Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [29th June]—
That the proceedings in Committee on the Government of Ireland Bill, unless previously disposed of, shall at the times hereinafter mentioned be brought to a conclusion in the manner hereinafter mentioned:—
Then at the said appointed times the Chairman shall put forthwith the Question or Questions on any Amendment or Motion already proposed from the Chair. He shall next proceed, unless and until Progress be moved as hereinafter provided, successively to put forthwith the following questions:—That any Clause or Schedule then under consideration, and any of the said Clauses or Schedules not already disposed of, stand part of, of be added to, the Bill:
After the passing of this Order no dilatory Motion, nor Motion to postpone a Clause, shall be received unless moved by a Minister in charge of the Bill, and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith:
If Progress be reported the Chairman shall put this Order in force in any subsequent sitting of the Committee:
Proceedings under this Order shall not be interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order relating to the Sittings of the House."—(Mr. W. E. Gladstone.)
And which Amendment was
In sub-head (a), to leave out the words "Thursday 6th July," in order to insert the words "Friday 14th July."—(Mr. Byrne.)
§ Question again proposed, "That Thursday 6th July stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said, the object of the Amendment which they commenced to discuss on the previous night was to postpone the conclusion of the Debate on the first compartment of the Bill from the 6th until the 14th July. It was obvious that the great questions involved in Clauses 5 to 8 could not be adequately discussed in the four days that would remain after the passing of this Resolution. They had not only got to settle the details of the Executive power which was to be created for the first time in Ireland, but also the whole constitution and composition of the Legislature and the somewhat peculiar and certainly original proposal for settling disagreements between the two Houses. Such questions as these necessarily involved an immense amount of criticism, and that was only reasonable. Many hon. Members on the Ministerial side of the House were opposed to the proposals of the Govern- 549 ment as to the constitution of the two Houses, and it was well known that the extreme Radicals were among those opponents. On his side of the House it was contended that the Second Chamber was a delusion so far as it afforded any real guarantee that the interests of the minority should be considered, and the clauses bristled with difficulties, however carefully concealed they were. And yet for the consideration of these four important questions only four days were to be allowed! The only criticism on the Amendment that had been offered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was that Friday was a private Members' night, and that the Bill could not be taken after 7 p.m. That could easily be got over by having an ordinary Sitting on Friday, July 14. Again, was there any reason why operations under his most prosaic proposal should commence on the 6th July? They heard much talk of this being a prosaic age. Personally, he was not. sentimental, but he thought that when it was considered that the Heir to the Throne in the second generation was to be married on the day fixed by the Resolution, it would be agreed that the beginning of this revolutionary proposal ought not to be fixed for that day. Not only did the Government refuse the House a holiday, but they actually wished their Gagging Resolution, which would destroy the liberty of the House, to have effect for the first time on that day. He thought that on that day they might fairly agree to sink political strife. To fix that day was a most ungrateful and unhandsome thing to do. He, therefore, strongly supported the Amendment of his hon. Friend, and hoped the Government—the head of which in the person of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian possessed a great deal of sentiment—would agree to it.
§ MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
said, that bearing in mind the honourable understanding entered into on the preceding evening that the Resolution and Amendments should all be disposed of by 7 o'clock that evening, he did not propose to unnecessarily prolong the Debate. But he certainly felt that a longer time than four days ought to be allotted to the consideration of the next four clauses of the Bill. He did not press for the extension of time pro- 550 posed in the Amendment; but he was strongly of opinion that the Debate ought not to be closed before the Monday following the Thursday mentioned in the Resolution as the day for the application of the Closure. The clauses to which the Government proposed that they should devote four days only were most important. The first would set up a Ministry that should hold Office at the pleasure of the popular Assembly. This was a great innovation, and the question of the limitations that should be imposed upon the system could not be disposed of in a few hours. The 2nd clause of the compartment dealt with the composition of the Second Chamber, and upon no subject might there reasonably be greater differences of opinion than upon this. The principle of the clause was objected to even by some of the Government's own supporters. The proposal in the Bill was that the Chamber should be elective. An Amendment was to be moved for the purpose of making the Chamber partly nominative and partly elective. That must engage serious attention, and involved the question whether the nomination of Members should be for a fixed term or for life Another Amendment proposed that some Members should sit in the Second Chamber as ex officio Members by virtue of their positions. He thought himself that the presence of ex officio Members, holding dignified offices and representing certain important interests, would give the Chamber great weight and authority. As examples he might mention the four Roman Catholic Archbishops, the two Protestant Archbishops, and the Moderator of the General Assembly. On the clause relating to the composition of the Legislative Assembly would arise such difficult questions as the best mode of securing an adequate representation of the minority, and as to the method of settling disputes which might arise between the two Chambers. It was not reasonable to say that the discussion of those questions could be compressed into one single night, and he hoped the Government would agree to the suggestions which he had made, and at any rate extend the time until the following Monday.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
said, that the arguments of the right hon. Member for Bodmin would have greater 551 influence upon him if he were ignorant of the fact that the Bill was going to be rejected by the House of Lords. Had it been otherwise, no one would have been more reluctant than himself to adopt closuring or restrictive proposals. The right hon. Gentleman and his friends had announced that the Bill would be thrown out without mercy in that branch of the Legislature; and, therefore, the House of Commons was engaged in what he might call a "mere performance." The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin had suggested that time was required to discuss whether or not they should have four Roman Catholic Archbishops in the Upper Chamber, and to consider the delights of hon. Gentlemen there, the Moderator of the General Assembly, as well as the two Protestant Archbishops, and he asked them to lend their intellectual assistance to such a Debate in the full knowledge that two months hence the friends of the Duke of Devonshire and the Marquess of Salisbury would give effect to the announced determination to make the Bill a piece of waste paper. What hypocrisy! Surely the right hon. Gentleman should show some kind of respect for their intellects. When the Nationalist Members in former days indulged in what was called obstruction they were avowedly resisting a Bill which they believed to be bad and which they knew would be assented to in another place. They had the knowledge that if they refrained from opposing the Bill in that House they would have no chance of exposing its injustice and demerits elsewhere. But the position of the Unionists at the present time was quite different. If they wanted to make Amendments in the Bill, why did they not propose that it should be amended in the House of Lords? He was amazed that the right hon. Member for Bodmin should make this attempt to throw dust in their eyes. The right hon. Gentleman knew well that if they were to put the four Roman Catholic Archbishops, the two Protestant Archbishops, and the Moderator of the General Assembly in the Bill, or even the Pope of Rome himself, the Bill would be rejected by the Upper House. The Conservative Party wanted to waste the Session. They knew that very well, and there should be no hypocrisy about it. The Opposition were seeking to defeat by this policy not 552 only the Home Rule Bill, but also the Registration and the Parish Councils Bills. The seriousness of the right hon. Member for Bodmin and others was a little too much for one's patience.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said, he desired to congratulate the House on the fact that the hon. and learned Member for Louth had at last recovered the use of his voice. They had long desired to hear him, and his speech had now fallen like water on thirsty ground. So far as he was personally concerned, he had satisfied himself by resisting the principle of the Resolution. Although he should be very glad if more time could be secured for the discussion of the Amendments to the Bill, he must really suggest to the right hon. Member for Bodmin that it was hardly worth while for him to cast these pearls of his before—[Cries of "Oh!"] Well, he would not give the finish of the quotation; he would only say it was not worth the right hon. Gentleman's trouble to cast these pearls of his on the floor of the House of Commons, for they would not be appraised at their full value there. He should, of course, vote for all Amendments which he should consider reasonable; but, now that the gag was to be applied, he had no objection to Her Majesty's Ministers making that gag as effective as they possibly could.
