§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
moved the following Amendment:—To leave out all the words after the word "That," in order to insert "inconsequence of the pressure of Public Business, and the failure of this House to deal with Scottish affairs in accordance with the wishes of the Scottish people, it is desirable to devolve upon the Scottish Legislature all matters exclusively relating to Scotland.He said, he thought there was no difficulty in proving the preamble of his Motion—namely, that there was such a congestion of Business at Westminster that it was impossible for Scotch Business to be transacted. The present Session would no doubt pass away without a single Bill having been passed into law for Scotland. The difficulty was by no moans a new one. Ever since the Reform Bill of 1867 there had been such a congestion of Business that the House of Commons had been utterly unable to get through one-half the Business it ought to get through. To show that it was not due to what was called Irish obstruction or to any temporary causes, but was permanent, he would quote two authorities, the Prime Minister (Mr. Gladstone) and the late Prime Minister (Lord Salisbury). The Prime Minister went down to Aberdeen 22 years ago, before Isaac Butt entered Parliament, and, in accepting the freedom of the city, apologised to the 1829 Scotch people for the condition of their Business in Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman said—I admit, without the least hesitation, that the present condition of the action of Parliament with regard to Scotch Business is unsatisfactory. You have much reason to complain—or at least to regret, for I am not sure about the complaint—but you have much reason to regret, and I have deep reason, as have my colleagues, to regret that we have not been able to deal with several subjects interesting to the feelings of Scotland, and material to its welfare, with the promptitude that we should all have desired.… The difficulty is a very great one. Parliament is overtaxed: it performs a great deal more work, and has probably at all times—most certainly for the last 40 years—performed a great deal more work, than any other Legislative Assembly in the world.… But besides temporary difficulties, there are real difficulties of a more serious kind in the discharge of the work of legislation. The amount of demand upon Parliament, the province marked out by public opinion for legislation is greatly enlarged, and that which was, even when my life began quite sufficient for the strength of the House of Commons, has now grown to such a height and mass that that strength is Insufficient to meet it. Parliament is now expected to regulate the relations of life between different classes and to provide for public wants and against public evils of a description that were formerly believed to be altogether beyond its competence and its power. Legislation upon health, legislation upon atmosphere, legislation upon water, legislation upon drainage, legislation upon labour in all its relations—these are topics which, in few words, contain the key to a vast mass of work waiting to be done and which it has not been found possible to overtake.… But if doctrines of Home Rule are to be established in Ireland I protest on your behalf that you will be just as well entitled to it in Scot land, and, moreover, I protest on behalf of Wales, in which I live a good deal, and where there are 800,000 people who to this day, such is their sentiment of nationality, speak hardly anything except their own Celtic tongue—a larger number than speak the Celtic tongue, I apprehend, in Scotland, and a much larger number than speak it, I apprehend, in Ireland—I protest on behalf of Wales that it will be entitled to Home Rule also.Lord Salisbury went down to Glasgow a couple of years ago to receive the freedom of that city, and practically the words he used and the words of the present Prime Minister were identical. Lord Salisbury said—I believe that the evils which we all complain of in the proceedings of Parliament are not due to the fault of Parliament or of those who guide it. It is very common to say Parliament would do very well if it were properly led; but when you observe that the same complaint arises in Ministry after Ministry, and gets worse rather than better, and when you sec that the cleverest men who have to lead the 1830 House of Commons effect no essential improvement in this particular evil of which we complain—the delay and imperfection of legislation—you naturally conclude that this evil does not lie in the men, but lies in the system and the task which they have to do.… Social questions are pressing upon us with unpleasant proximity. They are very difficult to solve—most difficult of all to solve—because many of them depend for their solution upon the circumstances of the particular locality in which they are raised. A solution is good for one part of the country which might not be good for another part of the country. Again, there are questions which it is difficult to solve in a mechanical manner by putting a formula upon the Statute Book, but it would be possible to solve by citizens legislating for citizens whom they personally know. Personal interest, personal proximity, personal investigation into the conditions of these social problems by those who have influence and power in the locality where they arise might often furnish a way out of the perplexity and avoid raising all the passions by which the fabric of our society is threatened, if only we would give greater trust to Local Bodies and not insist on piling upon the Central Legislature work for which it is unfit, and which it is unable satisfactorily to perform.As a matter of fact, Scotch Business was practically in the same position as it was immediately alter the last Reform Bill. Only two Hills had been passed for Scotland since 1885. One of these was a measure which was intended to solve the Scotch University question, and which constituted a Commission, some of whose Ordinances the Scotch Members had compelled them to withdraw, and whose work, to till appearances, would have to be done over again when the opportunity arose; whilst the other was the Burgh Police Bill. The last-named was chucked through the House anyhow, the result being that the Secretary for Scotland, before the Bill came into operation, had to bring in an amending Bill. There was no doubt other Bills passed, but they were consequent upon English legislation. Mr. McLagan's Permissive Bill had received the support of a large majority of Scotch Members for three Parliaments, and during the last eight or nine years Scotch Members had ballotted for a place for this Bill, but they had found it utterly impossible to get a hearing for their cause. The liquor traffic in Scotland was going on causing misery, poverty, and premature death, yet the Scotch Members who were desirous of improving the state of things could not get a hearing. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce) had a Bill in his 1831 hands for some years, and last year he withdrew it in order that he might move a Resolution on the subject. He carried that Resolution, but was just as far from having the Bill passed as ever. He (DR. Clark) had a little Bill in reference to the Scotch crofters, but for six years be had only once been able to get a bearing. But this was not the whole of the Scotch case. Scotchmen believed that they were very much overtaxed, and that they got far too little money from Imperial sources. As a matter of fact, the country that Great Britain exploited was not India, or the Colonies, or Ireland, but Scotland. Three years ago the late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) proposed that, instead of grants, Scotland and Ireland should receive a proportion of certain taxes. The Scotch Members had boon very anxious to know on what the proportion proposed to be given was based, as they were certain that someone was blundering. It had now been discovered that, as far as Ireland was concerned, her proportion of the Excise Duties had been erroneously stated to the extent of over £360,000, and Returns had shown that at least £1,500,000 was overpaid by Scotland to the Imperial Exchequer, yet the Scotch Members could not even get time to have a Committee appointed on the subject of financial relations this Session. But even when an opportunity was obtained for bringing on Scotch Business Scotch opinion was ignored, and the Scotch Members were overpowered by the English Members. When the late Government wished to make certain changes under the Local Government Bill the Scotch Members naturally wanted to have the question solved in accordance with Scotch wishes, and the Scotch Representatives were four or five to one in favour of certain proposals, but the English Members came in and overwhelmed them. Things could not go on in this fashion. What was the use of Scotch Members coming to Westminster if they could not do anything? There was only one remedy for the present state of congestion, and that was devolution. He did not care what form it took. Some of his hon. Friends, and, he believed, the Government, were willing to have a Scotch Grand Committee; but that did not meet the difficulty, because they could not get their 1832 Bills read a second time. Things were getting worse and worse every year. Civilisation was developing, and the democracy was getting more and more powerful, the result being that more legislation was wanted. He had no objection to the Scotch Members meeting in Scotland to do Scotch work and then coming to Westminster for Imperial business. The hon. Member for Wigton (Sir H. Maxwell), who had given notice of opposition to the Motion, seemed to think that he (DR. Clark) was desirous of repealing the Union. He admitted that the Union had been a good thing for Scotland, but it had been a much better thing for England. He thought it would be well that Scotchmen should do their Imperial business in London, but that they should solve their own Scottish difficulties in their own way, and in a way that no Imperial Parliament could do. He did not want to repeal the Union, but he should like to devolve certain powers on a Legislature in Scotland, and he hoped on one in Wales and one in England. The Imperial Parliament would then be free to do its Imperial work. Even the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) had said on the Second Reading of the Home Rule Bill that, if it had been a Federal Bill, he would have supported it. Every sensible man had come to the conclusion that the only rational outcome of this business was Home Rule all round. Why had the Liberal Leaders, instead of helping on the Scottish Home Rule cause, done their best to crush it? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Morley) had stated the reason. He said England was a Conservative country, and it was necessary to have Scotch Liberal Members in the British Parliament in order to obtain Liberal legislation. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister said, in 1890, that he was in the same position with regard to Scotch Home Rule as he was with regard to Scotch Disestablishment, and he afterwards voted for Scotch Disestablishment because he saw the majority of the Scotch Members were in favour of it. Scotch Members were about to have an opportunity of expressing their opinion on the question of Scotch Home Rule. There was no doubt that the movement was making progress in Scotland. On the last occasion when the matter was 1833 brought forward only one Scotch Member voted against the Motion, and he met the fate he deserved, as he was defeated at the General Election. In 1889 the Motion was rejected by a majority of 121; in 1890 it was rejected by a majority of 40; in 1891 it was counted out, and last year it was rejected by a majority of 20. The Liberal Party was pledged to Home Rule, and all the Scottish Liberal Associations were pledged to it. The Scotch people were not hysterical on the question, but they were calm and strong in their resolve to obtain the management of their local affairs.
§ MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries, &c),
in seconding the Motion, said, he thought his hon. Friend was entitled to say that the whole of the Liberal Party in Scotland was in favour of the principle he had affirmed, and that those Members of the Cabinet who sat for Scottish constituencies had delivered themselves in the same sense. Nor did he question that they would vote in the same sense. The reasons which had created the decided feeling were mainly discontent with the manner in which Scottish Business had for years been transacted by the House. When a Conservative Government was in power the wishes of the minority alone were considered, while the Liberal Party, when in power, had so much other business. The Scottish Members were regarded as so loyal under all circumstances that their patience was over-taxed. Unless Scottish business was more properly attended to in the future, there would not be a Liberal majority from Scot hind very long. This year things had been worse than usual, although he did not blame the Secretary for Scotland, to whom he tendered his thanks for the fearlessness and courage with which he had faced the questions which came before him. They all knew that a good deal of time would have to be consumed over the Home Rule Bill; but he confessed he was not prepared for the prodigious waste of time which was threatening to bring Parliamentary Institutions into contempt. Knowing how the Session would be occupied, the Scottish Members proposed to the Government that there should be a Standing Committee of Scottish Members to deal with the Second Reading and Committee stage of 1834 purely Scottish Bills. There had been no reply to the suggestion, and he regretted the Government had not seen their way to grant the proposal. If it had been granted, they might have carried through those stages Kills relating to liquor, the land, the Church, and registration. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to say that next year such a Committee would be appointed. The proposal was, of course, merely a temporary expedient, intended to meet a special emergency. No one, he thought, would regard it as a final solution of the question. The real difficulty was the absolute inability of the House to deal with the mass of business which devolved upon it, and which was increasing every year. Supply had to be left to the "dog days," and who could doubt that great extravagance would arise from that? Indian finance was neglected. The right to move the Adjournment of the House had been abridged. Standing Committees had been ineffective. A stringent Closure had been submitted to, and the private Member had been absolutely extinguished. His hon. Friend the Member for Wigton (Sir H. Maxwell) was going to move the rejection of this Motion. Would he, or anybody, suggest what remedy there was for the present state of things, unless it be devolution of business; and, if so, how could they have it otherwise than in accordance with those differences of nationality, history, traditions, legal tribunals, and laws which separated Scotland, England, and Ireland? His hon. Friend also would tell them that there was no serious wish in Scotland for this proposal. Well, he would best judge of that when he saw how many Scottish Members would go into the Lobby to-night in its favour. As he came front the same part of the country, his hon. Friend would not dispute that all tin? candidates in that district who stood for the present Government advocated this Home Rule; and, for himself, he believed that the people of Scotland did seriously desire to have some efficient means of getting their business done properly and with despatch, to have their money spent economically and not squandered, to have their grievances soberly considered and temperately redressed. There was no desire to term 1835 this a Nationalist movement, or to break up old traditions. He put forward this claim as a question of business. He did not think there could be the slightest question in the mind of the most timid Unionist of the disruption of the Empire by reason of what they asked. He himself felt that for the sake of Scotland it would be most undesirable if they were to be otherwise than in the closest touch with the rest of the Kingdom. Nor could he regard with equanimity the desolate condition of England and Wales if deprived of Scotland's assistance. All they wanted was the opportunity of doing the business which was peculiar to themselves. The chief causes which made Home Rule for Ireland difficult were the Ulster question, the predominance of Roman Catholicism, and the cruel and ungenerous attacks upon the private characters of the Irish Members, concerning which he could not sufficiently express his abhorrence. But in Scotland they had no Ulster question, no predominant Roman Catholicism, and, as to private character, if anything they were eminently respectable. They had no Plan of Campaign or boycotting; they had not even criminal conspirators; they were not even afflicted with the mysterious malady which made Irishmen incapable of managing their own affairs, although they were competent of managing the affairs of other countries, and they were on excellent terms with their police. If it appeared that the country which was uncommonly canny was asking Home Rule merely because it found that this House of Commons was unable to transact their business, surely this consideration would go some way to reconcile even the most timid of the English electors to the necessity of devolving upon the people of Scotland business they were aide to undertake. They had no desire to prejudice the case of Ireland; but after they had done their best for the purpose of carrying a great act of justice and policy towards Ireland, they would ask, and they had not the slightest doubt that they would be able to secure, an efficient and thorough measure by which Scotland might be able to discharge the business which had been so long in arrear.
To leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, in order to insert the words "in
consequence of the pressure of public business, and the failure of this House to deal with Scottish affairs in accordance with the wishes of the Scottish people, it is desirable to devolve upon a Scottish Legislature all matters exclusively relating to Scotland,"—(DR. Clark,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
* SIR. H. MAXWELL (Wigton),
who had on the Notice Paper an AmendmentTo leave out all after the word "That," and to insert "having regard to the advantage which Scotland has derived from the Legislative Union with England, and in the absence of any serious expression of Scottish opinion in favour of its readjustment, this House declines to entertain the proposal for a separate Legislature,said, Members in all parts of the House would agree that some of the observations of the Mover and Seconder were worthy of the consideration of the House; and whatever conclusion they might come to by their vote, the time would not have been altogether wasted which had been taken up in enabling at least some of the Scottish Members to ventilate grievances which seemed to be so heavily upon their minds. When, however, they considered that the Business of Supply had been interrupted at this period of the Session to discuss so large a proposition as that of the hon. Member, he thought they would not all be unanimous in congratulating him upon having selected a propitious moment for bringing it before the House. He had invited the House, not for the first time, to join with him in a proposition, and in advocating a course which, as everybody knew, must, if it was carried to its ultimate conclusion, be detrimental to the best interests of Scotland. He supposed there was no one present who believed that if this Motion was carried and prosecuted to a practical conclusion by the establishment of a separate Legislature in Edinburgh it would stop at the petty Chamber described by the Seconder of the Motion.
§ * SIR H. MAXWELL
The hon. and learned Gentleman said nothing about a petty Chamber, but he described a Legislative Chamber with petty powers.
§ MR. R. T. REID
I never said a word about its powers; but if the hon. 1837 Baronet wishes to know my opinion, I will tell him that the proposed Legislature ought to have absolute power over everything solely connected with Scotland.
