§ COMMITTEE. [Progress, 9th May.]
§ [THIRD NIGHT.]
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1.
§ Amendment proposed, in page I, line 12, to leave out the words "two Houses, the Legislative Council and."—(Mr. T. W. Russell.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words 'two Houses' stand part, of the Clause."
§ MR. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)
thanked the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Mr. J. Morley) for having consented to report Progress shortly before 12 o'clock on the previous evening, and promised to show his appreciation of the right hon. Gentleman's kindness by making his remarks as brief as possible. He intended to support the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell), which had received the support of the hon. and learned Member for Mid Armagh (Mr. Barton) on behalf of the loyal population of the North of Ireland. He wished to know who asked for a 551 Second Chamber? No Irish Member in any part of the House had requested the Government to adhere to their proposal respecting a Second Chamber. The question had been treated by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) in a sort of battledore and shuttlecock fashion. What was the reason of the hon. Member's sudden change of front? Was it due to the fact that the Motion had been moved by the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell)? When a politician who was aspiring to Cabinet rank dealt with a question as the hon. Member had dealt with it, his remarks might be treated almost with contempt, and it might almost be said that "truth" was not always reliable in politics, but sometimes savoured of the heathen Chinee. Had the change in the hon. Member's views been occasioned by any promise on the part of the Government to support the Amendment of which the hon. Member had given notice on the 9th clause? He (Mr. Heneage) had serious misgivings that that was the quid pro quo which the hon. Member had received for having renounced his opinions on the question. The Second Chamber was not to be in any sense a Senate or a House of Peers, and that it would not in any degree represent the minority in Ireland was clear from the speeches delivered by the hon. Members for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) and Mid Armagh (Mr. Barton). No signs had been forthcoming that it would meet the views of the Nationalist Members. Of course, the Chief Secretary might be aquainted with their views however, as it was well-known that the Bill was the result of a sort of secret compact between those Members and the Government in which England had been loft out of the calculation altogether. The Second Chamber would not be any protection to Ulster; it would not strengthen the supremacy of Parliament, and it was not required to carry out the Gladstonians policy of giving Ireland a separate Parliament to manage its own affairs. These facts were very important in reference to the majority obtained by the Prime Minister in 1892, when 25 seats were gained by the Gladstonians in this country, the total majority being only 5,000. How was that majority obtained for the Home Rule cause? It was due to the fact that electors who had either 552 stood on one side or had voted against the Home Rule Bill of 1886 had in 1892 voted for the Gladstonian candidates. He had been told over and over again—"I voted for you in '86, but I am going to give the right hon. Member for Midlothian another chance of seeing if he can deal with this Irish Question." They gave their votes in the belief that English opinion in regard to Home Rule would have some force in the Cabinet, especially as they were told, in a famous letter written by the Chancellor of the Exchequer from his own fireside, that whilst the Irish were entitled to their views with regard to Home Rule, the British people were also entitled to their views. They gave their votes in the belief that the Home Rule Legislature would be a sort of local government on a very large scale, with certain legislative powers added, and not that it would be an independent Parliament. He stood in a somewhat exceptional position in reference to ascertaining the views of the electors, as he supposed there were few Members of the House who knew their constituents better than he knew his. He was, therefore, pretty well acquainted with the views of those who voted for him in 1886, voted against him in 1892, and again voted for him at the subsequent bye-election.
§ MR. LOGAN (Leicester, Harborough)
Mr. Mellor, I should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman is in Order on this particular Amendment in giving us his electioneering experiences?
Every Member is bound to speak to the Amendment as closely as he can, but I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is out of Order.
§ MR. HENEAGE
said, he thought more time had been wasted by the interruption, as was often the case when new Members, who had yet to learn the Rules of Order, interfered with those who knew them than would have been occupied if he had been allowed to say what he was endeavouring to say. He was only remarking that the reason which induced many people to vote against Home Rule in 1881, for the Liberal Party in 1892, and again against Home Rule in 1893, was that between the General Election and the bye-election they had seen the Bill. Why had the 553 Bill been altered from the shape in which it was in 1886?
§ MR. HENEAGE
said, he was speaking to the question. There were not two Chambers in the Rill of 1886.
§ MR. HENEAGE
said, that in 1886 there were two orders or classes of Members, but they were to sit together and form practically one House. As the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. T. M. Healy) had challenged him, however, he thought he could not do better than quote what the Prime Minister said. In moving the Second Reading of the Home Rule Bill in 1886 the Prime Minister said—We propose to introduce into the Legislative Body what we have called two orders. These orders would sit and deliberate together. There would be a power on the demand of either order of separate voting.He could not put the case more strongly than the right hon. Gentleman himself had put it. Having read that extract, he had to ask the Government why they had departed from the lines of their original proposal and created two separate Chambers, which nobody wanted, which could not possibly work satisfactorily, and which would satisfy no one?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The Government have arrived at the conclusion that an Elective Assembly would be the proper form for a Second Chamber; but this is a matter upon which the Committee will, after consideration, exercise its free judgment when it comes to deal with the composition of that Assembly. The course adopted by the supporters of the Amendment is not convenient. They say that they are friendly to the principle of a Second Chamber; yet the Amendment proposes to do away with the Second Chamber, which the Government recommend, and which is, in the opinion of the Government, the only way of dealing with this question. In voting that there should be a Legislative Council hon. Members are not committing themselves to any particular form of composition for that Council. We are now dealing strictly and solely with the principle of a Second Chamber. I do not speak of the principle of an elective Second Chamber. There are precedents 554 for other forms, and I have no wish to exclude them. The Government have taken that which they believe to be the best, and they have, as in all matters of detail connected with the Rill, felt a great disposition to be guided by experience. We have upon this subject very large experience before us. It may be said without fear of contradiction that the Colonial Constitutions have been chosen cither according to their own electoral representation or in conformity with what they rightly believed to be the dispositions of the inhabitants of the Colonies. In no instance, I believe, have the colonists expressed any desire for departure from their present Constitutions. If any Colony were to express such a desire Parliament would be disposed to listen with respect, and even with favour, to their well-ascertained opinions. Here we have, therefore, a large experience from numbers of people of our own race, many of whom have been our fellow-citizens in this country, and who still remain citizens of the Empire at large. I do not think there is a single exception to the principle of a Second Chamber in the case of any Colonial Legislature properly so called. I am not referring to the Provincial Legislatures of Canada. It has been proved beyond doubt that the Second Chamber operates as a very serious check upon the immediate action of the representative Chamber, and the principal proposition of the Government is that a wide experience of the free Constitutions of the Colonies has given sanction to the principle of a Second Chamber, and that this principle is peculiarly recommended in the particular case of Ireland. I believe that I am speaking in conformity with the general sentiment of the Representatives of Ireland—although I have, of course, no right to represent them—in saying that they have the strongest desire to conciliate those of their fellow-countrymen who are in any degree accessible to friendly discussion. Of course, it would be ridiculous to speak of those particular individuals who are beyond conciliation. But I fully believe that the Nationalists entertain every desire for conciliation wherever they have the slenderest hope of effecting it, and I believe, moreover, that they are right in that hope and desire. In my view, this is the best and indeed a necessary policy, however unfavourable 555 the circumstances may be for bringing the minority into line with the majority. I do not think it is an irrational hope to entertain, that, after this Bill has become Jaw, a great change may take place in Ireland, I cannot myself hope to see that change, but I believe that the younger Members on these Benches may hope to see the present divided Parties acting in general concurrence.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I do not doubt that the hon. Member makes a true representation of the sentiments he at present entertains. I, however, have ventured to express my own opinion upon the matter. Now it has been said that the proposal of the Government is a delusive proposal. Hon. Gentlemen may consider the proposed Second Chamber as being defective in composition or lacking in strength; but, if so, their consistent course would be—particularly if they think a Second Chamber to be expedient in itself and that it is further recommended by the peculiar circumstances of Ireland—their best course would now be to sanction the principle, and then to proceed to alter the details, or to propose to alter them, in whatever way they may think proper, when the Committee comes to the provisions in the Bill which deal with those details. If they fail to alter the details in the Bill, they may then proceed, if necessary, to denounce the Second Chamber for Ireland at whatever subsequent stage of the Bill they think proper. It would be a premature and unwise step on the part of these hon. Gentlemen to condemn the principle if they think that principle is wise and just. The energetic and liberty-loving colonial populations cannot have so universally accepted the Second Chamber unless, upon general grounds, it has been found wise and expedient. The first effect of a Second Chamber is to present an undoubted and unquestionable security against hasty legislation. It interposes a certain period of time; it interposes reflection; and in interposing reflection, apart from the possible heat of popular discussion, it interposes an opportunity for allowing full consideration of the modes by which an approximation may be effected between the opposing Parties by some reasonable accommodation of their differences. Who can doubt or deny that 556 this is a necessary effect of the Second Chamber? That would be so even if—which I do not for a moment admit—we were entirely wrong in the composition of the Chamber. The mere fact of its causing an interposition of time before a final decision is made is a very great recommendation. In some respects the Irish Legislature which we are proposing to establish will approach its work under difficulties over and above those which are to be found in the dissensions in Ireland. The greatest loss, or one of the greatest losses, which Ireland has sustained in consequence of the extinction of her domestic Legislature has, in my opinion, been that there has been cut off from Ireland the ordinary, natural, healthful means of the formation of real public opinion. It is not easy to restore this. Notwithstanding the very defective constitution of the Dublin Parliament, there was this action in the public mind tending to influence the sober, legitimate legislation of the Parliament which sat between 1782 and 1795. I admit that the machinery which had been set in action against all the interests of Ireland, no less than against morality and good policy, made the Parliament which sat from 1796 to 1800 very different, though even in that limited Body the claim to national life was not extinct, notwithstanding that every influence was brought to bear upon it from without to make it surrender. What I am arguing for is that, given a Home Rule Bill, it is extremely desirable that its provisions should be so adjusted as to promote, facilitate, develop, and mature the action of public opinion—and, in the main, Irish opinion—upon the proceedings of the Legislative Body in Ireland. From that point of view, every candid man must admit that the interposition of the Second Chamber, with prerogatives reasonably limited, must from the mere fact of repeated discussion—and discussion, moreover, from a somewhat different standpoint—tend to develop that diversity of action in the minds of various classes of persons which is so essential to the health of a free community. And this is especially necessary in the peculiar circumstances of Ireland. Further, I do not doubt that the Irish Nationalists would be among the first to say that they desired the people in this country 557 to continue to take a constant interest in Irish affairs, and to closely watch the actions of the Irish Legislature so as to secure the healthful play of public opinion upon that Body. The question as to how far the Second Chamber can be made to represent the interests of the minority is one rather for consideration when we come to the particulars of the constitution of the Second Chamber than for discussion at the present moment. I have no wish to prejudge any portion of that question, but for the present I may say that I am strongly impressed with the belief that the character of deliberation, the character of gravity, the character of dignity, and the character of stability, which has been found in all our Colonies to attend the system of the double Chamber, will attend the establishment of the Constitution which we now propose for Ireland. And these influences will be especially helpful in Ireland, which has naturally become disused by the arrangements under which she has existed for the last 90 years to the free and vigorous action of public opinion upon the proceedings of the Legislature.
