the principle on which they were going to proceed. If they did not do that they would not only embarrass themselves now, but would lay up an immense quantity of embarrassments, and unnecessary embarrassments, for those who happened 1554 to be there in three years' time. [Interruptions.] Were they to do their business in a business-like way? [Laughter and a cheer.] He very seldom discussed the Bill in the Committee, and he might be allowed to speak. What he said was, that it was impossible for them to come to a real decision if they voted in the dark; and he hoped the Government would, by the acceptance of an elementary principle, relieve them from a difficulty. He feared, however, he had not got sufficient influence to induce them to do this, and in that case the matter would have to be decided by the Committee itself.
§ Question, "That those words be inserted in the proposed Amendment," put, and agreed to.
That the words '(6) Impairing the obligation of contracts, except with the consent of Parliament testified by an Address to Her Majesty from both Houses of Parliament,' be there inserted.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 223; Noes 260.—(Division List, No. 157.)
The Amendment standing in the name of the noble Lord the Member for Rochester (Viscount Cranborne) is out of Order; the Amendment next on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Wands-worth (Mr. Kimber) is also out of Order; the next Amendment, which is in the name of the hon. and learned Member for St. Stephen's Green, Dublin (Mr. W. Kenny), will come properly under Clause 35; the next Amendment after that stands in the name of the hon. Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. T. H. Bolton). It is out of Order; and so are the Amendments in the names of the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Arnold-Forster), and the hon. Member for London (Mr. Alban Gibbs).
Order! The next Amendment that stands in Order is that of the hon. Member for the Guildford Division of Surrey (Mr. Brodrick.)
§ MR. BRODRICK
said, he rose to move—Page 2, line 33, after "or," add "whereby any higher taxation is levied upon landed property than upon other property of equal value, or whereby any system of graduated taxation is 1555 adopted unless an identical law be sanctioned for the United Kingdom by the Imperial Parliament.He said that the explanations of the Attorney General had been extremely unsatisfactory. He was at a disadvantage in speaking upon this Amendment, as the re-modelled financial proposals had not yet been submitted by the Government. He, however, defied the Prime Minister to show that the Irish Government would be in a position to pay its way. The object of his Amendment was to bring to a head the circumstances under which fresh taxation might be levied in Ireland. The Irish Government would be unable to deal with Excise, Customs, or Postal Revenue; and the only source of revenue they would have would be the Income Tax, or some system of taxation which was not yet in force. They had never had a graduated system of taxation in this country up to the present time.
said, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would point out where he was in error. No doubt there was some graduation in the House Property Tax. The Irish Government would need a great deal of money, whichever Party happened to be in the ascendant. The idea of an Irishman, when he met a deficit, was not to reduce expenditure, but to increase his income. He had no faith in the expedient of the First Lord of the Treasury for reducing expenditure. The third point with which he would deal was this: when they came to the system of graduated taxation they came to a system which had baffled the financiers of this country. It was a most difficult subject everyone would agree. It was a subject upon which many experiments might be tried without producing the financial results desired; and the Irish Legislature would not have the advantages in dealing with the matter which were possessed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of this country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had an enormous financial experience in a class of highly-trained permanent officials, who were accustomed to the preparation of Budgets, and could tell within certain limits the operation and the effect of an increased tax on any particular article and the effect of a graduated tax. But 1556 the Irish Legislature would have no advantage of that kind. They would have to create their permanent officials. They would have to make their own experience, or import it from this country at considerable cost. It must be apparent to everybody that in their earlier years if they were to embark in a novel system of taxation, the only direction in which they could do it would be the one his Amendment dealt with, because in regard to Customs and Excise their hands were tied. Those subjects were difficult to discuss at the present moment, because they were now between wind and water. The old Financial Clauses were dead. The Committee were to assist at their funeral in a few days, and to assist also at the birth of a new set. Under that new set it was possible that power would be given to the Imperial Parliament to regulate and revise the financial system of Ireland, and the proposals bearing on finance which might be made in that country. Clauses of that kind would place matters on a very different footing, and if the Prime Minister would inform him at this moment that the new financial proposals would require the concurrence of the House of Commons, then his position was met and his argument fell to the ground. But if, on the other hand, the question were to be left to the Irish Government, then the Amendment was necessary; especially after the vacillating character of the proposals of the Attorney General, who promised something before dinner, and after dinner, having consulted with his Colleagues, practically withdrew the concession he had made. He could not but feel from his recollection of the statements of the Nationalist Members, to the effect that the land of Ireland was certain to be made the subject of unequal taxation, that some safeguard ought to be adopted. If the Irish Legislature gave equal laws in these matters it would be at variance with all the old pledges and statements of the Nationalist Members during the last 10 years. It was for these reasons that he thought it necessary to press this Amendment on the attention of the Government.