§ * SIR H. MAXWELL
said, that was exactly what the hon. and learned Member stated in his speech. Did the hon. and learned Gentleman remember that for the last 28 business days in that House they had been endeavouring to distinguish between Imperial questions and Irish local questions, and they had made very little progress, indeed, in the solution of the problem? The complaint of hon. Members from Ireland was that they had restricted too much the powers of the proposed Irish Legislature, and given to it too much the character of a petty Chamber. One felt a curiosity to know what wore the opinions of the Prime Minister on this point. The right hon. Gentleman was a Scottish Member. It so happened that his utterances on this question in the past had boon even more Sphinx-like than usual. In the Debate on the Motion of the hon. Member for Caithness in 1889 the right hon. Gentleman said—I do not feel myself to be in a condition to deal with the question at the present moment definitely and on its merits.One naturally turned to the right hon. Gentleman's latest utterances, and that was during the General Election last year. Speaking at Dalkeith on the 6th of July last year, he was asked his opinion about Scottish Home Rule, and what was the right hon. Gentleman's answer?Let me tell you that it is not given to human nature to dive into the depths of this question at a moment's notice.If that utterance was not Sphinx-like in its characteristics it was at least Delphic. The Prime Minister was not present to-night. The "old Parliamentary hand" to-night was, for the purposes of this Debate, a vanished hand. They must look to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland to reveal to them the mind of the Government on this question. He would not venture to forecast what the right hon. Gentleman's utterances might be, further than to say that he was pretty confident it would be to the effect that when it was worth the while of the Government to give their support to this Resolution, in this, as 1838 upon other questions, they would adopt the course which would secure them the greatest number of votes. [Ministerial cries of "Oh!"] Yes; they had done that repeatedly. That was Opportunism, and nobody would deny that this was an Opportunist Government. The hon. Member for Caithness had referred to popular feeling upon this question in Scotland. Neither by Petition to the House, nor by public meeting, nor by any other evidence had the people of Scotland given any serious intimation of their desire for a separate Legislature in Edinburgh. There was nothing more certain than this—and anyone who knew Scotland would bear him out in the assertion—that no sooner had they a Legislature in Edinburgh than they would have an agitation on foot for one in Glasgow. None of his own constituents had addressed him on the subject—no one, indeed, from Scotland—with one single exception. He was waited upon the previous day in the Lobby of the House by an official of the Jacobite White Rose League who warned him against the serious course he was taking in opposing a National movement, and asked if he was aware that the result of the election in Linlithgowshire was due to irritation caused by the slight which the Prime Minister had cast on the Home Rule movement. He congratulated hon. Members opposite on their new ally. He had no doubt that if this movement for Home Rule in Scotland went on, with the assistance and approval of the Jacobite League, it would also have, as Irish Home Rule had already received, the approval and assistance of the Vatican. He could well understand how the hon. Member for Caithness exacted applause from half-educated or partially educated audiences by the version he gave of the proceedings of this House in regard to Scottish affairs. But bad that hon. Member no recollection that Session after Session proposals were made by the late Government for dealing with the Private Bill Procedure for Scotland, and how they were met?
§ * SIR H. MAXWELL
said, that the hon. Member for Aberdeen would not deny that, so far as the scheme went, it tended to relieve the pressure of Business 1839 in this House. ["No, no!"] The hon. Member for Caithness even refused to discuss the Bill. On the 4th December, 1890, during an Autumn Session, the Government for the second or third time moved the Second Reading of the Private Bills (Scotland) Procedure Bill; but the hon. Member for Caithness refused even to discuss it. Mr. Smith, who was Leader of the House at the time, said that if the hon. Member persisted in the opposition there was no alternative but to postpone the further consideration of the Bill.May I point out," said the hon. Member for Caithness, "that this is one of the most revolutionary Bills ever introduced into this House? It takes away from the House powers which it has always possessed.
§ * SIR H. MAXWELL
considered it a pity that the hon. Member did not express himself more clearly when the Bill was before the House. The hon. Member for Aberdeen objected to his using the term "half-educated" in reference to the audiences addressed on this subject by the hon. Member for Caithness. No one set higher value on education than the hon. Member for Aberdeen did himself; but would the hon. Member seriously contend that the audiences which the hon. Member for Caithness was in the habit of arousing to enthusiasm on the subject of Home Rule for Scotland could be described otherwise that as half-educated? What knowledge had those people of the history of their country? He had lived in Scotland all his life; he was intimately acquainted with the people of Scotland; but, much as he respected the ardour which they had always shown to obtain education, it was incontestable that, in addressing the large masses of the people, they were addressing people who had not the means and leisure to acquire such knowledge of the history of their own country as would alone enable them to form a true opinion upon a question such as this. The hon. Member for the Dumfries Burghs had disavowed any inclination to interfere with the union of England and Scotland. But if the Motion was carried, it pointed to a state 1840 of matters which formerly existed in this island, and which had been cast aside when there was a union of Crowns, but no union of Legislatures. In that respect the advocates of Home Rule for Scotland had a much worse case than those who advocated it for Ireland. They had only to go back in the case of Ireland 100 years to find Ireland under Grattan's Parliament, during which time there had been a considerable development of material prosperity. [Nationalist cheers.] Yes; that had never been denied by the Unionists. But in Scotland they had to go back 200 years to find a separate Legislature. And what was the state of Scotland then? Scotland was a by-word for poverty among the nations. She had been so for centuries, ever since the line of succession had failed by the death of the Maid of Norway. Up to that time Scotland, under her own Monarchs, had been successful and prosperous. After that time she became a prize of contention between the Monarchs of England, who claimed the Throne, and her own native chiefs, who claimed as being descended through the female line from the Pictish Kings. [Cries of"Bannockburn!"] He was not ashamed as a Scotsman to say that, proud as they were of Bannockburn, and great as was the lustre reflected upon the Scottish arms upon that day, he looked upon Bannockburn as the greatest misfortune that ever befel his country, and especially the lower orders in it. Up to that time Scotland had been prosperous, secure, industrious, and comparatively rich. After that time Scotland was torn by civil feuds, and was constantly at war with her powerful neighbour, England. She was bled almost to death by exactions and war indemnities. That state of things pressed most hardly, not upon the Barons and the landowners, but upon the people of Scotland. It was on these parts of history that he invited the hon. Member for Caithness to instruct his constituents, because he could not but believe that if these circumstances were well known to the people of Scotland the Motion before the House would not receive any support from them. Fifty years before the union of the Legislatures General Monck appealed to the Government in London to have pity upon the poor people of Scotland, for 25 per cent, of the valuation of the country 1841 went in taxation, and the burden was almost more than could be borne. There were no men and means to work the natural resources of the country. Its actual wealth was the same as at the present time. The coal was in Lanark shire, the lead and iron in her hills, but no means to work them, for the men had been drawn away for military service, or were making their living in foreign armies. Was that a state of matters to which the hon. Member would revert?—a state of matters when there was a union of the Crowns and a separate Legislature. It got worse before the Union was actually brought about. The very last Act of any importance in the Scottish Parliament was the Act of Security, by which it was provided that no individual succeeding to the English Crown should succeed to the Scottish Crown. What did that point to but complete national separation? Manx arguments which could be brought against this proposal were identical with those which had been already used repeatedly against a similar proposition for Ireland. He was bound to say he relied principally upon two qualities among his fellow-countrymen. He relied upon their knowledge of past history. He had already said that that knowledge was imperfect. But he trusted that the hon. Member for Aberdeen and other hon. Members would assist in the work of making it more perfect. He also relied upon their business instincts and their sound common sense. A story was fold by DR. John Brown of his father. He was visited by a Mr. Husband, also a minister, who wished to consult him upon the place which grace held in the Divine economy, and his answer was—"James, the grace of Cod can do muckle, but it canna gie a man common sense." Argument might do a great deal, but common sense would do a great deal more. If it was not possible to instinct the masses with a sufficient knowledge of history to insure the rejection of any such measure as was shadowed forth by the proposal of the hon. Member for Caithness, it was, at least, possible that their common sense would prevent them being beguiled by what he was bound to call the pinchbeck patriotism and the tinsel nationalism which served the hon. Member in the place of arguments, and would prevent them giving any support to a course 1842 which would surely jeopardise the welfare of the land and people of Scotland.
§ * THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Sir G. TREVELYAN,) Glasgow, Bridgeton
The hon. Baronet made a very interesting speech, in which I can only find one fault, and it is that he has given me very little to answer. One or two of the latter parts of the speech I am inclined to say a word or two about. The hon. Baronet says he has been born and bred in Scotland. I was not born and bred there, but I have been for a quarter of a century a Scottish Member, and I utterly deny that his view of the foundation of Scottish politics is the right one. I say that, compared with almost any other people in the world, their political feelings are founded upon their sound knowledge of the part of their history which it is important for them to know. Scottish Liberalism is founded, if it is founded upon any one thing, upon the recollections which great-grandfathers have handed down to grandfathers and sons of the terrible time at the end of the last century and the beginning of this, of the repression which was inflicted upon humble Scotsmen, who endeavoured to stem the tide of political reaction when reaction was vindictive and powerful. I would like to know bow many English Radicals there are who thoroughly know the whole story of the persecutions of those days; how many English Radicals are acquainted with the story of the prosecution of Thelwall and Holcroft and Home Tooke? And vet few Scottish Radicals are there who thoroughly know the whole story of Muir and Palmer, and the other martyrs who suffered in 1793. The hon. Member talks of the lower orders and the uneducated audiences who listen to my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness. Why, 300 years ago, and ever since, the lower orders in Scotland were educated in a manner better than the middle class in England: and if a person's historical knowledge does not extend down into the time when Scottish schools were set up after the Reformation, all I can say is that the historical knowledge that he has before that time is worth very little indeed. The hon. Baronet says that our constituents do not care about this question, and that they have not petitioned. If our constituents are not uneasy at the state of Scottish 1843 Business in the House of Commons during the last six years, and during this year also, our constituents are wrong. The hon. Baronet asks me to speak out on behalf of the Government. I shall speak clearly enough. He talks of the utterances of the Prime Minister as being Sphinx-like and Delphic. I will quote to him, before I sit down, the latest utterance of the Prime Minister about Scottish Home Rule, which is clear enough. But at present I will only say that we are uncommonly glad—that is not a Sphinx-like mode of expression—to see this Resolution on the Paper, and that we were not sorry to hear the speeches which supported it. There was plenty of energy in those speeches. They went to the heart of the question instead of touching the fringe of it, and if at any time they were outspoken enough to the very verge of energy speech permits of, I will only say that in the political world as at present constituted, whether as regards causes or nations, it is a case of the silent going to the wall. I do not think this Motion is, in the very least, either premature or uncalled-for. If we look back for the last six years, and especially to the present Session, it is high time that a Motion should be made expressing the dissatisfaction of Scottish Members with the conditions of Scottish Business, and it is high time that net only such speeches as those we have heard from my two hon. Friends should be made, but that likewise a record of the dissatisfaction of Scottish Members should be placed on the Journals of the House. There is no record of that dissatisfaction as yet which people can point to who want this state of things changed. For five, ten, twenty years past, Scotland has been in favour of measures of reform which could not be passed in this House, and that for two reasons—either Scottish Business is crowded out, or the opinion of Scottish Members is over-ruled. I want it to be understood that I refer to all the Scottish Members, and not only to Liberal Scottish Members, because it is not only a question of Liberal Scottish Members. When Imperial questions are before the House, Scottish Members vote stoutly with their Party; but when Scottish questions are being discussed, and Scottish Institutions are being over- 1844 hauled, then Scottish Conservative Members frequently, and Scottish Liberal Unionist Members still more frequently, vote on the side of reform. But I am sorry to say that in dealing with Scottish questions English Members never forget that they are Party men, and the consequence is that Scottish opinion is over-ruled by masses of gentlemen who pour into the House, and who know nothing whatever except the Lobby into which their Whip tells them to go. The noble Lord the Member for Paddington went down to Scotland not very long ago and made a great attack on my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness. I will not read the most telling sentences, because they are not to the purpose, and they would sound very incongruous in my mouth, but the speech goes on—What a moment has Dr. Clark chosen? The moment of all others when, during a long and laborious Session, Parliament has devoted almost the whole of its time to establish a popular local government throughout the length and breadth of Scotland—the establishment of that local government in entire accordance with Scottish opinion.That is the announcement. What is the truth? The Scottish Local Government Bill is an English Code imposed upon Scotland against the opinions of the enormous majority of Scottish Members, in obedience to English prejudices and to English interests. I am not going to read the points to which I refer. I am not speaking to men who are ignorant, to men who have not passed through that ordeal; and I shall have them with me when I maintain that there are at least 10—I should say 12—of the leading principles of the Scottish Local Government Bill, on all of which from 39 to 53 Scottish Members voted in the minority, and from 18 to 10 Scottish Members voted in the majority. These were not only Liberal Members. On the question of rights of way, in which 38 Scottish Members were defeated by 11 Scottish Members by the help of the vote of the rest of the House of Commons, seven of the 38 were our political opponents. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dumfries, whose speech was listened to with an interest all the greater because it was something fresh after so many weeks spent over a controversy that is already stale, brought in a proposal to enable Town and County 1845 Councils to buy land. Forty-one or 46 Scottish Members—I am not sure which—voted for tile proposal, and 12 voted against it. Of 41 Scottish Members 10 were our opponents. But it did not matter whether they were Liberals or Liberal Unionists or Conservatives. They were all voted down, and their opinions were voted out of the Bill by men who did not do us the grace to listen to our arguments—by men who did not even understand the names of those institutions which they were moulding into a shape which was not consonant with the wishes of the people who were to live under them. All I can say about the Local Government Act is this: I had occasion with my hon. Friend on my left (the Lord Advocate) to consider an Amendment in connection with the Local Government Act, and the guiding principle which we found that we had adopted almost unconsciously was in almost all respects to follow the opinion of those Scottish Members, which, when it came before the House, was voted down as if it was the opinion of people who bad nothing to do with the business. That single illustration is quite sufficient. It shows the fallacy of this House dealing with Scottish affairs in accordance with the wishes of the Scottish people. I leave it there, and go to the part which refers to the pressure of Public Business. The vice of the last Parliament was ignoring and over-riding Scottish opinion. I have given a good instance of that. I will give another. A unanimous vote was passed in this House to the effect that access to mountains should be given. The Government brought in an Access to Mountains Bill—a capital Bill, enacting that everyone—tourist, wayfarer, traveller, or man of science—should be able to walk over any mountain or deer forest, but he was not to do so from the beginning of August till the beginning of November. That is the way Scottish opinion was regarded in the last Parliament. The evil of this Parliament is that Scotland can get no share in legislation at all. The evil of this Parliament is not, perhaps, a very just expression. This Parliament sympathises very greatly with Scotland, and when it has been able to show that feeling-by its vote it has done so. In this Parliament there is a Government which has, I maintain, 1846 done as much for Scotland as for the rest of the country. If I can establish this position, I think I shall strengthen, and not weaken, the argument of my hon. Friend. Because, if in a Parliament which has a kindly feeling to Scotland, and with a Government anxious to give Scotland public time, its business cannot be done, it is quite plain the evil must be cured by certain remedies we have not already got. How stands the ease of Scotland? Two Bills are well forward—the Employers' Liability Bill and the Bill for the protection of railway servants. The benefits of the former of these Acts go as much to Scottish workmen as to English. The Railway Servants' Protection Bill is rather more Scottish than English. A Scottish strike brought about the appointment of a Committee, and the appointment of the Committee brought about the Bill. Then, when we come to legislation which is not forward, the Registration Bills for the two countries will go on together; and if the Parish Council Bills for England has had a Second Reading, so has the Fisheries Bill for Scotland. Now, that is the best that can be said, and the best is very bad indeed. ["Hear, hear!" from the Opposition.] Yes; and that is the reason why we are going to vote for this Motion. July is nearly upon us, and on no Scottish measure is the Speaker out of the Chair. Private Bills in great numbers, on which Scottish opinion is all but unanimous, which have been waiting many years to be brought forward, either are crowded upon the Notice Paper, or have been withdrawn in despair. There, again, I will spare hon. Members an enumeration of