§ MR. PLUNKET (Dublin University)
When I rose just now at the same time as the Prime Minister it was not with any intention of interposing myself between the right hon. Gentleman and the House, but because there seemed to be an extraordinary disposition in certain quarters to terminate this discussion. If I speak but briefly to-day it is not because of any disinclination to support the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell)—for if he presses it to a Division I shall vote for it—but because I simply wish to explain that in so doing I am not opposed in principle to a Second Chamber. I wish also to make it clear that in so acting I believe that I am expressing the views taken upon this matter by the loyal minority in Ireland, and especially that portion of the loyal minority which dwells outside the Province of Ulster. The Prime Minister has said that the only thing now under discussion is the principle of the Second Chamber, and he has also stated that the Government are not rigidly pledged to the particular proposals, as regards the Second Chamber, which are connected with this clause. That is all very well, 558 but we must deal with the clause as we find it in the Bill. This is not the first time that the right hon. Gentleman has proposed to make protection by some kind of double Chamber for the Irish minority. For seven years he has been re-considering the scheme he produced in 1886, and the result is that the present proposal, in every respect in which it differs from the first, is far worse. There is no protection whatever in the present Bill. The Second Chamber, as now proposed, far from affording protection from the dangerous influences which we most fear in the First Chamber, will really tend to aggravate them. The right hon. Gentleman says that there is every disposition on the part of the Nationalists to go as far as possible in meeting the wishes, and what he considers to be the fears, of the minority in Ireland. I shall look forward with great curiosity to the votes which the Nationalist Members may give from time to time as Amendments are brought forward in order to test the real views and intentions of the Government and of their Irish allies. I want now to explain very shortly why it is that, approving as I do of the principle of a Second Chamber in every country where the Government is conducted on representative lines, I am prepared in this particular case to support the Amendment of my hon. Friend. I, myself, confidently believe that this Bill will never pass. I do not believe that this Bill or anything like it would ever have been proposed were it not that the Prime Minister with his great influence in the country hastily adopted such a scheme, and found himself compelled to persevere with it. I do not think this Bill or anything like it will ever pass, and in the part I shall take in this discussion and any other discussions during the progress of the Bill I shall be guided entirely by the influence which I believe the discussions in Committee will have of making the Bill every day more detestable. This provision under discussion has been put into the Bill obviously and professedly as a sweetener of the bitter pill. It is put forward as a safeguard and a protection for the minority, whom the vast majority of the people of the Three Kingdoms, whatever they might think of Home Rule in principle, were determined should be really protected in any 559 proposals for the extension of local government to Ireland. But of all the delusive and misleading provisions with which the Bill is stuffed this is the most delusive. It is not only that people outside might naturally suppose that the institution of a Second Chamber was introduced into this Bill for the purpose of giving protection to the minority in Ireland, and might, therefore, be misled into thinking that some protection was really given to the minority by the proposal; but the Prime Minister has done his best to give importance to the proposal as a satisfactory protection of the minority in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman in introducing the Bill said that he considered the Legislative Council—As affording the fairest, most Constitutional' and most unexceptionable method of redeeming the pledge which they had given to meet the expectation which they had repeatedly held out, that they would, if they could, give the minority some means of vocal expression, and of securing fair and liberal consideration for their views.That would naturally produce in this country the impression that the clause really secured not only the vocal expression of the views, but the full and fair consideration of the views of the minority. I pass by the right hon. Gentleman's reference to the effect of Second Chambers in the Colonies, because the circumstances of Ireland and the particular object for which this provision is supposed to be introduced does not exist, and never have existed, in any of the Colonies where Second Chambers have been instituted. I say that, the statement of the Prime Minister in introducing the Bill held out the distinct hope to the people of England that he had, in the proposed Second Chamber, provided for the full and fair and satisfactory consideration of the views of the minority; and to-day the right hon. Gentleman insisted on the great advantage that would be secured in the delay in legislation which the Second Chamber might produce—a delay, he said, which would give the opportunity for the full consideration of the views that might be put forward by the minority, and which would give character, dignity, and stability to the proceedings of the new Irish Legislature. But anybody who looks at Section 8 of this Bill will see the whole delay that would be interposed 560 to the action of a domineering majority supporting an imperious Minister by the interference of the Second Chamber—supposing, for the sake of argument, that it took a different view on the question submitted to it from the view of the First Chamber—would be little more than three months. I am aware that there is an alternative suggestion of two years' delay; but that is nugatory and worthless; for if a Minister wishes to push his Bill in spite of the opposition of the Upper Chamber, he has simply to dissolve the Assembly; and if he were returned to power again no further delay could be interposed. All the Minister would have to do would be to advise the Lord Lieutenant to dissolve the Assembly, and then there would be no practical delay beyond four or five, or even six months at the most, in giving effect to his wishes. But I deny altogether that there is any hope or ground for reasonable expectation that there would be any substantial opposition in the Second Chamber to proposals carried in the First Chamber against the wishes of the minority of Ireland. I do not wish at any length to go over the arguments which I submitted on this point on the Second Reading of the Bill. But no answer has been given to those arguments by the Government. No answer has been given to my argument that the effect of the particular franchise which has been chosen would simply be to return to the Second Chamber a class of Representatives not materially different, in sympathy, in education, or in capability for judging great and important questions of policy, from those who would constitute the First Chamber. There will be no distinction as regards the minority between the views entertained by the majority of the Upper Chamber and those entertained by the majority of the Lower Chamber, except so far in this way: that I believe myself that the Second Chamber, which is put forward as a great protection to the minority, will be less enlightened than the other, and that there will be less chance of obtaining independent support in the Second Chamber from any section of those whom we know as the Nationalist Party than there would be in the First Chamber. The Representatives in the Second Chamber of the South and West of Ireland would, except so far as 561 the three boroughs in the 48 seats are concerned, practically by returned by the tenant farmers, the very class who are most under, if I may use the expression, the thumb of the Catholic priesthood in Ireland. What are the chief dangers to which the Irish minority would be exposed from a domineering majority underan Irish Parliament—danger to their property and undue religious interference, and in both these respects the tenant farmers would be more powerful in the Legislative Council than in the Legislative Assembly, because they would be more under the influence of the Catholic priests. Therefore, I say that the minority would have a worse chance in the Legislative Council, as proposed to be set up by this Bill, than they would have in the Legislative Assembly—for, at all events, the Representatives in the Lower Chamber of the boroughs, where intelligence is greater, and where education is not so backward—might be supposed to contribute some element of independence and some basis of alliance to resist the overwhelming, preponderating influence of the tenant farmers and Catholic priesthood of Ireland. There is one other ground on which I wish to resist this proposal. I have said that my chief reason for objecting to this proposal is that, if carried, it would be likely to mislead and humbug English voters by leading them to believe that there is some protection for the minority in Ireland; but I object, to it also from this point of view: Supposing the Bill were in actual operation, the only safeguard of the minority in Ireland would be in this Imperial Parliament; and I say that if this Bill were to pass, it is far better that the absurd inconsistencies and injustice of these proposals should be submitted in the first instance to the English people, and afterwards to the Imperial Parliament in their naked deformity than that they should be concealed in such a misleading and utterly bogus proposal as this Second Chamber.
§ *MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
said, the question now before the Committee was the most important that had yet come before it, and was one of the most important questions that could come before the Committee, and he did not desire on this Motion to give a silent vote. They had two schools in the matter of 562 Second Chambers. One said that no system of representative government could work unless there was a double Chamber, and the other said that under no circumstances, in no place, at no time, should a Second Chamber of any form whatever be established. He was not able to accept either of these extreme propositions; but in this particular case he could not disguise from himself the fact that the proposed Legislative Council was, in its essence, really a limitation of household suffrage. It was a proposal to take away a part of the power which had been conferred by the Suffrage Act upon the people generally of Ireland. He was perfectly prepared to admit that if they were to have anything of the nature of plural voting, they could scarcely adopt a system which would be less offensive than the form of a Second Chamber. But as a believer in the principle of democracy, he was entirely opposed to all limitations upon the right of the people to vote. He thought there was a strong presumption—he did not put it higher—against such limitations, and he thought, the general experience of mankind had shown that in the large majority of cases Second Chambers had been either useless or positively mischievous. Having that general view, what was the position he ought to adopt with regard to the Amendment? He would say frankly that if it were proposed in a Home Rule Bill for Scotland to introduce a Legislative Council such as was proposed in the present Bill, he would rather have no Home Rule Bill for Scotland than have it with such a clause. It would meet with the most strenuous opposition. But he must not forget that the circumstances of Ireland and Scotland were not identical. They had no loyal minority in Scotland. The reason why they had no loyal minority in Scotland was because they had never had the ascendency of an Episcopalian party in Scotland. If the English Government of many years ago had succeeded in imposing upon the Scottish people an Episcopalian ascendancy party,, he did not doubt that they should have had a loyal minority in Scotland. But they were happily free from that; and in the circumstances of Scotland, he should say there was no justification or excuse for attempting to limit the exercise of household suffrage by any bi-cameral 563 scheme. Both sections of the Irish Members were prepared to make what was for them as democrats an enormous concession of principle. They were prepared to accept the Second Chamber, and that was a concession in the interests of conciliation and peace. It might he, as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Plunket) had said, that the loyal minority were not satisfied with that largo concession. But when he (Mr. Hunter) found that the Irish Members—who, after all, must be taken to have as good means of forming an opinion of what was advantageous for Ireland as he had—wore, in the peculiar circumstances in which they were placed, prepared to accept this undoubted limitation of the democratic power, he looked upon that as an augury of the happiest character for the future. It showed a disposition to go very far, indeed further than the limits of logic or strict reason justified, in order to—he would not say to receive the support—but to remove the difficulties of every portion of the country. In these circumstances, he considered that if he were to vote with the hon. Member for South Tyrone who, by the way, was not an Irishman, and to vote against the views of the Irish Members, he should feel that he was sacrificing to political pedantry on an important practical point.