MR. R. G. WEBSTER (St. Prancras, E.)
said, he had never heard a more unconstitutional speech than that just made by the hon. and learned Member for Louth. The hon. and learned Member actually seemed to think that, because it was reported that another Assembly was going to throw out the Bill, it was the duty of the Government to pass the measure through the House of Commons by the exercise of the Closure. When his ancestors were in that House the Liberal Benches were occupied by the defenders of the rights of the people. But it seemed to be very different now. If the Session was too short, why did not the Prime Minister fulfil his pledge in the spirit as well as in the letter and call the House together early in January as he led the constituencies to believe he would? So far as he could judge, the Unionist Members of the House had not in any instance in the course of the Debate occupied an inordinate length of time in their speeches. The hon. Mem- 553 ber for Louth seemed to forget how he and his friends had spoken frequently on Bills to which they were opposed until 2 or 4 o'clock in the morning.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The Question before the House is whether the time allotted for the first batch of clauses is sufficient.
said, his contention was that, as the Bill made a great and important change in the Constitution of the country, the House ought to have due time for its consideration. Hon. Members really did not know what the Bill before the country was, as they were not aware whether Clause 9 was to stand or not. He contended that in the interests, especially of that part of the United Kingdom which had been so grossly disregarded—namely, Great Britain, they were entitled to consider the question in all its bearings—
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! Clause 9 is not in this compartment. I must ask the hon. Member to keep to the point.
said, his claim was that the Members of the Constitutional Party should have the opportunity of fully and fairly discussing this important measure.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E. R., Holderness)
said, he apprehended that it would be the duty as well as the policy of the Opposition, when the House again got into Committee, to calmly re-commence the discussion of the Amendments that were placed before them in order that they might probe to the bottom, as fully as time would allow, each of the important questions that came up for consideration. He imagined that the Opposition would not by any means be disposed to forward the view of the supporters of the Government by skipping over Amendments with the object of concentrating attention on some matter which was more important than others. Even the extended time proposed in the Amendment would, in his opinion, be scarcely sufficient for the discussion of the important points that were raised.
§ MR. LOGAN (Leicester, Harborough)
said, that, as a Representative of an agricultural constituency, he desired, in opposing the Amendment, to thank the Government for making it clear that it was their intention that the business of the nation should be proceeded with. 554 They might rest assured that people out of doors would not be satisfied with the plea of obstruction.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! Perhaps it is right that I should explain to the hon. Member that the particular Amendment now before the House simply raises the question whether a sufficient time has been allotted to the clauses specified.
§ SIR E. CLARKE (Plymouth)
I may perhaps be allowed to express my sincere sympathy with the hon. Member who has just sat down on the fact that he has not been allowed to deliver this afternoon a speech which—[Cries of "Question!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
As the hon. Member was out of Order, any comment upon his remarks will be out of Order.
§ SIR E. CLARKE
I was not going to discuss his speech, and I will not, of course, make any further allusion to it. The hon. Member was not proposing to deal with the real question which the House has now to consider—namely, that of the time which has been allotted by the Government scheme for the discussion of the specific matters contained in these clauses. I think that if hon. Members will be good enough to read the clauses which it is proposed we should dispose of by 10 o'clock on Thursday night, they will have at once ample proof that the time which has been allotted is not sufficient for the work. The time—that is, between this Sitting and 10 o'clock on Thursday night—consists, at the outside, of 24 hours.
§ SIR E. CLARKE
It is time that we began the discussion of the 5th clause on Wednesday, but it is proposed that between the end of this Sitting and 10 o'clock on Thursday next we should dispose of the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th clauses. Before the House desires that it is competent to deal with these matters within that limited space of time, I should like to point out how many hours will actually be at the disposal of the House and what the questions are that will have to be considered. Between the close of this Sitting and Thursday at 10 o'clock we 555 shall have about 24 hours available for debate—namely, seven hours on Monday, seven hours on Tuesday, about five on Wednesday, and five on Thursday. Well, what have we to deal with in that time? Clause 5 has hardly been discussed yet, although we have entered on its consideration. I do not think anyone will deny—and I am quite sure the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary will not deny—that Clause 5 is one of very great importance. It deals with the Executive Government of Ireland, and it is a clause which it is very difficult indeed to propose Amendments to, because it begins by asserting that the Executive Government in Ireland should continue to remain under the authority of Her Most Gracious Majesty. The question whether that clause is to be altered in any way, and whether the appointment of the Lord Lieutenant to exercise the Executive authority of the Crown ought to be subject to the same limitations and restrictions as, at the present time, affect the Crown itself, is surely a matter of very great importance, and I do not think anyone will say that a single sitting of this House, occupying about eight hours of debating time, will be enough for that clause. But, assuming that it is enough, let me point out what the House will have to dispose of on the Tuesday, Wednesday, and part of Thursday. It is no less than the constitution of an Institution entirely new to our domestic Government—the establishment of a Second Chamber not founded on the hereditary principle and with a different franchise from that of the First Chamber.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE, Edinburgh, Midlothian)
That is already-decided.
§ SIR E. CLARKE
Decided it may be that there shall be a Second Chamber, but that fact does not make the constitution and construction of the Chamber a perfectly easy and light matter. When we come to Section 7, we find it is one which, if it had been a Bill in itself, would have demanded the attention of Parliament for a very considerable time. It is perfectly well-known to all of us that of all the electoral anomalies which exist at the present time those which are to be found in Ireland are perhaps the worst. Section 7 proposes to stereotype these anomalies for six years and to 556 leave in existence a body of 103 Irish Members, appointed by the constituencies as they are at present arranged. I am quite sure that if the Prime Minister were proposing not a Home Rule Bill but a Reform Bill for Ireland, he would recognise that a much larger amount of discussion than could take place in two days would be necessary. Well, all these proposals are to be dealt with in 24 hours of Parliamentary time. Of course, the Government have the power, and I have no doubt they will exercise it, of strictly limiting the times allowed for debate according to their view of the exigency of the subject; but, at any rate, they must allow us to point out to them, before they impose their will on the House of Commons, how obviously insufficient is the time they propose to allow us for discussion.
§ SIR T. LEA (Londonderry, S.)
asked for some reply from the Government to the suggestion that had been made, that if the Amendment were not assented to the time to be placed at the disposal of the House for the discussion of the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th clauses should be extended to the Monday following the Thursday mentioned in the Motion. There was one very important question respecting the representation of the Irish Government in the House of Commons. The Chief Secretary had said that the clause upon which this matter was to be discussed was the 5th clause. There were a great many of his (Sir T. Lea's) constituents who were expecting to leave their homes and their country. [Ministerial laughter and cries of "Oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite might laugh, but he asserted fearlessly that there were thousands of people in the North of Ireland who expected to be driven from the homes which their ancestors had made for them when this Bill became law. They were, therefore, deeply interested in the discussion of these questions, and desired that their Representatives should have a reasonable time for their discussion.
§ Question put.
§ The Tellers reported the Numbers:—Ayes 268; Noes 244.
§ MR. SEXTON
Mr. Speaker, before you announce the numbers, I have to state that the Member for South Tipperary who 557 did not hear the Question put voted in the wrong Lobby.
§ MR. SEXTON
His vote, I presume, will be deducted from the majority. [Laughter, and cries of "Minority!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
Ayes to the right, 267; Noes to the left, 244. [Cries of "No, no!"] Are these figures on the authority of the Tellers?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I understand that these figures have not the sanction of the Tellers. I must ask them to make the necessary correction.
§ Ayes 268; Noes 243.—(Division List, No. 180.)
§ VISCOUNT WOLMER (Edinburgh, W.)
said, he wished to move an Amendment to extend the time allotted for Clauses 9 to 26 from Thursday, July 13, to Friday, July 21, at 10 minutes to 7 o'clock. The compartment to which the Amendment had reference contained within itself an extraordinary number of clauses of first-rate importance—Clauses 9 to 26 inclusive. In his opinion, in consequence of the importance of the clauses in this compartment, it was absolutely impossible that the House could discuss them in a week. These clauses related to finance—Clauses 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 20, and 21. They were going to be negatived on the Motion of the Government, who were going to bring up fresh proposals at the end of the Bill. He submitted that when the Motion was made to negative the clauses, the Committee should be allowed to put various questions to the Government. Why should the Government desire to go back upon the plan they had announced as to the fair proportion and division between the Irish and the British taxpayer? This was the third financial scheme propounded 558 by the Government; and seeing that the British taxpayer had always been put in an increasingly bad position by the time they had arrived at their sixth plan, there would be no consideration left for him. When the Prime Minister himself had told them that the just, and even generous, proportion for Ireland to pay towards Imperial expenditure was 1–15th, why was she to pay only l–30th? Why was all that difference to come out of the pocket of the British taxpayer? Then Clause 18 dealt with Money Bills and voting the public Revenue of Ireland, and raised Constitutional questions of the first importance. It would be remembered that the Prime Minister had stated at an earlier period that in fulfilling his functions under the clause the Lord Lieutenant would be again acting in a dual capacity. He would have to select what Votes should be passed, a system altogether at variance with the practice in this country, where the initiative in the matter was left exclusively with the Cabinet of the day. It was impossible to exaggerate the gravity of the Constitutional question that the clause opened out, and could the Committee submit to having this most important function of the Lord Lieutenant slurred over or wholly neglected in discussion as would inevitably be the case? Then Clause 19 dealt with Exchequer Judges. The House would remember that the Exchequer Judges were the bulwark the Government proposed for the protection of the loyal minority in Ireland. If it could be shown in a case about to be tried that there had been anything in the nature of a contravention of the Act, any party to the action could apply to have it transfered to the Exchequer Judges. Those Judges, again, were to be the sole protection of the Revenue in all Revenue cases in Ireland; and it was the Exchequer Judges who would, for the first time, have to give decisions as to the, at present, wholly unascertained meaning of those cabalistic words "due process of law." Again, Clauses 22 and 23 dealt with the function of the Privy Council as the final interpreters of the Act. No Member of the Government could deny that really the whole interpretation of the Act, and through its interpretation its successful or futile action would, to a very great extent, depend on the decision of the Privy Council, and yet there 559 would be no time to consider the constitution of the Privy Council as the supreme Court on Constitutional questions. In the clauses contained in this compartment was to be found the only embryo of an Imperial Executive within the four corners of the Bill; that was to say, the Exchequer Judges were to have the power, under certain circumstances, of appointing an officer of their own to see that their decrees were carried out. That was the only trace in the whole of the Bill of an Imperial Executive officer, and it seemed to him nothing short of scandalous that the House should in Committee be absolutely precluded—as it would inevitably be—from considering the establishment of that officer. No one would dispute that the clauses he had referred to contained legitimate field for very serious criticism and deliberate discussion, and yet he could show that it would be impossible for the House, if it fulfils its function properly in this respect, because before any of these clauses could be reached the House would have to deal with Clause 9. It was no exaggeration to say that Clause 9 by itself in any Session, under any Government, would merit a whole week's discussion; but they did not know what Clause 9 was going to be.