In page 2, line 33, after the word "or," to insert the words "whereby any higher taxation is levied upon landed property than upon other property of equal value, or whereby any
system of graduated taxation is adopted unless an identical law be sanctioned for the United Kingdom by the Imperial Parliament."—(Mr. Brodrick.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The hon. Member, it would seem, has discovered a singularly inconvenient and inappropriate manner of raising the questions he is anxious to discuss. The Government have intimated that they propose to make considerable changes in the Financial Clauses; and, consequently, the hon. Member is at a disadvantage in raising the discussion. The Government cannot agree to the conditions on which he is prepared to forego discussion; for I am not aware of any declaration that was made before dinner and retracted after dinner, and is now in a condition to be rehabilitated. Consequently, I must briefly discuss the Amendment, to which, I need hardly say, it is not our intention, and it is not permitted by our duty, to accede. The first part of the Amendment provides that no higher taxation is to be levied upon landed property than upon other property of equal value. What I would point out to the Committee is that it is not seemly or consistent with sound public principle to select in an Act of Parliament one description of property to be the subject of favour. Why is one particular kind of property to be held up as surrounded with sanctity, and as entitled to be free from inequality, while every other description of property is left exposed to all manner of inequalities?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
It is excluded from these clauses, and the question whether there should be especial dealing with the question is a matter to be considered when the land is under discussion and not a point at which that subject is excluded altogether. What title has the landed proprietor to receive this special fencing round? Has landed property suffered so much at the hands of the Legislature of this country? Is it not notorious that from generation to generation land received most outrageous and extravagant favour from Houses composed of landlords, and that nothing but successive extensions of the franchise and the substitution of a true 1558 for a very imperfect representative system has extorted from the hands of the landlords those enormous and immeasurable preferences which formerly it was their pleasure, their custom, and their triumph to assert? But although I have been tempted into a little comment on the peculiar choice made by the hon. Member of a subject for special protection, I should have said just as much if it were any other description of property it was proposed to deal with exceptionally—that is to say, if it had been shipping, factories, securities. I may also point out to the hon. Member that, from my recollection, such as it is, of finance, I believe the Amendment would be nugatory not from want of intention, but from want of technical knowledge on his part. It is evident from his speech that he contemplates Income Tax and desires to secure land against higher taxation in that form. But the doctrine of the financiers of this country, from Sir Robert Peel downwards, and including Mr. Pitt, has been that the Income Tax is not a tax upon property, but upon persons in respect of property. [Laughter.] I am delighted to think that in dealing with a dry subject I am so fortunate and so happy as to make it entertaining. The present system of taking the Income Tax upon land from the tenant is not the original system. The tax was formerly taken from the owner of the land. Considerations of convenience led to the transfer; but by that change it was never intended to charge the nature of the tax as a tax upon persons and not upon property. Moreover, I believe I am right in saying that it was deemed essential by the great founder of the Income Tax that it should be a tax upon property, because if not, it would have been nothing less than a breach of public faith. I am afraid, therefore, that the words of the hon. Member are ineffectual. I cannot suppose that that proposition will receive universal support from hon. Members opposite. Then comes the second part of the Amendment, which declares that the Irish Parliament shall not have any power to impose any system of graduated taxation unless such system is identical with that which has been adopted by the Imperial Parliament. Does the hon. Mover of the Amendment suppose that the Irish Legislature will be ready to re- 1559 gard as a peculiar favour the right to double the taxation upon themselves? I must own that if the Irish Legislature adopted that course they would be carrying into effect a grotesque species of legislation that I do not think would recommend itself to them. On broader grounds I cannot agree to place the Irish Legislature with respect to taxation in the fetters