*MR. JAMES LOWTHER
I am desirous that no misapprehension shall exist, so far as I am personally concerned, as to the grounds on which I endorse the proposal submitted by my hon. Friend the Member for South Tyrone. Those who, like myself, consider au efficient Second Chamber to be essential in any political arrangement are en titled to support the Amendment on the ground that the proposal of the Government does not provide an adequate and efficient Second Chamber, possessing strength and independence enough to discharge the important Constitutional duties allotted to it. The Prime Minister, in his previous attempt to settle this question, constituted a House of Lords that sat in conjunction with an elected body as a Second Chamber. It is needless now to enlarge upon that plan, for the Government have realised that it did not meet the requirements of the situation. In the plan now before us the hereditary element has entirely disappeared. I am not myself disposed to find any great 564 fault with the omission of the hereditary element, for, although strongly of opinion that no political arrangements are deserving of the approval of Parliament which fail to obtain a strong effective Second Chamber for the purpose of safeguarding the interest of the country, I am not so wedded to the hereditary element to make its absence from one of the Chambers a fatal objection, so far as I am concerned, to the plan submitted to us. I cannot but admit that in the case of Ireland the Irish Peerage have ceased to be strongly representative of the landed interest of the country as it was originally intended to be. I will not go into the causes which brought this circumstance into existence, but it is patent to all that the Irish Peerage, if invested with legislative functions derived from the hereditary principle, would not possess that inherent strength which would be possessed by a body largely interested in the soil of the country. On that ground I am not disposed to find any fault whatever with the Government for having failed to include the hereditary element in their new Constitution for Ireland. But what is the substitution which they have provided in this Bill? They have provided a so-called Second Chamber—whether it should be called a First or Second I do not undertake to lay down as a matter of Constitutional practice; but, at any rate, this Council is a Body which appears to me in no shape or form to fulfil any of the requirements of a Second Chamber in any Constitutional arrangement. What does it represent? It represents a class which, as my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) reminded the Committee, are not such as possess the character for independence which would render it safe to place political power to any great extent in their hands. I go further, and say that this Chamber would represent the class most prominently associated with disloyalty and crime and outrage than any other class in Ireland. I must remind the Committee that the outrages and the scenes of violence and disorder which have made Ireland a bye-word amongst the nations for many years past have not been committed by what are called the rabble in towns, but have been the work of those who would elect the Body which the 565 Prime Minister asks us to create. The tenant farmers of Ireland, who would be registered as voters under this proposal are, I venture to say, the class that is more especially associated with the Plan of Campaign, with moonlighting outrages, and with other proceedings which have made their country a disgrace. And that is the Body which the right hon. Gentleman asks us to rely upon as providing a check upon any un-Constitutional action of the other portion of the Legislature, and on which loyal subjects might rely upon for protection. Could there be a greater mockery than a proposal of that kind? I say that an inadequate Second Chamber is worse than no Chamber at all; a Second Chamber which does not possess independence, which would give way to popular clamour would be a great danger, and I think it would be better to be without a Second Chamber than one so constituted. What tendency would this Second Chamber created by the Bill have to resist popular clamour? It would be elected by the persons who have been organising all the popular revolutionary movements which have been going on during the last few years; it would be a Chamber more especially representative of disorder than any which could be elected by means, of an appeal to the urban population of Ireland. At this moment the urban representation of Ireland is far superior to the representation of the rural portions of the South and West of that country. So far from the franchise which the right hon. Gentle-man suggests affording any guarantee whatsoever, or holding forth any hopes in any shape or form of a controlling force to be called into existence, it would be more especially the means of bringing about the representation of the criminal classes in that country. When I speak of the criminal classes, I mean those who have made crime and outrage their main occupation for years past. I think the Committee is perfectly aware that the net result of elections held under this proposed Constitution would be that the South and West of Ireland would be largely predominant elements not only in the composition of the Lower House, but also of the Legislative Council or Upper Chamber, and we should be landed in this position: that the loyal classes in Ireland would have to rely for their protection upon a Body which could 566 not be relied upon to afford that protection. This Upper Chamber is a sham, and but for this reason I feel sure it would be very heartily opposed by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on this other side of the House. The grounds upon which I and my hon. Friends support the Amendment is because, while we are determined to insist upon the Government replacing this sham Chamber by some effectual Constitutional safeguard, we consider the Legislative Council proposed to be worse than useless. It must be understood that we do not abandon our insistance upon the creation of an effective Second Chamber. While I candidly own that, I hold the same principles as my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket)—namely, that I would vote for any proposal which I thought would smash this Bill, at the same time I do not wish in so doing to abandon principles which on general grounds I steadfastly entertain. Upon the grounds that this proposal in the Bill is a sham, that it will do a vast deal more harm than good, that it will create a false impression and expectation—upon these grounds I shall support my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment, and I hope the proposal will be omitted from the Bill.
§ MR. S. WHITBREAD (Bedford)
said, he did not. wish at this stage of the Bill to enter into a discussion as to what should be the position of a Second Chamber, which was not the question immediately before the House. He frankly said at once that he was in favour of a Second Chamber, and he was content, to rest his support of the Second Chamber upon the experience of the world, upon the experience of all free peoples who had tried to do without a Second Chamber, and had ultimately come back to an Upper Chamber. But what he rose for was to take the earliest opportunity of noticing what seemed to him to be an absolutely new departure in Parliamentary practice. He had listened with surprise and pain to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University when he proclaimed that it was his fixed intention to take this and every opportunity to try to make this Bill more hateful in the eyes of the people of this country, and more unworkable. He had never heard such an astounding state- 567 ment made by one who had held responsible office. He had read what was said out-of-doors last Saturday by the Leader of the Opposition, and he looked upon it as mere reckless outside oratory; but he never expected to hear such language used in that House, and apparently with the full approval of a great many of the Front Opposition Bench. The right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down said he would not, for Party purposes, abdicate great principles. Was that the doctrine of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University? To deliberately try to make a Bill in its passage through Committee more hateful to the whole world and more unworkable was the worst piece of political gambling he ever recollected. Hon. Members said they did not believe the Bill would ever pass, and would take care that it should not pass. Well, it was possible it might pass, and in what position would the right hon. Gentleman and his friends be then, who had made the Bill more unworkable, and, as they thought, more hateful and detestable, than it now was if it should pass? One could understand words and ideas of that kind being given utterance to in a moment of temper, and passion; but he could not believe it would be a deliberate policy pursued by a great Party.
§ MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
said, the hon. Member for Bedford, who had last addressed the House, told them to accept the Upper House—the House of Lords. That was naturally what they would expect from an hon. Gentleman who was very likely to go to the House of Lords, and it would be rather suicidal policy of him to want to abolish the House of Lords, because, like the rest of the brewers, he would probably end by going there. He himself was not opposed in the slightest degree to Second Chambers; the very reverse; therefore it must not be assumed that those of them on that side of the House who were supporting the Amendment were doing so because of their objection in any sense to the House of Lords. But it was quite possible for one to object to a wretched caricature when they would not object to the reality; and the higher their estimate of the House of Lords as a Second Chamber the more desirous they should be to object to this wretched Second Chamber which was about to be set up in Ireland. 568 With regard to the Second Chamber in England, there was a certain amount of dignity attached to it. Gentlemen were often anxious to enter that Chamber on account of the dignity; but where would be the dignity attached to the Second Chamber in Ireland? Members for that Second Chamber would require no qualification of income, education, or anything else; and they would be elected, for all practical purposes, by the same electors as would return Members to the Legislative Assembly. Almost all the counties would return Members of the very same political colour to the Upper House as to the Lower House or Legislative Assembly; and, that being so, this Chamber would have no dignity or position of any sort or kind. If this Second Chamber wore put forward on the ground that it would stay hasty legislation, he should be willing to vote in favour of it. But, as he understood, this Legislative Council was inserted in the Bill not for the purpose of being a check on hasty legislation, but as a safeguard to the loyal minority in Ireland. It was because it was represented as a safeguard that he objected to it. It absolutely failed to be a safeguard, and he thought there was nothing in this world so bad as a delusive safeguard. It lulled into sleep those, perhaps, who were to be safeguarded by it; and, on the other hand, it acted as an irritant on the majority against whom this safeguard was framed. If an Irish Parliament were to be established, and the loyal minority were to be given over to the majority, he should infinitely prefer they should be given into their hands without any check whatever. With regard to plans in the matter of safeguards there could only be three. There could be no safeguards at all; there could be sham safeguards of no value whatever; and there could be real safeguards—or rather they were told that there could be real safeguards—but, for his part, he had never been able to see how they could possibly safeguard a Parliament. Therefore he, for one, would desire this matter of safeguards to be dropped altogether if this Bill passed. The feeling of the English people was that they would not establish a Parliament in Ireland unless the minority were safeguarded; but they (the Unionists), as Representatives of the loyal minority, repudiated entirely this Second Chamber 569 as a safeguard, and it would do them a great deal of harm rather than good. The Prime Minister said that the Nationalists desired to accept this Second Chamber, not because they liked it, but because they desired, as far as possible, to conciliate the loyal minority. Well, they might stop in that desire at once, for this did not conciliate, it irritated the minority. The main object the hon. Member for South Tyrone had in putting this Amendment on the Paper was to make known thoroughly to the electors of this country that this was no safeguard to the minority, and was of no value to them from any point of view. The Upper Chamber which was to safeguard them was to be composed of 48 Members. Calculations were made as to how many of these would be Unionists on the franchise on which that Chamber was founded. The hon. Member for South Tyrone said his calculations led him practically to the length of 20 as a maximum. The hon. and learned Member for Mid Armagh said his calculations led him to 10, and a Nationalist Member of that House the previous day showed him (Mr. Rentoul) his calculations, and they led him to the length of 12. Altogether it seemed clear they would not have one-half of the Members of that Chamber that was to protect them, and it was a strange fact that no one who had yet spoken on behalf of the Government had attempted in any way whatever to show them that they would have a majority, or were likely to have a majority, on the Legislative Council. If, then, the majority was to be a Home Rule majority in the Legislative Assembly and in the Legislative Council, it was very difficult to see how this Upper Chamber would serve the minority from any point of view. Since that Amendment was moved some of the Radicals bad hinted that they were looking forward to the time when the Second Chamber in England would be abolished. That was the desire of many Radicals at the present time. [An hon. MEMBER: Hear, hear!] The hon. Gentleman opposite said, "hear, hear;" but he would ask him how did he purpose to abolish the Second Chamber in England? Was it by vote of the Lower Chamber or by a revolution? If he purposed to abolish it by vote of the Lower Chamber, would there not then be 570 a precedent for the Lower Chamber in Ireland to abolish the Upper Chamber in the same way? However, the one point they wanted to make in the matter of this Amendment was to impress upon the people of England that the Loyalists of Ireland with one voice repudiated this Upper Chamber entirely as being no safeguard or of any value to them from any conceivable point of view. The Chief Secretary and the Home Secretary, in the Second Reading Debate on this Bill, in substance, said—"If you are to regard the majority in Ireland as a parcel of rogues and vagabonds, then no safeguards will be of any use." [Mr. J. MORLEY: Hear hear!] The Chief Secretary applauded that statement. That was to say, they must regard them either as honest men or as dishonest men. Politically, they were absolutely dishonest from their (the Unionist) point of view, or absolutely honest. If they were absolutely honest, then, he said, let them have no safeguards of any kind. If they were absolutely dishonest, let them have safeguards that would prevent them from being able to do the loyal minority in Ireland any harm. If the Chief Secretary spoke on this Amendment—as he hoped he would—he should greatly like the right hon. Gentleman to point out how this Upper Chamber would safeguard the landlords of Ireland from any possible point of view. The Upper Chamber would be returned by the votes of the tenant farmers even to a greater extent than the Lower Chamber, and by the vote of the smaller tenant farmer. How, then, would it safeguard the landlord class, who would need most of all to be safeguarded? How would it prevent them being robbed of their possessions by the Irish Parliament, which would receive a very strong mandate in this direction? If they were to be safeguarded under a sort of perpetual police protection by means of this Upper Chamber, let it be effective police protection, let it be done in the right and proper way, and not have held over them a sort of paper safeguard which any gentleman could kick through any moment he liked. He was not against a Second Chamber, but he was strongly in favour of a proper Second Chamber, such as we had in this country, and it was his respect for Upper Chambers that prevented him desiring to see a thing of 571 this sort put in a place of so-called dignity and represented as an Upper Chamber. The Prime Minister had remarked that this clause of the Bill was not the occasion to refer to the Legislative Council, and that it should he deferred until later on. But in the clause they were discussing; reference was made to "the" Legislative Council and "the" Legislative Assembly. If this section of the Bill established a Legislative Council, then he agreed this would not be the time to discuss the composition of that Council; but the word "the" clearly brought in the composition of the Council, because it was a particular Council formed in a particular way. That being so, it was impossible for anyone to see the word "the" without casting his eye down the Bill to see what that "the" meant. When drafting this part of the Bill the framer had before him a definite Legislative Council established in a definite way, and composed of a definite number. Therefore he submitted that it was in Order to discuss the composition of this Legislative Council; and, in point of fact, it would be perfectly idle to speak on this matter at all unless they entered into the composition of it, which was the whole question, because there could be no Legislative Council formed that would be a safeguard. If there was a Legislative Council of 100 Members nominated for life, and if all those Members were Unionists, who forfeited their seats if they ceased to be Unionists, that, no doubt, would be a safeguard. At any rate, it would be a real safeguard, whereas the one they were offered was a sham. The idea of a Legislative Council to be composed of Unionists nominated for life, let them know something of the difference between the strong and vigorous reality and the weak and drivelling sham, because that was all the proposed Legislative Council was; and it was on that ground—on the ground of the utter absurdity and uselessness as a safeguard of this Legislative Council—that he desired to support the Amendment.