§ VISCOUNT WOLMER
was much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for making that statement; but was it not possible that the hand of the right hon. Gentleman might be forced against his own conviction by his own supporters under the leadership of the Member for North Kerry? At any rate, the clause would have to be discussed to ascertain whether the Prime Minister had succeeded in doing what he had told the country it passed the wit of man to do. They would have to see whether he had drawn the line of distinction between Imperial and non-Imperial affairs; and they would have to ask him how, if it was not possible to do this in 1886, and if he saw the difficulties in drawing the distinction which he admitted in bringing in the Bill, he believed the scheme could possibly work. [Cries of "Order!"] If he were transgressing the Rules he apprehended that Mr. Speaker would 560 call him to Order. It would be necessary to point out that under the circumstances of this House as they had prevailed not in every Parliament, but in most Parliaments, since the Reform Act of 1832, Clause 9 of the present Bill, if it had been on the Statute Book, would have reduced the House to impotence. It was easy to find an illustration of his meaning. Suppose Clause 9 were part of the law of the land at this moment, in what position would they find themselves in the House? Would the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister remain in Office for a week? He (Lord Wolmer) could not imagine that he would, for the right hon. Gentleman and his Cabinet were pledged to the Newcastle Programme, and they knew—
§ MR. SPEAKER
I would remind the noble Lord that the clause should not be discussed as if it were now before the House.
§ VISCOUNT WOLMER
said, it would be their duty to point out, when they came to Clause 9, that these difficulties would inevitably occur. It would be their duty to ask the Prime Minister how the clause could work, and how, with the clause in operation, he could carry on his Government? If during the discussion on Clause 9 an Amendment were carried against the Government it would have the effect of keeping in that House for all purposes the whole of the present Representatives from Ireland—a contingency about which it was impossible to speak with patience and without heat. It would be their duty to point out that the humiliating position in which Great Britain would thus be placed—[Cries of "Question!"] A permanent Irish ascendency would have been established in Great Britain; and he maintained that, under the possibilities he had foreshadowed, a week's discussion of Clause 9 alone would be the very least the country would expect from the House. It was a clause which would affect the House and the position of the British electorate for all time, and surely it was not one that ought to be disposed of in that portion of a week's work which might fall to it if all the clauses from 9 to 26 were equally distributed over the 30 working hours that would be available. At that rate the total amount of time that they would allow Clause 9, if they permitted the 561 other clauses to have an equal share of attention, would be two hours—two hours in which to discuss whether the House was to be reduced to impotence or the British taxpayer to permanent servitude. He begged to move the Amendment.
In sub-head (b), to leave out the words "10 p.m. on Thursday, 13th July," in order to insert the words "Friday, 21st July, at ten minutes to Seven."—(Viscount Wolmer.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
I only wish to put two questions to the right hon. Gentleman before he replies. My noble Friend has pointed out that there is an important matter in the concluding clauses that are reserved for this part, and he has also shown that the 1st clause is one which is likely to occupy a very considerable amount of time. He suggests that probably it will occupy the whole of the time allotted by the Government. Now, if that should be the case, there will be no discussion on Clause 10. I think the Government will agree that there should be something in the nature of a general discussion of the financial proposals in the Bill, and it is quite impossible with advantage to discuss those proposals in detail. Every single proposal which the Government has made must have relation to the whole scheme and to the estimated Irish Budget. We have not—owing to circumstances which have been beyond the control of the Government—we have not been able to have anything like a Second Reading discussion on the question of finance, and I think it is not unreasonable to ask for that. I also think that the Government will gain by allowing adequate time for that purpose. Now, I am under the impression that such a discussion might take place in Committee on the financial proposals, but I understand that the Resolution to be proposed in the Financial Committee will deal only with a very small part of the subject, and that it will be out of Order to enter upon a discussion of the whole financial scheme. Therefore, I take it that any discussion must be on the Motion to postpone Clause 10. If my noble Friend is correct—and I think there is good reason for what he has said—that 562 the discussion on Clause 9 is likely to occupy the whole of the time I would point out that there will be no opportunity for a general discussion on the financial scheme. My first question I wish to ask the Prime Minister is what arrangement the Government have made for the discussion on the financial proposals of the Bill? My second question is this: During these Debates the Government have promised a considerable number of Amendments in connection with the different clauses of the Bill. Those Amendments are not yet on the Paper, but there are upon the Paper a great number of Amendments connected with the altered financial scheme. I want to point out to the Government that all these Amendments may be shut out by this Closure Resolution. It is conceivable that the earlier portion of the Debate will occupy the time, and that there will be no opportunity in the Committee stage for the Government to propose these Amendments. I therefore wish to ask the Government, in the event of any of these Amendments, or of any of the Amendments already on the Paper, being shut out by the Closure, what arrangement they propose to make in order to introduce them? How do they propose to carry out their pledge?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
With regard to the question of my right hon. Friend, the matter stands there. I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the most convenient course for taking the discussion on the finance proposals of the Bill will be on the Motion to postpone Clause 10, although, no doubt, it would be desirable to have a general understanding that there should be power to bring together the main points of these proposals of the Bill. The proposal of the Government will be to negative Clause 10, and the reasons for negativing the clause, and for introducing financial proposals of a similar character, have already been indicated by me. Our reason for the proposed now financial scheme, which is strictly founded on the principles of the former scheme, is that, taking note of the enormous expansion which was given to this Bill, in consequence, I will say, of views conscientiously held by the Opposition, we have thought it our duty to make what contribution we could towards narrowing the field of discussion, and consequently we 563 have devised what we think a much simpler plan of finance than that originally incorporated in the Bill. That is the reason why we put forward this new financial scheme, and because the discovery of an error would not of itself have necessitated any change in the main proposals. That being so, it appears to me that the House would be in an entirely false position if it attempted to discuss the matter on Clause 10. I am not aware that anyone protested against the withdrawal of Clause 10, and therefore to debate the financial plans upon a clause which its authors rejected and which no portion of the House desired to adopt would not be a practical method of proceeding. My hope is that when the new clauses are reached an understanding will be come to in the Committee which will enable the convenient trial of such questions as are involved in the new plan of finance. My right hon. Friend has also asked me a question in regard to the Government Amendments. Well, we certainly will not be parties to such a prolongation of the Debate upon the earlier sections of the Bill as would lead to the absorption of these Amendments by the operation of the Motion now made. We have given, under this Motion, what we consider to be sufficient time for the discussion of all matters; but if, in consequence of the action of hon. Gentlemen holding different views, the time is absorbed by some of the early provisions and some of these Amendments are extinguished, I am aware of no course that can be taken except to propose them on Report. At all events, so far as the Government is concerned, the Amendments we have proposed, apart from those relating to finance, are not considerable or likely to occupy any great length of time. I, therefore, do not apprehend they will meet the fate my right hon. Friend referred to. The questions that legitimately arise in the section to which the Amendment refers are three in number. The first is Clause 9, in regard to which the noble Lord thinks a week the very smallest period that can be fixed for its discussion, and seemed to indicate that a month would be nearer the proper time. [Opposition cheers.] That cheer indicates what is at the root of the Amendment, and the fundamental and radical difference in the estimate made by one side and by the other as to the nature of 564 the provisions of the Bill and as to the nature of the Amendments which they ought to discuss in connection with it. I think it wise to abstain from characterising the Amendments, but I am bound to say that my view of them differs entirely and absolutely from that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. We have endeavoured to bring to an issue the great question of the scale on which the Bill ought to be discussed. Our proposal is that the time, which appears to us to be reasonable, and which will afford to the Bill far more time than has been given to any measure that has been before Parliament at any period of our lifetime, should be accorded and fixed. In our view the time accorded is ample for dealing with questions falling within the group of clauses now in question. In addition to Clause 9, the two other matters raised in this group are the question of the Exchequer Judges and appeals to the Judicial Committee. I have not heard of any serious differences of opinion in regard to either of these matters. With regard to Clause 9r differences may exist, but I do not agree with the supposition that they are of great multitude or diversity. The Government are bound to propose Clause 9, and to carry it as a substantial clause. There is a question between what is called the "in-and-out" method and the method of omnes omnia, on which I believe a good deal of difference of opinion prevails, but we have never indicated that we have any fixed or settled intention to push to all extremes the proposal of the Bill in preference to any other. I have been challenged to say whether we think we have done at last what it passes the wit of man to do—namely, to frame a perfect plan for the retention of the Irish Members in this House. No, we have not; and nobody has framed a perfect plan so far as I know. We have been guided by public opinion in regard to this question as a whole, and in respect of the details of the method under which the Irish Members are to be retained we consider ourselves fully entitled and bound to have regard to public opinion. I can conceive this to be a question on which Members may desire to express their preference one way or the other. I am not aware, though, that much light 565 can be thrown on the subject, and, in my opinion, we have allotted ample time for disposing of it, and also of disposing of the questions relating to Exchequer Judges and appeals to the Judicial Committee. In making the allocation of time, the Government proceed on the view which the majority of the House take as to the manner and method of treatment which the Bill requires, guiding ourselves in the main by the precedents supplied by our former history, and entirely declining to accede, as we have invariably declined to accede, to a view taken of the measure which would have the effect of rendering all progress impossible. The Government are, therefore, bound to resist the Amendment.
§ MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the majority which he thought would be inclined to assent to the course he is proposing; but that majority is a very small and declining one, and I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman still thinks that in the long run the majority to which he has alluded will be able to carry out this novel system of legislation by compartments. We are now to legislate, with regard to the position of the Irish Members in the Imperial Parliament, with our watches in our hands, noting how long we have to discuss whether the Irish, having a Parliament of their own, are to be the masters of British legislation. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of precedents in regard to this matter. Did he remember his own speech with regard to the extraordinary change that would be made if we had two separate classes of Members in the House—unlimited Members and limited Members? Does the right hon. Gentleman remember the enormous importance he attached to the question of equality between all Members? Does he think that is a matter which ought now to be decided in a few hours? It was pointed out last night, and I will point out again, that each of these compartments contain as great legislative changes as the Reform Act itself. The question of breaking up the Parliament; the question of whether we are to legislate in groups on groups of questions is at least as great a Constitutional principle as the reduction of the franchise and the redistribution of seats. I wonder what time the right hon. Gentleman himself 566 will think sufficient to discuss this Clause 9? The Chancellor of the Exchequer thinks one night will be sufficient. I would recall to the right hon. Gentleman a reminiscence. Does he remember his attitude on the Divorce Bill? Does he remember his opposition to that Bill?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Yes, but divorce only forms one sub-section in this Bill, on which, I think, we were closured. What a difference between the rights the right hon. Gentleman was entitled to in those days and the rights he now thinks sufficient for the Opposition! Every clause in this Bill is an Act of Parliament, and because the Government put a number of sub-sections into one clause they think the House is too long upon the clause. The right hon. Gentleman thinks Clause 9 will be soon disposed of. A little more light has been thrown on the clause, and that seems to render it probable that it will take a much longer time than the right hon. Gentleman thinks. Let me point out the extremely astute course taken on Clause 9. The right hon. Gentleman is pledged to press it. He says he is going to propose it; but after the first words there comes an Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Northampton, which practically has the effect of retaining the Members from Ireland in their full strength and with their full voting powers in this House, so that the Government will be able to get a vote on that before they put forward their own proposals. I think that is a very astute proceeding, but it will not be found so convenient as it now appears. I presume the House may assume that the Government mean to make as good an argument as they can for their own proposals.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
My right hon. Friend understands the Government will stand to their proposals. I must limit him to his own understanding.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The Government may stand by their proposal or they may not, or they may sit down. Perhaps we shall see the process we saw last night—a sitting down during the whole of the arguments. Is it quite fair of Her Majesty's Government to tell us how many hours we are to devote, watch in hand, to the question of the retention of the Irish Members, and at the same time to refuse frankly to tell us what they intend to do. Perhaps they will try to closure the debate on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northampton. If the Government adopt that Amendment, allowing the Irish Members to remain in full force and with full voting powers, I should like to know what the country will have to say to it. If they do not accept that Amendment we will have to discuss the position the Irish Members will maintain in the House. Is it not preposterous, is it not grotesque, to say we are to debate a question of that importance in a couple of days? It is the greatest possible Constitutional change, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it. It has not been debated at all except by the right hon. Gentleman himself, when he made the excellent speech against the proposal by which he is or is not now going to stand, I do not know which. Is the arrangement to be temporary or permanent? Will there not be a Debate on the numbers of the Irish Members? Will the House not want to recur to the negotiations between Mr. Parnell and the right hon. Gentleman as to the number Mr. Parnell thought would be sufficient?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I am not quoting any words of the right hon. Gentleman. I am too careful to quote any but the exact words of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I am not quoting any statement; I was alluding to the negotiations between the right hon. Gentleman and Mr. Parnell.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I have never given any account of them, and I am not bound by any account of them that has been given.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
It is rather sad that in a matter so grave as this, when a statement was made by Mr. Parnell—
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The question is the numbers in which the House will continue to enjoy the society of hon. Members from Ireland. That is too interesting a question to be disposed of shortly. But I will pass by the allegation that the statement made by Mr. Parnell was fiction. It is for Mr. Parnell's friends to reply to it. I do not think that any language can be too strong to show the absurdity of asking us to debate Clause 9 in the short time the right hon. Gentleman thinks sufficient. The country must be informed as to the full scope of Clause 9 with the clause as amended by the hon. Member for Northampton, or that form of it which the Government on this question of high Constitutional importance will be prepared to accept, provided they only get the majority, for that is the point to which we are reduced. That clause will take so long that it is scarcely worth while to argue at any length any other clause in this compartment. Then there are the questions of the Exchequer Judges and the appeals on Constitutional questions. The right hon. Gentleman is about to constitute a Court to take in this country the place of the Federal Court of America. Is that a matter to be disposed of in a few hours? The right hon. Gentleman said he had not heard much about the Exchequer Judges yet, but we have not come to them. He will hear a great deal about them later on. The House wants to know what the machinery will be by which the decisions of the Exchequer Judges will be enforced. That is not a matter which can be tossed aside in a few hours. Then, with regard to the Financial Clauses, the time the Government are prepared to spare from their Newcastle Programme is so limited that, rather than give more time, they throw over the financial scheme which they have elaborated during the last six years. The real point of Clause 10 is placing in the hands of the Irish Executive the collection of the Revenue in Ireland. That most important scheme the right hon. Gentleman threw over because he had not the time to consider 569 it, and for six years he takes the collection of the Revenue out of the hands of the Irish Government. I am glad he has done so, but it is an enormous change. The right hon. Gentleman makes a temporary arrangement with regard to finance, so that six years hence we are to have the whole matter over again. Six years hence we will have the question of the Constabulary over again, and six years hence we will have to have a new Home Rule Bill. We are to begin the new century with a new Home Rule Bill. There are matters which the right hon. Gentleman treats as subjects which can be postponed. What guarantee can the right hon. Gentleman give that on the Motion relating to Clause 10 the hon. and learned Member for Waterford will not raise the objection which he has against the present plan of the Government with regard to finance? During the whole of this compartment business the Government cannot guarantee us against Amendments from their own side. The whole of the compartment now under consideration is full of the gravest questions, each of which deserves the fullest argument, and it is really an insult to the House to pretend the contrary. It is in order that the country may be prevented from understanding the bearing and effect of the proposals of the Government that we are to be shut up within the few days which the Government condescend to allow us.
§ MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries. &c.)
said, that in his opinion the country was thoroughly and heartily sick of the amount of discussion which had already taken place, and they were so because they did not believe that that discussion had taken place in good faith, with a view of amending or improving the Bill, and they thought that if an unlimited time were granted for further discussion the sole endeavour of the Opposition would be to defeat and hinder the Bill and make it, if they could, ridiculous and unworkable. The country was glad that the Bill should be split up into compartments, for it did not wish to see the time at the disposal of the House frittered away in vain and tedious repetitions of stale arguments against the principle of this legislation. Very few hon. Members on his side of the House had taken part in these Debates, and they had been 570 prevented from joining in the discussions by the dilatory tactics of hon. Members opposite. Members on his side of the House were loyal to the House of Commons and its traditions. They did not wish to see the opinion confirmed that that great Assembly was becoming incompetent to discharge its duties. Had there been fair discussion with a view to amending the Bill hon. Gentlemen on the Benches near him would have offered suggestions for the improvement of the measure. As it was, they had been obliged to sit still. He did not question the ability or fail to admire the eloquence of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but to be compelled to listen to an almost unbroken series of speeches from the Bench which they occupied without the variation of a private Member taxed the patience of flesh and blood. If right hon. Gentlemen opposite would spare the House a little of their eloquence and give other Members whom the House would like to hear an occasional opportunity to speak he thought it would be well. It seemed to him that the subjects that were being discussed in this compartment had been many times discussed. He had only to say, with reference to Clause 9, that he was sure the Prime Minister would understand that, although his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton had placed an Amendment on the Paper, it did not follow from that that all hon. Members accepted the position of the hon. Member for Northampton, and some of them preferred the Bill as it stood.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. and learned Member reproaches us on this Bench for having taken too great a part in these discussions. No one regrets more than I do myself that we have found it necessary to occupy so much time. I feel, however, bound to point out that one reason for that is that, if any hon. Gentleman behind us gets up and makes observations which do not exactly meet the views of the Government, he is invariably closured—a kind of treatment which is not encouraging. I do not accept the hon. and learned Gentleman as an exponent of public opinion. The hon. Member says that the public are sick of these discussions, and his public, no doubt, are thoroughly sick of them, and have every reason to be sick of them, and the longer they go on the more sick they will be. But the 571 public of the hon. and learned Member is a minority of the inhabitants of this Island. I, speaking on behalf of the majority, can assure the hon. and learned Member that the majority are not sick of these discussions, and do not approve of the proceedings taken to bring them to a conclusion. But I do not wish to waste powder and shot on a speech which was more appropriate to the Debate on Thursday, when the hon. and learned Member was not allowed to speak, than it was to the present controversy. On this afternoon, when hon. Members opposite know that the discussion must finish by a certain hour, they apparently feel that they have a licence to occupy as much time as they choose with irrelevant remarks. My chief purpose in rising, however, is to suggest that the discussion on the Amendment before us shall now be brought to a close, not because the subject has been exhausted, but because other important Amendments await consideration. On the next Amendment the question of the land necessarily arises, and on the Amendment after that the question of finance—two very large and important questions; and, although a good deal remains to be said on the question before us, I think, for these reasons, we should now take the opinion of the House upon it.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 302; Noes 268.—(Division List, No. 181.)
§ MR. HAYES FISHER (Fulham) moved an Amendment, to leave out the words "10 p.m., Thursday, 20th July," for the purpose of inserting "10 minutes to 7, Friday, 28th July," the object being to give another week for the discussion of Clauses 27 to 40 inclusive. He said that every argument which had been advanced for an extension of time for the consideration of the clauses in the preceding compartment could be urged, with even greater force, for an extension of time respecting a compartment embracing no less than 14 clauses. By the Resolution they were allotted only 28 hours of Parliamentary time for the consideration of the 14 clauses in question—two hours only for each clause. Seeing the extreme importance of the matters with which the clauses dealt, the proposal of the Government was 572 absurdly inadequate, and the demand for such an extension of time as would give a day for the discussion of each of the clauses was certainly not an unreasonable one. The clauses embraced, among other matters, the whole question relating to the position, salaries, and duties of the existing Judges; the salaries, duties, and pensions of the Police and Civil Service—and nobody knew better than the Chief Secretary that the Police were greatly dissatisfied with the future conditions under which they would have to serve if the Bill ever became law; the privileges and qualifications of Members; the limitation on borrowing by Local Authorities; and, most important of all, the grave question of the land. Even if they compressed their remarks within the shortest space of time upon all these clauses, they were of such vital importance that it would be absolutely impossible to leave one single hour to a discussion of the clause relating to the great Land Question if they did their duty by persons affected by the other clauses. There were many important points connected with the question of land which required to be cleared up. The hon. and learned Member for Hackney, for instance, gave them to understand that not only was the Imperial Legislature to have control over the land for the next three years, but that before they parted with that control to the Irish Legislature they would be able to fix the terms and conditions upon which the Irish Legislature would be able to deal with it. That was a point that required to be cleared up. When they came to consider that the Land Question was almost admittedly the root of the Irish Question, it would be really extravagantly absurd to ask that they should give only 28 hours to the consideration of the Land Question; and how much more absurd was it, therefore, to ask that they should take the end of that period? If they were to do their duty to the Civil servants concerned the period of 28 hours must be entirely occupied with important and vital questions affecting them. He should be surprised if, when the Government came to consider the enormously important question they were asked to discuss in these 14 clauses, they did not make some concession as was asked for by the Amendment. Surely it was not too much to give them a further week 573 when they were framing an entirely new Constitution. Let them, at least, have another week to discuss the questions which were raised in this department, and the last person who ought to grudge the discussion of these questions was the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who should be regardful for the future of the Civil servants, who served him as loyally as they served his predecessor in the Irish Government. He hoped the Government would make the concession asked for, and if they did not he was perfectly certain they would not succeed in curtailing the discussion on this Bill, because all these questions must, in that case, be considered even more fully on the Report stage of the Bill. He begged to move the Amendment.
In Sub-head (c), to leave out the words "10 p.m. on Thursday, 20th July," in order to insert the words "Friday, 28th July at ten minutes to seven."—(Mr. Hayes Fisher.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
MR. J. MORLEY
I am afraid I must return the same answer to the hon. Member's proposal that we have already been bound to return to similar proposals as to the two previous groups of clauses. The hon. Member who makes this Motion has appealed to me specially and personally, because this group contains the clauses dealing with the Constabulary and the Civil servants; and he says very truly that I must feel a special responsibility for the provisions for these great bodies of public agents being fairly discussed. I entirely share the sentiment which inspired that appeal of his. As he has truly said, these gentlemen, both Constabulary and Civil servants, are equally unstinted in the loyalty and fidelity of their service whatever Party or Government may be in power on this side of the water. As he probably knows, I have had interviews with the Civil servants and the Constabulary officers, and have taken an interest which I think they recognise in the clauses and Schedules affecting them. I quite agree with the hon. Member that there are three points of great importance; but I would observe that, though the points are important, there are not many of them. There are 574 few points—three or four—so far as these two great Departments are concerned. They are important points I quite admit, but they are very few, and they could be, I am convinced, easily and amply discussed in the time which would remain after the other clauses in regard to these departments have been dealt with. What are the other clauses? It is quite true that Clause 35 reserves the land for three years. Of course, if the Committee should be determined to go into the whole history of the past and the prospects in the future of the Irish Land Question, there can be no doubt the time allotted would be extremely inadequate. But that is not the position in which the question will come before the Committee. The proposition before the Committee has been the simple proposition to reserve the Land Question for a definite period. That is an important point; but where I differ, and where the Government differ, from hon. Gentlemen opposite, is upon this: they seem to think, because the point is an important one, that, therefore, an enormously long discussion is necessary upon it. I am perfectly sure that all those gentlemen who have been accustomed to take part in controversies, whether political or otherwise, will agree that very often the controversies that are most important are those where the leading points can be most concisely and shortly stated. I do not think I need make any further argument than that. I have considered, of course, the most important clauses in this group. I believe the most important clauses are those which the hon. Member believes to be so, and I think they can be easily and adequately despatched in the time we propose to allot to them.