Bills on which Scotland is quite unanimous, which hon. Members, who are quite fit to carry them through, have got in charge, but for which no time can be found. It is quite true that after 12 o'clock there is a chance of passing some uncontested measure, but how is Scotland treated in this respect? I just ask the hon. Member to consider this: There is a Bill brought forward in the interest of Scottish landlords—a Bill which enables Scottish landlords to have the same advantages to borrow money on settled estates for planting which English landlords have had for the last 10 years Every night, when the Bill is reached 1847 an English landlord gets up opposite, and for no reason whatever that he chooses to give he blocks a Bill in which he has no interest whatever. Like a dog in the manger he refuses to allow that to be done for Scotsmen which he himself has had for 10 years; and his single voice night after night prevents a Bill of about six lines, which Scotsmen would be ashamed to oppose, and which no Scottish Member does oppose, from being passed. When the state of things is that before 12 o'clock no time can be found, after 12 o'clock Bills are objected to en bloc without any reference to the value of the question itself. Is it wonderful that Scottish Members, as I think we shall see to-night, find that, under our present Parliamentary system, there is no hope for Scottish Business? It may be said a great measure is passing through the House. Yes, a great measure is passing at the rate of one clause in seven or eight days. That, we are told, is not due to obstruction. I accept the statement. It proves my argument. If it is not due to obstruction; if it is the natural rate at which a great measure should be discussed: if this is the normal and ordinary method of doing all Public Business, then, indeed, Scotland may despair not only in this Session, but every Session to come. Some remedy must be found. If it is not due to obstruction, then Parliament has ceased to be an adequate and effective machine for turning out legislation. When that conviction comes home to the Scottish people they will refuse any longer to try to walk in the old Paliamentary ways, across which there is a board erected with "No thoroughfare" written upon it. If we are not to go on in the old way, what remedy is there for a state of things which is absolutely unendurable? Two plans have been proposed. One was proposed originally in the last Parliament, and obtained a good deal of support—that is to say, a Scotch Grand Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries supported that Committee in the shape which would be very effective, for he gave it the power of reading Bills a second time. But I own that in the shape in which he brought it forward it would be no less an important measure than the question of Home Rule itself. Without the power of Second Readings 1848 before that Committee, it would not be a complete remedy, and in it I must say there are two very serious drawbacks. The Scottish Members are Members of this Parliament not only for Scottish purposes, but for Imperial and all purposes; and if their time is to be taken up on the details of Scottish Business in Committee, it will seriously draw them away from their general duties. But that is not all. This House is an important House; but it is not the only House. There is another which is co-ordinate, and has the same amount of power; and in that House of the 16 Scottish Representative Peers I doubt if there is a single one who holds the opinions which in every Parliament are held by great a majority of Scottish Members, and in some Parliaments by an overwhelming majority. But such is the evil plight of Scottish Business that, with a full recognition of its imperfections, the Government will take the earliest opportunity in their power to propose such a Committee, and I believe and trust that so moderate a power will not be strongly resisted.
§ * SIR G. TREVELYAN
I think I said that would be almost as strong a measure as Home Rule itself. The other remedy is that proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness. It is no new story. As far back as 1890, at a time of the Session when the House was quite fresh and full (not in a snap Division, because it was an Adjourned Debate), 140 Members of this House voted in favour, not, indeed, of this Resolution, but of its principle. That was a Parliament that was not very fond of progressive Liberal measures. And I know no reason why this Parliament, which takes very much stronger views on Scottish matters than the last Parliament, and, above all, in this Session, which affords such an object-lesson of the personal inconvenience and discomfort, and the immense national disadvantage of an over-concentrated Parliament, this Resolution should not receive a much better bearing. I must say, if I may be allowed to make one remark about hon. Members, that it seems to me there are two consolations in public life. One is the pleasure of seeing Public Business done and good measures carried, and the other the ambition of 1849 taking an honourable part in the Business of the House. Now, so far as Scottish Members are concerned, both of these sources of satisfaction are as much denied them as if they were on a treadmill, instead of in the House of Commons. On the question of Scottish Home Rule the argument in favour of it is the solid fact of the state of Public Business. But the only argument I have heard against it is the words "Home Rule" pronounced in different accents of disapprobation and dissatisfaction. Instead of talking of it as a thing that is not to be considered, if you would only analyse what it means, it is a proposal against which it is very difficult to find an argument. Let us fake it to pieces. Is Scotland, I ask, unfit to manage Scottish education? Scotland had a system of education centuries before England—the system on which the true greatness of the country is founded. In 1870, when we first had popular education in England, to what countries did we look for an example? To Saxony and Switzerland, both with smaller populations than Scotland. Yet we had at our doors a country which for 300 years had a system of education worthy to rank with that of Saxony and Switzerland. And what do we say to that nation? Last Session it was proposed by Scotchmen that 15 should be the age at which children should leave school. There was a majority of two to one of Scottish Members in its favour; but Parliament said, "No; English Members know better than you; 14 shall be the age," and 14 it is. Is Scotland less able to manage its own Universities? I suppose that for every young man in England, in proportion to the population, who goes to the University there are about six Scottish lads who go. The interest taken by the people in the Universities is immense; yet when we come to legislate for the Universities, Scottish opinion is over-ridden by Englishmen, and I do not believe there is 1 in 20 of the English Members who know the difference in constitution and character between the Senatus of a Scotch University and the Senate of Cambridge. Is Scotland not able to manage her own local affairs? Look at Glasgow. Look at what a splendid instance the Scottish Municipalities are 1850 when they get a free hand; yet this Parliament insisted, against the will of the enormous majority of Scottish Members, upon the parishes of Scotland and the entire treatment of the poor being managed by Boards which in their composition are semi-ecclesiastical and almost worthy of the Middle Ages. And on the question of county government, Scotland is in no respect allowed to have her own way. Does Scotland not understand—and I say more, does any other section of mankind even pretend to understand—Scottish Church matters, and Scottish ecclesiastical arrangements, and (what is more important to Scotchmen) their inner feelings and sentiments on questions of religious conscience and religious duty? In those debates which so deeply interest Scotchmen—the debates of their General Assemblies and their Synods, who but Scotchmen could take part, and who but a Scotchman, unless he had spent weeks and even months in reading up Scotch history and books of doctrine, could follow them with the slightest advantage or intelligence? Hon. Members opposite are very much afraid of Home Rule being given to Ireland for fear of a Church being disestablished or disendowed, or a Denominational College set up. They need not fear that with regard to Scotland. In this very Parliament, by 35 to 14, the Scottish Members have declared in favour of religious equality. I really think hon. Gentlemen opposite who cheer me will not be prepared to maintain that their own countrymen—the countrymen of Chalmers and Guthrie—are not fit to manage their own ecclesiastical affairs. And once more, when we consider that Scotland has led the van in temperance legislation, and how-well it knows its own mind on that subject, why should not Scotland have the care of the morality and order of her own streets and her own villages? Norway is held up as an example of liquor legislation, yet Norway has a population not one-half that of Scotland, and why should not Scotland have the same power which Norway has of regulating a question which she has proved she understands much better than England? Recently Scottish Members supported a Bill for the closing of public-houses at 10 o'clock. The very powerful Government which lately was in Office opposed 1851 that Bill; but in a cardinal Division in this House the Bill was supported by 29 Scottish Members, including a great number of Conservatives, while only three voted against it. The Bill went up to the Lords, and the Lords took away from the large cities the power of closing public-houses—a power which has since been used by every Municipality in the country which has the liberty to use it. It is a monstrous thing to put such a nation as Scotland in leading strings on such a question as temperance. Let hon. Members show that Scotland cannot with advantage to herself and with safety to the Empire be entrusted with her own municipal, ecclesiastical, and educational legislation, and then we will vote against this measure. But by the bugbear of the name of Home Rule you will not ultimately frighten the Scottish people from supporting a measure for which they are perfectly fit, and a measure on which, as Session after Session with their melancholy experiences go by, they are more set than ever. The last utterance of the Prime Minister relating to Scotland was made at Edinburgh on the 30th of June last.