that the hon. Gentleman has forged for them. The Irish Legislature, I have no doubt, when it takes possession of full taxing power will make mistakes from time to time, and in doing so they will but be imitating the example of much greater Assemblies, who have made multitudes of gross and culpable mistakes, and who, I regret to say, in many instances still adhere to them, and have fought in order to maintain them. The Irish Legislature, however, will be under the salutary check of a wide, popular, and truly national franchise exercised by Protestants, exercised by Roman Catholics, and by everybody calling themselves what they like. That is the true cure for all mistakes which that Legislature may make with regard to graduated Income Tax, and so far as regards errors in general. The hon. Gentleman is not quite correct in what he says as to graduated taxation in this country. The Window Tax and the House Tax of Pitt were simply modes of graduated taxation. The ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer has given us an example of graduated taxation in the Estate Duties, and it cannot be doubted that those duties are the beginning of a popular movement in the direction of graduated taxation. I wish to know why the Irish Legislature are to be limited with regard to the subject of graduated taxation, and why they are to be credited with an undue appetite for graduated taxation? Graduated taxation, if it is a danger, is a danger in the direction of discouraging the accumulation of capital in the country. All persons connected with Ireland, whatever their policy, are agreed that to increase the available quantity of capital in Ireland and to encourage its introduction is the great object of statesmanship. There may be differences as to the mode of doing it. Some hon. Gentlemen maintain that the best way of doing it would be to maintain the present form of government in Ireland; others think that the best way would be 1560 to govern Ireland much more than at present according to Irish ideas. The latter section of Members think that Ireland is not at all the country in which an excess of movement in favour of graduated taxation is to be apprehended. In Great Britain there is an enormous mass of capital, and a vast deal is to be got by graduated taxation; but in Ireland the mass of capital is small. You want to induce it to come into the country, and a graduated taxation offers but a small return from that point of view. At the same time, that form of taxation is one which we have ourselves sanctioned, and even if were sought to prevent its adoption by an Amendment in a form less comic than the present it would be our duty to oppose it.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
When I heard the right hon. Gentleman speaking of the various crimes committed by the Imperial Parliament as to finance, and the extorted concessions that have been secured, I thought that anyone unacquainted with our fiscal history who had been in the House would have imagined that the Committee was being addressed by a right hon. Gentleman who had always been in opposition to the fiscal policy of the country. Culpable action and extorted concessions! Who has been mainly responsible for the finance of this country during the last half century? Why it has been the right hon. Gentleman himself. But the right hon. Gentleman manages most honestly and conscientiously to place himself so entirely in a new point of view that he seems to forget entirely what has been his old point of view. We know how frequently, when the case is one as between Ireland and England, the right hon. Gentleman throws himself entirely on the side of Ireland. Here is the greatest financier of the age, who has guided this Parliament—[Cheers.] Yes; but he is subtracting from his own glory by the speech he has just delivered. Is it not obvious that if those great faults have been committed during the half-century the right hon. Gentleman must share to a great extent the blame? Why does the right hon. Gentleman lay blame on the Imperial Parliament? Because he wants to set up an Irish Legislature which will probably be able to give lessons to this country in finance. The Irish Legislature, which will mainly 1561 represent the tenant farmers of Ireland, is to be a better guide for finance, and the Committee is to trust to it more than to the Imperial Parliament denounced by the right hon. Gentleman. I presume that my hon. Friend, in drawing his Amendment, when he said "be sanctioned for the United Kingdom," meant Great Britain. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite konw perfectly well what was the meaning of my hon. Friend, who has not yet reached the power they themselves have exhibited of being able to discriminate between Great Britain and the United Kingdom. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister says that the Irish Legislature is to be trusted with graduated taxation because it will have an extremely popular representation—that is to say, the more democratic the constituency the more capable it will be of dealing with graduated taxation. I should have thought, on the other hand, that the principle is the opposite, and that in a Parliament where all interests are fairly represented graduated taxation will be fairly safe, if safe at all. I think that my hon. Friend is right in the suggestion that graduated taxation should not be placed in the hands, certainly at first, of the Irish Legislature. The portion of the Amendment dealing with land has raised the wrath of the right hon. Gentleman, He was not able to withstand the temptation of making an attack on the taxation of land. My right hon. Friend showed that he believes that for years land has not borne its fair share of taxation. But my right hon. Friend will remember the great speeches he made in the '50's, in which he showed on the one side how land has immunities, and on the other how it bears taxation not borne by other kinds of property. The right hon. Gentleman himself made calculations which show that if land is spared on one side it is heavily charged on the other, and he asked why this particular kind of property is introduced into the Amendment. He wishes to know why the Amendment treats of the taxation of land alone. My hon. Friend interrupted the Prime Minister and answered that he had dealt with land specially in the Bill, which is perfectly true, and cannot be disputed. I think that was a perfect answer to the right hon. Gentleman's point. My hon. Friend 1562 says that land in Ireland ought to be fenced round with certain precautious. What use will it be to protect land in other respects if, through unequal, excessive, and exorbitant taxation, the landlord can be taxed out of the existence of his property? Now, is that quite an unlikely event? My right hon. Friend did not for a moment take into account the fact that land in Ireland is the one subject which of all others has raised the covetousness—if that is not too strong a word—of almost the entire agricultural community. Therefore, it does seem to me that it is perfectly right that the Committee should consider the question of whether unlimited powers should be put into the hands of the Irish Assembly in relation to land. My right hon. Friend has said, or so I understood him, that the question would be more properly considered in connection with the 35th clause. But that has been exploded by the Debate of this evening. We know now that this clause is only a temporary provision, and there are no securities in the Bill beyond it, while we have the admission of the Attorney General that it will be necessary to deal with the question at the end of three years, if not before. In these circumstances, I think my hon. Friend was perfectly right in endeavouring to see that some effective security is given that the Irish Parliament would deal fairly with this kind of property. We should have been better able to judge of the whole question if the Financial Clauses, which have taken so long to elaborate, had been before us.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The progress of the Financial Clauses has been extremely rapid in comparison with that of the clauses of the Bill.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
It seems to me that the remark of my right hon. Friend is an absolutely futile and erroneous suggestion. The Financial Clauses have taken three weeks or more—ever since the Second Reading of the Bill—to elaborate, and many of the questions that have arisen on the clauses which have been dealt with are of equal importance with the Financial Clauses—such questions, for instance, as the suspension of habeas corpus and the Imperial supremacy. The right hon. Gentleman said only the other day that too much time could not be spent on the question 1563 of securing the liberty of the subject. The right hon. Gentleman is sometimes so eager to introduce his broad principles and reminiscences into the discussions on the Bill that his opponents are occasionally compelled to examine them. Tonight, for instance, he could not resist the temptation of making an attack on the land. It is owing to this fact that progress has sometimes been delayed. My right hon. Friend has made out no case against the Amendment. The power of graduating taxation should be most jealously guarded, in view of the Constitution it is proposed to give to Ireland. As to the necessity for security being taken for the protection of land, the Government are at one with the Opposition, and I think the Amendment proposed by my hon. Friend would afford a legitimate protection.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE rose—
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 272; Noes 237.—(Division List, No. 158.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 238; Noes 270.—(Division List, No. 159.)
§ It being after Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.