§ *MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY (Longford, N.)
Mr. Mellor, I hope I may be allowed to recall the attention of the Committee for a moment to the question that we have been engaged in discussing, or rather, I should say, that we are sup- 572 posed to be engaged in discussing. The clause proposed to be amended contains these words—On and after the appointed day there shall be; in Ireland a Legislature, consisting of Her Majesty the Queen and of two Houses, the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly.The Amendment proposed is to leave out certain words which, when left out, reduce the Legislature to Her Majesty the Queen and the Legislative Assembly. Therefore, the Amendment proposed intends to prevent Ireland from ever having a Second Chamber. If the clause is passed in such a way it does not matter what the constitution of a Second Chamber might be. The Second Chamber is denied to Ireland by those who vote for the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. James Lowther), in vigorous words, denounced the Second Chamber as a sham and an imposture. If I were to consider the whole process of this Debate it is not to a Second Chamber that I should apply the words "a sham and an imposture." We have heard in this discussion a great deal of what I cannot help calling simulated passion and rage that went beyond ordinary conceivable hyperbole. Now, what are we to think of the sincerity and straightforwardness of men who get up one after another and say that they are devoted in principle to the existence of a Second Chamber, and that, therefore, because of their ultra-devotion, they are going to vote against any kind of Second Chamber for Ireland? Of course, there has been a frank expression of opinion from our point of view. We cannot object to that course. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) was so blunt and so frank as to say that he wanted to make this Bill more detestable than ever it was. [An hon. MEMBER: He cannot.] Well, if he wants to make the Bill more detestable than ever, of course he is right enough in trying to strike out this clause granting a Second Chamber.
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
I rise to a point of Order. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Plunket) is not in his place, and what he merely said was—[Loud Irish cries of "Order!" amid 573 which the hon. Member resumed his seat.]
§ MR. M'CARTHY,
continuing his speech said: We all heard what the right hon. Gentleman said. He spoke, as he always does, with remarkable clearness, and there was no possibility of even the dullest person mistaking him for one moment. An hon. Member below me, an Ulster Member, said that nobody could make this Bill more detestable than it is at present. Then why be at the pains of trying? Cannot the Bill be allowed to go through with all its supposed horrors on its head, and thus save us the trouble of this controversy kept up almost altogether by gentlemen who say that their whole heart and their whole feelings go one way while their vote is bound to go another. I have not heard in the course of this discussion a single word from any hon. Member belonging to the Opposition which suggested in the remotest degree what manner of Second Chamber he would accept as being capable of meeting the necessities of the case. There was, indeed, a suggestion made or hinted at by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet that he thought some revival of the Irish Peerage might be almost good enough. Well, hon. Members of this House who believe in the re-galvanising of the Irish Peerage have an amount of hope, and faith, and imagination which surpasses the most poetic intellect. Then I believe there was a suggestion made by another hon. Member—I forget whom—some suggestion that there might be a Chamber of hereditary legislators. I am afraid he would find it rather difficult to establish a Chamber of that kind which could secure the confidence and affect ion of the Irish people. But I think it is a strange and even an extraordinary thing to find hon. Member after hon. Member in the ranks of the Opposition getting up and enunciating two absolutely conflicting opinions—first, that there ought to be a Second Chamber everywhere; and next, that there ought to be no Second Chamber in Ireland, because that Second Chamber is not acceptable to them. But, Mr. Mellor, I am more concerned to state frankly what the position is—what 574 the views of my Colleagues and myself with regard to this Amendment are. We know that there is in Ireland, and possibly in England, a certain fear that the interests of the minority might be overborne under possible conditions by the strength of the majority. We are also assured that to meet that possible dread or susceptibilities of that kind the most convenient form of protection for minorities would be the creation of a Second Chamber. I am not now going to say a single word about the constitution of a proposed Second Chamber. We are now discussing the question of the principle, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian clearly and eloquently pointed out in the early part of the Debate. People are asked now to affirm the principle that there shall be a Second Chamber in Ireland. As we are assured that this form of a Second Chamber would be the most effective, ready, and convenient means of protecting every interest of the minority in Ireland, we, on that account, are perfectly willing to assist in the formation of a Second Chamber. We know and appreciate the immense amount of interest in the Nationalist life of Ireland which is taken by hon. Members on this side of the House, and by some on the other side of the House. We are spurred on by them to make magnificent assertions of the dignity of Irish nationality. We know perfectly well what that is done for. We know how much hon. Members who use those generous and kindly appeals to us ever cared for Irish Nationalist sentiment.
§ *MR. M'CARTHY
I was referring, of course, to the Members of the Conservative Party, and for the sake of old associations I shall pass over an interruption of that kind with the charity of silence. I would recommend hon. Members of the Conservative and of the Unionist Party to leave Irish National sentiment in the care of Irish Members. I have heard hon. Members say that a Second Chamber ought to be regarded as an insult, by the people of Ireland. The people of Ireland regard it in no such light. There may be in my own Party, as in other Parties, hon. Members who are not in favour in general of the policy or principle of a Second Chamber. There 575 are many other hon. Members who are convinced by experience and by observation that a Second Chamber is an advantage in every country. There are many men who quite appreciate the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian, when he pointed out that the common experience of all or nearly all countries is in favour of a Second Chamber; but, however that may be, we are quite willing to give so much consideration to the interests, and probably the honest and sincere alarms of the Irish minority, or some of them, we are quite willing, I say, to give so much attention and regard to that sentiment as to be willing to accept a Second Chamber as a convenient and proper institution in Ireland. That is all the length we go at the present stage of the Debate. We have nothing to do with what hereafter may be proposed as to the construction, or position, or constitution of that Second Chamber. All we say is this—if there be a desire on this side of the water and on the other that a marked and distinct protection should be given to the minority by means of a Second Chamber, that proposal has our most cordial and ready acceptance. We have heard an argument quoted to-day that there cannot be even a fair Conservative minority in the Second Chamber under an Act like this; that even Ulster cannot have her fair representation; but are we not told that Ulster possesses the great bulk of the wealth, and the influence, and the intelligence of Ireland? Are we not told that she has the strength, the brains, the money, and the power in Ireland? And, under these conditions, is it possible to suppose that Ulster cannot make her voice heard in the Second Chamber of the Irish Legislature? I cannot believe that there is the slightest danger of stifling the voice of Ulster in any Constitution that can be framed for the Irish people. And I go farther, and say there is no desire amongst the Irish Members or the Irish people that Ulster Toryism should not have its full weight, its full representation, in the National Councils. It is strange to me that with all that great intelligence and power there is no Ulster Member who tries to suggest, even remotely, some means by which the danger he seems to fear, the danger of the obliteration of Ulster influence in the National Councils, can be got over. But this is 576 what I wish to impress on the English people at the present moment—that we are quite prepared to accept the principle of a Second Chamber. We accept it because we believe it might be a safeguard in trying and momentous times against anything like too rapid legislation, and therefore, would be a guarantee for the safety of the minority. On these grounds we accept it, and on these grounds we support it.
§ SIR. JAMES FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)
I have not troubled the House or the Committee hitherto on this Bill. That is not because I have not taken a great interest in it, and I desire now to say a few words on this Amendment. I am in this difficulty. While I desire to support, the Amendment, I am unable to agree entirely with the reasons of the hon. Member for South Tyrone: but while I agree with the premises stated in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government I am quite unable to agree in his conclusions. As regards in the abstract the principle of a Second Chamber, I am entirely in favour of it, as a general rule. Therefore I have a difficulty in voting with the hon. Member for South Tyrone in opposing altogether the inclusion of a Legislative Council in the scheme of the Bill. On the other hand, the hon. Gentleman and others have opposed the enactment of this Legislative Council on the ground that its composition is so illusory as a measure for the defence of the loyal minority in Ireland that it cannot for a moment be accepted. On that, point I am unable to deny the weight, of the reasons stated by the Prime Minister, who said that if the composition of the Legislative Council as proposed in the Bill was unsubstantial it was open for the Committee in dealing with the subsequent clause that provides for the composition of the Body to so amend it that it will provide, in their opinion, a sufficient safeguard for the minority in Ireland. I have in my own experience seen the working of many Second Chambers. The Prime Minister referred to the composition of the Legislative Council in the various Colonies. There are in some of the British Colonies nominative Chambers, some of them with a limited number and some with an unlimited number of Members. There are Legislative Councils elected by the whole Colony voting in 577 one constituency with a restricted franchise; and there are some Legislative Councils elected by constituencies carved out of the Colony similar to that provided by this Bill. And, again, there are cases in which the whole Legislative Council is dissolved together, and cases in which the Members go out in certain numbers and at different times. My experience has been that of all the different kinds of Legislative Council those which cause the most jealousy in the Lower Chamber are those which are elected. In Victoria and South Australia, for instance, frequent quarrels have taken place over the inter- position of the Legislative Council in legislation against the wishes of the Lower Chamber. Most Members will recollect the case in which the Upper House declined to pass a Bill for the payment of Members, where upon the Assembly tacked it on to the Appropriation Bill. The Upper House threw out the Appropriation Bill, and the Minister of the day dismissed the whole of the public officers who wore paid by the annual Vote. On the other hand, in the Colonies where the Legislative Council is nominated I have not seen any of these jealousies arise. But my objection to the present proposal is of a different character. It is on all-fours with the objection expressed in the previous Debate as to the character proposed to be given to the Legislature in Ireland. There have been attempts made to assert, by distinct enactments in the Bill, declaration of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament; but I think that these proposals, though just and logical, are somewhat unsubstantial, because the declaration of the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament in the Preamble is about as illusory as the suzerainty of Her Majesty in the Transvaal. The Irish Legislature is not to be called a Parliament. There is not much in the name of a Parliament; but it will be a Parliament to all intents and purposes, and it would not be long before it asserted its rights to wider powers, and to secure by its influence in this House much larger concessions. The Prime Minister mentioned as the solo case of a Colonial Legislature that had obtained the name of Parliament the Parliament of the Dominion. That is a Parliament in all its attributes, because 578 it has secured to it a long list of functions, such as the right of control over trade, navigation, shipping, and commerce, weights and measures, and all those other matters which are expressly reserved by this Bill from the power of the Irish Legislature. The hon. Member also mentioned the only cases in which he said that a Legislative Council of some kind had not been appointed as part of the Legislature—namely, the Provincial Legislatures of Canada, and said he would not refer to them, as they were not cases in point. But I venture to say that they are precisely cases in point. If we desire that the Legislative Body in Ireland should not be a Parliament, but a delegated Legislature with statutory powers; that it should be confined to those statutory powers, restricted in its functions: limited, as the Provincial Legislatures of Canada are limited, by the reservation of Parliamentary powers to the Dominion Parliament, then it would be appropriate, natural, and safe that it should not have a Legislative Council, which is the natural portion of a Parliament. That this Legislative Council might really be made a safeguard I do not deny. In 1886 the right hon. Gentleman proposed that it should represent the Peerage and property and all those who would have an interest in the preservation of law and order, and in the safeguarding of property; but there is no such proposal in this Bill. We have only a proposal for a Body to be elected by small tenants who would also elect the great majority of the Members of the Legislative Assembly in Ireland. It would be impossible to make such a Body a safeguard. But my point is that we should have no Second Chamber, because we should have no Parliament; and it is with that view, and not with the view stated by the hon. Member for South Tyrone, that I intend to support his Amendment.