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
I have been very sorry to hear the reply of the right hon. Gentleman; and, as I understand the Amendment which I had placed on the Paper would be inconsistent with what has been already passed by the House in a former portion of the Resolution, I ask permission of the House to say a few words in reply to the right hon. Gentleman. I can hardly adopt his estimate of the importance of the various questions which will have to be discussed in this department before we come to the Land Question. As far as I am able to form an opinion on the subject, it seems to me 575 exceedingly probable that all discussion upon that extremely difficult and important question will be shut out altogether if we adopt the proposal of Her Majesty's Government. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that if the whole question of the land was to be discussed in this Bill the time allotted by the Government would be extremely inadequate; but he seemed to think that all we had to discuss during the passage of this Bill with regard to the land was the question of whether or not the Land Question was to be reserved and to be dealt with hereafter. I take issue altogether with the right hon. Gentleman upon that point. We think it is of great importance that this question should be discussed now this afternoon, inasmuch as we shall have no opportunity probably of discussing it hereafter. It is important, I think, that the Government should be reminded of the pledges that they have given by their individual Members on former occasions with regard to this question, and that the country should be informed that we are not to have any opportunity, in all probability, of discussing it in future. That depends entirely on whether the questions of Judges, Civil servants, pensions, the whole question of the police, and a variety of others can be disposed of in the course of a week; and unless they can we shall be debarred from discussing the Land Question at all. What is the position with regard to the land? In this Bill you provide, it is true, that no legislation shall be undertaken by the Irish Parliament with regard to the land for a period certainly of three years, and so far, I admit, so good. But what the landlords have to apprehend, in my humble estimation—and, I think, in the estimation of everybody who has given any impartial consideration at all to the Irish Land Question—is this: it is the action, or rather, I should say, the inaction, of the Irish Executive during all these years pending which they are not to deal with the Irish Land Question by means of legislation. Take the case of an Irish landlord who is impoverished already—and, unhappily, a great number of them, far too many, are in that position at the present time. Suppose—not a very unnatural assumption—his tenants may refuse to pay their rents, or even join some renovated Plan of Cam- 576 paign. The landlord is too poor to take action against the Irish Executive if we suppose for a moment it may either be slack in the performance of its duties, or that it may possibly refuse to the Irish landlord the protection which he asks for and the means of enforcing his just and legal rights. If that happens, he is too poor to fight the Irish Executive, and he is placed at the mercy of tenants who, in all probability, will deprive him of everything he possesses in the world. It has been said of us very often in the course of these Debates that we are most unjust in imputing these motives and this probable conduct to the Irish Executive under the new Irish Parliament. It is asked why do you persist in these charges of what would be irrational conduct against the gentlemen who are to compose that Executive in the future? I venture to say the answer to that question is simple, and, in my opinion, is absolutely complete. We do it because, first of all, we can form a very reasonable estimate of the composition of that Irish Executive, and, in the second place, because we pay them the compliment of simply believing their own words. These gentlemen whom we may not unnaturally suppose will compose the Irish Executive have over and over again expressed their opinion as to the way in which the landlords of Ireland are to be treated. One of them said they were to be treated like rats; another said they were to be hunted like foxes until they became as scarce in the country, and a third preached the doctrine of the abolition of all rent. Does the right hon. Gentleman deny the accuracy of these quotations?
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I am arguing that in all probability we shall be unable to discuss the question of the land at all, because you have limited the time for the discussion of Clauses from 27 to 14 to a week and anterior to the time when the Land Question arises in Clause 35 you will have to discuss all the questions before that.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Because there will, according to the right hon. Gentleman's argument, be no opportunity of discussing the Land Question later on, he is not entitled to discuss it now. He is entitled to show what are the elements of controversy 577 and the elements of importance in the clause; but he is not entitled on it to argue the general question of the land itself, or the relations of landlord or tenant.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I will endeavour to confine myself, Sir, strictly to your ruling, and the element of importance to which I wish to draw attention is this: the danger that will be incurred by the landlords in the event of the Irish Executive failing to perform their duty. I have the highest authority on the part of the Members of the Government themselves for entertaining the opinion that there will be the greatest possible danger in this respect, and if I am in Order I would refer to the very specific declarations on the part of one Member of the present Cabinet in particular. I do not refer to the statement of the Prime Minister, who declared that there was an obligation of honour and duty to settle this question before the Home Rule Bill passed. It is quite true that since then he has limited that declaration to the specific time it was made—namely, 1886. But no such limitation was placed upon the statements made by his Colleagues in the Cabinet, one being Lord Spencer, than whom there is none better acquainted with the Irish Question. He declared that it would be the most mean and treacherous thing in the world to abandon the Irish landlords to their fate. Then we have the specific declaration of the Chancellor of the Duchy, and I desire to call his attention to this. He stated in an article he wrote after great deliberation, in 1887, that the landlords of Ireland ought not to be left to the mercy of an Irish Parliament. All of them, he said, had legal rights founded on Statutes, and the honour of England was pledged to those rights.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY OF LANCASTER (Mr. BRYCE, Aberdeen, S.)
What is the right hon. Gentleman quoting from?
§ MR. CHAPLIN
From an article in The Nineteenth Century, and signed "James Bryce," written in the year 1887.
§ MR. BRYCE
The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. The article was written in January, 1886, before the bringing in of the Land Purchase Bill of that year.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
Quite so; but I do not see that that has any bearing whatever on the question. The honour of England, he said, was pledged to these rights, andWe could not look other nations in the face if we were to throw over the men whose property we confirmed as lately as by the Act of 1881.He went on to make a still more specific statement, to which I most earnestly desire to call the attention of hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House. He says—The conclusion follows that before any police control or any considerable legislative functions can be conferred on an Irish authority, whether central or local, the Land Question must be grappled with, and reasonable compensation must be offered to the landowners, and either prior to or concurrently with the settlement of these several questions this compensation must be secured.What has that got to do with the Bill of 1886 or 1891?
§ MR. BRYCE
I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the suggestion was made and was complied with by the bringing in of the Land Purchase Bill of 1886.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
Then the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, thinks that a Land Bill, which is brought in for a certain purpose which it does not effect, which is never carried into effect, and which purpose, he says, must be effected prior to dealing with the question of Home Rule, is a sufficient answer to the statement I have read on this occasion. I venture to remind him that the Land Question has not been grappled with—that the reasonable compensation he declared ought to be offered has not been offered. Neither prior to nor concurrently with the introduction of the Home Rule Bill has that kind of compensation been secured in the slightest degree whatsoever; and I venture to say that it is a serious thing when right hon. Gentlemen occupying the position of Cabinet Ministers appear to think that deliberate pledges which they have given may be lightly broken, and their statements may be disowned without discredit to themselves. I have the right to ask the right hon. Gentleman, not in a casual 579 interruption across the Table, but in an ordinary reply such as is called for, in my humble judgment, by an occasion of this kind, to reconcile his statement on that occasion with his attitude as a Member of the Government to-day. At all events, I am justified in saying this: that seeing the mode in which the Land Question has been treated up to the present time by Her Majesty's Government, and seeing and remembering the pledges which they have given in the past, and the manner in which those pledges, every one of them, has been broken, and remain unfulfilled, and seeing that now, by the Resolution which is placed upon the Table of the House, it is practically clear to everyone, we shall be debarred on any future occasion, during the passage of this Bill through Committee, of challenging them to meet and make good their pledges, of insisting on their fulfilling the pledges which they gave upon this particular question to Parliament in bygone days. I say, at least, the smallest thing we can expect of the Government on this occasion is that they should accept the Amendment of my hon. Friend, and give us the further time, even though it would not be full and ample time for the discussion of this question. The interests that are at stake are enormous, and I am astounded that a right hon. Gentleman like the Chief Secretary, who knows by this time the conditions of this country, who must be aware of all the statements that have been made by the gentlemen who are to form the new Executive of the Irish Government—and who must know all the dangers and difficulties which they imply for the Irish landlord in the future—should treat the matter in the light and heartless manner in which he has done, and should evidently be prepared to sacrifice the Irish landlords, without raising a finger to assist them, to whatever fate and misery may await them in future.
§ MR. AMBROSE (Middlesex, Harrow)
should not have intervened in the Debate upon this point but for the observation which had fallen from the Chief Secretary with reference to the character of the Debate upon the Land Question in this very section. The right hon. Gentleman said it would not be open to discuss the whole Land Question, but that it would be confined 580 to the question whether or not the power of the Irish Legislature should be postponed for a period of three or four years. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman that this could not be so, because, although he should agree with him that the 35th clause was one of this group, it was only a mere transitory provision, and would, therefore, primarily only have admitted of the construction which the right hon. Gentleman put upon it, yet having regard to what passed in that Committee with, he believed, the full concurrence of the right hon. Gentleman that construction could not possibly be maintained. He would remind the Committee that he himself had an Amendment to the 3rd clause of the Bill, being a permanent exception of the powers of the Irish Legislature as regarded the Land Question and excluding all dealing with the Land Question, and all relations between landlord and tenant, whether by Act of Parliament or otherwise, from the powers of the Irish Legislature. That was one of the permanent matters to be excluded; but he was ruled out of Order on the ground that that Amendment belonged to the 35th clause, and that the question must be raised when they came to the 35th clause. He endeavoured to point out it could not come under the 35th clause, because it was a mere transitory provision; but he failed to make himself heard to the Chairman, so that his Amendment which proposed to deal with the whole Land Question, and to which he was looking forward with great interest, together with other Amendments on the same line, had been postponed, and he did not think it would be possible for the Chairman of the Committee or the Chief Secretary himself to object to the whole of the Land Question being discussed under the 35th clause when they arrived at that clause, and in the circumstances he had mentioned. It would, therefore, be a mistake to suppose that the whole Land Question was not going to be discussed, otherwise the House would have been misled.
§ MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
said, there were 14 clauses which were of importance, or they would not be in the Bill, and it was proposed that exactly 28 hours should be given to their discussion, or exactly two hours to each clause. The Prime Minister had stated that more 581 time had been given to this Bill than any other in his experience; but the Opposition considered that this Bill was of more importance than any 100 Bills that had ever been brought before that House; and, that being so, they considered it absurd in the highest degree to talk of the time given to other Bills when they were dealing with sections of this Bill, every one of which had been well said to be a Bill itself. If 58 days were given to the Committee stage of the Land Bill of 1881, which dealt with only a small portion of what was dealt with directly or indirectly under this Bill, how could the Government wonder if they (the Opposition) felt astonished at their proposals being brought forward for curtailing their time? The Chancellor of the Duchy had stated that it would be a gross betrayal of the landlords not to deal with the Land Question; but the right hon. Gentleman had told them that night that the case was altogether changed because a Bill had been brought in. The bare bringing in of a Bill which did not pass at all was supposed to change the whole matter! That was like the paper safeguards; they were expected to change the whole view of the Opposition. The Chancellor of the Duchy now told them that because the landlords were given a Bill which never passed they ought to be satisfied, and that because a Bill was put on paper that was sufficient, and on the same principle the paper safeguards had been put into the Bill. The Chief Secretary did not deny that there was a strong feeling among the Constabulary with regard to the provisions of the Bill dealing with the force.
§ MR. RENTOUL
said, that was what was acknowledged by the right hon. Gentleman—that that feeling existed. Well, considering the gravity of all these questions that had to be discussed, it was surely not too much to ask for the amount of time the Amendment asked for. Even that would not be enough fairly and fully to discuss all these questions, which were of such vital importance to the people of Ireland.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 298; Noes 264.—(Division List, No. 182.)
MR. CURZON (Lancashire, Southport)
said, he rose to move the omission of Sub-section (d). The procedure under this sub-section was much more drastic and intolerable than was the ease in the preceding sub-sections. Under it a paltry Parliamentary week at the fag-end of a Session was to be devoted to the discussion of measures which might very well occupy half a Session—nay, a whole Session—of Parliament if they were considered in the manner in which the House had usually considered questions of that magnitude. This sub-section of the Resolution was the repository of the changing opinions and the unredeemed pledges of the Government. It was the compartment in which they took refuge when their mind was in a state of flux, or after they had had an interview with the hon. Member for Kerry (Mr. Sexton). The most important matter dealt with in the sub-section was embodied in the Financial Clauses. What form these clauses would take by July 27 when they were to be closured it was impossible to say. It was possible that, just as the clauses which were first introduced had to be entirely changed by the revolt of one section of the Irish Party, another section of the Irish Party might have a similar effect on the new proposals. That would depend on whether the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond) was able to apply his lash with anything like the skill and dexterity of the hon. Member for Kerry. At any rate, these clauses were introduced for the first time the other day. They had not been explained to the country, and many Members were ignorant of their full effect. They would certainly lead to friction between the two Parliaments; and, speaking from the point of view of an English Member, he believed they would constitute an intolerable tax and burden upon England and Scotland. They were the price which the people of this country were invited to pay for the privilege of having the heel of the hon. Member for Kerry planted on their necks. The sub-section also dealt with "new clauses being Government clauses." Were they to understand that no other new clauses were to be moved at all? Was 583 the prerogative of legislative addition to be entirely confined to the political geniuses who sat on the Treasury Bench? Was it not in the recollection of the House that Members sitting in different parts had been invited and encouraged and even commanded by the Chairman of Committees to postpone certain Amendments in which they took great interest on the ground that they could more properly be moved as new clauses? If all the new clauses were to be shut out, it would be act of mala fides to the Members who had brought them forward. The Schedules were also of importance. The first and second gave the names of the constituencies which were to return Members to the two Houses of the Irish Parliament, and the numbers of the Councillors and Members of Parliament who were to be so returned. He did not know whether the 2nd Schedule was still to be considered part of the Bill. It hung on Clause 9, and whether the latter was still in existence or was in a state of suspended animation—like Mahomet's coffin, half-way between heaven and earth—no one on the Front Bench opposite knew. Twice the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had intervened in the Debate with a remark on Clause 9; but he (Mr. Curzon) ventured to say there was no man in the House who had any idea whether Clause 9 was one which the Government intended to adhere to, or one which they intended, under pressure from hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, to slip away from and give up. These clauses, and the whole of the Schedules, two of which he had heard Irish Members say illustrated the incurable passion of a Radical Government for gerrymandering the constituencies—a passion which hitherto had only been curbed by the successful protest of another place—were to be disposed of in a single week. The 3rd and 4th Schedules he believed had been dropped, but the 5th and 6th remained; and they dealt with pensions of officers in the Civil Service, in the Royal Irish Constabulary, and in the Dublin Metropolitan Police. The first part of Schedule 6 dealt with the proposed disbanding of the Royal Irish Constabulary and the establishment of a new police force in its place. Was it not obvious that this was a question which concerned the whole future government and peace 584 of Ireland? It was a matter which affected the lives and properties and liberties of the constituents of numbers of gentlemen who sat in that House, and yet, coming as late as it did, it was highly probable that it would never meet with discussion at all. Then there was the 7th Schedule, which was a Reform Bill in itself—and finally there was the Preamble, that shadowy embodiment of the supremacy of this House which the Constitutional lawyers who sat opposite had assured them over and over again was to be the palladium of the rights and prerogatives of the Imperial Parliament. All these proposals, all these postponed clauses, the entire financial scheme, the Schedules, and the Preamble, which might well provide work for a Session of Parliament and material for many Bills, were to be crammed through the House of Commons in the inside of a Parliamentary week in much the same way as a man forced a charge of powder and shot by means of a ramrod down the muzzle of a gun. If the Resolution were carried, there would never have been a week so prolific in creation since the beginning of the world, which itself only took seven days to create. He asked whether this astounding method was not a reductio ad absurdum of legislation? If they were to pass these measures in a week, why not do it in a day, or in an hour? Why go in for a policy of enforced silence? Why not strangle the Opposition? Why gag it? Why not throttle it at once? If hon. Gentlemen wished to discredit and disparage and abrogate the privileges and prerogatives of the House, they could not find a better way to do it. Never before had such a procedure been adopted, and, to give the Government a last chance of a death-bed repentance, he begged to move this Amendment. He begged respectfully to offer to the Government this final fig leaf of decency with which they might cover their nakedness.