§ * SIR G. TREVELYAN
I do not think that the hon. Baronet's quotation went to the root of the question at all. The Prime Minister, speaking of the Irish Bill, said, for himself and his colleagues—The fourth condition was—and here we have Scotland specially in view—that no principle should be laid down for Ireland with respect to which we were not to admit that Scotland, if she thought fit, was entitled to claim the benefit.That cannot be construed into an undertaking immediately, at once, and irrespective of the great task which daily and nightly we have before us, and the tremendous difficulties under which it is being carried on, to take Scottish self-government in hand; but it is a pledge that the movement for Irish self-government shall not close the way, but shall smooth and pave the way for Scottish self-government, if the Scottish people want it. And it is a pledge, and an absolute pledge, that Scotland shall not be refused that which Scotland asks. But does Scotland desire to obtain it? In the words 1852 of the Prime Minister, does she "claim the benefit?" I, for my own part, am heartily glad that the Motion of my hon. Friend, so far as the Government is concerned, is an open question. Personally speaking, I have seized every opportunity I could find to give my vote in favour of a generous measure of self-government for Scotland, and I certainly shall not lose that opportunity to-night. And I earnestly trust the Division will show that such and no other is the opinion and the wish of the great majority of those whom Scotland has commissioned to speak in her name at Westminster.
§ * SIR C. PEARSON (Edinburgh and St. Andrews Universities)
Up to a certain point, I believe, we are all agreed regarding the matter under discussion. We all regret, whatever Government is in power, that Scottish Business does not get along faster than it has been in the habit of doing of late years, but I have heard the same complaints with regard to English and Welsh Business. The question before the House now is very far beyond the mere question of whether there is a grievance of the nature I have indicated. There is no doubt whatever that the Resolution of the hon. Member for Caithness does introduce an important and serious organic change in the Constitution of the country. The questions the House has to deal with are these—first, whether there is a grievance existing which cannot be remedied otherwise than by such a drastic proposition as that of the hon. Member; and, secondly, whether there is such a consensus of opinion in Scotland as to constitute a demand from Scotland in favour of the proposal now before the House? I entirely dispute both the one proposition and the other. The Secretary for Scotland used a familiar rhetorical device when he asked us to take Home Rule to pieces, and, holding up the pieces one after another, asked the House whether Scotsmen were not capable of managing their own local affairs. Of course, we all think that Scotsmen are capable of managing their own local affairs; but that is not the question. The question is, whether the grievance upon which alone the right hon. Gentleman founded himself—to wit, the congestion of Public Business—demands a remedy of the nature of a Scottish Legislative, Body? Now there I am entirely 1853 at issue with the right hon. Gentleman; and I do not believe, when I come to the second part of my remarks, there will be any dispute that the evidence which is laid before the House is grievously insufficient to demonstrate that there is any demand for such a Legislative Body in Scotland. The Resolution speaks of the failure of this House to promote Scottish Business. I have already admitted that there is a grievance in this direction, although the causes attributed for that grievance have varied very much in the speeches of hon. Members. Again, I think that a considerable part of the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman was taken up with reminding us that according to the constitution of the House, being a Parliament for the United Kingdom, the Members for each part of the United Kingdom are entitled to vote according to conviction or Party allegiance, as the case may be, upon any matter, either Imperial or local, which comes up for the decision of Parliament. Now, I do not dispute that the hon. Member for Caithness may have a certain amount of logical backing for his argument that there should be Home Rule all round, but that is not the position of the right hon. Gentleman. We have not heard a single word about a Home Rule Parliament for England, and I venture to say that the absence of that suggestion on the part of the Government leaves this question in a position of the utmost difficulty and uncertainty, and renders it impossible for them to carry out, bit by bit, and piecemeal, the policy which is indicated in this Resolution in the three or four parts of the United Kingdom. I am not going to enter into the comparison which the right hon. Gentleman has invited between the amount of Scotch Business in the present and in the last Parliament. In my opinion, the last Parliament has a record for Scottish Business completed, and well done, which will bear favourable comparison with any Parliament that existed for the same time, and I, for one, do not recognise the picture drawn by the hon. Member for Caithness of Scottish legislation, positive and negative, passed and not passed, during the last-six years. What is certain is that the block is now absolute. That is admitted by the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member for Caithness says it is due to the failure of the House to deal with 1854 Scottish affairs in accordance with the wishes of the Scottish people. I do not want to impute anything to Her Majesty's Government; but it is notorious that, primâ facie, the Government have the disposal of the Business of the House, and, what is more, this Government have the disposal of the whole time of the House. That, Sir, is an incident in the present situation which does not apply at all to the Parliament which finished in the month of July last. That seems to me to differentiate the present situation altogether from that of the last six years; and I will ask the hon. Members for Caithness and for the Dumfries Burghs who is to cast the first stone at this House for failing to get on this Session with Scottish Business? Is it to be those Members who supported the Government in their demand for the whole time of the House, public and private? Remedies have been suggested for this deadlock, and amongst them the minor remedy has been proposed by the other side of the House of the appointment of a Committee of Scottish Members in order to carry through certain preliminary stages of Scottish legislation. It is an interesting fact to note that this is by no means the first time that that proposal has been brought forward in this House; but never yet—although the Leaders of the Liberal Party have always shown a kind of hesitating approval of that proposal—have they committed themselves to appoint any such Committee, and the reason is simple. A demand for such a Committee, which would represent not the majority and minority of the House but of the Scottish representation, would immediately be followed by a demand for a similar Committee for England; and what would be the position of a Liberal Government committed to the appointment of such a Body for the earlier stages of Bills for Scotland, and yet harking off from the appointment of a similar Committee for England, for the sole reason that there they know they are in a substantial minority? Now, there is another remedy which the late Government pledged themselves to, for which I think a great deal can be said, and which I hope will some day be carried into full effect. Whatever the hon. Member for North Aberdeen might say of it, it seems to me one of the strongest possible steps 1855 that can be taken in the direction in which this Resolution points; and, what is more, it is a step which has been thoroughly canvassed among Public Bodies and meetings in Scotland, and the public opinion of Scotland is pretty nearly unanimous in favour of it. The last Government introduced more than once a proposal for the appointment of a tribunal—call it what you will, for the purpose of relieving this House of the Private Bill legislation of Ireland and Scotland; and I venture to say that if that were carried out, it would be not only a relief to this House, but it would give Scotland all, or almost all, she wants and can fairly demand in the direction of this Resolution. As this is very germane to the question of Home Rule, perhaps I may be allowed to read just a few lines from a speech that was made in 1889 in Glasgow by a prominent Scotchman of whom we are proud and a leading Member of the present Government—Lord Rosebery. I am not quite sure whether he is in very good odour with Scottish Home Rulers. I have reason to think he is not, from a somewhat careful study of the literature of the question. What Lord Rosebery said on that occasion, when presiding over the National Conference of Liberal Associations, was this—The question of Scottish Home Rule resolves itself into a question of degree. You must know exactly what you want, and then proceed by degrees. The first question is, I believe, to get your Private Bills attended to on the spot. At present they have to go to London, and meet with very expensive and inconsiderate treatment there. When you have once got your Private Bill legislation localised in Scotland, then, in my opinion, it will be time enough to settle the question with regard to your Public Bills.Now these are reasons why, I think, the grievance by no means demands the remedy proposed. I am not going to examine that remedy itself, because the House has been