§ *MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)
said, he had listened to the Debate with great interest, as it touched upon a subject which he had studied in other countries. Reference had been made to the experience in America, which had a Second Chamber praised by almost every writer and speaker on the subject. Lord Salisbury had said that 579 they might view that Second Chamber with envy even in England itself. What was the principle in that Second Chamber? The principle was that of selection by the Representatives of the people. They would like to know why they could not apply that principle to Ireland? It might be said that they did not possess the materials for doing this in Ireland. But one of the first acts of the Irish Legislature would be to appoint County Councils, and then they would have the material to form a Second Chamber in Ireland. As soon as the County Councils were in a position to choose the Senate, they might be allowed to do so; and until the Senate was so chosen, the system provided by the Bill might fairly be accepted as a provisional arrangement until a more stable system could be formed. The County Council would send their best and most experienced men to the Senate; and it would possess the good qualities now seen in the American Senate.
§ *MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North-East Manchester had given an interesting and valuable statement of his Colonial experiences in the matter of Second Chambers; but he was bound to say that the right hon. Gentleman did not make plain to him why he had adopted the conclusion fit which he had arrived in regard to the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman was not alone in that respect. The characteristic of the Debate had been that, whatever side hon. Gentlemen had professed their intention of voting upon, they had begun by saying that in principle they belonged to the other side. Hon. Members who were in favour of a Second Chamber proposed to vote against the Second Chamber; and hon. Members who were against the principle of a Second Chamber proposed to vote for the constitution of a Second Chamber. These remarkably incoherent arguments and conclusions would, perhaps, be maintained to the end, and he only hoped he would not fall into them him- self. But his object in rising was to explain why he felt constrained to differ from his hon. Friends, and why he should 580 vote against the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Tyrone. He did not say that the argument of experience was conclusive, or even that the argument a priori was not open to some obvious objections; but he thought that experience did justify what was said by his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government in the speech which he delivered to a too thin Committee earlier in the day, that, on the whole, Second Chambers had worked well throughout our Colonies. He was afraid it was true that there was more discontent with them than the Prime Minister was disposed to recognise, and that there was a disposition, which in one or two places had ripened into action, to do away with them. But this feeling had been founded more on the expenses attendant on the institution of a Second Chamber than upon the political injury supposed to be derived from its existence. He ventured to say that in the arguments which had weight with many who wished to abolish Second Chambers—such as the irritating bar Second Chambers had afforded to rapid legislation, and the hindrances sometimes placed in the way of measures being put on the Statute Book which the majority of the voters in the Colonies wished—there had been a neglect to consider the advantages that had accrued on the other side, from that inability which beset politicians like other men to imagine what would happen if the system which prevailed had not prevailed, and if a totally different system had been in operation. They knew the inconveniences of a Second Chamber, but they were unable to realise the evils a single Chamber would involve. He thought that the weighty reasons advanced by the Prime Minister ought to be recalled to the minds of the Committee, that a Second Chamber did at least afford this advantage—that, how ever little a Second Chamber might be differently constituted from the First Chamber, there was always a tendency an the part of the Second Chamber and its Members to look at questions brought before the Legislature from a point of view of their own. There was a disposition to differ from the other Chamber, which was useful in causing the other side of the question to be properly discussed and brought before the community 581 which was represented by the Legislature. There was also the great advantage, as his right hon. Friend had pointed out, of securing time for second thoughts. He asked any hon. Member, therefore, whether there was not at least a risk in Ireland, if a single Chamber was constituted, of seeing in the action of that Chamber rapid, impulsive, not always reflective action; whether there was not a risk that such a Chamber would be too hasty in its judgment, and perhaps unjust through its haste, and whether the more possibility of delay in respect of Ireland, and considering the circumstances of Ireland, was not a thing to be desired? He went further, and said that in a purely democratic sense and spirit, as long as they had Chambers elected as they were and would be, if they wished to make the Legislature representative of the minds, will, thought, feeling, and interests of the country over which it ruled, they ought, to have some means of getting represented not only impulse but hesitation; not only action but hesitancy; that despondency should be represented as well as resolution; and that the doubts and fears which existed in the community should, as well as the hopes and confidences, be reflected in the Legislature. Those great advantages could only be secured through a Second Chamber. It might lie said all this was in the air. He was only repeating, in less eloquent and less powerful words, the arguments used by the Prime Minister, and those arguments would have to be considered in the future course of the Bill. The Committee was now really discussing the question whether they would permit any Second Chamber, and not whether the particular Chamber in the Bill should be adopted. As for that Second Chamber, it was urged that it was a sham, and that it would be no check, and that it would only represent the same classes that would be represented in the First Chamber. He believed that to be true. He had no hesitation in accepting that conclusion, and making it his own. This Second Chamber would be a tenant farmers' Chamber, just as the First Chamber would be. But the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government wished to make the Second Chamber something which would supple- 582 ment the first, and bring in different elements, and not be a mere repetition of the first. The Committee would have the right to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman, when the question of the composition of the Second Chamber came up, that it bore the utmost similarity to the First Chamber, and that it should be varied. The hon. Member for Carnarvon had suggested that when County Councils came into operation in Ireland they should elect the Members of the Second Chamber. But they need not go so far as that. Some Second Chambers were nominated. It would be conceivable to support a nominated Second Chamber, or a Chamber partly nominated and partly elected, or one partly nominated, partly elected, and partly made up of ex officio members. For instance, they might have in that Chamber persons holding particular offices in relation to the greater Corporations in Ireland, and Representatives of Chambers of Commerce of the great commercial cities, and ex officio Members from the educational corporations in Ireland. They might in this way, or in some other wav, so model the Second Chamber that, without being an inflexible, irresistible bar to the action of the first, it would be a correlative to it, supplementary to it—a useful addition to it. It was said—"All this is very well—you may suggest all these things; not one of them will be listened to in this Debate. The scheme of the Bill is to be preserved, and if you are going to take this first step, you will be constrained to acquiesce in all that follows." He did not deny it was possible, though it would be very hard for the Prime Minister to maintain, consistently with the sincere observations he had addressed to the Committee that day, an attitude of inflexible hostility to any proposed change in the composition of the Second Chamber in the direction he had just indicated, and he did not believe the right hon. Gentleman would maintain any such attitude. On this question, he (Mr. Courtney) would like to make an observation bearing upon many other questions that would be brought before the Committee, and which would be more forcible, perhaps, from its general than its specific application. Unfortunately, they were all of opinion, and they all knew, that this Bill would not become 583 law. He said "unfortunately," not because he did not desire that it should not become law, not because he was not stoutly opposed altogether to the notion of setting up this Parliament in Ireland, but unfortunately for the purpose of the discussion of the Hill in the House. It was pretty manifest amongst the Members of the Government themselves that they would like the discussion on the Bill to be abbreviated as much as possible, and its fate sealed as quickly as possible; their action which had been indicated, and their action which had been revealed, or partly revealed, was action which tended towards lightening the Bill of debate able matter, so as to get it through the House as quickly and with as little friction as possible, and then, what- ever followed afterwards, would follow. But the certainty of the fate that would befall the Bill elsewhere made the Government not unnaturally wish to economise their time and labour hero by avoiding the discussion of things which need not be discussed, and by dropping parts which would be necessary to a Bill if it were to become an Act, but which were not necessary to a Bill which was to pass this House and to be sent to the House of Lords. On the other hand, the opponents of the measure knew that the Bill would not become law, and so they also were indisposed to discuss its principle. They could discuss abstract principles, but they were indisposed, he was afraid, to discuss, in a practical sense, the particular provisions of the Bill. This question was not going to be settled now, and what the ultimate issue might be no one, he thought, could venture with precision to say; but, in view of the possibilities that might follow, he thought the Committee might be usefully employed in making provision by the discussion hero for the serious entertainment of propositions that might come before the House in a more practical shape hereafter.
§ *MR. COURTNEY
Perhaps from the hon. and learned Member himself. He should prefer to see hon. Members opposite, who were so deeply interested in this question, not sitting like mutes at a 584 funeral, but taking a part in determining their own fate. They were now preparing materials for what might be a solution of the Irish Question hereafter, and in that view he thought the discussion a useful one. Having regard to the future, and being impressed with the belief that if ever Ireland was cursed with a, Parliament of its own a Second Chamber would be pre-eminently useful, he should have no hesitation in voting against the Amendment.
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR (Leeds, Central)
said, that the hon. Member for Bedford, who had made such a violent attack on the right hon. Member for the University of Dublin, might, have remembered that the hon. Member for Northampton and other hon. Members who opposed Second Chambers were going to support the proposal for a Second Chamber in the Bill.
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR
The hon. Member stated that he was not going to support the Amendment, and in that case he was either going to vote against the Amendment or leave the House and not vote at all. But the hon. Member was not the only Member of the House who declared himself against the Second Chamber, but, nevertheless, was going to vote for one. The Home Secretary had told his constituents that Second Chambers were generally mischievous, and yet he was going to vote for a Second Chamber in connection with an Irish Legislature. The hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Hunter) had expressed the same opinion, and he was going to vote against the Amendment; therefore, there was no ground for the moral indignation which the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) had expressed in regard to hon. Members sitting on the Opposition Benches, and which might well have been reserved for hon. Gentlemen sitting in his own circle of the House. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Plunket) had said that he desired to make the Bill more detestable in the eyes of the public, and the hon. Member for 585 Bedford held up his hands in righteous indignation, and declared that the right hon. Gentleman was the creator of a novel system of Parliamentary tactics. lint, surely, if one disapproved of a measure there was nothing immoral in the intention to make it, distasteful. It was quite clear that, what his right hon. Friend meant was that the Bill was a bad Bill, and that there were provisions in it which disguised its badness, and that it should, by stripping it of all its disguises, be made more detestable; but that was a different, thing from saying that he desired to make it a worse Bill than it was. A man might be a villain, but by unmasking him you did not make him more of a villain, though he was made much more detestable. The Bill was a bad Bill, and its provisions were so disguised that it was the duty of all who were opposed to it to strip it of all its disguises and exhibit it in all its naked depravity. The Prime Minister begged the House to vote for the Second Chamber in regard to the general principle involved; but he (Mr. G. W. Bill- four) had no objection in principle to a Second Chamber, but to the proposed composition of the Chamber. If the Chamber could be made satisfactory he should certainly vote against the Amendment, because, generally speaking, he favoured Second Chambers if one could be devised and the materials existed for creating it. The analogy of the American Senate would not apply. The American Senate represented the sovereignty of each State, and each State, whether large or small, was represented by two Members in the Senate. Seeing that in Ireland, an agricultural country, the men of education, position, and property were almost entirely Unionists, he altogether despaired of being able to construct a Second Chamber, and it was upon that ground that he should support the Amendment.