To leave out the words—"(d.) The proceedings on the postponed Clauses, new Clauses, being Government Clauses, Schedules, and Preamble, not later than 10 p.m. on Thursday, 27th July; and after the Clauses, Schedules, and Preamble are disposed of, the Chairman shall forthwith report the Bill, as amended, to the House."—(Mr. Curzon.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. W.E. GLADSTONE
These De-sates are simply repetitions of one another, mutatis mutandis—the words employed, it is true, are different, and fitted to the subject dealt with, but the principle is the same. We have proposed that a time should be allotted for the discussion of this Bill far greater than any ever given to any legislative measure. I do not dispute the contention of hon. Members opposite that the Bill is one transcending all other legislative measures in difficulty, complexity, and importance; but, in view of that fact, we have given, and we propose to give, a greater time than has ever before been given to a measure. But, so far from being contented with that proceeding, hon. Gentlemen opposite declare, on the contrary, that our demand is astounding. [A VOICE: Quite so.] We have fundamentally different ideas as to the spirit in which the Irish nation should be viewed—as to the treatment that this Bill requires, and as to the relation between it and the multitude of other Bills for other portions of the Empire which have given far larger powers, and which have never been supposed to require a tenth part of the discussion that this Bill is said to require. I was a little surprised that the hon. Member should have introduced the history of the creation into the discussion of this Bill, although that the volume of time which the Opposition would consume if unrestricted would equal the period of the creation is a proposition not much wider than the proposition which hon. Gentlemen have in their minds. But I observe that, to suit his purpose, the hon. Member enlarged the history of the creation a little beyond the strict historical fact, because he affirmed with just as much confidence and with just as reasonable confidence as that our proposition was astounding that the creation had extended over seven days. The hon. Member says we produced our new proposals with regard to finance under the pressure of some section of our Irish supporters. I will not ask the hon. Member what grounds he has for that assertion, because I know it is the privilege of those who sit around him to create assertions of that kind ad libitum in their own inner consciousness, 586 and disclaim altogether all reference to evidence or probability. I will tell the hon. Gentleman more than probably he knows on the subject: I believe the Motion towards this change of the financial plan did proceed from an Irish source. My hon. Friend the Member for Kerry (Mr. Sexton) in debate suggested that whereas the Government had proposed a plan apparently contemplating something like permanence, yet, considering that their knowledge of the facts might be greatly enlarged by experience and by a variety of other circumstances, he thought the adoption of a provisional plan and a large reduction in the terms we had proposed would be advisable. There is the terrible instance of the "administration of the lash" of which we have heard so much. I have made this confession, and I might add that when the hon. Member made this suggestion it was as absolute a novelty to the Government as to any gentleman sitting on that side of the House.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
It seems to me that our proposal of a new plan in finance, our new provisions in finance at any rate, have caused considerable annoyance to the other side of the House. This is the consequence of the policy of making concessions. Well, Sir, the complaint at first was of the vast volume and complexity of the Bill. So, perceiving it was in our power in that important department to reduce the volume and the complexity, and to offer a much simpler plan to the House, we did that, with the result that there has been nothing but complaint upon complaint ever since. Those are the terms on which we are obliged to deal with the Opposition' throughout the whole proceeding from beginning to end. And notwithstanding that apparent dissatisfaction on their part, so far as our discussions have yet gone, though there have been plenty of complaints of alleged grievances, I have not yet found that there is much to be said against the plan we have proposed. But whatever else may be said it cannot with truth be said that this is a complex plan. The hon. Member says that the British taxpayer is to suffer severely. Well, he can raise that question with the greatest facility. He can propose to reduce the amount to be allocated to Ire- 587 land. So far as we are concerned, we have proposed a plan for drawing the financial questions together. We suggest an arragement we think fair, and we will do our very best to carry that arrangement; but it is open to everybody by a stroke of the pen merely, and not by puzzling their heads over the matter for a month, to alter fundamentally, or as much as they please, the proposal that we make. Then, as to the Schedules, the hon. Member has reverted to that most terrible word, that great acquisition to the English language for which, amongst many other benefits, the country is indebted to the Opposition—I mean the word "gerrymandering." The hon. Member in his accusation has shown that he has not the smallest perception of the ideas by which the framers of the Bill have been influenced. The Government hope that in a short time the arrangements respecting the composition of the Irish Legislature will be in the hands of that Legislature and that it will provide itself for the division of counties and the demarcation of boundaries. Then, as to the Civil Service, what a formidable question—how complex! It will present to you this simple problem—whether you will make certain allowances for 10, 11, or 12 years, according to the degree of your bounty and liberality, or of your thrift or extravagance? What difficulty can there be about deciding that matter? It appears to me that any man could make up his mind upon it in fewer minutes than it took the hon. Member to make his interesting speech. The Police Schedule will be mainly settled by the Police Clause, which is to be disposed of in a different division of the Bill. I believe that I have gone over all the points raised by the hon. Gentleman with the exception of his complaint as to the new clauses. Well, Sir, that is not a very large complaint. I am not sure whether there is an exact precedent for the course, but I believe we are acting on the principle which is well understood in other matters, that preference is given in the Business of the House to the discussion of the proposals of the Government. I believe I have dealt fairly with the questions mentioned by the hon. Member. The distribution of the various groups of clauses and subjects is as fair and equitable a distribution as the Government can devise. The difference between our- 588 selves and the Opposition is simply the difference which has been apparent in the Debates on 70 or 80 of the subjects out of the 84 on which we have divided. We have heard expressions and re-expressions and re-expressions upon that of fixed and determined views with regard to the people of Ireland and their competence and integrity, and as to the mode in which they should be treated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is in the belief that we should get no further than we have got to-day if we were to extend the limit fixed for these discussions that we feel obliged to say "no" to the Amendment.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Only a very brief space remains for me to deal with the answer—if answer it can be called—which the right hon. Gentleman opposite has given to my hon. Friend on this Bench. I sometimes wonder, when I listen to the right hon. Gentleman, whether he is really convinced by the arguments he brings forward. The proposition of the hon. Member is not whether we take a right view of the Irish character or a wrong view; the question is not one general view on this Bill, but it is simply this: whether rive Parliamentary days, which include half of Friday and half of Thursday, are enough in which to discuss the future fate and general prospects of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and to deal with the whole question of the distribution of seats in Ireland and discuss the new clauses which Members on this side have been invited to put down, and, above all, to deal for the first time with the whole financial plan of the Government. That is the proposition the right hon. Gentleman had to defend, and how has he defended it? He has attacked my hon. Friend (Mr. Curzon) for having used the expression "gerrymandering." That, no doubt, is a very bad word for a very bad thing. But the Opposition are the people who invented the word, the Government are the people who invented the thing, and I would venture to point out to the Government that of the two offences that have been committed that of producing the thing for which a new name had to be found is worse than the act of finding that new name itself. I can promise the right hon. Gentleman that, if he and his Colleagues will refrain in the future from doing anything that 589 deserved this Transatlantic description, my hon. Friend will discard the use of the word and revert to those classical expressions which fall more naturally from his lips. Now, I wish to raise one more question on the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. He said, "We have as yet heard no objection to our new Financial Clauses." Well, of course, he has heard none, because we have never had an opportunity of making objection, and I think it very likely that he will never hear any objection, because he does not mean to give us the opportunity of raising it. Of course, if the right hon. Gentleman is going to adopt these methods of procedure he may flatter himself that his scheme is beyond criticism. If you never allow your scheme to be criticised it is impossible to prove whether objections are or are not well-founded. The right hon. Gentleman has given us a history of the way in which the Member for Kerry (Mr. Sexton) suggested a course which the Government had never thought of before and which the Government jumped at—putting something in the Bill' to please the Opposition. That was a very interesting biographical history, but it had nothing to do with this Amendment.
§ MR. W.E. GLADSTONE
Why were we charged with following the dictation of the Irish Members if the subject was not relevant?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
My hon. Friend, in half a sentence, made a charge which it appears was not wholly without foundation, but I do not know that that justified the right hon. Gentleman in devoting at least one-third of his speech with this historical account of the tergiversations of the Government. But the real point is this: On the Second Reading of the Bill we had one plan, and we endeavoured to the best of our ability to discuss it. Now we have another plan, and have never had a Second Reading discussion on it. The plan is totally new, and there has been no opportunity to discuss it; and yet the right hon. Gentleman proposes that it should be disposed of, together with other important subjects, in the limited space of five days. Surely such an arrangement is absurd. I do not think I could add anything which would more clearly bring before the mind of any im- 590 partial critic the necessity for further discussion to enable these proposals to be freely examined and a fair verdict given upon them in this House.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 300; Noes 267.—(Division List, No. 183.)
§ Main Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 299; Noes 267.—(Division List, No. 184.)
§ Ordered, That the Proceedings in Committee on the Government of Ireland Bill, unless previously disposed of, shall at the times hereinafter mentioned be brought to a conclusion in the manner hereinafter mentioned:—
- (a) The proceedings on the Clauses 5 to 8, both inclusive, not later than 10 p.m. on Thursday 6th July;
- (b) The proceedings on Clauses 9 to 26, both inclusive, not later than 10 p.m. on Thursday 13th July;
- (c) The proceedings on Clauses 27 to 40, both inclusive, not later than 10 p.m. on Thursday 20th July;
- (d) The proceedings on the postponed Clauses, new Clauses, being Government Clauses, Schedules, and Preamble, not later than 10 p.m. on Thursday 27th July; and, after the Clauses, Schedules, and Preamble are disposed of, the Chairman shall forthwith report the Bill, as amended, to the House:
§ After the passing of this Order no dilatory Motion, nor Motion to postpone a Clause, shall be received unless moved by a Minister in charge of the Bill, and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith:
§ If Progress be reported the Chairman shall put this Order in force in any subsequent sitting of the Committee:
§ Proceedings under this Order shall not be interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.
§ It being after Seven of the clock, Mr. Speaker suspended the Sitting until Nine of the clock.