taking Home Rule to pieces very much indeed during the last four weeks, and we have been considering the question of what a Legislature in one of these separate Kingdoms ought or ought not to do. My point as to devolution is that you can have the principle of devolution without devolving upon a Legislature. I should have liked to know, further, whether this Legislature is to carry with it a Scottish Executive, because unless we have an "Aye" or "No" as regards the 1856 existence of a Scottish Executive, then we are all speaking in the dark, and we do not know what the real objections may be. I take note that nothing is said about the existence of a Scottish Executive in the proposals, and that mention of it is entirely omitted from the Resolution. I shall, before I sit down, very briefly give a few facts in reference to the supposed existence of feeling in Scotland on this subject. The hon. Member for Caithness asked, in a pertinent and somewhat plaintive manner, why have the Liberal Leaders given no aid to this Scottish Home Rule movement, but have, on the contrary, done their best to crush it? I think I can tell him why. I have suggested one or two reasons why the Liberal Leaders do not look kindly in the direction of this Home Rulemovement in Scotland, but I think an additional reason is this: that they do not believe in the reality of the movement as representing Scottish public opinion. Where are the usual expressions of public opinion and feeling on the question? Are the expressions of public opinion to be found in public meetings? [Ministerial cries of "Yes!" and "Elections!"] I am prepared to dispute altogether the view that the question was a crucial one at elections. It is the easiest thing for a man to ask questions about Home Rule for Scotland, and for another to make answers, without having this Resolution, or anything approaching it, in the mind of the one or the other. But how does this question stand in Parliament itself? Is there within this Imperial Parliament any evidence of the existence of this public feeling in Scotland? Why, in 1891, as the hon. Member frankly reminded us, the question when it came up was counted out. Positively this body of 40 or 45 Scottish Home Rulers could not get enough of their own number, in addition to those whose duty it was to be here, to make and keep a House on the question. Last year it may be in the recollection of the House that for the first time a Bill of an extremely interesting nature was tabled, and the same fate was met by this Bill as was met by the Resolution of the previous year—that is, it was counted out. There is one interesting point about the count out on the hon. Member for Aberdeen's Bill of last year which bears so closely upon the subject 1857 we are now discussing that I should like the House to be aware of it. The Bill was practically on the lines of the Irish Home Rule Bill of 1886, adapted to Scotland. It was counted out on the Second Reading stage after a speech of the hon. Member for Aberdeen himself. What use does the House think was made of that in Scotland during the past year, and in particular by a body of whom I shall have something to say presently, and of which the Member for Caithness is President—namely, the Scottish Home Rule Association, where one might expect to look for the crystallisation of opinion on this subject? I hold in my hand one of the publications of that Association, which deals with the Bill of the hon. Member for North Aberdeen, whose name I see as one of the Vice Presidents of the Association, but who, I hope, has not been aware of this mode of dealing with the count out. It is dealt with thus—Without inquiring too minutely who was responsible for the success of this manœuvre, it furnishes one other illustration of the neglect of Scottish Business which has rendered the present Bill necessary.And, therefore, forsooth, hon. Gentlemen, Scottish Home Rulers, by neglecting Scottish Business themselves, are thus to furnish the evidence of that grievance which they are to cure. I mentioned the absence of ordinary evidence outside Parliament of the existence of any public feeling on this question. I know there is a good deal of literature on the subject, and we have been reminded lately by one—I do not know whether he is a Scottish Home Ruler, I should think from the article from his pen that he has ceased to be so—but the hon. Member for East Edinburgh, in an article he wrote in the month of January, told us that the Scottish Home Rule Association was at its wits' end to raise money for the purpose of its propaganda and literature. This Association boasts of having as its members a large majority of the Liberal Members of Scotland, and in an appeal which is signed by the Treasurer of the Association there is this statement—But the grounds—historical, financial, social, and political—on which the demand of Scotland for Home Rule is based, require still to be explained to many electors, so as to disabuse their minds of ignorance and prejudice, and to satisfy the great body of the people that the proposed change is necessary and would be beneficial.1858 When the only Association, so far as I know, which exists for the promotion of this object grounds its appeal for funds on a desire to enlighten and satisfy the body of the people that the proposed change is necessary and would be beneficial I did not think it too strong for us to say that, at the present moment, the great body of the people are not satisfied either of the benefit or of the necessity. I observe that one of the members of this Association is the hon. Member for Peterborough, to whom we are all indebted for the great interest which he has developed in Scottish affairs. He is one of the Vice Presidents of the Society, and he is responsible, I think, for the statement that this Scottish Home Rule movement had made the Irish Home Rule movement respectable.
§ * MR. A. C. MORTON (Peterborough)
I never made any such statement. That statement was made by an English Tory to me.
§ * SIR C. PEARSON
It was certainly repeated by the hon. Member without any symptom of disapproval. I think there is one thing we are entitled to ask from the Scottish Home Rulers, and that is that they should try to agree among themselves as to what they want. All good Home Rulers, we know, find a difficulty in doing that. There are certain statements which have been made with reference to the Leaders of the Liberal Party and the bulk of the Liberal Party, and which demonstrate this: that although the Scottish Home Rule movement, so far as one can see in the public papers, holds itself aloof from Party politics, yet it does not very well know its own mind with reference to who are friends and who are not. I observe, for example, at a meeting in Dumfries of the Scottish Home Rule Association, presided over by the hon. Member for Caithness, one of the chief officers, in moving the adoption of a manifesto to the electors, said—Who were these men who were standing between Scotland and her National rights They were Mr. Marjoribanks, the Liberal Whip? the Earl of Elgin, and the Earl of Rosebery., The part that Mr. Marjoribanks played was to make their cause ridiculous in the House of Commons.It is a great pity the Member for Berwickshire is not here. We should have liked very much to have heard his ex- 1859 planation of that allusion, and whether he accepted it or not. There is one other statement I cannot refrain from quoting here. It occurs in a pamphlet which has been printed in the offices of the Scottish Home Rule Association, and freely circulated at the end of last year. The pamphlet deals with the impossibility of taking the Prime Minister to task during his election campaign in Midlothian, and states that in an address submitted to him by certain of the Midlothian electors they had put this question, among others, to the right hon. Gentleman—If returned to power, will you give Home Rule to Scotland as fully as to Ireland and at the same time?The writer said—The way in which the Grand Old Manager dealt with these questions was one of the finest examples of his electioneering subtlety. But the verbosity to which he resorts on such occasions forbids quotation from his speech.… The only remedy he proposed was that the Scottish people should return a Liberal majority, in which case our M.P's would not be outvoted on Scottish questions by English Tories. But this would only be doing similar injustice to our English neighbours, who are mostly Tories, and would then be outvoted on English questions by Scottish, Welsh, and Irish Liberals.The pamphlet to which I have referred goes on to say—
§ SIR C. PEARSON