§ MR. B. COLERIDGE (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
said, that if, on that side of the House, the question under debate were in the nature of a tabula rasa, he thought very few hon. Members would be found voting for a Second Chamber. He supposed that those who advocated Second Chambers desired the minority of 586 rule, and that those who desired the majority to rule were opposed to Second Chambers. There were no judgments so satisfactory as those which were given with full responsibility; and if a man were tried for his life on the question of fact there was no appeal, and there were no decisions arrived at with greater care than those from which there was no appeal. The question arose—What were they going to do in that Debate? He expected that a Second Chamber had been introduced into the Bill in order to conciliate opposition, and the course of the Debate showed that it had signally failed. That being so, who, then, was in favour of a Second Chamber? There was no one on the Liberal side of the House in its favour, and he did not think that the Nationalist Party desired a Second Chamber. They only accepted it mainly to remove hostility to the Bill as a whole. But the proposal had not disarmed hostility, and, in that case, might they not ask the Government to re-consider their position? If the Second Chamber had simply been introduced to conciliate the Opposition, it. had failed; and, looking to the future of Ireland, if the Second Chamber were withheld, they would be preventing the introduction of causes of conflict between two classes of the people, and, that, being so, he thought the Government should reconsider their views on the question.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY OF LANCASTER (Mr. BRYCE,) Aberdeen, S.
It is suggested that this proposal for a Second Chamber may have been introduced with a view of conciliating opposition. I am sorry to say that the notice we had of the attitude hon. Gentlemen opposite were likely to take up led us to expect that neither a proposal of this kind nor any other proposal would conciliate their opposition; and I would tell my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield that, so far from conciliating the opposition, it we were to withdraw this clause they would find the Bill worse without it than with it. What is the question before the Committee? It is, it seems to me, whether in this Bill we are to have a provision for a Second Chamber or not? 587 The hon. Member for Leeds, with the ability and ingenuity which distinguish him, has argued that it would be impossible under any circumstances to have a Second Chamber.
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR
Not in any circumstances, but to have such a Second Chamber as would be accepted and would have a chance of success.
§ *MR. BRYCE
I accept the correction, but it is difficult to understand why hon. Members opposite should think that no suggestions they can make can possibly have weight with Her Majesty's Government. Her Majesty's Government are quite prepared to meet all reasonable apprehensions which hon. Members opposite or the minority in Ireland can entertain, and to endeavour to construct as good a Legislature in Ireland as we can. In Clause 6 Amendments can be moved which would be compatible with the 1st clause, but which would completely alter the character of the Second Chamber; and, if that is so, it follows that we are now discussing nothing but the general principle. It is to that general principle, as applied to the case of Ireland, that I will confine myself. We all know that when we arrive at Clause 6 we shall have all these discussions over again. Every word that has been said to-day and that was said yesterday against the proposed composition of the Chamber can, on Clause 6, be said over again. Therefore, it is useless now for mo to justify our proposal of this particular Chamber, or for hon. Gentlemen to disparage it. But I would remind hon. Gentlemen opposite of the nature of the vote they are going to give. It is a vote against any Second Chamber whatever. It is a vote which is not grounded upon proof that no Second Chamber can be created for Ire-land; therefore, what conclusion do I draw as the effect of such a vote? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bodmin Division observed that the question could not be settled by this Bill; and he grounded on that observation a reflection, which seemed to me very opportune as to what I will call—if I may say it without offence— 588 the irresponsible spirit in which hon. Gentlemen opposite are discussing the Bill—namely, the reflection that hon. Gentlemen are discussing the Bill sis if they expected it never to take effect. [Opposition Cheers.] I am glad I have the assent of hon. Gentlemen opposite to that view. They are discussing the Bill with the avowed object of simply making a demonstration of hostility against a whole policy in its nature guilty and vicious. But hon. Gentlemen should carry their grasp of the future a little further. The question may not be settled by this Bill, but neither will the question be settled by the rejection of this Bill. If the Bill should fail, we all know that it will be followed by another Bill. Therefore, the discussion on this Bill is not thrown away, because even if the wishes of the Party opposite should be realised and this Bill is rejected it will be followed by another, and the present Debates will largely influence the character of the measure then brought in. Supposing, for the sake of argument, that this Amendment were carried, and suppose that next Session Her Majesty's Government bring in another Home Rule Bill—it would be impossible for them, in the teeth of the decision of this House, to introduce a provision for a Second Chamber into that Bill. Even if they were convinced by the arguments of hon. Members opposite that this was a bad Second Chamber and that there ought to be a better one, they would be absolutely precluded from having a Second Chamber brought in. It would be in the highest degree un states man like for the Party opposite to drive the Government to that conclusion. I cannot depart from this aspect of the question without expressing the hope that hon. Gentlemen opposite will pause before they give a vote which can be directed only against the principle of any Second Chamber in Ireland, and which will be remembered when the question of a Second Chamber for England some day comes up. With regard to hon. Members on the Government side who dislike voting for any Second Chamber at all, I would remind them that they, with the views they entertain and have declared, will not be giving a vote against a Second Chamber based on a property 589 qualification, but on the very difficult and large general question whether, under any circumstances, Second Chambers ought to exist or not. It does not appear to me that any vote given on this Amendment will, so far as hon. Members on this side of the House are concerned, have any hearing on any opinion they may entertain with regard to the House of Lords. Hon. Members opposite, if they condemn the scheme of a Second Chamber, will give a vote unfriendly to Second Chambers generally; but hon. Members on this side, whose object is merely to express their dislike of the House of Lords, will go far beyond the necessities of their position if they vote against having in Ireland a Second Chamber which will furnish no precedent in favour of the House of Lords. Some hon. Members have compared the proposed Second Chamber to the House of Lords; but I can conceive nothing less like a Chamber founded on hereditary right than a Chamber founded on a £20 qualification. Let hon. Members who oppose this Second Chamber put themselves in the position the Government occupied when they framed the Bill. They had to consider whether or not some Second Chamber could be introduced. When they looked round Europe at the experience of Second Chambers they found that in every European State but two which have Legislative Bodies there existed Second Chambers, the only exceptions being Greece and Bulgaria. When they looked to the United States, they found that 44 States and four Territories have Second Chambers; and when they looked to the Colonies, we found that in each one of the Australian Colonies there were two Chambers, in Cape Colony there were two Chambers, and in most of the Canadian Provinces, as well as in the Dominion Parliament, there were two Chambers. It is said that two Chambers do not always work harmoniously together. My observation on that is that the object of having two Chambers is to secure, not that things shall always work smoothly between them, but that they shall frequently differ, and provide a means of correcting such errors as cither may commit. That observation has many bearings, and I confess that the result of the ', inquiries I have made into the working 590 of the Australasian Colonies is that the Chambers which have of late years worked most efficiently there have been the elective and not the nominated Second Chambers. In Victoria, and in South Australia, the Legislative Council, like the Senate in democratic France and the Senates in the democratic States of North America, has more and more come to be regarded as a valuable part of the Constitution, and upon all this past experience I base the general proposition that there is nothing anti-democratic in a Second Chamber. The democracy may be just as much a democracy whether there is one Chamber or two. Therefore, I beg hon. Members on the Liberal side not to suppose that they will pay any tribute to the genius of democracy by voting against the proposal of the Bill. The general question of having one House or two is far too large for me to enter upon here. Nor is any general conclusion possible which shall apply to every country. All I desire is to show the strong pirimâ facie case there is for trying a bicameral system in Ireland. I must be content to rely on the very weighty and thoughtful speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bodmin Division, who stated—as the Prime Minister had done when the House was not so full as it is now—the general grounds on which Second Chambers are commended as offering a protection to minorities. Looking round the world, and seeing what a large consensus of experience there is in favour of having two Houses, and knowing how much has been said about the desirability of safeguarding the Legislature of Ireland, we should have exposed ourselves to far more hostile criticism from the Opposition if we had brought in a Bill which provided for only one Chamber. I think I have said enough to justify our proposal. I cannot accept the view that there are no materials in Ireland for the construction of a Second Chamber. There are many of our Colonies and many of the States of America where the population is quite as homogeneous as in Ireland, and where the need for having a Second Chamber is not so strong as in Ireland, and yet where it has been found desirable to have it. A principal reason 591 why Second Chambers have been established in these communities is that they not only involve considerable delay, but also a double debate. Questions come a second time before public opinion. Every question, when it has run the gauntlet of one set of minds in one Chamber, has to run the gauntlet of another set. Every Chamber, by the law of its being and its sense of self-importance, of necessity seeks opportunities for vindicating its right to existence by exposing every question that comes before it to a second consideration and criticism. The result is to waken up still further the opinion of the country. We all know that the value of the Debates that take place in this House lies not so much in the effect they have on our minds, because we mostly come here pledged to vote in a particular direction, but that they awaken opinion in the country. [Opposition Cheers.] Yes; hon. Gentlemen opposite concur in that view. They may be sure that we rely upon public opinion, and will lose no chance of enlightening it, and so, too, we want to give Ireland a chance of having all questions thoroughly discussed from every point of view. We want the Irish Legislature to be one in which all measures shall run the gauntlet of a double debate, and in which everything that can be done for the political education of the people, so long neglected in the past, shall be done by the legislative machinery of the country. We hold that if ever there was a country where it would be fair to try the experiment of having two Legislative Chambers, that country is Ireland, and we hope that the House will pause before it destroys the opportunity we wish to give the Irish people of having such a Constitutional machinery. I have said that this is a question not of the particular Chamber we have proposed, but of whether Ireland shall have a Second Chamber or not. It is also a question of cutting off and destroying one of the safeguards which the Bill provides. Gentlemen opposite contend that a Second Chamber would not be a safeguard; but no one can possibly argue that the Legislature will be any the worse for possessing it. Is it not, therefore, the very wantonness of Party 592 passion to strike off a safeguard which may prove exceedingly useful for the sake of damaging the Bill? I hope we shall give the Irish Legislature the opportunity, which nearly all the democratic Legislatures of the world possess, of starting on its career with all the advantages which full discussion and the possible divergence of two Chambers can provide.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down tells us that it is beyond the scope of the present Debate to discuss the general question of Second Chambers.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I was not going to indulge in hostile criticism of that remark, because my next sentence would have been that anybody who heard his speech would admit that a more interesting discussion on the general question of Second Chambers was never beard in this House. I listened to the general remarks of the right hon. Gentleman, not only with great admiration for the compressed learning he contrived to put into them, but with very general agreement in the broad principles he laid down. But I must remind him of one truth connected with the philosophy of Second Chambers which I think has escaped the minds of himself and his hon. Friends. There is nothing magical, mysterious, or supernatural in a Second Chamber which should mitigate the evils of a single Chamber. It depends very much whether it is to produce good results upon what is the constitution of the Second Chamber. It is not every Second Chamber that is an improvement on every single Chamber. If it is a well-constituted Second Chamber, it is an improvement on a single Chamber. It is, therefore, impossible to divorce the abstract and general discussion from the particular discussion of the composition of the Second Chamber. The right hon. Gentleman would have us believe that the mind of the Government is open 593 upon the question. What does that mean? Does it mean that the Government are going to allow debate upon their proposals on the clause itself? Of course they cannot prevent that. The question is, are the Government prepared to alter their plan, and to alter it materially? If it can be shown that the Second Chamber is a futile expedient for obtaining what they desire, will they be prepared to restore the proposal of 1886 in favour of an Irish House of Lords? In any event the scheme we have now to consider is the scheme which is before us. We know the power of the Government over their followers is such that they are going to compel gentlemen like the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), who has over and over again declared—I was going to say their principles, but we are told that this is not a principle, but only an opinion—they are going to compel hon. Gentlemen who have actually got Amendments on the Paper on this subject to go into the Lobby with them. With such disciplined forces before us, should we not be idiots if we relied upon the general declaration of the Government that they will listen to any proposal to alter Clause 6? If the Government have any general declaration to make on that subject, now is the time to make it; hut if they intend to adhere to Clause 6, as I gather from an indication given by the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Byrce) is the case, do not let us be told that we may dismiss from our minds the criticisms we have to make upon the particular proposals they have laid before us. The right hon. Gentleman appears to think that all who give a vote in favour of this Amendment will commit themselves against Second Chambers in general, and the House of Lords in particular. He actually seemed to suppose that by objecting to this particular scheme for Ireland we shall thereby be committed for all time against the establishment of Second Chambers and against the House of Lords.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I suppose remembered is a polite phrase for misrepresented. I suppose the right hon. 594 Gentleman means that whenever a question of the retention of the House of Lords comes to be seriously considered someone will rake up the votes given in this House, and will say to those who gave them—"Oh, you do not like a £20 rating Chamber in Ireland, with what face can you support the existence of a House of Lords?" I trust that anyone who takes the trouble to rake up the evidence given on this occasion will also take the trouble to read the speeches which have been made. If this is done, it will be found that not a single Member has declared an intention of voting for the Amendment without giving as much emphasis as the right hon. Gentleman himself has done to his belief in the necessity for a Second Chamber. The right hon. Gentleman really refuted his whole argument about five minutes after stating it, because he said—"Can anything be less like the House of Lords than the Chamber we propose?" No, Sir; nothing could be less like it, and nothing could be more fatal to the carrying out of the function which the right hon. Gentleman thinks a Second Chamber is fitted to carry out than the Second Chamber proposed by this Bill. We have, after all, to approach this Amendment in one of two frames of mind. We have either to suppose that the Bill will be carried much in its present shape, or that it will be so amended as to pass in a shape which we shall disapprove less than its present shape. Let us consider the first of these hypotheses. If the Bill is to pass much in its present shape we are justified in voting for the Amendment, because we regard the Second Chamber proposed as a ridiculous comedy, an illusory safeguard, and a danger to those whom it is intended to protect. But if we take the other hypothesis, and suppose that we shall in Committee be able to amend the Bill so as to reduce the evil to the lowest possible proportions, I see no reason why we should not support the Amendment; because we shall, by these hypothetical Amendments, reduce the Legislative Assembly in Ireland to the ideal once dear to gentlemen opposite—in other words, we shall have made Home Rule a "Gas and Water" 595 Home Rule. If the Assembly we are going to establish in Ireland is to be a Gas and Water Assembly, I do not think it would be necessary to check its declarations by establishing a Second Chamber at all. We have not established Second Chambers in setting up County Councils throughout the country.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
What did you do in your own County Council "Bill for Ireland? Seven men and the Sheriff!
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. and learned Gentleman is entirely mistaken. There was no Second Chamber proposed in that Bill. Is it pretended that there is a Second Chamber in the Scotch County Council Bill? If not, how can it be pretended that there is a Second Chamber in the Irish County, Council Bill, which, in this respect, was framed upon the Scotch Bill? However, Sir, I do not mean to be led off the track of my argument against this proposal by any discussion in regard to the Local Government Bill which I had the honour to introduce, and which, for anything I know, I may some day have the honour to pass. I want to bring before the House, and especially before the right hon. Gentleman who preceded me in the Debate, a consideration to which I think he will attach some value. I agree with him that, if you were to sot up a Legislature in Ireland with powers at all in excess of those I have described as gas and water powers, such an Assembly would require a check of some kind. I have stated that I think the check he proposes is an illusory check. I go further, and say it will be a dangerous check. I think it will prevent the application of the only possible efficient check which can be applied to the deliberations and actions of an Assembly in Ireland. The proper check upon such an Assembly is the action of this Parliament and the veto of the Crown given in accordance with the action of this Parliament. Here, and here alone, is the proper Court of Appeal from the Irish Assembly. If you establish this Second Chamber, is it not the opinion of every man who knows anything of our Constitution that hon. 596 Gentlemen in this House will get up and say of any Bill that is objected to, that it has passed not only the First but the Second Chamber, and ask why we should endeavour to mutilate and check legislation which has run a gauntlet of that description? It is because I think this House should survey and scrutinise every action of the Irish Legislature; because I believe that when it thinks fit to interfere it should have no arguments brought against its interference, and because I think the true Second Chamber is to be found within these walls that I—agreeing absolutely with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bryce) as to the necessity of having some check, and with what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bodmin Division (Mr. Courtney) as to the teaching of universal experience that a single Chamber without a chock is not a safe form of Government, and believing that the proper method of supervising the performances of such a Chamber is to be found on this side of St. George's Channel—shall, if the hon. Member goes to a Division, vote for the Amendment.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, the Debate disclosed a very great peculiarity—namely, that every one in favour of a Second Chamber would vote against it, while a great many against the principle of such a Chamber would be found voting for it. He was one of a small minority which proposed to give both an honest and a logical vote. He could not at all understand the position of the Leader of the Opposition, who usually was logical, but who in the present case had not the courage of his opinions, and was not going to vote in favour of the Second Chamber principle. He admitted that he was in favour of Clause 1, and the principle it embodied; but he would vote for it because he did not like Clause 6, which established the machinery for giving effect to the principle of Clause 1. Now he himself objected to Clause 6, because it introduced the aristocracy as well as an oligarchy. He hated them both; but if he had to choose between the two evils, he would a thousand times prefer the aristocracy. They had been told by the right hon. 597 Gentleman the Member for Midlothian that a Second Chamber would prevent hasty and crude legislation. He disputed that, and he remembered that some years ago both Houses in our own Parliament passed very hastily a Bill affecting Ecclesiastical Tithes, and now everybody was ashamed of it. The House of Lords, instead of preventing hasty legislation on that occasion, simply expedited it by suspending its own Standing Orders. Again, as an instance of crude legislation, the House of Commons last year passed a Scotch Bill of 400 clauses. It was to come into force on the 10th of this month, and yet already it had been found necessary to bring in a Bill to amend it. In his view, therefore, the bi-cameral system had produced nothing but evil, and he was, therefore, an unicameral man. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen was in error in describing Norway as a bi-cameral country. It was a country with one Chamber which sometimes divided itself into two Grand Committees, and it was the most advanced single-cameral country. The right hon. Gentleman also said the Second Chamber worked well in Victoria. Could it be said to have worked well when twice during 40 years it had created a deadlock in the Government of that Colony when the Appropriation Bill had been thrown out, and supplies for Government, Police, and Judges refused? A Second Chamber had been thrust upon the Colonies, and they had accepted it as the lesser of two evils. They could no more be said to have demanded it than Ireland could be said to be demanding a Second Chamber now. He should vote for the Amendment, and he did so because that was the only logical and honest course to pursue, holding the opinions he did.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
said, there were many questions arising under the Bill which were essentially Imperial questions and affected the British Empire at large; but the one they were now discussing was an essentially Irish question, and it essentially affected the future welfare of the Irish people The Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Duchy had fallen into a common mistake. Both right lion. Gentlemen had made 598 geographical excursions all over the world, and as a result they had formulated the provisions of the Bill upon the varied experiences of the countries that in their imagination they had visited. But he would like to ask the right hon. Gentlemen whether in these excursions they had found another Ireland? Some people might think it unfortunate—others might think it fortunate—that there was but one Ireland on the face of this planet; and, therefore, the arguments of the Prime Minister and his Colleagues utterly fell through from the fact that the analogies they tried to draw from other countries were absolutely inapplicable to the country about which they were now legislating. To say that legislation which had been successful in Tasmania, or in Australia, or in Canada must therefore of necessity be satisfactory in Ireland was not more wise or pertinent than to urge those Colonies to burn turf because that fuel was used in his country. The right hon. Gentleman, in his conciliatory speech, sought to induce the Irish Unionists to accept the principle of the proposal, and said that when they came to deal with the clause regulating the composition and condition of the Second Chamber he would be ready to consider any suggestion that might be made. Yes; but from what quarter? In one sense the Government was a gutta-percha Government, capable of being moulded and squeezed into any shape if the squeezing had was below the Gangway. It was a sponge that might be wrung, but the hand that wrung it must be found amongst the Members who enabled the right hon. Gentleman to continue on the Treasury Bench. Many of the right hon. Gentleman's followers were anxious to find out whether the Irish minority looked upon the Second Chamber as a real safeguard. No doubt the majority of the right hon. Gentleman's supporters ware in favour of a Second Chamber, and he could assure those hon. Members that, so far from looking on the Second Chamber as a safeguard or security, they looked upon it as exactly the reverse. One thing had happened. They had learned from the Debate that the Gladstonian Party had been put into a very ugly fix through this proposal. They had had a remarkable speech from the hon. Member for 599 Northampton, but he did not take it seriously. The hon. Member for Northampton did not wish any one to take him seriously; he looked upon the whole of this question with absolute contempt, and a slight scratch would remove the Radical skin of the hon. Member and probably show him to be a blue-blooded aristocrat. What was the view held by the followers of the Prime Minister? That our Second Chamber was endured so long as it was an echo of the will of this House. True, it contained hereditary elements, but it was a sort of political Greenwich Hospital for worked-out Parliamentary wrecks. The only reason for proposing this Second Chamber in Ireland was that it was bound to be an echo of the other Chamber, and, therefore, absolutely useless. The hon. Member for Dumfries had told them that if they carried that Amendment they would incur great responsibility, and that it would hamper those who in the future might bring in a Home Rule Bill. The hon. Member went a little too quick; he seemed to be certain that in a future Session the Government would have the pleasure of bringing in a Home Rule Bill, but the Unionist Party did not intend they should have that opportunity, and therefore they intended to strip this Bill of all the delusions and shams in which it was wrapped. In fact, this was an electioneering blind. He could imagine the speeches that would be made on the perfection of the safeguards that had been introduced. This Second Chamber would be elected by men who could not be trusted to try criminal cases; it would be an aristocracy of squalor, elected and created by a Senate of the gutter. The £20 farmers in Ireland were far more under the influence of political coercion than the labourer; the farmers had got houses covered with thatch that could be fired, cattle that could be houghed and mutilated, and goods that could be boycotted.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said, he did not object to these interpolated interjections from an hon. Member for whom he had the most sincere commiseration, for they all knew he must be suffering 600 under terrific oratorical pressure, and these intermittent interjections and certain inarticulate sounds were the escape of the safety-valve, but for which he believed the hon. Member would explode. This Second Chamber could not be a brake on the rapid action of the Lower House; it would be an ineffective skid which would not impede velocity. It would be composed of men of exactly the same class, the same creed, and under exactly the same influences as would exist in the First Chamber; and if he and his friends consented to be returned to sit in either of the two Houses—which they would not—they would find themselves in exactly the same minority in each; their voices would have just as little effect; and if any difference should arise between the two Houses, it would simply be a dispute as to the division of the spoils. No logical reason had been assigned by any occupant of the Treasury Bench why the Second Chamber would be a safeguard. If they could conceive this Metropolis having two Chambers, one composed of burglars and the other of pickpockets, that would be an analogy to this proposal. Mr. Cobbett once described the House of Lords as a "den of thieves," and that description would apply exactly to the proposed Chamber. Their view of the situation was that, if they passed safely through one House, they could not escape being despoiled in the other. They were Scylla and Charybdis, and if they escaped one whirlpool they must be engulfed in the other. Because the Second Chamber was a delusive and worthless protection he should vote for the Amendment. It would pass the wit of man to devise a Second Chamber in Ireland that would give any protection of any kind to the Irish minority, and he therefore earnestly appealed to hon. Members in all quarters of the House to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Tyrone.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES (Durham, N. W.)