I am surprised that any Scottish Home Ruler should not know the name of the Treasurer of his Association. The name on the face of the pamphlet is "W. Mitchell, Hon. General Treasurer of the Scottish Home Rule Association," and at the foot of the page are these words, "Offices of the Scottish Home Rule Association." This same pamphlet goes on thus—But Mr. Gladstone is still the manager from London, and our Scottish Company have not been slow to follow his lead. DR. Hunter, one of the ablest of them, had brought in last Session a Scottish Home Rule Bill—not a bad imitation of the Irish Bill of the G.O.M. The Scottish Home Rule Members who might have secured it a reading, had their sincerity been equal to their numbers, allowed it to be counted out. Since the Dalkeith speech"—that is the speech which has been referred to as unquotable "the author of the Bill has dropped it like a hot potato.1860 There are difficulties which I have not even adverted to in the way of the proposal which, if it were to be seriously made, would require to be seriously argued out. I have mentioned the difficulty from the English point of view, and that appears to me to be the kernel of the difficulty which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have to meet. They have to consider, on the part of the Liberal Party, the inexpediency of letting go the Scottish Liberal vote. In speaking in Edinburgh on the 2nd December, 1886, the present Chief Secretary dealt with the subject of Scottish Home Rule. At that date the Irish Home Rule Bill, which held the field, provided for the exclusion of the Irish Members from Westminster; and the way in which he put the matter is very well stated in an address to the people of England, which has recently been published by the Scottish Home Rule Association—Why, then, is this obvious way out of a great difficulty not embraced by the Liberal Party? Because they are seeking a Party advantage at the expense of England. It was for this reason that Mr. Morley, at Edinburgh, in December, 1886, cursed Home Rule for Scotland. He said: 'I only ask myself, supposing that the Scottish Liberals were to be by any calamity withdrawn from the Legislative Body when the affairs of England—poor England!—are transacted, I ask myself how we should fare without you? And I, for one, am not at all willing to lose the advantage of the noble Liberalism of Scotland.'This, in plain terms, means that the Scotch voters are to be used to coerce the people of England. We venture to say there is not an honest Englishman alive but would scorn to call in foreign aid to enable him to domineer over his own countrymen.My reason for referring to the remarks of the Chief Secretary at Edinburgh is to show that the Association which professes to gather up Scottish opinion on this question repudiates his suggestion as unworthy. Well, now, Mr. Speaker, there are many other difficulties to which I might refer; but I shall merely touch upon one—and that is, the question of finance. I cannot but congratulate the Member for Caithness in having on his side a Government which has had ample experience as to the financial side of Home Rule. You say that the financial relations of the two countries ought to be re-adjusted. It appears to me that the financial relations between England and Scotland might be cleared up without going the length of granting a separate 1861 Legislature. I think you can have your roast pig without burning your house down. But are hon. Members opposite aware of the magnitude of this subject? It has been shown by the authority I have quoted that Scotland has been overtaxed as compared with the rest of the United Kingdom to the extent, in 30 years only, of £92,684,000, and during the same period Scotland has been underpaid to the extent of £39,000,000 more. So that the Government, before approaching this question, would have to recoup £131,000,000. This slightly indicates the difficulties that he in the way, and I shall look with interest to see how the Government propose to deal with the matter.
§ DR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
said, he regretted the tone of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. He regretted that in a question so serious he should have descended to trivialities, and many personalities which were beneath contempt. He (Dr. Hunter) had seen three Governments in that House—two Liberal and one Conservative. When the Tories were in Office the Scotch Members were outvoted, and they were refused the measures they desired. When the Liberals were in Office they were not outvoted; they were overlooked. Therefore, whether it was a Liberal or a Tory Government, it was much the same thing to Scotland. No one could say the wants of Scotland could ever be satisfied by the House of Commons. He should have thought a review of the financial relations of Scotland and England furnished one of the strongest arguments for Home Rule. When a Committee was once appointed on the subject, it met and appointed a Chairman and never met again; but Returns were furnished giving information that had formerly been denied. During the last three years Scotland had overpaid to the Imperial Exchequer no less than £4,000,000; and the worst charge of Scotch Members against the present Government was that it had not appointed a Committee to go into the question. There was no reason why such a Committee should not be appointed now, and he, for one, would be satisfied with its verdict. Home Rule for Ireland necessarily involved Home Rule for England and Scotland; and no solution of the 1862 question would be satisfactory that did not extend the principle of devolution to all parts of the Kingdom.
§ MR. THORBURN (Peebles and Selkirk)
said, it had been pointed out that the state of Scotch Business was very unsatisfactory, and that they could not deal with it in that House. It was said, also, that the Scottish Members over-ruled the English Members in the House on matters that were purely Scotch. Had not the English Members the same reason to complain of over-ruling? For his own part, he was opposed to Home Rule root and branch, whether for Scotland, England, or Ireland—more particularly if it was accompanied with an Executive. He thought it should be the duty of every Government ruling a nation such as this, composed of different nationalities, to endeavour to make that United Kingdom a homogeneous nation rather than emphasise nationalities, and thereby instigate disintegration. The hon. Member for Aberdeen (Dr. Hunter) had referred to unfair taxation of Scotland. He would give the hon. Member all the aid he could to remedy that state of things; but if they had a Scottish Parliament established the hon. Member would find that if the taxation under it was not unfair it would in all probability prove excessive, because the expenses of administration must necessarily be great. As he had said, the only complaint he had heard about their Local Government Bill was that it had very nearly doubled the rates in Scotland. They were told that Scottish Business was neglected. Well, he would suggest a remedy. Lot them boycott all Irish questions in this House for the next five years. By that means he thought they would get Scottish Business attended to. If it ever became a practical question they would find a decreased number of Gladstonian Liberals and a majority of Unionists returned to that House. He thought the last Election in Scotland was a pretty good indication of what the opinion in Scotland was. They wore told that Home Rule was progressing in Scotland. He asserted, with confidence, that the question had not for a single moment boon seriously considered by the electors of Scotland. The majority of Scottish Members were said to be pledged to Home Rule; but the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. R. Wallace) said that a number of 1863 the Members on these Benches were prepared to swallow anything. He thought the majority of Scottish Members would be prepared to swallow Home Rule, Disestablishment, or anything else if they thought it would secure them a few votes. They were told by the Secretary for Scotland that the Church question was the one upon which the majority of Scottish Members were returned to that House. He hoped they should have an opportunity of testing that question in Scotland, and he ventured to say when it was tested that the fate of that measure would be as unsatisfactory to those who supported it as would be the Home Rule question. He sincerely hoped the House would record an emphatic protest against the Motion of the hon. Member for Caithness.
§ MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY (Buteshire)
said, it was quite evident that he would have no time to deal adequately with this question, in which they were all so much interested; but he would take advantage of the few minutes loft him to call attention to the extraordinary attitude of the Government to-night. It was all very well for the Secretary for Scotland to come down here and tell them that he would speak clearly on the subject. What they wanted to know was the attitude, not of the men of sentiment in the Government, but of the men of action. The last time the Prime Minister took part in the Debates in the House on this question he said—I admit that a sentiment, as yet vague and unformed, but of considerable extent, has grown up in Scotland of late years with considerable rapidity in favour of something which is represented in the minds of those who consider it under the name of Home Rule.The Prime Minister said—This subject is one, we know in the Irish case, which involves large and numerous matters of detail. I doubt whether the mind of the House of Commons, or even of the country, sufficiently realises the amount of complicated and varying details which are associated with this question.They had had an object-lesson in this during the past six weeks. They knew how difficult their Constitution-mongering was. Whatever might happen by Home Rule, they knew at least this Imperial 1864 Parliament valued the traditions of-their united Parliament, and he, standing there as a Scotchman, respectfully protested against having their share in these traditions taken from them.
Sir J. Carmichael rose in his place, and claimed 1o move, "That the Question be now put;" but Mr. Speaker withhold his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.
MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
said, that he, for one, should certainly not be a party to dividing up the heritage of an Imperial Parliament for any miserable Parliament that might be offered in its stead. It was all very well for the hon. Member to say that he was exalting Scotland to a nation; the truth was, the hon. Member was degrading her to a parish.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 168; Noes 150.—(Division List, No. 169.)
§ Main Question again proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Supply,—Committee upon Monday next;