said, he had been a good deal impressed by the observations which fell, from the lips of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, when he told hon. Gentlemen opposite that if they voted for this Amendment that vote against a Second Chamber 601 would be remembered against them in the future. That was exactly the difficulty experienced by the Radicals on this occasion; they felt that if they voted in favour of a Second Chamber, it would be remembered against them hereafter. The reasons urged by the right hon. Member for Bodmin why they should vote against the Amendment were the reasons which would induce him to vote for it. He said he was in favour of a Second Chamber, because the Members of it would look at questions from their point of view; but what they, as Radicals, wanted was (hat questions should be looked at from the point of view of the persons represented by the Members of the Chamber. His difficulty was increased by the attitude of the hon. Member for Longford, because it had hitherto been assumed that the Irish Members wore perfectly indifferent whether there was a Second Chamber or not. The hon. Member's speech rather indicated that the Irish Members desired one. But be observed that the observations that fell from the hon. Member's lips were received with ominous silence by his Colleagues, and he believed the Irish Nationalist Members did not desire a Second Chamber. [Cries of "No, no!"] He said so because he had read their speeches; and he had had the honour of conversing with individuals among them upon the question, and the only reason why they tolerated a Second Chamber was because they believed it would be absolutely ineffective for any purpose—that it was a more toy and plaything given to the Unionist Party. The idea of the relations of the Legislative Council to the Assembly was evidently borrowed from Norway, where the Storthing was divided into parts, of which the Odelsthing formed one-fourth and the Lagthing three-fourths, and in the event of disagreement between the two sections they had to re-unite and vote in common after the lapse of a certain period of time. But what had taken place in Norway in regard to that particular system of amalgamation of the two Chambers? There was at present, and had been for some time past, a very active movement for the purpose of abolishing it, because it was found to be ineffective and to lead to confusion. But he recognised that there was no finality in 602 this Bill—that they would, later on, have to make additions to, or alterations in, this scheme of government: and he felt constrained to say that, though the declaration might be received with derisive cheers from hon. Gentlemen opposite—that, as the proposal for a Second Chamber had been accepted by the Irish Party, and acquiesced in by them as a trifling concession to Unionist sentiment, they would not be justified in imperiling the passage of the Bill.
§ MR. J. E. REDMOND (Waterford, City)
said, he would like to say one or two words on this question. In the first place, he had listened with gratification, and not without surprise, to the closing declaration of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. The earlier portion of the hon. Gentleman's speech decided him (Mr. Redmond) to intervene in the Debate; but he had given to the House reasons for the decision which he had arrived at towards the close of his speech. The hon. Member gave two reasons why the Irish Members did not care for a Second Chamber—why they were opposed to it, although they were anxious to accept it. The first reason was that it was forced upon them; and the second was that they thought a Second Chamber would be ineffective. For himself, he (Mr. Redmond) desired to say that he was in favour of a Second Chamber, and for exactly the opposite reasons of those put forward by the hon. Member for North-West Durham (Mr. Atherley-Jones). He believed the existence of a Second Chamber was not in itself derogatory to the principle of democracy. In the peculiar circumstances of Ireland, he was specially in favour of it. He was in favour of it, first of all, because he desired to add everything to this new Legislative Body which would in any way, in his view, increase the dignity of the Irish Government and the instrument by which the Irish Government would be carried out, and he was of opinion that from that point of view it was well to have a Second Chamber. He was in favour of it, in the second place, because he was convinced it would be effective for the purpose for which it 603 was created. He was not prepared to say now that the proposals in Clause 6 were the best that could be made; but he could not understand how hon. Members could argue that under a £20 qualification it would be impossible to have an adequate representation of Unionist opinion in the Legislature, because he remembered the fact that when there was a £12 rating qualification in Ireland very many constituencies that he could mention which were now represented by Nationalists—County Dublin was a case in point—were, before the qualification was reduced, represented by Unionists. He did not know, but there might be differences of opinion among Nationalist Members—as was natural there should be—in reference to the question of a Second Chamber; but he did not think there were any of the Irish Members who would vote for the Amendment. He desired to make an appeal to hon. Members of the Liberal Party who had declared their intention of voting for the Amendment. On the previous evening they had a question before them which, though a small one, was regarded by a section of the Irish Representatives as of great importance. There was a difference of opinion among the Irish Representatives on that question, and the majority of the Nationalist Members took a particular course, even inducing such intelligent Members of the Liberal Party as his hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) to vote with them on the principle that what the majority of the Irish Members desired ought to be conceded. Unlike the case of the previous night, on this occasion the Irish Members would give a solid vote. Were hon. Members opposite going to vote against the Irish Members in such circumstances? He only rose to make it clear to the friends of Ireland, in the House and outside of it, that the Irish Members were not going to vote for the proposal for a Second Chamber because it was being forced upon them or because they believed it would be ineffective. Like all, or most he was sure, of the Irish Members, he was going to vote for the proposal on principle. On Clause 6 they would endeavour to make the Second Chamber effective for the purposes for which it was intended and render it worthy of the dignity of the new 604 Irish Government as an effective check on rash and ill-considered legislation.
§ Mr. Macfarlane
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.
§ *MR. W. SAUNDERS (Nowington, Walworth)
said, he did not wish to give a silent vote on this question, because he held, in opposition to the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce), that in voting for this Second Chamber hon. Members would be voting for something a great deal worse than the House of Lords. They could measure, to some extent, how much mischief arose from the House of Lords; but this would be a Chamber entirely in the interest of property and against industry, and it would be re-invigorated by periodical election, and therefore it would be a Chamber much more dangerous in the interests of the country than any that now existed. A Second Chamber did not prevent hasty legislation; on the contrary, it often caused it. Was it not a fact within their own experience that after measures had been carefully considered by their own House they had been altered—with very little consideration in most cases—by the other Chamber? He earnestly trusted that they would not impose upon the Irish people anything so mischievous as a Second Chamber. He had not yet found a single Irish Member who was willing to accept it: they merely submitted to it, and by submitting to it he believed that they gravely endangered the Bill. Nearly all the speakers on his own side had used strong arguments against a Second Chamber, and yet they were going to vote for one. How could a decision arrived at in such circumstances be accepted by the country? He had hoped that this question would be decided upon its merits; it was evident it was not being so decided. By voting for a Second Chamber, in his opinion, they were doing more than anything else 605 could do to imperil the passage of the Bill.
§ MR. R. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)
said, he did not feel it possible to give a silent vote on this occasion. He had the misfortune to differ on this point from the great mass of his Party, and he should feel bound to go with the hon. Member for Caithness and the hon. Member for Sheffield into the Lobby where he had very seldom strayed. On the question of a Second Chamber he belonged rather to the school of the Home Secretary (Mr. Asquith) and the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. J. Morley) than to that of the Prime Minister (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) and the. right hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Courtney). He was prepared to maintain on the proper occasion that the presumption was entirely against setting up a Second Chamber in the present circumstances. They were asked to make a now Constitution for a people that were going to be self-governed. His vote must be determined by what seemed to him to be the attitude of the Irish people on this question. If Ireland desired such a Second Chamber as was proposed in this clause as part of its Constitution that closed the controversy for him. If, on the other hand, he saw that Ireland was, through her Representatives, submitting to and acquiescing in his proposal as a means of getting through some kind of a Bill in any kind of way, he would not be moved by that consideration. He would vote against the proposal for a Second Chamber under those circumstances, and for two reasons: First of all, he thought, generally speaking, that principle was the best strategy, just as honesty was said by those who had tried both ways to be the best policy. His second reason was that he thought pushing the Bill through by hook or by crook was very bad strategy, because hon. Gentlemen on his own side of the House must remember that these discussions wore, to a large extent, of an academic character. The Bill might be got through the House of Commons, but 606 they knew very well it would be thrown out by the House of Lords; and their only subsequent chance of success was that they should be able to raise the country against the House of Lords. They would never be able to rouse the country by means of a Bill which had been made to pass. Bills that were made to pass were very like razors that were made to sell. They might succeed in passing them upon the market; but the market would find them out. They would never excite public enthusiasm by a shifty and patchy Bill, in which the country would know that principles were sacrificed to mere tactics. If he found unmistakable proofs that the Irish people were accepting this clause with a very tepid enthusiasm, and with no desire for it at all, then he felt he was not in a position to force it upon them. One part of the Irish representation would have nothing to do with this Second Chamber; they scouted it. The larger portion of the Irish Members had said, through the mouth of the hon. Member for North Longford (Mr. Justin McCarthy), that they were willing to accept a Second Chamber. In order to accept there must be a party that offered. If they merely said they would take it if it was put upon them, that was not sufficient for him. The hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond), indeed, attempted to strike a somewhat stronger note, but, to his mind, it was not very powerful. The hon. Member was the Leader of a very small section—he was the Corypliæus of a Party of nine; he was the chief Muse of that small Party. He (Mr. Wallace) felt himself most reluctantly driven to differ from a Party from which he seldom or never differed, but which he thought in the present case was too hastily adopting an attitude which, in connection with subsequent proceedings, they might recall with regret.
§ Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.607
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words 'two Houses' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 295; Noes 244.—(Division List, No. 77.)
§ It being after half past Five of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.